Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities

One of the best things about Ironman training is that it gives you miles of opportunities to try new things while pushing your limits and stretching all notions of what’s possible in life. Every new adventure brings the chance to breathe in strength and gratitude and exhale weakness and the dullness of “ordinary.”

On Saturday I had the opportunity to enjoy another new adventure–the Ventura Century, a 102 mile ride through Santa Barbara County with over 5200 ft. of elevation. This was an important training ride for me in which I simulated everything I would do on race day–from what I’d wear to how I’d pace myself to what I’d eat and drink.

venturastart
After doing a 1-hour shake-out ride on Friday and organizing all my gear, I awoke at 4:30 am, had a bowl of oatmeal and headed to my French Press for coffee. This little note kicked off my day in all the best ways. Love my supporters! xo

lovenote

Then I loaded up my gear and arrived at the Ventura Pier a little before 6:00 to pick up my race packet. I also consumed a banana with peanutbutter to top off my nutrition before I started the ride.

gearforcentury

It’s mind-boggling how much thought you have to put into planning for triathlons, and how much “stuff” you need. This day didn’t even involve a swim–only a ride and a run afterward.

I’d planned to start promptly at 6:30, but at the last minute decided to swing by the “bike check” tent to make sure everything was working properly on my bike. Phil from Hypercat Racing gave it a once over and said it was safe, but that my gears were shifting funky, which I already knew. He tinkered with my bike for about ten or fifteen minutes, adjusting the derailleur and a few other things. I started a little later than planned, but because Phil wanted to make sure everything worked well for me, I was able to enjoy this ride on a much higher level (especially since I didn’t have to listen to the horrible noises my bike was making). Thank you Phil!

phil

I also started later than planned because just as I was about to head to the starting line, my sunglasses fell and shattered. Oh shit. Not a good way to begin. Thankfully, I’d thrown in an extra pair with all my gear the night before (I must have known!). After swinging by my car to pick up my replacement glasses, I finally hit the road just before 7:00 am.

This was a VERY low-key event. No big hoopla or starting arch, no music or announcers or energizing buzz–just a handful of others rolling out at the same time, snapping quick pictures, then all hitting the start buttons on our watches.

Even though I was thinking “this could be a long day with so little buzz,” I was mentally ready to take it on, no matter what it brought. One nice thing it brought right way was discovering the awesome bike path that stretches from Ventura to Ojai. I’d heard about it, but had never ridden on it. Because I participated in this event, I am now able to add another route to my training options, which will help keep it fresh.

I started out the morning conservatively, as Matt suggested, saving up for the hills ahead. As we neared Ojai, we turned left on Hwy 150 and headed in the direction of Casitas Pass, our first big challenge. I’d ridden this pass solo earlier in the year, doing an out and back from the Santa Barbara side, so I knew it was a good one. I felt strong though, as I pedaled up to the top, telling myself, “You totally got this.” It was a gorgeous morning so I stopped to snap a picture and enjoy the moment before flying down the other side.

casitaspassview
Then it was back up another peak before connecting to Hwy 192, a road I’ve spent innumerable hours on over the past nine months, and a road I’m not terribly fond of with all its rough patches and territorial drivers. I’ve learned where most of the major potholes are and I’ve learned to ride both more aggressively and defensively, so thankfully, it wasn’t too bad.

The best part was that I felt strong going up Toro Canyon, passing several people along the way, offering encouragement to them as I kept grinding. The same was true as we climbed up Stanwood Drive, another toughie. One guy I caught near the top puffed, “Nice climbing,” which made me send a big thank you to Matt for making me ride so many hills.

After the second aid station just past Toro Canyon, I ended up riding almost entirely solo the rest of the day, which was good for my mental game. Just me, myself, and I and hours of continually monitoring my nutrition and hydration and assessing how I was feeling. I felt good most of the way, except I was hungry often, even though I was chowing on energy gels, almonds, peanutbutter pretzels, SkratchLab fruit chews, bites of turkey jerkey, and even some Red Vines and Tootsie Rolls (my sweet treat when things got rough). At the aid stations I had a ClifBar, banana, and Cheez-its (of all weird things) and topped off my hydration with water and electrolytes. The volunteers were awesome and I thanked them profusely each time before I headed back out.

