Monday, April 29, 2013

San Diego Miles

Back from the land of hot dogs, IPAs and more Umeke bowls than I could count in one household. Now that was a weekend. If you want to learn how to properly work hard and play hard visit The Rouses! Good times.
Cheesy group pic! Friday evening at Green Flash Brewery. Mike, me, John, Jim Vance and Kimmie.

There were many reasons for going to SD, the primary one being to train (despite all the beer tweets/pics you may have seen from us over the weekend). There really aren't too many places near where we live in OC where you can quickly get to quality uninterrupted roads for 50... 75... 100+ miles. Don't get me wrong, we have decent riding and we have hills (thank goodness) but also lots of traffic stops and congestion, and that can kill the mojo time after time. (OC'ers: If there's some magical traffic-less route I'm missing, please fill me in.)

SD, on the other hand, has the roads for quality long miles. Not a single forced stop, good weather and hills. This past weekend we wanted to get in ~5hrs, and have the finish line be at Alpine Brewing for a post-training refreshing beverage. Starting in Alpine worked out perfectly because immediately we had access legit training grounds. It brought back memories, for sure.... When I still lived in SD, I used to ride in the general area out on Dehesa and Japtul roads, Harbison Canyon, etc; however, that was when I was content and stoked on a 20-mile ride haha. I think my ex-boyfriend had me to GWL once, and I wanted to kill him....

So we parked at the brewery and got riding, and it was just what we wanted and extra hot. Perfection. Mentally I was ready and excited for a big day in the saddle and nothing was going to break that spirit. Rousey had given us directions on where to ride and just casually mentioned that there would be some hills and, like uh, an 11-mile climb, Mt. Laguna or something; stated it like it was no big deal. Mt. Laguna sounded familiar but I didn't think much of it. Meanwhile, Rousey ran the whole time we rode, fueled on on bottle of water and a hot dog. Yup.

Long story short, the ride was a freakin beast and a blast! I had not done that much climbing since all my MTB'ing last year, and I loved it. I have a good ability to put my head down and grind up consistently. The grade on Mt. Laguna wasn't that bad, and I've done gnarlier, but combined with everything else we got in just under 8k vertical. John and I just took the hills as they came, not breaking any records, but enjoying a solid day of 70 miles. It wasn't quite the 5hrs of ride time we wanted, but 4+ with that kind of vertical was an ok compromise.
Quick stop during the grind up Mt. Laguna to enjoy a Bonk Breaker and a good view. I was sporting my new BB kit made by Hincape, and it was SO comfy and breathable in the heat.

I really do love climbing, even the nonstop grinds like Mt. Laguna. I had good practice last year when doing all that MTB, including the 9-mi TT that took just under 1:30 (yea, now that was a grade given that time/distance as you can imagine), and the 50mile-ish Saddleback Mountain race. In fact, I will take climbing over descending ANY day. I hate downhill for one reason: the fear of a bee slamming it's stinger ass into me at 40+ mph... fear of anaphylactic shock... fear of the epi pen.... I'm not gonna lie, it all terrifies me. But that happens when you've paid $2,000+ in medical bills from that exact scenario panning out before. Of course, I carry an epi pen religiously now and can avoid another 911 call most likely, but still. It sucks that I'm a scaredy cat. Thank god our decent was bee-free this time.

After the ride I had oddly great energy and was not overly trashed. It was weird. I attribute that to good nutrition especially: couple bonk breakers, skratch, banana, water, MAP... the usual. I never let myself get depleted. My diet otherwise over the weekend was hit or miss: some healthy Paleo-ish fish tacos to the other end of the spectrum of good ol' fashion pizza, more chips than I've eaten in ages (my weakness is chips) and I don't even know what else. But it was interesting to see that someone who eats as healthy as I do still did fine with gluten-filled food and drinks. Last time I had real pizza I got sick, so I consider this a success.
I love me a good flight of good beer! @ Alpine Brewing.

Tasting room, on my way to finding a bathroom where I attempted to take a sponge-bath "shower"
with sink water and paper towels in a bathroom with no light
after being on the bike for 70 miles. Yikes.

This is one weird dude. 26+ mile post-run craving? Fried pickles. That's all.
I'll admit, though, I actually had one and it was pretty dang good.

On the other hand, Kimmie made us a fabulous fresh caprese salad which was
like heaven in my mouth and guilt-free!

Sunday we arose early to gather at Ski Beach in Mission Bay for the Run to Boston, Round 2. This was to raise money for those injured in the bombings, with contributions going to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Kathy Loper was breaking down the expense of amputation, prosthesis, rehab, etc, and it was quite mind-boggling to hear the numbers.... thousands upon thousands of dollars. Just so sad. I was thankful we were in town to be able to contribute to those in need at a great event logging miles with good people.
Successful morning running for Boston!
The crew ended up getting in 900+ miles, yet we only needed 700-something to make the distance to Boston (the challenge being to run from SD to Boylston Street, as mentioned). Success! I ran 10.5 miles all with Rousey (giving me a solid ~40 miles of running for the week, rampin up!). That guy is something. He ran 26+ on Saturday's jaunt and still hung at about an 8:00 avg pace on Sunday morning for another 10+, with plenty of time at a sub-8:00 pace in there, both of us chatting the whole time. No hot dogs though, sadly.

All in all a great weekend, and I'm glad where my head is at as I start to tap into Ironman base volume. It's going to be a fun year, and I have a feeling there will be plenty more SD trips, for training or otherwise, in our near future....

Two more things:
1) Follow @IPAattheFinish on twitter. Trust me here.
2) If you ever see this food truck below, order from it. Really good stuff. 
Apparently those who like craft beer enjoy good food too! The scene at Green Flash.
Example of the good stuff. Spicy fish tacos.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Heading South for the Weekend...

I was planning on writing a blog on training and what's been going on. But frankly there's not too much to say. I've gotten in some super quality sessions, I've had some shitty sessions, and everything in between. Fairly standard.

