Category Archives: That Sucked

RACE RECAP – Diablo Trail Adventure 5k (The Rematch)

I ran this race last year in 29:19.

I placed 4th in my AG by 30 seconds.

I blew out my energy on the 1.5 mile ascent and found myself so exhausted coming down the hill that I actually had to walk portions of the return.

I was pissed.

* * *

I ran this race today in 31:46.

I placed 4th in my AG by a minute.

I blew out my energy on the 1.5 mile ascent and found myself so exhausted coming down the hill that I actually had to walk portions of the return.

I was pissed.

* * *

I’m a marathoner!  I just ran a 9:16 average in a 10k?!

I wanted redemption.  I wanted my first AG place.

How did this happen?

When I took off up the hill, I got stuck behind and between some folks but still managed to hit my planned 9:20 within the first quarter mile.  Almost immediately, my breathing was super heavy and I had to pulled back the pace.  I also had an alarming twinge in my knee that I’ve never felt before.  I promised myself that if I felt it again, I would stop and walk the rest of the race.    The first mile buzzed at just under 10:00.  Fine.  I continued on, figuring I was just warming up and looking forward to turning around in half a mile.

The aid station came about 0.25mi before the turnaround.  I skipped it, intending to stop for water and to catch my breath on the way back.  This was a slow pace, even for a hilly course and my lungs were BURNING.

Through the aid station, I attempted some encouraging self-talk but it was way too late.  I didn’t have a particularly positive attitude coming into the race and I definitely didn’t pump myself up during the first couple miles.  I held out as long as I could but stopped to walk right around mile 2.  I felt totally defeated.  Could I seriously not run three hilly miles?  That sucks.  Also, why do my arms hurt?

I ran as much as I could, as quickly as I could and tried to enjoy the downhill advantage.  With half a mile and a steep downhill, I noticed a youngish couple in front of me.  The woman looked like she could have been anywhere between 26 and 32.  I kicked it into gear but so did they and I couldn’t run them down.  I prayed to Jew God that she was a twentysomething, just in case I was miraculously close to placing.  I had no illusions that I had placed, I just didn’t want to be edged out by ten stupid seconds.

I got my massive butterfly medal which was a major upgrade from last year’s tarantula.  Gross.    After four cups of water and two cups of Ultima, my lungs were still burning.  That is highly unusual.  Typically, my heart rate comes down almost immediately and I feel fine.  I found myself wheezing and coughing which is a completely new experience.  I waited around for about 20 min for the results to be updated.

4th.  Again.  Seriously?  That’s just annoying.

(Happily, that girl with the boyfriend/husband/brother was 27 and the 3rd place finisher was a minute ahead of me.  I’d much rather be a minute behind than know that one of my walking breaks cost me the glory of a 3rd place AG finish in a tiny trail race.  Perspective: I has it.)

I drove home feeling really disappointed in myself.  Okay, it’s a small race and no, I didn’t train specifically for it.  But still!  I’ve been very consistent over the last year and the improvements in my mental game should have locked this for me.  Too bad I didn’t apply any of those improvements and basically ran exactly the same race as last year but slower.  Crappy and lame.

I got home, whined to Tim and took a shower.  Lungs still burning.  Strange.  Also, freezing, even after a hot shower.  And then the coughing started and hasn’t stopped since.  We’re talking wheezy, phlegmy, skip tonight’s rehearsal coughing.


Well, that explains why I couldn’t even run 10 minute miles and my fricking arms were sore while I was running.  Also explains the dread I felt this morning.  But honestly, I could have pushed and placed.  I could have been relentlessly positive as I have been in all of my recent races.  I could have raced smarter up the hill and faster down the hill but at least I understand why I ran nearly 3 minutes slower than last year.

So, that sucked.  I’m still sucking wind.

See you next year, Diablo.




How To Have A Terrible Long Run!

