Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Being A Crazy Chicken Lady... But Not Bulletproof.

I really should update more often than just every 2 weeks... I'm like, should this post be about my chickens or another weekend race update? How about a little of both? Important things first...

So Peepers is living down the road and I go visit/feed him 2-3x/day. He just sort of hangs out in the tall grass and I walk up and call to him and he comes running! He's become super tame, understands our routine, and eats like a champ. I'm sure I look like The Crazy Chicken Lady sitting on the sidewalk petting and feeding this wild rooster, but whatever! In all honesty, I sort of like having this chicken I get to go visit and feed. He's totally my little buddy.
Snow has been MIA for the last few weeks and I'd pretty much given up hope that I'd ever see him again... but then this morning my neighbor sent me a picture of Snow saying LOOK WHO WE FOUND! I was super psyched and couldn't wait to get home to go find him myself! So it appears Snow had just migrated down the road. I actually thought that maybe it would be good to bring Peepers down to join him... so Crazy Chicken Lady indeed, after I found where he was living, I drove back up the hill, called for Peepers, held him in my lap while I drove down to Snow's new home, and brought them out to meet. Peepers actually seemed super happy! He perked up and clucked happily and ran right to Snow's side. Snow then responded by clucking like mad (not a happy cluck) and ran off! Well shit. Apparently Snow went away b/c he didn't want to be with Peepers. :( I thought best for Peepers to get to go back and live where he was comfortable- he's a bit neurotic and anxious and I thought another 'move' might throw him over the edge, plus maybe best to just let Snow be since that seemed like what he wanted... So I drove Peepers back to his home that he knows and he seemed ok when I left. Later this afternoon I went back and he was indeed just fine, then I went to leave some food for Snow and guess what?! I found him on the sidewalk hanging with a mama hen and her 3 little baby chicks! (No wonder he didn't want another roo around!) Obviously those are not Snow's babies but if those two hang together long enough then maybe I'll be able to post pictures of little hybrid silkies running around down there... ;) We'll see how that goes.

Here at the home front Ellie lays an egg every day and it's become a daily game for me to go hunting for it. She's not really that creative in finding hiding spaces (and our backyard is not really that big!) so I win the game fairly quickly each day.
Having been separated from Peepers and Snow, Ellie is mostly a loner these days but she seems to be handling ok. She does have 3 little chicks (my new ones White, Elsa, and Goldilocks) who are growing up before her eyes. They've recently moved into her coop and she makes sure they know who is QUEEN. They are definitely a bit afraid of her- she can't peck them too much though because they are quick and agile and know to stay out of her way now. They are much less friendly with me, I think because they have each other, and they've been trained by Ellie to quickly zip out of the way if anything/one comes near them. Maybe one of these days I'll win them over by feeding them treats... though until they get bigger and can fend for themselves a bit more, Ellie doesn't let them share in any treats. #Bully

Onto the racing news... It was another double race weekend of swim race Saturday and Triathlon Sunday... In a snapshot, you can get a feel for how they went this round from Twitter today...

Brief summary of the swim... This was a new one in the series. It was 1.9 miles; started in some gorgeous water and ended near a river mouth that made the water brown and nasty. If I cared more maybe I would have figured out how to get up there and scope it out by practice swimming it (ie a lesson in how to avoid reef), but I did not do that, so consequently spent much of the swim wondering where the hell I was going and then feeling grossed out by the brown water and frustrated by my lack of ability to see anything, including the reef/rocks I was landing on. We are seriously SO spoiled with these opportunities to swim and if our waters don't look like this all the time, we bitch and moan. Get out your violin, right?? Nothing new to report. Not my best effort but still ended up 2nd age group so it was fine. 4x swims down, 4x second places. One more try in 2 weeks- 2.3 mile finale- wanna guess what will happen??

If I'm honest I'd admit that I felt like trashed shit yesterday afternoon... just full body stiff and tired as can happen when you've swam like I have the last week (a lot, and most of it very hard). I employed pretty much every recovery technique I know hoping that I'd feel better when I woke up this morning, and for the most part I was successful in that effort. As successful as one can be when #PanicResting anyway. Side note- have you ever tried rolling your lats and right under your armpit/upper triceps on the TP roller? OMG. That was worse than my calves or glutes or feet... Maybe not worse than adductors though.

So this morning was Tinman, a local triathlon I've successfully avoided for the last 7-8 years. It's not a bad race or anything, but I just employed a stubborn boycott of it because of the intentionally short swim... it's 750M swim, 40K/10K. I'd understand the short swim (maybe) if logistically it was impossible to fit in a longer swim, but HELLO we have access to the entire freakin' ocean. I'll save my rant about that b/c if you know me you can guess what it is... Anyway, this year decided to do it just because I'm doing all the local races and saw it as an opportunity to keep practicing running hard 10Ks.

