Just Du It

Just Du It

This morning I kicked off my 2017 race season with my very first Duathlon! I was feeling eager and excited to compete (I’ll be honest; mostly because it did not involve a swim). Doing a Run-Bike-Run combination was the perfect way to shake out my racing nerves. Though I love racing and it always leaves me with such a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, I always go into races with so much anxiety! I want to challenge myself this season to focus on the idea that I GET to race. To feel grateful for being injury free. And to leave everything on the course because I have nothing to lose. I feel like I really did that! I worked hard and pushed myself today; I chatted with the other racers and didn’t let my competitiveness cause me to lose sight of my love for the sport!

The Race Report:

So as you know, we just had daylight savings! Well, as expected my iPhone automatically adjusted and woke me promptly at 5am. I checked both my garmin watch and phone a few times as I got dressed, braided my hair, and ate breakfast to make sure I was on schedule. Right at 5:25 I was loading my bike and getting ready to head out. As my windshield defrosted and I started down the dark and lonely road I glanced down to find that both my phone and watch were ready 4:35… what?? I started questioning if I woke up an hour early, I was so confused. I went ahead and restarted both devices and luckily they corrected themselves and all was right with the world. Apart from a minor panic attack about the time and small anxiety attacks thinking, “Oh God I didn’t pack a wetsuit!” and then remembering, “There’s no swim in this race. Chill,” I managed to stay in positive spirits and my ‘Race Day Pump Up’ playlist had me feeling focused and excited.

I arrived at the race site just before transition opened at 6am. I claimed an easily accessible spot and immediately recognized familiar and friendly faces. Rather than my usual ‘Don’t talk to me’ resting b%$#&-face (which is a direct result of nerves) I decided to chat with other race goers and get into a good head space. After a long porta-potty line, short warm up, body marking (I learned I’m technically racing as a 25 year old since I turn 25 this year), triple checking my transition area, and a few short drills it was 7:00 and just about race time. The women gathered behind the men at the start line and I followed the eyes of a few of the other women as they scoped out their competitor’s calves to see who was in their age group.

A count down from 20 seconds. 15. 10. 5. Go! And their off! 2 girls immediately broke from the group and started out hard. I was both impressed and intimidated. Behind them was another group of 4 including myself. By the 2 mile mark 2 women were beginning to pull away from our little group. I told the woman beside me that I was going to bridge the gap and asked if she wanted to go. She decided to hold back, so I chased down 3 and 4 . I held on with them and glanced down at my watch. My target 10k pace was 7:40/mile. We were running 7:10/mile. Definitely harder than I’d intended! 48 year old mother, Cathy, was holding 4th, a half step ahead of me, and she looked strong. I commented on the girls that were far ahead, but she didn’t seem too concerned. She praised each guy we passed by and they returned with words of encouragement to both of us. By mile 5 I knew I was pacing way too fast and that the bike was going to hurt, but I figured, ‘I’ve already come this far, might as well keep it up!’ I pulled away from Cathy slightly (feeling lucky to have had someone to push me) and slowly started to reel in the girl who had been in 2nd and had now fallen back to 3rd. I thought to myself.. If only this was just a 10k. Sigh* We rounded the corner and pushed the pace faster as we ran towards cheering spectators surrounding transition. I finished in 44:04 (7:06min/mi) (2 minutes fast). My thighs felt like jello and my calves felt like bricks as I pulled off my racing flats. I knew this next part was going to hurt.

After a 1:11 (1 second slow) in T1 I was soon mounting the bike and refocusing on riding. With so much fog and condensation, glasses were useless and water was steadily dripping down my face. My legs rebelled as I tried to find a high cadence and get into a rhythm. Everything felt cold and tight. Thankfully we had a predominately flat course. The 40k bike consisted of 5 loops – though there was a good 10 minute period where I questioned how many loops we were doing and tricked myself into thinking it was 4 until I heard a spectator yell out the remaining laps to his wife. Dang it! Okay 3 to go. 2 women passed me on the 3rd loop one right after the other and I quickly went from 4th to 6th. I tried chasing them down for the next 1/2 mile, but I just couldn’t match their pace. Each lap had a section where reservoir water put you in the splash zone followed my muddy puddles and subsequent wet tires. It made for an interesting variable to navigate each lap. On the 4th loop I began to feel the twitches in my calves and butt getting more and more frequent and I feared cramping was coming. I prayed to the multisport gods that I may finish the race without the cringe worthy struggle of racing with cramping muscles. At this point I was in such a suffer-fest cave of pain that I was less focused on my overall placement and more concerned with trying to maintain a consistent pace. I was teter-tottering back and forth with a few different men on the course which kept me focused on racing and less on my fear of cramping. Finally, the 5th and final loop was coming to an end and I could see the last run in my sights. I pulled into T2 with a 1:18:30 bike time (19 mph) (3 minutes slow).

