What A Triathlete Does In Vegas

21 10 2015

Last week, I spent 4 days in Las Vegas for a conference. I’m three weeks out from Challenge Florida, and though my training generally hasn’t been as stellar as I would have liked, I didn’t want to totally throw the race away by not doing anything while out in Sin City. So, I did what any normal triathlete would do, and rented a bike (**sarcasm**). Yes, you heard that right, I rented a BMC road bike with 105 components and walked my fully-geared up self out of the casino I was staying at at 6:30 in the morning to go for a bike ride. Totally. Normal.

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(In case you were wondering, yes, there were people gambling at 6:30 in the morning.)

Let me back up a second. One of my colleagues who was also going to be at the conference is a bad a$$ and is a semi-professional cyclocross racer. She races in Belgium representing the US. Yeah, she’s legit. Anyhow, Corey had a race coming up and was planning to rent a bike to get some saddle time in while in Vegas. Though quite scared about being royally dropped in the desert, I asked if I could tag along. Thankfully, she had an easy ride scheduled for Friday so I was confident I could hang. I called up Bike Blast Las Vegas, where she was renting from, and reserved my bike.

Quick review of Bike Blast: When I tried calling from home on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a bit of difficulty getting a hold of someone there. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get a bike and would be stuck at the hotel gym. Thankfully, I was able to talk to Matt on Wednesday afternoon when I arrived in Vegas to secure my bike. The great thing about this company is that they have an option to deliver the bike to the hotel where you’re staying. And, it’s $69/day, which is, in my opinion, a great deal. Sign me up! They dropped our bikes off the afternoon before we planned to use them, and they helped me put on my pedals because I didn’t have the right sized allen wrench. Whoops. You don’t need to bring your own though- they have clipless and regular pedal options that come as part of the standard rental! The rental also included a helmet if you needed it, water bottles, and a local bike map. And, when you’re all done, they come pick up the bike! How awesome is that!? I would totally rent from these guys again- just make sure you call often and early to make sure you get your bike!

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On Friday morning, we met up at 6:30 to attempt a ride Corey found online from someone who at attended InterBike. We got a little lost at first, but then rode down the strip for a bit before turning off and then heading towards the mountains. Of course I had to grab a selfie while we were stopped at a traffic light:

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Once we were out of the craziness of the strip, we found a nice bike lane and made our way to a quieter part of town. We rode out about 45-50 minutes before turning around. Unfortunately, it started raining on the ride home. The way home was all downhill, so there were a few times where I was a little nervous about stopping. Thankfully, we weren’t going to fast, and we made it safely back to the hotel.

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I didn’t realize how dirty I had gotten from riding in the rain- I got in the shower with all my gear on in order to wash my kit!

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I debated whether or not I was going to keep the bike another day because Corey was planning a more intense ride on Saturday. I was definitely scared. But, I absolutely loved riding in a new place and I really wanted to make it out to the mountains to do a little climbing. So, I called up Bike Blast and thankfully I was able to keep the bike another day. Ready or not, my legs would be up for a beating tomorrow!

On Saturday, we met up at the same time and now that we knew exactly where we were going, we got to the bike lane about 15 minutes sooner than we had the day before. Corey asked if I would rather ride out to the mountains at tempo/endurance pace, or if I would rather do some intervals when we got to the quite streets. Uh, mountains please! So, I got on her wheel and we headed out. Thankfully, our pace wasn’t anything too crazy. I was riding hard, but I wasn’t struggling to hang on. Phew.

We ended up riding out to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor’s center, which happened to be an entirely uphill ride. I kept looking down at my watch and wondering why the pace we were riding felt so hard. Oh, it was because we were slowly climbing the entire way.

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 (elevation listed in meters)

It was cool to be out there in the valley, with mountains rising up all around. It was pretty out there; a welcomed change from the trail along the highway where I normally ride.

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About a mile and a half from the visitor’s center, the sky opened up and it started raining pretty hard. We booked it to the shelter of the entrance to the canyon, where we waited a few minutes for a break in the rain. The staff checking in cars warned us that we shouldn’t go up the mountain, since it was pretty muddy/flooded thanks to the rain. You don’t have to tell me twice!

