Monday, June 11, 2018

Ironman Santa Rosa 2018

Redemption!  Ironman Santa Rosa was the fix I needed after a nasty fall/dehydration episode at Ironman New Zealand.  Since the race was just about eight weeks out from that disaster, it was my first and quickest opportunity to get back on the horse and finish what I started.

The race was a success and I crossed the line not with my best time, but certainly respectable at 13:30.  I was satisfied that this day was just what I wanted it to be:  a chance to cross a finish line at another Ironman.  

But enough about me.  Here is the nitty gritty about the race.  

First: Santa Rosa is beyond beautiful.  The green rolling landscape and miles of endless vineyard and was simply breathtaking.  It's a spectacular place to hold an event like Ironman.  With the new routes from Southwest Airlines directly into Charles Schultz airport, the traveling was simple and easy for me.  (I'm from Arizona).  I used Tri-Bike Transport for my bike transportation, which knocked it out of the park this time.  Super convenient, two thumbs up.  


Santa Rosa from the sky

Second:  Logistics were a little more difficult at this IM than at others I have done.  There are two transition areas.  T1 is 25 miles or so from Ironman Village, at Lake Sonoma.  After listening to advice from Purple Patch Fitness, I paid an extra $40 to Tri Bike Transport to shuttle my bike to T1 on the eve of race day.  This proved unnecessary since I drove out to the lake the day before the race to scout the course and get a swim in.  I could've easily taken the bike up with me at this time.

Another issue about this race is the extremely long transition from swim to bike.  Easily a quarter mile in length uphill, you need to factor in quite a long T1 time to your race day goal.  This was a doozy of a hill after swimming 2.4 miles.  But actually a forecast of what was to come.

T1 includes this extremely long carpeted hill

Third:  The elevation gain!  Wow, I don't know why the SR Ironman website advertised 3900 vertical climbing, perhaps they were using the stats from the previous course?? 2018 had a new, "improved" bike course.  My stats came in with over 6200 feet of elevation gain.  And I was not the only athlete who clocked in this amount.  The IMSR Facebook page had numerous complaints that the elevation advertised was not what happened.  It was an extremely difficult bike course with major headwinds on the second loop.   There were also a lot of crazy turns and corners in the last 20 miles of the course, but I survived and was never so happy to be off my bike!


Straight from my Garmin:  6,299 vertical feet 
Fourth:  The run was just really, really great.  It's is a three-loop course on a flat running path that winds along a riverbed.  Huge trees shaded the path for the entire distance and provided relief from a pretty warm day.  I LOVED this run.  The crowd support, the aid stations, the sponsors -- especially the enthusiastic Base Performance team kept this run upbeat and fun for everyone was overwhelmingly amazing.  There are LOTS of people on the run that you are passing or are passing you, the entire time.  This was my favorite part of the day, which I've NEVER said about the run on any course.


Fifth: The finish!  You've got to hand it to Ironman, they know how to make a finish line a party.  With Mike Reilly there to announce the arrival of every finisher, Santa Rosa truly lived up to the hype.  There is nothing better than waving to your family and friends after a grueling day of 140.6 torturous miles where you didn't quit, you kept going, and you lived to tell about it.  This was Ironman number seven for me.  Will I go back to Santa Rosa?  I'm not sure.  It would take a lot of convincing and a LOT more miles of lonely training days.  But in the end, I loved this race and am so glad I got the chance to do it.


Scenes from Santa Rosa:  
Sooo many vineyards 

Devastation from the horrific 2017 fire 


Thanks for being my biggest supporter, Todd!  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

An Ironman, A Crash, And A Hero

It's no secret that Ironman is a selfish sport.  Training six days a week, often two times a day, going to bed when the sun has barely dipped below the horizon, missing social events and late night parties -- it's an all encompassing time commitment on every athlete who attempts it.  On course at IMNZ one of the printed signs read: "If you're still married, you didn't train hard enough."  And that's a pretty accurate statement.  IM takes a toll on not only the participant, but his family and friends, as well. 

