Thursday, March 28, 2013

Betty to the Rescue!

Two more sleeps till Oside! Let the race-day nightmares and restlessness begin... haha...jk. kinda. Actually, I am bouncing off the walls with energy! Man, it's crazy how rambunctious I am when I don't workout! I think I was freaking out John last night as I was bouncing off the walls and being silly. He's used to the subdued grandma in the evenings who passes out before 9 pm....

Anyway, I mentioned a while back about custom kits that I am getting made this year. Everything went forward with that smoothly enough, and I was like a kid on Christmas Eve just wanting to have the kit in my hand right away. This was around the end off February, at which point I was told, "Sorry, it's going to be about 8 weeks still. Nothing we can do to speed it up." It's my fault for being a rookie in this process -- I thought starting in January would allow sufficient time to have it all done and delivered by March, but nope. It's a loooong process just to get it finalized for production, and then the making of the kits takes forever especially this time of year. Take it from me (again): If you're interested in getting kits for early-season races, get the ball rolling before the holidays the prior year just to be safe! i.e. I'll be on it come fall time if new kits are needed.

So, that left me without a kit for Oceanside! I have quite a good collection of workout/training clothes, I won't lie, but I don't have any nice tri kits at all. They're either worn down to shreds, or mismatched leftovers from way back -- basically all designated as training clothes now. I didn't want to start the first race of the season looking like crap. (Nor do I want to wear a bra top with O-side being a chilly one!)

I totally waited until the last minute on this one. Smooooth. 

Then earlier this week I was emailing back and forth with one awesome chica, Kristin Mayer, of Betty Designs, who designed my kit-to-come. She wanted to see my new custom kits too, and was sad to hear they haven't arrived yet. I told her my dilemma of being kit-less, and like the rockstar she is, she was willing and able to quickly get me a Betty Designs kit from her collection to wear (even sending a couple sizes from which to choose to ensure the right fit)! You can't ask for better service and support than that! After all, I went to her in the first place for a sick design, so if I can't have my own custom kit, the next best thing would be to sport one of hers.

This is the one I chose:
The tattoo look. I love it. More info on the kit (and her other tri kits) here.

Kristin even sent a couple hot Betty goodies with the kit delivery....

It's important to feel "fresh" on race day in many regards; a good, fresh, clean race kit included. And when the situation involves a kind gesture of someone willing to help out last minute like Kristin? Well, it's inspiring to make me not only want to race fast, but to do something kind for others in return......

Monday, March 25, 2013

An Actual Day Off, and a Cover Shot?!

Weird things happening around here. Must mean one thing: Race week! (That doesn't really make sense, but whatever, go with it haha). It's been since August since I really felt the "race week" vibe. I didn't really do anything majorly taper-ish last week (that was the plan), but this week I will. Although, last week I did take a full day off from any physical activity. I decided to sleep in, was super busy during the day (a drive to LA, teaching classes in OC, etc) then lost all motivation to train that evening. I felt fine and I'm sure the workouts would have been decent, but I think mentally I wanted the day off more than physically. It happens; not often though...

I was looking back at my training log as I wrote notes on my day off, and realized, technically, I have not taken a full day off since mid-January. I have swam, biked, run, and/or sweat in some form more consistently than ever, I think. That was never a goal or something I was paying attention to; but noticing it was interesting. I am loving that I'm at that place where mentally and physically I can hang like that. Technically, in that time period, I had three "s/b/r off" days in February but they weren't just lying around: two were hard, full days of snowboarding, and one was a full day of modeling, which included a lot of running (you can see more on that below....).

The point is: It's possible to build the body and mind to train daily, if that's what you desire. Doing it "right" is the key, though. Easy days are truly easy, and hard days are hard. Simple but often not followed by many of us because we get too wrapped up in pace or whatever.