1.  Go to Las Vegas.  Drink nothing but Diet Coke and milkshakes and eat nothing but EVERYTHING for two days straight.  In 108 degrees.  Do not rehydrate upon return.

2.  Cut carbohydrates post-Vegas to “detox.”  This includes detoxifying yourself of all running fuel.

3.  Do not drink water before beginning run.  Have a Diet Coke and a Larabar.  Breakfast of champions.  Your handheld water bottle of Nuun will surely make up for any hydration sins.  Twitter told you so.

4.  Think of the run as “just a ten miler” as though you pop off double digit runs several times a week.  It’s basically the same as your usual three mile loop, especially since you did 12 miles last week.  Any distance longer than your longest = very short and easy.

5.  Start off a minute faster than your comfortable long run pace.  It feels great!  It will really impress your new Ironman running buddy who was absolutely cool with your previously agreed upon slower pace.  Slow down a bit, but not much and hold that pace until you burn through the Larabar.  Since running gets easier, the more miles you do, it makes sense to start faster.

6.  Don’t eat.  Fueling is for gluttonous sissies.  It will make you fat.

7.  As soon as you feel discomfort, berate yourself mercilessly.  The earlier in the run, the better.  Spend many miles thinking about how every future run, including all upcoming races will feel exactly like this forever.

8.  Don’t bring water for after the run.  Embrace post-run nausea and shame.


RACE RECAP – California Sprint Triathlon

I’ve noticed a very clear pattern after a whopping two triathlons:

In the days before the race I’m stressed and anxious.

The morning of the race I’m excited and happy.

During the race I’m demoralized in the swim, joyful on the bike, spent on the run.

After the race I’m ecstatic and proud.


Since it was a Saturday race, I worked the day before.  It was actually really nice to have several students on Friday.  They distracted me from the stressful ticker of “what if’s” that was scrolling through my brain.  It was reeeeeally warm in the area I was teaching and was upgraded to HadesHot when I went to pick up my packet in Pleasanton.  Yikes, is this what we have to look forward to tomorrow?  I made sure to hydrate well throughout the day and actually chose water over Diet Coke.

Oh!  You thought I was exaggerating!

Oh! You thought I was exaggerating!

Packet pickup was smooth and I was home by 6:30.  Small bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and about a cup of Ben and Jerry’s Milk and Cookies.  I debated this one long and hard.  I realized after last week’s long run that all my best workouts have been the day after I’ve had cookies and cream ice cream!  No, that is not a joke.  I know dairy isn’t the best idea for your digestive system but it seems to have a proven record of success.  This is pretty risky behavior for me but Tim gave me his stamp of approval and claimed all accountability if something went wrong.  Excellent.

I used the same spreadsheet system as last time.  I check off the items as they go in the bag.  No exceptions.  This way I don’t feel the need to obsessively double check and repack, as I would doubtless leave something out during the repacking.  I can be a little…..scattered when I’m anxious.  Packed, fed and asleep by about 9:30.  Perfect!

I slept well but still wanted to Hulk SMASH my phone when it started chirping at 5:10.  That is a really not cute hour for me.  Anyone else?  Spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom cursing my decision to have dairy.  Eventually I had my first (and most necessary) success of the day and I felt immediately more relaxed.  I tend to have urgent tummy issues when my heart rate is elevated.  The pre-workout evac is really essential, especially when I know it’s going to be hot outside.  Probably enough on that subject.

In another risky move, I chose to wear a brand new tri suit that I hadn’t worn in a single workout.  Yes, I am fully aware that that the cardinal rule of racing is do not do/wear/eat/say/look at anything new on race day.  Thing is, this is the first big outing for my beloved Oakland Triathlon Club and I really wanted to represent.  My singlet didn’t arrive until FRIDAY and I chose rest over a workout in the new threads.  I wasn’t crazy about the fit at my neck but I glided the heck out of myself and hoped for the best.

Fresh.  To.  Death.

Fresh. To. Death.

