Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kona from the sidelines

Since 2007 I have been going every year to race the World Championships- except for 2008 when I was supposedly going to take a break from Ironman but later regretted it and raced Arizona (sound familiar? Hehe)

I was often asked if it’d be hard to watch the race live without even mildly yearning to be a contestant. The answer is no, because despite the low back injury that ruined my season- and continues to plague me 4 months later- I had established after I had a great day there last year that I would not return to Kona simply to participate as a pro. I had no delusions of garnering enough points my first pro year to make it there in the first place, and even if by some miracle I did, it’d be a guarantee I’d toe the line tired and without a chance to contend. I don’t race unless I believe I can place…and yes this whole year every race I did I convinced myself beforehand that my back “issue” was sorted/in the past, and I’d get a chance to show the fitness I knew I had, and thus place.

But I digress- this won’t be another post centering on my health, or lack thereof. This post is a fun and inspiring one- primarily about the AMAZING time I had on this trip as a spectator of the Ironman. I trained…errrr exercised….heaps, and drank/stayed up seriously more than in all my college years combined.

I arrived to Hawaii mid September, thanks to my awesome friend Cody who let me crash at his house for a month! He bought a scooter sometime in the summer too, which I more than borrowed through my stay. Believe it or not, chilling in Hawaii for a month I was actually saving money- at the minimum on driving/gas.
The first 2 weeks I was there the Ironman swarm had not arrived- just a few pros like Leanda Cave, Luke McKenzie and his wife Amanda, Natascha Badmann, Marino VanH., Bruno Clerbout…and less than a handful of other pros or ag’ers (you can never tell, everyone is so FIT!).

The atmosphere at this time before the race is my favorite…you can sense the race is near, there’s excitement in the air, there’s always a group to swim with in the morning at the pier (but no so large a crowd that you can barely find clear water), you can count on someone wanting to run or ride for any given distance, but there’s not the uber packed psychosis of compression/spandex/visors/race kits. Here's a pic with some local Kona friends at Humpy's plenty of days pre madness, and another with the good-lookin' French Canadians ;)

Before I get into who I trained with and what I learned from them, let me explain this “training” of mine. First and foremost, I firmly believe that miles you bank don’t disappear. There’s not really such a thing as training without purpose so long as somewhere in your future there’s a goal you’re aiming for. What I mean is, despite knowing that after this trip I’d take some time off the bike again and focus 75% or more on strength/mobility, getting in a ton of s/b/r now would still benefit me further down the road. Your body forgives, it does not forget.

I got in some solid masters swims before the pool closed down for a few days, and some ocean swims with a few pros and ag friends. Twice I was lucky enough to swim with two pro women whom I greatly admire and respect- Natascha and Jessica. In short they taught me that we are all the same on race day- we all get nervous, we all have our weaknesses, doubts, and pressures. We carry unique motivators that drive us to succeed, and that we count on to lift us up through those bad patches in the race. This was eye opening for me because it made me realize that even those girls that I see as literally made of Iron, are not. Without any disrespect, we are all breakable.

Who knew ocean swimming was a place for such enlightening conversation, huh? ;)

The bike- oh the bike- thank you, thank you Amanda for the numerous rides to Waikoloa shops and back. It was standard to ride 3hrs pretty much every day. Taking my road bike to Kona was a double edged sword. My upper back/shoulders/neck were literally destroyed right around the 3hr mark, my low back still hurt on certain rides without relief….but fighting the headwind and trying to keep up with people on their aero little TT bikes made me strong! Often times I found myself angry that I was riding so consistently and felt so strong, because racing is something that I know I still cannot do.

Running I did alone, focusing mainly on 45min or less with lateral drills on the grass and plenty of stretching after. I also did a few Pilates Reformer classes, which if you haven’t done and want to prevent a back injury go do Pilates! It is something that I will definitely keep doing throughout the year.

I am also grateful for getting to see Dave Dyrbshire for treatment/assessment on my back. Never discount a part of your body that’s entirely “separate” from where you feel pain for being the root of your problem. My back issue according to Dave: caused by the 4 years of imbalance/compensation since my accident in 2008 where I broke my right collarbone, and fractured the L5…root: collarbone.

Suddenly, race week was here! Now I get to dive into the real fun, and some awesome sessions that were not training at all- they were about people with a passion for living, enjoying life.

Monday I swam with Kim to the second to last boey (Kim & I in pic above post swim!), got an acai bowl (pic2) at BASIK, and on my way home saw Mike Rouse, some Zoot peeps, and Hillary keeping him company for the initial miles of his birthday 60miler. I scooted to change into run clothes, caught them right before Magic Sands, parked, and ran 15 miles in 2hrs with the group. That was the longest run I’d done since Ironman training and the most enjoyable in a while! It went by so fast and Rousey had it made with Kimmie (his wife) set up at mile marker 1.5 with a cooler full of drinks, the Powerbar and Cytomax houses/stations, and random water fountains all spread along Alii Dr. Not to mention, the tons of people all over town. Mike is incredible- and the dude eats hot dogs to fuel these epic runs!

From there Hillary mentioned she was taking one of her athletes, Alyssa, to ride the Hawi section of the course, I asked to tag along and after another quick change of clothes and some food, hopped in the car with them to drive up to the Mauna Lani and start our ride. This is a ride I will never ever forget. We started at about 3pm, and ended at sunset. We got the one period of the day where the ocean/air is STILL and it was the most magestic ride in the coolest part of the Ironman course I’ve ever experienced. We literally rode back into the Mauna Lani with the sun setting!! BTW, Hillary cracks me up- that girl is on another level…she had run THIRTY miles with Rousey, and called this 3hr aerobic, but still 3hr not-flat ride, “therapeutic”. It’s how you choose to look at things. (pic of Hills & I riding back into sunset- thanks Alyssa for the shot!)

