Monday, September 30, 2013

What's Next??? Offseason and 2014...

I started this blog last week, and it's getting a little dated so I might as well post before I move on to the next big thing going on, aka Hawaiiiiiiii!!! In less than I week I'll be on the Big Island for my fourth time covering the Ironman World Championships. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities I've had to be in Kona for, what I consider, the best day of sport in the world! Even better is getting to be in charge of all the coverage I put together for Endurance Planet. It's going to be pretty awesome this year, I know it! Also, on that note, if you have anything you want covered, please chime in and let me know by leaving a comment here or on FB/twitter. Open to any suggestions!!!

Anyway, let's back up a bit. Still have some post-Tahoe thoughts to share and other non-Kona things...

I woke up Tuesday after the race experiencing that empty "sad-it's-over" feeling. I was still in Tahoe, but everyone had left (except John, but I'm always with him so...). Elizabeth left before 6am that morning -- I was obviously not awake yet, hehe -- and my parents and sis left the day prior. So, that day, I finally got in a small run, and it felt great. A good, much-needed release.
Running along the bike path in Tahoe. View doesn't suck.
Posting my Tahoe blog was also cathartic. Speaking of that blog, couple things. 1) It was the cold! Duh! That is definitely why the Di2 pooped out! I do not blame Shimano whatsoever for this, never did, and man did I learn my lesson. Thanks for helping me figure this out. I'll implement changes for future races and how I handle the battery... i.e. not leave it on when I have to drop off the bike the day prior. 2) Turns out my IM Tahoe report was the most-read post ever on this blog, so far. I find that so interesting being that I didn't even finish haha! Maybe it's because of all of the hype around this race with how crazy it was so people have been on the prowl for Tahoe posts, I don't know. It's just interesting, I think, that even a DNF day still generates a lot of hits, a lot of love/support and a lot of kind comments. That's what I love about this sport and community :) Seriously -- thanks to each and every person who left a comment on this blog, via email or facebook or twitter. Your comments all made me cry a little and smile, and they all really helped with the healing.
Ya know what else helps? Celebrating the accomplishments of
these dudes, who I love so much! Couldn't be more proud.
This was Monday after the race, and, yes, my eyes are surely
swollen and tired here from some tears. All better now though!
After the race, I did a lot of thinking, and John and I had a long talk about what's next for me. Which leads me to the theme of this post. What do you do after a poor end to the season that was anything but what you expected? I'll tell you what I won't do -- mope around or be lazy! I may not be as physically active, but I will continue to stimulate my mind and body in a multitude of ways. I am very excited...

1) Biohack. Now is a great time to do some n=1 experiments. Biohacking will serve as the "umbrella" for everything else you'll read below. What exactly is biohacking? The whole concept can get pretty deep and intricate, but it's fascinating to me, and very cutting-edge. Read here for some brief intros to it, and links to some well-known biohackers. My goal this offseason is to learn more about my body and mind, see how I can affect and alter those things in effort to be more productive, less stressed, healthier, and so on, in particular when endurance sports training is not a huge priority. HRV is just one example of biohacking... another thing I'll try is "Yoga for the Eyes" (yes, there is such a thing) in attempt to gain back some quality vision - God knows I need it after the Tahoe fiasco! After a few months, it will be interesting to see how I am physically and mentally once I do get back to training.

2) Long offseason. Like I said, I will not be racing anything significant for the rest of the year and will be trying out a really long offseason for once. I'll maybe do a for-fun Turkey Trot or whatever, but nothing serious. Last year I took a decent offseason, but I still think it was too short for what I may have needed. This year, that won't happen. I am talking a full three months off with no formal coaching, no structured training, nada. (PS- Lucho is still my coach, and we still talk regularly for the podcast and whatnot; he's just not writing me workouts currently.) This will be the longest downtime from formal training I've had in recent memory. It's not really in my nature to be without structure, let alone for three consecutive months, so this will be fun, right?

I got in one ride last week, and this happened. In my
tubular. Something is telling me to stop riding!
(Granted this ride was at a grandma pace with no data)
3) So much more time for activities!!! (get it?) Haha! I'll still do "activity" whether that's a hiking the trails or going to a concert, volunteering at a race/event or doing yoga or meeting friends for lunch. Yea, I'll still do some of the regular stuff too, like swim, bike and run (especially when it involves friends and clients alongside). But I'll expand the list to include other random things - snowboarding this winter, kayaking, and my personal fave: surfing! Of the activities I'll do, not one thing will considered "training." Last week I started that. On Thursday, for example, at 11:20 AM after a full morning on the phone with clients I decided to do an 11:30 bikram yoga class, and it was great! Just what I needed and totally unplanned. Saturday morning same thing- saw the sun rising as I was drinking coffee and realized it was too nice outside to be missing it, so I went for a run. I still logged the activities I did all last week and accumulated a whopping 4.3 hours of activity! Ha!

4) Projects aka work work work! Kinda like activities but non-physical things, whether for business and/or pleasure. During training times and with my regular workload I find it hard to fit in those back-burner projects. Well now I have no excuse, especially if I'm an uber-productive biohacker ;) Writing an e-book, picking up a paint brush, revamping my website (Sarah Weeger, web-designer superstar, you reading this?), doing more article reviews/blog posts/writing, reading, gardening, quality cooking (and maybe even writing down the recipes for things I create for once), etc., are all things I have in mind. There are some others too...

5) "Planning" for 2014. I already have a plan in the works -- don't sign up for anything! (Yet.) I need a little time to be free from having a race on the schedule -- I can't remember the last time that was the case. It's a little scary, but necessary I think. That said, I do have some races I'm eyeing for 2014... But that is top-secret confidential stuff. However, one thing that is NOT top secret for 2014 is a very cool new relationship I'll have with Betty Designs. I am honored to be one of Kristin's "Skulls" for next year! It doesn't get much cooler than that. I have been a fan of Betty and Kristin for years now, and couldn't be more stoked on this relationship, not to mention, I am among some pretty special ladies here. What an honor. If you have never seen the Betty Designs collection, give it a look by clicking here. And when you buy something (because how could you not want to buy something) use "coachtawnee" at checkout for a discount! I have some other relationships brewing for next year too. It will be a blast, that I can guarantee.


