2016 Goals

Goals Concept

2014 was all about getting to the finish line in Cozumel. 2015 was all about staying injury-free, smart, and dedicated enough to race in Kona and finish strong. But now 2016, my third year of Ironman training, will be focused on taking it ‘to the next level’ which just means focusing on getting stronger and faster.

I hired Duane Franks as my coach again and I couldn’t¬†be more happy and excited to be working with him. He’s also coaching Markūüôā And he’s already started populating my TrainingPeaks calendar and getting me on the right track for the year. This week we’re doing a lot of benchmark testing to update all of my heart rate zones and see where I’m starting.

I have some specific goals for the year and I always find it helpful to share them with other people to stay accountable, focused, and to remind myself along the way. In fact, in a couple months I’ll plan on giving an update to these goals and talk about progress. Here they are:

  1. Focus on running speed, form, and nutrition to break 4 hours at the Paris Marathon on April 3rd
    • Out of the three sports, running is the one I enjoy the most and gravitate towards. So I’m excited to really focus on it over the next 11 weeks leading up to my 3rd full marathon.
    • I’ll be going to GGTC track on Wednesday nights, having my form evaluated, and testing out new nutritional products from UCAN.
    • My other marathon times were 4:45 (San Diego) and 4:30 (Chicago) so breaking 4:00 will take some work and commitment. But I’m excited to see what I’m capable of doing in Paris
  2. Increase strength, power and technical skills to break 13 hours at Ironman Mont Tremblant on August 21st
    • I’ll be focusing on strength training more this year. In the past I put weights and strength training in the category of ‘nice to do if there’s time’ but this year I’m making it a priority 2-3x per week. I’ve enlisted the help of an awesome trainer at my¬†gym and he’s been educating me¬†about muscles, function and form.
    • I plan on doing more biking handling clinics with GGTC such as descending and climbing. I particularly need help with descending confidence.
    • 13 hours would be a 48 minute PR over Ironman Cozumel. So again, it’ll require significant work and dedication but I’m ready for it and excited.
  3. Attend Masters swim or take a private swim lesson at least once a week
    • I’ve probably mentioned a million times on the blog that I’m a terrible swimmer and need to improve. But this year I plan on going to Burlingame Aquatics’ Masters class at least once a week. These are 75 minute classes and full of very experienced athletes. I liked my ‘old’ Masters class but the time just wasn’t very convenient and I found myself being very inconsistent with it.
    • I also connected with a personal coach at Oracle’s pool (the one I go to regularly) that can work with me but I haven’t enlisted her help yet.
  4. Improve commute by biking to work once a week and taking the company shuttle  on the other days
    • I commute to work about an hour each way in traffic and it’s a massive time suck and stressful. I try to make it bearable by listening to podcasts and audiobooks but it’s still a drag.
    • The other day I biked to work ~30 miles and it was the best way to start the day ever. I used to do this regularly in 2013-2014 but I really want to make this a regular habit again. The guys I ride with are FAST and can really help get me stronger out there.
  5. Reduce and manage stress through weekly yoga and daily meditation
    • The gym at work has 3 free yoga classes a week so I really don’t have an excuse to not show up at least once. I love the way I feel after a yoga class — calm and with happier muscles!
    • For meditation I’ll continue to use the Headspace app.
  6. Enhance non-triathlon areas of life by reading a new book a month, volunteering more frequently, traveling to new cities, and spending more time with friends/family 
    • Triathlon is a hobby and should never be the #1 priority in my life.¬†I have other ambitions, interests and goals outside of the multisport life and I can’t lose sight of that. My career, friends, Mark, family and philanthropy are very important.
    • Right now I’m reading Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football. Next month I’ll read Living¬†with a Seal.
    • This year Mark and I have some trips lined up to Paris, Scotland (we think), Boulder, Mont Tremblant, East Coast road trip, and maybe a long weekend in Hawaii. Tahoe, Chicago, Boston and NYC are also on the list this year!
    • I’m re-joining the board of Junior Achievement of San Mateo and will be deeply involved with them. Can’t wait. I also plan on volunteering more with the Humane League and other animal rights organizations.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your top goals are for the year. Let’s motivate each other¬†and have a great year!

Thanks everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.

Photo Jan 12, 8 02 18 AM.jpg

BIke to work

 

 

Peace, Love and Kona: 2015 in Review

Yoda Patience

Never judge a full year by its beginning. 2015 didn’t start out as planned but it turned out to be one of the best years ever. I fell in love, raced in¬†Kona,¬†found true happiness, and traveled more than ever.

I mention this as a reminder to myself and to everyone writing goals for 2016, that the year is long and it’s OK if it doesn’t start out as planned. Keep at it and stay focused on goals day-by-day. Results will come if you’re patient and consistent.

OK back to the year in review…

Early Struggles

Early in the year when I started training¬†again post-Ironman Cozumel, I was consistently sidelined by colds, strep throat and nagging aches and pains. I missed 3 races in the first 4 months of the year as a result of these setbacks. I opted for spectating and volunteering at races instead. When I finally was able to motivate and¬†train consistently again I felt slow and sluggish. My running paces were a joke¬†and I couldn’t find my rhythm in the pool (I know, I’m hard on myself).¬†Even to this day I don’t¬†understand what caused this early-year sluggishness, but I’m glad I kept working at it and didn’t give up. Because this was the year of Kona and there was nothing getting between me and Ali’i Drive!

HITS Napa Volunteer

HITS Napa Volunteers

Coast Ride Bliss

As bad as it was, there was one exception to the “bad start to the year” theme: the coast ride with Chris Hauth and SAGMonkey. We¬†rode¬†our¬†bikes down the Pacific coast 410+ miles from San Francisco¬†to Santa Monica over 4 days. I hadn’t been training and was still sick,¬†so I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it… but I did!¬†I had never even driven down the coast before so I was constantly in awe with every mile that past. Hellooo Big Sur, you are beautiful! Seeing the coast slowly from a bike, where you can smell the ocean and really take in the jaw-dropping beauty of the coast¬†was¬†the greatest experience ever. I also had never ridden my bike on back-to-back days before, so doing 4 in a row with over 100 miles each day was no joke. My booty was definitely sore! But riding outdoors with great friends looking at¬†epic scenery was worth every ache and soreness. Can’t wait to do it again sometime.Photo Jan 17, 5 51 36 PM

Love‚̧

Once May 2015 arrived I was starting to gain some momentum in my training and did the Monte Rio Olympic Triathlon as the first race of the year. It wasn’t super fast or anything but I was happy to finally be racing. And that was the weekend that¬†Mark and I started dating.ūüôā Coincidentally (or not), this was when 2015¬†turned¬†a corner with brighter days, successful races, and lots of fun.

