Soaking It Up

An important element of a high volume training camp is rest - allowing all the work I've done to soak in.  Luckily I had the perfect rest block planned!  A few days in San Diego with a dear friend from high school.  We've pledged to spend some time together every 4-5 years as we live on opposite ends of the country.  She rented a luxurious house in Point Loma, and along with her husband, we have spent the last several days soaking up the SoCal lifestyle.  I can't believe I'll be back to work next week... I'm longing for endless summer!

Soaking in the training and soaking up the sun!

SoCal Training Camp Part Two

The last four days of training camp were unbelievable!   They included two "easy" days, and it's funny how that term has become relative.  Wednesday's easy day was a mere two hours :), a masters swim at North County Masters and then a run along the coast from Moonlight Beach to Cardiff and back.  Then some resting up in the afternoon/evening!

Thursday was fantastic - a group ride through Camp Pendleton and along the coast.  This was the only flat ride of training camp, but I still had to work hard to keep up with the group for five hours.  It was great meeting some new people and seeing some new sights (and some of my old faves through Carlsbad and Oceanside next to the Pacific).  I even got some time that afternoon to poke around the cool shops of downtown Encinitas!

Rolling through San Onofre.

Friday was another "easy" day, with a tough masters swim (thanks to Chris for being super welcoming all week), a core workout, and a tempo run around the Rancho Santa Fe golf course.  The soft chip trail around the course is deceiving, while the impact on the legs is minimized, the work isn't as you sink into the soft uneven chips, but a great workout.  Very pretty as well.

Today finished camp off with an absolutely incredible day.  One for the book of favourites for sure.  It required an early alarm as we had to drive over an hour southeast for our departure - we were doing a group ride over the Sunrise Highway up Mt. Laguna.

We met the group just before 8 a.m. (except for Stud Matt who rode 70 miles, leaving at 4 to meet us) just off I-8 on the exit to Pine Valley.  We rolled out and pretty much right away started climbing, even though it wasn't the "official" climb.  Once we turned onto the Sunrise Hwy the real climbing started, and we all rode at our own pace to the top.  Of course generously I decided to ride sweep :) and met everyone at the top where we refilled bottles and traded stories about the climb.  At that point Matt appeared, with 87 miles in his legs already!  

Starting the climb.

Summit looking down on the Anza-Borrego desert.

Deceptive elevation profile - doesn't really show
how much climbing there was after the summit!

The descent down the other side had a surprising amount of up mixed in with all the down.  We stopped for a few pictures, regrouped a couple of times, and pretty much hammered all the way back to the car.  My legs were totally spent by the time we got back and I was pretty shaky.  Good thing I packed a lot of food for the drive home... as I still had a run to do!

Training camp finished with a sunset run along the coast.  What a great way to end an epic (yes, overused word but TOTALLY applies here) week.  Eight days and just over 34 hours of training.  That should give me a great base to take me through the fall training for IMAZ!  Super huge props to Kiki for organizing an unforgettable training camp for me.  And thanks to old and new friends for joining me on some of my adventures this week!

Long Ride Nutrition

Nailing nutrition on my long rides is a work in progress.  So much about training & racing nutrition is individual - you can get advice from others but what works for one doesn't work for another, so it's a lot of trial and error.  Luckily, there's a lot of chances to try things out Ironman training!

Here is what I used on my long ride (7 hours) a few days ago.  Bear in mind it was a hot (over 90 degrees F), hilly ride and therefore I needed a lot of calories and fluids.  I don't know if I nailed my nutrition - I didn't bonk and had good energy levels - but I never really know if I could do things even better and am always seeking to improve!

I started with three bottles on my bike:
- Vega Pre-workout energizer (70 cal) and 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) in two of the bottles
- 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) and a Nuun tablet (no calories, just electrolytes) in the third.

Every hour (approximately) I try to eat something.  I like to have solid food with me, however some things are hard to eat in the heat so I pick things that go down easily.
- 1st hour: "EatMore" chocolate bar (240 cal).  These are a Canadian product, they are basically peanuts, chewy toffee and chocolate.  They have the same nutritional profile as most energy bars, but are delicious and easy to eat!  Tip: put them in the freezer the night before your ride, so when you put them in your jersey pocket they don't turn super-melted-gooey before you eat them.  Any American friends who want to try one, just let me know and I'll put one in the mail to you!
- 2nd & 3rd hours:  Honey Stinger Organic Waffle (160 cal).
- 4th hour: Lara Bar (190 cal).
- 5th hour: Gu Roctane (100 cal).
- 6th hour: no food.
Thanks to cycling jersey pockets that hold a lot of stuff!

