Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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Holiday Tri-Guide

On behalf of Triathlete’s Choice (a new site for gear recommendation for triathletes), I compiled a “wish list” for Old St. Nick.  Looking for a great gift for a triathlete you know too?  Whether the person is a novice or a seasoned Ironman, I selected these items to suit any type of triathlete.  I also highlighted some cool finds that will help your triathlete juggle work, family, travel, and training.

Stocking Stuffers

 Arm Warmers: Season Five’s Atmos 1.0 arm sleeves are waterproof and super warm – perfect for winter cycling.  Castelli’s lycra arm warmers are great for more moderate climates, where you need more than just a jersey and less than a jacket. ($25-50)

Race Belt: Why bother with safety pins when you can easily attach your race number and adjust its position with a race belt?  Choose a color to match the team kit. ($7-$12)

Water Bottle Stuffed with Nutrition: Clean Bottle’s  ($10) unique design allows you to remove the base for a thorough wash.  Our recommendation: Take one Clean Bottle and fill it up with energy bars, gels, shot blocks and other nutrition.  Share the holiday spirit by including some of Cliff Bar’s seasonal flavors including Pepermint Stick, Iced Gingerbread, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

Kiehl’s Cross-Terrain UV Face Protector SPF 50: Sun and wind protection all in one.  Essential for cycling, running, or any cross-season snow sports. $26

Out of Sight Socks: We’re not talking about a case of the missing sock, but rather the Hidden Comfort socks from Balega  ($12) that have a low profile that keeps the socks out of sight, and still prevents ankle rubbing.

For the Traveling Triathlete

Single Serving Sports Drinks:  These individual serving sized packets are easy to pack.  No more fuss with measuring cups or plastic bags.   ($1-3 per pack)

Workout at the Westin:  Westin Hotels have teamed up with New Balance to provide shoes and clothing during a stay for $5 USD.  Give a gift card for a Westin stay and make packing a little lighter.

Find a Route, Track Goals: Sign them up for Map My Run, Strava Premium ($60/year), RunKeeper or a similar app to help them find running routes in new cities or keep track of workouts and mileage.

TriBike Transport: Help your athlete get his or her bike to the next race safely.  Sign up for shipping via TriBike Transport. ($300 per race)

Patagonia Merino Base Gloves: Pack light with this pair of universal gloves – perfect for a morning run and subtle enough to wear to the business meeting.  ($35)

Bicycle Wine Rack: If travel means mixing business and pleasure, this leather wine rack holder will be essential for those rides from Napa to Italy.  ($34)

For the Gear Head

Garmin Forerunner 910XT: More than just a GPS device, this device tracks swim metrics, cycling cadence, running pace, elevation gain and more.  ($450)

Rapha jacket: Style and substance all in one.  These jackets will keep you warm and dry through year round training.  ($150-$450)

Yaktrax Run: Keep your footing in snowy and slippery conditions by adding these grippers to your favorite running shoes.  ($40)

Race Day Wheels:  Give the gift of lightweight wheels.  Purchase a gift card or reserve wheels for your athlete’s A race.  ($150)


For the New Triathlete

Reading Essentials:

The Triathlete’s Training Bible

Multisport Training Plans

 USAT Membership:  A year-long membership is essential for any athlete racing in USAT sanctioned races.  Plus, membership provides more discounts and resources! ($45) 

Garmin Forerunner: This straightforward and fashionable watch accurately measures distance and pace without an array of overwhelming and unnecessary features. ($130)

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Folsom Sprint Race Report

Saturday morning marked the first event of the August Adventure Weekend – the Folsom Sprint Triathlon.  I have not participated in a sprint distance race since 2007.  After many long, slow, endurance events, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to turn on any speed.  But, it didn’t matter…I just felt pretty certain I needed to race at least once this season to still call myself a triathlete.  And, what better reason to organize a camping, kayaking, and rafting trip than around a race?


My friend Julia and I arrived Nimbus Flat Park in Folsom with some other things on our minds than the race – when we saw how cars were being boxed in, we couldn’t help but worry – “Would we be able to get out in time to get to our kayaking class?”  Our swim starts were slated for 8 am and our kayaking lesson would begin at 10 am.  With an hour and a half race time and 30 minutes of driving, we had just enough time…as long as we could get the car out!

