Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance

Last week was a recovery week, a chance for my body to adapt and grow stronger by pulling back a bit and allowing my tired muscles to rest and rejuvenate. After hitting it hard several weeks in a row, it also gave my mind a chance to reboot too. “All-Iron, all the time” can make a girl weary (and boring).🙂 It’s all about balance, baby.

When I told one of my friends that I’d have a little more time to get together because it was my recovery week, her eyes popped: “You take the WHOLE week off and do nothing?!?” Ha ha. Not even close. Just less volume. Killer Kate’s class is still Killer Kate’s class. It isn’t easier because it’s my recovery week. And two hour bike rides are just that–they’re just not 4.5 hours.

Here’s what last week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Killer Kate’s strength class
Tuesday: Swim 2000y, Run 30 minutes
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 60 minutes, Run 10 minutes
Thursday: Pilates, 500m Ocean Swim Race
Friday: Rest (family day!)
Saturday: Bike 2.5 hours (hills)
Sunday: Sprint Triathlon “run-through” with Moms in Motion group (swim 500y, bike 6 miles, run 2 miles), followed by my regular solo 2 hour Bike and 2.25 mile Run

Heading into Kate’s class on Monday, my legs were toast from two hard workouts the weekend before, but somehow when you crank up fun music and exercise with friends, you just get through tough sessions.

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And of course Kate is big on leg work (which is exactly what I need) so we did a bizillion squats and lunges. KillerKateLunges KillerKateSquats
By the end, I was a delirious mess of sweat with wobbly, yet stronger legs. And yes, I know I look insane.

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Afterward I sat in an anti-gravity chair and sported some Normatec compression sleeves in hopes of helping my legs recover a little quicker.

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When they fill up and compress your legs, they kind of make you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but afterward your legs thank you.

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Tuesday, I took my still somewhat fatigued legs for a short recovery run along the Bird Refuge. Often these little jaunts are what help your legs come back to life (at least after the first bit where they feel like cement).
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And it worked. Not too bad. Then a little cool down and stretch before heading to the pool for my swim workout.
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I opted to swim outside at the Montecito Y, where I’m usually able to enjoy a lane of my own. That was the case this time too, except I barely got my workout in before the grannies took over the pool for their aqua-aerobics class. These ladies are serious about their aqua-fitness so I don’t mess with them.

On a typical day, I’m usually on the fly trying to squeeze in my workouts between other obligations, but on this day, I plopped in a chaise and chilled out for a few minutes and enjoyed watching these awesome badasses. Aaaaaah…yes, I’m taking my recovery seriously. Somebody’s gotta do it.

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Wednesday I started my day with my favorite yoga class. Thank you once again, Erin! There’s nothing better to get my mind and body primed for the day.

Continuing with the “recovery mode” theme this week, my ride was slated for a 1 hour flat spin. Finding a flat course in Santa Barbara isn’t easy though, which I realize sounds ridiculous, but most of the roads that are enjoyable to ride are rolling hills at a minimum. Not to mention all the cars and stop lights on the flatter roads. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my husband bought a bike trainer for me so I could spin for solid blocks of time and work on my cadence without having to think about cars and potholes. His love and support knows no bounds. #feelingthelove #luckygirl xoxo

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I’m also trying to work on “heat training” so my body doesn’t freak out if there’s a toasty race day. I’ll be heading to Arizona in a month to do an IMAZ training camp and an Olympic distance triathlon, and it will surely be hot, so on this day I slathered on the sunscreen, set up my bike in the backyard in the heat of the day and had a sweatfest.

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Thursday evening, after doing a morning Pilates class with the awesomely fabulous Kristine McConnell, I did another ocean swim race. I took a few more seconds off my time and learned that I still have some things to work on (like the best place to line up at the start so you don’t get caught too close on the buoy turn). All good stuff. It was also fun and inspiring to see so many parents and kids swimming together to practice for the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon Parent-Child division. Love our town of fitness fanatics!!

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Friday was an entire day off to rest (!!). Well, sort of…this is what days off usually look like. I’m sure you can relate. I have more workout clothes than regular clothes, and it seems like they all end up here to dry.

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Thankfully, we also ended up here on our day to play as a family…a little jaunt down to the Getty Villa in Malibu.
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It was nice to be able to spend time with my loves and not have to think about getting a workout in after our little adventure to Malibu.

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On Saturday morning, I got up early to watch the Women’s Olympic Triathlon, which was an awesome way to start the day. As most of you know, Gwen Jorgensen ROCKED IT with a Gold Medal performance. Pure fierceness in motion. Go Gwen! Go USA!
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Watching this made it all the easier to get my butt out the door for my 2.5 hour hill ride. I meandered all through the hills of SB and Montecito, and soon discovered I was in the middle of a century ride taking place. It was fun to see so many cyclists out there. Some of them looked as though they were wondering what the heck they had gotten themselves into, others like they were in their happy place. After my rest day, I was feeling happy and strong. It ended up being a 30 mile day with 3,300 ft of climbing, capped off with a short jaunt part way up Gibraltar.

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Sadly, another wildfire has broken out near us–the Rey Fire. When you look at how tinder dry the hillsides are around here, you can easily see the potential for this to become massive quickly. This is a view from my driveway.

