Friday, April 24, 2015

Speaking of Opening Up....

... A few weeks ago I was interviewed by my buddy Vinnie Tortorich. I really didn't know what he was going to ask or want he'd to talk about, but prior to our chat I had given him links to my blogs so he could decide.



It wasn't my first time on Vinnie's podcast. Here we are in 2013 with Ben G.
Turns out, Vinnie wanted to get real with me, and ask some "tough" questions. In fact, apparently one of his training clients had some beef with my facebook default photo of the Betty girls and I at the Kona Underpants Run--and how we were impossibly fit/too skinny. Hm... well I will only speak for myself and I know I was somewhat broken at that point (it was the UPR 2013). That said, I know the gals in that photo, and I don't think they're the ones I'd pinpoint as unhealthy endurance athletes--I mean it; I think those gals are pretty solid! But I see the point and how it could appear that way. Whether it's the Kona UPR or athletes racing Ironman or whatever situation in endurance sport and/or female athletes there's no doubt issues are rampant, as I've been discussing more and more...

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Vinnie's podcast. Partly because I respect Vinnie and he makes the conversation go so easily (he truly gets the art of interviewing); and partly because it was a chance for me to start opening up about some personal things in my life on a bigger platform for thousands to hear--and I was not afraid! That felt good.








Thursday, April 23, 2015

High Carb vs. High Fat - Where Do YOU Stand?

Simple post today, and I'm asking for some participation from you--the endurance athlete and someone who cares about good health!

After reading this article (read it!) by the highly respected Asker Jeukendrup, and after recent in-depth convos I've been having with athletes and colleagues, it's on my mind. I know my thoughts, but I want to get your thoughts...

So, I'm curious: 

Where do you stand on diet/fueling/nutrition?

Are you LCHF or more traditional higher carb? Or both/it depends? 

Why? 

What works best for you?

Or, do you not even care and just eat whatever you want?

Would love to hear your comments and experiences; leave them below in this post! Or email me: tprazak@coachtawnee.com.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good Things Come From Open-ness

I've followed Alan Couzens on Twitter for a while, and finally I said to myself, "Why am I not friends with this guy yet?" I had to get a conversation going. He's an extremely intelligent exercise physiologist and coach, he seems like a cool dude, and I had a hunch we'd be good allies with lots to chat about.

I was right. Since reaching out on a DM, we've exchanged many emails--aka modern-day pen pals--and I even mentioned him on a recent blog regarding his "performance pyramid" concept. I've picked his brain on a bunch of stuff--exercise physiology, training peaks, data tracking for athletes, you name it. And I think he's also (maybe... hopefully?) learning a little bit from me. I know he listens to Endurance Planet... I'm assuming he's a lucho fan like the rest of the world ;)

There's one area that Alan and I are gravitating to in our conversations--health, and more specifically health for endurance athletes--and it seems this "movement" is gaining momentum.

Of course, I shared my story with Alan about having to step back from sport, and find my path back to health after going a wee bit overboard, which I wrote about here and here. Then Alan came back with one of the most incredible blog posts/personal accounts I've ever read on one's athletic journey.


Seriously an awesome post, and I'm not the only one who noticed. Alan said by opening up that he's received and amazing outpouring--interestingly many people saying they've had a similar journey with slightly different details. In fact another guy who I don't know personally but who I follow and respect immensely, Gordo Byrn, responded to Alan's post by writing this on his blog, and I quote from that post:

"A – I could never do that.
G – Never do what?

A – I could never share my story.
G – You might want to be careful with that.

A – Careful with what?
G – Be careful about making affirmations to conceal your truth

When you start to share your truth, you’re likely to discover that it’s really our truth.
Be brave."

...Ok, so I kinda just copy/pasted half the post, but, seriously, this is good stuff. I love where this is going! The words are simple yet so powerful.

In my last email with Alan, he added the commentary:

"In the absence of open-ness, we all wind up making the same mistakes." 

I want to continue being open. I have many more details in my story that I will share in time. In fact, I have shared it all already with my close circle--guys like Alan, Lucho, Dr. Maffetone, Dr. Minkoff, and of course my family and friends all know my details. Sometimes sharing everything seems scary....putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, accepting you did this or that by writing it for all to see. I'm sure there will always be those who criticize, judge and the haters (my friend and fellow podcaster Vinnie Tortorich always tells me that the haters just mean "you've made it," I like that, haha).

I want to be open because right now I have so much passion in me and this intense drive to foster a movement of promoting health+performance for athletes! If I can help even a dozen people stay healthy, then it's worth any hateful comments. I encourage you to do the same. Send me an email, write a comment on this post, start your own blog... we will only get smarter as athletes and coaches if we share our stories, the hard parts especially. I've read a bunch of fairytale Kona-qualifying blogs and the like. I know how that story goes; I've written similar ones myself (just not Kona as the starring race). I'm not discounting what it takes to get to that level and execute a fairytale race. But I want to hear the real shit.

Like Gordo says, "when you start to share your truth, you're likely to discover that it's really our truth."




Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Effect of Ragnar and Sleep Deprivation on the Body

So I thought it'd be fun to play scientist with Ragnar do a little data tracking before, during and after of HRV, sleep, overall mood/energy, "female stuff," and pre/post training quality, to see the effects of the race--in particular a night of sleep deprivation and three hard runs within 24 hours.

For a quick refresher on HRV, click here.

As I mentioned on my Ragnar race report blog, it wasn't the greatest of weeks leading into the event. I was due to start my period, which always throws me off for the week leading up, and I also was dealing with the death of an old friend whose funeral I attended two days before Ragnar started. Those certainly weren't going to help my chances of being tip-top. But I mitigated negative effects from "life circumstances" by severely reducing any workouts during the week.

Backing up a bit further, the week before Ragnar was a great week of running/crosstraining, highlighted by the weekend, which included:

- about 10.5 miles on Saturday 4/3 with 5 miles of a "loose" MAF test, meaning HR didn't want to stick at 150 despite the RPE of MAF, so I let it float around in the 150s. So I can't say it was completely accurate test data, but it did show an improvement of a few seconds--the bigger improvement being that I slowed down less (slowest mile was 8:08 vs 8:23 last time).

- about 12 miles of hilly trail running on Sunday 4/4, mostly at MAF (and/or 150s) feeling just as awesome and fresh as I did Saturday. Two back-to-back quality runs is surely a sign I'm getting fitter at running.

So, I didn't feel bad one bit about taking it easy the next ~5 days before Ragnar! The old me would have, I'm sure. Although, that said I usually have been pretty good at resting the week of a race and not panic training. If anything, my version of "panic training" was the opposite: I'd totally shut it down in fear of doing too much, and do just enough not to be stale. However, sometimes I I'm sure I was over-trained so who knows if it was too late to recover in just a week or two, but I digress.

By Tuesday 4/6, my avg HRV was 86, and it even climbed into the 90s, which is stellar for me. Normally my average--not great, not bad--HRV is the 70s. If it's 60s are below, that's a sign rest or destress is needed. If it's 80+ I'm stoked, 90s I'm thrilled.

Wednesday 4/7, I had one of those days where I just crashed, and I had to nap in the afternoon.... but that was also the day of the funeral, I had the PMS going on, and Monday/Tuesday had been crazy-long work days (like 10+ hours getting ready for ragnar time off), so it's no surprise. In addition to the nap I slept nearly 9 1/2 hours Wednesday night! I think this is called "sleep loading" before a night of no sleep ;)

Thursday 4/9, I was feeling great again, HRV avg 87 in the morning. I attribute this bounce back to 1) great sleep habits, 2) knowing when I need to be on; game on baby!

Friday 4/10 my morning HRV tanked a bit, but that's because I had a stupid early wakeup (like 4:30am WTF!) I'm guessing it was due to either too much sleep the nights prior and/or the excitement and anticipation of the day(s) ahead. My HRV avg at 5am was 69, boo. But my HRV is never good that early and I still felt great that day. I didn't re-measure in the morning, forgot, but I can assume it bounced back.

My first Ragnar run on Friday 4/10 was at 5ish pm, consisting of 6.75 miles balls-out hard, hilly running HR 165-180 mostly. For a gal who's running 150 HR on avg, that's a hard run. So, interestingly, after refueling and chilling out, by 10pm when my van was getting ready to go again, my HRV measured 91! Wow! That shocked me. I guess my body was happy and ready for more!!

It was never that good again, especially after run #2 and no sleep taking its toll.

I measured HRV three times on Saturday morning between 5am-8:30am and it was 66, 66, 70 on average. Never higher than 72. That actually didn't seem too terrible all things considered, not to mention ALL the caffeine I'd consumed in the last 24 hours.... it was a lot.

My third run was still a great performance--for my standards--and in fact just as fast as my first run in terms of overall average (even with the nasty 1.5-mile Torrey Pines climb!), so it just goes to show you CAN dig deep and execute a good performance even when you're clearly not at 100% anymore.

We were testing HRV after Ragnar on Saturday afternoon and the best avg I could eek out was a 69 (73 high) while being in the most restful, low-stress position possible--deep breathing and all. Yup, the runs had taken their toll. I truly gave it everything I had during each run, and I just trashed my body! Not too surprising; I'm known to do that when it's called for ;) That said, a few people in my van had HRVs in the 80s (!) after their legs were finished and they'd had a couple hours to "rest" at that point. Both girls. That was interesting to see. The rest of us were pretty low HRV...

Sunday 4/12, my morning HRV was 73, yay, not totally terrible! That was a relaxing, happy day... However, I will totally admit: I drank quite a bit! About three hearty glasses of white wine spread out over many hours, but still, that was A LOT for me. I didn't care, it was worth it. On the note of alcohol, I am good at keeping balance with how much I drink and it's not hard at all for me to cut back or cut it out completely regularly. However, after a hard race/event, I always let loose and enjoy. It's just how I am, and I don't see a reason to change. Would I be better without any wine? Maybe. But is life more fun with it? Yes. That said, I definitely don't regularly drink like I did on Sunday--good lord no way! In fact, over the next few days I had maybe a full glass of wine, if that.

