Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Muy caliente! Theme of the day at Ironman Los Cabos 2015

Well, hello blog! I've been neglecting you... I guess I have book-ended my season on the blog by writing about Oceanside and then finishing up with my last race of the season, Ironman Los Cabos, and skipping everything in the middle! That's not because there wasn't anything to say... in fact, I've been on a fact-finding, problem-solving mission all season.

If you checked in this time last year, I'd just gone through a series of blood tests to reveal I was "hormonally depleted". Unfortunately, it takes a while to build back one's hormone levels and iron levels, let alone feel fit! It hasn't been a straightforward path either... I was on track in late March and early April but I didn't realize that I hadn't been absorbing the iron I was taking very well so by mid-July (Vineman) I was back to being slightly anemic and struggling to run at anything approaching what I would consider race pace. Thankfully, my doctor diagnosed the problem quickly, suggested a different iron supplement that got me back on track... I bounced back enough to take an AG win and third overall amateur in PR time at a local Olympic race (Santa Cruz). I even managed 6x 7:30min miles in a row!

Ironman Los Cabos had been on my radar ever since they announced the move from March to late October... It had all the attributes that I was looking for to try and qualify for my 5th Ironman Hawaii... Easy travel from San Francisco, ability to qualify almost a year in advance, wetsuit swim, challenging bike course, fairly flat run and high temperatures forecast in the low 80s. Of course, what looks good on paper doesn't always pan out in reality. The reality for this particular race was temperatures in the mid 90s and water temperature of 82f making it a non-wetsuit swim. This was not playing to my perceived strengths. However, I did remind myself that, as an experienced athlete (my 11th Ironman), I was prepared to handle whatever the day threw at me and my mantra would be to #prevail.

Downtown San Jose El Cabo
Dinner at Flora Farms a few nights pre-race

Fun to be racing with so many girlfriends - Barb, Rachel, Pia, Tatiana and Laura.

It was my first experience of a rolling swim start and I ran down the beach into the water into the surf alongside my friend and bike phenom, Pia Scaroni. Of course, right as we hit the water's edge, a breaker hit so I waited briefly to time the next wave (note to self: should probably practice these surf beach starts a little more). Thereafter, the swim was a bit of a cluster. It was 400 meters to the first turn buoy and as I got close, the pack I was swimming with started veering left, whereas, the buoy was over to the right. A paddle-boarder was yelling something but I couldn't make it out... not wanting to cut the course, I continued on my path to the turn buoy. Next thing I see is a jetski dragging the buoy back to it's rightful spot ~150meters back to my left! That was just the first of three buoys that became detached during the course of the swim causing my swim to be quite the zig-zag! I was seriously expecting my swim time to register as 1hr 20mins or more as it felt like I had been in the choppy water forever, so I was shocked to see a swim time of 1:06, a PR for me and in a swimskin no less! Was it short… nope. Garmin has me swimming over 4,000m. We did have a current assist on the way in, but that is balanced by swimming into the chop on the way out.  Net result is that I think my swimming has improved a lot by working with Matt Dixon and swimming 4,000yards+ 3 times a week with a great crew of lane-mates. Thank you lane 3!

Once on the bike, I noticed the heat immediately as we climbed out of Palmilla beach and onto the highway. I felt crappy for the first 30+ miles and I even stopped to check whether my rear tire was flat. My watts were lower than I had planned and it seemed that people (including a few other women) were flying by me. While my alter ego inner voice was telling me to just quit now, it was not going to be a good day, I knew better than to judge myself during the first few hours of racing. It was merely a bad patch and I hoped that I would come around.

