Wednesday, May 20, 2015

North Shore Triathlon

Sunday was the inaugural North Shore Triathlon. This race took place, as the name suggests, up on the North Shore of Oahu at Mokuleia Beach Park. I'm going to quote a friend, Sergio, because I think he put it best, "This weekend people had two races to choose from. One is a relatively flat course with thousands of people racing different events and running around cones. The other was a much more challenging and beautiful course with all your closest friends. #NoBrainer #NorthShoreTriathlon." #FTW. 
I couldn't be happier with my decision to race this race, it was a great prep for what's to come in a few short days. A chance to get the kinks out, race hard on a beautiful, difficult course that's never been done before, but do it in a SAFE environment where you don't have to worry about other things (getting lost running around cones, people riding bike in the wrong direction, passing on the wrong side, while worrying about getting hurt, run over or crashing)
On to the actual race....What a morning it was! 5;45am comes fast when it's about an hour drive to the start. The swim, although it was a short (I guess Olympic distance race swims should be longer, but who cares?! everyone has to do the same thing, the length of the swim is the length of the swim! as is the length of the bike and the length of the run!), it was NOT an easy swim by any means. It was 2 loops of about 400-500meters, the water was shallow and navigating was difficult, adventure swimming at it's finest! I swam with Jason Hagi, a local swimmer extraordinaire (his goggles snapped right before the start and he swam the whole race without goggles, kudos to him!) and a few times we both stopped, looked at each other and said, "where do we go?" The course was difficult to navigate, swimming back in towards shore (a bigger flag or something instead of a small cone on the beach would be helpful! :-) ), but it super fun. It would be cool to have it be a longer swim in the future, but not necessary. I ended up F(woman)OTW and we had a kind of long, deep sand beach run up to transition. Not what I was expecting, but knew it wasn't going to be easy given the walk down to the beach before the start.
On to the bike! I LOVE MY NEW BIKE! I'm finally comfortable on my bike in my TT bars and it climbs like a beast. This bike course was epic. There's this road here called Snake Road, (well that's not its real name, if you want to look it up, it's actually called Kaukonahua Road) , that we can't/don't normally ride up because it's super unsafe, there's no shoulder and people drive like maniacs up and down that road. Chris, the race director was able to get full road closure so we could ride up this amazing road allthewhile being safe! I loved this ride, the roads were clear of cars and I got a police escort!! Love that! Only 1 complaint, was the shameless relay boys drafting while climbing up hills, but I suppose people don't like to get passed (I get it, but come on! Race your own race!). Anyways, the bike was tough, it's only a 3.5 mile climb and then some rollers, but those 3.5 miles were no joke! After that it was a fast descent back down to the 4 mile flat back to transition. I was pushing the pace a bit, but in retrospect I probably could have and should have gone a little harder (can I pedal any faster? yes, can I push a bigger gear? yes. Not great answers once again). I'm learning, but it seems to be a slow process. My mind needs to catch up to my body!
The run was a short out and back on a relatively flat course, with a few small bumps, right along the ocean. Couldn't ask for more beautiful scenery! You got to see everyone the whole time and the encouragement and cheers from everyone is always welcome and motivating! The run ended up being a little shy of 10k, but that's AOK with me. Again, everyone running the same course! And guess what?! Police motorcycle escort on the run as well (poor guy having to ride that motorcycle sooooo slow, you could totally tell he was uncomfortable standing up, squirming around and having to ride his bike at a regular pace for a little and then come right back to me. He even apologized for not having his fancy bike with a radio for music, now that would have been a bonus)!
I wanted to push the pace from the beginning, but didn't have the spunk I would have liked. I was able to run comfortably uncomfortable, but not as fast as I planned/anticipated. I wasn't running with a Garmin or anything, but could tell it wasn't super speedy. In the end it was enough and I was happy with how the day unfolded. Got to get the kinks out and be ready for Honu in a few short days!

Thanks Chris Gardner and BOCA Hawaii for putting on such a great event, I can't wait for next year as I can only see this event growing and becoming more successful in the future. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

South Shore Classic

This past weekend was full of racing. On Saturday, a new swim race came to town, the South Shore Classic. If you are a swimmer and live on Oahu or happen to be visiting at the time of this event next year, I highly recommend checking it out! It's a pretty unique race, something I've never seen before in Ocean swim racing (not that I've seen it all by any means).