On 4/13, HRV was back to 75-78 the couple times I measured, still didn't break 80. Now interestingly, I mentioned I was due to start my period before Ragnar. I didn't. Don't worry, not preggo ;) Instead, I started on Monday 4/13 after Ragnar! Sunday night my cramps were nearly unbearable (sorry if TMI) to the point where I was thinking in my half-asleep state that I had food poisoning from the burgers.

I know we're not always going to start on the exact due date, but my period is consistently coming on a perfectly predictable cycle these days, so I find it interesting that it was late. My conclusion? My body knew something was coming--aka Ragnar/racing--and it spared me the torture of starting during the event. OMG, could you imagine starting when you're in a van full of people you don't know that well?! I had tampons with me, but still.... THANK YOU BODY hahaha!!

Now: I want to see any research or anecdotal evidence of girls who are supposed to start their period when they're due to also race, but the period is delayed until after. Anyone?

On 4/14, I finally got HRV back into the 80s; however, avg was still 79.

By 4/15, HRV avg'd in the 80s again. Cool!

That's just HRV... how did I feel post-Ragnar? It was a standard recovery and nothing more than your typical race. I slept well nightly (8:15-8:45 hours per night; I normally average 8-8:15 a night) and I didn't feel the need for extra sleep to make up for no sleep--that is, until Thursday when all I wanted was a nap...

Sunday the day after I didn't do jack. Monday 4/13 I had so much work to do, but I did fit in an easy 4-mile hike with friends (that was enough!). Tuesday 4/14, I ran a slowwwww 4.1 miles in 38 minutes; totally cruise control (no HRM) plus I did slow weights during the day. Wednesday 4/15 was a light bike and a strength training circuit with aerobic run intervals on treadmill and all that felt good; muscle fatigue of Ragnar gone. But then Thursday I was tired and took the day off from working out, and I even crashed in the afternoon to the point where I just had to shut it all down, work included. Now, I think a large part of that crash was allowing more-than-normal doses of caffeine and wine; it caught up (that cycle can be a viscous, beware). Lesson learned. Backed off on both. Easy.

Friday 4/17 I had a double run day totaling about 9 miles, and it was still slow but I was happy to get back to a bit of volume in one day's time. Saturday 4/18 I was antsy to go for it but forced myself to make it an easy day because Maffetone had a long run scheduled for Sunday that he wanted to be quality. I'm trying to follow (some) directions here, people, haha.... So Saturday I did a 3.5-mile SUP (plus the "strength session" of carrying the 23lb board close to 1 mile) and I did a 45min easy spin literally less than 100w avg (now that's what I call an easy bike!).

Not overdoing it Saturday paid off because on Sunday my long run was pretty good, mostly. It was good because I held a solid pace of 8:00-8:30s with HR 150s on every running mile except one during which I walked a hill (it was 8:26 avg, 153 HR avg for ~2hr). Then there was a non-run portion of the workout that included pre- and post-run walking to add volume, that's the MAF way! I'll continue this format the next 3-4 weeks building to 3+hrs.

Now, the bad part of this run was the fact that I somehow went into this underfueled and I bonked, which is extremely unlike me! I haven't bonked once since training for the marathon (nor have a bonked since....2013?) and I can only guess that I just didn't have enough on board going into it despite eating well yesterday and having breakfast prior to this run. I didn't bring any fuel because I never usually need it for runs ~2hr. Despite the bonk I still held pace/HR. But it didn't really feel good, ya know? Oh well, again, lesson learned.

So that's the story of how Ragnar did its thang, and how my body handled it... it seems pretty standard and nothing out of the ordinary. Anyone else have a crazier Ragnar/ultra relay recovery experiences--either really fast recovery or really shitty recovery?



Ragnar SoCal Relay: Expanding the Race Resume and Executing The Unknown

12 runners
2 drivers
182.4 miles, HB to SD
26:44 hours of running
0 hours of sleep
10th division
55th out of 700+ teams

I didn't really know what to expect from Ragnar: Would it be fun? Would I regret it in the middle of the night? Would I survive on no sleep and avoid turning into a grumpy b----? Would my body be able to perform like the old days? Would our team--many of whom I didn't know--get along?

I wasn't worried, just curious about these unknowns. If anything, I was excited to figure out the answers. I'm all about new adventures with my racing and activities these days...

I actually had a rough patch leading into Ragnar too. My "that time of month" was due, which meant all the symptoms. Yup. Plus I had a heavy heart and bouts of tears after learning of the death of an old high school boyfriend-turned-friend the week before Ragnar. My mind was somewhere else with that news. I don't even really like talking about it, and I hesitated to even mention it here but it's part of me and this... he was on my mind, as was another old, dear friend who I grew up with and who would have been 30 on April 9; he passed away too young too. So the day before our team arrived in town I spent most my day at a funeral. I'm glad the funeral took place when it did. I felt like I was at least able to get some closure, find peace, shed some tears, and share hugs with people from my early life....