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And a view from a few streets over…
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Fortunately, no homes have been destroyed nor people hurt, and so far the smoke hasn’t been too bad–at least in the morning. Afternoon is when it billows up as the wind direction usually changes. We are all thinking extra good thoughts that this one gets put out quickly. Thank you firefighters!

On a happier note, the highlight of my week was joining the Moms in Motion triathlon team for their Sunday morning workout. They did a run-through of the Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint course in preparation for next weekend’s race. Serious fun! And a perfect way to end the week.

I can’t say enough good things about Moms in Motion–the support, camaraderie, organization, coaching. Whitney Bruice (far right), whom I’ve talked about before (she helped me get my swim groove on), does a phenomenal job of coaching and brings just the right amount of inspiration and motivation to get each athlete to push a little farther. Everybody is soooo ready to bring it on Sunday! Go MIM!

This is just part of Whitney’s team of warriors. Thanks for the fun, ladies!
MomsinMotion
Afterward, I did my regularly scheduled 2 hour ride and run afterward, which wasn’t nearly as fun without the gang, but still a strong way to end the week.

Even better was spending the last day of summer with my sweet girl and her friend at the beach so they could boogie board to their heart’s content before school started the next day. We picked up some of our favorite Mexican food then ventured to our favorite beach. Although I did little more than stay sprawled, reading my book, it gave me joy to be able to give them this happy little exclamation point to the end of summer.  Life is good.

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Until next time, dear friends… Lots of exciting things are on the horizon as we’re only 87 days away from Ironman Arizona! Woohoo! Stay tuned…

And as always, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for your continued support. There isn’t a day that goes by that one of you doesn’t send me an uplifting message or inspire me in some way. You are THE best!

XO
Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32: 100 Days to Go

 

 

 

 

Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go

“One day, one workout at a time” has been my mantra since the first day I began Ironman training back in January, and so far it has gotten me through 32 weeks of training as I’ve worked to build up my strength, fitness and mental toughness. Even on the toughest days, during the hardest miles, minutes, steps, pedal strokes or swim workouts, this mantra has carried me through.

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My workout wall, which reminds me every day of the hours and effort I have already put into this Ironman journey. It’s the perfect thing to bolster me on days when my “Hell yeah!” attitude is being weighed down by tired muscles wondering, “Are you #@%! kidding me?!”

The other thing that has carried me through is having a coach who knows when my body needs a break. Yesterday was that day. I originally had a 4.5 hour ride scheduled, but Matt sensed I was fried and suggested I take the day off, re-arranging the order of my training for the next few days so I could still get in those important workouts.

After laying low yesterday and having absolutely nothing on my plate, I already feel refreshed and re-energized. Going on a coffee date with my husband didn’t hurt either! Love this guy!

CoffeeDate

Having an extra few hours also gave me time to write, and celebrate the fact that it’s officially the 100 day countdown to Ironman Arizona! Woohoo!  So exciting. Bring it on!

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Things are ramping up and prep races are being planned–mostly sprint and Olympic distance tris, with perhaps a century ride thrown in along the way. Then of course there are still many epic training runs, rides and swims ahead!

Here’s this week’s training schedule:

Monday: Killer Kate’s strength class
Tuesday: Run 8 miles with 5 x 5 minutes hard efforts in the middle with 2 min recovery between, Swim 35 minutes
Wednesday: Bike 4 hours (hills)
Thursday: Pilates, Bike 2.5 hours, Ocean Swim Reef & Run race
Friday: Rest/recovery day (aaaah)
Saturday: Run 5 miles, Bike 1 hour, Run 5 miles
Sunday: Bike 4.5 hours

There are many reasons I’ve made it 32 weeks in relatively good form. One of the biggest reasons is that I have the unrelenting support of my family. This is just one tiny example of how Jeffrey keeps me going–a bowl of organic oatmeal with fresh fruit, almonds and peanut butter–something he makes me every morning.

Breakfast
On Tuesday I went to Goleta Beach so I could do the speedwork portion of my 8-mile run on the dirt path that parallels the bike path. It’s soft, flat and ready for fun.

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And oh man, this workout kicked my butt…BIG TIME…which I loved and hated and loved again once it was done.

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Afterward my legs were happy to be cooled off in the ocean…Mother Nature’s perfect ice bath.

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Then it was pool time once again, which felt good after a tough run. A nice mellow mile swim.

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Wednesday’s 4-hour ride was a toughie on tired legs, but it was the perfect day to practice “mind over muscle.” I first rode up hills through Hope Ranch before doing the SB Tri long course with some added side jaunts up Shepard Mesa and Ladera Lane. It ended up being around 52 miles with 3248 ft. of elevation. Another tiny drop of fitness added to the IMAZ bucket.
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Thursday I was running low on energy, but dragged my butt out the door for a morning Pilates class then a 2.5 hour bike ride.

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I was planning to do an ocean swim race that evening so part of the focus of my workouts was to practice fueling for a long day, like I’ll be doing in Arizona. I have to admit this was not one of my favorite rides (thus the grumpy face), but it was one I got through, which added another tiny drop of mental toughness in the IMAZ bucket. Some days you’re flying high and others you’re hanging on by the seat of your pants (especially when your seat is hurting).