For example of how this works: 
An "easy" day for me -- actually two easy days in a row -- consisted of:
Easy Day 1) 1400 yd recovery swim, and 25-30ish min of functional strength training.
Easy Day 2) A 60min spin on the trainer with HR/watts Z1-Z2 (on easy trainer days I usually just ignore data and ride easy by feel).
Also note, those easy days weren't really planned by Lucho and I. Rather, I just happened to not be feeling so hot so I scaled back. But it paid off, because I followed that with two hard days:

Hard Day 1) 3200 swim with MS of 20 X 100 descending (hit some records that day I think), followed by a 14.5-mile run with a lot of that at/near half-mary race pace.
Hard Day 2) Long ride; simple.
Hard Week) Plus, that whole next week I did not feel the need to take a day off, and it was a very quality week!

I even trained through sickness for close to 2 weeks, but by taking care of myself I was still able to get in good training and recover from the cold. That's tricky, and I was second-guessing my activity level at times, but I was determined to get sh*t done because it was the thick of O-side cram time. I survived. Been feeling 100% ever since.

Enough on training. There's one more thing I want to share. Going back to that "full day of modeling" that included running around. This week/month, the hard work from that day is on display:

It's truly an honor to be on the cover of this magazine -- a publication I've been reading regularly since I got into endurance sport! I also had the honor of working with a really cool team of people which made the day super fun and fly by (thanks Scott, for being an awesome photographer, Allison for the great clothes, etc).

We all see cover shots like this 24/7 on the stands, and it seems simple: Just run in front of the camera, right? Nahhh...This particular shot was the first of the day in SD and it was still pretty damn chilly outside (woke up at 3-something, arrived in Balboa Park at 6am, then makeup, and running by 7am). I think I wore about three outfits that were potential cover material (options!), which required changing on the set (see photo below, haha). To get the shot, you just run in little laps and at one point in the lap you hit a certain spot looking "perfect" while the photog shoots -- just one photo at a time. Running for the camera is quite different than your little jog around town when you're makeup-less and looking like crap-o-la. It's really an interesting process that I love. A good challenge, and a good payoff. (So.... you can see how that was not a day off... after that we hit up various spots around SD where the running and whatnot continued!)

Make sure to grab a copy of this issue (April edition). Mario Fraioli says it's one of their best yet (nice!); plus, the cover story featuring yours truly as the model includes a lot more fun pics inside with SUPER cool running gear for guys and girls. After having tried on all the women's clothes and shoes that are featured, I can say with confidence that everything was ALL quality and something I would sport....

...Actually, I take that back. There was a "running dress" (yes, dress) that I wasn't too fond of... now you really have to get the mag to see that one haha.

A couple more from behind the scenes that day:
Portable changing tent. Genius!!! So much better than a bush of the back of a car.
Going over shots with the brains of the shoot.

The "set" for the morning.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be Bike Smart, Take it From Me

So here it is, 10 days out from the first big race of the year. The hard work for O-side is in the books; taper is beginning.... for the most part, it's been a smooth ride in 2013 so far. Fitness is good, with plenty more to gain as the year unfolds.

Today I want to tell you a little story about my experiences with my Shiv so far, and offer some tips for anyone who's in the market for a new bike. My situation has been a bit of a rollercoaster so far. It happens, so maybe by writing this I can help others out there to avoid some of these issues or simply get motivated to be more bike savvy? Who knows...

I'll start off with the obvious: the Shiv is fast. I am not just saying that. My data as of late brings a smile to my face. And this is where it gets interesting because right now my setup isn't even ideal for me! Seriously! Turns out I ordered too big of frame. Yup! They were going to send a small, but then just to be sure I used Specialized's online calculations to determine my bike frame size, and I placed myself in a medium -- this was based off measurements on my Felt, by the way, so that begs the questions: Was the Felt too big too? Anyway, I got the medium and long story short: It works, but it is hands down too big. We all agree I should be on a small frame -- my bike fitter, Lucho, etc..... It's a bummer. Specialized is doing all they can to hook me up with a small, but let's just say there aren't a lot of Shivs just chillin in a warehouse somewhere.