After our ride, we showered/changed at Hillary’s luxurious Mauna Lani abode, and drove down to celebrate Mike’s bday a different way- drinks at Huggos! We closed down Huggos that night :

Tuesday I think was the day we went to Lulu’s for Wattie/Heather’s happy hour- or maybe that was the day we went to Humpy’s and there was that pint holding contest that Heather took second in (pic below), and sausage eating contest that Wattie won.

Wednesday: trained some, helped out at the Expo, and there was another trip up to Mauna Lani with Jennifer- stud athlete from Austin (check out her nutrition coaching site: - to join some other fabulous ladies at Hillary’s vegan dinner at the Canoe House. OMG YUMMY. I am not vegan, not even vegetarian. I’m from Texas, and you’d have to kill me first before removing meat from my diet. But this vegan feast was delicious! For dessert they did this quinoa-peach tart that I could’ve eaten 3 of.
Thursday: ran around all day and helped out LAVA at the expo- so fun! I think this day I also got a morning run in with Andrew (from Beaker Concepts), Jason, and some Zoot people. That night was probably another Humpy’s/Lulu’s excursion.

Friday Beth and I rode the Ironman course  It started out great, and I was thrilled that she was on a road bike too. She borrowed Cody’s bike so props to her for riding 112 miles on a bike that didn’t fit at all! I was really concerned about my left shoulder/neck because the dang road position left it tender to the touch/not able to look right after a few hours- imagine 6! But Beth and I agreed that was just a get ‘er done ride and taking in the scenery. Okay. We made it to Hawi with just a quick pit stop at Kawaihae. Cold drinks up there, then a longer stop at Waikoloa shops on the way home. Each stop was a huge relief that allowed me to stretch out/ relieve pain (why can’t we have these stops in Ironman? I’d be able to race! ) After Waikoloa things went awry. The headwind was pretty intense, Beth got a flat somewhere along the airport and I felt like a turtle (speed, neck, shell for a back). No way in hell were we riding the 18% grade (pic is only the start) up to Cody’s house. We parked ourselves at BASIK and Cody picked us up!

Back home to shower, and get somewhat decent for the TGINR (thank God I’m not racing) Party at Huggo’s! First we got some killer sushi at Shiono's (pic1) with Tawnee, Cody, and Ben. At the party, they had these lychee-vodka drinks that I might’ve had too many of. They were killer because they tasted delicious and were deceptively hydrating- uh oh! Back at home around 11pm, Beth & were still a little hungry :P (pic2)

RACE DAY: Beth and I scrambled to get up, fix her flat quickly, and roll down to see the swim on time. I got a coffee at Lava Java, a delicious GF berry scone at this other hidden coffee shop by the pier, and watched the swim. I cried. I got the same butterflies and thoughts that I did last year when I was in the water. It was the first time I knew I had to be in that water again. I not only knew, I FELT how significant this race is to me. Ironman is a part of our identity. I don’t need a tattoo- Ironman tattooed me when I first crossed that finish at 19 in 2007.

From there, Tawnee, Beth and I scrambled up to the grassy area on Palani hill to watch the initial part of the bike. This revealed something to me that TV coverage/articles/tracker does not: if you’re not in the mix from the start, unless a lot of people bonk to pieces, you’re out of the race. You must be a TRIathlete. “I am a swimmer”, “I’m a biker”, or “I’m a runner”, works for the amateur race (drafting, cough cough) and maaaaybe for top 10 in the pro field if you’re super lucky.
I had promised myself after too many late nights out and consuming beverages that I normally don’t even sniff, that today I’d watch my friends finish, and be in bed around 8. Riiiiiiight.
From Palani, I was innocently walking to get breakfast when Rachel (110% Play Harder- best ice/compression recovery ever) and Hannah were at Bongo Ben’s already getting started on mimosas. Crap. I had breakfast and a virgin fruit smoothie. But then Kim Rouse came along and suddenly we had ordered a bottle of champagne and more juice. The funny thing is, when the runners started coming along, 5 min under the burning sun on Alii Dr and all the champagne from a mimosa evaporated from my system. I also began the process of losing my voice yelling for all the athletes.
It is harder to watch than to race. When you’re racing you’re moving and expecting to sweat. When you’re in regular clothes, standing under the sun baking, it is hell-ish.

As the runners passed along, you could see in people’s faces who would crumble and who would prevail. This reminded me of what I’d seen through race week- people leaving their races in training. There’s the pros that have raced too much and get here exhausted. Or those that get greedy/panicked and do too much. Then there’s age groupers, close friends of mine, that have this false idea that the pros/top of the top train at least 30 hours a week, even 50 for the men. I heard some people riding 6hrs the week before because they felt they were young and could recover from it. It killed me. You see the potential, the great races they’ve had this year, the heart that goes into it, and in a few days, or in one session, they give it away.

Race week be the king/queen of lazy. See the podcast I did with Tawnee for Endurance Planet ( )

After about 3 hours of that, I walked down to a Thai place to get mango sticky rice (pay attention to the amount of sugar I consumed this day haha). That left me bouncing off the walls, I could barely sit still as I watched Rinny try to catch Leanda on screen at the Clif Lounge next door.
More time was spent down at the stretch to the finish watching/yelling as Pete and the top men come in, followed by Leanda and the women, and my amateur friends.

From there Rachel and I met at the King Kam- we tried to rinse off at the beach by the Pier but of course that was closed to only athletes/etc. So we got into the pool. Bad mistake- it was pee/sweat filled and I got out feeling disgusting. But, nothing a few pina coladas couldn’t fix! More. Sugar.

