Thursday, January 5, 2017

2 months off

I am good at coaching my athletes to take a proper end of the season break- even encouraging them to take a break from me, as much as they love the daily dose of Dunkle. It is good to take a solid break from swim/bike/run and a mental break from waking up to a Training Peak's email with your workout of the day.  But me personally..... I am not so good at losing fitness or taking that break, that is until 2016. The last few years have been do as I say not as I do. 

By the time we crawled, okay walked, out of the Grand Canyon after R2R2 I was so ready for a break, not "I want to quit kind of break" just a proper unstructured few months.  So I hit the pause button with my coach and just chilled out.   I am not a sedentary person so I was active most days,and with 2 Vizslas you cannot be sedendary. Prior to our trip to HK and Myanmar I was cruising the coast on my bike and taking some fitness classes.  My glute was seriously aggravated from, well a LONG season of 2x70.3's, 3 Ironman's and R2R2R, so I needed some time off running.  Then they closed the pool renovation and Alga is cold and well....really I wanted to take a break from swimming too.

When I landed back in the US on 12/4 I was eager to get on my bike, but more so because that is my social time, girl time and I was jonesing to catch up with everyone.  I logged quite a few miles in Dec on the bike but it was casual and slow, as in 40watts under IM slow, it was tooling around, chatting, being annoyed with traffic as it was cutting into my "chat " time. It was also logging miles to allow for holiday sweets and beverages.  Yes gaining a few lbs is okay but I was not looking go gain in the double digits. 

Sure we did some good rides, GWL + Descanso, Rice and Couser etc but the ride times were way way off.... so far off that I nearly missed an appointment.  I plan ride times within 5 min 90% of the time, that is until now and I was off 15-30 min off.  Off season pace.   To say it did not bother me would be a tiny lie, or a huge one as I HATE losing fitness.  Rationally I know needed to lose fitness, not care about watts etc, but when you see your Average Power and ride time for a ride you regularly do and it is shockingly off, it makes me pause and think the climb back up is not going to be pretty.  

The pool reopened mid December and well 4 weeks out of the water + 3 weeks of 1-2 swims a week takes it toll.   I refused to drop down a lane because I am a swim snob  so I suffered at the back of my lane until I had to put on paddles and when that was not working I got out.  Petulant? maybe.....but well it's December I was on my own plan.

The idea of hitting the gym hard in December is good in theory, but did not happen for me.  I went a few times, enough to feel it, but I was operating on do what I want to do. I hopped around to a few strength classes but resolved I know what I need to do and how to do it.  While clinching my cheeks for 20+ min in barre class may give my rear a boost I am not so sure it will help me in the back 1/2 of the marathon in an Ironman.  Functional vs vanity. 

And just like that Jan 1 rolled around and I woke up that familiar email from Michael Ricci:  Schedule for Sunday 01/01/2017 to Monday 01/02/2017.  And I am once again a "follower", although probably not as good of a follower as Coach Mike would like.  I still question, challenge and push a bit or a lot....but the plan is in place.  I dusted off the WahooKickr and reacquainted myself with the suffering on the trainer, can I remind you all how much I DISLIKE that beast.... OUr runs have a purpose again and the weight room is not optional. Biking changes much as riding is my social life I want to "follow the plan" which may mean riding shorter than my friends are, doing intervals when I'd like to be chatting it up...yes this is a hobby but I have big goals for 2017!  So it's striking a balance of fun/socializing and following the place that was written by someone I trust and who knows me and what it will take to tick off the goals.  Got that Mike? 

Here's to 2017 and collecting hardware! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Back at it

Last blog post was 11/21 in the beginning of our Myanmar/Hong Kong adventure.  I started 7 blogs on the trip and just never finished them....what we saw and experienced simply could not be captured in pictures let alone words- so I quite writing and just traveled.  My advice to everyone is get out and experience this amazing planet.  Buy less stuff and experience more.  

Visit any place that inspires you, intrigues you, scares you or is interesting.   For all the negativity about the US, I challenge you to visit other countries, developing countries and you will appreciate all the good in the US.  While many are upset with the President-elect, be thankful we live in a democracy and we have a say in our leadership.  Are you frustrated with day to day challenges....try a country without paved roads or electricity.    And a trip away is good for the marriage.... no racing, just experiencing new lands together. 

Post trip we were unpacking and repacking for our next trip to Santa Cruz. Getting"ready" for Christmas. 