On the beautiful drive from Oakland to Pleasanton, I listened to my favorite pump-up songs and got a little verklempt.  This training cycle has been full of SO many new experiences and challenges.  I felt proud, regardless of what happened on the course.

Arrived at the race site and OTC was in full-effect.  We had a sweet tent and Chris (president) and one of the members, Z, were there to put on race number tattoos and give high fives.  In the days before the race, I felt a little nervous about the idea of so many club members being there.  Rationally, I knew they didn’t know anything about my fitness level or goals but the performer in me wanted to impress.  Ultimately, it was really fun and nice to have their support and I met some great new people!



We had a rack in very back of transition, near the run out but faaaaar from the swim in and bike out.  I got my stuff set up and explained some stuff to a guy next to me doing his first race.  I say this without any sarcasm: I really admire people who can show up to something like a triathlon and know literally nothing about what they’re supposed to do.  I could use a big dose of that fearlessness.  I hope he had a great day!

The day was already warming up.  Transition closed and almost everyone made their way into the water, regardless of their wave, to cool down.  I made friends with two really sweet girls (Hi Dana and Lauren!) who were doing their first tri.  We waded and chatted, reassuring each other as we headed to the start.  It was time to GET IT.

Swim (0.5 mi / 19:56)

The course always looks so far when you're standing on the beach.

The course always looks so far when you’re standing on the beach.

Two big yellow buoys.  Swim to the first one.  Turn left.  Swim to the next one.  Turn left.  Swim home.

I don’t have a ton to report here.  Swimming is hard.  In the moment, it felt demoralizing to see swimmers get further and further away from me every time I sighted.  I tried to push those negative thoughts out of my mind and just focus on the fact that each time I looked up, the buoys were closer than before!  I wasn’t nearly as robbed of breath as I was in the Mermaid Tri.  I breathed more frequently and switched to breast stroke many more times than I’d have liked but it was what I needed to do.  During the swim, I didn’t feel awesome but in retrospect, it was a VAST improvement over my first, much shorter swim.  Those sessions with Velia really boosted my confidence and ability.  Must do that much more.  It would be great to feel STRONG during a swim but hey, at least I didn’t get kicked in the face!

T1 (4:37)

This was a SHITSHOW.  I tried to get the top half of my wetsuit off on my way into transition but I was still struggling as I got aaaaaaalllll the way back to my bike.  Then I couldn’t get the bottom half off.  It would not BUDGE off my left leg.  It took a good minute for me to realize that I hadn’t removed my stupid timing chip.  When will they just implant us with a microchip?!  GAHHHHHH.  Finally got the wetsuit off, everything else on (including HELMET) and took a bolt chew.  I guzzled as much water as I could stand, knowing that I would be riding 14 miles in the heat without any additional hydration.

So, as if the wetsuit nonsense wasn’t bad enough, I was about to experience my second biggest triathlon fear.  Okay, third behind death and public defecation.

Collision Tweet

OH. MY. GOD.  Yeah, it was congested around the bike mount and I didn’t quite have my footing.  I’m NOT great at pushing off when there are people close to me.  I wobbled into the dude very close to my left and he fell over.  FUUUUUUUUUUUUU*K.  I felt HORRIBLE, obviously.  But apparently not horrible enough to actually help him up?!  I apologized profusely and asked if he was okay but then I was off.  In the moment, that seemed appropriate.  In retrospect, I feel like a pretty terrible person for not helping him up.  Oh and the look on the faces of the Oakland Tri Club folks who were literally 5 feet away from this assault?  Yeah, it took me about 4 miles to get over it.

Bike (13 miles questionable / 44:40 / 17.4 mph):

THE BIKE WAS AWESOME.  I pedaled my butt off.  I didn’t eat shit on any of the many u-turns.  I geared appropriately for both of the major climbs.  I PEDALED ON DESCENTS AND HIT 26 MPH FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE.

I was fearless.  It was amazing.

More, faster, better, NOWPLEASE.

