Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Week at the Races

We got back earlier than expected. As you can guess, then, that's not really a good sign. I'll get to that soon. The lead up to the race was going well, perfectly even. John's team was getting everything done on time and the energy was high. I was co-chef and having a great time in that role (there was a lot of me saying to the crew early morning, "wakey wakey eggs and bac-ey").

My morning view of the track from the RV.
I, thankfully, was also on a pseudo vacation. Not quite Hawaii though ;) I was very ahead with work before leaving in anticipation of being cut off from service. Internet didn't work after the first day, and phone was alright but not great. It's all good - I enjoyed the idea of shutting it all off for a few days. It was the first time in a long time I pretty much just stopped checking email, twitter, fb, instagram, etc., religiously. Didn't even miss it.

So what else is there to do in downtime? Run. (No bike cuz I forgot my shoes/helmet the morning we left, F.) After going to this race last year too, I knew the area, 80 miles north of Sacramento, has become one of my favorite places to run for the nothingness it offers. You just hit the highway and go - engulfed in rolling hills, some farms, tree orchards, and the occasional puddle (we lucked out on missing a giant storm the weekend prior). No traffic lights, and rarely any cars. I ran three days in a row, and had no goals or expectations for each run, but they all went great. I'm still in offseason, so you can argue that I should have sat on my arse and rested up there, but I could not pass up those sessions. In fact, I think those runs served to bring back some fresh motivation to start training again!

Lucho mentioned he checked out the satellite view of where I was; if you're curious, see that red dot?

I love where I live, but I am jealous of all you folks out there who live in remote areas. Many times it was so desolate that is was safe enough to run in the middle of the lane to avoid the camber of the road. And the most life I saw each time I ran consisted of cows. Me being the weirdo I am, enjoyed a good "mooing" conversation with the herds, and I even got them to "talk" back - hell, I even got them to run with me! Ah, the simple things.
Gorgeous road and scenery for running... all to myself.

And at sunset... #nofilter
Oh yea, and the shower situation. The first full day there, Thursday, the track was still rather empty so I was treated to a scorching hot shower post-run. Mmmm. I was optimistic that they got a better water heater this time. Not the case. On Friday, more teams arrived so I planned my shower time to avoid "rush hour" in hopes of getting hot water. No such luck. It was a cold one (not quite freezing though) and the shower head was f-ed up so, let's just say, it was a sorry sight seeing me shoved into a corner trying to get bits of water. That said, by Saturday I did not shower, but rather used baby wipes and cottonelles. (By Sunday, I had the resources and time to venture into town and borrow a crew member's hotel shower.)

Enough about me. The race. Refresher: 25 hours of driving a freakin car around a 2.8ish mile track in the hills! No light feat!

A peek of the track.
John preparing.
"I wanna go fast!" - a wise man

The story: The guys start at 11 a.m. Saturday after a big pre-race ceremony on the track (see left). Weather is ideal. Things are going smoothly until we had a couple hiccups during a yellow flag. We get some penalties that set us back in the rankings. But then John gets in the car and has the drive of a lifetime going from 12th or so back up to 3rd. He was in the car for four-ish hours, getting back out around 8pm ish? I have a hot plate of food waiting for him :) Fast forward to 11 something, and it's cold outside. Some guys are on rest breaks gearing up for a long all-nighter ahead. I am sitting on a chair bundled up John's brother's wife watching them prep for a pit stop and driver change. The car pulls up and something's clearly wrong. Next thing you know they're rolling the car into the paddock. Not good. Next they're jacking it up and crew guys are scrambling to get under the car to diagnose. Then, within seconds, I hear, "It's over. We're done." It didn't seem real to hear that. But then they start describing the giant hole in the engine and I see the oil everywhere.... and I see John's face. I think: "Oh shit, this is no joke. We are done." There's shock, but the diagnosis is clear. Nothing can be done.
I think this was the "last pit stop" situation; still hope
at this point.

Just like in triathlon, there are some things you just can't control in a race.

Then I was thinking, "This will be a good lesson in sports psych" in that, this is where people show their true colors. You can either whine and be pissy or stand with your head high, accept it and move on graciously. John's team chose the latter.

They were the defending champions. They're an even stronger team than last year and did everything right (minus getting a new engine) to defend their title this year. But shit happens.

Instead of making the guys more coffee that night, we cracked some beers and had some laughs. Still stayed up waaay to late. I'll be honest, that night and into the morning I found myself feeling more upset than I thought I'd ever be about not getting to see them finish. I was really, really sad! It hurts more when you're still engulfed in the race. Although, by morning there were clearly a lot fewer cars out there. Many teams "died" over the night. It's a brutal race!

Sunday was another long day in the car (extra long it seemed after what had just gone down)...

Personally, now, I'm ready to get back to work!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Time to Race!

After my last post on offseason, you're probably thinking WTF with the title of this blog! Don't worry, my offseason is still in full swing and it is not I who is racing this weekend. In fact, I get to enjoy more of a "vacation" weekend for the next several days.

It's the beginning of December and that means one thing: The 25 Hours of Thunderhill. If you recall, John is a race car driver (yea, triathlon is his second hobby - talk about time management), and he and his bro own/operate a race team in which they're also both the main drivers. This weekend is their A race: a 25 hour car race around a course that's just shy of 3 miles in length, full of rolling hills and lots of fun. (There are two other guys who will be driving with them and their shifts will be anywhere from 2-4hrs I believe.)