Which is why the story of my guardian angel is so amazing to me. 

On the beautiful morning of March 3,  2018, I was in Taupo, New Zealand, about to claim my sixth Ironman finish.  I was looking forward to Mike Reilly shouting once again, "Lorie, YOU are an IRONMAN."  I had traveled across the ocean with my husband and friends and one other athlete friend, Melanie.  She was going for number two and we were ready for the day ahead. 

We had both agreed we were finish line junkies.  We loved the pageantry that Ironman provides to it's racers -- so much hype and excitement surrounds that red carpet finish line.  It's an amazing event and everyone who races has their own story of triumph and endurance that got them to the start line and would sustain them through to the finish line. 

The morning started perfectly.  The waters were glass on race day and I cruised my way to a 1:10 swim (third in my age group), racing out of the water to a quick six-minute transition.  Then, off to the 112 mile bike portion of the event. 

It was in lap two of the bike that I realized my legs were twitching and jumping as I looked down at them, begging for hydration and electrolytes.  Agh, the wind and the tri bike aero position were taking a toll on my awesome day.  I desperately needed some more electrolyte water, so at the aid station before the final turn around, I slowed down and asked the volunteers for a bottle of NUUN.  "We are out!" was their response.  And I knew I was in trouble. 

I tried to down some water to see if my legs would settle down, but as I made the turn at mile 87, I had to reevaluate.  My legs were seizing at this point - it was hard and harder to pedal.  I needed some relief.  In my head, I thought that maybe if I stood up on the pedals, I could stretch out my cramping legs. 

Bad idea.  When I went from the horizontal aero position to a standing position, I got light headed and lost my balance, crashing my bike hard onto the asphalt.  It felt like I had done a face plant right into the road; my helmet was broken, the eye shield was smashed in two, I had road rash from my shoulder to my ankle, and I was curled up like a beetle on it's back, unable to stretch out my legs due to the dehydration. 

I laid on the road with my eyes closed, not willing to muster the strength to get off my back.  Suddenly two participants were by my side.  "Are you okay?" they leaned down and asked.  I was, but I desperately wanted them to move me off the hot pavement, which they did.  One of them told me he was an ER doctor and was wondering how he could help.  I told him about my dehydration and he quickly offered two salt tabs -- like magic, I began to feel better.

The two good Samaritans made sure I was not dying on the side of the road, and then flagged down the motorcycle race official, who called for the ambulance.  The EMTs treated my cuts, road rash and tended to my hydration.   In the ambulance they took my chip, told me I was being sent back to the medical tent and that my day was done.  I never even got to thank those to athletes who stopped their race to make sure I was okay. 

Devastation.  All those hours of training, getting up in the wee hours of the morning in the dark to get my long ride in for the day.  Hours upon hours upon hours of training -- lost in a matter of minutes.

I carried my broken helmet and shoes to the medical tent, along with my broken heart, and later reunited with my husband and friends.  Melanie was still out on the course and after a bite to eat, a shower and plenty of liquids, I followed her on the course and ran the last 10 miles in the dark -- just to get a feel of what I was missing.  Wow -- that run was killer, and kudos to everyone who completed that! 

But the story does not end there.  After an adrenaline and adventurous week on the spectacular North and South islands, we were back in Auckland airport retrieving our bikes from stowage.  Every once in awhile you'd see a person wearing their Ironman t-shirt or visor.  In line with me was an athlete, so I naturally asked him about his race.  In turn, I told him my story of crashing and DNFing.  "Wait," he said "this is all starting to sound very familiar.   Were you wearing black and green?  Was it about mile 87 on the bike?"

Yes. Yes.  And Yes!  "That was ME who stopped and helped you to the side of the road,"  he said.  Julian, was my guardian angel!  We high fived and hugged and I finally gave him a proper thank you.  After selfies and meeting each others' spouses, we said farewell and flew home. 

