Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BOCA Big Island Training Weekend

What a blast! This weekend is always amazing, this was only the second time I've been on this trip and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it and the Big Island!!!

Instead of all the details written out, I'll recap the weekend in pictures...after this:
41 miles of running
178 miles of riding (11, 600 ft of climbing)
8,000 meters swimming (a little light on the swimming side of things, but it was all beautiful at Hapuna Beach...Kona crabs all over the place)!

not in correct order of weekend events

On the morning of the last day, we always do a BOCA swim race on the HONU course....super beautiful place to swim and get to practice the new course. 

 What a view from our hotel 

 BOCA Soup
Tim and Mariane got us some sweet goodie bags from Vega and BioAstin
Running on the Rollies
 Yo-Mamalahoa! After our windy, did I say windy, yes windy climb to Waimea
 Pre Ride Breakfast...Aaron and the ladies

BOCA takes over the Hapuna Prince

Aaron and I got to Kona early on Thursday morning so we could get in an extra bike ride. We stopped at Bike Works real quick to get our bearings and some basic directions on which way was the best to ride So we headed south to do the South Loop/Hualalai/Captain Cook/Painted Church Route. What a ride! Probably my favorite ride I've ever done.  It was the company... I'm sure! :-) But also such a great, beautiful, clean, smooth road surfaces. So happy we went over a day early to get in this extra ride!!!

 The Painted Church
 Captain Cooks Monument 
Here we go!

These pictures don't do the trip justice, what an amazing weekend, I couldn't have asked for a better time or better company!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BOCA Lanikai Triathlon

AKA the most important race of the year!
what a morning
At least that's what we always say about this race. It's really not, but it is a great race, probably the best put on Tri on Oahu, in my opinion, which probably doesn't matter too awful much. But Raul and the BOCA Hawaii people do an excellent job running this race! It's basically the first tri of the year here in Hawaii, well it was for me. And it was a great chance to assess my fitness, see where I'm at and what I need to work on.
What a great morning it was!

I went for a swim both Friday and Saturday before the race and Friday evening the water was choppy as anything, which would have made for a super fun swim, but of course race morning the water was flat as a pancake! Fine by me either way; everyone has to deal with the same conditions no matter what so it really doesn't matter, it's how you respond to what is thrown at you that matters in the end.