 We spent 5 days in Santa Cruz with the kids and dogs and it was fantastic..... It was 5 days of running with John and the dogs, amazing hikes with the kids and dogs, cooking in our VRBO, playing card games and the funniest game ever Watch ya Mouth, discovering SC dog beach and checking out all of Riley's favorite spots.  I was hoping for quality time and we got our money's worth.

My inspiration to write today is the book.  Shoe Dog  A memoir of Phil Knight and the creating of Nike.  The book is sensational on so many levels.....A humbling tale of how Nike became a $30Billion was not overnight, it was not easy, it was not without so many near fails....the story is riveting, interesting and just plain fun.    

There are so many appealing factors.. running, sport, business, athletics etc.  There's something about athletes. Maybe they know about passion, defeat and team spirit better than others. And maybe that's why they are better than others in handling a real crisis. And when a bunch of them come together to create a company, the story had to be this fascinating. This book reveals a lot about Phil Knight. A humble man who saw the best in others. Maybe he was lucky to find such a driven team or maybe he could just appreciate the good in others better than anyone else. This story is about the time when entrepreneurs created real stuff. Bowerman and Knight, with their expertise in running came together to create shoes that would make running easier for athletes. It was creating something 'real'.  An honest memoir. Read it if you are struggling in a startup. No. Read it anyways ! I am sad the book it over....

Happy New Year!!  Bring on 2017

Monday, November 21, 2016


The Yangon domestic terminal is state of the art in comparison to the Bagon terminal. Tiny, old but efficient.  Without checked bags we are off the plane and on our way in minutes.  

 With our wad of kyat wade through the mane eager taxi drivers. The one we select has a passenger who is a tour guide- convenient 😏. He pitches us en route to the Aye Yar River Resort in a day of touring.  All bookings btw done on Agoda- best app for international bookings.  Book, pay and easily stored with maps for navigation. 
Early check in and I was ready to sleep... jet leg! But we headed out and spend the morning on foot and car seeing a few of the nearly 1000 pagodas and temples.  Just amazing... they are all over in the grass, fields and along the road.  Some really small and others massive... the 

16 hours in Yangon

16 hours in Yangon ... a try at the blogger app.  No pics.. just thoughts 

Getting from my brothers to HK Intl airport is painless.. modern, efficient and a comfortable train ride. Yangon airlines was passable (barely) and now that we are on Air KBZ I've upgraded my opinion of Yangon Airlines.

Arriving into Yangon is impressive as you approach a brand new international terminal. Modern design and beautiful.  Navigating is quite easy and we soon found the $ exchange. Suddenly out 16 $100 bills turned into $2,600,000 kyat.  2 x 3 inch piles of bills.  Crazy... next stop with our wad of cash and was the SIM card and whamo we have cell service. 

The 10 mile taxi ride took nearly an hour due to rush but traffic. The time change is -90 min from HK.  How is that for a new one.  By the time we arrived at the Chatrium Royal Lake Resort I was famished and exhausted...the plan to seek out a place for dinner soon was killed and we found ourselves in the hotel Restaurant and a lavish buffet where you selected raw fish, lobster, meat etc to be grilled as well as copious other options of which some were questionable but most very good.  So far my impression of local wine is quite low.   We feel into a deep sleep by 8:30 with full bellies and enough drinkable wine to feel good.   

The 5:20 wake up call was not necessary as we are still a bit jet lagged and had been up for a bit.  A lavish breakfast included was wasted on me but the coffee was strong and flowed readily.   Onto the dometic airport for our flight to Bagon with a very friendly driver who commentated the entire drive and we undrtstood little of what he said.  We nodded and smiled and toward the end hear "Trump"

But am still unclear if the context.  This terminal is quite old, although ornate, and bustling. Noisy, busy and chaotic. And into Air KBZ and cat piss comes to mind. They were quick to serve breakfast- bun with a mayonnaise and mystery spread, pink cake with frosting and a chunk of dark chocolate.  Wishing now I'd enjoyed the omelette and fresh smoothies. Coffee is warm and instant. 

 Let the adventure begin! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Running the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R)

day before- we are good - lets just look from up top
The last big effort of the year.... topping of my 50th with R2R2R  48 miles down the grand canyon across up and back down and back across and up again.   1 day!  I'll give the story now and at the end- my advice on gear, what we would do differently etc

Our group of 6 was only 4 due to an scary illness in Heidi so they could not make the trip (boo).