Devils Slide Ride with Mark

Devil’s Slide Ride with Mark

Gaining Momentum

Throughout the¬†summer¬†I was really consistent with my training and feeling much stronger. I enlisted the help of Coach Duane Franks to craft a training plan leading up to¬†Kona. I did Vineman 70.3 in July¬†and PR’d by 7 minutes. Mark and I did the Devil’s Slide Ride century which was 104 miles with 9,000+ ft of climbing. That was a tough¬†one!¬†We also did the Marin Century and Lake Tahoe Half Iron Triathlon¬†together.¬†I love being able to train and race with Mark — he’s so much fun, patient and absolutely the best¬†boyfriend-training-buddy-race-spectator-extraordinaire ever!

Vineman 70.3_PreRace

Vineman 70.3

Testing¬†1..2…3…

One of the best training experiences of the year was completing the Tour of Napa Valley Century in August. It was the best heat training, TT bike training and mental toughness training I could’ve asked for. It was BRUTAL out there. I rode by myself the entire 100 miles¬†(mental training) meaning no pacelines and nobody distracting my thoughts from the intense 106 degree heat. It was a hilly course and when people¬†climbed past me they couldn’t believe I was riding a ‘stiff’ triathlon bike.¬†“It’s good training!” I shouted back. It was one of the hottest days on record in Napa and a great opportunity to test myself before the¬†heat of Kona.

Napa Valley Century

Napa Valley Century

IM World Championship in Kona, Hawaii

Before I knew it I was hopping on a plane to Kona! I wrote a pretty extensive race report about the experience so I won’t belabor the point. But it truly was an¬†incredible experience and really enhanced my passion for triathlon. The best moments were: coffee at Lava Java, watching the sunsets, swimming to the coffee boat, doing the underpants run, taking a selfie with Jesse Thomas and getting on Triathlete.com, going Manta Ray snorkeling with other triathletes, visiting a coffee farm, hanging out with my family, and seeing them on the course with their incredible signs, and obviously… the finish line. It was an empowering experience and one I’ll remember forever. Thank you everyone for the love and support leading up to, and during the race. It means a lot.

Finish 10

Summary

In summary, 2015 had its ups and downs (more like ‘downs and ups’) but isn’t that what¬†life is all about? It’s a rollercoaster ride of managing tough moments and being extra grateful for the good ones. Hope everyone has a great 2016 and I look forward to seeing you out on the bike, on a run, or in Aquatic Park!

Marin Century

Marin Century with GGTC

P.S.

For the stats geek here is my 2015 mileage and hours according to Strava:

Bike: 224 hours/ 3,372 miles / 190,000 ft elevation gain
Run: 127 hours / 763 miles
Swim: 57 hours / 135,000 yards

How was your year? Accomplish something great? What are you changing for 2016? 

Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.

Triathlon Gift Guide 2015

Do you have a triathlete in your life? Or maybe you’re a triathlete looking to give yourself a “to me, from me” gift this holiday season? Look no further! I compiled the list below based on¬†some of my favorite things, and some of my friend’s wish lists.

Happy holidays, happy training, and don’t forget to run happyūüôā

Note:¬†I¬†don’t earn commission off of any of the links below. I’m not that important.¬†And photo credit goes to the individual websites listed.¬†

  • Mantra BandsNever Give Up
    • Triathlon training requires daily commitment, motivation and hard work. So it’s helpful¬†to have a positive reminder to keep going, or a simple mantra.
    • Many people tattoo their personal¬†mantras on their bodies, but if you’re not ready to get inked, think about a bracelet¬†that inspires you on a daily basis. The great thing about jewelry¬†vs. tattoo is that you can choose new mantras as your goals develop and your life matures.
    • Some¬†examples could be “Enjoy The Journey”, “Dream Believe Achieve”, “Fearless”, “Dream Bigger”, and¬†“Never Give Up”.
    • I have 2 mantra bands, neither of which are triathlon-related, but are great daily reminders of my personal values: 1) Gratitude and 2) Be True. Be You. Be Kind.
    • $25 each
  • Run Happy T-ShirtBrooks Run Happy Smile Tee
    • Run Happy… IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO RUN?
    • Brooks came out with this cute shirt that exemplifies the greatest thing about running; it makes us friggin’ happy!
    • I also like the bright yellow color so you can be visible out on your run.
    • $34
  • Personalized Bike DecalsFullSizeRender
    • Does your bike have a name? Do you have a nickname? Put a sticker on your bike with your country’s flag!
    • Mark recently got me stickers that say “Rohdster” on them¬†which gives my bikes a personalized touch.
    • $9 each
  • Snorkel
    • Using a snorkel in swim training can help improve body alignment because you eliminate the need to turn and breathe all the time.
    • Plus, you never know when you’ll want to quit triathlon and become a professional fin swimmer.
    • $35
  • Reboot Float Spa¬†
    • Relax, unwind, disconnect, float, and let the Epsom salts do their job.
    • I haven’t tried this but I know a lot of people who absolutely swear by it.
    • It’s supposed to help you recover from training sessions, but also anything that life throws at you — jet lag, lack of sleep, etc.
    • Don’t live in San Francisco? Simply give the gift of Epsom salts!
    • $89
  • Medal Holder
    • You’re entering several races a year and racking up the bling. But you need an organized way to display your medals!
    • I like this one on etsy because it’s simple, inexpensive and looks very durable.
    • $28
  • Sufferfest Videos
    • As the winter approaches, many cyclists bring their training indoors to their bike trainers. But you can only watch so¬†many movies and TV shows before you get bored and tired. Plus, if you zone out you¬†may missA Very Dark Place out on maximizing your training session.
    • The sufferfest videos are hilarious, and very challenging workouts. Grab a towel because you’re going to work up a sweat.
    • You buy¬†a gift card which will be e-mailed to your recipient, then they can choose which videos they want. Or you can pick specific videos to send.
    • $6-$15
  • Angel Wings¬†
    • OK, they’re really called Arm Coolers, but I prefer Angel Wings for further inspiration. When you’re¬†in the heat racing all day, it’s really important to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. You can apply and re-apply sun block all day, or just put on some angel wings.
    • I found these to be very useful during Vineman, Kona, and Cozumel.
    • $55

