ACTIVEx Endurance CAxMP

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For the second year in a row, I had the opportunity to swim, bike, run and yoga all weekend with an amazing group of new friends as part of the ACTIVE Network’s employee engagement program ACTIVE’s CAxMP. My husband, Mike, is part of the two-man team (led by Arch who founded the program several years ago) that runs the ACTIVEx program. In addition to year round lunch and after work group boot camps, yoga classes, runs (and more), weekly inspirational “Can Dos” on the back of the bathroom stalls to help inspire employees to better their lives each week, a thriving Toastmaster’s public speaking club (which Mike is President of!), ACTIVEx also puts on a program called Charity Challenge.

From the Lavender Fields at Highland Springs

From the Lavender Fields at Highland Springs

Charity Challenge is a yearly event that challenges employees to push their limits by competing in the Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon while also fundraising for a charity. For the past two years, ACTIVEx has chosen Kids in the Game which is an organization that helps get children access to sport who may not have had the opportunity to do so in the past. For every $30 raise, one kid gets “in the game.” Other than the kickoff of Charity Challenge, the two most monumental events within the program are ACTIVEx CAxMP and the triathlon itself.

Last year was my first year at CAxMP and it was a whirlwind. There were over 120 ACTIVE employees and significant others and it spanned over 3 full days. This year things changed a bit, as the company has recently announced it is moving its headquarters to Dallas, Texas after it was acquired last year by a private equity firm. As a result, the Charity Challenge program was a bit smaller in San Diego (but is also going to happen in Dallas!) and CAxMP this year was 2 days and had about 40 participants, including a mix of current employees and former employees and their significant others. Although CAxMP was smaller in number this year, I personally felt it had a bigger impact on the participants than the prior year. The last year has held a lot of change for everyone at ACTIVE but the group came together this past weekend to make the best of everything that has happened. It was a great reminder that no matter what happens with the company, this group will always be bonded together by their love for endurance sport.

I arrived at Highland Springs Resort (just down the mountain from Idywild) around 9 p.m. Friday night and carpooled with my friend Brooke who I got to know at least year’s CAxMP for the first time. She and I have since become triathlon and running buddies (she was on our team at Ragnar Trail Vail Lake) and is in training for her first Ironman – Arizona 2014! Mike had already been up at CAxMP since Thursday mid-day so I was excited to see him! We headed to bed fairly early because we had a big day at head of us. Although CAxMP was one less day this year, there was only one less workout, which meant both days we had two challenging workouts ahead of us. We all convened for coffee, homemade banana bread and other goodies and the course talk before 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and then strapped on our helmets and set out for the 1st workout of CAxMP – the long ride. There were a few options and of course I chose the harder of the two. The route was not only longer but also contained a very long climb. How long, I had no idea.

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I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with any group during this workout due to my lack of serious cycling (particularly hill training), and joked to Brooke (who has become a beast on the bike since deciding to do Ironman Arizona last year)  that she could ride to the top of the mountain and come back down and then try to catch me again. Regardless, I wanted the challenge and gladly followed the group that headed toward the hills. I was happy that most people didn’t seem to be trying to race or push the pace at all on the flats so I was able to keep up just fine. As soon as we started climbing, I told the others I’d see them at the top. I always get dropped on hills and after this weekend I have really realized that I need to focus on my leg strength. My skinny legs just don’t have power for scaling mountains on a bike or with my own two legs.

My View Up the Mountain

My View Up the Mountain

Brooke & Me!

Brooke & Me!

The hill was long. It was relentless – there weren’t any flat sections or declines to rest. The grade  ranged between 6-8% the entire time and I later learned we covered 2,800 feet over the course of the full 32 mile ride and 1,400 of it was within under 6 miles. Ouch. I was huffing and puffing. I wore my heart rate monitor and I was well into Zone 4 for the entire duration of the climb. I had to get out of the saddle quite often to even get up some portions for fear that I may just tip over because I was simply moving too slowly. I had no idea how long the hill was so I had no idea how long I’d be climbing. I knew the ride was over 30 miles so I guessed I would be climbing 8-10 miles. At one point I wondered if I had gotten myself in way over my head but eventually got into a groove. I started working on my Maid of Honor speech for Asia’s wedding in my head and it helped me zone out and forget the pain. I was still in that zone when suddenly I saw the group stopped. I joined them, thinking we were taking a short break before continuing on. Only after we stopped for the photo and then someone mentioned heading back did I realize we were already done! The descent was equally challenging as the ride up but in a different way – my hands were sore and tired from holding my  breaks so hard and it was nerve-wracking to be hitting such high speeds on a road that unfamiliar, windy and not well paved. Once we got to the bottom we continued on the same loop that many of the others has completed which also had some climbs but wasn’t nearly as crazy. By the time we got back to camp, we had been out there for nearly 2 ½ hours.

Jumping in to start the Triple Brick!

Jumping in to start the Triple Brick!

After refueling with eggs, pancakes (with lavender syrup –the resort is immersed in of lavender fields!) and lavender French fries, I rested for about another hour before we packed up our stuff and headed over to Beaumont High School for Arch’s famous Triple Step-Down Brick, a CAxMP favorite. The Triple Brick consists of three sets of swimming, biking and running with descending distances for the bike and run each time. Although it kind of sounded like a short workout based on the distances – Swim 300 yards each time, Bike 6, 4, and 2 miles, and Run 1.5, 1 and ½ mile around the track, in total the workout added up to anywhere between 1-2 hours depending on how fast you completed it. The main focus of the workout was transitions – in total, we transitioned 8 times! That is great transition practice!

Me Swimming! (a rare photo)

Me Swimming! (a rare photo)

I couldn’t help but push hard during this workout because even though it wasn’t a race, it always kind of feels that way.  Similar to the bike portion of my one and only half Ironman, I rode the entire first loop on the bike with my brake rubbing against my front tire (at Oceanside it wasn’t nearly as bad though!). I felt like I was biking through mud! I didn’t stop to try to fix it because I wasn’t’ sure how and luckily Arch fixed it for me in transition (and showed me how easy it is to fix myself for future reference). I pushed hard during the first couple laps of the run and then kind of reminded myself that there wasn’t a point in driving myself into the ground over a silly practice triathlon (x3!) and slowed down a bit. I still pushed it but not as hard. I am definitely not used to riding hard and the morning’s bike ride made my legs heavy (and they were already sore from Friday’s P90X3 leg workout!). the conversation before/during/after the workout heavily revolved around triathlon and even more so Ironman! It was fun chatting with others about Ironman training and racing. It brought back some fun memories (still on the One and Done path though)!

Me & Brooke Running a Lap Together!

Me & Brooke Running a Lap Together! TWINSIES

That evening dinner was one of the highlights of the weekend as Arch made his famous jambalaya (vegetarians got yummy portobello mushroom burgers & sweet potato fries!). Everyone was in a great mood and enjoying beer & wine (and even some Fireball shots later….) and after Arch thanked everyone for coming and gave a great speech he opened it up for others to speak. It was great hearing how ACTIVEx has impacted each person’s life, whether they are a first time CAxMPer, new to ACTIVE, an ACTIVE spouse, or a vendor (a rep from Xterra Wetsuits came out to enjoy as well). It made me so proud of Mike and his contribution to not only the program but to the lives of each of the people there. He is truly making a difference!

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Camp Fire Fun!

Camp Fire Fun!

The party continued by the campfire along with a mini dance party and S’mores. The conversations were great and I got to know some of the girls who I have been seeing at the Wednesday swims even better. Needless to say we weren’t all 100% the next morning for our trail run but luckily we didn’t start til 9 a.m. so we had time to sleep it off.

One of the Many Climbs (Thanks Arch for the great photography!)