Other than that, I just plan on living in the moment and enjoying each day as it comes. Some days I'll be slammed with work and I bet I won't even make it outside or out of my PJs (oh yea, that happens), while other days I will make an effort to jump in the ocean, take a walk on the beach or share a beer. John is on the same page right now too, and so far it's been really fun to see how we operate without training....
Sporadic concert in the park here in Laguna, along with a tasty pumpkin beer.
Sunrise run shadows and no one else around....

...and sunrise run views. Dang, I love this time of year at home!
A little indulgence. I am not a fan of this stuff, but John is. Fine with me - that means more chocolate for me!!!
PS - Love John's shirt? Click here to check out my buddy, Ron's, awesome line of PunkRockRacing clothing/gear!

Life is good, or dare I say, epic ;) ... This is a kombucha beer, btw, and pretty darn tasty!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe Post-Race Thoughts

Tahoe race morning. Simply beautiful.
Man, I thought it was hard to write about Vegas. Well, Tahoe takes the cake now. This month definitely did not pan out how I would have liked, but it happened, it's over and it's time to re-group, rest my body, enjoy the now, as well as plan for the future. I was thinking before Ironman Tahoe, "No matter what happens Sunday, I will still go to bed and wake up the same person on Monday." And when shit hit the fan on Sunday, I had to repeat those words in my head. A lot. Because, the other thing I was thinking about early on were some wise words from a friend on one of his race experiences... something like, "This is a tough course for everyone and someone's gotta win my AG, might as well be me...." I wasn't convinced I'd win, but I figured I could finish high up there. Well slice me off some humble pie.

This blog isn't really a race report because I didn't even get through the whole race, sadly. Just a recap of the day. As always, thanks to everyone who's shared in my journey and who's sent kind messages before/during/after the race. I want to let you guys know that despite a bad day, I have no regrets and what I did experience at Tahoe was priceless. It did a lot for me mentally and physically, in a good way. The highlight of my Tahoe experience was the good vibe this weekend brought: I personally felt that raw love for the sport, and was overwhelmingly excited and smiley. Not to mention, I was so happy to be sharing it all with good company... all that in itself was redemption from Vegas :)

Quick note before my story: Speaking of good company, I just want to say how PROUD I am of my friend and housemate, Elizabeth, for her absolutely amazing performance on this course. She is rock hard and worked her way to second AG and Kona -- totally deserving!!! It's funny because when we were all talking predicted finishing times, none of those times we had for ourselves are usually Kona-qualifying caliber in most IMs, so Kona was never really discussed, but that's the thing about Tahoe -- it's hard, and 12+ hours IS Kona-worthy! Anyway, mad props to her!

So anyway....

Saturday, as you probably heard, the weather was totally crazy. A storm quickly rolled in, bringing with it even colder temps, rain, wind and even snow. It was awesome to see everyone panicking. We happened to be driving Brockway during the snow portion of the storm and were laughing our heads off. There were rumors that the race would be altered, which made me sad as hell, actually. I came here for a challenge and I didn't want it messed with. That said, I do hate the cold and it's no secret to me that I do not function well in cold whatsoever so I am still a little mystified why I wanted this particular challenge -- the mind is a mysterious thing.

We got lucky and that storm left as quickly as it came, only leaving behind some extra cold temps and some wet roads for Sunday morning, but it was Ironman business as usual. Race morning I put on my wetsuit (bottom half) before we even left the house in an effort to stay warm, along with a couple pairs of socks and gloves and anything else that would keep me warm -- and I was still cold! Transition area in the morning was surreal with it being freezing and watching everyone trying to stay warm. And then once the sun started to rise, it got colder, down to 27-29ish degrees F, and you saw this beauty (thanks to my sister for all the pro photos here):
How often do you start your triathlon swim overlooking snow-capped mountains?
Cold but super excited before the swim.

John and I strategizing how we'll hold hands throughout the race ;)

Hats off to the volunteers who hung out in the water while we all swam. That had to be freaking cold.
And, for that matter, hats off to all the volunteers - best ever.

I won't lie. I was somewhat scared my cold body wasn't going to handle that swim, let alone T1, but I was ready to give it a shot! I have Raynaud's, so that put me at a disadvantage in the cold, but mind over matter. Looking at this situation: Not too many people would ever even dare toe the line in those conditions, so that's a victory in itself. Before the swim my hands and feet were completely frozen, and core temp wasn't that great. I was trying to run around and generate heat, but it wasn't helping. Thankfully, when we got in the water it felt GREAT (still warmer than the ocean, and way warmer than outside), which helped, but I was already too cold and unfortunately had some calf/toe cramping early on, which forced me to stop a couple times to work it out. Thankfully I did work it out, went on my way and cramping did not return, but on the other hand, my power in the water was weak to say the least.
If you can believe it, it was actually a relief to get in that water.
A note on Ironman's SwimSmart program: I think it's great! At first I was skeptical when they announced it this year, but now having done it I am a big fan, and it did not negatively change the experience. That "mass start" feeling was mostly still there. It started efficiently, and I was almost always with people in my range. Good stuff, Ironman.

The first loop had pretty much zero visibility - just follow the feet in front of you.
I survived that dang swim with a time that, all things considered, was not too much slower than what I would have expected on a "normal" day. I think I am capable of going just sub 1:20 on a comfortable swim course in regular temps, so 1:23 at Tahoe was a-OK with me, especially with time stopped to work on my calf/toe cramping. And a note on the cramps: This was not me "trying to swim harder than I'm used to going" or "not being conditioned" for an IM swim -- the cramping was all a cold thing.

T1 was unlike anything I've ever seen in my life, and men and women who've raced many more IMs than me were saying the same thing. You have hundreds of women crammed into a tent trying to undress, dry up and get on warm clothes. It was insanity. You basically had to work shoulder to shoulder with everyone like a sardine, with not an inch of room to spare, while trying to shiver less. I did not give a crap about my T1 time, I just wanted to start that bike dry and not as frozen. I ended up taking an 18:xx T1, which included a complete wardrobe change with putting on a million layers, activating heat warmers for hands and feet, trying to then gather my wet stuff that was scattered about with everyone else's things, stuff it into my bag and peace out.

I was felling pretty good mentally going out onto the bike. Proud of conquering that swim and proud of not getting hypothermia (or at least not officially being diagnosed with it haha).