This 'race report' will be boring because essentially I don't feel like I raced very well and nobody likes to hear a lot of excuses, so I'll save those and just summarize by saying that I led out of the water, biked very (too) hard for about 20K then felt myself fading... Had a decent lead on my wave in T2 but since I ran like a freakin' elephant (and mentally completely caved- But which came first? The elephant or the cave??) I wasn't able to hang onto my lead... weird like I didn't even try which is probably the most frustrating thing hours later. I could live with just not having a good day but not even trying doesn't sit so well right now. Anyway, I have some theories about why I've blown up like this in a few races this year. My gut says that since in training I'm working more on my TOP END, I actually for once have a TOP END, which seems like a cool thing to have, right?? Except when I use that TOP END in a race, I blow up and fall right off the cliff. I think since I've never really trained to have a top end before, and therefore never had one, blowing up in a race was never something I had to worry about... I could never go hard enough to blow myself up! But now I can. So I have to be careful about that because being at the bottom of the cliff with 5 miles left to run is not a fun way to race. I think I'd prefer to go back to being just strong and durable, like you are when training for an Ironman... but maybe if I get a top end and then also get back my durability I'll be bulletproof like I want to be? Right now I am not bullet proof.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hilo Triathlon

Another summer weekend of racing is in the books! Saturday was super busy as we got up before the sun, packed all our crap in the car and jetted off to the north Shore for race #3 of the North Shore series. This swim might be my favorite one- a point to point (~1.6 miles) from Chun's to Waimea. It was a gorgeous morning for a swim (again!). I won't go into too much detail here but suffice to say my goal was to stay on the gas the whole time and not settle for thoughts like This is good enough...
I got with a good group right from the beginning and just stayed there the whole time. Two young gals were swimming side by side and I hung right behind them from start to finish. It was very uncomfortable and I almost got dropped several times but refocused and just forced myself to not back off even though I really wanted to. And interestingly, as uncomfortable as it was, I felt happy toward the end because I knew I was achieving my goal (not settling!). I still ended up 2nd age group behind Miki, but this time she only got me by ~1:15 (vs the 2-3' she's been getting in the shorter swims) and I was 38thOA (15th female) which is a lot higher up than I was in the first 2 swims. So I left Waimea Bay with a sense of satisfaction and we were off to the airport!

That afternoon we hopped over to Hilo for the Inaugural Triathlon. It was a pretty small race this year with just ~270 athletes but honestly, that's kind of what was awesome about it. It had such an old school feel to it... Hilo is a little town where locals speak in full pidgin and drifters are hippy with dreadlocks. (Side note- have you ever seen someone try to get their dreadlocks into a swim cap? I don't think it can be done, but saw a few who tried!) The whole town has been over run by these little Coqui frogs that chirp their little hearts out all night long (loudly!) They are actually an uncontrolled invasive pest but I actually really liked listening to them. We stayed at a dumpy little hotel and the whole thing just brought back so many memories of my first year(s) in triathlon when I was a starving college student and 5 of us would jam into the cheapest hotel in town the night before a race, flipping a coin to see who had to sleep on the box springs. Yet here I was, ~20 years later, doing the same thing except now with my husband and 5yo daughter in tow.

My overall impression of the race was that it was extremely well run. The town seemed supportive of the event and it was fun- great course! Of course it rained on us the entire day which was a bit of a bummer but those Hilo folk are unfazed by rain so I tried to adopt the same attitude... (Hilo gets like 100 inches of rain/year- there is a reason it is so green there.) I was more just bummed for the race director that the weather was such crap because he'd obviously worked so hard to pull off this great event and everything that was under his control was exceptionally well done. The weather... well, that's not under anyone's control.

Anyway, can I just say how psyched I was about the swim??? Wow finally a triathlon that gave advantage to an experienced ocean swimmer!! :) The water might have been rougher than normal b/c of the storm that was rolling in just as we were starting the race? Bit of a bummer that it was called wetsuit legal. I'm sure there were spots where the water was cold enough (brackish water so there were pockets of colder water near the start/finish) but the majority of the swim was plenty warm to go without. Anyway, women started 5' back from the men which usually I find to be a royal PITA but in this case it was fine- the conditions of the swim had the men completely spread out all over the place so passing them was a non-issue. I started beside Karlyn- I didn't have high hopes of being able to hang with her, and then the fact that she opted to use the wetsuit since it was allowed made me think my chances of hanging with her were actually now a big fat zero... so when the race started and I was actually hanging on her feet without dying it was like shock and awe in my brain! (Eventually she got away of course.) The water was moving like ocean water should move, it was tough to see/sight much at all, and there was some surf and shallow reef coming in... it was just like this awesome adventure swim that is so rare these days in triathlon and I was LOVING every second of it. I had heard that the race director was allowing athletes to opt to wear fins in exchange for a 5' penalty... at first I was like WHAT!?! But then given the conditions of the water I completely understood. It was definitely the kind of water that would/could be quite intimidating to a new triathlete. Some athletes did choose to wear fins- I passed a guy toward the end who was wearing fins- he was also swimming breaststroke (with a real breaststroke kick) and I wanted to stop and tell him Dude! Fins don't work like that... You're doing it wrong!... But instead I just made sure to swim WIDE around as I passed.

