Monday, October 24, 2011

RR: Sprint Triathlon? Sure, Why Not...

As a coach, I'm normally not an advocate of last-minute races being added to the schedule. I like to have rhyme and reason to a race schedule, and time to work toward a race or at least prepare, whether it's an A or C race. Being random isn't a good plan. But, there are asterisks to that. I think there are cases where it's OK to be sporadic and do something last-minute for fun and within reason....

On Friday night I found out I'd be doing a local sprint triathlon Sunday morning. I haven't raced in about two months, nor have I really been doing what you'd call specific "triathlon training." But what the heck?! I'm still in shape and a sprint would just be a fun, hard workout in an environment that I love being in... And, yes, I've still been riding my bike (mostly slowly), running a decent amount and strength training a lot. But swimming, I have not been doing. Maybe three swims since Canada. (Giving the shoulder some time to rest and heal.) That all said, I would never jump into a big race like a half-Ironman or more given where I'm at, nor would I advise that for someone, but I knew a sprint was safe and OK in the condition I'm in.

I can't forget to mention the other two big attractions for doing this race:

It was going to be the first triathlon for an athlete I coach and I couldn't miss that. Heck, I had been planning to be at the race long before I knew I was participating! She and I practicing ocean swimming last week in Laguna....
Two: My boyfriend was doing it too so we'd get to race each other--I mean "race together"--for the first time :)


Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5 a.m. At that moment racing didn't seem like such a good idea, staying in bed did, haha. But once we got going I was amped, and rightly so: The Kring and Chung Newport Beach Sprint Triathlon has been going on for 34 years and is a very well-run race on a fun little course. The race organizers and volunteers are amazing, lots of goodies pre/during/post race, and of course some fabulous prizes! I did it back in 2009 and got 1st AG, I think (I just remember the gift certificate I got for El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant - score!).

As we drove to the race site, I chowed down some oats and thought up my oh-so intricate race plan: GO hard and make it hurt. Don't let up until the finish line.

And we were off.....

After spending the better part of the morning with my athlete getting her all squared away, my wave went off in the foggy, chilly weather at just after 7 a.m. The water was warm but tasted like ass. It was nasty, not as nasty as Mission Bay, but still gag-worthy. I felt pretty decent on the swim but had no clue what pace I was potentially holding, swimming itself felt foreign and like I had lots of kinks to work out. All I knew was my HR was high--due to inefficiency and lack of training on top of still trying to "go fast." It was a 1/2 mile and I got out at 15:xx and change, at which point I tripped when standing up--smooth! Not all that concerned with the swim because what can you expect when you don't do a sport for two months and then try to race? It's just too bad they had to add the run back to transition to our swim time, making us all look even slower ;) On a positive note, the shoulder felt fine, yippee!

Nothing special except I messed up my watch. Funny that I can get the Garmin to run smoothly for a whole Ironman, but I mess it up in a sprint.


In addition too fog, it was misting out so I remained soaked the entire race; the drowned rat look was a very good look for me, let me tell ya! ;) The roads were kind of slippery, but thankfully the course wasn't too technical or sketchy so you could still hammer. It was mostly all flat along Newport Back Bay with one steep hill that you have to do twice (two-loop course).
I saw the BF and my athlete, and the both looked smokin' fast so that made me happy.

I was having derailleur/chain issues and decided to stay in the big ring up the steep hill out of fear of something messing up from switching between small and big ring. Yup, that pretty much fried my legs, but I went without any mechanicals so I was content (like I said, offseason, so not doing much bike maintenance thus derailleur/chain issues that weren't fully fixed pre race lol).

Other than that, I spent most the ride passing people, especially on the second loop, and reminiscing on the olden days.... Flashback: I first started riding Back Bay when I was 3 or 4 and on the back of my dad's bike, we'd ride that trail weekend mornings to go pick up donuts. Great memory but WOW, times have changed. I don't think my dad or I have had a donut in years, and now I was racing on that road like a madwoman haha.

Finished the bike in 43 something, about a 21 mph average. I know me, and I should have been faster, but whatever.

All I gotta say is I need to work on bike dismounts for racing from here on out. At least my hideous dismount is accompanied by a smile :)

I've been doing some run intervals with my strength workouts at the gym and I'm training for that Xterra trail race, and based off that I knew I could pull off a sub-7 pace for 3 miles. believe!

When I started the run I noticed I was surrounded by only men. Hm, doing alright I guess. A couple spectators then gave my splits on how far back I was from the lead women, and how many were in front--to my surprise, only three were in front at the beginning. At one point I ran my way to second, but then got passed by the eventual winner and sat in third.

