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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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

doodlessun

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

Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Triathlon Race Report

The beauty of sports, triathlon in particular, is that it gives us much to celebrate — from the healthy community in which we immerse ourselves to the friends we make, to the adventures we pursue, and the boundaries we continually push all along the way. Even on our toughest days, it’s hard not to be filled with gratitude about our health and fitness, and be gobsmacked about the lifestyle we have chosen to live.

Last Sunday I had the perfect reminder of all this when I found myself wrapped in a blanket of positive energy while participating in the Carpinteria Triathlon.

It was an exquisite morning in Carp, as once again our coastline was brushed in a classic palette of pink predawn hues. The race started at 7:30, with my swim wave rolling at 7:42. I arrived in plenty of time to unload my gear, pump up my tires, and make sure my bike was in the right gear before I set up my transition area.

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I chose to participate in the Olympic distance course–1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run–similar to the prior weekend’s race in Tempe. Even though this was meant to be another training run, this time I felt a little more fire in my belly to compete, perhaps because I wasn’t starting the race depleted, like I did in AZ. I was well-fueled, relatively well-rested, and ready to roll.

When I staked out my spot in transition, I could tell there was a serious competitor next to me. She was the first to rack her zippy tri bike on the coveted end spot and was most likely out doing a warm-up run. Sure enough, upon her return, I discovered it was Mariann Thomas, one of our community’s fiercest triathletes and masters runners. She’s as nice as can be, but a warrior in competition.

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After chatting with Mariann and several friends, I got body marked, did a warm-up run, then scoped out the water. The waves sounded like they were crashing big over the dunes behind transition so I was getting a little nervous (as were several other women around me), but much to our relief, the water was calm and warm.

I did a short warm-up swim, which felt good, then I struck a pose — a “power pose” that is — ha ha (watch this TED talk video if you don’t know what I’m talking about), and in no time our wave of purple caps ran into the water.

It wasn’t until I reached the first buoy that I finally got into a rhythm that felt good. That’s where I found the feet of a big guy and began drafting behind him. As all of you strong, smart swimmers know, this is what you do to save energy. If you’ve been following along on my blog, by now you probably know that I’m still working on becoming a strong swimmer, so this was huge for me. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever drafted because I’ve always been afraid of getting kicked in the face. The guy in front of me was using all arms and barely kicking though, so I slipped in behind him and got pulled along. Now I understand what a difference it can make!

The first half of the swim faced away from the sun, so every once in awhile I’d pop my head up to make sure my guy was on track. He was a rock star “sighter” so mostly I kept my head down and let him do the work (sorry dude). After we reached the turn buoy though, and headed back into he sun, I was completely blind so I didn’t bother to look up any more, instead, following his feet, sighting along the beach at times and hoping for the best. It ended up making for one of the strongest longer open water swims I’ve ever had…that is until my guy, and a couple others, turned in too early, at the first beachball buoy. It took me a while to realize it because I couldn’t see, but squinting through my goggles, I suddenly realized I didn’t see anybody swimming toward shore. Shit. Shit. Double shit.

It’s then I tread water for what seemed like forever, raising my goggles trying to locate the other turn buoy and the rest of the pack. The lifeguard hollered, “Are you okay?” to which I laughed and thought, Not really–I just blew it, but you never joke about not being okay when you’re in the water. So……after the guards pointed to the other buoy, I took off to finish what I started, trying to get back into my zone and finish strong. My Garmin said I swam a couple hundred extra yards, and my time supported that notion, but eventually I got the damn thing done. The funny thing, is that even though it wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, it was still faster than last week’s swim in Tempe (the cup is half full, right?).

I looked at it as yet another mistake to get out of the way before IMAZ. I think I’m good now. 🙂

Even though I was irked at myself, I shook it off in transition and didn’t have any other misadventures on the bike or run. I felt good on the bike, as I know this course well. In fact, I’d just done Toro Canyon and Ortega Hill on my “hill day” a few days earlier. Another woman in my age group and I duked it out over the first half of the course. She was quicker on the flats and I was stronger on the hills, so we kept passing each other. That is until we reached Ortega Hill and I took off. I even dug deep trying to shore up some nerves to fly down Greenwell, which in my mind, is in severe need of re-surfacing. I never saw my competition again after that.