Then I went with Tawnee and Ben to that same Thai place for dinner, and some chardonnay. It was great talking to these two about how far our sport has come and how lucky we are at our young age to pursue this as work (as an athlete and/or involved in the industry). Neither of us sits in a cubicle all day, and we’ve all had our share of critics- mainly those from older people that either don’t understand this sort of “work” or are too bitter that they could never go after it. We want to live while we we’re at our prime, not when we have to limp around on a cane. We also came to the realization that we are a part of the future of endurance sport and how we present ourselves and what we innovate and carve out for the younger generations is extremely important.

Quickly thereafter I bought a cheap-semi normal, but kind of teenage-skanky looking, outfit at the ABC store to go to Huggo’s without looking like a 12yr old girl ready for soccer practice (my spectator attire). More pina coladas with some friends at Huggo’s and a late night taxi that took forever to flag down to take me home!!!

Sunday- swim, attempt to show Beth the gorgeous South Loop which was an utter failure because not even 30min into the very gradual Queen K climb to Keahou/Kam III, my back raised a huge middle finger at me. I unclipped and tried to see if I could just stretch it out but it was hurting to stand- feels like a wooden block inside. So I called Beth and said sorry but I have to turn around. Went back to the gym to stretch, and jogged an easy 30min. After that I had the whole day to kill so I went shopping, got lunch at the Thai place again(!), went back home to shower/change, had dinner with Rachel at the Thai place again(!!), and then thought I was going to see the awards once the pros were going up to stage. Wrong. At 7:30 they were barely starting the age groups! At last, I enjoyed the speeches…Leanda’s cracked me up, and Pete’s inspired me beyond words and made me teary eyed with his closing!

It was now time for the KSwiss After Party at Huggo’s! Honestly, my friends and I concluded that the best party there was in 2010. 2011 was meh, and this year was kind of a mess. The food is awesome as always, and you can’t really have too many vodka-cranberries, can you? Hehe…But really there was just something about our group in 2010 that made it rad. I made the mistake of heading to the Clif Lounge after Huggo’s closed down, but by then my buzz was fading and I was kind of over the whole thing and wanted to go to sleep! I kept finding people who were heading down Alii mile 4 to drop me off at the house but kept losing them so before I knew it I was in a taxi with some Aussies at 4am delirious.

Monday is a blur, I felt like crap- not hungover just dead tired. I went to bed at 6pm and slept 12hrs!Tuesday I felt great, was on the second day ordered by my new coach, Jesse (QT2), of no training for the week so I just lounged around. I had dinner with Jennifer and her husband at Huggo’s where I discovered they give out bbq ribs during happy hour. Coupled with the teriyaki steak I ordered after= food comma.

Wednesday I finally flew to San Diego where I’ll be until the 24th and then head to Texas to be with my family and watch my brother, Daniel, race Big 12 Champs next Saturday in Austin!

This trip taught me a lot and it allowed me to socialize with people in our industry that I never had the chance to when I’d go to race. If you’re a pro, you have to go to Kona at least once and watch/experience it from the sidelines. At the least, to give back in support for the many times others have cheered for you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Injury/Rehab update!!

Tomorrow afternoon I leave for Hawaii- a one month escape to literally lose myself in the peacefulness of the least until Ironman arrives ;)

Only a few months ago I was making this trip with all the motivation and optimism for the racing season- intent on getting really fit and kicking things off at Honu.

Wow, what a rollercoaster I've experienced since then. It honestly seems like a very distant past. I have incredible memories from the 2 months I spent there- mostly nestled in my little studio apt plugging away workouts, cooking my meticulous meals, and incredibly grateful for getting the opportunity to pursue a career in the sport I adore.

Simultaneously, a part of me wishes to block out that part of my life because it pains me that all of that work and all the positive energy thrown into it turned so very sour...race after race ending with the thing I detest the most: a DNF.

After Louisville I was on a mission. There has been nothing, and I mean NOTHING taking priority over finding out what's going on and addressing it. It consumes 24hrs of my daily life. I've even had dreams about this whole ordeal in and out of racing/training context.

Rarely have I gone to bed without a decent sobbing session, and multiple times I'll break down in the car crying at the thought of not just what happened and all those I feel I let down, but thinking of my goals and wondering if I will every get my body 100%---- heck just figure out the correct diagnosis!

I don't say this to get others to feel sorry for me- not playing victim here. I'm saying this because it is what it is, it's the truth and it's okay to hurt for something you want more than anything in this world.

So what's the news so far? We took and MRI- I have spondylosithesis of my l5- it's basically a slipped disc- of a few mm. This could be causing spasm/really bad pain that I feel on the bike especially after a semi arched back from the swimming, or it could be totally independent. I also have found very tight fascia on the upper glute where it attaches to the illiac crest. Both of these discoveries were not made immediately post the MRI- there was only a vague idea.

It was only until yesterday that I visited with the most knowledgeable guy out of any doc/alternative medeicine/pt guy out there- and that's Chris Maund here in Encinitas who's part of the CHEK Institute. The good news Chris gave me is that it's not career ending...research has shown me Lance Armstrong has it, another successful pro triathlete I know also has it, Andre Agassi has it....I'm in good company.

I have DAILY rehab exercises/stretches to do in order to help correct some of this slippage and at the least keep it at bay- over the years it's almost a guarantee this leads to spinal compression/lumbar fusion (look at me being all medical :) hehe) which is a nightmare apparently. No thanks! I am now a dedicated stretch-er person. This is my entire focus now.

I got a new bike- a Slice, fits my geometry great. But I can't take it to Hawaii :(  I hate not getting to play with my new toy but Chris said take the road bike only until I get back and see him and get my "body working normally again" so that's that. I'm at the point that if I'm told to eat horse shit, just point me to it.