So the bike. Dang. The course is hard, and I was excited to tackle it, but the universe had other plans apparently. About mile 25ish, my Di2 died, and I was stuck in my gear. Thankfully I was in the small ring in the front, otherwise I would have been completely done at that point with the climbs that followed. At first, I literally thought lack of function/feeling in my fingers that was the reason for gears not shifting, but not the case. I decided I'd keep an eye out for tech and just keep spinning out riding. I eventually stopped at aid station 4 in Martis Camp, where there were lots of resources, and we officially realized then the Di2 was dead. It shouldn't have died; it was charged, so I am a bit mystified. I was at ~mile 34 at that point and of course I could go on like that. Or, the other option: The guys said they could call in a battery for me (which they had!), replace it and I could go on with my day with all gears. How long it would take for tech to arrive with the battery, however, was the unknown. I decided to wait. I wanted to do a full Ironman with full gears! When I flatted in Canada, I made the decision to wait and it only cost me ~40min; I could do that again and still survive, right?

Starting the bike. If you can believe it, this is an attempt at a smile, but my face was frozen ha!

I actually was still in good spirits while waiting. After the flat fiasco in Canada, I knew the drill -- stay positive because you can still persevere even when bad stuff happens. (Granted, after IMC, the last thing I wanted in Tahoe was another bike failure -- two for two in my Ironman career so far, shit!) So, I was chatting with people who stopped at the aid station for relief (maaaany people were happily taking a chance to stop and chill) and I also got a private show of the pros climbing through Martis Camp on their second loop, which was badass to say the least. The power those guys and girls had climbing, especially compared with the AGers they were passing, was awe-inspiring.

But then, before I knew it, it had been an hour and a half of waiting. I was losing it. Dammit!!! This was not good. I talked to a volunteer dude, and from that convo decided that I might as well just go for it and ride as it was so I could at least experience the course; who knew how it'd be with the gear situation, but like I said, better to be stuck in the small ring than big ring. Also, at that point, it was becoming an issue of making bike checkpoint cutoff times, as well. So I continued on, determined to make the cutoffs and finish the ride. As luck would have it, at some point I saw a tech on moto and stopped. Sure enough, he had a battery for me, so I got my gears back. It ate up more time, as he was helping someone else when I stopped, but I could ride normally again. Yay!!!

But the damage had been done. I didn't really drink or eat anything while stopped for that 1.5hr at the aid station. No desire and clearly wasn't thinking straight. I should have forced myself to keep up with hydration at the very least, but I was a little sick to my stomach over the situation and the sensation to eat/drink was gone-zo. Stupid. Additionally, before that I screwed up my hydration. For those first ~20+ miles I was not drinking enough. I was so cold and my drinks were even colder, my thirst sensation was non-existent, had frozen limbs/extremities... basically I was simply under-doing it for the energy I had expended -- including all that energy expended on the swim and trying to generate heat in the morning. Stupid. Stupid.

So, after I started riding again out of Martis Camp, I could feel the dehydration setting in, namely in my eyes. Does anyone get this issue: Traditionally, when I am behind on drinking, my contacts start to dry up in my eyes and they get foggy and feel like paper. This was happening. Then, one of my worst triathlon fears happened, a contact fell out! All I did was blink, but my eyes/contacts were so dry that it just popped out. So now I was riding half blind and with very blurred vision. That continued for more than an hour, and I was telling myself that it still was not going to stop me, but it was tough. I am legally blind without my contacts, and the blurred vision was making me dizzy, giving me a headache and making it hard to navigate, to say the least (this course was no IMAZ out-and-back style; there are many turns and it's always curvy and up or down).

I had to stop a couple times to re-group. I was under the impression there was a 2:20 cutoff in Martis Camp, so my goal was to make it past that. But my body was just starting to give out on me. Even with taking in appropriate calories and drink at that point, I was getting weaker by the minute. Another Ironman bonk unfolding.... The course terrain didn't make things easier, either. Hahahaha. Hilly? Windy? Cold? Yea, just a bit. Being that I was so behind time-wise on the bike, the wind just kept getting worse as it got later in the day.

Turns out there was no 2:20 cutoff, and I was ok to proceed. Whew. But I was getting more f-ed up by the minute. I couldn't see clearly whatsoever and that was a little scary, I felt like crap, and oddly my body was freezing even though it was "warmer" outside by then. I stopped, debated for a while, and decided to call it a day after 88ish miles on the bike. A 7hr training day? Sure, haha.

I cried. A lot. I was gutted, and did not like having to make that decision. I don't even really want to talk about those moments in detail. Too hard. I thought of my peeps racing and wondered how they were -- probably all on the marathon or close to it.

I eventually re-connected with my parents and sister, and when we started talking more we all noticed that I had a wet cough and was kinda wheezing. I noticed it prior while still riding, but didn't think much of it. They made me go into medical just to make sure it wasn't high-altitude pulmonary edema, as we do have a family history of that, so I did, just for them. No HAPE, but they did say I had a good case of exercise-induced asthma. Geez.

So that's it. That was my day. I don't know what to say. At Vegas Worlds, no matter what, I was not going to DNF, but this course and the unforeseen circumstances of the mechanical and whatnot and so much downtime on the side of the road, blah blah, were just too much. It sucks, and there have been tears -- plenty of 'em -- but shit happens. On a positive note, I got to be at a historical Ironman event and even better got to see John, ER and my athlete Ray all fight hard to finish their races. They, along with everyone else who finished this beast, are heroes to me. This course rewards the mentally strong. I heard it had the highest DNF rate of any Ironman ever. Ever! More than 1,000 people didn't finish I think - out of 2800 or so who registered. (Don't quote me on those stats, though.)

I have to give a special thanks my family for being by my side and being 100 percent supportive no matter what happens to me in a race. They are my rocks. I called them while stranded at aid station 4, and so they knew everything. Once they knew I was just going to ride with a dead Di2, they still waited for me another couple hours or so at Dollar Point to see me pass. They all cried with me back at Squaw and tried to lift my spirits. They didn't judge me for calling it a day, and understood. I also want to say a special thanks to my peeps for their love. Hearing the stories of how concerned John, Elizabeth and Ray were for me during the race when they didn't see me made me cry (again), and even makes me tear up now. I am so lucky to have people who care so much, that's a special thing.