One of the Many Climbs (Thanks Arch for the great photography!)

Brooke and I met a little early to get 2 easy warm-up miles in and it was so warm that by the end of them I was drenched in sweat despite a Zone 2 effort. I wasn’t feeling my best and hadn’t eaten anything yet. Right before the trail run I got in a little food and lots of water but it didn’t really help too much. The trail run was extremely challenging (mostly the same course as last year) but I just focused on having fun rather than worrying about how much I had to hike the steep ascents or if I was at the front  of the pack (I wasn’t!). I ran mostly with Arch’s wife Christy and got to know her even better which was a great bonus! There was a small group of us who stuck mostly together and when we reached one of the epic viewpoints there were others there resting and we all took a group photo before heading down. For the group portion of the run, which was just under 5 miles, we climbed over 1,500 feet! Including the warm-up, I ran 7 miles but it took nearly 90 minutes! I had wanted to get in a longer run than 7 miles given I’m building for the marathon but I figured based on time on my feet it could count as a 10 mile run!

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Coming Down from the First Loop

Coming Down from the First Loop (in the Fresh Green Oiselle Shorts)

Mike!

Mike!

After a small snack, we kept the workouts going with 60 minutes of yoga under the trees. The yoga felt absolutely amazing. The class was actually not super easy as I had expected given it was immediately following a hard run – Dina (who works at ACTIVE) threw in some harder moves but mostly focused on stretching. It was nice and cool under the branches of the trees and there was a nice breeze so it was the perfect way to unwind after a tough weekend of workouts. We closed out the weekend with brunch around the pool and some of us stayed back to catch some sun for a bit before heading home (and eating more burritos along the way!).

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CAxMP blew my expectations out of the water this year. The workouts were challenging and the people were great. I can’t thank Mike and Arch enough for putting on such an amazing event. They are truly changing lives through this program and I can’t wait to see all the soon to be triathletes cross the finish line for the first time on Sunday at the Solana Beach Triathlon!

Have you ever been to a triathlon camp? Does your company have a wellness program? If so, are you involved? 

Your Day Job & Running Aren’t Friends

You may have seen a recent article published by Runner’s World which illustrates just how your 9 to 5 desk job is affecting your health. We’ve all heard it before – sitting is killing us. But as a runner, this article really hit home. According to the article, for every hour you sit, the positive health benefits of your 60 minute morning run diminish by 8%. If you don’t believe it, read the Mayo Clinic study results here.

60 minutes of running, considered “vigorous exercise” is 80% gone after a 10 hour work day. Worse, if you engage in exercise considered “moderate” in intensity, the effects are worse – 16% per hour. Kind of depressing, huh? The study focused primarily on increased disease risk, arguing that although running helps prevent heart disease, for example, sitting negates those benefits.  It did not address whether or not your desk job is reducing the hard-earned fitness gains that us runners covet. In fact, most advice regarding recovery from hard training sessions suggests that the more rest post-workout, the better.

View From The Spot I Sit for 8-10 Hours a Day

View From The Spot I Sit for 8-10 Hours a Day

Although I’m thankful the article didn’t also claim that a desk job reduces fitness gains from workouts as well, this article was especially relevant to me as I have been putting in quite a few more hours than normal at my desk these last few weeks. 10-11 hours at work is basically taking away the health benefits I’m getting from my 7-10 hours of exercise a week. It’s pretty insane to think about!

The good news is, I am not exactly a sedentary worker. The combination of my unusually large water consumption, unusually small bladder and massive appetite mean that I’m getting up from my desk more than once an hour to refill said water bottle, empty said bladder or fill my stomach. In addition to that, I’ll hit up the printer, walk over to a co-workers desk or my boss’s office to ask a question and in general am quite active. Despite this, reading this article has encouraged me to use my stand up desk more often! I have a normal desk on one side of my cubicle and a stank up desk on the other. The problem is, I have my 2 monitors hooked up to my lap top on my sitting desk and if I were to switch to work at the standing desk I’d some productivity as I tried to work on a tiny screen. As a compromise, I’m going to try to do anything non-computer related at the standing desk and print out documents to review on on paper more often.

Outside of work and working out, I am also pretty active as I make my lunch every morning and cook dinner every night (Mike makes the breakfast!). I regularly take walks and don’t watch a lot of TV. I’m sure these things all help as well.

In case you aren’t as convinced as I am that it’s time to get off your butt more while at work, here’s a couple sections of an infographic I found that illustrates just how terrible all that sitting is! Worst stat: Sitting 6+ hours a day makes you 40% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3 hours day.

Do you have a desk job? How long do you sit without walking around? 

CIM Pre-Season Week 1

My goal marathon (CIM December 7th) is 22 weeks away – I’m using the next 6 weeks as my “pre-season” for the final 16 weeks of official marathon training. I’ll be using the next 5 weeks to wrap up P90X3 by completing Phase 3 and then spending the final week before official marathon training at the Oiselle Team running camp. I have a sprint triathlon in 2 weeks but the emphasis not on training for that – instead it’s on gaining some strength, running base building as well as a bit of shorter distance speed-work to prepare for the 5k we are running at Oiselle camp.

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Morning Run Selfie in Oiselle Hail Mary Mesh Tank

I won’t bother to recap the week leading up to the San Diego International Tri or the week following, as they were fairly uneventful. Post-triathlon I did get a few workouts in including a trail run up and down Torrey Pines and a 8.5 mile “long run” but I took 5 days off over the holiday weekend for my trip to Cabo so it wasn’t a high mileage or intensity week. I came back to training this week and I definitely could feel the effects of my long weekend of drinking and non-exercise as well as the reduction in strength training in the last months, especially during my P90X3 workouts. I’m not upset about it, as I am well aware that I can’t always be in peak shape and I will definitely need this downtime in order to avoid burn out leading into CIM. 22 weeks is a long time and I need to be able to maintain focus while also avoiding burn out during that time in order to have a great race.

This week was a very busy week, with longer hours at work (and much more stress than usual) as well as final preparations for my best friend Asia’s bridal shower, which I was organizing and planning (luckily with the help of her mom and sister!). In the end, I would still say it was a really successful first week back at training and despite all the madness, I kept a pretty clean diet.

Monday: 

Rest Day. I was fried and seriously still had a hangover from Cabo (does anyone else get these 2 day hangovers now?! What happened to the days in my early 20s when I could go out til 4 a.m. and wake up feeling just fine the next day, let alone TWO DAYS later!?).

Tuesday: 

AM: 5 mile Zone 2 run with Mike. We ran before work and it was already warm. It felt good to run and I was surprised at how easy it felt.

PM: P90X3 Decelerator. This workout kicked my ass! I literally felt nauseous at the end and had to pause between the final two moves. It was a full body workout which included a lot of high intensity push-up, pull-up and squat moves. I take it back if I ever said P90X3 was easier than P90X.

Wednesday: 

AM: 45 minute Zone 1 run with my friend Allison. Allison and I met up and ran super easy. As always, it was great catching up with her. After she took off, I did 4 x 8 sec steep hill sprints. Brad Hudson, who writes the book “Run Faster” which I plan to follow for CIM training, is a big proponent of short, steep hill sprints. I’ll write another blog post on why later. When I got home I did about 5 minutes of planking (2.5 min forearm plank, 45 sec side planking on each side).

Thursday: 

AM: P90X3 Yoga. This was harder than I remember it being before. Definitely a bit out of shape still.

PM: Track workout! I met up with my friend Amy who is faster than me (she was a collegiate runner and used to be WAYYY faster than me when we first joined the Vavi run club together in 2011 and now I’m happy to say she’s just a little faster than me!) to do a track workout. We warmed up for just over a mile and then did 4 x 800 + 2 x 400 with a full loop around the track for recovery. We cooled down and called it a day after that for a total of 5.7 miles of running. The 800s were fast – not as fast and I know I could have done a month and a half ago leading up to RnR, but a good indication that I haven’t lost a lot of speed.