My joint mobility has improved heaps in just a few weeks of working with Brian at Rehab United, and even acupuncture gave me some relief.

So now for this one month on the rock, I seek primarily to check out mentally from "real life" put in my gym work, ride a road bike and work on using muscles that apparently have been asleep for a long while, keep up my running and swimming (with some limiters- for anyone w/ this condition: no downhill running for a while, no fly stroke), and when Ironman arrives- give out all the positive energy that I've received in all the years I've raced there, to those tackling it this time around.


Monday, August 27, 2012


The Mayans have predicted 2012 to be the end of our existence. I don't know about that but yesterday when I got back to my hotel room I felt like this was the end of MY existence.

I recently wrote that I would never DNF a race, and I reached out to my friend Hillary Biscay- an athlete/person who I greatly admire for her unbelievable determination to finish anything she starts- letting her know how much I respect that and wanted to follow in her steps in that regard.

Well at yesterday's Ironman Louisville I felt like I was between a wall and (instead of a sword) Hillary and also Michelle (Mitchell) who walked her way to a 13+hr Ironman after a series of back to back races to squeeze in the points needed to toe the line in Kona. HUGE RESPECT.

DNF means "did not finish" (as we know) but I've been telling myself that it can also mean "did not fail". Failure would've been to not start the race at all, or to drop out because my tummyhurt or I didn't really feel so good or fit, or I was simply out of contention.  

I unstrapped my chip knowing that since the first quarter of the bike leg I was in bad pain that only came and went in certain sections and took a lot of sitting/standing/stretching. From mile 60 on I had various moments of "should I just stop now?" "how much damage am I doing?". By the last 15mi, having missed an aid station and feeling super lightheaded, I was praying I'd pass out so that I wouldn't have to actually get to T2 and hand the chip in.

When I got to t2, I didn't know who to say I am done to, or where, so I proceeded to grab my run gear and when I tried to run out of T2 it was clear running was not going to happen. I thought ok, I'll go into the portapoty and stretch a few minutes and re-assess.

I tried running 2miles, and was frankly at that point waiting to get out of the miles where the crowds were massively lined up so I could stop and call it. It was so ironic to hear people yelling "great form!" "oh wow she's a runner!" haha....I guess I looked okay but they had nooooo idea what was going on internally. The whole SI joint/low back ridge across was like a locked stabbing pain block of hell.

Going in I was 95% certain I wouldn't get back pain and if I did it'd be super mellow and zero on the run. I've been to every ART/chiro/massage guru and had all the surrounding areas loose and fresh race morning. I even swam that 1hr split falling asleep- it was cruiiissseeeee effort the whole way. What happened was I lined up far right (mistake cuz I breathe to my right) and when we took off my attempt to sprint and cut left was halted by others not budging their spot haha, so I eneded up swimming the most chillaxed Ironman swim of my life behind this one other guy with calm water the whole way. I thought it was a blessing in disguise that would help even more for a pain free bike ride. NOPE!

Long story short, I cried, I had thoughts (still do) that I will never fullfill my potential, that my back pain is now an established part of my life, that my dreams will remain dreams.

But deep down, I believe. I know. I know what fitness I have been carrying, I know the work I've put in. I know there's more doctors to see, a real break to take, a rehab to try, a strength season to undergo, and a build up from phase one for months of long slow volume. Perhaps this is what had to happen for me to start over, rest, come back with asbolute health and renewed strength to then, and ONLY then, be able to one day win an Ironman, and one day to the line with the best pro women in Hawaii.

Plus who doesn't love a good comeback story, right?!?! ;)

For the next few weeks I plan to swim heaps, get going with check up/rehab exercises/routine, cheer on friends and get even more inspired at the World Champs, and around mid October have a few months as a "runner".

Thank you to the following amazing people in my life: my family, my coach, my close friends (that this season has shown me who they really are), TYR, Nytro, SOAS, Powerbar, & Newton.

Never. Ever. Give. Up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Twice in my life I’ve felt such an overwhelming negative/depressing emotion that it rendered me speechless and empty inside- confused on whether to cry, yell, punch something, or just lay down in silence.

The two events/circumstances that led to this feeling are very personal and irrelevant to this blog of mine which centers on my life as a triathlete.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s race moved the count up to three.

When I crossed the finish line as everyone else, I had done, however slowly, 70.3 miles in hot hard conditions so for the first hr or so I moved in a rather emotionless state to hydrate, change clothes, gather my things, and kept repeating in my head “good training, good training, you stuck it out”.

The reality of the Buffalo Springs race for me was that I didn’t get to race except for the first hour. I’ve received many notes from friends and family saying “good effort”, “way to get top 10” (in Honu), “your day will come” etc. While I greatly appreciate their intention and care, I am also humiliated by these remarks. That was not me giving an effort, I am not proud of that top 10-out of like 10, my day won’t “come” I am responsible for bringing it, this was my day, I am there/ready damnit!

Like all athletes aiming to be at the top of their sport, I am extremely competitive and I hate, hate, HATE to lose. That does not mean I can’t accept anything but a win or a podium. It does not mean I am a “sore loser” or a “bad sport” because I am perfectly okay with getting beat- and there is a BIG difference between the two.

If I finish a race and I know that I was able to throw down my best effort to my potential/fitness on that day then I don’t care if that gets me 20th or 1st because any person that BEAT me on that day was simply the better athlete. What I cannot stand is handing over what in tennis you’d call unforced errors, or a birthday present to your competitor. When YOU lose your own battle and cannot do/show what you have on the day, well that just blows.