So what's next? I will not do another race "for redemption" this season. I am done. Not a fun ending to the season, but it is what it is. Sometimes these bad spells happen for a reason, right? As I said in the beginning, I am still the same Tawnee. A little sad, yes, but I'll be fine :) Too many other joys in life to let this keep me down. Plus, I made a deal back in June to take a good long offseason after Tahoe no matter what in order to get my body back to 100% health; that said, I am proud that I even did what I did this year. But now it's time to chill, recharge, have lots of fun this offseason and plan for a KILLER comeback.

I am down, but I will never be out.  I love this sport and what it brings to my life, and I will be back and better than ever. As my good friend D said, the Ironman distance apparently doesn't like me so far, but eventually I will change that. So stay tuned :)

Thanks again for your faith, love and support.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day Before My Ironman #2

I love this!

Being in Tahoe so far has been amazing. It's really brought me back down to earth as to why I love this sport and everything it entails -- from the personal challenge to the other folks involves to the destinations it takes you. I am loving this so far... it helps that I am with two amazing people who are so positive and excited as can be as well. John is like a kid on Christmas Eve. (He is an Ironman virgin, after all; and it might as well be Christmas-time weather here!)

Strolling around the lake (pre-race boredom) in our souvenir Tahoe trucker hats, which were actually made in Hawaii!
Ok, yea, they are too big here but we can tighten them, and they are cool no matter what ;)
Saving this for POST race!
John, Elizabeth and I have been a big ol' house since Thursday, on Dollar Hill, having a great time. ER and I have done all our necessary catching up on life and everything -- Thursday we stayed up way too late talking endlessly (if you consider 10pm(ish) late; hey, it is before a race! hehe). It's a blessing to have such a good friend who's as involved in sport as me on almost all levels. Then last night my family, our sherpas, arrived after we went to sleep. We were supposed to have more people coming, but some unfortunate sickness and stuff is preventing that :( 

Weather prediction for
Saturday night into Sunday.
Anyway, it's been way too chill and easy since we got here. Of course, there is massive hype about the weather and what it will do on race day, then the whole the altitude factor, the terrain, blah blah. Most of that is old news; although, for me it was new news to hear that a storm would be rolling in today (Saturday) bringing rain, possibly some snow at the 8k ft level, and, of course, dropping the temperatures further. Hey, it is what it is. We signed up knowing there were a lot of random variables that play into this IM.

Pre-swim on Friday. All smiles here! I only wish I had a pic of the view in the beautiful water!
I decided a while ago that no matter what, I am doing this race (I'll admit, there was a point where I questioned that this year), and will persevere to the finish at my best ability. Only if they deem me unable to carry on will I stop (but that happening? Fat chance.). So, if it IS in fact 26 degrees outside on Sunday (likely) and the swim carries on as usual (hopefully), you better believe I will strip down and get in that damn lake! Heck, we did a practice swim Friday at 7am and it was amazing. Yea, cold outside, but the water was ideal. Clear as you can imagine (drastic shift from what I just experienced in Vegas), with a turquoise hue that was unlike anything I'd ever seen, and the water was significantly warmer than the ocean back at home. No ice cream headache at all, and a good water temp for swimming. Getting out was the hard part.

So that said, it may get colder for Sunday, but we all just have to plan accordingly. I'm not doing this race to break records, so if I need to spend extra time in T1 to make sure I'm warm(ish) and ready for the bike, then I will. I'm even debating wearing a swimsuit under my wetsuit and then changing into my tri kit and extra layers in T1 so I don't start the bike cold when it's freezing outside. Hm.... 

That said, while it's been "easy" prep, planning what I'll wear and how all that will go down has been the most complicated thing about this race so far! We seriously bought extra gloves, hand and toe warmers, and cheap throw-away jackets yesterday -- have you ever added that to your triathlon race day checklist?! It's actually quite funny, and has made us laugh more than wallow in fear.
John's new gloves from a random convenience store, so he can "murder"
it on the course....
John and his murdering gloves -- getting carried away ;)
It gets windy here. But I think it will be more mellow on race day.
What else is there to say?

Food is good. I brought up most our groceries and have been cooking the usual fare. Everything from tawnee-approved eggs (yes, I am picky about my eggs), to veggies, to grassfed beef, chocolate, kobacha squash and sweet potatoes. Of course, butter and coconut oil for cooking :) And, no, we did not go to the athlete dinner on Friday (we did attend the meeting, however). It was not appealing and would have probably f-ed up my race if I ate that stuff (pasta, pound cake, soggy salad, some kind of chicken, quinoa - but doubtfully soaked, etc). Sorry Ironman, I love the races, not a fan of the menus.
Nice big kitchen for some good cooking...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Road Trippin' Must-Haves....

Hey! I'm still here! I can still be MIA from social media and blog, right? I got inspired to write this one while packing for Tahoe. It made me think: Since I've been dating John I think I've been on more long road trips than I ever have in my life for various reasons, mostly related to races, which is not a bad thing: triathlons, his car races, "for fun" trips, etc.

For Tahoe, we'll be on the road 8-9 hours (says John, I haven't mapped it on Google so I have no idea and don't really want to know right now) so I thought I'd share some of my must-haves for a long road trip.

This is by far the most important thing on a road trip, and rivals music these days! If you are going to be sitting there for that many hours, might as well learn something, right? I don't really like reading while I'm in the passenger seat, and a podcast is something the driver can enjoy as well so it's perfect. Here are my favorite podcasts:

*Dave Asprey's Bulletproof Executive
Probably my favorite podcast right now. I just started listening not too long ago and started from episode #1 so I am playing catchup. Lots to go, and every episode I learn something cool in attempts to be a better biohacker. Great diet info on here too.
*The Beerists
We love beer, so this is easy to love. It's a rad show where they sit around, drink beer and talk about it. Simple and perfect. Always makes me want to drink, and not necessarily a good thing, but then it becomes a good practice in self-discipline ;)
*Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast
Ben is one of the smartest guys I know, a great colleague to have, and is no doubt a major expert on the topics in the health, fitness, nutrition and the training world. I'll give you guys a little insight: I don't give him our EP podcast questions beforehand, and I'm not sure if he looks at them on FB but I don't think he does, yet he always has an awesome answer and can talk in detail about pretty much anything that comes up. Skills. Oh, and also on BGF podcast: you can't help but love Ben's co-host, Brock, who has a quarky sense of humor and is also quite knowledgeable himself even if Ben does most the talking ;)
*Rich Roll
I'll admit, I have to fast forward through his intros usually, and sometimes I skip parts of the meat of the show, but all still good stuff, and how can you not like Rich? He's so mellow, so chill.
*Vinnie Tortorich
Ah, Vinnie, the "Howard Stern" of fitness podcasts. Can't help but like this guy, as well as his sidekick Anna. He's like the opposite of Rich Roll, too, in case you didn't know. Yet they are good buds, and it works.