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After a tough day on the bike, my enthusiasm for doing Reef & Run was in the dumper. Seeing friends there made all the difference. Everybody is so freaking happy and chirpy at this event, you can’t help but absorb that vibe. I did the 500m “shorty” event and ended up having a blast! I mostly did this to practice swimming in a group and work on my sighting. Unlike a swimming pool, there are no lines on the bottom of the ocean to guide you in a straight line. I also wanted to see where I was at with my time compared to the last time I raced the SB Tri several years ago. I was happy to see that my pool time this year has started to pay off. I’m making progress. Most of all it, was fun to swim with friends and be part of this community event.

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Breakthroughs: Last Sunday I finally made it up Gibraltar! Whoa doggy, talk about a good workout–especially in the heat of the day. For those of you who don’t live in Santa Barbara, you can click HERE to see what this iconic ride is all about (7.6% grade with about 4,000 ft of elevation). Until Sunday, I had only gone part way up on a few different occasions. Now I have a whole new appreciation for those who do this ride all the time, which is A LOT of SB fitness fanatics. My next goal is to get all the way up to LaCumbre Peak.

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Last night members of the SB Tri Club stuffed 2,000 swag bags for the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon, which is taking place on August 27th & 28th. It was a fun way to pitch in and lend a hand for this terrific local event. Can’t wait to take part! #WeAreSBTri

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I’m looking forward to the next 100 days of training, and am heading out now for my run-bike-run workout. Have a great weekend everybody!

SmileTrainPicIf you feel so inclined, I’m still raising funds for Smile Train, a terrific organization providing free cleft surgery for kids around the world. So far, with your help, I’ve raised enough funds for 20 kids to have surgery. I’d love to make that 25 kids. Here’s the link to click if you’d like to support my efforts. http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR?px=3630403&fr_id=1701&pg=personal. Thanks for considering! Anybody who contributes $250 or more will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Those who donate $100-$249 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

Thanks for all your support along the journey!!!
xo Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights

Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights

It has been a strong week of training, with new adventures and many new highs. Booyah! The highlight this week was Wednesday’s ride with Matt–a three hour jaunt up through the hills of Montecito and Santa Barbara. It was a gorgeous day, and Matt and I zigged and zagged up and down and around some of our town’s most scenic roads, gobbling up nearly 4,000 ft. of elevation. The exclamation point to the day came when after riding for a couple hours, we turned onto Gibraltar and headed up to the climbing rock. Seriously fun stuff. Thank you Matt for the push and the inspiration!

GibraltarMatt
I was especially happy on Wednesday because before I met Matt for our ride, I had chiseled out time to go to my favorite yoga class in the morning. Erin DiAngelis always has a way of helping me get my mind and body ready for the day! Thank you Erin!

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Here’s what this week’s schedule looks like:

Monday: Strength, Run 8 miles (building so I run the second half faster than the first)
Tuesday: Swim 45 minutes, Bike 1h 20 m, Run 2 miles
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 3 hours (hills)
Thursday: Run 60 minutes (hills), Ocean Swim
Friday: Easy recovery day with an Ocean Swim
Saturday: Run 50 minutes, Ocean Swim
Sunday: Bike 3 hours

On Monday Killer Kate’s strength class was cancelled so I worked up a sweat in my living room for a half hour instead before heading out on my 8-mile run. I did a mix of arms, legs and core.

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I threw in “The Dozen” too, something I came across in my “Believe” journal. Short and sweet.

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Then it was off for my run along Mountain Drive. This location never disappoints.

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It was hot, hot, hot in the middle of the day, but gorgeous and challenging with the gentle rollers. The goal was to run the second half faster than the first. Mission accomplished.
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Tuesday was a little frustrating with mechanical problems. I couldn’t get my bike to shift properly, so after heading out to ride twice, then heading back home to try to fix it both times, I finally decided to go to Plan B–go for a swim, then take my bike to my favorite peeps at Hazard’s.

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I had an appointment with Bruce later in the day anyway to see if he could work some magic with my cleats and pedals to alleviate an ongoing issue with my knees. This guy is the bomb. He is so patient and determined to get it right for me–just what you need when you’re training for your first Ironman. Then, in the midst of their crazy, busy day at the shop, he and Matt worked some additional magic on my funky gearing so I could still get in a ride. So nice!!

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After my swim and ride, I ended with a short 2-mile run. My husband was so sweet and surprised me by showing up on the corner near our house to run the final bit with me. Love my #1 supporter! After spending most of my day struggling to get in my workouts, I felt like I had done an Ironman. I guess they’re right when they say 10% of Ironman is physical and 90% mental. If there’s a will, there’s a way–especially if you have an awesome support crew.

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My reward for my persistence was date night with my IronHusband, and a little Thai food to refuel.
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I was also happy my friend Laura texted me earlier in the day to tell me about a PBS special being aired that night about “The Boys in the Boat”–the 1936 underdog US Olympic rowing team who took home gold. The book it’s based on is really inspiring, and seeing this reminded me once again that anything is possible with enough hard work and grit.

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Thursday I had a 1-hour hilly run scheduled, so I opted for a little scamper through Hope Ranch. After Wednesday’s epic hill ride with Matt, I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel, but they held up just fine…in a “tired, but fine” kind of way. You know what I mean. Once again, my goal was to run the second half faster than the first. Check.

