June 25, 2012


I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. I can't wait to write the race report and share this amazing experience with you all. For the time being, you can find me on cloud nine : )
official time 13:47:26

June 23, 2012

No Limits

It all comes down to this. Years of dreaming, months of training, and tomorrow I will finally take on the biggest race of my life. I remember several years ago, while training for my first marathon, I first learned what an Ironman entailed. At that time just the thought of running a marathon alone was daunting. But add on a nearly 2.5 mile swim and 100+ mile bike before that marathon, all in one day, and it seemed impossible. Of course that's exactly what landed me here. In fact, a small part of me still wonders if I can do this; fortunately a bigger part of me believes I can, but tomorrow there will be no more doubt as to whether this can be done. It will be done.

In less than 12 hours, my first Ironman will be underway. I feel confident in my training, and have come to peace with whatever race day may throw at me. I know I can handle it. A lot can happen in a race this long, and I know that a lot of it won't be in my control. No matter what happens, I plan to have a smile on my face as much as possible. As so many often say, the training is the journey, and the race is simply the victory lap. Since we've arrived in Coeur d'Alene, I've found myself reflecting on my journey here. The countless hours spent in the pool, on my bike, on the trail. The endless sweat, bottomless calories, early wake up calls. The many sacrifices required. Tomorrow, it will all be worth it.

Over the past couple days we've checked out all three courses. Each one has it's own unique challenges, but also promise beautiful scenery and great support. I'm ready and excited to conquer each one. It's been quite the journey here, and I find myself changed in many ways, both physical and psychological. The only thing left to do is trust my training and believe in myself.

As far as goals, I do have them. Ultimately, I just hope to have fun and smile as much as possible. If all goes well, I hope to finish the swim between 1:20-1:30, the bike around 7:30, and I'd love to finish the marathon under 5 hours. That would put me around 14 hours, and finishing before dark. A lot can happen over the course of 140.6 miles though, so whatever happens I will deal and keep moving forward. This is it folks!

If you'd like to follow along, you can track me here. Bib no. 144! The swim starts at 7am PST. Later in the day they should also have a live video of the finish line. For those of you who may be out on the course, I'll be in my Team One10 kit:

Thank to my friends, family, training buddies, blog friends, and coach for your support, encouragement, and good lucks! Keep the good vibes coming my way : ) I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow when the going gets tough. Here goes nothing - see you on the other side!

"This is about limits. Reaching them, exploring them, exceeding what you thought yours were. Coming to the conclusion that there aren't any limits."

Kicking it in Cd'A

Hello there! I thought I'd check in and give a little update on Ironman weekend activities thus far. We flew into Spokane Thursday with a layover in super green Portland, then rented a car and drove into Coeur d'Alene. It was an absolutely beautiful day, warm with clear blue skies. A few friends and I rented a house for the week, so we all met up there. My friend Cris made the drive up with her family and was nice enough to transport my bike. It was nice to see it after a few days apart! After unloading all of our stuff we decided to walk down to the race area to check things out. It ended up only being about a quarter mile, so the location is awesome!
up in the air, on the way to Spokane
our cute little rental
best part - the porch!
We got down to the lake and race village and since check-in was already closed for the day, we hit up the merch tent instead. I managed to restrain myself (gotta save some money for finisher gear!), but did pick up plenty of awesome gear : ) We hung out for a while longer while Cris's kids did the kids fun run, and while waiting I ran into Nicole, also doing her first Ironman on Sunday. It always amazes me how despite the huge number of people at these events, I always manage to run into people I know! When the kids finished we all headed to grab dinner at a local hotspot, Capone's. The place was packed and we ended up having a long wait, but the food and vast selection of beers on tap made it worthwhile.
 the fancy resort
beautiful day at the lake!
race village
 Anandi & I
The next morning we slept in a bit and had breakfast on our cute little wrap-around porch. Our plans for the day included checking in, doing a short swim in the lake to get a feel for the water, and riding the run course loop. It was a little chilly and overcast when we headed out, but it quickly warmed up, and ended up reaching 86 degrees later that afternoon. I kept joking that we left Sacramento just as it was cooling down to the 70s, only to come up here, expecting cool temps, and getting even hotter weather! Check-in was smooth and organized, but the best part was getting our AWESOME swag bags! I'd heard of them before, and had spotted them Thursday, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on one.
 no. 144!