Wore some bracelets to remember loved ones who left
this world way too soon. I'll never forget them.
All that leading up, and I definitely made sure to have super low-stress, easy workouts the week leading into Ragnar. I wanted to be 100 percent on my game running-wise and energy-wise. I was tracking my HRV and general metrics before/during/after Ragnar, which I'll post in a separate (shorter) post to come for my geek friends like Alan Couzens on how Ragnar wrecked havoc (or not ;)).

It was busy leading up to race weekend. Our team wasn't just a group of local friends; John and I organized a special Endurance Planet team with people flying in from as far as Toronto and the East Coast. So this was actually business for me in a way, but I'm grateful my business is certainly mixed with pleasure. I was especially excited that my two favorite colleagues and dear friends--Brock and Lucho--would be joining  the crew and staying with John and I. I love those guys so much, and love our annual get-togethers (they need to be more than annual IMO).

John and I planned it to be an "all-inclusive" weekend of sorts for the team, starting with a catered team dinner on Thursday, racing Friday/Saturday, and ending with our own special awards ceremony at Stone, plus everything in between (vans, food/meals, sponsored hydration, houses for rest stops, supplies, special souvenirs, etc). Everything for Ragnar was all there and ready for them. They just had to show up.

So how'd it go?

In short: IT WAS A FREAKING BLAST!!!

Our team, Ragnar, running balls-out hard--it absolutely exceeded my expectations!

If you want the audio version recapping the event, listen to this podcast with Lucho, Brock and I sharing all the details. We recorded it Sunday morning after the race; a super fun, highly caffeinated chat.

If you want more from my POV and also more on my own running performances, read on...

As mentioned, it was a bit of a "meh" week for me. But that changed Thursday when I woke up feeling like a rockstar. Had one last easy run, and forced myself to hold back. Legs ready. We spent a good 3ish hours in the car picking up the boys from airports and running errands. The evening ended with our team enjoying Mexican food in a Laguna Beach park, which John and I served only the best quality--La Sirena Grill.

Start line. We were dead last wave to go off lol! But we loved
it when we ended up passing 100s of teams!
Friday our team was literally the very last wave to go off at 1:15pm, which I actually liked. Teams were starting as early as 6am but we had a nice leisurely morning. I even fit in a 5k SUP session before we got going, and we stopped at the farmer's market to pick up freshly baked sourdough for the team. We gathered, drank coffee, decorated vans and got going. I made a deal with myself that I would get to drink as much caffeine as I wanted/needed then get back to reality next week.

Ragnar logistics are quite complicated especially if you've never done one of these so I'll try not to explain the impossible. Basically our team congregated in Lake Forest, then we were off to the start line in Huntington Beach. Most everyone was pretty much strangers to one another, yet right away we had good vibes and nonstop chatter.


Team photo with the coolest van in ragnar! 

There was lots of voo doo flossing going around thanks
to Greg (and Kelly Starrett). It freaking works. And greg,
seen here, is quite the runner. He just went sub 19 at the
Boston 5k the weekend after Ragnar! #superfan
I was in Van 1 with six others. We started while Van 2 waited for our six to do their thing. I was No. 6 and would pass to Lucho, who was No. 7. In terms of performance, I had told the team prior to the event that our pace and where we placed weren't important factors, but it was clear to me that we had compiled a group of competitors who wanted to run fast and hard (we had a speedy group!). Greg, who I coach for running, started us off with a badass 2.4 mile balls-out run. As for me, I had this "silly" idea that I'd be "smart" and pace myself by going a bit conservative on Run #1, but there was none of that once I got going. It was 100 percent hard. And I'm glad I did it that way.

As Runner No. 6, all three of my legs were hard and hilly. It was only 14.4 miles total running (6.75, 3, 4.3 miles each), and in that I had more than 1,600 feet elevation gain total. My runs were mostly all uphill with way less downhill being that they were point-to-point runs. One positives of less descent was saving my quads from downhill DOMS (although I run steep trails enough where I wasn't worried about that). There were at least five gnarlyyyyy hills I encountered. Some decent downhills too. Not so much flat running. Thank goodness I run trails often.


Invasion of the white vans in SoCal.

Endurance Planetttttt!

Before I got going on my first run I did some pullups in a park (seriously), downed espresso (yup!), took 5 Perfect Amino (the new MAP), and warmed up well. It was the perfect time of day to run--just before sunset and cooling off. Not cold, not hot.

My first run was incredibly satisfying. I literally had not pushed my body that hard since Vineman 70.3 last year; nearly 9 months ago. It felt like racing again. It was racing again! In fact, in some ways cooler than past races because I was totally by myself no other ragnar runners around--due to our team's late start--and navigating random roads and hills. Yes, there were signs with directions, but I was by myself, in my own head, digging deep and finding my way.

