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The Worst kind of Rain

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

A warm rain during a run…that’s a good kind of rain. A cold rain while wrapped up on the couch huddled under blankets…a wonderful kind of rain. A freezing rain with wind while riding in the mountains and still needing to conquer a 10-mile descent with uncontrollable shivering…the worst kind of rain.

Yesterday left me crying on the bike. Yes, quite wimpy actually but I was unbelievably scared. I had no options but to ride my frozen body home in 2 hours of cold rain and the worst part was I had to descend down a river that, at one time, was a canyon. I had checked the weather quite thoroughly that morning and rain wasn’t to come until 3:00pm so I thought I would be fine. I peddled along at a good little pace and conquered one of my favorite climbs in a strong time. I was happy until I took a look around me and saw the low hanging gray clouds moving in.

I had already descended to the other side of the mountain and was 2 hours from home but convinced myself that the rain wasn’t coming just a bit of gray. 10 minutes later there came a huge gust of wind then droplets and I shouted repeatedly No!No!No! Please No! The shouting honestly seemed to ward off the rain for about 15 minutes as it only sprinkled on me. I could handle a sprinkle and pushed the pace hoping that with some speed I could bypass the inevitable. No luck. I was surrounded by ominous skies and soon was riding through a down pour. I had one option and that was to get home as quickly as possible. Once in the Santa Monica Mountains, you are pretty much left to your own defenses. There is no such thing as a coffee shop for shelter or a phone call for a possible lift home…it is you and your bike.

I broke the ride into sections. My goal was to push the flats and climbs as hard as I could possibly go to keep a good forward pace and most importantly, to keep warm and then, come descents, ride my brakes as the roads had become a biker’s worse nightmare – sand, mud, leaf parties, rivers of water. Yikers. I managed to keep myself semi-warm for the first hour but all went to hell when I hit Topanga (my last climb and descent). I was literally soaked to the bone and slowly my muscles began to lock up. Pedaling was difficult and could only manage small chain ring circles. My breathing became stuttered and my body starting to shake. I knew this descent could kill me simply from cold shock but I said just manage to keep your hands tightly around the brake levers and you’ll be fine.

The descent from hell. The rain came even harder and the wind whipped up the canyon. Even though I was descending at blistering 4mph, I felt I was still going to fast. Every turn scared the be geezers out of me and I made a pact with God that if he brought me down this mountain safely then I would never swear again or kill any little bugs or ignore the homeless man who asks me for money two times a day. Of course, I was mumbling every swear known to man as I rolled down the mountain but that’s really besides the point. The point was I was colder than I have ever been in my entire adult life and yes, tears started to stream down my face because I had become absolutely miserable and truly thought I wasn’t going to make it home.

When I finally reached the end of the 50-hour descent, I definitely felt a small victory but still had 30 minutes to get home and that was 30 minutes too long. I could barely peddle. I could barely breathe. I was shaking. I had snot dripping out my nose. Spit drooling out of my mouth. I was a complete disaster. I did laugh a little because it was all so ridiculous. I started counting down from 10 over and over to simply keep my sanity (that’s how bad it was). When I saw my rode and my little home, I was euphorically ecstatic. One last demon awaited and that was to unlock my door. The key was in the keyhole but my hands couldn’t turn it. I almost had another fit of tears because I was so close to warmth but so flippin’ far away. Luckily, I was saved by a young man who turned the key so effortlessly while looking at me as though I was truly insane. I hobbled inside, ripped off my shoes and literally ran directly into the shower with full helmet and clothes (couldn’t manage to get the helmet off). I sat in the hothot shower for 45 minutes and after I got out, I still couldn’t stop shaking. I ended up brewing 3 batches of tea and wrapped myself in five blankets and then smiled because I knew that no race could ever present me with worse conditions…

What doesn’t kill you — makes you stronger.

