Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"So what's next?"

Since most people are past asking us "when are you having kids?"{we aren't} - that question has now been transformed to "what's your next race?"

My enthusiastic reply: "Nothing!"

So what if I don't want to be defined by kids or races? I know we are all looking forward, moving on, training to be better/faster/stronger. Which is why the off season is so neglected by most in the endurance world. {or baby making world for that matter.} But we all need time to heal, mentally and physically.

you can't have a rainbow without a little rain.

Ironman takes a toll. I have no idea how people do multiple a year, year after year, and still maintain a balanced life. See, I'm not someone who can go half-assed into something {so much for balance}. I am an athlete, yes and a competitor. So when I sign up to compete, I go into that season with purpose. And with a finish line. What happens beyond that line isn't more regimented swim/bike/run. It's sleeping in, hanging out at our local favorite spots later than usual, teaching swim lessons, and relaxing!

Technique coaching for TCSD!

As I've said before, there are no A, B, C racing labels for me. I go into every race with the intention to RACE. Yes, my coach may alter my training plans leading up to and following a mid-season race, but that doesn't mean I take it easy. Tahoe was an end of season race, so I had the luxury of taper-time before. As a swimmer, we had many meets during our season, and I raced every one of them to my best ability at that time. And when that off-season came, I gladly took it off. After my collegiate senior season, I took off years from competing.

And then I moved to San Diego and my competitive drive could no longer be suppressed. I was welcomed into the so-called endurance capital of the nation. The land of sunny, 70 degree days. The weather doesn't take an off-season here, so why should we?

Because it's unhealthy to be so healthy all the time!

a cloudless morning out at the tidepool repeats.

Post Tahoe hasn't been quite the fall from the endurance planet as St. George was. I got an entry to the Tiki Swim for being a 5+ year volunteer for the JCC TCSD swim program, which was a week post IM. I froze my little butt off but had fun jumping back into the ocean again. A week later I had a crazy idea to race Bonelli Tri cause Kyle had a cyclocross race 20 min away immediately following and Jeremy hooked us up with a place to stay. After struggling through that race, my body was screaming for time off. I was intent on riding the wave of fitness as far as possible until it brought me crashing to the beach.

Bonelli triathlon. fun swim/bike, not so fun run. 

I've continued my PT as that nagging hamstring that cramped so badly on the bike in Tahoe has been pulling at my knee. Freaking left side of my body continually failing me. Gotta love the healing hands at Function Smart {UCPT}.

left leg love: ionto, ultra sound/stim, compression boots

Kyle and I celebrated our three year anniversary with a {free} trip to Sea World and dinner at our favorite fancy local spot, 3rd Corner. {never a disappointment!} I got him a "to be made" custom leather belt from the local leather store in OB; can't wait to see the finished product.

3rd anniversary tandem to 3rd Corner

Kyle is off to Germany for work training for the month. Such is the life of a Navy wife. Don't feel bad for me, however, he's the one freezing his little booty off in the woods. I have a plenty on my calendar to keep me busy. I went to see the play, "The Last Goodbye" with Sara and Arlette on Sunday night at The Globe in Balboa Park, which was excellent by the way. Mom is stopping by for a quick visit this weekend and I'm headed to Portland with Erin to see Erin M the weekend before his return!

Love this new Fizik tape. A preview of what's to come in 2014!

I've been back on my {road} bike and I've made it out to the Tues/Thurs Moment tidepools ride now, almost enough to call it regular. It's been over a month since that frozen day in Tahoe and I still don't have a finish line on my horizon, and I'm okay with that! Looking forward to a full road racing season with the awesome ladies of the Moment Race Team. {Join! Join! email me for deets, 16 women so far!} For now, it's just unstructured, power meter-less, local rides. But who am I kidding, the Strava is still turned on. You can't turn off the competitor inside. :)

As you can tell, I have a slight obsession with the app Over.
Photo credit to Nordica
Click on this photo and check out those rain drops!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 - run

"Rachel Wills, you are an Ironman!" 

Run report done. 

It is a bit silly how one sentence uttered at a certain line in our lives can be enough motvation to force one to run for 26.2 miles. I'm not sure how regular marathon'ers do it without all the hype, pomp and circumstance. {never say never, but} I Will Never Run a stand alone Marathon. Yuck. It's just so far. And so much time. Going so slow! {so suck it up and get fast!} Did you hear? A new marathon world record was set. The guy ran 2.5x faster than me. Every step. It's unfathomable.  