Of course, I have to shamelessly promote my podcast, Endurance Planet, if you haven't heard of it;) But I will say, I do NOT listen to my own show. Mostly because I already know what happens haha. Other than that? Every now and then I chime in to Competitor Radio or IM Talk, I'm starting to get into Joe Rogan, tried Jillian Michaels and hated it, hm. I'll also listen to one of John's others (he is a podcast whore haha).

No surprise, staying hydrated on the road is important. That said, avoid the trap of over-hydrating and drinking out of boredom to the point where you have to stop and pee every 2 seconds! I also don't drink anything but water (or coffee if we are leaving early, which is usually the case). Never any sodas (diet or regular), never anything random from a convenience store. Occasionally, if we're lucky, we grab a kombucha if they're available wherever we are, and that is usually a big-deal treat if it happens.

I always pack a bag of dry food in one of our reusable bags, a cooler with perishables, and some random utensils, tupperware "bowls" and napkins. I do not eat fast food or crap from convenience stores while on the road (shocking, I know), but, duh, I usually get hungry on the road! So what are some typical things we always bring?

*Baby carrots - we go through them like candy on the road
*Avocado - Always.
*Sardines - yes, I will literally eat my sardines and make John suffer through the smell all while trying not to spill sardine juice haha
*Hummus - this is more of a John thing, I usually don't eat hummus anymore unless I'm starving
*Coconut flakes. Non-sweetened, nothing added, just the meat in shredded form. I think these are absolutely great snacks and bursting with flavor even without sugar and salt and whatever else they add to those ones you find at TJ's. I get the brand pictured to the right.
*Apples or some kind of fruit - These days I almost view this as a treat because I find myself eating less fruit when I'm not active - high in sugar, not necessary
*Living Fuel Powders - Sometimes I'll make my "puddings" or drinks with the greens, superberry and/or protein. The "puddings", especially with the greens, look terrible, I won't lie, but I like it, what can I say? I love the taste, and it's healthy.
*Breakfast - If we are leaving early, I'll be sure to make time to cook something yummy for the road, i.e. a couple eggs with veggies sauteed in coconut oil, and a side of avo, or a kobacha squash mix.
*Leftovers - Whatever was left in the fridge and needs to be eaten always gets thrown in. This could be anything from grilled chicken to veggie medleys to leftovers from a restaurant we ate at. Ya just never know. Heck, we ate one of those pull-apart whole chickens on the way home from Vegas! Messy but tasty!
*Other raw veggies - Honestly, I don't really like raw broccoli or whatever, but I'll sometimes eat it on the road if it's that vs. something "bad" that I don't need when sedentary (although, sometimes I give into the not-as-great stuff; read on). One thing I do oddly like is plain arugula - it has great flavor and is tasty to munch on. Call me crazy...
*Chips - Yes, it's true. Sometimes we dig into a bag of chips on the road, and the rest is history. I am a sucker for some good chip-munchin', and sometimes I just give in when the craving hits. I at least try to buy good brands like "Way Better Snacks" (soaked and sprouted ingredients, no GMO, etc) or "Go Raw" little itty bitty chips made with flax and whatnot in various flavors...
*Salsa - It can get messy, but it's a good fresh thing to have around, and add flavor.

Let's face it, podcasts get old and you can only handle so much information coming in at one time. We definitely hit the wall with podcasts, and then turn on the tunes. I can't even begin to tell you what kind of music we like listening to because it's literally all over the map. Everything from Led Zeppelin to Muddy Waters to Buena Vista Social Club to Sublime to Metallica to Classical.... I love it! We use John's iTunes Match, Pandora, and, very infrequently, the radio.

Other randoms that you'll find me with:
*110 Play Harder Compression socks - duh!
*Ear buds - John and I both usually talk to multiple clients and/or are doing business of some sort while on the road; always workin' baby!
*iPad - My top uses for this on the road: Maps for directions; Yelp for finding food, gas stations or places to pee; work; social media
*Chapstick or some kind of lip balm.
*Sunglasses - don't leave home without 'em!

So, what do you bring? What am I missing here? (PS- and sorry for not providing more links... busy and packing while I wrote this!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ironman Week & Not Your Average Checklist

Man, I feel so much better after the tough blow at Vegas. Thanks to each and everyone of you who left a comment on this blog (I love getting comments on here, btw, hint hint wink wink), as well as emails, texts, calls, etc... all so sweet and kind and a great reminder as to why I do this sport!

So, Ironman week is here! Haven't had one of these since 2011, and I probably won't have one again until 2015 (I don't really have the desire to do IMs every year at this point). In prep for the big day in Tahoe this weekend, here are a few things I'm doing. Not the typical checklist, and full of some "biohacks" if you will:

*Bye-bye social media. I think I'm going to disconnect quite a bit this week up until about Saturday-ish, minus work I have to do (podcasts, etc). I find that when I get too wrapped up in social media on race week, it has a tendency to stress me out a little bit more than I need (especially when I see people blabbing about my particular race). I don't know why, that just is. I also think it will be a good practice in relaxing the mind and getting rid of information overflow. So, if you don't see/hear much from me, you know why.

*No gum. Many of you know I am a gum addict, Orbit Sweet Mint is my flavor of choice. I don't like this habit, and it's a waste of money quite frankly. Mostly it's the ingredients in gum I dislike, and while I totally believe some artificial sweeteners in the diet aren't going to kill you, they aren't good either, nor necessary. So I think in the spirit of Ironman I'm going to kick this habit this week! Going cold turkey...finished my last piece this morning, not buying any more... I wonder how long it will take for the cravings to go away?

