Race Report Ironman Arizona 2016

“Becky Aaronson from Santa Barbara, California….YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

Those are some of the sweetest words I’ve ever heard, ranking right up there with “I do” and “It’s a girl!”… life-changing words that will forever be tattooed on my heart.

Let me start at the beginning though. Since many of you have followed me from the very beginning of this epic journey, I want to share the final details with you so you can cross the finish line right alongside me. Your support and encouragement have meant everything to me this year.

This is looong, so buckle up, grab a cup of coffee or tea and kick back. If you only care to read about the race, you can scroll down to where it says RACE MORNING.

PRERACE

I left Santa Barbara early Thursday morning and arrived in Tempe in the late evening after a long 8-hour drive, including a lovely traffic jam through much of Phoenix. Needless to say, I was glad when the eagle finally landed at the hotel and I was able to crash for the night after unloading an absurd amount of gear.

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Friday morning Matt wanted me to get on my bike, so I went for an early morning spin, trying to steel myself against the shocking 43-degree temperature (I know, I’m such a weenie Cali girl now). Yowza. I immediately started worrying about the weather on race day, knowing it would be a loooong, miserable bike ride if it stayed like this.

Swinging by the Ironman Village though, erased every ounce of discomfort I had that morning. I still had goosebumps, but it wasn’t from the cold; it was from knowing my Ironman dream was finally going to become a reality.

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Later that morning after a quick breakfast, I walked back over to the village to meet my Smile Train team, get checked in, and pick up my race packet.

I don’t think there’s any more electric, eclectic, or neurotic place in the world than an IM expo, with hundreds upon hundreds of Type A, amp’ed up people in all shapes and sizes, wearing all things compression, milling about, out of their minds, having trained long and hard for months on end all to reach this one point.

Being part of Smile Train’s Team Empower made it all relaxed and fun. My awesome Smile Train ambassador, Jeff Krebs, warmly welcomed me, walked me through the entire check in process, then snapped a picture of me in front of the team banner.

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Matt had warned me about the expo before I left Santa Barbara, explaining that it can be a huge energy suck if you’re not careful, so after picking up my race packet and swag bag, going to a required athlete’s briefing, and spending way too much time shopping in the IM merchandising tent, I hoofed it back to the hotel to get out of the sun and put my feet up. It had gone from 43 to 80 degrees in a matter of a just few hours. Gotta love the desert.

I made a concerted effort to stay hydrated all day and eat small amounts of healthy food throughout, but I was running low on energy. I was glad I’d chosen to stay at a hotel with a full kitchen so I could avoid the hassle of trying to figure out where to eat for every meal. I whipped together a sandwich and chilled until later in the evening when I went back for the opening ceremony.

I also worked on getting everything organized for the next day’s practice swim and gear drop, and prepared for my family’s arrival later that night.

Even though I’ve been told I’m the queen of organization (aka-a nutty list-maker), I found one of the most challenging parts about doing an Ironman was mastering race day logistics and organizing all my gear for it. It sounds simple enough, but a lot of thought goes into it.

Unlike a sprint or an Olympic tri where you simply have your checklist, mark everything off, then throw it all in one transition bag and go, for an Ironman, you have to divide up all your gear into the five bags you’re given at registration: a bike bag, run bag, special needs bike bag, special needs run bag, and a morning bag.

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Most of it’s straight forward—helmet, bikes shoes, shorts, etc all go in the bike bag, running shoes etc. in the run bag. The tricky part is trying to think through nutrition and the special needs bag, especially knowing you won’t get your special needs bag back at the end. It’s like trying to use a magic ball to predict what you think you’ll need, and hopefully not waste a bunch of stuff.

My husband and daughter flew in late Friday night, so I didn’t get to sleep until nearly midnight—not good for the night you’re supposed to get your best sleep, knowing you’ll never sleep well the night before your event. As with this entire journey though, I decided that if I didn’t let it matter, it wouldn’t. I rarely get solid sleep anyway. It was great to have the loves of my life and #1 Support Crew with me, so it was worth every lost zzz.

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Saturday morning, I got up early to do another short ride and a run, and then headed back to the race venue for my practice swim in Tempe Town Lake. My family and I also attended our Smile Train breakfast, sign making, and awards ceremony.

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It was a huge relief to have the practice swim go well. Everybody had been talking about how miserable the water was the year before, so I was thrilled the 63-degree water felt much less shocking than our ocean water at home.

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Aside from the actual race event, one of the most special parts of doing Ironman Arizona was being part of Smile Train. We had 115 team members who raised over $600,000, providing 2,400 kids around the world with new smiles and much brighter futures.

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I was proud that with the help all of my amazing supporters, I was acknowledged as being the 5th place overall fundraiser on the team, raising $9,170, which will provide 36 1/2 new smiles. It made this event all the more meaningful.

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After our team gathering, we were led on a VIP tour of the transition areas. This may not sound like a big deal, but it helped ease all our anxieties about the unknowns. The race coordinator also answered a plethora of questions about rules and logistics—yet another little perk of being part of this team.

At the end of our Smile Train gathering, I racked my bike in transition, then walked with my family back to the hotel to rest before returning once AGAIN to drop off my gear bags.

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I had this shirt made back in January to celebrate my 50th birthday and my journey to Ironman Arizona. It seemed appropriate to wear it again on this day. I received more than a few knowing smiles from people who could appreciate the “Keep Calm and BRING IT ON” sentiment.

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By the end of the day my Garmin told me I’d walked over 20,000 steps—not exactly staying off my feet like Matt and several other people suggested, but that’s the best I could do.

Around 8 pm, after chilling with my family in the hotel for the remaining part of the afternoon, they left to go check into another hotel for the night so I could have the room to myself and get into my Zen race space.

This was right as our dear friends, Kimberly and Sullivan, swung by to say hello, after having just arrived from the airport. They were like a warm blanket of comfort and positive energy. I’m still completely blown away they flew to Tempe just to cheer me on.

Wow, just wow.

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RACE MORNING

No surprise, I didn’t sleep the night before the race (I never do), but I did catch a few zzzzs off and on, then popped out of bed at 2:30 to force myself to eat breakfast.

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OMG, my big day had finally arrived!!!

In between eating my delightful breakfast of Ensure, white toast with jelly, and applesauce (ack!), I did a whole lot of deep breathing, stretching, visualizing and getting my water bottles and nutrition ready for my bike and my run bag.

Four thirty arrived in a blink, then it was time to head out the door to walk to the race venue. It was such a surreal experience silently walking in the dark with all kinds of Ironman zombies, completely lost in their thoughts.

The transition area brought us all to life with volunteers in neon orange shirts buzzing with energy, reminding us they were all there just for us.

I went directly to our VIP Smile Train tent and was greeted by our energetic organizers, Lindsay and Kristina, who were wearing crazy wigs and tutus, along with several ambassadors. They had a full breakfast spread ready for our supporters, private porta-potties just for our team, and a fantastic cheering area for our families and friends to base themselves throughout the day.

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After placing my water bottles on my bike and dropping off my special needs bags, I pumped up my tires, then got body-marked by a hilarious volunteer. When I told her my age so she could write it on my calf, she screamed, “Girlfriend, you are soooo NOT 50. No way. You go get it, girl.” LOL.

