Friday, September 5, 2014

The Oregon Trail & Ironman....

I know I'm dating myself here, but did anyone play The Oregon Trail as their first computer game? It was pretty awesome. Basically, as an American pioneer traversing the Oregon trail, you had to safely get your covered wagon and your family across the trail. Each day, you'd hunt for food or deal with the latest onslaught of dysentary or typhoid. If your little brother died, you could even hold a funeral along the way... Interesting game. It was pretty much the highlight of 4th grade for me though, I remember asking my mom to drop me at school early so I could play.

But I digress... Hey, we're in Oregon! After returning from Europe, we had a quick & lovely stay at home and then headed north to Bend, Oregon where Luke has been doing summer training blocks since 2006. It's a great place for him to tune out of busy life and really focus on training in a place where the roads and trails are just. simply. amazing. We have amazing hosts in Bend, Jana and Dan, who have made us feel at home and we are so lucky.
trails out the door

Wynne is 3 months old now and she is super happy unless she's hungry. She loves to eat and sleep- just like her parents.
Wynne- 3 months
Since we've arrived in Bend in the beginning of August, I've made some really big improvements fitness-wise. As someone who typically feels like a sloooooow responder who makes minute but consistent gains, it has been amazing and motivating to see measurable "quick" improvements week after week.. I could barely hold 8 min miles on a 30 minute run a month ago and now i'm back to seeing interval paces in the 6's and some solid (but not mind boggling) watts on the bike. I ran a 1:28 half marathon & a 5k under 20 minutes, but am quickly learning that the harder sessions take their toll and I need more recovery (this miiiiight also have  something to do with 3am, 4am, 5am wake up calls from little miss hungry). So, I'm kind to myself and build in rest days when I need them and have pushed my body far enough. It definitely hasn't been easy, but hopefully soon I can say it was worth it...
Post 5k...ouch! 
Ride fuel at Backporch coffee roasters.... Bend has GOOD coffee. 
SoCal friends Courtney and Mitch came to visit & train for a week. 
Mr. Luke had a recovery day, so I had a bike escort on my long tempo run. 
So... why all the rush to train so hard and fast?
If you follow professional Ironman racing at all, you know that the "KPR" (Kona Points Ranking) is the points system that determines which 50 pro men and 35 pro women get to the start line of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October each year. My goal is to get there for 2015, but that means that I need to start now to have a chance as the qualifying year starts September 1st for the following year. 

I planned on racing Ironman Chattanooga on 9/28 but that's off the table now.. Instead, I'm racing Ironman Malaysia on 9/27 on the other side of the world.
definitely non-wetsuit material
To race Chattanooga, Wynne and I were going to stay in California while Luke headed to Hawaii mid-September. Then, I'd race Chattanooga and we'd head out to meet Luke in Hawaii... After some thought and investigation, we realized that instead, we can all fly to Hawaii together and then from there, I'll do a "quick trip" to Malaysia (if you count 24+hrs of travel each way as "quick"). I'm already halfway across the pacific in Hawaii, right? This way, our family is only separated for 5 full days rather than 2 weeks. Also, Luke's parents and sister Jacque will be in Kona and they are Wynne's biggest fans. Lucky little Wynne will have them to look after her while mommy pops over to Malaysia. It will be tough to leave her for a few days, but I've been storing away breastmilk (have questions about traveling with breastmilk, talk to me, I'm your girl), and she's in good hands. This way, Wynne will also have fewer time zone changes, just heading to Hawaii and staying there for a month rather than going backwards to Tennessee and then Cali then Hawaiii... I did shed a few tears (not literally, but symbolically) when I realized that I was trading a down-current wetsuit swim and family cheering section in Chattanooga vs. nonwetsuit solo voyage to Asia, but I know this is the best decision for me....and hey, not complaining about a little RnR on a tropical island.

Anyway, I'm super excited and I hope that my race fitness arrives just in time. Racing an Ironman less than 4 months after giving birth is a big ask and not one I would actually recommend to anyone. But, to make my long-term dreams and goals a reality, I have to give it a shot.

p.s. - we got Wynne her own altitude tent...start 'em early! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Finale: European Adventures part 3

I've fallen victim to the "too much to write about so I'll write nothing" syndrome in the past few weeks. The end of our European tour was absolutely the most incredible week I've experienced. Starting with a private jet and ending with a spectacular night in Paris for Luke's birthday, it's really not likely that I'll have a trip that lives up to that one anytime soon. Between the jet and the birthday was a week in the Pyranées and Bordeaux following the Tour de France with the Garmin-Sharp pro cycling team. Each day, we'd wake to an amazing breakfast and then ride part of a stage of the Tour de France. After our ride, we'd relax and watch the finish of the stage, enjoy a long dinner with friends and repeat the next day. In between, I managed to run my way around a few cities (Pau, Bordeaux) and have a few failed lap swim workouts in tiny hotel pools (can't win em all). There is no way to properly thank those that made this trip possible, but thank you to Mark, Jacque, the Garmin-Sharp crew, Tommy, Chris, & of course Luke for making the experience of a lifetime.
Don't get used to this, Wynne!