*No phone, lights, etc, before bed. This one is also big for me, and something I want to keep going with even after IM as much as I can. No phone, no iPad, no computer and no lights before bed. After I brush teeth and floss, I then walk into a dark bedroom and immediately shut my eyes (hoping to fall asleep asap haha). It's proven that looking at our devices and/or having certain lights on before bed disrupts quality sleep because your melatonin production suffers, etc. I want quality rest this week! (This also goes hand in hand with no social media, because that's usually what I'm looking at before bed...) I'm trying to get John on board with this too... he was successful last night, until he got a midnight phone call :/

*Contrast showers/cold therapy. I had an amazing conversation with a guy named Ray Cronise the other day, a dude who I'm getting on the podcast soon in a show you won't want to miss. We talked a lot about the concepts of contrast showers/cold therapy, and I'm going to use these this week (already started) to help the body feel good and recovered leading into the weekend. The only problem is that my shower doesn't get that cold here in Laguna Beach, grrr.

*Not changing my diet much. Here's one thing I won't do -- drastically switch things up with what I'm eating! I'm not cutting out coffee, for example, and food will be normal taper fare, i.e. mostly LCHF and moderate protein through Thursday (low energy expenditure = no need/desire to be stuffing my face especially with carbs). I will be sure, however, to replenish well after any workout I do this week as to not get depleted! Then on Friday/Saturday I'll up the carbs a bit more in smaller portions. I ate too many carbs the day before Vegas Worlds, and I felt like crap by the end of the night (bloated, gassy, ewww, TMI).  I'll maybe have a beer or two this week, but I'm in race mode so alcohol isn't even on my mind (except for researching where we will be drinking post race haha).

Also, on this subject, I interviewed Linsey Corbin yesterday for Endurance Planet on the topic of her diet (click here for podcast). One of the things she mentioned was that one year leading into Kona she cut out a lot -- like all coffee, alcohol, any bad food, etc... turns out, she said, that was one of her "worst" performances to date on the big island and not something she'll repeat. Granted, she said she's not just drinking and eating willy nilly and she's keeping it clean, but she's ok having a few cheat days here and there and keeping the regular stuff like coffee in the mix.

*Monitoring HRV. Truth be told: Before Vegas my HRV was mostly crap leading into the race despite resting and tapering. Race morning it was terrible, in the 50s. I guess it's to be expected to be a little stressed on race morning, but that's a very bad score for me. This week I'll be monitoring HRV daily, especially right when I wake up and before I get out of bad (standard). It'll be interesting to see what it far it's been in the 70s and 80s the last few days, yay. Btw, if you want to learn more about HRV, listen to this rad podcast I did with expert Ronda Collier, who is the founder of the popular HRV app, SweetBeat.

*Reading. Any downtime I have (if at all!), I'll pick up a book and chill. I have one that I started and am particulalry interested in called Mind Management, which was written by a fellow triathlete and PhD, Mike Greer. He was also the guy who started the Buffalo Lake Spring 70.3 in Texas. Cool guy.

Other than that, it will just be the regular prep for a road trip and race away from home... I'll grocery shop for any certain items I'm not sure that I can get up in Tahoe, get my equipment all dialed in (although, my bike hasn't changed much since vegas -- wheels still on and all), laundry, pack, etc. You know the routine! I love that we're driving because that means I can over-pack ;)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

70.3 World Champs -- Well, That Happened!

What happens in Vegas, doesn't stay in Vegas! Time to tell my story, and then close the chapter on this one. Sunday's Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in Henderson, Nevada, was not a great day for me.

What happened out there? In short: I don't quite know. I'll tell you what it wasn't: It wasn't nutrition/GI issues, and it wasn't lack of prep (heck, I've been training for Ironman Tahoe!) So what does that leave? I have several ideas, some I'll share below. But man, that was just crazy racing for me. Near the end, it got real tough, and I was hanging on by a thread. If you saw me out there, particularly on the run, you knew I was struggling, and I apologize for being rather unresponsive to any shoutouts and cheers. It was uncharacteristic of how I normally operate, and not something of which I'm proud. Normally I do my best to flash a smile, wave and/or shout back even when I'm hurting during a race, but in Vegas I lost that ability for a while... and that just sucks.
Previewing the bike course on a dry day. Photos don't do the hills justice. On all the driving we did over the weekend,
I made sure to always wear my 110 Play Harder Compression.

Before I dive into my race report, couple things.

One: I just want to give the biggest heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who's supported me and who's reached out with encouraging words not only during race weekend, but in the days and months leading up to Vegas (family, friends, my coach, sponsors/affiliates, my athletes, podcast fans, social media buddies, fellow triathletes, etc....). I love you all for your kindness and belief in me, it means the world! I didn't want to let any of you guys down in Vegas, trust me, and it stung when I felt like I was doing just that.

Two: Take it from me: Don't let the negative aspects of a race ruin you before you even toe the line. There was so much negativity surrounding the Vegas course, from the non-wetsuit swim in a murky lake, to the hilly bike and hilly run, to the threat of brutal heat. All those factors were talked about endlessly by many folks, including me, and they seeped into my subconscious, setting a bad tone for this race and most certainly overshadowing the positives that Vegas offered (and there were positives!).*


So...let's talk about this. Giving it to you straight, no sugar coating. I've spent a lot of time thinking about and writing this race report... it means a lot to me.

After so many weeks and so much heart invested into this race, Vegas weekend finally came. I knew it had been less than a stellar year for me, and I'd dealt with some heavy sh*t, but after Vineman I did my best to be a fighter and make the most of every day leading up to September -- in training and in life -- I was proud of that. It really seemed like things had turned a new leaf and I was rockin' it. Whether it would get me where I wanted on race day was yet to be determined. I'll tell ya though, I wanted it, I really did. I especially wanted to ride my Shiv like a b-o-s-s on that course!

I mean, c'mon, that bike is gorgeous!

We hit the road Friday morning and were in good spirits. I wasn't quite as loose and relaxed as I normally am before a race, but not a total dud because I was also looking forward to spending a weekend away with John, who was going above and beyond to be the best sherpa ever. Saturday, we took care of pre-race business, i.e. T1 and T2 drop offs, but more importantly, buying a coffee maker. That's it! I am fed up and sick of crappy hotel coffee makers, and I need good coffee race morning, so I said screw it and bought one for $19.99 at Sears! Once all that was taken care of, to John's surprise, I made the call to go out for a little Vegas "fun" -- PG style, of course -- rather than sit in the hotel room. We went and drove the Strip, and met with his bro-in-law, who was also in town, so they could share a flight of beers at a local brewery. I had a kombucha and water. Surprisingly, I had no desire even for a small drink before this race, but it was enjoyable to get out and get triathlon/the race off my mind.