Bike 19

  • Road ID
    • It’s important to stay safe out on the road and while running in the trails. I almost always wear a Road ID bracelet that has emergency contact information in the (unlikely) event that I have an accident and can’t communicate with first responders.
    • the Wrist ID Elite Black EditionThe bracelet also links up to a program online where paramedics can access even more information such as allergy, medication, and medical history data.
    • You can even personalize the bracelet to include a badge that says “70.3”, “bike” or “swim. bike. run”.
    • eGift cards available
  • TriSwim Set (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion)¬†
    • I always joke¬†that chlorine is my perfume of choice. But it doesn’t have to be the case if you use special products from TriSwim.
    • I haven’t used these but have heard great things about their ability to remove chlorine and the dreaded pool smell.
    • $20

Triswim Shot Set

  • Book: The Well Built Triathlete¬†
    • Written by¬†Matt Dixon, a well-known triathlon coach and founder of purplepatch fitness.
    • I use this book regularly as reference material.
    • I really like Matt’s approach to triathlon training which includes 4 pillars that he weights almost equally: training, recovery, nutrition and strength. It’s too easy to just focus on the training aspect and forget the rest.
    • $20 or $10
  • TRX
    • For a great full-body workout in the comfort of your home, try TRX suspension home gyms. I do TRX classes at my gym and love the low-impact¬†approach.
    • You can also get all kinds of DVDs and apps to structure a program to follow.
    • $155

Home_benefits_rocksolidcore

  • Mio LinkMio Link Heart Rate Monitor
    • Get rid of the uncomfortable heart rate chest strap once and for all!
    • The Mio Link is a heart rate monitor that you wear around your wrist.
    • I used this during my training this year and it worked really¬†well and synced with my Garmin.
    • $79
  • Bombas Socks
    • I’ve never seen socks get so much “buzz” before.
    • They found a way to remove the uncomfortable toe stitching that most socks have. They also use this cool honeycomb support system for the arch. Finally, they give away a pair of socks to someone in need for every pair you buy.
    • $11 and up
  • Race-specific Ironman gear
    • Do you know someone that just did a half or full Ironman? Get them something branded and tailored to the specific event they finished.
    • I love mugs, hats, t-shirts, hoodies, and cycling jerseys.
  • TriBox¬†Subscription
    • Give your triathlete loved one the gift of free samples!
    • This a a subscription box that includes all of kinds of nutrition products and gear accessories for triathlon.
    • This is a good way to try different brands to see what works best for you.
    • $20 every 2 months

Dec/Jan Subscription TrirBox

  • TriBike Transport Gift Card¬†
    • Shipping my bike to Kona — just getting it¬†from point A to point B — cost $425. Facepalm.¬†Did I mention this was an expensive sport?
    • Help the triathlete in your life offset some of the shipping costs with a gift card from TriBike transport, the leader in the bike shipping industry.Triathlete_Current_Cover
  • Triathlete Magazine Subscription¬†
    • Stay up to date on the latest and greatest from the triathlon world with a magazine subscription to Triathlete.
    • I always learn a thing or two, or come away inspired by a story after reading this magazine.
    • $30 for 12 issues
  • Race Number Holder for Bikes
    • Have you ever tried to wipe¬†race numbers off of your bike? It’s a pain in the butt and I’m always nervous I’m going to ruin the paint somehow. So I end up putting one number over the other, sort of like my car registration stickers. Oops.
    • There’s a solution though! VonDrais tags sit below your saddle and you just apply the race sticker to the tag. Voila!
    • $15

Vondrais_tag-1.jpg

  • Headlamp
    • With the sun setting earlier and earlier it’s important to stay visible (and to see where you’re going!) during nighttime or early morning runs. Headlamps work really well, along with reflective clothing.
    • I also use headlamps during Ironman races when I’m running in the dark.
    • ¬†$28

 

1 Month Post-Ironman

“Nobody ever does 2 Ironmans. You either do one¬†to check it off the bucket list, or you get hooked.” — a wise man

It seems¬†like it was yesterday that I was flying across¬†the finish line at Ironman Kona. But my fake Ironman¬†tattoo has faded, my sunburn has turned to freckles, my muscles have¬†healed, the high has worn off, and now the race is simply a fond memory. I can’t believe it’s been a month!

After Kona I really wanted to continue my healthy lifestyle and avoid falling down the same spiral as post-Ironman Cozumel last year: overindulging, feeling lazy, losing fitness and gaining 10-15 pounds.

I was on a healthy track this month (albeit with some serious indulging) and right when I was ready to get back to an exercise routine I got sick with a nasty cold. Meanwhile, I was juggling a very busy period at work (remotely) and getting ready for a business trip on the East Coast. It felt impossible to stay healthy, motivated and fit during these couple of weeks. The off season is hard! IMG_9137

On the positive side, the CEO of my company (Electronic Arts) acknowledged my Ironman Kona accomplishment in front of all 8,000+ employees worldwide. I couldn’t believe my ears¬†and it was a very special moment for me. I’m so grateful to work for a company that recognizes and supports hard work inside and outside the organization. Love my job!!

IMG_9180[1]

Need for Speed!

Honestly,¬†this off-season time has been very eye-opening for me. It made me realize that I’m actually the most energetic, happy¬†and in-balance when I’m training for Ironman. Yes, I’m actually more in balance when I’m in training mode, which might sound counter-intuitive.¬†I really enjoy the process of having a big¬†goal, working hard everyday to achieve it, and seeing progress along the way. It’s extremely motivating.¬†I love to sweat, to connect with friends, to explore the Bay Area from my bike, to get outside at sunrise, to breathe fresh air, and to run our beautiful trails. I don’t love¬†sleeping in on the weekdays and sitting in rush hour traffic, overeating, feeling hungover, tired, lazy, and having zero plans¬†for the weekend. It just doesn’t seem interesting to me. And that’s partially how the last month felt.

