Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe Race Report

We arrived in Lake Tahoe on Wednesday, allowing me to get acclimated to the area at least three full days prior to the race. I’m glad we did that as I was able to get a practice swim in with my Friends Who Tri club team on Thursday after buying much needed aqua booties for my feet after athlete check in. The water was shockingly cold but once my face went numb it wasn't so bad after all. (Crazy, I know.) On Friday, I woke up with a headache, stuffed up sinuses and a dry throat so I didn’t go for a swim that morning instead rested and hydrated so I could go for a bike and run that afternoon. I had a blast on the practice ride and run checking out the scenery and it also gave me the confidence that Sunday was going to be a great day.

Bike Drop off in the rain the day before  
Saturday we had to check in our bike and gear bags and we were all dreading it as the forecast was calling for high winds and thunderstorms. When I dropped my bike off, I couldn’t believe how crazy the lake looked. I sent a text to my friend Liesel stating that we might be surfing instead of swimming the next morning. The lake looked like an ocean making it a scary sight. Granted, the forecast showed that the storms and wind would die down come midnight but it’s still not ideal for an athlete to experience crazy weather the day before a race. My family came along with me in our rented minivan as I wanted to drive parts of the course we hadn’t seen yet as well as one residential area that is normally gated off to the public but would be open for a couple of hours on Saturday. As we drove through the area, I thought the roads were steep but was happy to see a few areas of relief instead of steady long climbs. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined driving it in the car and was hoping I would be saying the same thing once I was on my bike the next day. After exiting this private area called Martis Camp, it began to snow. Yup, it was snowing the day before my Ironman. My family who lives in San Antonio was super excited to see snow and wanted to stop to take pictures and all I could do was wonder if they made snow tires for bikes. It was short lived though and nothing stuck as the roads were wet from the rain. I worried no more. It was about 5pm as we headed back to Tahoe City where we rented a cabin for the week when I told my family I just wanted to eat out then and not worry about cooking or finding a restaurant any later. This was a super idea as I got to go back home, get my stuff together and relax on the couch in front of the fireplace while watching a movie with my family. I couldn’t get any more relaxed than this the night before a race.

Race morning, I woke up at 4am to eat breakfast and get dressed. We agreed to leave the house at 4:45am and to our surprise hit no traffic getting to the swim start at King’s Beach. My family dropped me off as they went to search for a parking spot and as I walked to drop off my special needs bag, guess who twisted their ankle on a crack in the road? Me! Luckily, I didn’t fall but I couldn’t believe that had just happened as earlier in the week during our practice swim in the lake I turned the same ankle but much worse as I was practicing running out of the water. I made sure I was okay and continued to walk into transition where volunteers were body marking all the athletes with our race numbers. I went to my bike to air up my tires and put all my nutrition on my bike. I’ve never been so popular in my life as everyone asked to borrow my pump and then they probably hated me as I said my friends had priority.

I couldn’t find all my buds doing the race before the swim start but I did see my long time friend Missy in the bathroom line so asked her to wait for me so we could at least be together. We couldn’t seem to get out of the transition to get to the swim start without walking all over the place. We finally decided to stop where we were and start putting on our wetsuits before the race started without us. I then saw Anthony walking by so was able to have him help us get it together. The air temperature that morning was in the 30’s and I couldn’t keep from shivering as I put on my foot booties and suit. I didn’t really realize it until Anthony firmly said you need to start moving around and do some jumping jacks because you are shaking way too much. At that moment, I realized how cold it was and had a very minor freak out moment that reminded me that I was about to do an Ironman in these conditions and also get into cold water too.

Again, it was a very minor freak out moment and I started jumping around to get my core temperature up to let my body know that these conditions were not going to stop us mentally or physically. It was time to get ourselves into the appropriate timing corrals and I chose the 1:21 to 1:30 swim time. I figured I would start towards the back of this group and hopefully find a good rhythm with people around me at my same speed. As soon as I got in line, I realized I had forgotten to put my ear plugs in! In cold temperatures like this you definitely want to wear ear plugs to prevent you from getting vertigo as you exit the water. I kept scanning the crowd of spectators looking for Anthony and he was nowhere to be found! What was I going to do???? Thankfully, my ear plug angel arrived in the form of a fellow training buddy, Myrna, who didn’t think twice and gave me pieces of her ear plugs to use. Thank goodness! I didn’t want to be the drunken looking girl coming out of the water that people would talk about for days to come.

As they moved our group forward and we continued to wait to get in the water, I started jumping around again to stay warm. If you know me at all, you know I love to dance and I don’t mind making an idiot of myself in large crowds so for some reason the “running man” seemed like the most appropriate thing to do to keep me warm. Plus, it gave our group of Sherpas something to be entertained with. After dancing around a bit I focused on the task at hand and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the thick fog above the lake. Even further beyone the lake were the snowcapped mountains. What an incredible backdrop for the start of an Ironman!