I. Loved. It.
Climbing a mellow uphill grade.
I honestly didn't realize my shorts were so dang short!
This was right before the big-ass hill... I am totally
loving it!
My pace/intensity was a bit of a question mark going in, as I've been doing nearly 100 percent MAF training and very little/no intensity and no true speedwork. Nearly all my runs I'll average ~150 HR or under, and rarely have I gone above 160 in training. But this is part of the "MAF Game"--train at the aerobic max mostly then be able to dig deep and push hard on race day. I was guessing I'd be sub-8 without too much trouble, but factoring in the hilly route I couldn't guarantee that. I just knew once I started that the idea of going conservative on run #1 was not happening. I wanted to race and go hard. I'm glad I have past experience running at 175+ HR because it definitely stung at first, but it didn't feel unknown to me. For anyone new to MAF, I'd get in a couple practice races or sessions at that high intensity before your A race. Or if you know your aerobic base is well-established add in some anaerobic intervals (this is allowed in true MAF training if done appropriately).

Once I realized I can still run hard lol, I was just hoping I could hold to effort, and not blow especially considering the course profile (see below).

Up, up, up! After this Lucho had nearly an all-downhill run. No wonder he was faster ;)
The first four miles didn't really feel like climbing, but I knew they were due to my HR vs. pace. On flat at that HR I'd easily be running nearly a minute faster per mile than I was. Mile 5 was a bitch of a climb and I did walk a few times but even walking my HR never dropped under 165! But after that I think I finished really freakin fast in the 6's and apparently even sub 6 at times.

Looking back, I think I could have ran faster/harder had I practiced that scenario a couple times before the actual race. But that gets tricky because then the recovery needed is greater... anyway...

Here's my data:

The numbers. Fyi- 58:15 vs. 55:41 is due to getting
stopped at stoplights--no cheating, no running reds!


I think a new chapter might be brewing for me in which I'll be adding more of these random adventure/ultra races where getting lost is a real possibility and where you're not sardined into a crowd. Don't get me wrong, I've loved being that sardine in the triathlon crowd, but it's time for some new adventures! Also I know I won't be running ultras that fast or hard, but I think you get my point.

Anyway, while I was busting my ass, Lucho was getting ready for his first "competitive run" since Leadman 2012. He has run since then (barely) but hasn't raced. We brought him back to the game baby! Although, I think after ragnar he went back into retirement from running already lol.

Lucho's like, "What the hell am I doing?"
Meanwhile I'm trying to bring it in fast....

And the exchange! Lucho and I have been friends and podcasters since 2011!
In fact, I've talked to him nearly every single week for more than 4 years now. 
Then, Lucho had the longest leg, 12.1 miles, which he "decided" to make 13.1 miles by going off course. All good lol.
He passed to John, who also ran more than 20+ miles total. 


After my first run, our team was done with our first shift and got to go to the house to eat, shower and rest (but no one slept; we were all amped up!). All the food was ready and cooked. We had some good stuff, and I highly recommend planning out your menu and buying/preparing food prior to avoid having to do it in that moment. You want all the chill time you can get, not running around shopping for food. I ate a crap ton and didn't even care how it might affect my next run at 2am. I was hangry, and probably had two solid plates of food plus more snacking. Then showered, and then we rehabed with voodoo flossing (magical!), foam rolling, compression, feet up, and so on... we shared past race stories, I had my brain picked nonstop by our EP fans on the team, and the energy was HIGH! We all were feeling great, happy and having a blast. No signs of major fatigue at all yet, which is good because it was only ~8-10pm.

Tons of bacon got consumed.

I basically took all this stuff and made it into tacos with non-GMO
corn tortillas. More bacon was added ;)
Apparently Van 2 had a thing with M&Ms that didn't
really turn out well for them in the GI department.

Some of my Van 1 crew pigging out and talking away.
Meanwhile, Van 2 crew was doing their run thang while we chilled. The only
downside of a 12-person team is not being able to spend more time all together!

Our Van 1's next shift started in Oceanside at 10-something. Right on the boardwalk where the half-Ironman goes. The port-o-potties and darkness with a cool breeze and street lights gave me the chills because it felt exactly like arriving to Oceanside in the morning to do the 70.3. Ah, memories.

We were on from 10ish till my run, which ended at 2:45am. I was the team captain and van navigator so when I wasn't running, the whole race I was constantly thinking two steps ahead and working: looking on the Ragnar app for routes and exchange points, searching google maps, and dictating directions to my dad. This was especially "fun" in those wee hours. But he and I worked very well together and never had a hiccup. Never got lost. Because I was team captain and the host (and full of good energy) I never really slept because I felt like I was needed, but I did have some moments of quiet time and relaxation which were helpful. (I'd eventually get a quickie nap back at the condo....)

Ragnar at night.

Runners coming in for the exchange. "Is that our light?"
This actually happened to be my mom, who ran!

