Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Race the River Sprint Tri

What happens when you put someone who has been training for Ironman distance into a Sprint Triathlon on a whim? Well, I'll tell you. You can go maybe a TAD bit faster than normal, and finish ready for the next workout :)

July so far has been about all these fun new challenging workouts. Short, hard, max effort, hammer up the hill, squat, lunge, then run or ride on those squat and lunged legs, repeat. No 5hour rides (although the swim distance is still there, so are the 100's repeat!), no long slow HR caps.

I'm loving the mixup of training, and based on what my Garmin is showing, it's MUCH needed. My legs poop out on the max effort 1min hill repeats with a HR BARELY hitting 170. I can run at 145-150 all day long but that 170 on the bike I literally almost fell over at the top of the hill only to dart down it and do it all over again.

I guess I got off topic here. Shane & I were out on this gorgeous ride on the old IM Course by Hayden Lake. It was a Friday afternoon and I took a long lunch. It was perfect weather, perfect scenery and I was happy as a clam. I have absolutely no idea how the idea popped into my head, but I said to Shane, "what do you think would happen if I raced a Sprint tri on Sunday." He replied, "Well, you probably won't win."

Challenge Accepted. Kidding. But, of course I got home and send Michelle and email saying something about Good idea? Or, Bad idea, trashed slow ironman legs? I honestly wasn't sure what she would say, but I figured if the idea is to get me out of my comfort zone and try to find some top end, or at least get me out of Ironman speed then a sprint race would certainly give me that opportunity.

Michelle thought it was a great idea but she instilled a PANIC REST taking my long hill repeat ride off for Saturday in lieu of an easy flush ride trying to give my legs a little last minute pop. So, Saturday I soft peddled for about an hour and rode over to the race registration. The race would take place just down the path from our rental so I could just wake up and ride my bike there in the am. Perfect!

The quick recap (how much detail can there be for a race that is just barely over an hour!?) is I had a blast. It was very well organized, a good mix of local pro and elites all the way to beginners. I was in a swim wave with all women 30-39 and I did just exactly what I've been trying to do for YEARS in the water. I started out in the front hard and didn't let up when I wanted to. I swam with one other girl who started to pull away so I got behind her until she was veering too wide from the buoy line so I pulled away and swam straight . We exited the water together as the first two in the group and I hauled ass up the 1/4 mile stretch from the river.

From there on out I stayed out in front passing the youngsters that started behind me on the bike.  The bike had lots of turns and 2 loops for just 11.5 miles. Thankfully I'm well experienced with that since all of our races in Tempe do the exact same thing. My legs and lungs burned from the get go but I just tried not to let up. I didn't get passed once and was out onto the run with a quick ~:30 transition.

The run was an out and back with a 1 mile jaunt off to the side (.5mile uphill/.5mile downhill). I had ONE speed.  I didn't wear a Garmin but I checked my watch at every mile marker and mile one was only my half ironman pace :)  Thankfully, each mile mile my legs loosened up and I could get a faster turnover.  Who negative splits a 5k by ~1minute?  Clearly someone who is in Ironman shape....

I was passed only once on the run by someone who started in the wave 5minutes behind me so I was super happy to finish a race for the first time ever NEVER being (race wise) passed.

I checked the results later and while my splits are nothing to be very impressed with, my attitude to go out there and go hard and not give up (YAY, I'm finally learning how to race a swim!!!) = mission completed!

I ended up winning my age group by ~ 6 minutes and coming in as the first age grouper (non pro or Elite) for the day so couldn't ask for anything more (the results show one girl ahead of me that started in my wave but pretty sure it's a mix up since no one was ahead of me or passed me).

This is my second local race here and I have 3 more - I'm very impressed with how organized and well everything runs so I hope the next races are the same!  Loving the different venues, different competition and overall experiences of this summer.