I also tried to keep my wits about me in the midst of all this and do all the things I needed to have a successful day, like eat a PowerBar and sip on water so I wouldn’t bonk on the swim.

Then it was back to the Smile Train tent where I prepared to put on my wetsuit. Butterflies were getting busy in my stomach, so I borrowed a Sharpie and wrote BELIEVE in big letters on my arm and JOY on my right hand, symbolic of what I hoped for the day, and also initials for Jeffrey, Olivia, and YES!). On my other hand I wrote “Fly Tough Bird,” a little shout out to my dad who would have appreciated this day and this journey on so many levels.

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Right as I started to head to the swim, Jeffrey, Olivia, Kimberly and Sullivan arrived with hugs and good wishes. This was such a special day for all of us to share together, and I was so appreciative of all they had done for me all year, liquid drops of happiness poured down my cheeks.

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After snapping a few pictures, we heard the cannon go off for the pros and I suddenly realized I had spent so much time with my peeps that I needed to rush to the other side of transition to find my place in the age group start.

SWIM

The swim start was self-seeded, meaning we placed ourselves with other athletes who’d likely swim at about our pace. I had planned to be in the 1:30 group, but couldn’t push my way up through the sea of wetsuits, so I settled in with the 1:40 group and decided not to stress. I knew it was going to be a long day anyway, and preferred to pass people rather than have them swim over me.

As I waited in line with all the others, I made sure to soak up every moment. The sunrise was beautiful, and the weather was perfect—low 50s and partly cloudy. The best part was knowing we wouldn’t be swimming into a blinding glare the first mile.

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Photo credit: Ironman Instagram feed

As I looked around, only one or two people looked relaxed. Everyone else seemed like they were trying to manage their own fears and/or expectations. One young woman was crying, several were nervously shifting their weight from foot to foot. One was singing to himself and another neurotically adjusting her wetsuit.

A few dudes pushed their way through the crowd in a brash, entitled kind of way, which didn’t sit well with people who had made sure to get there on time. I just tried to stay in my calm happy bubble and force myself to chow down a Gu and some water so I wouldn’t bonk. Stay grounded and focus on what you need to do to make this a great day.

When it was finally time to jump in the water, I had this moment of terrified euphoria, like I was taking one of the biggest leaps of faith in myself I had ever taken.

“It’s just another swim,” I told myself. “You got this. You’ve done the work. NOW GO GET IT!”

And in I went. Sure enough, I did have it. I felt calm, strong and steady, even when I got clobbered every once in awhile. I had mentally prepared for much worse, so when it only happened a few times, I didn’t fall apart. Just keep going. Just keep going. Stay strong and steady. Relax. Enjoy this moment. You are doing it!

When I reached the first red turn buoy, just before the half-way mark, I glanced at my watch. Thirty-eight minutes. I knew I had this. I even had space to get into my regular swim groove…at least until somebody swerved in front of me or suddenly stopped for no apparent reason. Then I’d have to regroup and dig into my stroke again.

When I saw the final red turn buoy, it felt like a mirage. I thought I still had quite a ways to go, so you can imagine my joy. As everybody else saw the swim exit nearing and heard the loudspeaker booming, it suddenly became chaotic with people trying to sprint to the end, arms and feet flailing in all directions. I tried not to get caught up in the craziness, but rather stay centered until the end.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs to exit the water, I was giddy with relief. A volunteer reached down to give me a hand up and as soon as I reached the top, I found myself doing a full-on happy dance, throwing my arms up in the air and yelling “Yesssss!” I felt like I’d just won the day, getting through what I thought would be the most challenging part of the race for me, and doing it nearly 50 minutes faster than the cut-off time. Halle-freaking-lujah!

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I high-fived a whole line of volunteers who were cheering us on, then took off my Garmin (celebrating my 1:33 time) so a volunteer could help me get off my wetsuit before I jogged along to grab my bike bag and continue on to the changing tent.

For those who have never done an Ironman, I have to share the unique detail of the “wetsuit strippers.” After you get your arms out of your wetsuit, they have you lay on your back with your feet up in the air and quickly peel off the rest in the matter of seconds before helping you back up and sending you on your way with your wetsuit.

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome the volunteers were at this race. So Kind. So positive. So energetic.

The only thing that happened is that when the fabulous volunteer helped pull me up out of the water, I must have turned at a weird angle because I felt a sharp twinge in my hip flexor and inner thigh, like I’d strained a muscle. Yowza. Not good, but I tried not to think about it.

Instead, I focused on the task at hand, getting changed, sunscreened, fueled, and out the door without forgetting anything in the midst of lots of action in a crowded tent.

I wanted to be comfortable on the bike so I opted to put on dry bike shorts instead of wearing wet tri shorts for 112 miles. I also slathered Traumeel on my knees, which get cranky on the bike, and also slapped some on my hip flexor and inner thigh in hopes that would help ease the wonkiness.

BIKE

A volunteer ran to my bike to unrack it for me. Then I mounted my Garmin on it, which took FOREVER, then eventually ran my bike out of transition and hopped on. Woohoo!!!

Jeffrey, Olivia, Kimberly and Sullivan were right there cheering along the narrow shoot leading out toward the street, which fired me up even more.

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Then it was on to the first 38-mile loop and the biggest mental challenge of the entire race. Pros were already on their second or third loop and speedy age groupers were finishing their first loop as I was heading out.

I’ll be honest, this course is tough—not because it has crazy elevation or technical turns—but because it’s monotonous and you always seem to hit wind, no matter which direction you’re going. It’s also tough mentally, knowing you’ll be doing the same loop three times, and the first half is uphill.

About 4 miles into this ride, I was starting to get seriously worried about my hip flexor/inner thigh. Riding in the aero position was miserable. This is NOT happening, I told myself. No way. No how. Just relax and it will go away. Pain is your friend.

But it did not go away. It got to where I could only ride in an upright position, which I knew was a big waste of energy and would surely slow me down, especially with the wind, which picked up as the day went on.

I stopped at one of the first aid stations and tried to stretch it out, but it didn’t help, so I hopped back on and kept going. At the turn around spot at the top of the Beeline Highway, I got off my bike again and tried to massage my hip and stretch it. It also didn’t help.

Thankfully it was mostly downhill back into town. It was just the mental boost I needed to take my mind off the discomfort. The other thing that lifted me right back up was the raucous crowd cheering as I came in to start my second lap—especially my personal fan club. They were THE absolute best.

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With each lap the wind got a little stronger, and the road thinned out as the pros were already on to the run, and many age groupers were finishing up their final lap. Clouds were looming and rain was threatening.

Believe it or not, despite all of this, I was so appreciative to be there competing in my first Ironman, I could not stop smiling. Seriously. My face actually hurt from smiling all day.

The other thing that made me smile was remembering that my brilliant coach, Matt, suggested I throw some ibuprofin in my special needs bag in the unlikely event I might need it on race day—something I never would have thought of as I rarely ever take it.

Reaching mile 56, the half way point, was like reaching the Holy Grail. I dug into my special needs bag and quickly popped three Advil, hoping and praying it would do the trick.

Sure enough, not much longer into the ride, everything turned around. I can’t say the pain completely disappeared, but enough to ride in the aero position again, and enough to put the zip back into me to zoom back in for my final loop.
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Once again, my peeps re-charged my batteries with their crazy cheering and chanting. And then it was back up the damn Beeline Highway.