I went to the race last year, but just for the weekend. This year I'm leaving earlier with the whole crew thanks to a work schedule I was able to tweak. 

It's a very unique experience to witness a race like this, even as someone who comes from a racing family. It's a special environment...

The race track is located in the middle of nowhere just outside of Chico in an area with lots of vacant rolling hills. This time of year it's cold, as you can imagine. Like real cold, not SoCal cold. The cell service is sketchy, and internet is pretty much non-existent. For a phone/computer addict like me, this scares me, but it's also quite refreshing. It's all good though because I'll have my hands tied anyways, as I get to play co-team chef with John's sister. The team is quite large (at least 10 I think?) and it's a job cookin for them all! Did it last year. The highlight is not doing dishes in a giant camping-style sink in 30-something degree weather with hands so cold you can't feel them.

Speaking of cold, we're sleeping in an RV on the track and there's one place to shower in this cold, concrete building and getting a hot shower is not likely. For me, that = I'll really be roughin it (or sucking it up and taking an icy one). Brrrr. Good practice in toughening up for the cold triathlon swims I'll face next year? (

Besides cooking, I won't lie: I will be doing a few workouts. I remember last year having some of the most memorable runs ever out on the open roads and trails in the area. So if I do get in some sessions it will be for the pure enjoyment of it! John said we can even run on the track one night before the race commences. Fun!

Then as of Saturday afternoon it's all business. That's when the race starts - and then they don't finish until, you guessed it, 25 hours later on Sunday afternoon! It's a trip to just be used to the sound of cars racing around, but it's a bigger trip when they all finally stop and it's silent.

Last year John's team won their class in true championship style.... they're ready to defend!

Oh shit, 5 am - time to hit the road!

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Execute a Successful Offseaon

So I did the Turkey Trot (10k + 5k) on Thanksgiving morning, and while I had some PR action, it was not a great performance for me. I sort of saw it coming and it's no biggie. In the past few weeks, and especially in this last race, the signs have been surfacing that it's time for a true break from any kind of training and racing for a bit. It's just that time for a transition - a healthy part of the progression to prevent anything bad from happening...

I guess you can say I've been in somewhat of an "offseason/general phase" ever since Steelhead ended, but I've still been doing structured swim-bike-run training (addressing weaknesses, some shorter speed/power work, etc) and some racing. For example, when I got back from Kona I was still pumped up to do the double sprint triathlon challenge, and even after that I was excited to be doing some decent training. I knew my time for a TRUE offseason break was coming - a "transition" as Joe Friel calls it - but why force it if you're still feeling great and the body is responding?

Eventually I started to see a shift - mentally and physically - that was subtle at first. Then, even after some rest in AZ, the Turkey Trot happened, verifying that, indeed, that would be my exit to the 2012 season. I know I'm fit, but not void of needing rest.

This is where the ART of training/coaching comes into play. Lucho and I never set specific dates in which I would take a definitive break before 2013 gets rolling  We had an idea of when we wanted it, but would just let come naturally. And now, it's here. We won't waste time debating its need - the break needs to be done now before the 2013 season really creeps up on us and I run out of time. (Oceanside isn't that far away, folks!) Trust me, I'm excited as can be for '13 and I want to hit the year feeling fresh and ready!

How long will I take off from structured training? Well, read #6 below.

So as I embark on a period of rest, I wanted to share SIX things to consider in executing an awesome offseason (aka transition) that will have you fresh and re-energized for the next season:

Six Guidelines for a Successful Offseason

First: Acceptance. It's easy to start an offseason after a huge race (Ironman, etc). But what about cases like mine where there was no definitive end? Be proactive by knowing and understanding the signs that it's time to chill and embrace the break. Usually the signs are more mental to begin with (not excited to train, forcing it, moody, etc) and then come the physical signs (crappy sessions, falling flat, fatigue you can't shake). So you see the signs. That's one thing. Accepting them is another. Thus, the first step to a successful offseason break is acceptance. Don't "pretend" to take an offseason. That's silly. Granted - as athletes we can be stubborn with our training and letting got of it. You try to push through... and it's blah. But you keep going... you're faking it... and thus risking injury, burnout, fatigue, failure.... Once you're accepted it's time, realize that offseason does NOT have to be a bad thing! An offseason break is what makes great athletes. Ask any pro and/or coach, and most (the successful ones) will agree.

Second: Goal setting. It's all about goals no matter where you're at in a season. For offseason there are mental and physical goals to adhere to for success. Mentally, the key to a successful offseason is letting go of that feeling that you have to train. There should be no plans or expectations. Nothing should feel forced. Everything should be for enjoyment. Physically, the key to a successful offseason is to unload fatigue, let go of peak fitness, and simply do what sounds fun physically, even if that means nothing for a while. Meanwhile, if you have any other goals to achieve in this period make them known!

Third: "Planning". What do you do in an offseason? The key is to not plan it out. Overall it should be a combo of rest and doing unstructured exercise for fun. Keep in mind: Offseason doesn't mean do nothing! Not at all! Like I said above, be physical *but* only for the pure enjoyment of the act. If you're by the beach then surf, if you're in the mountains ski, for example. Whatever gets you excited. I'm personally looking forward to a couple weeks of doing fun activities when I feel like it - i.e. surfing, strength training circuits, hiking/jogging, maybe a little MTB'ing, yoga, etc. I'm equally looking forward to doing nothing when I feel like it. Also, you're allowed to still do your sport(s). If I wake up feeling ready for a great run, I'll go for it. Same with bike/run.