The course has two out and back sections to make an L-shaped course that you repeat twice. The first leg of the L is an out and back to Cabo San Lucas from San Jose El Cabo on a rolling highway. There was a slight headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way back, which made the return trip feel particularly hot. The second leg of the L is a big climb and descent to and from the airport. As I hit this section, my legs had started to come around and I was feeling much better, perhaps aided by some occasional cloud cover. However, I also made a course error, missing the turnaround adding a couple of minutes to my time on the bike (d’oh!) so that made me a little frustrated too! I had seen that Sonja Wieck wasn’t too far ahead so it lifted my spirits a little to see a familiar face that I could work on catching. It took me all of the airport section and the outward-bound leg to Cabo San Lucas to catch up to Sonja. I felt great on this stretch and my watts were on target and I was in a happy place. However, hitting the turnaround in Cabo for a second time and heading back to San Jose, the tailwind and the accompanying heat hit me again. By this time, I was riding with Sonja and we tag teamed this section at legal distance, along with an Argentine rider who refused to leave Sonja’s wheel… he was stuck like glue! The pattern of how I was feeling repeated itself and as we hit the airport section, my legs started to feel better. I gapped Sonja on the hill but was still losing time to Pia, who was way ahead at the front of the race with a scooter and camera escort!

I got off the bike after 5:45 and as I came out of transition, the crowds told me that I was in 3rd place overall for the women. There was zero shade on the first 4 mile out and back section in town… the sun was high in the sky and not a cloud to be seen, just as we had had for the past few days in Cabo. Staying cool was my number one priority so each aid station (approx. every km) I dumped at least two cups of ice cold water on my head. For the first run lap, I ate a Clif Blok with water each mile and ran through the aid stations barely slowing enough to grab cups of water. Sonja and one other person passed me but it was generally men around me. Lap two was equally hot and as I came through town again and saw friends, Barb and her boyfriend Rod, I whined that I wasn’t even halfway through the run. Of course, they dismissed my whines and told me I looked great and just needed to keep moving forwards… as good friends do! They also told me that Blanco was winning his AG which helped boost my mood.

My pace was slowing rapidly… I kept lap one under 9min/mi pace but lap two was sliding closer to 10min/mi pace. I had seen that third place in my AG, Alana Kennedy-Nasser (whom I met at the start of the race and Pia had mentioned to me that she was a great runner), was a good 20mins behind me during lap one but I hadn’t seen her since. My mind vacillated between wanting to just be over and done and stopping on the side of the road and knowing that I was still in second place and a Kona slot was on the line.

Lap three required complete mental focus for me… I wanted to quit but I was so deep into the race and still in second place that I had no good reason to quit besides being tired. Heck, "tired" is never a good reason to quit! With daylight savings time, the sun had set as I neared the end of lap 3 and while I appreciated the cooler conditions, my body was struggling to maintain 11min/mi pace. So slow! At the final turnaround with a mile or so to go, I noticed several women behind me but I was no longer sure what lap they were on. I also had still not seen Alana. Regardless, seeing women running close to me was enough of a mental kick up the arse to rally my pace as much as possible and get to that finish line pronto. I managed an 8 min last mile and crossed the line in 11hrs 23mins and was announced as 6th overall female. Good "note to self" that even though I thought I was pushing, there’s definitely more in me… I need to take that thought with me into races next season.

After crossing the finish line, I was sitting having my chip removed when Alana crossed the line and came through the finish chute. I overheard her husband tell her she had finished in 2nd place. I knew that Pia had won the AG, so did that mean that I had placed third? I wondered if the rolling start had put her ahead of me… though we were close together at the start line so that that didn’t necessarily make sense. Shoot... 3rd place was likely not a Kona slot :(

A sweet Mexican man, Antonio, was helping me navigate the finish area and assist me through the "behind the scenes" maze of massage, food, finisher t-shirts and medical when Blanco found me and confirmed that he had won his age-group but that he didn’t know my placing. I told him that I was 6th overall and that I must have placed third, feeling slightly despondent as I figured there would only be two Kona slots. We collected our bikes and gear and wandered over to a bar to regroup with Barb and Rod. Rod was kind enough to lend me his phone so I could review the results… I was marked down as a DNF… which made no sense. WTF??? I briefly wondered if my extra excursion on the bike had triggered something but I had actually ridden an extra half-mile so again that couldn’t be an issue?!? When we finally got back to our condo and I could access my phone, I found Michael Lovato’s email address (pure luck that I had it and he was announcing the race here in Cabo) and shot him a quick note to ask who I should reach out to about the DNF. Thankfully, Michael responded very quickly to confirm that the timing team had me down as finished and that the results would reflect my 2nd place just as soon as the servers refreshed. Phew! That was about an hour of stress that I could have done without but I’m glad it all got resolved in the end!