800 paces (listing paces because each split was a little different in terms of distance):

  1. 6:36
  2. 6:28
  3. 6:48
  4. 6:34

I could feel myself losing some energy on that 3rd 800 but picked it up for the final one. For the 400s that followed the 800s, Amy encouraged me to beat my pace. I told her what I had been running pace wise and she challenged me to run a 6 min/mile for the 400s. I told her I couldn’t’ imagine running that fast but I would try. We started together and I tried my HARDEST to keep up with her. I remember glancing down and seeing a pace of 5:45 and thinking there was no way but I just kept going hard.  So hard in fact I felt super nauseous when I finished the lap! But I was HAPPY to see I ran the 400 at a 5:58 pace. I have never run an interval with a pace in the 5s so this was a huge accomplishment! She then challenged me to beat my pace for the final 400 and I did, finishing the 400 at a 5:57 pace. It is pretty incredible how motivating a fast friend can be during a track workout!

Friday: 

AM: P90X3 “The Challenge.” This is definitely one of the hardest P90X3 workouts. It’s 8 sets of pull-ups alternating with 8 sets of push-ups. You’re supposed to pick a number for each and keep to it for the entire workout. I picked 15 push-ups and 10 pull-ups and was able to hold it. At the end there is a 2.5 minute “burn out” session where you are supposed to alternate pull-ups and push-ups but instead I just alternated between holding a forearm plank and side planks because I wasn’t sure I had the strength to do even one more push-up!

Saturday: 

In the morning I ran 10 miles in Zone 2 with Mike and Jeremy. We kept it easy and luckily although it was warm, it was still gloomy at the coast.

As soon as I was finished with the run, I ate a quick breakfast and headed over to Asia’s parents house to start setting up for her bridal shower! Asia’s wedding is black tie and the colors are gold, black and ‘sparkle’ so the theme of the shower followed suit. I decided to throw a cocktail themed showed so we held it from 3-6 p.m. and served cocktails and horderves. Everything went perfectly and it was a beautiful shower and incredibly fun!

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Sunday: 

After an incredibly busy and long week, I was so happy to get 11 solid hours of sleep on Saturday night. I woke up refreshed and feeling great on Sunday. I had 2 more workouts to get in to complete a week of P90X3 (P90X3 is actually 6 workouts a week but I am skipping the primarily cardio/leg based workout each week and replacing it with a speed workout or tempo run).

After coffee, I did P90X3 Triometrics and P90X3 Total Synergistics, back to back. Triometrics is a play on plyometrics – each move is 60 seconds long and is broken into 3 levels of intensity. There is a lot of squatting and lunging in this workout and I was sweating buckets by the end of the 30 minutes. Total Synergistics is a full body workout which rotates between an upper body move, lower body move and abdominal move, all of which really work the entire body but focus on that one part. I felt strong after these workouts!

Weekly Totals: 

  • Total Miles Ran: 25.1
  • Hours Strength: ~2.75
  • Swimming/Biking: 0
  • Total Time: ~7.75 hours

Big Goals & Big Plans

I’m getting settled back in reality after 4 days away in Cabo San Lucas Mexico to celebrate my good friend Lana’s marriage. It was a great long weekend and although the rain changed Lana and Jotham’s plan to be married on the sand, it was still a beautiful ceremony and a really, really fun party. The festivities began on Thursday and we headed home Sunday. Every time I get away for a weekend like this I come back more than ready to get back to my healthy lifestyle. It is pretty crazy how much better my body feels on fruits, veggies, whole foods, exercise and sleep than it does when it’s in party vacation mode. But it’s all about balance right? Time to get back to reality!

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With the Bride to Be at the Rehearsal Dinner

With the Bride to Be at the Rehearsal Dinner

The epic infinity pool!

The epic infinity pool!

So what is next? Well, I don’t think I’ve announced it on the blog yet, but I am officially signed up for the California International Marathon (and so is Mike!). The race is in Sacramento on December 7th and it is known to be a flat (some rollers and a very, very slight net decline) and fast (the cool December weather helps a lot) course. For these reasons as well as timing with training, I’ll be using it for my next Boston Qualifying Time attempt. Although the Phoenix Marathon knocked me on my ass and I honestly wasn’t sure I ever wanted to run another marathon again, let alone train to qualify for Boston again, I am not giving up on my goal to qualify. I know that barring injury (knock on wood!) I will be going into race day at CIM much more prepared and fit than I was going into Phoenix. I had really tried to squeeze a short training cycle after a period of downtime and then adding my ankle injury to the mix didn’t help me feel prepared to run my fastest marathon ever.

LET'S DO THIS!

LET’S DO THIS!

As of this week, there are 22 weeks until CIM. I have the Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon coming up in 3 weeks and I still want to pick up P90X3 where I left off and finish it out. So for the next 5 weeks I’ll be focusing mostly on P90X3 and run base building while also doing some swimming and biking. Although I would like to put a good effort out at the triathlon, it is only a sprint and I’m not sure I can really do much to better my time in the next few weeks (nor do I really care how I finish). So I don’t plan to commit a lot of time to swimming and biking between now and then. I do have the ACTIVEx triathlon camp the week before the triathlon but camp is shorter this year (a bike ride in the morning Saturday and a triple brick Saturday afternoon and then a trail run Sunday), so I will still be able to get in my P90X3 workouts earlier in the week. I also am going to modify P90X3 to take out the cardio based workout (Agility X or MMX, depending on the week), so there will only be five 30 minute P90X3 workouts to get in.

After P90X3 ends I’ll have a half week until I head out to Oiselle Team Running Camp (nicknamed #BirdCamp) for 5 days of blissful running in Bend Oregon. While there, we’re doing a 5k which will be a great test of my speed at the beginning of the training cycle. I want to sign up for a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving which will be about 2 1/2 weeks before race day and use that as both a speed workout and a test of my improved fitness. Once I return from Bird Camp, will officially kick of marathon training with 15 weeks to go. Honestly I’m considering my marathon training starting NOW but since I have a few other goals in the meantime, mid-August is when all focus will return to running. As always, I will cross train during marathon training but I’m not exactly sure what that’ll look like yet – probably 1 day on the bike again, at least two days of strength training (possibly Pilates) and added post-run core workouts.

Since I had so much success self-coaching myself for a PR at the Rock n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon using Brad Hudson’s book, “Run Faster,” I’m going to continue to self-coach using his book as a guide. Brad’s philosophy is that every athlete is different and therefore their training unique to them and no schedule should be set in stone. I’m going to use his Level 2 marathon training plan from his book as the bones for my training plan but I will definitely be modifying. For one thing, Brad is very volume focused and the training plan starts at 5 runs a week and ends up at 6. I plan to run no more than 5 days a week since I will also be cross training. He also has a lot of mid-week volume including runs of up to 12 miles mid-week, and I’ll be scaling those down a bit, just like I did for the half marathon. I don’t plan to run more than 55 miles a week as of now. If, however, I’m feeling very strong and feel like I can take on more mileage, I will add it in slowly and always listen to my body and not be afraid to skip a run. I did skip a few planned hard workouts during training for RnR SD because I was feeling a bit run down and ultimately I think skipping this workouts worked in my favor.

I will also be using the heart rate training that I learned while Maria coached me for all of my easy and long runs. I want to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 for all endurance focused runs. I’ve already noticed that my pace in Zone 2 has improved since Phoenix so I look forward to seeing how it progresses as I continue to use this method for the next 5 months. Brad Hudson’s plans all include a lot of running at or near race pace in order to get the runner very familiar with how race day will feel. A lot of my long runs will include portions at race pace but I want to wear the heart rate monitor to make sure that any portion not at race pace is nice and easy. Also, it’ll be key to keep my easy recovery runs in Zone 1 or 2 as well to ensure I have the energy to complete my tempo and speed workouts.