What I realized is that the physical logistics of riding a bike and trying to open up my new bento box to get food (which opens in the opposite direction of my old, smaller one) was preventing me from eating enough. It was cumbersome to manage. I need something that’s more easily accessible so I can keep my eyes on the road and quickly reach in for some food. It’s fortunate I discovered this problem on this ride instead of race day because it gives me the chance to figure out a better system for IMAZ. If I’m going to run a marathon after riding 112 miles, I can’t afford to start off depleted. The other crucial mistake I made was somehow forgetting my second packet of Tailwind in my car, my go-to source of calories and electrolytes. Won’t do that again.

Fortunately, although I was hungry, I never bonked, and was able to finish strong–especially with a downhill grade to the end. It took me 6:56 to complete 102 miles. Then I changed into my running shoes and took off on a half hour jaunt. I was wondering how my stomach would feel after eating so much junk food on this ride, but surprisingly, it didn’t feel bad at all. And happily, my legs didn’t feel any worse than doing a run after a 30-40 mile ride. All in all, I’d call this day a success as it made me truly internalize the fact that I will cross the finish line in Arizona.
postcenturyriderun

In case you’re wondering what the rest of the week looked like, here’s what my schedule looked like:

Monday: Rest (drive back from Palm Springs)
Tuesday: Swim 4000y, Run 1 hour with rolling hills
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 2 hours with hills
Thursday: Swim 2000y, Run 45 minutes
Friday: Bike 1 hour
Saturday: Ventura Century Ride (102 miles), Run 3 miles off the bike
Sunday: Stretch class, Swim 1-mile (easy recovery pace)

And here are a few snaps from the week:

On Tuesday I decided to do my long swim down at the Carpinteria public pool. It’s a nice outdoor facility and it’s rarely crowded. Once again, it did not disappoint.
carppool9616
Afterward I had an hour run slated with rolling hills. I knew a trail run would be softer on my body than the road so I went to the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and ran on the trails. The goal was to power up the hills and cruise back down them, and once again, I choose to run in the heat of the day to continue getting my body ready for AZ heat.
carpbluffsnaturepreservesign
Mission accomplished: 6.45 miles logged with multiple zip-a-dee-doos up and down hills, and time to enjoy the view from the special place.
carpbluffsoverlook
On Wednesday, after going to yoga, I did a 2-hour hill ride, ending it with a short jaunt of Gibraltar Road.

gibraltarroad
Thursday was a mellow 45 minute “maintenance run,” which I started at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

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It was a fun surprise to discover this new exercise stretch station City Parks & Rec. recently installed. I was told it was donated by a 90-year old man who wished to remain anonymous. Thank you kind gentleman for your generosity. My hips thank you!
hipstretchbirdrefuge

stretchstationsign
After running along the bird refuge and Chase Palm Park, I decided to be a tourist and run on Stearn’s Wharf, something I rarely do.

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It was fun to venture out to the end of the wharf and hear the sounds of many different languages being spoken–yet another benefit of no longer running with music. I find that I’m much more tuned into my surroundings and also my breathing. Tuning in instead of tuning out is kind of cool, even if it has taken me a little while to adjust to it.

wharfseacenter9816  wharfdetail

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New gear I’m loving:

Rapha cycling shorts (thank you Jenni Miller for the recommendation)! These are a game changer for me. For the first time in months I’ve finally been comfortable on my bike seat. Believe me this is no small matter when you’re riding for hours. I’ve tried a variety of different brands of shorts, and have even tried doubling up two pairs of tri shorts, and for the most part I’ve suffered through many uncomfortable miles. All I can say is Halle-freaking-lujah! Extra happy points is that I got them during Rapha’s big sale (think it’s still going on?).

