Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Race...

OK, so getting back to the race - I think I left off with the gun signaling the start of the race.  So off I went.  I started towards the back of the pack to give the fast girls plenty of room and to not get run over.   At this point the sun was still low enough that it was somewhat blocked and not messing with my sighting. 

I tried to get in a familiar rhythm with my breathing.  I thought back to the laps and laps and laps and miles and miles and miles I swam in preparation  for this one little 1.2 mile swim through Oceanside Harbor to the Pacific Ocean.  But, for whatever reason,  I couldn't calm down.  I couldn't get back in my familiar every 3 stroke pattern.  My heart rate was too high and I was a bit panicky.  I could tell my body wasn't at 100%.  Tried my hardest to calm down...  Got down to breathing every other stroke in an attempt to calm down.  However the further I swam out towards the ocean, the choppier it got.  I was rocking side to side.  Very soon, the men's heat that started behind ours had overtaken my little area of the ocean.  This presented its own set of problems.  Now I had 200 pound men swimming on every side.  And after their heat, came another heat of men.  By this point I was in the back trickle of my heat, with just a few of the 'slow girls' and lots of men.  Kept on swimming... Buoy after buoy ahead.  

Salvation - the turnaround point - Halfway there!  I tell myself over and over again my mantra (stolen long ago from cross country) - "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful" - Now the sun was getting high in the sky and messing up my view as I peeked up to sight.  Swim, swim, swim, never calming down enough to get to my usual stroke/breathing pattern.  I tried to stick off to the side to avoid all the people, but there were so many!  It was a different experience than my 07 race... Finally I start to see land on my right hand side meaning I was getting closer.  Then I started to hear the roar of the crowd.  Cowbells and cheering - I pictured all of my family up there and smiled because there were all there!  Finally I can see the boat ramp and the swimmers exiting the water - Just a little further - I finally got shallow enough to set down my feet.  The volunteers gave me a pat on the back, asked me if I were Ok, and started my wetsuit zipper down.  I ran up the ramp and saw my family!  Ran around the outside of the transition area and then turned in to find the Lemond.  I saw the turtle balloon and made a left turn!

Got to all my stuff and my family made it there shortly after filling me with 'good jobs' etc.  I took my time stripping off my (very tight) wetsuit and gearing up in my bike attire.   Made sure my bottles were on the Lemond and I was ready to go.  Told my family I'd see them in 56 and off I went!

By this time it had significantly warmed up outside.  I had my arm warmers tucked in my back pocket, but didn't think I needed them.  The ride first travels out of the Harbor and then turns onto Camp Pendleton where it heads north hugging the beautiful Pacific coast.  It really is fabulously beautiful and open.  I was really enjoying it even though I wasn't feeling super.  The ride continues north for 15 or 16 miles or so (not entirely sure as my bike computer wasn't working).  At this point, just after the lovely San Onofre plant, you turn east and head deep into the base.  I remembered from my former race that it gets hilly soon... I hit a water stop and checked my bottles - There was still quite a bit of fluid in them so didn't grab any new fluids.  I thought I had remembered that there would be a rest top after the hill set....

Shortly after, the hill that has haunted my dreams the past 18 weeks came into view.  I remembered it from 2007.  I remembered people with fancy tri-bikes getting off to walk up.   It's not a terribly long hill, but quite steep and a little longer than you want to see at mile 30 during an Ironman.  No problem I tell myself.  Only wimps walk it.  I put the Lemond into Granny gear and up I went.  It wasn't pretty, but I made it.  Upon reaching the top I gasped for air and looked out ahead for that upcoming aid stop.  Strange I though - didn't see one.  I used up over a bottle of fluids from the previous miles.  More and more hills came, though not as rough as that first bear.  Still no aid stops.  IN the mean time I used up my fluids rather quickly.  The sun was out and all those hills back in Camp P had blocked the cool ocean breeze.  