At about 3.5 hours, we stopped to refill bottles.  I was drinking about a bottle an hour because of the heat and humidity.  I also bought a small bottle of Coke (150 cal) and drank it at the store as we refilled.  I brought powder etc with me, so when we refilled our bottles this is what I ended up with:
- two bottles with 2 scoops of Carbopro (200 cal) and a Nuun tablet
- one bottle with just Nuun.

At the 6 hour mark, I stopped for a can of Coke (140 cal) because I only had the bottle with Nuun left.  I didn't think I also needed to eat as I just had an hour left.  By the time I finished my ride, I finished everything I had!  Total was over 2,000 calories, but considering a conservative estimate of calories expended over a 7-hour ride is over 5,000, I don't think I'd say I consumed too much.  

As soon as I got back to the house I had a Vega Recovery Accelerator (80 cal) and a Vega Performance Protein (120 cal).

What do you use on long rides?  Any advice on things I can try in the future?

SoCal Training Camp - First Half

One of the great things about having a good friend as a coach is that you can invite yourself over for a week and ask for a training camp while you're there.  And that's exactly what I did, especially since I was already headed to San Diego at the end of August... so why not an 8-day detour to Encinitas first?

I arrived smack in the middle of heat wave with extreme humidity.  And the first ride Kiki planned was no slouch - 100 miles through Ramona to Santa Ysabel.  It was scorching out even when we started at 8 a.m., and headed inland it only got hotter.  Just over an hour into the ride and we had a 2000 foot climb to do.  My heart rate and body temperature were skyrocketing.  We stopped in Ramona to refuel - but it was a brief stop and I really should have taken the time in the air conditioned store to cool off and bring my heart rate down.  Rookie mistake that I knew I was making, but it was a long ride so I was anxious to get back on the road.  

Not listening to my body came back to haunt me as we left Ramona and kept climbing up the Old Julian Road.  My Garmin read 43 degrees Celcius (110 F) - although I do think it reads about 3 degrees too high.  I was barely moving, not even stopping to take pictures of snakes and a tarantula (so not like me!) because I was just focused on keeping the pedals turning over.  I think Kiki was a bit concerned that I may tip over as I was moving so slowly, so she made the call to turn around early and head back towards home.  I had to laugh out loud coming down the descent from Ramona, as the wind was so hot it was like we were being blasted by a hairdryer.

Trying to stay on Kiki's wheel...

Old Julian Road - I'll be back to make the
whole thing someday!
A disappointing start to the training camp though, as we didn't get the 100 miles in and had to cut short the very first workout.  But I redeemed myself later by heading out for an evening run, and running hard.

Day two on the books called for run-swim-bike.  We started with a gorgeous 90 minute run through the San Elijo Lagoon.  Nice trails, a mix of shade and sun.  Still super hot and humid, and we both finished the run absolutely drenched.  Kiki met me around the 70-minute mark with some cold water - what great service!  Then to North County Masters for a swim workout, and believe me, being in the water felt great.  Later that afternoon we headed down the coast for an easy spin.  

Trail through San Elijo Lagoon.

Love riding the coast!  Let's face it,
I'm an ocean girl at heart.

Monday was an easy day, with a swim and some water jogging.  The masters workout was a tough one, but fun.  After both pool workouts we went for a pedicure - relax!  Then I headed to Solana Beach to meet up with Tanya from GOTRIbal - more to come on that later.  Early to bed because the next day was big.

Day Four was a big day.  Kiki had planned for us to ride the Wohlford Lake loop, and I was anxious to redeem myself after Saturday's Dudley's ride disaster.  The heat wave was waning a bit, so even though we were headed inland again it wasn't going to be an inferno.  The climb up to the lake was tough but fun, and hot with sweat dripping off me and drenching me.  The views were amazing, and then it was a fun, swoopy, flowy ride back the coast.  Some great Ironman Arizona training with a 5 mile stretch on a bike path straight into a headwind, where I stayed aero and worked as hard as I could into the wind.