But I did see another rock star athlete. As we turned back onto Linden Avenue and headed toward the beach and the transition area, I had the joy and agony of passing 12 year old Jacob Mansbach. This kid, and his 10 year old brother, Joe, are something. These two are not only already participating in endurance events beyond their years, and killing it, I might add, but they do so, in part to help raise money for our local foodbank.

Jacob started a team called Join Jacob several years ago, and with the help of teammates, he and Joe have since raised nearly $46,000 to help feed hungry people in Santa Barbara County. Very cool, no two ways about it, combining love of sport with love of philanthropy. My daughter and I had the privilege of being part of this team a couple years ago and it’s something we’ll always remember. If you want to see what the Mansbach Boys are up to and would like to support their efforts, you can click on this link to their fundraising page. JOIN JACOB

As I passed Jacob, I couldn’t help but cheer him on and celebrate his accomplishments, but also laugh and think, Holy crap, I’ve been training my butt off all year to do a friggin’ Ironman, and this kid, who is a full-time junior high school student, is already as strong as I am! We zoomed into transition together, then he zipped out much faster than me. By the first half mile I caught up and we chatted a bit, and I reminded him to stay hydrated and to pace himself. He clearly didn’t need any advice (!!) , but because I coached him a few years ago on a couple of my running teams, and his parents are my friends, I couldn’t help but feel like he’s still “one of my kids.” Needless to say, he knocked it out of the park, as did his younger brother, Joe. I’m so impressed with these two, and their parents, Jen and Mike, who support them in every way. Bravo Mansbachs!

1st Place Finishers!

1st Place Finishers, Jacob and Joe Mansbach

The run was hot (85+ degrees), but I felt confident on the course. I knew it well and I had prepared for the hills and heat, and the trails we would traverse. Before I reached 2 1/2 miles, Mariann Thomas came gliding past me in the opposite direction, gracefully heading to her 1st place finish. I wasn’t sure how many other 50-54 year olds were behind her, but my gut told me that if I really wanted it, I might be able to snag a podium spot, even with my swim fiasco. That is if I could reel some people in and not let anybody pass me.

Indeed, I was able to pass quite a few people along the way, including one woman in my age group (thank goodness they write our ages on the back of our calves). When I reached the turnaround and started heading back, I spotted my fellow “bike pal” competitor making her way to the turnaround. Even though I was probably half a mile ahead of her, it suddenly felt like she was right on my tail, and I had no idea if running was her “thing.”

The phrase that popped into my head was, How Bad Do You Want It, from Matt Fitzgerald’s excellent book on mental toughness, so off I went, ramping it up a tiny bit more with each half mile. With the downhill grade on the way back, it was easy to run negative splits, but feeling like my competition might get a second wind, I pushed it, running the final half mile at 7:26 pace, which is speedy for me these days.

It’s funny, I’m all about running my own race, never getting into other people’s heads, and simply “doing my thing,” often even cheering for other athletes as I race, but for some reason, my bike pal, who I’m sure is extremely nice, lit a fire in me that got me to the finish line faster than I probably would have otherwise. So thank you bike pal!

I ended up taking 3rd place in 3:07:59. The second place finisher from Virginia crossed the line 49 seconds before me, and Mariann Thomas finished in champion form with a time of 2:47:35. Way to go ladies! And way to go to everybody who participated in both the sprint and the Olympic. It was a fun community event that let us test our training and celebrate our efforts and each others’.

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Top 3 Finishers. Notice Mariann finished so far ahead of us, she had time to go change her clothes before the awards ceremony. 🙂

I was happy to finish this race 18 minutes faster than my last one in Tempe, on a much tougher course. One small step closer to IMAZ.

