New site, new sponsors: Kicking off a big year!

Before my season takes off in full swing, I have been busy with the “other” part of the job in the past few months, as well as training for Challenge Wanaka. Catching up with sponsors and giving my website a refresh was a major priority. I am happy to say that these coincided when I met the team at Adaptive and teamed up with them to design a new website for 2016. Patrick and his team has been super throughout the entire process of designing me new site – even helping me with social media strategy throughout as well. And, as a bonus – they are triathletes too! It makes a huge difference to be working with people who truly “get it” throughout the entire process. If you are looking for some website/marketing/design help of your own, I’d love to put you in touch with Patrick and the team at Adaptive to help you out.

Along with Adaptive, I’ve been really fortunate to bring on board a few more sponsors for 2016: ICE Friction (hello ICE: Pink chains!), Sound Probiotics, and OOFOS. Please take a moment to get familiar with them on my sponsor page, and as always reach out if you have questions on their products. I use them all every day and have come to know them quite well!

And of course, I’m forever grateful to my returning sponsors in 2016: Smashfest Queen, Dimond Bikes, ISM Saddles, Cadence Running Company, The Right Stuff, and DNA Movement.

Here’s to a great 2016 ahead!

Camp wrap-up!

Well, my camp hangover has slowly cleared and I am in serious missing-everyone mode. It’s crazy how 5 days can feel like a month with people that you had never even met before! Although, this year was a special year at camp as many of the campers were also TeamHPB-ers. So, we knew each other virtually as we have a strong internet base for our team to support and promote each other’s training and races. But, having time in person to train together was a whole other adventure! I was also lucky enough to be coaching this year alongside Hillary and Maik.

We also had a special guest, Holly Bennett, in the house to be my +1 for the week 🙂 She wrote a pretty awesome article about the camp you can read here.

Some highlights: 

-Day two had me riding with some of the newbies to the crew, and to 70.3’s, etc. After a long climb up Madera Canyon, we descended and then I dropped the bomb: time to learn how to ride a paceline! Coaching how to ride bikes is something that I really love and is definitely a highlight of my job. I was really excited to have the chance to work with these girls on a day when a paceline would be key to getting us home efficiently: and they rocked it!! As I was cruising in the back of the line watching them execute this on a road that has it’s share of challenges for a paceline situation (traffic, bumps, some gravel, etc), I actually got goosebumps! Well done ladies!

madera

-100 x 100! There is nothing quite like getting through the first 10 of your 100 x 100’s and seeing a flash of lightning in the sky! Not ideal!!! But the campers took it in stride. A Starbucks and Pico break lead to moving a quick ride to earlier in the day. By the time we got in the water it was pouring and 4pm. Starting a 3 hour swim like that is going to test your mental strength! But I was so proud of everyone for getting through it, especially Nancy who knocked out her first 100×100 set with Jillian, finishing UNDER THE LIGHTS. So cool! Almost like Friday Night Lights football….except swimming in AZ. But Hillary is kind of like Coach Taylor, so I’ll go with it. If only Tim Riggins was at Mt. Lemmon the next day…..

100x100s

-We are all pretty sure Hillary will never believe us about the epic conditions atop Lemmon, so let me tell you: IT WAS EPIC. Falling short to only the time I was biking in the cold/snow/rain of Lake Placid last year over memorial day, I have rarely been out on 2 wheels in conditions that crazy. Of course, the storm blew through in about 20 minutes, so by the time all of the crew was atop the mountain they didn’t quite believe us. No matter the weather, the shivers, the layers of clothes, the trashbags people wore though, you only saw smiles. 

lemmon

-Remember that time we got turned around on the trails in the desert? 🙂 Okay, okay, I’ll take partial responsibility on this one. Granted, you can see civilization from most areas on the trails, so you’re never really far from safety, it is quite easy to get turned around on the rocky paths among the cacti! My group ended up taking a detour….or two…..or three. But eventually we made it back, giving good affirmation to the term of “adventure run” for the session……

camp group

My own motto for the week which I incessantly tried to impose on the rest of the group was “Everything is cool! Everything is fun!” This motto is something I would hear Hillary singing to her puppies the week prior to camp (Other variations include “Everything is exciting!”). It got stuck in my head, and I realized it was a great thing to say to myself when things started to get…..interesting. As always, I am a firm believer that you can trick your mind into believing what it needs to until things actually start to turn around. And sure enough, I think every day had a moment where reminding ourselves about this was important.