Driving around Vegas. This made me laugh.
Saturday night I ate a Whole Foods special in the hotel, food that we picked up earlier in the day. It was perfect-o. After that, I slept very well, like scary well! Asleep around 9, with only a couple wakeups to check the clock, then up and at 'em just before the alarm. Standard.

Race Morning
How often do you see this for
"But it's a dry heat...." seemed to be the words coming out of everyone's mouth before the race. Ha!!! I woke up, checked twitter (duh) and the first Vegas-related tweet I saw was Michelle Simmons' that said, "I knew I forgot something #raincoat #umbrella #IM703WC" I looked outside and sure enough -- pouring. It had been stormy weather and windy as hell the day prior (enough to shut down the race expo a couple hours early as a precaution), but I wasn't expecting rain like that! And the rain didn't stop, at all, until I was about 70% done with the bike.

As you can imagine, race morning turned out to be a scramble, despite having dropped off almost everything in T1/T2 the day prior. Getting into transition area alone was a cluster-f with 2,000+ people trying to bottle neck onto one little road by the lake in crap weather. Meanwhile, multiple pros rolled up in style, aka they rode their bikes to the lake in pretty sketch conditions. Badass. Respect. I took a cue from what I saw going on around me and finally bailed from the car and ran to T1 with all my gear because we weren't going anywhere. I had to get set up in a matter of minutes by then; it was faster on foot. Meanwhile, we were all getting drenched in the rain, and it was still dark. Brrrrr - I was cold. Who would have thought?!?!

(As I was packing before the weekend, I got excited thinking it would be the first time I wouldn't have to worry about warm clothes for race morning. Um, nope! Now, no matter what, I will always bring something just in case, Vegas proved that anything is possible. I think it was Susan Lacke who tweeted that it only rains 27 days of the year in Henderson, and we got one of those lucky days!)

T1, in a bowl-like area, so you can imagine how it just turned
into a soppy mud pit with all that rain!
My wave didn't start until 7:44, but transition "closed" at 6 (although it really didn't because people were late due to traffic and the race officials seemed cool about letting people stay in longer). I got set up in record time even though transition was essentially a mud pit and we were operating in darkness. I literally got into transition at 5:50 and was done before 6 -- nutrition/hydration loaded, tires pumped, gear set up... bam! That was a rush and a little stress-inducing, but then I had almost 2 hours to sit around and wait. I sat in the car, that got old; I stood under the bridge, that smelled like gross port-o-potty... tick tick.... By this point my state of mind was not stellar, I won't lie. The weather was shit, and I was not excited to swim. I was wet and it was just cool enough where I was getting cold just standing there, and we had no warm clothes. But I was at the world championships, dammit, and it was fun being able to track the pros as they came out of the water right below my feet...

Finally it was go time. Our wave lined up -- we were second to last -- and I found my athlete, Lauren, who was also racing and in the same wave, which was very cool. That turned my mood around and I felt grateful for that moment with her and got excited. While there was no swim warm-up allowed, they did make us swim about 100m to the start line, which helped a little.
Swim start. We're on the opposite side of the lake from this angle, just starting the swim by the yellow buoy.
Yes, the water is brown and gross. There is no filter on this photo.

Exiting the practice swim on Saturday,
which was not so great for me.
My face says it all here. 
In all honesty, I am not disappointed in this portion of the race. Going in, I said I would have been happy with anything under 50 minutes given the conditions, and that held true even more once the rain came into the equation. According to my Garmin, which I recently tested and is pretty accurate, I swam 1.33 miles in 41:10, which quite frankly is good for me (1:45/100yd) minus the fact that I strayed off course apparently ;) I got out of the water pretty relieved to see my time. Yea, it was my slowest half-Ironman swim ever and the only time I've gone north of 40, but it's all about perspective here.

Backing up: When we started and I hung with the pack for about 400m before I slowly got dropped and then was on my own entirely minus the occasional girl or two. I was doing my thing, and I was ok, but a draft would have been nicer :) The last wave was 25-29 males, and they caught me when I was about 1k into the swim, which was beneficial at times because I would catch an occasional draft of them.... and then get trampled. Ha.

Those final meters were tough, from 1700 on, and seemed to drag on. But I got through it. I was elated to conquer something that had weighed so heavily on my mind for so long. I'd had been thinking about this swim daily for more than a year. Getting through it was a small victory in itself! Face your fears, folks, because what a relief when you do.
Yea, so, apparently I grew a mustache on the
swim. Or were my lips blue? Who knows.

The swim was one small victory, but still so much ahead. Unfortunately I could tell something was up and not in a good way. Normally I am booking it in T1 and passing people like nobody's business (a girl's gotta make up for lost time!), but in this case I was sluggish and the one getting passed.

Trying hard to focus and use my eyeballs
despite the rain "bullets" attacking me.
Holy crap! What a ride! I don't care that I sucked, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and there are only about 2,000 of us in the world who can ever say that they were out there "that one time when it was pouring in Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships." Man, I saw lots of carnage out there, it was gnarly. Given my start time, the rain came down really hard until about mile 38 on the bike. Those first 25ish miles were especially crazy, in particular the downhills. I couldn't wear my sunglasses because I couldn't see out of them with the fogginess and abundant rain spots so I stuffed them down my top. But the problem with no glasses was going downhill fast and getting pelted with rain drops, which was particularly painful on the face and eyes -- it got so bad in moments that I would have to briefly close my eyes or turn my head away because it hurt. So basically, I would be bombing downhill up to 35-40 mph (yes I got that fast) with my eyes closed in slippery wet conditions while passing folks and/or being passed. That was intense and almost made the climbs seem easy. Almost.
The first mile or two, I knew something was up...

Honestly, experiencing this bike was something I'll never forget, and I was honored to have been invited to the party. But other than the epic weather conditions on a crazy hilly course (I think "epic" is, for once, appropriate here!), the bike was a total bust performance-wise, which sucks because I thought this would be where I'd shine the most. I had a podcast recently in which the guest, Dr. Tim Noakes, said something to the effect of being able to know what kind of workout it's going to be -- good or bad -- within the first couple minutes. That was the case here. From the get-go I was just flat. Had nothing. Zilch. I wanted to give so much and it meant so much to me, but I was totally blah. Why?!?! My power meter had died, so I had no idea of watts. HRM was not working either.

