Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Favorites List

1. Wireless mouse. Where have you been my whole life (well, my whole computer-using life)? How come no one told me how great they were?!

2. Sunny mornings. Sunny evenings.

3. Google Maps. I know, it's not new, but I probably use it 3-5 times per day. Bike commuters, like me, can even use it to find best-bike routes. Here in SF, the bus-route option is more accurate than the local bus company's site! I have made city-specific, work maps for my colleagues.

4. Sunset Magazine. Great ideas for West Coast restaurants, outdoor adventures, local shops, gardening projects, recipes.

5. Receiving hand-written notes. I also love sending them too. In our tech world, it's so much easier to send an email, text, twitter, sign in on Foursquare,"Like," etc. But there is something so sweet and comforting about receiving a pretty notecard from one of your favorite people. Love!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Andrea: 4. Boys: -1

Yesterday I got wrapped up in a conference call for the entire day, which luckily was being hosted on the East Coast, which meant 3 hours of afternoon left for me! I planned the rest of my day so that I could make it by bike to the bridge by 3:30pm when the bike side opens for cyclists. Otherwise, I have to battle the tourists, tourists on bikes, and other cyclists on the east side (I am still a little "sore" from the last tourist I hit!). The wind has been so strong this week. I felt that it was against me for the entire first half of my ride, and I'd hoped at mid-point I'd get a little reprieve. No luck. It was against all the way home too.

On any ride, I am passed by dozens of other cyclists. I always wonder how they got so fast! And maybe I pass a few too. I get a little energized when I can whiz by a guy. However, I've noticed that guys don't take it well when they're passed by girls. Yesterday, on the uphill back to the city, I passed one guy, who'd passed me earlier (Andrea: 1 point). Then crossing over the bridge, I passed another guy. After a bit I looked back and noticed he was drafting off me, the entire way across the bridge! What nerve! He let me pass just so I could block the wind for him. (Andrea: 2 points). And he wasn't wearing a helmet. (Boys: -1 point). Farther along, and almost home, on a little uphill, I passed another guy, who called me a "showoff!" I couldn't believe it, and yelled, "Hey!" (Andrea: 1 point)....Take that, man!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A week in Paradise

Last week I spent in St John....It was wonderful!

I joined my training buddy, RQ, and her parents for the week. I arrived late Monday night to a warm breeze, even on the ferry ride to the island. Something like 90% of the island is National Park, so we saw birds, donkeys (one named Blondie, liked to stand outside our window at night and make weird noises), cows and goats roaming about the entire island. In the 1800's, the island had been used to grow sugar cane, and the former plantation ruins--massive rock walls, houses, buildings--were scattered throughout the island. It made me wonder about the stories of the island. The terrain is rocky, heavily forested, and incredibly hilly. Despite the beauty, I am sure it was a insufferable place to live and work for a plantation slave.

Tuesday morning we took a long swim along the beach, in and out of the various bays, over coral, past snorkelers. My swimming buddies pointed out 2 turtles, a ray, numerous fish, sea urchins (don't step on them!), brain coral and more. I can't even remember it all! The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and lounging in the sun. We took a long hike to a nearby beach for more snorkeling. There we saw star fish and a shark, which I didn't see, thank goodness!

St John is very hilly. Coming from SF, it's very hilly! Wednesday morning during our run, we tried to determine the grade on some of the hills and figured them to be about 18%. I walked them--both ways. After our run, we had an amazing breakfast at Donkey Diner. I know, it sounds appetizing! But it was.

Attempt at a self-portrait

That afternoon after a quick dip in the water and some reading on the beach, we took another hike to Ram's Head where we got a glimpse of the British Virgin Islands, St. Croix and amazing views of the water and surrounding beaches. We stopped for a fruity rum drink at a fun bar on the water on the way back; we made dinner and crashed.

Sweaty view from the hill top

Thursday morning, we found another beach to begin our swim. My swim buddies would point out an eagle ray or a trumpet fish, which was great since I couldn't catch it all. Swimming for 1.5 hours goes by quickly in the warm, aqua blue, fish-filled waters as compared to the pool! That afternoon, we found another beach, but unfortunately RQ ran over a huge piece of coral and cut her foot! We brought her to get cleaned up and luckily no stitches, but it did slow her down for a while.