My second run started around 2:20 am somewhere in Carlsbad I think. That area is hilly, and so was my little 3-miler. It was cold (not freezing), and just cold enough where I didn't want to strip down to shorts and a shirt--I was so cozy in my puffy jacket and leggings!--but knew I'd regret wearing pants and a heavy top on my run. Each time I ran I got in at least a mile of jogging/moving/walking and dynamic exercises to get loose and ready. This was especially important on the second two runs after you're stiff and a lil sore. My 2am'er was basically just going up or down on sidewalk (concrete, yuck). See the course profile below. However, the ragnar peeps categorized it as "easy," WTF?! I can assure it was not except for the fact that it was just 3 miles, but that's like saying a competitive 5k is easy It's not. (We're thinking they rated "easy" vs. "medium" vs. "hard" runs simply based on total miles.) So when I finished my 3 miles, I had a potty mouth like none other blasting out a bunch of expletives that explained how the route was anything but easy. I wasn't mad, just on the runner's high and needing to make a point ;) It just so happened that I didn't care about having a filter on my mouth in front of the team at 2:45 am. They thought it was funny.
Because this was all on concrete I chose shoes with a tad more support to cushion that pounding.

My effort was certainly not an "easy" cruising pace lol.
Only one stoplight this time and it was a quickie whew.

2:45 am running - appropriate that this pic came out
blurry because that's exactly how it felt in the moment.
So at about 3 am we made our way to our Carlsbad casa while Van 2 got busy running until sunrise. At 3:15 am I made myself chicken and tacos, bacon, chips, and who knows what else, then we all got to doze off for 30-40min under a roof, cozied up in a blanket on a couch. It felt like 30 seconds later the alarm went off and it was time to get going. Ugh. That was probably the hardest part of the whole thing. I we were wanting was to sleep, and we were flirted with sleep, but it was just a tease. Off we were.

I was so out of it when we left that I forgot half my shit for the next round including my Garmin, HRM strap and wallet (important things I needed haha). Thankfully I was able to borrow a Garmin/HRM and other peeps had money; although, we never bought anything except gas and coffee. We didn't have to. It was all there. (Planning success!)

Brockstar is truly one of a kind and I'm soooo grateful
to have an amazing team who I get to work with
regularly on Endurance Planet. This guy is truly a man
of many talents. 

It almost appears as if I've closed my eyes for a quick nap!
Haha, yea right, in my dreams. This was just around sunrise.
Notice how our team is NO LONGER alone... we had caught
up big time at this point. #fastteam

After that parking lot the route headed west and we got to chill on the beach.
It was so nice having the out-of-towners get a taste of our SoCal paradise.

Part of my breakfast that morning was Orange UCAN in my Betty bottle,
so delicious simply on its own! Had this before run #3.
Click here to find out more on UCAN and why it rocks.
Use "coachtawnee" for 15% off.

I also needed a bit more fuel before run #3 so I went with the tried and true:
Apple Pie Bonk Breaker. These were a hit with the team!

While we ran in a new day on Saturday, Van 2 crew finally
got some naps in. 

I was a tad nervous about my third run. Two runs totaling about 10 miles at the hardest pace I'd run in ages and not easy routes, no sleep, cracked out, eating/drinking through the night.... then running 4.3 miles up Torrey Pines and through La Jolla?! What did I sign up for here, I thought?? But I was loving it and certainly wasn't nervous like I've been in past races. We were all asking each other our realistic pace prior to starting a run, and this time I was basically like, "I really don't know.... somewhere between 35-40 minutes is probably safe." I got it in 35min, and up Torrey kept it at a 9:30 avg. After that I dug deep like none other and went balls out to run in the low 7's on average. Interestingly my HR was more depressed on this last run and didn't reach the 170s until the very end. Up Torrey it remained ~165-168, which was low to me especially given the effort I was going. But at the end I was making some major kills (more on that soon) and passing groups. One guy I passed didn't seem too happy and he tried to pass back near the finish but I held him off! I think I got as fast as 5:20 pace during those final miles. When I reached Lucho for the pass of the baton, I literally was putting on the brakes as you can see. I didn't fall over, but I certainly did need to chug water and keep moving to walk it off.

That's what Torrey pines looks like on the charts. I guess I did have some
flat and downhill in this one ;)

Does anyone pay attention to NGP vs actual pace? I'd
never relied on it for much, but interesting to see.
I did have one stop this time too but it didn't register.
I made about 20 kills on this run, including that guy behind me who wasn't
happy about my passing him and he was trying to catch me but didn't!
BAM! That certainly got my HR to the 170s lol.

Putting on the brakes and making the last exchange with the Luch-man.

Ah, that feeling of being done. So happy! Haha.

So making kills. This is a Ragnar thing, and it was fun especially for us. As I said, our team started dead last so for most of Friday we were all alone and/or only a few other runners around at any given time. But around those ugly 1-3am hours were were clearly making up time and catching teams. It went from arriving to near-empty parking lots to arriving at the party at every exchange with dozens and dozens of vans, runners and commotion! Wow! Making a kill basically means passing and overtaking another runner, thus moving up the ranks. I made a few kills in my first couple runs, then 20ish by my last one! Others on our team were making 30+ kills, and at the end Brock (our last runner) said he lost count on all his kills--too many. That was extremely motivating for our team, clearly. This group we had was a bunch of badasses who wanted it, who gave 100 million percent of their bodies and who did amazing things that had my jaw dropping in awe of pure athleticism and talent. Even my sister had all-time PRs for the given distances on her runs. As one runner, Sal, put it, "I was inspired by the athleticism around me and found that extra gear to go faster."