On a positive note, 1) my nutrition was great and I was having no trouble taking in my Skratch and Bonk Breakers. Even when everything else is out of whack, those products hold up and do me well. Thanks, guys! 2) The Shiv rode like a dream and handled so well in those tough conditions. Never once did I feel frightened or unsure about my ride, and, in fact, the bike and all the great stuff on it was the biggest motivator to keep me going. Thank you Specialized for creating a solid bike in which I have 100% confidence. And thank you Shimano for decking it out in awesome components. Sorry, guys, that I wasn't able to perform and do this setup justice like I should have.
Peaking one of the bigger climbs during our preview drive of the course.

Toward the end of the bike, I went from feeling flat and blah to feeling downright terrible. I felt dizzy and just weird. It was by no means a bonk, my nutrition was close to flawless. I have no idea what it was, but it was not normal and not even the typical "I'm ready to be off the bike" feeling. I started having thoughts that the run wasn't going to happen. By mile 43 we had a decent downhill/flat stretch before the final 5-mile (I mean 6-mile) uphill, yet I was not taking advantage of the easier section like I should have. When I neared T2, I'll admit, I was losing my mental fortitude. Not my proudest moments...

Last note on the bike, no big deal here, but just pointing it out for the record. First, it was long, about 57 miles. Second, there was some debate about the actual elevation gain on the course, and my Garmin had 3,745 ft of vertical and 3,003 ft of descent. Just sayin...

As soon as I hit transition I saw/heard John and the tears hit. As did the snot. I did my best to suck it up and also not let anyone see what was happening to me. I took a very long T2, taking my time to put on my socks and shoes and just breathe deeply.... It felt like hours in that tent, but it was less than 3 minutes.

There was one awesome thing in T2. I opted to wear the Hokas, left them there Saturday, and they sat in the rain. I was a little afraid I'd get to T2 and they'd be soaking wet, but they were fine, and I'm glad I wore them! Super comfy!

I made a promise with myself in T2 to get through the dang run and not DNF. It was all about finishing at that point. I wasn't injured, I was physically fine in that regard, so there was no legit reason to quit. Yea, my body was not right, but I knew I couldn't live with myself with a seemingly pointless DNF. If someone's injured, I think a DNF is totally fair, but that wasn't my situation. And, hell, the medals looked pretty cool and I wanted one ;)

Digging deep for those final moments.
When I first started the run it was jam-packed and full of so much energy -- unlike anything I'd ever experienced. But by my third lap there were only a handful of us left on the course and it was lonely out there. All the while, I was running much slower than normal and mentally not in the game so my mind started to wander (when I'm having a good race and am on pace, I am 100% in the moment and 100% focused on the task; this was not the case in Vegas). I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me?! Which in retrospect was dumb because it led me to focus on more negatives than positives. But regardless of being smart or dumb, that's what went on.

I also thought a lot about everyone else who's shared in my journey (all you mentioned in the beginning here). I didn't want to let you guys down. That was tough to take. Yea, I probably should have just let go and rolled with it. But sometimes I just care way too damn much.

On that same level, I also didn't want to take this opportunity for granted. Not too many people ever get to race a world championship event, and I was honored to be involved. So, even if it wasn't my day and I felt like death, the least I could do was finish what I started.

That all said, at no point did I hate being out there, and I have to say, it was a great run course (and a well-run event in general). I think the three loops with the uphill and downhill made it very easy to wrap your head around and get through. I just simply broke it into segments and got through each part, i.e: "Ok, just get to the top of the hill, no more than a couple miles..." "Alright, downhill for a while, you can do this...." "Just make it to the turnaround by the park..." That said, I really couldn't give much merit to my splits. They were all over the place. You really just have to go with the flow on a course like this.

Also, the volunteers were superb. (This goes for the swim/bike too.) There was ALWAYS an abundance of volunteers helping and an abundance of everything at the aid stations. And I was one of the very last folks on the course that day, so I can vouch that even at the end they were still rocking out and stocked up on ice, water, food, gels, etc....

Nearing the end, I finally flipped through my Garmin screens to see overall time, which I hadn't been watching. I realized, not surprising by that point, that I would undoubtedly get my slowest half-Ironman performance to date. So what did I do? I didn't cry about it this time. I just set some new goals, and those happened to be a sub-2hr half marathon and a sub-6 half-Ironman. Those little goals helped to light the fire just enough. Thinking about it now, I guess I can just look at this s/b/r combo in Vegas as a practice in Ironman pacing for Tahoe! Hahaha...
Drained. Thanks, Vegas, for sucking the life out of me yet again -- and there wasn't even
any alcohol involved this time! Dang! 

Going into this race, I had a personal goal of going top-10 age group, regardless of finishing time, but hopefully that would be sub-5:15. On paper, I was ready to achieve that! Reality: That couldn't have been further from what happened. Life threw a curveball at me and I still don't know exactly why or what happened, but whatever, move on. I've already forgotten my end results... it's not relevant here. Many more lessons to be learned from this experience.

Once I crossed the finish, I was just trashed. Exhausted on all levels (see above photo). It took a while to find John, and before I did I ran into Punk Rock Racing Ron, who was there just at the right moment when I was alone and in need of a hug and kind words from a good friend. Thanks Ron.

John and I found each other, and he was more than supportive and kind. I'm a lucky girl. I already knew that, but sometimes in adverse situations we realize even more who we love and who loves us. Heck, he had already cleaned up my gear out of transition and loaded it in the car.... dream come true! And with that, we bounced.


I'll end with this: John asked me after the race that if I knew what I knew then -- i.e. about how the race would turn out -- would I do it again? And without any hesitation I answered a firm, "Yes."

It's the hard days that make us stronger.

Bring it.
Calm after the storm... I'm still a happy gal, and life is still good!

*Going back to the attitude/negativity thing... I now see how this EXACT thing is happening with Tahoe, and it's not just me. I see people on forums all over the Internet voicing their fears regarding the weather, altitude, cold swim, hilly bike, the accuracy of course maps, etc.... and no one really seems to be saying, "Hell, it's Ironman it's supposed to be hard. That's part of the challenge, folks! Who cares what the course profile says, that means shit." I know I won't repeat the mistakes I made heading into Vegas, and I'm thankful I get another chance with Tahoe!