Riding 225

I’m riding 225 miles on my bike today with Steve and Anthony. It’s the final installment of doubling the distance of each of the individual Ironman events. I have my SPOT on if you want to check it out.

Here is the link to my spot page. Don’t worry if you don’t see a blip for awhile, SPOT can be a little intermittent.

Wish me luck, it should be crazy!!

Sport Science

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Have you received any of these crazy Sport Science shirts in your race packet lately? You can tell because they have the little bright yellow tag on the sleeve. Last year our Phidipides shirts were Sport Science and I found myslelf working out in it a lot. At first glance it looked like your run of the mill cotton t-shirt. The first time I put it on I couldn’t believe how well it fit. They make women’s and mens shirts separately. The other track club members were pretty jazzed about it too.

A little about their philosophy:

In 2003, we launched sport science™ smarter performance™ for the fun-having, sport-playing, running, walking, hiking, commuting, climbing, training, traveling, going, doing active people of the world.

Our mission is to create products that do more so you can do more – clothing that can go anywhere and do anything, not just in regards to function, but to comfort and style as well. When true technical performance fuses with incredible comfort and versatility, smarter performance™ is the result.

Then I worked out in it and I knew something was different about it. The fabric that Sport Science uses feels soft and nice like cotton, but it wicks. Normal race shirts are either cotton, or tech. I never feel like I can wear my race t-shirts that are tech shirts around town because they are a little thin and breezy, and somewhat see through. I definitely can’t wear the cotton race tshirts to workout in. Not for any considerable workout at least. But these sport science shirts really bridge the gap. Practical Coaching used this company for their shirts this year…I bought three!

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Cruising through their website it looks like they make all different cuts of shirts. I would love to try out a sleeveless and a long sleeve, I definitely see a tied dyed shirt in my future, and the wool line looks really enticing.

Oh, and this isn’t just a chick thing. Troy has a habit of wearing things he likes over and over again until they die (usually beyond when they die). Despite the fact that our 17 hour training day shirts are pink, he wears it every other day (when he’s not wearing the grey Practical Coaching shirt). I haven’t told him it’s pink (he’s color blind). He hasn’t worn them out yet, and he said that if it was his choice he would wear only this brand of t-shirts. Pretty strong feelings from my mellow-smellow hubby!

If you haven’t raced a race that has Sport Science shirts you’ve got to find one! You wont be disappointed. If you know of a race that is putting Sport Science in their packets, leave the name and link in a comment below. And if you are Sport Science and you are reading this, I really love your product!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter….

You are missing out!! (Ahem…@gosonja) Just in case you aren’t addicted to twitter, let me show you what you are missing. See, on twitter I can post little blurbs, with fun pics attached.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you are missing me showing off my new awesome Oakleys!
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you missed an adorable shot of the two most awesome CHICKS in my life.
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you missed the whole massive excitement when a new pair of Reynolds Race wheels appeared on the doorstep before Vineman 70.3…Okay, I actually had to go bail them out of the UPS warehouse after hours…but you would have missed that whole process too.
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you couldn’t play the “How many M-dots in the picture?” game.
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you would have missed dad and I pretending to drink from the plethora of grapes hanging at the finish line of Vineman 70.3.
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you missed my most recent pic of a HUGE M-dot tattoo…adding that one to my collection, along with this one and this one and this one.
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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you never would have known that there is a HUGE artichoke in Watsonville….I’m just sayin’
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Now, don’t plan on me doing any more of these Twitter updates on my blog in the future. I consider it your personal responsibility to become a voyeuristic, stalker-like Twitterite…just like me!!!

Twitter name is @goSonja

Original…I know!

Vineman 70.3

The hype for this race was pretty wild. Vineyards, wine, a beautiful location in California. This race was meant to be a treat. Troy flew in Friday night and mom and I had the van packed and ready to go camping. Saturday morning we hopped in the car and drove two hours up to Windsor for packet pickup. It was a scorcher of a day and the projections were that it was going to be even hotter for race day. I grabbed my packet and we spent the day checking out the swim, bike and run courses. The evening was filled with a great salmon dinner by dad, some marshmallow roasting, and a luxurious night of sleep in the van.

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4am wake up call and we were off. We had scoped a good spot to park the van where my parents could skedaddle after the swim without getting into a traffic jam. The race area is extremely congested and difficult for friends and family to maneuver through. The two transitions are 15 miles apart and it’s all a little tricky.

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I headed down to the water, racked my bike and got ready for the swim. The swim is in a river, you swim up river first, and then back down river to finish. It’s so shallow that you can stand up at almost any spot in the race.
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Lining up I really didn’t feel nervous. I got a spot on the line off to the left. I liked my spot and it made for some good pictures for my dad.
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That’s totally me sighting in this shot.
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When we went around the turn buoys I stood up and dolphin dived and the water was at my knee/thigh level. I got a good start out of the gate and spent about half the race on some nice feet and then the second half by myself. I didn’t feel the nice rhythm that I was quite used to in the water, but I felt ok, and emerged ready to get going on the bike.

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Transition was crazy. I was allowed to hand my wetsuit over the fence to my mom, so I did that, but it was a little weird. The transition was in a dirt lot and by the time I got off with my bike I was a muddy mess, and my bike was a dusty wreck.

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I obeyed my 5 mile rule to chill and get my legs under me. We had a nice flat section, but then they took us into a curvy crazy section where all the volunteers were telling us to slow down and one volunteer yelled that there was a bad accident at mile 7.

We head up this big hill and just on the other side I see about 30 racers stopped in front of me. There are ambulances, and police. A lady is yelling that a tree fell onto the road and pinned two cyclists. They were halting the race because they had to see if the wire that was down was live or not, and they had to get the racers safely into the ambulance, and they had to remove the tree. I just unclipped, stayed calm and messed with my new Garmin that didn’t seem to be behaving how I envisioned. People in the crowd were going crazy, one lady was yelling “Can you release the names of the cyclist”? I slowly moved away from her. Sheesh, calm down. Cyclists piled up behind me and I couldn’t help but think about how this would effect my race. I’m a slower swimmer and I spend so much of my race trying to catch the fast swimmers. Anyone in my wave who was a faster swimmer would not have been stopped in the accident, so they were long gone.