Here’s what the rest of my schedule looked like last week:

Monday: Rest (recovering from epic training and racing in Tempe)
Tuesday: Run 20 minutes (only part of a longer scheduled run and swim) and get a massage (aaaah!!!)
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 3 hours with hills
Thursday: Run 54 minutes with the last 15 minutes 7 x 1 minute hard (1 min rest)
Friday: Swim 3500y (wu: 300, ms: 3 x 1000, cd: 200)
Saturday: Bike 3 hours
Saturday: Race Carpinteria Tri

Here’s a quick recap of the week before the race if you’re interested….

At the beginning of the week I was beyond exhausted from my race and training camp in Tempe so I took Monday off completely. On Tuesday, I was still dragging, but had still planned to do a 45 minute recovery run and a 40 minute recovery swim before getting a massage. Sometimes life has other plans though, so I only ended up only being able to squeeze in a 20 minute run before the rest of the day unraveled. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Wednesday I was still fatigued, but I dragged myself to my favorite yoga class, as I knew that’s what I needed most. I moved through all the poses and got in some good stretching, but I can’t say I ever settled comfortably into my mat. Some days/weeks are like that though, and you just have to celebrate that you got your butt there. And that’s what I did.

After class I was still operating in low gear with a friggin’ 3 hour hilly bike ride still ahead of me, AND a flat back tire still to change from Tempe. Argh. This mama’s Namaste quickly went out the window as I battled my tire, feeling like a complete nincompoop and not having the patience to get it done. I finally I threw my hands in the air in an “Un-Iron(wo)man way” and said, “Screw it, I’m taking it to Hazard’s.”

If any of you have ever spent time in Hazard’s, you know the bike mechanics are max’ed all the time. This place is hopping. I felt bad waltzing in and hoping they could change my tire on the spot, but these guys are so nice, not only did Dino change it, but he gave me a tutorial, patiently walking me through the whole process and even having me do it myself. This small act of kindness was definitely something to celebrate as it made a huge difference in my day. Thank you Dino!

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Dino at Hazard’s

Even with Dino’s kindness, I can’t say I was stoked to do this ride–especially in the heat of the day–but sometimes you just gotta get rolling and turn your brain off. Don’t think. Just go. As I rode into the hills trying to turn my mental game around, it kept coming around to my coach, Matt. This guy has helped me get stronger with each workout, has answered all my dumb “newbie” questions, has pushed, encouraged, and inspired me, and has put together my weekly workouts, which always challenge me. Although I may have dropped a few f bombs along the way as I huffed up each hill, I got this ride done. And I only got this ride done because Matt was in my corner. I never would have done this on my own on this particular day with the way I was feeling. So thank you once again, Matthew Tague, for pushing me through the rough spots.

After dragging myself up Shephard Mesa. I'm smiling on the inside--really.

After dragging myself up Shephard Mesa. I’m smiling on the inside–really. Just don’t read the bubble coming out of my head.

Thursday, it was a running day. Yay! As we’re getting closer to IMAZ, we’re now focusing on specificity, and doing my runs on terrain similar to that of the Tempe race course, which is mostly flat. I chose to drive to Goleta Beach Park and run part on the bike path and part on the dirt path that parallels the bike path. It was warm and windy–perfect! Just like Tempe. Must have been because I wore my Tempe Tri shirt.

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I ended up running 6 miles with 7 x 1 minute hard efforts near the end. Woohoo! Love the challenge and the way I feel once it’s over.
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Friday was a swim day and Saturday was another 3 hour bike ride–this time on a flat course to keep working on my cadence. Once again, I zipped from East Beach down to Ventura and back on the bike path paralleling the 101. Forty-six beautiful miles in the books to prime me for the Carp Tri the next day.
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As I head into Week 39 of training, I continue to celebrate all of YOU, the people in my life who lift me up, support my dream and make this Ironman journey meaningful and fun beyond measure. I also celebrate all the small acts of kindness you have extended to me all along the way. It really does take a village to get to the starting line of your first IM. With just eight weeks to go, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about all of you, and celebrate the fact that I have you in my life!

Thank you, dear peeps!
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 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report

Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, guess what? This happened!