So the race was a wave start, like most races are turning into these days and when that happens the women always get put in the last wave, something I suppose I need to get used to before Honu since there we will be 7 minutes back from the men and we were just 5 back from the men on Sunday. I could write about that topic for a whole different post, but I will spare you my thoughts on wave starts. I digress. The men took off 5 minutes before us and by the time the first man (Tim Marr, super swimmer) was rounding the last swim buoy we hadn't even started yet! Soon enough we were off.
Who wouldn't love swimming and racing, if the starts of races always looked like this?! That's me out in front!! I made sure to get good position at the start of the swim as it was a running start. The starter yelled "GO" and we were off. I've been swimming great lately, so I knew I was going to have a strong swim and since this is my strongest portion of races, I wanted to get out and get going right away as there are lots of girls on this island that are fast little racers! I found clear water right away and was able to hop on one of the relay swimmers feet for a good portion of the swim, he took off at some point and I was swimming alone from then on, I wasn't drafting anyone and no one was drafting me. Right before the turn buoy I started to run into the men's wave. This always concerns me because then I need to start swimming around and sling-shotting people instead of just swimming, well it wasn't bad at all, I found my spots and just shot right through all those men. The swim was very uneventful, I felt strong and fast and really had to put out little effort to get through the swim quickly, if that's what all this swimming has done for me, I'll take it. I ended up having the 2nd fast swim of the day, I know the swim is such a small portion of the overall race, but being able to put out minimal effort while swimming as fast as I did was sure confidence building and I was able to head into the bike fresher than in races past!! The secret is out, swimming more as a swimmer definitely helps!
The Bike
I'm definitely not where I want or need to be on the bike, but I'm getting closer. The bike during this race was different from any bike during a tri I've done before, because I was being chased, I had a target on my back. Cycling is definitely my weak point and the plan was to ride hard and fast and see how long it would take to get caught, if I got caught (which I did). I thought I might, but I was going to make it as hard as possible for that to happen if it was going to happen. Once I got out of the water and knew where I stood, trying to stay ahead for as long as possible was the plan. I knew the girls behind me were stronger cyclists and runners than I am, but  I was going to do my best to make it difficult, that's what you do when you're racing right, especially a sprint, you go for it, give it all you've got and after and hour whoever crosses the line first went the fastest.  It took a while (the light coming back with less than .5 mile left of the bike to get passed), but I happened and was able to stay close until the end of the bike. I was pleased with how this part of the race went, I have lots of room for improvement, but I was faster than I was last year (yes, I know completely different race/road conditions and you can't really compare times from year to year), but I am riding better than I was last year at this time even if I don't think so all the time, but I have plenty of work to do to be where I am happy with how I am riding.
Onto the Run
 I'm pretty happy with how my run is progressing so far this year. Again, lots of room for improvement, but I think every athlete always thinks there's room for improvement. I took off on the run in 2nd place, I knew the eventual winner of the race (the one who passed me on the bike) was a solid, solid, fast, fast runner. But I was going to try to stay close to her for as long as possible, well she took off right away and was gone! Now, I only had 5.5K left of the race. I've run around this run course/loop more times than I can count, I know where the hills are, where to push harder, how many more cross streets are left before the turn around, I knew this run, which made it considerably easier than it was last year. I'm not saying the run was easy 5ks (well 5.5k in this race's terms) are never easy. I was instructed to just run, run hard and run fast and when you don't think you can run harder or faster, keep going. So that's what I did. There were still girls behind me who are also solid runners and I needed to keep going and never let up. I tried to do just that. Seeing friends along the course and in and out of transition sure helped keep the confidence high and keep pushing faster toward the start. And running and biking past guy after guy doesn't hurt either, sorry! I will say I was pleased with how my run went, but I didn't have that extra gear I wanted. I did run faster than I did last year, but I think I have more speed in me and am excited for what this season has to offer.
All-in-all, I am super happy with how this race went, it's not my "A" race for the year, those will come soon. I was able to get out there and race, dust off the cobwebs, get some information about how my training is going, what I need to do to improve and where those improvements can come from. Super stoked for this season!! I love racing the ladies on the island!!

A few more pictures from the race....
exiting the swim

Aaron, HK, Rachel and me pre race...so great to have the love and support of friends


Aaron, me and G...it was G's first tri ever and he rocked it!

 Off to the Big Island for a Big training weekend on Thursday...can't wait!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Don't Quit

Just a little poem that I found that really appeals to me...

 Don't Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, 
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, 
When the funds are low and the debts are high, 
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, 
When care is pressing you down a bit, 
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns, 
As every one of us sometimes learns, 
And many a failure turns about, 
When he might have won had he stuck it out; 
Don't give up though the pace seems slow-- 
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than, 
It seems to a faint and faltering man, 
Often the struggler has given up, 
When he might have captured the victor's cup, 
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, 
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-- 
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are, 
It may be near when it seems so far, 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-- 
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dinner Swap

I love cooking!

Cooking is something that I enjoy doing. It relaxes me, de-stresses me and lets me be a little creative (since I lack creativity in the artsy, make cool things part of life). Baking is another story, I'm not so good at that, I can make a pretty good banana bread, but other than that, if I need to follow a recipe exactly in order for something to turn out, things tend to not turn out the way they are supposed to!

If I had enough time to make a home cooked meal every night I would, but that just doesn't seem to be able to happen all the time. I used to fit it in, but now I have lots more fun, active, outdoors, exciting things going on and cooking dinner every night seems to slip away. Good thing Down to Earth is right across the street and you can always pick up a healthy, delicious dinner when you're in a pinch. However, if I go a few days without cooking something I get a little antsy and need to get back in the kitchen and cook up something yummy!