There were some seriously awesome things that happened this month, though¬†— we celebrated Mark’s birthday at Cookhouse, we went to a beautiful wedding on Tinsley Island, I traveled to Boston and NYC, we¬†hung out with my niece and nephews, dressed up as Star Wars characters for Halloween, finally got to watch some Michigan Football, cheered Nike Women’s, and re-connected with old friends. It was fun but I’m excited to plan 2016 and get back into a routine.

IMG_9121

OK, so what’s next? I’m excited to announce that I just registered for Ironman Mont-Tremblant! There are a ton of Golden Gate Triathlon Club members doing the race (including my amazing¬†boyfriend!) so it’ll be fun to have a group to train and race with. From race reports¬†and videos it looks like a spectacular race in Eastern Canada with beautiful views and a calm, lake swim. Before Ironman I’ll do a bunch of smaller races including the Paris Marathon and Boulder 70.3. For a full list check out my Races page.

To wrap it up… I’m glad I had this time ‘off’ but I’m even more excited to work hard¬†this year and to have some fun training with some awesome GGTC friends.

Ironman World Championship 2015 Race Report

wheres the tofu

Racing in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona was truly the experience of a lifetime. The energy from the crowds, the support from the volunteers, the sight of the pros flying by, the excitement in the air and the stories from athletes from around the globe truly made this a world class event.

For me, racing Kona was the culmination of a nearly 2 year Ironman journey that was expected to end at Ironman Lake Tahoe last year. When I got in to Kona through the IMLT cancellation lottery, I knew I had to train smart and race even smarter to make sure I was crossing that finish line in this likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (thanks Coach Duane!).

The photos of race day show a story of sheer joy and jubilee. And yeah, I was definitely happy for most of the day (‚Äúoh my god I‚Äôm in Kona!‚ÄĚ I kept telling myself). But the truth is‚Ķ this course is absolutely brutal, and being in the back means a lot of lonely miles. I had to dig deep, stay focused on my nutrition, and power through.

The big island, as expected, threw everything at us: strong winds, heat and humidity with no shade, rain showers, and strong currents. I had a few dark moments and definitely my share of obstacles. But I took every challenge as a test of resiliency and I just moved forward.

The tough conditions are exactly what make the IRONMAN distance so special, and why I was jumping for joy across the finish line after 13 hours and 55 minutes. I accomplished all of my goals, I never gave up and I had a ton of fun along the way. I’m just so happy and grateful for the opportunity to race in Kona, and I didn’t take any of it for granted.

Below is a detailed look at race day along with shoutouts to the incredible people who helped make this happen. MAHALO and ENJOY!

Pre-Race: Goose bumps are forming  

My boyfriend, Mark, drove me down to the race start at around 4:45am where I was ushered into a line for bag drop-off, body marking, and weigh-in. It was a really efficient system and the volunteers were so friendly and chatty. We did a final round of hugs and photo shoots before I had to say goodbye. I drank the rest of my Osmo Preload, chatted with other athletes, pumped my bike tires, took deep breaths, and watched the pro men and women start their swim.

2015-10-10 05.29.51

Prerace2

The few hours before the cannon went off were¬†full of nerves. I knew I was well-prepared physically and mentally for this race. But this is Kona!¬†Anything could happen. What if I can’t finish?! But what I heard at the welcome ceremony so many times is that Anything is possible. It’s the Ironman mantra. Deep inside we are all athletes, and we’re stronger than we think. I held onto that phrase the rest of the day and repeated “I will finish this!” Confidence is a powerful thing!!

Today is the day to crush it!

Swim: Finding Nemo
2.4 miles in 1 hour 44 mins

The swim is a deep-water ocean start, so we had to tread water for a good 10 minutes before the cannon went off.  And with 1 minute to spare, I see Kristin!! It was so great to see a familiar face out there and to give her a big pre-race hug. It really helped calm my nerves!

7:10am arrived and BOOM!!!! The cannon is fired and the race is on!! Pre_Race 4

The swim is my weakest leg and it was the portion that was causing so much pre-race anxiety. But as soon as I started swimming I felt wonderful. I didn’t panic at all (even though I got kicked, hit, and scratched a bunch of¬†times), I looked for fish, and I was able to swim the whole time without needing to catch my breath or stop at a kayak. It was a huge success¬†for me!

But I learned after looking at my Garmin file that I actually swam 2.75 miles, which means I need to work on sighting a little better and more frequently. The currents were pretty strong and I could feel my body being pulled sideways and in random directions so it sort of makes sense I swam more than I was supposed to. Oh well. Also, my goggles were leaking for the first time ever, so I had to fix those a few times. But all very manageable issues.

I was so happy to finally reach that swim exit! It wasn’t fast¬†compared to most athletes, but I was happy and feeling good. Time to work on my swim… for real this time.¬†Swim 1

Swim 2

Bike: Go ahead, try to break me down
112 miles in 7 hours 3 mins 

Coming into the transition area I was a little delirious. Thankfully I had 2 volunteers personally helping me get changed, stuff my pockets with my nutrition, grab me water, and put on sun screen. It was AMAZING! Those volunteers went absolutely above and beyond. I was on my bike within 7 minutes and ready to rock!

Starting the bike was so energetic!! I couldn’t believe how many spectators were out there cheering!¬†It was insane! There were no other athletes¬†around me so I just enjoyed the moment, yelled WOOOOO as loud as I could, and waved to the crowd. I felt like a superstar!

starting the bike 2

To make things even better, I saw my incredible spectating crew a few minutes later with their custom signs and orange hats. I was so happy to be out of the swim, on my bike, and to see them that I actually stopped to give hugs and kisses. So fun!

the kiss

But it wasn’t long¬†before the crowds dwindled down and it was just me and the Queen K highway. ~56 miles out, ~56 miles back. 1 turn. Zero shade. Wind bursts. Very few spectators. And sweat-all-day¬†humidity.

The ride started out great because we had a very nice tailwind and obviously you’re going to feel strong at the beginning. I was taking in salt tablets along with sports drinks, energy bars, energy chews, and water. Between burning ~3,300 calories on the bike alone + sweating profusely, staying on top of nutrition, salt and hydration was absolutely critical to feel good on the run.