Here's how it works. There are actually 4 different races: Women's 1-mile, Men's 1-mile, Keki, and the Elite 2-mile (men and women) races. The Women's 1-mile race started at 2pm (what?! a race starting after 6am, that's amazing!). Anyways, at 2pm women 70 years of age and older start, 1 minute later women in their 60s run into the water, 50 seconds later all the 40s head out, 40 seconds later the 30s and 30 (or 20, I can't remember) seconds later if you are 29 or younger you go. The course was two, 800meter loops with a short beach run in between and the first person to cross the finish line, regardless of start time or age is the winner. At 2:45ish the Men's 1-mile race started and followed the same format. The keki race began around 3:30 with a similar format and then the  big one, the 2-mile race around 4:15. I'm not exactly sure of the start times of this race, but the women and men were all in one race, the women got a head start on the men (I think 3 minutes?) and then the men started, again the first person to cross the line regardless of gender or start time was crowned the South Shore Champion. Super cool format!
I decided, on a whim to sign up for the race on Saturday afternoon. Aaron was water support, so I was going to be down there anyways and why not?! I hadn't been feeling that great in the water and wanted to dust off the cobwebs and a short, fast swim race is just the way to do it. I've been swimming a ton and knew I was swimming well, but sometimes  you just don't feel good in the water, so this was an excellent idea.
The race ended up going swimmingly, I went out fast and found my groove, swimming through a bunch of people. The water was crystal clear and there was a bit of a current and some waves on the way in to shore, but nothing too crazy. By the last buoy on the first loop, I caught Miki who had also swum through a bunch of people. Out of the water and onto the beach, short little run and back in for the final lap. I had clear water and a paddle board escort for the remainder of the swim, not so bad. There was a bit of surf coming into the beach on each of the laps and it would have been nice to catch a wave and ride it in to shore, but the surf was not in my favor and I missed every one that came by, oh well. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I couldn't be happier with how this race went. For the inaugural race, it seemed to go off without a hitch, at least from a participant's stand point. I know there's a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to make a race like this, or really any kind of race happen, so congrats! I'm super stoked that I was able to participate in the inaugural year and am already looking forward to next year...maybe I'll take a swing at the 2-miler (as long as there's not another race the next day).

What a great idea, Thanks Todd and John and Raul and everyone else that helped you three get this race off the ground and for your forward thinking which created something new and exciting here on Oahu! 

The race even scored a write up on the Open Water Swimming Daily Website. That's pretty cool.

up next...North Shore Tri write up!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BOCA Training Weekend

Three days on the Big Island, 100+ miles of riding, 27+ miles running and a mile or two of swimming. Not too shabby for a quick little jaunt over to another island. 
The sunsets, waking up to waves crashing on the shore right outside your window, the wide open spaces and HUGE, clean bike lanes, the vog (ugh!), the wind (wait, there was no wind! total anomaly over there on the Big Island), hot, hot, hot, hilly runs on "the rollies", crystal clear ocean swims, turtles, Kona crabs, Manta Rays and most importantly the company made for a truly enjoyable training weekend! 

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, nobody needs the nitty gritty of the whole weekend! I'll keep that to myself. 
Day 1:Today's big focus was a ride out to Waipio Valley, Old Mamalaoha Highway (possibly my favorite road ever to ride on, no cars, beautiful, sweeping, rolling, wide open, smoothly paved roads) and back to Waimea. We also swam some and ran a bit later in the day. 

Day 2: Another day of riding, this time to Hawi and then on to the end of the road at Pololu Valley.

We followed the ride up with a little run and then later in the day a swim and our traditional "BOCA Soup" to round out the day.
Day 3: We get the lifeguards at Hapuna Beach to set up the Honu swim course, buoys and all, and got to test out the waters. I sense a new tradition.....BOCA underwater photo op! This swim was amazing, I wish I had a camera of my own to use as the Manta Rays were playing in the water along the course. Super cool to get to swim with them up close and personal. 
We followed this up with our long run, just as it started to get hot, hot, hot! Great Honu prep! 

Couldn't have asked for a better weekend! and couldn't have done it without our great sherpas! You guys make this weekend possible! 

I didn't take all of these pictures, so thanks to everyone that did!  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Big Island Love

Headed to Big Island today for our annual BOCA training weekend! Can't wait!! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lanikai Tri

I look forward to this race every year. It's such a great, small-island, family-style race. The people, the entertainment, the atmosphere, everything about this race is fun. 
Who wouldn't want to start the day at a place like this? What a way to kick off the a beautiful home town race. 
The swim is super short and fast. 6 minutes and change short. You never know what you're going to get in the waters of Kailua Bay, well, scratch that, it's usually pretty windy and choppy, Rarely do we get a calm, crystal clear, flat day in the bay. But the choppier and windier the better, at least that's what I prefer. I only wish the chop and the wind were working against us instead of pushing us in the right direction. 