So that’ll take me through the end of the year! I seriously cannot believe it’s already mid-July. This year is flying by! 5 weeks of P90X3, Bird Camp and then only 3.5 months until the marathon. It’s definitely time to start getting serious about training and I must say I’m EXCITED!

How long do you give yourself to train for a marathon? Have you ever ran CIM? Any tips?

San Diego International Triathlon Race Report

With Friends at the Finish!

With Friends at the Finish!

I’ve been looking forward to the San Diego International Triathlon since I signed up earlier this spring. Last year I only did one triathlon and it was a sprint, so needless to say, I didn’t do much triathlon training at all last year. At one point I considered a half Ironman this year but in the end, an Olympic distance triathlon plus a sprint seemed like a good compromise. I’ve been out to the San Diego International Triathlon to cheer for Mike in 2011 and then again last year to cheer for our friend Stephen so I knew it was a beautiful course and a well-organized race (put on by Koz Events who also does the Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon - use discount code NICOLESB5 for $5 off this year’s race!).

I also knew that this is a competitive race, with several pros racing and the field is pretty stacked even on the age grouper side. I knew that this wouldn’t be a podium day for me (as I have been lucky enough in the past to score two podium spots at smaller races), but my goal for this race was to HAVE FUN and enjoy the day. Clearly, my focus has been on running this year as I am on a mission to qualify for the Boston marathon, but I have been incorporating 1-2 spins on the trainer a week into my running training. Either way, triathlon training was not my main focus going into this race but I was able to get in a few longer rides as well as several open water swims (not a single pool swim!), though I actually never swam more than 100 yards without stopping before race day. My one and only goal going into this race was to PR the 10k – and not just PR compared to the one and only other Olympic triathlon I’ve done in 2011 (which I ran the 10k portion in 52 minutes) but also PR the 10K road race I ran in December during marathon training. I ran that 10k in 47:06 on a much colder day, but it was after a 10 mile “warm-up” as part of my marathon training for the Phoenix Marathon. Although I did rest for about 2 hours between the 10 miler and the 10k, I figured with my recent increase in running speed I could potentially run faster after swimming 1,000 meters and biking 30K in much warmer weather.

In Transition Before the Race

In Transition Before the Race

Brooke Getting Ready to Dominate!

Brooke Getting Ready to Dominate!

The race is held downtown, in and around the beautiful San Diego harbor. It took place early on Sunday morning, with transition closing at 6:45 AM and the first wave starting just before that. Mike’s wave went off around 6:45 and mine at 7:12 so we arrived about an hour early to ensure we had enough time to rack our bikes and set up transition. As I said, it’s been a year since I’ve done a triathlon (or even a practice triathlon with a training group) but somehow I remembered everything I needed to pack and how to set everything up. No goggles left at home and I even remembered to bring (and apply) body glide to avoid terrible neck chaffing (and to put it around my ankles so my wetsuit would slide off faster!). I encouraged a lot of friends to sign up for this race and was happy to easily find my friends Brooke and Amy in transition. Although I was in my new (and SUPER fast) age group of 30-34 and they were both in my former age group, we all started together in the same wave and had the same racks in transition. I chatted with them as we set up and then got body marked, grabbed my wet suit and headed out of transition to try to catch Mike. I saw him just before he got in the water to warm-up and before I knew it, his wave had started and it was nearly time to start mine. I took a Gu about 25 minutes before my wave went off, did some dynamic stretches on the beach and then Amy and I got in the water together to warm-up before our wave started.

Swim Course

Swim Course

The swim is an in-water start in the harbor and there are NO waves. The buoys seemed really far away  but I’m pretty sure I always think that. I got a tiny bit nervous as we treaded water at the start of the race, but I’m pretty sure this was the least nervous I’ve ever been for a triathlon. Once the horn went off, we started swimming and it was surprisingly rough! The other women in my wave were apparently on a mission and I was getting elbowed, jostled and clawed at. It also took longer than expected for this to calm down.

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I’m one of those pink caps! Which one – we’ll never know!

My plan was to keep a pretty steady and easy effort throughout the swim because I haven’t even had a chance to swim the distance of the race and I didn’t want to wear myself out. I knew that putting a lot of effort and energy into the swim would probably only buy me a minute or so on my swim time but it would probably mean a slower transition and bike time due to the loss of energy. I swam at a moderate effort and even breast stroked a few times when my shoulders started to burn a bit. The buoys were to the right which was nice since I do not like to breath bilaterally. The swim seemed longer than I expected too (it always does) but eventually I made it to the final buoy and pulled a sharp left into transition. Asia and Jeremy (who were doing the running leg of a relay team!) were there cheering for me which was fun!

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Having fun! Goal accomplished!

I moved as quickly as I could in transition while also making sure I didn’t forget anything. I made my way to the bike mounting line, climbed on and away I went! Immediately I realized how slow I am on the bike! My legs were burning as I started riding and as I slowed down to ease off a bit, I got passed by countless people. This is expected as typically I’m closer to the front of the pack in the swim (although there were more bikes gone in transition than usual…). The course winds up a series of climbs until it reaches Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, which overlooks all of downtown. At the top of the hill there are two loops full of rolling hills (this is the start of the AFC Half Marathon which we typically run every August) and then you head back down the same way you came, roaring back into town down the same steep hills you earlier cursed (and may be cursing now if you aren’t comfortable descending!). Once I started up the first big climb I shifted my gears down and spun up the hill. I actually passed quite a few people at this point who either didn’t have a lower gear or didn’t know how to shift into a lower gear and they were mashing their pedals slowly up the hill (I’m sure I was still passed by more people than I passed).

Once I started on the first loop I pulled out my Gu and took it down with a massive swig of water. Then I focused on riding moderately hard and shifting correctly over the rolling hills on the two loops. Both ends of the loop had sharp U-turns and on the second U-turn a girl in front of me and a large group  of others got so scared going into the turn that she slowed way down and then UNCLIPPED and stepped down. There was almost a multi-bike pile up as we tried to avoid this unexpected obstacle. Someone gently told her “trust yourself girl!” and we all kept riding. The views from the first turnaround point were spectacular – basically we were overlooking all of the harbor, downtown and the Coronado bridge. It was breathtaking!

On the loop portion of the course I kept looking for my friends Brooke and Amy, who I should have seen two times each. I did see Brooke on my 2nd loop as she was heading back (she’s training for Ironman Arizona and has picked up cycling quickly!) but we were moving too quickly for me to shout hello. On my first loop I got passed a lot more than my second loop (probably because those that had passed me were already on their second loop…). I was having fun riding and not really caring about my placement in the field. I knew my cycling is weak right now and I didn’t want to beat myself up over it. I’m honestly not sure how to pace myself in a triathlon this distance but after looking at my results I’m starting to think I was probably not pushing as hard as I should have. I would say I was operating at closer to 70% and probably should have been at 80%.

The ride back into town was really fun and fast although at times it was awkward because I never wanted to be too close to another cyclist if I was in my aero bars and we were going fast (I’m sure I was going well over 30 mph at some points). At the bottom of the longest section of hill there is a quick left turn where they warn you to slow way down, but you also don’t realize there is another quick right. A woman slid out and crashed on that second right and luckily I didn’t hit her! You can never be too careful at these races. I was surprised by how many people were being so aggressive out on the course. Just before getting back into town I swallowed down the remainder of my second Gu which I had started eating at the end of the second loop.