We started to move and all of a sudden had crossed the timing mat. You could hear all of our timing chips beep but everyone was walking slowly into the water and we assumed we didn’t start swimming until we reach the first red buoy that had “Start” on it. Some people were walking and some were swimming so I asked another FWTri member, Angela, if we were supposed to start and she didn’t know either so we went ahead and started swimming with the pack around me. The fog above the water was ridiculously thick and I couldn’t see any buoys so just followed the crowd. I decided to stop and began to tread water to look around for a bit. When I did, I saw another teammate, Tamara, next to me and we were both just as confused as to where the heck we were going. Turns out we had swam towards the inside of the swim course loop and had to get back on the outside of the buoys. I didn’t let myself panic since I knew I had just swam off course adding more time so I took a deep breath and started swimming in the right direction. As the sun began to shine more, it was getting easier to see the buoys and the water was so clear that I tried to draft off other swimmers. Swimming close to the buoys though made it rough as many swimmers would stop when we had to make a turn. I remained calm and used this time to flex my feet stretching out my calves and would do a few frogs kicks to loosen up my hip flexors too.  As I approached completing my first loop, I knew I was going to make it through the swim and could feel myself smiling in the water. When we made the turn to begin the second loop, the water was so shallow and many swimmers were walking. I got up just to see if I needed to walk or swim around them and when I realized I needed to get out of there and began to swim again, a woman dived back into the water in front of me and kicked my goggles off. Grrrrr, I jumped right back up and began fixing my goggles but they just weren’t perfectly on so had to stop again to readjust. I considered swimming with water in them but I couldn’t risk my contacts moving and falling out due to the water in them. Once I felt good about them, I continued on my journey and had a much easier time sighting and staying on course this time. I won’t lie though, I seriously thought I was at the last buoy of the swim at least 3 times and couldn’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?!”  When I finally passed the last one, people began walking to exit the water. I continued to swim until it was way too shallow for me to.  When I got up, I quickly removed my swim cap and goggles and began taking my wetsuit off as I jogged to transition. I heard our supporters yell my name and smiled again as I had just completed my 2.4 mile swim (later I realized my Garmin calculated 2.62 miles thanks to my detour in the beginning). As I grabbed my transition bag to get changed in the tent to take on 112 miles on the bike, I decided to skip the wetsuit peelers to stay warm for a bit longer.

Holy naked body madness! The changing tent was a disaster. It was so small compared to what I remember at Ironman Canada where I had 3 volunteers helping me get dressed. This time I couldn’t see a volunteer nor a chair or any space for me to get changed. I made my way through women flinging around body parts and saw about a 12x20 inch space for me to set my bag down and open it. Oh wait, my hands were frozen and I couldn’t get the bag open! Who double knotted my bag? I know it wasn’t like that when I dropped it off as I had put an extra plastic bag inside to protect my clothes from the rain the day before but I guess they tied it thinking it would help stay closed. I then saw a volunteer and shouted to her asking if she could open my bag. It took her at least 3 minutes to open my bag which had my towel to dry off with so I just stood there patiently trying to squeeze out excess water from my hair. When it looked like she was about to get it, I pulled my wetsuit off and she helped me get my clothes on. I then realized I was standing right across from a tent opening where a male volunteer was standing. Now I know why that space was available and sorry you had to see me change. Or maybe I should say “you’re welcome”!

I glanced around to see how many layers people were putting on as I knew it was cold but didn’t want to overdress and be hot. The more I thought about it though, I knew I would rather be warm since I trained in the Texas heat anyway and didn’t want to risk being cold and miserable. So four layers later, I was out of the tent and jogging carefully to my bike where I heard my family cheering for me which again, made me smile.


As I mounted my bike, I heard more of our Iron Sherpas cheering loudly for me and continued to smile. How can you not smile or embrace the day when you have so much love and support on the sidelines and back home. I was ready to take on 112 miles! The first stretch from King’s Beach to Squaw Valley (Squaw Valley was where transition 2 and the finish line was located) would be completed three times so I knew the first time I just wanted to get warmed up and see how my body would handle it. My feet and face were cold but my upper body and ears were warm making the wind bearable during this fast portion of the bike. The first time I tried to use my brakes, I noticed I needed to squeeze very tightly for the front brake to work. I tried to take a peak around my aerobottle and noticed that the brake lever was open! Eek! I slowed down and quickly closed it while carefully riding trying to see if the brakes were rubbing my wheel at all. It wasn't on one side but I couldn't see the other thanks to my bottle so I just played with the brakes a bit trying to feel that they were good to go. It was all good and I continued along making a turn heading into the town of Truckee, I was focused on making my passing moves on a few people in front of me when a car on the side of the road began screaming my name. It was my family! They got to a part of the course I didn’t expect to see them at which again, made me smile. Some people don’t understand why there are spectators at endurance events when you see the person for a split second as they zoom by. But that split second means the world to the person participating and I’m so thankful we had so many familiar faces on the course.

