Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving in Wine Country

About 3 weeks before IMAZ Shane & I were chatting over some wine on a Sunday... Isn't this how all plans start? Shane needed to spend some time working in N. California, and with Ironman creeping up just didn't seem to be a good time until, well Thanksgiving week. Thinking I wouldn't be happy with that travel, I surprised Shane by saying something along the lines of, "wine, holiday, I'm IN!"

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a planner! I love to have the logistics all figured out, and organized so that when the actual vacation comes, it's just that. No thinking, no stress and how it's supposed to be, VACATION.  I dug through my files and found my wine country folder with my special maps that a wine maker gave me once and I always take with me! It has the smaller roads and more boutique wineries that aren't always located on the map. I started looking up new places to visit, some of our old favorites, and had one special trip in mind that I wanted to make over on the Napa side. This was our 4th trip to the Sonoma/Healdsburg area, but we've yet to head over to Napa. I prefer the smaller, less commercial more inviting and welcoming wineries on the Sonoma side. I realize that not all of the Napa wineries are so intimidating, in fact, as we head through this post you will see that I found my new favorite home on the Napa side!

Within about 10 days I had a VRBO picked out and paid for, a car rented, plane ticket purchased, dinner reservations for Thanksgiving and a tentative itinerary for tastings! In the midst of all the planning and Ironman Prep I was having a text conversation with our good friend Karen who had just moved to Seattle. We were talking about the holidays and if she was coming home, and I don't know, something like 24hours later she she and her boyfriend Casey had decided to make the trek down to wine country and join us.  SO EXCITING!  Friendsgiving AND wine....

Shane headed out to California earlier in the week and I flew in Thursday morning. Honestly, the hardest part about this trip was finding someone to stay with my dogs.  They are ~13 now and need more attention. While they are still very healthy and active, they are used to me being home all day every day and leaving them for hours on end just isn't ideal.  Juliette has really bad separation anxiety (ugh, who wouldn't when they are turned into the pound at 8 years old?) so we crate her, and Baxter well.. he just wants company.  He is fine alone, but I hate leaving him for more than about 4-6 hours at a time. Thanks to a wonderful friend who agreed to come stay with them, even on a holiday, I was relieved that they would be well cared for.

I digress. Back to wine country (even though it really IS all about the dogs)! Since my arrival was around noon, I did a little research to see if any wineries were open on Thanksgiving. Surprised, I actually found a couple. Our dinner reservations weren't until 6:15 and we couldn't check into our rental until 3 so we had some time to kill.  Cline Cellars was the very first winery we visited on our first trip years ago and it just happens to be on the 121 just as you enter Sonoma. I was completely shocked as we pulled into the winery. Cars were parked along the entire road to the tasting room and people were swarming. Clearly we weren't the only people looking for a way to kick off the holiday weekend. To our surprise, even though the tasting bar(s) (they set up an additional one outside) actually had lines of people, we had a wonderful person sharing the wines with us and still had a great experience. We bought a bottle of sparking and a cheese plate and were quickly on our way to the vrbo.

I have really lucked out with our VRBO rentals. This place was tucked away about 2 miles from the Sonoma square. Quiet, spacious and cute! We sat outside and had our bubbles and snack and before we knew it it was time to head to dinner. I found a holiday menu at the very well known Girl and the Fig. Our friends who were married several years ago used them to cater their reception and I remembered the food being outstanding, so it was an easy choice. The place was incredibly packed, but we were seated outside in their "covered" patio. The ambiance was festive and it was a perfect place to catch up with Karen & Casey, and in fact... I'm pretty sure that we were the last people to leave (sorry, staff)! My meal was great, and the service was really good, but our only complaint or less than perfect part was the dessert (I wasn't complaining but the rest of the group really wanted pumpkin pie and the cheesecake just wasn't the same). We still had a great time, and I'm sure if we went back to the restaurant on a non national holiday we would enjoy it a bit more...

 The next morning we got up to burn off some of the 4 course meal and wine we consumed. It was a gorgeous cool morning, but boy was my body stiff!  I'd really only been swimming since Ironman with one 30min jog a couple days prior. We had a challenge getting out of the house (Shane climbed the fence to open the gate for us) then headed on our way. We actually ran into Karen and Boots so jogged with them for a bit.  Oh how I miss running with my dogs!!!

Now off to the really fun part! A friend had referred us to a family owned company that you hire, by the hour to drive you around to the wineries. They use your vehicle and it's as simple as that. We ended up hiring them to drive us both Saturday and Sunday and we couldn't be more happy. Karen and Casey had their little sprinter that they drove down from Seattle and the drivers were happy to drive us around in it. It was perfect. Boots got to be our token winery dog and between wineries we could sit at the dining table and snack and hydrate for the next stop! I would highly recommend Wine Tour Drivers for anyone in town!

Stop 1 - Robledo Family. I've talked about this place before and anyone who has been to our house in the last couple of years has enjoyed their lovely wines. Shane & I happened in the tasting room on one of our visits and immediately fell in love. The story of the immigrant Mexican worker who started out making ~$1/hr growing into an award winning family winery touched our hearts and palettes. We joined the wine club and have been enjoying all of their wines ever since. In typical Mexican fashion the tastings were plentiful and we spent a bit more time there than planned. We actually had to cut ourselves off and pick and choose which wines we wanted so that we could leave and head to the next stop. To be honest, I could have stayed there all day long!

