Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Kickstart to euro racing - Ironman 70.3 Pays D'Aix

With the off-season prioritized by moving my life across the Atlantic, I knew it would be a stretch to be race ready in May.  Regardless, I’ve never been afraid to race myself into shape, so we kicked started the 2015 tri season with the Ironman 70.3 Pays D’Aix. With such a beautiful backdrop for a race, there’s no surprise the race filled to capacity with 2500 athletes on the start. It had the typical Ironman brand hoopla and it felt like a championship event with racers from all over Europe. 

Pay’s D’Aix is roughly a 7 hr drive from our new city, and this was our first euro road trip. After 42 euros of road tolls, we finally made it to our hotel in the heart of Aix en Provence.  We celebrated the majestic city and enjoyed walking through town and having dinner at one of the many outdoor restaurants. I just love that vibe and could sit and enjoy it all night. It was music to my ears to hear french again and finally be able to understand and communicate with locals. 

With a point to point bike, there’s a lot of organization involved with this event, so Saturday was a day filled with pre race logistics. We checked out the swim venue then drove the 90km  bike course back to town. The course is  highlighted by five significant climbs with the Col de Cengle coming at 70km. I loved the the climbs, but compared to those around me, I lost WAY TOO MUCH time on the descents. In the US I considered myself to be a good bike handler from all my years of racing road and mtb, but here, I feel like a rookie navigating the steep switch backs, roundabouts and tight hairpin turns. 

Swim Start - ALL women and PROS went off together. Seemed strange that they would start all the women with the pros (pros had a water start, women had a beach start), and it was unreal how fierce that start was. I lined up in front on the beach, but I'm sure 50+ people got ahead of me by the first buoy. Based off the results, after the 1.9km swim I think I came out of the water as the 6-7th amateur (3rd AG) in  ~28min. but I had no idea where I was in the race. T2 was over half mile/barefoot run (on concrete, so I'm still paying for that with super tight calves 3 days later)!

Bike - Still had no idea where I was in the race, but I settled into a decent groove. Once a gal from my AG passed me about 15miles in it helped spark a bit of race day mojo. I worked harder to keep her in my sights as best I could, but I would always loose her on the descents. Here's my strava file.  I knew the race was finishing with a long sketchy decent, which didn’t bode well for me, but regardless it was extremely helpful to know there was someone ahead to keep me focused. Clearly that makes a difference and I must find a way to focus and work hard without that! 

T2 - Drop bikes at racks in the order you arrive, then run another half mile barefoot in the street to retrieve the T2 bags. Maybe running barefoot would be smart and specific training for TRIs after all! 

RUN 4 loops. I wasn't expecting as many hills, but they were certainly there and they kicked my butt. I ended up passing two amateur gals on the run, and at that time, I thought I was near the front of the AG race - I didn’t see anyone else in front, but it was basically impossible to differentiate the pros from the top AGers. It was so fun to hear cheers in french and my name in a sweet french accent. The locals also seemed to love my Coeur race kit as much as I did. I was motivated all day with cheers of "COURAGE." I focused on the joy of those simple pleasures while trying to say strong.  I was really hoping to be able to run sub 1:35 and break the 5hr mark on this tough course. Although I missed that target, I was able to pick up the pace to stay in front on a fast charging french the line.  I still had no idea where I finished in my AG or overall, but I headed out to the run course to watch and cheer for KY (he started in a wave about an hour behind me). 

Despite minimal run training, he gutted it out and had a great day -  I'm so proud of him!!

I finally had a chance to check results, and was initially a little bummed when I realized I had finished 3rd in my AG (15 overall with pros).   I knew I wasn’t in prime shape, but I was holding out for race day magic to help me out!  It’s always tough to come up short (only two AG slots for the World Championship), but it helped spark some competitive juice to fuel my preparation for the next attempt.    I'm happy to have made the podium, and regardless of any race results, we had a fantastic weekend in France. I'm extremely grateful to experience this incredible area, especially while sharing the adventure with my hubby!