Fourth: Be healthy. Your body is still your temple. Just because you're not married to a training plan and races, that doesn't mean you can go off the deep end by eating boxes of donuts and downing cocktails. You can, of course, loosen the reigns, but it's still a time to be healthy and treat the body well. There's a good chance most of our offseasons happen around the holidays. So enjoy some treats and some late nights. Although, I wouldn't recommend being a bump on a log and gaining 20lbs from eating crap food. Everything in moderation.

Fifth. Reflect and reset. The offseason is a good time to reflect on your training and race performances from the year and point out the goods, the bads and everything between. What did you learn? Did you reach your goals? You can use all that info to help guide your goals for the next season. As you do this, you're also accepting that you'll lose some of that fitness. Don't be afraid to "reset" and let go of it. The good news is that your body isn't going to totally forget what you've done and you won't have to start from square one. Every year is a foundation for the next.

Sixth: Resuming. When do you know offseason is over? The offseason break of "no structure" and "do what you want" has no specific time limits. It can be 1-2 weeks, it can be a month or more! Joe Friel says in his book that 2-6 weeks is a good average time to consider. But really, like with nutrition, this is about learning to listen to your body to find out what works. When you start waking up every day ready to train and you're feeling fresh, then go for it again. You will know. Again, the key is to not force it! As for me, I'm guessing about 2 weeks is all I'll need before I'm ready to get going again. But I'm not setting anything in stone. I could need longer. We will see when I'm ready to give Lucho permission to start posting workouts again.


Last word: Don't think that an offseason break means you've failed and are unfit. The smartest, healthiest and fittest athletes all take a definitive break. It's like training - you have to go easy on easy days in order to go hard on hard days. Well, you have to take an offseason if you expect to have a decent next season! Do it for your mind and body.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IMAZ From the Sidelines

Where do I begin? So much to share from the past weekend. You probably already saw a lot from me via Twitter and FB - the #IMAZ hash tag was in overdrive! It's been fun watching Ironmans lately and getting to run around and do whatever I want rather than taper... and rest... and eat plain food... and get in cold water before sunrise, but, in all honesty, I am ready to do one again myself... just gotta be patient!
Sunset on IMAZ race day from the bridge. 

Sherpa Coach

Giving Ray a few seconds of encouragement as he hammers
the third loop of the run (finished with negative splits!).
Speaking of me racing, I think a few people thought I was actually racing IMAZ after mentioning on social media that I'd be taking a trip out there. Nope! No IM until Tahoe '13 for me. This trip was pretty much all about my athlete, Ray, who was doing his first-ever Ironman. Ray was one of my first client's ever 3+ years ago, so being there for his IM debut was a no brainer. We all traveled together (Ray's lovely girlfriend came along too), and it was a great time. How'd he do? Let's just say that he smashed it! My fast goal time for him was a 12:30 - realistic for the athlete he is, but one in which he'd have to dig deep and really race smart to achieve it. His real time? 12:27 (including about ~5 min of random delays). Not only did he race to his potential, he was clearly having a blast the whole day. There's something to be said for seeing your athlete over the course of an Ironman rather than tracking them online. Splits are great to have, but seeing the athlete's face and body language gives you the real race report. Ray was on Cloud-freakin-9 but also looking very focused and driven from the time I saw him exit the swim to the finish line, and everything in between. He even made time to stop and give his GF a few big hugs & kisses over the day (next time we may have to say NO to doing that so he can go faster haha).

Athlete & Coach at the finish. Happy is an understatement.
On Saturday, Ray and I spent two or so hours, maybe more, getting everything ready for him and I literally provided a written step-by-step guide for what he needed to do with all his bags, nutrition, etc., from that moment on. We laid out everything he had and needed, and also went through the motions of what he'd need to do for check in, race day with nutrition, and more, like his a breakfast plan (I nixed his pre-packaged muffins, he tried to sneak those by me - nope!). In addition to all the time we've spent talking about IMAZ in recent weeks (months, actually), as well as the specific prep sessions we've done, on Saturday we also went over race strategy in detail, so there would be no question marks for him going into it on Sunday. Just execute. Which he did. Perfectly.

I think - no - I know, one of the keys to Ray's success on Sunday was his nutrition, which consisted of Skratch Labs Drink Mix, Honey Stinger Waffles, a few "emergency" PowerBar chomps if he needed, water ad libitum more secret ingredient that's deserving of its own post, so I'll save it for next time. Curious?!?! heehee

AZ Fun

TRIBE bathroom decor.
Anyways, in addition to Ray, I guess you could say I was also out in AZ for a little business and pleasure too. John and I were lucky enough to be the guests of Elizabeth and Tomas in their brand-new apartment - they literally just moved in last week! It was such a nice place, and they were excellent hosts. I finally got to meet the famous Cody too, what an amazing dog.

Of course networking with the usual Ironman suspects was also a priority, and we had some good times at the TRIBE Slowtwitch Party on Friday (you can see pics on Slowtwich gallery; there's one of the crowd in which you can spot me in a bicycle-clad shirt chatting with Charisa and Ian). That was a fun time, with a solid turnout, some good beers and nothing too crazy because it was still afternoon and light outside. We followed that up by hitting up the new TriSports shop where Leanda Cave gave a chat, and we mingled some more. Did I mention another open bar? Oh man...
There are a couple fun breweries in the Tempe area.
I don't drink much beer, but it is fun to try different kinds!
From there it was the Pre-Race Athlete Dinner with Ray and his crew, as well as hundreds of others. I was impressed with the good content they provided onstage. However, it was cold and I wasn't a fan of the pasta buffet with iceberg lettuce salad - not surprising I didn't like that, right? I did run into a couple Endurance Planet fans by the port-o-potties and we chatted about Extreme Endurance and whatnot... fun times!