For instance, at Galveston this past April, I finished like 28th out of a stacked field of athletes- my performance was one of my worst half Ironmans, but I was happy with my race. Why? Because I had spent Dec- Feb simply wrapping my head around even riding my bike for extended periods of time, I was just starting my season, and what I swam, biked, and ran was all the fitness I had on that date. I expected to get my butt handed to me, and I had a plan for the rest of my season to get myself in the shape I need to be in contention.

The last two races however, have been extremely frustrating. In Honu, after my saddle fell a smidge I failed to take the 1-2mins to flag bike support and raise it, and I also violated the number one rule before a race: don’t change anything. With this past weekend yielding the same excrutiating low back pain 30mins into the bike, which I have never ever before experienced in my 6 yrs in the sport nor ever in training, I have narrowed down the culprit to switching over to the Specialized BG trivent shoes (the ones with that varus wedge). The most frustrating part is I don’t just want to go back to my old regular shoes for a few reasons: 1) there has to be a race factor that is only making this pain come out in an event 2) my feet and knees love them- I’ve always struggled with alignment on the bike since my accident in 2008 and the varus wedging immediately felt amazing and both my knees tracked straight and I feel so much more power to the pedal- I really really want to make this work!

Without a long post because I really don’t want to relive any of it- I am home now and heading over to my chiropractor this morning to figure this thing out asap and just move on- here’s the short bit of BSLT:

Swim- fine, I don’t like wetsuits swims and that swim should’ve been non wetsuit at least for the pros, but I wore my awesome TYR sleeveless so I didn’t overheat. I sat on I don’t know who’s feet the whole way and came out a bit back from the group I would’ve liked but it’s a long day and it wasn’t too far back.

Bike- I got out of that first climb from t1 and my legs felt amazing, the hill felt effortless and I just continued to push hard from there and the plan was just to keep building up pace and if any girl came up behind me I would not let them go. Christine Anderson came up once into the flats (before the first roller/hill) and I kept her in sight and passed her back 1-2 times. That was the end of my bike. Shortly after we hit the first pitch and once aero again my low back began to hurt. Let me explain this pain… it’s not “oh my back is achey wahhh”…it’s “omg get me off this F’ng bicycle my back is going to explode!!!” It burns, I can’t put pressure on the pedals because it gets tighter and the pain increases to a point that it doesn’t LET me push the pedals with any force. My bike then turned into a mix of standing for relief, some sitting up, and soft pedaling dying to get to t2 and wondering constantly if I should just quit. But I hate to quit more than I hate to get dead last or walk to a 6hr Half Ironman.

Run- I thought maybe I could run well since in Honu I got off and the run was pain free. But the rollers in the Honu course vs the flat sections in BSLT made the back pain a bit less severe. When I got off the bike here I could feel it. I knew then I had no shot at anything and why bury myself and potentially put greater strain on my back. I went to the bathroom in t2- for some reason puked a bit, which I don’t think was from being physically as much as it was from being emotionally sick. I ran out of t2 with a plan to just run strong and finish the 70.3 miles. No joke my mindset was: it’s a good training day at least mentally, and the more ground you cover, the more you get to eat after ;) ..(yea I still had some humor left in me).

So that’s that. I had a great time there seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. Thanks to Mary for taking me out of my misery Sunday night and getting me to go out with her and some others.

I am gutted, devastated, frustrated, ashamed, you name it. I keep going from tears to anger to motivating myself to keep my eyes on Vineman and Louisville. I know I am in great shape and can still turn things around, but it is very hard to swallow TWICE not being able to race a race.

This will be fixed- first and foremost because I cannot go through that pain again- if it ever happens again I will get off the bike and call it a day. In an Ironman, forget it, there’s no way I could handle more than 56miles of that especially without causing some sort of long term damage.

I am in such an intense state of emotion right now that when I put on a bib number again and ride with my body cooperating, my PRs in both distances will be CRUSHED effortlessly- the power of the mind and the heart is unlike anything else. That’s why we see people do incredible things when pushed to extreme emotions. “You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be”- so true.

That’s the scoop. This week is all about picking myself back up. Thankfully, strolling around Lubbock Lake on Sunday means I have zero soreness/tightness/heaviness in my legs- I could’ve just stayed home and done more to them with a solo brick. So as soon as my back recovers- should be a 2-3 days- I am back to serious work for VMan and LV.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Change of plans...

Tuesday about 3 hours before my flight was scheduled to leave, with everything packed except the bike, I went with my gut instinct and called the ariline to see about changing my flight to the 18th- the Monday of Lubbock race week. My approach was if I get a rude agent that wants to overcharge me then it's a sign I need to just close this chapter and head home. Well, as almost never happens, I talked to the niced guy from United- Daniel Ramirez. I sensed he had an accent and it was not Indian so I asked if he spoke Spanish. Yep :) I am quite the manipulator, and in Spanish I can be extra convincing. So 15-20min later, I had a reduced change of flight fee with no other additional fees. The cost was less than dealing with the bike fee, the airport pick up in San Diego, etc that I didn't want to have to fork over before my next paycheck! But what really bred this whole idea in the first place was my friend Cody offering me to stay in his rad house- just off Alii but up up up some nasty we were driving up all I kept thinking was in 2 weeks of riding these beast hills home, Lubbock will be a pancake. After it was established that I was staying, suddenly I sighed with great relief knowing it was the right call. I am so comfortable training here! Besides there are still many more hills/routes that I wanted to squeeze in before Honu but didn't get the chance. I also want to get in another really long ride to Hawi using the back roads. Once these two weeks pass and Lubbock happens in the blink of an eye, heading back to San Diego will be the only option and the appropriate thing to do for the rest of my season/racing. I've done Lubbock once- in 2008, ironically it was the ONE year it was 50F and pouring rain. Hopefully this year it's one of the record 100F that yields a mirage in the distance from the burning asphalt. If there's one thing that successful people do it's learn from the past but keep moving forward with as much tenacity. I am not looking for a miracle to happen in my biking abilities these two weeks. It's not necessary. I just need to arrive to Lubbock with the lessons from this weekend ingrained in my mind and let the fitness that I have do the work it should. Alright back to my "real" job which I'm quite behind on :/ YIKES.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What hurts the most