Note: There were actually 3 racers involved. The tree was about 4 feet in diameter and came down between two cyclists. For the one in front it hit him in the back, entangled him and his bike in the tree and I believe he either broke, or nearly broke his back. He is still in the ICU. For the one behind the tree it ensnared him and his bike and he broke his collar bone. The next rider crashed as a result of the tree falling and ended up in the bushes and broke his collar bone.

After about 10 minutes they opened the road again and everyone took off, like a road race. People were riding 6 across, on a very narrow twisty road, they weren’t obeying the center line rule, and the road was still open to traffic. And…they are triathletes, with triathlete handling skills…need I say more. I have never felt more unsafe in my life in a race. It was total Danger Will Robinson! I waited for the congestion to dissipate but a mean little pack was forming.

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I’m not going to do the whole tattle tale thing on this blog, but I will just say that the rest of the bike was a tad frustrating, and I had trouble enjoying the scenery. I will say that I will think twice about ever doing another race where the course is left open to drivers. If you can close down the roads in San Francisco for Escape from Alcatraz, then you should be able to close down the back roads in Sonoma county. I felt very unsafe and at one point watched a police officer wave a car out in front of me. It was just odd and not what I was at all expecting for a 70.3 with such a great reputation.

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Into transition and off to the run. It was hot hot hot. I have heard reports from 95 to 106, and to me it felt like about 102-103ish. Ice down the sports bra, ice down the pants. Water with ice, Gatoraid with ice…just lots of ice. From mile 1 on I could tell that it wasn’t going to be a repeat Kansas performance. I was hitting around 8 min miles, and didn’t feel motivated to go much faster. I did enjoy myself through. The course was quite hilly, lots of little ups and downs. I liked the run, but was begging for cooler temps.

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I love this one of Keith with the “No Dogs Allowed” sign
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I came through the finish glad to be done, ready to sit in a tub of ice! It was great to see my dad’s coworkers Jonathan, and Jeff out there. They both knocked it outa the park! Also Keith was on course, but I didn’t see him. He was out there though. It was a bummer not to have all my practical coaching hommies racing with me, but I thought it was a good effort on a day that was riddled with challenges! I made a few friends, and had the wonderful support of my parents and Troy. Many thanks for all the well wishes and congratulatory notes.

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Jonathan and Jeff, my tour guides and training partners for the week
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Pook post race. She was such a trooper in the heat!
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So..at one point during the race a guy rode by and said “nice bike”. I was like “thanks” cause, you know, I get that a lot. Then I looked at his bike and WE HAD THE SAME BIKE. Now if you ride a Cervelo I know this is nothing new for you, but it’s RARE RARE RARE to see another Isaac. So, after the race we took some pics together. Notice how I just cozied up to this guy, apparently if you own an Isaac I’m more apt to snuggle my sweaty body up to yours. Oh, sonja…img_0420.jpg

Swim + T1: 36:45
Bike: 2:49:07
T2: 2:24
Run: 1:45:31
Overall: 5:13:49
11th F30-34 (1st,2nd,and 3rd overall were in my AG, and all three of them were under 4:35, pretty tough competition)
46th female

The 17 Hour Training Day

In Ironman you get 17 hours to get it done. 17. Hours. Our crew named ourselves the 17 hour training day crew because we subscribe to extended distance training for Ironman, and all other distances that we compete in. The Fourth of July was the date set to complete a 17 hour day. We were all really excited.

There were several goals here. One was to keep on our feet for the entire time, stay swimming, biking and running. Another was to involve our friends, family, and training partners so that we could get a little help, and so that they could experience up close and personal a little of what we do. Lastly, we wanted to be A-OK throughout the day. No balls to the walls, just a training day, getting it done together, putting in the miles, learning lessons about nutrition and mental issues.

Troy and I arrived at the campsite the night before. I wanted to make sure the kayak and tent situation was taken care of. Troy is a phenomenal triathlete-sherpa, but I still have to make sure the loose ends are tied up so that I don’t stress during an event.

Our friends Laura, Wes and their toddler Abi showed up to the campsite around 6pm, great timing as the storm had just blown by. It was great to camp with them that evening, to chill, relax, chat, etc. That evening with two kiddos and tents we got “some” sleep. Abi had trouble going down and Annie woke up at 3:15 crying because her feet fell asleep. We just got up and walked around the campground for awhile.

At 4:45 Steve, Andrea, Anthony, and Michelle B rolled into the campground. They dropped some supplies and we hurried over to the gravel pond. We had obtained a special permit from Chatfield State Park to swim in the gravel pond from 5am to 7:30am. We were required to have a monitor on the beach preventing other swimmers from entering the pond, and we were required to have a rescue vessel. Laura was to be our kayaker for the morning.

This is by far my favorite photo of the whole day.
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After some starting photos we hopped in the pond and started swimming. It was predawn and putting your head into the dark water to swim was a little wild. Not scary, just exciting. So dark and ominous.

Starting in the dark
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Right away the boys took off and I wasn’t really in the mood to start swimming that hard just yet. The sunrise was in full effect and I wanted to enjoy it. My first lap was the slowest I have ever swam in the pond (a 45:30) because I was enjoying myself. Laura had my camera and took some pictures.

Silly boys
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Happy swimming Sonja
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Hot Air Balloon in the Background
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After lap 1 I felt warmed up and in my groove. The sun was up and I relaxed into a comfortable pace. My second lap was almost 10 minutes faster and I was laughing about that one big time. The third lap was relaxing, it was strange to just have the four of us in the pond. A guy did try to jump in the pond at 6:30 and Laura caught him and kicked him back out. He was friendly about it. It was so nice to have the pond all to ourselves for 2.5 hours. At 7:30 on the dot, after about 3.5 laps for me we all got out of the pond and changed into our cycling stuff.