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It was nice running on a freshly graveled road for part of it, making each step a little softer.
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That evening I went to Reef & Run again to get my butt back in the ocean. I didn’t race (not quite “there” yet), but I did get in some yardage to remind myself that I actually do like to swim in the ocean. Small steps! I thought it was appropriate to wear this awesome hat afterward. This was given to me by my 2x Iron(wo)man friend, Jenni Miller, who continually works hard to raise funds for her foundation, Strides for SMS (Smith-Magenis Syndrome). This was something she sent me for being one of her supporters. Dream big, baby! Here’s the link in case you’d like to check out her important cause and support her efforts: STRIDES FOR SMS.

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Here’s the start of the race…happy hour at its finest.
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Friday was an easy recovery day so I opted to get my hiney back in the ocean again for another swim. Trying to keep the momentum going! The water was glassy, which made for an awesome swim. Bonus points…my legs were happy to be cooled off in the water after working hard for a couple days in a row. Aaaah.

And sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself because you remind yourself so much of a frog –a happy, slightly cross-eyed one with salt water in one eye. Never mind the seagrass hanging off the goggles in the back. This frog was happily whooped.

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And even happier that evening when the opening ceremonies finally took place for the Olympics! Go USA!
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Some days it’s simply a challenge logistically to squeeze in your workouts without missing something important or completely disrupting your family’s life. My husband had a meeting early yesterday morning and my daughter had a ballet performance, so after dropping her off for dress rehearsal, I squeezed in a 5 1/2 mile run before zipping back to the theater for her performance. Not ideal, but done. Shower? Sometimes you just gotta roll with the sweat (or the glistening drops of inspiration, as we like to say).

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A few hours later, it was time for another ocean swim. This time I was joined by my friend Cheryl Hutton, who inspires me to no end. This lady is fierce! Don’t be fooled by her sweet smile. She already knocked out 20 miles on her bike before joining me for what we coined our “epic swim.” It was a windy afternoon and the water was so choppy, it felt as though we were being thrown around like the SS Minnow on Gilligan’s Island. All good stuff to make us stronger and tougher, but definitely epic. Fortunately, we had fun too!

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And now it’s Sunday morning and I’m about to head out on another 3-hour ride through the hills of Santa Barbara. I can hardly wait (and no, that’s not the coffee talking). This girl is feeling stronger and looking forward to another fun and challenging training day. Bring it on!

Until next time…
xo
Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks

Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks

TriJerseyRide71816Coming back from our epic Aspen vacation the week before last, I was excited to get out on my bike again and see how my legs and lungs felt riding at sea level.

After three day’s rest (two days of driving home from Colorado and one “just because”), I was ready to roll. It wasn’t a long ride–less than an hour–but it was magic. One of those great spins, which leaves you grinning from ear to ear. Most exciting, my knees weren’t cranky for the first time in several months. Woohoo! Bonus “happy points,” my sweet new SB Tri kit arrived.

This was the perfect way to launch back into my regular training schedule. I was ready to kick it up a notch, and I couldn’t wait to see what my coach, Matt, had in store for me.

With Ironman Arizona less than 4 months away, it’s time to start rocking for real.

Late in the afternoon, after my morning ride, I headed to Goleta Beach Park to enjoy a 7 mile run around UCSB’s Campus Point. It was a beautiful day, and a perfect reminder of how freaking lucky I am to live and train in Santa Barbara, even if I may have left a tiny piece of my heart back in Aspen.

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My run went well, except for a niggling pain in my rib/back, which I’d been trying to ignore since I’d tweaked it playing in the snow on the superpipe back in Aspen. Until this run, I simply  refused to acknowledge its presence, even though I was far too familiar with this pain. I had injured this exact same spot twice in the past year and a half. Once was during an intense track workout and another time was earlier this year when I hit a pothole really hard while riding my bike. Clearly, I have a weakness in that part of my core that I need to redouble my efforts to strengthen.

On this run every breath felt like having a sharp knife jammed between my ribs, each step like a jackhammer chiseling away at my confidence. How could this happen again?! Then, no matter how hard I tried to distract myself with the beauty around me, I could not stop the flood of doubts and mental f-bombs as frustration washed over me.

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When my coach got word of this little “issue,” he immediately trashed the week’s workouts he had planned for me and opted for a daily check-in instead, to see how things were progressing. And things did not progress at nearly the pace at which I was trying to force. %#!@#

After two weeks of riding high in Aspen, this felt like bottoming out on the Ironman training rollercoaster. Argh. Throw in some fatigue from going non-stop on vacation with little sleep….cue the “How low can you go?” music.

Here’s what Week 29’s scaled back training schedule looked like:

Monday: Bike 45 minutes, Run 7 miles
Tuesday: Bike 2 hours
Wednesday: Swim 600y super easy to test rib
Thursday: Rest/Recovery (took this as a mental reboot day)
Friday: Bike 1 hour
Saturday: Run 30 minutes to test rib
Sunday: Rest/Recovery 2 mile walk with family

Every endurance athlete knows there will be aches, mental fatigue, and “things” that pop up along the way during a long training cycle. It’s how you handle them that will determine the outcome. As my coach wisely counseled, “An easier week of light maintenance isn’t the worst thing in the world.”