Overall, it's been just fine and dandy. Then the past couple days hit. I've been in a funk, and things aren't jiving. I had a couple failed workouts, and have had a crabby mood. Obviously red flags to just chill. I'm trying to "reset" because there are some fun times and big miles on the horizon...

Back before O'side 70.3, John and I decided we would need a little San Diego training & craft beer'ing in our future. Been too long. So a while back we made plans with Mike Rouse (aka Rousey) to stay at their place for a weekend, which is now this weekend! We're leaving Friday afternoon and over the course of 48ish hours we plan to spend a lot of time on the bike, hit up some local breweries and enjoy some SD time with good people. Any of my San Diegan friends who want to join in the fun, let me know. We have a rough itinerary so far of what we'll be doing/where we're going. More the merrier!

Sunday morning we'll participate in Rousey's "Run to Boston" event with the crew. Who's in?! They held a run last weekend and covered more than 2,000 miles or something. They still have 711 (?) miles left to go (the idea being to run the amount of miles it is from Mission Bay to Boylston Street). Sounds like a well-worthwhile way to get in that long run!

In other news, I'm finally getting around to starting my first kombucha brew. The scoby formed and is in tact (it wasn't moldy after all). And I've actually made the time to get my act together and start the process. Fingers crossed.

I also have some product news I want to share (just some updates on things I'm loving), but that will be for next time.

I'll leave the rest to pictures this time...
Tony Kanaan sighting at the Long Beach Grand Prix. At this point,
he had fans swarming around him. Mr. popular! Unfortunately, Tony f'ed
up his hand in the race in a crash. Bummer. At least he's ok!

Saturday afternoon showing my love for sport by sacrificing a ride in nice weather
to catch the ITU San Diego men's race.

In the checkout at the grocery store and noticing one of my favorite places
made the cover of this mag. Random.

Broadening my beer horizons. Love my Sundays on the patio.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, USAT Collegiate Nationals, LeadmanTri 125

Yesterday morning I streamed Boston coverage from my computer while working and writing a blog on the fun and exciting weekend I had in Arizona watching a couple triathlons and supporting athletes. Then I took a quick break for a swim, and when I came back Boston had gone from one extreme to another. I first saw a tweet from Josh Cox mentioning the bombings, and I was half thinking it was just a mistake... but within minutes the news was pouring in and my heart sunk, tears literally filled my eyes. Why sport? Why that event? Why target something that exudes health, happiness, accomplishment and togetherness? I was in no mood to post my blog any longer. Seemed frivolous in light of everything.

Then later in the evening I noticed one tweet in particular that really stuck with me. It was by my friend Ron aka @PunkRockRunner, and he said, "Days like today make me realize that running is actually a team sport. I'm proud of this team. Sending positive thoughts to Boston."

So true. In light of this horrific tragedy, the team is proving to be strong, and there have been so many heroic stories and examples of people coming together to help one another in Boston. For the rest of us who aren't there, we're doing our best to show our support and help however we can. One of the best things you can do today is just get out there and run. Everyone is encouraging everyone to run... wear a race shirt when you do so... or just get out there and show the strength of our team!

I also decided to still post this blog right now and not later. Doing so is not a sign of ignorance to the situation, but rather a way to show that our team is strong and that we are not afraid. We still will live our lives and do the things we love.... participate in sport, share the experiences, and be strong. They won't get the best of us! No way.


So, this past weekend in Arizona. The "double triathlon" theme continued, thankfully this time as a spectator. Heck, I think I've broken some kind of record for triathlon attendance: Over the past three weekends (16 days), I made it out to five triathlons. I was in Arizona for USAT Collegiate Nationals and the LeadmanTri 125.

I mainly made the trip out to support my collegiate athlete, Lauren, who I've been working with for just over six months now. She's one of those endurance athletes who has a lot of raw, natural talent and a fierce competitive drive and who wanted a coach to guide her training and racing so she can legitimately explode into the scene, while still managing a demanding school load, and, well, college life. Collegiate Nationals was her first big race of the year, and I wanted to observe her in her element doing the swim-bike-run thang.

Lucky for me John was able to make the trip out with me (man, I am a lucky girl to have him). We got into town Friday and met up with Lauren and her family for pre-race dinner... we went to True Food Kitchen to get a quality, healthy meal. Of course who do I run into right away? Hillary Biscay who is there dining with one of her athletes. We triathletes think alike ;)

Lauren and I before her race start on Saturday.

Race day. The ladies got stuck with a late-morning start of 10:50, thus it was even hotter during their race than the guys who started at 7:30. And it was hot! The run especially was brutal -- 10k with zero shade. Lauren had a great race banking a solid Olympic-distance PR of ~9 minutes! She performed like a champ, battling an aggressive swim, a technical bike course (mega turns), and one hot run concrete with zero shade for the 10k. I couldn't have been more proud. Our next big focus for her will be Vegas, for which she already has her slot -- not surprisingly! But I know she already has her eye on Nationals for next year... she's still "young" so time is on her side :)

A short but FAST 250m swim. Some strong leaders!
Later that afternoon we watched the Collegiate Team Mixed Relays. Now this was some exciting and fast racing! Rumor on the street is that it's being looked at for a potential Olympic sport as early as Rio 2016. I would love that. The format is simple and really spectator friendly. There are teams of four; two girls and two guys. They race girl-guy-girl-guy in that order, each doing a 250m swim, 5k bike and 1.2k run. UCCS (Colorado) took the win, which was awesome to see, as the final leg for their team was Kevin McDowell, who many know by now is a stud triathlete not only for his talent in sport but for beating cancer.
The winning relay team!
Then Sunday was the LeadmanTri 125, in the exact same spot as Nationals, but a longer course: 2.5k swim, 68-mile bike, 8-mile run. I was staying with two of the participants, ER and her man Tomas. They cracked me up because neither were that invested in the race, and let's just say their training had been minimal in the lead-up. Honestly, that situation would scare me more than toeing the line knowing you've done the hard work.That said, they both killed it! Natural endurance athletes I guess :) Plus, their finishing times were about 5 minutes apart, I think that's cute.
They're like, "We should have actually trained and maybe it wouldn't
have hurt so bad..."
There were some other speedsters out racing LeadmanTri too. Not too much of a pro presence though, which was a bummer. Not really sure why? But I can speculate... However, the AG'ers were on fire, especially the girls in my 25-29 division, who were some of the top finishers and just fast overall. It was fun watching them all! I couldn't help but laugh as I sat under a bridge near Tempe Town Lake thinking, "OK, how many hours have I now spent under s bridge around here doing the exact same thing???" I love it....