Bike 19

Climbing towards Hawi — the half-way point — we were delighted¬†with a rain shower and some cloud cover. It felt SO good! We had been climbing into a headwind for several miles so the relief was just what I needed.

After the turnaround we had a downhill and a tailwind. WOOOO!!!!! I was absolutely flying in my aero bars. It was incredible! I felt pretty stable because I made the decision to race in a ‘regular’ front wheel instead of a more wobbly and deep race wheel. It was perfect.

The next several miles were just hot and sweaty and full of rolling hills. I stopped a few times to put on sun block because I didn’t want to fry out there.

At around mile 75¬†I started to get some really random knee pain. I had never experienced pain so excruciating on the bike before. I was shouting in agony and couldn’t pedal any longer. So I stopped to stretch out, rub out the painful area, and did some walking around. A¬†volunteer asked if I needed help from medical. “No thanks!” I knew if I got treatment and they had to take me away my day would be over. “I can power through this!”.

I got back on my bike and within a mile¬†the pain was gone and it never came back. Phew!! That could’ve been the end of my day!

I looked at my Garmin, did some quick math, and realized that I was about to have a¬†really fast bike split. Which¬†was weird because I had kept my heart rate in Zones 2 and 3 and wasn’t pushing it too hard.

Bike 4

At mile ~78 it all became painfully clear. We had a stronger-than-I-thought tailwind on the Queen K going out. Now it was time to face the headwind coming in. The final 35 miles were directly into the wind. It was absolutely brutal. Like someone punching you in the face relentlessly for 2 hours. I was going 10 mph in some flat sections, down from a usual 18-20 mph. I kept reminding myself to stay aero, stay strong, and stay positive. I got this!!

Bike 12

I finally finished after 7 hours and was so happy to be done. The elements were brutal on that bike course and it felt like Madame Pele was trying to beat me down. Well it was going to take more than that!!

Strava_Bike

Run: Under the Stars
26.2 miles in 4 hours 52 mins

Coming out of the changing tent in transition, a volunteer poured a huge handful of ice down my shirt. And it was like being shot with adrenaline. I jumped in the air, gave another “WOOHOO!” and I started hitting my stride. Only a marathon separates me and that finish line!! Feelin’ good!!

I started out running really strong and definitely noticed all of those brick runs paying off in training. I got to mile 2 and saw my energetic spectating crew jumping up and down with their signs. They had even recruited their neighbors to help cheer! Woot!

run signs

Running up and down Ali’i drive for those first 10 miles¬†was incredible. There were so many spectators cheering for every single person, and calling athletes out by name. It was so cool. I saw my family again at mile 8 and was so happy! I told them “I’m going to finish this! See you at the finish line!” I was feeling so good that there was absolutely no doubt that I was going to complete this thing.

At around the half-way point I watched the sunset and it was stunning. I thought back at all of the sunsets in Hawaii so far, and just how beautiful this place is!

It got dark pretty fast and was happy to have a headlamp with me. The Queen K doesn’t have any street lights so it was pitch black out there and desolate under the stars. I was alone but just kept a really steady 10:00 – 12:00 min/mi pace and stayed focused. It was still hot so I poured ice down my shirt at every aid station.

Near mile 15 I saw a guy wearing a Team in Training shirt so I started chatting with him. He was from Texas and had raised over $85K for blood cancer research. He was also raising money for the¬†the American Sniper’s family (one of his buddies). Talking with him brought more meaning and perspective to this event. It allowed me to dig deep and think about people who are battling cancer at this very moment, who have real struggles and who are enduring much more pain than me.

A mile or so later I saw my family and Mark again! “Wait… what are you guys doing here!?” I asked. It was a total surprise!! I’m in awe that they were able to navigate the closed highway and the dark roads to see me in time. Bravo!! They were having a blast dancing to the DJ’s music. I got to see them twice during that section. Then it was only 7 more miles to go!!

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7 miles under the stars. That’s nothing. That’s like a Turkey Trot with a little extra kick. I was on auto-pilot and still feeling really strong. I ran the entire way, and slowed down only to fill up water and grab food.

The only issue I had on the run was an upset stomach, probably from too much orange Gatorade on the bike. Nasty.

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Run splits

The final¬†mile is hard to even describe. I was about to finish Kona. I did it. I paced myself well on the bike to have a strong run. I raced with all my heart. And I did it. The spectators were cheering so loud¬†in that final mile and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was going to¬†finish this day strong and happy. Those were my only goals.

One final hug to my family in the finisher’s chute and I was ready to throw my hands up in the air. “CAROLYN ROHDE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!” My face was in permanent smile. It was a magical day. A perfect day. A party to celebrate the 9 months of training. And a day I’ll never forget.¬†

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Post-Race: Pop the champagne!

My dad was ready with a bottle of champagne and we were ready to party! After a glass of bubbly we had dinner near the finish line and recapped the day. It was so fun hearing all the spectating stories and looking at photos. We stayed until midnight to dance and cheer the final athletes running into the chute. It was the most inspiring part of the entire day to see them dig deep and hear their names over the loud speaker. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Anything is possible. Anything. 

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MAHALO!!  

I’d like to thank my coach, Duane Franks, for crafting a¬†highly customized training plan for me. I didn’t have a single injury all year and never felt¬†burnt out. We worked closely together to come up with a plan that took into account business travel, social events, and other commitments. He has decades worth of triathlon experience and it was extremely valuable¬†to be able to learn from him. He was even there in Kona to cheer me on. Thanks Duane!!!

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I’d also like to thank my parents, my brother, and my boyfriend for traveling half-way across the world to be with me in Kona. They deserve a medal for their spectating performance. Mark had designed¬†13 customized signs such as “Swim, Bike, Rohde!” and “free puppies at the finish line!” and sawed¬†wood from the local Lowe’s to make sturdy signs.¬†They were a huge hit, not just with me but with other athletes. And then they surprised me out at mile 16 on the run. Too perfect. Thanks guys!!

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Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who was cheering near and far. It meant the world to see the videos, comments, and good luck wishes. It really powered me through to the finish line. MAHALO!

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Ironman World Championship: Race Week in Kona!

Kona Day 1 Recap: “from hola to aloha”.