To error is human…

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Sometimes it is truly hard to admit that I am not all that graceful. It is even harder to admit that I come with a baggage of flaws and unsuspecting messes. Triathlon tends to bring forth all my most inglorious characteristics and though I try hard to work past my imperfections well, things eventually do go wrong. I do not take light the situation that occurred on the 11th of April but due to a man and a camera, I cannot hide behind pure denial because this my friends is etched into history. I also believe it is truly my duty to the team to address the question that was posted on our forum from Miss Caroline Steffan herself – How can you lose one shoe? I wish I could never personally answer this question but the following series of pictures shows how and why one can lose just one shoe…

I would like to apologize for not having a picture of my left bike shoe lying alone and abandoned on the road while I begin biking away with only one shoe clipped onto my bike. Every normal person would assume that you would recognize almost immediatly that you only have one bike shoe however I am not normal and had a crowd of bystanders screaming your shoe is on the road! your shoe is on the road! Oh boy, quite an embarrassing moment though simply one of millions in my life. I attempted to stay calm but anyone who knows me understands that sometimes instead of crying I laugh in order to avoid the river of tears and of course, ended up in a fit of giggles while working hard to stay focused.

“to err is human, to forgive divine”

Alas, I lower my head in shame and agony. I will not let this incidence happen again and will train hard in order to ensure a more professional and swift mounting onto the bike. Here are a few more pictures of the race. I promise that these will not make you cringe as much as the others.

Sadly, I am not saying that I am number one…I was simply caught in the act of pointing at something. For a 1st place, I have much more work to do.

The madness continues…

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The other day I wrote a thank you e-mail to Bruno-Luc from Louis Garneau. I was in immediate need of different size cycling shoes and honestly the next day, they were at my doorstep. He became my hero and I was even more excited that the shoes looked so snazzy with my red and white bike because well…the shoes are a shiny, sparkly red and white. In response to my e-mail, Bruno-Luc asked if I heated up my shoes in order to make them mold to my feet. I could only laugh at this question as anyone who knows me understands that I haven’t put anything in an oven for almost 3 years let alone a pair of brand new happy shoes. My response went something like this…

I cannot lie to you. I am nervous about heating up my shoes. I lack any experience with ovens so the shoes are not in qualified hands plus I don’t own a pan. Before you judge me on my lack of pans just know that my entire life has reverted back to the 1930s as I have been writing with unsharpened pencils, my cell phone has been broken for 6 months, and currently am operating on a cash only basis due to some credit fraud. Fun times.

I will trust you if you tell me it is simple and I won’t melt my new shoes but do I really need to put them on a pan? Who uses these things called pans anyway?! How about just some tin foil?

Luc…I’m a mess

I do want to apologize to Bruno-Luc for such a drawn out response but he probably didn’t realize who he was talking with and he also probably regrets his decision to involve me in any sort of e-mail dialogue. Bruno-Luc’s response to my e-mail was that we could have a phone conversation and asked how he could reach me. Again, I had to laugh as I have no phone and no way of receiving any incoming calls. He now must have realized that I am truly a disaster.

To make matters even horribly worse, the plumbing in our apartment went bust and has completely wreaked havoc on my life deciding to spew all of my neighbors shit into my bathtub continually throughout the day. Of course, this perfectly suits my reverting to the 1930s as my toilet has also felt the effects of the plumbing problems and I am now considering the possibility of using the pan in my cupboard in order to relieve myself.

When will the madness end?