Next up is a very HARD and hilly race that starts in the same place as IMCDA.  It's a very competitive race that has been going on for over 30 years.  I competed as a relay a few years ago (swimming), but I'm up for the challenge of that nasty (yet gorgeous) bike ride!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I still can't believe how lucky I am right now to be in this gorgeous place while my friends are just melting at home in 115degrees. It's not even the cooler temperatures that are making everything so much better.  It's the small town summer life.  It's the getting out and doing things and enjoying as much as we can. Sure we are incredibly blessed to be able to do this, but I do believe that we all get to choose (mostly) how we live our lives, and what we choose to do with our time, money and careers. Shane and I have been fortunate with jobs (some self made) that allow us to work from where ever we want.  While my day job might not be a dream job, it's a great company with benefits and daily challenges and most importantly they hired me remotely. And when remote can mean sitting outside in July with this view, well then I'll take just about any job :)

We try to spend as much time outside as possible! Honestly that's what I love most about it here. You can actually BE outside in the summer.  It helps that the 2 of us plus the dogs spend all day on computers in the < 1000 square ft cottage, getting outside after work is exactly what we need and want.  My office is a tiny little breakfast nook, Shane moves from the couch to the spare bed to the coffee shop and aside from some lunch time noise in the kitchen while I'm on a conference call and Shane very unhappy about no dishwasher we're making it all work! The alternative, 115 degrees or spending far too much money on a fancy modern home.

The first month here was all about focusing on the final prep for Ironman. Life wasn't much different than in Phoenix.  Double workouts, healthy eating, early to bed and focusing on recovery. Then July came! I wanted to get and and do things I wasn't doing all of June.  Riding wherever and whenever just because it sounded good. I have a new absolute favorite ride. It's hard. It's basically the first out and back of the Ironman course, then on the way back into town you head east up into these hills with breathtaking views of the lake. It's hard, but the scenery is worth it. Each time I've gone up there I've seen the same deer, in the same exact place. I stop, get off my bike and just stare. She's so pretty! In fact she even seemed more used to me last time. She just paused and watched me too, with out running away at the noise as I unclipped form my pedal.

This ride happens to be the course of a race I'm going to do next month.  It's a long standing local race called the CDA Scenic Challenge. It lives up to it's name. Check out the ~ profile below..

It will be my first Olympic race outside of circling Tempe Town lake in about 5 years.  I'm very much looking forward to it :)

Ok, back to more adventures in July! Wednesdays are my absolute favorite day of the week, famers market! We ride our cruisers up to Sherman, walk around and usually end up somewhere for wine.  Smart local businesses have great specials to bring in all the shoppers. Half price wine, yup I'm there!  A couple weeks ago Shane had a PM workout so I rode my cruiser up there and he headed out for hill repeats. I made the purchases at the market then settled into a patio seat outside with a bottle of wine waiting for him to rehydrate after his run. The place I picked turned out to not be awesome, so we headed back up the street to get a pizza from a vendor at the market and wondered into an art studio and wine bar next door while waited.  

You know how those random things that happen and then just turn into being awesome? This was exactly one of those days. We had the most amazing wine, chatted with the woman pouring and next thing we knew we were signing up for their wine club and buying tickets to go to a tasting event the following week. My second time putting makeup on, and first time all summer wearing one of my cute outfits and I admit.. a non sports bra.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my cruiser bike?!? It was a little tricky riding with a short dress and heels on, but really when you are going like 3mph it's not so bad.

Last weekend Shane headed up north to camp with some friends and do a race.  I was left carless, but again.. my cruiser on the path takes me wherever I need to go.  Some bungie cords and a backpack and I could even carry ALL MY CRAP to and from the gym to swim.

Shane had a great race, first since Ironman AZ and picked up a 1st AG award for Baxter....Actually, his award was a handmade mug, but Baxter still needs a medal to pose for.

A good friend from High School came out to visit with me for the day. I love those relationships that no matter how long it's been or how many years we've lived apart, things just pick up right where we left off. Leading different lives and following different paths, it doesn't matter.  She's also my #1 fan who has not missed one of my races here (pic circa 07').  