Efrain is earning a little fame these days as the guy who races in
Crocs, on the bike & run! (He made special bike shoes.)
Apparently Chrissie Wellington even got down
on hands & knees and kissed his shoes in Kona one time.
Saturday was a lot more mellow schedule-wise than Friday, and John and I got in a nice swim/bike (McDowell pool rocks - I'm jealous ER!) before race prep with Ray as mentioned. Then again later we hung out with Ray and his team, the Fil-AM Tri Team, that afternoon - their team is starting to have a huge presence at races! What a fun bunch; very unique stories on their journey to IM, and some unique approaches to the race (see pic to left). Later that night Elizabeth and Tomas joined us for a fun "I'm not racing" pre-race dinner at OHSO Brewery. We all went to bed too late given the alarms were set for pre-5am. But come Sunday it was go time... It's actually never really that hard for me to get going on a race morning no matter how little sleep is in me. Adrenaline is a beautiful thing... It's the day after that always blows.
Traditional Filipino fare cooked up for some pre-race "comfort food."

Race Day / 11-Miler

With all the pics I've seen of this sight over the years, I was
trying to make a mass swim start look unique ;)
No I did not train on race day. (The weekend was a solid recovery period for me so nothing big at all!) That said, I did this crazy thing on Sunday that I've always wanted to do - wear my Garmin over the course of an Ironman to track how many miles I walk/run just in spectating alone. At IMAZ, being it's such a spectator-friendly course, there are a lot of places you can be, and that means a lot of running around. So, the grand total for me was just over 11 miles by foot from start to finish (I was there from roughly 6am to 10pm-ish). Crazy!

Spectating was a nonstop blast because so many people I know/know of were racing and/or spectating/working/etc at the race - it's like a mini Kona in a way, warm weather and all!

The pro race was definitely an interest of mine, of course, with the stacked field it was (is any Ironman in the US not stacked any more?). I always am curious to see how the pros go so late in the year after having done so many other races. It did not disappoint! I wanted to see it all, so let's just say we were doing a lot of math over the day to be in the right spots at the right times - to see Ray, the male/female pros, other friends, etc... I don't think I really even missed anything significant, whew. I even got to catch up with my buddy, Rachel Stanley, of 110% Play Harder compression. Rachel is a rad chick, and I'm glad she's working for such a legit compression brand. I love their stuff, and you'll likely be hearing me talk about it more in the future...

The swim was pretty interesting to watch. The pro men formed two packs side by side, which was something odd to see. And the female pros were then wondering which path they should follow, as I was later told by Linsey Corbin. The separate male/female start creates for an interesting dynamic and, in particular, it affects the women's times (listen to podcast with Corbin; read on below...)

From the swim it was hopping around the bike course. One fun highlight of the day was sitting with Ian Mikelson's parents during the bike, just as the pros were coming back toward transition from loop 1. At that point Ian was in second - a surprise to us at the time because we didn't know splits - and man were his folks stoked when we saw him fly by sitting #2!!! Hugs and cheers were rampant! Also, if you don't know, Ian's mom is one of the most dedicated triathlon moms ever and she knows her shit, too, when it comes to triathlon. A good person to sit with for race info.

Another highlight was finally meeting Sonja in person. She'd tweeted a pic of a girl who she thought was me running, which it wasn't (I was actually stuffing my face with food at the time). I later ran into her and, man, she is a rad chick too! We had fun talking, and I heard more about her Kona story, which honestly half made me want to puke, but it was also very interesting (hint: a detailed port-o-potty story). Anyways, I'm a GoSonja fan even more now.

Fast forward and all the usual stuff went on, including some epic racing and surprises. The men's bike record dropped by 6 minutes by Andrew Starky (bc I don't know how to spell his name), a 26-year-old German named Nils stole the win... the women's race proved again that anything is possible - I don't think anyone was expecting Leanda to NOT be on the podium, MBK did another IM for the year and podiumed again (what is that, 10? jk)...

I made sure to catch the pro finish from the VIP area, and it sounds like quite a few of you saw me on the Ironman Live video feed. Funny stuff.

Some pics of the race...
Nils Frommhold. I really have a knack for taking
run pics of the eventual winners... kinda weird!
Linsey Corbin making up 7+ min out of T2
to run her way to the win.
I love the media crew. It's starting to feel like
we're carnies as we travel from one race to another.

When I posted that Corbin/MBK pic, I tweeted "Somewhere MattDixon is cheering his brains out...  and 1&2  @purplepatch." I actually didn't know that he was there, and then a few minutes later I ran into the guy in the VIP area where he when he was snagging a couple celebratory beers! It's always fun to see a coach like him getting to celebrate his athletes' success, especially after there have been some tough times this year (listen to podcast I did with him; click here).

Champ Corbin Podcast

The Mike Reilly interview.
Speaking of Linsey Corbin, prior to the race I had scheduled an interview with her. She was busy (and also sick) and asked if we could do the interview Monday post-race. Sure! My joke to her, via email, however, was that she wanted to wait until Monday so by that time she would have earned her podium spot. Of course, the class act she is, she was quiet on that comment of mine. Humble girl. Ferocious competitor. I was bummed to hear she was sick prior to the race, but like the champ she is, she still stole the show for the win. And we did get in our podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here. She gives a lot of great insight on her race, dealing with being sick, as well as insight on the course and more. Good chat.