When I got to mile 25 I knew I had to take a bathroom break and there seemed to be a great aid station equipped to do so. Volunteers hung my bike on a rack and I used the bathroom and grabbed some water to refill a bottle. When I got to Martis Camp on my bike, I sat back and put my hands on my elbow pads as I knew I’d be climbing for a while. This neighborhood was challenging but since I had driven it the day before, I had mentally prepared for it to be very much like the monthly Mt. Scott rides we had been doing in Oklahoma during training. Just when you thought the climb was over, it wasn’t and all you could do was keep on pedaling. (I can’t thank Steve Holstein enough for finding this gem of a training location!) The down hills of this section were very technical and there were bright orange markings around manholes that you had to steer around while descending. I was able to pick up speed in this area but constantly had to be aware and brake often. Instead of getting annoyed that I couldn’t go faster, I made it more of a game and would choose to miss these manholes by going around them on a different side each time I saw them.

After completing the Martis Camp neighborhood, we then started our climb up Brockway in which the Summit is at 7179 feet.  It was a long steady climb and I stayed in my easiest gear the entire way up. I’m so thankful I listened to friends recommendations and got a compact crank with 11-28 gearing. Training with less gears made the 11-28 feel like heaven. I kept my cadence as high as possible and controlled my heart rate. By the time I knew it, I was flying down the other side of Brockway hitting 40 mph. I like going downhill but it was a bit scary when a gust of wind would catch my Zipp wheels so would lightly tap my brakes to stay in control. When I got to the bottom, I was so excited to see many of our FWTri Sherpa’s at the corner screaming loud and proud. This was the end of the first loop and I now knew what the course was like for the next loop.

I decided to discard my jacket on the second loop as it had gotten warm during the Martis Camp and Brockway climbs but I kept the other three layers on knowing the descents were still cold. When I got to Truckee the second time, I saw Anthony, my parents and aunt/uncle at the base of a bike path which was a no pass zone. They took pictures and asked how I was doing and when I made the turn to head up the hill I saw Anthony and my stepdad again. They ran up the side of the hill to get more pictures of me and at this point I was out of my saddle climbing when Anthony said “You look so good!” Those words out of my husband’s mouth simply make me “tri” that much harder. My spirits were already up but that just gave me an additional boost to keep pedaling.

I stopped at the same aid station to fill up water and use the restroom and got going again. This time, I was ready for Martis Camp and Brockway but I knew I wasn’t moving as fast as the first time. It was pretty uneventful as I made it through Martis Camp again playing my manhole swerving game but as I made it to the top of Brockway, I was ecstatic to see more of our supporters from Fort Worth. Kristina Large took a video of me climbing making me smile again and although it was my day, I truly wanted to know how everyone was doing. She let me know of a few friends who were having a tough day and it just gave me more fuel to continue for me and them whether they knew it or not. I got to the top of the summit and knew I was done with the toughest parts of the bike course and enjoyed my descent again maxing out at 42 mph. Did I mention I like down hills? J This time our support crew was no longer at the hot corner of King’s Beach so it motivated me to keep moving along as I knew I’d get to see them when I got off the bike at the second transition.

I still had about 20 miles to go before finishing the bike portion which included Dollar Hill for the third time. When I got there I got back into my climbing position as I had done before and all of a sudden my right inner thigh started to cramp up. Uh oh! I had issues with my adductors and sartorius muscle all summer due to all the climbing we had been doing but the weeks leading up to the race, I really focused on massage, foam rolling and stretching and was hoping I wouldn’t have any issues come race day. Once I felt that twinge, I freaked for a moment but then quickly had to make a decision of staying on the bike or getting off to stretch. I decided to stay on the bike pedaling primarily with my right leg as I shook out the left while still clipped in. I massaged it a bit, shook it out and manually stretched it as much as I could. Still climbing, it subsided. Thank heaven it didn’t completely cramp up and I made it up Dollar Hill one last time. At this point I knew I was in the home stretch and all I needed to do was cruise in to Squaw Valley where I knew I’d get to start the run and use some different muscles. What I didn’t expect was for the wind to pick up some more on that stretch making it a little more challenging on my legs that were getting tired of cycling. I was patient though and stayed conservative as I didn’t want my thigh to cramp up.

After making the turn into Squaw Valley, it was time to get psyched up for the run. This is the part of the event I had been waiting for and was most excited about as I felt my run had improved significantly over the last year and I had many successful training runs post tough rides allowing me to have the confidence to run a full marathon after cycling for 112 miles. When I dismounted from my bike, I jogged into the change tent where a volunteer helped me get my transition bag. I sat down with another volunteer and she helped me decide what to wear. I asked her if it was still cold outside…really??? I had just been outside cycling but for some reason quickly forgot what the temperature was. I knew I had a running pullover in my special needs bag on the course but I had to make a decision to change into a tri top and stick with my arm warmers and tri shorts from the ride or change into running shorts with a t-shirt. As she explained what it felt like, I heard nothing that came out of her mouth because my thigh started to cramp and I had to jump out of my seat to walk around. I stretched and sat and jumped up again to stretch it out some more. At that point I didn’t care what I looked as I needed to get out there and start running before my inner thigh called it quits. I decided on the long sleeve undershirt along with my TriBike Transport running shirt. I was comfortable but a little warm as I headed out with the sun still out. I started to think the long sleeve shirt was a bad idea but within the next few miles I was happy I had it on. It started to get chilly quick and I was thankful to have a good running pullover awaiting me on the course along with my favorite whole grain goldfish I had put into my special needs bag.