Yesterday's Hawaii 70.3 was the toughest racing conditions I've faced on the island- that's 5x this race and 4x Kona full. I finally got a dose of Madam Pele waking up on the wrong side of the bed. So, hats off to everyone that finished! After spending roughly 6 weeks training in Kona and pouring all my heart and energy into the prep, I can't say I'm not disappointed in my result yesterday. I had such great training leading in, I was feeling amazing the few days before the race, and had such a blast in the mellow atmosphere of Hawaii- training with some amazing but chill athletes (local and international). So to not have that reflected in my performance hurt deeply. It hurts the most when you really care- this race means so much to me for various reasons. Aside from the fact that it is in Kona, it was my first ever 70.3 when I was 19 and my qualifying race for that year's World Championship. I have so many memories here since then, and after all the trips to Hawaii for training and racing, Kona now feels like a second home. I am proud of my effort the entire day- that is what has held me together the past 24hrs- that I never gave up mentally and that I felt really fit- I did exactly what I came here for and got myself in the shape I wanted to be in. In the water I felt super strong- aided by the pool closing on us 2 weeks ago, I got in more open water swimming than ever before and felt very comfortable about where I would be heading onto the bike. Beth and I found each other at the rear of the lead pack that went out HARD and never seemed to settle after the 3/4-1mi or so to the first bouy. I expected/wanted to be more cushioned in the middle of the front bunch vs straggling at the tail end, but I have zero complaints about how the swim played out. It made for a very motivating start to the day. Onto the bike, all was going fantastic until I hit the turnaround at the Mauna Lani at about mile 6ish before the long stretch toward Hawi. Shortly after turning around, I rode over one of the reflectors and onto a bump/divet in the road and felt my seat go down a smidge. Of course when you've been riding in a position for so many miles a smidge can mean a world of difference. But at that point I could still see the field on the bike and there was no way I was going to flag down bike support to fix that "tiny" issue. BIG MISTAKE. Once we passed Hapuna before Kawaihae, my low back was starting to get tense- even more so with a death grip that would only get stronger as the winds picked up. By the time I hit the turn and climb up to Kawaihae that "smidge" had my back/QLs on FIRE. It especially hurt on climbs. So the only relief I got was the initial descent after the Hawi turnaround. It got to the point of wanting to stop and stretch- if it had been a training ride I would've absoltely stopped riding. I am not sure why/how just a simple bump led to that as I had the shop check my bolts and I rechecked them the day before the race. But maybe my idea of tight was not tight enough. Anyway, what's done is done. I was only relieved to find that running was not painful. I was scared I'd get off the bike and have to hobble. The run was actually fantastic. It was by far the best I've felt on this run course (turnover/physically), and only 1 or 2 dudes ever passed me so it was great to keep ticking off people- though it would've been nice to tick off girls in front or have come off the bike with a lead on more!! haha. Even with feeling the best on that run course, I didn't run my fastest time- the winds were gnarly!!!!! Although when we were getting tailwind it was awesome! I ddidn't mind the wind on the bike as much as the run because I wanted to PR this run course damnit! :) Despite the rough day on the bike, I know my fitness is absolutely there and things can only continue to go up. I did PR my overall time for this race with the toughest day so that helps me not be so hard on myself. When you have big aspirations and a huge drive, and know you are capable of achieving what you desire it is frustrating to not be able to put things together ASAP, but I also will never ever stop fighting and my year will be filled with more racing than probably any year prior. There will be bad races (hopefully all behind me now haha)and great ones. I am now looking forward to getting to San Diego, settling into my old routine and on to Buffalo Springs 70.3. After that will be REV3 Portand, which I am stoked about because I've yet to do a REV3 event and have heard nothing but wonderful things about their races, and a week later Vineman 70.3 Much more after that but not exactly sure what. As of now I'll need a streak of great performances to even have a shot at Vegas. But my priority has shifted to just wanting to put things together and get myself to another level this season rather than having that qualifying goal be the marker- many years left for that. I just need to race, race, race!!! Given that it's the thing I love most, it'll be a fun year.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Texas 70.3 aaannnddd Moving On....

So this race went a lot better overall than last weekend's, mainly because I was in my realm.

I said afer the race I had a "great day" and by that I mean today accurately reflected the fitness I have now which is all I can ask for. The ONLY time in the race I kept wanting to stop was the first 20 miles of the bike. My legs just felt like crap- heavy and on fire.

But after that I was able to pick it up a bit, and the run, while not fast, I felt in an ok rythm throughout it.

I'm not stoked on the time or the placing, but that's not something I can complain to myself about because the field was stellar, and I did what I could on that day, period.

Last year at this race while I didn't go that much slower, I just felt like hell the whole time and the run was a battle mentally and physically. So I am very much looking forward to building on a better start this time around.

The ABSOLUTE best part of the day was having Lance catch up to me ending his 3rd loop as I was on my 1st and being able to lead him around for about 3 miles :) That made my race!

Moving on, and getting serious about my first year as a pro- I'm off to Kona in 3 weeks to do what I do best: live like a monk and train like an animal in an environment that suites me best surrounded by just a few people that will push me and that I look up to a lot.

