Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kiwi land

Greetings from Wellington, New Zealand! 

Motto of the city by the harbour

I have been fortunate enough to be able to come here on a year work visa with my partner. While he will be working 50 hr plus weeks on the Hobbit I will hopefully be involved in some equally creative and fulfilling pursuits here in Windy Welly.

The city greeted us with an apparently uncharacteristic week of smiling sunshine and gentle breezes. I actually went swimming sans wetsuit right out from the beach in downtown. The water is much warmer than the bay and so inviting- clear, almost tropical looking. We spent a couple of busy days looking at almost every available apartment/house in Wellington close to downtown and were lucky enough to find our perfect new home right on the water at Oriental Bay. Until move in in a couple of weeks we're staying at the cool Museum Art Hotel with a ensuite kitchen that has already been put to good use.

My first trip to a NZ farmer's market on Sunday blew me away. First of all- all the vegetables seem to be the big brother mutants of their counterparts in SF. The cabbages are as big as basketballs, the celery are small trees, and the leeks have about a footlong white stocking on them. I had to restrain myself to what would fit in our mini fridge. We also found an unmarked cooler stocked with real tofu (the supermarkets only sell it in a box on the shelf), a parisian bakery with amazing pain du chocolat, fresh eggs, flowers, woodfired pizza- more bounty than you can imagine!

Me with the big veggies

Organic food does not seem to have hit NZ quite yet, there is one organic store in town with a small selection of produce and products for exorbitant prices. The market was supplied with produce from Levin, which is an agricultural area a bit northwest of Wellington. So, hard to say what their growing practices are, but at least it is fairly local.

I am writing this while on hold with the wonderful CA DMV- 45min and counting! Some things are a bit challenging by distance- luckily all of the service type of businesses here, including their version of the DMV are much easier to navigate.

Well, until next time sending a big hug from the southern hemisphere!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A little pep talk

We are in the first week of spring and I am bumping up my training in preparation for this racing season. Longer swims, runs and rides with the addition of some long intervals and tempo training work.

It all looks really good on paper- I plan my week out Monday morning- what workouts on which day, what type, when to do a brick, etc- it is the Execution that can be challenging.

Triathlon is an individual sport, which means that while I can go hammer through a group ride, and run intervals with a group at the track- it really all comes back to me, myself and I going at it day after day.

I first discovered my competitive drive and capacity for pushing myself with rowing in high school. Rowing might be considered the epitome of a team sport- each rower in an eight fused into one seamless machine with a single goal. That group energy enables you to push beyond where you think you can go. In one sense that makes it easier, step into the boat in the morning and you know you will get the job done, you have your crew with you working right alongside. 

Now, in a solo sport, I am working just for me. 

Luckily, it only takes a moment for me to remember why I am doing what I am doing and how extremely stoked and grateful it makes me! I am training to see just how fast I can be. Giving myself permission to pursue this sport that I love with all that I have.

On the docket tomorrow- morning swim and weights, then a tempo run in the afternoon! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wildflower here I come!

Wildflower triathlon, held in sunny southern California the first weekend in May, is the biggest early season race and an uniquely special one.

Being out in the middle of nowhere at a reservoir means that everyone camps! A festival like atmosphere, with 8,000 triathletes all out for the weekend. Everyone from the pros from all around the world to competitive age groupers (myself) and the ubiquitous Team in Training athletes.

I have always raced Wildflower as a collegiate athlete, on the short course (Olympic distance). This year I am bumping it up to the half ironman distance- why? I am questioning it a little myself this morning as I work up the motivation to head out for my 13.1 mile testing run.

My goal this year of qualifying for USAT age group national championships, held August 20th in Burlington, Vermont- means that I need to place top 5 in my age group (F 25-29) at Wildflower. My backup qualifying race is the San Francisco Tri at Treasure Island, July 9th.

So- last year the girl who won my age group finished in 5 hours and 5 minutes (to give a little perspective, the first pro woman finished in 4 hours and 27 minutes!) which broke down to 37 min for the 1.2 mile swim, 2:43 min for the 56 mile bike, and 1:40 min for the 13.1 mile run. 

I have 7 weeks to go and am testing myself at each distance this week to get an idea of where I am. Which brings me back to this morning's run! I will head out the door in just a moment. 

Why am I racing the long course this year? Well, according to my "coach",  Joe Friel of the "Triathlete's Training Bible" if my peak is going to be in August for nationals, then a longer distance event early in the season makes perfect sense. I will not be peaking for Wildflower, but the longer miles will be perfect training in this base building period. I also want to see what the long course is like! I have raced olympic distance there for the past 4 years and am ready to see what I can do over a longer haul.

Okay, now I am ready to go! Sometimes all it takes is watching a you tube video of the pro women hauling ass!

Here it is if you'd like a little inspiration: 

(By the way, the tall skinny guy in the video at minute 5:30 or so in the red speedo and cowboy hat is my friend Jay, a pro cyclist he wasn't there to race, just came along to give a little extra, um, motivation to the competitors!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A perfect day

I wake up fully rested, excited for what's to come as soon as my eyes open. Pad out to the kitchen for a little coffee, get ready for my first workout of the day.

I head out the door, down 18th to Castro, the city street starting to come to life with early birds hurrying to work, sidewalks being washed clean from the night before. My breathing deepens as I remind myself to take quick, light steps and take my time up the hill to Divisadero. Turning into the panhandle the atmosphere changes as big trees take the place of buildings and dogs run around. If I look at the park with fresh eyes I am struck by the beauty of the botanical gardens as I run by- people come from all over to visit this park and it is just my morning route!

Finally I head off the pavement into the shade of redwood trees and the soft, muddy trail. I am a barbarian running through the woods, fast and light, I could run forever. Maybe all the way out to the ocean! Back home, I walk the last couple of blocks, can't help smiling at everyone I pass. I just got to experience 11 miles and a sense of freedom.

Breakfast, outfit change, out the door to lead an outdoor workout class downtown. The class is stoked to be there, they joke around, push themselves, everyone loving it. Out in the sunshine on the Embarcadero playing around- people passing by in business suits wishing they were us!

Home, shower, make lunch. Time to visit my office, (my brother's desk in a sunny bay window nook) where I work on my website, getting in touch with new clients, designing my logo. Feeling like my dream is coming true, each day making it a little more legit.

Looking forward to yoga this evening, then dinner, a friend stopping over to watch the Bachelor. Then trying out my first cheesecake ever for dessert!

That my friends, is a pretty perfect day!