Looking up along the Wohlford climb.

Climbing self portrait.
Back on the coast, Kiki headed for home and I decided to keep going and stay out to the 7-hour mark to get the time in we'd originally planned for Saturday.  An easy spin on my own down through Del Mar and back, although I'd forgotten it was uphill back home and the hills seemed tougher than Wohlford at that point.  But I was really happy to get the distance in, and was surprised that even though I was smashed, I could still actually run during my transition run.  I was pretty sure I could only hobble at that point.  Then an evening session of restorative yoga capped off the first half of training camp.  Four days, over 20 hours.  Looking forward to the next four days!

Bike Bath

I have a confession: it's been a while since I've washed my bike.  Even worse, it rained during the race I did last month (Lake Stevens), and I still haven't cleaned it.  I love me a clean bike, so my task for the afternoon was to get mine all spic and span.

I like to put my bike on a workstand to make it easier to give it a bath.  Because my frame is carbon, it's not a good idea to clamp right on the top tube, so we use a special bar that clips to the bike under the saddle and bars, and clamp the workstand to that.

Tools of the trade
First step is to clean the chain and drivetrain.  I do that first because it makes a mess.  I use a solution called Bio Cycle, and pour some into a chain cleaner which clamps onto the chain.  Then I turn the pedals to allow the chain to move through the solution.  Unclamp the cleaner, wipe the chain off, repeat.  I actually repeated this step three times because the chain was pretty grody.

Chain cleaning tool

Then I go to work on the drivetrain itself.  I use a couple of different brushes - one looks a lot like a makeup brush (although would be pretty coarse on skin!) and the other fits between the gears in a cassette.  I put some Bio Cycle in a container, dip the brushes in, and scrub away.  It takes some patience because there's tonnes of nooks and crannies.

Nice shiny drivetrain!  The frame still needs work...
Now time for the frame itself.  I use Green Fizz which is like bike frame shampoo, and for the tough grease I spray on Simple Green.  I take the wheels off, as it makes it easier to get inside the fork and chain stays - those areas get pretty dirty.  I rinse the bike with a hose, spray Green Fizz all over, fill a bucket with water and splash some more Green Fizz in, get a sponge and scrub away.  I start at the top because the top tube is usually pretty clean, and it gets dirtier and greasier as you go down.  That way I'm not spreading dirt and grease around too much.  I rinse the frame off with the hose, take a good look, and repeat if necessary.  I like to spend the time on this and pay attention, as it gives me a good chance to inspect the frame really closely to make sure there are no problems.  Then I wipe off the excess water with a soft cloth.  We have bike polish which makes it all nice and shiny, but I didn't use any this time.

Why I take the wheels off - inside the rear cutout before.

Inside the rear cutout after.
I wipe down the wheels and put them back on, and the final step is to lube the chain.  I didn't do that this time though, as later tonight I'll be packing up my bike to travel to San Diego.  Packing up a bike is kind of chore (I discussed in detail how to do it here), but it's a chore I enjoy simply because it means I'm going on a trip!  I'm heading to Encinitas to do some high-volume training with Kiki before it's back to work in September.  Stay tuned!


By The Numbers

Thousands of glistening points of sunlight on the ocean
Hundreds of chirping birds
Nine other cyclists
Seven people out running
Four kids at the playground
Two laps of the lake
One Sunday morning ride


Regret is a funny thing.  "Live like you mean it" means having no regrets.  Therefore, I have been using regret lately to help me make decisions.

For example: I'm tired and don't feel like doing my workout.  I ask myself - will I regret doing my workout?  Never!  Will I regret not doing it?  Absolutely!  So there I have it, clear cut answer and motivation to do my workout.

Another example:  I love french fries, and out doing errands I happen to drive by a fast food restaurant.  I ask myself - will I regret buying those fries?  Um, yeah.  Will I regret not buying them? Never!  Another decision made, no fries for me.

Don't let regret run your life.  Let not having any regrets run it!

The Streets of San Francisco

Doesn't matter how many times I've been to San Francisco, I still get caught up in what a fabulous city it is.  Here are some pictures from our trip.

