In short, if I keep a pig as a pet, I can’t kick it. If I keep a pig I intend to sell for food, I can torture it.

Mark Bittman.  I continue to have a crush on you.

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Despite snow and snotty teenagers, I’m a triathlete!

I may or may not have spent most of the day refreshing the race’s website to see if they have posted official times yet. They have not, which is about the 97th frustrating thing about this event. But! I’m going to have a lot to say about this.  I’m going to start with me and the race I ran, and then go on to some pretty major gripes about how the event was organized.

Starting first with things I had control over:

The weather:  I don’t have control over the weather, of course, but we spent Friday night scuttling about the house trying to decide what to wear in light of the unexpected cold temperatures.  I swapped out a short sleeved tech shirt for a long sleeved one and added a hoodie on top.  It’s a cotton blend, but I didn’t really have anything better.  I stuck with my knee length shorts but brought sweat pants and figured if it was really bad, I could wear them over my shorts for the bike and/or run.  Packed chapstick, water bottle, towel, etc.

So! Race day.  Ate a bagel.  Put the bikes on the car.  Drove to Golden.  It was lightly snowing, but the app on my phone assured me the chance of precipitation during the race was low.  We racked our bikes and set up in the transition area.  I was glad I brought my whole bike bag since it’s pretty waterproof and kept all my stuff dry while I was in the pool.

The swim: I wasn’t paying attention and basically missed the buzzer telling me to jump into the pool and start swimming.  I hopped in and was smacked in the face by the cold water, not the nice warm water I’m used to at the rec.  It was a bit of a shock.  Since I was a few seconds behind, I swam my first length way too fast and basically never caught my breath.  It was like all my months of lessons and hours in the pool was for naught as I pretty much flailed ungracefully back and forth until mercifully my eight laps were done.  Since I started too fast, my breathing never got into a good rhythm and my form was crap.  I should have realized I needed to do a short jog or something to warm up.  I know I don’t hit my stride in the pool until I’ve done a few laps.  Lesson learned!  I have no idea what my swim time was.  I’m guessing around 10 minutes.

The bike: Oh, golly.  For all my whining about it, it was…not as terrible as I expected.  A small adjustment, but they changed the bike loop to be clockwise rather than counter clockwise.  This meant that rather than going up the blocks with the steady incline and down the blocks with the sharp decline followed by a tapering off, it was opposite.  The downhill was less scary and steep, and the uphill part was more of a short, sharp incline rather than being more long and drawn out.

It’s pretty much the same either way, but this configuration seemed less scary to me. The course was a short ride to a two by two block square loop.  Two blocks downhill, two blocks flat-ish, two blocks up hill, two blocks flat.  I was too chicken to go too fast downhill since at the bottom I had to turn.  I was hesitant to shift too much on the flats because my chain likes to jump off the cogs.  And then obviously I didn’t have much speed on the uphills.

Thirteen laps.  I kept repeating to myself how many I had done and how many I had left because I was afraid of losing count. Oh, and it kept snowing!  It actually seemed to snow harder as the morning went on.  Nothing was sticking, but my shorts, wet from the pool, were like ice on my legs.

Not so much with the speed for me, but according to my wrist watch, the bike took me about 40 minutes, which puts me at about a 12 mph pace.  not terrible, considering the snow and hills.

The run: I did a good number of bricks at the gym (bike then run) to get my legs used to the transition.  I cranked it on high levels on the exercise bike and then hit the treadmill to do my best to simulate those effing hills, but in the actual race, I could not feel my legs for at least the first ten or twelve minutes.  I’m continuing to blame my woes on the cold and snow. 

The first kilometer was all down hill, and then it was rolling up and down until the very end when it was straight uphill for the last four or five blocks.  I walked just a little.  Going up that hill, walking was probably not much slower than I could run.  I felt okay, I didn’t get a side stitch (yay!) I just felt really slow and heavy.  It snowed even harder while I ran and I was just cold and wet and tired and miserable.

The fun part about the run was that it was an out and back, so I tried to give lots of high fives to other friendly looking runners I passed and share some encouragement.

My watch says I finished the run in about forty minutes.  I don’t think the run was 3.1 miles, though, I think it was about a quarter mile longer.  If it was 3.35 miles (per Manfriend’s garmin), then my pace was juuust under 12 minute miles.  Which, again, considering the circumstances, I’m fine with.  (If it was to 3.1 miles, then my pace was closer to 13 minute miles, which makes me bummed.  I’m slow, but I’m not normally that slow.)

My original goal was 1:30.  Once I saw the course a few weeks ago, I adjusted that goal to 1:40.  If my estimated times are correct, then my actual swimming and biking and running was about 1:30 total, so assuming I wasn’t a super slow poke in the transition area, I met my goal!  We’ll see, if they ever get around to posting the official times online.

Whiiiiich brings me to my long, long, long, list of gripes about how this race was organized.

