Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Galveston 70.3

In 2013, I "raced" Galveston after barely surviving Qt2 Pro Camp, and months of underlying fatigue that just wouldn't go away. Only now that I'm healthy do I realize how grey that cloud was that loomed over me. There was almost complete apathy toward being there and taking one more step- I felt bloated and stone legged, annoyed, and just wanting to move on from the world of swim, bike, and run. The back pain lasted for days after, and it wasn't long before I called my coach at the time, Jesse, and said I'm done racing.

In the last 2 years I've discovered that the general health issues had to do with my body's ability to process folic acid, and its need for bio active folate...which I talked about at length in another post. I also did find balance in my life, and got a life ;) haha. As well, maybe it was just giving time, time, but I learned to manage my back pain and spent many of what felt like stupid minutes a day doing tiny exercises/stretches that have accumulated to nothing short of a miracle.

I don't for once take my health for granted, so I know that the back pain is a part of me as an athlete and the spondy as a condition is a part of me as a person in whatever activity or lack thereof I partake in.  So I can only continue the diligence when it comes to this bodily maintenance.

Onto the race...

I arrived in Texas on Wednesday night, got a great night's sleep, and was eagerly at the pool at 6am on Thursday. Everything was going perfect until 11am when a sudden urge to puke my brains out hit and didn't stop until 5pm that I was letting out vile and coiling in screams at the stomach pain. Realizing I couldn't even keep down 2oz of water, and my mom said I looked like death, we headed to Urgent Care. I passed out in the car over. Two IV bags and a triple dose of anti nausea medicine later, and life looked promising again.

The doctor said it was a virus, so not food poisoning, and that if I wanted to race I just had to get as much fluid and hopefully solid food in by Sunday morning (race day).


Saturday evening in Galveston was my first real meal aside from boiled potatoes, fruit cups, and bananas. I even felt good enough to have a glass of white wine.

The mistake was made on Sunday morning when I should've been preemptive and downed some electrolyte tabs, or drank a bottle of sports drink with Base salt.

The race----
Swim: I lined up front center, and ended up swimming 99% of the course on Alicia's feet ahead of the whole group, minus one girl that was farther ahead of us. It felt cruisey and the only bummer was having to navigate hundreds of slower age group men from prior waves. I did cramp 3 times on my right calf in the swim and still didn't take the hint to load up on extra salt on the bike!

I lost Alicia through a crowd of those men right before the last turn bouey toward the ramp.

Onto the bike I felt awesome. The Dimond is just ridiculous, that's all I need to say. I opted for a disc in the most perfect flat conditions. I passed Alicia a few miles into it, and then she caught back up with about 10miles to go.

I ended up coming into T1 only about a min ahead. I knew she ran well since she trains with my friend Sam Mazer, and so I just hoped I could run strong and even if she did end up ahead by a couple minutes she had her Worlds slot so I'd be good and have had a breakthrough race.

Looking at my watch if I ran 1:35 I'd be finishing right at 4:35-:4:40 so possibly a 70.3 PR (Vineman 4:39)...I was stoked!!!

Then it happened. Roughly 2 miles in, the quads started to cramp. I stared grabbing bananas, gatorade, and coke at every aid station like I was at an eating contest vs a triathlon. Too late. It was very humid, but I train in heat and I do well in humidity, and have never ever cramped in a race- EVER.

By the middle of the first lap I was about to hand my chip in and call it a day. The pain was ridiculous. Every step felt like my legs were going to buckle and I was jogging at a frustrating pace. It sucks when you feel great but your legs are worthless!

At the middle of the second loop I actually laid down for about 10min and had a massage on my legs to try and get the cramps out enough to just finish.

Devastatingly enough, I got passed with about 3/4mi to go by the girl that got second, and thankfully managed to hang on and finish because the slot rolled down to me for Austria.

Some things are just out of your control, but I do feel a bit of anger at myself for not having the light bulb go off and load up to prevent the cramps. It was such an obvious possibility that I dropped the ball. But, you learn.

That said, I am thrilled that I PR'd the bike with a 2:22 and had almost ZERO back discomfort. Knowing that with even a decent run I might've PR'd for a 70.3, motivates me like heck to put my head down and drill the training for Austria and Chicago.