A rider came up and passed me.  I asked him if he knew where the next aid stop was.  Mile 50?!  Oh my.  I was only at 35ish, dehydrated (damn Mucinex) and out of fluids.  Not good.  I started to panic which really doesn't help things at all... About mile 40 I knew I was in real trouble - no people about, no fluids, no end in sight.  I knew I was way off schedule.  Then almost as if she were sent from the clouds above, Skyler arrived.... Her name was Sklyer (it's on our tags) and she rode up beside me as I was riding up another hill and breathing quite erratically.  Like most mid to back of packers she said hello and asked how I was doing.  I told her I was out of fluids and not feeling so hot.  Then Sklyer offered me up her bottle of gatorade.  I heard the hallelujahs ringing in my ears!  I took that bottle while she rode with me to make sure I was ok and I downed the gatorade faster than you can read this post.  Salvation!  I knew I was still pretty messed up, but at least I knew I could make it 56.  I made it to 50 and grabbed 2 more bottles from the Marines - Go Marines - You guys ROCK!  :)  AT this point the course turns due west (straight into the wind tunnel back to O-side).  I picked up my pace a little and started to pick off some of the slow pokes ;)

Then I saw it - Oceanside Harbor!  Almost there!  Finally made it back, rode across the little bridge into the transition area and there was AJP cheering wildly with a cowbell!  Then I turned around, dismounted the Lemond and ran towards the turtle - There they ALL were!  Cheering wildly.  By this time most of the bikes were already back in the transition area so it was rather quiet, until you went over by the turtle balloon and there the Streams were going crazier than a Superbowl.  It was such a great feeling!  :)  Nate said "Aunt Kate, what took you so long?"  I thought - if you only knew, if you only knew.  Turns out my ride was 30 minutes slower than 2007... 

Took my time taking off my bike shoes, helmet, etc.  At this point it was HOT outside.  My sister helped spray me down with sun block.  I put on my new pink Ironman visor - (I love it, it has pink flames on the side!!)  I saw Jackie and her boys in their peace sign shirts made special for the event - so sweet!  Home made signs, cowbells - the Streams family came out in style!  Even Richard and Sarah had made it!  It was time to head out on the run.  At this point many people were already done with the race.  A few of them cheered me on as I started out on my 13.1.

The first thing I noticed when I started running was not the usual sore "transition legs".  Instead, it felt like my body had been beaten the previous evening with a bag of bricks.  No, make that cinder blocks.  I knew I had messed myself up pretty bad by getting dehydrated earlier.  So stupid.  ugh!  

Next came my first surprise - a turn on the beach!  In 2007, the running portion was entirely on the roads.  This year we turned on the beach.  I like running on the beach, right?  Well this was loose sand.  And I was way beaten down.  No matter - I saw Kevin and Mark - Yay!  Seeing my  people along the course makes me keep going!  

I settled into my painful rhythm.  Next I saw the Falks walking along!  Yay - more support!  Kept going.   At this point I started to think about the timing chip on my ankle.  How could I get it to the turnaround point without running down that far?  Maybe I could take a beach cruiser from some unsuspecting kid riding around.  Somehow I couldn't stomach the thought of being on a bike again.  I knew I had to run.  I got to the turnaround point.  Great 10 miles to go.  Hurrah!  I kept going.  

The run course consists of two out and back runs along the beach.  IT's really flat and easy (theoretically) and you also get to run with much faster people (on their second loop).   By this point many of the people on their course were not on the first lap (like me) but were almost done...

As I approached the finish line (unfortunately also the turnaround point for the second loop) I was running with a girl with a GGTC uniform on - She says to me - "come on - we're almost there!"  I told her I had another loop - 6.5 to go.   As I heard the crowd going wild cheering in people finishing, I crossed the timing map, nodded at Kara and Jackie and company and turned south again.  Another loop awaits.

