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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kona 2016

real photo from Kona swim start
This has taken tooooo long to write…and has been in progress for weeks- so I am finishing it and putting up.

This is NOT a typical race report, so don’t expect the riveting information about what I was wearing, eating and drinking with detailed splits and power numbers.  Big sigh of relief from anyone reading. 

A year ago the goal was to qualify early, IM Texas, recovery, take a small break and do a focused Kona build and try to FINALLY nail this race.   The fractured metatarsal threw a hammer wrench into that plan. Superseal did not happen, Oceanside was a cram session and the build for IM Canada went okay.  I came up short in Canada or truth be told, ran too darn slow and missed the slot. So the long Kona build from May that was pushed to July was still not happening.  So we hurried up,rested, trained a bit, and tapered and I qualified in Coeur d’Alene.  Sweet!
UP run fun with D3powered

7 weeks for a not so ideal Kona build.   More recovery, training and tapering in a short window.  Along the way sometime before Canada I had a major setback with my metatarsal, one that the 1st Dr put me back in the boot and the 2nd Orthopedic suggested surgery, so I cut running to every other day, used the bone stimulator and raced 2 Ironman races.  Foot seems to be 90% ok  Last Orthopedic apt, Dr says, “just  keep doing what you are doing”  Okay…. 
D3 Crew

Going into Kona I was not sure if I was under trained, still recovering or in a sweet spot.   Hard to say…. I can say 3 Ironman races in 11 weeks makes packing and planning easy, not much to re-do each time.

For me, Kona is the week of Kona and that was all I hoped for.  So much fun seeing so many friends from all over, running into competitors and friends every day, doing the casual taper training, eating great food and swimming in my favorite bay every day. 
My coach and other D3 athletes were in town and we had some good comradery at the Underpants run and doing a bit of “group” training.  Next the kids, my sister and Mom arrived Friday and that make the usual pre-race jitters say at bay as I was so excited to hang with them. 
dinner with friends 

Before I knew it, it was 3am on Saturday and I was once again drinking coffee and making banana pancakes for the big show.  I was calm and excited to get going…. Every time I do this race I feel like I know 10 more people, which makes more familiar faces, more friends to hang out with and waiting on the pier is just a big reunion. 
Add caption

7:05 and we are in the water, treading water and waiting for the magic cannon.  I enjoyed the swim, was never out of my comfort zone and was pleased to finally break an hour and take the AG win (in the swim) in Kona.   The bike was hot, windy and hard- hello, it is Kona.  I have ridden in better and worse conditions so no much to say, other than about 25 miles in I knew I was not all there.  I decided to not yell and scream and the Power meter, to not curse the wind, to not wonder why I do this sport, but to enjoy the ride and be thankful I am in the very race I worked so hard and sacrificed to be in.  I did that for the most part, definitely dropped a few F bombs in the head wind. 

My 83yo mother...what a trooper
Seeing my family on the course was grounding and good reminder about how much I have to be thankful for.  Love and support goes a LONG way! 

The run started rough, gee what a shocker.   While I was trying to find my cadence and deal with the next 25 miles I realize I was in between the lead scooter and Jan Frodeno (who was on his way to winning the race)  Helicopters, motos, screaming people as I am plodding along.  I was trying not to start crying as I realized he was finishing and I was on mile 1.  Instead I was thinking, how cool is this…. the IM World Champ is running alongside me, okay blowing by me, but you get the picture.   On to Alii drive and I found my legs and settled in for a long ass slow run that ended in the dark the marathon.  One mile at a time… around mile 7 I lost a gallon or so in the porta pottie and tried to be positive and think about how much lighter I must be now.  

My love and #1 fan
LOL  I was hurting on my way to the Queen K when I saw Michelle S and I nicely shouted “fck me” and she was great and said. “be grateful her are here” Thank you!  Attitude adjusted and off I went.   It was a long time and the sun may have been setting when I came out to the energy sucking lab that was as least 5 miles long and I was headed home.  It was not pretty and this is where I generally quit the sport, which I did, and I swear off Kona, which I did and convince myself that the strip of highway I am running on is indeed hillier than any other competitors.  

I spied or heard John in the near dark and he was his every so awesome cheerleader and I was not very nice.  He told me Riley and my sister were just up the road, which in my diminished brain state, meant a few hundred free not 2 miles, so I focused on being really mad at John for lying to me and came to an aid station asked for broth?  The Japanese tour group manning that station said “brof?”  Yes I say “chicken broth?”  Response “no cheeeken”  I say soup “oh yes soooop”   And before I knew it I crested the hill to Palani and soon found Lisa and Marcus who kept me company for a bit and then finally Riley and Kathleen, went by coach and onto the most magic part of any triathlon- the finish line on Alii Drive!  
Finish line pic with Riley - hugs

When you take as long as I did that day it is dark, yes, it is, so you are running toward the light, toward the “voice of Ironman” and the red carpet which makes me cry every time. 