I felt really good on the run. By that, I mean it hurt, but 6:40-7:00 pace was doable. I had a couple people yell to me that my form looked good, which must have been in stark contrast with the drowned rat look I still had going on in the wet weather. Then this older guy said the funniest thing as I passed him: "Ya know, in my day, it'd be inappropriate for a young girl like you to pass an elder like me...." or something like that. I said "you're funny" and kept running.

Those 3 miles went by fast... I ended with a little sprint down the finishline, and my run time was just over 20 minutes, a 6:45 average pace. Nice.

I never caught my BF, which I had contemplated trying to do being that he started two waves before me, but I was close! I still beat him overall though hehe... granted he did swim and bike slightly faster than me. Even though my overall time was faster, I have to say this guy is a total stud: It was only his third triathlon ever (first was in July this year), and he finished top-10 AG for the first time! He'll be an animal in no time!

Annnnd: My athlete who was doing her first tri also finished in style, going faster than the predicted goal time and earning 7th in 35-39 AG! Can't beat top 10 for a triathlon debut! Best part, she can't wait to do another one!!! Happy coach :)

I managed to pull off 1st AG, which was a pleasant surprise. I thought I had secured 3rd overall female, but turns out there were a couple older women in the wave after me who beat me by about a minute when all was said and done. Oops! Never forget about the waves behind you, not to mention the superb ability of the veteran women of the sport! Yowza! That said, it was still fun during my run when I thought I was "racing" for the overall podium :)

Podium.... who's the bum in the beanie?! I mentioned this race has good prizes... this year another gift certificate for mexican, TYR gear and a flat of bottles of a new, healthy drink!

Oh, and I got another gift certificate to the same Mexican restaurant for earning 1st AG. Guess what I did last night.... Margs and Mexi!

We might be headed to Catalina in a couple weeks for another round of hurt! ;)

PS - BIG thanks to John's sisters for coming out to the race and taking pics!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spaghetti Squash & Shrimp Saute

As offseason goes, we normally tend to indulge in all those things that, for the most part, we stayed away from during intense training. I know I've loosened up with my diet, sleep habits, social calendar... and the list goes on. It's healthy to let loose a little and enjoy new things. Heck, I've even replaced most my swimming with surfing!

Anyways, while it's good to indulge, it's still important to keep up with healthy, wholesome eating. So today I wanted to share a yummy dinner recipe that won't leave you feeling weighed down after you eat it, and is a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbs. The recipe is based off a pasta dish I found on Eating Well. I made it into a gluten-free, grain-free dish that is boyfriend approved (and he's a tough critic, being that he isn't gluten free and eats everything under the sun lol. He really seems to like my healthy cooking though, yay).

Spaghetti Squash & Shrimp Saute

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 12 ounces or one frozen bag of shrimp
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup mushroom soup (I sort of eyeballed this to be honest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional) -- we like spicy!!
  • extra-virgin olive oil / spray evoo

Preheat over to 350. Cut spaghetti squash in half and spoon out the seeds. Place each half, flesh down, on a baking sheet and fill with a layer of water. Put in oven for about 60 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork through it (will depend on size of squash, oven, etc).

In a large skillet, saute shrimp, bell pepper and peas with EVOO and 1/2 the little lemon juice. For asparagus, I quickly steamed mine before adding it to the skillet with the other stuff, but you can add it in with the veggies if you want it more crispy.

In a separate bowl, mix yogurt, mushroom soup, rest of the lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and any other seasonings you'd like. Add the yogurt mix to the shrimp/veggie mix, and mix well. ***Note on greek yogurt: the amount you use will vary depending on how much spaghetti squash you have and on how thick you want your cream sauce.

Last but not least, when spaghetti squash is ready, remove flesh with a fork and add most the squash to the skillet with all the shrimp, veggies, etc. You might have extra spaghetti squash, again, it just depends how you want to ratio your ingredients.

Let everything simmer together for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sorry I didn't get more pics of the cooking process! Plus, I think the flash on my camera made it look less creamy than it really was. Weird.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Decisions That Matter

I've gone to Kona for the Ironman World Championships the last two years to do media work, and I've loved it. This year, I'm not there. I'd by lying if I said I weren't jealous of all the tweets, pictures and articles coming out of Kona, but I've known this was going to be the case for months....

I had to make a choice this year.

One of my best friends from high school and college chose her wedding date to be October 8, 2011. The second weekend of October....oh man....doesn't she know that's like a holiday weekend?! Haha jk. Not only was I invited to the wedding, but she asked me to be a bridesmaid. An honor I don't take lightly.

