Heeeeeere Piggie Piggie Piggie…

Head Coach Dave and Coach Skip, bringin' sexy back.
Coach Skip & Head Coach Dave, bringin' sexy back.

Saturday (January 9th) ended our 9th week of Iron Training. We were back out to Pleasant Hill, this time for a Bike, Swim and Core/Strength Day. I was minus my trusty Navigatrix Iron Mel, as she was sick (get well quick, Mel!) On the way, the sunrise was amazing . . . so amazing that it made me actually want to stop my car at the 580/880/24 Maze and take a photo of the 100s of shades of Red and Orange rising over Oakland. Good thing I had forgotten my camera, huh?

Got to the parking lot and unloaded my bike – Mentor Margaret immediately noticed my new bike shoes that H had bought for me the day before, as well as H’s ski pants I had stolen to wear! The shoes are Shimano mountain biking shoes – when we tried on shoes in the store, the “slippiness” of the regular road shoes brought me right back to that intersection in Arlington, VA 20 years ago when I fell into traffic because I couldn’t get “traction” on the road surface! OK, that was with the huge LOOK bindings, and all that jazz, but the kinesthetic feeling of my foot going “out from under me” as I put pressure on it made panic well up in my chest. The Shimanos were about 2x what H wanted to pay, but they fit SUPER well, and there weren’t all that many options in My-Darling-Clementine-She-Wore Boxes-For-Shoes size. (If you’re curious, the ski pants are tight ones with the zipper ankle that H wears when we go out biking – I “stole” them for my ride.) Anyway – Mentor Margaret said that I “looked like a Cyclist” and when I dissembled, she said “You are supposed to say THANK YOU now.” So funny.

The Pig Farm (Hill's Namesake)
the pig farm!

It was cold – I had about 4 layers on top, as well as my Camelbak. Didn’t bring my tunes – a mistake I won’t make next time! It was foggy, but as we climbed up the “front” part (which I think is actually the ‘back’ in reality) of Pig Farm Hill, I certainly got warm. So warm that I had to pull my glasses down my nose, because I completely fogged them up!

looking down pig farm hill
looking down from the top of Pig Farm Hill (10% grade)

I realized a lot of things on that ride, especially on the way out (I realized things on the way back, but they were not as nice of things). I realized why I needed my computer to be set. (Not knowing how far I had gone made me feel like the 3 year old in the back seat, “Are we there yet, Mama?”) I realized how to get the bike shoe “into” the baskets so that it wouldn’t slip. I realized that I need more practice hydrating (that it’s not innate for me). I realized how super extra pretty that area of the world is. I realized how much I like it when I hear cowbells and cheers from a Sag Wagon! I realized how much I needed Jen Jay at the top of the hill to tell me I was AT the top of the hill! I realized that our team is becoming less of a bunch of folks getting together to work out, and more of a family.

I don’t really think I understood it was an “out and back” ride until reaching the top of the hill, and Jen Jay told me so. I thought the hill was hellish, but I had “done it” and thought I was pretty Damned Special. (laugh) Especially as Head Coach Dave had mentioned walking parts of it. However, starting down the other side, I realized that it was way, way too early to pat myself on the back. The “back” side of Pig Farm Hill (again, the “back” to me – after looking it up in some Cycling Blogs I think that’s really the front) was a 10% grade, and even with my brakes hard on, I descended at a fair clip. Not as fast, however, as Will, who had shown up late to the ride, and went by so fast that you could LITERALLY not “see” him, you just saw colorful streaks. I have never been close to someone riding so fast and it was breathtaking. Funny thing: He called “On your left!” from FAR behind us (I was riding near 2 other gals at that time), so you could just BARELY hear his voice. But he whizzed past not even a second after. I am surprised that he didn’t actually surpass his words – I think he MIGHT have been going faster than the Speed of Sound!

Once I got onto the “flatter downhill” portion of the “back of Pig Farm Hill,” I started to worry about what it would be like coming back. This is the route we will be doing on the Olympic Triathlon in a couple of weeks. It was down, down, down hill with a little flat. That meant it would be up, up, uphill on the way back. I made a mental note to be SURE to drive the Louisville course. When I did my last triathlon – the Avon Tri in Sacramento – H and I drove what parts of the course that we could (some of it was on the levy). It is SO important. If you have SOME idea where you are going, you can have markers for your brain. Silly me hadn’t even zeroed out her computer on this ride, so I didn’t have a clue.