Ironman is a selfish sport.  It's true.  But there are also people in the world who are good, who will sacrifice their finish time to stop and help someone else.  People like Julian are the antithesis of selfish.  They do the right thing.  May I never lose sight of that goal.  Thanks again for teaching me how to be better. 




Sunday, March 18, 2018

Everything You Need To Know About Ironman New Zealand

Put Ironman New Zealand on your MUST-DO triathlon list.  It lives up to the hype.  It's well-run, beautiful, spiritual, physically challenging.  IMNZ has it all.  Here are a few things you need to know before you race.



TRAVEL:  Travel is rough.  From LAX, it's a 13+ hour flight into Auckland on the North Island.  Did you know NZ is comprised of two islands, North and South?  Well, it is.  We traveled to Auckland on a Monday night and arrived on a Wednesday morning, losing a day for travel.  If you can swing business or premium economy -- it's money well spent.

From Auckland, it's a three hour drive to Lake Taupo, the host city of the event.  You'll need to rent a car large enough to transport your bike.  And be aware that you drive on the "wrong side" of the road while you are in the country.

Taupo is a smallish city, so reserve your hotel ASAP.  We stayed at the Reef Resort which was conveniently located on the run course.  The hotel was situated between the circle of the run, so runners ran on both the front side and the backside of the hotel, very easy for spectating!  It was about 5k from the finish line, and a warm pool and jacuzzi on site, and also had a mini kitchen so you could prepare your pre-race food right in your room.

COURSE:



Swim:  Perfect swim in the cool waters of Lake Taupo.  This year was the first year they allowed swimmers to finish their swim down the river that leads out of the lake, significantly improving swim times, due to a small current.  This venue also allows you to get into the lake for practice any time before race day -- some venues don't allow solo pre-race swimming.  It's a ONE LOOP swim, well marked and not too much sun in your eyes on race morning.  Two thumbs up from me.

Bike:  Two loop bike course that takes you past some of the most beautiful scenery of the area -- farmlands, rolling hills, trees before routing you back to the start line for lap number two.  Good course, but seems endless on the second loop due to the pickup of winds and spreading out of participants.  Also, the aid stations had run out of Nuun hydration by the middle of lap two, which proved disastrous for me.  Be prepared for the false flats and crosswinds of the outbound course, nothing too pitchy, except for the small hill in the first 5 miles of the beginning of the loops, but just lots of steady rollers that went on forever.

Run:  HILLY!  If you're not training on rolling hills, do yourself a favor and add that into your training plan.  This course has rollers and seems to be and endless three-loop course of difficult uphill stretches.  If you're a slow runner and will be running in the dark, it gets VERY dark out there.  The loops back into town with the supportive crowds will boost your energy as you make your way back out for loops two and three.

Finish:  Spectacular finish line, with bleachers and a red carpet to greet you at the end of your long day.  Well done, New Zealand!  I hope to be back again sooner than later.


BE AWARE:
This Ironman was expensive, here's why:
1. Airport Travel and seat upgrades
2. Bike disassembled (before I left by a mechanic) then reassembled and broken down by the mechanic in Taupo, then reassembled back in the states.  Whew! Pricey!
3.  Bike Stowage at the Auckland airport during travel to the South Island
4.  Hotels
5.  Large passenger van rentals in two different islands and GAS!
6.  Food -- restaurants and food was very expensive in NZ.
7.  Swag -- you gotta get your merch to show people you did the race, right?
8.  Excursions.  We filled our days with adventure everyday.  Here are some of the things we did:

North Island: 
https://www.hobbitontours.com/en/
https://ogo.co.nz/
https://www.agrodome.co.nz/
https://www.greatlaketaupo.com/things-to-do/must-do/huka-falls/
http://www.treewalk.co.nz/
https://ldschurchtemples.org/hamilton/