Our morning crew of Troy, Michelle B, Wes, Laura, Annie and Abi had shlepped all our gear to the pond and had our bikes set up, tires aired up, and our nutrition and clothes out and ready to go for the next leg. Putting cycling shorts on was a little challenging, but I got it done.

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We rolled into the parking lot and waiting for us was Tyler, Max, Michelle F, and Sara. We planned the ride in two parts, the first being a 4 hour ride towards Golden. We headed out and it was nice to be on the bike. We were all on road bikes today and I almost forgot what it was like to ride my lovely White Bike.

We rode too slow. I think we were all focusing on being cautious because there was a big day ahead. At times it was a little painfully slow, but we were out there for time today so it’s not a big deal. It was nice to be on a social ride again. I haven’t seen any of those in a while so it was refreshing to chill. We made it to Golden and turned short of climbing lookout because we really wanted to be on time to pick up our next group of riders.

Our typical Tyler, oh how we do love him
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At 11:30 on the dot we rolled into the campground and refueled our bottles. Amy D was mixing up Mix1 smoothies for everyone around, so totally awesome!! She mixed up a huge one for me and put it in my water bottle. It was awesome and had mango Mix1 with banana and berries. SO GOOD! Thank You Mix1 for sending Amy with plenty of Mix1 to keep us going.

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We took off on leg two with lots of riders. We had Amy, Michael, Michelle B, Laura, Sara, Rob, and Gaye. We climbed up Deer Creek and I almost fell off my bike laughing when Steve told Amy and Laura to go catch a guy ahead of us. Watching them hammer was great entertainment. Of course when Amy caught him she then proceeded to tell him all about the 17 hour training day. He probably hates us now!! Steve, Anthony and I actually picked it up for the final push up Deer Creek, I think we all felt like we needed to push our legs just a tad, in a nice controlled way…if not, I’ll just blame it on Anthony…it was his fault.

I love catching Tony in shots like this, cause then I can embarrass him later
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My boys, I’m going to have trouble sharing them next year with new 17 hour members!
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We had a blast of a descent down Deer Creek and it resulted in our group breaking into two groups. Gaye, Michelle B and Rob stayed with Andrea and the rest of the group was with us. We headed out to Roxbourough and came back to the park via a dirt road that we love riding. A quick pit stop at the campsites for a refuel, one more hour of riding through the park and we headed into the campsites, completing the bike portion. It was 4pm.

6 hours of running lie ahead. Tyler made us Hamburgers and I actually ate one. I snacked on all the goodies that were brought by friends and changed into my run clothes. I remember feeling great, like “no problem, this is easy” great. I had been pretty quiet the whole day because I didn’t know how this week’s cold was going to effect me. I was happy to be going into the final 6 hours with lots of spunk and smiles.

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The plan for the run was to run our 10.8 mile loop around the Chatfield resevoir. Our campsite was right on the path so we could stop after each lap and refuel. Troy even dropped a 5 gallon jug of water at the half way point around the loop. I love Troy!

So we headed into loop 1 run with Michelle F, Tyler, and Ross who was totally new to our group and got QUITE the initiation. Gaye also suited up and headed out with Andrea. I am so thankful Gaye came out to help us, and Andrea especially. Boy, poor Ross! We were giddy and usually when we are giddy every single comment turns dirty and raunchy to some extent. We were laughing our pants off, and Tony (I say Tony, not Anthony for a reason) has this strange knack for making me laugh so hard that I pee my pants. OK,OK, TMI, but please, I’ve had a baby, and not peeing while laughing really hard is tough post labor and delivery…I’m just saying. So, Tony was on fire, as was Steve and it was so tough to run between all the laughing…and peeing.

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After about 5 miles we finally calmed down and got into some real running, of course it started to rain. The rain wasn’t so bad just light, but I was secretly hoping it would stop. The nice thing was that the temperature was staying cool and perfect. The last mile into the campground the boys picked it up a little, which made me roll my eyes…turn the boys to the barn and off they go. We pulled into our aid tent and everyone was there. There were kids everywhere, BBQing, people laughing, it looked like total mayham with cars, chairs, kids, food! Crazy. I inhaled 4 of Michelle F’s rice crispy treats that she made and I could have had 4 more but I did regulate myself. I also changed my shorts, all the peeing had created some bad chaffing so I applied a ton of BodyGlide and got into dry clothes.

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Steve, Tony and I took off into lap #2 with Randi (Ross’s wife) and I felt bad because she missed all the funny talk. We got going into that lap and we were pretty quiet. Randi asked if we wanted a mental puzzle and I was like “No”. We were also sort of slipping into our “Happy Place” so we could crank out some miles. Randi was happy to oblige and just run quiet with us. About 5 miles into this lap we got more chatty and had some nice discussions. A mile from the tent Tyler came up on his mountain bike and escorted us into the campground. He was pretty happy and chatty, I think some beer was involved.

Pulling into the aid tent we found out that Andrea had to deal with a large blister but was fixed up by Laura and was back on the trail with Jane as a partner. I’m so thankful that Jane came out to help Andrea get through those final hours. We knew that it would be hard to head out on the last lap, but when push comes to shove, you just go through the motions, getting done what you need to. Laura headed out with us on this lap and I was shocked. She had been our kayaker at 5am, had riden with us, had watched kids and made Cherry cobbler and here she was on our last lap with us.

I noticed that the more laps I ran, the fuzzier my photos got…
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She saw the worst of us that day. We were very quiet on that last lap, we were all within our own heads, getting the job done. We ran into a huge swarm of gnats that followed us (like a foot in front of our heads) for several miles. I thought Tony was going to go crazy, he was hating those gnats. I think he almost puked up a few at one point. I pulled my hat down over my eyes, put my head down, and tried to just run through them with minimal extra effort. We finally got onto the road and Wes pulled up to retrieve Laura. We would be on our own from here on out. I say “on our own” but that’s a joke. We had each other.