Okay. Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 was my 2nd time running over 20 miles in my life. And I'm not quite sure I can call it a run as I walked some of it. Out of T2 with a smile on my face. 
see. smiling. the sun is still out.
The first 9 miles were good. Sun was out. Arm warmers were left on from my ride. Legs were quick and somewhat light. No walking. Then I hit the far turnaround and didn't feel like finishing. 

{insert low moment}

Pulled myself together but I was getting cold. I wore my Moment tri kit but wasn't able to stay warm while running. I was 4 miles from special needs and that's when the mini-goals started. 1) Get to SN bag. 
digging deep. not so much smiling.
Got there. Saw Kyle who picked up the volunteer job of yelling bib numbers so other volunteers could find the bags. He yelled mine and then ran up the ramp with me. I put on the long sleeve tech shirt and grabbed the clean socks. Kiss goodbye. 2) New goal - find aid station with Vaseline. Blisters were erupting on my left foot. Ran through one, no go, and stopped at the next. Plopped my butt on the ground and demanded the greasy stick. Shoes off. Socks off. Goop on, new socks, shoes and I was up and off. 

Found 2 things: a running buddy and an unopened pack of insta warmers on the ground! Things were looking up! Gave my buddy one and held the other in my hand for the rest of the evening. 3) new goal - get to the aid stations for walk breaks and 4) warm chicken broth. 

I was doing coke and water {chuckle} previously. I had maybe 2 gu's during the run. But I was getting colder. So I did something new on race day and tried the soup. The warmth helped, although I think it was mostly mental. My stomach did a couple of grumble turns late in the race and I think the soup wasn't so magical. But survived without a major blowout. 

My run buddy and I went a couple miles together and made it back to squaw for the turnaround. Which of course, loops you right past the finish line. Great energy through village. Saw coach Brian and hear him lie, "you look great!" Ran past the TCSD tent and heard "6 miles to go!" Lie number two. There were 8 left and I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue. 

Trotted along. Lost my buddy at that next aid station. Kept adding the time vs miles left and was getting angry at the amount of walking. I kept comparing my day to St George and was hating myself for giving into the walk. My hamstring was so angry now from the cramp on the bike. The attachment at the knee was barking louder. I saw Kyle and told him I felt like poo. 

feeling like poo. "fakest" smile ever.
Pity party needed to end. Only foreseeable finish to that party was the finish line. Goal 5.

So I made my way. Headlamp got turned on with 1.5 miles left. I really had high hopes of finishing at dusk before needing that beam to get me through. Such is life during a late season Ironman.

Dropped my hat and long sleeve at the Tri club tent just before the village. Yeah it was cold but I wanted those finisher pics with my kit and without my light. I turned the corner and ran. Probably too fast. Not sure what spurred the sudden rush to get there. I had already taken 13 hours and 15 min, what's another minute? 

And yes, I finally heard Mike Riley call my name and hear those infamous words, "you are an ironman." 

Instant relief. My finish line catcher was a super awesome chica from Bishop who came to my shop for a bike fit!! How random that we meet again, in Tahoe, at the finish of my crazy race. She was awesome at making sure I was okay and even checked back a couple more times throughout the night. I got a space blanket and immediately found Kevin who had finished under 13, and the Sherpas. Hugs. Photos. Relief. Story time. Goal 6) need clothes. So cold. 

MN buddy, Kevin! 
Waited in the massage tent next to the heater until someone could rub out the mess that was my left hammy. Kyle got the clothes and the bags and kermit. {so much crap is needed for a #freakingironman!} Tried the pizza {nasty} and we finally got out of there. 
my favorite photo of the day. :) love this guy.
It was a long, cold day. It was just another day. It was what I deserved after the amount of training I put in. I am not a freak of nature. {Although I did win one for winning the swim} I finished my second Ironman, and apparently that's something only 75% of the inaugural Tahoe entrants can say.

2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe
22nd AG
{Average finish time was the slowest in Ironman history at 14:05}

Many thanks to all of the volunteers who sacrificed their days to make ours that much better. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 - bike

Kermit, you were the super hero of the day. 

Let's just start with the Garmin course elevation profile:

Okay then compare to ironman website:
Yep it's funny how a bit of smoothing and number fudging will make something seem less drastic than reality. Elevation gain reports have been all over the map. Mine said 7448' and that's what it felt like.