  • The courses were not measured correctly.  Pretty basic, right?  But as I mentioned, I think the run was about 1/4 mile long, and the bike was 8.1 miles, not 8 miles as it says on the website.  I care about this mostly because they are also posting paces along with the times, and it will make me look slower than I am.
  • They didn’t have bibs for everyone.  Again, isn’t this pretty basic?  I guess they said they just didn’t print enough numbers for everyone.  Um, what? 
  1. One, I totally wanted my bib as a souvenir of my first tri!
  2. Their backup plan, of sorts, was that they would track numbers for times based on the number written on your arm or leg.  (There weren’t timing chips, which is fine, but it means volunteers had to know your number as you finished each leg to write your time down.)  The problem there is that, as I mentioned, it was snowing!  I was definitely planning on wearing long sleeves and possibly pants.  Meaning my number was invisible. The backup, backup plan was for racers to yell their numbers at volunteers as they passed.  Which, again, fine, except I somehow ended up with bib number magic marker number 1.  One.  Seriously.  When I was like, “I’m number one!” I had to then clarify, like, “No, I mean, 1.  Not like I’m awesome.  (But I am.)  But my number, it’s 1. One.” 
  3. Part of the way through registration/check in, they left half sheets of printer paper on the table for people who wanted to write their number on the paper and then pin it on as a makeshift bib.  These papers immediately disintegrated in the snow.
  • Due to an unexpected quilting bee in another part of the rec center, just before the swim started, they asked people parked across the street to move their cars.  Huh?
  • No finish line.  The finish line (as well as the dismount line for the transition area, and all of the turns for the run) were scratched out on the ground in sidewalk chalk.  Okay.  Except, again, it was snowing, so all of the marks, including the finish line, were quickly washed away.  Runner after runner blew straight past the official finish, only to be yelled at, “You’re DONE.”  They were completely Kanye’d out of their finish line moment. (Note: the bucket of chalk sat right next to the finish line.  One of the ten people standing there could have re-drawn the line. Ugh.)
  • The website showed the wrong course until a few days before the race.  It showed the loop was counter clockwise, not clockwise, and that it was 8 loops, when it was really 13.
  • Also until a few days before the race, the website indicated the swim would be a snake swim, meaning you swim up and down one lane and then cross into the next lane and so forth.  When I was told by the girl at check in that I was the first swimmer in heat two, I about threw up, thinking I was going to be holding up a dozen or so people behind me as I slowly plodded through the lines.  At the last minute, it was announced instead that each swimmer would get in, swim 8 laps in her own lane, and then get out.  Much better, but again with the last minute changes!  And no one told me what lane I was in.  A list was taped to the wall in the far corner of the room.
  • Oh, how I loathe teenagers.  Because they’re bored and too cool.  This race, put on by students (since it’s a CSM swim team fundraiser), was run by them.  And when I pointed out to the girl who was marking me up that no one would be able to see my number under my shirt and pants, she was just like, “I dunno, they’re just making me do this.”  Sweet.  You have a great day, too!

    One of the signs posted with some random information actually listed people to ask for help by name.  Like, “If you have questions, ask Billy or Bob or Joe.”  Like any of us knew who that was!

  • Not enough room in the transition area.   Once room ran out on the bike racks, people just put their bikes down on the grass.
  • The course was too crowded on the bike loop.  You had cyclists entering it at super high speeds coming downhill, other cyclists turning right to go downhill, and runners going up and down at the same intersection.  I’m shocked there were no crashes.
  • The transition area was filled with people’s families milling about, getting in the way.  Rather than mark the areas with cones or station a volunteer or two there to direct traffic, a lady near the finish line yelled down to them, “STAY OUT OF THE ROAD.”  Unpleasant and ineffective.
  • Once again, I’d like to point out that they didn’t print enough bibs (how did #1 not get printed?!), the actual distances were off.  These are the ones I still can’t get over.
  • And, once again, I’ve refreshed their website like nine times while writing this and I still don’t have official times.

In better news:

I signed up for another one.  It’s flat.  I assume it won’t be snowing.  And I’m going to kick ass!

First triathlon is TOMORROW

Eeek!  My clothes are laid out.  I bought some bagels to have for breakfast.  I’ve been trying to drink a lot of water today to get hydrated.

Two things are making me nervous:

1. The weather.  I had been worried about heat, but nonono.  It’s going to be between 35° and 40° during the race.  Effffff.  I am really not prepared for that.  I keep it cozy in the gym when it’s that cold, and I definitely don’t jump in a pool and THEN go outside to bike and run around once I’m soaking wet.

I’m still going to wear shorts, but I switched from a short to long sleeved shirt, added a light hoodie, and a hat and gloves.

2. The insanely scary hill?  The one that made me cry and want to not race?  The one this stupid course makes you do eight times?  Yeah.  They miscalculated the distance.  The loop with the scary hill has gone from eight laps to THIRTEEN.  What.  The.  Fuck.  And that doesn’t even make 8 miles even.  It makes 8.08.

But!  Either way, I will get to feel pretty badass at the end.  To bed with me! Big day tomorrow.