Some of my HS friends have since moved away, but there is still time and I'll be planning visits with others :) One just might be a reunion at Priest Lake (another race I'm doing) where we all grew up camping together with my family...

Even though I grew up here (Spokane) I forgot about the random summer weather. It can go from 100 in week or even a day to 65 the next... Yesterday a freak storm came through the area. Spokane was hit way worse than CDA and the aftermath looks pretty bad. The neighborhood I grew up in was without power for ~12hours and others longer. Huge ever green trees down and blocking roads, cars smashed.  It was so strange. The morning was perfectly a perfectly blue cloudless sky and 90 degrees in the afternoon as we headed into the gym for a swim. When we came out it was pouring rain and windy as all get out.

I took a chance and headed up to the farmers market on the way home. Glad we did! Although the storm blew through the market drenching the vendors, most of them were still there and we came home with fresh produce to die for. The peaches are just coming off the trees and taste like candy!!

All of that fresh organic produce cost less than $20. The raspberries being the most expensive (and the quickest to devour). For dinner I made a fresh green salad, broccoli and a staple and splurge every single week here, FRESH King Salmon. Shane swears it's better than any salmon he's every had and yesterday being the 4th time we've made it, it's never disappointed.  

We still have some time here in this beautiful town and I intend on making the most of it. Tonight one of my favorite uncles is in town so we're heading up to a new taphouse on Sherman to meet him for dinner.  his weekend will be pretty quiet, then next weekend my other favorite uncle is heading over from Seattle to join us in some shenanigans. After that, August is race month! I have 2 Olympics and a swim across the lake race to participate in. I haven't raced that much in a long time and I'm looking forward to the change of pace.  

Don't worry, in between cruiser bike rides, wine events, pub crawls and chilling by the lake I'm getting in plenty of fun and HARD training. I've even been spending time back in the boots ;) I love new challenges and everything being thrown my way has been just that! Love the post recovery boot lines.

Work hard, play hard and do things that make you happy! Why wouldn't you?

“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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Life After Ironman

Michelle always says, "the fittest athletes recovery the best." I know that 3.5 years ago when we first started working together I took much longer to recovery than I do now. I would be sore and trashed for days after even an Olympic race. With my consistent and SMART training, focus on active recovery, nutrition and generally taking care of myself my recovery time almost shocks me these days.

After Boston I needed about a week and I felt completely back to normal, ready to get back to the heart of Ironman training. After I raced a half Ironman on no sleep and uprooting to CDA, I needed 2 days of active recovery and sleep catch up.

After Ironman, it's been 2 weeks and I feel fantastic. I spent the first week doing something light and easy almost every day, including walking probably 4 miles back and forth from the finish line to our house 3 times that evening. I swam some, floated around in the pool & the lake. I rode my cruiser almost daily and did a couple of spins on my road bike. Nothing more than 45-60mins and NO running for 10 days. My muscles were slowly healing and my mind was inspired.

Honestly the hardest thing about those 2 weeks was watching my husband head out for his training, knowing I couldn't go. We're in this awesome training playground and I wanted to PLAY too. So, to keep myself occupied I did some sitting on the beach just staring at the water. I go ahead on my athlete's training plans, and I of course, drank beer and ate pizza and cheese and all the things that I shouldn't be doing (not because I think they are BAD - in fact I think everything is fine in moderation, but because of my food sensitivities they do make ME feel like crap). I enjoyed them all, but I can definitely say 2 weeks of that was enough!

Today starts a new chapter! It's also a good example of even when you are a coach yourself, there is a reason we too have coaches. My training peaks schedule is loaded with all sorts of fun stuff to keep me out of trouble, and certainly not in a way I would probably have set it up for myself 2 weeks after and Ironman. But, I opened it up last week, saw what was coming and started mentally (and time management wise) figuring out how to fit it all in.