Back out to the sand.  Did I mention I hate the sand?  I saw the Falks and AJP and Mark and Kevin.  I made Kevin promise me to never let me do this race again - ha ha ha ha ha.  He tried to get my mind off it by asking me about the MSU game that night - FINAL FOUR!  Yeah, that worked for a second or two before I remembered the pain I was in!  My pace slowed even more and I trudged along.  Turnaround point again - Just a little over 3 to go.  3 is easy - I can run 3 in my sleep!

My body was protesting - I'll save you the details about my visions of Moses, etc etc.  Finally, FINALLY after passing a steady stream of athletes leaving the site, finished, rested and gear in hand, I see it.  The finish line!  Jackie, Greg and kids cheer me on as I make the final turn into the main stretch.   Oh - what a feeling - The endorphins had long since taken over - And there they all were - My family and my friends :)  I gave it everything I had and ran it into the finish.  And it was done!  

My body was jello but I couldn't feel it.  I got my T-shirt, hat and medal and then found my family.  Chugged some water and was ready to gather my gear and head home to watch MSU and party!  My family helped me carry my stuff and we started the LONG walk back to the car.  I swear - it's over a mile and the hardest mile of the day as my body ACHED.  I said my good-byes and Kara and Melissa and I hopped into AJP's truck.  I thought I could use some Wendy's french fries (just like 07) - however, realized that my throat was so swollen shut I couldn't eat and I could barely drink.  We got home and I showered up.  Kevin and Mark had been to the store and filled my fridge with Tecate.  The MSU game was in full swing and the mood was upbeat.     That is when I crashed.  I couldn't eat or drink and was in full shut-down.  I went into my room to lay down.  By that time some people were showing up for the party.... I got sicker and sicker.  Finally we called off the party and I retired to my bed to sleep and force fluids down my throat.

However, don't want to turn this into a sad story.  The moral of the story here is drink, drink, drink people (hydrate that is).  And, the Ironman is a race not to be eff'ed with.  I survived, though my recovery has been slow to say the least.  I even cancelled out on Wildflower this past weekend (more on that later).... But overall - this was a huge success - I raised almost $2,500 (not too shabby in these economic times) for Prostate Cancer and for my Dad who was there to see me cross the finish line.  This made it all worth it.  

I am done typing for now, but stay tuned for a special post dedicated to all my donors - you guys are the best!  Ta - Ta for now!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Water, the elixir of life...

Maybe the two of you who actually read my blog are wondering whatever happened?  Did she make it past week 15 and a half?  Yes!  I am happy to report that I made it through weeks 16, 17 and 18 too!  As the race approached, life got busier and busier.  Visitors starting trickling in and time got away from me, hence the blog remained here uninspired and ignored.  Now I'm back.  

It's been almost a month since that fateful day - April 4, 2009... I'll spare you the details of the final hard weeks of training (It was difficult).. So starting around the Wednesday before the race, I started to get a little bit of a cold - No big deal.  I kept telling myself I could beat it.  Afterall, I had made it 18 weeks of 5 am swims and 50 mile bike rides. How could a little cold get me down?  Numerous warnings from the tri-club list serve clogged my e-mails - Apparently tapering makes people more susceptible to colds?  Rubbish!  I would defeat the cold mentally.  By Friday, most everyone from out of town had arrived and I had to admit - I wasn't feeling well.  I went to the pharmacy and asked the pharmacist what she would recommend for someone swimming, biking and running 70.3 miles the next day.  She recommended Mucinex.  Ok, I say and buy the Mucinex and Sudafed (my crutch just in case...).  I promptly downed one pill as a test run.  I also began to chug serious amounts of fluids as I knew the stuff would dry me out.  I felt ok and the Mucinex was allowing me to breathe easier.