After hitting up the merch tent again (this time I restrained myself), we headed down to the lake for a practice swim. There were tons of athletes swimming and lots of locals hanging out, and it was absolutely gorgeous out. Since the water has been hovering in the high 50s (website says 55) I decided to bring my fullsleeve, and I'm glad I did! We swam about 500 yards, and while the water was chilly initially, after a couple minutes I was pretty comfortable. The water was also fairly clear and shallower than I expected, but there was a little chop and current. I felt good in my wetsuit and goggles, but I'm glad I tested them out before race day. I'm feeling fairly good about the swim, if only I could skip the mass swim start!
 the soon-to-be swim start
contemplating : )

After swimming we heading down the main street of town looking for some lunch. We grabbed sandwiches and then a few of us decided to explore a little more. My friend Anandi and I both work at Fleet Feet in Sacramento, so we hit up the local FF to see what it's like. It was super tiny! By this point we'd been on our feet quite a bit and were ready to head back to the house. After relaxing for a bit we got our bikes ready to go and headed out on the run course. It's a two loop course, so we decided to ride to the turnaround and back. I had my bike tuned up right before I left so it was nice and smooth just out of town we found ourselves on Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive on an awesome little bike trail right along the lake. There was one big climb up to the turnaround, but other than that it's mostly flat with a couple false flats. Not too worried about the hill as I will definitely be walking up!
 checking out the local FF!
 the gals riding the run course

By the time we were on our way back the clouds had moved in and the sky had got pretty dark. Back at the house we got to making dinner, and then we rushed back down to the lake for the pre-race athlete meeting. Right as we got to the tent, the sky opened up and started dumping. Not long after we heard our first thunder. The tent was packed, making it hard to hear or see anything, and the rain added even more noise. It didn't last long; just as we were deciding to leave early they released everyone. Fortunately it was only sprinkling for the walk back to the house. Late that night, however, we experienced an intense storm with pouring rain, wind, and big bolts of thunder and lightning. We all crowded on the deck to watch the show, simultaneously entranced and worried that this could be an ominous sign for race day.
pre-race meeting
and then it was pouring

The forecast has thus been a constant source of conversation the last couple days. As of right now, we are looking at possible rain in the morning and potentially more rain and some thunder storms later in the afternoon. Of course, anything could happen! So far, the weather has been following a similar patter that I'm hoping continues on race day. It's overcast and cool in the morning, but by the afternoon it's cleared and warmed up significantly. Then in the late afternoon it starts to get cloudy again. Storms seem to be more of an evening occurrence here, so I hope it stays that way!

This morning was spent sleeping in and leisurely hanging out before tackling our gear bags. Ironman races give you 5 different colored bags: morning gear, bike gear, run gear, bike special needs, and run special needs. Since we had to drop off our bike & run bags with our bikes today, we had to lay everything out and make sure our gear was sorted into the right bags. It's definitely a little anxiety-inducing since you can't really do anything if you forget something!
ready to go!

We just got back from checking in our bikes and gear bags. The buoys are set up in the water and the finish chute is being assembled. At this point there's nothing left to do but countdown. Be back tonight with my race goals!
 that's a lot of $$$
 see you in the morning!
 run gear bags
bike gear bags

June 21, 2012

Ironman Week 24


Greetings from Coeur d'Alene! I have so much to say, from my race plan and goals to reflecting on everything that got me to this point. But that will have to wait for a later post. I'm going to keep this brief because it's overdue, and it's race week - I've got bigger things on my mind than a training recap! This was basically my final week of real training. The taper was in full effect, leaving me surprisingly tired, but more than anything, anxious that the race was so close. A fellow blogger and multiple IM finisher wisely told me that so many people try to fight the taper, but it's so important for both your body and mind. In hindsight, I see that she was absolutely right. I managed to complete the majority of the workouts, and once again I was able to fit in a few fun things with my extra time. Even with a big cutback on volume, I still had over 7 hours of training. I guess it's all about perspective, right?