Is there a full moon?!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

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I honestly think everyone of us has heard the saying two steps forward, one step back. I am trying to convince myself that right now in my littlelife I am simply taking a small step backwards and soon enough I will be rocketing off into the sky. Of course, that sounds brilliant but sometimes it can be frustrating as I can honestly confess that the steps backwards have quite outweighed the steps forward. I promise I have put my fighting cap on and am determined to forge ahead though last night I realized how ridiculous things had become. My mind was battling one thousand thoughts and ideas. I decided that I could go for a nice warm cup of green tea. I put some water in the electric kettle and waited very impatiently for the boil. As soon as I saw some steam, I pour the water into my cup and knowing I have to wait for it to cool, I scampered off to the computer to write a few e-mails. I return to my heavenly cup of tea only to find there is no tea. What the?! It was empty yet no water surrounding the area. I asked Mike if he dumped my tea though he had just raced a 50k and was lying on his most favorite sleeping bag and I knew there was no chance in hell he had moved within the last 10 minutes. Stupefied but not defeated, I go through the whole routine again and again return to the cup only to find it empty once more. I swear to you there is a full moon circling my head. I inspect the cup and discovered no cracks and convinced myself that I had somehow inherited magical powers and was unknowingly deploring them onto my green tea. After further investigation, I did finally find a small rounded hole at the bottom of my most favorite mug which allowed for a perfect leakage rate that caused the water to drip seamlessly down the lines of the counter. I do not know how a rounded whole ended up at the bottom of my mug but I did seem to find the whole situation deliriously hilarious. Lately, even the small insignificant things have gone weirdly wrong and I am praying for mercy from the April Fools gods because it’s April 5 and it isn’t funny anymore. Please full moon…stop circling my head.

No Oceanside

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I thought I would write to say that I am sadly not racing Oceanside due to some personal issues. Nothing serious but needed to postpone the TeamTBB debut for a few more weeks. I actually discovered a low key half iron in southern California called Superfrog on April 11. I think there are only about 300 people racing but it does have a small little prize purse so you can be assured I will be going for gold and of course, I’m a little antsy to get out there and see where my fitness is at. My run has felt dynamite lately and my bike quite a bit stronger (thank you teammates!) though the course will be quite the dream crusher because much of the run is on sand…the race is hosted by Navy Seals so sand is obviously a must. I do love the start of the race season as all the butterflies return and you are reminded why you fell in love with the sport and just how lucky you truly are. Just a few more weeks!

A week has gone by…

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

First, I must congratulate all my teammates who have raced recently because the results have been quite impressive and I bow to their greatness. I actaully quite enjoy my internet cheering as I have so many more people to pull for now so its all that more fun. Hard work most definitely pays off! Anywho…

I was reminded yesterday by my big sis that I haven’t written for quite sometime. She thought it best that I make sure to mention that I am still alive so…I’m still alive though my legs are quite dead. Training has come back full force and I am loving every long second of it. I honestly do not know where this week went. The good thing is that my body is slowly getting back on track and my mind is feeling quite a bit more refreshed. My week was filled with so many happy (and strange) moments. I wish I could share all the strange occurrences that seemed to have came my way throughout the week though I honestly think most of these moments are you had to be there kind of moments. That is the sad thing about doing most of my training on my own as I am now left laughing alone on the side of the road uncontrollably and this creates the illusion that I am crazy. And, while on some of these instances I swore I had taken crazy pills, I was not actually the one who was crazy. Does that make sense? Oh bother. Actually, to be quite honest with you, the main reason I haven’t had a chance to blog was that I finally had a break through – my writer’s block unclogged and finally, I have been able to make some great strides in writing my novel. This is a very exciting moment because for anyone who has ever written anything knows that when you experience a brain block you are stuck no matter how good your intentions. You can honestly spend hours in a library or with a pencil between your fingers but if you have a brain fart then you are better off poking yourself in the eye with that pencil (which has almost happened on a few occasions). The good thing is now I am off and running (figuratively) and my book is flowing along with ease. I am thrilled with my progress. Now, off to the pool like a good little swimmer that I am even though I’d rather watch all the finishers of the LA marathon as we all know that can be quite the sight.