We had a tentative itinerary for Day 1, because I was waiting to hear back from one of our favorite wine maker and friend Guy at Collin Lee. We found this place a few years ago, he's not on the map, he does his tastings out of his home and even more fun, he is an ex pro endurance athlete who retired and moved to wine country when he became very sick (and later found out it was lime disease).  We've spent a lot of time in his outdoor kitchen enjoying his amazing Syrahs and Cabs, and in turn spent a lot of money there over the years... I called him a few weeks back and he told me his Texas crew was heading over shortly so to call him when I was in town because he might not having any wine left! As we were leaving Robledo I got a call from Guy and we were able to head to his house for our last stop of the day... His home is in Kenwood so we had to detour our plans to head to Healdsburg and found a few more fun places to visit in the area.

Arista was our next stop. I've been there once before and enjoyed the visit, but this time was a little disappointing.  The tasting room was overpacked and they were only pouring 1 pinot noir. I think the person pouring for us could tell we were looking for a bit more and he brought a new pinot out for us to taste. It had yest to be available for purchase, but he was spot on. We loved it and were each able to walk away with a bottle.

We had enough time to visit one more place before heading to Colin Lee so we picked one I had read about and was close by, Porter Creek. We had a blast! The tasting room was laid back and unique. There were chickens outside for Boots to check out and the wines were delicious! I would definitely recommend this place, and go back!

Last, but not least on day 1 we headed to Colin Lee. We enjoyed a couple bottles of Guy's last bottled wine until the spring and walked away with every last one he had available. I always enjoy these visits, and can't wait to taste what he's bottling next. Shane will be spending some time in California and offered to come help him next summer with the harvest. How cool would that be? Boots had a pretty good time checking out the property as well ;)

We finished up our day with some good old fashioned pizza at Mary's pizza.  It was the perfect way to soak up some of the wine and fill our bellies!

Day 2 was a day I had really been looking forward to. I had made us a couple of reservations on the Napa side and well, couldn't wait to try them! First a stop at a place Shane & I found on our first visit to the area several years ago, Nicholson Ranch. The property is absolutely stunning and the wines are beautiful. We thought Casey and Karen might enjoy it, and we were right, they are now club members! We purchased a couple of their new release Pinot's and will be laying one down to enjoy at the recommended time (2017-18!!)

 I had a friend, and previous co-worker from my years with Four Seasons post a bunch of pictures on social media from her girls trip to Napa. I had contacted her looking for suggestions and decided to try and make a reservation at a place she highly recommended called Relic.  Relic is a very small winery and they do their tastings on top of Spring Mountain out of an old old trailer.  I have to say as we were taking the 30min trek through the fog and the clouds in the sprinter up the mountain I was a bit worried. But, it was worth it. The wines were great (a bit pricey though) and the views were absolutely stunning. I think the experience was definitely worth the long haul, but I'm not totally sure I would go back? Nothing negative about the wines, and the tasting inside the trailer was honestly really cool, it just didn't have that wow factor, in my opinion.

Next up is probably the highlight (for me) of our trip. Many years ago over a Sunday Dinner at the Angelones we shared a bottle of B Cellars Wine. B Cellars was the creation of a former Four Seasons executive whom Melisa (who I worked with for 7 years at Four Seasons and we both now work for the same database company we worked with in those 7 years, we make a great team!) met when she was with a different marketing company pitching for the FS business. I remembered the wine literally melting in my mouth, and I've been dying to visit the winery for years! While I had never met or worked with Duffy, one of the co-founders, he was so accommodating and welcoming helping us get a reservation on such short notice.

From the second we approached the tasting room I was excited. There was a hostess outside who knew my name as we approached,  handed us all waters infused with basil and invited us inside. As soon as we walked in the ambiance was set. There were several tables beautifully set and arranged for the tastings and food pairings and all of this centered around the chef's kitchen. The aromas of fresh herbs and spices made you feel like you were at someone's home. Our host of the afternoon approached us and said that we were going to have another group joining us, but they hadn't arrived. She didn't want to see us without wine so she brought us our first tasting with an appetizer (see menu). Both the wine and the bite were an explosion of flavor and the perfect way to start out day. The second group didn't show up so we began our tour.  We were taken through the entire property, inside and out. The gardens where all of the food on the menu comes from, the chickens and their Four Seasons accommodations and the new home being built on the property for a key investor. Inside the caves we got to taste some future wine from the barrel and see the expansion being built.

 This place is going to be big and I'm so happy we got to be a part of the early stages. Absolutely everything about this visit was top notch.  Our host was informative and inviting. The food and wine parings were 5 star and quite honestly we could have stayed there all day and night. Shane & I had decided early on we would probably join their wine club, and after the 90min visit we were confirmed. I'm so excited to be a part of this winery, and the best part is with each of our club shipments we will receive invites to the winery to share with friends. So, if you are heading to the area, let me know! 
 Note the different menus.  When we made our reservations I was asked for any dietary restrictions. I said that I did not eat meat, and Shane didn't eat pork, but we didn't want the food limited because of us. They presented with our individual menus and as you can see, they were very accommodating!

We finished up the day at the Mount Veeder Tasting Room (on the Franciscan property).  I don't know if we were bias after the B Cellars experience, but we were a bit underwhelmed.  After a day of tasting at smaller wineries perhaps we were just spoiled?

The final stop of the day was a bit indulgent at an Italian Restaurant in the Square. This is the first time I have indulged in full GLUTEN pasta and bread since I had my food sensitivity testing a year and a half ago. Not gonna lie, it was totally worth it, and thankfully it really just made me a bit puffy the next day, but really, after all this wine... who wouldn't be! I would definitely recommend Della Santina's.

