Friday, May 28, 2010

Killing some time today and did some research on Denali aka Mt. McKinley. Considered one of the seven summits of the world, Denali reaches 20,321 feet above sea level. The first recorded climb was back in 1913 and the most popular route up the West Buttress saw its first ascent in 1951.

According to Wikipedia, Denali has a larger bulk and rise than Everest. The base of Denali sits at 2,000 feet and gains 18,000 feet in rise. It's sort of cold up there. The average temps are as low as -75.5 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with windchill as low as -118.1. The mountain houses five glaciers and has two summits.

Despite being one of the colder places on the planet, the biggest challenges mountaineers face is altitude sickness due to Denali's high latitude. Three people had to be evacuated from the mountain in the past couple of days as a result of various altitude complications.

Alpine Ascents International offers a 21 day Denali trip for those who are itching to get some big mountain experience. Prior to heading up to the Alaska range, they advise clients to prepare six months in advance. You have to be able to sustain 8 hours of climbing up hill with 50 pounds on your back and able to carry a 40 pound sled. You should be able to fully recover in an 8-12 hour time period and sustain this activity for 21 days straight. This is not for the faint of heart.

Interesting in going?

I'm not sure what sounds more intriguing - freezing on an enormous mountain or doing some liquid mountaineering?

You know your an ahtlete when...

You mow your lawn at random hours. Like 7:45pm last night. Between rain showers and before lawn pick up day.

Your dining room looks like a bike staging area. Yesterday I had 4 bikes surrounding my dining table - no room to eat dinner but plenty of eye candy to drool over. The table was covered in track gears, bike bags, chains, scrabble, gels, sunglasses, and other random bike stuff.

Your kitchen looks like a hurricane hit it. Seriously, who has time for dishes?

Your washer and dryer run non-stop in attempt to keep up with the flux of dirty chamois.

My rollers are in the living room - ready to hop on in a moment's notice. And they haven't moved all week.

When you turn on the tele - the only station that matters comes up - Universal Sports. The television gods are smiling on me since I don't have cable but I get this station for free through my bunny ears.

Any attempts to take the four bikes to the basement, where they belong, is met with bringing more gear upstairs. Along with the 4 bikes, I also have 2 extra sets of wheels. One for track, one for road.

Thank goodness my housemate doesn't come home from Denali for another week. I'm having my own expedition in my house!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Liquid WHAT?

I think I found my new sport after cycling and boxing has run its course...

Ha ha! Dorks!
Among all of the RSS feeds I subscribe to, I also keep tabs on the local mountain guiding scene through American Alpine Institute (AAI). I don't read the posts everyday but definitely browse through them before hitting the "mark as read" button on my google reader. The site is really good on keeping tabs on what's going on within the climbing community - first ascents, accidents, weather and trip reports, etc. etc. It's a good wake up call to following your passion and doing what you want to do... and just thinking about having the choice between sitting in an office chair for a living or being in the mountains puts my mind at ease that I could do either one.

My housemate, David, is doing just that. He moved into my basement in March and has been home maybe 15 nights since. Between guiding on Rainer, traveling to Kauai, ski touring in the North Cascades for a week on end, and now guiding an expedition up Denali in Alaska for 3 weeks straight - it appears he lives the charmed life. But I'm sure it's not completely glamorous. What about the sub freezing temps, the day upon day of being stuck in a tent thanks to the weather, the limited food options and lack of showers? Thankfully it's usually too cold to smell body odor - but I'm sure that shower back at home feels amazing once he's back.

Reading David's dispatches from Denali makes me miss Ryan.

Check out David's photography here:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Will race for beef.

The radar was looking spotty with the East side engulfed by a complete down pour. Jennie called me up and we contemplated plan B - mountain biking at St. Edward's park but since my heart was set on racing at Pacific Raceways, we stuck to our original game plan. We met at the Mercer Island park and ride and downed some yummy homemade oatmeal raisin cookies on our venture south. The skies were gray, but not dripping yet so we kept our fingers crossed of having a dry race.

