Sunday, February 27, 2011

So.... it snowed here

Yes, I am still in Arizona, and yes, it snowed.  And I have photo evidence which I can now share with you.  But first, let's backtrack a bit.  It's been a busy few weeks between fitting in my little California detour, which brought me this sight from the beginning of my ride:
Nope, definitely not in New Hampshire anymore.  Now you can probably see why I enjoyed it so much.  Not long after my return from California, I had some visitors in the form of my mother and my aunt Tricia who were very happy to be escaping the brutal winter back home.  So for that week it was pretty much, wake up, train, shower, and go play tour guide.  They were staying at a nearby hotel and I was the one with the car so I couldn't just strand them there!  Although they did take the car on their own during my long ride, as waiting until sometime in the late afternoon might have been a bit much and I surely didn't need it.  
We went to Sabino Canyon and they went to Tubac to see some art galleries and we just liked of drove around and saw some random stuff, nothing too exciting.  It was nice to have some visitors and to go to a few restaurants and have some decent meals that weren't eaten while sitting alone in front of the TV.  One night in particular we went to a really nice restaurant in the Foothills that had a piano player, who, for some reason, actually started playing the song from "On Golden Pond" which was Dad's favorite and the standard soundtrack to evening boat cruises on a near-nightly basis.  So we had a little moment there (do you know how much it sucks to have something happen in your life that can now make you near tears at the drop of a hat?)  and Mom said he was with us, but then inserted her typical humor by saying, "Maybe he'll pick up the check."

And last Saturday I had myself the most Kona-like wind experience I've ever had on the main land.  Of course it hit for the long ride.  At one point I thought I was driving into a rain storm or something because it looked so dark up ahead, but it was simply blowing dust.  I felt at one point as though I was tilted at a 45 degree angle during a crosswind just to stay upright.  Then there were times of effortless 35mph pedaling on the flats with the wind at my back.  You can only imagine what it was like when I had to turn around.  At times I felt dirt blowing into my ear canal and likely being embedded into my brain.  But, well, I survived and made it back in time to shower and rest a bit before hitting the town again.

They had some decent weather and lucked out with warmer mornings than we've usually had around here, and they flew off just in time for Tucson to get its first measurable rainfall for 2011.  I was on the couch and suddenly heard this noise outside, looked out the window and yep, pouring rain.  It didn't last that long, but it was definitely the first real rain I've seen, aside from a few drops here and there.  

I enjoyed their visit but I was also ready to be back on my own again.  It's funny, but when the training volume gets really high and suddenly your afternoon naps get wiped off the schedule, you can get pretty exhausted!  Actually, to the point where I think it was Tuesday night that I literally went to bed at 7:45 and slept ten hours.  I felt a lot better after that, but definitely after all of the training this week there have been some naps involved.  

Oh, I also got some long-overdue new running shoes.  I went down to Fleet Feet and it was great.  I haven't loved a pair of shoes in a while and I keep trying different things, unsuccessfully.  But they fitted me in a pair of Pearl Izumis that I must say I am loving so far.  It's been years since I loved a shoe from the first run, so that's promising.

Yesterday was the first legitimately cloudy day we've had here, where the sun was pretty much completely absent.  And of course, another windy long ride for Saturday.  It wasn't as bad as last week, but it seemed to be in my face a lot more and start a lot earlier in the ride.  It caused me to ride seven minutes longer than scheduled and let me tell you, on a day like that, that seven minutes can feel like an eternity.  It was also chilly the entire time because of that cloudiness, but at least I was dressed for it.  

Ok, that brings us to today.  This morning I woke up at 3am due to the sound of unbelievable wind and what I thought sounded like rain at the time.  All I could think was, I hope it doesn't stay like that, and then I went back to sleep.  Well, it didn't stay like that.  Somewhere in there the wind died, and then things turned into this:
That is my little patio, all covered in snow.  I had seen the snow in the forecast and figured it couldn't possibly get to me.  Well, it did.  Later on, I went and got this shot:

Yeah, I was not thrilled to see any of this.  I will say though that it did show me how sensitive the snow is to the elevation here, because while I'm at about 2300' at my condo, this was about 2700' and there was quite a bit more snow there.  It made me feel better when I got back.  Of course, all of these mountains were just pure white first thing this morning and I think by noon they already looked just like they did yesterday.  So, while I was not happy to see snow, the very thing I came here to avoid, I was at least able to look at it and think it was pretty, only because I knew it would be gone almost instantly.  And because it's going to be close to 80 degrees for most of the rest of the week.  Sure did mess with the big golf tournament going on here right now, though!

So, now it is time for a rest week!  I have to admit, while the last one I had I didn't really feel was all that necessary, I am dying for this one.  But it made me realize how little time I have left in Tucson.  I have five weeks, but two are rest weeks which means I have only three real weeks of training left here.  Of course then I will begin my California/Florida adventure, so in that sense, still lots of time left.  For now, I'm just hoping that the snow stays where it belongs!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A little detour

I decided to take a little break from Tucson.  And I mean little.  A few weeks ago I thought to myself, hmmmm... maybe I should take this opportunity to go out to Los Angeles and visit with my cousin's family?  I could have a little scenery change of pace for some of the training, go back for the first time in eight years, visit with family I don't get to see very often and have some actual human interaction, which would be a nice change of pace.  So a little e-mail exchanging and here I am. 

