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140.6, Done!

Here I am, almost 2AM, weekend almost over, PJ’s with compression socks, rehydrating with my water + Nuun, a flurry of tri gear on the floor of my living room, back from one crazy FUN weekend. WOW. A full race report will come later this week (great photos are coming through Facebook, and more as the days go by, that’s for sure) but I wanted to just let out some of my initial thoughts.

As crazy as 140.6 sounded just 9 months ago, I still can’t believe that IT just happened! Like coach Brad said, the day went by just like… that. It was a blur… how could 14 hours go by so quickly?

What I DO remember:

  • Thinking about our TNT Honored Teammates Laura & Anabel pushing me through
  • Everyone on the Sponsor-A-Mile list. It really gave me so much energy every time I’d glance at the list, and imagine that person being there
  • Hearing our coaches voices in my head telling me all their reminders, like “Hydrate!” “Higher cadence!” “Hand jumping over barrels!” “Rotate!” “Relax!”
  • “Wow, already 6 different colors of swim caps passed by”
  • Friends telling me to ring my bike bell at T1.. then after I did, a loud roar of cheers
  • Unexpectedly seeing my family on mile 29 in Geyserville
  • “Oooh that winery would be nice to stop by”
  • “Oh, gotta stop and enjoy the view” (as I did that, a bee stung me on the forehead)
  • Checking out this girl on the side of the road at mile 63 “Wow, who’s that!?” (Then a split second later, found out it was my longtime TNT friend, Marcela, who came from SF to cheer me on.)

  • My amazing cheer squad friends at mile 69 with some crazy ridiculous signs. (I couldn’t read all of it going at the speed I was on the bike, but all I saw was the penis drawing). They were also the rowdy fun bunch at the entrance of the high school.

Also, the run out & back was a great way to cheer my teammates and also equally uplifted my spirits tenfold. Here’s what I remember:

  • Scott yelling “Ahhhhh yeahhhh!” everytime I see him on the loop
  • Patrick giving me words of encouragement on the run
  • Donovan with the no smile, nod with just a finger point on the run (he was smooth like the Dos Equis or Old Spice guys)
  • Holly’s bright orange top from a quarter mile away, then a side five & smile “you got this!”
  • Julie looking strong on the final loop giving each other the look, “We’re almost done!!”
  • Jasmine on her bike (after doing ANOTHER Half Iron triathlon, Barb’s Race… she did Vineman 70.3 2 weeks ago) giving me a *DING DING* on the bike
  • The 70.3 team cheer squad at the top of the big hill with costumes and a huge cardboard cutout of coach Brad with the pink leopard print speedos)
  • Louisville squad Kristi, Kris, Anne & Elsa all smiles & cheering me on while they do their training run after completing the Aquabike

For spectators, they probably only saw their participants on the course a total of less than a minute throughout the whole day, believe it or not each second of seeing that someone, hearing that extra cheer, that quick high five, seeing those smiles, or reading that cheer sign can make a HUGE difference in a race.

Again, I’ll blog about the race in full detail later this week (or next week), but I’m STILL on cloud 9. So much to cover, but I’m super happy with how the race went down as my first Iron distance triathlon – everything went smoothly, my nutrition was locked down and worked well, and all my teammates crossed the line. SO proud of them all! GO TEAM!

Final Taper Weekend

This final weekend of training before Vineman was a perfect mix of workouts & social events with the team.

It was so great to see the whole team together again after a week apart because of Carmageddon and Vineman 70.3. The scheduled workout was a 45 min swim, 3 hour minimum bike, then a 30 minute run, so we pretty much did a triathlon. We did our usual jog down the sand and swam north. Bike & run intensity was subdued, a more “conversational” pace, which we really did. By the end it didn’t feel like we did a workout, but that’s the purpose of the taper.

At night, we ceelbrated our teammate, Holly’s birthday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, watching “It Happened One Night” starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I was pretty excited to go because it was my first time at a Hollywood Cemetery Cinespia event. There were about 10 of us from the team, set up a little picnic area in the large grassy field of the cemetery. Let me tell you though, cemeteries freak the hell out of me more than anything, and it seriously gave me the creeps and chills walking from my car to the movie site.

Sunday morning’s run was a nice easy 60 minute run Amalfi Loop which is our default route in Santa Monica. It’s pretty crazy how I can call this “easy” because this route was super challenging for me prior to joining the IronTEAM. We kept the pace light in the beginning, then on the way down San Vicente, I picked up the pace to a 7:30-8:00/min mile (I wish I could always run like this, but there was a slight downhill).