I'm not complaining. I liked the course. I was one of the lucky people who were able to preview most of the course this summer.  Most. It's not breaking news, but this isn't a PR course. Not even close. 

Weather - It was cold. Yeah. But we knew this ahead of time. The cold front actually came through like the weather people said {us San Diegans don't really trust weathermen} and so it wasn't that hard to be prepared. It's a freaking Ironman. That's what we do. Prepare. Train. Obsess. I hate to be harsh or sound cold here {literally} but if you froze, you didn't prepare. It started around 30F and never got above 55F. Mostly cloudy to partly cloudy {with a definite chance of crazy.}

Yeah yeah I'm a swimmer so I spent less time in the water, but in my opinion, that wasn't the issue. Water temps were fine. Balmy. Yeah I had awesome volunteers and an amazing T1 spot, but if you spent 10 more min in transition then you should in theory be more dry and happy. And gosh darnit, I earned those benefits perfecting my swim technique for 29 years.
Gear - To recap, I wore: arm and knee warmers, bike shorts, jersey, vest, long fingered gloves, socks, and toe warmers, and my aero helmet. Along with 2 sets of insta warmers, in between toe covers and shoes and inside the gloves on my palms.

I labeled all my gear figuring I'd drop it at the newly instated clothing drop. Nope. Worn the entire ride. 

#swimmerproblems alert. I was lonely on the bike. The first half of the first loop I felt so alone. I think 3 girls {frozen pros} and not too many males passed me. There were definitely no free rides on the flat sections, although I did see quite a bit of illegal "teamwork" by some fast dudes at the beginning. 
Food -  I stuck to my nutrition plan and attribute my success to the diligence. At 50 min in and every hour after I ate a vanilla gu. At 1:20 and every hour after I had gulps of my APX {ruby red grapefruit! Yum} Water was consistent and I probably grabbed 7 bottles throughout the race and filled the aero drink up front. I was not going to have a IMSG puking repeat so nothing in besides sips of water until 50 min. 

Elevation and altitude - Obviously there were struggles with both in this race. I think because of the cold temps and the lack of preparation people got behind on their hydration plan. Why do people die on Everest? Dehydration and exposure. Your body doesn't outwardly crave fluids when you are cold.  But listen to your insides and you may learn something. Not that this was Everest {I hate hiking}, but you have to prepare for every major effort in your life with due diligence.   

In the days leading up to the race I was trying to be super diligent about staying hydrated. When I would fall off the first thing that I noticed were my eyes. I haven't had any issues since getting LASIK almost a year ago but wow, my eyes were drying out and getting blurry. Drank more and it went away. Made the mental note, it's dry at altitude!

Back to the race. By the first hwy 267 descent on the bridge before Martis Camp my eyes were getting there. Water. Drink more. Now. 

Issue arose. Problem solved. 
Start the climb. It's gorgeous. I'm finally getting some core temp warmth. We're going up and I'm still smiling. We descend and I'm beaming. We start the Brockway climb and I see Kyle. Big smiles and a power check and before I remembered, the top came. Water dump, gu in and put on my descending pants. So much fun. 
"Staying Hydrated" {well its gotta go somewhere! #ironmanproblems to follow} Porta-pottie stop at the first aid station on the loop to pee apply chamois cream {mile 45ish}. Ditto on the last loop. Otherwise, it was poor Kermit "bike wash" day. See the thing is, when I get cold, I have to pee. Lots. Winter camping is so not for me. I lay in my sleeping bag dreading going out, but know I can't sleep. I think my body works hard to keep my pee warm and it begs me to get rid of every drip. So, yes, I peed on my bike. Seven times. While riding {or coasting} and hanging off the back of the saddle.  {IMSG was only once}

Other notes - Jeremy flew by me at mile 30. In fact, I heard someone breaking behind me and was confused. He was slowing enough to say hi! 

{Volunteers rock}

Saw Noridca running on the flat section after the first lap. Little {big} cheers keep you going. 

Kept thinking back to my double great western loop training days. If you are racing Tahoe, and live in SD, GWLx2 is the best training route. 

Hamstring cramped at mile 70 and once after. Ingested salt tabs and more APX to keep it at bay. 

Kept power and time checking myself. Was only a little disappointed at where I was at and felt vastly better than my first IM. It also felt like less people passed me, especially females. 