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

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

“Be brave even if you have to pretend.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seriously, Doodles?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

This week Ironman training has been all over the map. With spring break, taxes and a whole lot of “this and that,” I’ve been squeezing in my workouts whenever and however I can. That’s life, right? Since I’m still in the throes of it all, this post is a bit of this and that, and it’s much later than usual.

First of all, I thought I’d share a view of the last twelve weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person so I like to tape my workouts to the wall behind my door to remind myself of what I’m doing and what I’ve accomplished. It helps remind me of the work I’ve already put in so when I need an extra boost of “Oh yes you can, girlfriend,” all I have to do is look at it. Week 13 and 14 (next week) will be going up soon. In the end, there will 42 weeks taped to my wall. I’m already more than 1/4 of the way to Tempe and still loving it and feeling stronger with each training day.

TwelveWeeks

Spring is in full splendor here in Santa Barbara. These are a few snaps from my long ride last week. I wanted to stop a million times to take pictures, but reminded myself that I needed to focus more on training than on photographing. 🙂 Everything is screaming with color these days, and that just makes me smile.

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We spent several days in Palm Springs over spring break visiting my husband’s parents so I had the joy of running in the warm, dry, desert air, which was nice since my race will take place in Arizona. I got in some good wind training too (my least favorite element to navigate), which is also good since I’ve heard the course is often windy.

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The biggest challenge was trying to swim laps in this pool. If there’s a will, there’s a way!

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The other challenge was trying to eat healthy on this trip. Don’t you find that everybody likes to show their love with decadent food? I was feeling soooo loved on this visit. 🙂 The good news is that my husband always manages to ply us with fruit and salads to balance out the wine, cheese, latte freezes, etc. etc. etc.

When we got back, I tried to settle back into a more normal routine. Here’s what this week’s training schedule looks like. It’s still on the light side as we’re trying to get a grumpy rib in my back to settle down.

Monday: Run 50 minutes
Tuesday: Swim 2000y, Bike 90 minutes
Wednesday: Swim 1000y
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength class, Bike 90 minutes (2 spin classes)
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 3-3.5 hours, Run 20 minutes off the bike
Saturday: Run 90 minutes
Sunday: Rest

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I snapped this after Thursday’s spin classes. Kristine has been my favorite instructor for a long time. She’s the perfect blend of sweet, funny, and fierce. Don’t be fooled by her chirpy smile. She is one mean mamacita!

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This week I finally got in to see my chiropractor to adjust the damn rib in my back, which has been torturing me for too long. Yay! Thank you Serena! I can now breathe deeply again as I run.

Friday’s swim-bike-run “Epic Day” as we call it around our house, involves a whole lot of planning and organizing, especially if I base my workout from somewhere besides my house. This is what it looked like as I was heading out yesterday…stuff, stuff and more stuff…

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After swimming 1000y at the outdoor pool at the Montecito Y, I jumped on my bike and headed toward Ventura. It was a gorgeous day! I stopped to take this cheeeezball picture after riding along the Rincon, before continuing down Highway 1 toward Solimar Beach.

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I’m loving my new torpedo water bottle. I find it much easier than reaching down to grab a bottle then trying to put it back in the cage while keeping my eyes on the road. I’m still trying to figure out whether to cut the straw short on it or rubberband it down while I ride and flip it up when I need to drink. If any of you have thoughts about what has worked for you, I’d love to hear them.

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All was going swimmingly on my ride until about an hour and a half into it, I hit a pothole really hard; so hard I was worried I had bent a rim and/or readjusted the rib in my back again (not in a good way). After shaking it off and doing a quick assessment, I realized all appeared to be fine so I kept going. That is until about a mile down the road my back tire started wobbling. Crap.

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At least if you’re going to get a flat tire, it’s nice when it happens in a convenient place with a beautiful view. This was a good test for me as I’ve never changed a back tire and I know I need to be able to do this for myself if it happens during a race. It took me a while, but….cue the “Rocky” music…this Team Empower chiquita did it. Woot! It’s the little things.

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Back on the road I was feeling like a million bucks. That is until a few miles later, Continue reading