Security: Round II

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Yesterday, I made a few calls in hopes of finding some clarity regarding open track hours. I did eventually get through to one person who actually knew a little something about public track hours. Every other person replied with maybe its open in the early morning or lightheartedly state if the gates are open you can run (not true as I was escorted off yesterday x 2). I even heard the reply that the track wasn’t for people (this one confused me). Then, when I called the college, I received the answer of…its open when its open but may be closed due to various events (hmmm loved the clarity). Anywho, I got one lady who gave me the green light to run on the high school track from 6:00am-7:30am this morning. Wow, thanks for all the options.

So, this morning I was on the track at 5:55am bundled up with gloves, hat, arm warmers, and down feathered vest as it was only 7c (45 degrees). Thailand, I need you! I miss your most glorious heat and ungated, deliciously red running track. Well, at least I was free to run. I start my workout and you probably could have guessed — security comes trotting down the bleachers. I actually received 2 guards today. Man, I’m a baddass. They go on to tell me in their mean voice that I am absolutely not allowed to bring my bike down to the track. They must be joking, right? Wrong. My bike wasn’t even on the track. It was leaning on the fence both wheels in the grass and it wasn’t like I was whistling around doing 400meter repeats in my TT position! Oh Lordy…okedoke. I go over to my bike and have to carry it to the outside fence with both guards watching and they go on to make sure I know I must be off this track at 7:30am as its school policy. I know. I know. I wanted to speak a piece of my mind but only could mumble a Yes, of course.

I did actually complete an entire track workout but seriously, aren’t there bigger issues to deal with? Can’t they just leave a girl alone? Can’t we all get along? I want to run circles in peace! I honestly believe that here in the states there is a group of people determined to protect running tracks from, you guessed it, runners. I despise that group of people and I wish upon them nightmares of crazy little girls chasing them around gated tracks. I will find you….


Friday, March 12th, 2010

I have four running tracks within a 2 mile radius and you would think that with four options, there would never be any problems hopping onto a track for a workout. Oh no, not the case here in Santa Monica. What I had failed to realize about Santa Monica was that the running track was considered quite sacred and all shall be barred and locked unless, by chance, they are not (always a surprise). I have rarely found any of the tracks available and had all but given up on the idea of a mid-day track workout but I returned from camp a new woman…determined to find a way.

So, today, off I went on my bike with a backpack full of running gear. Yes, I was going to get on a track. I mapped my route hoping that I would only have to hit one track and could soon find myself lost in the intervals. Track number one, open gates! Yippee. I hop down. Lace up my shoes and off I go. I had the track all to myself with blue skies and sunshine gazing down at me. I was happy – for about 10 minutes. Come around the turn and what do I see? Standing at my start line, a rather large, nasty security woman decked out in badges and walkie talkies glared at me as though she was going to give me the ultimate beat down. I thought about simply sprinting by though I believe she had a stun gun on hand so I bypassed that thought and walked up to her surrendering. She gives me a full body scan and then says Madam (she actually referred to me as madam) , you are NOT allowed on this track. You will leave immediately. I gave a smile and nod but of course couldn’t just leave without some answers…

Why can’t we use the track at this time?
School law forbids the public from using the track unless during public use hours.
When are public use hours?
Unsure. Maybe mornings but not all mornings.
Do you know if there is anyway I could talk to someone and see if I could get a permit or something so I can run on the track mid-day?
I would be the person you talk to and Madam, there are no permits. and there is no running on the track, period. You will never be an exception. Once we let one person come on the track mid-day then everyone will be on the track.
That would be horrible if everyone was running on the track (sarcastically stated).
How can I find out if the track is definitely open?
You must leave now. Off school property.
Ok Sorry.