Having done so many amazing things with Anthony and Steve has made us very close. I don’t think there is anything we wouldn’t do for each other. Those boys have become some of my closest friends. Running together is easy and we get each other. When we are together it’s effortless. We pull each other through hard times, we don’t get on each others nerves, and we know when someone is suffering. We check in on each other and when all is well we can run miles without a single word. We feed off each others energy and strength. Food is passed around depending on what someone feels like. We really work as a unit.

My late night photo of Tony
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and of Steve…can you tell I’m a little out of it?
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On the dam the fireworks are going off all around us. We can see 6 different shows and tons of neighborhood pyrotechnic action going on. And, we don’t care. For the most part we have our heads down, keeping our pace, staying strong and steady. Towards the end of the dam we see a little light in the distance. Although we have lights in my bag we felt more comfortable running without lights. Our eyes were acclimated and we see better without them. Steve gives a whistle and low and behold its Tyler. We didn’t say much but we were all secretly ecstatic to see him. We made him turn off his light and he escorted us in the dark all the way back to the campground. The last mile was typical “I’m so ready to be done, just run and dont talk”. The park ranger pulled up next to us and was trying to talk to us and we all just kept running. Tyler stopped and dealt with him, but I can’t imagine what he was thinking about three dead to the world runners.

Coming into the finish at 10pm involved some quick words of love and hugs from the three of us. We pulled into the campsite and Troy, Annie, Michelle B, and Gaye were all still there. They took pictures of us, attended to us, and in the background Troy was packing up all the last stuff, still working. Andrea came in just a few minutes later with Jane and we took some more finishing shots.

All done, and happy…in the dark!
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Troy had packed everything up, all I had to do was change clothes and hop in the car. Saint, pure saint.

So, 17 hours is a long time!! Running 30 some odd miles is tough after a long day of activity. I learned a lot about my nutrition, but I also continue to learn things about the mental aspect of endurance training and racing. If you don’t feel great, you can solve the problems. Don’t think about the miles, or the hours, just keep taking body assessments and moving forward. I really was super happy this entire day. Michelle took a photo of me going into the third lap on the run, so 15 hours into my day, and I want to share it with you because when I look at this photo it reminds me of how I felt the entire day.

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I sat in the bathtub at 11:30 that night and I cried. I cried because I felt so humbled by the outpouring of generosity that I witnessed.

Laura and Wes were with us all day. From the kayak, to the bike, to the run. They worked their fannys off for us. Laura made Cherry cobbler for everyone in her dutch oven, and I ate a ton of it on the drive home. Wes watched the kids, and helped out in more ways than I even know.

Tyler Walton and his wife Anne were huge for us. Tyler acted as cruise director, and took care of the organization of making the day great. We gave him the framework and he ran with it. He BBQed, mountain biked, ran, biked, parented, and took care of our needs. A big thanks to Anne for her support too.

Amy D came and made us smoothies at the exact time when we all really needed them. And they were to die for. Thanks Amy!

Gaye came out to support us and really ended up supporting Andrea big time. Gaye pushed her own barriers and I’m thankful that she had coach Andrea to progress through that with. She stayed until the very end with us and it was so nice to have her…because I had to have someone to give way too many hugs to.

The Ford family. We had both Michelle and Michael on separate legs of the bike, and Michelle for one leg of the run. They came with food, Michelle’s rice crispy treats saved my life. They BBQed burgers and fed people, and managed kids. It was also really nice to have my PICs smile when I would come into the aid tent. She would look me in the eye, check on me, and made sure I got off each time in good order.

Randi and Ross! OMG, I heard that they were awesome with the kiddos, and hosted the movie theatre in their van when it was raining. Imagine having all those dirty stinky kids hanging in your van. I hope that they had fun hanging with us, and boy were Randi’s jello jigglers a huge hit! Ross was a wonderfully calm presence and really a blast to run behind when it’s windy!

Sara…great company on the ride and let me charge some goodies to her tab on the bike. Love ya Sarah, it was great to have your company! Max, thanks as well for the company on the ride!

My husband Troy. Thank you for spending our 7th anniversary working your butt off. He was the only one out there yesterday that didn’t get in a workout (did Anne, maybe he and Anne??). He worked. The. Entire. Day. My day was a success because I have this rock of a foundation beneath me called Troy. Don’t worry though, I had enough energy left at the end of the day to thank him accordingly. xoxo

So, for all of you reading, sound like fun? It is! It’s a lot of fun. Push your boundaries, join me for an adventure. Ross and Randi did and we didn’t eat them alive. What are you doing today to feed your soul?

17 hours of swimbikerun

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Ever since I have told my loyal blog readers about the 17 hour training day group, all people can ask me is “When is the 17 hour training day?”

It’s a totally valid question.

And one that I finally have an answer to.

It’s on the Fourth of July

And we need help. To think about the logistics that go into finishing an Ironman…well the four of us will be swimming, biking and running for the maximum time period of an Ironman. It’s called overdistance training and I can’t even imagine the mental strength that will come with knowing I have 17 hours in me.

We are inviting friends, family, and loyal blog readers to come out and help us with our day. We have two campsites rented at Chatfield State Park #112, and #113. Practical Coaching athlete Tyler is acting as “cruise director” (AKA organizer) and there will be BBQ, and tons of family fun. There are lots of options if you want to join us for certain sections. We are completing the bike portion in two sections, a 4 hour section and a 4.5 hour section. Then starting at 4pm we will be running 10 mile loops around Chatfield Resevior using the campsites as home base. We are hoping that lots of people will opt to run a loop with us, and we are especially hoping that some people will join on their mountain bikes and ride along with us from 8:30pm on.

5am to 10pm we will be out there, rain or shine. Ready for what the day deals to us. Please come out and join us. RSVP and Checkin with Tyler Walton: tylerjwalton AT aol DOT com.

