Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts

There’s something unforgettable about firsts…your first kiss, your first marathon, your baby’s first steps…the list goes on…each of these moments is awash in magic. That’s how it feels as I continue to train for my first Ironman, too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped in my tracks to appreciate the gift of this journey. Even on the crappiest training days, when I’ve had the sorest muscles, or I’ve been the most exhausted, I’ve still been flooded with gratitude.

Part of the magic of doing your first Ironman or _____ (fill in the blank) is that it’s scary. The fact is that you don’t know if you can do it until you take a flying leap of faith, commit to it, and get your ass in motion. It’s all a vague dream or goal until you start putting one foot in front of the other.

This past weekend I had the privilege of sharing in the joy of several friends doing their first triathlon. Their energy and excitement–and their nerves and questions–gave me goosebumps. Even if their knees were shaking a little, they took that leap of faith, believed in their training, and went for it. It was pure magic. And you know what? They rocked it! I couldn’t have been happier for them, or prouder of them. Congratulations Cheryl and Debbie!! You inspire me to no end! And congrats to the many kids and parents who did the parent-child division. What a gift you have given each other–a lifetime memory and an awesome exclamation point to your healthy lifestyle.

There’s no better race to do your first (or fifteenth) tri than the Santa Barbara Triathlon. It’s one of the best-organized and most supportive events around. Joe Coito has been directing it for well over two decades and he and his staff have it nailed. And there’s an event for everyone too–from Saturday’s long course to Sunday’s co-ed sprint or women’s only sprint. Then of course, the parent-child sprint.

I felt lucky to have spent my Sunday morning taking part in this stellar event. Here are a few snaps from the day…

The transition area opened at 5:30 am and all the rock star volunteers were there, cheery and ready to roll. By 6:30 the sun peeked above the horizon and blessed us with another classic Santa Barbara day.


I got there when it was still dark so I could stake out a good spot in the transition area. I didn’t sleep a wink anyway (I never do the night before a race), so I decided I might as well get up and get going–after a giant cup of coffee, that is. Fellow SB Tri Club member, David Gonzales, snapped this picture as I was setting up my transition area. It’s hard to miss your bike among the 900 others when you have a not-so-subtle balloon tied to the rack. Photo ©David Gonzales.

A little chalk on the ground helps too. It’s also a good reminder to have fun while kicking it into high gear. The lady to my left was doing her first tri (so awesome!!) and was happy to have my landmarks next to her.


Here local icon, Leo Schumaker of Leo’s Running & Racing, is setting up his camera. The Man, The Myth, The Legend! He’s at nearly every SB race documenting all the fun. Such a stud!

I’m trying to be as cool as Leo, but I don’t think it quite worked–ha ha.

Even though this wasn’t my first triathlon, it was the first I’d done in a loooong time, and the first of several to come as I prepare for Ironman Arizona. I gotta admit, I was a tiny bit nervous, but I was even more excited to see what I could do after training for so long–even if that training happened to all be geared toward long, steady endurance rather than a lung-busting sprint triathlon.

Fortunately, it all went well. My swim wasn’t as speedy as I had hoped, but it was quite a bit faster than the last time I had done this race, and more importantly, I felt confident in the water and never got unsettled when I got kicked and knocked around. I even passed a few people, which was first for me. Small steps-ha ha!

Then it was on to the bike, which was a blast. The hours I’ve spent in the saddle training made this ride feel solid. I know I’m not supposed to be smiling so much when I’m pushing it hard, but my husband and daughter were cheering so loudly, I was totally cracking up. “Goooooooooooo Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Running on bike cleats afterward? Not so fun, but the transition was quick, then it was on to the run.

The run itself was super short too, just 2 miles, then batta boom, it was across the finish line. Short, sweet and done. Phew.
It was a fun day, especially since I felt strong and was surrounded by all the phenomenal energy of this event. I knew I had reeled in a fair amount of people on the bike, and more on the run, and I knew for the first time ever I hadn’t been passed by anyone on the course, but I had no idea what my time was because I hadn’t worn my Garmin. The damn thing is so big, I can’t get my wetsuit off quickly when I wear it, so I opted to chuck it and just run by feel.