I was happy to be back in T2 and knew it was time to run my heart out. Jeremy and Asia were still waiting in transition for their relay team members to come back so I got to see them which was nice! The women next to me in transition had racked their bikes over my stuff, so I pushed their bikes out of the way and put mine in its place.

The run course is 6.2 miles and is one way, with a loop on Harbor Island and finishing in the beautiful Embarcadero Park North which is in the center of downtown San Diego’s tourist attraction Seaport Village. As soon as I started to run I realized I was going to pass a lot of people. The combination of my slow bike and the makeup of the waves in front of me made this especially evident. I decided that in order to keep myself motivated and distracted, I’d count them. I passed 5 people within the first hundred yards. I did not wear a watch at all for this race so I had no idea what my pace was but I just tried to keep my breathing hard. I always base my triathlon effort on my breathing and I didn’t change anything for this race. The run was already beautiful as we ran along the boardwalk through various harbor-front parks. Before a mile, the Olympic distance triathletes split off to do a long loop on Harbor Island and the sprint triathletes went ahead. Once I got onto the harbor loop I kept my eye out for Brooke, knowing she’d be pretty far ahead of me (she was a collegiate runner so I knew she’d kill the run even more than she did the bike!). Not too far into the first portion of the loop I saw her and shouted encouragement at her. She looked very strong already and I knew she was doing great.

As soon as I passed the 1 mile marker, the fatigue that I had felt for the first part of the run faded and I felt good. I focused on passing people and by mile 3 had passed over 30 people. Someone told me I looked strong and that made me happy too! I took water at aid stations but didn’t drink too much of it. I poured it on my head to keep cool. Luckily the sun hadn’t come out in full force but it was still quite warm. Toward the end of the loop I saw two girls in my age group who weren’t too far behind one another. I picked up my pace to pass them both thinking they wouldn’t follow if I did so (ok so despite not really caring about my age group ranking I couldn’t help but care a little – it makes it more fun!). Once we exited Harbor Island we met up with the sprint triathletes who started after all Olympic distance athletes were on the course. This is when I REALLY started passing people. I’d pass 10 at a time! I was still feeling good although it was getting harder to maintain my pace. I just kept focusing on passing people. It really kept my mind off any pain!

The course really became beautiful at this point – the harbor and downtown were crystal clear. I love San Diego! Around this point I also saw more women in my age group, including one who was also passing other people. I passed her and kept on going! At one point the course veered off the boardwalk into the street downtown. I wasn’t sure where finish line was since the course had been changed. I passed another girl in my age group here and I felt like she might try to hang on to me. I picked up the pace but was feeling tired. I was looking forward to the finish!

I had only been passed by 2 people the ENTIRE course as we got back on the boardwalk just before Seaport Village. Around this point I also passed my 100th person! Soon I passed the 6 mile sign and before I knew it, the girl who was breathing down my neck made a break for it and passed me AND she was in my age group! I tried to hold on and then noticed another girl in my age group ahead but moving slower (later I realized she was in the Sprint – boo!). For a second I felt overwhelmed and knew I couldn’t catch the faster girl and almost let her go. But then we turned the final corner and I told myself that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least TRY to catch both of them. So I pulled some motivation from deep inside and fully sprinted toward the finish line. I passed the slower girl but couldn’t quite catch the faster girl. I threw up my arms as I crossed the finish line and then put my hands on my knees and felt like I was going to puke! Only then did I notice ANOTHER girl in my age group who had literally just finished ahead of me too and I hadn’t seen her. I was within seconds of moving up 2 spots!

I immediately found Mike and congratulated him on his own race. We found Brooke (who we later found out was 3rd in her age group!) and waited for Jeremy, Asia and Amy to finish. At one point a local reporter pulled Mike and I aside and we gave an interview for the 10 p.m. local news! We don’t have cable anymore and I didn’t see the segment on their website, so either we missed it or we got cut because a bunch of people got stuck on a ride at Sea World for 4 hours (true story) and stole our thunder.

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Later when results were posted I was disappointed to see that I missed my 10K PR by 16 seconds! I ran the 10k in 47:22, which is EXACTLY the same pace per mile as my recent half marathon PR (7:38/mile) – not too bad considering I just swam and biked! My bike split was disappointing and definitely reflected that I a) was very poorly trained and b) did not push hard enough, but I’m not that worried about it. I was happy with my swim and transition times which were pretty good considering how rusty I am at both!

Results:

  • Swim (1000 meters): 17:10
  • T1: 1:58 (one of the fastest in my age group!)
  • Bike (30K): 1:00:42
  • T2: 1:44
  • Run: 47:23
  • Age Group: 15/35

I highly recommend the San Diego International Triathlon for anyone who is looking to do a spectacular race on a beautiful course! It was well organized with a calm swim and great weather. I will definitely have this on my list for future years!

What I’ve Learned During 2 Years on a “Mostly Planted Based Diet”

I’ve eaten less meat in the last 2 years than I used to in one month.

Makings of a Veggie Curry

Makings of a Veggie Curry

It’s been just about 2 years since I switched to a mostly plant based diet. I’ve learned a lot on this journey – what exactly I’ll eat and not eat has changed over time and what I call myself has as well. I realized what works for me and what makes me happy and I’ve developed a balance and have come to accept that there is no one word to define my diet. I’ve had to explain my diet to people so many times that I’ve come up with a sort of a catch all summary:

I cook almost completely vegan, when dining out or at parties I’ll eat vegetarian, and about once a month I’ll eat a steak or a burger. 

It’s not simple. It’d be easier to just say “I’m a vegetarian” (and I often do when addressing strangers for simplicity sake) but it’s really not the truth. After explaining my diet to my uncle at a family party shortly after the switch, he told me “You’re a Flexitarian.” That’s pretty much the best label I’ve come up with so far.

The change happened in June of 2012 after watching the documentary, “Forks Over Knives,” which explains the health benefits of a vegan diet using scientific and anecdotal evidence, much of which is derived from Dr. Colin Campbell’s book “The China Study.” The documentary is quite convincing and by the end I was pretty sure that Mike and I HAD to change to a vegan diet because the typical Western diet was killing us (this is an exaggeration of course). Surprisingly, Mike was pretty convinced too and after additional research, we both decided that we’d make the switch after our upcoming Ironman  (no need to dramatically change our diet a week before the biggest race of our lives).

I remember our first vegan meal – it was the night we got back from 5 days in Couer D’Alene – after eating a lot of decadent foods post-race, we were excited for veggies. We headed to the Whole Foods salad bar and I told Mike that it’d be a good time to practice eating vegan (we planned to start the following Monday). We both loaded up at the hot food bar on various vegan dishes and headed home to eat. We were both really impressed and for the first time I thought that it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought to be vegan. I researched a bunch of vegan recipes and loaded up on groceries and starting that next Monday we were officially “vegan.”

Being a strict vegan didn’t last too long which was never really the plan anyway. The goal was to dramatically cut back on animal products and we have achieved that goal. We went from eating meat with every lunch and dinner to eating it about once or twice a month (Mike eats it a bit more often than me but usually in social situations, not when we eat out together). That is 60 times a month to 1. In the beginning I was much more strict about dairy and eggs, but eventually grew more lax on that as well. I never wanted to be that awkward person at a party who literally can’t eat anything so I started to make exceptions occasionally very early on. In addition to not wanting to make people feel bad when we couldn’t eat anything at their party or event, I also decided that I enjoy certain non-vegan dishes a little too much to eliminate them completely (pizza, eggs, desserts and the occasional filet mignon).