Feeling Thankful

And just like that we were on the way home. I can't believe how jam-packed my time in AZ was, and how fast the trip went - and that's with practically no working out on my end. It was so much fun! As we approach Thanksgiving, it's easy to say what I'm thankful for - I am just so thankful to have an athlete like Ray and am so proud of him. He's actually had a really tough year with some hard blows, and he finished it on a high note, which is awesome. He worked hard and earned this one. I know that his girlfriend, Anne, John and I were all on a total high those final hours seeing him on track for a stellar finish. Not to mention, I'm thankful Ray had the desire to go out and celebrate after too. Quote of the night was from Anne: "I have cowbell tunnel syndrome!" hahaha.

I am also so thankful to be involved in such an amazing sport with great people, including my E&T for inviting John and I in... they were probably happy to have us go because now they can finally have some alone time for the first time in the new place ;)

Anyone know the story on this guy? Was it just random?
I am also thankful that people have the guts to do things like this, giving us all a good laugh...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Have Some Fun in Life...

I've had a personal goal the last year or so to achieve more balance among training, work and a social life - be more of a "complete person." Most of us endurance athletes are the type who try to do it all, but often we fall short in one or two areas. Training and work are a given because they both just have to get done, but social life can be tricky.

Fun times with my family at a wedding!
For me, there was a period when I got really obsessed with triathlon and being a total triathlon nerd to the point where I was neglecting my social life to some degree because I was just "too tired" and felt like I was "too busy" as it was to give out any extra energy elsewhere, like with my friends. I'm sure you've had that feeling where it's hard to imagine even going out to dinner or drinks with friends after a smashing day of training, especially when the next day is another killer day of training. So, yea, there was a time where I turned down my share of invites, but after doing that too consistently I could tell it was bothering me, at the root of my being. That's not the person I am! I have some great friends and great people in my life, and there's no reason to ignore them. You know what happens if you do? After a while they will simply stop calling and/or inviting you places, and you only have yourself to blame when that happens.

I would never say that you should slack on training/racing in order to be a social butterfly, but at the same time no amount of training is worth becoming a hermit year round. It's just no fun. I think even most pros would agree to that. Yea, there are definitely periods where you do have to tighten up, turn down invites and focus on your training/race goals, but there's no reason for it to be that way 365 days a year. Just go to Kona, and you'll see that first hand after the race!

Personally I've really put all this balance stuff into practice ever since last fall-ish (like when I chose a friend's wedding over Kona). And ya know what? It's a lot easier than I expected to "do it all!" I don't feel that I've screwed up my important training or race performances because I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party, went out to dinners for birthdays, visited a brewery with friends, hosted parties at my apartment, attended happy hours, etc... In fact, I feel like all that has enhanced my love for training and racing! It makes you realize how special it is to be involved in sport - especially when friends want to know all about what you do. More so, you get a sense of balance and satisfaction when you have the love/friendship of others - it's something no amount of training can offer - and, therefore, I argue it will allow you to do better at sport!

Spending time with friends making memories is just as important and good
for the soul as training!
I had this conversation with one of my rockstar athletes this morning. A college girl who just turned 20 and had a fun birthday celebration with friends. We talked about how important it is to do fun stuff with friends (in moderation), especially this time of year when we're all sort of in offseason mode. I know, when this particular athlete gets closer to specific 70.3 World Championship training next year (she qualified in her first attempt at a 70.3), then, yes, I won't be so willing to say "go out and party," nor do I think she'll want to! But I'd never deny her, or anyone I know or coach, some good times in life. That's silly.

And take me for example: I've had quite a few fun-filled weekends recently, maybe too many haha... just ask Lucho ;) This past weekend I hosted a birthday party at my place on Friday, and another on Saturday, which was followed by dinner and drinks out on the town. The Saturday crew consisted of old high school friends - some people whom I honestly neglected at some point in the past several years. But I know they're TRUE friends because they don't care, they understand and they're still my friends to this day. They told me this weekend that they're "happy to have Tawnee back."

I mentioned that I'll be going to IMAZ already, but I'll end by saying that, yes, the main focus involves a little work and a lot of support for my longtime athlete as he executes his first Ironman.... but you better believe I'm also going out there for a good time! I love me some party time with triathletes!

Don't miss out on making memories....
...because sometimes there's just one chance to be there.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On My Radar

A lot of things going on in the triathlon/endurance sports world that are on my radar, and I want to share with you guys! So let's do this. It's an eclectic list as you'll see...

Included in this edition:
Extreme Endurance
Betty Designs
Ironman Arizona


Extreme Endurance
I first learned about Extreme Endurance on Endurance Planet. I was never one to "buy in" to supplements that could reduce the burn and help faster recovery because they either sound illegal or gimicky. EE is neither. It's safe, 100% allowed, and I do believe it makes a difference - as do many elites/pro, even two-time Xterra World Champ Lelsey Paterson who we had on the show earlier this year.