It's a little under 500 miles, which now to me is hardly a big deal at all after coming all the way across the country.  Plus, it's a lot more desolate highway with high speed limits, so it actually only took me a little over six hours to get here.  Plus a nice time zone change meant it was more like five hours.  I lived with these guys for a while when I lived here, so it's nice to be able to come back.  Also, it meant that I got to ride my bike on the Pacific Coast Highway for the first time since I moved back. 

So yesterday I had the bike in the car and off I went to the coast.  While the weather in Tucson has been sunny and such, it hasn't really been that warm.  I'm not complaining, because 50 is certainly better than 20, but when I ride in the morning in the desert air I've still been stuck in tights and long sleeves mostly.  Well, not the case out here.  I parked where I always used to, right by Sunset Boulevard, hopped on and started riding north through Malibu. 

Now, I tend to enjoy riding my bike mostly, though like anyone, there are times when I just don't feel like it and am not that excited about it.  I couldn't tell you the last time I enjoyed a bike ride the way I did yesterday.  I didn't want it to end.  It was sunny and in the 70's, riding along the ocean with trees and mountains and lots of other cyclists.  Sure, there were lots of cars, but trust me when I tell you that it is a small price to pay.  The entire time I was thinking that everything about this trip might be kind of dangerous because I'm not sure how I can ever spend another winter riding my bike in the basement and running through snow and ice under fifteen pounds of winter clothes. 

I don't remember ever seeing quite that many cyclists out when I used to ride out there, and certainly not so many tri bikes, but as you can imagine, there were lots and lots of bikes out.  The surfers were doing their thing, beach volleyball, and quite a few stand-up paddle boards, which definitely wasn't a big thing last time I was here but has really exploded in popularity. 

Everything about yesterday made me just immensely glad that I had chosen to come out here this winter.  I feel the same way in Tucson, but you just sort of fall into a routine after a while and stop thinking about it as much.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was February and not June.  I really needed this trip.  I think a lot of times I think about what I should be doing or what I shouldn't be doing, and what I'm basing those on, I'm not sure.  But most of the time you really have to sit back and think, wait, why not?  I realize that I am in such a position where it's easy for me to pick up and go somewhere for months at a time and not leave behind kids or anything like that, and a lot of people just don't have that freedom.  As long as I've got it though, I'm going to take advantage. 

That is another reason why I think I've decided to extend my little trip a bit.  The plan was to race Oceanside and then drive back from there the first week of April.  Well, we have this QT2 training camp coming up in Florida about a week and a half later, and I was thinking to myself, why drive back and then fly down to Florida so soon after?  Why not drive to Florida and then drive home?  So that's what I think I'm going to do.  I'll stay in California for a week, drive to Florida and do the camp, and then drive home.  I might even stop off in DC on the way back and visit another cousin I don't get to see that often.  And maybe then the snow will finally be gone.  How often do you get an opportunity to do something like that?  I don't think that often.  So, I'm taking it. 

Well, another day in Los Angeles and then back to the desert tomorrow.  My mom and my aunt are coming to visit this week so that should be nice.  You know, eating dinner in front of the TV is nice and all, but six weeks of almost strictly that and I think I'm ready for a break.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

Ah, here it is, Superbowl Sunday.  The big day where most of America parks in front of their TV's wearing their football jerseys, screaming at the TV and may or may not be more interested in the commercials than the game.  Myself, well, while participation in sports has always been a big part of my life, I don't make for much of a spectator, especially when I'm not at a game live. 

Most of the time when I was growing up we'd head over to Nana's house and sit in the aptly named "Big room" and watch the game on the big screen TV.  She had a big screen TV long before everybody had a big screen TV, so it was a big deal then.  And sometimes I'd bring a movie to watch upstairs.  My mom would make what she calls her "white trash chili" in which she is selective about whom she shares the recipe with, since it involves Campbell's tomato soup and ketchup.  I have to admit, it's pretty darn good. 

Superbowl Sunday was one of Dad's favorite days, as you can imagine.  Sometimes he'd take me skiing at Cannon since it was two-for-one day.  Then he'd park himself in front of the TV and watch as much coverage as was available.  Sometimes he'd go to Nana's, but sometimes he'd just stay behind because he not only wanted to watch the game in its entirety, but he wanted to listen to the game and not have the commentary be overshadowed by other people in the room who have no clue about football and ask those kinds of stupid questions that people tend to ask when they have no idea how the game is played. 

