Friday, September 30, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #8 (10 days till the big day)

Aaaand we are back to regularly scheduled programming. It was time to rise and shine and head back to the pool, this time for a nice mid distance 3K session. With 10 days to go, the pool is definitely starting to get more crowded but it’s still manageable.

All lanes are now spoken for! 

Morning swim was followed by my daily “mega” breakfast! I was too hungry to snap a photo, but I know what works for me so the picture would look exactly the same like the last 8 days. Some may say boring, but I literally get excited for my breakfast as soon as I am done with my swim. (or maybe even during my swim ;) ) 

After breakfast I hopped in the boots, and took a glorious 30 min nap! They say train hard & smart, and recovery harder and that couldn’t be more true especially this close to race day.

Next up was my last double digit run, and included mostly IM pace with half mile efforts at Threshold. I have been nailing this workout in training for the last few months, but trying to pull off threshold pace and effort what at times feels like the surface of the sun definitely scared me. I sure had to put my big girl pants on & needed some encouragement from the boss.Although I didn’t quite hit the pace, I was close enough and quite surprised with how strong my legs felt. The HR has been starting to come down as well which is a great sign! Just to give you an idea, my HR during the threshold intervals was just as high as it was on the beginning of my 20 mile run just a week ago during my IM pace run. Wow – have I really already been here for over a week? Time really does fly when you are having fun!

Coach Jorge was nice enough to drop me off near the energy lab at the Kona Mountain Coffee place which apparently has kick ass coffee, and I ran from there into the energy lab, back out and then back home. 

Oh the famous energy lab. The energy lab is a stretch of road off of the Queen K that covers miles 16 - 19. There is nothing scenic about it. It's an out and back, and it's the place where air doesn't move; the place that owned me the last 3 years I raced here but I am ready for revenge! 

I ran into my friend Jodie who KQ in her first year as a PRO and I think in her 2nd year doing triathlons. She is one badass runner (think Olympic marathon qualifier), and was on her recovery run. 

  This is a perfect example of mega legs (mine) & mini legs (Jodie)

It was fun to have company for the first few miles of the run. The miles flu by! And did I mention how much I LOVE my running top Dr. Cool? It may get saturated with sweat but it really does help with keeping you cool(er)! Click here to check out their kick ass product line!

I really hope to be smiling like this on race day when I hit this exact same spot in the energy lab. 

It really was awesome to run the last 10 miles of the run course! It will help me visualize my race down to every detail and I’ll now have more positive memories from the toughest part of the course come race day.

My finish line today was one of my favorite places on the island – Basik Acai! Every long run should end with an Acai bowl! It sure hit the spot!

I may be a sweaty mess but priorities are priorities

I don’t know how this is possible, but later we ended up going back to the store to just get few more things we were out of. I swear someones comes in when we are sleeping and eats all of our food. 

Dinner was another mega salad with steak tips, almonds, cashews, avocado, local cucumbers, carrots and feta cheese with a side of bread and papaya with yogurt with extra protein powder mixed in and granola for dessert.

By 10pm, I was in bed! The sun sure does take the energy right out of you so while I am still training, I am also doing my best to recover and rest! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #7 (11 days till the big day)

Normally I usually take Monday as an active recovery day as part of my training routine, and am good to go by Tuesday, but I woke up on Tuesday still feeling pretty sluggish and tired. I felt better than Monday, but I still wasn’t quite recovered and felt like I needed one more easy/recovery day. I can’t stress enough how important to is to listen to your body, and not be afraid to tell your coach how you feel so they can adjust your plan!

Today, I got up and instead of heading to the pool, I did an easy recovery 4 mile run. I headed toward the run start, and then ran the first 2 or so miles of the course just to further familiarize myself with every inch of this course!

I of course re-fueled right after and since this was one more recovery day for me, I got to play coach & sherpa for Jorge who decided to ride from Kona to the Mauna Kea Observatory! Only a 60 mile ride with nearly 10,000 feet of climbing! All I can say better him than me although I was a little jealous. 

Oh and sherpa(ing) is HARD! Between driving, getting bottles ready, and finding spots to pull off and take photo’s with 2 iphones and 1 GoPro I had my hands full. So full I forgot to eat … for 3 hours … whaaaaat?
It didn't take long for the road to go up!

The Queen K from up above

There is definitely more to the island than the Queen K. This road was nice but unfortunately didn't have any shoulder so it was quite scary at times

Getting closer - there it is - in the clouds - Mauna Kea 

Just keep climbing, just keep climbing - Contador style! 

Are we there yet?

Unfortunately Jorge has been dealing with some foot pain, and when the pain became too much he was smart and called it a day around mile 35 by which point he had already climbed 5,500 feet!
Since we were so close to the top of Mauna Kea (well the visitors center at least), we drove up it. The visitors center is at 9,200’ feet. If you so wish and have the car that can make it up very steep grades, and gravel roads (4-wheeler is a must), you can try to proceed to the top, which is at 14,000 feet! Since you can drive up to the top from sea level in less than 2 hours, you must actually acclimatize at the visitors center for at least 30 min before continuing further up. We didn’t have a 4-wheeler so we were out of luck, but the views even from the visitors center are awesome, and you have essentially already driven through the clouds. You can read more about Mauna Kea here.