Then there's today. I feel different, as do many others I'm sure. Will things be different? Who knows. But I know our team is strong, and we will undoubtedly become stronger. We will still do what we love and not be afraid. And for that I'm grateful to be involved...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's Next: Tempe, Portland... And A $10 Coupon Code!

It's time for me to lay off the racing for a few weeks as I starting building up some training miles in anticipation of that little thing called Ironman this year, 24 weeks away! Really not much time at all considering the work that needs to be done! I sometimes question whether I'm ready to tackle the training for the distance again, especially with Lucho as a coach (I know he's going to push me to a whole new level), but you know me -- not one to turn down a good life challenge. I actually enjoy the "thrill" of figuring out how I'm going to fit in the training on top of everything else. With all this taper, rest, etc... I'm sick of it! Ready to get back to logging in the hours!

Oh the things you see in Portland.
So, yea, my next races aren't until May. On May 11, I have the second race in the LA Tri Series (distance is in between a sprint and Oly tri), then the next weekend I'm heading to Portland to run the Rock 'N' Roll Half-Marathon on May 19. I fell in love with Portland when I went there in '11 of the Rev3 Half, and am so excited to return for the half-mary now! Not to mention, I am much more of a beer snob connoisseur so visiting Deschutes and some other local breweries post-race will be an experience on a whole new level vs. last time when I was a total novice ;)

The Portland course goes through the downtown area, and it looks pretty flat. Anyone out there interested in running this too? I think it's PR worthy!!! Well, the registration fee has increased, but I have a sweet deal for you: Use the code: COACHTAWNEE and get $10 off your entry to the Portland RnR Half-Marathon. That savings can go toward some good-quality Deschutes beer after the race! Click here to register. If you do sign up and/or are already planning on racing, let me know. We'll be making a weekend trip out of it.

Post-race goodness is not hard to find in Portland!

Speaking of fun race-filled weekends.... This weekend is going to kick ass. I find myself heading back to Tempe, AZ, again already to support one of my athletes who's racing USAT Collegiate Nationals on Saturday. I've been working with this athlete for quite some time now, and I am beyond excited to be able to make the trip out for her race. I would do this for all my athletes if I could!!! Plus, I've never watched a big USAT championship race so that will be an experience in itself. Did you know they have mixed-relay triathlon event with the kids doing short distances of s/b/r together?? Looks exciting!

Then on Sunday, as luck would have it, there's another race in Arizona, Leadman! So that means I get to cheer for ER and Tomas (and a bunch of other friends apparently). To heck with my own racing, it will be so nice to play sherpa and support others for a change this weekend.

I'll hopefully have some updates from Tempe when I'm there. In the meantime, I'm off to run in some lovely 70+ degree weather here in SoCal... Lucho has this thing where he believes in 20 X 20 miles before a marathon. I'm nowhere near running 1 X 20 miles right now, so it's time to build that endurance.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Double Sprint Triathlon Weekend, Round 2, Macca Included

When I raced the double sprints last October after returning home from Kona, I loved it but can't say that I ever expected to be doing something like that again anytime soon. Well here we are about six months later and I've already done it again! The Huntington Beach Triathlon and the LA Tri Series Sprint Triathlon (Race #1 of the series) at Bonelli Park just happened to be on the same weekend, different days, April 6 & 7. Hmmm. The weekend after Oceanside 70.3, so not exactly ideal in terms of post-race recovery (at least for an amateur like me), but a fun challenge. That'd be three races within eight days... definitely something new for me. I say, why not test the body's limits as long as everything is holding up?

Before the weekend, I caught word that "you know who" was signed up for this second round of double sprint days as well. That person, of course, being Macca.
It's all about having fun! No.'s 1 & 2... bam!

Leading up to the sprint weekend, I can't say I was the role model of health. Anytime I finish a big race like O-side I loosen the reigns a bit and indulge a little more than normal. That includes food, drink, training, etc.... it's important for the body and mind to chill. So how that would affect the sprints? Who knows. I didn't mind, though, because I sure felt happy and content! I will give you a hint on the results with this picture (if you haven't already seen my FB, IG, Twitter... hahaha)... that things worked out ok:
Winner winner chicken dinner! :)

So the full deets on the races.... Start off by saying these two races were so drastically different and so much fun in their own unique way. Sunday's race at Bonelli was one I am familiar with; I've raced the LA Tri Series events numerous times over the years and always have had positive, fun experiences. It's a lake swim, in a nice quiet lush park area 45 miles inland from the coast, and not flat. On the flip side, Saturday's race was brand-spakin' new in Surf City USA (HB), where it's been 2+ decades since they've held a tri. This new one was put on by the same crew as the Seal Beach Tri (which was part of our first double sprint weekend), so I had no doubt it'd be solid.

The Huntington Beach Sprint Triathlon - Race #1
I love a good ol' low-key, community race that's fun for anyone from a newbie kid to, well, Macca. No pressure, interesting people, lots of smiles (after you're done grimacing in pain of course).
Everyone was family on Saturday. Macca's bike racked next to this silver trusty steed.