Luckily, the park was small and the race area was set up well.  I have to say USA Productions does a great job with their events.  Everything was clearly marked, Mike’s Bikes was on hand to provide last minute service, Cytomax was giving out water and electrolytes, and there was even free coffee.  The transition area was a little bit of free for all – and I missed the GGTC club rack, but squeezed in elsewhere.

Besides getting out of the race in time, I was only worried about one other thing – getting my wetsuit off!  I have never worn a wetsuit in a sprint.  And, I couldn’t even recall the last time I put my wetsuit on.

The Swim

It was an in-water race start – my favorite!  The water felt great, I had plenty of time to tread water and get the right position.  It was the most gentle swim I’ve had in ages!  I took it easy and just enjoyed the water.  Made it out in about 15 minutes.  A little slower than some of my past swims, but ok.  Of course, the wetsuit got the best of me at transition.  I could not get it over the timing chip for the life of me, my leg even started shaking.  Three minutes later – it was off!  By the run, I realized the wetsuit got the better of me in one other way – a nice bit of chaffing under my arm (a sleeveless suit).

The Bike

This was my kind of bike course!  Flat, fast and just a few rolling hills.  I felt like I was flying!  I was easily clocking speeds of 18-24 mph.  I almost dropped my chain on one little climb, but remembered to be patient and not push through it (I did that last week and twisted the chain into a pretzel…one mile walk to the bike shop and $100 later to be riding again).  And, most exciting, for the first time I can recall, I felt a little of that competitive spirit.  In the last few miles, a woman tried to pass me on a left hand turn.  No way was I letting this lady in her fancy Facebook racing kit take me!  I hammered it out on the last main stretch of road, took the lead, and hogged the little bike lane back into the transition to ensure she could not pass me.  I knew she would likely get me on the run, but the bike was mine!  Time: 48 minutes

The Run

To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I wanted to push harder and I knew I usually could, but my legs felt heavy and my right hip hurt a little.  I consoled myself by thinking, “you’re just out for a morning jog on Chrissy Field,” enjoy it.  But, the ladies in my age group started passing me and my friend Julia caught me (having started from the wave after me).  I trudged on through, and finally felt like my legs were waking up in the last half mile.  Maybe I am meant for Olympic distance after all?  Time: 27 minutes


It was a great race – nice size, well run.  I’ll definitely do another USA Productions race in the future.  It was great to see my teammates John, Natalie, and Geoff there.  And, I have to say I’m pleased with finishing 10th in my age group and 31st of all 168 women.  My final time was 1:37.  I think I could have gone faster on the swim and run.  I haven’t been training too much (or consistently for that matter), so it’s good to know I’ve got strength and am building my competitive spirit.

Oh, and we got the car out just fine, in case you were wondering.  Made it to kayaking at Current Adventures only about 20 minutes late.  And, I nailed my first roll of the day!

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It’s a Small World After IM

I already knew it was a small community of athletes going into this IM race.  There are at least 30 people I know from the Bay Area (Golden Gate Tri Club, SF Tri and M2 ) racing and my DC crew is here too (Colin, Jim, Eric and Tom).  But, what are the chances that at the athlete dinner tonight, I find myself sitting across the table from the same man I sat across the table from at the IM Wisconsin 2009 athlete dinner?

I wasn’t sure until all my questions were answered:

Did you race IM Moo 2009? Check.

Have you done 10-12 IM races? Yes, this is 14.

Are you from Mexico? Yes, Mexico City.


Turns out my friend Tom recognized him too.  Out of 2,800 athletes, what are the chances?


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Training Week

I spent June 12-18, 2011 at Otter Bar Lodge in Northern California.  While the primary purpose was to learn to whitewater kayak, it was also a great trip to focus on my IM training.  In addition to paddling on the California Salmon river each day, I also squeezed in a number of rides and runs in the Klamath National Forest.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the week:

  • Sun: 1 hour 15 min run, AM pond paddle, PM river
  • Mon: Paddle only (pond, river, more pond and about 30 rolls)
  • Tues: 30 min run, AM Pond paddle, PM river – the “Wild Mile”
  • Wed: 50 mile ride!
  • Thurs: 40 min run, AM pond, PM river – all the way back to the lodge!
  • Fri: 20 mile ride, AM Pond, PM river – all the way back to the lodge again!
  • Sat: AM river run – all the way back to the lodge

Wednesday’s bike ride was incredible.  I rolled out on the one lane road that leads to Otter Bar and headed down river towards Somes Bar.  The road twists and turns for at least 8 miles, hugging each bend in the river, with absolutely no shoulder – just a straight drop down to the river on one side and crumbling rocky boulders on the other side.  I came head to head with a small fuel truck at one turn, but he didn’t seem surprised to see me.  I was thankful to be on a two lane road by mile 10 of the ride.