This time I knew I was 2/3 done though, and I knew all I had to do was get to the top and it would all be downhill. Also, I think the Advil must have launched some serious happy mojo in me because I was suddenly humming Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.
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I was also cheering for tons of people, especially all my Smile Train teammates, and I even started passing people on the way back. My goal was not to stop on the final lap, but I could never bring myself to pee on the bike like most do. Instead, I opted for what felt like the tenth porta-potty break.

The one thing I was diligent about during the ride was staying hydrated and fueled so I wouldn’t bonk and so I’d be prepared for the run, but when you’re drinking 24-30 ounces an hour, you gotta “go.” Let’s just say this did not make for my speediest ride, but I got it done and I did truly enjoy it, bumps and all.

RUN

I was so stoked to finally be off the bike, I was loopy. Fortunately, all the volunteers guide you along the way and get you to where you’re supposed to be next.

This time it was back to the changing tent with my run bag. Off with my bike shorts and on with my Smile Train tri shorts. And lots of Icy Hot sprayed on my knees and hip/thigh. Then run shoes, visor and my hand-held water bottles and off I went.

Well, almost.

A frantic volunteer ran into the tent yelling, “Who’s #533?”

“That’s me,” I hollered.

“Do you want your Garmin? You left it on your bike.”

“Oh my god, YES…”

Before I got the “please” out she bolted out the door to get it for me, returning in a sweat.

Did I mention the phenomenal volunteers?

At the expo when we picked up our race packets, inside we found a green wristband with instructions to give it to a volunteer who made a difference in your day. This was the person. Having my Garmin made a huge difference in my run, and I have her to thank for it. Sadly, I was long into the run before I realized I forgot to give her the band. 😦

The first mile of the run was what I expected, a peg-leg run that soon eased into a regular gait. I was stoked to finally be passing people, making up time from my bike. This race wasn’t about beating other people AT ALL, but it definitely gave me an extra mental boost.
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After a short out and back jaunt, Mile 4 brought me back to my cheering squad. The Smile Train tent was rocking and lifted me ten feet off the ground. Olivia had a megaphone and Jeffrey organized the group, all chanting, “Becky. Becky. Becky.”

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It would be another 9 miles before I’d loop back around and see them again, but each aid station was just 1-mile apart so there was support all along the way, even on the “lonely side of the lake.”

I felt surprisingly strong, and was happy I never hit “dark moments” for which I’d mentally prepared. I saw tons of people battling demons all along the racecourse, walking, limping, looking miserable, and barely hanging on. Maybe it was popping  more Advil at the halfway point, but somehow I managed to skirt the darkness, and for that I’m grateful. I tried to offer encouragement to as many people as I could, and even handed out Tums to those who were losing their cookies.

I fueled almost my entire run with the unlikely combination of Coke, chicken broth, water, Red Vines, and pretzels. Who would have ever thunk?

Somehow my stomach survived this wicked combo, and only had me seeking out a porta-potty a couple times along the course.

You’re going to think I’m nuts, but the run actually went by much faster than I ever imagined. Between the rocking aid stations, my cheer squad, and simply knowing every step was bringing me closer to hearing those magic words at the finish line, I was never discouraged. Not for one minute.

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In fact, the last 3 miles I started picking up the pace and quit stopping at aid stations all together. “Whoa girl, you go,” I heard more than once. “You got this. You look strong.”

The last mile felt like it took three days, but I could hear the finish line and knew that I would soon become an Ironman, which gave me a huge lump in my throat.

Every step was a mix of agonizing joy, my body ready to be done, but my spirit totally on fire.

A flood of thoughts and emotions washed though me. At one point my mom popped into my head. She was never athletic so when I grew up doing sports, and later running marathons, she’d always worry and say things like, “Don’t overdo it, Becky,” which of course made me want to push harder to prove that I could overdo it and be just fine.

After powering on from 7:00 in the morning until 9:30 at night, I chuckled and thought, “Look mom, I’m overdoing it again, and I am more than fine. In fact, I’ve never felt better or more alive!”

The last turn into the long finisher’s shoot was magic. Throngs of people were cheering and high-fiving me as if I were the first place finisher.

Then I heard Mike Reilley’s voice call out those magic words, “Becky Aaronson from Santa Barbara, California…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!”

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Holy crap, I did it! I threw my arms in the air and celebrated every second of that electric moment.

Any limitation I had ever placed on myself had just been shattered.
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A volunteer placed a medal around my neck and then my peeps bombarded me with flowers and a massive bottle of champagne…the perfect exclamation point to an incredible journey.

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“Life isn’t measured by the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.”

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I never want Olivia to feel like she shouldn’t “overdo it” because as we know, some of the best things in life happen when we push beyond our limits. I was ecstatic she could experience this with me…not to mention, the love of my life, Jeffrey, who was the true super hero of this year, pulling yeoman’s duty so I could make this dream come true.

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Here’s to dreaming big and surrounding ourselves with people who believe in our dreams as much as we do.

Thank you everyone for all your love and support this year and for believing in me.

And a HUGE shout out to Matthew Tague for being a phenomenal coach. He’s one of the biggest reasons I arrived at the starting line in one piece (no minor miracle for this injury-prone runner). Not only did Matt put together a training schedule that fully prepared me physically for this race, but he also continually reminded me to work on my mental game, and all the little details of race day like nutrition, clothing, and logistics. Most of all, he reminded me to appreciate the journey along the way. That my friends, I did with ease.

xo Becky

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Ironman Arizona Race Week: Raffle Winners

As I pack up all my gear to head to Arizona tomorrow, I want to pause for a moment and acknowledge all of my Smile Train Team Empower supporters and fundraising raffle winners.

As of now, we have raised $9,070.00 for Smile Train, which will provide 36 (and 1/4 more) kiddos with new smiles and new leases on life.

This is so freaking amazing, people! You helped me nearly double my original goal.

You have no idea how much this fills my heart. We are changing 36 lives FOREVER. These kids will now be able to eat, drink, and speak properly, and they’ll be able to go to school and go on to live happy and productive lives. You are making what would have been very difficult lives much brighter.

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Small gestures really can make big difference, especially when we join forces. This is proof.

Now….without further ado…drum roll please…

The winner of the raffle for the $50 Jane restaurant gift certificate and bottle of wine is….LORI ONISHUK.

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The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card for those who donated between $100-$249 is…ERNESTO PAREDES

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The winners of the $100 Amazon gift card for those who donated $250 or more are…JOE & MARIA FAZIO.