Friday continued on - It was a fabulous day (outside the near constant worry of my impending doom).   I got all checked in for the race up in Oceanside and my anxiety grew even more.   We ended the day with a bbq with all of my dearest family/friends at the Streams beach house, which allowed me to relax just a smidgen.  I cut out early so that I could get up to Carlsbad and try to get a good night sleep.   Got up to Carlsbad and realized I was a neurotic stress ball.... But, eventually fell asleep at some point during the night....

4:15 a.m.  Alarm goes off.  Really freaking out.  Get on my Athletes for A Cure top (still a little snug with my cupcake top)...Pop another Mucinex... Load up the truck with the bike and all my gear. See many other crazies in the parking lot.  Seriously, who chooses to get up at 4 on a Saturday?  I do, I do!  Got up to Oceanside and it's dark and cold.  I know you probably don't believe me about the cold part, but it really was.  I could see my breath in the air and had on a warm winter hat to keep my ears from freezing.  We reached the parking lot and then I really freaked out once I saw everyone.  Loaded my gear on my back and biked the mile (in the cold - brrrr) down to the transition area.  I got there and luckily this year, was there early enough that I could choose a nice spot in the transition area.  I chose a spot right by the wall so that my family could find me and because, who am I kidding, the extra 20 feet I would have to run to get here was not going to hurt my placement ;)  AJP arrived (having walked the mile alone and in the cold) with my turtle balloon.  Yay - AJP - You're awesome!  This balloon was awesome - picked it up at Albertsons the night before.  I tied it to the bar at my spot so I could find my stuff (often delirious upon exit of the water) and my family could find me too!  AJP also brought food and drink so I could get some calories into my body before the fun would begin...

The transition area started to fill up with all of the athletes.  The first sliver of light appeared to the east.  It was still cold.  I shivered as I had to semi-strip to get body-marking for the race.  The other ladies in my age group were starting to get their wetsuits on so I did the same.  The problem with my wetsuit is that I bought it 5 years and 20 pounds ago ;)  I've worn it many times previously, but the past few uses have been somewhat uncomfortable.  After much work, I finally go the thing on and felt like a little sausage squeezed into a casing (simile complements of AJP) - The thing barely zipped, but got it on...  About the time AJP forced the zipper up my back - my family arrived!  I was so WONDERFUL to see their smiling faces and hear their cheers and Ironman cow bells.  My nephews all sported Ironman tattoos - They got me pumped up and helped ease my nerves!  Soon it was time for me to head to the start.  I pulled on the red swim cap, hugged them all and walked over to the boat ramp....

I stood there waiting at the boat ramp with the other women in my heat, all clad in red swim caps.  The mood was upbeat and full of energy.  Athletes in heats ahead of mine were already finishing up and exiting the water.  It was exciting!  Before I knew it, it was time for me to go.  They let our heat into the water, which was COLD (a crisp 58 degrees F).  We walked down the boat ramp and took our first dip in the ocean.  The race starts out a small distance from the boat ramp so you swim out a little ways first.  We all swam out together and awaited the start.  By this time the nerves were gone.  I hung towards the back as to not get run over (swimming is not my strongest), wished the girls next to me good luck and took in a deep breath.  

At 7:33 a.m., the gun went off and off I went.  

To Be Continued....What happened next?  Hmmm - You know, it's 10:15 and I just got back from an awesome weekend in NOLA for the jazz fest.... The rest of my post is coming soon :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Week 15 came and went  - IT was a tough week mentally and physically.  

Now we're on to week 16.  This is the LAST week in the speed/quality phase and it's already almost done!  That means this is the LAST HARD week!!!  Week 17 begins taper phase and then I'm almost there!

In case you are wondering what I do with myself, I'm going to bore you with a detailed log of this last tough week.  Don't be jealous of my exciting existence.  