Camp is a very special place and its one where attitude really does dictate your experience. And as Hillary reminded us, attitudes are contagious! We were so lucky to have a group of campers who’s attitudes were positive and up for any challenge we through their way. There was struggle — both mentally and physically — of course. But the group that comes to this camp comes because they want that struggle. It’s something that each person actually seeks out to find…..and, no doubt, you’ll find it at a camp lead by Hillary Biscay herself. But every person at that camp also knew that within themselves was the ability to overcome those struggles and be successful. There is no better feeling than 5 days of that leading into a race season.

Thank you to all the campers who made that week special and successful! Bring on the races!

Under the Tucson Sun

Since this year it is warm and sunny in the Dirty T (as opposed to last year when I saw snow!) this title seems appropriate.

I am  having so much fun out here in AZ getting ready for camp! I am refreshing my memory with the roads and routes, which included a solo trek up Mt. Lemmon on Friday. Lucky for me, it was a “true Lemmon experience” since I rode there and back as well 🙂 But, the cookie cabin is in full force, and now with pizza options I was a happy rider. Good thing too since I’ll take another trip up next weekend!

Perhaps the best part of Tucson right now really is the sun. I was joking that when I showed up I was so pale I was blending in with the white cement pool bottom. Joking, but also sort of truth telling. I am happy to report there is some pigment in my skin now (yes I’m wearing plenty of sunscreen!) and my overall being is so pleased with the influx of vitamin D.

The second best part is easily the company! We had a fun weekend including a visit from Hillary’s parents and sister, plus with these two girls around life is never dull.

0223141046

Some big sessions ahead and rumor is I may even get to spy on  a certain other college tri team in the pool this week 🙂 No secrets are safe!

Don’t ask me for my number(s)

A little over a year ago I wrote this post on how I had decided to continue training without power. By late August, it was clear to Hillary and me that perhaps a change would be good, and power was the card we were going to play. I raced the fall season with a powertap and definitely saw some benefits to using this sort of data in training — hence why it has become a tool we are most definitely using this year.

But, please don’t judge me by my numbers.

Mostly because I probably won’t tell you what they are. Unless you’re name is Hillary Biscay, you really shouldn’t worry about it. So I’m going to act like I don’t know, or like it doesn’t matter to me, because it’s not your business. Sure, it may be “interesting” to you, but you know what is interesting to me when I meet someone I don’t know? Well, I like to know what the last book they read was. Or, what they enjoy about what they do for a living. And, if we talk about training, then tell me about your favorite ride or run. I don’t really care what watts you hit on your last ride.

Because, that doesn’t tell me who you are.  Just like my power files won’t tell you who I am. They don’t tell you about the years I just spent working a full time job and training 25 hours a week, and the commitment and sheer determination that required. The numbers won’t tell you about how I quit my well-paying job to pursue a sport that everyone knows doesn’t pay many, and doesn’t pay those it does very well. The numbers won’t tell you about how I moved out of a home that I own, to another city,  into someone’s rented basement apartment with poor water pressure and a microwave that you can’t use for longer than 45 seconds without a fuse blowing….all for the love of a sport.

And when it comes to race day, it is those latter things, not the numbers, that keep me hungry. This was proven perfectly last weekend when I ran a 40 minute 50k PR. The only numbers I used that day was the race clock as I came through each 10k split and saw my even pacing. I trusted in my training and didn’t need a heart rate monitor or a garmin to instruct me on how to run with my heart each mile.

I’ve been accused in the past of not having a sense of urgency. Ironically, this came at a time while I knew full well that a few weeks later I was leaving my job, packing up the things I owned into a car, and following my dream with nothing more than a full heart and an open mind. If putting everything on the line to pursue a dream isn’t a sense of urgency, then I guess I don’t really know what is.