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Thank you to EVERYBODY who contributed to my fundraising efforts so far. I will be carrying all your good wishes and awesomeness with me on race day…

“A friend,” Merrill & Geraldine Aaronson, Lucas Meisel & Family, Roosevelt Running Club Spring 2106 team, Roosevelt Running Club Fall 2016 team, The Gaitan Family, Joe & Maria Fazio, The Malina Family, Heidi Jensen, Anonymous, Hensley & James Peterson, The Whelan Family, Cisco Matching Gift, Ana Martinez, DDS, Ernesto Paredes, The Tuckman Family, The Cowgill-Pichla Family, Artaz Heating-Plumbing, John Ellis & Tami Snow, Tim Green & Jo Haemer, Griffin & Chloe Miller & Family, Laura & Chad Bergerson, White & Grube Orthodontics, Betsy Sweda, Kim Shlens, Janet Cook, Tom & Lindy Melberg, Martha & Don Jefferson, Geoff, Jen & Mia Brown, Lori Onishuk, Elda Rudd, Jessica Risko, Whitney Bruice, Ruth Weber, Stella Pynn, Drea Schettler & Tim Strand, Greg Hall, The Rybnicek Family, The Clyne Girls, Kids Corner Coyotes, Claudia Drynan, The Battles Family, Stephanie Trager, McNees Family, Margo Rose, Tammy Gerenser, Jessical Mireles, Leo Schumaker, Chrissy Leonard, Justine Hamilton, The Park Family, Monica DeVreese, Mark & Gina Fennell, Heine-Twins, Erica Storm, Liz Mikkelson, Maude Williamson, Mark & LeAnn Green, Kromann Family, Jill Deering, PhysioPhyx, Christina Jaramillo, Kimberly, Anonymous, The Bartholomew Family, The Voigt Family, Randy Glick & Laura Jensen, The Mansbach Family, Jim Sloan, Namita Patel, Anonymous, Krista Kieding, Stephanie Christoff, Rena Heinrich, Cheryl Hutton, Teri Malinowski, Anonymous, Bruce & Regina Davis, John Herzog, Scott Kadous, Nash Jimenez, Curly Guillen, Carlos Gomez, Anonymous, Anonymous.

If for some reason, you haven’t been able to contribute yet, but would still like to, IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Here’s the link to click to donate: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE.

Okay, awesome peeps, it’s back to packing for me. I head out early tomorrow (woohooo!!!) and will be posting on Facebook and Twitter when I can. I’ll be blogging (if the stars are aligned), but no promises…at least until I’m across the finish line. My main focus will be to be in the moment and soak it all up while I’m there.

Until next time…
With love, hugs, and heaps of gratitude,
xo Your Soon-To-Be Iron(Wo)man Becky

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Week 45 of Ironman Training: Visions of BadAss-ness

During this crazy week of political and emotional upheaval, I’ve tried to stay focused on all things positive and keep my eye on the Ironman prize, but man, oh man, it has been tough. I’ve definitely shed a few tears and simmered in some dark moments as I’ve contemplated the state of our nation, but thankfully, exercise always brings me back around.

The other thing that has soothed my soul is pouring my energy into creating a vision board–a simple, empowering reminder of how I’m going to make this BadAss Iron(Wo)man dream come true. No. Matter. What.

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Being a visual person, it’s helpful for me to write down my goals and remind myself of my race plan and how I’ll handle the challenges of the day.

The background of my vision board is a portion of artwork created by my daughter with geometrical rainbow-colored fish that look like arrows pointing forward–the direction we all hope to be going. Every time I look at my board, I think of her and remind myself that I’m still one of the most important role models in her life, which makes her the number one reason I will never give up.

GRIT is what it will take to get to the finish line, a word I will not forget for a minute during IMAZ, especially as it also reminds me of my husband, my rock and north star, who is the epitome of grit. I will be carrying his love and support with me all along the way, as well as his grit, just as I have all throughout this journey.

The word COURAGE on my board reminds me of my friends, the Reeder-Riechels, as that little scrap of paper is something I tore from a card at their home during the holidays last  year. It simply said, “Take something you will need in the new year.” I have leaned on that word more times than I can count this year, and I will certainly be leaning on it heavily on race day. Did I mention these awesome friends are also flying out to the race to cheer me on? Unbelievable.

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One week from now I will be on the Ironman Arizona course (holy freaking craziness!!), taking each challenge as it comes.

My main goal is to try to enjoy and appreciate every single moment as I finally get to live out my Ironman dream–something I’ve carried with me since I was a teenager.

The race itself is truly a victory lap, a celebration of all the hard work that’s gone into this year, and a big “BOOYAH!” that I made it to the starting line in one piece–no small feat for this injury-prone runner.

I have Matthew Tague to thank for that. His outstanding coaching and his wise counsel have kept me moving forward, even when things got bumpy on occasion. I feel incredibly lucky to have had him in my corner during this journey.

As  I get prepared to head to Arizona next week, here’s what my final full week of training looked like during this taper phase:

Monday: Swim 3500y, Run 1 hr 15 minutes on a flat/rolling course
Tuesday: Bike 3 hours with 2×20 min hard efforts
Wednesday: Rest (beach walk)
Thursday: Run 30 minutes
Friday: Ocean swim
Saturday: Brick–Bike 60 minutes, Run 5 miles
Sunday: Rest (optional bike or swim)

Here are a few snaps from the week…

I usually run in the morning, but it took me all day to get out the door on Monday, so I had the joys of an evening jaunt. I opted to run loops around Sheffield Reservoir, which is mostly flat with a few small rollers.

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I was handed this lovely gift of color during my run…another opportunity to revel in gratitude…
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Tuesday was election day AT LAST. Halle-freaking-lujah! I wasn’t quite sporting a white pantsuit, but I did wear my white tri suit in honor of this historic occasion. I saw countless women wearing white on their morning runs, too, which made me smile.
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My 3-hour ride went by in the blink of an eye and ended at the rainbow sculpture along Cabrillo Blvd. It’s funny how 3 hours on the bike once felt like two days.
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Wednesday was a scheduled rest day, and I was thankful because, like many of my friends, I was exhausted from the election and trying to keep it together while struggling to explain it all to my daughter. A beach walk with my husband brought a tiny bit of solace.

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Thursday I did a short morning run with my big brown doodle, then another sweet evening run solo…this time around the Rose Garden and trails next to it, where the sky showered us with magic once again. When life feels insane, the best thing I can do is sweat, breathe deeply, and remind myself about the larger universe.
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Friday morning I had the joy of doing an ocean swim with my friend, Whitney Bruice. She has been super supportive all year long and has made a big difference in helping me get stronger in the water. It was especially awesome of Whitney to do this at 7:00am on her day off. Rock star status!
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I was thrilled to discover the new wetsuit Jeffrey bought me as another sweet show of support, fit perfectly and was more comfortable and buoyant than any I’ve ever worn. Yay! It may not make me faster during the race (or maybe it WILL!!), but it will definitely make me more comfortable.
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Saturday I did my final brick workout, a short 1-hour ride and 45-minute run. Zip. Zip. and Done. I got to try out my new team wind jacket and arm warmers to make sure they’d be comfortable on race day, along with some new socks. This was cutting it a little close for trying out new things, but it all went well.
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I am ready to roll. Let’s do this thing!
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As I sign off for the week, I can hardly put into words how much I appreciate all of you who have cheered me on, given me advice, hugs (virtual and in person), pushed me to be stronger, showered with me love and support and come along on this epic journey. It’s humbling, to say the least. My heart is full.

Next time you hear from me, I will be heading to Arizona to get ready to do my victory lap. I’ll be arriving Thursday evening and spending a couple days getting dialed in for the race on Sunday. My swim wave will start around 7 am and I’ll have until midnight to cross the finish line.

If any of you are interested, you can track me during the race via the Ironman website. My race bib number is #533. And don’t forget, I will be taking every single one of you with me, so fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a wild ride!

xo B
PS: This is your FINAL CALL if you’d like to donate to my Smile Train fundraising. Several of you have mentioned that you’d like to support my effort. Today is the day to do it. So far we have funded 36 kids for life-changing cleft surgery. How exciting is that?!