You never know what will happen on race day but I'm in it to win it so after a couple weeks break, I'll be back to work;)!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

One month to go!!! Racing for the Children's Tumor Foundation

I am Incredibly grateful to my friends that have already donated to this great cause which I hope to race not just the Hawaii 70.3 for, but many more events!! 

It will be an honor to line up on that start line knowing that the journey was more than time spent in a pool, a trail, or cycling highways. It was about being thankful each and every day for health and the OPPORTUNITY to be able to do each of those things. Children born with neurofibromatosis battle obstacles much greater than most of us could ever imagine. 

From all the reading I've done regarding neurofibromatosis, it is wonderful to be able to play a part, however small, in funding the research and education/counseling for families affected by this genetic disorder- especially with my recent involvement with all the kids in Cabo, and our own TriCaboKidz foundation. 30 days left for us to reach the goal together!! Thank you!!

CLICK HERE to help!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

ITU La Paz Moonlight Triathlon

This weekend was one of five Mexican Federation's age group qualifying races for the 2015 ITU Short Course Worlds in Chicago. It also included a draft legal race for Elite men and women that went off 20min before us.

Until yesterday, I had only done 2 Federation races- both in Ixtapa- but as an Elite in the draft legal category. There are 3 defining things about me as a triathlete: 1) the longer the race, the better I perform 2) I don't like draft legal 3) I seek out races according to temperature - HOT HOT HOT please!!

So hearing that the AG qualifier was non draft, that the bike had been lengthened to 48k (I think the main reason was to really separate us from the draft legal event on the course), and it was obviously going to be summer temps, I was immediately keen to sign up and give it a shot!

Last June I raced a half marathon in La Paz- all along the Malecon (stretch along the coast that's got a run/bike path and lined with restaurants, shops, and hotels), and into the Marina and Costa Baja golf course. Needless to say it was spectacular and I couldn't wait to do another race there.

Unlike 99% of the races, this one was set to start at 3pm...about the time I usually crave a nap in my day:) Joking aside, I was looking forward to this start time as it meant it'd be warmer, and it was something new and thus exciting. The only issue was making sure I ate very simply the whole day so as not to start the race with stomach trouble. A reason for this late start (not that it's the sole reason but one I know of) is that it's the "Moonlight Triathlon" - the idea is you finish at sunset and then party.

Mid morning Friday I left Cabo. It's a gorgeous, desolate, 90min-tops drive along the Pacific Hwy 19 (which I train on regularly). Since hotel check in wasn't until later, I met some friends from Mexico City and Cuernavaca at their hotel, caught up over coffee and lunch, and at 3pm the race organizers set up the swim course for a recon.

The wind was blowing pretty hard so the current and chop were gnarly- which I was stoked about! We swam the 1500m all against the current, and knew all the open water practice in Cabo and daily fun in the waves was going to pay off.

That afternoon I checked in the hotel and walked across the street to have an early dinner at a really cool new Mediterranean place, and then ended up accompanying a friend that had yet to eat, later that evening on the Malecon. It was great to get out there at night, walk a bit, and potentially stay up so as not to wake up at 6am Saturday and twiddle my thumbs waiting to race!!

Saturday morning I did a little jog first thing, showered and ate a normal breakfast of eggs, coffee, juice, and potatoes...then spent the rest of the hours relaxing until bike check in. Afterwards, I just ate a Powerbar and Vega Sport Protein with water 2 hours before the start. It worked like magic!

Just like the day before, the wind, chop, and current were on their game! The sprint race which started from a different point and a couple hours later actually ended up pulling people out of the water because of the conditions. Many even called it quits voluntarily:(

All the women went off in one wave which was awesome because I hate guessing where I am until the results are posted!

I lined up on the far left- it was a running start- as I knew the current would push me right/toward the beach, and sure enough I sprinted to the front and caught the feet of the girl who was swimming in second position. After a few strokes i decided to pass her and try to bridge up to the lead swimmer who I could see well within reach. Ultimately I couldn't latch on to her but dropped the other girl so ended up swimming solo in second a few meters back from first all the way to the exit.