We had a quick warm up on the tarmac and eavesdropped on the change of plans for the race course - instead of pancake flat we were going to do the escape route with points given out every lap to the first and second person across the line. Jennie, Jessica and I lined up with the Masters men, which had a solid mix of ability and fitness. These weekly races, put on by BuDu Racing, are a great way to get some mid week interval and above threshold work. It only costs $10 for us ladies and is a great source of entertainment.

Just as we gathered to begin the race, it started dumping rain. Not a maybe-I'll-get-a-little-wet kind of rain, but a it's-raining-from-the-ground-up kind of rain. During the first lap my eyes stung from all of the road grit and tire spray and from being stuck to Martin's wheel. Thank goodness I was near the front because my vision was seriously compromised and I doubt I would have been able to see in the back of the pack.

I positioned myself well the first couple of laps, being cautious of not getting off the front and putting myself within striking distance of winning a sprint. Midway through I had excellent positioning and the legs were itching to be tested. At 250m out, I opened her up and heard Jess cry "GO JEN!!!!" and got some separation from the guys, nearly holding all of them off for a mid-race prime. Unfortunately I was pipped at the line by a guy but held on for second.

I almost fell off the back of the pack.

I nearly puked in my mouth.

I am sure if I had a power tap the watts would have easily read over 1500.

It took me three laps to of foaming mouth, stringy saliva, near blackout pain to recover and then I was ready to do it again. This time in the final sprint. We soared up the hill, and I found myself on a nice little lead out train chugging its way to the finish. I was eighth wheel, a little too far back for the win but stoked to be in contention for the final sprint and sailed in for 6th.

My mid-race prime was validated by some Oh Boy Oh Berto! Jerky.

Funny how beating some guys has more meaning than going against the ladies. Why is that? Like the first time I won money in the cat 3 men's field out at the track (I still have the prime envelope as evidence) - meant more to me than getting second in the overall woman's series points.

One thing is for sure - in a sport where you sink countless cash and time into equipment, training and racing - sprinting for a bag of beef jerky seems pretty comical.

You'll know it's my car when you see the bumper sticker: Will race for beef.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Morning workout - consisted of gym time and 5 sets of box jumps. I'm up to 32" and stacking more and more height each time.... soon I'll be eating this type of guy for breakfast. Quadzilla is back. :)

I've forgotten what it feels like to ride in warmer weather. I don't mean to complain or anything but it hasn't gotten out of the 50s for the past week now. I'm still wearing winter tights, booties, full fingered gloves and hats to stay warm. The joints are feeling achy and I'm noticing a manic aura enveloping the city... too much gray and not enough Vitamin D!

Enough of that pity party and onto the good news.... Friday was my first track race of the season and it was great! Due to threatening rain, temps in the 40s and a big stage race the following day, the usual turn out was quite low. We had two fields - a cat 4 men's field and everybody else. First up - a 12 lap scratch race. I positioned myself well and found it easy to match the accelerations. Pekke took off with 3 laps to go, and I found myself dangling in no- man's land trying to bridge up. I nearly pulled off second until I got passed at the line by a group of guys. Our last race was a Miss and Out - my favorite! I positioned myself well behind a group of guys who were just riding it tempo. I'd make a move to come around right at the line, then fall back in behind them. Soon we were down to 5 - and I got caught up in a little traffic so when Pekke made another acceleration, I got boxed in. No worries though - the guy I was with was happy to pace me in and I took him for the sprint for 3rd. Then it started dumping.

It felt good to be out there again, despite the cold. I love racing my bike! And am excited with the progress I've made during the off season for my in season fitness. Those boys are in trouble!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This one is just simply too good to pass up.