Anyways, two other couples in the Kailua area asked Aaron and I if we wanted to take part in a dinner swap that they do when training starts to pick up and time starts getting away from everyone. Of course we said YES!! It's pretty simple: every Sunday we meet and bring a dinner that we have pre-made that can feed 6 people and we swap. BAM! Just like that we have two, well three counting what we contribute, dinners made for the week (usually there's enough so we can have some leftovers for lunches too). What a time saver. So far we've been at it for 6 weeks and this is what it looks like:

Week 1:
Meal 1 - chicken rigatoni
Meal 2 - Swedish meatballs
Meal 3 - buffalo taquitos

Week 2:
Meal 1 - stuffed peppers
Meal 2 - Guinness stew
Meal 3 - eggplant Parmesan

Week 3:
Meal 1- butternut squash & turkey sausage
Meal 2 - chicken tikka masala, Naan Break
Meal 3 - Panaeng curry, rice

Week 4:
Meal 1 - quinoa quiche
Meal 2 - beef rigatoni
Meal 3 - Thai chicken pasta

Week 5:
Meal 1 - chili & bread
Meal 2 - chicken Parmesan
Meal 3 - chicken enchilada casserole

Week 6:
Meal 1 - split pea soup
Meal 2- chicken curry
Meal 3 - beef stroganoff

I love being a part of this little dinner swap group and am glad we got invited! It makes it much easier to fit in all the workouts, stay healthily (is that a word?) fueled and rested and be able to accomplish what I want to everyday!

Next week: Coconut curry chicken soup, Italian Chicken or Minestrone Soup.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On Swimming....again....

It's been a really long time since I could say this, but I think I'm beginning to LOVE swimming again. It's been, oh boy, almost 7 years since I've swum competitively and once I finished collegiate swimming, I thought, no way, I'm not doing this ever again, stick a fork in me, I'm done. And I can confidently say, I won't swim at that level ever again, but I do enjoy a good solid swim workout and swimming consistently sure does help! 

I came to this realization last night while I was swimming my weekly Monday night workout when was able to hold intervals for the 3000 yard main set that I haven't been able to be even close to in years. I'm not where I was in college, but I'm also not swimming 7,000+ yards a day either. The feeling of being smooth, strong and "fast" in the water is something I've missed and it's finally back and I LOVE it!!

Just a few swimming pictures from the last year because I'm in a swimming kind of mood......
College swimming friends JB and Annie, after just finishing a Moks swim

Dig me beach

College swimming friend Susie at the Coffees of Hawaii Boat in Kona

Freezing cold Lake CdA before IM (57 degrees)....
I needed to jump in without a wetsuit 

OCC Invitational swim with Aaron

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hardest Run....

This Saturday I had the pleasure of completing (successfully) the hardest run workout I've ever done (after a killer hill run on Thursday evening that also wasn't easy). Now, I'm sure there are plenty more difficult track/tempo/long fast finish runs etc. out there that people have done, but for me, this was hard, fast and long-ish and since I'm not IM training right now I guess that's what's important.

To start the morning off we had a nice little swim in Kailua Bay, it was a pretty choppy swim, but fun nonetheless. Filled with some fast swimming, beach running, mass start practice (even though we won't be needing that practice for Honu since the great race directors or whoever is in charge changed it to a wave start format!) core exercises and swim drills. It's always nice when you can get in a good ocean swim in a relatively safe location. Although, a few people got stung by some man-o-wars, which is never fun.

Afterwards, when the sun was high in the sky and beating down on us, with no breeze whatsoever (great Honu practice right?!) we started the run. There's this loop on Oahu on the Windward side....
and the plan was to run 4 loops, getting faster each time, with 2 minutes rest in between (each loop ended up right around 5k). So the total workout wound up being 13.1, perfect!

Anyways, the first loop was supposed to be warm up pace, get the body moving and ready for the last three, well maybe I was a little ambitious, or maybe I'm just getting better at running, but the first loop was by no means slow. I was able to get faster each time, but I'm not quite sure how I did it. The second loop was doable, I picked up the pace and knew I had at least one more gear before the last loop, but I couldn't think that far ahead. By loop three it was blazing hot and I was about done, somehow I mentally got through that loop (and still getting faster btw) and I think it was mostly due to the fact that I kept seeing smiling faces of other people suffering just as much if not more than I was the entire time around. Finally, the last loop came and it's only a 5k right, how hard could it be (ha!), and once I was done with that, I was done for the day and could just relax with Morgan on the beach! That was the longest 5k, I've ever done, but probably close to the fastest as well (I've never raced a 5k, they kind of scare me, but I'm a little curious how fast I could go, not curious enough to actually enter a 5k, we will just see what my 5ks look like at the end of a sprint tri and call it even). So happy I got through this workout and was able to share it with  the BOCA crew. It's not a workout I ever would have chosen to do by myself, but I'm so happy I was able to get it done and glad I got to do it with friends.
What a happy pup!