We got out with a good lead on the rest of the women, and here commenced my T1 sh*t show haha...
supposedly ITU rules state that if it's non wetsuit, then whatever you swim with you must bike and run with. Therefore, if I chose to wear my TYR swim skin over my two piece tri kit, I'd have to keep it on the whole race- what?! Umm NO!

So I swam with a bathing suit and put on tri shorts in T1 to prevent chaffing ;) Well that took a bit of time, as it frustratingly does when you're wet. I also love my road shoes so I took the time to put those on and hop on my bike leisurely, ha. It was good as at least I calmed the HR through that locker room scenario.

Onto the bike I caught the lead girl at about 5km in, and continued to lead the race from then on. The bike was STUNNING!! It's the absolute most awesome bike course I've ridden. Rolling hills along some of the world's most incredible beaches with the opposing desert landscape just taking your breath away (no pun intended).

The bike leg was fabulous- my new Dimond is a rocket! I've never felt so stealth on the bike before- and was just having a ball!

As for the back pain, an ortho doc friend that was racing too kineseo taped it, and placebo or not it helped tons! I did feel it lock up at times and I'd just soft pedal a few seconds until it relaxed. The only thing I can do now that's non invasive is aggressively tackle the core work before the 70.3 events coming up to make sure the little hiccups don't completely ruin my race like in the past.

Anyway...onto T2, and then started the run feeling great minus a bit of air trapped - you know when it's like cramping, and you just have to hope you burp and it settles. Well luckily at about 2km it did, and I continued on a decent pace, feeling better each km to the finish. I didn't run a spectacular time, but had a clear lead and no need to completely gas myself. At the last turn around toward the finish, however, I saw a girl (who ended up running like the second fastest split, men or women) pretty close to me and picked it up to make sure she didn't catch up. She finished only about a min behind me- making up a ton of time with that awesome run.

I can't describe how happy I was to cross that finish line with little physical issues, and just overwhelmed realizing how much I enjoy this sport and how beautiful that course is. After 2 years of not racing I was chomping at the bit!! Winning was just icing on the cake.

At night we enjoyed the awards party, beers and food, and it almost felt like Ironman with the late finish except I could actually keep food down and walk:)

Sunday morning after breakfast a friend from Cabo and I check out and decided to head to Balandra and Tecolote- the most renowned beaches (where the bike turned around) and relax a bit and grab lunch before driving back home. It felt like I was on LOST and really just wanted to pitch a tent and stay a few days.

Now home, Chicago ticket in hand, and with 4 weeks until Galveston 70.3 I have some serious work to do to qualify for Austria Worlds. I feel privileged to be able to train and race- something I can't deny taking for granted many years. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hawaii 70.3- Children's Tumor Foundation!

We're fools if we do things the same way expecting different results, right?

Well, the last time I raced Hawaii 70.3 was in 2012- the birth of the low back "injury" that has haunted me since. I kept racing that whole season, and tried again to swim/bike/run in 2013 until calling it quits at Galveston 70.3....

Fast forward to now- I'm attempting a return to triathlon but this time with a different perspective and cause.

For one, I've come to terms with the low back situation and see it as a "dare" to manage it through a whole season by successfully getting to the finish line at each event without having to sacrifice performance.

Secondly, being on the SMASH/DIMOND women's team has renewed my sense of purpose and reach, in terms of being able to inspire others, by belonging to something bigger than myself. I feel accountable to these women and what we stand for, as well as all the people and companies supporting the team.

Finally, as part of TriCabo and TriCaboKidz, I want to be a role model for the triathlon school of Cabo and to walk the talk of sport development in Baja Sur.

I guess on top of all of this, is also the weird sense that if keys from the Universe keep showing up at my fingertips to hold steady on the triathlon road, it must mean I shouldn't give up! Not a believer in coincidence, I think when obstacles are thrown at us, and walls block us even from what we (*think*) want most in life, we have to take it with a grain of salt and accept that we are meant to be on a different journey.

For some odd reason, the triathlon train still reserves my seat! So I've decided to hop on board again.

I don't have a clue how I'll fare this weekend at the La Paz Olympic, or Galveston 70.3 in April, and I've now committed to raising money for Hawaii 70.3 May 30th...but I do know that I'm in shape, healthy, and ready to leave the back pain and results to fate. The daily process of and interaction with other athletes in this crazy sport is what makes me happy.