The only thing I would change about this ride (besides the convoluted and SHORT course) was learning how to drink on the damn bike.  I had a fantastic ride but by the time I was done, I felt like my mouth was full of sand.  PARCHED.

As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous about the dismount.  Thankfully, there weren’t any humiliating incidents when I dismounted.  Phew.  And Yay.

T2 (1:05):  Lots of water.  Visor.  Go.  Forgot Garmin.  Don’t go back.  Forgot to take off glasses (ugh).  Don’t go back.  RUN AND DONE.

Run (3.1 mi / 31:57 / 10:17 avg)

So, when a race website advertises a “fast and flat bike course!” and doesn’t say anything about the run, you might be in for some unexpected challenges.  Like a trail run with constant hills.  Add 90 degree heat with no shade and you’ve really got a party going.

All my time goals went out the window.  Since I was Garminless, I decided to run by feel and just get by.  Coming upon the first hill, I made the decision not to walk, as many were.  I made this decision for every single hill on the course.  I only paused at the two water stations to pour a cup over my head and drink another.  I felt like I was shuffling at a snails pace because my breath was under control and my body felt really good.  It was easy to thank every single volunteer standing out there in the sun.  I asked a couple if they were jealous.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t.  Throughout the run, I knew I had a lot more in me but I was completely zapped of any competitive urge.  I wasn’t interested in pushing myself.  I just wanted to finish strong.

After many, many, many more hills, I cruised down to the beach and into the chute!  I picked up my pace to the sprintiest strides I could muster and with a HUGE smile on my face, crossed the finish line!

Thumbs. UP.

Thumbs. UP.


AG: 16/38

Gender: 108/221

Overall: 300/507

And how did my times compare to my goals?

Swim goal: 20:00 ……. Swim time: 19:56

Beat by 4 seconds!  Phew!

T1 goal: 2:30 …… T1 time: 4:37

Absolute debacle.  I mean, learning experience.

Bike goal: 52:00 /16.15 mph (based on advertised 14 mile course) …… Bike time: 44:40 / 17.4 mph (based on questionable 13 mile course.  May have been even shorter.)


T2 goal: 1:30 ….. T2 time: 1:05.

Atta girl!

Run goal: 30:00 …… Run time: 31:57

Abandoned goal due to heat and course.  A great run for me under those conditions.  Had I known, I would have made 35 min my goal.

The post-race party was fun.  It took me several bottles of water before I could choke down an orange slice but the burritos looked good.  For someone else.  I hung around for awhile to watch several of the OTC-ers in the awards ceremony!  We had three folks on the podium, including third overall!  So inspiring!  HUGE thanks to all the awesome Oakland Tri Club folks, especially Chris Van Luen.  Whattaguy!

OTC Badass Ladies!

OTC Badass Ladies!

And thank YOU for reading another endless recap!

Overall, it was a fantastic experience.  Triathlon is hard but the finish line feels SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

Onward and Upward!

Onward and Upward!

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I Know, I Know…

I owe a post containing all the WISDOM I amassed during my first triathlon.  I also owe you an update on the training that has occurred since my double race weekend.

Here’s a teaser: one of the things I learned doing my first triathlon is that it shouldn’t be two weeks before another triathlon with a swim that’s twice as long.  When you do that, instead of getting to relax and celebrate your accomplishment, you have to kill yourself trying to cram for swimming fitness like a geometry midterm.

I got a C- in geometry, FYI.

I’m in a shitty place.  My dad had surgery today and I’m beyond happy to report that it went perfectly and he’s currently in recovery.  I’ve been incredibly anxious and my anxiety takes the form of quiet with a side of bitchy face (QSBF – woah, that’s almost my initials…).  QSBF times are not good times.

This is how I felt all day.

This is how I felt all day.

So, he’s fine (PHEW) but QSBF has not fully subsided.  I’m tired from tough workouts.  I have stretch marks.  The A’s are in the 18th inning against the Yankees and just can’t get it done.  I’m really pissed off by some private shit.  Today sucks.  UGH.