As I was heading off the loop and into the turn for Squaw Valley and T2, I saw Nordsie and she slapped my butt going up the hill! Ouch! 

Kyle was all over the place and I was always glad to see him. 

Dismount. Didn't fall over. Grabbed Chapstick and headed into the T2 tent with 3 more amazing volunteers. 

Bike 6:54 
6th off the bike, 15th AG 
149 normalized power {goal}
355 TSS - no wonder I wasn't able to run {fast}! 

I am so grateful for my amazing training partners this summer. Liz, Maureen, Jay, Julie - thank you for keeping me company and pushing me on those long hot days on the bike. I can't believe the heat training was all for not! Seriously though, you guys rock.  Kara and Erin, thank you for the Tahoe preview trip and all your love and support through my {our} training. 

This course is not for the faint of heart {or Floridians.} Get in the mountains. Climb. Prepare. Train. Obsess. Get a coach and a power meter and be diligent. It is a gorgeous place that deserves to be respected. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 - swim

Ah, inaugural racing events how I love your challenges, hype, and finally the execution on race day. The unknowns become known. Expectations are high, especially with WTC events, and California did not disappoint. 

The 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe is officially in the books. And it's gone down unofficially as the slowest and hardest. In commemoration, this ended up being the longest blog post, so I'll split it up. The account of my journey on Sunday will unfold in the next couple of blogs. 

We stayed near Kings Beach so we had a relaxed 4:30am wake up. Forced down 2 packets of oatmeal and packed a banana. Mixed the bike bottles, Kyle drove us to the start {until the road closure forced us to turn up the 267}, and we walked to transition. Dumped the special needs bags and headed to Kermit to get him ready for the long day ahead. 

Frosty Kermit - poor guy had to sustain rain, wind and freezing overnight temps. Put on my saddle bag, snack pack {bento box}, bottles, Garmin, and made sure he was in an appropriate gear and that the power meter was reading. Tires felt okay so I didn't bother finding a pump. We actually got to access our T1 bags so I headed over there for some last min prep. I had double bagged and thank goodness. Bags were left in the rain as well and people were not happy/prepared when all their bike stuff was wet. I had those insta warmers so I unwrapped to activate and put them between my toe covers and shoes as well as in my long fingered gloves which I stuffed into my shoes. 

The race directors rented the kings beach convention center and opened the doors for us to put on our wetsuits! Definitely a lifesaver before the swim. Air temps were below freezing so I was happy to stand on a warm floor while taking off the many morning clothes. Kyle met me there and gave me a quick goodbye hug and kiss and after a puff of the inhaler and a bite of the banana I was off to the {frozen sand} beach. Wool snowboarding socks with more insta warmers kept my feet temp manageable before and after my warmup.  I actually got in the water before since it was approx 30 degrees warmer than the air! {I did this at St. George 2010 but water temp was 52 so it was more of a cool down; also an in-water start, which I much prefer.} I swam maybe 20 strokes out then back to get my face in and get the breathing under control. I watched both of the pro waves while standing in the water and paid attention to how many steps to dolphin dives and then back to steps {on the sandbar} they took before swimming. I got out, found the socks and nudged my way to the front of the swim start line. National Anthem, pump up song and then a 1 min warning. Socks off. Goggles on. Cannon. 

Swim: 54:46 {fastest female amateur / pro}

Run, run, dive, dive, stand and run run, dive, swim. Oh thank goodness! This feels so warm! I didn't fall on my face! I didn't stub my toe on a rock {or at least my frozen toes didn't notice}! 

The swim start arch was a bit offset from the first red turn buoy and there were a couple aggro men around me but I tried to find good feet. Before I knew it we were to the 1st yellow buoy and I was on the inside. Okay, mental note, buoys are flaring out. I opted to keep the yellows on my right and find the red one to make the left hand turn. I also saw a stand up paddler ahead and green caps following so I just followed their kicks. 

Why? If you haven't seen, it was a bit foggy from the drastic air/water temp differential.  I had opted for the tinted sweeds and at the time was questioning my call. 2, 3, 4, 5 - the labeled buoys were flying by and my pace felt okay. Turning was a non issue and as we were heading back in I couldn't help but smile at the truly amazing views. I mostly breathe to the right and before the sun crested the mountains the burn lines on the clouds were gorgeous. I also glanced back and saw another pink cap! 