With 40 Kona slots and the biggest female age-group, W40-44, I figured we would have two slots but I didn’t want to celebrate until it was confirmed the following day. With Blanco’s age-group win and my second place, we did indeed both qualify for Kona and Team Blanco will be toeing the line at the 2016 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii! A slot from W65-69 also rolled down to W40-44 so Alana got a well deserved slot, especially since we finished so close together.

Hello off-season!

Pia on top of the podium, me in 2nd and Alana in 3rd #Kona16

Official confirmation of Kona 2016

Blanco crushed his AG (again!) winning by over 20mins!

Team Blanco bringing home the trophies!

Monday, March 30, 2015

8th time's the charm - Oceanside 70.3 race report

Saturday was my 8th time racing at Ironman California 70.3 and it was my fastest outing yet! Does that make me a slow learner?

Six months ago, I felt that my triathlon racing was on a decline and that improvements were no longer a possibility for me. I felt as if I was working incredibly hard, being smart about training but I continued to get more fatigued and slower. It just didn't make sense. Thankfully, I found an amazing doctor who spent hours with me to figure out what was going on hormonally in my body. We did blood, saliva, urine testing until she had a complete picture of what was working... and what was clearly not working. I wrote about some of the findings here.

From October to January, I trained relatively lightly but really eased back on swim, bike and run in order to allow my body some rest and recovery... if I didn't feel like riding on Saturday morning, I would skip it and spend the day on the couch and not feel guilty about it either. It was as much mental recovery as anything.

At the beginning of January, I was back on the plan with Matt Dixon of purplepatch fitness. I can't say enough great things about how Matt supported me when I was feeling less than stellar last year and believed that there was a solution besides "getting older and slower"!

While training for Oceanside had been going fairly well, I did have a few hiccoughs in the final weeks of preparation. I'm noting them, not to make excuses, but as a reminder of the details that go into training and racing for triathlon.

Bike fit - I made the switch from a Specialized Sitero saddle to an ISM saddle in February and worked with Paul Buick to refit my bike position. Unfortunately, I was experiencing excruciating back pain after 2 or so hours of riding. After the Tucson camp experience in early March, I did a couple of 3-4hr rides in San Francisco pain-free... the difference? Blanco had accidentally rebuilt my bike in a higher saddle position... which turned out to be better for my back but didn't compromise my pedaling.

Synovitis - I have been experiencing tenderness in my left foot that made it painful to run for much more than 45-60 minutes. While a podiatrist recommended new orthotics to try and relieve the pressure, they didn't work as were merely treating the symptom and not the root cause. In contrast, chiropractor, Mike Lord, has helped me strengthen my foot so that I was able to race pain-free.

That was an incredibly long preamble to a race report!

Saturday morning dawned misty and foggy and while the temperatures were not cold, I was slightly worried while setting up in transition that I might be underdressed for the bike ride. My wave departed at 7:17am, the first female AG wave, and luckily by that time, the sun had begun to break through... and the wind began picking up too!

The swim start was uneventful as I was barely touched getting off the start line and had clear water to the first buoy. That *space* did not last as I quickly caught up with prior waves (just 3mins between waves) and the swim course began to feel incredibly crowded. Swimming up, over, around back strokers, breast strokers and strokes that I couldn't name. The swim felt fairly rough near the turnaround point where the water is less protected by the harbour wall so that's my justification for a slower swim than last year... 34:36 was 16 seconds slower. I was vaguely disappointed with the swim time but I've been in this sport long enough to dismiss my time and "move on".