I realize that this post is becoming longer than my Ironman race recap, so I'll keep the final day short and sweet. Karen and Casey had to head home so it was just Shane & I for our final day. I hadn't made a plan as I wanted to see how the previous days had gone and be open to visit anything we heard of or missed on the two previous days. Since we weren't able to make it up to Healdsburg, we decided to venture up that way and work our way back down to Sonoma. We started out again with a little jog in the rain and were quickly on our way.  I had decided it would be fun to start with a champagne (or sparkling in California language), but we were not wanting to go out of our way.  Shockingly, as we headed out on highway 12 to take the scenic route to Healdsburg I just happened to see a big sign for it at a small tasting room.  To be honest, I don't even remember the tasting room (it was a combination of 3 different lables) name, but we had a good time there, and while the bubbles weren't our favorite we did walk away with a case of Cuttings Warf Chardonnay.  The taste was delicious and the case deal was unbeatable.

I had been trying to get us an appointment at A Rafanelli, but it hadn't worked out.  I took a chance and called them to see if they had any cancellations and sure enough they had one at 1:30.  It was just 11:30 and we were heading to get some lunch at the Dry Creek General Store (best little road side deli!) so the timing was perfect. After a quick bite we had more time to spare so we headed to Bella.  Our friend Jen is a club member there and I've wanted to visit for a while. The tastings are done in their wine caves where it's dark, cozy and inviting. As soon as we walked in we knew were going to love it. We were asked if we had been there before, and I told them no but a good friend of ours was a member. They looked her up and said they were bored so invited us to join them in the members only section for some reserve tastings (thank you Jen)!  Unfortunately we were on a time restriction with the 1:30 appointment so while we tasted some delicious wines and walked away with a couple of bottles, I'm pretty sure we could have spent a lot more time, and money there!  Next time...

 Next up, A Rafanelli! The grounds of this place are just as perfect as the wines. Smaller production, family owned winery specializing in Zins and Cabs. We were given a tour of both the caves, the grounds and provided some history of the winery and family. It was just the two of us and a very nice gentleman who has worked with the family for 22 years. I was hoping they would have the merlot I tasted on our last visit (melted in your mouth), but they were completely sold out.

Our next stop was a recommendation from our driver, Mazzocco.  They specialize in Zins.  I was pretty excited about this stop as we hadn't had our normal amount of Zinfandel tastings for the area.  Unfortunately the tone for this stop was set when we walked in the door and were greeted by a very young man who seemed more hipster, not sure he's old enough to even drink than wine connoisseur.  I'm not sure if that made our pallet less welcoming, or if we truly just didn't prefer the wines. They were definitely more fruit forward than big and spicy like we prefer. I'm not saying don't visit, the tasting room was packed with people stocking up by the case, so it may be that it just wasn't our taste. 

Our last and final stop of the day is another suggestion, or fault rather of our friend Jen. The night before I left she invited me over for some wine. We shared two bottles (hey, I was in training for vacation!) from another boutique winery, Stephen and Walker Trust Wines.  She shared a cab and a zin that were just how I liked them. Big, bold, dark fruit, slight oak and makes you want to curl up with a fire and blanket and enjoy. After the disapointing visit before, we were so happy to be here.  The wines were exceptional and we walked away with several including, yet another wine club membership! I would highly recommend this tasting room to anyone who enjoys big bold red wines!

Our very very last stop was for a very tasty meal back in Sonoma Square. The menu is below and I'll let it speak for itself.  This was by far (aside from the tastings at B Cellars) the best meal of the trip!

We walked around the square for a bit to get some air and burn off some of the food and wine consumed then headed home for out last night.

This trip was so much fun. We visited some very cool places, and everything just fell into place perfectly. I'm so thankful that Casey and Karen were able to join us, it made the trip even better. We came home with enough wine to keep us busy for a while... I fact, I think I need to go look for a second wine fridge to store it all. 

I love triathlon and training and coaching and everything about the sport, but I do truly believe that there needs to be some balance. While it might not appear that I take many breaks, when I do take them it's to experience things I enjoy with people I love. And as lets be honest.. life really is too short to drink bad wine. Ok, and to really be honest, really good wine = no hangover ;)  Cheers!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ironman Arizona Part 2!

As I type this post I'm sitting in my recovery boots snuggled up to my dogs on the couch trying to remember what normal legs feel like, or how much we take simply walking for granted.  I'm incredibly sore.  A soreness I haven't felt since my BQ marathon last year.  Even after having my IM marathon PR at CDA earlier this year my body was not this torn up.  After reflecting with Michelle, I wonder if it's the back to back marathons?  I realize some people race long all year and wouldn't think twice about it, but for me this was a LOT.  My first time with 2 IM, and if you look at the calendar from this time last year it's 4 marathons and 3 Ironman in 12 months.

If you read last year's race report for Arizona you know it was one of those perfect days.  Perfect weather, perfect year long prep, perfect race execution.  When that was followed up with an equally perfect day in CDA 7 months later, it was almost hard to wrap my head around what I would be able to do last Sunday.

