Sunday, September 28, 2014

September is a good month

Posted by Rachel

Not my favorite month, but a good month. Traditionally, fall has always been my favorite season. Technically we don't have legitimate seasons here in California, but there's still something about September-November that's pretty awesome. This month, between my trips to the central coast, London, Tahoe, etc it has definitely been a fun one. Here are some thoughts I've had since my last post (the London run):

-An hour after I walked in the door from my London trip, I got into the car and drove to Lake Tahoe. I was signed up to volunteer at running aid station #1 and I was excited about cheering on my husband and friends in the race, which was probably helping to fend off the jet lag. I had asked Travers whether the drive would be smoky, and he had said "only a little". When I was driving, I noticed the smoke was way more than a little. WAY more. When I got there, everyone seemed in good spirits and optimistic about the race continuing, so I didn't say too much and got into it. The next morning I was supposed to be at the aid station at 9:00 am, so I thought I'd wake up at 5:30, get a run in, and head to the swim start at 6:30 before heading off to my post. It wasn't too smoky in King's Beach so maybe there had been a favorable shift in the winds. I was excited to see the pro swimmers and the start of the Ironman, in general. I ran a bit and was standing on the beach in my running clothes when I heard the announcement- the race would be canceled due to smoke. Even as someone much less invested in the race than the hundreds of suited-up swimmers around me, I still couldn't believe my ears. After he repeated it, I started sprinting back to the rental house to tell my friends what I had heard. I saw them half way and they had heard it, too. Huge disappointment! The only good to come of it was that we made some pretty tasty breakfast sandwiches and hung out at the house for a while. Also, a couple of those friends are now signed up for 70. 3 Rancho Cordova next weekend so I can't wait to see how awesome they do!

-Monday spin class: I hadn't biked in a week so I started a little slow. I realized my power meter was reading about 20 W. Hmmm. Am I THAT out of shape, or is this thing broken!? Eventually, the screen showed the word "POWER" with a picture of a battery with a line through it, which hopefully confirms it was broken. At the end, my average was 7 W, and I realized I like spin class a lot better when I don't know my data!

-I'm in week 3 of my half marathon training plan and I had both some great (track, tempo) and some not so great (long, easy) runs. Being a few weeks into running has been a good reminder of how much I love the sport. Between that and swimming, it's no wonder the triathlon is a pretty good fit for me. Still working on that positive outlook for biking :)

-Broads Run Broadway: For Sandi's birthday, our "present" to her was to all sign up for a 5k and run it with her. Initially we were going to run it aiming for a PR, but earlier in the week we received an email informing us that the run was untimed. So we (well, most of us) decided to have a little fun with it (one of us ended up seriously "racing"). Halfway through, I was running by and I heard "water" and decided to ignore it because we were only running 5k. Then I heard the same voice yell "wine!". Wine?! I put on the brakes and did what I had to do. After the first time I had wine during a race I swore I'd never do it again, but how bad can 1.5 miles be?! Turns out it was ok this time, although I still won't have any in the Healdsburg half next month. The theme of the run was "dress up as your favorite movie star", and since we already had a real life Sandi, we decided to be Grease-themed. We ended up winning a trophy inscribed, "2nd Best Dressed Broads" for our awesome costumes!

Thanks to Danielle for the picture, and Michelle, Sandi, and Chen for the costume/hair!

October- here we come!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Challenge Rancho Cordova!

Posted by Matt

A super quick post, but we couldn't resist - the training was done, a half ironman must be run. And now with a very, very extended taper going into Challenge Rancho Cordova on Oct. 5th. And I dragged Katie in with me :)!  Hopefully the King Fire will go quietly into the night and not cancel another race. Wahoo!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cancellation Report: IM Lake Tahoe 70.3

Posted by Katie

I had big plans for this race ( finish it primarily), and I couldn't wait to tell you (the internet) all about it. Unfortunately for reasons beyond my control there was no race today... Ironman Lake Tahoe was cancelled.

Saturday night I could hardly sleep I was too excited/nervous for the race. The house we rented was a short walk to the start so we were able to get up at a reasonable time (5:30am... although I was up at 5) and have breakfast and relax at the house before walking down to the start. Just before 6:30 we decided to walk over to the start to get our body markings and watch the full ironman pro race start. As we were walking Matt and Travers were chatting and I heard the person on the PA say something like "mumble mumble cancelled, mumble, please don't enter the water". WAIT WHAT?!?! Somewhat in shock, we listened again and this time heard clearly that the race had been cancelled due to hazardous air quality conditions in the area especially Squaw and Truckee (on the bike and run course). Thousands of ironman triathletes on the beach let out a collective UHHHG.

It was somewhat hard to grasp in Kings Beach where the air seemed to be fine. We had checked the air quality ratings online, and knew that things were really bad (into the extremely unhealthy levels)... but it is just hard to wrap your head around that when you are standing in your tri gear ready to hop into the water and get this show on the road after months of preparation...