Yikes, stop checking out the views and get back to racing! Water wasn't too choppy and I would've much preferred a large one loop course. By the 2nd buoy on my 2nd lap we started to pass 1st loopers. Seriously. I did see someone on one of those resting rafts and had to shake my head. Not sure getting out of the warm water into the cold air is going to help you buddy. I don't want to turn this into a "swim smart" rant so I won't. {get a coach!!}

We passed some female pros at the 4th buoy {yellow caps} and smiles ensued. I let the other pink cap girl take the lead on the way out but after we turned in I started taking charge. With a couple hundred yards left we really began to hit the masses. 

It was a zombie apocalypse in the water. 

People were barely moving and heading in every direction including straight at me. {??!}  I really really do NOT like contact in the water but at some point it's unavoidable. Situational awareness for some reason goes out the door when the faces hit the water. A man in an xterra suit swam stroke for stroke with me, breathing left as I was breathing right, and we battled through most of the swim together. We got to the sandbar and began running out congratulating each other. 

The crowd support was awesome. Heard Mike Riley announce my name {incorrectly, but I won't hold it against him} and ran up the beach. 

Transition: 8:05 {Day Spa}
Walked to my T1 bag and had the wetsuit strippers pull my bottoms off and headed into the {heated!} change tent where I saw the rest of the female pros. A volunteer grabbed me {with a warm towel, seriously amazing} and brought me to the back corner - to a surprise - the heater vent!! I stripped down out of my swimsuit. Dried off. Started barking orders but my cheeks were frozn. Odd sensation. Order of events:
Leg warmers
Arm warmers
Body glide
Sat down for socks/shoes
Gloves {left the heaters in}

I was out of the change tent. It was quite a hike to get around transitions and through to grab Kermit myself, which had a sweet spot near the exit. {Volunteers grabed our bikes for us at IMSG} Out of T1 in what I thought was a slow 8 min but apparently ended up being a pretty quick transition based upon the 25 min average t1/t2 combo. 

A volunteer reminded me to take my time clipping in as people ahead of me were apparently having issues. Who? The pros? {Kyle told me later he saw the 3rd dude out totally eat it. Apparently frozen toes and bike clips don't go well together.} Got on Kermit, garmin started, and we were off! 

{"epic" bike report to follow}

Many thanks to De Soto for getting me the new top at such a late notice before the race! It was awesome and I had no issues or chaffing. Such a great fit and a fast suit. Thanks for believing in me and making a product these "swimmer shoulders" love! 

Also, to my ocean friends and training buddies - you guys rock - and make me look good! Jake, Erin and Christine you guys truly made my summer that much more enjoyable. Ironman is about the journey and you made getting to the swim exit that much easier and faster. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ironman circles

So here I am. Coming full circle to the end of my training and the finish of the real journey, to embark on the journey of race day. To circle around some buoys, turn the circular wheels and yeah, that run thing, hopefully in a bee-line, straight to the finish.

By the numbers I started this journey 4 months ago. I've managed to rack up:

317 run miles
2530 bike miles
58 swim (floating) miles
total time spent working out: 237 hours.

my favorite part of pre-race prep?
sweedish goggle assembly
It hasn't been about quantity, especially with the late start. I've put in some quality workouts this summer and have dug deep to find out where I can take my body. I have three more years of tri experience under my belt {and in my legs}. I'm ready. To toe the line and then to cross it. Into the crazy day that is Ironman. yippie!

sillyness w/stacy. wool socks and wetsuits.
we are the crazy people. :)
kermit is sad to be left in transition overnight
in the wind and rain.
You can track me HERE.

Vacation has been pretty chill since getting to Tahoe. We stayed with my friend Stacy for our first two nights at Squaw Valley area and are now at our cute little a-frame house in Kings Beach with my MN friend Nordica. Her BF Kevin is racing, so her and Kyle are on super sherpa duties.

I've hopped in the water a couple of times and rode a bit to decide what to wear. Which has been a large topic of conversation here. {and quite frankly, I'm stoked on the weather} My favorite email of the week is from Noko: "Stay away from the wimps that complain about the cold, they are just weak and eaten too much bloody kale and protein smoothes!!! ha PAY BACK TIME TO ALL THE IDIOT HEALTH FREAKS!"