For my SB friends, as my final push to Arizona, I’m raffling off a $50 gift certificate to JANE restaurant and a bottle of wine to raise more funds for Smile Train. Each ticket costs just $5. All you have to do is go to my fundraising page (click link HERE) and make a donation and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing. The deadline to enter is 5 pm TONIGHT. The winner will be announced TOMORROW, November 14th.

For those of you who don’t live in Santa Barbara, I’m raffling off a $100 gift card to Amazon for anybody who donates $250 or more and a $25 gift card for those who donate $100–$249. I’m just about four smiles away from reaching the $10,000 mark, which would be mind-blowing if we could reach that. That would mean 40 kiddos would have their lives changed FOREVER when I cross the finish line…because of YOU!

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PSS: 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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try
Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse
Week 41 of Ironman Training: Mind over Muscle
Week 42 of Ironman Training: #533 is Savoring the Last 23 Days Until IMAZ
Week 43 of Ironman Training: The Joys of Joy and Peak Week
Week 44 of Ironman Training: Holy Freaking Craziness

Week 44 of Ironman Training: Holy Freaking Craziness

Holy freaking craziness, people, we are almost there!!!! AND I’m still in one piece! I’ve worked my tail off this year, and my heart and mind tell me that I’m more than ready to go. No matter what happens on race day, they’re going to carry me to the finish line. #MindOverMuscleBaby

Bring. It. On.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a little bit excited, and my body is feeling great. After Monday’s final epic 9-hour workout, which kicked my butt, I’m in taper mode, scaling back, recovering, recharging, and getting fired up like never before. It’s all part of the process, and it’s giving me time to stop and pinch myself.

This is really going to happen!

I’ve got news for you…YOU are also going to be doing Ironman Arizona, because I’m taking all of you with me on race day. I’m going to carry all the love and support you have showered me with and I’m going to lean on you when I need it most. Together we are going to get this thing done, hopefully with a huge smile on my face.

If you want to know what’s in store for us, you can take a peek at last year’s IMAZ YouTube video. Goosebumps!


As I continue to work toward getting to the starting line, here’s what this week’s schedule looked like (October 31st-November 6th):

Monday: Epic Day Metric Ironman (swim 1.5 miles, bike 70 miles, run 16 miles)
Tuesday: Swim 2000y (recovery), core
Wednesday: Run 30 minutes (recovery pace), core
Thursday: Swim 2000y (recovery), core
Friday: Bike 45 minutes on bike trainer, core
Saturday: Bike 45 minutes, Run 30 minutes off bike (pushing faster on the second half of each), core
Sunday: Rest/recovery, stretch class, core

Last Monday was a trial run for what’s to come on race day…a mini Ironman. Once again I practiced everything I’ll do on the course from nutrition to clothing, pacing to mental strategies. I cannot sugarcoat this training day. It was tough. Actually, parts of it were brutal, mostly because my knees decided to be unusually cranky. BUT, I got through it by digging into my bag of mental tricks. Done. Done. Done. BAM.

I tried to time it like IMAZ so I got up before 5:00 am to eat breakfast: toast, Ensure (ack), applesauce and a few sips of coffee, then sips of Tailwind on the way to the pool. I got in the water a little before 7:00, when my swim wave would be starting in AZ. I had hoped to make this an ocean swim, especially since my sweet husband bought me a new wetsuit as another phenomenal show of support, but after our recent rains (yay!!), the bacteria levels in the water have been really high. Don’t want to risk getting sick, so I opted for the pool.

The swim, for the most part, was fine. I got it done in 55 minutes (2:05 pace), still not Michael Phelps pace, but I’ll take it. I just jumped in and started swimming without a warm-up, which never feels great, but because that’s what it will be like on race day, I wanted to see how it would feel…although I’m sure it will be a lot more shocking in 63 degree water temperature and nearly 3,000 people splashing around. 🙂

After quickly changing, I zipped down to East Beach where I based myself for the bike and run. It was a gorgeous morning, so it was hard to feel anything but gratitude for this day.

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Feeling optimistic and ready to roll at the beginning of this ride…

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For the ride I did two 35-mile loops down to the Rincon and back, a route I’ve done numerous times. It’s not completely flat as a pancake, but as close as I can get around here, with a just a few minor hills in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

It was just me and the open road…and a lot of time on my hands to try to ignore my cranky knees. I gave myself pep talks, thought about all the cool people in my life, sang, and mostly visualized race day and how I’m going to rock it.
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The other thing I focused on was my nutrition. You can’t zone out too much because if you forget to eat or drink, you’ll pay for it on the run. I try to drink one bottle of Tailwind every hour and wash down a Gu energy gel with water about every 45 minutes. I also pop a Skratch Lab chew, pretzel, or bite of a PowerBar into my mouth here and there. It’s a fine balancing act staying fueled, but no overdoing it so your stomach doesn’t go south on the run.

I have to admit, I was doing a major happy dance when I finally got off the bike a little more than 4 1/2 hours later. Then it was on to the run.

I don’t know why, but this was one of the hardest runs I can remember doing in a long, long time, sixteen long miles on concrete. I’m attributing it to cumulative fatigue from weeks and weeks of training. Let’s just say, I dug out every mental trick I had to get through this one.

By now, you already know what a nut I am, so I might as well share the one thing that got me through this run (besides drinking Coke (ack!!!)…it was remembering five words my dad said to me at the very end of his life when I was a young college girl…

“You are a tough bird.”

Those five words have gotten me through a lot in my life, and they were especially helpful on this run. It wasn’t a speedy pace, but I got it done, at times visualizing a giant bird carrying my dad on its back, lifting me up by the back of my tri top and carrying me along. My legs suddenly felt lighter, my knees less angry, my spirit stronger. And then, batta boom, finally, this run was logged in the books.
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Next time, I’ll be swimming 0.9 miles farther, biking 42 more miles, and running another 10.2 miles, but I know I will get it done on race day, in much better form, because I will be rested and ready to go. I already feel like a new person from this recovery week. Woot!!

Recovery weeks also allow you to do things that have been hard to jam in during regular training weeks, like an afternoon stroll along Shoreline Park with my main squeeze, and a relaxing lunch date afterward.

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And surprising my sweet girl by cleaning her bedroom as my way of saying, “Job well done for working so hard in school.”
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Wednesday evening’s recovery run was relaxing and rejuvenating as I cruised along the soft grass while Olivia was at ballet…aaaah.
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The other thing I could do this week with my extra time was focus on my Smile Train fundraising. I have been completely blown away by the support I have received this week for Team Empower…30 people have contributed to Smile Train and funded five more kids for life-changing cleft surgery. My heart is full!! As of now, 29 children will have their lives changed when I cross the finish line. All because of YOU. That is freaking amazing!!