Here is the invitation:
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To Wiggins and Back

Being a part of the 17hourtrainingday.com team this year has been the best stroke of luck I have ever encountered. When Steve asked “Do you want to do an Ironman” and I said “Definitely” I would have never guessed that I would embark on so many awesome adventures. Michelle, AKA PIC (Partner in Crime) lost her job (and luckily never found it) and although she didn’t sign up for Ironman (though we begged her), she has been completing most of the training with us, cause she’s a bad a$$, and we’re going to make her sign up for an Ironman next year. She’s so studly that her first 70.3 was at Kansas and she is headed to Clearwater because she cranked out a 5:03 and nailed second in her age group. Oh Yea!

So, Steve called and said, “put your big girl panties on ’cause Wednesday we are headed to Wiggins.” Wiggins? Like out in the middle of nowhere Colorado Wiggins? Like your somewhere between Kansas and Nebraska and you can’t even see the mountains any more Wiggins? Yup, that’s the one.

So Wednesday morning we loaded the bikes into Steve’s truck and headed up to Boulder. Carole (Team Mom of Team Trakkers) was so kind to let us park at her place and even tagged along a little on our ride, although we started out much too slow for her since we had a long day ahead of us.

We headed up the diagonal and then went east on Hwy 52 where we rode STRAIGHT (like only two mini turns) for the next 78 miles. It was insane. I kept taking pictures, but they all looked the same.

Here’s a great one, look we’re on a straight road and PIC thinks she’s on fire so she riding so fast to try to put out the flames.
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Oh look, another straight road now Steve is pulling, but he’s being normal…no fires to put out
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Check this one out, it’s amazing, we are on, you guessed it…a flat road, and welll, that’s pretty much all I have to say.
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Here is Steve smiling, probably because the road is so flat…
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Our first stop was after 80 miles in Wiggins. It was HOT, somewhere in the upper 90’s. We refilled all our bottles, ate nuts and jerkey, stocked up on Snickers bars, and hit the road. We had made it to Wiggins, now could we make it back to the truck?

The way back was a blast. I was lovin’ this ride. We took turns pulling anywhere from 1-3 minutes, except as the day got longer so did Steve’s pulls. The road was just flat with some nice steady easy ups and downs. Being on the TT bike was great because I now know my bike fit is puuurrrfect (courtesy of Steve).

Around mile 115 something happened to me. I had a bikers high! Kinda like a runners high. I took a couple pulls and I pulled too hard and started to go off the front. Steve yelled at me and I apologized. But I was still so excited, giddy, and happy. So, I started singing. I figured that we all had our iPods in, no one would hear. Well, I’m pretty sure they could, and that I entertained everyone for about 20 miles. I’m not such a good singer, especially when I can’t even hear myself. Man I was having fun.

You’ll never guess what’s behind me here…flat road!

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We had this awesome section that was 21 miles long and we covered it in exactly one hour, like to the minute. It was pretty cool to be cruising along at 21mph 100+ miles into the day. We stopped with 47 to go, and then with 25 to go. Those were more emotional stops than they were physical stops. There does come a point when you are close to the conclusion of something big where you are just ready to be done for the sake of being done.

That’s PIC and I screwing around before Steve can catch us and tell us to start pedaling again. Don’t PIC and I look like a bag of Twinkies…two in a pack, totally identical!
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We rolled back into Carole’s neighborhood 9 hours after we left. We had covered 156.2 miles with about an hours worth of stopping. Great day. Great accomplishment.

This was a good stepping stone for me. On August 1st we have a 225 mile ride planned with the 17hourtrainingday.com team. It has been our goal from day one to double the distance of each of the Ironman events. Biking 225 is the last “distance double” that we have left to do. I was a little daunted by the sheer numbers, but after the 156, I knew I had 70 more miles in me, so I gained a lot of confidence for that workout that is coming up.

On the way home we were giddy, and Steve had just about enough of us girls! Why he continues to tote us around everywhere, I don’t know…he must think we have some talent or something!

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A huge Thanks to Debbie for watching Annie, and to Troy for kinda being a single dad for the day so I can be a triathlete.

Kansas 70.3

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While I have completed two half-iron distance races this year last weekend was my first foray into the official 70.3 arena. I heard from others that these races are super intense, hard core, lots of talent grottos. I was so ready for the competition and also a bit excited to see what I had against a stacked field.

Originally I was afraid to ask Steve if I could race two 1/2 iron distance races on back to back weekends. It’s just seemed like an obviously stupid endeavor. But as the winter training progressed and wacky-nuts seemed to be the name of the game I approached the subject. Steve said yes and we toyed around with which race would really be the focus. We never really decided and the truth is it’s nearly impossible for me to give anything but everything when I step on a starting line.

Still, I wanted this race to be fun. When the race director sent a message stating that we could reserve a camp spot near transition for two nights for just $40, I got a little giddy. I asked Troy “Should we camp”? He said “Heck Yea!”. I’m 99.9% sure that every one of my teammates thought I was nuts. But ohhh-nooo they had it wrong. Camping was the best thing we could have done. I feel at home camping, I sleep better in my tent than in my bed, and I love cooking outdoors. I am more relaxed, and more settled when I’m camping, so this was a good choice for me.

We arrived in Lawrence KS at about 2pm on Friday and the camp spots were awesome. Lots of room. Unfortunately our site didn’t have any shade so we erected the Practical Coaching 10X10 tent over our tent and made a trip to the store for three 16lb bags of ice. I knew I needed to stay cool. I picked up my packet, witnessed the hugest M-dat tattoo (had to take a picture), and we had a very chill evening with some yummy fajitas. I also met Taryn who was camping across the way. She told me she reads my blog which made me a little bashful and then she told me that Sunday would be her first triathlon! You go girl! And if you are reading, make sure you make a comment, I’m so proud of you for finishing!!