This place reminds me so much of Cozumel — humidity, wind, palm trees, Ironman week experience, ocean, my condo — that I keep wanting to say “hola!”. I even found the dried up rose that was given to us after IM Cozumel in my old suitcase! ūüĆĻI had a blast in Cozumel so I’m glad the experience is feeling similar.

As for today, I arrived in Kona after a comfy flight full of books and cheesy movies (“The Longest Ride”). I picked up my tri bike which had magically been shipped across the ocean with TriBike Transport. I chatted it up with everyone around me. I walked around Kona. I had a delicious veg sandwich from Lava Java along with other compression-clad athletes. I went for a jog, swam with the fish, and watched the beautiful sunset over the ocean.

I’m so ridiculously happy and grateful to be here and I can’t wait for the rest of this IRONMAN week!

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Kona Day 2 Recap: I’ll call today “the elements”… ūüí®‚ėÄūüĆī‚ėĒūüĆäūüĆč

Everyone keeps talking about the “elements”: Heat and humidity, wind, swells, rain and hills. But it wasn’t until today, when I was able to experience them in my own training, that I truly became humbled by these forces Mother Nature brings to the big island.

After a big breakfast and an even bigger Kona coffee I excitedly made my way down to the swim start (called “Dig Me Beach”) to practice. ūüŹä There were a ton of athletes down there and the water looked beautiful. But after the first 200 yards or so the swells started to appear. I kept going. And 6 minutes later I had a moment of panic. I was being pounded by the waves, I felt all alone and nervous about the lack of support boats, and I felt the strong tide pulling me. In short, I was scared. So I turned around and swam back as fast as I could. What I learned is that there’s a tropical storm nearby and the waves and winds are stronger than normal. In fact, my Manta Ray snorkel excursion was canceled tonight due to the weather. For race day, I hope the presence of support boats will ease my mind, even if the swells persist. One thing’s for sure… this is going to be the hardest swim ever.

After the short ocean swim I stumbled upon the friendly Endless Pool folks and they asked if I wanted to swim. “Yes!! But how much does it cost?” “Cost? It’s free! In fact, we pay YOU in free samples and coffee!” Done. ‚úĒ It was so much fun. Way better than the ocean!

I then went out for a 2+ hour bike ride on the North part of the bike course to Hawi. ūüöī The winds were strong and unpredictable. For every headwind there’s a tailwind, but for every crosswind there’s just more crosswind. It was challenging and slow. This isn’t going to be an easy bike ride!

For dinner I met up Kristin Bradfield, another IMLT lottery winner and a true competitor and inspiration. We originally met through the power of social media so it was fun to finally meet in person!

In short… Today was tough. I’m extremely humbled by the ocean and winds and it’s clear this is going to be an epic challenge. But I’m packing my positive attitude and will tackle the course the best I can on Saturday. Nothing can get between me and that finish line!!

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Kona Day 3 Recap: getting comfortable with the ocean ūüĆäūüŹäūüźüūüź†

The day started off per usual with a 7am swim at Dig Me Beach with a growing number of triathletes from all around the world. ūüŹä I was determined to get back out there, stay calm, and have a better swim than yesterday. And I definitely did! The conditions improved dramatically and I wasn’t getting pummeled by swells. I’m crossing my fingers that race day is more like today! But as I always say…prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

After a swim I went for a 30 minute run along Ali’i drive. ūüŹÉ I felt strong, happy, and definitely sweaty! I saw my idol Hilary Biscay out there and a whole slew of fast and fierce triathletes.

The rest of the day I stepped away from the crazy Ironman festivities and did some fun Kona touristy stuff. ūüď∑

I visited 2 coffee farms for tastings and tours then did a nighttime manta ray snorkel. So fun!!!

The first coffee farm, Kona Blue Sky, not only had delicious coffee, but they also grow different fruit trees. My tour guide and I picked and ate coffee bean cherries straight from the tree along with a white pineapple, a cacao bean, and a passion fruit. They were all so delicious! ūüćć

Next up was Holualoa which was also neat because I could tour all of the machinery used during the drying, separating and roasting processes. My tour guide’s name was also Carolyn and she told me…”Carolyn means strong woman, ya know!” and smiled. She didn’t even know I was racing on Saturday; it was almost as if she knew I needed a word of encouragement today. ‚ėē

After the coffee tours I went to the nail salon and had so much fun laughing and chit chatting with everyone around me. The people on this island are so friendly, welcoming, hilarious and full of passion! I heard a lot of stories of people moving from big cities with big careers to Hawaii for a more laid back lifestyle. Not a bad life out here, that’s for sure.

The highlight of the day was doing the nighttime snorkel with manta rays. This was part of my plan to become more comfortable in the ocean and try to overcome my race day open water fears. The idea of riding in a small boat 30 minutes out in the choppy ocean at night so I can swim with large creatures was admittedly very freaky for me. But it was SO much fun and I felt totally relaxed the whole time. I met another triathlete and more friendly people and we had a blast! I took some GoPro video and will share it this week.

In short… I’m really glad I took extra steps today to conquer my ocean swimming fears. I feel so much better after today. I’m also happy I took some time to meet the locals and get out of the hustle/bustle of the Ironman village for a day. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to race stuff tomorrow! ‚Ä™#‚ÄéIMKona‚Ĩ‚Ä™#‚Äéconqueryourfears‚Ĩ

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Kona Day 4 Recap: “everything is awesome!!”¬†

Triathlon is such a unique and passionate sport for a lot of reasons. But what I love is the accessibility of the the pro athletes. Not only do we get to compete on the same day and course as them, but they’re also hanging out at the expo like normal people happy to chat and sign autographs. No crazy lines, security guards or fees involved! What other sport can you say that about!?!

Tonight I got to meet triathlon legends, past and present: Dave Scott, Mark Allen (subjects of the book I’m reading right now!), Tim O’Donnell, Luke McKenzie, Hillary Biscay, Sebastian Kienle, and Craig Alexander. It was AWESOME!

Hillary Biscay is the “queen” behind my favorite Smashfest Queen tri brand, subject of an old blog post of mine, and someone I’ve been dying to meet for a long time. I was giddy and so thrilled to meet all of these inspiring people in person. They gave advice about the course, words of encouragement, and huge smiles. Loved it all!