So, I will continue to avoid most number-talk in my posts here. Because as I showed last weekend, this year I’m racing with my heart first. And if that race last weekend is any indication, I think I’ll be just fine doing it my way 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

choco

Breakfast with Julie

In what will inevitably become a regular feature on my blog, this is episode one of “Breakfast with Julie.” She is doing Ultraman Florida this month and I wanted to call and check in on her life! Get to know Julie and her dogs in this chat 🙂

 

Chapstick & Sunglasses

Those are the 2 things recommended to me that I pack when I told people I was spending a week in the mountains of Colorado in the winter…..And, they were right. Both are pretty crucial!

Anyway, for a girl that doesn’t generally like the cold and doesn’t participate in many snow activities, I have to say it: winter in Colorado is still pretty amazing! There is just no way you can look around at the sun coming up over the peaks around Frisco and *not* be blown away.

We are getting in a lot of work out here but also plenty of fun. I’m learning about how to swim at 9,000 ft (flip turns were the first thing I threw out the window!), and how it feels to run long runs in thin air.  I am also so excited to see all of the bike routes out here (granted, they are buried under 3 feet of snow right now) and am already dreaming about some summer rides in the mountains. We are also working with the awesome folks at Vertical Runner – Breckenridge on some fun stuff, so stay tuned for that!

VRB - Copy

And you know what has been keeping me warm this week? My new SMASH beanie! Seriously holding up in these negative temps — And looks cute as I am able to fit right into the hippie ski population that is running the town 🙂

While Colorado has been a fun change of pace, I’ll head home Friday for a quick turnaround to drive up to Maryland as I’m running the Mid Maryland 50k this weekend! Nothing like an ultra for the first race of the year to get the legs back under me 🙂

Stay warm everyone!

Pieces of Me

It’s been one month since I made it here to Charlottesville and I am loving it so far. Since this move was plopped down straight in the middle of a build for Los Cabos, plus the marathon prep is in full swing work-wise, I found myself never quite getting completely unpacked or settled here. Totally fine by me of course — I seem to not really have issues living out of suitcases and bins! But, when I told my mom she had other feeling towards that and came down to save the day!

My mom has been a huge help the past couple days, and while I had two back to back days of riding lined up, she took that time I was in the saddle to organize my life. AND, she brought down the last of the things that hadn’t quite made it into my packed car the day I moved. This included some vitals: the Normatecs, most of my Powerbar nutrition, and perhaps most importantly, the Keurig I got for Christmas!! I’ve been making due and drinking a lot more tea than normal in the mornings, but man am I happy to be back to a life of an easy morning coffee!

Mom also brought down another important Christmas present…..my new Ruster Sports bike bag! I have a lot of travel on tap in the next few months so this bag is definitely going to be tried and tested across the airlines. I’ll be sure to report back!

Until then, here’s to mom’s….and coffee!

coffee-ending

What Not to Wear

Actually, this post is going to be more of “what to wear” gear post, but I liked the title shout out to the TLC show!

In case you haven’t noticed, or if you live in California, you should know that it is currently the season of “winter.” And winter is, by definition, the coldest season of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, from December to February.

And yes, my favorite California friends, I know “I could just move there and skip the whole winter thing.” But….I kind of like it here. Yes, it’s cold and it makes it really, really hard to train sometimes. But it also makes you tough. It makes you really appreciate the gorgeous blue sky days and 50 degree weather when you randomly get it in January. I believe that the turning of the weather gives each season a freshness that you just don’t get until you experience one after the other. And yeah, sometimes it sucks, but with the right frame of mind, and the right gear, any triathlete can survive here!

Note: I live in Virginia. Virginia’s winter is much less harsh than areas north of me. I don’t know how they do it.

This past Saturday I had a 100 mile ride on the schedule. I watched the weather forecast furiously and it never quite turned in my favor. While the wet weather stayed away (thank goodness — I did NOT want to repeat the Lake Placid incident!) it was still cold. While I did gain a couple degrees over the Charlottesville forecast because I headed south on the route, these were still the temps I was looking at:

Weather1 Weather2

 

So, how did I do it? The trick is in the gear and how you wear it! Well, that’s 80% of it. I will say, there’s a mental toughness component to accept you’re going to be a bit chilly, your toes will be cold, and that’s just a fact of the matter. But again, it’s 80% gear!