I'll end that little camp with Honu and I plan to race that with the best half Ironman fitness I've ever toed the line with. From there it will be a short few weeks to Lubbock and well on my way to a summer that will hopefully land me in Vegas.

It took me a long time after Cozumel to feel human, longer to want to focus on all three sports at once, and even longer to get in a good groove and ready to get in peak shape. Now I am there. See ya'll in the summer ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mexico & my "aha!" moment

I wish I could write a happy/inspiring report on the 4 day trip/race to Ixtapa, but quite the opposite is true. However, everything everything happens for a reason and this trip made a delusion of mine clear and marked the right direction for me to take in this sport.

Thursday I got in and from then until Sunday, as a trip, I had a great time. I love Ixtapa- the people, the food, the town, the beach. I went by myself even though my dad drove out to watch me race but he stayed at some friend's house. It was enjoyable to cruise around town by myself, see the shops, try some great seafood, and appreciate the places triathlon takes me. Ixtapa has been a part of me from childhood- we used to go every Christmas and other holidays to our condo in Zihuatanejo.

The race- I was feeling great going in. I don't want to write a play by play as I'm really trying to just put the whole thing behind me as a blur of a solid training day for the season/for Galveston. The race basically ended for me on the swim as does any ITU if you don't come out of the water with the pack. Sad thing is I was with the pack until the second boey. Long story short, and stated as a lesson for all: if the person you are drafting cuts a boey, you don't gain anything by being ethical and going around it alone...cut the freakin buoey too!!

After that it was a solo HAMMERFEST on the bike and when I got to the run my legs were trashed. Like I said, great t-run in hot weather as training.

It was paramount that I do this ITU race at the beginning of the year and that it turn out bad, otherwise my stubborn self would've gone to another race in Mexico in May in Huatulco or in October in Cancun.

It was the exact replica of the outcome in 2008 when I also raced the draft legal pro race there. I actually biked faster that year despite all the miles and more fitness this time around- of course I had my super duper SLC SL :) haha....

Anyway, I wanted so bad to give ITU a try- to see it as a long term goal I could indeed with experience and more specific training get in the groove of performance wise especially for 2016. But it's just not my thing. Despite LOVING the raw racing, the intensity and finesse of it, for one I just can't connect with the Mexican athletes- as Mexican as I am, really I am not, ha. I've struggled with that my whole life- not being American, yet not fitting in at all with Mexicans, or in Mexico itself. I am a "gringa" by custom.

With that, I experience the "fish out of water" symptoms that foreigners do when they visit Mexico. I often get stomach problems with the trip, I don't understand the way they carry out/do some things, and on top of that my whole immigration situation makes me nervous to the point of being nauseous every time I go. Yet, I kept going back time after time, race after race. Each trip a little more difficult and a harder slap in the face.

Yesterday was the punch that knocked me out. If the universe throws us "signs" this was not a "sign" it was a detailed, in your face ORDER: "Stop it! Stay HOME!!!".

Despite all those, sadly, negative points, I love my country, appreciate the culture, and have to accept that I'm from there and that for personal/family reasons I was not born in the US, and can only be thankful to have been raised here.

I am proud to still race "for" Mexico in Ironman/70.3 racing, but I'm honestly fed up with trying to please others- and this is not toward my country, the federation, or specific people/friends in the US or there, it is in general. It's time to race for ME. To make MYSELF proud. I'll be honest since around December my self esteem/confidence has been in shambles, and this weekend took it to the gutter because I failed (not by not winning, let's not get stupid, but I knew I could swim that swim). It was just a sh*t race for me out of any Olympic distance ever, same as '08.

So, while my little idea of ITU sounded quite romantic, it will not be. 70.3 and all other DOMESTIC short course, and in future, Ironman races are my gig and clearly my forte.

After Galveston I look forward to putting all of this in a very distant past and just keep forward focus. I'm off to a training camp for over a month starting April 27 and returning after Hawaii 70.3 That will be my initial consistent, purposeful, smart (thanks to those guiding me) training block, for the rest of my season to unfold.

What can I say? I am stubborn, but relentlessly passionate and determined to achieve what I have always known I can achieve in the thing I love most.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Highs & Lows

I've developed more empathy toward menopausal women. The roller coaster of emotions and physical feelings I've experienced the last 2 months had me wondering whether a steady stream of training and confidence would ever make its way back to my life.

4 weeks ago I had one of the best weeks of training ever. I was cranking out swims and runs in PB paces and all the while upping my cycling from the "run block" that took over the start of the year. I was on FIRE. Then suddenly after that weekend going out on my longest brick/long run combo (4.5hr ride Sat, 2hr run Sun), I knew I was digging a big hole on that run Sunday but thought it's all good as long as I take a few easy days.

Enter stupidity: you get a text from a friend to run some intervals the following Tues- you're feeling tired but very fit and go for it.

BOOM interval one 2-3min and that was it the plug was pulled and from that moment it took me two weeks to get back to myself.

I've never had fatigue where I cannot complete a workout- where I am EMPTY. I struggled to find motivation, to get my heart rate up above 120 no matter the perceived effort, and everything resulted in heavy breathing.

Long story short, 2 weeks and I knew I had to do something about it- training in the real sense of the word was not an option. Thankfully I have some people around me that really care and I've surrendered my stubborness to follow their knowledge.

Everything worked out for the best and I am soooooo glad I experienced that "overtraining" because it landed me in the hands of a plan I trust and am excited about.

I didn't do Desert International, and recently Super Seal was a scratch due to the mini storm that hit SD.

So now a week out from Ixtapa I'm 2 weeks into consistent quality training and my body is coming around right when I need it to.

