Monday, September 22, 2014

CANCELED: 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe

(I wrote the first part of this email in a good-natured and understanding mood, but then I got the lackluster "options" email from Ironman and now I'm legitimately angry and felt the need to add a big rant at the end.)

The 2014 IRONMAN Lake Tahoe event was canceled due to poor air quality stemming from the nearby King Fire. As of last night, the King Fire has consumed more than 80,000 acres and destroyed more than ten homes. My heart goes out to all of those who have been and continue to be impacted by this disaster.

To all of the athletes and first-timers who trained all year for this event: You're still champions! You're still in the best shape of your life. It's the months of that make you an Ironman, not the race itself.

As for the race organizers...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

IRONMAN Boulder 2014 (Race Report)

Another month, another Ironman challenge! After tackling Ironman Texas in May and Ironman Coeur d'Alene five weeks later, I entered July with an enormous base of fitness. I hadn't been running much, but the knee issue that had kept me sidelined was on the mend. As August approached, so did the date of my next big race: the inaugural Ironman Boulder in Boulder, Colorado.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The home stretch!

As usual, it's been a rocky and eventful (but enjoyable) triathlon season. I've already completed two IRONMAN races and I'm only a few short weeks away from my third: IRONMAN Boulder. This, my friends, is what we like to call "the home stretch."

I'm excited for Boulder -- it's going to be a big race! While I won't be gunning for a personal best, I will be tackling the challenge in front of friends and family. That always makes for a special experience.

Friday, July 11, 2014

IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene 2014 (Race Report)

In late June, Kristine and I tackled the second of my three planned IRONMAN races for 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite injury and extreme conditions. After spending a weekend in Coeur d'Alene, it's easy to see why it's quickly become a quintessential, must-do race for North American triathletes. And it's a great course for spectators, too. Read on for a race report, impressions and additional photos!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

AIDS/LifeCycle Part I: On the bike

Transitioning to life on my bike for a week was a bit rough at first. I admit I checked work email a couple of times the first few days. And until the middle of Day 2, I had a persistent anxiety of having somewhere else I needed to be. But right around lunch time on the second day, I mentally slapped myself across the face and said: "You have nowhere to be but your bike. And you have all day to be on your bike. Take your time and enjoy the ride." So I did! I spent about 10 hours on my bike every day and the miles are starting to blur together. But each day had some clear highlights and moments that I'd love to share and remember.

Mini Ride Reports
Day 1 (83.4 miles): After Andrew dropped me and my gear off on Sunday morning, I rode out and thought I wouldn't see him for another 7 days. But he surprised me at the top of the Hwy 92--the most difficult climb of the day! Seeing Andrew there just made my heart swell with so much happiness that I almost burst into tears. It was amazing to see all of the people who came out to show their support for the riders. I wish I always had cheerleaders every time I rode Hawk Hill--it would make that climb so much sweeter.
The best surprise at the top of Hwy 92
Day 2 (108.3 miles): Unfortunately my Garmin died about halfway through the ride, but if it had lasted through the day, you would have likely seen the fastest miles I've ever clocked on a bike. The first part of the day, we were biking into the wind, and I was anticipating a long demoralizing slog. But after lunch the wind was at my back and carried me most of the way back to camp. For most of the week, I didn't care much about my placement in the ride, but it felt good to be one of the first 400 in to camp that day (when I was expecting to take the whole 12 hours). My highest mileage ever. 

Day 3 (66.7 miles): After 2 days of 80+ miles, 66 sounds like a short ride. But we started the day with Quadbuster--the steepest climb of the whole event. Luckily, we had another gauntlet of supporters along the climb. The highlight for me was being behind AIDS/LifeCycle icon, the Chicken Lady, who was"laying" plastic eggs along the course for riders to pick up. Despite the steepness, I got off my bike to grab one. When I opened it up at top of the hill the note in it read: "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and everything is just fine." 