As for the rest of the day… it started out with a 45 minute swim in the normal spot (Dig Me Beach) which included lots of Budgy Smuggler sightings and a trip to the coffee boat. Yes, the coffee boat!! It’s one of the most fun activities during Ironman race week. You basically swim out ~15 minutes to a yellow catamaran boat and someone gives you a cup of hot coffee that you can sip. It’s a fun and social activity and good motivation to get out in the water!

After a short bike ride and pre-race bike rune, I officially checked-in for the race. I got my bib number, race bags, timing chip, tons of free samples, and a very large backpack. I, once again, was giddy with excitement and had so much fun meeting other athletes. It’s all happening!!

In the evening I watched the Parade of Nations which is where athletes divide into their home countries and march down Ali’i Drive with their flags. It was so incredible to see how many different countries are represented here in Kona. This is truly a global event! I asked one of the South Africans how long her flight was and she said “3 days!”. I also met up with Bryan, another gamer/triathlete who also got in through the IMLT lottery. We walked around the expo and had dinner downtown. Fun evening!

In recap… everything about today was awesome. I’m so happy to be here and to be a part of this incredible experience. It was the first day that truly felt like race day is just around the corner. And it sure is… 4 days to go!‚Ä™ #‚ÄéIMKona‚Ĩ

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Kona Day 5 Recap: the calm before the storm ūüźĆūüďĖūüĆāūüĆÖ

It was a beautiful day in Kona with another swim to the popular coffee boat, a quick run, more pro sightings, dinner with my parents who just arrived, and lots of calm, relax time.

The highlight of the day was meeting Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae who’s competing for her fourth World Champion title on Saturday. She is such an inspiration and dug deep last year to close a huge 14 minute gap on the run course. Insane! In fact, her run time was faster than the male winner’s run time! ‚Ä™#‚Äégirlpower‚Ĩ

Another highlight was the sunset tonight. Every sunset I’ve seen in Hawaii has been beautiful but tonight was especially gorgeous. I really enjoyed the moment of pause and just staring out at the ocean… and trying to avoid looking at the endless line of race buoys! ūüĆÖ

I had front loaded a lot of the pre-race “work” that needs to be done so I was really happy to be able to take some extra relaxation time today and calm the mind a bit. Tomorrow is going to be a fun one! ūüĎô ‚Ä™#‚ÄéIMKona‚Ĩ

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Kona Day 6 Recap: Ohana ūüĎęūüĎęūüĎęūüĆÖ

Confirmed. Jesse Thomas is hairy, even in person. Jesse is one of those “must-follow” triathletes for his dry sense of humor, inspiration and sweet photos. He’s freakin’ hilarious on social media and Strava, especially with the hashtag ‚Ä™#‚Äésuperadvanced‚Ĩ with his son. Go check it out. He also just won Ironman Wales which was his first Ironman! Total rockstar. And forever in the online archives of Triathlete magazine will be a photo of me taking aselfie with Jesse Thomas, chest hair and all. http://triathlon.competitor.com/‚Ķ/photos-2015-kona-underpan‚Ķ

Today started out with the annual 1 mile Underpants Run. It’s a chance for triathletes to get creative with outfits and strut their stuff, all in the name of charity. There were some seriously ripped people out there, wow. I “ran” with¬†Kristin Bradfield aka “Pie Lady” and I’m pretty sure we laughed the entire 1 mile. What a fun and silly event!

I picked up Mark from the airport and got ready to meet my parents and brother Michael Rohde at the Athlete Banquet. I’m so happy to have Mark and my Ohana (“family” in Hawaiian) here to support me in this Ironman adventure. It’s a long way to come and I appreciate the signs, cheers, and support. Mahalo to my Ohana!!

The Athlete Banquet was full of traditional Hawaiian dances, speeches from former champions, inspirational videos, and an education in the word Onipa’a (“strength and resilience”). I left the banquet feeling incredibly inspired by the stories, the history behind this particular race, and the passion each person brings to Kona. They did a good job highlighting the rise of women in the sport, but the irony is that Ironman only allows 35 pro women but 50 pro men in this race. It should be equal 50/50!!

In summary… today was so fun and I’m still pinching myself that I get to experience all of this excitement. And now that my crew is here, maybe I won’t get caught taking selfies. ūüď∑

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Kona Day 7 Recap: I’m ready ‚úÖ‚úÖ‚úÖ 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Here we go!!

It’s the night before the big race and butterflies are fluttering in my stomach. This is always the hardest part of the race; the anticipation. I know once I hit the water at 7:10am I’ll know exactly what to do for the rest of the day. But I’m nervous, excited, grateful and inspired. I just still can’t believe that I’m here in Kona for the World Championship. It’s a dream come true and I’m soaking in every single moment. I’m so happy!! And I’m especially happy that¬†Michael Rohde, Mark Bollozos and my parents are here to support me!

Tomorrow is going to be a true test of strength, resilience, patience and mental toughness. It’s not going to be easy but I’ve put in the hard work and I feel as ready as I possibly could be.
My dear friend, April Hill said it very well so I’m going to summarize… It seems as if every triathlon experience has brought me here. Lavaman, my very first tri in 2013 with Team in Training, brought me to Hawaii. The cancellation of Tahoe landed me a Kona slot. And racing Ironman Cozumel prepared me for the elements of Kona. These experiences have shaped and enhanced my passion for this sport.

Being here in Kona this week has been sort of a fantasyland — like the Super Bowl for triathletes. Sure it’s been fun meeting pros, but even more inspiring has been meeting age groupers, challenged athletes, parents of athletes, and the locals. I couldn’t believe that this race has more than 5,000 volunteers, athletes spanning ages 19 to 85 hailing from over 60 countries around the world. Incredible!

To recap the day, I’ll let the photos tell the story. But basically Mark went for a swim, my parents and brother cruised around the Ironman Village, I had a final pep talk from coach Duane Franks, dropped off my bike down the red carpet, and had dinner with my family.

My goal for tomorrow is to have fun and finish strong. If you would like to track me the best place is Ironman.com and simply search for “Rohde”. Thanks for the good vibes and kind words everyone. I appreciate every single note and will carry those words with me tomorrow. Mahalo.

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All About That “Base”

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With exactly 6 months to go until Kona I thought this would be a great time to jump-start the blog which, going forward, will include training updates, stories, photos, and plant-powered motivation. Thanks for following along as I get ready for Ironman #2, the Ironman World Championship!