That said, I know that if I am to race on the Big Island again, it has to be for something other than myself, so when a friend mentioned Hawaii 70.3 and I curiously looked at the site the "entry for charity" stood right out.

The sense of training and racing for kids in need is far more motivating and fulfilling than for any podium spot or qualifying time.

The Children's Tumor Foundation asks for a minimum of $3000 dls by May 1st for the charity entry and it would mean a lot to me to have your support.

Please share, and follow the link if you want to help me in this cause:)!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cabo Half Marathon

This was the third year for the Los Cabos Half Marathon  and it went from a couple hundred people to over 1000! From the expo/packet pick up to race day, everything was smooth and professional- a real top notch event.

The course is similar to the Ironman run, in beautiful historic San Jose, finishing on the main plaza in front of the church and surrounded by coffee shops, bars, and yummy restaurants.

Naturally, I ran supporting the TriCaboKidz Foundation which meant sponsoring a kid's entry, and getting a cool tshirt in return, which I proudly wore after the event:)

 I saw a few friends race morning and found Miriam who I also raced in La Paz- she's a local stud that beats me up on the bike and run any time we get together haha.

Training leading up to the half had gone great- it wasn't specific to this race obviously as I switched back into triathlon mode about a month ago, but I had banked some awesome runs (even marathon long ones for the supposed Carlsbad full) so I felt I was carrying solid run fitness.

The course was awesome! It took us from the Plaza along the San Jose hotel corridor, over to the Mayan Beach Club, back and over the Puerto Los Cabos bridge, where the hills start into Fonatur then down to the Marina, some trails in the huerta/farm, back to the bridge again and a small out and back to the Plaza finish.

All along there were people cheering, awesome volunteers, clearly marked kms, and aid stations with gatorade and water.

Along with the 21k they had a 5k and a kids 3k and 400m dash.

At the start I lined up next to Miriam and hung on through 3k, then dropped back a bit where I stayed within sight until the end, never able to catch up. Around km 18 another local, and also SoCal chick, Melissa, caught me and we played cat and mouse until 2km left and she snatched 2nd place a few seconds before me.

At the finish, I chugged some Baja Brewing Co beer, and then enjoyed a short walk over to Miriam's where we showered and then grabbed some foooood! Ive never rushed a buffet like that since awards were going to start, but Tropicana Inn is a must for the breakfast buffet- paella, delicious hashrbowns, and omelets, fresh juices....

Half marathons are the best distance honestly- long enough but intense enough to give a quality fitness deposit, and so I'm thinking I'll go race the inaugural Rock N Roll Half Marathon at altitude in Mexico City March 15th. It sounds amazing since you start at sunset!! The post race party will be good ;)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Race Team & Schedule!

I could not be more thrilled, honored, and motivated to join this amazing group of women in the 2015 SMASH DIMOND Triathlon Team!!!

In a few weeks I'll have my hands on this sexy bike and plan to fly with it in the following races...

March 21- ITU LaPaz (Chicago 2015 ITU Worlds Qualifier)

March 29- Cabo Whaleman Half Iron Distance (tentative)

April 26- Galveston 70.3 (Intention of qualifying for Austria 70.3 Worlds which hurricane Odile kindly stepped on my attempt to grab the slot in Cozumel last Sept!)

May - August a few sprints and olympics in Texas as I go home for the summer to train for Chicago and Austria (fingers crossed!).

Depending on how my back fares....end of season Ironman to have just one chance at my new AG 25-29 that I never raced Kona in, and...well...I've never been known to just treat Kona as a "fun run" ;)

BUTTTT above all the goals and results, is getting to meet each of my teammates, train and race alongside them, and inspire and be a role model for other triathletes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015...Checking in from Cabo!

Um, wow. That about sums up my reaction to life thus far. Up until I reached a quarter century, literally at 25, life had been pretty smooth sailing. The biggest stressors I had faced were college papers, demands from parents and coaches, the occasional fight with a friend, a sports injury, the buildup to an Ironman....cake!