We drove SD to GC Friday- 8ish hours and were at the SK (South Kaibob) trail head by 4pm and this was both of our first look at the GC.  My gut was so stunningly beautiful and hard to fathom we would someone get to the bottom and across and back.  It was a bit like, nevermind, lets just sleep in and do a day hike.

perspecitve on the climbing
SK trailhead has no parking and no cars allowed, although we bypassed the Buses Only to check out the trail head, as did 20 other cars.  The proper parking is 1/2 mile down the road.    From there we went to check out BA (Bright Angel) trail head where we planned to come out. This has lots of parking, hotels, food establishments etc.  If you plan to exit the trail at BA I would highly recommend staying at the trail head so you can finish and get home.  But these book up fast...   Any spot at the BA trail head would work well

We stayed at the Yavapai lodge which worked well for us.  Family room and we had a king and bunks so Jen could stay with us.  2 miles from BA and 4 miles from SK.  We took a taxi to and from without issue.
ready to roll at 4am

Once we finished totally freaking out admiring the view we headed to check in.  My pack was packed and ready to go meanwhile John went shopping the previous night and was still trying out his options.   Much like an Ironman we were laying out and pacing gear and Jen arrived.  Let the party begin, We packed, laughed and all had a bit of nervous energy.  We downed Melatonin around 7 and Jen and I knocked back a glass of wine for good measure.  Lights out by 8.
what are we doing today

The 3am Ironman alarm went off and it was go time!  We brought lots of food so we fueled up on protein pancakes (cold) with nut butter and coffee.   3:40 met Jason out front and called the taxi and he was there within 5 min.  NOTE: cash only.  Temp was 46 and comfortable.

4:00 at SK trail head and off we went-  we have a 20 min stop about 2 min in due to sunglass loss down the slope but John found them.  On we went.

SK descent is steep, pitch dark and technical.   Headlamp a must and Jen and John had hand held flashlight which I recommend too.  Jens was great- super light and a  strap. Nathan Zephyr. Mind you I am not a trail runner and am a terrible descender so my goal was safety first and stay on my feet.  This is why I will never be an Ultra runner- my skills suck and before you say " you can still learn" , please cut me some slack, I am 50 and was a swimmer for good reason - can you say uncoordinated.   Every time I work on my trial descending skills I end up face down and bleeding....

We hit Phantom Ranch around 6:45 and the sun was coming up.  We ditched our jackets (behind a rock). We descended in Tech T.s , shorts, compression socks, ear warmer, trucker hat and gloves.  As the sun came up and were were on the GC floor it is breathtaking and the most amazing sight I have ever seen. It still brings tears to my eyes.  Stunning!

I also realized my legs were killing me not fresh and it was going to be a long day.  We jogged the next 8 miles across, South to North is a gradual up hill and while John and Jen were doing great I was already struggling- my periformis was throbbing and my legs were plain tired,   Jen and I managed to keep a steady conversation from the beginning and it was fantastically fun!  I HIGHLY recommend bringing someone who can chat for hours upon hours and laugh alll day long.

And now the 5 miles up the NR (north rim) steep and slow but again stunning.  Every time you look around it is breathtaking. It was surrel. I was hurting a lot- hot spots on feet (despite band aids and body glide) were sore.   We met a great group from Alabama who was on the same R3 route and hiked together for a bit. Good stories about their journey and some good smack talk about LSU vs Alabama.  I had imagined there would be no one else around but you see people off and on all day, except in the pitch dark when you would LOVE to see someone.
OMG we are only 1/2 way

At the top of NR I was considering calling it a day.  My periformis  was sore and I was the weak link, holding up Jen and John. They convinced me to keep going, we would hike/walk and they were okay with the pedestrian pace. I was ready to hitchhike back, find a bar and call it a day.  But then it occurred to me that I would have  get to come back and to the full R3 another time, so I was in. NR was cold and we tried to get in and out and not really think that we were only 1/2 way LOL.  7 1/2 hours to NR.  Every stop is about filling bladder- I DO NOT recommend the camelback with the disc opening.  Sure it works great in your kitchen sink, but try it 20 + miles in, at a fawcet that blasts water at firehose pressure and while it is attached to your pack.  NOT so easy any more.  I'd like products to be tested when the person is fatigued, at altitude and wonky than we can say things like "seamless" "easy"

And down we went, it felt "good" to be going down vs up and we continued our chatter of any and all topics . The views never quit, just when you think I've seen it all you see it from a different perspective and ooh and ah all over again.  And when I was really hurting all the time at this point I would look around and lose my breath. At the bottom it was foot triage time- 4 blisters and hot spots, This was the first of 4 triage moments for me.  R3 I used 11 band aids, duct tape, body glide and then just suffered.

