Saturday, June 14, 2008

A mermaid for Father's Day!

I discovered a mermaid this weekend. Actually 700 of them, but one is most special to me, Agnès.
I met Agnès in 1988 and running was one of our shared hobbies, like skiing and photography. As a runner, and inspired by my results in marathon training and racing after we moved to California in 1998, she was dreaming of running a marathon too. She raced 10Ks and a couple of half marathons (San Francisco). In the winter of 2003, she came back with a strong pain in the groin which she attributed to a bad fall on the slopes. After three years of various treatments and many visits to doctors, the pain was still subsiding. Despite her very high resistance to pain, she was having trouble running and was limping more and more. During the visit of my parents to California in 2006, my father suggested she gets an x-ray taken of her hip and, finally, the diagnosis was established: hip arthritis, which will require a total hip replacement. Knowing that prosthesis usually last for 18 years, Agnès is trying to delay the procedure as much as possible. In the meantime, no more running though, to avoid the shocks, and the deal is that I am running for the both of us! To replace her strive for exercise, Agnès is an avid and very active participants of spinning classes, NIA (a mix of martial art and dance), and swims a lot. She also discovered Nordic Walking during our visit to good friends in Switzerland, Monika and Tobias, which is perfect for her to enjoy the outdoors and the trails. But more importantly, her ability to have postponed the procedure for 2 years now certainly relies on all the core work she did with her Stott Pilates reformer instructor, Sophie. When smart exercise beats medicine...

The readers who are ultra or avid runners know how much our passion is demanding on our families and spouses in particular. Agnès is very supportive of all my running endeavors but, for once, she wanted to experience the excitement for herself and have her own challenge, her own competition. And today she competed in her first triathlon, a first for the family!

The event being in Fremont (East Bay) and in June led me to think it will be very hot and actually funny to swim in open water. Actually, we are still having a strange Spring because it was overcast this Saturday morning and the temperature in the low 60s felt pretty chilly to the boys and I, especially when seeing all the participants waiting for the start in the water. There were 700 participants today, starting by waves of 50 to 100 (age groups and/or proficiency). There were also participants engaged in a duathlon (run - bike - run) like Agnès' good friend Kelly.
As Agnès is so better than me in swimming, I was expecting her to do well at the 400-meter. But she was not used to run in open water, having tried only once, in May. With the main goal of having fun, she switched from freestyle to breast stroke, yet getting out of the water in the first half of the group. She walked up all the beach to get to her bike (a brand new road bike for Mothers' Day!), got her dry suit out and put her running shoes one. Triathlon is so technical and rely so much on the fast transitions, I must admit I am not tempted (besides, I don't like much the water like some may have seen in Costa Rica).
3 loops of about 4 miles and it was time for another transition, to the 2.5-mile run. On which Agnès used her Nordic Walking skills to complete her first sprint triathlon in 1:24 (detailed results will be posted on the Mermaid site shortly). Under her 1:30 goal.
The boys and I were proud of Agnès and delighted to see her joy at each passage and at the finish. We were also joined by our friend Sylvie, an enthusiastic supporter.
And we now have a mermaid at home!

Last minute edit to add Alex' clip of the mermaid in action!

Western States tune-up

Once back home, I left for some heat training up Black Mountain. Two layers like when I run in winter at Tahoe, black running tights, black hat, I just did not put the gloves on. Max came with me for the first 4 miles up to the Stevens Creek Reservoir, then I ran and walked up to Montebello Road. Saw a couple of cyclists who were surprised and impressed, then a few hikers on the other side of Black Mountain. Came back through Rancho and crossed Cupertino for a 29.7-mile run in a conservative 4:36 (+/- 3,600 ft elevation).
And finally in some sun and heat although not the 100F+ temperatures we may find in the canyons at Western States in two weeks. But at least I won't be wearing the two layers, which were pretty heavy with all the sweat. With two stops on the way to fill in my bottles, hydration was OK this time, although I got down to 119 lb. I could have surely enjoyed more food if there have been aid stations on the way, but I will have to wait for race day now!
I have run a lot lately and training hard, although it seems so little compared to what Anton is logging in. In an email he sent me last week, he said that tapering was his least favorite part of running. May be he means getting down to 100-mile weeks...

On Sunday I did not feel like running (to Alex' astonishment) and went for an unusual work-out: a 32-mile bike ride, first up to Montebello Road (up to 30 mph on the way down, this is so much more dangerous than running!), then to Palo Alto on Foothill Expressway. I definitely prefer running, I am not a triathlete...

The weekend ended with a deep-tissue massage in San Jose, a Fathers' Day treat from Agnès. All set for starting the well-deserved and healthy tapering for Western States!


Anonymous said...

have fun tapering, jean. best of luck at states. you'll do great.



Anonymous said...

Thanhs for sharing all about Agnes' race. I also appreciated hearing about your training. I will be following your race. Good luck,
Ann J

Anonymous said...

Agnès en vedette sur ton blog...excellent!
Bon courage jusqu'au 29!

Anonymous said...

Hip, hip, hourra ! pour Agnès ! Quel exploit ! Je retrouve bien là votre volonté de vaincre.
Je vous embrasse

209Mike said...

Great article/blog/message. Can't wait to see how you do at States. Good luck and happy tapering.

Admin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.