When I got this news I was torn. Going to Kona for Ironman is a big deal for me on a lot of levels; I don't just see it as a fun vacation in paradise (although it is a blast out there). The networking, the media experience, learning about the race first-hand rather than what NBC tells me, fostering relationships, just being in that environment 24/7 for a week.... it's all an important part of my career and lifestyle, and in the past two years I wouldn't have traded those two weeks in Kona for anything; I've learned more than I can describe. So, I wanted that trend to continue annually...

But there was a choice to be made.

My friend will only be getting married once, and although I'm not the world's biggest fan of weddings nor the girly girl stuff that goes along with being a bridesmaid, I knew I wanted to be there for her big day. Even if that meant giving up Kona.

I'm lucky enough to have some friends in my life who are wonderful, unconditionally loving people; who've been there through thick and thin; and who I know will still be around until we're old and gray.... this particular friend is one of those people, and we share a mutual love and respect for each other. That's something I take seriously, as I know a true friend like her doesn't come along every day...

Case in point: when I told her the issue of conflicting dates she even said it was totally OK with her if I went to Kona instead because she knows how much it means to me and my career. That's a true friend.

But I chose her. Kona will always be there year after year, yet this wedding will only happen once. It's something I can't miss.

So that's why you won't see me running around Dig Me Beach, Ali'i Drive, The Queen K, etc., this year.... and I'm content with that decision!

Now, that said, I will most likely be the only girl at the wedding checking her iPhone religiously to get Ironman updates on Saturday (except, I might be on the alter when some gnarly racing is going down on Ali'i!!! Oh maaaan!!!!). Hopefully the sports-obsessed peeps at the wedding will understand ;)

PS - Wish me luck walking in even higher high heels than I wore at the last wedding I attended in Sept....yikes!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ready to Race Again

As I've mentioned, after IMC I spent a full month doing no real endurance training. Any swim, bike or run was purely for enjoyment and it usually was spent with someone else. It was refreshing to have a month of unstructured, laid-back SBRs. That said, with less SBR and with IMC fatigue fading, I started hitting strength training hard again and am loving it (more an that in another blog soon).

But I won't lie, I've missed having an endurance race on the calendar. I've been planning potential races for 2012, and I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do (read on), but I also am not done with 2011. So... I signed up for something! The Xterra Crystal Cove 17k Trail Race, which is probably in my top-3 of all-time favorite races! So excited! However, I hadn't run the trail in a loooong time, so I needed that butt-kicking wake-up call to see what I got myself into. Sunday I ventured out, and, I swear, I think the trail (hills in particular) got more difficult, lol. I definitely had to walk parts of some of the hills. I was expecting my time to be 10-20 min slower than my fastest time ever, but turns out I guess I still have some IMC training in my legs as well as a strong body tough enough to handle that terrain, as I ran a 1:28 and change for the full loop, about 4 minutes off my PR there.

I might do some more run-only races this year (1 or 2), and maybe a short tri if I get the bug, but, really, I'll be OK if IMC ends up being the last tri I do for '11.... because in 2012, the tentative plan is to do several 70.3s, the first two being ones I've wanted to do the last few years but haven't been able to due to school obligations/mayhem....

Wildflower Long Course

Honu 70.3

Vineman 70.3

...and maybe one more late-season 70.3, as well as a handful of shorter, local, "fun" races throughout the year.

Yup, no full Ironmans on that list! After a lot of thinking and debating, and some major self-introspection, I decided that it's more important for me to focus on my career/business next year rather than train for another IM. Being that my business is in the health & fitness industry, that means there's a lot of activity involved, and that in itself is tiring. I can manage 70.3 training into my schedule easily, but I know IM training is on another level and takes a toll. It's about prioritizing, and for 2012, my priorities lie in my career as a triathlon coach and personal trainer/strength and conditioning specialist (as well as writer, podcaster, etc). I'm willing to invest more time into that than into my own personal endeavors in SBR.

It's also all about patience. I'm only 26, I don't see any rush to be doing full IMs every year, especially if I plan on being in this sport as long as possible. Ironmans will always be there, and you better believe I plan on doing plenty more in my life, but I don't want to run myself into the ground before I'm 30 by trying to do it all. I have long-term goals, and those require patience. It's also important, in my opinion, to have the ability to live in the moment each day and not always be focused on something outlying.

So that's the plan, so far! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go stretch and foam roll... this morning's strength sesh and trail run did me in, yikes!