This post may be a long one because I have a lot of personal and professional things that I've kept to myself the last couple of years that I'm finally ready to speak about and release, welcoming a breath of new air, new beginnings, and a new found strength that only certain downfalls could've provided.

The first bump in my step isn't really news- the back injury that seemed to pop out of nowhere in 2012, thus leading me to pull away from any hope of being a professional triathlete, maybe ever competing in an Ironman distance again, and starting the real world job hunt that had only proved fruitless since my 2009 college graduation.

It came at a necessary time as I was also exhausted and craved change- maybe not so much change as came about- but change nonetheless.

Fast forward to moving to LA and no luck at finding a job that would sponsor a visa. There were amazing internship offers that I wasn't legally allowed to take as an intern can't be foreign unless the company sponsors an entire H-1B petition for them (no company in their right mind would do such a ludicrous thing).

So out of a casual bar conversation with a stranger bloomed the idea of moving to Cabo San Lucas- the thought of which had never entered my mind prior to that fateful February evening in Pebble Beach.

So in a span of two months I visited Cabo, signed employment with Snell to sell real estate, sold my car in LA, packed up my condo, flew to TX, packed bags there, and moved to Cabo.

Through all of this, beginning in November 2013, I was battling some perplexing, frustrating, and depressing health issues. I've only vaguely told people about this because until recently I still had no clue what was really going on.

All I knew was that since cutting back my training from a full time athlete to your average gym-goer, I had actually become more fatigued. Where was the sense in that?

If only it had been just fatigue, I started getting double vision, headaches, grave unexplained and random bloating, muscle cramps, and a complete apathy toward any and everything.

One could say I was depressed, but it was different. It would come in bouts, and even when my mood was great, when I was stoked and at my most optimistic, this cloud loomed over my physical and mental health.

Around April, when I was finally in Texas for a few weeks before the move to Cabo, I Googled my symptoms like mad, determined to narrow down what could possibly be preventing me from even 30minutes of activity a day, causing weight gain while eating healthy organic foods and in complete caloric control.

Enter hypothyroidism. I was convinced. This had to be it. Thyroid and a major hormonal imbalance whether related or not, where causing this turmoil.

Back track for a second- even in early 2013 when I went to Clermont for QT2 Pro training camp, I had a discussion with Jesse about my ridiculous fatigue and recovery issues at my young age. How I felt like I was 80 and training was ten fold harder.

Anyway, three days before scheduling an appointment with my family's endocrinologist, I started taking a supplement by Mega Food (I love this company btw because everything is FOOD based). I didn't want to take anything synthetic, especially on my own, and I didn't want supplements that had thyroid hormone etc because if I was wrong I'd be playing with fire.

Mega Food's Thyroid Strength has a large dose of iodine from kelp, 300mg of tyrosine, some holy basil, copper, magnesium, basic things that help to support your thyroid.

You may think I am crazy as heck and that's fantastic but I swear by the time I stepped into the doctors office a few days later, I almost wanted to apologize for not canceling the appointment because I felt 16 again.

I had energy to conquer the world, I slept amazing, the water retention disappeared about as magically as a bad bout of PMS, the headache gone...just out of this world amazing.

I told the doctor this, he ordered blood work, and a week later we discussed that I may be borderline hypothyroid. As such, I should continue on Mega Food's supplement, my multi, and check back at year's end. If I feel like stopping that supplement then I could go off it a few days or weeks and monitor the symptoms.

I lost roughly 10 lbs by July, and the sky was blue and sunny again!...And then it happened....In Cabo Mega Food anything can't be found, and the only multi is Alive (which is ok, but you'll later understand why this didn't work for me), and I had run out of my own. Everything returned to the nightmare of early that year, until late August when a trip to Mexico City reunited me with my pills haha that my mom had sent from the US with a friend for me to pick up there.

Again like a roller coaster, I was revving back up to normal. Thanks to the hurricane, once back in the US I wanted to monitor blood and all again and see if there was a way I could not be dependent on this supplement forever...I mean what if they discontinue it? What if I am in another country? etc. Also, I was sure something else was missing in this puzzle.

Coincidentally, I happened to read Jordan Blanco's post about some health issues and her doctor, in Colorado, Dr. Silver at Boulder Peak Health. She seemed like an excellent option- a doctor that lives in the heart of crazy endurance athletes like myself, is an athlete herself, and speaks of hormonal and women's health so passionately.