Our camping spot
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Can we say M-Dot?
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Saturday morning Troy, Annie and I drove out of the park and attended the Lawrence farmers market. It’s the oldest farmers market in Kansas and it’s a producers only market so the person you buy from is the person who made/grew/raised what you are buying. Troy and I both agreed that is was one of the best markets we have ever been to, and being a farmers market junkie, I feel qualified to say that.

Lawrence Farmers Market
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Some veggies, honey, and breakfast later we headed back to the race site to meet up with the Practical Coaching crew for a race recon mission. Everyone was so super giddy. We rode one loop of the run course and talked about the transitions and the swim and bike along the way. Very informative, and nice to spend some time together as a team.

Annie attempting the Navy Seal net in her pajamas.
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Keith and Steve
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We found some uh interesting things during race recon…who goes to a 70.3 for their Bachelor Party?
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Race Recon with the crew
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All lined up looking goofy
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I then headed back to the tent for some lunch while everyone else waited in line to grab their packets. Heh Heh heh. I eventually headed over to drop my bike in T1. There were two transitions for this course and our camp site was smack dab in-between the two. I covered my seat and drive train with bags in case the rain that was called for overnight came to fruition. Then it was chilaxin time. Troy and I had a great dinner of pasta with veggies from the market and italian sausage. I even got the backpacking oven going and produced a beautiful batch of brownies for an evening snack. We read, and talked. It was so nice to have some quite time in the outdoors with Troy to reconnect and to laugh together.

Kids love tents
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Troy loves outdoor cookin’
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Everyone loves Brownies, Annie is OUT!
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That evening when we stepped into the woods there were thousands of fireflies. I’ve only seen them once in my life, but this was so much better. It was like the stars were twinkling in the forrest, such a highlight of the entire trip. I also received a very inspirational email just before I went to sleep that made my sleep very peaceful that evening.

The next morning I slept in until 5:15! Transition opened at 4:45 and my wave went off at 6:58. Sleeping at the race site compares to NOTHING!! I got dressed, waved to my triathlete tent neighbors and headed over to T2 to set up. That took several minutes and I found Steve and Sara. We headed to T1 to set that up and I just loved the atmosphere. Steve and Sara were giddy and we had a nice time walking over to T1. Once at T1 I set up there, hemmed and hawed about whether I should leave my arm warmers on my bike, looked into the sky, told the sky gods to keep the temps manageable and put the arm warmers away. I quickly found Troy amongst the 2000 triathletes, he’s so tall and was wearing his red coat. Most of the Practical Coaching athletes found him and were handing off last minute items to him. We are so lucky to have Troy! He’s such a pillar for our team (and for me). I threw on my DeSoto and my yellow cap, kissed Troy and Annie goodbye, and lined up in the stall.

Steve, Sara and Doreen pre race.
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Annie in front of a HUGE Gatorade bottle
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THE SWIM
My wave was big. I lined myself up and I had on of the best starts ever. No jostling, I swam straight, I stayed calm…it was good. I tried to find feet to swim on but for some reason I had a lot of trouble staying on the feet. The water was very murky and it was a big challenge to see the feet even when I was tapping them on every stroke. So I didn’t have a lot of luck with that. I did however really try to push this swim. No regrets, give it a good go. My time may not reflect as much, but I was proud of my effort throughout this swim.

Swimming back to shore it looked like there were 50,000 spectators. All I could see was people, and as I ran into T1, all I could hear was Troy. He’s such a phenomenal cheerer, loud booming voice and he really puts some heart into it! I had a very quick, olympic style transition: put your helmet on, grab your bike, and go. The lanes were really tight and I did a lot of yelling “On your left” to get through other people in transition.

THE BIKE
I was really excited about this bike. I had no idea what to expect but I just knew in my heart that there was no way Kansas could deal out what Las Vegas and Middlebury dished on me. Kansas = flat, and honestly, after my last two 1/2’s, Kansas delivered. People afterwards complained about the hills on course but I wasn’t one of them. I loved this bike course. You could fly, and fly I tried. As always the first 5 miles is the warm up zone. I got passed twice by ladies in my age group. Rah Roh. When the second lady passed I said “enough” and went with her. This got me back past the first lady that passed me but this second lady was screaming fast. She ended up being the top amateur for the day, and her bike split was the same as Chrissie Wellington (But Chrissie got a “puncture” as she calls them and lost about 4 minutes). Still this chick was flying (Marisa Asplund)!

I had such a fun time on the course. There were a lot more cyclists on the course than I am used to. I got to battle with a lot of dudes and one in particular couldn’t take being chicked and tried to drive me over the double yellow into oncoming cyclists. I’m happy to say the bike racing paid off, I held my line (in aero) and used a nice amount of attitude in response. There were other guys out there that were just treating me great. One (who had wings tattooed on his legs) told me I was flying and asked me if I ran 7 min pace so that I could pace him on the run. Was he hitting on me? If he was, I’m flattered. I couldn’t believe how the miles were ticking by, the course was marked in 5 mile increments and they were flying by.

Now, I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, I don’t have a power tap, or a fancy GPS thingee. I don’t know how fast I’m going, but I do wear a watch. You know just a pain old “keeps time” watch and I like to have a little fun with it. Since in my last two 1/2s I have gone 1:41-1:43 range for my run time I was hoping to break 1:40 on a flat course. I also was secretly hoping to break 5 hours, since I did a 5:07 and a 5:11 previously. Now, I can talk times all day, but when the rubber meets the road I just want to throw my effort on the wall, and whatever sticks, I’m happy with. So I was playing a little game with my watch, trying to guess what time I would get into transition, all the while creaming myslef on the bike. Harder, faster, smile. I just kept surprising myself as the miles went by. I was estimating that I would get into T1 at 3hrs 20 min.