Jogging back was not happening for me- between the periformis and the feet it was power walking and Jen was okay with that. We merrily chatted our way across the GC.  In what seemed an eternity we finally made to back to Phantom Ranch.  There is a Cantina there cooking up food and at this point you would pay $100 or $1000for anything that was not in your pack, but they are closed 5-8pm for campers only.  We were too slow to get real food... although we did not plan on it anyway.

Sunset, headlamps on and the climb out.  I have to say I was miserable due  to my feet, the pace was slow but it was just painful.  Thank you Jen for the conversation and fun!  John had run across and waiting and hour for us as he did not want us to ascend alone.  Thank you honey! He wanted a nap mid run and he got one.  And up we went, and up and up and up. 20 min in Jen and I saw a Mountain Lion- no joke and for sure.  It was on the ridge and when our headlamps shone on his eyes he bolted.  That was terrifying...

The never ending trail takes you down to the river first which is really confusing and caused near screaming and a lot of consternation debate amongst us and finally back up and up and up.  Everyone says the climb out is never ending.  You think you get it but it really is never never never ending.  You keep thinking one more switch back. We climbed in t's most of the time and maybe the last hour in longsleeve.   John was a bit ahead and makes a turn and says we are out!  no way, it become unreal - are we done really?  Relief and happiness and 34 degrees.  WOWZA!!!

No medal, no announcer, no finish line- just the pure satisfaction that we did it! 18 hours which was our worse case scenario.  I did not plan to walk so much but so be it.  We finished and I have ZERO desire to go back.  One and done is good for me.
best fuel option!!!


  • Only crazy ass M'fers would do this more than once or even once, but well we fit that bill.
  • plan for the worst- we planned for 18 hours and hoped for faster but no avail - we had enough for 18-22 hours
  • walking/hiking you burn less calories so we consumed less
  • don't descend with 3liters of water- you only need 1/2 L for the descent and keep your pack light as possible on the way down
  • you only need 2L option due to frequency of water- for this time of year. If it was 100 degrees you need more
    the pack I used 
  • go with 2L bladder and collapsible bottles as back up (in case some water is turned off)
  • mix your calories as you get tired of the same food - my favorite for the day was the nut butter- not too sweet and dense in calories
  • we "saved" the gels and those were not what we wanted to consume on the hike out- but alas only option
  • caffeine pills saved us
  • I would reverse the run and go down BA - 2 miles longer and less steep an thus "easier" to descend in the dark.  Coming up is brutal anyway - I'd rather just get it done, mind you I have not done that so maybe the steepness is just not worth it.  The downfall of this is finishing at SK there is NOTHING so you are waiting in the cold for a taxi and it took 20 min at 10pm
  • Go in April/May- similar temps to what we had BUT you have 3+ more hours of daylight so you are not ascending totally in the dark.   
  • Training- I felt woefully under trained or maybe just fatigued from a long season. I'd do at least 4, 5+ hour trail runs on technical terrain up and down with your pack loaded up- the extra weight changes your gait and adds to the load
  • Duh- wear your proposed shoes AND socks on those runs-  due to Ironman I was not able to do that and I paid for it.
  • Hiking poles- Jen brought a pair and we did not expect to use them but we did and LOVED them- we each took one- easy to run with and use when hiking 
  • Wear shorts with pockets for easy accessible food/pills etc.  Have a hydration pack with pockets you can access without taking your pack off
  • More weighted stair sessions-  5 or 6, 2+ hour sessions with a weighted pack.
  • Bring food in case you are not up for the pizza /beer option.  We were freezing, tired and just wanted to get clean and warm.  I had made enchiladas and brought some wine/cider. We cleaned up and had a picnic in our room.    
Love you honey- never again 
OMG we made it
Just like anything - there are A LOT of opinions...this is mine. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

That's a wrap

2x 70.3's and 3 140.6 and a few other random races should, I say should, be a solid season but NO I have one more tiny ok big ass  event on the books.  Big as in 48 miles of running through or should I say down and across and up and down and across the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, we are doing R3 or R2R2R ( Rim to Rim to Rim)  As most people ask next, all in one day? Yes in one day (or at lease we hope)  48 miles and 20,000 (yes 3 zeros) feet in elevation- 10k up and 10k down

The sordid story is not all the sordid....really the topic was broached early this year as what should we do for my gulp 50th birthday.  We came up with R3 and it seemed was perfect- My birthday fell (10/21) on Friday and we would do it the next day.  Well then I decided I really wanted to race in Kona this year and had to do 2 IM's do get there as I did  NOT get the job done in Canada.  So 3 Ironman races in 11 weeks and my birthday  was 2 weeks post Kona and that just seemed nuts. But 4 weeks Kona ?  Yes still nuts but less nuts.  If you dont really think about it, it is less nuts- trust me.