A third reason for not adhering to a strict vegan diet is that there is a very long list of things that are not vegan that you would think are (a lot of things are made with eggs or chicken broth that you may not realize and wine and honey are not technically vegan!), and it takes quite a bit of questioning, crafting, modifying and eliminating to make most food vegan at a restaurant. Basically, unless you’re eating at a vegan restaurant (which we are lucky to have a few in Encinitas) or somewhere that labels their menu items as such, you may eat a non-vegan meal without knowing it.

At the end of the day, I found that by abiding by a “mostly plant based diet” full of unprocessed and healthy grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts but also allowing myself the occasional pizza, omelet or cupcake, is what makes me the happiest.

Over the past two years, I’ve learned a lot about vegan and vegetarian nutrition. I put together a list of random things I’ve learned:

  1. People will never stop asking you “Where do you get your protein? ” (click link for a blog post I wrote on this topic). The best answer I’ve come up with for answering how I get my protein is to tell them that I eat a lot of lentils, beans, nuts, quinoa, and tempeh (fermented soy) and that a lot of vegetables have more protein than you think, such as broccoli.
  2. The average American thinks that we need a lot more protein than we actually do. Vegans tend to naturally get 10-15% of their calories from plant based protein simply by eating a well rounded diet, which is more than enough to fuel the body, even if you are an athlete.
  3. When dining out as a vegetarian, it is always wise to ask if there is a vegetarian menu available if you are having problems finding something you can eat on the regular menu. Oftentimes there is or the chef will be willing to make you something special (in Vegas I had a special veggie burrito made for me at a Mexican restaurant).
  4. When ordering things like soups and risottos, I’ve learned to ask if they are cooked with chicken broth (if you’re a flexitarian like me, things like this don’t matter quite as much but I usually still ask).
  5. It is usually best to leave the reason for being vegan/vegetarian to “health reasons” than to launch into a diatribe about how meat and dairy are likely the cause of nearly all Western disease.
  6. People are very sensitive about their diets, even if they don’t think much about what they put in their bodies, so it’s best not to give nutrition advice without being asked.
  7. Vegan does not always mean healthy. There are plenty of sugar-laden and/or heavily processed vegan foods that should not be considered health foods.
  8. I’ve expanded my palate and learned to love a lot of new foods over the last two years – in particular, I cook often with fresh ginger, tempeh, coconut oil, chia seeds, pepitas,  coriander, cumin & curry powder, vinegar, spaghetti squash, kale, and lentils.
  9. My vegan grocery staples (in addition to the above) have become: avocados, almonds, sweet potatoes, almond milk, spinach, red bell peppers, broccoli, cilantro, quinoa, brown rice, carrots, hummus, fruit, peanut butter, oatmeal, light coconut milk (for curries).

    Our favorite vegan meal - lentil spinach cashew curry. I always serve over brown rice and with broccoli (not pictured).

    Our favorite vegan meal – lentil spinach cashew curry. I always serve over brown rice and with broccoli (not pictured).

  10. When I don’t eat vegan, my body doesn’t feel as good (to be fair when I don’t eat vegan it is usually an indulgent meal high in sugar and/or butter). Mike and I have also noticed we get a lot fewer colds and general illnesses (and the times we have gotten colds have been in high stress times when we aren’t sticking to our diets as strictly).
  11. I’ve surprised a lot of people by sticking with this diet for 2 years. When I see friends who I don’t see regularly, they usually still ask if I still won’t eat meat.
  12. I eat eggs when I dine out for breakfast on weekends (after quickily realizing that there are extremely limited vegan options at nearly all breakfast restaurants) and lately we have been buying organic eggs to use at home as well. I love eggs and since they make up a relatively low percentage of my total calories per week, I don’t worry too much about the fact that they are animal based protein.
  13. I’ve figured out that this diet works for me and luckily, I rarely crave or want meat. When I’m really craving it, I do let myself have it and it doesn’t upset my stomach.

A vegan or mostly vegetarian or flexitarian or plant-based or WHATEVER isn’t for everyone. I think no matter what you follow – gluten free, paleo, vegan, pescatarian, or if you don’t have a label for what you eat, we can all agree that a diet high in fruits and vegetables leads to healthier body. For me, a plant based diet guarantees that I get 7-10 or more servings of fruits and veggies a day. It also makes me feel my best and I truly believe, perform better athletically and avoid illness. If it also helps prevent future disease, that will be even better. I’m not sure I’ll be flexitarian forever, but I do hope that I incorporate what I’ve learned over the last two years into my dietary choices for a lifetime.

Have you ever tried a vegan or vegetarian diet? What have you learned in the process? 

Spring Training Week 13

I think I did the math right and last week was Week 11. Either way, I’m continuing with the weekly recaps because they keep me motivated, even if it’s technically no longer Spring and my posts are ineptly named. Sometimes I think about what I’ll say in these recaps if I skip a workout or give up on a goal I have made, so no matter what, my readers are keeping me accountable!

Week 13 was pretty good – it was basically the final week before a short taper for the San Diego International Triathlon. It was also the FIRST time I’ve ever done 3 open water swims in one week. After my shark fears last Monday, that’s pretty good! Swimming and biking we were the main focus on the week (4 times on the bike!) with a couple of group strength workouts spinkled in and nearly no running. I actually realized since the half marathon on June 1, I haven’t run much. But, that is fine – a little break from running is needed right now.

Here’s how the week went down:

Monday:

AM: Club Pilates Class. OMG. I have been away from Club Pilates for too long. My planking is a joke – there is no way I could hold a 5 minute plank again right now. It’s pretty incredible how quickly you lose strength and flexibility – at one point these reformer pilates classes were getting too easy for me and now it kicks my ass! I’m looking forward to getting that strength back.

PM: After work my friend Jeremy and I headed out to Moonlight Beach for a 25 minute open water swim - that was enough for me after getting freaked out by lurking creatures!

 Tuesday:

PM: After work I got on the trainer for 60 minutes of spinning in Zone 2 (I got a new battery for my HR monitor and it works again!) and then immediately changed into my running clothes and ran out the door. I felt good and decided to push it hard – I ran 2 miles at just under a 7:30 min/mile average. It felt great! I wish I ran that fast all the time – I felt like I was flying!

Wednesday:

AM: I took my bike outside for a ride in the morning. I wanted to add some tempo work to it so after a 10 minute warm-up I did 3 x 10 minutes @ tempo pace with about 5 minutes of recovery between. I wasn’t exact on my intervals or recovery since i was outside and had to stop at lights a few times and it wasn’t always a good place to turn around or go fast. Either way, it was a good workout and I got in a little over 15 miles.

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PM: I met up with Mike’s coworkers for a 60 minute ACTIVEx swim workout in Fletcher Cove (the location of the Solana Beach Triathlon that we’ll all be racing in July). We swam but mostly practiced things like entering the water, dolphin diving, catching waves and exiting the water. At one point we did 5 intervals of sprinting into the water, dolphin diving past the waves, swimming a few strokes, and then returning back and running back to shore. It was exhausting! At the end we sprinted up the massive hill that takes you from the swim to transition at the Solana Beach Triathlon. It was a fun workout!

 Thursday:

AM: I met up with Asia for an easy 4.5 mile run. Both of us had heavy legs so we took it nice and slow. Afterward I did a few minutes of planking – I was inspired by my Pilates class!

PM: I headed back to Dailey Method for the Dailey Interval class I took last week. It wasn’t quite as hard this week since I was a little better prepared but I was still sore the next day!

 Friday

PM: 60 minutes on the trainer, totally enthralled in Orange is the New Black (I was just about to wrap up Season 1 at this point)

Saturday

ACTIVEx Group

ACTIVEx Group

1 hour group swim with ACTIVEx. We were planning to work on entering and exiting the water and body surfing, etc but there were SO MANY STING RAYS that we ended up donig swimming drills. WE were in the water for over and hour and my feet didnt touch the floor more than twice! I was stung by a sting ray in Costa Rica and it was NOT fun so I’m extra careful! So in addition to probably 30-40 minutes of swimming, I treaded water for another 20-30!