Looking at the results it appears Karlyn and I both out-split all of the men so that was find of fun. :) I got to my bike in T1 and most of the bikes were still there which was an indicator that indeed that swim was as tough as it appeared. I made short work of T1 and was off and rolling in the rain.

It was a good steady rain and consequently I changed some things about the way I planned to race. #1 I skipped the sunglasses and #2 I thought I wasn't go to DRILL IT, but rather it seemed prudent to just ride safely. But then I got riding and within a few miles I'd caught and passed Karlyn and then a woman on the side of the road cheered for me and I heard my two favorite words, First Woman! Hearing that makes it tough for me to lolly-gag on the bike and all of a sudden I was moving right along and feeling super happy! I was still stoked about that awesome swim, I wasn't feeling bothered by the rain, and my legs felt good. The course is a pretty simple out/back with some rolling climbs on the way out and then rolling downs on the way back. So YEEHAW Y'ALL It's ADVANTAGE SWIMMER here at the Hilo Triathlon and I was all about taking advantage of this very rare opportunity!!

At some point not too long after I'd heard my two favorite words, my happy bubble burst right along with both my tires when I hit a giant pothole.


I think the pothole was about this big.

I was not prepared to change 2 flats (my fault, yes), which meant that I had to wait for a sag truck to roll up. It's funny how I felt super bummed for like a second and then I just let it go. I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about it- what's done is done and at that moment there was no air in my tires. And that's what I get for not bringing along two spares!! There were some policemen right there after the bridge so they called the number they had for the sag guys but no one answered... I sat down in the rain to wait and while I was waiting (maybe ~15'?) three more guys hit that same pothole and flatted too. I sat there for so long one police officer finally asked me "Oh, You gun try finis?" Um, yes if I can get air back in these tires I saw no reason to not finish. Maybe I could have a good run?? In good news I was first in line when the sag truck did finally come along. The mechanic did an awesome job helping- his sense of urgency was WAY higher than mine by that point... in fact, when my bike was ready to go he was ready to push me off as if I was doing a TT but I was like, um, no worries man I'm out of it here at this point...

So I got back on my bike and then just cruised the rest of the 40K. It was still raining and I could see no point in trying to make up 20-25' by risking anything with a big effort. So the rest of the ride was super cruisy. I'd definitely like to go back though and have another shot at it b/c I think I could rip off a fast 40K there given better conditions! I should note as well- the Hilo Police did a superb job of stopping/directing traffic and keeping the course safe for the athletes. Mahalo!

One lesson I learned in all of this is that my run speed is not dependent on my bike effort/pace. I was sort of thinking that hey maybe this was my chance to really have a decent 10K given that the effort on the bike had not been hard... it was still raining so it was not hot... the course was mostly flat too just a few short gentle up/downs... so the only reason to not run fast here would just be if you're not a very fast runner! So yes, I proved to myself on this 10K that my run pace at these shorter races is the same whether I drill it on the bike or whether I soft pedal. It was a little bit less uncomfortable than it likely would have been had I ridden hard, and it was maybe a little bit more fun because I actually passed some girls on the run (I never get to do that!). It's hard to say though that my heart was really IN IT though during that run because I felt like I was just OUT OF IT when it came to the actual race, but turned out I ran my way up to 9th OA female (it was a small race) and 2nd 40-49.

3 of us from Honolulu traveled over for the race and all ended up with age group awards!

The atmosphere after the race could have been a ton more pleasant I think had it not continued to dump rain... They had a good band and good beer/food... The mayor of the Big Island did the race and gave a great speech afterward- he is funny! (I would vote for him to be my mayor for sure.) Anyway, overall impression of this first year race was that it was a good one indeed. It was exactly the kind of fun that is the reason most of us fall in love with the sport of triathlon in the first place and even though someone joked that this race should be called The RainMan, I can see myself going back to this one again next year.  Though next year, I'll bring proper Hilo attire. And two spares.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Chicken Saga

OK so a few days have passed and I'm feeling a bit more emotionally stable so I can finally write about what has happened in this past week...