Friday afternoon, I began my trek back to SF. It was an absolutely wonderful trip. The warmth of the sun and water, reading in the hammock, the hikes and swims, chatting with friends--all made for a super trip.

Our cottage

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tierra Bella Century

Saturday, I joined a few hundred other cyclists for the Tierra Bella Century ride. This 100-miler ride started in Gilroy. I went with 4 friends and we had a blast!

There was a combination of rural and urban, sub-division and country-living, farm land and manicured lawns, hillside mansions with gated-driveways and chicken-littered front yards. We started a "list" of what we had to find on our ride--things like a twin to our bike and a cyclist from our alma mater. As we went along we added to the list, because clearly a llama and a hippo made from scrap metal should have been on it in the first place! RQ won--she "checked" the alma mater, girl with the same name, and made a connection for a potential job! It was all in good fun and keep us from getting too fixated on the road and bike (and miles!) in front of us.
CS, RQ, AC pre-ride!

About mid-way, there was a 10-mile climb that just would not end. Though, we knew at the top, a rest with water and food awaited us. After refueling, we cruised down the hill and were met with a nice headwind for 25 miles. The entire ride had 6300 feet of climbing.

A friend and I recruited others to start a pace line, where we each took turns "pulling" at the front and blocking the wind for those behind us. The pulls were pretty short--a few minutes--and then we got to rest back in the pack. We didn't realize there were several folks who joined the back and came along for the ride, a few of them came up to us afterward and thanked us for helping them though the wind! I will admit, by the end of this windy part, I'd about had it with the wind. Emotionally, I don't think I could have taken much more.
The 2nd from the top was our ride

The last 25 miles was with the wind and seemed almost downhill. Though, I am not sure if at this point I was so delusional I thought we were going downhill?! The final 10 miles the only things running through my mind were, "green light, make the light; no flats; move your legs; make circles; drink water; spin; Lilac Lane, what a nice name." Not too much substance! I just wanted to finish. We all reconvened at the end and had a quick bite to eat, filled the car up with gas and got on the road back to SF. On the way home, we chatted about the "sights," the cyclists, and the fun we had.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ways to be Cool!!

I love this..."Ways to be Cool" written by a 10-year old. Kinda puts life into perspective!

In my 10-year old days, I might have added:
  • Make skid marks with my bike
  • Do a "shoot the duck" on my roller skates
  • Listen to 94-WTBX (radio station) and make a mixed tape
  • Dress and be like my cousin Kristin

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Finding a balance...bikes, life, run, life, swim...

I did my first time trial bike race yesterday. While I didn't really know what to expect and how hard to push, I felt ok with the results. Well, I pretty much got last place--this is not an exaggeration--but I don't have a really fancy bike/gear, and since this was my first race, I am trying to cut myself a little slack. A time trial is a timed race, each person goes out by themselves (1 minute apart for this race), as hard as you can. It's a race against yourself, in theory--since the closest competitors are 1 minutes behind and in front--but, it's also against everyone else in your age group and division. This was a 10 mile course (5 out, 5 back), with "rolly hills" and one climb at mid-point. I didn't know how hard to push on the way out, so was probably too conservative, but the way back I knew, so I pushed a little harder. It was fun though; a good experience for me. I ride a lot at an even, conversational-pace, so hard rides and pushing my legs faster is really good for me. Plus mentally, it's really hard to keep pushing myself when I'm so tired. So, despite coming in last, I was satisfied with the effort and day.

Three of my bike teammates raced the team time trial at the same race--same concept, but with a team, obviously. They did awesome and were leading the field, until a crash about half mile to go. Scrapes and bruises, but no broken or separated body-parts, and spirits were still high. Even still they got 3rd place by only 10 seconds! They're totally awesome!