Women started 3 minutes back from the men (as usual). One of these days, just maybe a race can start the women first? No?! Probably not, so learning to swim and navigate through many people has become somewhat of a strong point for me, good thing because I was able to successfully navigate though the wind, chop and men which put me coming out of the water with the fastest swim time of the day (minus one relay swimmer)! 
The swim was over before it started. Short run to transition and off on the bike. The bike course was altered this year because we couldn't gain access to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (total bummer). But the course is the course and everyone is racing the same conditions. I struggle with being happy about my bike. I thought I was working hard and going fast, but in retrospect and thinking back on it today, I don't think I pushed as hard as I could have/should have (can I pedal any faster? yes can I push a bigger gear? yes. Not good during a race, Lectie). Giving a little more on the bike, wouldn't have taken away from my run. I think know I was just a wimp (one day I will do my new, pretty bike justice and ride it like it's meant to be ridden!). But there's nothing I can do about it now, other than learn from my mistake and not let it happen again. 
evidence of not riding hard enough 
The run is a relatively short, flat (4 minor bumps), fast run through a cute little neighborhood in Kailua, called Lanikai (side note: I would NOT recommend trying to drive into this neighborhood on any major holiday for fear/reality of getting stuck in grid-locked traffic for 3+ hours). 
Now, there was some work to be done on the run. I felt good coming off the bike, which isn't a bad thing, but it's not a good thing either, when you don't feel like  know you didn't ride how you should have. Anyways, I was happy with my run. I'm confident that my run is coming along and I could sustain that run pace for many more miles. Does that mean I should/could have run faster, maybe, maybe not, but I'm happy with how my body was able to run yesterday. Confident of good running things to come in the future.
I love this race and will continue to support our fun, local races. There's nothing better than racing with friends, family and loved ones and hanging out enjoying the Aloha Spirit on a Sunday morning in paradise.
Thanks to Raul and Hina (and their team) at BOCA Hawaii for putting on a top-notch race, Planet Sun Hawaii for keeping me protected in the extreme Hawaiian Sun, BioAstin Hawaii for your natural, sustained energy that helps me train harder and recover faster, ROKA Sports for the best swim attire, hands down and SOAS Racing for the cutest, most fashionable, functional race kits out there. And Aaron, for putting up with my crazy when things get too triathlon-y!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Castle to Hanauma

Bike races are hard. I think every time I do a bike race that's the first thing that comes to mind and the first thing I want to write. This one was no different.
  When you think about riding 12 miles as hard as you can it doesn't seem like it's going to be that difficult. It's only 30 minutes, it's not going to be terrible...oh it was. But terrible in a good way, terrible in the way that I know my biking is coming along (slowly it's improving), terrible in a way that you know everyone else is suffering too, terrible in the way that it's not terrible, it's great!!
I wish I could have gone a little faster and thinking back there are maybe one or two spots that I could have and should have pushed it beyond where I thought uncomfortable was. Live and learn. Next time. All-in-all a super fun way to start off a Sunday morning!
Thanks Kalani and everyone out there snapping pics!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Climbing Haleakala

On Sunday the goal was to climb Haleakala. Haleakala is a massive volcano that covers 75% of the island of Maui. The West Maui mountains (which we rode around on Saturday forms the other 25% or so of the island. The highest peak on Haleakala sits at 10,023 feet at the "house of the sun." 36 miles from Paia town to the top.
Photo Credit John Wollenbecker
Almost the whole group ready to go. We left the hotel at about 6:30 am and it was already raining and cold. But Sunday was the day, so we rolled. It's just over 6 miles from the hotel to Paia town. Once we got to Paia town a few of us got to take a 30 minute pit stop for breakfast and coffee to let the rest of the group get a little head start and continue up the mountain.
30 minutes later we were off and headed up the mountain. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, I knew it was going to be a long day and I knew it was going to get cold (it was already wet and chilly to begin with) and I knew it was going to be 10,000 feet of constant climbing (I thought it was going to be constant, but there were a few sections of relief!), but other than that, I wasn't sure what to expect. The beginning is pretty mellow, we had a small group, 6 of us, and we rode together, chatting and enjoying the scenery, just pedaling away. The "Makawao Wall" is the first significant climb of the day (mind you we've been climbing since we left Paia town) and it's pretty steep, but very short and nothing too crazy; it was actually much less steep than anticipated. After that it's more up, up, up, up. Through beautifully paved roads, free of massive traffic, fresh, crisp country air and friends. 
Photo Credit: Kalani Pascual
Our first aid-station/support vehicles were at 3500ft. At this point it wasn't too awfully cold, I kept switching from wearing my rain jacket, taking it off, putting it back on, taking it off. I couldn't quiet get my temperature right and I didn't want to get all wet underneath and then freeze when the temperatures dropped as we gained elevation. Anyways, 3500 down 6500 to go. We were off for section 2 of the climb (we were told the night before that the climb can be broken down into 3 different sections, the second section being the most difficult (which it was), but in the end each of the sections would probably take the same amount of riding time and that was exactly spot on!). 
Section two took us to a point where we got a little break from the clouds, the only point in the day that we were able to see some sun. Lots of switchbacks, but still feeling pretty strong considering we were getting on up there in elevation. And the temperature continued to drop! 
Photo Credit: Kalani Pascual
Still riding happy not quite to 7000 feet
Photo Credit: Kalani Pascual