Starting with Munday Munday.  The alarm went off around 5:40.  IT seemed entirely too early. Mandatory snooze was in order.  Remembered the pool gets cleaned on Munday mornings so finally dragged myself out of bed close to 6.  Grabbed my pre-packed bag and drove the Panther to the gym.  All of the lanes were full in the pool.  Just my luck - pushing the time and apparently my luck.  Sat down on the step leading back into the gym to wait.  Oh, and I want to add that it was cold.  I first tried to look sad, hoping the swimmers in the pool would feel sorry for me and offer up their lane.  That didn't work so next I tried stink eye.  Finally, My. Flarer in lane 3 got out.  Now I was running really short on time and knew my leisurely swim had suddenly turned into a race.  Rinsed off in the hot shower and quickly ran and jumped into the heated pool, which didn't feel so heated on this fine Munday.  Got all 1500m in just in time for the 24-Hour pool cleaning guy to come on out.  After getting showered up at the gym it was off to cube wonderland!  Work was as per usual - not all that exciting.  Left promptly at 5 to head home and bike.  Procrastinated a bit at home and finally got on the bike at 6:45.  An hour and a half later, got off my bike.  Showered up, mixed up some muscle milk and made some toast.  All of the sudden, it was getting late and time for bed.  Packed up my swim bag for the next day and got in bed around 10.

Tuesday Tuesday - Alarm goes off at 5:30.  Get up shortly thereafter.  Pet Cal and Chloe.  Fill up the cat food.  Grab swim bag and out the door.  In the pool at 6:10.  Had it all to myself for about 1 minute.  Then it was filled.  AJP came shortly thereafter and shared a lane with me.  For whatever reason the pool was hopping.  I was a little distressed because I had a long workout, the other lanes weren't budging and there were people waiting!!  Another lane got out and 2 of the people waiting shared a lane.  Mr. Euro-Speedo-Snob showed up, grew impatient and then took off.  By some miracle, no one else showed up and I was able to complete all 2500m.  Showered up at the gym and then headed to cube wonderland for another enthralling day.  Had a little head ache at work so after my 8 hours, headed home.  Took a short nap on the couch with Calvin.  Then it was time for the run "quality" workout of the week.  Headed to the gym and warmed up on the treadmill for 1.5 miles.  Then it was time for the 800 m repeats.  I did 6 of them, wogging 400 m in between each 800 m interval.  It was intense.  After all of that, it was a 1.5 mile cool down.  This added up in total to over 7 miles.  I was a bit tired!  Got home just after 9, showered up, made a salad and was ready for bed.  

That brings me to Wednesday.  Wednesday is sleep-in/1 workout day!  Slept in until almost 7!  IT was so nice!  Got up and got ready for cube wonderland.  Then I was off.  After a full day at work (lucky to be busy today), came home and set the bike up on the trainer.  Today is bike quality workout day.  After spinning an easy 30 minutes, it was time for intervals.  Cranked up to a higher gear and did 6 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy for 6 reps.  Then cooled down an easy 30 minutes.   Showered up, cooked some dinner and now here I sit.  I'm really tired.  IN fact, it's almost 10 and time to pack up for tomorrow's swim workout.  Tomorrow is another early morning, but the week is almost done!  

Now you know, how boring I am :)  Hope everyone is doing well out there!  

Monday, March 09, 2009

Week 15 is here already - 4 to go!
The day started with an EARLY swim.  Whoever developed the idea of a time change is a cruel individual - As if "Spring Forward" really makes me feel happy and perky to have my alarm blaring at 5:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. body time).  Crawled over to the pool and had a rather slow swim this a.m.  Now I am procrastinating getting on my bike.  Anyone got any extra motivation today?

Week 14 was good.  Speed/Quality workouts continued on, with the increase of repeats in each of the events.  It left me quite tired.  On Saturday I completed the biggest brick workout of the program in order to get both long weekend workouts done before my trip to the desert to cheer on AJP in the Desert Tri.  I started with a 50-mile bike all by my lonesome up the Coast.  It was a pretty day and I had a good time.  From there I came home, swapped clothes and headed out for a 90-minute run on the beach.  By this time, my legs were a bit unhappy with the rest of my body.  I crawled along at a pathetic pace causing me to get passed by even the slowest woggers on the beach.  Oh well.  I made it though!  Came home with just enough time to shower, pack and head out on my merry way.