This race was the first euro 70.3 of the year, and based on the enthusiasm at the slot allocation ceremony, it’s evident the europeans are very excited to finally host the 70.3 World Championships on this side of the globe. This was the first time in my history of racing Ironman events, that I watched 100% acceptance of the 50 slots with zero roll downs. 

I have roughly four weeks before the 70.3 Rapperswill-Jona (Zurich), so I know I have to buckle down and commit to the details if I want to be competitive and fight for a slot. For the past two months I have executed all my training - That’s not the problem for me, but instead, I realize that I need to work on my brain as well! 

Several years ago when I was racing my best, I was admittedly much more fierce and competitive. All that short course racing (especially in Minnesota) does that to you. I would race 10-15x a year, and each weekend there would be great fights to the finish - Real intensity, real passion and BIG heart when into each performance. IN many ways, I feel that my recent shift to longer distance racing as sucked a bit of that out of my blood.  I’ve become too conservative and comfortable, always pacing and preparing myself for the long run! Anyhow, this past weekend, it was a great wake up call, and it lit a new fire - I’ll be ready to fight with renewed heart and courage the next time I toe the line.

HERE we go!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Magnificent Mallorca, Spain

I'd heard of Mallorca as a top cycling destination, so for a Christmas gift to KY, I purchased a trip (for two) to the Mallorca Trek’s Travel Camp. Thankfully I was his +1 and off we went the last weekend of Feb. We knew a few other people signed up that weekend, so it was the perfect reason to make it happen.

DAY 1 - Remembering how to ride! 

We flew out from Zurich Thursday morning and arrived in Mallorca midday. After an easy taxi to Read’s Hotel in Santa Maria we were quickly set up with our camp issued Trek bikes and off we rode. I LOVE the simplicity of camp issued bikes!!  It was just KY and I for this initial ride since we arrived later than the others. Weather was less than ideal, but it sure felt amazing to move the legs outside. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I think this 37km ride was the longest ride since Ironman AZ last November! 

We arrived back at the hotel and met the rest of the group, then enjoyed our first delicious "family" meal.  The ~15 campers were the only guests at the hotel and we had a set 3 course menu each night .  Dinner would routinely start at 7:30 and we'd typically still be sitting in the dining room 2+ hours later. It was fun to get to know the other campers. There was a large group from Canada, and another fun group from Whales.  

TREK Travel does not mess around with their details - Best cue cards + Garmins pre programmed w/ maps of each ride .

Day 2 - BRUTAL!!

The forecast wasn’t looking good for our planned 140km ride, but I think everyone was in denial. We rolled out that morning with eager anticipation for the epic route and although I had my warmest clothes with me, the rain and wind rendered that useless.  I was completely soaking/freezing after the first descent. We continued riding along the recommended route hoping our support van would be around the next corner.  There was nowhere on this road to take shelter, but we pressed on in hopes of finding something. After 2+hrs of riding with icicle fingers and toes, we approached the lighthouse at the end of the turnaround point,The lead group has turned back and they informed us the coffee shop was closed and our van was not there. Heartbreak!!!  I immediately turned the bike around, and although we were in a pretty rearklble scenic area, it wasn’t about miles, views, or epic climbs but instead it was thoughts of frost bite and hypothermia….. the wind was so strong and my bike was barely moving…. But then, a ray of hope!! I saw the support van up ahead. It was the most welcomed sight! I immedialty jumped inside, removed the shoes and wrapped myself in blankets. I shed a few tears of gratitude for that van and the ability to escape the brutal cold. 

Our awesome guide Lisa working hard to convince the hardy Canadian to call it a day. After the door blew off the van he finally got inside!

The van was busy pulling people off the route and shuttling them back to shelter.  YES - It was THAT bad!

Finally back at the hotel I’m pretty sure I took the longest hot shower before feeling functional again. Then it was time to plan our route for the next day. The weather forecast looked much better, and despite the previous hellish day on the bike, we wanted to make the most out of our Saturday ride.  As a result, we decided on the famous SaColobra route mixed with a few other meaningful climbs.