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Friday’s sweatfest on the back patio.
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Saturday morning I joined my family for the first time in ages for a little outing to Farmer’s Market, then a sweet breakfast date at Recipes, home of some of the best coffee in Santa Barbara, and the most wicked cinnamon buns you’ll ever find (shhhhh….don’t tell Coach Matt).
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My True North (and South, East and West)

My True North (South, East and West)

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After morning family fun, I had my own fun…burning off that cinnamon bun with a short brick workout…45 minutes on the bike, followed by a 30 minute run, pushing the last half of both so I finished strong. I felt fantastic, having had such a rejuvenating week.
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Then to top off this awesome week, it was date night at the art museum with this guy. Life is good…
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Today is a rest day, with specific instructions from Matt to nap, go for a walk and eat good food. I’m liking this taper thing! I’m also heading to a stretch class, which always puts me in my happy place. 🙂

Until next time, fabulous peeps…we are getting so close, I can almost hear Mike Reilly’s voice! Let’s do this!

xo B
PS: In case you missed my Facebook posts, SB friends, as my final push to Arizona, I’m raffling off a $50 gift certificate to JANE restaurant and a bottle of wine to raise more funds for Smile Train. Each ticket costs just $5. All you have to do is go to my fundraising page (click link HERE) and make a donation and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on November 14th. $5 from many different people can add up quickly, and make a huge difference in a child’s life.

PSS: 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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try
Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse
Week 41 of Ironman Training: Mind over Muscle
Week 42 of Ironman Training: #533 is Savoring the Last 23 Days Until IMAZ
Week 43 of Ironman Training: The Joys of Joy and Peak Week

Week 43 of Ironman Training: The Joys of Joy and Peak Week

Many of you know one of my greatest joys is coaching kids running teams and sharing my passion for the sport with the next generation. I love paying it forward, empowering young runners and motivating them to see themselves in new ways.

I’ve been doing this for over four years now with a program I created consisting of about 1/3 running and fitness, 1/3 motivation and inspiration, and 1/3 sportsmanship, team building and “life.”

I’ll admit it has been a little tricky pulling it all together this season in the midst of training, but it has always been worth the effort. Last week I zoomed into practice with just a few minutes to spare after riding nearly 50 miles and doing a half hour transition run. Fortunately, since I know I have to be hyper-organized this season to pull it off, it all magically came together. They had a blast and so did I. This little band of happy feet inspires me to no end and lifts my tired dogs ten feet off the ground.

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One of the things we talked about was our Word of the Week: JOY. I typically choose words like determination, courage, goals etc., but JOY is something I’ve been thinking about a lot while I’ve been training, so I wanted to share it with my kids.

I try to find joy in every workout I do, not matter how hard it is or how challenging the day is in terms of terrain, weather, timing, fatigue, logistics. etc. Sometimes I just find joy in the fact that I “get” to do what I’m doing or that the blasting wind is helping me get stronger, or I find joy in the fact that I’m doing something really hard that a lot of people would never attempt.

I wanted to remind my athletes to always try to find JOY in what they’re doing while they’re doing it, even if it’s hard or monotonous. I gave them several ideas of how they can do that with running, school work and even chores around the house, and they also came of with several of their own, which as you can imagine, gave me tremendous JOY. 🙂

The other thing that gave me tremendous joy last week was knowing that I’ve reached the highest point of my training for the entire year. HOLY PEAK WEEK BATMAN!!! I’ve made it in one piece!!! So freaking exciting!!! Now it’s time to taper, recharge, and fine-tune everything for race day. Booyah!

Here’s what my schedule looked like for the week of October 24th-30th…

Monday: Yoga/Pilates, Swim 5000 y (2.8 miles), core
Tuesday: Run 6.25 miles, core
Wednesday: Bike 3 hours, Run 30 minutes (transition run), core, run with my kids team
Thursday: Swim 1750 y with a 1000 TT, Run 8 miles, core
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Bike 1 hour, core
Sunday: Swim 1.5 miles, Bike 70 miles, Run 16 miles (metric Ironman distance) postponed a day due to rain :-(. I’ll be writing about this whopper of a workout soon though! Instead: 1 hour stretch class and 700 y swim.

Here are a few snaps from the week:

Tuesday I ventured to the track for the first time in ages. I wasn’t doing speedwork, but I wanted to run a couple of miles on a soft surface before hitting the road for the remainder of my run. It reminded me how much I love/hate the track, and how I’m looking forward to getting back to it after IMAZ.

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Not a bad place to cool down and stretch…
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And then more core work…bridges…
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Wednesday’s 3 hour ride was gray and brrrrrrr, making it a little hard to get excited about it.

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Here I’m finding some joy in the fact that I had to stop and dig out my sunglasses because the sun finally came out.
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I also found joy in the fact that I got my transition run done in time to get to my kids running club in time.

Thursday I was a little (ok, a lot) whooped from six days in a row of working hard, so I had to dig for some motivation to get my butt out the door for my 8-mile run. As I’ve mentioned before, whenever I’m dragging, the first thing I do is head to my workout wall and remind myself that I’ve done all these workouts in the past so doing one more won’t kill me.
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Then I get silly. I think I need more spinach!
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Then I don lots of compression items and make sure I wear bright colors to make myself feel cheery (even if I’m not, and even if I look ridiculous).
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Yeah, I was definitely fried at the end, but I got it done by practicing some of my mental tricks (mantras, visualization, etc.) and also reminding myself that the next day I had off to rest. It also brightened my run when my friends, Tami and John, happened to drive by and stop to cheer me on. So unexpected on this sleepy back road!
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Friday’s rest day was AWESOME, especially because it rained!!! So refreshing. Loved it. Mother Nature timed things perfectly too, so it cleared up on Saturday for my ride. I thought I was going to luck out on Sunday for my Epic Day, but when I woke up at 5:30 and saw pouring rain, I decided to postpone it a day and go back to bed to get some much-needed rest. I did my Epic Day yesterday, and Epic doesn’t even come close to describing it. More on that one soon.

In the meantime, the countdown is on…only 19 days to go until I’ll be swim-bike-running through Tempe! And only 12 days left to raise more funds for Smile Train. If you’ve been thinking about donating, but haven’t pushed the button yet, today is the day to do it! You have the power to change someone’s life for the better, and there’s nothing more exciting or gratifying (at least in my book).

Here’s the link to donate: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE. Thank you Bartholomew Family for your recent generous contribution!!

Until next time, awesome peeps. I hope you find JOY in all you do. Happy November!
xo B

 

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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try
Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse
Week 41 of Ironman Training: Mind over Muscle
Week 42 of Ironman Training: #533 is Savoring the Last 23 Days Until IMAZ

Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse

Have you ever noticed how smart dogs are? After running and playing hard, they know exactly what to do: chill. There’s no overthinking it. There’s no multi-tasking or contemplating their never-ending To Do Lists. There’s no, “I should be doing this” or “I should be doing that.” They simply drink a little water then plop down and snooze…usually for a very long time. And then they repeat it, usually after convincing their humans to feed them and give them a little massage.

I’ve decided I need to start thinking more like a dog as we head in to the last 37 days (!!) leading up to Ironman Arizona.

Train hard, turn my brain off (and the news), rest, recover and repeat.

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What made me think about this, besides watching my big guy take his rest and recovery seriously, is that after several weeks in a row of flying high, traveling, doing races and events, and hitting it hard with my training, my body has decided to let me know it has been working hard. It’s been creaky and cranky, and to top it off it has decided to sport an annoying head cold.

I know, wah wah wah…BIG DEAL.

I couldn’t agree more.

Although it’s inconvenient and slightly annoying, it happens to all of us, and I realize it’s something I signed up for, so there’s no complaining. The trick is to figure out how to keep the momentum going despite these minor niggles.