raphashorts

Cobb Randee Saddle: The other thing that has helped is trying yet another new seat. The fourth time is a charm! I think we finally have the magic combination with this Cobb Randee saddle. Thanks to Matt and Bruce at Hazard’s for your perseverance!

cobbrandeesaddle

Feetures Elite Socks: Love these squishy, compressiony socks!

feeturessocksfeetures

Legends: It was fun to hear 2x Ironman World Champion, Scott Tinley, speak to our tri club last week. His talk focused mainly on the history and unique people of this sport, and the many reasons why we choose to tri, but every once in awhile he’d throw in a funny personal anecdote about his racing career (like how he regrets wearing a Speedo during competion–“It was just wrong,” he joked). 🙂
scotttinleytalk
After his talk, I felt compelled to tell him that my very first “real” road bike was a Scott Tinley Ironman Centurion, which made him chuckle. I rode that heavy beast of a bike for more than 20 years. No joke. Many wonderful memories were created on it–including a 400+ mile ride through the Colorado Rockies. I knew that thing inside out and backwards, even if it was a tank. I totally cracked up when Scott said, “Oh man, those things were crap!”Ha ha. Compared to today’s bikes, yes, but back in 1989, well…maybe.

scotttinley

As I head into Week 37 of training, I’m excited about what lies ahead! I’ll be driving to Tempe, AZ on Thursday morning to join my Smile Train Team Empower teammates for Ironman training camp. It’s a 4-day camp, which will have us swim-bike-run’ing on the actual IMAZ course, including a swim race in Tempe Town Lake on Thursday, and an Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday. Think good thoughts. It’s going to be 100 degrees!

Finally….a big shout out to Natasha and Yvonne for their generous contributions to my Smile Train fundraising this week! We’re now up to funding nearly 21 kids for free cleft surgery. My goal is to fund 25 kids by race day on November 20th, which means we have just 69 days to go to make it happen. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution. You can click on the following link to make a donation and help change the life of a child and his/her family: Becky’s Smile Train Fundraising Page.

Thanks for considering, and thanks for all your support!

XO
Becky

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

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 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 35 of Ironman Training: Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training

Much of Ironman training is about showing up and doing the work, whether you’re feeling 100% or not. It’s about getting through aches and pains, life’s scheduling challenges and the onslaught of mental fatigue. It’s about keeping your eye on the prize, even if that prize still feels like it’s miles away.

After flying high during last weekend’s triathlon and follow-up 2-hour ride, my body was feeling it early in the week. On Tuesday my calves were still cranky when I started my 8-mile run, and then in the midst of doing intervals, I tweaked a rib in my back AGAIN. Argh. So #%!@ frustrating.

By Wednesday my mental state was a bit in the dumper. Between my back, my tired legs and many nights of poor sleep, I was definitely not sporting the title of Little Miss Merry Sunshine when I met Matt for our 3-hour hill ride. Fortunately, Matt just got us spinning. He’s wise that way. Don’t think, just go.

I may have been cursing like a sailor at times during this ride (thankfully Matt couldn’t hear me), and every hill may have felt ten times harder than normal, but I got through it–40 miles of ups, downs, heres and theres.

One thing that kept me going was focusing on the back at Matt’s calf with his Ironman M-Dot tattoo–the perfect reminder of the iron strength and mental toughness I will need to earn the honor of becoming an Iron(wo)man myself.

Matt_MDot
Matt reminded me numerous times that there would be rough moments during my race in November, and the key to crossing the finish line would be figuring out how to manage them. Practicing mental strategies to push away the demons and negative thoughts, as well as staying hydrated and adequately fueled to power on for an entire day would be paramount.

One strategy I’ve been using over these past months (including this ride) is to focus on what feels strong at the moment. If my calves are screaming, then I focus on the strength I have in my glutes or quads. If my back is angry, I focus on my abs and pulling them in tight. If my mind is whiny, I remind myself that I am living the dream I’ve wanted to pursue since I was a teenager, and this is what it takes. In other words, “Suck it up Buttercup, and focus on the joy of this journey. And always, ALWAYS remember how lucky you are to be able to do this.”