I have no idea what sort of fitness I have, or what performance I am capable of in an Olympic or the 70.3 the week after- primarily because this year has started off entirely different from the last 6 years of racing. It's a bit scary to think I have to be fit in April since in the past I've always focused everything on October and if I wasn't on top of my game in Spring it was totally ok- I'd still place well. But racing pro is a different story- no one wants to go and make an a** of themselves. I'm amazed at those that through the year are either fit, fitter, or fittest. I'm definitely not that type of athlete. My range is more like "30min gym cardio person" to "ATHLETE".

That said, for my goals, and for how I know my body reaches peak fitness, this year is going to play out perfectly so long as I continue just like the past 2 weeks :)

There's nothing to lose in Ixtapa or Galveston, and all the experience and fitness to gain. I've had my pro debut already, had a good race, and have no hype or expectations to live up to (except my own ;)). There's often so much noise surrounding some athletes before they even achieve anything- I'd hate to have to live up to that sort of thing. It feels good to have proven myself last year, and still have a decade before I reach the stereotypical prime age for endurance sports.

Come April- June I look forward to building up a peak for Honu and Lubbock, and from there on continue my season through October with a bunch of Olympics and some more 70.3s. The word season is kind of obsolete now with all the events year round all over the world- it is a long year and if anything I'll only be getting more and more fit.

Hopefully I'll have internet in Mexico and be able to post a race report and some pictures pre/post race.

Can't wait to just put out every ounce of effort both weekends and see a lot of my favorite peeps :)!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Taking the driver's seat

Reading over my last post it seems like I'm reading about another person. It's funny how quickly we can distance ourselves from situations we're no longer in no matter how recently we experienced them and how intense they were. You when you have the flu and you feel like a truck ran you over and you cannot even remember what it felt like to breathe normally and have energy. Then you get well and you can't relate to having the flu at all. I guess that's why women that have had a kid go on to have another...I don't know from experience but it's clear the pain is severe.

Well, it's almost a month later and I'm proud and happy to say that I've taken the driver's seat of my life like never before and fully done a 180 heath wise. The rash/itching hasn't come back, my energy level is better than ever, and the fire to achieve my goals (some "realistic" some that others would call "impossible") is BURNING!

What I did isn't science, but it something that for the past 5 years I've been in the sport just didn't feel right to me- namely backing off the volume and the idea of Ironman. Ironman is why I got into this sport- reading about it in a magazine and seeing that documentary "What It Takes" back in 2006. So every December I'd rest but come January I'd be all about long bike rides and big base building in an effort to become strong, durable, and fit for long distance. Oh how I was so so so wrong! But it had to come to me naturally- like that whirlwind of hell I experienced last month. So this January my priority was nutrition, sleep, and finesse.

Finesse meant this: rehab in chiro, ART, and massage....core work (lots!), sport specific weights...and working on the thing I love most about triathlon and what isn't really my "strength" per se, but definitely the one that comes more naturally to me= running!

So onto the running...To say I've developed an obsession about it is an understatement. In one month I've become quite the history buff on the sport, and the fan of some amazing athletes in track and distance running. By the time the marathon trials came last weekend, I had a new plan and desire to do whatever it takes (and it will take years!) to get the most of an elite runner that I have in me (whether that be a little or a lot- I'm going to go to the depths of discovering it).

I have never ever been so inspired watching a sporting event as I did seeing Shalane, Desi, and Kara perform in Houston. Knowing their individual backgrounds in the sport and what it took for them to get to punch that ticket to London over the years blew me away.

Primarily it made me realize that I have so much more work that I can do. As Kara said in her pre race interview when she spoke about complacency, I think every athlete at one point whether they have a conscious realization of it or not, reaches complacency. Well now I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid to work like a true professional. Over the years I've let myself fall victim to the fear of certain training that simply people with a family, an overwhelming full time job, or who are just past their prime cannot do. Well I can. I have the time, the desire, and the ability.

That said, this month has been about becoming a runner. A mere dot on the spectrum that is years of miles ahead of me. It will allow me to push my triathlon performance to the next level. Quickly it has already fixed a lot of my bike issues that came with useless long rides. I've also found that just riding 3-4x/wk for less than 2.5hrs and all at a good clip, coupled with my increased fitness from all the running, has led to much better bike fitness (surprise!).

As 2012 kicks off I am so excited to put in writing what I am training for:

To have an FUN and SOLID pro debut year racing Galveston, Honu, Vineman....2 others I don't know yet...and hopefully/maybe Vegas Worlds

To run the Rock n Roll half as a KEY race in end of November in San Antonio ....or the Vegas Half in December as a RUNNER

While still dabbling in 70.3s in the coming years, after some non drafting sprints and Olympic distance events this year, and once my new visa comes in and I can travel internationally as I please, my long term goal is to make the 2016 Olympic team for Mexico.

About that- you might ask, well wouldn't it have been better to give that a try before the eight Ironmans? Well I'll be frank- I never ever thought I could get my swimming, or my running to ITU level. But despite what Ironman takes out of you, it gave me a lot more in return! It gave me incredible mental strength, it gave me years of long rides, plenty by myself, plenty of long runs, and a lot of swimming that in a sense was my base for the speed I will now add. The opposite way to approach it by normal standards but for me I needed to believe. I now believe that I can get my swim and run there, because (whether I have any of it or not) I believe talent is overrated. I know that I love swimming, and I adore running, and I will rack up 30,000m+ swim weeks, I am thrilled to reach 70+mi run weeks, and I am willing to put in this work with the vision of a long term plan. I am now at the maturity in this sport and have the confidence to give it my best shot. There are no more doubts, it's quite simple- put in the miles.

If I fail, I don't care as long as come 2016 I know I gave it all I had. In the end, the training will still do wonders for my long course racing and since I love it I will have an incredible time in my late 20's.

You live once, JUST DO IT.