Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IRONMAN Lake Tahoe 2013 (Race Report)

Last year’s IRONMAN Zurich Switzerland was a disastrous outing in many ways. Sure, I had a great swim… but I paid for that effort on the bike and the run. What’s worse: I was under-nourished and bonking, which lead to a veritable tailspin during the marathon. It wasn’t a fun race, and I was determined to learn from those mistakes heading into IRONMAN Lake Tahoe.

“Race your own race,” I said to myself. I didn’t want to get caught up or competitive in the swim. I knew I needed to race within myself on the bike, and not push myself too hard or too early on the run. And most importantly, I needed to be sure I was eating early and often throughout the day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#IMTahoe: Bears and Battlestar Galactica

My race report can wait, but this news can't. Two TOTALLY AWESOME things happened to me on Sunday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

#IMTahoe: Here we go!

It's officially go-time. My alarm's set for 4 o'clock in the morning and we'll be hitting the water at 6:40am tomorrow morning. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-thirties until nine or ten. It's been a busy (and rainy) day, but it's finally over and things are winding down at the house.

Tomorrow's going to be... in a word... epic.

The swim is going to be absolutely frigid and the bike won't be that much better. If we can make it to the run, we'll be all set. By that point, all that's left is the marathon! Everyone's worried about the cold and the wind. Our plan is to bundle up as best we can and just take the race as it comes.

I don't have much time - that alarm clock's gonna ring early! - but here are a few predictions:

  • Swim: 1 hour. It's too cold to expect anything quicker.
  • Bike: 6.5 hours. There are four massive climbs on the course and they're gonna be killer.
  • Run: 4.5 hours. The run's pretty flat, and though I haven't had the best training to date, I think this is the leg that I'm least worried about!
  • Total: 12 hours. But we'll see what happens...

#IMTahoe: Race Week Recap

Lake Tahoe is gorgeous
Race week is always an adventure in and of itself. It always seems like there are a hundred tiny race-related tasks to check off and dozens of short little workouts to do. You're watching your diet, trying to adjust to a new location and trying to rest as much as possible. And being in Tahoe adds another bit of complexity: altitude. Adjusting to 6,225 feet is no simple feat!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Greetings from Tahoe!

Car: packed. Rack: installed. Hair: long.
Hello from Incline Village, along the north shore of Lake Tahoe! I over-packed the car this morning and hit the road. Traffic wasn't bad, and it's relatively quiet up here right now. I'm sure that'll change as the weekend progresses and several thousand triathletes pull into town. "Race week" doesn't officially begin for another few days, but for all my intents and purposes, it'll be in full swing starting tomorrow.

In a few minutes, I'll head over to King's Beach to test the waters (they're cold) and I'll aim to ride one loop of the bike course tomorrow morning. Taper is nice. Bring on the board games!

Kingdom Builder, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Bang!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Race Report: Lake Merced Half Marathon

[This is a guest post by my wife, Kristine!] A few months ago, one of my college friends, Katie, posted a challenge on Facebook: "Let's run the Lake Merced Half Marathon!" She sweetened the deal by also inviting our favorite Salt Lake City denizen, Michelle. The three of us lived together in college and it had been years since we'd seen each other. What better way to celebrate our reunion than to test our bonds of friendship over 13.1 miles!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


After almost three weeks of ginger movements, periodic muscle spasms and continuous pain, I went to see a new physical therapist on Friday for some massage, ice and ultrasound. After a few minutes poking, prodding and pressing, the PT looked at me and said, "Oh dude... this isn't a muscle strain. You dislocated a rib."

He applied a bit more pressure to the requisite location. I heard a "pop!" like a cracking knuckle. The sharpness of the pain subsided almost instantly. He pushed the rib back into place. The surrounding muscles, which had been in spasm for weeks, could now finally begin to relax and heal. It's been a few days and my back has been feeling better. I'm still a bit wary of pushing too hard and - eek! - re-dislocating the rib, but so far, so good.

Less than three weeks 'til race day. At least now I can breathe deeply without wincing!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello Better!

Last year, I stealthily completed my first half-marathon. It was a secret mission because between wedding planning and Europe traveling, I lacked the discipline to train - and in turn, the faith that I would actually finish. But this year, having no projects to direct my energy towards, I decided to double down!

I signed up for the SF Marathon, my fair city’s flagship course and the one on which I had completed my first half. Midway through my training season, I started experiencing a sharp and shooting pain through my foot. Long story short, it was tendonitis and I could not continue with my training. Bummer. Demoralized, I half-heartedly ran the half-marathon instead.

Luckily, I was given a second chance when I won an entry to the Nike Women’s Marathon! But as I started my training, I discovered that although the tendonitis was gone, a new and exciting repetitive strain injury was present: runner’s knee. My future in running looked grim.
Enter Newton Gravity’s (seen here in all of their technicolor glory). The first I heard of Newton’s was in a triathlete store in Portland. I thought they were a cheap Nike ripoff. Well, I was wrong on both counts. They are not at all like Nike’s and they are not at all cheap. I revisited the shoe again at the Vineman Expo and tried them on. The shoes are unique in that they are designed to make you a mid-foot striker by way of these large lugs in the front of the sole. It seemed a little out there (aka hype) but I was desperate for anything that promised relief for my knee pain.
Tell me again how amazing these shoes are?
Well folks, I’m now a believer. These shoes are amazing. Almost overnight, I went from runner’s knee to pain-free. And I’ve not only been running faster, I’ve been doing so consistently! The biggest difference the shoes have made has been to my form. The lugs really do help correct my strike from heel to mid-foot. I’ve been running more with my feet under me, at a higher cadence, lessening the jarring impact on my knee. The soles provide just enough structure and support, but the 3mm drop (the difference in height between the toes and the heel) maintains a minimalist feel to the shoe.* 

In case anyone is wondering if there was some kind of placebo effect or if the timing of my knee recovery matched up perfectly with my Newton purchase, let me tell you of my semi-scientific experiment. I actually also purchased a pair of Nike Pegasus with a similar feel and comfort as my Newtons. In fact, I love the look of the Pegasus more than the Newtons (they have lightning bolts on them! I was so motivated to prove that they were just as awesome so I could justify wearing them during the actual marathon).
glitter (left) or lightning bolts (right)
Well, unfortunately they are not. Since I had to ease into my Newton’s and the mid-foot running style, I alternated shoes between runs and invariably, my Nike’s would have me limping after 6 or 7 miles, while my Newton’s would carry me through the end of the course. After one particularly painful 7-mile run, I put the Nike’s away and have been running exclusively on my Newton’s. The past two weekends, I was able to complete the longest runs I’ve ever done with only some soreness and stiffness afterwards. During the runs, I’ve been able to be as pain-free as one can manage on 13+ miles.

I didn’t think shoes could make that big of a difference in performance (and I naively thought they were all pretty much the same). But, the Newton’s have converted me and I’m counting on them to carry me through the last weeks of training and the 26.2 miles on October 20th! In fact… I might be so in love with the Newton’s that I may actually run regularly, post-marathon. Like... for fun? (What?!)

Disclaimer: This post is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Newton, but I would not object to a pair of 2014’s Gravity’s to try out and review :)

*Incidentally, I had done a running assessment at UCSF in early summer, and they had recommended exactly that format of shoe.