sunflower fields in the French countryside
al fresco
suboptimal swimming situation
foggy Bordeaux run
chugging away on my Cannondale Evo
The best day was the climb of Le Tourmalet, one of the historic Tour de France climbs. 19k and an average of 7.4% grade made me shed a few tears behind my Smith's, but I eventually made it to the top (w/ the help of a couple pushes from my soigneur, Luke). I'll tell you, 8 weeks postpartum, this was a big ask, but I'm glad I didn't miss it. Or at least now I'm glad, at the time....not so sure... but it was AMAZING! Screaming fans, accordion players, people dressed as Devils and Borat and you name it. Magnifique!
Tourmalet climb profile..not ideal for those power to weight ratio-challenged
making my way up the Tourmalet
After all the riding was done, we ended the trip with 24 hours in Paris... We hit the metro with Wynne (baby's first subway ride!) and took some requisite Eiffel Tower photos before Luke's birthday dinner.
baby on le metro
Wynne catching some zzzzs during the photo opp

After all was said and done, we hit the plane exhausted. I was ready to sleep the entire 13hrs of plane flights back to California...but oh wait...I have an infant...So much for the days of popping an Ambien and passing out!

Back in San Diego for a week, we caught up with friends, had a big BBQ at our place and said goodbye to auntie Jacque, who flew back to Oz

chilling with her honorary aunties Kirsten & Kerri
bye auntie Jacque!
We unpacked, repacked, and hit the road for Bend, OR where we are hunkering down for 6 weeks of big training for luke's Kona prep.... And my Ironman is just around the corner too...I'll post an

update on how it's all going up next- I can't believe Wynne is already almost 11 weeks old, and I also can't believe what my body is allowing me to do training-wise.. I'm not "there" yet, but am starting to get glimpses of normalcy and I'm really excited! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Challenge Roth- training & travels in Germany & Switzerland

We left Morzine, France last Monday and drove down to the UCI Headquarters & Velodrome in Aigle, Switzerland for Luke to help with a bike launch for Scott bicycles and to do some aero testing on the Velodrome...The following two days involved lots of sitting around and waiting for me, Wynne, & auntie Jacque while Luke did all his blue-steeling and chatting with the media and pedaling around in circles in lycra. Luckily, on day 2 of waiting around, I realized there was a perfect run path along the Rhône river just outside the door of the Velodrome and snuck away for a quick 10-mile run.
#seenonmyrun in Aigle

Chillin' at the velodrome in Aigle
Round the velodrome...
Luke and I also attempted a swim in Aigle, but the pool was freezing, had no lane lines and was expensive- so not a highlight of the trip... And I only swam about 1000m that day.. Swimming has been tough to fit in around our schedule in Europe so I am trying to maintain some fitness, but probably not progressing as I would like in this area. C'est la vie.

After Switzerland, we were back in the air with a quick flight to Munich, Germany en route to Challenge Roth (and Iron-distance triathlon, probably the second biggest in the world after Ironman Hawaii). By "quick flight", I mean "complicated dog and pony show" as our amount of baggage is insane. But, we arrived in Germany and were met by the Challenge folks at the airport (They took care of Luke so well during our stay- it was amazing!) We arrived at our homestay in Roth, Germany and were certainly the luckiest kids in town. Norbert & Bettina live in a beautiful home that was large enough for our group of 4 including baby Wynne, PLUS Luke's parents who came for the trip. Throughout our stay, Norbert & Bettina were nothing short of amazingly hospitable, and we felt the same vibe throughout the town of Roth everywhere we turned. We're already hoping they'll have us back next year. 

The days leading up to the race were filled with media events for Luke (interviews, parties, panels, dinners etc) and we explored the race course together on our bikes...
Earth to Luke....Look alive, buddy! 

on the course....Rural Bavaria
At the pre-race Erdinger party, all of the pros dress up in traditional Lederhosen and Drindle and toast large beer steins. Luke had his on backwards until a local clued him in...
not clued in yet.... 
The family made it into the Slowtwitch Roth recap and I was called, '"Luke's wife Beth"... A girl can dream, right ;) ? Thanks Herbert for employing "The Secret" for me. 
At the pasta dinner, Luke made sure to squeeze in some chocolate milk & a strudel for good measure. (The pastries and bread in Germany are insanely good! We practically lived at the Schmidt Bakery)
can't hide from Snapchat! 

With all of the travel and carting her here, there, and everywhere, little Wynne has been an absolute champ... She goes with the flow, eats, sleeps, smiles, and really only practices her crying a couple times a day to make sure she's still got it... She's happy to go anywhere in her Tula baby carrier or in our Bob stroller. And also lucky for her (& me) we had lots of hands ready to take care of her including Luke's parents, & sister Jacque. I'm so lucky to have been able to fit in some training and race week was able to do lots of Luke-supporting. It's going to be rough once we're back to the real world and it's just the 3 of us!
solo mommy run in the until the "Little Red Riding Hood" imagery overtook my brain

The actual race didn't go as planned for Luke, he ended up 10th pro, but you learn from every race experience and he's fired up to fix the little things that he needs to be successful in Kona in 12 weeks.