He was a die-hard Pats fan from the time they were a team in the NFL.  He and my uncle Bob, Dad's twin brother, had season tickets way back in the day and my mom still has the stubs.  I do believe that the entire season was just over $100.  But you see, for a long, long, long time, the Patriots were terrible.  But he stuck it out.  We were actually on a ski trip to Colorado when the Patriots went to the Superbowl in 2002, and we had t change our tickets home because we were due to fly back during the game.  He was only disappointed that he couldn't watch the local news coverage all day since we stayed an extra day.  Coming home early would've made the trip too short.  It's too bad he's missing his favorite day, although it's not so great that the Patriots screwed up so badly.  In fact, my brother said to me that one good thing is that Dad wasn't around to see that travesty of a game.  Good point. 

Ok, enough about that.  My rest week is coming to a close and I can only say GOOD.  Don't get me wrong, I needed it and I appreciated it, but just put yourself in my shoes for a second.  Yes, I'm in great training weather and able to focus on pretty much nothing but training, eating and sleeping.  But, yeah, there is nothing but training, eating and sleeping.  You take away a lot of training hours, and suddenly you're left with a lot of empty hours in the day.  And I have seven TV channels, essentially.  Well, seventeen, but three are shopping networks - yes, seriously, three shopping networks - four of them are in Spanish, one of which actually tends to show some pretty awesome movies, unfortunately dubbed in Spanish, three more of them are of the C-SPAN or other news variety, meaning I would never watch them, and one is PBS.  That doesn't leave with a lot of day-to-day entertainment options.  It's a good thing I brought an arsenal of my DVD movies as well as all episodes of 30 Rock available on DVD thus far, which I could easily watch over and over again... and have. 

So, needless to say, I am ready to get back into a more consistent workout routine again.  I am glad, however, that my rest week coincided with that freezing cold spell we had here.  Seriously, they can't handle that kind of cold here.  There was a gas crisis in part of town and some people are still without heat.  I've already become a cold weather wimp.  At least it looks like we are going to be back to normal this week with temperatures in the 60's and 70's.  Phew. 

Hmmmm... what else?  Well, a good chunk of time today was spent cooking some food that should carry me for much of the week.  After overdosing on turkey and pumpkin chili in the first couple of weeks I was here, I took a break and am ready for some more again.  I froze some though so I don't have to eat it every day.  I also made some chicken tortilla soup, although there weren't actually any tortillas involved, just kind of a nice, spicy flavor.  Although in all honesty, the two recipes were awfully similar, a lot of the same ingredients but only a few alterations.  Hopefully I won't get bored with them.  I also cleaned a lot so basically I've set myself up so that I have almost nothing outside of the usual to do over the next few days.  Oh, good. 

I guess that's about it.  I should start paying attention to this game (we're in the first quarter, still nothing to nothing) and of course the commercials.  One good thing about watching by myself: nobody is trying to get my to buy Superbowl squares or anything like that.  I never win crap like that.  Ok, time to pay attention.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yes, it's even cold in Tucson

I realize that this post is unlikely,  to garner sympathy from anyone based on what the weather is like in much of the rest of the country just consider it more of a commentary on the weather rather than me complaining about it. 

First of all, this blast of cold weather had perfect timing for me since it was a rest week with a lot less training than normal and only three days where I had to get in the outdoor pool instead of six.  I will say that it has been somewhat amusing to see the reaction on the news just because it's going to be 20 degrees at night.  To be fair, this almost never happens, so when it does it's apparently a big deal, but they are treating it much like those wonderful New England weather men who like to update you throughout the day during a storm in case you hadn't looked out your window recently and didn't already know that it was still snowing.  Schools have even been canceled.  Yes, just because it's cold.  Ok, so it has to do with the fact that the pipes are frozen and there is no heat or water, but still.  Yeah, their pipes freeze when it's 20 degrees.  Can you imagine if that happened in New England?  I will say though that waking up to a 42 degree living room isn't that fun, but fortunately the heater works.... I just have to turn it on!

I have to admit though that already I've become a wimp when it comes to the cold.  Barely more than a month ago I wouldn't have thought twice about hitting the road for a morning run when it was 18 degrees out.  Suddenly I just can't stand the thought of it.  And it's not that I don't have the gear for it, because I had the foresight to pack clothes for just this kind of situation.  I just don't want to have to use them!  I also didn't bring a particularly warm jacket with me.  But even when it was 30 during the day, the sun did make it feel pretty warm. 

I will say that on the days I have swum this week it has made a great difference in lane availability.  Not that it's usually amazingly crowded, it's just that there seem to be a lot fewer souls willing to bear the cold weather to get in.  I'm honestly not really sure why.  The pool itself remains toasty warm.  I feel worse for the lifeguards who appear to have been wearing every piece of clothing they own.  Although getting in and out while walking on ice and changing in an outdoor changing room with icicles coming off the faucets is slightly less than inviting.  As was that big sign out front informing me that "Toilets and showers are frozen."  Fortunately, After a quick change I was home two minutes later and in my own warm shower. 

Hmmm... that's about it, I guess.  I continue to cringe every time I see more bad weather heading to the northeast, knowing how I'd feel if I was there.  Except maybe I'd be getting some good skiing in, not sure.  I'd probably mostly be watching bad movies on the trainer in my basement and wondering why I do what I do.  That's about it from here, a little training, a little freezing, and a little boredom.