Tired but happy,

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stairway to Heaven

There's this little hike on the windward side of Oahu called Stairway to Heaven, or Haiku stairs and yesterday was the day to attempt to conquer this beast. 

 To start the hike you've got to walk through some residential areas and a bit of private property....no problem, we heard the guard has been leaving around 4pm everyday so we got there right about 4:45 and just our luck no guard on duty...score! I've known about this hike since I moved here four and a half years ago (it's been that long really!) but never quite got the courage to attempt it. The hike is basically a ladder up the side of a huge mountain and I'm not so good with the whole height thing, but Aaron has wanted to do this hike for a really long time and Rachel called us up and said she was going yesterday, so we were in!
Stairs up the side of the mountain....and that's not even all the way to the top
see my face...totally not scared at all
The hike starts out pretty mellow, some stairs and you're pretty protected with the railings on either side of you...if someone wants to pass you either way going up or down, you've got to do some serious shimmying to get out of the way, read the path/stairway is not very wide at all. 

Once you're going for about ten minutes or so it starts to get a little dicey, if I was by myself, I totally would have turned around, thanks Aaron for keeping me moving forward, or in this case up. There are points on this that you are literally climbing a vertical ladder up the side of a mountain and if you slip or lose your grip you would fall very, very, very far and the outcome would not be good (I might be being a little dramatic, but that's what I was thinking the whole way up!). Also, I'm pretty sure some of those railings would not pass a welding inspection if they needed to, but I couldn't think about that as I was getting higher and higher into the sky! 

check out these views! 

High...that's the H3 waaaaaaay down there....and I think
 that's  pretty high up when I'm driving over it in a car!

The first landing, about half way up the stairs
I hate when pictures don't come out facing the right direction, but I couldn't fix this, sorry!
It's a good shot though so I needed to include it. 
I was super stoked when we made it to the first landing, there were points that I thought I was going to be stuck on this mountain and have to be rescued, but there was a lot of positive encouragement and support from Aaron along the way and that got me to the first landing and eventually the top! I learned a good lesson today....There's a lot I can do in both sport and life that I didn't think I could when I have someone supportive, helpful, caring and kind standing beside me and encouraging me all the way (and if I don't let the mental demons get in the way. Sometimes you/I need to remember there are people that believe in you/me and know what you/I are capable of, so you/I just need to keep pushing forward and you'll/I'll get where you/I need/want to be!).

Almost to the top with our friends Anna and Kevin

 After the first landing, when you look at how far you still have to go it's a bit daunting, I really almost just stayed right there and didn't continue, but this was something I never thought I would be able to do and I was already half way done, I had to keep going, I was going to do this thing! Physically this was not a difficult task (don't get me wrong, I was sweating the whole way up, but it wasn't anything I couldn't accomplish), it was all a mental game from here on out. Aaron, Kevin and Anna rallied me and we left the first landing and headed up!

The second half of the hike is much less scary than the first half, I don't know if that's because you are half way done and there's a light at the end of the tunnel, or it really is easier, more protected and less scary. Either way, the second half was much better than the first. This shot is from the second half, almost all the way to the top.
again, great shot, couldn't flip it, but check out how high up we are!
All-in-all, I'm super happy we went on this hike, it was beautiful, amazing, peaceful, fear-conquering, mentally taxing and an amazing experience! We couldn't have asked for better weather, conditions and company! I did something yesterday that I never thought I would be able to do and that's something! I'm so grateful for Aaron and Kevin and Anna who made this hike successful and something I won't forget.  Couldn't have asked for better people to spend a Sunday afternoon with!