A few days before the race a friend asked me what would make my race day?  Her goal was to have a good run.  Another friend's goal was to race HAPPY.  I sat and I pondered.  What would it take?  Quite honestly I don't think I actually came up with an answer.  I felt like I had been lucky (?) enough to put together near perfect (for me) races over my last 3 Ironman and almost felt like asking for another one was too much.  Stepping back I know that is not true.  I work hard, I am committed and I deserve it just as much as the next person, but I will say that I did not have the same mindset going into this race as I did CDA or AZ13.

In AZ my goal was to get on the podium and by executing my plan to a T (and by what talent showed up!) I made that dream come true.  In CDA my goal was to race with the mindset that I could be in contention for a Kona Qualification.  While that did not happen, I executed my race to the best of my ability on that day and PR'd my marathon feeling amazing the entire time.  I made the decision that I would be racing Arizona (it was never a sure thing, but I did register on site with my husband the day before the race last November) when I saw girls flying by me on the bike and I was just not strong enough to follow with them.  I didn't give up on my race, but I knew deep down that I was probably not in the top 3 which you need to even have a possibility of that KQ.

While I worked hard and trained for Arizona, the goal never became about getting that Kona slot.  I know that for me to qualify, or to get a higher position on that podium I need a different course.  That did not change my mindset or my training to be able to do my best.  Ironman is a long long day, and it is truly a race of who is going to slow down the least.  I knew a couple of local gals racing in my age group, but I also checked out the start list glancing over the names.  I recognized 3 names right off the first look and actually laughed out loud.  A name of an overal female amateur winner of 70.3 worlds, another name that won our local Soma race beating out a pro finisher's time and another name of an athlete that passed me like I was standing still at mile 22 of the marathon at IMAZ in 13.

My goals and mindset remained the same.  Race MY race, race to MY abilities and most importantly HAVE FUN.  To be honest, knowing the talent in my age group was actually a relief.  I didn't stress about anything leading up to the race and was able to just focus on my rest, my plan and my execution.

The swim was actually less chaotic than last year.  I had wanted to stay with my friend who is capable of swimming just over an hour, but I lost in her in the first 4 seconds.  My goal became catch pink camp and try to draft!  Every pink cap I saw I pretended was miss Katie and until I saw another pink cap to catch I just played that game over and over. Shockingly, I did finally see her with about 200 meters to go and it just made me giggle!  My watch said 1:07 when I got up the steps and and to my wetsuit stripper.  Still not a great swim time for me, but at least it was 3mins faster than last year.

The weather forecasts had predicted wind all week long.  I was prepared for it.  Heck I figured after CDA, it really couldn't get any worse.  I was wrong. The wind all 3000 of us had to face on that beeline was relentless.  It was strong, it was dusty, it was swirly it was laughable.  I did not feel awesome on the first loop, but I didn't feel bad.  I was having some leg pain, but figured my legs were just tired from rest and they would eventually wake up.  I stuck to my nutrition plan, and most importantly focused on my hydration.  I held on for dear life with the wind swirling across the highway.  I stayed aero for 99.9 % of the time, more than I have in any long or short distance race.  I gripped my bars so tight when the wind caught my disk just enough to jerk me to the side that my hands were cramping.
 thank you Brian Nath for these wonderful pictures

I ignored my pace, my competition, and just kept plugging away.  Somewhere just before special needs on loop 2 my legs woke up.  I had popped 2 tylenol to help with my neck and arms from holding position so tightly and it must have helped my legs because I felt like a new person.  Even though I felt stronger, the wind got stronger slowing me (and everyone else) down even more.   My bike time was 26mins SLOWER than last year with 20% more effort and bike strength this season.  I have never been so excited to run a marathon in my life!

I nailed my planned nutrition(1800 calories) on the bike:  4 bottles of Osmo, 3 bottles of water, 3 bonk breakers, 1 package of chomps, 1.5 package of gel blasts, 2 gels and 6 e21 (planned 10, but the rest fell out of my bra on the bike!).  My stomach felt great, my energy level was there!

A quick T2 change and I was out on the course.  I immediately felt a little worried.  When starting my last 3 Ironman marathons I've had to really hold back on the first couple of miles.  I know my running ability and I know that starting any faster than that will not end well.  I'm a smart racer and I run within my abilities.  Starting this run was different.  My breathing was shallow and wheezy.  My legs felt good, a little heavy but they always do at first.  I was clicking off the first couple of miles right where they should be but it wasn't effortless like it should have been.  I had used my inhaler 3 times on the bike to help get deeper breaths after riding through swirling dust devils.  In most races I use it twice:  at the beginning of the bike and at the end of the bike.

I stuck to my plan on the run.  Osmo sips to thirst (bottle was gone by mile 6).  Gel every 4 miles and water as needed from aid stations.  I picked up my special needs Osmo and drank it in 5 miles.  This marathon felt harder than my last 3 Ironman.  I was tired, mentally and physically.  Not like I raced out of my abilities or over biked, but like I had just had enough.  I didn't have that joy like I did in AZ last year or CDA.  I stayed steady and focused.  I thanked every single volunteer, friend and random person cheering on the course.  If I didn't verbally express it, it was in my eyes, in my heart.  If it weren't for all those amazing people out there I'm not sure I would of had the fight in me that day.  I was not low on calories, muscles were not hurting.  I drank 2 bottles of Osmo, 5 gels and coke at nearly every aid station from mile 9-25.  I walked some (aid stations and a couple of the little "inclines"), something that I didn't have to do at my last 3 races.  I needed my inhaler every hour and it would give me a little relief from the wheezing, but nothing miraculous. I gave it all I had on that day and even though I wanted to come up with an excuse to slow down or to just not leave it all out there, I did not.  I was fit, ready and gave what I had!  I finished the marathon 10minutes slower than my goal time, but giving it everything I had on that day.  This picture says it all.