Macca and I discussing the gnarly swim ahead.
That said, this race was no stroll in the park, and it ended up being tougher than I even expected. For that, I freakin loved it. Every second. We arrived to the race with ample time to set up, hang out and chit chat. My mom was my sherpa for the day. Pre-race we were noticing that the waves were big and the current in the ocean seemed quite strong. Plus the buoys being set up for the swim were in different locations than on the course map. Turns out they had to change the swim course due to the rough conditions. Originally it was supposed to be a 1/2 mile point-to-point, now it was an out-and-back. Even with the change, there was still a delay in starting because the waves/current were a legitimate concern. Rumors were sparking that the entire swim was going to be cancelled. I did not want that to happen. The water was angry, but it would still be fun to battle with it!!! (Or so I thought.) Thankfully, they made the call to keep the swim, and the race got going!

Warm head, happy head. Just don't mind the getting choked part ;)
I was in the first wave, and holy shit. I was excited for the rough swim until I actually starting doing it and realizing that it was a struggle. Much more difficult than I anticipated. Picture this: Your HR is starting to soar being that it was a race, but at the same time you're forced to dive under the big waves and hold your breath, while also getting thrashed around in the waves/rip current.... For example, we started to the far left of the first buoy and within a minute I had been pulled by the current to a point where I was lined up with the buoy. After making it past the waves, it wasn't so bad until turning to head in -- arguably the scariest because you can't see the big waves sneaking up to crash on you. Let's just say I'm glad I did it and made it out in one piece! I have no idea how long the swim actually was, but I think those 10 minutes were harder than Oceanside's swim the weekend prior!
Go time!
Getting trashed. Not easy making it past those waves!
Lifeguards everywhere!

My all-time favorite race photo ever! Face says it all about that swim!
The bike was a simple out-and-back on the Santa Ana River Trail, followed by a deep-sand beach run (same format as the Seal Beach Tri). I knew by the halfway point on the bike I was sitting in first overall, so my goal became to hold that position, of course! I did not let up my effort for a second. I hit the run knowing it was going to be tough (from experience at the Seal beach Tri, which was also happened to be the last time I ran in sand, haha oops). Seriously, if the swim wasn't hard enough then the sand running would make up for that. Dang! Brutal but short and extremely good practice in maintaining form, running strong and working hard -- my average HR for the run was 174!
T2 in...
...and out!

Macca's sand running form at the finish....

....and then there's my sand-running form. Chime in sounds of "wa wa wahhhhh"

I held on to first female, making the HB Triathlon my first-ever triathlon win. A special feeling, and I got lots of love from the folks at the race making it such a nice experience! Of course, Macca won as well, so it was fun sharing all the excitement with him around. There was a good turnout of people, including even Bob Babbitt who raced, making for a fun morning of sport.
Macca, me, Bob Babbitt, Scott F., Llyod from Tri Lab.
But alas.... it was time to head home to chill and do some quick recovery tactics to gear up for the next day's race. Top on my list for fast recovery: Compex, magnesium oil, 110% Play Harder Compression (in that order), as well as a post-race meals with a good array of greens, protein, fat and carbs... and later on a beer and dark chocolate :)


LA Tri Series Sprint Tri - Race #2
As mentioned, I'm familiar with this race series and love it. They put together great events no matter what your skill level in tri. The last time I did their sprint-distance race was in 2010, when I was in darn good shape and finished in 1:16 for 1st AG, 5th overall. I've won/podiumed in my AG in the series' other race distances too. So this time I decided to be adventurous and sign up in the elite division. We had our own "elite" row, instead of Saturday's "rack wherever" format.

I was extra happy Sunday morning because John decided to do this race as well. The mood around was light, fresh and 100% stress free; can't say that's the case before a "big" race. We were all hanging out in transition, and Macca and I were talking about HB -- even he was commenting on the aggressiveness of that swim. Meanwhile, numerous people were flocking to Macca asking for photos and autographs*. I even got a little taste of some fan love too... some Endurance Planet listeners introduced themselves (as was the case Saturday), and I was actually asked for my autograph on the back of the Wheaties box featuring Macca that super-fan Andy brought to get his signature. Classic.

Finally it was time to race. The terrain at Bonelli Park reminds me of a mini Vineman course. The lake has that eerie, steamy look just like the Russian River in the morning. The bike is a lot of rolling hills through trees and natural surroundings, complete with some sections of bad road conditions like Vineman (good practice!). The run is mostly flat with some hills/inclines but nowhere near as hot and brutal as Vineman :) I plan on doing their other two races in the LA Tri Series (both get longer in distance) in my leadup for Vineman this year.
The lake. This was actually from 2010; this year it was foggy/misty.

I was honestly very amped to race even if it was just 24 hours since the last one, and I was hoping for another good result on the day. I know this race attracts some faster ladies and I'd have to dig deep. My body felt generally ok, but my hips -- hip flexors especially -- were pretty tight and feeling locked up (that liftoff from the sand run the day prior did me in). But calves/quads/hammys felt decent surprisingly -- recovery tactic success!

All the women started together, and I think I went out too hard on the swim. I found myself gasping for air within the first few minutes and really had to work hard to calm myself down but still swim strong. I did the 500 in 8:50, good not great.

The bike was a blast! I knew I was not first out of the water, so I had some ladies to try and catch. One chick passed me and I was determined to get her, but she was off like a rocket. I'm pretty sure she was the eventual winner. So I just stuck with a goal of simply hammering it. Let's see what the Shiv could do for today me baby!!! This, again, is my kind of course with all the hills, decents, turns, varying road conditions, etc.... The Shiv and I bonded super well, and I had a great ride, going a full 2:00 faster than in 2010, and averaging over 21mph. My avg HR was mid-160s, too, rather high for me, which lets me know I did work :) Watts well north of 200 average. I did, however, "forget" to drink anything more than two sips Skratch. Oops. I was better with hydration the day prior. I think a little Skratch even for a sprint is good!