So I tried to embrace this week, snap out of my malaise, and spend it doing things like finally cleaning out our garage and having a yard sale, relaxing with my family at the beach, and doing some back-to-school shopping with my daughter. The tricky part was not getting grumpy or impatient without my usual flood of exercise endorphins to keep me chirpy.🙂

An evening picnic at Butterfly Beach helped. And so did an awesome massage from my friend and massage therapist, Stephanie Trager. Thank you Stephanie!

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When I tried my 30 minute “test run” on Saturday, my rib was still quite uncomfortable, but at least it was fun to chill out at the beach with my family afterward.

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Here’s what this week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Bike 3 hours
Tuesday: Rest/Recovery (road trip to LA with friends)
Wednesday: Run 5 miles
Thursday: Bike 2 hours, Ocean Swim
Friday: Run 30 minutes, Swim
Saturday: Bike 2 hours with moderate hills, Run 6 miles
Sunday: Run 1 mile, Bike 3 hours with hills

On Monday’s 3 hour ride, I sported my Colorado jersey to try to rekindle that feeling of joy while navigating the roads here in Santa Barbara. Never mind several close calls with distracted drivers, it was still a solid ride. 40 miles with 2000 ft of elevation.

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Wednesday I was stoked to be back running without huge pain in my rib! 5 miles logged and feeling optimistic again.

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Thursday’s workouts, I’m VERY happy to say, finally took this Ironman rollercoaster on an upward swing back up to the top again. Not only did I have a nice, solid 2 hour ride where I was finally able to keep my cadence up the whole time, but I FINALLY got myself into the ocean to swim.

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I’m not sure why it has taken me so long this summer to get into the right frame of mind to swim in the ocean, but I guess we all have our silly mental blocks we need to work through. I’m glad I finally did. It was fun–super short and sweet before the Reef & Run races started. Hopefully I’ll be joining in a race soon too.

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Friday’s run was hot, hot, hot in the middle of the day, which made my swim afterward feel nice. My rib was still not 100%, perhaps from being jostled a little in the ocean the night before, so I only swam 650y, but it’s a start back in the right direction! Woohoo!

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And this how we roll after we train…stretching, foam rolling and aaaahhh!
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After yesterday’s 2 hour ride and 6-mile run, I was completely overheated, but feeling super happy to have put that one in the bag. From day one of my training, my mantra has been, “One Day, One Workout at a Time,” and that is exactly how I’m doing this. A tall iced latte afterward helped a little too.

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It’s always nice to be able to balance training with family and friend time. After this one we joined friends at the Mission Rose Garden for an evening picnic.
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Today’s ride was meant to be a toughie, and it was. All great stuff. Hills, hills and more hills. Love it! I can tell I’m getting a little stronger with each ride, so it makes the sufferfest worth it. I didn’t take any pictures today, except for this one when I stopped to fill my water bottle back up at Gobernador Canyon. The flowers were so pretty, I couldn’t help myself.

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As I sign off for the week, I thought I’d leave you with one parting thought…something I remind myself of daily.

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Until next time, my friends…

Thanks for continually lifting me up on this crazy journey. Knowing you’re right there gives me a shot of confidence when I need it most!

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong

Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong

Cycling in Aspen was pure joy for me during our two week vacation to the Rockies. On my last ride, I knew I was going to dearly miss all these open roads when I got home, not to mention a trail system connecting most of the valley. But, instead of lamenting that fact that we would be leaving soon, I tried to enjoy every second, and bottle up the joy this trip had given me.

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Once again, after doing my early morning ninja maneuvers to sneak my bike and myself out of the hotel room without waking up my peeps, I did a short hill ride up West Buttermilk, then met my friend Sarah for the rest of the ride (so much fun). Don’t be fooled by her sweet smile. She is a wickedly strong athlete. I’m trying to convince her to think about an Ironman event in her future! She would kill it.

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Sarah and I rode along the Owl Creek bike path toward Snowmass Village, beginning with several sharp, steep switchbacks. I huffed and puffed up each one while Sarah powered along effortlessly. Then the trail eventually flattened out, and soon became a downhill whizfest as we looped back around, flying down to Brush Creek Road in the brisk mountain air. Woohoo!

At the bottom of Brush Creek we stopped to take a couple more pictures, including one Sarah set up with her camera on a nearby hay bale, using at timer. This, my friends, quickly became an exercise in hilarity, but we got one!

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On a side note…during our visit I continually kept an eye out for of an Aspen cycling jersey, hoping to pick up a memento that would support one of the local bike shops like The Hub of Aspen, owned by Charlie, or Aspen Velo, owned by Mike. Because I’m not an extra small or extra large though (the only sizes they had left), I ended up opting for a simple Colorado jersey. With its blue sky color and mountain graphics, I thought it would be a perfect reminder of all the joy I had experienced riding here.

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After crossing under Highway 82 on the bike path, we rode down toward Woody Creek, then connected to the Rio Grande Trail again and headed back up to Aspen. Once again, Sarah headed to work and I continued on solo. I had originally planned to ride for 5 hours, and finish with some epic mileage, but my knees were exceptionally grumpy that morning, reminding me that I’d ridden over 225 miles on this trip already, with lots of elevation gain, so I decided to be smart and end it on a strong note rather than coasting back in with a whimper.