My thoughts precisely. I throughly enjoyed my gluten filled dinner, aka carbo loading! Something that has worked for me every taper of my life! :) 

those darn bags. packing, prepping, marking, hauling.
Kyle has been a great sherpa, but don't worry, he's been enjoying this vacation too. Gaining as much elevation as his poor knees can handle by foot and bike. He'll do his best to update to his and my FB tomorrow.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement. Thank you to my training partners for their company and friendship this summer. You know you who are and I truly appreciate you! Thanks to coach Brian for helping me understand power and use it wisely. :) And thank you Kyle, for getting me and us to another start line. I know I said I'd never do it again. But here I am. In Lake Tahoe. Now let's work to that finish tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I swear one of these years we'll take a proper vacation. To a sandy beach with fruity drinks. But for now, these race-cations will have to suffice. 

So it's finally here {well, in 5 more sleeps}: IM Lake Tahoe family vacation! We have the kids packed {Kermit and Thuvia and their 2 friends} and we're on the long road to my second Ironman. Getting to this point hasn't been nearly as dramatic as the first and really, the hardest part was getting through these past two weeks of Tri Classic craziness and training, packing, working. 

The almost end of an exhausting week. Sherpa was a bike course van driver, aid station worker and all around helper on arguably the hardest {and most definitely longest} day of my work each year. 

For some reason I had the crazy idea to test my endurance that week; 12 hour work day Wednesday. 17 mile long run on Thursday morning followed by a 14 hour work day. And then 31 hours straight Friday - Saturday {well I did make it home for a shower at 3am}. Still, I managed 12.5 hours of training during a 65 hour work week. Okay- enough of the numbers. When I was looking ahead at my calendar, I was more concerned about making it through that week than anything training was going to throw at me. I seriously cannot believe I've survived five years of this race. Many thanks to all the volunteers who make it possible. And to Sara - the person who invests the most into this event and who is thanked the least. She is the one who deserves all credit for this race even happening. 

If you raced and had a good time, send her a thank you email: sara@mometcyclesport.com 

Hey Sara. You rock. And your sunglasses are boss. 

{wagon rides, pizza with the boys, and the lone last swimmer on course} 

Last week was recovery and mental checklists. Sunday brought my best procrastination skills:
Bike/run with Kara
Swim with dolphins in the cove
Fro yo with the coach
Surfing with Kyle, Chris, and Jeremy
Picked up race supplies at Moment
Finally got to laundry and the dreaded packing for a #freakingironman. 

It is unbelievable how much sh*t you need to swim/bike/run your body 140.6 miles in one day. 

Monday was of course an insane-o day at work only after my car battery needed replacing and a final PT appointment. And today, Husband woke me up at the ungodly hour of 3:45 for final packing of the car. {it's almost like race morning when I force him out of bed!} We're on the 395, making our way up the large state of CA. On my final approach to IM Tahoe. 

Super Sherpa drivin. 
Speed racer chillin. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


As IMLT is quickly approaching, I'm looking forward to it with an anticipation I haven't had all year. That jittery excitement about the swim start line has been putting smiles on my face and happiness in my heart.

After a couple of hard weeks at work and putting in big work weeks of the S/B/R variety, they are much needed smiles. Last week was pretty great. By Monday I had my long ride and run partners/routes lined up. Massage booked. A new book {Faster} written by a friend surprised me in the mail, along with a gifted jersey remembering Jackie from a teammate. 

I didn't just survive, but made my interval workout the day after my 16 mile run. I knocked out a bunch of great bike fittings. Rick gave me a much needed hair cut and dye {bleach} and I treated myself to a new pair of jeans & a pedcure. I rode the longest ride of my life, surviving 2 flats, hwy 101, tested the 700c tube in a 650c wheel {twice} and finished that ride by crushing Soledad Mountain, up Via Capri, at mile 107. Boom.

Labor Day didn't start out with the same pop as last week as the legs were feeling the cumulative effect and me and my saddle aren't getting along as of late. Husband tagged along for the first half, bailed, and I luckily saw miss Beth and tagged along with her, Luke and Trevor for their "easy" 30 mile spin. Turned home and managed to motivate for the inside Torrey Pines climb and Via Capri, yet again. Ride ended up a bit long, and I extended the brick run, thinking who am I? 