South Island: 
http://www.kaitunacascades.co.nz/
http://www.waitomo.com/
https://www.bungy.co.nz/
https://deepcanyon.co.nz/
https://www.shotoverjet.com/
https://www.nzgforce.com/
https://www.cruisemilfordnz.com/
Maori greets at the Pre-Race Welcome Dinner

Huka Falls

LDS Stake Center in Hamilton 

Rotorua Tree Walk 

Kaituna Cascades

Hobbiton 

More Hobbiton 
Sheep show at the Agridome 


Waimoto Glow Worm Caves

Queenstown 

Shotover Jets


AJ Hackett Bunjy Jumping

Milford Sound


Wanaka Deep Canyoning 


Paragliding in Queenstown 








Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Karen



In 2011, Karen Scoresby and I qualified and ran the Boston Marathon.  It was before the world was afraid of pressure cooker bombs or mass shootings.  The marathon was a pure event, untouched by the chaos and evil in the world.  Everything about this race was happy and exciting, especially at Hopkinton high school, the start of the race.  Karen and I sat there (pictured above) at the staging point for the race in the cold morning air, while her husband and his friends found us cardboard to sit on to keep our bums from getting wet in the morning dew.

It was a sight to see Karen and I run and train together: she's all of five one and I tower over her at 5'11".  My strides were twice hers, but those little legs could match me toe for toe.  We had an even running pace and it worked.  We had a pact that we would "save" our interesting stories for the long run day,  when we could get every detail and/or gripe out to each other.  We had an understanding that what was said on the long run, stayed on the long run -- zipped up tight and never repeated.  It worked for us.  I'll miss those long, cathartic runs with her.

Karen passed away on February 2, 2018.  She was 52 years old -- too young.  She developed an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor which she fought valiantly for 20 months.  She leaves behind a husband, four children and a grand daughter, along with vast swath of friendships that came together last week in support and love for her.   Karen is not the first of my friends to die of this awful disease.  And she may not be the last.  Cancer is a roulette curse that falls on it's victims with no mind for who is ready to take on the enormous burden.

Our group of running ladies still meet at the same corner we have for the last 15 years.  We have all dealt with our own heartbreaks and problems.  We continue to meet because running (biking, swimming, hiking, yoga, pilates, exercise) is our own natural antidepressant.  Running unites us with a common goal, which may just be jogging to the next stoplight some mornings.  It is the sweat and the cadence and the heartbeat and the speed and the slow and the push and the pain and the breathing and the exhilaration all wrapped into something called a workout.  Memories are made and friendships are built on the long run, whether that's three miles or 20.

So find your people.  Create some memories.  Life is precious and so are those that you love.  Keep running.  Keep fighting.  Keep dreaming.  It's worth it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Defense of Walking

Why walk when you are training for a marathon? 

It seems counter intuitive to take walk breaks while training for a race.  Are you practicing going slower?  Shouldn't you be pushing through the pain? 

I've spent many years running long in the mornings, and while I'm not the fastest runner on the planet, I do have LOTS of experience.  And I prescribe to Hal Higdon's advice:

"Walking is a perfectly acceptable strategy even for intermediate runners, and it works during training runs too.  While some coaches recommend walking one minute out of every 10, or walking one minute every mile, I teach runners to walk when they come to an aid station.  This serves a double function:  1) you can drink more easily while walking as opposed to running, and 2? since many other runners slow or walk through aid stations, you'll be less likely to block those behind.  It's a good ideas to follow this strategy in training as well."

Since I use a water belt for my long runs, I tend to take my walk breaks at stoplights or at street crossings.  It gives me the chance to take a sip of water or bite into a Skratch gummy or two while I am not bounding down the street.  It also teaches my body to jump from a higher heart rate to a lower one and then back again.  It gives your body a chance to rest and you'll be able to run longer distances with short walk breaks.

Higdon is spot on when he says "It's best to walk when you want to, not when your fatigued body forces you to.

