Saturday, October 25, 2008

Low key hill climb - Bear Gulch

Cripes. Why I agreed to do a HILL CLIMB, I'll never know. Several weeks ago, before I went on a blissful (and mai tai'd) vacation, I mentioned a couple of these to my coach. Well, I went on vacation and promptly forgot.

Wednesday evening, I was looking ahead to what I needed to do over the weekend for training (since I did SO much riding in Hawaii - yeah, 3 days on a rented bike with toe clips. I tried to train on vacation, and have you ever tried to sprint with toe clips? I pulled out of them the exact number of sprint attempts: three.). Thursday looked good. Friday good. Saturday: Low key hill climb: Bear Gulch. WHAT? Oh crap. How can I get out of this? It's going to be evil. I distinctly remember (now) thinking it would be a good idea, because it was short (less than 3 miles) and not super steep (6.4% average). But I also remember saying, "I'm not sure if it's a good idea THAT close to returning from vacation.". Clearly, my coach ignored that last sentence. I tried to think of all the excuses, and finally I decided to just go do it. "It's low key! It's not a race! I can do what I want!". But I also decided to park in Woodside and ride up Kings for my warm-up.

Yeah, I said that. Climb Kings for a warm-up. Clearly, I lost my mind on vacation. If someone sees it, please send it home. I sort of need it back...

A co-worker of mine wanted me to join our work team, so I raced (relative term today) with them today. I told her I was slow. I don't think she REALLY believed me.

This morning, I nearly caved and stayed in bed. I was awake before the alarm went off, but then I did a stupid thing: I hit the snooze. Bad, bad! I freaking snoozed for 45 more minutes, which just made me TIRED-ER. I stumbled around the house and made breakfast and got myself together, but not fast enough. I got to Woodside later than I wanted, so my leisurely ride up Kings turned into a faster ride than I was ready for. Drat. It was stinking cold at my car, but the higher I climbed, the warmer it got. I started bemoaning the fact that I wore a vest, arm warmers and long fingered gloves. This would turn out to be a problem later...

(at least I looked okay.... thanks Eric Willis! )

As I was climbing, I noticed that I felt really awful. I'm not much of a climber, but I usually don't feel *that* crappy. Especially since I made the brilliant move to skip power and use my bike with the compact crank (my knees are still thanking me). I was spinning, but my legs were dead. I bet that the deep-tissue massage I got last night didn't help (well, it did, but it didn't), and then the 2 weeks of mai-tai time, and non-riding and "hiking" with my Mom. It's not like I did a ton of high intensity stuff.

Anyway, I made it to the reg area in time, but then we stood around registering, and talking, and trying to get ready to roll out. And then riding down Skyline to the real Bear Gulch, I dropped my chain! Ugh, the curse of the compact crank!!! I had a really hard time putting it back on too (the old up-shift trick did exactly squat). Then another co-worker helped, but now I had grease all over my glove and fingers. And then we descended Bear Gulch. And stood around. When we started, my legs felt exactly like they did when I first started climbing Kings! And I thought, "Why on Earth did I bother with a warm-up?"

The bottom of Bear Gulch is nasty and steep and then barren. The trees give way to completely exposed roads and was it hot! Especially with a vest and full-fingered BLACK gloves on. Oh yeah, those were a stunning idea, if I do say so myself... My computer registered the max temp at: 93. BLEAH! At one point, I was doing about 3 mph, the paper boy, my HR was inching up, I was roasting like a luau pig, and I really thought I was going to barf. I got off my bike and walked... I'm not too proud to admit that, but I really wanted to just lie down and think about life... I was almost moving faster on foot at that point. Forced myself back on the bike and ended up getting back off again later. Jeez. Once I got back into the shade and the pitch mellowed out, I was fine. I rode myself back up to a few that had passed me and I felt pretty comfortable climbing after that point. My HR was high (I wasn't going harder than 80 or 85%), but I've not been doing much climbing or intensity, so I pretty much expected it. I finished much better than I started (if you start at the bottom... nowhere to go but up!) and I can still laugh about walking. It's Low Key for crying out loud! One woman told me, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm usually ahead of those 3 up there." Maybe I'm still on Hawaiian time, but I didn't really care who beat me today. I just know that I didn't chicken out, and I finished...

I think I like this low key stuff, but I'm sure not keen to do one again soon! I do now remember telling my coach that I wanted to do the Low Key up Mt. Hamilton on Thanksgiving. I've never been up Hamilton, so I think it will be good. I likely will not feel the same way the night before or the day of, but I'll be glad I did it when I'm done. Just like today...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Laupahoehoe Point and Tsunami Victims Plaque

On April 1, 1946, a tsunami blew into Laupahoehoe Point and swept several small schoolchildren and a few adults out to sea. I'd read about this before, but never got to visit the place where it happened. I knew there was a plaque for them, so I made sure to visit this time. What a powerful place. Just the sight of the plaque brought tears to my eyes. Some as young as 2 years old. Several children from single families. Wiped out. In seconds. It struck at 7 a.m. Really makes you think...
The waves on this side of the island are CRAZY intense. Raw, powerful and really, really scary. There's a story inside my guide book which tells about a barge of brand-new Toyotas crashing near here. An insurance adjuster came to assess the damage, insisted on the helicopter he was riding in land on the barge, a wave came in, swept over the helicopter, tossing it, and killing the adjuster. You don't mess around with the ocean on this side of the island...