While I want to report my races and life in this blog, I also want to be able to report all aspects--Good and bad. Ups and downs. Because I don't always have a great run, even when I'm on a trail in the sun; or a good day. And something I think is a big deal today, really isn't. And when I read about it what I've written, I might be a little embarrassed I was being so trivial, but also, that I was being honest and I can grow from that. I've been accused of being "stoic" on numerous occasions. I kind of take offense to that, because I feel it's negative and that I really don't think I am. I think I am good at hiding my emotions, when I'm freaking out on the inside. It doesn't mean I'm not feeling anything.

So, here goes. Even despite the great day at the race, afterward, I had a bit of a freak out about my training. I am worried I am not going to be ready for my race. I have been doing all that I can to fit in training, work, rest and still maintain a normal life. The latter is definitely lacking (though, I figured that would happen). So yesterday, after the race, I didn't bike (I have been tired all week), but took a ride home with my teammates. The whole way home, I was aggitated because I didn't bike and I should have. I keep thinking I am not doing the training I am supposed to be doing. We stopped for lunch and I couldn't enjoy myself since I kept thinking about my training. It practically ruined my whole day. So, when I got home, it was late afternoon, I got on my (other) bike and went to run errands and work for a few hours. This was Saturday, and I couldn't relax and have fun with my friends--like normal people on a normal Saturday. And since I couldn't get my bike ride in and I was so upset, I had to go work for a few hours--just to feel like I was doing something productive. And then I was too tired to go out last night, so I stayed in. I guess, I just need to find a balance for fitting it all in and I am really struggling.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Swim Start Training Video

I love this video. It's so funny! Many triathletes will tell you the swim is the toughest part of the triathlon. They may even tell you horror stories of being kicked, swum over, finger-nailed, grabbed, pulled, dunked at the start of the swim. There are legs and arms flying everywhere. This video is a spoof on preparing for the swim start of a tri.

It's kind of really funny, but kind really not (because that is about the reality!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Causing trouble at the pool...

I didn't try to, but I did. 

It was an amazingly beautiful day today and everyone had the same idea--laps at the pool. The pool at my gym is outdoors and on the rooftop, which is one of the main reasons I joined, and on a day like today, it was awesome. When a lane has 2 people in it, both swimmers "split the lane," meaning they each stay on their own side and swim laps. Where there are 3 or more people in the lane, swimmers "circle" counter-clock-wise in the lane. This afternoon all of the lanes had at least 2 people in them, so one of the lifeguards started helping me find a lane. The fastest swimmers usually swim in the middle 2 lanes, the next fastest group swim in the lanes to the outside of the fast, and slowest in the lanes on the walls. This is just how it goes...I didn't make up the rules. My gym didn't create some new set of swimming rules...this is just how it goes. So a woman clearly swimming slowly (she didn't even have goggles or a swim cap) was in the second lane from the wall; she should have been in the lane on the wall. I am not a fast swimmer and I never go in the fast lanes; however, I do know I am faster than a woman who when doing the breaststroke doesn't get her face wet. She was leisurely swimming and that is fine, she and I have the same right to use the pool. Just do it in the slow lane. So when the lifeguard asked her to switch lanes, she refused, saying she was too fast for the slow lane and if she went in that lane, she wouldn't get a good workout. I told the lifeguard, ok, no problem, I'll just join her (and the other gal, who was, by the way, faster than this woman too) in the lane. We began "circling" and several times I passed this woman or went around her at the wall. Then I overheard her complaining to the lifeguard, the girl with the pink cap (me) should go in another lane! Oy!

So, I did  go to another lane and apparently didn't make those people very happy either. So, the lifeguard asked me to move again! I did and I even had a lane to myself for a little while. Geez! All I wanted to do was swim.

I didn't say anything to the woman or the lifeguard, who was trying really hard to make the situation right. While I do let things get to me, I think I am pretty good at letting others roll off my back. Mostly, I think because I don't have enough room in my brain for it all! I could have said something mean to the woman, but then I would have looked like a jerk (and felt like one) and really, it wouldn't have solved anything. I don't need her crabbiness to make me crabby. I swim to get a workout and to get rid of any stress in my life, not add to it.

Moral of today: Don't be a jerk at the pool. Share. Be nice.

Hmmm..sounds a lot like kindergarten.