For the last 3 miles all I could think about were my friends on Rio Salado waiting for me to give me that last push to the finisher chute, then I wanted to take it all in.  Give high 5's and WALK across the line.  I did it all and was so elated and relieved to be done.

I was lucky enough to have friends, my ART guy and one of my athletes at the finish line to take care of me.  I hacked up my lungs and waited for Shane (who needed to get to medical to rinse out his very red and bruised up eye from the swim) then we finally made our way to our stuff to change into warm dry clothes and cheer on more finishers!

I spent some time on the phone with Michelle yesterday recapping how it went, what we need to focus on, what I want and what it will take to get me there.  I've flopped around what my goal race will be next year but I know what makes sense.  In July we decided Shane & I would both race CDA (when in Rome....), then Shane's business plans changed and he will not be racing so I was pondering other races, but it just makes sense.  I don't know if there were be more than one Ironman for me in 15' -  Ironman takes focus and strategy and not just hard work, but hard mental work, and with work and coaching and training and life in general, I don't know that I can commit my year to multiple Ironman races and give it the respect, training and focus it would take.

I'm excited for my recovery over the next couple of weeks.  Excited to do some traveling, visit with friends and enjoy some off season technique and strength work.  Next year is big for my coaching business and I couldn't be more excited about what my athletes have on their agenda!  TeamBSC training camp will be here before I know it and I can't wait to help everyone push past their limits and go leaps and bounds over what they thought they could do!

From the bottom of my heart I thank every single person that supports me, believes in me and sends endless wishes and motivation my way every time I race.

To my TeamBSC coach, friend and mentor, Michelle, this journey we are on.... I know it's been amazing so far, and soon will reach an epic stage!

TriScottsdale, Recovery e21, OsmoNutrition, Tribe Mulitisport, Planet Sun Hawaii and BeetElite - You all make my training, recovery and racing possible and I am beyond thankful and honored to race with your support!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Yesterday was my first ever trip to a med tent, all inclusive with an IV.  Not exactly how things were supposed to go, but hey, we ask a lot of our bodies, and in return we should be taking care of them, right?

I was on the fence about racing Soma.  I raced all summer long, had a lot of success and had a blast!  I wondered if I should be doing a long training weekend instead.  But, I talked it over with Michelle (probably secretly hoping she said no to racing) and she thought it would be a good idea. I raced Soma last year before IMAZ and had great days at both.

I waited until Tuesday night before they shut down online registration.  I had some concerns about the water (the last race was almost cancelled), and to be honest I was worried about being a bit run down.  The past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind between our last month of fun and training and visits in CDA to packing up and moving back home and trying to get settled and back to normal life in 24hrs.  That included hoping off a plane, getting the house re-opened and filling it with food and essentials, waking up at 4am to run 18miles and back to normal work hours and trying to fit in training around my 6-3pm hrs.  Seriously, I commend those of your (and I see it all over social media) who seem to have such crazy active social lives while training, working and taking care of their household!

Thankfully when we got home the weather was gorgeous.  It started to warm up for the weekend, but we survived a 4hr ride with intervals (and felt SOLID!  all the wind and hill training in CDA was paying off) and a 6 mile run starting slower than IM pace and ending at 70.3 pace.  I was super excited I survived the heat and ran well!

The rest of the week was filled with again, prepping for another trip, still doing all the laundry, vet visits, work, writing training schedules and replying to athletes (love love love this!!), finally getting to my niece's last volleyball game and fitting in all the training.  When I'm this busy, I don't sleep.  I toss and turn and the next thing I know it's time to wake up.  I know it's not good for me, I preach rest to my athletes, and know how important it is.  I knew we were heading to Mexico for some fun, and I actually took some time off work to just sit on the beach and read a book vs being glued to my computer.  I hoped the down time would help me recoup and catch up on sleep and rest.

Friday in Mexico we had a 2hr run.  We got up at 6 hoping that was early enough, but unfortunately it wasn't.  Shane and I were drenched head to toe within about 20mins.  We eased into the run staying aerobic for the first hour (which was SLOW in ~85 degree and 90% humidity) and stayed close to the house so that we could refill water/Osmo.  For the second hour we did 12x 3mins strong (typically 10k pace+-) on 2 mins recovery.  Heading one direction there was a very slight wind at our backs and no air.  At one point Shane just stopped and said he was seeing stars so we promptly turned around to get the slight breeze.  We spent the last 40mins going back and forth for short increments trying to get air.  We ended the run pretty depleted, but had all sorts of goodies back at the house to help replenish.

Typically in Mexico we spend the days at the beach when not working, having some day time drinks but are usually in bed early!  This weekend we had some guests and well, we stayed up way too late, went to a concert that was so hot we looked like we just ran our 2hr workout again from sweat, and until Monday when our company left we basically collapsed.  Monday afternoon we finally sat down on the beach for a quiet afternoon with the dogs and went to bed at 9.

