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.