Air Particulate Measurements (Courtesy of

Air quality ratings

So at 6:00am Truckee and Squaw valley had ratings of 450 and 500 ug/m^3... and as you can see from the key above 150+ is "Very unhealthy". Even Tahoe City just down the road ~10 miles from Kings Beach was ~150. Certainly I think the race directors made the right call, but after 4 months of training.. the disappointment was also huge.
Sad face.
  Trying to make the best of things we decided to pick up our bikes and then do the swim anyway. The air quality was at a healthy level in Kings Beach and the buoys were still out with a few kayak and paddle board volunteers out keeping an eye on swimmers (though technically they didn't have to, thanks volunteers! you guys rock). So Matt, Travers and I put on our wetsuits, Rachel gave us an official "cannon" and we were off.

Ready set SWIM!
 The swim actually went pretty badly for me, which was good in a humbling kind of way. The first few buoys there were small waves hitting us head on. Granted they were pretty tiny and produced by the wind... but I am a baby and train in the pool and super small lake/pond where it is always calm and flat. Once we rounded the far end things got better and the swim (with lots and lots of breast stroke pauses) ended up taking me 48mins. Definitely off of my < 40min goal and is a great lesson in that I need more open water practice/confidence. 

Swim finishers

Next it was time to pack up and go get our run bags (and car) at Squaw. We saw quite a few people on bikes... I hope just trying to get their bikes back to Squaw and not biking the course because the smoke was awful. Imagine the foggiest day in San Francisco... now imagine it is not fog, but a hot campfire. Just walking to the T2 area my throat and eyes felt raw. I felt awful for the volunteers still around to distribute shirts and collect timing chips. I hope they didn't have to stick around too long, or Ironman had a plan for particulate masks or something to help the volunteers.

Not your typical view of Squaw...

When we picked up our run gear they were handing out finisher shirts, hats and medals. I have a confession to make... I love the shirt! I am totally going to wear it (though it does feel wrong since I did not actually "finish"... but hey I did an unofficial 1/3 of the race.. that counts right?).

So what now?

Great question. Ironman responded today with three options:
1) Discounted $50 registration for Frogman (this wekeend) or Silverman (next weekend)
2) Discounted $50 registration for IM Lake Tahoe 70.3 2015
3) Half off $125 registration to various US 70.3 races in the spring/summer 2015.

Since Frogman is in the ocean (see above: Katie is terrified of swimming in waves) and Silverman would cost a lot extra in travel and bike shipping... I am leaning towards option #2.

Part of me wants to to a 70.3 soon... part of me wants to focus on the half marathon and marathon I have coming up in October and December... we shall see :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

London running (sightseeing) tour

Posted by Rachel 

Last Sunday morning- a gorgeous 14 miler on the packed sand of the beaches of the California Central Coast as the sun rose and began breaking through the fog.

 picture of my in-law beach vacation the evening before an amazing long run

40 hours later- my own personal running tour of London. I am having an awesome and lucky month! Now, I’ll go through my run in exhaustive detail, just in case anyone cared!
The first part of the route was a tour of the Royal Parks. After passing Buckingham Palace, I ran through Green Park. Beautiful, open, and spacious, there were tons of runners and cyclists (where permitted) in this park. (Question to ponder: why do so many British runners wear backpacks?) They also provide lawn chairs for the public- pretty neat.

(1) Buckingham Palace (pic from the day before- there weren't that many tourists out at 7 am), (2) Green Park

Then I went on to Hyde Park and Kensington Park. Hyde Park has a lot of colorful flowers, including a rose garden. This was another gorgeous park to run in. I crossed into Kensington Park and then ran along a body of water which, according to my map, is called the “Serpentine”. It is here that I found the open water swimmers. Hello, triathletes of London! I felt very at home here, and there were tons of people running as well. I’m glad they were swimming here because I had looked at the water in the Thames yesterday and it was not pretty. I also noticed that they have a species of goose here. I think the Canada Geese near Lake Merritt are the bastard cousins of these things. The London ones look cleaner and nicer and actually stay out of the running path. (Random sidenote: yesterday I saw some tourists petting a squirrel. What?! And eww.) Then I crossed over the Serpentine (on a bridge of course, not via the water) and ran back out through Hyde Park. On the way out, I saw the police force which looked just like the officers of the Oakland Police Department (ha!).
(1) Hyde Park, (2) open water swimmers! made my day (3) the Serpentine (running trail of London) (4) LPD

From here I moved onto Piccadilly Circus. I thought from the internet pictures that this would be a British version of Time Square, but it wasn’t really. It looked like it was ok for shopping but that’s not what I was there to do. Surprisingly, of the many roads off-shooting from Piccadilly, I actually chose the right one to run down (a freaking miracle). I moved onto Trafalgar Square, home to The National Gallery and a giant statue of a blue rooster (don’t know). (Ok, I googled it and apparently the statue of a big blue cock is supposed to represent feminism. Still don’t know…) Anyway, it is after Trafalgar Square where if you look at my Garmin map, it starts getting a little crazy. I started off the right way, but took a turn right because that’s really what it looked like on my map. I second guessed myself quickly, and a nice British gentleman informed me I was running away from the river (ie. the total wrong way). So I followed his directions as far south as they took me, then proceeded to go the wrong way AGAIN (although St. James Park, which I took a detour through, was lovely). Finally, I turned around and kept running, eventually spotting Big Ben and Parliament which I knew were on the river. Thank goodness for gigantic landmarks.