Day 4 (87.5 miles): After climbing the Evil Twins (which were not as evil as I had been fearing all morning) we were halfway to LA! On the fourth day, I finally felt confident I could bike every mile to L.A.; the hardest miles were behind us! The fabled cinnamon buns in Pismo Beach were as sinful as everyone said they would be.

Day 5 (42.0 miles): Romano and I had been looking forward to Red Dress Day for weeks! Our outfits were definitely crowd pleasers: rainbow tights, red HANDMADE tutus, and mini glittery capes. Perfect for the theme! The short but hilly ride to Lompoc was full of complements as people passed me by. One guy said: "Your name should be tutu cute!" This was the one day that I got to see Romano at every stop. When we ride together, her easy pace is my challenging pace. It's quite comical to see me try to keep up with her.

Aren't we tutu cute?
Day 6 (84.1 miles): The ride from Lompoc to Ventura was by far the prettiest day as we came back to the coast after being inland. We started the day with a long, gradual climb and a terrifyingly fast descent. At rest stop 2, I stood on the shore and saw dolphins playing in the distance. I was able to catch up with my Aunt Debbie, a cyclist and a veteran of multi-day rides, and she and I rode through Santa Barbara together. The best part of the day was hitting up the In'N Out for well-deserved double doubles and guilt-free animal style fries.

Day 7 (60.6 miles): The last day was surreal--how could it already be over?! Romano and I left camp together for the last time. The loneliness of ending the ride was setting in. There wasn't the usual line of cyclists I had come to enjoy every day, the roads felt more empty than usual. People seemed more spread out along the course, and Romano and I had left early to avoid the cluster that usually happens when the ALC peloton rides through Malibu. I had a quick lunch with only 16 miles left, and attached myself to a small group to ride the rest of the way to LA. The last few miles I was torn between seeing Andrew at the end, and wanting to extend the experience of AIDS/LifeCycle for just a little bit longer. But I did eventually arrive at the finish line, and Andrew was there, and I was elated to see him and it felt amazing to have completed the ride. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We've reached the annual injury low-point

Another triathlon season that started with a great deal of promise has been derailed in epic fashion by injury. I've been pretty good about remaining positive through the first three or four weeks of rehab, but recently experienced a soul-crushing bait-and-switch. I thought I was getting better, maybe even close to being able to run again, but I'm not.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Injury strikes!

Well, it just wouldn't be a true triathlon season without at least one battle against injury! I had been running extremely well in April, but things started to go slowly downhill in May. Unfortunately, IRONMAN Texas seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back, though. Now I'm saddled with a very irritable IT band situation and some semi-debilitating knee pain.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

IRONMAN Texas 2014 (Race Report)

(Note: the official name for this race is The Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas Presented By Waste Management, but wow, that's a mouthful! Also, I find it slightly ironic that Waste Management is the presenting sponsor, but looking back, I guess those porta-potties were nicer than average!)

My first race of this all-too-aggressive triathlon season took place on Saturday, May 17. It went really, really well. Let’s review!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I'm in Texas!

Big race this weekend, folks! IRONMAN Texas is just a day away, so I'd better get to bed. I'll try and find a few minutes to post more thoughts, impressions and predictions tomorrow.

In the meantime, I think we might try something slightly new for our IRONMAN race-weekend coverage this time: dedicated Twitter and Instagram accounts! This way, you can easily opt-in to any triathlon-related updates by following one of those accounts. Coolness.

Anyway, it's late (sorta) and I'm trying to get up bright and early tomorrow. 'Til next time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

ironw00t: AIDS/LifeCycle Edition

TL;DR: In 26 days, I'm going to bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Holy crap. Also - my friends and family are awesome.