With legs feeling entirely spent I got through T2 in 59 sec (1 sec fast). Finally, I was off for the last leg, (THANK GOD) a 5k. As I tried to shake out my legs and get them moving I realized my target pace of 7:30/mile was not realistic. I loosened up a little and found a bit of a groove; the plan switched to chasing down the men in sight, use surges to get my pace going, and get to that damn finish line. A few guys recognized me from the bike and complimented my pace – a nice confidence boost considering tiny knives proceeded to stab my calves with each step. As I approached the last mile of the race I started thinking back to different races in college were I pushed myself through injuries and chased down competitors; it gave me the mental edge I needed to pick up my pace and not let up. When the finish was finally in sight I took off as fast as my angry calves would allow and cracked a smile feeling grateful to be done. Rounded things out with a 24 minute 5k (7:47 min/mile) (1:15 slow).

Finish time: 2:28:54 Overall female finisher: 6th Age Group: 1st

Mood: Tired, sore, glad to be done, proud of my moment on the podium, and most of all grateful to have a healthy body that I can push to compete.

Looking forward to competing at Half Moon Bay Olympic Distance Triathlon Next month (April) and chasing down another age group podium spot as well as a PR.

Cycling Life

Cycling Life

The pain-euphoria phenomenon is an incredible thing. Twisting up a challenging climb, crawling along each mile, sweat cascading, quads throbbing, back aching, praying for the next turn to reveal the top of the mountain… then a more powerful feeling washes over you. It’s a feeling of relief, of exhilaration, of pure appreciation for the beauty of your surroundings. In addition to serving as a perpetual suffer-fest, cycling is the experience of genuine gratitude for your body’s ability to accomplish challenging feats and an openness to the stunning surroundings of our world that can easily be missed.

No, not every ride is this grand. Especially, if you are solely focused on cultivating your ability to endure pain rather than enjoying what’s around you. But hopefully, more often than not, you reach a point in your ride where you feel as though you have escaped the mundane of everyday life. When you do, it is as if you have crossed over to another dimension of time and space where everything that was stressful, worrisome, or impossible in your life no longer matters.

Last Sunday was one of those rides. To my tenacious other half it probably didn’t seem very difficult. Let us note that in the past 5 days this Strava* fanatic has already ridden for 15 hours. But to me it was exhilarating, challenging, fun, and a great chance to get some quality time with my best friend!

Enjoying the lifestyle of being a triathlete means incorporating great road rides into my week. My cyclist room-mate-for-life certainly rides more and harder than I do – but our common ground is this: cycling can elevate your sense of accomplishment in your own life and if you embrace the lifestyle it will bring you a lot of joy. I love to ride not simply because it makes me physically stronger, but because it makes me FEEL powerful! If you have ever entertained the idea of utilizing your weekend morning by pedaling around, I really encourage you to give it a try!

Still not convinced? Okay, here are 5 reasons cycling will increase your quality of life:

  1. Cycling makes you smarter. According to The Think team researchers from Illinois University: improving cardio-respiratory fitness by 5% with biking correlates to improved mental capacity by 15%. The attribute this to the idea that cycling generates new brain cells in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory).
  2. Cycling strikes your creativity bone. The boosts of oxygen and blood flow to the brain that cycling provides lends itself to breaking through mental blocks and steering ideas to new places. Neurons in your brain are sparked during bike rides, which allows for unbelievable brainstorms and innovative problem solving.
  3. You’ll sleep better. And not JUST because your exhausted. Riding daily actually helps you to get a better, deeper night’s sleep (that is, if your girlfriend doesn’t keep you awake snoring all night…). This one is backed by Stanford University School of Medicine, the circadian rhythm is able to sync with much more ease with outdoor exercise. In addition, stress hormones that thwart regenerative, deep sleep are reduced with a 20-30 min cycle.
  4. Cycling gives you MORE energy. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that riding a bike actually lessens feelings of fatigue by 65% and boosts energy levels by 20%. That means trading in agonizing bursts of stressful cortisol for invigorating bursts of dopamine. (Riding 3 days a week at a low to moderate pace is enough to do the trick!)
  5. Your heart will thank you. Scientist at Purdue University say that cycling decreases a person’s risk of heart disease by 50% if enjoyed regularly. Even biking as little as 20 miles per week can decrease your risk of heart disease to half that of a sedentary person. Considering illness takes a major toll on happiness, the preventative benefit of cycling speaks for itself!