The Last 4 Months

So what have I been up to since Ironman Cozumel? Relaxing and starting to build a training base. Highlights include biking 428 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles over 4 days in January, Wildflower training weekend with the Golden Gate Triathlon Club, and swim clinics with former Olympian Allison Wagner.

This time ‘off’ has also given me more time to properly recover from Ironman, relax, go on dates(!), re-connect with friends, move apartments, explore the Bay Area, go to Happy Hours, indulge in¬†chocolate and beer tours, spend time¬†with my niece and nephews, stay up too late, and put my feet up (hellooo extra 10 pounds!).

Spent a lot of time this winter at Ale Arsenal and  Gourmet Haus Staudt :-)

Spent a lot of time this winter at Ale Arsenal and Gourmet Haus Staudtūüôā

I took a solid 2 months completely off from training which was hard but probably necessary to recover and avoid burn-out & injury this year. I even decided to skip a couple races in lieu of extra recovery. I re-hired Duane Franks from Trifiniti as my coach this year and we’ve been working on building a base for the last 2 months. All-in-all I’m SO ready¬†to put in the hard work for Kona!

SF to LA

Digging into the Coast Ride a little bit, I want to talk about this because it was a huge milestone for me and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done (yes, possibly even harder than Ironman!).

I had been sick for 2 weeks with strep throat and a cold leading up to coast ride, and hadn’t been on my bike since Cozumel, so I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to do it. But I knew I could bike at least 1 mile. I didn’t know if I could bike 450, but I knew there was some¬†distance between those two numbers that I could do. It turns out 428 was the magic number¬†(I skipped a few sections to make it in before dark). Check out my¬†Strava maps for more details on the routes.

In SF and ready to bike to LA!

In SF and ready to bike to LA!

I rode with about 20 other people and it was all organized by Chris Hauth and SAGMonkey (both were WONDERFUL!!!) They provided homemade food, hydration, words of motivation, advice, and FUN the entire way. It was so great to be surrounded by hard-working and down-to-earth cyclists and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Enjoying an amazing home-cooked group dinner together

Enjoying an amazing home-cooked group dinner together

We basically rode 100+ miles from sun-up to sun-down each day and took breaks as necessary. We rode along the coast on Highway 1 almost the entire time and were met with the most spectacular views of the ocean I’ve ever seen. The advantage¬†of seeing the coast from a bike is that you can¬†really experience it. I could hear the ocean, let the sun beat down on me, and see the views slowly. I highly recommend it.

I <3 California

Stunning coast line

The hardest parts each day were getting back on the saddle and miles 1-20. I wasn’t alone on this — everyone’s butts were hurting after day 2 and our muscles were sore. I had never ridden my bike back-to-back before, so wasn’t prepared for this at all. Apparently the key was to douse yourself with chamois butter all day and to make sure to re-position yourself on the seat every so often. Oh and a massage on Day 2 helpsūüôā

Final day!!!

Final day!!! Hi Matt!

I certainly learned a LOT on this trip. Not just about cycling, but about my limits and myself. It’s amazing how reflective you can be when you swap computers, TVs, and¬†cell phones for ocean views, friends, and sunshine.

Finally reaching the Santa Monica pier was¬†something I’ll never forget. WE MADE IT!! I was riding with a few other people¬†and we just hugged, took pictures on the beach, and watched the sunset. It was a spectacular ending to a challenging long-weekend in January.

On the beach of Santa Monica!

On the beach of Santa Monica!

GGTC Rocks My (Pink) Socks

Wildflower, “the Woodstock of triathlon” is an iconic triathlon in the middle of nowhere where¬†most people camp in tents all weekend. Every year GGTC hosts a “training weekend” to prepare for the race and it’s basically just a big party with some swim/bike/run mixed in for good measure. And it was probably the most fun weekend I’ve had in a very long time.

We biked the hilly course, did¬†a “beer mile” (4 beers + 4 laps around a track — I cheered), an Easter egg hunt, karaoke, dance party, beach volleyball, ran the run course, sunbathed, flip-cupped, ate a ton of amazing food (thanks Lorenzo!!), and just bonded together. I absolutely love this club and am so grateful to be a part of it. GGTC rocks my socks.

Mark and I

Mark and I

Tofu!! Thanks Lorenzo!

Tofu!! Thanks Lorenzo!

All About That Base

So right now I’m focused on consistent, low-stress, high-ish volume training. I haven’t done much running speed work, just mostly working on getting into a solid routine and building a base for Vineman 70.3 and eventually Ironman. Building a base is so important — it’s the foundation for your training and will let you build to your goal races more effectively.

Although I gotta be honest, getting back into training mode in mid-February has been HARD. Everyday in the beginning I felt absolutely pathetic and slow. My run pace was much slower than usual, I struggled to find my rhythm in the pool, and I had a harder time than usual keeping up with people on the bike.

St Pattys Day swim

St Pattys Day swim

Even to this day I’m struggling to get back to “Ironman shape”. But I have to remind myself that this is a long journey, and I have to compare myself to yesterday, not last year.

I’ve also been battling a lot of aches (neck, shoulder) and sickness (2 colds and strep throat) which has derailed me a bit. I really hope that I can stay healthy and injury-free this year and have as successful a race as Cozumel.

GGTC ladies ride in Marin!

GGTC ladies ride in Marin!

Biking selfie on the Golden Gate Bridge in my new Kona-inspired Smashfest kit!

Biking on the Golden Gate Bridge in my new Kona-inspired Smashfest kit!

Happy New Year from the San Bruno Mountains!

Happy New Year from the San Bruno Mountains!

Looking Ahead

Last year I did a ton of races to build my confidence for Ironman and to practice nutrition, pacing, outfits, open water, etc. It was an incredible and life-changing year,¬†but races can be¬†expensive and stressful. So this year I’m looking forward to only doing a couple¬†local¬†races with friends and having fun leading up to Kona.

July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015

I’m also committed to improving my swim form, becoming a stronger athlete (strength training!), eating clean, and overall staying healthy and motivated. Stay tuned for more updates on goals, progress, and performance.

That’s it for now. Thanks all! Let me know what you’d like to see this year from the blog. I’m always looking for inspiration for content so let me know!

Follow me on Instagram @Crohdster for photo updates!

Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.