This is what I wore:

On the feet: Two pairs of socks. One swiftwick thin sock layer, with the wool Pearl Izumi socks over top. In my tri shoes (yes, these are much colder than road cycling shoes so that would be an upgrade if you can swing it!), with the Pearl cycling booties on top.

On my legs: I started with my Smashfest Queen Lava Berry Cycling shorts and Knee Warmers. On top of those, I wore Under Armour Storm Tights (it appears these are only available in men’s. I wear test for UA sometimes and so I have a women’s pair…or what appears to be women’s…so hopefully they are coming soon for everyone!) Regardless, I think this worked because they were wind resistance, and lightly fleece lined.

On my upper body: I started with a base layer of a basic Under Armour crew neck cold gear top. Then I layered on a vest. And finally, my Voler riding jacket that I love.

On my hands: I wore a thin glove as a base layer (you know, the kind you can get for $5 from the drugstore!), and then Pearl Izumi elite barrier gloves.

On my head: A Sugoi Balaclava. Actually, that’s the best way to know I really think the ride is cold. I typically avoid the Balaclava at all costs because I am not a fan of something that it supposed to sit over my mouth; I spend most of the ride with it pulled down. But, it is great to keep my head and neck warm!

I also used some Mad Alchemy Embrocation balm which I applied to my hands, feet, and thighs under the knee warmers just prior to leaving on the ride. I don’t think it really did much for my toes, but I’m positive it helped with the legs and hands! I did *not* do the old “plastic bag” trick with my feet in bags inside my shoes. Again, if it was a wet cold ride, I may have rethought that one, but didn’t think it was necessary this time!

All in all, I was comfortable enough for the whole ride. And, because I kept my base layers thin and well thought out (i.e. wicking materials on the bottom, wind resistant and insulation on top), I never felt so heavy or like my movement was restricted by all the clothes.

Hope this helps others attempting to brave the cold this winter on two wheels! As always, don’t go out if the road conditions are dicey in the winter! I purposefully did not head into the mountains, knowing that was where the snow, black ice, etc would be. Stay safe (and warm)!

2014 – A look ahead

There are so many exciting things going on right now, and among them has been planning the 2014 race schedule! I am through July now in terms of firming up what my plans will be……I should probably say that they are as “tentatively firm” as any other pro’s race schedule can be of course 🙂 Let me know if you’ll be at any of these events. I love seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends in the sport!

March 29 – Ironman Los Cabos. I knew before I got on the plane to come home last year that I’d be heading back to Cabo one way or another. I loved everything about this race and can’t wait to get back to the sun!

May 3 – Wildflower 70.3. I’ve heard so many great things about this race. Plus the atmosphere sounds like it’s right up my alley, so I am very excited to put this on the calendar.

May 18 – Columbia 5150. An oldie, but a goodie. If I’m going to try my hand at an olympic distance as a pro, it best be on my home turf!

June 1 – Rev3 Quassy 70.3. Third time is the charm, right? 🙂

June 29 – Challenge Atlantic City. I’m super excited for this inaugural event. Looks to be flat and fast but I’m sure the heat and wind will keep things honest!

AND then to cap off the first half of the year, good friends Leslie (fellow TeamHPBer) and her fiance, Nate, will be coming down to Charlottesville to join me in coaching the East Coach TeamHPB camp! More information is here – but there is really no better place to spend a long weekend celebrating the fourth of July than in this historic town, and riding lots of miles on two wheels! Perfect for those of you who are getting ready for a late summer Ironman or 70.3 Please e-mail me with questions about the camp and I will be happy to fill you in on any more details.

I traded my shovel for an umbrella.

I just wanted to tell a little story to remind people that as a wise man once said, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Okay, maybe Adam Levine isn’t really the wisest man in the world, but still.

In the one(+) week I’ve been a Charlottesville resident, I could almost count the hours where the temperature outside has been above freezing on my hands. And, I could probably count the days when it’s been dry for any number of hours of the day on just one hand.