On tap for today was a double header. Morning base aerobic and afternoon at the track. The track can be tricky this time of year thanks to Seattle's awesome rainy weather so having a plan b is a must. I spoke with Jennie around 1:30 and we agreed I could either do the efforts on the trainer (YUCK!) or come over to the east side and do them with her. I opted for the second option, though was having second thoughts when at 2:30 I couldn't see downtown Seattle from my house thanks to a drain clogging downpour.

But luckily the rain showers were simply that - rain showers. So by the time we were kitted up and ready to go, the sun was shining and we were starting to doubt our knee and arm warmer apparel.

I brought the Hed wheels today - especially since I pinpointed the noodle movements in the Rolf wheel set I used for my standing starts the previous week with Tela. We were going to be putting some serious stress on the bikes - with 200m and 500m efforts so the stiffer the wheel, the better.

For those not familiar with that type of effort, and to be honest they are new to me as an endurance athlete, 200 meter efforts are balls to the wall the HARDEST freaking effort you can imagine. They make you want to puke, cry, fall over and die. They're awesome. Add doing them with a world champion and two time Olympian - and let's just say I had my work cut out for me.

Jennie had me lead the first one. The wind up is important - it's not like you come into the effort from a stand still. You are pretty much balls to the wall even before you get out of the saddle. We're doing them in a massive gear - (say 108") and as I wind them up and get out of the saddle, pedal not more than 10 revolutions, Jennie comes around me and puts a solid three to four bike lengths into me. Mind you the effort is only 200 meters. This is like putting 5 minutes into a field soloing off the front. It's like lapping the field a couple of times like it ain't no thang.

It's demoralizing.

And as I tell Jennie how it makes me feel, she responds:

"Well you know, Jen, I was the fastest woman in the world at one point."

Oh. Right. I forgot! Because you were ONLY wearing you world champ helmet, and not the rainbow jersey.

Ha ha - I'm a jackass.
And to my last post:

Get the best equipment you can because the margin of victory is so slim....

Just dropped some dollars on some upgrades. But now I can only blame my legs for defeat.

GEEKING out on track parts and information. And what have I found? Not all chain rings are created equal. Or chains for that matter.

Cha-ching! Cha-ching. cha-ching.....

Friday, May 14, 2010

"You train as hard as you can every effort of every session because you know that the margin of victory is so slim"

Chris Hoy

Ironing out the kinks

Last week my road bike (that I ordered in November!) came in - as well as my new track bike (which I ordered the week before). Since then I've been putting in some mileage - after I got a proper bike fit with David at HSP (Thanks David!). He did some adjustments and now I FLY down hills and cruise around with a lot less effort. My new Blue AC1 rides like a dream. Though during my standing start efforts the other day felt a little noodley in the bottom bracket area.... quadzilla strikes again! Apparently the bike wasn't made for that kind of force - and rightfully so! I should be doing those efforts on the track bike - but if it's raining... well road time down at Golden Gardens is where it's at.

I also picked up a new Blue track frame and have been putting it to the test out at the track. Riding a new bike out there is similar to breaking in a horse... you both have to ease into it as the geometry and positioning is entirely different compared to your other steed and it accelerates quite a bit differently. Add that to early season track form - and things aren't quite going as smooth as they used to.

But last night I got to test the legs and road bike at Seward park in the 6pm race. And boy did she perform. I felt like I finally have a race bike beneath my legs that is responsive and eager to perform. I almost had set myself up for a prime - but two guys were a little more eager to do so - so I sat on Derrick's wheel for a couple of laps while we went off the front. FUN! But there's something about doing that 200m kicker hill that grinds the back into oblivion...

This morning I woke up early and headed out to Marymoor. Traffic was a breeze and the sun was out in full force. By the time I got on the bike it was 8:30 - and I was in a short sleeve jersey and shorts. On tap for today? Accelerations. The first 8 out of 9 were good - but not perfect. My form needs some ironing out - and that only comes from practice. But on the last one? The last one was smooth as butter , perfectly straight and fast as hell. It felt good, really really good. It was as though body, mind and bike came together in perfect harmony and delivered the perfect effort. I can't wait to get back out there and do it again! The horse has been broken in. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sarah Hammer Rules!