We headed back home a little earlier than planned to get some things settled.  Shane had some client stuff to get figured out and I had about 300 work emails to sort through from the 2 days of PTO.  My body was off this week.  Some hormonal stuff going on that was way more off than normal, but I happened to have an appt with my naturapathic/endocrinologist so a great time to discuss.  We adjusted a few of my supplements and I focused on hydration and clean eating all week.  I wasn't sleeping well at all, and when I woke up Saturday am feeling absolutely horrible after about an hour off and on of sleep I knew I had to basically shut down the rest of the day to have any hope of a successful Sunday.  Of course everything takes longer than you think, and by the time I had my bags packed, bike dropped off, laundry finished, dinner prepped it was 5pm.  I spend 90mins in the recovery boots, ate some salty potato chips while playing on my computer and shortly after dinner was in bed by 8:15.

I woke up feeling pretty good!  A little groggy, but so much better than expected, and most importantly, I slept.  Race morning was seamless.  I was in the water, feeling calm and good and ready to go.  My goal for the day was to swim strong, bike hard and let whatever happens on the run happen.  This race wasn't important to me, it was a training day, a and a day to push my limits and be out there racing with my team and friends!  In my head I wanted to find 1:48 to take off last years time to get my sub 5 and I was pretty sure I had it in me.  My only fear was the heat on the run.  Last year I suffered all summer long training in it.  This year I, well, didn't suffer much at all :)

 I started on the buoy line in the swim.  I noticed a few of the faster girls on the outside, so I wondered if I should try to go over there and hang on to their feet.  In the past, in this lake I go out bolting trying to hang out to the fastest girls only to loose my steam and end up in no man's land so I decided to stay on my own path.  At IMAZ last year I stayed way outside the buoys and missed a lot of the draft and spent way too much time zig zagging, so I wanted to practice staying on the line, no matter how crowded it got.  And oh boy did it get crowded.  By the first buoy we caught the wave ahead of us and each buoy after that there was another set of colored caps.  Before I knew it on the way back in it was a rainbow of caps and swim waves.  I felt like I was swimming strong and steady.  When I got to the last turn I was with no one in my wave but could see a few of them ahead of me getting out.  When I got to the steps I had to sit and wait to get pulled out.  I was frustrated, but nothing I could do.  As soon as I was up the stairs I looked at my watch and saw 33:xx and was happy.  My coach will argue this swim time is still not indicative of my hard work, but right there was my best TTL swim and just under what I needed to break 5hrs!

I bolted out on the bike feeling strong and fast.  I knew I had some competition about 3-5mins ahead of me from the swim but just kept clicking the miles away.  My legs felt good and breathing controlled.  It was definitely more crowded and a big fat draft fest, so I just tried to ride clean and safe.  I saw a few girls ahead of me and realized they were moving, so wasn't sure how much I'd have to give to try to gain some time, but just kept up with my plan.  Around 3/4 the way through the second loop I started to feel funny.  Light headed, woozy, and almost confused.  I was using my garmin to look at pace and time each lap but looked up and realized that the people I had been riding around the first 2 loops were gone.  I was basically riding alone and had dropped way back.  I tried to take some water from an aid station and pour it on me.  I didn't feel hot, but maybe I was?  My nutrition was on, I had taken my electrolytes.  I took a gel and a few minutes later threw it up.  The last 6 miles were spent throwing up to the side of my bars, then stopping and heaving on mill.  I coasted down to the end of the road where I saw my husband and friend and they took my bike so I could run over to corner and continue throwing up.  I continued this for about 20mins before my husband over-road my decision to just go get my stuff and head home and took me to medical.

They put ice on me and tried to get me to drink water, but I just threw it up more.  Then I started shivering so I got a blanked.  I was still not good, and they finally put an IV in with some fluids and anti-nauseau meds.  After an hour in there, and sucking down the IV, I felt good enough to head home. I was still cold, so I put on my morning clothes and we walked back to the car.

The EMTs said classic heat stroke.  I suppose it probably was, but just so weird that I never had any signs, I didn't feel too hot.  Everything just came on so suddenly.  I talked a while with Michelle trying to figure out what happened.  There is no one thing.  My nutrition has been dialed in for 2 years.  I think there are several factors, many mentioned above.  I have not made one of the most important factors of training one of my priorities.  Rest and recovery.  My fitness is there.  It has been.  My head is there, it was a long work in progress but it too is there.  And while yes I spent a summer away training in beautiful conditions,  I definitely need to be more aware of the conditions and take that into account (as I pull my 2 bike bottles off my bike and one of them is only 1/2 empty... oops!)

Today I feel like I have a massive hangover with out any of the fun!  I'm spending the next two days re-hydrating and staying cool and resting, then hope to be back to my normal routine by Wed.  I've got one last long weekend of training this weekend and I mentally need it!  I need to get out on the b-line and practice the wind and the non stop aero riding.

I hope I'm not discounting the race when I say I'm ok with having to drop out.  While CDA was my A race for the year, when I decided (oh halfway through the bike at CDA) that I would be doing IMAZ, that because my next focus.  Soma was a last minute race decision for me, but I am very I'm bummed to have missed out on the opportunity to have raced some local ladies that were just hammering it out there.  They would have pushed me way out of my comfort zone and it would have been a GREAT challenge for me to try to leave it all out there.  I'm also bummed that I missed my sub 5 opportunity, but there will be more!  And lastly, I didn't get to see my pay it forward athlete have a super stellar day!

The next 4 weeks will be spent focusing back on my recovery and down time! Huge congrats to everyone who raced and smashed that course out there yesterday.  Even more huge thanks to so many concerned texts, calls and even visits in the med tent :)  Lamaniac will be fine and back out there in a couple of days :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

catching up!