Magnets get placed all over the vans...
We truly had a uniquely special team. We thrived off one another, and the performances were inspiring. Our team ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s, and all were badass athletes.

In fact, 26:44 meant we averaged 8:48 pace, which includes any stops at lights (part of the rules and for general safety--you have to wait; it's an open course) as well as a minor mistake of Lucho going off course for a mile. Total elevation gain must have been more than 10k I'd guess. So all that considered, keeping it sub-9 officially? Rad! It got us 55th overall, and 10th in our division. Fast times and high rankings, again, were not something I was "needed" from this. But little did I know we were in it to win it! Well, maybe not win it; although not impossible. The overall winning team went 21:xx. Shave off 5 hours? Hm! Next time (oh, and there WILL be a next time)!!!

We officially finished at 3pm-something in Mission Bay on the sand among chaos and traffic. A perfect Saturday in San Diego plus wll the Ragnar'ers in that one little area?? MAYHEM! My van had been done since noon-ish, and we even got to take a siesta on the grass at mission bay before Van 2 finished. I slept like a rock even with people walking and talking all around me haha.

Upon finishing I think there were mixed emotions--runner's highs, stoked on how well we did, sad but happy that it was over, clearly tired, a bit delirious and not necessarily looking forward to driving the couple hours back to OC.

Sweet, sturdy hardware for finishing!

Most of us at the finish line. #whereslucho?

We did make time for a pitstop at Stone Liberty Station to enjoy celebratory drinks, food and sharing stories. Shockingly, only one person dozed off at the table, otherwise, we were all in great spirits despite running on fumes at that point (I guess good beer/wine is enough to wake someone back up). Prior to the race John and I made special trophy awards to hand out in our own EP Awards Ceremony. Things like "Biggest Caffeine Addict," "Outstanding Performance" and "Scariest Driver" were up for grabs; we also had other cool schwag to give away, including a LifeBeam Smart Hat or few.

Sleepy driver dozing off. Too funny!

Photo-bombing one of our outstanding runners, Mike
Wasserman. He earned this award. He's in his 50s and
ran like the wind on some of the hardest routes!

Yes, we have Groupies at Endurance Planet, and their love
and obsession does not go unnoticed ;)
So, that, in a nutshell, was Ragnar! Everyone keeps asking: When do we get to do it again?!!?!? (And for real--we're planning another one already. Want in?)

~~~


Sunday Funday with my boys!
It wasn't quite over after Saturday, thank goodness. Sunday was special in its own way: John, Brock, Lucho and I just chilled in Laguna, drank tons of coffee, recorded a podcast, hobbled around town, grabbed some adult beverages, and just talked nonstop all day from early morning till nearly midnight. We had burgers, and lots of good eats to replenish. It was one of those special days with my favorite guys that I'll never forget.

I'm so glad I had that extra day to hang out with them. I had mostly been separated from them when I was in Van 1; they were all in Van 2. That's the one big negative of a 12-person team--the two vans get very little interaction during the course of the event so you didn't even get to be around half your team. Grr...



~~~

Next up in the ongoing adventures:

- John and I are crewing Michelle and Majo for the Salton Sea Badwater Ultra (81 miles) May 3-4, a job I've wanted to have ever since I learned what ultra meant! Can't wait! Lots of podcasts/pictures/blogging/social media to come on that....