I was excited for the bike. With the exception of being sick in early March (end of Tucson camp), riding had been going well. I'd even ridden with purplepatch pros  Holly Lawrence, Emma-Kate Lidbury and Sarah Cameto the weekend prior and didn't get spit out the back on the hills... though they were riding easy! The goal was to focus on 190-200w and ride closer to 230-240w on the hills. That seemed fairly reasonable given recent training. I felt like I was flying on the bike in the first hour, you always do on the flat terrain with the tailwind out to Christianitos Road. However, my back started to hurt and I when I hit the first climb on the course around mile 28, I realized that I couldn't climb seated because my saddle height had slipped. I felt as if I was riding like a circus clown! I ended up riding the hill out of the saddle, asking the guys around me if I could borrow a multi-tool since I wasn't carrying one. A very sweet gentleman offered to stop as he wanted to stretch his legs and he kindly loaned me the allen key so I could raise the saddle ~2" and tighten it up a lot more. I was on the side of the road for about 2 minutes so not a big deal but I had lost the guy (51 year old Roger!) that had been riding legally back and forth with me. Back on the bike, I set about making it back to Oceanside as quickly as possible. I really wanted to ride sub 2:40 on this course as I had never done so. With about 5-6 miles to go I pass a guy and all I hear is "she's back... way to go Jordan" and I realize that I have caught back up to Roger... it made me laugh and I really appreciated his cheers and support.

Back into Oceanside town and I glanced at my watch and saw that sub 2:40 was happening, and the actual bike split was 2:38:50... but I did slightly curse myself for the pesky 2 minutes on the side of the road fixing the saddle... I had under-tightened the saddle when adjusting it the day prior.

Bike file for Oceanside - 190w average power
Once onto the run, I felt pretty good... the on course support is pretty amazing at Oceanside and I can't possibly list everyone that was cheering but thanks to Beth and Luke, Kristin Mayer, Monica Moreno, Jen Temperley, Stephanie Artis, Libby Bradley, Ben Travis, Julie Dunkle and many others that called my name or shared a word of encouragement.
photo credit: Luke McKenzie
The first four miles went well and I was on pace... my spirits were lifted seeing Holly running behind the 3rd place female pro bike guide... she was having a fantastic race. The middle miles seemed to be my undoing and I think I was a little undernourished. I hit the coke at the aid stations earlier than I typically would... which turned out to upset my stomach in the final miles... oops! I definitely need to work on the longer run... now the foot is better, I should be able to do so!

Ragged looking run form but great kit! photo credit: Jen Temperley
 I saw plenty of people I knew out on the run course but as usual I was completely oblivious of how I was doing in my AG. I hadn't ridden close to any girls and I had not seen anyone ahead of me on the run course so when I hit the final chute and seeing my total time of 5:07, I figured I was probably top five in my age-group. It was a nice surprise to hear Mike Reilly announce me as the first female age-grouper across the finish line... which must mean that I had won my AG... it got me a little excited!

40-44 podium - finally an AG win at a 70.3 race!
Getting a hug from Rachelle Jorgensen
Post race celebrations with Jesse Thomas

While I am a Betty Designs athlete and I raced in the awesomely bright new Betty kit, I chose to wear the #50womentokona t-shirt on the podium... of course, paired with a Betty Designs trucker hat! In case you missed the announcement last Friday, I am a founding member of TriEqual, an organization dedicated to fairness and equality in triathlon. Our first goal is to get equal slots for female and male professionals at World Championship races but we have a broader goal of achieving access and diversity in triathlon for all.

Women's pro podium plus some Supportive dudes wearing #50womentokona tees!
Huge thanks to Blanco, my main squeeze, for letting me follow my passions. To Matt Dixon for his support and coaching knowledge. To Kate Ligler for helping to make me strong. To Kiki Silver for helping me get healthy. To the entire Purplepatch community, pros and amateurs, that provide so much support in training and racing. To SagMonkey for taking care of me all weekend. To Jess of Harmony Bars for making the best tasting bar ever. To Kristin Mayer of Betty Designs for making the best and brightest looking kit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

#50womentokona + it's time for me to race!