Here we are almost 2 weeks passed our arrival back from CDA, and still trying to catch up!  I actually got to do some of that today. Analyze training plans, do some back and forth chatting with my own coach and strategize some final key workouts for one of my athletes as she heads into the last stages of Ironman AZ training.

For the past 4 weeks life has just been crazy busy.  I am one that thrives on staying busy and actually somehow am much more productive with the more I have to do!  But, over these past few weeks it's almost been too much for me.  I really had to focus on utilizing every single hour of the day, and look ahead at my work meetings and training plan to try to figure out how to fit it all in.  I don't know how it happened, but work got so crazy busy at the worst time!  With Ironman build in full swing, trying to do all of our last minute bucket lists in CDA then packing up and traveling back home there were not many spare hours (or minutes) in any given day.  

And in typical LaManiac fashion, I also planned a trip to Mexico for us as well.  For the past 3 years we've gone down the week before racing Soma, and somehow I feel like it might be my good luck charm because each year my races have gotten better and just this last time I came short of my <5hr 1minute="" 47="" and="" by="" div="" goal="" only="" race="" seconds....="">

To kick off the trip I actually took some PTO from work.  I really wanted to get in a solid ride before we left and with my early morning meetings there was just no way to make that happen and still try to leave at a decent time.  Unfortunately mother nature mixed up our training plans with a great day for storms so we had to get creative.  Shane & I did a set of 3 bikes and 3 runs back to back for 4.5 straight hours.  I started on the trainer and he started with a run.  We made our bike sets a little longer than the run sets so one person did have to wait a little bit longer, but it actually worked out ok and it was a super fun and new type of training for both of us.  Determined to get the most bang for my buck I used my power readings and set intervals increasing with difficulty for each bike set.  I did each run as a descending per MILE set and rounded off the 3 runs with a solid 10miles.  6 changes of clothes later we were finish with a solid day in the bank and in the car heading south of the border!

We had some company for this trip, Bryce our #SundayFunday extraordinaire and Shane's business parter.  We've cooked some amazing fresh seafood meals, played for hours on the beach acting like teenagers riding on the banana boat getting flown into the sea, survived a swim in the bath like ocean staring at scary stingrays on the sandy ocean floor and had a couple of brutally HOT HOT HOT sweatfest/sufferfest runs.  We sang and danced and again sweat like we were running in Hawaii at the Roger Clyne Show and met some fun people, as always, in our little second home town.  

My feet are swollen and my body is sore (DAMN BANANA BOAT) and I'm probably going to be working on rehydrating my body all week long to be ready for Soma, but as usual it's all been worth it.

I have a lot more to post, training updates, coaching updates and how I'm feeling as I lead into my first time ever doing 2x Ironman in one year!  However, for now, the beach and feet in the sand are calling my name!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

cake AND ice cream

I'm probably going to shoot myself for putting this post out there, but it's been in my head so many times I figured, eh, why not!? That said, if I get a bunch of comments (most likely on facebook - I am a glutton for punishment after all) I will most likely just sit back and watch the show while others debate.

What I DO want to do is put out there what I have found works for ME, why, and why I'm not going to change anything about it, despite all the hoop-la, discussions, articles, new products, etc out there....

I am NOT a registered dietician. I am NOT an expert in the science. I AM an athlete, a coach, and someone who is not genetically spoiled or gifted. I did not inherit any skinny genes, fast twitch muscles or naturally sculpted body.  I work for every single performance and success I've had.  I've tried many different approaches, I've failed, I've broken down, and finally I feel like I am on the road to getting the most out of my hard work....

There has been so much talk and research lately with the low calorie metabolic efficiency diet/training I've definitely questioned my own methods of EAT EAT EAT = NO BONK, but when push comes to shove, I have a nutrition plan that works for ME, has brought me success, more and more as I've tweaked and perfected it. While I've changed out the type of calories I'm putting in my body, one thing has remained the same for the past 3 years (to which each ironman marathon has ended with a PR time) and that is the amount of calories I consume DURING the race as well as the amount I consume PREPARING for the race. (I also believe this is key - you have to train your gut, just like you train your legs, arms, and heart)

Before I give all my top secret (kiddding!) fuel plan details in this blog, I'm going to go back to my first few races that ended in either 5+hour marathons or 30+min positive splits. I ate 100 calories every ~30-45minutes.  So for a 6.5hour bike ride I would consume < 1000 calories/hour. This was no different than what I practiced in training, but I also never ran a marathon after a long ride.

Then I met Michelle. My first race with her as my coach she scared the crap out of me (not gonna lie, she still does surprise me with comments like that and they STILL scare the crap out of me, but it works and I always follow my plan) telling me that while I may have a goal of 1:50 run (70.3 race) if I did not eat AT LEAST 800 calories I would be walking the back half of the run.

I think back to that race (Oceanside 2012) quite often and just smile. I did everything she told me to and PR'd my 70.3 run time by over 10minutes.  Since that race, I've gone from a 5+hr IM marathon down to a 3:52 (and still working)! I have absolutely NO stomach issues, no bonking, minimal bloating and no problem taking in my calories (BECAUSE I PRACTICE IT).

I realize many disagree with this, but for me it works.  I take in 1800 calories (yes the same as a 170lb guy and I am 5'3" and ~120ish lbs) during an Ironman bike. I bring ALL my own fuel (Osmo, bonk breakers (these are magic to my stomach!) and GU chomps). When I get to the run I'm full, but not sick. I'm able to get down 1 gel every 30-40minutes until about mile 20 then I fuel off whatever I can get down in the last 10k.