I still have four months to go until Ironman Arizona and my number one goal is to get to the starting line healthy. This is no small feat for my injury-prone body.

So instead of heading back down valley again, I checked in with my peeps. They were driving into town for breakfast, so it was perfect timing. I quickly turned onto the pedestrian-bike corridor and zoomed into town to meet them at Peaches.

Pedal power rules in this town. Aspen even has something called WE-cycle, a progressive community bike share program, co-founded by our friend Mirte Mallory, with 190 bikes racked in 43 stations around the valley, ready to take you wherever you want to go.

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During the summer Aspen is ablaze in color with flowers adorning every street corner and window box. The bear proof trash cans (behind) are even pretty with their aspen leaf designs.

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During our visit, I had planned to hike up Aspen Mountain and meet Jeffrey and Olivia for lunch, but somehow that never worked out. With so many hours of cycling, while also trying to accommodate everybody’s wishes, there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to pull it off this time. Olivia had been more than patient with me about it, so instead of hiking up, she and I took the gondola up while Jeffrey met with friends and did some work.

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The ride up is always breathtaking.

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What was very cool is that the Skiing Company has added a lot of fun summer activities at the top–from big nest-like structures to climb in…

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to giant games of chess and checkers…

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to Jenga

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to multiple xylophone-type instruments and much more. We didn’t even get to badminton, bocce ball and some of the other fun!

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But we did get to a rousing game ping-pong!

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After lunch and a few pictures, we headed back down the mountain (fyi–not a good day to forget your sunglasses at 11,000 + ft.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Olivia, but I was still itching to run/hike up a mountain while in Aspen, so after we picked up her friend Maia again to swim at the pool, I hoofed it up Buttermilk Mountain. It’s not nearly as intense as Aspen Mountain, but still 3 miles up on the summer road and about 2,000 ft. of elevation.

It was utterly glorious. I had the entire mountain to myself. And for the first time on this trip, I forgot my phone so I could not take pictures. Darn. It was a blessing in disguise though, as I was totally in the moment, enjoying my last adventure in Aspen– a steady heart-pounding run to the top where I was rewarded with the stunning view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells. This is a screen capture of a winter image.

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I rang the giant gong at the CliffHouse, soaked up the moment, then hightailed it back down the mountain where my peeps were waiting to go to dinner. It was the perfect exclamation point to an incredible two weeks in Aspen. I couldn’t have asked for a more memorable tri-cation.

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Until next time, Aspen….thanks for making me stronger and fitter, and for filling me up with your natural beauty and the blessings of good friends.

Life is good.
xo Becky

 

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High

Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High

Combining Ironman training with our family vacation was a delicate balancing act, but Aspen was the perfect place to pull it off. Knowing the town like the back of our hands, and still having many friends there, we were able to squeeze in A LOT, so everybody felt happy. It also helped knowing that I wouldn’t get too many sideways glances if I showed up somewhere still wearing my workout gear. Casual is how we roll, and so does much of Aspen.

The second week of our adventure began on a wonderfully mellow note–no epic workout, just a fab long lunch with our friends, James and Hensley, on the deck of Plato’s restaurant at the Aspen Institute. Then, while Jeffrey went to another lecture at Anderson Ranch Art Center, I took Olivia to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s School of Dance where she enjoyed taking ballet and jazz classes. Their studio space is gorgeous, and it was a treat for her to experience another dance school, even if she was a little uncertain at first.

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While Olivia danced, I squeezed in a short 3 1/2 mile run from the ASFB studios back toward the hotel on the bike path, then down Owl Creek Road. Some days you just have to celebrate what you can piece together. And that’s exactly what I did.

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When Olivia finished ballet, we let her choose where she wanted to go to dinner to celebrate her courage in trying something new, especially since she didn’t know anybody and had never tried jazz. She opted for Mexican food at Su Casa, which was just fine with me (okay, a margarita might have had my name written all over it…I repeat, MIGHT). Even though it’s not easy, we continually encourage our daughter to try new things, especially things that make her uncomfortable, as all these little things add small drops of grit into her confidence bucket. Also, they’re usually the most memorable things we experience in life, right?

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On a side note, this picture of us at dinner cracked me up because it unintentionally captured the ridiculous size of my Garmin. I’m so accustomed to wearing it, I don’t even think about it anymore, but holy cow, that’s as big as a brick! Quite the fashion statement, huh?

After dinner, once again, we strolled around town…

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And yep, there might have been more ice cream from Paradise Bakery involved for these two as we listened to a quartet playing classical music on the corner.

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I made a quick stop to Ute Mountaineer to pick up some more nutrition for my ride the next day. Love this locally-owned store.

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In the morning I had the joy of another big cycling day, starting off by once again riding up to the Maroon Bells.

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This time it was even more fun though, because my friend Sarah joined me. We’ve been friends for more than two decades and have enjoyed this ride many times over the years. It never gets old.
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After our ride up to the Bells, Sarah headed off to work while I headed Down Valley once again via the Rio Grande Trail. Yep, that meant going back up the hill to McClain Flats…woohoo. This time after cruising down to Woody Creek, I rode up to Lenado, another gorgeous rural area in the valley. I thought about stopping and snapping a picture of Hunter Thompson’s house for my friend Robert, but remembered that he always tells me to keep on grinding, so I knew he’d understand. Right, Robert?🙂

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By the time I pedaled back to Aspen, I’d logged about 50 miles with nearly 3500 ft. of elevation. Another solid day in the books, and one step closer to Ironman Arizona.