Sorry guys, apparently I brought some crappy weather with my move!

Again this year as I find myself ramping up training for that early season Ironman, I’m faced with the battle against the weather. I had a bit of dejavu this weekend as on Saturday I woke up to the notion that the weather forecast was, in fact, correct and it was pouring and cold outside. It can be hard to trust the weather forecast! Let’s be honest, it isn’t always right and sometimes I feel wary about what it says on the TV because I have been caught out a few times before. I have heard of that Wunderground system made by rainwise.com that can give you your local weather forecast plus some other predictions straight to your phone so you can be more accurate with what is happening outside, it’s worth it so I can be consistent with where I am doing my running!

Anyway, the current weather confirmed my decision to swap my run and ride day, and I began to gather my running shoes for the track workout on tap.

“Neat, I’ll try out that track I’ve driven by that’s only a couple miles away; perfect for the warm up!”

I headed out into the cold rain, legs not feeling too terrible, and a couple miles later got to the school with said track. I made my way down some steps and onto the track and began to jog a loop…..and then finished that loop in <75 seconds. Now, I've made some progress in my training lately, but let's just say a 75 second 400 obviously isn't even in the realm of possibilities for a jog. What the.... I stopped. Looked around. Hmmm, this does look awful small. Crap. I found a miniature track. (note: I looked this up later and it is, in fact, 6 laps to the mile if you run in the 3rd lane. wtf.) The rain picked up as my brain began turning: where is the next closest track? While it wasn't too far, if I ran there, then had to run home, I would be making this run wayyy longer than intended. So, I picked up my water bottle, promptly fell into a mud puddle, and began to jog home. As if I wasn't already at wits end, the rain just got harder, and even thunder and lightning began. Dear god. I got home, and before I could really think much more about it I grabbed my car keys and headed off to the (real) track. By this point I had now run over 4 miles and was cold again, so I had to warm up another mile before hitting the workout. Believe me, when you're setting up for a workout and supposed to hit times much faster than you've ever done before, the last thing you want on your mind is that you've been on your legs 3 miles more than you should be going into it. At this time, in my head, I called a "reset." Reset's are something I mostly use in swimming, but have to pull them out in the other sessions too. Basically it's a way I trick my brain into forgetting everything that happened before that point. Many times I don't hit the first interval in a long swim set, and I call a reset, start entirely over, and get it. It's all in your head!! So, I called a reset on the day, and hit the track. First interval - Nailed it! Just kidding! I didn't hit the time. Sure, I was close. But at that moment I had an urge which honestly is pretty rare for me in training: I just wanted to cry. I was cold, alone, way behind the schedule for the day I wanted, tired and had barely started the workout, had already used up my reset, and now wasn't even going to make the intervals. But, I didn't cry. Instead, I just kept running. And this is that mental part of endurance sports which is impossible to articulate. There is no way to wrap words around what it was that made me tell myself to suck it up, and just run. Hit the best interval you can, and do it over and over. Eventually this workout will be behind you. Instead of focusing on the time I was missing the interval by, I forced myself to hang on to the promise that I was so close to the goal – maybe I would get there with this next one. I turned up my music and switched songs so that the beat of the next one on shuffle could maybe get me to pick it up – some Ke$ha, Britney, anything. I’m not even kidding when I say that instead the Les Mis soundtrack kept popping up — someone really was working against me today. (PS – love the soundtrack, just not for running)

I did finish the workout, and you know what? I never did dial in on the goal pace and maintain that. But, I still had the best set I’ve ever run for that particular workout. And, as Hillary put it “yay we got bonus miles!” When you get a response like that to a workout log where you drone on about how terrible it is and woe is me, you remember a few things. One – keep it in perspective. And two – just because the progress isn’t what you want, doesn’t mean it’s not there. So when workouts get tough and it seems like everything is against you, Pack your shovel (and your umbrella). No excuses. And most importantly, instead of focusing on the reason to stop or the reason things are going wrong…..find a reason it’s going right. And hang on to that as hard as you can.

Instagram makes even a cold wet track look okay.
Instagram makes even a cold wet track look okay.