Yep, that was the extent of the conversation and she actually walked me to the corner and made sure I biked away. I can see it now Run Away Runner Circling Publicly Funded Track. Horrifying. Well, onto track number two. Yet again, the gates are open. I’m much more cautious during round 2 of track running. I scanned my surroundings searching for any signs of security or stun guns. All looked clear and I jump onto my 400 meter circle ready to go. One lap down, two laps down, three laps…oh bugger, security not looking so happy with me. There is a yell followed with quick paced shuffling This track is not open to runners! Sorry. I didn’t really even say much. I did ask when the track was open to the public and received an unspecified reply I do not believe the public has access to this track. Oh bologna! and, once again, I was escorted off and watched to make sure I bike away but this time the security guard took the extra measure of making sure to lock the gates in front of me. I get it people, I get it. Deep breath. Onto track number three even though, by this point, my motivation was sadly lacking. Track number three: locked. Track number four: locked. Final Destination: home with my pineapple and ended up forfeiting my track workout or any running workout due to frustration and stun guns.

I want to simply run on a running track. That’s all. Nothing more. I want to run in circles…unbothered. I just honestly cannot understand why, at 9am in the morning, all the tracks must be locked, gated, and inspected by stun gunned dressed security guards. It is a track people. A track! Rubber and grass. A circle that is made for running and I, a runner, who wants to run that circle. I don’t get it. I really don’t understand but I shall give it another go tomorrow morning again on my bike and with my backpack. I am still determined though if I happen to get stun gunned or whamboozled then I will, most likely, call it quits on my track endeavors.

Counting Down the Days

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

It was a long exhausting journey home. I am so happy to wave good bye to airplanes for a few months. The next time I will fly I will be heading for Disney World and while most of the trip will be family playtime and twirling tea cups, I also will be doing a little racing. Florida 70.3 is honestly one of my favorite races on the circuit as it genuinely feels magical. I feel like a little kid in candy land. I always have so much fun and honestly can’t stop smiling. It seems all the stress of race day disappears because around every corner there is Mickey Mouse and Goofy, enchanting music and childhood memories. This year will be extra special…almost my whole family will be down watching me race. Brothers, sisters, cute little baby nephew, mom and (drum roll) my daddy!

I still can’t believe I actually convinced my dad to come down to Florida. For anyone who knows my dad, he is a kind of a homebody but is so super supportive of my racing. I had to get him out to one of my races this year though I knew I needed to get creative. The trick was that he is a sucker for Disney World so I knew, with just a bit of finagling, that I just might get him to see me race in Florida. A 2-for-1 type deal. Of course, I had to reassure him that it wasn’t one of the crazy long races and that there will be much more Disney Worlding than racing (no problem for me!). Oh yes and my dad said he wouldn’t mind witnessing a victory. It seems so simple when my dad says it…Kate, if I’m watching you race. I’m pulling for a win. No problem Dad. No problem. I can’t even stop smiling and the race is months away. I will be so excited getting onto the plane in May as it will be combining all my favorite things in the world – family, racing, imagination and childlike fun. Yes, I’m counting down the days – 70.

Pain and Glory

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I have about 45 minutes until I need to jump onto my bike for a 4-hour ride. I’m actually fighting to keep my eyes open and making sure to stay a good distance from my bed as it seems to be calling my name for a nice long nap. The training has been tough…a good tough. Non-stop from morning until night and the sun is always there to keep you very honest and sweaty during all efforts. My body is tired but I have managed to always find the energy somewhere to put together another swim, bike or run session and of course, today’s bike will be no different.

Physically, yes, everyone here is run-down and a bit smacked around but mentally, if we are resilient enough, we can always stay fresh…in the head. And this, I have learned, is the most important thing when it comes to racing, training, and even managing normal life – get your head straightened out. So, right now, I have to simply take a deep breath and get out onto the road realizing that these are the workouts that make you stronger, faster, fitter on race day. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I laugh though because I think people assume we are just little energizer bunnies…going, going, going. Now, we may always be going but the going isn’t always pretty and most certainly isn’t always painless yet nothing and I do mean nothing can stop a true champion. It is a painful process to get good though if you can sincerely love the ups and downs and embrace the pain then I believe things will turn out alright. The beauty of camp is that you find that extra little motivation from your teammates and your coach (yes, coach – I’m listening). We are all in pain but with pain, comes glory.