Kona # 5 did not disappoint, okay the race did, but the week was magical and having my kids, sis and 82YO mom to hug at the finish line is what life is all about!  

Post IM SUP with kids and my sis 

cheeeken"h manning that station said "he hundered free not 2 miles, so I focused on being really mad at John for lying to me

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Riding what "everyone" else is riding

2 years ago I switched bikes from Felt to part of that decision was driven by sponsorship but I had a choice among a few bikes.   I remember when I was deciding and chatting with a few people, I frequently heard "don't go with Cervelo, everyone has one."   Around that time I was here in Kona and I had minor bike issue that needed working out.  Felt was no where on this Island thus I was forced to go to the "Ironman" bike shop, wait in line, leave my bike and pay for the service.  I recall watching by the giant Cervelo set up and seeing 4 techs there cranking out tune ups and service on a Cervelo.  I was jealous.  I than recalled seeing them at many NA Ironman races and took that into consideration.

Today I was glad I own a Cervelo. Again some minor issue needed addressing and I rolled up, filled out a "VIP" ticket and 90 min later my issue was fixed and they had done a once over to make sure everything is in working order.  While I had a full tune up from my trusty mechanic at Nytro prior to leaving, my bike was on a plane and I have seen those bikes tossed around.  It is a piece of mind, knowing all is well!

I have used  Quarq power meter for 6+ years now and love them.  Again, it is a popular PM and not the newest, flashiest etc but it works! I was sold on the Stages when I bought this bike and it was nothing but problems. Not only did it scratch my bike, it dropped power, was inconsistent and the customer service was not all the helpful.  I eventually returned it and went back to Quarq.   Sometime between my last ride in San Diego, in pouring rain, travel and some work on my bike, my power was not reading.   I though it was okay when I rode Sunday but later realized I had picked up Sarah's PM and was recording her power- that is a whole other story as she is much smaller than me, thus power is much lower, so I was freaking out that I had lost all my fitness.... OMG- only to realized it was NOT my power.     (can we say Ironman brain)

John called customer service and they were extremely helpful and once she realized where we were suggested we go to the Quarq tent when they opened.  I may have been a bit hysterical when I got there and the tech says "are you Julie?"  had all the info, the asked me to leave my bike and after some troubleshooting and realizing it needed a firmware update and  they did not have the right tool, instead replaced it with a new power meter.  When Rory called me he says " we are not taking any chances in Kona"  DONE!  Customer for life!   I've had athletes I coach have issues with Stages and  Garmin Vector and maybe they have worked them out- not sure, but I am sure Quarq works and stands behind their product. AND they are in Kona!  

Hanging in Kona

So I landed on this magical island Friday evening, after taking a not so short flight with a 3 hour layover in HNL, vs the non stop on Alaska on Sunday.  Worth the extra travel time to get her Friday at 6:15.  Sun is setting as we depart the plane into the tropical air.  Found a fellow D3 athlete in HNL and killed the time eating and chatting. Then found more friends on the plane to Kona.  I was thinking back to my first time here in 2007 and I knew maybe 2 people. And now I see friendly faces in airports, on the street and around time.  It's like old home week!  I am so awesome ;)  totally kidding

Without my sherpa loving husband I had to manage the bike bag, duffel and briefcase - but did so without grace but with ease, mostly.    Got the car and onto the Kona Reef.   Office closed, random phone next to it and I call and hear the woman so who, what is your name?, when is your arrival.   That feeling of sheer dread is pouring over me that I may not have a place confirmed for the busiest week on this Island, even though I have a confirmation number and an email confirmation that she says means nothing to her. It is not 7:30 or 10:30 my time, well past the I turn into pumpkin time and I am starting to lose it as in cry on the phone.  I am looking at my van thinking can we live in this for a week?  Will I have to sleep in it tonight.  After a LONG wait she comes back on the phone and gives  me a unit # and a code for tonight.  She then tells me to go to the office at 10am and they will "try" yes try and sort this out.

I fitfully went to bed.  As the office did not open until 10am ( welcome to HI)  So I headed to the Ho'ala Ironman Training Swim.  This is a great pre- race swim if you can get here by Friday. It is 2.4M and is the Ironman swim, finish is a bit different but you get the 1 loop LONG swim.  Water start and relatively mellow.  It is a good reminder of how far out we go.  Sensational water- so warm and clear. Sheer heaven.