So that's it. Or is it? Less than 3 weeks to the big day and now less than 2 until we leave. And I had this urge to get one more long run under my belt {or in my legs}. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but with the coach's blessing, I'm did it. Mentally, I needed to do 17. To get to the point where there's less than double digits left. I'm remembering how I felt before St George - a bit flat and sluggish and almost like there was too much taper time. And my appetite is scaring me. 

So surviving these next two days...yeah - we in the thick of the Tri Classic craziness {and still need volunteers!} will be a miracle. 12hr work day Wednesday, 14 yesterday after my long run - Vacation can't come soon enough. 

2 tidbits of even better news?! My sis Meg is preggers! I finally get to fulfil auntie Rachel duties. Starting with a baby shower when we head home after Christmas. And my bf college roomie Missy just had her 2nd on Tuesday, Nolan Michael {love him!} 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

{Ah, one of my all time favorite Office intros. Love the Jim/Dwight banter.}

So if you haven't heard, I'm training for a triathlon. Which happens to be long. And at elevation. And for someone who literally lives at the sea, this isn't an easy feat. Since I know race day is full of surprises, I'm trying to minimize the shock factor. By shocking my system into shape. What's more shocking than a bear? The past 3 weekends have been filled with bear sightings:

1) Tahoe girls weekend; a brown bear managed to stumble into town and climb a tree after being spooked. Slept on the branch all day as tourists wandered past taking photos. I have to admit, his little {okay, very large} paw hanging from the branch was cute. He must have crawled down at night as he was gone by sunrise. 

2) California State Criterium Championships at Brentwood; ie the race for the coveted bear jersey! Kyle and I had a fun getaway up to LA last weekend. Stayed at the local Brentwood Inn, a quaint upscale hotel minutes from the race course. Kyle picked up a "W" in the men's 4/5 race, which sadly was not contesting for the jersey. I managed first loser in the 3/4 race in my first crit of the season. {dang it! I forgot how freaking long that sprint section is! Should've sucked wheel longer! Congrats to the Skyflash ladies for playing the cards perfect and for a ridiculously strong sprint.} Kyle battled back after a crash in the 4s and solo'd the remainder of the race. The highlight for me was hanging on for the finish of the pro 1-3 race! 55 min of constant attacks and counter attacks. Read: not what this endurance girl has been training for! Power meter picked up some great data to use next season. Last year I was dropped after 20 min {granted I tested positive for strep throat the following day} and this year I found myself amazed to be there in the end. A super fun, yet ridiculously challenging race. Ended up 14th, but the first cat 3 over the line. So by an un-technical, technicality, I was a state champ. :)

3) Big Bear Lake, CA; training camp weekend with a bunch of San Diego peeps training for Tahoe. Got another chance to train at elevation a bit closer to home and learned more valuable lessons to store in the suitcase for IM. 

Kyle, Jeremy and I headed up late on Friday night and arose after a restless first night of sleep. {ugh elevation!} Hopped on the bike for a 60 mile effort with the gang up to Onyx summit {and down and back up again}. Tried to stay within IM efforts and am really learning to hold back. Had a quick change transition and headed out for a 9 mile run. And I survived! Confidence boost and more deposits in the bank. 

Sunday was quite the opposite. Everyone woke up a bit more lethargic and the impending doom of the century ride was starting to set it. Another night of restless sleep.
The first 65 miles were great. Beautiful views riding on the "Rim of the World" down highway 18 looking out towards LA. Turning north over Crestline, the descents on hwy 138 were epic! A freshly paved road, wooded, and winding with beams of sunshine, this is a road you must ride. Made it to the desert floor and my slow leaking rear tube finally gave out. Limped our way to the nearest market to refuel {no mxn coke!} and change the flat. 

Survived the next 15 miles to the base of the climb back up to Big Bear and I was feeling the cumulating efforts of the weekend, the heat, the elevation, the saddle and then this- a freaking mountain in front of us. I said this in a post, but I've never wanted to get off my bike so badly, so I did. After a 10 mile slugfest up, I had enough. Everyone was regrouping under a bush and Kara, Kevin and I made the decision to pull the plug at mile 90. Kyle and Jeremy were our knights in spandex kits and finished the final 14 miles to the cabin and rescued us. Seated shower, pizza and a Corona haven't been better. 

I was finally able to sleep through the night {yeah I'd hope so} and Monday we slept in. Well, minus Kyle who had a 4am wake up to make it back to SD in time for work. The rest of us headed to the lake for a swim after a lazy morning. 