That night was another first for me as some of us went to The Hollywood Bowl to watch Stevie Wonder and Friends. It was a fun night picnicking at the benches, lounging and socializing to some really good soul music. The vibe was so energetic as people were dancing in their seats, talking to others around them, and all the way to the bus ride home everyone was still dancing and chatting it up. Some good times for sure!

Return of the Snake

Last night was our second to last swim session of the season at the Culver City Plunge. We’ve done “the snake” (where we meet on one side of the pool, swim up the lane, go under the lane line, and go down the next lane until the other end) several times before, but this time the full set was the snake! We received the swim set a few hours before we met, and it simply said, “1 x 4000”.

Did a quick 100 warmup, then treaded in the water until the start. Towards the end of my set, I could feel my technique faltering, so I kept trying to focus on the stroke follow through and hand entering the water, that my coaches keep telling me to do. I guess after a while all I want to focus on is move forward and I tend to forget. Damn! Again, I remember seeing our team swimmer elites lapping me over, and over, and over again. I ended up doing 16.5 snake laps, which equates to 3300 yards in 1:25. 20 laps give the full 4000. It gave me a good gauge of what my Vineman swim time might be, but there are more factors involved, like no pool walls to slow you down, but the wetsuit will make me faster, but then again, I never swim in a straight line either. Overall, it was a great pool session, especially seeing some 70.3ers who came back a few days after their race (hardcore!).

IronTEAM Double Rainbow!

A little Photoshop fun to start the week – IronTEAM’s Holly and Chris M powering the team with a double rainbow! I’ve had this picture for a few months now and always wanted to do this. Didn’t have time until this morning to do it. Good times!

Carmageddon Training Weekend

For months and months, L.A. was warned about the big 405 freeway closure, aka Carmageddon, and because of this our team was split into its respective regions (East side, westside, valley, and southbay) all weekend. Although it turned out to be an absolute win for the freeways as it was all green and open according to Google Maps, it was really weird to not have the whole team practice as a whole. A big chunk of our team was also at Santa Rosa for the Vineman 70.3 to race and spectate. I really missed everyone, and I give it up to people who train for these Iron distances alone because it was really tough without the support that our team normally gives week by week.

Saturday, we had a scheduled 4 hour bike ride, so my region, Westside, met at our usual Ocean Blvd and San Vicente meetup spot. It was led by our coach Arkady, but it was only him & his girlfriend, Elyse, Tony and I. We started heading north on PCH for 1:15, then back (I made it to Encinal Canyon). Since we rode in a small pack, we were able to push up the speeds a bit and I was able to practice my race pace, which I figured out to be around 18ish mph without my legs feeling too crazy tired. Once back at basecamp, we headed up San Vicente and up Madeville Canyon, about a 1400 ft climb. That new 11/28 cassette worked wonders at the very end, where it became super steep. By the end of the 4 hours, I clocked in 67.37 miles, an average of 16.8 mph, probably one of my best rides to date considering there was a pretty big climb. A 30 minute transition run after the bike was rough as usual, but manageable.

Sunday, we met at the same spot where the same people met along with some of Coach Arkady’s Meetup Group. Training Peaks schedule was to do 2 hours, with a minimum of 10 miles. I ended up running the whole time with my teammates Elyse, who is usually a little faster than I am, but it was an opportunity to push myself a little bit, plus we helped each other’s pace in check because it is sometimes better to be running with someone rather than alone. Just like yesterday, this run became one of my best ones this season, running 13.1 miles in 2:02. Just a minute more than my half marathon PR, and this was actually a pretty comfortable pace for me.

After the super humbling 5/3 the other week, this weekend’s workout boosted my confidence back up again, and I definitely feel ready for the big race. We have one more recovery week to go before we enter the final taper week until Vineman! Can’t wait!

8 Hours of Katy Perry

I’ve been asked several times, “You’re practicing for so long, what do you think about?” Usually I’m pretty good with keeping my thoughts in check during training. What’s there to do when you’re out there all by yourself on these 8 hour practices? I try not to think about work, chores, bills, or anything like that, but instead I try to think positive thoughts, creative thoughts, or have some sort of inner dialogue.