So get out there and try and run just a little bit longer next time.  It's okay to walk.  And it keeps the group happy too.  When you take short breaks, your running buddies can regroup and enjoy the run together, sharing stories and getting to know each other a little better.   And that, my friends, is a good thing. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fat Intake for Endurance Athletes

Repost from Teamusa.org 


BY KATIE RHODES | 

APRIL 25, 2016

You are training for a much-anticipated event. You have your training schedule. Check. You possibly hired a trainer for plan personalization. Check.  Now you are searching for the perfect balance of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats to improve your performance and achieve weight goals to improve your time. One nutritional element often pushed aside when evaluating a nutrition strategy is dietary fat.


Fat. If you were a blossoming adult in the 1980s you cringe when you hear the word. Fat was blanketed as the culprit responsible for metabolic disorders and diseases, namely type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart disease. To be honest, my undergraduate and graduate education in nutrition didn’t paint a favorable picture of fat either. It wasn’t until I was approached by Ben Stone of Sigma Human Performance to be Director of Nutrition that I started to look at fat differently through his research, guidance and our work together coaching athletes. I was skeptical because my sports nutrition education focused primarily on carbohydrates for fuel, protein for recovery and fat fell to the wayside. But after working with athletes, the results are there and so is the research. Increasing fat in your day-to-day nutrition improves performance.


Let’s start with the basics. For the most part, fat is categorized as animal-based, plant-based (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated) or as trans fat. Animal fats are considered saturated fat and include animal proteins and dairy products. Plant fats are primarily unsaturated and include avocados, nuts, seeds, olives and oils. Trans fat is a saturated fat found in mainly fried foods, baked goods, and in shelf stable processed products. Now I am not saying eat a bunch of steak and butter, but more research is surfacing concluding the correlation between saturated fat and heart disease risk is not as staggering as once believed and in many cases non-existent. Trans fat, however, can be eliminated. Trans fat raises “bad” cholesterol (total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein or LDL) and lowers “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDL). So far, you can see not all fats are created equal. Which fats are best when increasing them in your diet? This is why I saved mono- and poly-unsaturated fats for last. I like consistency in conclusions and what is consistent are the health benefits of mono-unsaturated poly-unsaturated fats, which is why I recommend them as your main fat source when increasing fat in your diet.


Now that you know more about the breakdown of fat, let’s look at the benefits mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats have on your health and performance. There are a multitude of benefits that could be explored and discussed regarding fat intake and performance, but we will just look a just a few here.


Your Body Utilizes What is in Abundance for Energy

If you consume fat, you burn fat. At rest, your body wants to use fat as an energy source. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy needed to function adequately at rest and makes up 60-75 percent of your daily energy expenditure. That is a large percentage of energy better expended utilizing fat. The energy yield of carbohydrates and fat work independently of each other to define an individual’s BMR. Increasing mono- and poly-unsaturated fat consumption allows your body to metabolically rely on fat as an energy source, decreasing body fat mass and your dependency on carbohydrates. Stone explains it well in his blog: “By putting your body in a chronic nutritional status which demands fat usage, you are putting a stimulus on the multitude of systems responsible for breaking down fat which force them to, effectively, get better a doing their jobs… Even while you are sleeping. It’s the exact same adaptive process (call it ‘usage principle’) that forces your muscles to get bigger and stronger in response to continual stress applied to them.”


Improving Performance by Increasing Fat Utilization

If your body is comfortable using fat as a fuel source, it will burn it more efficiently at higher exercise intensities before your body switches to carbohydrates as an energy source. Why is this important? First, your brain and your muscles are competing for carbohydrate during endurance activity. When you are able to utilize fat as an energy source more efficiently, you gain a mental edge. Secondly, the adaptations your body makes by consuming more fat creates a glycogen sparing effect during exercise by decreasing carbohydrate dependency. And finally, the more trained you are in endurance activity the better you are at oxygen consumption (evident through VO2 max testing), which is a key component in fat oxidation. If fat is in abundance, the increased oxygen in your bloodstream will be readily available to break fat down for energy. The increased capacity to oxidize fat is related to increased exercise capacity and improved performance.