I spent most of my Saturday afternoon and evening with the Ironman Melbourne coverage projected on the TV, hitting refresh on Ironman's Athlete Tracker and running math on estimated finish times and placings... and then messaging this information to friends on course. Well, actually messaging back and forth with Luke McKenzie because I was mostly interested in Beth Gerdes' placing. I was betting on top 5. And I was right! Beth placed 5th overall in the race, ahead of World Champions, Ironman Champions and Olympic medallists. She had a fantastic race which included the fastest female run split! That's not the only fantastic race she's had recently either... She took 5th place at Ironman Malyasia (just 4 months after giving birth to daughter, Wynne) and 4th place at Ironman Western Australia (she ran a 2:58!) and 2nd place at Ironman 70.3 Philippines. In fact, she's racked up some 4,500 points in the Kona Pro Ranking, the system that ranks professional triathletes that are seeking entry to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Btw, that's a lot of points! However, even after those amazing results, she still probably falls short of the ~5,000 points she will need "as a female pro" to qualify. If she were a guy, she'd probably only need ~4,000 points. That's because there are only 35 female pros slots versus 50 male pro slots in Kona. 
Beth with her partner and biggest fan, Luke McKenzie (photo: Delly Carr)
This is why the #50womentokona is tremendously important to me... it bothers me that Beth Gerdes, as a pro triathlete has to spend more money, take more risks and race more races for a shot at qualifying for Kona as a pro, relative to her male partner, Luke McKenzie. She's one of the women that might just be ranked #36-50 in Ironman's KPR at the end of this season... one of the 15 women that, even though she raced more and scored more points than many of the men, falls short because Ironman has a policy of inequality at the professional level of our sport. Of course, it's not just about Beth, it's about all the other talented female professional triathletes that are training hard, racing hard and raising the level of competition in the sport. Heck, the women's race was easily the most entertaining viewing yesterday with podium placings being decided in the finishing chute... after 9 hours of hard racing!   
Podium tees - would love to see the Pro podium wearing these at California 70.3 next weekend!
On Wednesday, I am flying down to San Diego (solo - Blanco is racing an Xterra in Folsom) in order to race the Ironman California 70.3 for my 8th time. The last year has been challenging, dealing with health/hormone issues but I think I finally have everything under control and I'm feeling much better than I did just a few months ago. The details of the road to recovery deserve a separate blog but to suffice to say that I'm excited to race and see what my body will give me next Saturday.
Betty matchy-match
Training has been on a mostly positive trajectory since completing the Coast Ride in January with some good work recently in Tucson at the Hillary Biscay Smash Camp, chasing the GCM (Maik Twelsiek) and Blanco on the bike, as well as meeting up with fellow Betty Designs athlete, Amy, and other great friends.

Lemmon climb when I started to get sick :(

Unfortunately, towards the end of camp, I started to get sick, and while I was hoping to shake it within a few days, it ended up being 10 days of laying low, backing off training and taking things fairly easy.  Fortunately, I started to come around last week and got back into the the swing of things. Some wonderful late winter weather in California helped, as well as the rockstar Purplepatch pros that I get to train with (behind)... btw, they might also be some of the #36-50 women too! #50womentokona
75f and sunny in winter - riding with fellow Brits, Holly Lawrence and Laura Siddall

Saturday, January 31, 2015

100 things about me... you may or may not have known!