Sunday I watched the Desert Tri.  It was fun to be a spectator rather than a competitor.  Even though the alarm went off at 5 (4 am body time), I took comfort in the fact I would not be running, biking or swimming that day!  The event seemed fun and I camped out underneath a nice palm in between events while AJP was sweating it out!  He did great though and I was glad to be there to support his efforts!

Well, I suppose I should go get on my bike now.  Ta Ta for now!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Gran Fondo = Gran Divertimento!

It was a beautiful weekend in San Diego - Record highs and lots of sunshine! Today was the first Gran Fondo ride in the United States! I think it was a big success. Over 1,000 cyclists gathered before 7 a.m. in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood for one of two races - There was the century, complete with over 4,500 feet of climbing, and then there was the 45-miler. We opted for the 45-miler. All of the riders took off at the same time in waves and headed south on Harbor Drive. It was a superb morning complete with sun and perfect temperatures. We headed south towards Chula Vista and tried to avoid some of the "less aware" cyclists (including "steer clear")... Witnessed (or rather just missed) an accident at the railroad tracks. Eventually made it out to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. This was cool as I had never been out there. We actually had an aid stop in the training center and got to do a loop through and see all of the facilities - very cool and thought of dear sister Amanda. Looped around and headed back to downtown, finishing up in Little Italy to a victor's fanfare (wanted to raise my arms up Tour style, but refrained due to coordinational issues). The race was really well organized, especially for the first time this event was even held! The riders were (mostly) friendly and the pasta lunch afterwards, was kick-arse. Lots and lots of fun! I would definitely recommend to those around next year!

Yesterday was also a nice day, complete with a 90-minute run on the beach. The sun was stronger than I realized and I ended up a little fried/burned on my arms. Oops! Got to remember to get some sweat proof sunblock. But, guess I can't complain as it's in the teens back in Michigan right now.

This past week (week 13) was the first week of the Speedwork/Quality Phase. The program I used calls for one "quality" workout in each of the events. The run quality work was first on Tuesday night. This involved some 800 m intervals. I actually really enjoyed the workout as it really gives me a chance to push myself (speed) running. Wednesday was the bike quality workout. I did this by jumping up a few rings to increase the resistance for 3-minute intervals. Also fun (was also watching American Idol while biking, which increased my amusement)... Thursday was the swimming quality workout. I forgot what I was supposed to do, but knew the total distance was supposed to be 2300m so I threw in some 50 and 100 m repeats trying to increase my speed during the lap and resting 15 seconds in between. Fun Fun Fun! Now I'm on to week 14 - Can't believe it's week 14 already!!!! Sadly, muffin top remains though general strength and endurance have increased. Such is life!
OFF to bed. Sleep awaits! Peace.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!

Today is a very special day - My Dad turns 60 today, so happy birthday to you Dad!  I can't wait until we can celebrate together in April!  I understand that the day was blessed in the mighty mitten state with a new blanket of snow.  I'm taking this moment to publicly remind you not to shovel the driveway and to fix the snow blower (or purchase new) instead.  :)  This will guarantee a quick end to winter for you!

Week 12 has come to completion today, with a nice 90-minute run along beautiful Pacific/Mission beach.  Finished up with a couple hill repeats, just because.  Week 12 was recovery week and provided some much needed ramped down workouts.   Now we're on to the final stretch - Week 13 begins tomorrow and with it comes new speed/interval workouts!  Should be lots of fun!!  