I was enjoying myself until a police boat scared the living crap out of me with his siren/horn! Apparently there is an ordinance about swimming 50ft from shore. He said it was highly likely I would get run over by a boat. So I swam in and along the shore back to where I started. Chatted with a few raft floating fisherman who noticed the boat speeding towards me and thought he was going to hit me. Lol. They asked if it was me who screamed. Yes, yes it was me and a heart attack while swimming is no joke. Luckily they weren't catching fish big enough to eat my feet, but I put a move on it back to the start. We had a delicious brunch at the Teddy Bear cafe, cleaned up and Kara drove Jeremy and I {and a very full Corola} back to San Diego. Big thanks to her for organizing the weekend accommodations!

I know I shouldn't be hard on myself for Sunday. But it's hard to swallow quitting something I've set out to do. Finding limits. Testing them. I can only ask so much of myself, but ugh. {I know, #firstworldproblems} We all have goals and aspirations and places we want to be. I want to be an Ironman {again}. Maybe I need to start eating beets. :) 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

all too familiar; yet so reflective

I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm sore. I'm exhausted.

{jeepers, you'd think I was PMS'ing or something}

Nope. I'm dead in the middle of my Ironman build. Yippie ki-yay! Why do we block these memories out when Race Registration Compulsion Disorder (RRCD) sets in? {Swim, Bike, Mom on the credit for that one} Why is that finish line so powerful? Powerful enough to make someone sign up for another?

It is about the journey, right?

Journey of an Ironman. Pony up the dough 12+ months in advance. Start training 6 months in advance. Freak out 4 months in advance because training hasn't commenced. Hire coach. Train. Feel like you'll never gain fitness again, and then fitness itself starts peeking through the curtains. Hello, thank goodness you are here. What's next?

Panic mode. Cramming for Ironman. How many of us will overtrain on our journey there?

Thank goodness the fitness is starting to show up to my workouts. It's not perfect, and I'm not close to race weight, but I'm on a path {albeit not straight} to getting to that finish line. With a smile on my face. I've hada good streak of training as of late and can only hope to ride this wave all the way to taper time.

However, it's not always sunshine and rainbows, even in San Diego. I heard an NPR segment recently about how social media and our "online personalities" are actually making everyone else depressed. All too common are those posts about the sunshine and rainbows, and smiling kids, and weddings, celebrations, sunsets. We wrap those perfect moments into a collection and leave out the rest.  Rain, tears, breakups, crying babies, work frustrations all get slid under the social media rug and then what? Our lives become these perfect little square photos of smiles online, but unravel behind the screen. I understand there is a limit and a balance as well. You're probably thinking of the person you blocked from your timeline who hasn't a happy thing to say. But see, we push them away. Into this fake friendship, instead of reaching out. Instilling a smile into their so unpleasant online world. Remember the FB "Poke" and the smiles those used to bring to your belly when the notification rang?

Poke. :) Am I really getting old enough to say, "Remember, in the olden days?"

Everyone has setbacks. It wouldn't make the good times great if it weren't for these "why me?" moments. Woe is me, my heel has been a literal pain in the foot since January. Woe is me, walking to pee in the morning is a serious struggle full of painful steps. Woe is me. Work has becoming increasingly stressful. This is not a pity part blog, Rachel!

space boots. recovery mode on.
It's either hurry up and get through these days, these workouts. Or Stop. And smell the roses along the way, enjoy the view, your ability, the shivers you get when thinking of that last mile before the finish. And that line. Drawn in the sand, that we must cross. To reach the end of the cycle. To maybe start again someday.

I said my first would be my last. And here I am, cycling back to the #freakingironman mode. And I feel it becoming a part of me. Not enough to outbreak in RRCD because that'll happen when the time is right. But enough to know that I still have that light inside and I won't let these woes blow it out. Maybe someday the {ironman} light will jump to the Sherpa and we'll experience what a household of #craziness is all about. {Yes, I also think it's crazy that my brain is starting to process the "pound/hashtag" as a part of my daily communication. We're all doomed.}

goldfish reflections. yum.
I've become a bit more reflective this time around. Which I suppose happens when you do something over again, but in a new way. Reflections get distorted and aren't perfect. But neither are we who are reflected. Those square photos are a snapshot of this ever crazy journey. And right now, I'm happy where that journey is headed.

reflections at the pool. in not so sunny SD