Wait, today does not suck.  My dad is okay.  Today is great.  I just can’t feel that yet.


I have a random Jamba Juice gift card.  I will totally mail it to the first person who can identify either quote in the comments.  It’s for like $10.


Tuesday 5/28/2013

6am: Wake up. Nosh. Lesson Plan.

8am: Run 3 miles. Pretty miserable but completed.

11am-2pm: Teach.

2pm: Head to bank and sporty store to deal with compromised checking account and stolen swim gear. Hoped to be at gym pool by 3 when it would still be fairly quiet. Plan was to swim and go to TDM at 4:30.

3pm: Still at bank.

3:30pm: Still trying on ill-fitting swimsuits. Cursing ill-proportioned body. And ill-good passage of time. Change plan to swim and 5:45pm TDM class.

4:00pm: Arrive at pool. 2-3 people per lane. Fuckerfan. All are slower than me (which doesn’t make any sense, considering the laws of momentum).

4:10pm: Race to 4:30 class. It’s full. WHOMP.

4:30pm: Go back to the pool. Still packed. Try not to lose shit publicly. Go to grocery store, drop off groceries, bitch to ManFriend, head back to TDM for 5:45 class.

5:45pm: IT IS FULL. WHAT THE FUCK. Meg lets myself and THREE instructors (there are never that many there to take class) squeeze into the packed class. This requires the four of us to do the thigh work sequence in the middle of the room. WITHOUT THE BARRE.. In case you’ve never taken a barre class, let me tell you that I didn’t even know that was a thing. I’m still astonished that I got through that section.

6:45pm: Hobble to car and home to chicken sausage and sweet potato chips.

8:00pm: In bed so I can get up at 6am to makeup missed swim before TDM trade shift.


4:30am: Wake up after night of horrible fitful sleep. Decide to skip swim and turn off alarm.

6:03am: Wake up and decide to do the swim. Feel like a motivated baller queen.

6:23am: Arrive at pool.


My First Group Ride / I Got Robbed

Yesterday,  I went on my first GROUP RIDE!

Yes. The two words more terrifying than “Brazilian Wax” or “Magic Mike”…

What if I suddenly forget how to stop and start my bikemachine?
What if my neon orange jacket is too embarrassing to be seen with?
What if I can’t keep pace and my super sweet friends who would never shun me SHUN ME?

I had so many “what if’s” as I was getting ready that I almost had tears in my eyes. I took some deep breaths and tried to believe what I tweeted the night before:

Good advice, Me.

Good advice, Me.

The game plan was to ride up Tunnel Road in the Oakland/Berkeley hills with my newlywed friends TJ and Michael.  They’re both experienced cyclists and wonderfully sweet people.  Definitely the kind of folks you want to do something scary with for the first time.

I mean, come on.  Look at these faces!  (Ignore ominous thumb cloud.)

I mean, come on. Look at these faces! (Ignore ominous thumb cloud.)

It’s about as gentle as a hill ride gets in the Bay Area, good for figuring out gearing on the way up and descent isn’t terrifying.  They also suggested a short segment that wouldn’t be overwhelming.  Thanks guys!  While the road winds quite a bit (danger! danger!), it’s such a popular cycling route that most cars avoid it unless they have the misfortune of owning one of the multi-million dollar homes positioned on the hillside.  We joked on the way up that there must be some underground, Dr. Evil-esque grocery store that only sells fancy milk and bread.  Otherwise, these people literally have a 20 minute drive to the nearest egg.

We parked near the Firestorm Monument (foreshadowing….), spent a little bit of time talking about riding in a group and off we went!

That's the view from the starting point of this ride!  The Bay Area is awesome.  Can you see the Bay Bridge?

That’s the view from the starting point of this ride! The Bay Area is awesome. Can you spot the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges?