Wine: NZ sauvignon blanc, Sancerre and Falanghina
Partner in biking
Jackpot! #winning
SF #outsideisfree
  1.  I changed my first name to Jordan when I went to college because I had never liked the name my parents gave me.
  2. I had never heard of Stanford University when I visited the football stadium in 1994 but I decided it was a place I wanted to study.
  3. I got married on my 39th birthday so I would never have to celebrate my 40th birthday
  4. I hate eggplant.
  5. My college major was initially Mathematics with Statistics but I switched to Modern Languages after a year.
  6. As a child, I wanted to be a British diplomat.
  7. I am the 3rd of 4 daughters in my family and they would probably agree that I fell furthest from the tree.
  8. I was vegetarian for 12 years.
  9. At age 13, I weighed about 170lbs.
  10. At age 14, I weighed about 125lbs.
  11. My favorite sport as a child was netball and I loved playing the position of GA (Goal Attack) or GD (Goal Defense).
  12. My husband is 3rd generation Mexican but I speak and write far better Spanish than he does.
  13. I first visited the United States in 1989 and my sister took me to watch Madonna in a play on Broadway.
  14. I worked on Wall Street… actually on Wall Street, the address was 60 Wall Street, New York
  15. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  16. I have a 17 year old stepson.
  17. I wish I lived closer to my nieces and nephews so I could be a bigger part of their lives.
  18. I’m from the north of England.
  19. I went to the University of Bristol, England, for my undergraduate studies.
  20. I won the jackpot when I met and married my husband.
  21. I never went on vacation with my parents after the age of 12.
  22. I spent my third year of college splitting time between Oaxaca, Mexico and Lyon, France.
  23. I have scuba-dived once and I hated it.
  24. I suffer from mild claustrophobia.
  25. I learned to swim at age 7 but wouldn’t put my face in the water.
  26. I re-learned how to swim (exchange air under the water) at age 32.
  27. I worked at Disneyland, Paris, for a summer during college.
  28. I paid my own way through college. 2x
  29. I’m the only member of my family ever to go to college.
  30. I dreamed of being a writer in college because college boyfriend was a writer.
  31. My college  boyfriend had a best friend with the exact same name (Richard Kelly) so he became Richard T. Kelly.
  32. I saw my husband compete in a triathlon and took a photo of him (because he was cute!) 7 years before I met him.
  33. I’ve visited four of the five continents and I’m dying to go to South Africa.
  34. Sweet potato fries.
  35. At age 8, I suffered briefly from Bells palsy, which partially paralyzed my face.
  36. My husband proposed to me at the end of a 2 week and 1700mi cycling/triathlon adventure.
  37. I didn’t get totally comfortable with myself until my mid-30s.
  38. I attended a Church of England school through high school.
  39. I’ve lost much of my English accent.
  40. I’ve lost my Yorkshire accent.
  41. I have a Prada dress in my closet that is 17 years old and I still wear it.
  42. I rented my London flat to a prostitute (by accident).
  43. I traded my pacifier for my first bike at age 4.
  44. All of my parents (mom, stepdad, dad) were only children.
  45. My first ever job was picking potatoes at age 12.
  46. I hate cooking for myself and rarely do so.
  47. Carrots and hummus for dinner is not unusual.
  48. My first marathon in 2000 took me over 5 hours to complete.
  49. My second marathon in 2002 took me 3:38 to complete.
  50. I regret not taking the Boston slot from the 2002 marathon.
  51. I first heard of Ironman while at Stanford Business School when friends competed at Ironman California.
  52. I watched my first Ironman race in Canada in 2001 and thought that I would never be able to complete the swim by the cutoff time.
  53. I wish I had travelled more around England when I lived there.
  54. One of my favorite vacations was a backpacking trip to Chilean Patagonia while at Stanford.
  55. I was practically deported from the US in 2006 due to an immigration snafu.
  56. A 3 week trip to England turned into 5 months in 2006 due to immigration issues.
  57. I received my green card in 2009 just weeks before I met my future husband.
  58. I didn’t think twice about giving up my maiden name when I married.
  59. I used to work with my husband’s ex-wife.
  60. Co-parenting is impossible.
  61. Sparkling water.
  62. When working in Investment Banking, I would have an annual shopping splurge at Armani.
  63. Now that I work from home, I barely change out of Lululemon capris.
  64. A weekend in Minneapolis for a wedding was one of the most fun trips I made last year.
  65. I second guess my decision not to have children of my own all the time.
  66. I think I could be a good mother.
  67. I organize EVERYTHING in our household – travel, bills, finances, cleaning, social engagements.
  68. We never have leftovers. Even when I think I cooked a lot of food, my husband eats up.
  69. The only musical instrument I ever learned was the recorder.
  70. I rarely listen to music.
  71. My husband loves playing the guitar and singing. He even writes his own music.
  72. I do not enjoy going to music concerts.
  73. My husband loves going to music concerts.
  74. I am incredibly stubborn and determined.
  75. I’m racing an Ironman this year without qualifying for Kona as the goal.
  76. I am currently writing my husband’s training plan. Does that mean I am coaching him?
  77. Not everyone should go to a four year college.
  78. I’m a morning person and love being in bed by 9pm.
  79. I probably drink too much wine.
  80. I learned to drive at age 21.
  81. I never owned a car until I moved to California at age 28.
  82. NPR
  83. At night, I need complete darkness to sleep so will unplug electronic alarm clocks in hotel rooms because I hate the glow.
  84. I stopped drinking coffee about 8 years ago.
  85. I stopped drinking diet coke about 3 years ago.
  86. My husband wants us to move to Santa Cruz when we retire.
  87. I’d like to spend more time in Europe when we retire: France, Italy, Spain.
  88. I took a year of Portuguese while in college but I barely remember any of it.
  89. I wish I had studied history in college.
  90. I pretty much write all articles, essays, papers in my head before ever setting pen to paper.
  91. I still have love letters from my college boyfriend saved in a box titled “memorabilia”.
  92. I hate running at altitude.
  93. I don’t like climbing Mt. Lemmon on my bike.
  94. We got engaged in the New Zealand town of Invercargill, not a very romantic city.
  95. My father died when I was 2 years old.
  96. I’m a bit of a control freak.
  97. I don’t like surprises but I keep asking my husband to surprise me. He refuses to.
  98. I’m really happy that I had a British education.
  99. I don’t miss much about England.
  100. I hate being cold more than being hot.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Coast Ride 2015: #8