Once again, Sarah Hammer proved again that she's my super hero.

Just yesterday she set a world record!! WORLD RECORD!!!! in the 3k pursuit in a nearly humanly impossible time of 3:22.269. I am utterly speechless about this amazing effort - the come back from a serious back injury and the non-stop pursuit of her goal is awe-inspiring.

From her Facebook post:

3:22.269 :) Never really felt pain like that before though. world went silent for that last kilo...

I wonder if she trains in that silent world? Or is it something special she only dips into for competition? Were there white lights? Did she cross over?


Photo courtesy of Tekno's Bike photos from Facebook.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Too good not to share with the world. Hilarious!!!
I often wonder if I'm border line type two. I battle keeping my blood sugar levels up and bonk more often than my training partners and competitors. At first I thought it was diet and nutrient timing - which I think might be part of the issue - but the longer I'm in this sport and the more low blood sugar crashes I experience, I'm beginning to seriously wonder.

Yesterday I stocked up on bike nutrition - stuff that will prevent me from bonking out at the track. Last Friday's session was a reminder how different fueling for track is vs. road training and racing. One bad training session can be mentally devastating. I had no spring in the legs, no jump in my giddy up and had to ax the effort short due to extreme bonkage. I recall feeling frustrated at not being able to do another 500m full on effort - but I simply couldn't do it. Last year, with Jennie's help, I kept a crate in the back of my car stocked full of bars and chocolate milks - a sure fire way to prevent the crash. Funny how you forget things come spring...

I'd give you my secret training foods - but then I'd have to kill you. If you're really interested then give me a shout. Let's just say I'm following what diabetics use for low blood sugar and it works really well on the bike, especially during these short hard training sessions.

Today we've got a nice group headed out to Marymoor - should be fun! And hard work.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Our Western culture bombards us with hundreds of decisions every day. From the clothes we wear, the products we use - to the food we eat. Walk into any grocery store in the US and you will be overwhelmed at the food choices in front of you. Organic vs. non-organic in the produce section; crackers with and without hydrogenated oils; white bread vs. whole grains; several dozen cheeses; chips, cookies, beer, meat - the list is endless.

And there are as many diets out there to match the myriad of food choices available.

So how do you choose? How do you know that when you go into a store you will come out with food that will properly fuel your body according to your needs? What's your motivation to eat right? Is it to loose weight? Or to feel better? Or perform better? Or longevity?

The good news is that if you fuel yourself to feel better, longevity should go hand in hand.

It's relatively simple to do this - there's just a few "rules" you can follow to apply healthy living. You can feel good. You should feel good.

1. Eat whole foods.

It's that simple. Throw out EVERYTHING in your pantry and cupboards that contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, additives you can't pronounce, etc. This includes all packet mixes (salad dressings, cool aid, gravy, taco seasonings, etc.). What might be saving you time in the kitchen now is actually taking time off your life later. We're talking long term health here - not instant gratification.

2. Drink water.

Eliminate calorie drinks. Lemonades, juices, soda, beer - all of those drinks have empty calories in them. If you're drinking anything other than water during the day - you could be adding on 200-300 extra calories that have no direct benefit to fueling your body. Not to mention that most drinks nowadays are using high fructose corn syrup which is like putting low grade gasoline in a high octane sports car.

3. Eat high quality ingredients.

There is a difference between Jennie O's dark meat deli turkey and naturally smoked, oven roasted turkey breast meat. There's also a huge difference between the different pastas available. And breads? You'd be surprised at how many breads contain high fructose corn syrup high up in the ingredient list. Check it out next time your in the grocery store. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the different food quality options available. Read as much as you can stand on this subject and start applying those practices to everyday.