I ran about 5 miles with a guy from Scotland named Brian. We had the exact same pace so we struck up a conversation and I learned that he was worried about his girlfriend who was still on the bike course (he didn't seem too worried in this picture but I guess I did a good job distracting him). This is one of the reasons Anthony and I don’t do the same big events together. We would probably worry about each other too much if we couldn’t see how the other was doing. Anyway, we chatted about all sorts of stuff and I was thrilled to have someone that I could potentially stay entertained with for the entire run. Unfortunately, that came to an end at about mile 5.5 when my stomach decided I needed a bathroom break. See ya later Brian! Once I got going again, I ran into a guy named John. John and I had been playing “cat and mouse” on the bike course all day and we’d joke with each other as we passed one another. We both commented how different we looked out of bike gear and I noticed my pace began to pick up. I also noticed that I started to get a stabbing pain in my diaphragm area. I felt almost as if my heart rate monitor must have been too tight on the bike ride because now it was sore and felt a little like a side stitch but not so much to really call it that. I decided to slow down and said my farewell to John. Dang it, I had two new friends on the course and my body wouldn’t let me keep up with them. I had to remind myself that this was my race and continued moving along. By the time I knew it, I was at the turn around point for the first loop of the run right before Tahoe City. I walked the next aid station and nature called again. When I got out I started to run again and there was my Scottish friend Brian. I guess I must have passed him somewhere along the way because he was still heading out to make the first turnaround.

As I made my way back to complete the first loop, I got to mile 15 which had a steep hill and saw my awesome family again. I also saw our friend Kristina who cracked me up as I passed a male runner with her yelling, “You pass that man!”  I apologized to him but did pass him and cracked up at her. Anthony ran with me up the rest of the hill, asked how I was doing and said “Listen to Kristina and keep passing men”! I love you guys for that. Coming back in to where the run started in Squaw Valley, I knew it would be cruel to see the finish line knowing I had to go back out for more mileage but I also knew I’d probably see some more of our support crew which made it easier to get there. As I was heading in to make the loop, I saw my friend Liesel and quickly asked how she was doing. When she said she couldn’t breathe due to her asthma I didn’t know what to do. That’s an awful feeling to not be able to help someone and you’re running in the opposite direction. She’s a tough cookie though and kept moving right along. I rounded the corner and there were our friends hootin’ and hollering just as loud as can be. Happy smiling girl here all over again!

After passing the finish line to start my next loop I got to run by them again and was surprised to see my family and Anthony again yelling how great I looked and how awesome I was. These inspirational words and cheers are what kept refueling my tank and back on the course I went where I got to see my favorite little Mexican, Christa. She was so positive and encouraging as I passed her and I knew I was getting closer to the finish but I had to do the awful uphills we had done on the first loop that I walked the first time. This time it was dark and I was alone as I power walked the hills and jogged the down hills. It was pitch black in some areas and my headlamp wasn’t as bright as I remember so I picked up an extra headlamp that the volunteers were handing out and used it as a flashlight to watch my step. I didn’t need to have another ankle rolling incident so close to the end of the race. I continued to jog most of the way and only walk the aid stations and hills but it seemed like the turnaround for our second loop was taking forever to get to. After making it up one of the longest hills on the run course, I tried to remember how far the turnaround was from that point but couldn’t figure it out and caught a quick glimpse of Liesel as she was starting the descent of the same hill. She looked way better than the first time and knowing she had already turned around I figured she would kick it in to gear and be done soon. To my surprise the turnaround was right around the corner and I was so happy to be heading back to the finish. I stopped at the aid station at the bottom of the hill and had some coke, salty chips and an orange. Maybe it wasn’t the best time to treat myself to a buffet but I guess I felt like I was almost done and knew I had a steep hill that I would be walking anyway so enjoyed the spread.  

