Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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The Art of Being an Ironman Spectator

Guest Post by Miriam Strope!IMLP 2008_Parents

I will be watching my daughter Sara compete in her fourth IM race this July in Lake Placid, NY.  As a seasoned Ironman spectator (IMLP 2008, IM MOO 2009, and IM Canada 2011), and as a principal cheering team member I’d like to share some tips I have learned:

  • Be ready for ANY TYPE of WEATHER, regardless of what tourist information says is average for the host city!
  • Read the Ironman Athlete’s Guide – posted on the race website.
  • Find the “Getting Around on Race Day” information. Each sponsoring community usually publishes a little newspaper with details
  • Plan ahead and pick viewing spots based on maps and your participant’s expectations of the course.
    IMLP Rain Crewabout traffic, parking, and more.

        • You want to see your racer  – and they want to hear and see you! [Yes, that is usually my mom with the cowbell and school bell]
        • See if the host city encourages signs along the route. In Madison, they encouraged spectators to write chalk messages along specific streets. [you might be able to make signs the day or two before the race in the athlete village]
        • Pick the spot where you will meet your “finisher” after the race.

    IMLP Final Crew

    • Have a copy of all of your racer’s important information.
    • Study the host city and scout where you will be parking your car, eating, resting, and sight -seeing or just hanging out while your athlete is on the course. Madison had a great Farmers Market, and so did Penticton. Lake Placid has a vibrant Main Street with lots of shops and restaurants as well as Olympic village museums and sites to see. Who expects ice on the street in front of the Olympic Ice Hockey rink?
    • Why the above is important – Spectators may be spending the same 12 – 14 hour day outside and on your feet.  You won’t have stations along the way for hydration or snacks, so be prepared and bring some water, sun screen, snacks –  or know where you can go to get food, water, snacks or cool off. Remember the race is on Sunday, so check what is usually open and when things usually close. Some merchants extend their hours during the IM race or as in Penticton encouraged us to stay and simply stayed open longer. Sometimes costs are high.
    • Be ready to do a lot of walking. If our support team can, we try to stay within walking distance of the start and finish lines.
    • Be sure that your cameras, Smart phones, battery chargers (yes bring more than one) are working.
    • Ability to text really improved our participation and communication with others, and with those supporters who could not get to the IM race location.


4th of July – Ironman Style

We escaped to Napa/Sonoma for some 4th of July celebrating.  Here’s how to celebrate the 4th like an Ironman in Training!

1. 40 mile bike ride along the Silverado Trail.  90+ degrees.  Paceline for 20 miles, average speed 19-20 mph.



2. Swim in a Lake. New find: Spring Lake Regional Park!  

Spring Lake Park

3. FEAST!  Family style picnic at SpoonBar!, music by Easy Leaves Duo, Fireworks – Healdsburg Plaza.  Done!

Easy Leaves Duo








Fourth of July Menu

1st course
Chilled watermelon + verbena
Chopped salad
Corn bread + smoked honey

2nd course
Slow roasted spare ribs, sesame, BBQ sauce, scallions
Crispy fried chicken, jalapeno mash
Baked Rancho Gordo beans, roasted + picked pigs head, herbs
Roasted corn on the cob, lime, queso fresco, arbol chili
Fingerling potato salad, pickled onions, mustard, aioli

3rd course
A picnic basket of cheese, sour dough, summer fruit preserves
Chilled berries


Ride Report: Giro di Pacifica

10,000 ft of climbing + 100 miles + 106 degrees = Giro di Pacifica Century Ride.

I joined my friend Katya (also racing LP – and she also lived in Delmar!), a few of her friends, and my friend Rachel for this organized bike ride around the South Bay.  The ride started in Pacifica, went down the coast along Rt.1 to Pescadero, then climbed over the mountains towards Palo Alto (view full route).  While we’ve cycled these roads before, this was a new overall route and we were excited about a fully supported ride (aid stations, SAG support).

The Highlights:

Not only did we go through the new Lantos “Devil’s Slide” Tunnel on Rt. 1, but Katya’s friends won the “First Through the Tunnel” option and the small group of us got the whole tunnel to ourselves.

I discovered POTATOES.  When you cannot stomach another cliff bar or Gu, try a boiled potato!  White potatoes have a high glycemic index so they provide a quick energy burst and are easy to digest.  They even keep in your jersey pocket.   I’m thinking about adding some to my special needs bag for IMLP.  Overall potato intake: Roughly 7 halves of small white potatoes.

I remembered to DRINK while climbing.  I made it up Alpine road – the toughest 7 mile climb on the route – with no trouble, thanks to my consumption of nearly 2 bottles of sports drink.  Much better than my attempt at Brockway Summit in Lake Tahoe with half a bottle of GuBrew that left me ready to vomit.

The Challenges:

The HILLS… never… ended.  There was a climb on Pescadero Creek Road leading up to Alpine.  There was a good climb between the aid stations at miles 65 and 80.  Oh, and just when we thought we were done – in Pacifica, turning back onto Rt. 1 with a mile to go – yup, you got it, one more little hill.

The heat.  Seriously.  106 degrees?  As one other cyclist said after our major descent, “It felt like I was cycling straight into a hot hairdryer.”  Most of the aid stations had no shade or tents.  I don’t know why I keep cycling in this heat.  Right now, it’s close to flooding in the Lake Placid region.

Finally, the organizers did a pretty good job, but I do have to say it was disappointing that one aid station was not set up as planned and the aid station at mile 80 had run out of sports drink.

I’m hoping I can get in another 100 miles+ this coming weekend, with a lot less heat and hills!

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30 Days until IMLP 2013

I went to Lake Placid over Memorial Day Weekend and picked up a few tips that will be good to know for race weekend – just a month away!