(1-2) Piccadilly, (3-4) Trafalgar Square, (5) cool unidentified arch, (6) something else unidentified, (7) lost in St James Park, (8) finally found the river!

At this point in the run, I had accidentally added almost a mile with my “detours”. I was pushing mile 7, and the fact that I had only eaten 1 snack (fruit on the plane) and 1 meal (dinner) the day before was becoming very evident. So I took a detour off of the Thames River and found a shitty coffee shop that was next to a bunch of businesses. Everyone in this shop was dressed for work, and the guy behind the counter was giving me an eye. (Yes, I was the only sweaty person in there. But I’ve been in much, MUCH nicer coffee shops way more sweaty). I purchased water and a Snickers hoping it would hold me for at least 3 more miles.

So onward I go, passing a really neat pedestrian bridge. The river trail was SO confusing. It kept taking tiny detours from the river, many of them seeming to go through buildings (or at least through areas that were enclosed on most sides). I would’ve certainly got lost if it weren’t for the runner a few steps ahead of me who was luckily going a similar pace. I was probably annoying the crap out of him running his same pace just a few strides behind him, but he did me a huge favor. I don’t know how anyone could possibly do a tempo run in this area because of course, my Garmin was going nuts. A ways down, I got to London Bridge. Given that I had already added mileage and I was on the brink of dehydration, starvation, or both, I decided to cross over to the south side of the river on London Bridge rather than continue onto Tower Bridge. Luckily, I could see Tower Bridge from London Bridge and that was good enough for me. As I climbed the stairs onto the Bridge, I began to wonder about that children’s song “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…” Luckily, it did not fall down as I was running on it, and as someone who lives in earthquake land London Bridge is probably the least risky of all the bridges I run on.

(1) London Eye, (2) neat pedestrian bridge, (3) London Bridge, (4) Tower Bridge, which sadly I did not reach

After crossing London Bridge, the path heads away from the river again. Looking at the map I thought it would be obvious how to get through this part, but of course in real life it wasn’t. So I decided to walk this part and happened upon an awesome “hidden” market (Borough Market). It seemed to be mostly locals in here for breakfast and the food looked awesome. I saw an excellent looking coffee shop which I can only assume to be the London equivalent of Blue Bottle judging by the line. I would love to return to this market next time I hit up London (and not in the middle of a run).

Borough Market- highly recommended not during a run

I finally found the path again and the next couple of miles were easy to follow (and nearly continuous running minus 2-3 pictures). I passed the London Eye, a couple of museums, and the Aquarium before returning over the Big Ben Bridge (not sure it’s called that). I ran through St James Park AGAIN (the difference here is that this time I was actually supposed to be running this way), through Buckingham Palace (not the actual Palace but the garden/circle surrounding it) and then back to my hotel for a total of 9.7 miles. I originally mapped 11 but given my detours, if I had continued onto Tower Bridge it would’ve been 12-13: no thank you on a Tuesday morning after a looong plane ride.

(1) London Eye, (2) Big Ben + Parliament, (3) St James Park

I would highly recommend this run if you ever visit London because I got to see a TON of stuff. Normally I’m a huge advocate of biking when traveling because you can see more stuff more efficiently than running. However, in this case, there are 2 issues with it: (1) A lot of the parks, etc say ‘no cycling’ and people actually follow these rules (2) Cyclists do bike with cars, although there is often no designated bike lane. Combine trying not to die via double decker bus with every single traffic convention being completely backwards, the bike option seems a little high risk to me.

Thank you, city of London, for the heads up (you don't want to bike here)

After the run, I showered and noticed that the Changing of the Guard Ceremony was taking place soon at Buckingham Palace. Since I paid a hefty fee to stay right near Buckingham, I figured I might as well take advantage of this! The Palace grounds were PACKED and I chose a random place along a fence hoping I’d be able to see something. It turned out that if I hopped up on this fence and balanced just right (read: burning quads) I could actually see quite well! So as if 10 miles wasn’t enough, I got my quad strengthening in for the day, too.

I can only assume that the first dudes were shift one and the other dudes were shift two

And I shall leave you with a few other pics that aren't from the run but represent things about London that I enjoyed. Summary: go to London.

(1) Westminster Abbey, (2) ham hock, (3) some modern buildings of London