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Week 3 – Griffith Park Ride

It was the 2nd bike practice of the season, and we met at the LA Zoo Parking Lot C over in Griffith Park. We initially started with a warm up through the park, then some cadence drills to follow (low gear, high cadence, left leg, right leg). For those who didn’t have a bike, they did a quick run around the area. After our bike drills, we did loops surrounding the park, all focusing on technique, not speed. At one point on the course, a chark marking called for 100 rpm on until the turnaround. Once we get back to the parking lot, it was drills again, then repeat. I was able to do 2 loops with the drills (super fast people did 3), but overall it was a fun practice, TNT IronTEAM and Tri teams combined.

After practice, we met up at House Restaurant over in Echo Park, where about 30+ teammates took over a good portion of the room. It was awesome because I got to know some of Tri teammates who I probably normally wouldn’t meet outside the team, especially once we split off into our own groups later.

IronTEAM Bowling

Earlier today was the IronTEAM’s first social outing at the Mar Vista Lanes in LA. We took over about 4 lanes, and from 4-6pm it was cosmic bowling. I got there fashionably late, but it was a good sight to see many of our new teammates bond with alumni and invited friends & family of the team. I thought it was a success as everyone got to know more people, plus we raised $384 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! As an added bonus I won half of that to be donated to my fundraising from a raffle of everyone who showed up! Yessss!

Week 2 – Dockweiler Bike 101

This same practice one year ago, I showed up with a brand spanking new bike, new clips, new shoes, new everything. I planned to ride it before practice, but I think I was super busy at the time. I still remember being so nervous, because the last time I rode my bike was probably middle school! I fell trying to clip into my pedals BEFORE the warm up. I struggled to turn past the cones during the drill, then I fell again! Coach Brad even had to hold my seat and push me like I was learning how to ride for the first time. Embarassing!

This time around, after a year of bike experience… WOW, night and day. It felt great to be able to DO the drills, to NOT fall, to NOT shake on the ride, to NOT grip the handlebars. We also teamed up with the TNT Tri team and combined learning efforts for technique and safety. It was also a great time to meet new teammates, and get to know some that I met last week as well. We were split into smaller groups, with tire change, and bike form clinics. We were also split into different groups on the ride, depending on ride experience.

For some added fun, Adam & I wore our crazy pants from Halloween, because we knew this practice would be the shortest bike ride of the season. I mean, might as well!

Took everyone by surprise for sure. We had fun sporting them. I was able to actually ride in them because they were tight enough that it won’t catch on the chain or anything. They were pretty comfortable! Last time I rode was the Carpinteria Triathlon, so I was a bit nervous at first, but eventually got used to it. We did loops near the airport, nice & flat, not so much car traffic, great for everyone to get comfortable on the bike.

IronTEAM First Swim of the New Season

Here we go again… another season, more pool sessions. Exactly one year ago, I was the only one in the pool who didn’t know how to swim AT ALL. I couldn’t really survive in the deep end, so I was put into the super shallow lanes just learning the swim basics and drills with Coach Jason & Coach Brad giving pointers. This repeated for the remainder of 2010.

This time around was a whole different story. I no longer had to learn how to swim, but only to perfect the drills and technique I took a year to learn. I was just so happy that I was able to keep up with the rest of the team. The swim practices are now combined with the tri team, so the coaches had to split the sessions into two different hours, so that the coaches can give proper instruction on deck to the new teammates. The sessions are 7:30-8:30pm and 8:30-9:30pm. The first session the coaches went over drills at the pool deck on yoga mats and towels for half an hour, then in the pool for the rest. The second session was mainly for tri alumni or experienced swimmers, so we didn’t need any dry-water instruction, and it was off to the pool we went. Wow, it’s been a while since I did these drills, so yeah, they weren’t easy! Skate, or side balance, was still as tough as the first time I did them last year (well, slightly easier), and a lot of kicking drills to help proper body balance. It was all about technique and that’s what we all need at this point!

Week 1 – Ocean & San Vicente Run

What luck, the very first practice of the season, and it was raining. Not hard though, but some drizzle. At the beginning though, it was just overcast and cold, but gave us plenty of time to do some meet & greet with the new teammates! It was tough to remember some names from Kickoff, but name tags definitely helped. Coaches went over the gist of the first few weeks/months of practice along with a quick icebreaker, where we stood in a circle, alphabetically.