Klamath river

Klamath River at Ishi Pishi Bridge

At Somes Bar, I dropped down behind the general store to take the Ishi Pishi road over the Klamath river down to Orleans.  Bob, the lodge’s massage therapist, former pro cycling team mechanic and avid cyclist (he rides his bike from his home to the lodge every day on that crazy one lane road!), recommended the route.  Below is a view from the bridge.  It was a long, long climb – followed by a terrifying descent that made my hands and shoulders hurt from clutching the brakes for so long. I cycled back to Somes Bar along Highway 96 and stopped at the general store for a well deserved ice cream (and chat with the locals).

Often in training, we talk about the heat index on a ride or a headwind that makes a 40 mile ride feel like 50.  So, after this 50 mile ride around the Klamath National Forest and Six Rivers National Forest, I couldn’t help but wonder how many miles I could add on to the ride given the fear index?  If you factor in the fear of the one lane road, the fuel truck, and the terrifying descent to Orleans, my ride must have been more like 60+ miles, right?

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Ironman Canada – Here We Come!

Online registration was a success!  From coast to coast, the following friends and I will be training to tackle 140.6 miles on August 28, 2011 in Penticon, Canada.

From the East Coast, my companions from IMLP to IM Moo:

  • Colin
  • Jim R
  • Jimmy G
  • Tom
  • Eric

From the West Coast, my new partners in crime:

  • Veronica
  • Kahn
  • Heather
  • Jamie
  • Lena
  • Rachel

This is going to be great!  Next question, who is coming to Canada to cheer?  🙂

  • Eric


Santa Barbara Race Report

I should have been more suspect of this so-called Long Course triathlon – longer than an Olympic and shorter than a half.  I thought the Santa Barbara Triathlon would be an easy-breazy beach race.  With a 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike ride and 10 mile run, it wouldn’t matter that I barely trained.

Race Day:

I bumped into my friend Liza.  We knew each other in DC and she lives in Santa Monica now.  She mentioned that this is a hard course – coming from Liza (an amazing athlete), I realized I might be in for a little more than I planned.  The swim start was my least favorite kind – running in to the ocean Baywatch style.  Fog hung low over the choppy water and the race announcers described it as slightly better than pea soup.  My wave went off at 7:35 am.

It was my worst swim ever.  Ever.  Not only was my time horrible, but my mental state was also poor.  I just wanted out.  My arm was getting chafed by my wetsuit/tri top (I swim in a sleeveless suit).  The waves were relentless and I could barely see the buoys.  And, I was thirsty from guzzling salt water each time I attempted to breathe.

There was some slight relief when I took off on the bike ride.  Then the hills hit – false flats, a few long climbs, and more false flats.  My stomach was aching from the salt water and I could still hear the ocean swooshing in my ears.  Only the avocado trees distracted me from time to time.  I saw Don from GGTC at one point and Julia passed me at another.

When I got off the bike, I was not sure I would be able to run.  My stomach ache was terrible – I felt like a pumpkin having my insides cleaned out.  I debated walking vs. running vs. quitting.  I walked out of transition and started to jog lightly.  The fog was lifting and with a little sunshine, I started to perk up.  My stomach cramps faded and my pace picked up.  Suddenly, I liked running.  I even ran up the hill!  And, by the last 2 miles, I remembered I was racing, and started picking off each person in front of me.  I ended the race feeling strong and satisfied.

Post Race:

It was not the best race of my life by any means.  But, I’m happy I found joy in running and the willingness to keep going.  Best yet, I got to spend the weekend with friends from all my triathlon communities: DC Tri, Wheelworks, and GGTC!  And, we had a great time partying with the LA Tri Club on Saturday night.

Santa Barbara Triathlon