Our bodies have a way of letting us know when we need to scale back, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m honoring it for how hard it has been working, treating it like royalty, and cutting myself some slack. My smart coach has helped in this department too. Matt insisted I take the entire day off yesterday to rest. That’s why I’ve had time to write!

I’ll be back at it today though, nearly powered back up to 100% again. And tomorrow I’ll be taking on the six-hour triple brick workout, which has me giddy. As this mouse meme below suggests, workouts like that may be tough, but they will definitely make me stronger, both physically and mentally! I can hardly wait.

For the next five weeks, my plan is to train like a mouse and think like a dog until I get to the starting line in Tempe.

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Here’s what last week’s schedule looked like if you’re interested:

Monday: Swim 30 min, Bike 60 minutes, mini massage from Stephanie on my cranky legs and hips
Tuesday: Run 75 minutes on a rolling course
Wednesday: Yoga and also launch the fall season of the Roosevelt Running Club, one of my fav kids running teams (!!)
Thursday: Bike 1 hour, Run 1 hour, Swim 40 Minutes
Friday: Bike 3 hours on hilly course, Run 45 minutes off the bike
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Bike 45 minutes, Stretch class 60 minutes

Here are a few snaps…

Monday I had to deep to find my mojo on a tough day. I thought adding a little Tempe training camp and tri swag would help put me in the right frame of mind while I rode on my trainer after my mini massage.

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A little swim afterward felt good on tired legs–especially using a pull buoy! Ha ha.
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Tuesday’s run put me in my happy place once again. It’s hard to go wrong on Mt. Drive when you have a view like this.

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Wednesday was bittersweet, as my favorite yoga instructor, Erin DiAngelis, taught her last class at the Y. She’s moving away, and I will miss her terribly, but I’m also filled with gratitude for all the joy and positive energy she has brought into my life. Good luck on your next exciting adventure Erin! The world is your oyster, my friend.
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Wednesday we also kicked off the 10th season of our Roosevelt Running Club–something that has brought tremendous joy ever since I created this program with my husband when our daughter was in 3rd grade. There’s nothing like sharing your passion and seeing that spark of excitement in the next generation of runners!
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Like many of you, whenever I run I try to focus on the beauty around me and appreciate how lucky I am to be able to enjoy it. It feels more and more important these days as we slog through one of the most vile presidential elections I can ever remember. Although I try to shake it off and clear my mind when I run, I often find myself fighting to keep that heavy fog of negativity from invading my happy place. Is anybody else feeling this way right now?

I’ve always been eternally optimistic (probably annoyingly so), but this election seems to have brought out the worst in our country, and it weighs heavily on my mind, especially raising a daughter who is watching it all unfold. I guess that’s when I really need to focus on the beauty around me, including those people in my life who always remind me that daily acts of kindness and compassion are far more powerful than any sleazy political statement could ever be.
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On Friday, I had another 3-hour hilly ride with a transition run afterward. Once again, this took some digging, but I got it done. Here I stopped at the top of Ortega Ridge Road to refill my torpedo water bottle before zipping down Greenwell, continuing on to Carp, then circling back through the hills.
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On the way back it was the usual tour of 192 with side jaunts up Shephard Mesa, Toro Canyon, Ladera Lane and Ortega Ridge again.
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And then a late afternoon transition run off the bike afterward along Chase Palm…

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I have to admit, I was very happy to be done. Sometimes during challenging weeks, you just have to stop, take a deep breath, and remember how far you’ve come, and celebrate all the things you’re able to do now that you weren’t when you first started, even if you know you still have a ways to go.
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Saturday was my day off, and I was happy to be able to volunteer at the FoodBank to help sort and box donated food, which will feed hungry families in Santa Barbara County. My friends, the Mansbachs, have organized Family Day at the FoodBank on the second Saturday of every month, and lots of awesome families come to volunteer. It’s easy, uplifting, and always worth the 2-hour investment of time, knowing that this simple effort will make a difference in our community.

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Even though I rested on Saturday, I had the energy of an armadillo on Sunday as my cold, which had been niggling me all week, walloped me good. I opted to ride on my trainer instead of the road (much easier to have Kleenex handy), then I went a super mellow 1-hour stretch class to try to find my Gumby oooom.
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Then Monday rolled around again (already–time is flying!!!)….

Here’s what this week’s schedule looks like:
Monday: Run 2hrs 45 minutes
Tuesday: Bike 1 hour, Pilates/strength
Wednesday: Yoga, Run 45 minutes and run with my kids running team
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Bike 1 hour, Run 30 minutes
Saturday: Bike 1:3o, Run 40 minutes, Bike 1:30, Run 40 minutes, Bike 1:30, Run 40 minutes
Sunday: TBD

As I’ve been trying to get back to 100%, I’ve been resorting to wheatgrass juice, perhaps the most foul tasting thing on earth, but packed with so much good stuff, I’m suffering through it. It definitely falls into the “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” category.

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As many of you know if you’ve been following along on my blog, I’ve trained in lots of different conditions since January to try to prepare for whatever might be thrown at me on race day. I’ve weathered torrential rain, excessive heat, freezing cold, blasting wind, hills, flats, high altitude, open water…yadda yadda. I can now add illness to the things that won’t stop me on race day, having run 17 miles with a fairly unpleasant head cold on Monday. One step at a time, you just get through things.
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I was glad to have this one in the books, especially with the wind adding to the “fun.”
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Tuesday, after a short 1-hour ride, I went to one of my fav Pilates classes with Kristine, then lifted weights before heading home to recover like a dog. I’m still trying to master the art of the nap, but all I can do is keeping practicing. 🙂

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Wednesday I went to yoga, and although the new instructor wasn’t remotely close to being as phenomenal as Erin, I still got in some stretching and strengthening so it was worth the effort. It was especially good before I did my run, and also ran with my kids at Running Club, where they chased me with abandon in a rousing game of tag. Love these awesome kids!

As we head into the weekend, I’ll be thinking about three things: training like a mouse, thinking like a dog, and fundraising like a champ — a champion for kids that is, who need our help. I couldn’t be prouder to be a member of Team Empower and raise funds for Smile Train, an outstanding organization providing life-changing cleft surgery for kids around the world. The difference this simple 45-minute surgery can make is immeasurable.

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To date, I’ve raised enough funds to provide 23 new smiles for cutie pies around the world. My goal is 5 more smiles.

I leave you with this exciting news: one of my supporters recently pledged to donate one new smile ($250), and also to match five more smiles. That means any time someone makes a contribution of $250, he will match it so two kids will have life-changing cleft surgery instead of just one. How remarkable is that?!

I hope you will consider making a donation. There are only 5 weeks to go to make this happen. We can do it! And of course, ANY amount helps, from $2 to $2,000. No amount is to small or too large. Today is a great day to give up your Starbucks in exchange for helping a little one!

Here’s the link to make a donation: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE.

Thanks for considering, and thank you for being such powerful, positive forces in my life. Your simple acts of kindness and support remind me that no matter how bonkers our world can get at times, if we surround yourselves with good people, our lives will always positive and meaningful.

Until next time…here’s to keeping our chins up!
xo Becky

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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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try

Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try

Endurance athletes are often asked, “Why?” … as in “Why in the world would you possibly want to do this?” Or “Why would you spend so many of your precious waking hours training?” Or “Why would you put your body through this?”