My Experience with Athletes and Dietary Fat

As an athlete you are already ahead of your fat game. Regular exercise enhances your ability to oxidize fat through adaptations in fat metabolism pathways. Being able to oxidize fat efficiently decreases inflammation, insulin resistance, hypertension, LDL concentration and chronic deposits of fat tissue. What I have seen across the board with clients that adhere to my meal plans is an increase in energy, improved sleep, decreased hunger, a decrease in carbohydrate cravings and improved performance capacity. It is very important to note that everyone is different. I recommend you work with a registered dietitian to tailor a nutrition plan that works for you, and consult a medical doctor before significant changes are made. I tell my clients that by week three with me, we should have their nutrition needs dialed in.


Katie Rhodes, owner of OWN-Nutrition, is a registered and licensed dietitian in Little Rock, Arkansas, with a Master of Science in clinical nutrition. Through her experiences training elite athletes and working in the clinical setting at Arkansas Children's Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Association, Rhodes understands that what we are putting in our bodies directly affects our performance, quality of life and longevity. She's worked with triathletes for six years on their nutrition year round as well as focusing on race day nutrition. Rhodes primarily works with clients remotely, through phone calls and Skype for communication, to supplement unique, personalized nutrition plans.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Crown City Classic 12k gets TWO THUMBS UP!

I LOVE a good tradition.  Coronado Island for the Fourth of July has been a part of my family's tradition for as long as I can remember.  Uncle JB has been organizing this trip to the golden speckled beaches of Coronado for at least 35 years --  coming to the magical Hotel Del Coronado with it's fabulous red roof and white walled grounds.  Ahh, there's really nothing better than escaping the oven of Phoenix, AZ and five hours later rolling down your windows to 75 degree temps and cool ocean breezes as your turn the corner onto Orange Avenue.  It's as close as we get to heaven on earth every summer.  

Along with this tradition comes the www.crowncityrun.com a 12K run that curves around the eastern side of the island with a start and finish in Tidelands Park.  The race used to be a half marathon, then it became a 15k and now, in honor of the 4th of July, it's a 12k -- 7.4 miles on 7/4.  Get it?!

I have to say, this race is FUN!  The race directors have made so many improvements to this event. I love the packet pick up/registration which scans your name onto your bib number automatically instead of standing in lines for A-F or G-N.  You can walk up to any line to get your bib, eliminating those lines with no people in them and volunteers waiting around with nothing to do. 
Another fun improvement: running under the huge American flag as you start the race!  The spectators hold the flag on each side of the start line and as the runners take off under the red, white and blue.  I felt like an elementary school kid who was playing under a big billowing parachute circle.  What a great way to get the crowd feeling pumped for the next seven miles.  

And I will never forget the reading of the list of names of military servicemen and women who had died in the previous year on active duty.  The reading went on for much longer than I had anticipated and brought to light the sacrifices of our true American heroes who have given their own lives to make ours better.  The moment of silence was emotional and heartfelt.  

The course is flat and fast, and I mean pancake flat with nary a bump in the road.  It winds around the golf course then out and back past the hotel and under the bridge to the awaiting Fourth of July crowds.  You can smell barbecue coals getting started as most of the park goers this day are here for the long haul.  They've set their picnic chairs out to spend their holiday playing on the edge of the sand and then getting prime views for the evening fireworks displays.  
Put this race on your TO-DO list.  It's great way to burn some calories before you dive into the party food you'll be consuming all day.  I will continue to sign up for this race for as long as I can.  I love everything about it.  Thanks www.crowncityrun.com for outdoing yourself this year.  See you next year.  And stay classy, San Diego. 





Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True