Rocking Oiselle Post Swim

Rocking Oiselle Post Swim

That afternoon I had intentions of getting in another workout but decided against it. Mike and I ended up heading up to Carlsbad for happy hour and then pizza at one of our favorite places for Date Night.

Sunday

Dennis Quaid in Breaking Away

Dennis Quaid in Breaking Away

Mike and I slept in (10 hour of sleep! woohoo!) and then got in 1 hour on the trainer (Zone 2 with some Zone 3-4 at the end- we were finishing a movie we started a while ago called Breaking Away which was released in 1979 and is about a small town kid who is obsessed with the Italian cycling team. He and his friends have a rivarly with the rich kids from the local university which ends in an exciting bike race. I couldn’t help getting excited during the final race scene and started biking my heart out right along with them! I highly recommend this movie – and bonus becuase there is a very young and very cute Dennis Quaid in it! After googling it apparently it has won an Oscar as well!).

NEW and AMAZING Oiselle hail mary mesh tank!

NEW and AMAZING Oiselle hail mary mesh tank!

After the exciting end of the movie, we put on our running shoes for a 4.5 mile run. I wore my heart rate monitor and we kept it in Zone 2. When we got back I realized that it was one of the fastest Zone 2 runs I’ve done! I haven’t beent racking it in a while but it was a faster pace than most of my Zone 2 runs were when I was training with Maria! I’m definitely going to keep going with the heart rate training.

Weekly Training Totals:

  • Miles Run: 11
  • Hours Biked: ~4
  • Hours of Swimming: 2.5
  • Hours Strength Training: 1 hour 40 min
  • Total Time: ~9 hours 45 minutes

How often do you do open water swims while training for triathlon? Have you seen Breaking Away? Do you have any inspiring triathlon or running movies to recommend? 

Things I’m Loving Right Now

I had so much fun and great feedback from posting a blog post like this last month, that I decided to make it a regular thing!

Dailey Interval

dailey method carlsbad dailey interval

Although I really enjoyed P90X3, there is something about group classes that I just loved. I really missed Pilates and also Dailey Method! The last two Thursdays I’ve taken “Dailey Interval” at The Dailey Method Carlsbad which is a more cardio-based strength adaptation of the traditional barre class. They’ve changed the routine a bit since I first treid this class (which is typical of TDM – they are always adapting and keeping things interesting).

During last week’s class I was so challenged that at one point I was shaking so much I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through class! Although the class uses a wide variety of squats and lunges to keep the heart rate up, there is also plenty of planking and push-ups to work the upper body as well. Unlike the traditional TDM classes where there is focus on one body part per segment, Dailey Interval works several body parts at once, blasting fat and toning muscle at the same time. Between interval sets, there are “recovery” sets, which incorporate a lot of yoga moves. I put recovery in quotes because these moves don’t really feel like recovery. By the end of the 45 minute class, I’m sweaty and exhausted! The day after class both weeks I was super sore in my quads, glutes, back, shoulders AND abs.

TV Cleanse

You didn’t read wrong. We went without TV for a full month (using my ipad to watch Orange if the New Black while on the trainer doesn’t count) and it was actually not as hard as I thought. Mike has been encouraging us to do a “TV detox” for over a year now and once our TV broke (or so we thought) we decided to go for it. Mike told me I owed him since I make him do things like alcohol and sugar detoxes and I couldn’t argue with that one! We’ve been so busy over the last month that it wasn’t too hard to avoid. Instead, I’ve been reading a lot more, taking more walks with Mike and we even had a game night!

Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwiches

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After getting VERY sick of my usual 3 vegan lunches in rotation, I searched high and low on Pinterest for something new and discovered an amazingly tasty sandwich recipe. Here’s the recipe: Mash 1 ripe avocado in a bowl. Drain and rinse one can of organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and mix into the avocado mash. Squeeze half a lime into the mix and sprinkle with salt and ground coriander (to taste). Optionally, cut up red onion and mix it up!  It’s simple enough to make in the morning and I serve it between two slices of bread with slices of tomato and cucumber and spinach. It makes enough for 3 full size sandwiches – I usually put very large portions on 1 sandwich each for Mike and I and then bring the remaining mix to work for an afternoon snack.

The Neighbors

source: IMDB.com

source: IMDB.com

We saw this movie (which is about a young couple with a baby who moves in to a new house just as a rowdy fraternity moves in next store and a battle of territory ensues) last Friday night on a double date with Asia and Jeremy and I must say I haven’t laughed so hard in a movie in a long time. I haven’t seen very many good comedies in the last few years but this was great. The entertainment factor went way up by the fact that I can relate to both sides of the battle- as a former party girl (but seriously never partied as hard as these guys do in the movie) and a now “bed before 10 p.m., maybe 11 p.m. on the weekends” married person (with plenty of friends with babies), I was amused on a few different levels.

Miranda Lambert’s new album, Platinum

Miranda Lambert at CMA Fest

Miranda Lambert at CMA Fest

If you’re a country fan, give it a try! This is my 4th Miranda album and a great one. I especially love the song “Pricilla” where she compares her marriage with attention hog Blake Shelton to Pricilla and Elvis’.

What are you into right now? 

Open Water Swim Fears

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach

Last night after my plans to swim with Mike at his company pool were canceled, I asked Jeremy if he’d like to do an open water swim at the beach right near our houses (Asia and Jeremy now live just a block away from us) instead. During my run with Asia on Sunday she had mentioned that Jeremy wanted to go swimming in Moonlight Beach so I figured he’d be up for a Monday evening swim. Luckily he was. Once I got home I suited up, slapped on some body glide (learned a valuable lesson last Wednesday on my first open water swim in the form of a nasty rash on my neck!) and literally walked out my front door. Despite living in the tiniest 2 bedroom apartment in Encinitas, one of the major perks of said apartment is that it is literally steps from the ocean. The sun was shining, it was over 70 degrees and I knew the water would be warm. As soon as I saw Jeremy I said “I wonder why we never did this during Ironman training!?” and we couldn’t come up with a good reason for why not.

We briefly talked about how long/far we’d swim. I was swearing my fancy Garmin that can track swim distance and thinking back to my Ironman training days, I said “2000 yards?!” He looked at me incredulously and admitted when he swam yesterday he swam out to the buoy, did one lap and came back (his first swim in many months as well). I then thought back to the previous Wednesday’s swim – I didn’t wear a watch but probably wasn’t in the water longer than 20 minutes. I told him I at least wanted to swim 1,000 meters since that was how long the swim at my upcoming triathlon is. We decided to play it by ear.

There are two buoys in Moonlight Beach and you rarely see swimmers out there. I had never swam to them and from the beach they looked pretty close. We waded in the water and navigated the waves. The waves were fairly large for Encinitas – not huge but big enough to create some large swells even after we got past the break. We swam for what seemed like quite a while before reaching the buoy. I looked at my watch. Barely 200 yards. I looked back at the beach. It seemed far away. I looked at the next buoy – also seemed far. I was still distracted by all of this when we made our way to the buoy, which was about 50 or so yards away, depending on how straight you swam (when we first started to swim, Jeremy pulled on my leg and told me I was swimming out to sea rather than the buoy….oops). We turned around, headed back and then made our way back. 1 loop down. We started the next loop and all of a sudden a big, scary thought popped in my mind:

SHARKS!!!

