We're reaching crunchtime now, where the bulk of my work is done and if I try to work any harder, I'll just eff myself over for race day. Scary time for a girl who likes to work hard, having to say: chill the fuck out! But... shouldn't I be biking? Swimming? Running? Well, not as much as normal. It's July 11, and the race is on July 30th. Work any harder and we could relapse into another awful bout of strep.

I'm quite far behind on triblogging, though I blog for myself alone (was just revisiting older entries and thoroughly amusing myself... like my essay about my first half ironman. Classic Muller, she says to no one but herself.) So there's a little bit to touch upon all at once in this here entry. Sure I could make a few entries, but why? I won't. Eat it.

My other Vineman buddies, Pei and Henry, had one last long bike in their training schedule set aside for July 2nd, and so we resolved we could do the big haul up to Santa Barbara as a trio. Henry mapped out a route from Simi Valley (in my mind, I always call it Unseemly Valley, it is very hot) to UCSB, coming out to 97 miles on the nose. We began a bit after 8AM and made our goal of 4PM in time for the train with minimal bumps along the road. Getting out of Unseemly Valley was the most annoying part, what with us catching every red light and the heat of the weekend creeping up quite prematurely, but once we were down that steepass hill, the ride became much more tolerable. Given that I follow my ride leaders blindly without any sense of direction, I couldn't begin to tell you where we were or how we traveled there, so I believe I'll let the Garmin map tell the story for me:

(Don't ask me what's wrong with the elevation/pace thing at the end, it looks like I left it on or something.)

I recognized a bit of the long fast section through Oxnard as our final destination of the Zuma to Strawberry Fields ride (and even saw the strawberry stand with some Tri Clubbers in it as we passed by!) As my bike is a slightly odd fit-- such are handmedowns, no?-- I've never been able to comfortably get aero without fear of toppling over. (Once almost got CREAMED on the way back from a Valley ride... never again.) But after a little practice, I did get good at it, so I feel like I now have that option for my long ride.  Hooray! I also found that the moment I went aero, my pace went up from 16 to 20 mph. Woops! Henry and Pei kept apologizing for being "too slow for me", which made me feel like a total d-bag, but on the whole it was really good we kept our pace at around 16 mph, because I'm going to have to reign in that "bike arousal" for the first 30 miles at least. [I've been reading the book "Going Long" for last minute advice, and staying in Zone 1 for the first 30 of the bike is considered extremely important. I found the word choice funny when the author stated, "You're going to feel really strong on the bike after the swim, but it's very important to curb your arousal." Aroused is not something my bike seat makes me feel.  Sexually assaulted, yes. Aroused, no.] We picked up the pace near the end of the bike to make the train time, which was good practice for the race, but not so much that it burnt me out for good. After the bike, I was able to take a dip in the ocean and get some raw oysters, wine, and early bedtime by 9 something.  This was evidently early enough that I had enough juice for my longest run, which I was supposed to do at least 3 weeks before race day (so I was just making the cut off.) I got up a bit before 6, had some breakfast, and got out there by 6:45, running through Griffith and back home for a grand total of 22.7 miles. I was feeling quite good until around mile 16, when some ankle pain kicked in, and the sun began to broil, and as I started the run home around mile 18, I realized, you moron, the run home is straight uphill, what the hell! But I needed those miles, so I did a good bit of walking, made it up to top of Vermont, then turned around for a happy downhill home from Hillhurst, which actually put me over my desired miles. Let me just say that my neighborhood at 90-something degrees on a Sunday morning is very unforgiving shadewise. I was totally shot, but I had the long run under my belt, and I had a nice cold bath to keep me from dying immediately.

This being done, I could now safely say I'm ready for some taper. And of course, leave it to me to take that to mean "do a marathon on Friday". I'd signed up to do the Tosh.0 Treadmill Marathon Bit in Hermosa Beach, which I felt wouldn't be a full marathon as it would undoubtably end whenever the pinch hitter Kenyan completed his length. Then again, I don't like to half-ass anything, and so when Friday rolled around, I ran around a steady 6.5 mph the whole time until I couldn't very well feel my feet, one of which was forming a painful blister (thanks, Tosh! Without the bit, I might have stupidly not purchased new shoes in time!) I did step off for a second to pee, and took mini breaks without stopping the treadmill, so I'm guessing my 18 miles were more like 16.5, to be safe. Nevertheless, that's a crapload to do on a treadmill in the blistering heat (they started us at 11AM... brutal!) We made it into the papers; I'm the third one in in the first pic on the site. As silly as it was, it was definitely a workout not to be denied.

I finished off Friday by having to get a last minute smog check to avoid late fees (only now did I hear on NPR that I had a 30-day grace period... damn you, DMV! I could have showered!) before going to a commercial audition in West LA, where I somehow managed to spot clean myself into looking presentable despite my previous incredibly sweaty exertion. Miracle of being female: sometimes, even though I sweat a load, I will dry off and look totally fine. Just don't come too close or the charade fails. But a 30 second commercial audition? No prob. I'd also had my hair in a braid, so it wound up looking all nice and wavy. I'm an athletic girly ninja. And, when I was done, the CD said, "what a great way to end the day". As in: "you are so charming and great, girl I don't know who I would definitely not suspect of coming here having washed of in a gas station bathroom after an 18 mile run!" So that was nice. Hollywood triathlete!

Finally, though it's been well over a year since I first starting thinking about getting a pair of robot feet, the LATC has jumped on the barefoot running bandwagon and has started singing its praises. Everywhere I'm hearing "first time I can run without pain", "makes you feel so much stronger", "makes you more attractive to Hobbits"... well, most of those. So after our workout on Saturday, a bunch of us up and went to REI for a happy athletic impulse buy of our very own robot feet Vibram five fingers. Yes, they look silly, and yes, they are kind of really cool. I also got another pair of normal human running shoes from Arch and Sole, where Mahmoud said my ankle pain was probably due to striking midfoot, where all the extra support was in the shoe. This could be remedied by rolling through the heel more, or running on the balls of my feet more (a.k.a. using Pose, something encouraged by the Vibrams, but also nothing I'd like to try to do three weeks away from a race.) Instead of trying to do anything drastic, I bought a shoe with less of a dramatic slope by the arch and put an insert in, and I'm hoping come mile 16 on the race, I'll find myself ankle pain free. In the meantime, I'm doing short runs with the robot feet-- did one mile on Sunday and have some sore calves today, so I know not to overdo it. And of course, I ought not overdo it in general these days. I'm going to keep reading that crazy bike arousal book and see what last minute things I can do to help myself out without making myself too nervous about undertraining or what have you. We're in the final stretch, people! Whoooot!

AuthorNikki Muller