When the rain slowed we decided to head back to the hotel. The way back was great! I was a bit cautious because of the wet roads, but we could pretty much soft pedal the entire way home (see elevation chart above). I would love to do this ride again when it’s dry out and see how fast we could actually make it back.

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#teamSOAS in the house!

When it was all said and done, we had ridden 60.6 km in 2:20. Not super speedy, but I’ll take it!

Later in the afternoon, the nice folks from Bike Blast came to pick up the bike as scheduled. I’m so glad I opted to rent a bike- I had a blast checking out new scenery and riding in a state I’ll likely not ride in again (however, there’s always Silverman…). It was fun to ride with a colleague and talk about things other than work. I definitely want to ride with her again- I’m sure I’ll get my legs torn off- but I would love the challenge! I didn’t let the time away from home put a damper on my training, so let’s do this Challenge Florida! I’ll see you soon!





Consistently Inconsistent

8 07 2015

You may have noticed that there has been a severe lack of run, bike, or swim posts lately. Yeah, that’s because there hasn’t been a lot of that going on around here. I’ll be really good, and for a few days in a row I’ll have some semblance of a workout routine. But then, life happens and I push off workouts because triathlon just hasn’t been a priority to me this season. I’ve been consistently inconsistent.

The one thing that really benefited me last year was my consisteny. I made nearly all my workouts despite weather or travel or other obligations. I had a big fat scary goal (which also happened to cost a good chunk of change) and I made training my priority so that I could accomplish that goal. Sure, I did miss out on some time with friends. And I spent a lot of time sore or and sleepy. But, I was in the best shape of my life and I crossed the finish line of my Ironman in less than 12 hours. I’m darn proud of that.

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This year, training has taken a back seat to other things. I’m hanging out with the friends I said “no” to more times than I wish to count last year. I’m wearing a lot more “real” clothing and far less spandex. I’m enjoying sleeping in on the weekend and checking out fun events in town, even if it means I’m staying up until 1am. It’s quite easy to fill the time that was spent on a saddle, in the water, or pounding pavement last season.

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I got out my calendar last night and realized that the one race I had actually signed up for this season, Challenge Florida, is 4 months away. That may seem like a ways off, but for a 70.3, NOW is the time to put in the work, especially when you haven’t been doing much of anything in the past 4 (more like 6) months.

A few weeks ago I was casually talking about the race with my friends and flippantly said, “I could always drop to the Olympic” as though I didn’t need to train seriously for that. (Newsflash Steph- you still need to train for an Olympic. It will HURT if you don’t train and be really ugly. Not the smartest idea.) Well, last night I told myself that no, I was not going to drop down in distance (only for injury!) – that I wanted to do the entire 70.3. I want redemption on this race.

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I did the race back in 2013, and though I was happy with my successful completion of my first half ironman, I now knew what to expect. I liked this distance, and wanted to give it another go. I tried to put together another good race at the Gator Half in 2014, but unfortunately I got a flat and the run was short! I still did well, but I knew that I wasn’t done with this distance.

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So, it’s time to get back out there and do the work. I know I’m going to need to make some sacrifices, but I hope to have a good balance of training and life. I’m a little worried because I know I’m so far behind where I would like to be right now. I wonder if the fitness level I had last season is even achievable again in a short amount of time. But, one thing’s for sure, I WANT to get back out there and compete in another 70.3. I want to put together a solid race. And the only way to do that is to stop being consistently inconsistent, and just be consistent.

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Ironman Cozumel – The Bike

17 12 2014

As I ran out of T1 I spotted my SOAS teammate Amanda cheering for me. It was so awesome to have some SOAS support out there! I mounted my bike and headed out of Chakanaab Park.

Heading out of T1 I spotted Felipe, and the first thing I yelled was, “How far ahead is she?” Yes, my competitive nature was talking for me.

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Felipe was standing just before our first right turn, and Chris, Charity and Bill were are stationed at the turn. They were screaming and yelling for me (apparently), but I was completely oblivious.