I made pizza with nothing but my hands (and wheat, an oven, etc.)

Inspired by this post from healthytippingpoint.com (My new favorite blog) we made pizzas! 

Of course, I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.  So!  I subbed grapeseed oil for vegetable oil in the crust, and I subbed sweet potatoes in for butternut squash in the sauce.  Making my stolen/very slightly modified recipe:

Crust:

  • Package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1.5 cups warm water (and another 1/4 cup water added while kneading)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups organic all-purpose white flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour 

In a small bowl, combine packet of dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and honey agave. Let stand for 10 minutes – there should be bubbles!

Combine remaining ingredients, use food processor or knead by hand (we’re knead-y).

Add the yeast and stir/knead for a few minutes, until a sticky and stiff dough forms.
Separate into six balls and place in glass casserole dish.  Cover with clean towel and place outside or another warm spot (on top of the dryer, heater, etc).  Let rise for an hour.

Spread out dough on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone.  Top with sauce and cheese or other toppings.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes if you plan to freeze or 15 minutes if you’re going to eat right away.

Sauce:

  • Roughly 1/4-1/2 cup Pasta sauce (we had Classico Tomato Basil in the fridge)
  • Equal parts Everything Sauce (Any kind of barbecue sauce would be okay, I suppose, but man this sauce is good.  Just the right amount of spicy and amazing)
  • One sweet potato, microwaved in a towel for six minutes
  • Blend everything in the food processor! Ta-daaaa.  It’s sauce.  And it’s delicious.

Because it’s what we had in the refrigerator and pantry, we topped with black beans, spinach, corn, and red onion, things we pretty much always have in the house.

Nom nom nom.

The blog post I read referenced freezing them, but we just wrapped in tin foil and then put in the fridge.  We took them for lunch and heated up in the toaster oven at work.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  I have been eating some variation of quinoa+farro+veggies for lunch for like two months straight, so pizza feels like…a mouth vacation.

Healthy Tipping Point is my favorite blog of the genre!  I hope I’m not stepping on any weird internet rules by changing and reposting the original recipe.

In which I seriously almost quit

We borrowed a bike rack from some friends!  Which means we are now free to ride bikes in places other than those easily reachable from our home.

So we took our bikes out to Golden to scope out the course for my first triathlon!  Two weeks from yesterday.  Yikes.

The course is kind of a funny one, according to the map online.  You ride your bike out a ways to the “loop area,” then do eight loops, then ride back to where you started to hop off and run.  So, I definitely wanted to see it for myself before race day and get a better idea of how long it would take me to complete the course so I could better estimate my time and set a good goal.

We parked, unloaded our bikes, and started off.  I noticed we we started out going downhill, and thought, “Great.  A nice bike ride uphill is exactly what I want at the end, before I try and run three miles as fast as I can.”

And then we turned the corner.

Does this look like a big hill?  Because it is one.  It is an enormous, long, scary ass hill.  Forget going up it, which is doable.  Whatever, put it in a low gear, trudge up, okay. Fine.  What got me upset was how fast I got going down it.  Even riding my brakes the whole way I still felt wobbly and unsteady and like I was going to tip over and crash at any moment.  I had a hard time coming to a stop at the bottom and my bike skidded a bit as my rear wheel sort of slid out from under me. SCARY.

So, scary as hell downhill, super difficult uphill, and short blocks of flat in between.  Eight times.  Do those hills eight times, and then ride further back uphill to where you started.

My first thought was “HELL to the NO.”  I teared up.  (I am a crier.  For perspective, I also cry when facing an especially busy day at work. Or at any sad story about dogs.  Feeling overwhelmed when picking out a cell phone plan.  Every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Etc.)

I was just thinking, this sucks.  I don’t want to do this.  I have been looking forward to this for six months plus, but this?  Eight laps of cycling terror and agony?  No thanks. I’ll send them an email politely explaining that I signed up before the course was posted online, and now that I see it is horrible, I would please like a refund.

The point is for it to be fun, and crying about scary hills on the corner of Maple and 13th? Not fun.

So.  I had my little meltdown.  And then we figured, as long as we’d come this far, may as well check out the run route as well.  The original plan was to run the run route, but since I was mopey and the map wasn’t super clear, we just biked it instead.  More up and down hills, though not as steep.

Honestly, after checking out the bike and run routes, we were both feeling like, Screw it.  We’ll sign up for another one.  This looks like no fun at all.

But before leaving, I said we should ride the bike loop again.  And it was a little less scary since I knew what was coming.  And I went up the hill, a little easier since I knew to just put it in granny gear and not even try to maintain any sort of speed whatsoever.

And we already paid about $100 in entry fees.

So.  Once again, time to HTFU.  I tacked on ten minutes to my goal time, reminded myself that the second tri I signed up for in June looks awesome and decided I didn’t want to be a quitter.  (Though I reserve the right to leave the race a super bad review on active.com depending on the organization on race day.)

So. We’ll see. Hrmph.