This last Ironman was the first time I raced with Osmo and I 100% felt better than I ever had. I ate my above nutrition plan and when I finished and caught my breath I drank a beer, and shortly there after was able to consume real food. 2 hours later, more food.  I had no digestive issues, no bonking and no delirium.

I've gone back and forth on wondering if it would be worth it to put in the time to see if my body could become more metabolically efficient, but in the end I have a formula that works (for me) and right now I would rather focus my energy on building speed and strength to help with my splits. Doing shorter, harder efforts that require carbs and recovery and that is what will help me reach my goals.

I've talked with Michelle quite a bit about it all this nutrition and fueling stuff. She's such an incredible wealth of information from research as well as 20 years of her own experiences, mistakes and successes. I reached out to her looking for advice to give, or rather how to word and express to my athletes the importance of fueling for endurance racing.  While I didn't want to say "this is the only way (EAT!!),"  I did want to express to my athletes that as their races are closing in I don't feel they have the time or experience (right now) to work on, or try out other sources to train their body to use fat as fuel.

Michelle sent me to THIS article that so well explained what I just could not articulate to my athletes (as well as myself!!) so I forwarded it on and suggested if they were interested in working on their metabolic efficiency and lower calorie/carb approach to try it after their big races, and in the off season...

Phew - there I got out what I've been trying to say for many, many months!

Back to the cake and ice cream for a bit....  About a year ago I was getting sick, A LOT.  Like throwing up almost every night.  I ate a pretty clean die, and a typical day was:

wakeup eat PB toast and drink SPARK.
1st workout
2nd bfast eggs, maybe toast or a wrap or smoothie with vega protein powder
lunch - usually some sort of salad, occasionally a tunafish sandwich
snacks: fruit, nuts, cheese, greek yogurt, maybe cottage cheese & fruit, pretzels if being lazy, etc
dinner:  varried - homemade veggie pizza, spaghetti squash, turkey tacos, roasted veggies, baked sweet potatoe, salmon, veggie burger.....
dessert:  dark chocolate & or wine

So yes, not perfect, but certainly not horrible. I love food, I love GOOD food and wine, and I really love good chocolate.  I realize I could clean up my act a bit, but I think if I took that too seriously in order to see if it would help my training I would not enjoy the training as much.... I never want it to be taken so seriously that it isn't FUN, or that I'm not FUN.

Anyway, I went to see my naturopathic doctor and had a full food panel/allergy test. My biggest fear when I went in for my appointment to review the results was I'd developed a peanut butter allergy...

Thank GOD that was not the case, however, I was basically allergic to everything else I loved:
TOP allergies : cow dairy, eggs, tomatoes (I'm back to eating those with no side affects tho?) and pineapple
Next tier: wheat, yeast
Lowest tier:  a few random things that I don't even remember and she said not to worry about.

The plan was to start a gluten free diet, eliminate all cow dairy and eggs.  So, pretty much where I got 75% of my protein from: wheat, eggs and dairy (cheese, greek yogurt).

I spent about 2 months eating absolutely NOTHING on my allergy list. I ate all vegetables, fruit and some plant based protein. I was tired, grumpy, bonking.  Yes I realize that it would have helped if I added some meat in there, but I haven't had red meat in about 15 years and I haven't been able to stomach chicken for the past couple of years. There was no way I was going to force feed myself these things.

The positive? I stopped throwing up. My body was swelling less and recovering faster.  The negative:  I gained about 5lbs (probably lack of protein, overall calories as well as a few other adrenal/hormonal things I had going on) and I was definitely having more lows than normal during training.

For me it's not just buying gluten free products (which I do now, but I was trying to go ALL in then) because most gluten free products still contain some form of yeast and egg). I was super frustrated for a while, but then I found a few things that worked for me (Gluten Free waffles, and after about 6 months I added in egg whites only without getting sick).  I dabble with a little bit of cheese (I can still eat goat and sheep) and as long as I am moderate about it I don't see any adverse affects.

Will all of the above information I definitely have to focus on my training nutrition a bit more.  Naturally a lot of my carbs (bread, sometimes pasta, crackers) were taken out of my diet.  I didn't really mind it, I love making big salads for lunch and focus on a higher fat diet to fill me up.  BUT, when training week after week 15-20 hours back to back eventually the body gets depleted and just needs some damn sugar (this is MY body I'm referring to). I don't realize it until it's too late and more often then not Michelle catches my comments in training peaks and replies with - GO EAT CARBS.  Guess what? Every single time she said that to me, and every single time I do as I'm told it WORKS.

A short little scenario example from this week. Last weekend after camping with my dad I let my diet go. I had a few bites of normal eggs, I ate some bread, I devoured some huckleberry pancakes. I topped it off with pizza. Shockingly, I woke up in the middle of the night throwing up. I felt like complete crap for 2 days and after 4 days of a clean diet, and crappy workouts, Michelle suggested carbs. I snacked on fruit before a swim set and NAILED it,  then last night I ate some coconut ice cream for dessert with a side of wine.

Today, I had my best run in weeks. I'm full of energy, I'm motivated and awake. I realize this isn't science here, but it's just 1 of many examples of every time I hit that low low low, I add in some extra carbs and I end up circling back around.

Now, the cake part... that was just partially to get interest, and the other part was truth in my best short course race of the season a couple of weeks ago happened when I ate a piece of chocolate cake the night before.  This might be my new pre-race ritual instead of wine ;)