We reached out the the R3 Queen (Smashfestqueen) for her guidance as she has knocked this bad boy out 3 times.  We needed training plans.

Mine was- train for Kona and add a few 30 min stair sessions. Whereas John's was building up more miles and had many more stair sessions with a 30lb pack + some long runs.  I did my long runs in Whistler, CdA and Kona. What is as stair session?  Head to Swami's where there are 140 stairs to the beach and you go up and down for said time.

The first time I did 30 min, post a 90 min run, it was not bad at all, until the next day and the day after.  My calves were totally wrecked. OMG.  So table that and train for Kona.  I crammed my R3 training in after I " recovered" from Kona, ha ha and before it was time to "taper" for R3.

Basically I chilled for a week and started climbing stairs, not really thinking that I had just done an Ironman or 3.  My culmination in training was last Tue with 25 min run, 2 hours of stairs with 27lbs and a 20 min run.  I woke up Wed thinking I am a badass as I feel pretty good.  Now Thur I was paralyzed....Good ol DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)

So we are now tapering, cramming, packing and still trying to figure out how to carry 4500 calories, 3 liters of water and stay warm in the AM (30 degrees) and comfortable in the canyon with the least amount of weight.

It is looking like this.

Salomon Running Vest with 2L bladder and 2 1/2 liter collapsible bottles
1200 calories carbo pro
1200 calories YUM butter
10 x HUMA gels
2x Boba Bars @390 calories each
2x The Perfect Cookie @ 400 calories each
6x The Right Stuff for sodium
Caffeine pills
Can you say hello 1970's split running shorts
I can tell you know- if the fashion police are in the GC this weekend
I am will be hideous 

Hoka Challenger ATR shoes
CEP Compression socks
1970's "race ready" running shorts
tech t
long sleeve tech t
cycling jacket
ear warmer
trucker hat
head lamp

First aid kit

And there you have it....

We are driving out Friday AM to the Grand Canyon- meeting Jen and Jason there.. wihs us luck! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Level 5

As my good friend Kim likes to all turning 50.... reaching Level 5.

One of the aspects of being a triathlete is that you "age up" on January 1.  Once the calendar turns you become whatever age you will be on 12/31 of that year.   So for 10 + months I have been 50 in triathlon years that is.  The first time I had to answer the "how old are you?" was in March at my first race this year.  I did gulp a bit and say 50.  I have had 50 scrawled on my calf 6 times before my birthday.  So the actual day did not change much, other then well I am 50.

I decided that 50 is really halfway to 100.   You may laugh but my Grandmother lived to 99 and my Aunt is currently 99, so it is within my family genes for sure.   Time will tell.....

learning to drink from the bit valve
The day was about as perfect as I could have hoped. Starting with a gnarly trail run/hike with John and the dogs (on very tired legs from a session of stair climbing the day before)  Coffee at Lofty, while I do love that place I am over the "massaged humanely treated almond milk " that is a $1.50 add on and the sheer attitude of pretentiousness of that place.  We have shifted our local coffee allegiance to Coffee Coffee, more "North County" coastal attitude with better seating and real people.

thanks mom for the cake and candles
We wrapped up the day with party.  No surprise party ( I foiled that early on), no black tombstone decorations, just a great night with good friends and my parents.  As ideal as it could be.  We had the food catered so it was easy!  Bought and drank a lot of wine.... You can tell it is the off season for my triathlete friends, as the wine consumption was nearly double of any other get together.   And the Vons cake (which I requested as I LOVE the buttercream frosting) was demolished. It was a nice with so many of my dear friends - the kind of night that just makes you feel so fortunate to have so many amazing people whom I consider to be my friends.

Cannot wait to roll this baby
While I am not a super "gifty" person my parents like to give at birthdays and especially the big ones.  My mom had reached out to Les for some ideas.... Surely she did not expect the disc wheel or Di2 shifting for the road bike ideas but my loving husband sold them on the disc. No memorable jewelry  but a gift I LOVE and will surely use for years!   Cannot wait for 2017 O'side..... the whop, whop, whop of the disc rolling on my bike!

Onto 51 and still feeling more like I am 40.