I was in and out of T2 in less than a minute and my hips still felt stiff, the right side especially where I've had issues, but I kept on keeping on. After you do a half-Ironman, running a 5k (almost) seems like nothing even after doing it the day prior as well. My pace wasn't stellar (it was low 7:00s, but I wanted sub-7:00s!) so I ignored it and just went as fast as the legs would carry me. By the second mile I think the stiffness in my hips was affecting my form and my knee starting bugging me a bit. I made the call to not push much harder with my efforts to avoid the risk of hurting something worse, as I know my history with my knees and doing too much in a race to the point of injury. Not worth it.

I was running up a long incline nearing a U-turn, and at that point saw three women running shoulder-to-shoulder back down. They were freakin hammering the run and probably 1/4mi in front of me, and probably way fresher than I? Obviously they were in their own little race together, and I know how that drives you to go even harder. Meanwhile I was running alone and on knee alert. My chances of catching them weren't good, nor was I going to best my 5k time in this tri. Meh, I didn't care, I was still pretty dang happy where I was and doing what I love!

I finished a couple minutes behind that group of ladies (all three of whom really duked it out to a close, fast finish), putting me 2nd elite and 4th overall, with ~1:00 course PR too (1:15). One more podium making it 3 for 3, over eight days :)

Sorry for the lack of photos. All we had on Sunday were racers, no sherpas!
Men's podium. Second place was only 30 seconds behind Macca! Erik Nau, I believe.
As for my podium, the other girls bailed  on awards so they let me sneak up to the top spot.
A win by default! Hahaha... ;)


So what else is there to say? It was another fabulous weekend of racing, confirming even more that I love triathlon with all my heart. I am happy that my body was recovered enough to push hard in these couple sprints and not hurt myself (knee is fine today; played it smart). And I'm even more happy that my spirits were high enough to simply get me out of bed and to the starting line both mornings! Haha.
Recovery in full swing Sunday afternoon. @110PlayHarder <3 td="">

*Say what you will about Macca, but here is a guy who truly loves this sport. I've watched him quite a bit now interacting with the folks at these little races, and he is a very gracious dude and takes time to talk with everyone, sign everything, you name it. You know if someone is faking it vs. loving it, and I see him as someone who is loving it. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of him at these local races....

Case in point:
Macca greeting in a young speedy dude at the LA Tri Series Sprint. Photo courtesy

Thanks to Specialized, Skratch, Bonk Breakers, 110% Play Harder, Shimano, Lucho, family & friends for your support and understanding that I'm slightly crazy haha!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My 70.3 Race Nutrition Details

This is probably the single most asked-about topic on our Endurance Planet podcast, and it's something I constantly find myself talking about. Nutrition for anything less than Ironman distance/time is not rocket science. But it is important. For me it's been a work in progress and I'm slowly getting better at it. I've narrowed it down to taking in a great source of calories, that is for sure, now it's just seeing how much I can handle to keep me from slowing down. It gets scary knowing I've had GI issues in the past. But this past race I felt awesome in that regard. A testament to quality calorie sources (namely Skratch, Bonk Breakers)!

A few things I advise in general:
1) Keep it simple with nutrition products; use what you train with and choose products in which the ingredients are rather simple as to not freak out your system with foreign things;
2) Always bring extra of everything you have;
3) Be intuitive with your intake;
4) Take Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP). Trust me here. Read why here. This is the first time I've used MAP significantly throughout a race (not just before), and there's no doubt in my mind that it played a role in my success for a 6-min PR, by helping me have increased endurance and resilience to fatigue during the race. (Plus, I can get you free shipping this month by clicking the link above and mentioning my name, so stock up now!)

At Oceanside 70.3 this year, I calculated that during the race I took in about 1,000 calories. A decent amount for my size, but next time I'll probably do even more. Not one calorie was forced nor was I on a timer -- I ate/drank naturally when I felt the need for it or wanted it. Eating/drinking intuitively does take some practice to ensure you get enough. In year's past I estimate that I was unintentionally underfueled in races; whether because I was too involved with the race (i.e. forgetting) or GI issues or "hitting the wall" with taste of the calories I had.

So here's what I did last weekend, and it worked out well:

Race Week/Eve
As we all know, good race nutrition starts before the event. All week I ate well and laid off alcohol and bad things, except for chocolate. It's wasn't drastically different than usual (minus less beer). On Friday I ate as I normally would, but in this case that was still more calories than I technically needed given a physical activity status of zero. That was good. I didn't go out of my way to "carb load" I just made sure my body's glycogen stores were full with normal stuff and didn't gorge myself. We had a late lunch (~3:30 PM) so dinner was late too (like 8 PM). I had chicken breast (organic, free-range, bbq'd; the thing was a giant and I only half); quinoa with s&p, lime juice; broccoli sauteed in coconut oil. Perhaps high in fiber, but this is a normal meal for me so it settled just fine, even on race morning. For dessert: several heaping chunks of 85% dark chocolate. No beer or wine. Wasn't in the mood. Instead, the cocktail of choice was a beet juice (with celery too). I went to bed full. Ehhh.

Race Day Breakdown:

Race morning / ~300-400 calories (mostly CHO) 
Oatmeal/sweet potato mix, ~350 calories
Coffee, a 1/2 cup was all I choked down
Water, drink to thirst

We were up at 4 AM, at which point I immediately took 6 MAP. I waited ~ 25min for that to digest for max benefits (if you don't wait then some of those precious amino acids/enzymes can be used for digestion rather than going to the muscles and into your system where we want them). Breakfast was 1/4 cup pre-soaked oats cooked and mixed with 1/2 large Japanese sweet potato, 1 tbsp ground chia seed, salt, cinnamon, and almond milk. It was good, but I couldn't even eat it all; not nerves here, just still full from the night prior. Didn't want to to gorge myself. Also, this was relatively high in fiber, but again, it's a normal race meal for me and gave me no negative issues. As for coffee -- I am like the opposite of what you're supposed to do. I drank coffee like normal the week leading up, but then on race morning my nerves did play a role (as usual) causing me to lose the taste for coffee so I only had maybe 1/2 cup with coconut creamer. Lame-o.