pm: swim / 2,820 yds / 1:00
The pump at the pool I usually swim at broke over the weekend, so I had to find another way to get my swim workout in. Fortunately one of the city pools offers lap swim over the summer, and their hours fit with my schedule. I headed over there in the late afternoon and had no problem snagging a lane. I started my workout, but as I got to the timed sets, I realized I was going much faster than prescribed. I figured maybe I was just having a good day and continued on. But after 10 minutes I got to thinking, and I decided to ask the lifeguard how long the pool was. Turns out it's short - 23.5 yards to be exact! I couldn't help but laugh at myself : ) I still estimated that I was hitting my paces, but I had to adjust the distance, so what should have been a 3,000 yard workout was a mere 2,820!
  • warm-up:
  • 4x [200 easy, RI = 20"; 4x25 drill, RI = 5"]
  • main:
    • 4x200 pull @1:40 on 3:40
    • 6x100 @1:40 on 1:50
    • 4x25 sprint on 1:00
  • cool-down:
    • 300
 home of the 23.5 yard pool!
pm: run / 4.2 mi / 0:31 / avg 7:28
I went straight to track from the pool where we had a killer workout waiting for us. I thought it might be an easier workout with our race coming up, but it was pretty tough: 2x800 (3:38, 3:40), 1x1600 (7:21), and 5x400 (1:52, 1:49, 1:49, 1:47, 1:47) at 5k pace. I don't really know what that pace is for me, as I'm not in 5k-PR shape, but I aimed for about 7:30. I was under on all of them, and was really pleased with how I did, especially on another warm day!

pm: bike / 26.5 mi / 1:30 / avg 17.6 mph
For some reason I didn't start this workout til late afternoon when it was way too warm. I was supposed to do a 10 minute transition run after, but I was meeting a friend for a swim and just didn't have time.

pm: swim / 2,500 yds / 0:45
Since the pump at the pool was still not fixed our usual Thursday evening MTC swim was canceled, so I made plans with a friend to meet for an open water swim instead. Since it was so hot the water actually felt amazing, and overall we had a really good swim. We hung out for a while after and just talked about the upcoming race (it will be the first Ironman for both of us), and it was refreshing to know that someone else was just as nervous/excited/anxious/terrified as I was.
gorgeous day at the lake!
I actually had an hour ride on deck, but just couldn't get myself to do it. It had been a long and stressful week, and I just felt like I needed an extra rest day. When I got to work that morning I discovered that my coworker had made a little something in honor of my upcoming race:
hahaha, made my day!


am: run / 6.4 mi / 1:00 / avg 9:22
It was so weird for my "long" run to be just an hour, but I appreciated the extra sleep it gave me : ) Nothing too exciting, except that when I started at 8am it was already in the 70s. The day went on to reach a humid 106 degrees, the hottest day in Sacramento so far this year. Since I had the evening free we hit up Pops in the Park again, although the heat was absolutely sweltering so we escaped to the movie theaters to catch the new Wes Anderson movie, Moonrise Kingdom. Totally quirky, but a really great film.

am: bike / 36 mi / 2:00 / avg 18 mph
My last long ride of training called for 2.5 hours, but I decided to cut it back to 2. The plan said to ride at a reasonable race pace effort, but since I was riding on a flat bike trail and CdA is a pretty hilly course, this was a little difficult to execute. I tried to go more on effort, and since I ended up feeling pretty good I let myself push a little more and ended up with an average speed that was much faster than usual.

pm: swim / 1,600 yds / 0:30
After work I headed back to Lake Natoma for my second open water swim of the week. This one was kept nice and short since I had dinner plans to celebrate Father's Day. I probably don't say it enough, but I'm extremely lucky to have a dad who not only loves me, but also has always been supportive of these crazy things I get myself into. I know he's my biggest fan, and I'm forever grateful.