I had a slightly shaky start because I’m so unaccustomed to having anyone near me as I push off!  They rode up a few feet and we settled into a nice pack? Group? Murder (of crows)?

Fun Fact: the term for a group of unicorns is a “blessing.”  A blessing of unicorns.

It was really interesting keeping a steady pace behind someone.  TJ set a nice, slow speed for us and we took turns in the lead position.  The incline was gentle enough that I stayed in my big ring  but at one point, a combination of slow speed, big gear, and steeper grade got the better of me and I lost momentum.  We regrouped and I realized that I shouldn’t let my fear of spinning out of control keep me from shifting to the small ring.  It’s for hills!  Derp!  I shifted and my bike immediately felt 200lbs lighter.  I couldn’t believe the difference!

I think it was around this point (halfway up the hill) that I remembered to press “start” on my Garmin.  D’oh!  Bummed because I’m a total data freak and I was looking forward to seeing the elevation gain.

Can I just say how nice it was that every cyclist calls out “good morning!” to each other.  There were folks on tandem bikes, fancy kitted-out cyclist dudes and everyone in between.  They were all so friendly!  I liked that.

Before I knew it, TJ was calling out “that’s our driveway!”  Great success!

Dr. Evil's cul-de-sac?

Dr. Evil’s cul-de-sac?

Before we headed back down, TJ gave me lots of great tips about descending.  We agreed that Michael was welcome to zip down the hill but TJ would take it slow with me.  That was really sweet and generous of her because she loves a speedy downhill!  The beginning of the descent was pretty intense.  It wasn’t particularly steep but the only descents I’ve done so far have been very, very short.  To continually go downhill, feeling that wooshing speedy feeling was overwhelming.

(At literally 7mph.  I didn’t even know it was possible to go downhill as slowly as I was until I looked at my Garmin data later.)

When we discussed descending techniques, TJ mentioned being in the drops, as opposed to on the hoods.  I actually haven’t ridden in my drops since I realized early on that I should be on the hoods.  Remembering how unsteady my steering felt during those early rides, my knee-jerk reaction was “nope, not today.”  Well, we rode for only a couple minutes before my hands were cramping like crazy from trying to feather my breaks from the hoods.  We pulled over for me to take little emotional breather.  I was uphill from TJ so I decided to ride down to her in my drops and, like shifting into the small ring on the ascent, the drops were a game changer.  I had easy access to my breaks and realized that the steering difficulty in the past had much more to do with my inexperience.  It felt a bagillion times better.

Cutest TJ demonstrating.  I love her.

Cutest TJ demonstrating. I love her.

Also, can we please check out these views?  It was so clear and gorgeous.  I promise I’ll get better pictures next time…

Why didn't the chicken cross the road?  Because she didn't want to get a good picture?

Why didn’t the chicken cross the road? Because she didn’t want to get a good picture?

Riding down the hill, I felt more and more comfortable.  We still took it very slowly, just what I needed.  In fact, I think if I had been riding by myself, I may have ridden uphill faster than I rode down!  How weird is that?

I was so happy!  Great success!  Learned a ton, didn’t make a fool of myself….all good things!  Wonderful day!

Until we discovered this:






Purse with beloved salmon colored Coach wallet stolen.  Lots of teaching cash stolen.  Motherfucking SWIM BAG stolen.  Driver’s side window busted out on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  Cause that’s convenient.  Thankfully, I had my keys and my iPhone with me.

TJ and Michael jumped into action, cleaning out the glass as I cancelled my bank card and called Tim to cancel our credit card.  They were very supportive and sympathetic, as were the multitudes of cyclists who passed by.

Great ride and learning experience with a totally shitty and expensive ending.  I can’t wait to ride Tunnel again and again and again!  With nothing of any value in my car.

HUGE thank you to TJ and Michael for being great friends and teachers!  You guys are the best!



Tell me about your first time descending on your bike!  Or something scary you did this weekend!  Don’t tell me about a time you got robbed, I’m still too bummed.