Well, guess what? This happened!

1st in my 50-54 age group, 6th place overall and 2nd overall on the bike. It was my first time on the podium, and like all firsts, it was filled with a little magic–especially since it was a complete surprise. Thank you coach, Matt Tague, for getting me here! One small step closer to Arizona, with many more steps still to come.

Even more exciting was seeing my friend Cheryl take 2nd place in her 65-70 age group in her first tri! This girl is on fire! So proud of her. Cheryl’s quote says it all:

“Be brave even if you have to pretend.”

It was also fun celebrating our SB Tri Club. It’s such a great group of people with many fierce athletes.
It was a perfect way to end week 34 of Ironman training!

If you’re interested in  knowing what the rest of the week looked like, this is what my training schedule was like:

Monday: Run 1 hour 30 minutes, strength
Tuesday: Bike 40 minutes on the trainer and get a massage (aaaahhh!)
Wednesday: Yoga (yay!!), Swim 4000y, Bike 2 hours, Run 15 minutes
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Run 45 minutes with 5 x 1 minute @ 90% effort, Swim 30 minutes with short efforts
Saturday: Bike 60 minutes on the trainer, practice transitions
Sunday: Race the SB Triathlon. Afterward Bike 2 hours on a course with rolling hills.

And if you have the stamina, you can take a peek at how it all shook out…

Killer Kate was out of town last week so after my 9+ mile run, I did strength at home. I know my core is the key to staying healthy so I plug away at it daily.



It never fails…whenever I’m stretching, foam rolling or trying to do strength work, this big brown guy feels compelled to come over and supervise.



Seriously, Doodles?

It was my daughter’s first day of junior high (!!) so Jeffrey and I decided we should take her to Kid’s Happy Hour at Rori’s to celebrate. YES, I was happy I finished my workout in time to celebrate. Love this girl, and love Rori’s rootbeer ice cream! Yum, yum, extra yum!
Tuesday was a short spin on the trainer, then a much needed and MUCH appreciated massage from my fab massage therapist, Stephanie Trager. She is a hugely important part of how I’m staying healthy. Thank you Stephanie for working your magic once again!

And so is yoga. Wednesday I went to my fav class at the Y. I’m so appreciative of Erin DiAngelis. Not only is she an extraordinary yoga instructor, but also an all-around awesome person.

She always seems to know exactly what I need and always leaves me feeling lighter, stronger and more centered.

On Saturday morning I watched the SB Tri long course and cheered on friends as they crossed the finish line. I was so inspired by their efforts, but I was also happy that I listened to my body instead of getting caught up in what I felt like I “should” be doing, and chose to do Sunday’s sprint instead of Saturday’s long course. This was a first for me. There will be longer tune-up races coming up soon enough, and by then I will be ready. After all, my goal is to arrive at the start of IMAZ healthy, and over the months it has proven to be a fine balancing act. I gotta be smart.

After my Saturday afternoon spin on the bike, I organized all my gear for the race, then suddenly realized I hadn’t practiced my transitions an iota. For those of you who’ve never done a tri, believe me, you want to practice your transitions. Transitions are like a 4th component of triathlons, and you can really shave some minutes off your overall time if you get them down.

Sooooo…. I set up all my stuff in the front hard and had my sweet and patient daughter time me. I’m sure it was quite a funny sight for all the neighbors, but it helped to run through it a couple times. First you run up the beach (or your drought-stricken lawn), whip off your wetsuit, goggles and swim cap and throw on your bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses before you run your bike out to a designated area to mount.


Then you fly back in on the bike, switch your bike shoes for running shoes and take off once again.



And that’s a wrap! Coming up next will be the Ventura Century on September 10th, which will be a fun way to log 100 miles and keep practicing all the things I need to do on race day.

Until then, dear friends….thanks for sticking with me all along this adventure. On this last day of August, we are only 81 days away from the Big Day!!!


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 33: The Art of Recovery and Balance