As a fun factoid, was at a dinner party last night - We discussed the Amgen Tour de California, which
concludes today in Rancho Bernardo/Escondido, a few miles up the highway.  Apparently the average speed yesterday (including the hill/mountain climbs) was 33 mph.  Hmm... Quite humbling,  if you recall from my last post, my TOP speed in Palm Springs (going downhill) was 34 mph.  Can't imagine riding that as my average speed.  Guess that's why they are professional ;)  

All right - that is it from me!  Ciao Ciao!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

P.S. I Love You!

This weekend I traveled to the lovely Southern California oasis, known as Palm Springs.  I've been to Palm Springs two other times - the first time was to give a (enthralling) talk at the CWEA Annual Conference a few years back.  The second visit to Palm Springs was for the 2007 Tour de Palm Springs with RB.  It was a quick in and out in the same day.  I don't think on my previous visits, that I fully appreciated the place.

Arrived bright and early Saturday morning after a 5:00 a.m. departure time.  It was raining when we left and we traveled through patches of fog.  Upon a quick gas/bathroom break 15 miles prior to arrival, was a bit nervous at the conditions.  It was windy and COLD.  Decided upon tights, sleeves, jacket and a hat.  This was slightly different than my 2007 experience (it was in the low 80s and I got a sun burn and bad tan lines from my shorts).  We parked the truck and changed into awesome bike attire (see previous posting on bike attire).  I was also EARLY this year!  This is wonderful because in 2007 I was about 30 minutes late with RB.  Actually, that is how I met RB in 2006 - we were both late to the Tour de Poway....So thank goodness for my tardiness or I never would have met RB!  Anyways, fast forward to this year...  I'm pleased with myself for being on time... They let us take off for the 55-mile race in small groups so as not to overwhelm the streets/police/etc with the 8,000+ riders.  

AJP and I took off heading north through the streets of Palm Springs, which is a cute town. Suddenly we were out in the desert.  It was still brisk and we were biking directly into the wind.  All of the windmills were cranked and I struggled to keep my speed at 10mph (yikes!!).   But, the scenery was amazing.  I really had somehow missed the mountains during my previous visits - I'm not really sure how, as they were AMAZING!   Snow-capped (somehow never noticed snow-capped mountains in So Cal before)... and all around.  It made riding into the strong winds for the first 10 miles totally worth it!  

Next we turned and headed east.  This part of the course is FAST.  There are rolling hills (mostly down) and we're out in the middle of the desert with minimal traffic and people.  This part was super fun.  The Lemond was feeling extra fast and got up to a ripe speed of 35 mph down some of the hills.  The ride continued on like this for quite some time (maybe the next 25 miles or so?).  Then we turned and headed south back towards another town - Thousand Palms (not to be confused with Thousand Oaks many miles to the west).  The rest of the ride was through town and was quick and flat outside of the occasional stop light.  I kept thinking throughout the ride how nice the scenery was!  Not sure how I missed that before!  We finished up the 55 mile (actually clocked at 56 mile) ride by 1 p.m. (note cheezy finish picture for a good laugh on Monday morning - love bike attire - also notice new white handle bars on Lemond taped by yours truly!)...
The ride was extremely well organized and lots of fun to participate in.  I would recommend to anyone who likes to ride!  Aid stops were well stocked and filled with volunteers and high school bands, which was fun.  The end of the race was in downtown Palm Springs complete with balloon finish arch (in red, white and blue) another band, cheerleaders, a whole festival of sorts and lots of smiling bikers.  A great experience!  Felt pretty good after 56 miles!

Moving on to today - Today was a 100-minute training run.  Instead of the normal out and back beach routine, opted for the trails.  I suppose you could say I hit the wall today.   Felt out of sorts - achy, tired, over-trained, and a bit grumpy.  From then my mind/attitude crumbled and it turned out to not be the best run ever.  Luckily, tomorrow begins week 12, which is RECOVERY week.  Couldn't have come sooner...  Speaking of which, my goal was to be in bed 30 minutes ago.  Tomorrow will be here before I know it and another trip to the pool is in store for the early morning hours.  Must get to sleep!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  Ciao Ciao!