You know, it's funny. Every time I'm prepping for a big race with others around me I notice a pattern of people lining up their activities and mentally ready to be done with Ironman and have a normal life. Sometimes I question my own sanity, because aside from just wanting a week or so of rest, beer, sundayfunday and exercising as I feel, I know that after so many days of that I still want to get back to the training because, I love it. I love being outside and seeing things on my bike. I love feeling exhausted and sleeping well and having my muscles burn.

Last November when I had already signed up to do IMCDA, Shane was heading down to Ironman registration before our race to register for this year. I was torn. I didn't know if I was even going to like the race, and how would I know if I wanted to do it again.  Not just do that race again, but do 2 Ironman in one year. I had never done it before, and I didn't know what would happen at CDA or even how I would feel after. I took a leap of faith and brought my checkbook with me. It really was an in the moment decision that I went back and forth on in the tent as I filled out the form.

But, as I was on loop 2 of the bike out on the 95 with that head wind just hammering me, I had a feeling that the race might end with me feeling more hungry, with more fuel in the fire and I thought back to that decision in November happy with it! I have to say it was a weird feeling to run a PR marathon (IM) cross the finish line already having my brain mentally prepared to do it all again in a few months.

Before it was a (very expensive) backup plan, now it's on the calendar and on my goal list to end the year! So happy I have this gorgeous place to train in, my training partner to push me (and vice versa) and my body healthy and ready for the challenge.

As for next year, that's still up in the air!  The LaPan's have some decisions to make ;)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ironman CDA 2014

This was my 4th time doing Ironman CDA, and like every other time, this race brought out challenge after challenge.  After finishing the last time in 2011 I said I needed a break from this course.  My stomach was a mess from start to finish (the cold that year - 53 water) shut my system down and I was unable to take in nutrition.

This year the water temperature was PERFECT 61.8 degrees and weather temperatures were forecasted to be perfect as well 54/72, partly cloudy.  The only outside factor we would ALL have to face was the wind.  And the wind was intense.  In fact, out of all 4 times I've competed in this race this was by far the choppiest water (IMO), including 2007 when they gave us the option to not finish the swim.

What was different about this day, and what got me through each leg of the race was my head.  I stayed calm throughout the week, the morning of, and during each minute of the 11:15 minutes that I was out there on the course.  My body was trained, and all I had to do was stick to MY plan, and everything else would fall into place where it was supposed to.

As with every big race I typed out my detailed plan from what time my alarm would go off all the way to how I would feel and what I would do as I headed down the finish line on Sherman Ave.  I received feedback from Michelle, and noted every single thing she put on that plan.  I incorporated couple of new things to try (hydration on the run) as well as giving up my beloved peanut butter leading up to the race.  For anyone that knows me, this was 100% the hardest thing to do :)

There is no magic recipe for success, or no magic drink or food or pre race ritual.  Doing everything in your own power and control to be at your best on the day that matters, those are the ingredients.

I've done enough of these races, and now that I'm helping others train and achieve their own goals, I felt the importance of being ON leading up to this race, as well as on race day.

I could not be more happy with how my day went.  I did everything right and I have not one single regret or what if.  To be honest, that  feels better and I'm more proud of that than any time on the clock, or podium finish.  I could not have done one single thing better, faster or more on Sunday.

Now, the race!

The swim was insane.  I seeded myself right where Michelle said to, in the FRONT of the 1:01-1:15 group.  I had no idea what to expect from this new rolling start, and was shocked out how quickly I was in the water, maybe 2 minutes after the first wave.  I was instantly relieved.  The water felt awesome and I was not getting my ass handed to me by the other swimmers.  I noticed it was much more open on the inside of the buoys so I headed over there and had a pretty good swim out to the first turn.  Instead of fighting other swimmers I was fighting huge swells and constant water in my face and mouth.  I had to quickly adjust my plan of right side breathing (so glad I focused on that for the past 3 months, lol) and the only way to avoid mouth full of water was to breath to the left.  In every direction. So, that's what I did!  I got out of the water and checked my first loop split at ~32minutes.  I did worry a bit, because typically that second loop is about 2 minutes longer which would put me over my 1:04 or less goal.