The other thing that has helped is immersing myself in several books about mental toughness: How Bad Do You Want It, Grit, and The New Toughness Training for Sports. Each is a mix of inspiring anecdotes, science, and ideas about ways to work on your mental game. They’re good reads for those who want to push the limits and see how others have approached mastering the psychology of mind over muscle.

ToughnessBooks

As I focused on exercising my mental muscle last week, here’s what my schedule looked like:

Monday: Swim 30 minutes (recovery swim after Sunday’s tri, working on technique), Strength
Tuesday: Run 1 hour 15 minutes with 5 x 5 minutes intervals in the middle
Wednesday: Bike 3 hours (hills with Matt)
Thursday: Swim 4250y with a 1000TT
Friday: Run 2 hours
Saturday: Swim 2500m  (Palm Springs)
Sunday: Bike 3 hours, Run 1 hour (Palm Springs)

Here are a few snaps from the week:

I loved seeing the remnants of the transition area from last weekend’s tri as I cruised through the East Beach parking lot during Tuesday’s run.

RunChalk
I know I’ve shared this before, but when I need a mental boost, I head to my workout wall to remind myself of all the work I’ve put in so far. This time it was also a good place to elevate my grumpy calves.

LegsWorkoutWall
Then it was back to the incline board to stretch these buggers. And yes, I need a pedicure!

SlantBoard
And then of course, more foam rolling. My Zensah compression sleeves helped too.
FoamRolling
Thursday was a gorgeous day to do a time trial and a long swim! I was happy my rib/back felt okay as swimming relies heavily on those intercostal muscles.

SwimTT9116
Friday I completed my longest run to date–2 hours–12.2 miles, with one minute walking breaks every mile to simulate walking through the aid stations on the IMAZ course. I chose to run down in Carpinteria as that’s where I’ll be doing an Olympic distance tri (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) at the end of September. It was a gorgeous day, and even though I felt rushed, squeezing in this run between morning errands/appointments and picking our daughter up from school, it was awesome.

Matt suggested I run in what I’ll be wearing on race day, my Smile Train Team Empower tri kit, and consciously focus on the nutrition and hydration aspects of the run as if it were race day. Also, no music! I love my tunes when I run so this was good toughness training for me. The reason behind it is that music isn’t allowed on the course during the race. I also ran in the heat of the day to get my body more and more ready for AZ temperatures. And you know what? I felt good. One small step closer. 🙂

CarpRun9216
Labor Day weekend we loaded up my bike and all my training gear, along with our giant dog, and my very patient family, and we headed to Palm Springs to visit Jeffrey’s parents. Not only was it great to spend time with his parents, but it also provided a good opportunity to train in the heat and also continue working on my mental game.

MentalMuscleMeme
Our car thermometer read 104 degrees when we arrived–hot, but not too bad. It was 122 last time we were there so this seemed tolerable.

CarTempPS
I had a swim on the schedule for the day so I sneaked away in the late afternoon and headed to the public pool, a wonderful facility which, much to my surprise, is hardly ever crowded. My in-laws had a hard time comprehending why I couldn’t just swim in their kidney-shaped pool in the back yard, but when I told them it would take a bizillion laps, it suddenly made sense.

PSLapPool
For this swim, once again, I worked on my mental game. First of all, I nix’ed my music, which is huge, as I lean on it to distract me from the monotony and discomfort of the sport I’m still trying to fall in love with deeply. It was just me and my breath, continually focusing on staying tuned into my form and trying to relax and get in the groove. After a 500m warm-up, I did 2 x 1000m, and was happy that my time was not that far off from my time trial a few days earlier when I was really pushing it and also using a pull buoy. It wasn’t a super long workout, but it was a good one, and one I felt satisfied with without having to abandon my family for too long.
LapsPSPool9316
The next day, it was time for a brick workout–a 3-hour bike ride with a run immediately off the bike. This was another perfect opportunity to work on mental toughness as I had little sleep and it was already 87 degrees at 8:00am. The wind was also picking up.