Note: 1) I had no added sweetener in any of this breakfast -- I lose the taste for sweet, too, before a race. 2) I had no significant protein outside MAP (i.e. no egg, no protein powder, no almond butter, etc, as I have in the past). The MAP is all the protein you need and its easily digested compared with food protein that is harder to digest and unnecessary. No significant fats either. Just CHO-based. How it should be. Breakfast done by 5:30 AM.

Pre-race / 0 calories
4 MAP, it's the shit
Water, while I was in the corral. Not too much

Note: next time I will be putting Skratch hydration mix (40cal per scoop) into my pre-swim water bottle. I think I could have used a few calories here.

Bike /  680 calories (128g CHO)
~5 MAP
2 Bonk Breakers, 440 cals
Skratch Labs Drink Mix, 240 cals in 2 X 20oz bottles
Water, drink to thirst
Loss: 120 cals of Skratch (lost 1 bottle on a bump)
Extra: Skratch single serving sticks, 2 GUs

As soon as I was on the bike I started drinking my Skratch. It was as refreshing as water after that swim (I think I swallowed a gallon of salt water). Skratch's extremely palatable flavor is so subtle that I can drink a fair amount without gagging from sweetness. I seriously have had problems with anything too sweet on race day; I just can't handle it even if it's fine in training. The Skratch I had on board to begin with included 3 bottles with 1 1/2 scoops each of pineapples (~1200 calsand ~30g CHO per bottle, 360cal/90g CHO total). They say 1 scoop makes ~16oz, and my bottles are ~20oz so I like having that extra 1/2 scoop. Then, as mentioned, I lost one bottle early on, which left me with 240 cals, 60g CHO.

I also took my MAP within the first 10min on the bike. I had about 8 in the bag, but I think maybe only 5 made it into my mouth haha. Bring extra.

The Bonk Breakers were pre-cut for easy eating, in baggies in my bento box. Flavors of choice: Apple Pie and Blueberry Oat (220 cal, 34g CHO each). Some will argue keep it only CHO, but I am ok with the little bit of fat/protein on the bike. I ate pieces throughout the whole bike, always chasing with Skratch. The bars were great, and while sweet, definitely not too sweet for my race palate. Now here's the thing, I was only planning on having 1 full bar and maybe 1/2 of the other, but once I lost the bottle of Skratch, I knew I was going to need both bars entirely. That's a lot of solid to put down, but it ended up being totally fine with no GI issues/no side stitches on the bike or run. The key is taking in small bites at a time with drink.

Losing the bottle with Skratch was the kind of thing  you have to prepare for in a race. I knew my body would need more than just the 40oz hydration (calories or not), so, as mentioned in the RR, I slowed up at aid stations to grab water for a quick "chug and toss." I also had an extra gel stuffed in my outfit, and grabbed another GU at an aid station -- just in case I began to feel bonky. I also had Skratch sticks; although, I don't think it's possible to use the Skratch sticks while racing unless you stop so they were kinda useless. I was talking to my bike fitter and he estimates that I may have lost up to 2-3min in time with the "stops" at the aid stations. Hmmm. What do you guys think?

Also, next time I think I will stick to 2 BBs and 3 bottles of Skratch to set me up better for the run.

Run / 310 calories (~74g CHO)
~5 MAP
Skratch, 80 calories
2 Powerbar Gels, 220 calories
Water, aid stations

I now know that I definitely could have taken in more here, perhaps even double the CHO? And maybe I would have run faster and/or avoided that low I felt for the first half? Still, this was pretty good amount of calories in for me to survive based on what I felt I needed and keeping it "conservative" to avoid GI distress like I've had in the past. I set a pre-mixed 16.9oz bottle of Skratch (1 scoop of pineapples) in T2 before the race to carry with me on the run. That worked out well and I loved having it. I don't mind running with my bottle, especially given the alternatives. I did something "new" too: I had Green Apple and Tangerine PowerBar Gels, even though I prefer the Strawberry Banana in racing. But it was too late to get more as I gathered my things Friday night and realized that's all I had, haha.

I also had my last dose of MAP waiting in T2 and I took that right away. Again, I think I got 5 of the 8 pills I brought? Not even sure haha.

On the run, I open a gel and it will take me nearly a mile to eat it all. I do this for a reason -- so that I can dilute it appropriately with water/drink. Otherwise, if you take it all at once or too fast and you don't drink enough with it to dilute, your body will then draw water to your gut to dilute the thick gel for ideal osmolality thus essentially dehydrating yourself! Exactly what we don't want!

Anyway, I took the Green Apple first within the first 5 miles of the run. I prefer the consistency of PowerGels above others -- it is more liquidy, not chalky and thick. I "sipped" on the gel with sips of Skratch and water, and I'm sure it helped at giving me that feeling of new-found energy (also why I think I could have gone with even more calories early on in the run looking back; next time). Then around mile 8-9ish it was time for more. The Skratch was down to a few more sips, saved to have with the other gel. I ate the Tangerine gel, which honestly tasted gross at that point in the run but I knew I needed it for the final stretch, so down the hatch it went in little bits at a time with Skratch and water at aid stations.

Speaking of aid stations, I maybe slowed up at aid stations ~5-6 times total for cups of water. Less than normal because of the Skratch, so essentially carrying that bottle saved time. Maybe a minute?

One more note on the run: So the rule of "NO outside assistance"... I saw spectators lining the run handing out things like water bottles; I don't think these people were doing anything intentional to get racers in trouble; however, not allowed, right?! Man, I was tempted to take one especially once my Skratch was gone, but I didn't! What is your take on that...?

Finish / many, many, many calories
CocoChia Bar
Beer... Stone, only good shit, of course
2 chicken/avocado tacos...
Party food... all night...
Earth Cafe Cheesecakes for a birthday treat....