Quick regroup for another change of clothes (hot, cold, hot, cold) and a picture. 

At about 7000 feet, just past the main entrance to Haleakala National Park ($5 needed if you want to go further by bike) we had our second support vehicle. At this point the weather started to get nasty! It was in the low 40s, cloudy, moisture in the air (I am not going to call it snow, but it was not just rain) and the wind was starting to pick up...time for a full change of clothes.  At this point, I think I put on a new undershirt under my jersey, my jersey, a winter insulated running jacket, a waterproof rain jacket, headband/ear-warmers, running tights over my bike shorts, two pairs of full fingered gloves and hand warmers underneath my gloves, if that sounds excessive, it might have been, but I'm soft now and don't do well in cold (I was by no means the most bundled either).  
Photo Credit: Kalani Pascual
All bundled up and ready to conquer the last 3000 feet. 

Photo Credit: Kalani Pascual
I made it maybe 1000 feet and I started to overheat, now, the temperature was still in the low 40s, but I did have on lots o' layers (see above picture and everything unzipped). I saw Stacia, Brandy and Katy on the side of the road so I pulled over and stripped off my tights, a pair of gloves and my outer rain jacket. They looked at me like I was nuts, asked if I was ok and told me it was going to be in the 30s by the time I got to the top. I told them that I was fine, I was just super hot and needed to shed some layers, if I kept moving I'd be fine for the last 2000 feet.

After I left them the wind began to really pick up. When we heard there was wind toward/at the top and the reports were saying 30+mph, we kept saying at least it won't be 30mph sustained winds...whoops, they were constant and relentless. I kept pushing forward, but those last 2000 feet were not easy and it was cold. When I made the final turn with less than 1000 yards of paved road left I saw Michelle up ahead, heard the cheers for Aaron finishing at the top and knew I was close. As soon as I passed Michelle the wind was whipping so hard I was barely moving up the mountain (I've never moved so slow on a bike before), I was moving so slow I was afraid I was going to tip over/get blown off the mountain. A gust of wind came and almost did knock me over. I got off my bike, walked for less than a minute, got mad at myself for getting off so close to the top, got back on and finished riding!  
The warm rental truck with hot chocolate and dry clothes. 
After I put on a new change of dry clothes and more layers, I told Aaron we needed to go ALL the way to the top to get a picture. I made it!  It was cold, it was tough, but I made it and I'll be back in June to "race" to the top. 
and then there was this........

After we got all bundled up and got our picture at the top it was time to descend. Not something I particularly wanted to do (but in the end I'm glad I did...on a nice day, this would be a beautiful descent), but there was not enough room in the vans for all the bikes and all the people so some people had to suck it up and ride down. You would think as we descended it would get warmer, I would thaw out a bit and it wouldn't be miserable, nope, I never got warm (it took me 24 hours and a run on Monday to get warm again! That  might be a little dramatic, but that's what it felt like). We stopped a few times at the ranger station bathrooms and stood with our hands under the blow dryers to warm up so we could hold onto our bikes, squeeze the breaks and shift when necessary. We made it back to the hotel without incident and Haleakala was conquered!

Climbing this mountain was close to one of the best rides I've had on bike. It was so peaceful up there on the mountain. It was never too steep, you just had to keep on pedaling, onward and upward, the fresh, crisp mountain air is something special (I found myself taking deep breaths, breathing in the clean air up there and it was glorious), the views would be spectacular if you could actually see through the clouds, a tranquil place to ride your bike. Haleakala is a extraordinary place and I can't wait to ride her again! See you in June!

Thanks to the BOCA fam that was out there supporting us on our trip up Haleakala, without you all, this would not have been possible!!!