Everybody’s answers are different, or course, for pursuing an Ironman, an ultra or any other endurance event, and many reasons are complicated, but almost all involve the joy of a challenge and the pursuit of health and fitness while pushing personal boundaries.

My reason for tri’ing involves all of those things, but on a more basic level, it all comes down to one simple reason: I do it because I can.

At 50, I still have the outrageous gift of health, which I never EVER take for granted– especially having a father who only lived to 51 and mother who only lived to 70. Many people take this gift for granted and quickly discover their lives become more and more limited.

Being healthy, trying new things and pushing well beyond my comfort zone makes me feel alive like nothing else. As does being scared poopless and figuring out ways to keep moving forward, despite it. That’s why this Ironman journey is so meaningful to me.

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The other “Why” I get is, “Why would you add fundraising and philanthropy to your plate when you’re already performing a juggling act trying to find enough hours in the day to train while writing and managing all of life’s other joys and responsibilities?”

The simple answer is “Because I can.”

Being able to do something for somebody else, and help make a difference in the world, even if it’s a tiny difference, is really what it’s all about. People helping people–plain and simple.

The bigger question is why wouldn’t you help if you could? Why wouldn’t you help a little cutie pie who had the misfortune of being born with a cleft lip or palate? Why wouldn’t you try to piece together $250 for a 45-minute surgery that would completely change the trajectory of his or her life?

SmileTrainPicWhen I joined Smile Train’s Team Empower, my goal was to meet the team minimum of raising $5,000, which would provide new smiles for 20 kids. Anybody who knows me though, knows that doing the minimum isn’t my style. Like all of you, when I’m in, I’m in 100%. In this case, I’ve decided I’d like to be in 140.6%, in honor of the 140.6 miles I’ll be tackling on November 20th in Tempe. If I meet that goal, that means 28 kids will receive life-changing surgery. How cool is that?

Once again, it comes down to, “If I can do more, why wouldn’t I?”

With just 49 days to go (!!!), I’m reaching out to all of you to ask for your support. If 10 people donate just $25, another child will be able to face his or her future with a bright, confident smile instead of being kept out of school and hidden away in shame. That, my friends, is big stuff. You don’t have to be wealthy to help make a big change in someone’s life. You just have to be willing to say yes when small opportunities arise. This is one of them.

I hope you will consider contributing. Together, we truly can make a difference.

Here’s the link to my fundraising page: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN. It only takes a minute to donate. And don’t forget, anybody who donates $250 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Those who donate $125-249 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

•  •  •

Now that I’ve shared the reasons I tri and try, I thought I’d let you in on a bit of fun news. This email arrived from USA Triathlon on Wednesday. It seems I’ve qualified for the 2017 National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska. Talk about a surprise! I’ve heard Omaha is one of our country’s garden spots, so perhaps it might be time to venture to Nebraska. 🙂 Who else is going to Omaha in August?

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The other exciting thing that happened this week is that my tinted goggles finally arrived! After two races of swimming into the sun completely blind, this totally made my week. It’s the little things, I tell you. You may remember when I first started training, it took me months, and at least 6 pairs of goggles, to find ones that fit my face. These are slightly bigger than my clear ones, which are women’s, but it seems they don’t make tinted ones for women (really?). The dork factor is high with these, but fortunately, they work. Hallelujah!

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As I keep on keepin’ on with my training and fundraising, here’s what last week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Rest/recovery day
Tuesday: Swim 40 minutes
Wednesday: Run 2 hr 20 min (14 miles)
Thursday: Swim 45 minutes, Bike 1 hour on the trainer
Friday: Run 30 minutes, Swim 30 minutes
Saturday:
Bike 5 hours (80 miles)
Sunday:
Rest/Recovery

Here are a few snaps from the week…

Wednesday’s long run was a hot one, as I intentionally ran in the heat of the day again to get my body accustomed to the challenge. It also gave me the opportunity to dial in my hydration, nutrition, and salt intake–all crucial things when you’re going to be in motion for hours (and hours…and hours).
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It said 79 degrees, but it felt more like 89 to me.
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Besides running in the heat of the day, the other thing I did was run the entire 14 miles on concrete and asphalt to simulate the pounding my body will take on race day. Up until now, I’ve mostly been running on grass and trails to try to avoid injuries, with a few miles of asphalt mixed in along the way. The IMAZ run course is similar to our bike path along Cabrillo Blvd–lots of concrete. After doing this run, I remembered why I hardly ever run on this unforgiving surface anymore. From here on out, I’ll have to be extra smart with recovery. Ice may become my best friend. 🙂
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Luckily the next day was a pool day…
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And a bike trainer day…

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It was nice to be able to spin and crack open this new book, which I’m enjoying.

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Friday was another swim and run day. Sometimes I feel like I live out of my car as I’m always headed somewhere with a swim bag or a bike and always a plethora of water bottles.

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Before my swim, I did a quick shake out run from the Y in Montecito down to the Biltmore and back.

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It was another beautiful, warm fall day.

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Sometimes I missing having real seasons in California, but it’s hard to complain when you get to train on days like this.
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Yesterday morning I set out early on my 5 hour ride. It was a spectacular day and another great opportunity to practice everything I’ll be doing on race day, especially my nutrition, which is the crucial fourth element of triathlon. I’m learning it’s all about timing and focus, ingesting calories and carbs before you’re hungry (not always easy) and staying ahead of dehydration and salt depletion. You can’t just space out and let your mind wander or you’ll pay the price at the end of the bike and/or on the marathon run.

Breakfast was the first order of the day. To properly fuel and avoid gut issues, most people have to get up and eat at least a couple hours before working out so everything has a chance to digest. For me, this meant 4:45. Even two hours early wasn’t quite enough time for my stomach, so it looks like it will be a 3:00 am wake-up call for me on race day.

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I began my ride at East Beach and pedaled down to the Rincon area, 20 miles away, then looped back around and did it all again. The IMAZ bike course is a series of three 37-38 mile loops, so I thought it would be a good idea to simulate the course and also keep working on my mental game. Yesterday’s ride had a few more hills than Tempe, but it’s the flattest course I can find around here. Doing loops also helped with logistics as I could replenish my hydration after the first loop. I apologize for the TMI here, but the biggest challenge with drinking 128 ounces in 5 hours is that you have to pee A LOT. I’m told that athletes just go on their bikes during the race (eeew), but I wasn’t quite ready to practice that just yet, so having a bathroom at East Beach was also appreciated. 🙂
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It was a gorgeous morning, and although a few parts of my body were being cranky, I was still smiling, knowing I’m one step closer to crossing the finish line in Arizona.
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As we head into Week 40 of training, I’m staying focused on the process — one day, one workout at a time, and doubling down on nutrition and all things recovery-related. By focusing on the process, or journey, rather than the outcome on November 20th,  I will stay in the moment and enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it–even if it is a sufferfest at times.

I’m also going to focus on raising funds for 8 more kids so they receive life-changing surgery from Smile Train. I can think of no better fuel to keep me going! If you feel so inclined, your contribution would mean A LOT. Once again, here’s the link if you’d like to help make a difference: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN.

Thanks for your support and generosity and thanks for continually being there for me! Sharing this journey with you has been one of my greatest joys.

Until next time…
xo Becky

Smile Train Ironman Arizona

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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report