During ever swim in the open ocean (as compared to a bay – no fears there other than ending up with sewage on my face), the thought of sharks enters my mind. Usually, it’s a fleeting thought and doesn’t really scare me. Usually, however, I do open water swims with a fairly large group. By the law of numbers, I figure I’m not likely to be eaten alive by Jaws’ cousin. However, with just Jeremy and I out there, my chances of being dinner were higher if he so happened to come across us.

Jeremy was swimming so that he kept me to his right so he could watch me and pace off me (he is very nice!) so on the swims north, he would be on the “outside” of the ocean – i.e. closer to Jaws. On the way back, I’d be on the outside. This is when I’d get especially scared. I literally couldn’t’ keep the thought of the sharks out of my head. At one point I ran into some seaweed and immediately popped my head up in fear. JAWS? No, seaweed. I kept looking to my left and right, waiting for the shark to come out of nowhere. At one point I had the realization that he could actually come at me from beneath me! I couldn’t see the ocean floor so it was a real possibility. My face could get eaten off before I had a chance to react.

Jeremy, Me & Asia at the Dave Martin Memorial Swim in 2012

Jeremy, Me & Asia at the Dave Martin Memorial Swim in 2012

If you are to google, “shark attacks in San Diego” the first result is a Wikipedia list of unprovoked shark attacks in the United States. The list is short. On it, however, is Dave Martin, who was killed while training for a triathlon with a group of 8 fellow swimmers from the San Diego Triathlon Club on April 25th 2008. He was attacked by a Great White just a couple miles from where I was swimming last night, in Solana Beach. Since that attack, there have only been 5 other fatal shark attacks in the US, two of which were in Santa Barbara County. Basically, my chances of being hit and killed by a car during a bike ride (ok this scares me too!) are 10000x higher than me being attacked by a shark. Yet, for some reason I couldn’t get the shark out of my head last night.

I grew up in a beach town and have a lot of experience in the ocean. It has never scared me and I consider myself a strong swimmer. The biggest fears I’ve had related to the swim portion of the triathlon are always related to getting clobbered and/or swam over by large men at the Ironman mass start. So for me, these fears were new. I know that a lot of people have fears of open water for reasons other than being eaten alive – fears of strong currents and drowning are also serious and significant fears.

However, all of these fears can be conquered. ACTIVE.com has a great article (see here) which reviews the 4 biggest open water fears and how to overcome them. As for the fear of lurking creatures, the best tip I found and will try to implement is “remember YOU are the lurking creature.” When you put it into perspective that you are probably scaring off way more fish that you do not plan to actually harm than the one BIG and IMAGINARY fish you are scared of, it helps reduce anxiety. Another useful tip is to focus on something else during the swim –such as counting strokes or focusing on a strong pull, rather than letting your mind wander into the unknown.

In the end, I pushed past my fears and stayed in the water for about 25 minutes. I’m not sure I’ve quite conquered them yet, but last night’s swim and today’s reflection (and research) on the unlikeliness of a shark attack happening have helped get me in the right direction.

What is your biggest fear when it comes to open water swimming?

Spring Training Week # ???

I’ve lost track at this point of what week we’re on. Originally when I started the Spring Training weekly recaps they were intended to end with the San Diego International Triathlon on June 29, which meant most of the training would be in the spring. But these days it feels like summer! Long days, plenty of sunshine (where is the San Diego June gloom!?) and warm temperatures. It’s safe to say summer is here, whether or not the calendar says it is quite yet.

Getting friendly with my bike this week

Getting friendly with my bike this week

With that said, I’m back into training mode this week. I missed two weekly recaps but I highly doubt anyone has any interest reading about my taper for the RnR Half or my recovery week, which basically consisted of sleeping in and then going to Nashville (I did one 45 minute spin on the trainer and that was all the working out I did outside of walking all week). So here we are, ready to recap Spring  Summer Training Week 12, the week when I became a triathlete again.

Monday: 

Travel day home from Nashville and rest day. I was still sick anyway (I had a cold in Nashville – seems to always happen when you finally let you guard down on vacation doesn’t it?).

Tuesday: 

After work I ran a very slow 4.5 miles with Asia. I didn’t wear my Garmin and we chatted and ran “easy” but it still felt hard. First runs back post race are never fun but at least I had great company! We now officially live 1 block away from each other (Asia and Jeremy just moved – they used to live 1/2 mile down the street) so we got to meet at the street corner between us for the first time!

Wednesday:

AM: I convinced Jeremy (who just signed up for Solana Beach Sprint) to head out with me in the morning for a 1 hour ride down the coast. It was nice to have the company! The coast is normally hectic to ride but at 6 a.m. the lights are all green and there are practically no cars or runners to compete with.

PM: My first SWIM in almost a year (unless you count my aqua jogging experience during my ankle sprain – I did swim a little then to dull the monotony of jogging in a pool). I joined a group of Mike’s coworkers for a swim in Mission Bay. My wet suit was so freaking tight from being dry for so long I got major neck chaffing (rookie mistake), but overall it felt pretty good to be in the water. I have no idea how far or even how long I swam – but I was out there for about a half hour. My shoulders were sore the next day!

Thursday: 

AM: 4.5 mile easy run with Asia.

PM: 45 minute “Dailey Interval” class at The Dailey Method Carlsbad. My friend Allison is an instructor and I came in for this class – it’s the first time I’ve been at TDM in a while and the interval class they are offering has gotten crazy hard. I haven’t strength trained in nearly 3 weeks and my legs were tired from my sudden comeback to running and cycling. This class kicked my butt!!! I was super sweaty and my legs were shaking. There was a ton of planking (no way I could do that 5 minute plank any more – my planking skills have gone down the drain without Pilates!) and it seemed like an endless number of lunges and squats. Of course, I loved it!

Friday: 

Rest day. I knew I’d be sore from TDM and needed to sleep in. My entire body was sore – shoulders, back, abs, glutes, inner thighs, quads and hamstrings. I was walking weird – always a good sign of a good workout!

Saturday: 

I joined my friend Brooke (who is training for her first Ironman!) for a 40 mile bike ride on one of my old favorite routes. The route is pretty hilly (about 3,000 feet of climbing) and we didn’t set any land speed records – we talked and enjoyed ourselves for most of the ride. However, I compared my average pace to the last time I rode this route with Brooke about 2 months ago and my average speed was about 0.7 mph faster – that’s a pretty big improvement (also saw during Ironman taper I did the route a whole 1 mph faster on average than this time)! While I certainly don’t think I have time to get near my old bike fitness in time for the race in 2 weeks, I’m hoping this was a good sign it won’t be a totally terrible showing.

Sunday: 

A fellow Oiselle teammate is in town visiting her dad who lives in Carlsbad and she contacted me out of the blue to see if I wanted to run with her. I’ve never met her, don’t read her blog (she doest have one!) but I do follow her on Twitter. Despite her being a virtual stranger, of course I was game to meet a fellow Oiselle Bird and she met up with Asia and I on Sunday morning for our 8.5 mile run. It was fun getting to know Amanda and I was happy to hear she will also be at Oiselle’s running camp in August. Today was just more proof as to why I love Oiselle so much!

Fellow Oiselle Team Bird and Me!

Fellow Oiselle Team Bird and Me!

After the run, Mike got home from his morning surfing session and we both got on the trainer for a 1 hour spin. I really wanted to make cycling a priority this week and since I didn’t get much riding in during the week, I wanted to add this in on the weekend. I kept the effort pretty low but overall felt good.

FRIENDS!!! The best part of this week!

FRIENDS!!! The best part of this week!

The best part of this week – ALL of my workouts were with friends! Now that is the best way to train!

Weekly Totals: 

  • Miles Run: 17.5
  • Hours Biked: ~5 (including stops)
  • Minutes of Swimming: 30
  • Minutes of Strength Training: 45
  • Total Time: 9 hours

Do you prefer to train alone, with 1 friend or with a group?