1. The road conditions on Rt. 73 heading out of LP towards Keene are a little rough, but the rest of the roads on the bike route are in good shape.

2. There’s a new hotel going up next door to the Lake Placid Brewery. It’s a Hampton Inn and is open for the race weekend.

3. Lake Placid Brewery now has a third floor! With a kids play room and a big room for private parties

4. Bluesberry Bakery on Main St will make things (like maple walnut scones) special order if you call ahead!

5. There’s a new grocery store in town. Hannaford is across the street from Price Chopper now.

6. Placid Planet Bicycle shop will be open 24 hours a day during race week

And, hopefully, we won’t see any of this weather we saw in May:

Snowy May Lake Placid




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Race Report: Monte Rio Triathlon

A quick last minute decision – race the Monte Rio Olympic Distance triathlon on June 2nd.  I signed up about two weeks before the race.  I figured, it would be good to get one race “practice” under my belt this season before Ironman, especially if I want to better at IMLP this year.  Plus, the race was a new addition from the team that runs Vineman – and lots of my friends from Golden Gate Triathlon Club (GGTC) were participating.

The race was sandwiched in between a perfect Northern California weekend.  On Saturday, my friends Ann, Heather, Rachel and I cycled near Monte Rio – tackling most of the Levi’s Grand Fondo Medio Route which includes a stretch of Highway 1 and a climb up Coleman Valley Road.  Post race on Sunday, we spent some time at a pool, then Stonestreet Winery and finished with dinner at Chalkboard – a new restaurant in Healdsburg (fresh crab and tater tots, yum!).

The race was great!  It was a perfect course for my strengths.  Here’s a quick recap.

Olympic Distance – Swim 1.1 miles, Bike 25 miles, and run 6.2 miles

Overall Time/Finish: 2:51/8th in age group

  • Swim – a bit uneventful.  It was longer than it should have been.  I’m glad I wore my wetsuit (it was the one thing I had been debating before the race).  And, I’m pretty sure that I hit my fellow GGTC member Erika several times – sorry Erika!  Time: 30 minutes
  • Bike: What a perfect course for my strengths!  Flat and fast!  From the moment I left the transition area to the time I returned, I felt like my goal of improving the bike was paying off!  Lots of bikes in transition when I left and not many when I returned.  I only recall a couple women passing me.  And yes, I do recall feeling a bit competitive!  Time: 1:17 (19 mph average)
  • Run: First, there was my rookie transition move – I had my shoelaces tied on my new shoes.  Oops.  It took the first mile to get into a groove on the run.  I felt confident running, but I definitely did not push myself.  I only seemed to remember to race when I was coming into the finisher’s chute and there was a woman in front of me struggling up the little steep hill before the finish line – “I’ve got this,” and passed her.  I think I spent most of the run looking for my GGTC teammates to say hi.  I almost feel like I forgot to run. Time: 55 minutes (8:53 pace)

The race definitely reinforced that my training is on track and I am getting stronger.  It helped me think about where to spend the next 5 weeks before IMLP too.  I’m excited to see if I can put a little more rigor into the run like I have on the bike.  The race also reminded me to push myself a little harder – if I’m swimming laps in the hotel pool after the race, I might not have pushed hard enough!


Motherlode Century

It’s funny what you willingly sign yourself up for sometimes.  Take the Motherlode Century bike ride, for example.  The website does little to hide the fact that it will be hilly.  And, by hilly, I mean close to 10,000 feet of climbing!  Seriously, that’s like hiking on your bike.  And, the ride was starting in Lotus, CA – that’s right along the South Fork American River in the foothills of Gold country outside Lake Tahoe – where it is HOT.

So, knowing full well, it would be a long, hot, hilly day, I signed up for the Motherlode, packed up my gear, and joined my friends to tackle this thing.

Motherlode century start

Ready to go!

The ride was not too bad to start.  And, we were enjoying the full support with aid stations every 20 miles or so.  Who can resist soda, jelly beans, and salty chips on a hot day?  Soda count: 1

It was around mile 40, that things got interesting.  First up – Mosquito hill.  And, yes, the hill was named appropriately.  At times I could see the mosquitos sitting on my arm snacking away, and I could do nothing to stop them.  Surely taking even one hand off the handle bars would have led to me falling over on the steep climb.

Next, we all wore out our brakes on the steepest descent down a one lane road that ended with crossing over a wooden bridge.  Oh, and then we had to climb back up, of course.

Mosquito Hill Bridge

Mosquito Hill Bridge

We were still in pretty good spirits, especially after the lunch stop.  Per Kelly’s advice, I loaded pickles on my sandwich.  Rumor has it they help prevent cramping.  Seemed like a good idea.  Soda count: 2.5

Mile 71 brought the most interesting and challenging element of the ride.  We cruised down a winding road only to find the road slowly breaking up – first gravel, then dirt, then a creek.  Yes, we had a water crossing.  The ride organizers had a volunteer there to serve as a bike valet.  CK got a lift, and we waded through the water and cooled off a little.  Did I mention it was in the 90’s by this time?

motherlode river crossing

motherlode bike valet











Leaving Weber Creek was one of the toughest, steepest climbs. From a complete standstill, you had to climb something so steep, all you could do was stand, pedal, and look at your front tire.

While that was challenging, it was the final climb up Salmon Falls that nearly did me in.  Totally exposed with the sun beating down on us from miles 75-87.  An extra aid station part way up the climb was essential for my soda intake.  Soda count: 3.5

The ride finally came to finish with an easy 4 miles back to the Earth Trek Campground.  Showers, the river, a band, a BBQ – perfect!

We recovered enough on Saturday for an 8 mile run near Folsom Lake.  Our spirits had improved enough that everyone was willing to participate in a little synchronized swimming lesson from yours truly.

post motherlode synchro