On the swim, especially in open water, it’s important to not let my thoughts wander. Sharks? Stingrays? Piranhas? Sharktopus? Oh hell no! Ocean, lake, river, it doesn’t matter what creatures belong where. My mind gets crazy like that. So instead, I keep my thoughts back to my swimming form & technique. On the bike, I try to enjoy the scenery as much as I can (but not too much because I still have to keep my eyes on the road for crazy drivers here in L.A!). On the run, I’ll try to think of a song, enjoy the scenery, think about the art & design of nature, fun memories with my awesome teammates, or even nostalgic memories of past trips I’ve taken. I then do form & technique checks time to time to makes sure I’m not straining anything, or if my cadence is most efficient as possible.

So what Katy Perry song was in my head the WHOLE time during that 5/3 brick last weekend? The winner was, Katy Perry’s “T.G.I.F.”. I mean, really?!? I think it was the last song coming out of my car on Amp Radio that morning. Well, here’s the song for your enjoyment so that this will be stuck in your head too! (actually kinda catchy, especially that Kenny G saxophone solo)

Last 70.3 Team Swim

Tonight was the last swim session with the 70.3 team and everyone else. There’s no other coaches swim this week, so everyone was expected to swim tonight. We packed the lanes, then we treaded water for about 10 minutes (which I really suck at). The workout was mixed with drills, a main set, and some pool games. The team was split into two teams, lined up against one lane, then we did a relay, racing one-on-one doing a 50 yard sprint. Whew! That was killer! I was swimming as if I was being chased by a shark! It was a super fun time as everyone was cheering for everyone else. The second game, we all had our kickboards and created HUGE waves along a lane while people would swim down it. Time ran out, so not everyone did it. Oh darn!

When it was all over, everyone was feeling all sad but happy at the same time for the 70.3 team, who will be venturing up to Santa Rosa this week for the event they’ve all been training for all season. Oh how far they’ve all come, and I’m so proud of them. Good luck, Vineman 70.3 team!!

IronTEAM Jeopardy

Tonight was our IronTEAM banquet, planned by our lovely Social Captain Kelly and Team Captains Dash & Luke at C&O’s in Marina Del Rey. Out of all my years in TNT, this one was probably the best team dinner event I’ve ever been to! So many factors played in that statement. I mean, it’s been a crazy 8+ month journey to where we are now, so the relationships that have formed with everyone is the strongest I’ve ever experienced in a team. I really love this team, I really do. Everyone is just so fun & really down-to-earth. We were talking memories of our first practices, memories of who brought us into the team, etc.

A huge highlight was IronTEAM Jeopardy, where our Social Captain, Kelly, a part of the Jeopardy Clue Crew, brought the actual Jeopardy buzzers & game custom filled with IronTEAM specific categories such as Heat 101, Hills, Staffers, Fundraisers, and more. The energy was so high, and it was crazy fun to play! After the game, they gave out raffle prizes such as water bottles, dry-fit shirts, and hats. We also presented gifts to our coaches for all the hard work they have done this season. I’d say this event was a huge success, and it’s times like these that really define what makes the IronTEAM. It’s not the races, it’s the bonds that people make with one another.


I strive to be MFCEO.

The Big Bad Blue

Of course, a tough Saturday is not enough for us – we continued the weekend back at Tower 26 for an ocean open water swim + run. As you can see above, those waves were a crazy WTF. It took me about 15 minutes to get past the first round of breakers, being tumbled, flipped, and turned like no other. I was beginning to think I was part of a Cirque Du Soleil performance! It wasn’t until Coach Brad told the last remaining still at shore, “5 minutes! Either you’re in… or you’re out!”, that I just had to suck it up and just face those waves and overcome it. Two tries after that, I actually got past it! I was cheering and screaming in the water as if I already finished an Ironman!

It wasn’t over yet…. I swam about a mile to the buoy, and boy did we swim off course! Some of us went really deep into the ocean that the buoy looked like a small pebble to our right towards the shore. Luckily I was able to make it out safely. Some of us were so rattled by the waves that it was so tough to go back in again. I was with my teammate Adam, and we decided to go back again, because we had to sieze the moment. We might as well go back since we’re out here! The second time facing the waves was even scarier than the first! I was hit by a double wave that I hit my heat (gently) on the ocean floor, then again on my butt! I eventually got through, and the second loop wasn’t so bad after all. Out of the water, I transitioned to a 6.5 mile run to complete a total of 23 miles for the weekend.

Last build weekend – DONE!