After a quick warm up run to 4th st and San Vicente in Santa Monica, Coach Jason went through some run drills and dynamic stretches. Oh and I learned something new today, relating to run form, an acronym called “S.H.E.L.F.”. S = Shoulders (relax them), H = Head (head straight), E = Elbows (position & move straight back, no side to side), L = Lean (let gravity move you forward, lean at the ankles), and F = Foot (placement at the ball of the foot, not the heel). Definitely something to save and remember on all my runs because one of my goals this season is to improve my running form into a more efficient one.

After a quick 30 minute run, we had a team potluck where we got to know each other a little more, even with some rain in drizzle in between. Since I was already out there, I rested a few hours then continued to do a 20 mile run all by myself by doing loops on San Vicente. Yeah, VERY boring running alone, but that’s what was on my Rock N Roll Vegas Marathon schedule. It was a few weeks of non-running since the Portland Marathon so I was really surprised I was able to finish it without any complications!

Portland Marathon – A New PR!!

It’s been almost a year since I ran my last full marathon, which was Athens, Greece last Halloween. I’ve always approached marathons in a non-competitive, very easy pace kinda way. I was very curious though, to see what difference being on the IronTEAM and completing 140.6 would do. I certainly felt the most active I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve pushed myself through some half marathons within the IronTEAM season and PR’ed there, and I was able to manage a 5:10 marathon at the run portion of Vineman, so taking advantage of all this, I actually set a goal for this marathon. Not only to PR (my last PR was 4:58), but to be at 4:45, a pretty good point to my eventual goal of 4:30 at the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon in December.

Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite cities, so I was very excited leading up to this race. I’ve been twice before, primarily to explore the food, and for the MusicFest Northwest (MFNW). I love the greenery surrounding the city, really friendly people, and relatively clean and not crazy busy like Los Angeles. The event took place on a Columbus Day weekend, which my work fortunately gives us the extra day off, so it was a no brainer for me to sign up and do this race. I’ve always wanted to, really.
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Carpinteria Olympic Triathlon

This past weekend was the Carpinteria Olympic Triathlon, which marked my 4th triathlon completion! It’s “off-season” and considered to be the IronTEAM’s “Reunion Race.” I loosely trained for this race because leading up to it I already had a pretty good base from Vineman. I did a few bike rides & swim sessions here and there, but what was consistent was my running because I’m still training for the Portland Marathon in a few weeks.

I traveled the day before to my teammate Amy’s place in Camarillo. Still about 30 minutes away, but it helped break what could’ve been a much longer drive. Did packet pickup the day before, and immediately I could tell that it was a small town race. Signs were written in colored markers on cardboard, and there were no lines to get where we needed to go. No biggie, we were in and out. The real fun was at Amy’s house where she cooked up a delicious dinner, then we played Catch Phrase pretty much the whole night, up until 1am, when we were originally planning to sleep around 10pm. Good times indeed!
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IronTEAM Behind The Scenes

Let’s be honest, being on IronTEAM wasn’t easy. If it were though, everybody would be doing it. Last week we announced the team’s official races for the 2012 season. Hawaii 70.3, Vineman Full, and Ironman Canada, and since then many of the alumni have had interest in coming back, as well as many new possible participants. There’s this mystique about the team if you’re an outsider – people call us crazy, people don’t know how we do it, people think it’s something they never can do. Well, everyone’s experience is different, but if this thing was bad for you, or so impossible to do, then why would so many people come back, or why does this team have such a high retention rate, or why are people so passionate about it trying to recruit more friends & family to share this experience?

You’ve probably read my Vineman Race Report, and that explained the full experience of the very last day of my IronTEAM training season, but most people don’t know the rest of the story, my thoughts, my journey leading up to it.

The actual decision to join the team came about 5 months prior. It was at the Seattle Marathon finish where things felt empty. It was then I felt like I needed a new challenge. I had all the reasons NOT to join the team because I didn’t know how to swim, neither did I own a bike, but from previous TNT experience, I knew the coaches will get you there. I was first set on doing a half Ironman at first, which would have been 6 months of training. The full practiced for 9 months. I figured, well, if I’m going to commit to 6 months, I’d rather just tough it out for 3 more and do 9 and dive down the deep end. Better to do 9 now, than do 6, like it, then do another 9 next year for 15 total? Let’s go big or go home!