I've written about the Coast Ride before... just look here, here and here! Apparently it was the 8th time that I've done the Coast Ride... which seems crazy to me. The Ride also gets bigger by the year and I heard numbers as high as 225 riders participating in this organized, non-organized ride...

Much of that growth is presumably attributable to #socialmedia... There are so many people that travel from out of town to do this ride these days that have heard others blog, tweet, Facebook and instagram about the ride. It's also presumably because of the amazing January weather we have had in California for the past three years. I know that we really need rain... and we got it in December... but it's really nice to not worry about the weather on a destination ride like this!

In spite of the number of riders, the Coast Ride felt like a small affair for me this year. I rode mostly with Blanco, Beth Gerdes and Luke McKenzie with occasional appearances by Katya Meyers and other groups of folks. Luke has quite the eye for a great photo (and I don't take pictures while hanging on for dear life!) so here are some of his shots from the ride.

Day 2 - highway 1, Big Sur

Day 2 - amazing morning sunlight

Blanco, myself, Beth crossing the famous Bixby Bridge

Day 3 - early morning rollout on the McKenzie wheel

Day 3 - Blanco rolling into Guadalupe
So how was the Coast Ride for me? I have to confess that I was a total stress-case leading into the ride, convinced that I would bonk, be riding 8hrs+ per day and would be solo most of the time. I spent October-December focusing on healing my body and while I worked on strength in the gym and on the trainer, I also blew off several outdoor rides in recent weeks and/or had mechanical issues interfere with my rides. Our January destination ride to Carmel did give me some confidence about my fitness but I was exhausted on the return ride and I wasn't sure if that was my health or the derailleur/mechanical I had to deal with (only had about 3 gears!) for those 180miles! Even in the week leading up to the Ride, I talked to the SAG guys about possibly riding just 60-70mi a day.

Why does this ride cause me such stress and lack of confidence? I think in the last few years, as the ride has increased, it's evolved away from mostly triathletes and the pace has quickened dramatically. The number of riders on the road and the large groups also scare me a little... unfortunately there were a couple of accidents during the course of the weekend.

With all that said, I did much better than I expected in terms of ride time, power numbers and how enjoyable the ride was for me. I think it leaves me in a good position of readiness to tackle the Ironman training I have on tap for 2015... Ironman Texas in May and Ironman Los Cabos in October... I'm not fit just yet but I think I have a good foundation of strength and good health from which to start Ironman training, after a season away from the longer distance.