Anything that's salty, bring it ON! That's what I love post-race. That said, there was some sweet stuff around too that tasted awesome. Ok... is was ALL awesome! I was not nauseous after this race as I've been in the past, and within 10 minutes I was totally fine eating all the finishline fare. There have been times when this is NOT the case. Beer was a must too... even if not great for recovery going into more racing this upcoming weekend...

My nutrition is getting better with every race. Not perfect, but on track! I've gone from some very bad experiences, to finding out calories sources that work for me that save me from GI issues. Whether or not I am sponsored/affiliated with Skratch and Bonk Breaker, I would still use their product. I also know that I can now practice taking in even MORE calories to maximize my efforts out there -- on the bike for sure to maximize my stores for the run, but more on the run too. It's a work in progress for sure... just as long as I have it figured out for Vegas & Tahoe.

Lastly, I'm open for constructive criticism here, if you'd like to chime in.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

Mmmm, feels good to write a race report! I have a few solid months of training under my belt, and wanted to have my strongest race to-date in Oceanside this year. A lot of things were firing me up to go for it: Fourth time doing this race, it's basically our hometown race, it was the day after my birthday, I have great new sponsors.... the list goes on. In a nutshell, my goals included getting on the 25-29 podium (the 1-3 podium) and a course PR. Result: Got the podium (2nd AG), and a 6-minute course PR (5:07). Next time I'll be looking at sub-5:00 on this course.

Overall, it was a great day. I feel like I raced smart and in control, and my body held up. I don't have one thing to complain about. It was a hard day, as it should be, and a very fun race too, as it should be. I handled all the "hiccups" well I think... in fact, my day was all about "crisis" management and keeping a positive state of mind, starting early on. (I say "crisis" in quotes because nothing that bad happened.)

Waiting to start, with my good friend from grad school
who was doing her first-ever 70.3!
Only one thing worth sharing here. On race morning, in the dark, we were riding our bikes from T2 to T1 with only about 15 min to spare before transition closed. I had my morning bag and bike bag hanging from either shoulder, and one bag slipped to my elbow. It started swaying side to side while we were rolling down a mini decent over the bridge and just like that the bag got jammed in my front wheel, the wheel locked and I went flying over the handlebars. It was a pretty solid crash; plus the bag ripped to shreds and my sh*t went everywhere! John (who also raced) and some others were scrambling to help and make sure I was ok. I was. Thank god. (Oh and thank god I was wearing my helmet because I definitely hit head to concrete.) As soon as it happened mentally I just told myself to stay calm and not get all worked up. I knew I was fine minus a jab to the leg by an aero bar. I was more concerned about the bike. The Shiv is a stud, though, and miraculously it was ok too; just a front wheel adjustment and like new. Other than losing a morning bag, even less time to set up T1, and a bruised quad, all was well. So that happened...

Swim 33:59

I don't like to cuss much on here but FUCK yea!!! Finally, significant progress and hard work paying off!!!! Many things to be stoked about: I swam strong enough for a big half-ironman swim PR (my fastest swim prior was a 36:xx), I was 100% cramp free, and I paced myself wisely (even if I was questioning that in the process) as to not overly fatigue. My watch actually showed 32-something as I stood up out of the water, and as soon as I saw that I was ecstatic for the first time exiting a 70.3 swim. I'll never forget that moment. To be honest, I didn't think I was going to see anything sub-35 while I was swimming because it seemed like there was more contact and banging around for a large portion of the swim than I'm used to -- a combo of aggressive ladies as well as passing people who started before me. I was also unable to find feet to draft off -- I have issues with this; I never find feet. Is it me? Or is it just the random, scattered paces of AGer's? My conservative swimming effort and deep-seeded fear of leg/toe cramps also had me questioning whether I was too slow, but I guess I've gotten stronger because even a "conservative" pace was fast for me! That all said, I felt great in the water and in a good rhythm. The cold didn't bother me at all, and overall I just felt strong and not like I was struggling. Solid swim, great start to the day.
I may look scared here, but this is actually me feeling
on top of the world with a "great" swim.
Slower than normal for me at O-side... maybe it was stuffing all my crap into the bike gear bag.

Bike 2:45 (fastest AG bike split)
The bike was fuuunnnn. Finally being able to race the Shiv was definitely a highlight of the day. I felt so smooth and like a machine on that thing. We've done a really great job dialing in my fit while still waiting for a small frame. In fact, I was even at my fitter's on Friday, race eve, dialing things in last minute, including adjustments to a sick new pair of PRO Missile bars and installing an aero hydration system (trying new things on race day, sure why not?!).

The bike, of course, was typical Oceanside (flat and fast for ~30 miles, then hilly and windy for about ~10miles, then a flat finish; this year more of a tailwind at the end, whew) with good weather, rather warm . The difference I noticed on the new bike was feeling like I was riding more efficiently and not blowing up my HR to hold goal pace and watts. In contrast, I remember feeling like I was blowing up in a couple 70.3s in the last couple years. I was working hard, that is for sure, but in control.

Up until the hills, I was averaging ~21 mph. Then finally I hit the first climb, and it was tough but I expected it. I was riding strong and passing a good amount of people (as was the case on the other big hills). After that hill came the hardest part of the ride -- false flats, rolling hills and a headwind for what felt like forever. When I finally hit the gnarly decent with the no passing zone, my friend Cortney Haile shouted "What's up," and then Brandy Bounds whizzed by. I then realized I was riding with some of the lead 30-34, 35-39 women who had caught up to me (they started a few minutes behind). We all traded spots legally for a while, and I noticed I was climbing the hills a bit faster than some (doing field research for when I eventually move up AGs haha). Finally I broke away from some of them, but Cortney broke away from me (speedy lady). As for my AG, I noticed that starting early on I passed quite a few girls and I felt like I was sitting well in my division. Ya never know though -- that someone could be extremely far out ahead?