swim: 5,320 yards
bike: 62.5 miles
run: 10.6 miles
other: 0 hours
total time: 7.2 hours

June 19, 2012

An Open Letter

Well folks, after 6 months of training, of living and breathing the life of triathlon, it is finally race week! To try and explain the tangle of emotions playing in my mind, I thought I'd share this great letter I stumbled upon today. I obviously did not write this; the original post can be found here. But reading through it this morning, I found myself visualizing my own upcoming Ironman, experiencing one changing emotion after the next, until the final paragraph. My eyes welled up as I imagined myself crossing the finish line of finish lines, of actually completing this goal that, at one time, seemed impossible, but instead has become inevitable. This week, as I prepare for the biggest race of my life, I can't help but reflect as well, and I'm reminded of a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." Not all that long ago, an Ironman was unfathomable, and yet...here I am.

So without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman - to the IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between...  Right now you've entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.  You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take months or more to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that may have been longer than you slept for any given night during college.  

You swam in the cold. You rode in the rain. You ran in the heat. You went out when others stayed home. You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.  You have survived the Darwinian progression that is Ironman training, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before you...and it will be a fast one.  

Time that used to be filled with never-ending training will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.  It won't be pretty.  It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:  you are ready.  Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.  You are ready.  

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every $#%& week will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.  It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. It is not easy, but you can do it.  You are ready.  

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl against your skin, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for, for so VERY long, is finally here.  You will tear up in your goggles. The helicopter will roar overhead. The splashing will surround you.  You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.  The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the final shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up to the edge and head for the ladder. You may have to wait for someone to get off that sucker before you, but you will get your turn. You’ll find your transition bag—don’t worry about the sea of bags the same color, someone is there to help you--and run off to prepare for the bike (don’t forget the sunscreen, pick a volunteer near the end!). You may not always realize just what is happening but you won't wipe the smile off your face for anything and you'll settle down to your race. 

The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll be on the bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman. The site of a seemingly unlimited line of bikes before you and behind you is a site to behold. You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot—there’s shade in the tree cover at times. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right? Your training got you this far—TRUST IT NOW! You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to slow down as you ride for what seems like hours, well it is for hours but you’ve practiced this many times in training. 

You reach Special Needs, maybe you’ll stop a bit to fuel up, and head out again.   By now it'll be hot and you'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here, not today. You'll grind the false flats to the climbs. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The occasional cheer will come back to you to help you here and there. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter. 

Grind. Fight. Suffer. Persevere. You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're almost back, with only the 26.2 mile run to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.  You'll roll into transition and volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your transition bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change and load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman season – this is the one that counts.  

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a hot Saturday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.  That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good. That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You may see leaders passing you on their own way through. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last. 

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon….by remote control….blindfolded. Expect things to go wrong and then just deal with it. How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't stop and don't EVER sit down. 

You'll make it through the first loop. You'll load up on special needs if you need. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest, you’ll be back here again anyway. Keep moving and start looking for people you know and cheer for people you don't. You're headed forward, some of them won’t be. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people heading out faster than you earlier. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.  Run if you can. Walk if you have to. Just keep moving.  

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. Keep moving. You'll soon only have a mere lap to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you...puts a medal over your head......all you have to do is get there.  You'll start to hear the call of the Waterway. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them, or just wave a bit—they’ll understand what you mean. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on the run, and now when you've come back. 

You'll be running along the water for a while for the last time. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a “decent”pace (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible. You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it. You'll run. You'll find your legs. You won't know how, but you will run. You will feel like you’re flying at the end. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps. 

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you. Remember to take a moment to make this the finishing memory of a lifetime. They'll call your name. You'll keep running. You won’t feel the pain. The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you. You'll cross the mat. The flash will go off, well actually many flashes were already going off. You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly be capable of nothing more.  Someone will catch you. You'll lean into them. It will suddenly hit you…

You are an Ironman. 