About a week ago, we got a less than friendly letter in the mail stating that we are in violation of the housing association by-laws because we are raising chickens. Shit. Of course we signed all those documents last fall when we agreed to buy this house... maybe you'll be surprised to find this out but shocking news- we didn't read it all... but then again even if I had read the rules at the time I would have glanced right over the part that says we are not allowed to raise poultry b/c at the time it wasn't something we were considering doing.

I'm not really even sure how it came about that we decided to try raising chickens anyway? I think it came after I'd done some research about the factory farming industry and read about how horribly chickens are treated in facilities where they are laying eggs... so really this was my little way of voting against that whole industry. And through the whole experience I have learned A TON about chickens and it's all been really cool. They are really neat animals- much smarter than you'd think- and they have a very interesting social culture as well that is easy to figure out if you spend some time watching them interact. It's easy to really start to love your chickens when you raise them from chicks. I mean, when you start taking selfies with your chickens, you know its true love.

Anyway, since I was new to this whole chicken raising thing I didn't pay a ton of attention to making SURE I had hens to start off with... I didn't think through the ramifications of what if they become roosters... The fact of the matter is that roosters are not allowed to be raised in residential areas and I can understand why. They crow often. They crow loudly. And they crow before the sun even comes up. It's actually sorta cute at first when they are just learning that they have a voice. Their crows are squeaky and not very loud. That lasts about a week and then they crow like legit roosters.

So I guess I'm not surprised that we got the letter stating we had to get rid of them, but I was very sad. I wasn't sure what to do with them- roosters are hard to give away because most folks are in situations like us (neighborhood living no roosters allowed). I didn't want them to end up having to fight (if you sell roosters on Craigslist or whatever they are often forced to fight) and I also didn't want them to end up on somebody's dinner table. I understand that most people eat chickens but eating my pets feels different.

I guess in good news, Hawaii is a place where wild chickens are everywhere. In fact, the road we drive every day to/from our house we have nicknamed Chicken Road because so many chickens live alongside the road. Lots of mama hens with their flocks of chicks as well as other hens and roosters... I wasn't sure if Snow and Peepers would have the skill to live in the wild after being pampered in our backyard for the first 5 months of their lives (doesn't food just fall from the sky??), but my thinking was that if I leave them in the field maybe I can see them more often than if I gave them away to a farm somewhere further away?

I won't write in detail about how I caught Peepers and put him in a box, or about how Snow went crazy squawking like mad when he saw me do that, or about how Snow's legs were shaking when he realized he was next to be caught, or about the look of sheer fear in Peeper's eyes when he was let go in the unfamiliar field. And I definitely won't write about how I balled my eyes out the whole time.

Instead I'll just summarize that 3 days later, Snow and Peepers seem to be adjusting to their new home down the road. I stop by 2-3x/day to bring them food and water and they come right to me every time. I've seen some hens nearby who I hope will soon become mates for my boys. I plan to help them by making their home attractive for the hens (Look girls! Food! And water!) Funny story- earlier today I went down to fill their water and give them some food... then on my way home as I was driving by it looked like a chicken was there eating but didn't appear to be my boys... so I stopped to check it out... And interestingly enough there was a hen there eating their food BUT she was with another rooster! And my boys were just right there watching... I am going to have to give a lesson to those boys about not letting other roosters eat their food... Anyway, I walked up and the wild rooster ran one way, the wild hen ran the other way, and my boys hung out right there with me. And all through the field you could hear roosters and hens in every direction clucking and crowing and just generally being upset by my presence. I think it will be interesting to watch as the weeks go by if/when the boys find hens to join them. I really hope that in the coming months there are a bunch of little Silkie/mix baby chicks running around!

Anyway, here at home we still have Ellie. Technically we are not supposed to keep her either but I'll be surprised if anyone truly has a problem with her being in our back yard. She is generally very quiet. She does sing a little in the mornings when she is about to lay an egg. Funny too- when she first started laying eggs she did it in the nest we built her as part of her coop. But then I stopped finding eggs there... After a few days I started looking around the yard a bit and wouldn't you know it? She's found herself a new little nest under a bush to lay her eggs! It's kind of like an Easter Egg Hunt out here every day now, except it's not Easter, the eggs are not chocolate, and Ellie isn't very creative in finding new hiding places.

I plan to appeal the rule that says we are not allowed to have chickens here. City/County law says households are allowed to have two hens, and I think if the folks in the neighborhood understood what great pets hens make, they'd be more likely to permit us having them. So I'm hoping it's just a matter of education and I hope I don't have to become a member of the neighborhood board to get the rule changed, but if that's what I have to do, that's what I'm going to do.