After my ride and a quick bite, I swung by Aspen Sports Medicine to see my old PT/chiro, Eric Haynie. I hadn’t seen him since we moved away a decade ago, but since he helped get me to the starting line of my first three NYC Marathons many years ago, I knew he might have an answer to what was going on with my grumpy knees. Sure enough, he pinpointed it to some bio-mechanical issues–inflexible hips and ankles, along with tight calves (the story of my life). The combination had been torquing my knees with every revolution of my pedals for quite some time. In addition to stretching exercises, he suggested switching out my pedals and cleats from Look to Speedplay, which are little more forgiving as they have a little more float.

After seeing Eric, we were off once again–this time zipping to Snowmass Village to pick up Olivia’s friend, Maia, so she could hang out at pool with us. While the girls had fun creating elaborate games and races on the rafts, I soaked my tired legs in the jacuzzi. Aaah.

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A couple hours later we enjoyed catching up with our friend Curt, and sharing some laughs over a few nibbles and vino before we headed to the ballet. I was already whooped from my ride and another full day, but I’d heard nothing but good things about this performance being put on by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, so I rallied for their 8:00 pm show. We were not disappointed. Talk about talented dancers and innovative choreography!

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Photo credit ASFB website

Sleep was elusive for much of this trip–something that’s especially tough when you’re training hard–so after yet another night of few zzzzs, Jeffrey and I headed into town for some much-needed coffee. This time we opted for good java from Peaches, then a decadent breakfast of oatmeal pancakes and spinach eggs from Poppycock’s. Spinach is good for you, so I could justify every damn last bite, right? (never mind all the rest of it).🙂

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From then on, it was another packed day with a whole lot of this and that, going here and there, and doing dumb, yet necessary things like hand-washing a pile of workout clothes. This is just a tiny portion. The balcony looked like Green Acres.

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Then of course I needed to squeeze in a run and a swim workout. After playing frisbee in the park with Olivia, I headed to the pool. Even though there were multiple options for lap swim in Aspen, somehow this was the one thing that seemed hard to fit into the equation while we were here. I never drummed up the hard core attitude I needed to drag myself to the early swim or evening master’s class. Instead I had my own little sufferfest in the hotel pool.

Fins, hand paddles, music…nothing made swimming feel easier here. I cut myself some slack though, and celebrated the fact that at least I got it done on some small scale. With 25% less oxygen at this altitude, eventually I figured out that I needed to alter my breathing in order to settle into it. Breathing every fourth stroke made be feel like my lungs were going to blow, but when I alternated every other stroke when necessary, it became more comfortable . Even so, I’d still collapse on the chaise after my workouts.

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My run took place in the evening while Olivia was at another dance class. Here she is with her awesome jazz instructor, Eric Chase.

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Jeffrey dropped me off at the North Star Nature Preserve were I knocked out 5 beautiful miles, running up the Pass to Difficult Campground, then back into town. It’s remarkable how many easily accessible trails are found in Aspen. It makes running and cycling so much fun!

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At the end of my run, my sweet husband texted and asked me to meet him at the art museum for a mini date. There are few museums in the world I’d go to in my sweaty running clothes, but Aspen is so casual, I didn’t hesitate. Not to mention, we had the entire place to ourselves. Jeffrey had ordered wine and nibbles right before the rooftop cafe closed and they told us we could stay as long as we liked. Okay, maybe not the best recovery fuel, but definitely the best way to end another fun and full day. Love this guy!

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There’s only a couple more days left of our Aspen adventure…check back again if you want to follow it to the end. Next time I’ll be going up, up, up…

Until then…Happy Trails
xo Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues

Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues

I started my second ride in Aspen early in the morning because I knew it was going to be a long one–about 4 1/2 hours. Let me tell you, it’s no easy task sneaking out of a hotel room without making a peep when you’re trying to navigate a bike and your gear through a darkened room. I got into ninja mode though, and left my peeps peacefully snoozing.

It was gorgeous this time of the morning, but I forgot how cold it can be in the mountains, especially for this Cali girl! Yep, I’ve turned into a complete weenie. I rode from the hotel into town past Buttermilk Mt. and Highlands, then headed down Cemetery Lane, before powering up McClain Flats to the Rio Grande Trail.

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The Rio Grande Trail is a bike and running path the follows where the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad once ran up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. Forty-two miles long, it connects Aspen, Woody Creek, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, with side links to Snowmass Village, Lenado, and Old Snowmass. It’s a cyclist’s dream to be able to ride for hours without having to think about cars. And the path is well-maintained. No potholes here!

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I rode down to Basalt, 18 miles from Aspen, then pedaled upstream along the Frying Pan River toward Ruedi Reservoir.

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I was happy by the time I headed back up to Aspen it had warmed up nicely so I could peel off my jacket and arm warmers. Loving this blue sky!