June 12, 2012

Ironman Week 23


Aka Weekly Recap, Instagram Edition. Since I think a blog post is much more enjoyable with pictures, I thought I'd share some shots from my week, both from training and just life. Anyway, this week marked the first official taper week before Ironman, now just two short weeks away (!!!). Taper still meant 10+ hours of training though, and still included a long swim, bike, and run. With a little more free time, however, I was able to fit in some fun non-training stuff, too : ) The big highlight of the week was receiving this in an email:
it's really happening!
And then seeing that bib numbers were posted!
 start sending good vibes for #144!


pm: bike / 17.8 mi / 1:00 / avg 17.8 mph
Being a day off, I had both a swim, bike, and run scheduled to take advantage of the free day. I slept in a bit, ate a good breakfast, and made a homemade carrot-apple-orange-ginger juice. I had track that night, so my plan was to ride in the early afternoon, head to the pool, then straight to the track.  Triathlon Tuesday was a looong day!
 started off Triathlon Tuesday with a delicious juice!

Not sure why, but this was a great ride! I kept my HR in a steady zone 2 but was able to push the pace. Side note: I'd thought my HR monitor was on the fritz after it wasn't being detected during the Motherlode Century, so I just haven't been using it since. I decided to throw it on for the ride just to double check, and sure enough it seems to be working!

pm: swim / 3,700 yds / 1:25
  • warm-up:
    • 5x200, RI=20"
  • main:
    • 4 x [100 drill / 100 @1:50 / 100 @1:40-1:45], RI=15"
    • 12x75 as 25 kick / 25 technique / 25 fast, RI=15"
  • cool-down:
    • 4x50 swim golf
    • 400 easy
This was my longest swim to date, and will be my longest before Ironman. I felt like I was in the pool forever, but fortunately the actual workout was broken up so it wasn't too boring. The faster 100s were a challenge, and I was definitely on the higher end of the pace range, but I stuck it out. By the end, though, I just wanted to get out of the water! I also got a late start and had to rush to track, my skin still pruny and my eyes ringed from my goggles : /

pm: run / 3.8 mi / 0:32 / avg 8:25
This week's track workout was a little different than usual: a continuous 3 miles, increasing the pace each lap so that the final lap of each mile was at a hard effort. I felt ok for the first mile, but started to feel very nauseous in the last two. I managed to stay pretty consistent with my paces, but I didn't feel so great by the end. It was a hot day, I was tired from riding and swimming before, and I may not have eaten enough that afternoon. As we finished we joined the rest of the group for a few 100m all-out sprints (16.4, 15.9, 16.7). I haven't ran this fast in a looong time, and it was almost kind of fun! But thank God it was such a short distance : )

am: bike / 76.8 mi / 4:30 / avg 17.1 mph
Since my long rides have been during the week due to my work schedule, I usually end up doing them alone. This week, however, my friend Cris (who's also doing Cd'A) had a 2 hour ride on deck so I decided to split my ride and join her.

We met at her place in Natomas and set out on the levy before hopping on the bike trail. Our pace on the bike trail was pretty good, but riding on the roads before and after slowed us down a bit. It was a beautiful morning and so great to have the company. The 2 hours went by pretty fast and I said goodbye and headed back home. About an hour later I set out solo for the second half of my ride. I just went up and down the bike trail, and actually had a much faster ride, going from a 16.3 mph average by the end of the first 2 hours to a 17.1 mph average at the end of 4.5 hours. My legs felt pretty good and my bum wasn't too uncomfortable. The highlight of the ride, however, was seeing this guy:

This is the second turtle I've spotted on the bike trail, and this time I happened to have my camera on me! Once again, he was crossing the bike trail, so I moved him back to the bushes on the river side : )

pm: run / 3.3 mi / 0:30 / avg 9:15
I almost thought of skipping this, but then I remembered it was National Running Day. So even though it was only a 30 minute transition run, I was glad I got in a few miles!