That about sums it up! As the weather continues to turn for the better, why not plan a fun bike ride for your sunny day!

 

Want to read more about the benefits of cycling? Check out these links:

http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

http://www.thethinkteam.com/blog/posts/get-on-your-bike-to-boost-brain-power

http://www.active.com/cycling/articles/cycling-during-pregnancy-yes-or-no

https://www.outsideonline.com/2095101/road-bikes-not-ritalin-how-cycling-could-help-kids-adhd

http://www.bicycling.com/training/motivation/8-ways-cycling-will-make-you-healthier/slide/6

*Strava : The ultimate compilation of all you rides (and other forms of exercise) as well as your achievements, your rankings amongst others who have completed the same routes (aka: segments), and all kinds of diagnostic data to help analyze performance and track overall fitness (and freshness). 10/10 would recommend.

Check it out: https://www.strava.com/

 

 

 

Sempre Familia

Sempre Familia

Dear Noni,

When I spoke to you on the phone yesterday, I told you I love and you are in my heart. You still are – you always will be. The grief we feel for you is complex. We are so grateful to know you are at peace, to believe you are with Papa. But we are so sad to no longer have you, to squeeze your hand, see your smile, to say I love you.

It was 5 years ago that Papa passed in his sleep on Valentines day. It came as a surprise to us all. You even shared with us that you were going to tease him for sleeping in longer for a change, before you found him. I know it was devastating for you. You were so stoic at his funeral; so strong in spite of your breaking heart. I know you have missed him every day since and I believe he has missed you too. You haven’t been awake this week, but I believe you knew, in some poetic way, that Valentines Day was just a few days ago. And as you took your last breath, with dad holding your hand, you left us to join Papa in paradise. To relive your favorite memories together, for eternity. To look down on us as we live our lives upholding the integrity you always demonstrated.

98 years, Noni. That’s amazing. You have seen so much and touched so many lives. You have given to our family in numerous ways. The family values you upheld is a foundation I will spend my life striving to emulate and build upon. I will forever be grateful to you and thankful for all you gave to us. The joy for cooking and baking and bringing people together. The care and attention as we were kids growing up. Attending every horrible recital, boring graduation, sweltering cross country and track meet – and all the while beaming with pride. When I moved to Northern California, at times I felt very far away  from the family. But the awe and joy you (and Papa) showed me every time I came to visit, made me feel as connected and loved as ever. You always supported my ambitions. When others thought my marathon and triathlon endeavors were far fetched or crazy, you praised me with unwavering confidence. Having that reassurance, constantly, from you both was such a blessing. I have yet to meet another person with your same kindness.

When I look back on the time we spent together, a lot my memories feature your house. For a long time I thought it was the house itself that was special. The Norman Rockwell paintings lining the hallway walls from floor to ceiling, the clacking of Billiard balls in the pool room, the smells of fresh Italian sauce wafting from the kitchen, the gushers and fruit roll ups hiding in the highest cupboard, the books and games accumulated in the den, and the scorecard tracking the endless card games you let me win. All of these little things, and so much more, fill me with warmth and happiness and the actual feeling of home. But it wasn’t the things. It wasn’t the house. It was you. YOU are what made that such a special sanctuary. YOU are what fill our family with so much love.

Thank you for all of the amazing memories. Thank you for all of the love. Thank you for always accepting me. Thank you for being you and setting an example of the type of benevolence I hope to exude.

I will miss you. Forever.

Rest in Peace.

Love,

Arianna

Climbing 2,500 ft… in the same spot!

Climbing 2,500 ft… in the same spot!

When I need to escape the rain or when there isn’t enough daylight left, I turn to biking indoors. Many cyclists and triathletes use trainers or rollers, equipment that allows you to use your own road (or tri) bike in the indoor setting. Since last winter I’ve been using an upgraded “smart” trainer (Kickr power trainer), but if you have a cyclops and are riding on a budget check out this guy’s youtube: Zwift on a Budget . So the trainer (or accompanying equipment) is what will “pair” with a really nifty app called Zwift! (note: you’ll need an Ant+ stick )

If you are serious about getting in quality rides while indoors and you find solo trainer workouts a total bore, I HIGHLY recommend this app. Here are the basics:

  • You can just “ride” and find other groups of people, discover integrated sprint and climbing segments, and generally enjoy the stimulating scenery
  • You can follow a pre-made workout or even design your own if you have a specific goal or are more motivated by structure
  • Zwift gives you useful data to measure your intensity including: Power, Heart Rate, Cadence, Speed, and Mileage; it’s right there on the screen!
  • There is even a social component where you can actually message with other virtual riders; people doing the same thing you are, LITERALLY all over the world (I even ran into an old team mate on Zwift while he was in Colorado and I was here in California!)
  • Similar to Strava, Zwift will track your progress and reward you (in videogame fashion) for PR’s and Records (For example if you are the fastest on a particular segment you get to wear the champion jersey for all other riders to see — that is until someone else beats you!)
  • This app also links to Strava very easily so that your workout data is immediately uploaded (for all of you fellow Strava junkies)

So if you are in training season like me and don’t the drabby weather to deter your race season preparation, I really implore you to give this app a try! Here’s a teaser ad if you want to learn more: Check it Out!

Already a “Zwifter” ?  What do you think ?

Let’s Go for a… Yoga!

Let’s Go for a… Yoga!

Okay so I know little to nothing about Yoga… And I don’t really consider myself to have a “yoga body” (something I made up in my mind as being very lean, petite, graceful, and perfectly pretty). Also out of concern I wouldn’t know the names or poses, the practice seemed a little too daunting. Recently that mindset has changed – blame the new year or the incessant ads for Yoga apps on my IG feed – I’m now seeing the potential of Yoga to positively impacting my work, fitness, and health.

For Work:

I recently began a new role as a Behavioral Interventionist (or therapist). In this role I will be working with clients with behavioral needs, including (but not limited to) ASD. During a recent meeting with a coworker we were discussing the physical demands of our job. It’s certainly not as intensely laborious as say a construction job, but the need to be constantly moving, getting on and off the floor with clients, and generally the level of energy (both physical and emotional) that our work requires got us onto the topic of Yoga. She shared with me the many ways it helps with physical strength, easing body tension, and developing a keen sense of inner harmony and peace. Not to mention the appeal of having a specific outlet for physical tensions; it is certainly a worthwhile skill to be able to tap into a calm state of mind considering the psychological and emotional demands of our field.

That Fit Life Tho:

At this point my interest was piqued and I turned to youtube to find a channel I could follow. I discovered Yoga With Adriene 🙂 and gladly started watching a few of her videos. In addition to her calming voice and careful descriptions of movements into each pose, she recently started a series called “yogarevolution” that contains 31 days of Yoga. I’m about to embark into day 3. If you are interested in getting into yoga and need a little motivation I HIGHLY recommend her channel. That said, if she’s not for you I do encourage you to check other yoga challenges, channels, classes, etc – find one that meets your need and skill level.

SO as I mentioned I started looking into the benefits of Yoga for runners and triathletes. (I’ll post the links below). I am seeing how Yoga has the potential to aid my day to day active lifestyle. For example, Yoga:

  • Helps reduce the physical stress of running – the rigidity and excessive tightness can be difficult to overcome – Runners can use yoga to balance strength, increase range of motion, and to train the body and mind.
  • Teaches the cultivation of body wisdom and confidence – This helps endurance athletes to develop a greater understanding of the body and how it works by becoming more receptive to the messages your body sends you (I don’t know about you, but I have become accustomed to IGNORING the little tweaks and twinges that I’ve been getting since 9th grade XC and could stand to be a little more in touch with what my body NEEDS)
  • Focuses on balance, symmetry and alignment – components of fitness that, when ignored, lead to injury! (Again, cyclists, runners and swimmers alike, the time has come to give attention to those weak, neglected areas that over time result in strains, fractures, and agonizing chronic pain)

Migraine, Migraine, Go away:

 

I get Migraines

They are bad

I get Migraines

They make me sad

 

Migraine migraine

I hate you

What will it take

To be ride of you

 

Migraine migraine

I’ve tried it all

To my inner healing

I must call

 

Yoga Yoga

Help me now

Soothe my aching head

Ease my furrowed brow

Okay so I won’t go into this TOO much, but inevitably I have come across claims for the benefits of Yoga on one’s health. Specifically, I discovered that some use Yoga as a means to combat their head pain. While it isn’t a medication replacement, it can certainly help by increasing blood flow, reducing anxiety, and aiding meditative rest.