The end of the bike included a big highlight of my whole triathlon career. It was that last flat section of ~10 miles back to transition, and I was catching up to a lot of slower men in front of me. At that point a moto with a couple refs rolled up in front of me, giving a penalty to a dude who was clearly drafting. In my mind I was thinking about how I was going to have to start making some passes or suffer going slow. I get nervous around the refs, but I just went for it, having confidence in my bike racing skills, and made about 5-6 solid passes. Shortly after the moto rolled up on me (yikes, right?!), and the lady on the back gave me a thumbs up and said, "Excellent passing. Nice job." It literally made my day to hear that! I think is something a lot of AG triathletes need to practice -- passing and just riding with others during the bike. Even this past weekend I saw some dumb shit go down, including people passing on my right, really?!

Nothing majorly bad happened during the bike, but I did have a couple very minor "hiccups" that I had to manage. 1) A bottle flew out of my Carbon Wing very early on and immediately I lost a third of my hydration with ~120 precious calories of Skratch (I put in ~1 1/2 scoops for each 20oz bottle). My solution was to slow up at all aid stations, grab a water bottle, chug some and toss it; their bottles were too small for my cages so I couldn't keep them. Slowing up for that was worth losing a little time to prevent dehydration, as my other two bottles alone wouldn't cut it. It was warm out and I needed every ounce of liquid. 2) My new aero hydration system, the Xlab carbon thingy, has Velcro straps that kept coming loose! And I kept finagling to fix them so I didn't lose another bottle, inevitably slowing me up. (Next time, zip ties.) Those were the extent of my issues on the bike, so if that's as bad as it was, I have nothing to complain about at all!

Nutrition-wise, besides the loss of a bottle, my nutrition was right on track. I brought extra calories just in case, which I obviously ended up needing! I'll write more on my nutrition in another blog soon, but two bottles with 200+ calories of pineapple Skratch and a two full pre-cut Bonk Breakers worked their magic. Not one GI issue whatsoever, even on the subsequent run.

Last thing on the bike: I was hoping for a split closer to 2:40 to really prove a point that the Shiv is a machine, but oh well. That was my fault not the bike's. It was our first race together, we'll bond more for some smoking fast rides this year ;)

Run 1:43 
Bottle of Skratch in hand. Eventually those
arm warmers came off too, once I remembered.
This is only a minute off my 70.3 run PR, it's 3:00 faster than my Oceanside run PR, and third fastest in my AG, so I am quite happy about that given how I felt for a while. I have no doubt that the bike played a role in a faster run than my past showings here. I got off the bike and until I looked at my Garmin I was running way too fast (sub-7:30) and had to slow up to ~7:50 (a smart pace for me to start at), but I still just felt like I was doing the shuffle. Then a first for me: My right VMO cramped up after the steep up/down by the pier. The poor little guy was vulnerable and that eccentric contraction on the steep decent ruined him. I had to stop to work it out at the first aid station, ~mile 1. Maybe the cramp was also because I rode those hills pretty hard after all, and was a tad dehydrated? Who knows. I was literally concerned that I was going to have to walk more, but I overcame the cramp within a minute of stopping and was totally fine for the rest of the run.

While my pace was ok for me, my run mojo was blah for quite a while. I think it's because I've only been training hard again for 3 months and my body is still getting used to the long, hard back-to-back stuff again. I wasn't letting it ruin my spirits. I just had to keep faith that I could keep it going. I was hitting a low fairly early on into the run (mile 4-5ish?), at which point I saw Mike Rouse. He lifted my spirits like you would not believe. It was at the far end of the run course where there are fewer spectators, so having a moment  with him gave me that new-found spark. Beyond Rousey, I heard a ton of cheers for me out there and some "happy birthdays," which was so nice. Thank you to everyone who cheered :) I love how the Oceanside run has the best spectators and so many friends are always out there!

Finally at about 6.5 miles in, my running legs finally showed up. I'll have to check but prior to that I think I had a couple ~8:15 miles, and was then able to bring it back to ~7:50s and not slow down from then on. I didn't feel like total death anymore either, which was nice; instead it was just the typical pain and suffering, haha. I think the pre-mixed bottle of Skratch I had waiting in T2 for me to carry worked its magic, as did gel #1. I even had a second gel, which sometimes I don't do but I needed it this day. Runs are the only time I do gels anymore. I need calories somehow and they are easy to carry around and mange. I don't do solids running, and I prefer certain gels over what's offered on the course. Ideally, I'd have carry a couple bottles of Skratch, but that's logistically not possible.

I mentioned John raced too. Well I had seen him a couple times on the run, and I knew I was gaining on him. He had started at 7 AM, I started at 7:24 AM, so going into the race it was my goal to catch him ;) He's ok with that, and he know it motivates me in a good way. I finally did catch him, but not until nearly mile 11 on the run. We exchanged some loving words of encouragement, and I went on my way. At that point I had a strong stride leading me home and I knew there were no more hills so it was just about cruisin hard to the finish and enjoying the moment. I knew a course PR was happening unless I started walking. Such a great feeling!
Sprint to the finish. Mmmm, nice.
Finish 5:07
The new finish line down by the pier is so cool! There was an awesome crowd cheering people in, including my parents in the VIP section, ballers! I crossed with a course PR and 2nd AG! Yayyyy. I was pretty thrilled on the day's effort. My last hope is that another girl in our AG felt the thrill of getting the Vegas slot that was rolled down....Note: you can read my full race nutrition breakdown here.

Some post-race lovin' with my babe.

Post-race, pre-awards chill time and beers with Rousey and our crew at Stone,
which is conveniently located across the street from the race.
Trying to look buff.

Fun chat with the 1st place girl in our AG. This is me asking, "Ohhh, so you're a swimmer, right?"
She swam a 26:xx! So even my slightly faster bike/run wasn't enough.

25-29 AG podium. Great to be up there, especially with my buddy Chris Berg, top male.

A huge shoutout and THANK YOU to Specialized, Skratch Labs, Bonk Breakers, 110% Play Harder, Betty Designs, Shimano, Coach Lucho the man, John my love, my family, and my friends... you all helped me get to this start line fit and healthy, and race hard. Can't wait for the races to come!!!