I was absolutely starved after training for 5 hours, so my mom and I went out for dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, the hip Tower Cafe. I will say that one thing I will miss about Ironman training is being able to eat whatever I want!

Thursday nights I usually go to the MTC group swim, but toward the end of my shift at work I was feeling pretty gross. I think I was more rundown than anything, but I was tired and felt a little feverish. I got halfway to the pool before deciding that calling it an early evening and getting some extra rest was a better choice. I had a scheduled rest day the next day and figured 2 days in a row would hopefully leave me rested and refreshed.


am: bike / 19.6 mi / 1:10 / avg 16.8 mph
Holy wind! I was sleeping with my window open and woke up to loud noises outside. It sounded like wind, but I thought there was no way it could be that windy. Oh, but it sure was! I almost considered throwing my bike on the trainer but was short on time so I just figured I'd get it done. Thankfully it wasn't a direct headwind for most of the ride, but it was still pretty brutal. In some sections it was so strong I could barely manage 14 mph, and others I had the wind on my back and was cruising at 20 mph. In some spots the crosswinds were so strong I thought I was going to be blown off my bike. I had intervals as part of the workout, too, but with the conditions I just focused on moving forward and getting the ride done.

I was supposed to do a 30 minute transition run, but didn't allot enough time for it, so I skipped it. Normally I'd feel a little guilty, but honestly I was glad I didn't have to go back out in that wind!

The wind continued the rest of the day, filling the roads with branches, leaves, and other debris, and being a pain in the ass for allergy sufferers. Here's a video I took to try and capture how crazy the gusts were:

I didn't have any training to do that evening so I took advantage of the chance to wear normal clothes and have a bit of a social life. My coworker and I went to Pops in the Park again, and then headed back to midtown for Second Saturday to grab dinner before heading to a concert. Mickey Avalon was performing at a local club and we were able to get in free through some connections. I was totally out of my element (wearing a maxi dress when most of the females there were practically naked), but it was still quite fun. Mickey is absolutely insane, and I mostly just stared at him in awe during his performance. It ended up being a late night, and I hoped it wouldn't come back to bite me Sunday morning during my long run!
Mickey Avalon
am: run / 12.9 mi / 2:00 / avg 9:18
After staying out a tad too late and having a couple drinks the night before, I didn't know how this run would go, but I figured it was only two hours so one way or another I'd get through it. I didn't have to work til noon so I got to sleep in for a bit, and that probably was my saving grace. I was still tired and a little dehydrated when I set out, but I managed to have a pretty decent run. It was a warm but clear morning, with tons of people, especially cyclists, out on the bike trail. This was also my last long run before Ironman...yikes!
spotted this guy along the way...king of the squirrels!
pm: swim / 1,600 yds* / 0:30
After work I headed to Lake Natoma for my weekly open water swim. It was a hot day, so the water actually felt amazing. I was bummed to find that they'd removed most of the buoy lines, but fortunately there was still one line left. I had a shorter swim this week so I swam the length of the buoy line and back, then went back out for a few minutes to get to 30 minutes. While I swam I tried to do some visualization of my Ironman swim, focusing on keeping myself relaxed and maintaining good form. Hard to believe that if all goes well I'll be an Ironman in two weeks!
nothing to do with training, just a gratuitous pup pic : )

swim: 5,300 yards
bike: 114.2 miles
run: 20 miles
other: 0 hours
total time: 11.6 hours

June 11, 2012

Review: Speedfil Hydration System

Fueling and hydration are sort of the unofficial fourth sport of triathlon, and for long course, can be especially tricky. Just as the bike legs is disproportionately longer than the swim or the run, it also requires the majority of calories. Figuring out not only what to eat and drink, but also how to do so has been an ongoing challenge, but I think I've finally found a great system that works for me.

A big part of figuring this whole thing out was simply how to just carry enough. I've been a notorious under-fueler in the past, and so it was imperative to carry enough fluids and calories to get me through a long ride or race. A big part of this was my discovery of Gu Roctance, which allows me to get a big percentage of my calories (and also electrolytes) through fluids. It's much easier for me to drink such a high amount of calories rather than try to consume them through solid food, which would also require carrying a lot more stuff!