Monday, October 13, 2008

More volcano images

First stop yesterday was the end of Highway 130, South of Hilo, on the East side of Hawaii. As we were hiking the approximately one mile out to the overlook to see the lava, you could turn to the right and see the lava coming down the side of the hill, towards the ocean. Luckily, it's jogging West before heading down to the water.

My Mom and I on the edge of the Earth!
Inside Hawaii Volcano National Park, a new steam vent/lava pit has opened up. It's inside the Halema'uma'u crater, which is inside of the Kilauea Caldera (next to the Volcano House hotel and the Jagger Museum). The view during the daytime is impressive enough, but when I looked at the webcam, during the evening (Hawaii time), OMG. It's glowing orange/red with lava inside! Before this vent opened up, you used to be able to drive to the other side and look over the edge of the Caldera, just to the right of the steam and smoke. The eruption of this new vent took out part of the fence, that I've stood at, looking down into the Caldera. CRAZY! The webcam is here. It also looks like we had significantly better weather yesterday than they're having today. Whew!
The view of the smoke/steam from Halema'uma'u from the other side of the Kilauea Iki. The Iki is an amazing hike, but it was not to be on this trip... It's a long trek from one side to the other, but it sure is amazing. The "hill" just to the left of the steam cloud is Pu'u Pua'i, the cinder cone that was built by the eruption of Kilauea Volcano inside the Kilauea Iki crater (in 1959). There is just some really amazing history to go with the Volcano and I'd have loved to have been a geologist here. Truly fascinating stuff.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Looking into the mouth of Hell

I was pretty stoked to find out that the lava was flowing to the East side of the lava fields. This meant that we could DRIVE to it, and then a short hike to a lookout, and voila! Last time I was there, the stuff was flowing to the center of the field and the Park Ranger told me: "Yup, it's a 6.5 hour round-trip hike. Well worth it." F*ck that. This was after doing a hike in the park which lasted just over 2 hours, and got me soaking wet when it rained. I took the plane ride instead, and it was great.

This time... we drove to it. And hiked. 1 mile each way. Over lava. Damn. That counted as double. I got freaked out a few times when there was hot steam coming out of the cracks in the lava. And one such area was SILVER, instead of black. WTH??? I later learned that it was lava FRESH from AUGUST. Yeah, 2 months ago August. No wonder... There was no one else out, except two girls that we finally caught up with on the edge of the world. I took their picture, they took my Mom's and mine, they gave me some cool advice, and told me to perch on the ledge above and that was that. I stood on this ledge for a long time, watching the delta below. There was a crapload of steam (and sulpher, gross) from the lava hitting the ocean (it was RIGHT THERE). When the clouds moved out of the way, there it was - a shelf with orange lava flowing across it. Every time I saw it, I tried to take a picture. And every time, the steam clouds obscured it. I couldn't see the lava through the view finder, but I could with the naked eye. We played this game for a good 20 minutes and I finally snapped a few pics. In this one, when I zoomed in, I could see the orange (faintly) on the shelf. Thank God. I sure didn't want to hike back out there for more pics!!!

It was cool, definitely. But it was at least 2 hours of hard hiking to get 2 miles, round trip. And with steam all around, and only the forest to go by (for the safe harbor), I got freaked out more than a few times (and checked to make sure the soles of my shoes weren't melting!!!!). I almost aborted the hike due to concerns (and very few markings, and no other souls out there). But in the end, I'm glad we stuck it out (my Mom had a hard time with the hike and the heat coming off of the lava). We got to look out onto new land being created, see lava flowing into the ocean, and I kid you not: it was like staring into the mouth of Hell.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My favorite sign from the Ironman

That just RULES!

Ironman World Championships - Kona

This is a CRAZY event. I've never been able to see it before, but decided to take my Mom on a really nice vacation. To Hawaii. Since I like to come here in October, why not plan it around the Ironman?

We woke up early this morning to drive down the road, park the rental car, then walk to Kailua Harbor, where we saw thousands of people swimming! The scene was insane. We found a spot on the wall to sit and watch and proceeded to wait till the first 3 Pro men finishers came in. The groups all had escorts and the helicopter was hovering over the top 3 (who were a few minutes ahead of the next group!). Camera phone isn't the best action shot - as it was much more impressive than it looks:
We waited for some more to come in, including the first few pro women (I knew when I heard Gina Kehr's name (she's from Redwood City!!! And she placed 9th overall, which is soooo cool)), and then we moved to the first corner to watch them come flying out of the transition area on their TT bikes. Saw some near accidents with people still trying to get shoes fastened, and veering all over and whatnot. We saw a guy get a flat tire about 1/4 mile into the 112 miles! He took a long time to change it, then we all cheered him on. Apparently, he went up the hill, around the corner, had another mechanical - and called it a day. We saw young (20-something) and old (78!!!), and everything in between. Really inspirational. Then we wandered off to find food and chill out for a few hours till they came back from their 112 mile bike race (jeeeesus), so they could transition to do a full marathon. I just can't imagine...

Several hours passed, then the first guys came in, and then out they went to do the marathon. By this time, we'd been outside and in the heat and humidity for SEVEN hours. I shouldn't be whining, because I wasn't swimming, riding forever and then doing a full marathon. It's my OFF SEASON for crying out loud! I'm shot tonight though... It's only 6:30 here in Hawaii, but I swear that I'm going to bed in about an hour.

Today was an impressive showing of athletic endurance, and I'm humbled... In fact, to call it impressive is an injustice. There are no words...