The Challenge
AIDS/LifeCycle has been hanging over my head for almost 4 years and in a few weeks will go from being a hypothetical to a reality. And the reality is super daunting. When I signed up, I imagined ALC as a fun bike trip with one of my best girl friends. As I approach Day 1, the impending mileage and climbing, the logistics of recovery/sleep/nutrition, and the feeling of being underprepared is freaking me out. The real ALC is going to take a lot more than physical strength... I've got to contend with the emotional and mental challenge of the ride. 545 miles is a lot to think about all at once. I've got to take it day by day, rest stop by rest stop, and mile by mile.

The Training
Ideally I should have started training for this ride more than six months ago, but a job change, a home purchase, a trip to the Philippines, a second wedding, and some version of the flu meant that I only started getting on my bike in March. I also had a mental barrier (paralyzing fear) to overcome. My first few rides consisted of short jaunts over to Marin to climb Hawk Hill, and then I finally cracked down in April and started doing 50+ mile rides, at first just once a week, but now up to 2-3 times per week. My training delay means that I've got to strike a balance between getting the hours I need in the saddle while also giving my body time to recover so I don't injure myself. Given that I'm prone to injury, I'm trying to be really careful here. What does ramping up from 25 weekly miles to 150 weekly miles in one month feel like? It feels like cramming for a college exam, like the biggest one you were afraid to fail.

Zooey and I taking a break before climbing out of Alpine Dam

The Bike Fit
The last time I got my bike fit was 5 years ago. Andrew asked his bike fit guy to come by the apartment a couple of weeks ago and after 4 hours, multiple shims and adjustments, my bike feels totally new! If you've ever met my bike, you'll know she's super tiny, and she feels even smaller now (in a good way). I feel closer to my handlebars which has given me more confidence and control on my descents. I feel more on top of my pedals, which has given me better leverage on my downstroke. And I'm feeling more comfortable in my saddle. I'm not at 100% yet; another follow-up fitting is happening tomorrow, but my last few rides I've felt so much better than before.

Zooey gets a make-over

The Social Element
When I was training for my marathon, it was a solitary experience. I spent hours by myself, running around the city in a moving meditation. Cycling is completely different to me. I'm in hyper-aware mode. I want to know where the cars are and the pothole situation and is that gravel or water on the ground and wait did I miss a turn am I lost? Cycling is about getting out of my head. And in order to stay sane, I need company or community. We don't even need to talk to each other, I just need to know that you're there. Which is why I was EXTREMELY excited that one of my best friends Colette had started cycling. How much fun is it to bike around Marin with her? So much fun I forgot how terrified I was of being on my bike! :)

The Fundraising
Last but not least, the fundraising. In order to show up at the start of ALC, participants need to raise $3000 minimum. Well, thanks to my uber-amazing, unfailingly awesome family and friends, I hit that goal within a week of sending out my donation emails. Less than a month later, and I've surpassed it by almost $1000. I can't begin to describe how moved I am by everyone's support. Some people have given money, some people have given time, so many people have given me encouragement. Every little bit I've received has helped me be a stronger rider in the past month. When I'm filled with doubt (or laziness) I really think of my accountability to everyone who is now also part of this because they've donated, emailed, ridden with me, and helped me. So - when I'm biking those miles come June, I'll be thinking of you all and your generosity of spirt. Thank you all so much!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The heat is on

Well, my personal mandate to update this blog with relative frequency has failed. It’s been several weeks, and while I’ve started writing posts here and there, none of them have were ever completed. If you’re wondering why, look no further than this image:

The past six weeks have been, in a word, challenging. April may have been the most aggressive - and most successful! - block of triathlon training I’ve ever tackled. The past four weeks took my solid, mid-range fitness base and stretched it out in preparation for Ironman Texas on May 17. We went from 3 hour rides and 75 minute runs to 5 hour rides and 2+ hour runs in just a few weeks and stayed there for a few more.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Season 5, Episode 1

2010 was my first foray into the world of triathlon. 2011 was all about asking Kristine to marry me. I was too aggressive in 2012, and plagued by injury. Two of my best friends helped make the 2013 season an absolute blast - a return to just having fun and racing fast.