In heading on down towards the turn around, I was of course greeted by all the rest of the team, coming back up! It was fun to “Whoot! Whoot!” for all these amazing athletes!

I turned around where Coach Simon told me to at about 13-14 miles, and headed on back. I stubbornly tried to get farther up the 10% grade part of Pig Farm than I probably should have (it’s that “Year Of The Ox” in me). When I got off to finally push, I could barely walk. Not good! I really have to remember to walk the bike SOONER during the Triathlon – since I still will have the Run in front of me!

Walking Up Pig Farm Hill
Walking up Pig Farm Hill

Helen was at the top of the hill to take some photos of us. I felt very disheartened. She did say that I was not “the only one” who had to push – but in going through the Ironteam Photos from the day, I was relieved to see that this was true, not just for one or two of us. As I remounted the bike, I really, honestly, felt weak and depressed, and thought “I am not sure I am made of the right Stuff for this.” But I also knew I was as far from the car as I could possibly be . . . and without a bunch of flats or a broken leg, it seemed unlikely I would get a Sag Wagon pickup! The rest of the course back was uneventful – one hill where I was back down in my lowest gear, but only one. I caught up with a couple of folks at the end, and we all rode back to the cars together. Then it was time for the Swim.

Yup – we weren’t done yet! We did a bunch of drills. I was in Skip’s group (he’s the taller of the “Sexyback Coaches” at the top of the page), and he was really helpful to me, working on the “front end” of my stroke. I feel very confident in the “back end” of my stroke, since Coach DeAnn worked and worked and worked on that with me back in Dinosaur Times when I did my last race. Skip actually said that I had that down which made me feel good – I hadn’t lost it! I wish that there were easier things for me to do to really get the “stretching and scooping” front end stuff. On the back end of the stroke, touching my thigh with my thumb, feeling my palm pushing and then “looking” at the back of the pool and all that jazz is so much easier than just “reach farther.” Hm.

I wound up cramping up after about 1,000 yards or so – one of my calves. Definitely did not get enough electrolytes or probably even hydration on the bike. Skip had some jelly-like “blocks” that had electrolytes in them, and I took one of those and about 10 minutes or so later the cramp eased up. I remember from Summer Camp I was CONSTANTLY having to take “salt replacement tablets” – so this week is going to be all about researching that stuff.

I’m trying to think of what the Swim workout was…to put it here. I know that I wasn’t in the pool until folks were well underway – I came in after everyone was already warmed up and then doing a kick/catchup/build drill. I know we had one drill that was 2 50s at L3, 2 100s at L4, 3 150s at L5, 2 100s at L6, 2 50s at L7; I also know we had some other drill that was somewhat similar (with a 300 in the middle). Lots of yards, suffice it to say.

I look like I'm trying to sneak out of doing Abs!
I look shifty - like I'm trying to get out of it!

After the Swim workout was Strength/Core. I didn’t have a lot of gas left. Coach Sedonia also went through how to set up a transition area for the triathlon that we are doing in a couple weeks, at the same facility. It will be 1500 yard swim (in the pool), then that dreaded bike route, then I think 5-6 mile run. The only difference between this and any other “transition-talk” I’ve been to was that I realized there is NO way I would be able to do the bike/run in my swimsuit, as I had done before. Even my 2-piece Tyr suit (if I were brave enough to wear it with my current gut) would be a “cha-cha biter” and so we talked a bit about those of us who don’t have actual “trisuits” to swim/bike/run in and where we could have a supplemental changing room so as not to Scare the Natives.

Got home and helped H a bit with the remodel, but got progressively colder and colder so he set me up with a bath and a book (and my Camelbak on the robe hook for “hydration”). That fixed me up, and I made an awesome “Cincinnati Chili” dinner for us. I think H was surprised that I didn’t go straight from the bath to bed, but I am trying to be better!

After dinner, I (ahem) had to have him put some Neosporin on, as Coach Helen calls it, my “Horseshoe of Death” from the bike ride. I thought that thick chamois bike shorts would be enough, but obviously I’m going to need to invest in Chamois “Butt’R” as well. I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling very “odd” in my legs – all I could think of was that I was feeling all those mitochondria, muscle cells, sinews and the rest growing, growing, growing! I was thankfully able to get back to sleep by 4 a.m., since H, Jake and I were doing the “Cupcake Run” in Napa the next day!