After being on EE consistently for the past year, the biggest difference I see is in recovery. I am able to get back at it faster, and go hard when I need to, when I take 6 EE a day during big training phases. It comes down to consistency and quality training; thus, better race performance - where it really matters. This year I PR'd my time at Vineman and qualified for Vegas 70.3 World Championships. Another way I knew EE worked was when I stopped taking it. At one point this year during a tough phase I stopped taking EE because I ran out. I noticed a change, and not a good one... long story short, let's just say I placed an order immediately once I put 2 and 2 together. One more thing to note: I don't want to give that impression that if you take EE "the burn" from exercise will totally disappear - just doesn't happen. But it can alleviate muscle burn by buffering acid buildup (commonly what we hear as lactic acid burn), allowing you to push harder and longer. (Side note: it's actually the hydrogen ion released from lactic acid that causes burn, but that's another issue. Doesn't change what EE does.)

The ingredients include papain (anti-inflammatory enzymes from papaya), catechins (antioxidants to fight oxidative stress), electrolytes (such as the much-needed magnesium* and potassium), minerals, and bioperine (to enhance absorption). All natural, all safe. Together this combo creates a "secret weapon" to get that little extra edge. Magnesium, in particular, can be a potent buffer to lactic acid.

Personally, I have a big 2013 season planned out with three half-Ironmans spanning from March to Sept, including 70.3 Worlds, topped off with a full Ironman (Tahoe), and you better believe EE will be in my regular routine!

***Nov. 6 Update*** As the host of Endurance Planet, we have a great relationship with the folks at EE, and I'm happy to share an exclusive discount code with you guys for some savings off your Extreme Endurance purchase. Use the code word PLANET at checkout for a 10% discount!

There's one other supplement I'll talk about in a future blog that I take in conjunction with EE. It's very different than what EE offers so the two aren't competing; rather, they complement each other greatly... stay tuned.


Betty Designs
I've know the Betty Designs mastermind, Kristin Mayer, for a few years now and I love her. So it's pretty easy to love her work too. I especially am a fan of her distinct style. You always know when you see Betty Designs out there - be it a tri kit, swimsuit, cycling outfit, etc. Endurance sports need more pizzazz in the fashion department, and Kristin stepped in to offer just that.

Personally, I recently got my hands on a rad Betty Designs one-piece swimsuit. Normally I'm all about the bikinis, being a SoCal girl, but it's getting chilly enough where I'd now like to have a one-piece in the rotation. Not only do I love the suit I got, but I love the service: I ordered the size I thought I'd need, but because Kristin knows me, she sent me the real size I needed. Of course, she was right on size, and I would have been totally wrong! Love that.

I also love that Kristin live the sport - not only a top triathlete, but she's everywhere in the industry at significant triathlon/sports gathering that's going on from Kona to California and I'm sure everywhere else. That said, you know she's going to put out a quality product that has the athlete's best interest in mind and is something she can stand by. No BS here.

So below is the new suit I just got, and I love it. Wore it today. I have a fun question for you guys: Can you tell who is who here? One is me, one is Kristin! Haha... it's so obvious to me.

Couple more examples of what she offers below (taken from Those colors and designs are just too damn cool...

And even more...

Now I just have to figure out how to get more Betty Designs stuff in my life... kinda like that Lulu habit. Ouch haha.


I'm a fan of the low-cal hydration tabs (all-day Nuun, Gu tabs, and whatnot), and recently a new form of drink hydration sans calories came on my radar: Oxylent. The folks behind Oxylent put together a great combo of vitamins and minerals in this powder that you easily add to a water bottle, you can see the label by clicking here. What stands out to me: Vitamin D3, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, L-Arginine, and CoQ10.

Take Vitamin D3, for example, many of us - athletes especially - could be deficient in D3, and/or could use more. D3 aids in skin protection, bone health, cardiovascular health, immunity, anti-inflammation and more.
Also, if you want to see why L-Arginine could be especially good for athletes, read this excellent blog. Hint: similar to the case for beet juice. (Did I mention I love Alex Hutchinson's blog?!)

Here's how I like Oxylent: If I'm travelling or away from my regular routine for a day or so, I will have Oxylent on hand to fill the gap from what I'm not getting in the things I normally take. Sometimes it's hard to pack all your supplements/vitamins wherever you're going, ya know? Plus it tastes amazingly good (better than most vitamin drinks I've tried) without any added sugar or fake stuff. it's made with stevia, natural fruit flavor and beet powder!

Lastly, a word of caution not to scare you but just to put it out there: If you're already taking other vitamins and supplements be sure to be mindful of the dosages you're taking in if you add in Oxylent.


Ironman Arizona
This may seem kind of random in this "On My Radar" list, but IMAZ totally is on my radar right now! I just finished going over a race plan with one of my athletes who'll be doing his first-ever IM in a couple weeks. This athlete is special to me (he's been around for a while) so I'm making the journey out to AZ myself to be there for him. I'll also be able to get in some business, visit friends and mix up the training scene so it's a win-win all around!

I love being in Tempe. I did my first Oly there (Soma) long before I knew what the hell I was doing. I then visited again for IMAZ in, gosh, can't remember the year. I think it was the last time they had it in April before switching to November. I also was in Tempe for Rock 'n' Roll several years back. Just a great, fun place!

I'll be staying with my lovely friend ER, and can't wait to see her and everyone else who's going to be out there - holler if you're one of them... I want to say hi!
The scene at IMAZ race morning!
Borrowed from the blog, Thanks!