Wynne and I went to the swim with the family...
me, Wynne, & auntie Jacque

beautiful morning for a race
Then headed back to watch the bike online...
Wynne's cheering onesie- Daddy's sponsors (thanks, Mom!) 
Luke's dad tells him he's 2 minutes down from the lead as he heads up the Solarer Berg hill
Post race debriefing..."seee what had happened was..."
Cuddles with Carfrae... Hope some of the Ironman World Champion 2013 & Women's Challenge Roth 2013 vibes rubbed off! 

We left Roth on Tuesday post race and now we're in the Pyranées for some cycling and Tour de France spectation. It's an amazing opportunity with some of Luke's supporters and were having a blast... More from France soon!

P.s. running out to a wine tasting (rough rough life, i know...) so I don't have time to proof/spellcheck and I'm sure after wine tasting is a not a good time, so please excuse any errors, I just wanted to this post up before the next adventure is over!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Allez-y! A few days in the Alps

on the road....
The first stop on our European trip this summer was meant to be in Aigle, Switzerland for Luke to attend a bike launch. However, following some map investigation, Luke remembered that his Aussie mates Joe & Amelia had opened up a training camp called Tri 4 the Alps  just over the French border in Morzine and we decided to tack on a few days to the trip. We thought it would help up get settled a bit earlier in Europe (with the big time change) and be a good opportunity for both of us to put in a bit of training. Auntie Jacque was along for the ride as the best nanny in the world, so the four of us set off from California to Europe with more luggage than you can possibly imagine (3 adult suitcases, jogging stroller, car seat, 2 bicycles, travel crib....)
ready or not....
Speaking of bicycles.... The European trip marks the first adventure for my new Cannondale Women's EVO... If your'e going to ride the Alps, no better way to do it.
2014 SRAM Red Cannondale Evo w/ a compact Quarq powermter, ISM Attack saddle, Zipp 404 Carbon clinchers (insert Emoji with googly heart eyes here) 
The 5 days we spent in Morzine were unreal and this was my first real all-inclusive training camp experience. I wasn't going to write this as a Tri 4 the Alps, "review" and rather just chronicle my experience, but it's one of those places I wish I had known about before, so I'll give you a bit of a rundown on the experience. Joe & Amelia (the Aussie ex-pat hosts) take care of literally EVERYTHING and all you really need to do is show up. We stayed at their Brown Bear Lodge, where all the campers/ holiday go-ers reside and take their meals.
Brown Bear Lodge 
Most of folks there during our stay were participating in the "triathlon holidays", but there were also a couple doing pure cycling holidays or "Activity holidays" (white water rafting, mountain biking, zip lining, etc...) Luke and I did a bit of our own thing, but also joined in for a couple of cycling outings with the group. No matter your choice of adventure, it is all organized for you from cycling routes and SAG support to transfers to activities to pool passes, etc. When you purchase a package through Tri 4 the Alps, you not only purchase lodging and structured/organized training every day (sample schedule here) , you also get two amazing meals (breakfast & dinner) that make the experience really unique (not to mention serve as great motivation to get some training done as the food is incredible and it's a little tough not to overeat). Hazel, the head chef, serves up something gourmet & hearty (yet healthy) every day and it's all accompanied by good french wine and champagne cocktails during happy hour. With coffee, tea, and snacks available throughout the day, you don't even really need to go out for lunch as you barely have time to digest before the next big meal is served. I was really surprised at the value of the packages they offer- very affordable compared to a lot of the tri camps you see in the states that are less inclusive but cost thousands.
a little sample of some of the "every day" food at Brown Bear Lodge
Morzine, France is a pretty incredible spot as far as triathlon training (and of course cycling-in-general) goes. You can climb Alps for days on your bike, but what make Morzine unique to many Alpine villages is the outdoor 50 meter pool (and an indoor 25m as well) smack in the center of town, and tons of running trails (some flat!!) that weave along the river and around Lac du Montriand. Darren Smith & his D-squad of mostly ITU athletes call Morzine home all summer and it was easy to see why. 

zee pool
nestled right under the Morzine ski gondola

Lac du Montriand has a flat running trail around it.  
Where's Waldo on the switchbacks of Col du Corbier (can you see me huffing and puffing while Luke does his nails and has a meal or two at the top?)
somehow we found the only week of the summer with rain, but that couldn't stop us. 
wet climb up Col de la Joux Plane
Amelia filling bottles before a café stop in Sixt Fer à Cheval
Goat village at Les Lindarets, a nice climb up from the town of Morzine

Luke's new mates at the goat village

All-in-all it was an amazing beginning to the trip... up next... Switzerland and Germany! A bientôt!