I'm kicking myself for making the mistake of thinking I'm a medium and not doing more "homework" before making that final call. Looks like a lot of people are sizing down on the Shiv. Hell, even Crowie is on a small frame! And Jordan Rapp is on a medium -- safe to say I think he is a bit taller than I ;) Since this all started going down it's been bitter sweet. I love love love the bike, but I've had frustrations with the size issues and in dealing with that my bike knowledge has really been tested. If you read Beth's recent blog, I can kinda relate to that with my current situation. In a world where every millimeter counts and there are a million different little details that play together... well... oh can be overwhelming when you're no expert. But I guarantee I will come out of this experience knowing a lot more about bikes and bike parts than ever before. A good thing for sure!

Plus there is good news. First off, like I said, Specialized is one my side; they care about ME and want to help resolve this even if I'm no Leanda Cave. Second, in the interim with the current bike, I have an awesome bike fitter who's done his best to put me in a good position. It's working. That said, I just wish I had seen my fitter sooner because I did a couple rides impatiently on the bike prior to his fit (aka no fit at all) and might have done a little tweakage to the ol' bod -- my fault entirely. It's not too bad though so I don't even think it's worth going into. (That said, let me just emphasize that a good bike fit is everything. Don't go without.) Third, I have a great relationship with Shimano so they are helping me out with some things too... more on that soon. Overall I am grateful beyond words for the great team of folks who are helping me this year... we will get it right! I look at it this way: There are too may positives right now to dwell on the negatives. Things may not be ideal with the bike, but they sure as heck are a lot better than I even ever imagined them being just 6 months ago!

Bottom line: Take it from me, I highly recommend getting to know your current and/or future bike in the greatest detail possible to figure out how it all works in order to maximize the ride experience. If you're in the market for a new bike, do diligent homework before making any final decisions. Ask questions, read forums and articles, browse books, talk to the companies, find an expert fitter, talk to others, etc.... you can never take it to far when you're dealing with this stuff!

The most important detail I can't overlook is that I have a little 70.3 coming up. I will not let the bike stuff mess with my mojo for Oceanside! It didn't Monday... my last hard ride before the race in which I rode 57 miles through parts of the O-side course and Pendleton with 2 hours of that at half-iron effort. I was in the zone and it went well for sure. I ran off the bike too, and that felt smooth (even my little tweakage issue wasn't acting up). One big thing I notice with the Shiv is that t-runs don't hurt as much and I usually am going faster now.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shivin' It Up

Hm, what did I last blog about? Vacations? Well, those are a distant memory!!! Man. Mega work gettin done around here on all fronts! Let's put it this way: I NEVER EVER get sick, but I got sick. My fault. I didn't stop when I felt something coming on; I just kept going. It's all good. I was able to work through it for the most part.

It can be tricky navigating sickness and training though. You often hear, "Should I train when I'm sick; how sick is too sick to train, etc?" Personally, there were several days where I felt like total @$$ so I scaled back the intensity, but overall I still did as much as I could. Altogether, I maybe only bailed on one workout I think? The rest still got done. It's O-side crunch time baby! It was a good test to see how much I can push through, when I need to step back/go easy, and, ultimately, how quickly I can bounce back!

There was one thing that motivated me to keep going even when I didn't feel my best:
The Shiv.

Mmmm, that's nice. The new ride is still a work in progress with the fit and some other tweaks, but the bottom line is that it rides well and feels like buttah.... The data indicated that the bike is doing me well too :)

The first-ever ride on the Shiv was a Sunday. I did a t-run after and felt AMAZING. This bike is built for tri. Hell, even though I was still technically "sick" that day it was a solid workout. Not to mention, I was so pumped on the ride and the day in general that I even went for a surf that evening with family and friends.
Did I mention that surfing is my therapy??

A few other recent pics that make me happy....

An evening with girl friends who go waaay back. So special.

Having an awesome vegan friend make you lunch (in fact, that lovely blonde
pictured above is that vegan girl whom I love).

Discovering a different variety of Brussels sprouts at a new farmer's market.
A creative changing tent while on location(s) for a
modeling shoot!

Last but not least: Having a special athlete who I coach finish her first triathlon
like a total stud. By special, I mean there is a story behind this one...