One more thing…

Lastly, because I imagine many people had or have the same predisposition (potentially acting as a deterrent) that to do Yoga you have to be really skinny or know all the poses — I want to say, It’s just NOT TRUE. Amongst my extensive reading I came across the concept of ‘Yoga at every size’. Hearing that phrase really helped turn my attitude around. So here are the basics, learn what your own physical limitations are and stick with what is comfortable. Yoga, unlike many other forms of working out or exercise, IS NOT about losing weight, or targeting heart zones, or being the best. Yoga practice is meant to serve YOU and “integrate mind, body and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment with the universe”- YOGA 101 . Okay, I know that may sound a little hokey. If you don’t already know, be prepared that many yogis talk a lot about being centered, connecting with the earth, and generally focusing on your breathing. That said, if you think that maybe just possibly your tension from work, aches from physical activity, or general health could be improved by simply being a little present for 30 minutes a day, I really do urge you to give yoga a try.

 

Those links – go on find out for yourself:

Yoga for Runners

Yoga for Migraines

Yoga Every Size

MTB Newb

MTB Newb

Amongst the laughter, keg stands, ongoing humm of conversations, high fives, and cheering – I struck up conversation with another who had just completed the hour-long crawl to the summit of Mount Kennedy. He looked me and my bike-for-the-day up and down and gasped, “This was your FIRST mountain ride?!” his friend overhead and quickly whipped his head around and laughed in disbelief, “wait what?” 
With a very satisfied smile and my chin tilted up I responded, “Yup, I made it!” And with a wink I pointed out, “Now I just have to make it back down.”
I must say what an epic ride this was. Epic in length and height, but more so in terms of the sheer number of people who turned out for it. There were dogs, bikers, hikers, pony kegs and a full sized keg, turkey carcasses, yummy dessert treats, funny holiday themed costumes, and an upbeat energy that encompassed the entire group. 
As glad as I was to make it to the top and as elated as I am that I successfully (and without crashing or laying the bike down even once) completed the ride, I must say I was previously DREADING this ride. The climb, the dirt, going over rocks, fear of crashing, the descent, the number of people, falling behind. Every aspect I had built up in my mind as scary and it was so out of my comfort zone that I let my mind run away with my fear of the unknown.
But first things first – mountain bikes are EXTREMELY capable on the dirt. You might have just read that and thought, uhhh yea..duh? BUT I have done a number of dirt-road/trail segments on my skinny/slick tire road bike that made me conclude: dirt + bike = bumpy/scary/wheels slipping/etc. 
So with my fears silently brewing in the dark corners of my mind, the night before I turned to my SO and stated, “I’ve been thinking about the ride and I’m genuinely scared.”
He looked at me with a soft smile, his hands clasped behind his head, and unconcerned he replied, “It’ll be great, you’ll do just fine.”
Anxiety welling I stared at him with anticipation, waiting for words that would wash away my concern.
He glanced over again.. he seemed slightly surprised by the expression on my face. “There’s really nothing to worry about. It’s a fun ride.”
**sigh**
I guess I can’t expect someone who has been riding moto-cross and shredding bikes since he was a young adolescent to understand.
So I had to pull up my big girl bibs and fake it to make it. And it worked! I got up to the top with minimal to no stress and even enjoyed it! Unfortunately, the descent was preceded with a handful of well-meaning fellow riders scaring the s%#+ out of me with anecdotes like, “Someone crashes on this every year”, “I broke my collarbone on that downhill”, and “It gets really steep, it’s not an easy down.” 
Eric looked at me and, with confidence and conviction, asserted, “Don’t listen to that. You can do this. Just take it slow and follow my lead.” 
I was tense, I was nervous, I looked like a newb, and I almost cried (once), but I made it back down the mountain. It certainly wasn’t the most technical descent and I couldn’t have ask for better dirt conditions, but I was a nervous nelly. Thankfully I had Eric, as positive and certain as he was from the start, giving me encouragement and coaching me along. He could have easily taken off down the mountain, but he chose to stick with me and make sure I maneuvered down the hill successfully. Thanks to his support and patience, I feel eager to try mountain biking again!
Here’s to facing fears and bonding with the one’s close to us.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Starting 24 with a ‘bang’

Starting 24 with a ‘bang’

This month altogether has been especially lively and fun. It has included a fun paint night with friends, dinner dates, a get away to Monterey, wine tasting in Santa Cruz (featured), and still more fun to come for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend! A lot to be thankful for! We have mostly November babies in our house so there is certainly plenty to celebrate. I’m am so happy to have created a network of loving friends with happy appetites for life.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Continue reading “Starting 24 with a ‘bang’”