Going up that hill I told a guy he was going to get knocked out as he yelled to people that it was a no walk zone and we needed to start shuffling. You don’t say that to runners when they are walking because usually they are in the “bite me” zone and anything will come flying out of their mouths or they might start swinging. I wasn't in that zone but was trying to look out for the guy. At that moment, I looked up at the sky and caught an amazing view of "The Big Dipper"! Now everyone around me was able to ignore the guy anyway and take in the beauty of our night sky. Pretty sure he didn’t care and continued banging his noisemakers. I made it to the top of the hill and started jogging again to get away from him. I was on my way back to the village and about to be a two time Ironman! I saw Christa again who had nothing but awesome things to say and she ran with me for a while. She encouraged me to kick it into gear since I was almost done but at that point I had one speed and didn’t feel like I was moving any faster. I told her that was as fast as I could go and laughed as I continued to jog it in. She cut the parking lot to head to the finish line and once I made one of the turns to make it into the finisher cute, I magically was able to pick up the pace. Funny how that happens when you near the finish. There was a guy in the middle of the chute and lots of spectators hands sticking out to receive high fives from him but I needed to get by, so quickly passed him on his right and skidded by the hands to get to the finish when I saw our awesome support crew again and slapped their hands as I crossed the finish line at 13 hours and 51 minutes (chip time). I had just reached my goal of completing this challenging event in under 14 hours and cut an hour and 44 minutes off my first Ironman time. I also set a personal record for my stand alone marathon time and couldn’t have been any happier with my performance and victory. My volunteer, Heather, walked me to get my finisher gear and picture taken and told me I didn’t look like I had done an Ironman. Believe me, Heather…I did an Ironman…and I don’t ever have to do this Ironman course again!

 Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013, mission accomplished!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Eight years later, we're still kicking asphalt!

This week I've had time to reflect on how far I've come since training for my first marathon back in 2005. I was reminded of this as I ran my fastest half marathon on Sunday at the Heels and Hills half marathon with one of my very first training buddies, Jessica Andrews. (We missed you, Cara Shiver!)

Cheering on Cara at OKC Marathon the week before Vancouver in 2005

When I signed up to race my first marathon for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (TNT) program back in November of 2004, I had just learned it consisted of 26.2 miles. Having never run more than two miles in my life before, I was a bit nervous but also excited as I would be doing so in memory of my grandfather who had passed away the prior year from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Training for this event didn't seem nearly as tough as what cancer caused him to go through.

Little did I know just how much it would change my life. Training for the 2005 Vancouver Marathon with a group who started out as strangers was so much fun as we became friends. It was amazing how people from so many different backgrounds were seen as equals once we laced up our shoes and took that first step out on the Trinity Trails. It didn't matter what you did for a living or what your age was, all that mattered was that we were there for the same cause. We definitely learned more about each other than we might have wanted to at times but that's what happens when you run so many miles together through cold or hot weather and sweat or snot rockets!
Jessica and I at the start of the Vancouver Marathon, May 2005

A lot has happened and changed since that first season. I worked for TNT up until 2011, participated in multiple running, cycling and triathlon events, but most importantly met my wonderful husband, Anthony. He too, signed up for his first TNT event in memory of his grandmother who lost her battle to one of the Lymphoma's. 

I could go on forever about other memories and what has happened since then but back to Sunday's race. I had planned out my race schedule early on in the year and planned to do the Heels and Hills half marathon on May 5th. I would be missing out on the fun Cinco de Mayo 5 miler race but I wanted an opportunity to redeem myself from the hot race of Rock N' Roll San Antonio last November. I was so much more diligent about my training the last few months and was excited to see through Facebook (you learn everything about everyone on the FB) that my buddy Jessica would be doing the race as well. Jessica has become such a faster runner since our first marathon together and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me to get a better time if I was chasing her on the course.

We exchanged messages leading up to the race about how I would try and keep up with her and all I wanted to do was beat my prior PR of 1:59. I then said I would be ecstatic with 1:52...then I said I wanted to break 1:50. Race morning came around and I went back to saying, any PR is a PR as I didn't want us to feel pressured into not having some fun on the course. 

We had a blast!!! Mind you, this race sounds tough because of the name but it's pancake flat and to be honest, it's pretty uneventful outside of the "Men in Skirts" pacers. It's a perfect first half marathon, 10k or 5k though for a woman wanting to feel some girl power at a smaller race with a cool shirt two sizes too big thanks to the vendor's vanity sizing. Sorry, but it's true! 

We couldn't have asked for better weather that morning as it was a still a sunny 60 degrees by the time we were done! It was so much fun to catch up on life with each other and reminisce about the old days. We couldn't help but talk about how we thought running a 9:15 pace at the beginning of Vancouver was too fast for us and we needed to slow down or we were going to fade quickly. I ended up finishing Vancouver with a 11:19 min per mile pace and here we were eight years later, kicking asphalt together ending with an 8:03 pace. We both PR'ed that morning after passing the "Men in Skirts" 1:50 pace group at mile 9. I ended up with a final time of 1:45:24 and felt amazingly well after. I wasn't searching for the massage tents (they didn't have them anyway) or taking off my shoes because my feet hurt. It just showed me how important sticking to my training plan, monitoring my heart rate and having fun really does make a difference in how you race. 
Jessica and I at the start of the Heels and Hills Half, May 2013

My heart and soul are happy to know how far we've all come from that first season. I've met a tremendous amount of incredible people through the endurance sports community and I was reminded how awesome everyone really is.

I'll be doing lots of swimming, biking and running over the next few months, so let me know when you want to get together for workout. Yes, I'm talking to YOU! It will be fun to catch up!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Night in Old San Antonio

San Antonio aka Alamo City
Last week I went to San Antonio to visit friends and family but most importantly, to celebrate Fiesta! Fiesta started in 1891 as a one parade event to honor the heroes of The Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, but it has evolved into a 10 day celebration of San Antonio’s culture and tradition. There are 100 different events taking place across San Antonio and I went with the intention of participating in two.