And so I started training with Roctance, supplementing with Honey Stinger waffles, and that seemed to be doing the trick for me. However, I needed a better way to carry my fluids, and also a way to carry more as my training rides got longer and longer. When I bought my bike, my frame could only fit one bottle cage, so I had a two-bottle wing system installed on the back of my seat post. This allowed me to ride with approximately 60 oz of fluids at a time. Not bad, but there was a problem: I was not comfortable grabbing the bottles on the back. In fact, to this day, I never have while riding, only when stopped. This clearly created a problem, as I would need those fluids during my rides (and my races) and I couldn't stop every time I needed more to drink. I also found that I didn't drink as frequently from the bottle on my frame because I hated having to come out of aero and slow down to do so.

Enter, the Speedfil Hydration System. I'd heard of hydration systems that were hands-free, making them ideal for triathletes, but I had yet to do any research. I first spotted one on my coach's bike, and it happened to be the Speedfil Standard system. It looked like a giant bottle mounted to the frame with a straw that came up through the handlebars. She had great things to say about it, so when I got home later I looked it up and read a bunch of reviews. Most were quite positive, but there were a few recurring complaints that I read, although all were fairly minor. With Wildflower coming up I decided to go for it and drove out to Davis to pick one up.

It definitely is not a cheap product - nearly $100 for the system - but in hindsight I think it's well worth it. A little overview of what the system entails:
  • a 40 oz frame-mountable bottle w/ an aerodynamic design (aka it's narrow)
  • a plastic tube that serves as a straw w/ bite valve + a wired sleeve to allow for bending)
  • an opening on the top to allow for on-the-go refilling

Installation ended up being a tad tricky. It didn't come with the clearest instructions, nor with pictures or diagrams, but a quick Google search turned up a video that was fairly helpful (although with no verbal instructions, it still left me a tad confused). I managed to figure it out, however, and gave myself a little pat on the back : ) Tip: When installing the straw, get on your bike and play around with the positioning before you cut the tubing! You want it to reach the bottom of the bottle, but also need to figure out what the best height is between your handlebars for you to reach.
successfully installed!
 the full set-up

The first time I used it was actually at Wildflower...and fortunately, it worked great! I filled the bottle with 2 servings of Gu Roctane (so 480 calories) and then carried water in the bottles on the back. The straw was fairly easy to get to in aero, and I ended up hydrating and fueling much better with such easy access. Tip: When filling, mix your drink in a regular water bottle, then pour into the Speedfil bottle through the refill opening.
not my bike, but shows another angle
 you just squeeze more fluids through this opening to refill

Since then, I've used it numerous times on rides up to 5.5 hours and I'm still loving it. On the longer rides I've also been carrying water and another serving of Roctane in the back bottles, and refill my Speedfil bottle at stops. I have yet to do so while riding (mainly because I still don't feel comfortable reaching back), but I have no problem stopping for a minute to refill. I've also found that the complaints I read about in the reviews haven't really been an issue for me. For instance many complained that it's a pain in the ass to get the bottle in/out of the cage, and while it is a little trickier than a regular bottle cage, it's not that difficult. Cleaning has also been a breeze, although I do make sure I take it out and rinse it the same day I use it so it doesn't get sticky and gross. Tip: When cleaning, use hot water and suck it up the straw then blow it out to rinse it out.

  • can carry a lot of fluids (40 oz)
  • makes for easy hands-free hydration
  • easy on-the-go refilling
  • bite valve holds fluids at the ready (aka no sucking air)
  • expensive
  • can be tricky to install
Overall, I think this is a great system. I know a lot of others use bottles mounted to the aero bars, but I really like keeping that area less cluttered. Plus, you can carry so much more fluid with this system. This would probably be overkill for shorter races, but for long course training and racing it's a great system. Easy to use, great design, and well made. So far, I love it : )

What kind of hydration or fueling system do you use?