Alcatraz Swim

Alcatraz.  The name conjures up thoughts of dark, cold water, strong currents, shark infestations.  So I wonder why the Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim has been on my to-do list for sometime?  It was also on my friend Tim's, and a casual suggestion at masters swimming had another three swimmers from my town signed up.  No turning back now!

(obviously not my picture...)
The idea is simple.  Put wetsuit on, get on ferry, arrive at Alcatraz Island, jump off, and swim 2.4 km to San Francisco.  It was also fairly intimidating, and I'm not sure why as it's not a particularly long swim. Something about the dark cold strong currents etc etc...  I wasn't particularly concerned with sharks, however.  I knew the San Francisco Bay was home to leopard sharks (but they are little and their diet consists mainly of benthic - bottom - species), 7-gill sharks (bigger but like deep water - although there are some reports of attacks on humans), and a variety of other small shark species that aren't very concerning to me.  Of course I know the mythology: white sharks (AKA great white sharks) patrol the bay looking for elephant seals (their favourite food), and humans can look a lot like a seal to a shark.  I would have argued vehemently against this, stating that yes, white sharks can be found off San Francisco's west coast - the Farallon Islands are their hunting grounds for elephant seals and they're only about 40 km away - and I was pretty sure a white shark wouldn't enter SF Bay.  Plus, everyone knows their Farallons season is August-September, and of course the swim was taking place in July (July 28), so pfffttt... no problemo.

I was searching for some academic evidence to back me up, when I found this article: turns out some tagged white sharks have been picked up on acoustic sensors under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Hmm.  Still, not particularly concerning as let's face it, we just don't hear about a lot of shark attacks on humans.  Globally.  It was riskier to drive a car to the airport for the trip!

Tim & I arrived at Aquatic Park the morning of the swim, and met the rest of our group.  Amanda, Rachel and Jenn (from my town), Liz (from Tim's) and a couple of other friends of Liz (from SF I believe).  Once in our wetsuits, we walked over to the ferry taking us out to the island and boarded.  It was a fairly surreal ferry trip with hundreds of wetsuit-clad swimmers (and a few sans-wetsuit) and that's it.  We had to jump off the boat, and I'd built this up in my mind thinking it would be scary to jump into the black, cold water.  But it wasn't, it was actually pretty fun!  

Cowichan Valley girls getting ready to swim!

I stole this picture from the results email from
the race organization because it looks so cool!

Once in the water, we had to find the start line and it was a bit chaotic as swells made it really difficult to see the line of kayaks off the SE tip of the island.  There were some good swells and surface chop, but otherwise the water was greener and colder than I expected.  Once at the start line, we waited for a few minutes for the horn to signal the race start, then we were off.

The start was a total gong show.  People everywhere, smashing into everyone.  The swells and chop didn't help as it was just kind of a washing machine.  Also, the fact that the majority were strong swimmers meant it didn't spread out very quickly.  After about ten minutes of getting pummeled, I decided to go a bit to the left in some open water and swim on my own.  That was much less frustrating, I got into a rhythm and soon enough the swells disappeared.  It was too foggy to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was cool seeing the city get closer and closer, and I turned over a couple of times to see Alcatraz receding into the distance.  To avoid getting slammed I ended up swimming quite a bit on my own, but that was ok even though I usually try to work in a group.  Soon enough, I was rounding the corner past the breakwater into Aquatic Park.  The breakwater looked closer from shore, but turned out there was still about 600 meters left to swim (so much for my idea to sprint from there).  
There were heaps of spectators lining the beach, and when I hit the shore and saw the clock, I was pretty surprised to see just over 38 minutes.  Thank you nature for the push!  I figured I'd be 41-42 minutes and I wasn't working particularly hard so I knew there was a current going with us.  Turns out everyone in our group was faster than they anticipated, and the woman who won last year repeated this year, and 2 minutes faster.  So there you go.  Everyone in our group placed really well in our age groups: Amanda 2nd (and under 30 minutes!), Jenn 2nd, Liz 2nd, Rachel 6th, Tim 7th and me 8th.  Islanders represent!

Islanders (minus Liz) post-race celebration!

Overall it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd thought it would be.  Not that cold, not dark, no dorsal fins in sight, no fighting a current... I've done harder swims, but nothing as iconic.  So now I can say I've swam from Alcatraz.  One and done.