I came back and worked on my bike,  after I hit Lava Java for coffee and my favorite Island style macadamia nuts.  Yummmm.   I was fogging up the glass on the office window "let me in"  LONG strory and 90 min later it was sorted out....some issue when I changed my reservation to arrive early.   It was locked, cancelled, moved - who knows BUT the saint in the office got me our ocean front condo, and I only cried once.   Got my bike built up and hit the Queen K with Sarah, another D3er and it did not disappoint.  Lovely on the way out and hello WIND on the way back, welcome to Kona.
pancakes with bananas and

Did a HOT run on Alii but loved it!  OMG I love this place.   And on Saturday it is still pretty mellow.... quiet streets without the crazed athletes.   Food shopping ($250 for a $125 worth of groceries-  Kona pricing)  and went to ugh Wal Mart, after going for my mom when she was sick, I swore I would never go t this store again, but there I was.  Buying bikes for kicking around town and for the kids to use on race day. Rentals are $100 a day and mopeds are $300 for 2 days. So for $109 each I got the f'ing heaviest bike you can imagine but it rocks!  

I was wiped out and laid low on Saturday....Sunday there was a random 10K which I did NOT do but was psyched to have the streets closed for my run.  Waking up with the ocean crashing, drinking Kona coffee on the Lanai- this is what Kona is about.  Great run and off to pick up John!!  
Walmart special $109

We settled in and went out exploring on our bikes- no expo, no madness just pineapple at the farmers market and a killer dinner at the Fishhopper with some old friends and new friends.   Sheer heaven!  

Monday hit the swim early and another majestic AM in the ocean- ton of fun with Kevin and his go pro - I was so excited I went and bought out and used it this AM.  Seems I was off on the settings so I video the inside of my swim top the whole way out, stopped it to view the fish, started it in my top and stopped it to view the dog on the SUP, resumed in my top and stopped it for the Coffee Boat.  My career in video needs help, just saying.    Dinner that night at On the Rocks in the sand with more friends from Smash.....we all met at camp in March and here we are on the big island sucking down Mai Tai's  not really, eating Kale Caesar with fresh Mahi Mahi and loving life.

smash girls and a betty
Riding, running and swimming with John and friends makes this place magical.  It's a slice of heaven each day.  Tue it gets real...seems like 9000 more people, expo opens and registration - when the wrist band goes on and you pick up another $800 back pack, it is GULP, this is a bit more than a Hawaiian vacation.  More and more really thin people, time to start freaking out about weight- I know I know but it's hard not to feel fat on Alii this week.   Man should have done that juice cleanse last week, where is my 6 or 12 pack hiding.

My weight neurosis is so bad that when I did the Gatorade Sweat test I made the nice tech (female) come into the tiny hot changing tent and take my weight. She was so nice and understanding when I told her I could not look at the scale :)

And BTW John knocked out 28 miles runnning on Alii Dr on Monday!   R3 training

Kona moments...
1- the couple who rang up $1611 of IM World Championship Merchandise  and the card was declined- guy goes nuts yelling at the cashier.....
2- the women I registered with and I ask if she is ready?  " its in God's hands now"  Wow, how big are those hands anyway?
3 - 4 inch MDot tatoo with 6 race logos tatted below it- what happens next? tatoo that says "see front" for the next 6?
4- Bike just wow-  I definitely need a $15,000 bike
5- so many products that are "guaranteed" to make be faster, fitter, stay hydrated and fueled well- I'm planning to try them ALL on Saturday and new shoes - why not?
6- No matter how fit you are, you are fat in Kona

Saturday, October 1, 2016


When you utter the word Kona to a triathlete they immediately assuming you mean Ironman World Championships- Kona.   To triathletes Kona is the Super bowl of our sport.  It is the biggest professional race of our sport with $150,000 awarded to the male and female winners as well as Championship for the top amateurs around the world who have qualified.

In my 10 years as a triathlete this will be my 5th time on the start list.   I feel privileged and honored.  Sacrifice, hard work, commitment are just a few of the words that describe the journey to this special place.

For those going to the “big dance” as it is so nicknamed, it is an amazing week of warm island winds, Lava Java, rubbing elbows with the pro’s, the amazing sponsors, the give always and the sheer fun of  Ironman week.   There are 1000 #kona posts a day on Instagram and Facebook.  The people here are proud, have earned it and want to share the experience.

8 years ago not going to Kona was different.  There was no #Kona16, no daily updates/photos and check in’s the Lava Java.  If you were at home, you went about your day and on Ironman Saturday you logged into your laptop and followed along.   In 2015 and 2013 when I was at home, Ironman week was a daily reminder that I was not there, I was not in Kailua Bay, I was not riding on the Queen K, I was not drinking Kona coffee and eating macadamia nut pancakes at Lava Java and it was tough.  Whether it was due to injury or just not going fast enough I was not there and it hurt.  One more photo and I was going to scream.

I am honored to be part of the 2016 Kona Ironman World Championships and I cannot say that my FB and Instagram will be dark this week.  I will be soaking it all up and capturing as well.  So for those who don’t want to see it, take a break from Social Media, as I promise you a good portion of the other 1999 athletes will be photo documenting their week as well