I arrived in SA on Thursday evening and had some mani/pedi time with my Mom.  Shellac seems to do the trick when training for an Ironman. We went to bed fairly early due to the big shebang on Friday of going to Night In Old San Antonio (NIOSA), with my dear friends. We planned to get to the downtown party by 5:30pm so I needed to make sure I got my bike ride in earlier that day.

A big thanks to “Scrub” aka my buddy Chris, for giving me a route to explore during my visit. I wanted to try and get about 40 miles in and I knew whichever route I took around my parents house would be challenging considering it’s known as the Texas Hill Country. He gave me a route to follow that was 38 miles round trip and turns out I would be able to do the route starting from my parents house by only adding a few miles. It had been drizzling all morning but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from my solo riding adventure. It was a bit precarious during the first few miles as I had to go through quite a few traffic lights and I was uncertain of how the traffic would react to a girl on a bike next to them in the rain. You never know who might be texting behind you!

I finally reached a point about seven miles in where I made a right off the main road and could start to feel the elevation gain. It was nice to see so many “Share the Road” signs along this route. For a two lane hilly scenic route, I didn’t expect to see so many. This made me feel a bit more safe.  Chris had also told me about the Chili’s or Home Depot I could stop at to use the bathroom. I stopped at Chili’s and realized I was in Boerne, Texas next to my grandpa’s old house! That drive growing up felt like it was 100 miles away from our house but instead I looked at my Garmin and I was at 22 miles. If I turned around, I would have completed 44 miles total. 

Here’s where the dilemma comes in…Chris had also told me about a gnarly hill a few minutes past this rest stop I just made. He said it would make me question cycling! Should I turn around and do the 44 miles or continue on and find this hill? Ummm, Challenge accepted! I decided to trek on thinking a few more miles wouldn’t hurt and neither would conquering this legendary hill. Unfortunately, my bud Chris miscalculated a bit (I forgive you, Scrub!) and it was still further away. At this point, I was getting hangry (combination of hungry and angry) and knew I didn’t have enough nutrition to continue on and make the full ride home as I intended to stop at a convenience store that I never found. So…, I didn’t see the dang hill after turning around 28 miles in!

I turned around and thought I could cut off some mileage by taking the access road of a major highway I-10 back home. That was fun! But again, with little nutrition and lots of time passing through my disorientation of street names, I was continuing to get "hangrier". About 42 miles in, I realized I needed to call a sag wagon as I continued to get soaked and was getting closer to my deadline of showering for the big night out with the girls! Mom came to the rescue and picked me up at 46 miles. Moral of the story, make sure you don’t rely on stopping at a convenient store in the Texas Hill Country that you think you might come across and also, always stick to the original plan. No sense in riding extra miles when you don't have too! With just enough time, I showered quickly and was off to spend the evening with some of my San Antonio favorites and had a blast at NIOSA. 
Tickets for food and beverages at NIOSA!
Sisters from another Mister at NIOSA!
We’ll just say the next day was rough and my biggest goal of the day was to make it to the Night Parade with my family. Last year, Anthony and I participated in the run that kicked off the parade. The parade route is about 2.5 miles long but my parents seats are at the very beginning of the route every year so it ends up being about 6 miles trying to get back with street closures. I opted against that this year and saved my energy for a six mile run on Sunday before heading back to Arlington. Next year I will do some better planning as I saw there is the Fiesta WildFlower ride on Sunday morning which has distances up to 100 miles.

If you have never checked out Fiesta before, I encourage you to be one of the 3.5 million visitors next year and if you’re training, you’re bound to get some workouts in, even if it is just “bicep curls”.
One of the floats in the 3 hour night parade

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm a 2013 Team TriBike Member!

TriBike Transport has been transporting triathlete's most expensive piece of equipment to and from races since 2005. They are the Official Ironman Bike Transportation company. The genius behind this operation is a former Team In Training alum that I have naturally supported as part of our purple TNT family. After utilizing their services for a number of years, I finally decided to take a plunge at applying for their Brand Ambassador Team.

In mid March, I submitted my application to be a member of Team TriBike. The Facebook page stated that the new team members would be announced in April. It seemed so far away and I anxiously waited for the results. I got a call on Monday night with the official invitation to be a part of the 2013 team and was so pumped! Out of 207 applicants there were 18 people selected and I was going to be one of them! Suh-weet!
Proudly wearing my TBT visor after getting the great news!

So what does this mean? I get to represent and promote their brand throughout the year while wearing awesome gear at my races and attendance at events. I hope to meet the other 17 athletes located across the country at some point and can't wait to represent Team TriBike at Ironman Tahoe in September! So thankful and excited for this opportunity. Time to punch 2013 in the face...Team TriBike style!

Friday, March 15, 2013

How this triathlete prepares for race season

It’s triathlon season! Last weekend was the first sprint triathlon in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. I didn’t plan on racing this season opener as I knew I wouldn't have the time to commit and didn't want to add stress with my full time school load and part time work schedule. However, I did get out and support my speedy husband, Anthony and the rest of the Friends Who Tri Club team.

Anthony and I just joined the newest triathlon club in Fort Worth and look forward to joining the group for swims, bikes, runs and a whole lot of fun. FWTri Club has been around for about four months and already has almost 100 members! If triathlon is something you are interested in and want a group to join, I suggest you check it out as membership is only $60 a year and you get a club tech shirt when you join! If you don't live in the area, I'm sure you can find some sort of training group. Believe me, it makes the long training days so much better when you have friends by your side.

Although I didn’t race this past weekend, I have been increasing my endurance workouts and continue to strength train twice a week but have added more stability, strength and power exercises to my routine. I’m on a mission to drop 2% body fat in the coming months and continue to build lean muscle to increase my race performance and have some great trainers at work helping me out. So as I watched my friends kick butt at the St. Patty’s Day Tri, I began mentally preparing my season checklist.

On Wednesday I decided to get stuff done! First, I visited Liesel Streich from Limitless Endurance to get my VO2 Max bike test complete. I took my triathlon bike to Fort Worth as we would be setting it up on a computrainer which is then connected to a very expensive machine that measures your cardiovascular endurance through a breathing tube that is connected to the athlete. Definitely a Darth Vader moment if you check out my photo below.  VO2Max (or maximal oxygen uptake), is one factor that determine’s an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. This measurement is generally considered the best indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. From this test, we wanted to find my lactic threshold to compute my five different heart rate training zones. Lactic threshold is a point during exhaustive, all out exercise at which lactic acid builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it forcing the athlete to slow down. Knowing this number makes it easy to train for an endurance event as you don't want to hit that number too quickly during training unless your workout for the day requires you to push your limits. 
Luke, I am your father!
My lactic threshold happens to be at 173 beats per minute and I peaked during this test at 185 beats per minute. These values according to my age and weight state that my fitness level on the bike is SUPERIOR! The fitness level scores range from Very Low to Superior with four categories in between. I am happy to be in great endurance shape as I build on my long mileage for Ironman Tahoe and can now begin using my official heart rate training zones to train efficiently.

My next stop that day was to meet my very first marathon run coach from 2004, Manuel Rodriguez. He had some great tech shirts printed that I ordered and wore it for the first time today. Can’t get any better than this when you're training for an endurance event. 

After picking up my shirt, I dropped off my bike at Velo Gold Bicycles with Joshua Clark. Josh is the best service specialist in the area and he has a full shop of people’s "bike babies” to prove it. As soon as I walked in the door he immediately noticed the set up was all wrong. It was kind of funny as Liesel had just said the same thing an hour before. Kinda sad to think I did Ironman Canada with that same set up a few years ago. After I pick up my baby from getting tuned up, we’re gonna make some adjustments that will hopefully make me a little faster on the bike.

I finally arrived home that night and was happy to see that my recent purchase on eBay was sitting on my doorstep. A new helmet! After one afternoon of running triathlon errands, I am more excited to continue to pick up my training and kick arse this season. It’s gonna be a great year and I hope you’ll continue to follow my progress.
Rudy Project HELMETS
The Sterling (I don't feel worthy of an aerohelmet just yet!)

Feel free to contact me if you want information on getting Run or Bike V02 Max tested or need more information on Velo Gold Bicycles. Until next time, Re-Calibrate your brain, don’t complain and just train! J

Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 will be a year of Personal Records

I admit, I fell off the blogging wagon at the end of the year after only a few posts but I'm here to do a quick recap of the last three months and set goals for the rest of the year to hold myself accountable and hopefully enlighten others!

First off, Anthony and I rang in the New Year while traveling Europe for 17 days. (I think that's a pretty good excuse to not blog for a while.) What a trip! I'm pretty sure I set a personal record of consuming the most desserts during this time period as well as cups of coffee and glasses of wine. What can I say? It was vacation, off season and EUROPE! We did our share of walking and even went for a run once, but I still managed to set a personal record of gaining five pounds in a 17 day period. Totally worth it though before taking on another full load in Grad School this spring!

Enjoying my Raspberry Tart in Lyon, France

We returned from our trip on Sunday, January 13th around 7PM and I started training clients at 9AM the very next morning. Whew, what a day and week being thrown right in. Of course I managed and 40+ days later, I'm loving the relationships I've built with my clients and enjoy helping them get one step closer to their goals. However, I have set a personal record of waking up at 4AM and 5AM to train clients over the past few weeks. Surprisingly, it's easier to wake up for them then it was waking up for my own training back in 2009 for Ironman Canada.

Speaking of Ironman's, I've planned out most of my races for 2013 as I prepare for Ironman Tahoe in September. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends at events, making new ones and hopefully talking some others into doing some with me. Here's the current lineup with links to the races if you want to take a peek and register.

April 20th - Ride For Heroes
July 27th - Goatneck Bike Rally
August 24th - Hotter 'N Hell Hundred
September 22nd - IRONMAN TAHOE!

To jump start my training, I signed up for a local 5k on February 16th to have a benchmark for my running. I dropped those five pounds I gained in Europe as soon as I got back from our trip but still wasn't completely confident that I would beat my last 5k PR. To my surprise, the cool temps and my Newton Running Shoes that make me feel like a cheetah, allowed for a new 5k PR of 24:43!  I was stoked as I placed 1st in my age group that morning which is something I have never done before. 

Another personal record is my current weight. After setting a goal to shed 10 lbs last year, I am now down 21 pounds from where I was before. I knew dropping some weight and adding some strength would make me a better triathlete and overall help my general health but I didn't really know what I was capable of. 

So with that being said, I have all the confidence in the world this year to do well in my training as well as any races I participate in on my road to Ironman Tahoe. I'm not saying I am going to place at all my races or even do well in all of them but I'm so satisfied of the person and athlete I have become over the last year that this feeling of accomplishment is a personal record in itself. I never would have considered myself an athlete in the past as I rarely felt comfortable completely pushing my limits. I know that I am stronger mentally and physically than I have ever been before. I believe now that an athlete can be anyone with a body who can dedicate time to being better than they were the day before. Just getting out there for the first time makes you an athlete, so if you haven't made a commitment to yourself to achieve something great, I encourage you to DO IT NOW.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Triathlete turned Featherweight

With all fitness routines and training plans, there is always a potential for burnout due to excessive training.  The majority of my friends participate in endurance events and will train year round with few rest periods (you know who you are). For many of us, it's hard to ease up on the training when you see your times getting faster or all the cool kids are signing up for another half marathon in two weeks and you don't want to be left out. Getting better though requires training smarter and recovering from races, training and seasons.

So what's my point? Well, it's officially off season for the sport of triathlon and although there are plenty of swim, bike or run workouts I can be doing to improve for next year, I've decided to try a few different workouts to prevent burnout during my 2013 Tahoe Ironman training instead of trying to find a cure for burnout one month out from the race. Granted, I will continue to run and cycle during the next couple of months to keep up my fitness but I'm gonna have a different kind of fun for now.

Okay, so this picture was from Halloween '07 but fast forward five years and this week I had two successful power hours of boxing at Title Boxing Club in Arlington minus the robe. I bought a GroupOn for two weeks of unlimited boxing or kickboxing classes for $15. Hooray for savings! On my first visit the staff was great at making me feel comfortable and "The Apostle" (yes, our trainer for the class is a professional boxer whose real name is Kendrick) assisted me in wrapping my hand and wrists with my new free pink hand wraps. If you don't own gloves, they will let you borrow their loaners.

The place is a cool sight as the entire room is filled with rows and rows of punching bags and a small ring that I assume is used for personal training. The idea behind the power hour workouts is to give you a total body workout with the potential to burn up to 1000 calories. "The Apostle" had us warm up for about 20 minutes by jogging, performing lunges, side squats, jumping jacks, etc.  I was very comfortable at this point as one of my favorite classes called Nike Training Club at 24 Hour Fitness has the same type of warm up drills. Then it was time to put on the gloves and find our bag.

For the next 20-25 minutes, we performed one to three minute fitness rounds led by "The Apostle". I'm not the greatest when it comes to an instructor telling me what to do in a class. I'll be honest in saying that it takes me a minute to register the movements that I need to perform and I really have to think through it the first few times. I hope I'm not the only one like this but anyway, my first class was a learning experience as I tried to get my straight punches, left hooks and uppercuts completed in the right combination he asked for. If you have never repeatedly hit a punching bag, believe's hard work when you don't have a ton of upper body strength. My deltoids were burning and I was failing at getting my gloves "home" after each punch. "Home" is putting the glove in front of your face for protection if you were really boxing, but since I wasn't about to get hit in the face at the moment the glove was not going home as my gloves felt like they weighed 50 lbs each after a few minutes of repetitive punching.

The last 15 minutes were dedicated to core exercises using medicine balls. I was happy we were about to do some exercises that I knew I was sort of good at. Then I realized that lifting the 10lb. medicine ball over my head was not happening with the spaghetti arms I had so I had to switch to an 8lb. ball.

When the hour was over I checked my heart rate monitor and I had burned 430 calories. This is pretty typical for an hour workout for me so my goal for the second class I took this morning was to burn more calories. It's pretty amazing how the body adapts to exercise, my arms were sore from Wednesday's workout but once I got going, I was able to last longer during the fitness rounds. With "The Apostle's" motivation and encouragement to concentrate on hitting his bare hands with my gloves faster than me hitting the bag on my own, I was able to burn 500 calories today.

Wiping the drops of my own sweat off the floor is guaranteed satisfaction that the $15 I spent to try something different was worth it. I would recommend anyone wanting to try something different or get out of a rut to check out a boxing class. I'm looking forward to some super sexy toned arms at the end of my two weeks!