4. Avoid fast food. Like the plague.

I know, I know. It's cheap and fast. But you don't know what's going into that burger and fries - not to mention where the food was sourced from. And the calorie count? Way higher than the average meal you'd have at home. And if you get cheese on that hamburger your not only increasing the calorie count, you're also increasing the saturated fat content, which could lead to heart disease and other health related illness further down the line.

Growing up I always struggled with my weight. The one way I found to combat it was exercise. But even with exercise I still struggle to keep the weight off. And being a sport where power to weight ratio is directly related to your success - it's just something that can't be ignored. Yet it is rarely talked about amongst my peers. It's almost as if food is a taboo subject and as something you can control in a sport of many unknowns - simply silly not to take a thorough approach toward.

I've decided to take matters into my own hands. To really take a complete approach toward nutrition and fuel. You are what you eat - and your life depends on it. I'm assembling a network of food experts - from schooled nutritionists to cycling professionals to figure out the best way to fuel myself.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I've got another permit for the Enchantments in August. Can't wait for warm weather!!!

Photo courtesy of Kaj Bune.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Doing Time

As I pulled into Marymoor Park for the first of three track workout sessions this week, I realize that yesterday marked the first day of six months of intense left turned ovals. Never mind the white caps blowing across the floating bridge or the aggro acts of daily commuters who are quick to flip the bird before tooting their horns. I was headed to the track for some self inflicted punishment of the fixed gear kind.

The wind was blowing a gale on the home straight and the dark clouds were hovering somewhere over Snohomish. Thirty laps of warm up lasted 29 too long. But on the back straight was a serious tailwind - helping my start efforts get up to speed before the head wall of wind in corner 4. It's day like these when the motivation to kill myself on the road bike wavers - so I was thankful for the track time. And even more thankful I wasn't doing my efforts in a 98" gear.

There's a quiet solitude the track provides in the early hours of the morning. The puddles have yet to dry around the apron and the west bound traffic hums along 520. Cirque is being set up in the adjacent parking lot next to the velodrome and the workers pay no mention to what I'm doing. My hands are greasy and grimy after changing gears and I accidentally spread grease on my face like war paint.

As I rest between standing start intervals, I catch up on some Zen reading and 10 minutes zooms by. I look forward to having company out at the track but I also enjoy the solitude. The next effort makes my entire body shudder and go limp once completed. There's work to be done and goals to strive for.
"One of the things I have come to appreciate most about my own tradition is its down-to-earth, no-nonsense practicality, and its acute sense that the greatest achievements take the deepest patience and the longest time."

- Sogyal Rinpoche

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday's are hard. Especially after an incredible weekend of chillaxin' in the Methow Valley with friends, dogs and of course- bikes.

My off the couch 5.2 mile first leg of the Sunflower Race (go Team Makiah Blue!) with 8 minute miles - has left me a little sore and with a reminder that jumping into another sport you haven't trained for is not the smartest idea. You should see poor Chris - he can barely walk. But it was so worth it! We got 20th out of 47 teams - not bad for a team that did absolutely ZERO training. But we do have our eyes on the top ten teams next year....

I fell more in love with the Methow this weekend. On Friday Chris and I rode the Buck Mountain loop that starts at Cub Creek. The scenery was unreal and the weather perfect - with sunflowers littering the hill sides and big Simpson clouds floating in the sky. The single track was perfect - and my legs are only slightly scraped up from the prickly bushes lining the trails. I had no idea the area could be any more pretty - and this weekend proved me wrong.

This morning was rough... sitting in the morning commuter traffic to get my track workout in before work made me yearn to move to Mazama even sooner. Going from zero crowds to too many people crammed into a small space with lots of concrete is just a reminder that I want to move out of the city before too long and live life closer to the mountains.

Had a big milestone this past weekend too - and am taking it in stride.