Those brutal conditions on Friday certainly created a deeper appreciation for dry weather. What a difference a day makes! The worst day on a bike was followed up with quite possibility the most enjoyable day on a bike. This is the ride you see in the Mallorca cycling media - Pretty unreal switchbacks and views. We enjoyed a delicious spanish lunch at a cafe on the sea, then we quickly saddled up for the monster climb in our attempt to make it home before dark. 

Classic endorphin filled positive energy and joy swept through the group as we finally rolled into the hotel around 6pm - I think we started the ride around 9:45am! Yes, there were plenty of stops for photos and refuel, but regardless, it was a glorious day with great riding friends. 



The last of our crew by the end of the day

DAY 4- Mellow

Everyone seemed to fly out at different times on Sunday and our bikes had to be returned by 11am,  so we simply repeated the Day 1 - 37km route route and made time for the first run of the weekend. 

We spent a few hours exploring the main city of Plama before heading back to Zurich that evening. 

Altough weather was not ideal, it was still one of the best camp experiences I’ve ever had.  I highly recommend you put this cycling destination on your bucket list (but maybe plan to visit later in the spring for more enjoyable weather) !! 

Experiences Over Stuff- Always!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Musings from Switzerland

Unfortunately I don’t have much content for creative story telling or inspiring words, but I wanted to share a few random updates from our first few weeks. I promised to post often so here’s the latest rundown:

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four weeks since we moved to Switzerland. The days and weeks are flying by as we’ve been busy figuring out how to live thrive in our new world.  

We love our new apartment - We’re in a modern high rise nestled in the heart of the city and I’m loving the proximity to the daily essentials.  Walking to the market, gym, train station etc. is such a refreshing novelty since I was deep in suburbia the last few years. When the sky is clear, I have mountain views from my apt/office windows which always brings me joy. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m so grateful for the power and beauty of the mountains. 

As you can imagine, the food has been pretty delectable. There’s been no shortage of cheese and chocolate consumed, and of course, the breads… ummm, delicious! Let’s just say this is not the place to be gluten, dairy and/or sugar free.

To help offset all the delicious foods and to continue with my movement filled lifestyle, I’ve discovered great outdoor running and hiking trails. I’ve become a member of a great gym and also found a couple of decent swimming pools. I’m still waiting for my bikes to arrive but once they do I know I’ll be spending plenty of time exploring on two wheels.

KY’s office is about 3K from our apartment, so I typically join him for the walk in the morning which has been a nice way to kick start the day. Its extremely satisfying to be outside first thing and when the sky is clear as I get to salute the Queen of the Mtn (Mt Rigi) on my walk home. 

The CY Coaching business has been operating in full swing - I now have a full athlete roster for 2015 and after leaving my job with Lifetime Fitness it’s been great having more time to devote to my athletes. Those athlete relationships have been a wonderful way to stay connected with the tri community and with other humans in general. I find myself mute most of the day since it seems everyone around me is speaking german. Although most people can speak english, its tough to strike up conversation or join a conversation when all you hear is german. I’m working hard to learn the basics, but with swiss german and regular german being quite a bit different, the learning process is significantly more challenging.

We had our first visitors last week - What a wonderful treat to explore and catch up with Julie (and Brian)!

We travelled to a few nearby cities, and also enjoyed a couple of amazing days skiing in Zermatt.  We had perfect bluebird conditions, and lift passes for both the swiss and italian sides of the Matterhorn. We knew Italy would be the place for lunchtime fuel and it certainly lived up to the expectations - It was hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had. SO fresh and real. 

In addition to items above, I’ve been doing more reading and getting much more involved with mindfulness training and creating time to dig deeper into that aspect of my personal development and health. It would be easy to just go through the motions every day since life is pretty great, but I want to ensure I’m working on my authentic purpose and really identifying what it is that drives true satisfaction. I feel like I’ve done a decent job so far, but it’s a work in progress to stay authentic and true to what makes me feel alive and not to be afraid to be a different. 

I’m also working on adding meditation to the daily routine. If you’re interested, here’s a handy “how to” guide I used to get started: 

Also, I just can’t get enough of  Brene Brown’s insight and wisdom lately. I’m currently finishing up her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. In this book, among other things, she talks of self - acceptance and having the courage to let go of what other people think. Here's a summary on GoodReads with a few great quotes.  I was drawn to her work while watching a few popular TED talks. Here she is on the subject of vulnerability - One of the top 10 most popular TED talks:  I have her most recent book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead on deck in my Kindle. I can’t wait to get to that one. 

It’s hard to read and watch this stuff without soul searching and asking yourself the tough questions. This big transition and move to Switzerland has been such a blessing for many reasons.  Aside from all the lovely opportunities to explore incredible destinations and experience this new culture first hand, it’s been a powerful catalyst to take time to read, research and practice new aspects of healthy and inspired living.  

Live Big!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bring on 2015 - New Focus, New Team, New Country!!

I hope everyone is enjoying a fun filled holiday season. It’s been an action packed few weeks for me, but it's finally slowing down enough to share some exciting news for the upcoming year. 

New Focus: KY and I will be moving to Switzerland next year, and to simplify the transition and to grow with this new opportunity, I decided to leave my Program Manager job with Life Time Fitness. For the past few years, alongside Troy Jacobson, we built a strong and successful endurance coaching division as part of the Life Time TRI TEAM brand. Although it’s tough to leave Life Time in the midst of exciting initiatives, especially the Commit to TRI partnership with Ironman, I’m extremely jazzed to move forward and grow my own coaching practice. I’ll remain committed to growing the sport and inspiring people to live health inspired lifestyles, all while expanding my existing athlete-coach relationships and services. Thankfully, my online based business makes it possible to continue working with people from anywhere in the world. 

As for racing, I will undoubtably continue training/racing with a focus on building a strong and healthy body. There’s nothing like the joy of breakthrough performances, but building a resilient body capable of an endurance filled lifestyle for the long term is what reinforces my commitment to a balanced training plan.  With that in mind, I have these 2015 events on my radar so far:

New TEAM -  I’m fired up to share that I was selected to be part of the Coeur Sports Elite Tri Team. Coeur which is French for heart (& courage) is a company I instantly admired for their positive and authentic brand message and the incredible sisterhood they’ve created to empower and encourage women via endurance sports. I’m super pumped to be part of this TEAM! Check out this roster and their recent blog post outlining their Best of 2014.  It’s easy to be drawn to their endless positivity and relentless pursuit of quality - Certainly vibes worth sharing! 

Oh and of course, the added bonus is that the Coeur Sports clothing line is full of super cute functional style. When I ordered my first product from them several months ago, I knew they had something special happening at their Santa Monica office. This is how it looked when it arrived: 

It was all the clever details and unexpected flare that immediately drew me in - 100% American made and 100% Heart (Coeur) into their clothing = Perfecto! Check out their stuff here, and the 2015 line is shaping up to be even more awesome.  They were recently featured in Lava Magazine's Best Gear for 2015 preview: 

New Country: Yes, Switzerland! We move at the end of January!

KY and I are fired up for this new adventure. It comes at a perfect time for us and we’ll be leveraging our time in Europe to explore and grow in numerous ways. I’m embracing the cultural differences and I’m eager to surround myself in the region’s rich history and beautiful landscapes.  Who knows what the Swiss life will bring, but I’ll be committed to working hard and growing with each and every opportunity. Although I listed my race schedule above, I will remain open to new challenges and adventures as they arise. I’ve decided to self coach this year in order to be completely flexible with potentially shifting race goals and priorities. There’s certainly a place for precise and focused goal setting, but my primary goal for 2015 is to fully appreciate the european world of endurance (and culinary) inspired possibilities!

Of course, I have various mini goals - One of which I’ve been working on recently.  More pull ups. 

Wishing you all a wonderful health and adventure filled 2015!!