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The bike course is three loops around the island. Laps 1 and 2 are 63km and then the last lap is 54km. You turn right out of the park, heading south for about 19km. At Punta Sur (the south point), you head back up the east side of the island for about 15km. Then, you make a left at Mezcalitos, and that road takes you all the way back in to town, where you’ll make a few turns before getting back on the road heading south.

ciclismoAs I headed south out of Chakanaab, I kept reminding myself of Maria’s advice: Just stay in the present. Soak it all in- you only get your first once. This part of my day was about the bike. Sure, I need to make sure I don’t kill myself on the bike so I have legs to run, but I need to enjoy this ride.

And so I did. I looked down at my computer and saw speeds I was happy with for the most part, but they were dipping a little lower than I would have liked this early in the race. (Reason number 1 I wish I had a power meter.) I chalked it up to just getting my legs warmed up. And then I got to Punta Sur.

Wind. Wind. Wind. Directly in my face. And, a slight incline that I wasn’t expecting. (For those folks who have done this race, don’t laugh. This was a small hill for this Florida girl!) The combination of the wind and the incline made me stand up to get to the top. Sheesh. How pathetic is this?

I stayed positive as I kept moving back up the island. Ok, I can do this. The wind was a cross head (more head than cross though) and I tried to keep implementing Jess/Felipe’s advice for riding in cross winds- keep the gear heavy, relax, and don’t forget to eat. (Btw, that was probably the best and most useful advice I received all training cycle!). I was a little disappointed because all the men from the wave behind me were already passing me. I didn’t seem to be gaining on anyone! At least I was surrounded by such beauty?

I passed the time by trying to remember which bar/landmark would be next, and I was certainly relieved when I made that left turn at Mezcalitos.

It was great to finally get out of the wind, but as I looked down at my speed, I was still not super happy with my numbers. (Reason number 2 I want a power meter. Oh wait, this is the same as reason 1.) And then I realized that yes, I was out of the head wind, but now I was back in a cross wind, this time a cross-tail. Well, let’s try to make the best of this! This road actually was where we started to see locals out in the street cheering for us. There was one part of the road where there were streetlights in the median- that was my signal that we were getting closer to town and the crowds would get even better.

The first time I rode through town I got a little teary eyed again. The crowds were amazing! Locals were blaring music. Kids were yelling “Si se puede” and shaking water bottles full of rocks. This was incredible!

Right as I got downtown, I spotted Courtney! I had finally caught up! I said hi, and I think I congratulated her on her swim, and then kept going. In retrospect, I wish I had chatted a little more, but I was feeling so energized by the crowds, I kept going.

Turn, turn, turn, right past T2 (gah!) and back on to the road heading south. At this turn, there was a band playing and SO MANY people. I had a huge smile on my face. I spotted Felipe (not sure if I yelled anything to him) and waved to the crowd. This is what it’s all about!

However, things get lonely on this ride pretty quickly. On the ride south, you have pockets of fans as you pass the different resorts, but they’re nothing compared to the vibe you get downtown. As I headed south, I realized that I had a bit more of a tailwind than I did on the first loop. This meant that the wind was going to be worse on the other side of the island too. Great.

At this point, I was just about out of Osmo. I had gone through my 16 oz bladder and almost all of my two 24 oz bottles. AND I had been grabbing water at each of the aid stations to stay hydrated- as it was getting warm. I just needed to make it to special needs, which was at 97km, where I had two frozen bottles of Osmo.

I kept eating and drinking, but I started to get a headache, so I downed an electrolyte tab. I took 2 or 3 more over the course of the ride. Nutrition is SO important in Ironman, and I repeated to myself “Sip, sip. Nibble, nibble,” something I took away from a talk with Stacy Sims. Don’t stop eating and drinking!

When I made that dreaded turn at Punta Sur, BAM. WIND. It was worse. I watched my speed drop drastically, (Powermeter, anyone?) and tried so hard not to get discouraged. I did some mental math in my head to figure out if I would still make my goal of 6:00, and I thought it might still be possible, but I wasn’t entirely sure if my computer was reading properly- by the time I got to special needs, I think my computer read 100km. Hmmm…

I arrived in special needs, and was SO happy to have Osmo again (am I addicted??). As I unwrapped it from the bag and paper towels, I head on the radio “197”. Courtney was right behind me! She asked how I was doing, and I remember telling her that this was a hard bike ride. I’m a terrible friend, because I don’t think that I asked her about how she was feeling!