I roll into T2 and I look for a teal towel with shoes covered in a plastic bag. I find it, rack my bike, throw my helmet on the ground, pull off the plastic bag…uh…not my shoes. I look at the number on the rack. Not my number. So I grab my bike find my number, rack my bike, put on my shoes, go back to the old spot, retrieve my helmet, put it back in the proper spot, grab my hat and number and run off. I drop the hat and number, pick it up and say to myself “CALM DOWN”. I run out of T2, look at my watch and it says that to break 5 hours I need to run a 1:47. Holy cow, that I can do!

THE RUN
Not two seconds after thinking that a lady in my age group goes flying by me. She is the same lady that flew by me on the bike and that I passed back. She is flying and I don’t want to let her go. The lady in first I know is long gone (I timed the first lady in my age group on one of the turn around sections on the bike and she had 4.5 minutes on me). I was gunning for a second place age group but didn’t exactly know where I was in the race. this lady was running super strong and her first mile was under 6:35. I just didn’t go with it. I sat back. The dude with the wings on his legs was with me and I told him she was in my age group. He said we were running super fast. I never know how fast I am running until mile two because I always forget to hit the lap button at the start of the run, so I usually never get the first mile split. Mile two was a 6:33 and I wasn’t making any ground on the lady in front of me. I thought to myself, well if she can run the entire half marathon at 6:30 pace, then she probably has me. But I didn’t think that was likely either. There were lots of cheering fans around and I figured it was more likely that she was excited.

How can you not be excited when you get to run by Chrissy Wellington!
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At mile three we had one of the two hills on the course. It’s a short and kinda steep little bugger and for some reason I just said enough is enough. I ran hard up that hill, passed the lady in my age group and then I ran for my life the next mile and a half. I ran by Troy and I gave him the “I’m scared and I’m running fast look”. He cheered so loud! Mile three up the hill was 7:12 and mile 4 was 6:55. I felt like she was breathing down my neck, but I convinced myself that I had opened up a gap. I settled into the race, there were so many people on the course it kept things very lively. Mile 5 and 6 were a combined 14:07 and 7/8 were 14:11. I had hit my stride and it was just over 7 min pace. I was a little shocked, but it felt smooth, so I just kept running.
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At mile 9 I ran by Troy and he said that “one was 2.5 up”. I knew the super fast lady was 7+ minutes up on me, but I had apparently missed another lady in my age group. I put a little fire in my engine and miles 9/10 were a combined 13:07. I was stoked that it felt oh so good to be running that fast. I caught the lady in my age group and at that point I felt confident that I was second age group and that first was outta sight. I took a gel that the course had provided and it had 2X caffeine. I suffered several miles of stomach cramping and learned a hard lesson that 2X caffeine is too much for my tummy. Don’t just grab and eat without looking. Mile 11 was 7:13 and mile 12 was 7:30. The last mile plus extra was 9:06. For the last few miles I hung onto a guy that everyone called “muffin”. That cracked me up and somebody had drawn chalk muffins all over the asphalt. I felt like I was running with a celebrity, that was fun!

Coming into the line and looking at my watch and seeing 4:45:32 left me in utter shock. I walked through the shoot and I started crying. It was really emotional for me. I had hoped to break 5 and to do so in this way was exciting and unexpected. I was instantly happy with the manner that I executed my race. I just stopped crying when I turned around to see my PIC Michelle finish, and low and behold she was crying just like me. She had scored second in her age group as well. Very emotional.

Swim: 35:39
T1: 1:39
Bike: 2:34:10 (21.79mph)
T2:1:23
Run: 1:32:41 (7:04 pace)
Total: 4:45:32
12th overall
6th amateur
2nd F30-34
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The best part of the day for me was watching the other Practical Coaching athletes complete their races. Seeing Andrea break 6 hours and have a huge smile on her face. I can’t describe the joy I had in watching my friends succeed at this distance. Beth took a 4th age group slot, and I was so hoping a Clearwater slot would come her direction, but it got snatched up. Sandy took two and a half hours off her time at Rage, she went 5:27 versus a tough 8 hour day at Rage. Taryn, my camping neighbor finished her first triathlon, and it was a half!

Everyone is happy with a race well done!
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We have such a great crew!
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Chrissy Wellington is a total class act. She hung out and took pics with just about every single participant. What a class act world Champion!
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So, before the race I talked a little with Anthony, my 17hourtrainingday.com teammate about whether he would take a Clearwater slot if one came his direction. After some chatting I was convinced that I wouldn’t take the slot, and he said he wasn’t going to either. But when all was said and done and I saw that I got a slot (there were two in my age group) I was asking Troy “did we bring a checkbook”? It was so exciting. Michelle was taking her slot and I figured GIRL TRIP. Then while attending awards I watch a slot make it down to Anthony, they call his name…and he says “I’ll take it”. I had such a huge grin on my face.

Anthony and I, he is such a great guy and talented athlete!
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BUT then, We had Steve, our fantastic coach. Would he get a slot? There was one of four slots left. They start calling names, and sure enough, they call his, and I hear “I’ll take it”. I was so happy for him!

Okay, here is the last bit, and it’s a little funny. They take your $$ on the spot and they give you a piece of paper that has directions on how to sign up for the race. It has a password and it has dates that you can sign up within. The lady tells you “Don’t loose this paper or your money is gone and you can’t sign up”. So I turn and give the paper straight to Troy.

Last night when we got home Troy takes the paper and sets in on my desk in front of the computer. We go to bed. Annie wakes up at 6am and Troy pops her in a DVD and goes back to bed. When I get up we clean up from the trip, take out the trash, vacuum, etc. Then we realize the paper isn’t there. We searched the house for TWO hours. Troy even went and got out the trash from the dumpster. Then the trash truck came. The paper is GONE. We have a call and an email into the race director. But my precious Clearwater slot is hanging in limbo. I figure if they won’t let me in I will inundate them with this photo. I have also sent this photo (taken on my iPhone) to every tech-savy person I know to try to deduce the password off of the sheet.
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All in all this race…and this month, and this season has been just an awesome experience. I can’t thank my coach enough…Steve Pye is his name and I can’t believe how much he has changed my life. My husband Troy is a total saint, always there for me with a hug and relentless support of my passion. Annie, my darling little girl that keeps me laughing at life and helps me to maintain balance in my life. Also, my mom and dad who have really gone above and beyond to help out their GROWN CHILD with getting to all these races, and for tweeting and texting their love and support. I love you guys!

Lastly I can’t forget Core Concepts, who treats me so kind with yummy clothes, and Trakkers, who you all will love when they get their awesome little triathlon trakking devise on the market!

Some Thoughts…

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We had our monthly 17 hour training day meeting last night and some interesting topics of conversation were hashed. We were sitting around the table, 4 of us had run the Grand Canyon a week prior and we were taking inventory of our bodies. No injuries and everyone is 85% or more recovered. Wow. I was aware how quickly I myself recovered from the adventure, almost too soon as the soreness wore off, so did my physical attachment to the experience. I was in a little slump over the weekend, how do you emotionally recover from such a grand adventure? It’s addicting, the highs are high, and the lows are spent trying to think up what you are going to do next.

Also, we had a nice discussion about how we got into going long, and how that was working for us. We have always maintained that this extended distance training was to give us a LARGE base for Ironman. And truly, Ironman and triathlon is what beats strongest in all of our hearts. This foray into ultrarunning, is really just a term that describes how we are preparing for our Ironman, what path we are choosing to take to gain our fitness. We are running and racing ultras with much less running that most ultrarunners, but we bike and we swim, so the cross over gives us a boost.

So, with the “I’m not really an ultrarunner” caveats, check this out. The Western States 100. Man, doesn’t a 100 mile race sound cool? Okay, so maybe it sounds totally wild and insane, but you know what sounds like way more fun? The Western States 100 Training Camp. For $215 which includes food, camping, and transportation to the runs you can spend three days with all sorts of other ultrarunners running 70 miles of the WS100 course. Day one is 32 miles, day two is 20 miles and day three is 20 miles.

And, it just so happens that I am going to be in California visiting mom and dad for the week surrounding this camp. Steve-O gave me the go ahead and wrote the runs into my schedule. Now I just need to convince my mom and dad…

I guess that mourning period after I do something wild and fun is usually when I come up with the next wild and crazy fun adventure.

Ooh, and just in case you all didn’t want to wait until the end of May to hear about something epic, tomorrow, the team is going to ride our Epic loop….twice. The fastest I’ve ridden it once is 4:45, so yup, we’re looking at a 11-12 hour day, 160 miles. But! It’s on the bike, so won’t that be fun! I find it hilarious that our “Epic” loop ain’t so epic anymore. Steve brought this up last night and I said “Yea, epic is just it’s name, not a description any more”.

How About a 17 Hour Training Day?

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Last year, towards the end of the season Steve asked his athletes if they were interested in Ironman. I have always been enamored with the idea of Ironman but thought it would be years before Steve thought I was ready to attempt one, so I never even brought it up. When he brought it up as Michelle, Steve, Steve’s son, and I were driving to a triathlon my response was “Yes, me, oohh me, please me, pick me, pick me”. He told me after that he was thinking about it as well. I like the way that he approached the question with his athletes. He set it up so that we had to decide yes or no without knowing that others were doing one. Our team likes to train, and race together, but Ironman is such a big commitment that you can’t base your decision on whether your friends are doing it. You have to be willing to go it alone.

Ernie owns the local put-put mini golf place in Penticton and we hung out with him a ton while volunteering for IM Canada 2008.

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I was willing. So was Steve, Anthony, and Andrea. At that point the four of us made plans to travel to Penticton, Canada to volunteer at the 2008 Ironman Canada event, and to stand in line to sign up in person for the 2009 event. The four of us had what was one of the most hilarious weekends I have ever experienced. We drove the course, hung out in Penticton, got caught up in the Ironman nerves, woke up at 3:45am to volunteer for the swim portion of the course, watched as 6 participants did not make the swim cut off, hunted for next years lodging, watched the pros take off on the run, had lunch while watching more runners, watched the top men finish, drove to the turn around spot on the marathon and watched the 13-ish hour finishers come through, went to dinner and came back to the turn-around and saw the final finisher come through (she did not make the 17 hour cutoff but she did complete the mileage). We came home inspired and refreshed. We were all on the road to our first Ironman together.

Because of my unique knot tying ability I got to help the race organizers set up all the buoys for the swim early on race morning. I got a very unique perspective being out on the water before the race started.
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We had several meetings where Steve and Andrea talked to us about their approach. Both of them as our coaches and first time Ironman athletes themselves had a lot of ideas rolling around. The big question mark in Steve’s head pertained to “Why is is that athletes training for Ironman always train below the distance.?” When we train for Olympic races we often put in 6 hour bike rides, even though we race for about 1.25 hours. Same with the swimming and running, we double the distance OFTEN. Why is it that age group Ironman competitors don’t (or rarely) even hit the distance they plan to race?

An idea was formed and thus stemmed: What about a 17 hour training day? The funny thing is, Anthony and I got so excited. We were so completely on board with this logic that we wanted to know why as well. And as a result, a study was born.

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Some outlines were made, some races and schedules tentatively set, and off we went down the path of ultra-distance training for Ironman. You, as readers of this blog, have already witnessed some of the training I have been doing. As you can tell I am having the time of my life.

As Steve and Andrea started talking to colleagues the concept of proper recovery has come into serious play. We have to recover well to absorb high mileage. Steve and Andrea worked very hard and were able to secure valuable support from Normatec MVP for the four of us during the next 8 months to aid in the 17 hour training day study. The Normatec MVP is used by the Garmin Chipotle team and is an amazing resource for us.

So, all in all, the 17 hour training day study is picking up some steam. We have a website and all four of us are blogging our training routines. I wanted to share the site with you so that you can follow our progress along the way. You will get many tid-bits from me here on GoSonja.com as well. If you are interested in seeing the nuts and bolts of our training, send your browsers on over to www.17hourtrainingday.com.