The second loop was a bit more chaotic with people and I had a much harder time finding open water to swim, but I stayed calm and just kept swimming.  I exited the water in 1:06 and put that piece of the race behind me.  It was not a swim PR, but after my (personally) poor time at AZ I was happy.  It was also a 5 minute swim course PR (1:11 in 2011).

The minute I headed out on the bike course I knew it was going to be a long day with the wind.  And as soon as I turned onto 95 for the second out and back and felt the impact of that headwind I knew it was going to be up to ME to not get defeated.  I did everything in my control and didn't look at my time or speed.  I stayed on top of my nutrition and hydration exactly as I had planned and could not have been more happy with how I felt, but also to be off the bike.  I don't have a whole lot to say about the bike other than it was HARD.  The hills are one thing, but top it off with a relentless headwind and your brain and mindset will be the most influential factors.  I got off the bike about :25 minutes later than I expected (although I didn't really have a set goal for this bike, knowing the wind would be a factor), no idea where I was ranked, but 100% prepared for the run.  I ate every single piece/calorie of nutrition I had planned (including a stop for the first time ever at special needs for 2 more bottles of OSMO nutrition) and topped it off with a gel (first one of the day) as I rode into transition.
I did not know at any time during the day what my AG rank was.  My spectators were having quite the party, and when my husband came up to me on the run course I asked, but he had no idea.  It didn't matter.  I was staying with my plan and doing everything that I could do have a good day.  I held back as much as I could for the first couple of miles but my legs were wanting to go.  I was about :15/mile over my plan but it felt natural so I just kept myself in control and focused.

I did 2 things differently on this race than every before.  I carried a bottle of OSMO with me for the first half of the run (the plan was to drink it in the first couple of miles, but I was really hydrated from the bike so I took sips of it, just like in training every single mile) AND I grabbed another bottle at special needs to take with me for the second half).  I did 1 gel every 4 miles (getting 5 in) with the last one at mile 19.   I did not walk through any aid stations until mile 21, and from there until the finish line I walked just enough to get some cola in my system and head on my way.

I was tired (who wouldn't be), and I did have to dig to find the energy to pass a couple of girls in my age group, but I never once felt like I could not make it, or that I was done.  My stomach felt great (as great as can be) the entire day and I never once lost my focus.  I didn't alter my plan (it's VERY easy to do when you are feeling great at the beginning of the run) and just kept plugging away.  In the last 3 miles I encouraged the spectators for cheers and as I headed down Sherman I smiled.  I held back tears and in the last few 100 feet of the day I high fived every single person I could.

This was a 4 minute IM Marathon PR on a HARD course, 40+ minute course run PR and a ~45min course PR.  I ended up 6th in my Age Group missing 5th (the podium) by 2 minutes.

I'm elated with my day, and even more excited for my first time coaching an athlete and friend to an Ironman.  Not just an Ironman but a ~20minute PR on a VERY hard day.  Sippy, you made this day even more special than I could have imagined.
Training for this race was such an amazing experience.  We had an awesome group of ladies to spend hours and miles and fun times together. It was such an epic journey, and it made the celebration even sweeter.
I can not thank our supporters for having such a FUN time out there cheering for us all day long.  From what I hear, it was just as epic for you as it was for us out there on 95.  Your day may have been a bit more entertaining ;)  It was an absolute blast to have you all at the finish line!
And, as always, thank you to Michelle for being my friend, my mentor and my coach.  You have been on this journey with me now for over 3 years and you have taught me so much about myself, my abilities as well as help me find aspirations I didn't know I had.  I trust you with helping me recover, and start up the preparation for the next step in achieving my newest dream!  Even if it means giving up peanut butter for a week.