Apparently I’m a slow poke because we pulled out of there together. I wish I had ridden with her for a little- I think we both could have used the mental boost, but I just wanted to be done with the bike, so the faster I went, the faster I would be done.

Mezcalitos couldn’t come soon enough. I made that left turn and breathed a sigh of relief yet again. However, the relief was minimal, and as I looked at my computer again, I let my 6:00 goal go. At this point, it was probably not going to happen, and you know what, that was OK. Again, be in the moment. Enjoy the ride. This is my first, and my only first, Ironman.

I got another boost from the crowd downtown, and enjoyed the only slight tail of the day as I passed the folks lining the water’s edge, before hunkering down for my final lap. Just. Get. Through. This.

I saw Bill for the first time all day on my third lap (even though he had been there on the other two), and I yelled “I’m so glad I’m on my last lap!”  I SO did not want to ride on that side of the island again.

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The last lap was rough. My rice cakes were not appealing at all, though I forced most of them down. I thought I was on my last salty ball (I actually wasn’t- the other bag was deep in my pocket, not easy to reach, and I didn’t realize it was there until after the race!) so I stuffed it in my cleavage to save for when I really needed it. Unfortunately, sweat makes you slippery, and it slipped out on the road. NOOOOOO! Then, one of my water bottles popped out. Both of my bottles were still frozen when I picked them up, so I was slowly making my way through them as they melted. When it popped out, there was definitely still some frozen Osmo in there. Dah!! Ok, let’s just hunker down and get through this thing.

Another racer made this nifty visual of how the winds were blowing in on race day. By the third lap, winds were quite strong- I don’t know if they were 25mph, but they were probably at least 20mph sustained.

strava_cozumel_bikeThanks Carolyn!

The east side of the third lap was pretty miserable. Both of my feet were hurting, which was weird- that hadn’t ever happened before on my long rides. I stood up a few times, just because I wanted a change of position. The wind was brutal, and though I did pass one or two people, everyone was looking pretty beat down by the wind. I tried to stay positive by thinking at least the pavement was better on this side of the island. (The pavement all around the island was great. The “worst” side was the west side in front of all the hotels, but it was by no means “bad”).

Mezcalitos, again, was the site I looked forward to on every lap. I almost let out a yelp when I made that turn. Yes! The worst part of the ride is done. Now, let’s make it to those street lamps, and then the last blocks into T2!

The cheers of the crowd carried me for those last few kms. Everyone always says they’re so happy to be off the bike. I assumed that it was because of crotch pain, but for me, I just wanted to be out of the wind!! It’s hard to explain, but I was a teensy tiny bit sad that – just like that- the ride was over. It’s not that the ride went by quickly- no, it was definitely long- but that all of the sudden, it was time to switch gears and go run a marathon. I don’t know why it felt “all of the sudden”- perhaps because I was actually trying to take it all in as much as possible? But for a split second I mourned the end of the ride and the fantastic cheering locals- the ones living outside of town- who came out to support these crazy athletes from all over the world, on their island!

Bike: 6:26.40, 15th AG

I gave my bike to a volunteer, grabbed my run bag and ran in to the changing tent.

Throughout the ride I kept wondering “Where is Jess?” She’s a super strong cyclist, so I was expecting her to pass me at any moment. I tried to remember when/where in our 70.3 she passed me to try to figure out where she might pass me on this ride, and it just never happened. I really hoped that she was okay…

I had just sat down and was tying my shoes when Jess entered the tent. She ran over and gave me a huge hug. It’s hard to put in to words the emotions in that moment, but thrilled, relieved, and grateful all come to mind. We both commiserated about how hard that ride was and wrapped up in the changing tent. I told Jess I needed to pee (I had tried so hard to go on the bike, but just couldn’t do it!) before starting the run, so we stopped at the port of potties before setting off. We started our watches, and started the marathon. Together.

T2: 4:43