- My MARATHON! I'll be running my marathon on May 24, and according to Maffetone, I'm "ready" for it (ready as I'll be). He's given me four more specific long runs to do. Good times!


~~~


Speaking of good times, I think this guy and I are made for each other, huh:













Tuesday, April 7, 2015

San Francisco...

A brief interruption from the usual sport/fitness/health chat (although, according to Maffetone the recent events in my personal life are some of the best for promoting good health, makes sense)....

Two weeks ago, John and I went to San Francisco, which we realized was our first trip that was not based on a race, training or business. Between my triathlon and his race car driving, and our businesses/work, our getaways tend to have a purpose rather than being random getaways.

Well, I suppose you can say SF actually did have a very important purpose... ;)
That moment, that question.... better than I ever imagined! #isaidyes

We went for a few days midweek with no main goals rather than to explore the city, eat good food and catch a concert at the Fillmore. I should write the blog: "How to do San Francisco in less than 72 Hours" because, dang, we did a lot! I guess that's what happens when you put two active people on the loose. We still worked a bit too; it's relatively easy for he and I to work from the road short-term like that.

GF quiche and tuna/avocado from Bio
We flew in Tuesday to Oakland, taking BART into SF, which is super convenient and cheaper than flying into SFO. I found an organic/gluten free French cafe called Bio just off Market Street where we shared the best breakfast of several GF quiche, tuna-stuffed avocado, a sweet potato pastry and house-made kombucha. Thank goodness for apps like Yelp to find quality restaurants these days; I remember my first trip with John in summer 2011 in which I still had an old phone with no such apps and he had an iPhone with google that helped us navigate the dining scene--I thought that was the coolest thing ever! And that was less than four years ago haha... Anyway, Tuesday was a long day on our feet with everything from tea tasting in Chinatown (I'm a new fan!) to the Embarcadero and oysters to drinks off Haight Street.

Wednesday morning we got some work done, I made breakfast and eventually left our little condo late morning to go on a run. Our condo was great. We only use VRBO.com for trips these days; I think the last time I stayed in a hotel was for Vineman in 2013; there's really no point to hotels anymore when you can find an apartment/condo or house with a full kitchen and everything you'd need to have a little home--at way cheaper rates than a hotel especially for what you have access to. Plus, I personally love staying in someone's home to get an authentic feel for the area; you can really soak up the character of a new place. Not to mention, as a health-conscious person (or when racing) it's great to have the comfort of your own kitchen. We (ok, I!) usually find a whole foods then cook all our breakfasts and have other healthy stuff on hand, which also saves money.

Ok back to the story. Wednesday John planned a sight-seeing run, which is how we love to roll. Get out on two feet and see it all! We try to avoid rental cars--transportation in the form of walking, running, uber'ing, and of course stair-climbing...

Lots of beauty in SF!
We set out on our run and, I won't lie, I was a wee bit hungover. A little more wine on Tuesday than what my body's used to having and it was in shock. But nothing like a good run to cure a hangover--sweat it out--right?! #yolo

I was also secretly hoping our SF trip would be it--he'd propose--and, I thought, "who knows maybe he'd ask on this run." John and I have been together for nearly four years. I'll never forget meeting him. My friend Elizabeth had just left my newly rented apartment by the beach after staying with me because we ran a 10k(her)/half-marathon(me) in the OC. John and I met the day after. I'll never forget it. It was something special, he was different. We fell in love quickly. Which, actually, was a wrench in my plan at the time--I recently achieved the ability to afford rent for my own apartment, all self-supported, by the beach and living alone--finally--for the first time ever, and I was so stoked. I was single and ready to live that life. But then John came along and my single-life dreams didn't last for more than a month haha. Totally worth it...

Fast-forward and John and I have been through so much. We took our first trip together only a month or so after we began dating; he was thrust into being a sherpa right away when he accompanied me to Oregon for the Rev 3 Portland half. He exceeded my expectations as a sherpa, that's for sure. I was sold ;) That year he also went out of his way to be at Ironman Canada to sherpa for me.... Then I went to his 25-hour sports car race in NorCal.... and countless memories, fun times and adventures have followed....

So in SF, we end up trekking 7-plus miles around town, ending at Golden Gate Park at the Conservatory of Flowers, which he knew I'd love. It's like the Botanical Gardens in DC, and he knows I'm a big fan of that.

View from the top of Twin Peaks, we scored an epic, clear SF day!

The first time I saw the Golden Gat Bridge in person was 2012 during the SF Half Marathon, in fog, with John :)


No shortage of steep climbs in SF! I think we hit them all. 
We strolled through the conservatory, and I felt much better and refreshed. It was really nice to simply be enjoying a casual day, no rush, with the one I love. We were walking through the park and making plans for the rest of the day as we made our way back to the condo. Then, he put his arm around me, and said, "So, I've been thinking...."

The Conservatory!

That was it. I don't know how many minutes passed nor do I remember exactly the words that were said. The next thing I knew he had veered us off onto the grass and was on one knee asking me the question. Without hesitation, I said "Absolutely."
Best run of my life, ending with a proposal :) #stringbling

Those moments--the best ever. I will never forget.

I was thinking, "Thank goodness our phones didn't die so we could capture these moments, this day, this spot!"
First toast! Don't worry, my friends, beer + wine followed ;)
Several days later I turned 30. John later said he wanted to make sure to propose before my 30th, a good decision in my opinion. It also made for extra fun at Oceanside 70.3 in which we celebrated with our triathlon "family." It's clear I've been taking John around the races for a long time now with the outpouring we received from everyone.

Hanging at Oceanside. In fact, speaking of surprises, this stud - MBK - and others did something
so special on a recent TriNews podcast, they all recorded happy-birthday wishes and
those were sprinkled into the show, a total surprise to me! Thanks Thorsten :)

So that's it! That's the news! I started the week a girl in her 20s, and ended it 30s and engaged. I couldn't be more excited for this new chapter in life.
Warning: PDA!



Although, planning a wedding?! Yowza. Unlke most gals, this is not something I've dreamt of my whole life. However, with John I think we'll have fun. Plus, Thankfully I have a wonderful network of family and friends (many of whom are athletic and similar to me) who've been giving amazing tips so far, including my "virtual friend" M, who recommended this book on a "priceless" wedding (bought!), and my coached athlete Amy, who sent me this article on why a wedding under 10k is a good sign for a healthy marriage <--- agree="" and="" certainly="" p="" that="" we="" with="">

If the celebrations of the past couple weeks are any indication of what's ahead and what our wedding will be like, we are certainly in for a damn good time! #LagunaBeach #BlueWaterMusicFestival