Also, I figured, what’s 9 months? Grad school would take more time, coming back season after season as mentor on the marathon team is just as time consuming, and I didn’t mind sacrificing the parties or drinking nights out anyway. Change was needed, and this sounded so interesting & exciting to be learning so many things. Trust me, I was scared because this was ALL new territory. I’ve never done a mini or sprint triathlon to start, neither did I ever spectate one. I’ve seen the Kona Championships on TV, but that was a whole other level beyond my knowledge at the time. I felt I needed to get faster on my run, or even have some base of swimming or cycling, but after thinking about it a lot (I mean, A LOT), just like when I trained for my first marathon, I realized that’s why we train, to get to that goal. Just like school – are you ever prepared on that first day? Do you expect to graduate the following day? No, it takes preparation, great leadership & mentors to get you there. This was definitely one of those where if you put the work in, you will reap the rewards in the end. You just have to decide you want it, trust in the program, then everything will come together eventually.
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Vineman Full Race Report 2011

9 months ago I started training with the IronTEAM, and I didn’t really know what to expect other than I wanted to a new challenge while still helping other people in the process. I had some conversations with IronTEAM alumni, but just snippets, never in too much detail (or what I could understand at the time), and I never read anyone’s race reports. I could have easily walked away and not even tried because I didn’t know how to swim, I didn’t have a bike, plus I wasn’t really that fast on the run. Little did I know what kind of ride I was about to take, and 10 Days ago I finished something I once thought was impossible! I had to gather all my thoughts & feelings (and also unpack everything & reset) before I decided to write this. First and foremost, this race was dedicated to our TNT Honored Teammates Laura & Anabel, a close friend recently diagnosed with a form of Leukemia, and all affected by blood cancers who I have crossed paths with my past 5 years in TNT.

I carpooled with a teammate, Chris M, on Wednesday afternoon after work from Burbank while the majority of the team were already resting in our hotel. After the traditional In N Out burger on the way there, we arrived in Santa Rosa at 12:30am. It was really important that we get there on Wednesday because starting that Thursday, there was a pretty strict timeline with some early morning low intensity workouts (yes, swim, bike & run), getting our race packets, TNT dinners, and of course, prepping everything for the race (bottles, special needs bags, bike transport, making sure everything was packed). In between, we were required to keep hydrating with water, or diluted sports drink in preparation for possibly some really intense heat on raceday.


Slept at 9:30pm, woke up at 3:30am, and that photo was taken around 4:45am. I don’t know how I even had the energy that early in the morning, but I was pumped! I didn’t really have trouble sleeping, except the fact I had to wake up a few times to go pee because of all that hydrating! It was so exciting to see everyone ready in their TNT tri-gear and IronTEAM jackets. It was such a cool sight – all of the LA IronTEAM all jumpy, talking, laughing, having fun in the lobby, braiding hairs, writing names on arms, taking pictures – we were pumped! The NorCAL IronTEAMs had a different strategy, very quiet, all had their gamefaces on, and very focused. Hey whatever works, right?

As for me? Wasn’t really nervous. Just the normal pre-race excitement I get like the marathons I’ve done. I felt our coaches prepared us well, and I trusted that. They taught us that it’s all about what we do to adapt to a certain situation if anything goes wrong. I knew my nutrition strategy was tried & true in the prior practices, and I’ve already done all the distances. We’ve conquered much steeper hills on the bike & run, we’ve practiced in rough ocean waters, practiced in rough wind & rain during a camping training weekend in central CA, and we’ve already swam, biked, and ran the whole course. We even drove the full bike course the day before. I knew that this was all about the journey, not the destination. I learned from being disqualified at my first triathlon, Desert Tri (International distance), that I should pay attention to the road and signs more. My second triathlon, Wildflower (Half Iron), I overdid it on the bike, and didn’t leave energy for the run, so I learned to conserve. Vineman Full was only my third triathlon, so I knew I still had a lot to learn and add to my young triathlete career, so I didn’t set super high expectations for myself this time around.

I knew I wasn’t going to podium (getting 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in my age group anyway, so being in last place gets the same medal as anyone else, so my main goal was to finish & just have FUN! Of course, triathlons have much stricter time cutoffs than marathons, so to calm my senses a bit, I calculated my finish time based on training sessions. My comfortable pace prediction was: 1:50 swim + 0:10 transition 1 + 7:20 bike + 0:10 transition 2 + 5:30 run = 15:00 hours. 16:30 was the limit, so I still had 1:30 left room for error.
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9 Months

Wow, did time really fly! Here’s a picture from our FIRST team meeting in Santa Monica back in November 2010, to last weekend’s finish line photo at Vineman. Go TEAM!