*More on magnesium in another blog soon. I think this one is important to single out in terms of the scary stat of how deficient we are as a population, and why Mg especially is so important for athletes!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ahi Poke Recipe (aka I Miss Kona)

While in Kona I finally made my way over to Da Poke Shack, which they say has the best and freshest poke on the island. I can't really argue with that. It was amazing. And you can even get seaweed salad as your side. And a refreshing beer. Heaven.

So when I got home and was missing Kona and all that (to be expected), I decided to make my own ahi poke. I also wanted to share a Hawaiian-inspired meal with John. Oh, and I was also a little too tired/lazy too cook anything significant. I'd never made poke, but how hard could it be? As long as you find quality fish, have a sharp knife and a few other ingredients on hand you can have this ready in about 10 minutes! It really is that quick and easy - the most important thing is just making sure you buy high-quality ahi. We buy from Whole Foods, or very occasionally our Trader Joe's will get a nice shipment of sashimi-grade ahi. I wouldn't buy from your traditional grocery stores.

I found some recipes online and took from several of them, of course, sort of eyeballing all my ingredients based on what normal poke looks like. Within minutes we had some bomb, custom ahi poke. Here's the recipe:

Ahi Poke with Avocado

1 lb fresh sashimi grade ahi, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 avocado, diced
10-15 grape/cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 tbsp sesame oil
3-4 tbsp GF soy sauce (or tamari)
splash of rice vinegar
2-3 drops fish sauce (don't overdo this)
red pepper flakes, to taste

julienned white/sweet oinion
chopped scallions
sesame seeds

Chop up the fish, avocado and tomatoes. In a medium/large bowl, mix in sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce. Add in fish and mix well with sauce so it coats every bit of the fish. Add in avocado, tomatoes, red pepper flakes (be careful with those and how much heat it adds), and optional ingredients. Mix everything well together and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. I have to say, the avocado adds an extra creaminess that really sets this ahi poke apart from any other I've tried. I didn't see avo in any other recipe, nor was it offered in Da Poke Shack concoction.

Note: As with all the recipes I post, a lot of the ingredients can be eye-balled, and honestly my measurements provided are close enough to what I actually did (that's good enough right?). Man, I'm a terrible chef haha. Bottom line with this is that you don't want your poke to be too soupy/oily, but you also want enough sauce to coat the fish and enhance the flavor of the ahi. Most of all, go very easy on the fish sauce- it's good stuff but a drop or two is enough. And red pepper flakes? We like to bring up the heat, but use with caution. A little goes a long way.

Ahi poke is best when enjoyed with a nice sunset, and a delicious (healthy) treat after...

Ain't no Kona, but there's no place like home.
A Whole Foods special. Addicted.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Weekend, Two Triathlons, Two OA Podiums.... Oh, and One Macca

I was feeling pretty worn down after Kona, as you can imagine. But I knew I had to suck it up for a fun weekend on tap. A while back, I found out there were two local sprint triathlons taking place Oct. 20-21, and I knew I had to do both. I've never done back to back races, but given their distances I wasn't too worried about the load. However, after Kona mayhem, I was worried about my ability to simply put together a swim-bike-run at all haha. It probably didn't help that I've been busy as heck every day/night since being home from Hawaii, and going into Saturday's race I was, again, running off about 5hr sleep. One word: coffee!!!

My partner in crime for the weekend, Macca! Us waiting for swim start at
the Seal Beach Triathlon, sometime after the "stingray shuffle" song. Ha.
Thanks for picture, 623 Tries :)
Also, while in Kona, I found out my double-sprint challenge was going to become a lot more special. At the Clif after after party, I was hanging out with Macca and his agent, Scott, and they said Macca would be doing both the sprint tri's that I was doing, as well. While I did think that was random for him to do such low-key races, I also thought it was very cool. I have even more respect for Macca after these past couple weeks in which I've been able to see how he operates first-hand. Especially at the races this weekend, he was so cool to all the folks out there, taking pictures and having a blast. He told me he just loves having fun the small little "ma & pop" races, and it showed. He even declined a podium finish so others could get a chance to be on top.

As for me, I had fun too, but I didn't decline any podiums ;) I managed to eek out two overall podiums in two days. I got 2nd in Saturday's race, and 2nd elite/3rd overall in Sunday's race. In fact, in Sunday's race I PR'd the course by 5 minutes from my time last year, and did better in swim, bike and run - and that was in rainy conditions! Needless to say, I was pretty damn happy that I could dig deep and race hard. I think the biggest reason I did well was simply because I was excited to do a double sprint challenge, enjoy the experience and make myself suffer big time! I'm sure Lucho's coaching has helped too ;)

Race Day #1: Seal Beach Triathlon
So Saturday was the Seal Beach Triathlon. This was a new race, consisting of a 1/2-mile swim, 7-mile bike and 2-mile beach sand run. It was the first time this community has had a triathlon in 20+ years, and the race organizers did a great job hosting it. I actually was a guest speaker at one of their clinics earlier this month, and it was nice to be involved with everything.

Exiting swim at Seal Beach, and happy. Thanks for pic Scott Fairchild.
Note: New kits for me are in the works for 2013. No more old stuff haha.
The wave starts were based on predicted swim time, and I put myself in the fastest group for a good challenge. It was a beach entry with waves, and considering a longer-than-usual run in/out on sand included in time, I was pretty please with my swim. All those OWS are paying off. I still lost it on the swim, though, I think. One of my most memorable moments of the weekend happened during the swim start that I must mention. Right in front of me, Macca and a young dude, maybe 12-13 years old, were running into the water together, and I couldn't help but think how cool that was for both parties, and for the race organizers for making it happen!