I was looking forward to tackling some wind and heat training, but I have to admit, this wind thing rattled me. Literally.

As I headed out toward the windmills, desert grit pelted my sweaty, sunscreen-y skin. Hunkering down on my aerobars, I tried to imagine slicing through the wind like an arrow, and when a gust pummeled me from the side, I used my core and leaned into it, holding on with a white knuckle death grip. On several occasions I nearly got blown over.
WindMillsPS
I kept telling myself, “You got this, hang tough,” as I powered on, but I also knew I couldn’t afford to be stupid. If the wind caused me to veer into the car lane, which was way too close for comfort, I’d be toast. Being safe, I eventually looped around in a different direction, snapping this picture on the way. My sideways ponytail says it all. Hopefully it won’t be like this in Arizona on race day! If it is though, I know I will get through it.
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Surprisingly, this ride went by really fast, reminding me that our bodies and minds really do adapt. Not long ago, 3 hours felt impossibly long. Now it just feels normal.
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Afterward I was scheduled to do a 30 minute run right off my bike, but somehow my running shoes, which were sitting right by the door when I left, got placed in our car, which my family took to do an outing while I was riding. Needless to say, this did not make me happy as brick workouts are crucial to training so your body adapts to the feeling of running right after you get off the bike.

The good news though, is that because I had to wait a couple hours for them to return, it got even hotter so I could practice running in the heat.
PSTempRun
And even better is that since I couldn’t complete my brick, I ran twice as long to make up for it. Happiness is feeling strong running 6.2 miles in 90+ degree heat with negative splits. It’s the little things. 🙂

PSRun9416
Now as I head into Week 36 of Ironman training, I will continue to focus on discipline and mental toughness training along with all the physical aspects of training. It will be especially important as I take part in the Ventura Century this Saturday, a 103 mile ride with 5226 ft of elevation–a perfect way to kick my training into a higher gear. And of course, there will be a run after that ride to simulate what it will feel like to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112 miles in AZ. Practice. Practice. Practice. Only 75 days to go!

Hugs to all of you and many thanks again for being such phenomenal supporters!

XO
Becky

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

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

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

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

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32: 100 Days to Go
Week 33: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34: The Magic of Firsts

Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go

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

32Weeks

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

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

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

CoffeeDate

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

100Days

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

Here’s this week’s training schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

GoletaBeach

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

SwimGear
Wednesday’s 4-hour ride was a toughie on tired legs, but it was the perfect day to practice “mind over muscle.” I first rode up hills through Hope Ranch before doing the SB Tri long course with some added side jaunts up Shepard Mesa and Ladera Lane. It ended up being around 52 miles with 3248 ft. of elevation. Another tiny drop of fitness added to the IMAZ bucket.
ShephardMesa

GobSign

FocusonStrength

Thursday I was running low on energy, but dragged my butt out the door for a morning Pilates class then a 2.5 hour bike ride.

Ride81116Goleta
I was planning to do an ocean swim race that evening so part of the focus of my workouts was to practice fueling for a long day, like I’ll be doing in Arizona. I have to admit this was not one of my favorite rides (thus the grumpy face), but it was one I got through, which added another tiny drop of mental toughness in the IMAZ bucket. Some days you’re flying high and others you’re hanging on by the seat of your pants (especially when your seat is hurting).

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

Strive

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

GibraltarRoad

GibralterRideHot

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

TriTeamBagStuffing2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…
xo
Becky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until next time, my friends…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The ride up is always breathtaking.

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

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to giant games of chess and checkers…

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to Jenga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good.
xo Becky

 

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

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

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

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

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

Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High

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

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

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

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

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

After dinner, once again, we strolled around town…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo credit ASFB website

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

Coffee

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

Laundry

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

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

Swim71316
My run took place in the evening while Olivia was at another dance class. Here she is with her awesome jazz instructor, Eric Chase.

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

NorthStarSign

NatureTrail

NaturePreserveBridge

EastTrail

Difficult

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

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

Until then…Happy Trails
xo Becky

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

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

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

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

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