Immediately I scheduled a phone consultation, we ordered blood work, and this is what we found....

Everything looked normal and actually very healthy. Creatine looked a bit elevated, could just be dehydration....but there was ONE "aha!" to my symptoms: MTHFR.

I have a genetic mutation C677T that hinders my usage and production of folic acid.

Very few multi vitamins on the market use FOLATE- the bioactive form- and instead use synthetic folic acid, which if you have my issue you can't use and it only in a sense clogs you.

Folic acid is also used to fortify a lot of foods- luckily many are gluten products like pasta and cereals that I don't eat.

Regardless, through my years as an endurance athlete I had run these reserves of folate pretty low, and since a couple years ago I had stopped taking a certain multi vitamin that contained the FOLATE that I didn't know I needed and had switched to multi's like Alive that have folic acid.

If you do your research you'll see that your body's ability to use folate directly impacts your thyroid, your hormones, your ability to make new cells, seratonin, dopamine, everythingggg!!

So why had Mega Food's thyroid supplement worked really well for me? Because it fed me the tyrosine and other thyroid supporters that my body wasn't churning on its own.

Since then, taking METHYLFOLATE, and/or a vitamin like Garden of Life's Kind Organics Women's Daily which has folate (from lemon), I feel like a NORMAL 27 year old!!

These ups and downs have resulted in my inconstant training, in reality exercise. They've caused me to value health and the ability to have even the most basic active lifestyle, and more importantly that Ironman did not cause this, that I didn't overtrain, that I'm not a hypochondriac, that I wasn't depressed, and that I can and will still workout avidly and compete in sports- especially the one I love most.

Through this all, through the moves, the job challenges, the hurricane that left me literally feeling homeless and unemployed, and sad about what had happened to such a beautiful place, I learned that as quickly as the body recovers, so does the soul...so do groups of people, and cities like Cabo.

And out of the storm, if you keep your mind and your heart in the good that you want out of life and what you hope to contribute, life will exceed your expectations and give you tremendous fortitude and opportunity to live out your potential and help others do the same.

I came back to Cabo in early December, with only plans of staying a few days at a friend's house- unsure what conditions it was really in, just wanting to tie some lose ends, not overstay my tourist-visa-welcome in the US, and clear my head a bit after two months of another round of door knocking for US jobs that led to nothing.

The progress was outstanding! Sure roughly 60% of hotels are still shut until late spring/summer, there are some "issues" in the lower income areas of San Lucas and San Jose, and only things pertinent to tourism are being dealt with full force, but if you really witnessed or understood what this place went through with Odile, the fact that it felt 99% normal in its everyday functions, leads to nothing but respect and admiration for the community.

At that point, I had a gut feeling (I always say there's one thing you can trust over everything else and that's your gut!) to try and stay in Cabo. So I put it up to fate. I said, if there's a place for me here, then I will be able to commit myself to the sports development that I had begun to get deeply involved in with TriCabo, it will be nearly effortless to find a place to live, and my family will be receptive to the choice.

One phone call to Paco of TriCabo expressing my desire to commit to them 100% at least until summer and see where it goes, and he was on board and thrilled at my decision. One email to these condos that a new friend had shown me, and they responded with ONE unit left for lease through June available Jan1.

Coincidently, one of our TriCabo coworkers that had been administering TriCaboKidz had begun to slowly step out of that role and so it was perfect timing that I came in to shadow her and take the reins to grow our Triathlon School for kids, promote our races, our camps, and help develop sport in Cabo.

I feel elated, healthy, free, and honored to be giving back doing what I love more than anything else.

Working with the kids is refreshing, inspiring, challenging, and am also coaching some local adults, and hoping to change a little bit of the culture in this part of Mexico to be more in tune with an active and healthy lifestyle.

As well, I have my own lofty triathlon goals for this season that I can't wat to announce in the next post...now with the fabulous assurance that my health is on track!:)

My hope is that I can welcome any of you to Cabo in the near future and showcase the progress we have made with the community's involvement in sport, and host you in a wonderful training or racing experience.

Cheers from sunny Cabo!