Anyways, Onto the bike and we were warned beforehand that it was going to be a bit of a sketchy and slow course because it was an out-and-back on a narrow bike path. I was glad to be ahead in the race so I avoided some traffic, but it still got a little crazy. That said, there were lots of volunteers out there making sure things went smoothly.

With Macca at Race #1. Sleepy eyes :)
OK, it got crazy at the run - holy moly! I didn't really realize it was going to be DEEP, soft sand; I never run in that stuff so I was hurting. I went from a 7:00ish pace out of T2 to a 9:30-10:00ish pace haha! I found some strength, thankfully, and managed to keep my overall pace in the 8:00's, but it was one tough run and no joke. I was happy to be done, and that was just 2 miles haha. Thank goodness they had complimentary massages in the post-race expo - I took full advantage. Must say: Mad props to Josh Rigsby and the Seal Beach Tri race crew. Great job on a first-time event. I would totally recommend this race for beginners to veterans. Great swag and prizes given out too!!

Women's podium #1 for me.

So a podium in race #1 was pretty cool. The winner, Megan Monroy, is a stud short-course girl (just won LA Tri AG Overall), so I can't complain getting 2nd to her. Later that day I loaded up on Whole Foods, had a beer later on, and attended a private Lululemon "R+D Night" Party.

Post-race good times at Lululemon Newport Beach event.

Race Day #2: Newport Beach Triathlon
This was my third time doing this race, and I've won my AG twice. I got some wise advice to sign up elite because that person said not only do I have the ability in such a crowd, but because I'd avoid a lot of traffic on the bike in particular (a two-loop out-and-back course that can get crazy). So this was actually my first-ever elite race, and I'm glad I managed to prove worthy of being in that division with landing on the overall podium. (One AG'er beat the 1st place elite and me.)

Thinking: "Oh dang there are a lot of boys around me."

The swim start was something! There were about 40 in my wave, and only two girls, including myself. I was a little afraid to get banged up by dudes, but not really that afraid. I lined up behind the front row and just enjoyed a sweet draft for most the swim, and had a big swim PR of 12:57 for a 1/2 mile. I've never been so happy with a swim in all of my races. Also because I felt strong, confident and in control. I held a good line and was able to push it. Unfortunately, you have to run a crapload before you hit the mat to start T1 so my official time will be 15:00 (last year it was 17:00), but whatever, I know that I am finally improving!
Readyyyy.... (many more boys to the left about to work
their way in, too)
Go! Where's Macca for the draft?! Haha.

Onto the bike and it was wet and rainy with puddles and all. Thankfully there was essentially no traffic and I was all on my own for the first lap. Man, I really need to get better so I can stick with this elite stuff, it's nice ;) I finished the first lap in 21:xx, and was very surprised because last year it was close to 24:xx. My power was easily in the 190-250w range, so I knew I wasn't going overboard, and I just held the pace. Lap #2 was a little more trafficy as more people were on the course, but I manged to pass people effectively and hold pace. I did see quite a bit of drafting going on, and even yelled to one girl after watching her for 3-5min hanging on  a wheel, saying, "Hey, you might want to think about stopping that drafting." And she did. She knew she was being bad. Anyways, off the bike in 42:00 flat, with a ~21.5 mph avg and feeling like a rockstar!!!

Finishing the run. Face of pain. Note wet conditions.
Then the run. I won't lie I was feeling a little bonky and wishing I had brought a gel or something on the course. I had nada. Oh well. Only 3 miles. Dig deep. I saw Macca fairly soon in and we exchanged kind words (he's been seeing a lot of me this weekend, haha), and after that something really sad/scary happened... I saw ambulances, and then a big guy on a stretcher who looked like he was in bad condition - something happened to him on the swim. The emergency crew/police MADE ME STOP as they rolled him into the ambulance, and would not let me run by - even with ample room to do so. That made me realize the dire nature of the situation. Of course there was a part of me that was a bit upset about having to stop because I was doing so well; however, I got over that right away because the man was clearly in bad shape and needed help. I felt just awful for him. I later found out, he did pass away that morning. Not something I like to think about, but it is something that's becoming a big problem in our sport.

But back to the run. About 30 seconds or so later after being stopped, I was able to get on my way, and soon after grabbed a cup of gatorade at the one aid station, thank goodness - relief! Then one big hill to run up, turnaround, down the hill and home stretch. Finished the run in 20:02, but it was short, only about 2.85 miles, so my avg pace was about 7:00 or something. (On their results it said I avg'd 6:41 pace psshhh.)

Women's OA podium #2 for the weekend, on a roll!
I love my new Kona-special Zoot visor!
Originally, I thought I was 2nd OA, but then a speedy (and apparently well-known AG'er) knocked me to third. No prob. In fact, had this been last year, I would have totally won overall with my time of 1:18:xx! It was a major PR on the course and a major surprise that I could do that, so I was one cloud nine. Not to mention, my very good friend from high school, Marcai, did her first triathlon at this race too, and I've been helping her prepare. Good news- she killed it getting 2nd in 25-29 AG!!! Holy crap! Being there to watch her fall in love with the sport was so so so special!!! She's hooked, of course.

The Finish
So that's it! I made it through my "double sprint triathlon challenge," which involved a party of two: Macca and I. It is definitely a weekend for the memory books because who knows if that will ever happen again. Time for a brew....
Sorry, but gotta post one more with the man post-Newport.
Cheers to double sprint weekends!