It was also great to spend time with good friends, Beth, Luke and their daughter, that I don't get to see year-round. I met Beth on the Coast Ride 4 years ago and we became fast friends... we make for compatible training buddies on the bike, as well as off the bike! We share similar tastes in wine :) I'm still in this sport after 14 years because of the people and friendships and so I am always psyched to share training and racing adventures with great friends.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Making progress on the bike...

I shared recently that my theme for 2015 is to get stronger. After 13 seasons of triathlon, my *aerobic engine* is not generally in question, so if I am to extend my athletic boundaries and continue to improve in the coming season, I need a stronger platform. With my physical and adrenal health slowly getting back to 100%, I have been loading up the weight in the gym.

- Lots of single leg pistol squats (TRX to stabilize)
- Weighted squats
- Hang clean to push press
- Renegade rows
- Lots of core - plated sit-ups, push-ups and plank (60s alternating every 10s), V-ups, Russian twists

Friday night strength session at the Olympic Club, SF

I found some heavy weights at our Park City hotel gym
With more time spent in the gym each week in November and December, I've had a little less time to focus on endurance miles on the bike and run. This lack of time outside also happened to coincide with some very rainy weeks in San Francisco and a Christmas vacation in Park City and Alta. 

Most of my riding in late November and December was done indoors. I definitely squeezed in a couple of 3-4hr outdoor rides in the past 6 weeks but more than half of my bike training was on the Computrainer, either at home or at Shift. My indoor bike training has also been focused on helping me build strength and pushing my top end power abilities. And most of my rides have been no longer than 90-100 minute sessions.

There are two types of key sessions that I've been doing on the bike to build strength:

Session 1: Alternating intervals of very low rpm (45-50rpm) in zone 3 with very high rpm (105rpm+) in zone 1-2. 

I think of this workout as muscularly challenging but you're never breathing hard. As Matt Dixon would say, the focus is downstairs, ensuring each pedal stroke is as good as it can be and that you engage the hamstrings and glutes in the latter part of the pedal stroke. It's a great session for working on technique.

Session 2: After a solid 20-30 minute warm-up that reaches into zone 4, do 8-10x maximum effort 1min intervals (zone 5+) with full recovery (~2:30-3:00 recovery between each interval). 

This type of session has been my nemesis over the years, as my zone 4-5 power efforts usually taper off into failure pretty quickly. My power files for sprint races are very similar to my Ironman effort! I am committed to change this year so I started out doing these 1min max efforts in November at around 275-280w and I've slowly increased to 310w. I still would like to find another 15-20w in this session to be happy with my progress for the season but I'm already seeing the benefits of this work when riding outside.

With drier California weather (so far) in January, my husband and I decided that we wanted to kick off the New Year with a cycling adventure and so this past weekend we embarked on a destination ride! Just before New Year's we Fedexed a box of clothes (cycling kit, jeans, tee shirt, swimsuit) to a hotel in the Carmel Highlands. This past Saturday, we rode ~85 miles from the Bay Area to the hotel  on highway 1 at the start of Big Sur. We stayed the night and then rode back via a slightly different route (~95miles) on Sunday. 
Love the Betty 2 kit!

Bike path in Seaside

A room with a view!

Sunrise on highway 1, Big Sur, CA

Day 2 was pretty hard with a more challenging route that included a steep climb on a single lane road over Mt. Madonna (1600ft climb over 4mi or ~8% grade). This time, I lost Blanco's wheel as I was grinding up the steeper sections that were 11%+ grade but he waited patiently for me at the top.

Top of the big climb on day 2 (Mt Madonna)
I recommend reserving a hotel with pool/hot-tub when doing destination rides!
The adventure ride was a great test of where my cycling fitness is (especially with the 375 mile Coast Ride coming up in two weeks!) and I was excited to notice that Blanco's wheel didn't disappear up the hills ahead of me... for the most part, I stayed right on his wheel, holding watts that usually have me freaking out. Now, perhaps my SRM was reading favorably so I won't get too excited but it did boost my confidence that my lack of road miles in the last few weeks has not been a bad thing ;)