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Then it was back up over McClain Flats for a kick in the butt hill at the end of a 61+ mile ride. Booyah! It’s beautiful and flat on top, but getting up to it on both ends is always a good challenge.

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After my  ride, I ran a couple miles to keep practicing what it’s going to feel like in Arizona when I run a marathon after riding 112 miles. There’s a reason they call this a “brick” workout; that’s exactly what your legs feel like when you first get off the bike. Surprisingly though, they come back to life soon after you get started.

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I finished my run at the base of Buttermilk Mt., where our hotel was located. The X Games are held at Buttermilk every year, so the snow you see in the background is left over from the half pipe.

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My sweet girl was happy to see me when I finished, and even happier to go on a mom-daughter outing while Jeffrey went to a lecture at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village. We hopped on the hotel shuttle and ventured into town for lunch and shopping.

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There I spoiled her with her favorite treat from Paradise Bakery. This little enterprise brings in more revenue per square foot in Aspen than any other business. That’s more than Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and all the others. You’ll usually find a line out the door every hour of the day.

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Jeffrey joined us later in the day at Herron Park, where we lazed along the Roaring Fork River and sipped on ice blended lattes from Cafe Ink.

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Its icy waters were perfect for tired feet.

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Such a fun, relaxing afternoon…these girls got goofy and giddy.

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After our lazy afternoon, I did another short swim workout at the hotel (still gasping for air), then we dined down in Basalt along the river at the Riverside Grill before watching more of the Olympic Trials way past our usual bedtime, then crashing for the night.

The next day Olivia was invited to spend the day with her friend, Maia, and her family at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC), a world-class fitness center with an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, tennis courts, swimming pools and more.

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It’s a well-designed facility situated near all the schools and it has stunning views of Tiehack. It seems Aspenites know how to prioritize their tax dollars to create wonderful things for the town. So nice.

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Any parent knows it’s a luxury to have solo time on vacation, so I opted to take a rest/recovery day and spend time with my guy instead of riding for several hours. Aaaah. Thank you Alicia Dewey for your generosity!! Olivia had a blast and so did we!

Later in the day I arranged to pick Olivia up “Down Valley” near Carbondale while my husband was doing some work on our property. While I waited, I decided to sneak in a quick run. It wasn’t long by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good chance to move my legs some more and work my lungs again. This is a typical view in this area.

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Dinner was take-out picnic items from Whole Foods, vino and an evening by the pool. Olivia and I had a great time splashing around where she kicked my butt in raft races. And then there was the jacuzzi….aaaaah.

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In the morning, it was time for another early morning ride. This time it was about 45 miles, starting from the hotel, going part way up Red Mountain, then up Independence Pass past North Star Nature Preserve to Difficult Campground.

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Then it was back “Down Valley” again via McClain Flats, then the Rio Grande Trail. This time I jumped off in Old Snowmass to revisit an area we lived in during the early 90s. It’s such a gorgeous valley, and I couldn’t help but stop by Rancho Gringo, our old barn, which we renovated and turned into our home many moons ago. Our old tractor was still there too, which brought back great memories of Jeffrey harrowing the meadow between zipping around the world on his photo assignments. What a memorable chapter in our lives.

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Continuing on past our property, I pedaled back along Capital Creek Road and then back on East Sopris Creek Road. Cars were never an issue while riding here, which was such a treat!

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I stopped at the bottom of Watson Divide before heading back to the Rio Grande Trail and heading down to Basalt where I met my peeps for breakfast at Cafe Bernard, a french-style cafe owned by our friends Kathy and Bernard.

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After cruising around Basalt, then going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market back up in Aspen, and bumping into lots of old friends, we grabbed take-out salads and wraps from another of our favorite places, the Big Wrap, owned by our friend Babs. I find eating out tedious on vacation so getting stuff to go and sitting in a park or along one of the pedestrian malls suits me perfectly.
The next day was Sunday (already!), and we couldn’t believe we’d already been in Aspen for a week. After breakfast at Peaches once again (great coffee and poached eggs over fresh, organic veggies), we headed up Independence Pass to hike to the Grottos.

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Ballerina hiker…

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Cheeseball hiker…

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After our Grottos hike, we went back to the hotel so Olivia and I could hoof it up Buttermilk to play in the snow. Even though Olivia was born in Aspen, snow is still a novelty to her, so I humored her by joining the fun and “skiing” down on our shoes.

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Then it was time for another run! Jeffrey and Olivia dropped me off at the bottom of Cemetery Lane so I could run on the Rio Grande Trail while they went shopping for picnic items. At 2:30, it was hot at altitude, but it was a fab run along the Roaring Fork River.

I headed Down Valley for a couple miles, then looped back around and headed back Up Valley, eventually logging about 6.3 miles before ending my run at the Benedict Music Tent where my family was waiting with a delish picnic. Running at high altitude still felt hard, but being distracted by all the natural beauty around me helped take my mind off how sluggish my legs felt.

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The perfect ending to a full and fabulous day…classical music (Berlioz, Dvorak, Stravinsky, and Ravel) and a fab picnic…not to mention bumping into several old friends. I’m not sure how I got so lucky! Life is good.

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If you aren’t exhausted by now, stay turned for week two of our Aspen adventure….there’s more fun to come!

Until then…Happy Trails
xo Becky

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation