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PCH Redemption

Even though last week’s ride was rough because of NYE, I was still able to make that first step to get out of the house and actually do it. Don’t get me wrong, last week’s ride was an absolute best way to start off the year, especially in great company.

Last night, I avoided all chances of a Friday night out with alcohol. Hungover riding? Never again! I laid low after our Friday night swim at my friend’s place in Playa Vista. This morning the Team met at Zuma beach, and tackled the more challenging parts of PCH. I had a good amount of sleep, had breakfast, it was definitely night & day how I was feeling today versus last week!

The team was split into beginner/intermediate and advanced riding groups. You can choose to your liking, but majority chose the beg/int to be on the safe side. The difference between the two were longer PCH loops and larger hills. I chose the advanced because PCH, like what I said last week, was our old stomping ground so nothing new here. What’s new is that it’s been since July since I’ve seen these hills, so yes, they were not as “easy” as I thought they were at the peak of my last season. After the beg/int group started their warmup, El Capitan Scott led the rest further south on PCH, with the large hill to start. I pulled my friend Rommel along to the advanced group because I knew he was fully capable of it, plus he’s a very eager one to get some really good riding in. Oh man, did I miss these hills! Climbing them sure wasn’t fun, but it actually felt great to tackle them! Total ride time – 2 hours. Total mileage, 34.

Oh, but we weren’t done at that point. We had a mini-brick scheduled, so it was another 20 minutes of running immediately after the bike. Wow, I forgot that feeling! My legs were heavy, but the weird thing that happens to me all the time for the first few minutes is that my pace drops a few minutes, and this time it was around a 7:30/min mile! What the! It eventually stabilized to my normal 9:15-9:30, then 10, then 11… yes, I was that tired. I gotta get used to all this again! Overall, a really great practice!

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!

First 100+ Mile Ride

Just last week, I hit my 100 Mile Weekend milestone, but this morning, I hit 100 miles on a bike in a single practice! 102 to be exact, in 6:02. The schedule was to do 90 mile minimum or 6 hours, whichever comes last. We started on Ocean and San Vicente, odd birthday years went first, even numbers went up to 4th st on San Vicente (a little backward), just to break up the chunks of groups. The route took us from Santa Monica up PCH, a little detour up Encinal Canyon for a mile, continue north on PCH until it pretty much ended as a small highway (it begins to be a major freeway after thaht), exited Los Robles, headed east towards the Camarillo Outlets, then back.

I felt really great throughout the ride – it’s probably a combination of what I ate last night (chicken & brown rice), planned nutrition, and my improvement in overall fitness week by week. I was able to push myself by speeding up with intervals, and take advantage of the downhills. It’s scary but exciting that I feel more comfortable just letting go and enjoying the ride. As far as nutrition, I didn’t change anything I consumed, but I did change a setting on my watch where it would beep every 15 minutes to remind me to drink and/or eat. The worst part of the ride was in the Los Robles area, where nasty headwinds occurred heading back to PCH. I was wondering why I was going 30mph outbound, but going against the headwinds held me back to 11mph-ish. The ride back on PCH felt like it went by pretty quickly, as it felt a little routine. At times I would just enjoy the views of the ocean, birds flying in formation, cars zipping by – the whole experience of it.

By the time I got back to Santa Monica, we did our usual Amalfi Loop (Amalfi is a famous bike/run street here). After riding 90 or so miles, those hills were just torture, but we handled it. We circled the Brentwood Golf Course, and did a few out and backs to top over 100 miles! Oh but wait! Practice was not over. A 30 minute run immediately followed, and man oh man, my legs were not cooperating! I was running at a pretty quick pace at first (around 9 min), then 11, then 12ish. Here was my one and only thought: “How am I supposed to do 26.2 miles after a 112 mile bike ride?!” Things eventually stabilized, and it wasn’t too bad after all. It’s so weird I tell ya… but loving every minute of it!

Our First Monster Brick 57/13

From here on out our team will make making new milestones in training, week by week. This morning’s brick was a monster one. It was approximately 57 miles on the bike, then a 13.5 mile run. It somewhat will simulate Wildflower Long Course coming up, but the hills won’t be as intense (I think).

I felt pretty good for most of the ride along PCH, but I had one problem. I was out of Carbo-Pro, something I usually mix into my drinks. So instead, I offset my carbs by doubling up on the Accelerade, then eating more of the Clif bars. Boy what a mistake that was, the drink was too concentrated, so it tasted too sweet! By this point in training PCH is like home court to us, we pretty much know all the nooks and crannies, but the coaches varied it up with previews of Temescal Canyon, Ensinal Canyon, and Latigo Canyon streets as our major hills. 57 miles. Done. Suprised I felt quite all right!

Oh it was not over. The run was a double “Amalfi Loop” which each loop consisted of a 3.5 mile incline through the Palisades residential area of Santa Monica then a nice downhill through San Vicente. I felt really good the first loop, ran the whole way, then second loop was considerably slower. I was actually good until mile 12, then that’s where my nutrition failed me. I was out of Gu, and out of Accelerade. The weather was hot, and I could feel myself hitting “The Wall”, or some may say “Bonking”. It definitely felt like I was on that last leg of the marathon, out of energy, and the water fountains just wasn’t enough – I had to walk. I was feeling a little dizzy, then my teammate who passed by was a life saver and gave me some shot blocks to help with my energy.

That was the longest mile ever! I eventually made it, but man! I learned the hard way that nutrition is something I should not overlook. I knew right there and then though that I am capable of doing such a distance, but the big unknowns will be the energy spent on the swim, and the intensity levels on the bike and run. I’m a little nervous, but I can’t wait!!!

The Long Ride

This morning’s practice was the longest ride we’ve ever done this season! Crazy! Who would’ve thought! We started with a roughly 7 mile warm-up from Ocean Ave up San Vicente to the Brentwood Golf Course, then 2 hours up PCH and back. The new 70.3 team did 40 minutes up PCH and back. Our coaches wanted us to reset our computers after the warm-up so they can get a sense of our Half IM bike distance time. They wanted us to go beyond our cruising speed and push our speed a little more than usual, and power through those hills too – and that I did. My legs were still a little tight from yesterday’s hilly run, so I definitely felt the burn the first hour, which initially gave me doubts of finishing today strong. Fortunately, the pain eventually subsided (but I still wasn’t 100%), and was able to continue. I loved the “after the rain” weather, so we experienced beautiful views of the coast through PCH, and a clearer view of the crazy drivers there as well! Riding on PCH is fun but scary at the same time. Today, I saw one of my teammates inches away from being hit by a truck’s sideview mirror! It was definitely a close call! That’s why it’s so important to stay to the right of the white line.

Since it was a make-up ride from yesterday, it wasn’t an official IronTEAM group workout, so there were no SAG stops or staff to watch our equipment. From now on all our bike workouts will have to be followed by a run, so we were scheduled to do a 30 minute run. I had to ride back to my car, mount it on the bike rack, hoping no one will steal it, change into running gear, and go. Pace was slower than usual, but hey, I just rode for almost 70 miles! Again, every week in training I reach a new milestone, going further than I’d ever imagine.

Stats for today:
Total Bike: 68.75 miles
4 Hour Bike Distance: 61.79
4 Hour Bike Time: 4:03:08

Total Run: 3 miles
Total Run Time: 30:27

The Zuma Brick

A few weeks ago, our first brick in Santa Monica was pretty low effort for me since I was doing IronTeam staff duties, plus San VIcente isn’t much of an incline. Today, we had our second brick at Zuma Beach near Malibu, which was a lot more challenging with rolling hills. The views were spectacular though, when I would just look over to the left and see the ocean waves, plus beams of light coming through the clouds. It was slightly overcast with a crisp cold, which was ideal in my opinion. We headed north on PCH until the road closure due to the rain storms from weeks past, then back, but looped around one more time for a total of 31 miles in 2 hours. The 30mph downhills were scary since I’ve never done that before. Being on PCH was pretty scary in itself because there’s cars & trucks zooming VERY close by at 60+ mph! According to my Garmin stats, I averaged 15mph and cadence at 80rpm (gotta work on that, to get it to 90!).

Immediately after the ride, we went to our transition areas. Oh man! Now I know why they were called “brick” workouts – my legs felt like bricks! They were soooo heavy, kinda felt like I already ran a marathon! I might of pushed it a little TOO much on the hills, but now I know, to ease up on the hills leading up to a run! We ran for 2 miles along the boardwalk, and it was surely difficult! Midway through the run, we experimented with taking an energy gel shot, then after the run, we experimented with taking recovery drinks. It wasn’t too bad as I’m already used to the weird tasting fluids from marathon training.

Overall, our team is actually coming together nicely! As you can see above, we formed a tunnel for our teammate coming back from the run. I’d have some nice chats on the ride, getting to know them better. On the out and backs, we would cheer each other on. There’s a lot of good socializing before and after practice, as well as good turnouts on post-workout breakfast!