Not yet almost there

Can't miss the warning sign! 

Once we got back into town, we went for an early dinner or else known as dinner #1 at Da Poke Shack!Their Poke is absolutely amazing! Warning: You will never be same and you will never think of sushi the same. It is THAT good!

Supersize me! 

I then also had brinner (breakfast for dinner) as dinner #2 and after some work, and of course some time in the recovery boots! 

Tomorrow (wednesday) it is back to regularly scheduled programming with a longish swim, and last double digit run before race day! Thanks for reading! 

Kona Diaries – Day #6 (12 days till the big day)

After a monster day yesterday, Monday was very much a needed rest/chill day!  I was even able to sleep in a bit since I am finally adjusted to island time.

Once, I was up I headed to the pool for a super easy recovery float, and boy oh boy was I tired. I can always tell when I am super tired. My legs feel super heavy, and very sinky. 1500 yards later I was out of there. The pool is now getting more and more crowded and filled up with lots of fishes (Today’s PRO sightings: Sebastian Kienle and my neighbor Tim Don)

You all already know what was up next! Breakfast time, followed by a little work time with a view!

I could get used to this 
Chill time wasn't bad either! 

I am one lucky girl

So what's the best kept secrete of this island? (Continue reading to find out)

Keeping up with the theme of the day – rest/recover/chill – I had a massage with the best massage therapists I have ever met – Mr. Byron Thomas! If you live in Colorado, and are a triathlete you probably know him, and if not you are missing out. He really is the best kept secret on this Island before race day (If you are a triathlete that is).  I met Byron last year here in Kona where he sets up shop for a few weeks before the event, and I have since then tried to get him to unsuccessfully move to Boston. If you are in Kona and looking for a massage therapist - let me know and I'll connect you. He books fast so don't wait to reach out. When the likes of Daniela Ryf, Mirinda Carfrae and the list goes on and on are his regular clients, he is one busy guy this time of the year. 

I guess I am not as cool as Callum Millward and his cupcakes but I’ll keep trying.

Massage followed by an Acai bowl, followed by a glorious nap on the patio and watching another glorious sunset – can recovery days get any better? (I don’t think so).

Totally in the aloha state of mind

Once it was dark out (it does get dark here around 6:30ish), we headed back out for more shopping. For some reason the food is disappearing fast – how could that be?

Before I knew it it was dinner time, and early bed time – this girl was tired! Sometimes I just don't realize, how much more doing an exact same workout in extreme heat/humidity and wind can take out of you. 

This picture doesn't do the dinner justice, but very protein packed salad with bread of course - how it didn't make it into the picture I don't know - next time! This salad had steak tips, left over grilled chicken as well as left over cut up bison burger! Perfect recovery dish. 

We will see what tomorrow brings, but I think we are looking at one more rest day! I am beat. Stay tuned :) 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #5 (12 days till the big day)

Today (Sunday) was the last monster day of training for me before the race. The plan was to ride the entire course + run around 12 miles of the bike. This is something we at E3 Triathlon Coaching call "Race Rehearsal"

I started the day with the same exact breakfast that I eat before each and every race and also before each and every big training day. Train your gut and know what works for you! 

Plain white bagel with peanut butter & jelly, banana and beet juice (Beet Boost powder in a cup of apple juice) 

While my breakfast was digesting I prepared my nutrition for the ride. Training days like this are perfect opportunities to test and practice your race day nutrition, and hopefully this is something you don’t try for the very first time just couple weeks before the race.

6 Powerbar gels (I like to mix up the flavors and alternate caffeinated and non caffeinated gels, 5 rice potato cakes, 5 home made packages of PowerBar Perform, and whole bunch of salt stick pills (I take 2 every single hour) + lots and lots of water (not pictured)

I practice my race day nutrition (just like me pre-race breakfast) essentially every weekend on all my long rides & runs. You should too! I know exactly just what to take in every single hour, and I practice it! I really enjoy eating solid foods on the bike and hence the potato/rice cakes. The potato/rice cakes are simple, easily digestible carbs and they are salty so they also help me break up the monotony of constant sweetness. I do also take in ton of salt and that's because I am quite a bit of a "salty" sweater, which is something I know thanks to a series of sweat tests I have done with a company called Levelen . I really believe that knowing not just my sweat rate, but also sweat composition will help me step up my game here in Kona. I highly encourage you to check them out, and if you happen to be here in Kona, Levelen folks will actually be here as well offering sweat tests on the spot! If you are interested in reserving a spot, let me know or email Levelen directly at

I finally headed out around 8:30am so roughly around the same time I’ll be out there on race day, and I started (and finished) right at the pier. I was also extremely lucky and thankful to have coach Jorge with me because otherwise I know I wouldn’t have made it. He carried all my extra bottles (between water and PowerBar perform) I drank at least 12, and also extra bottles of water that I could just dump on myself to cool off.

I have never had the opportunity to ride the course in training before, so this was  absolutely awesome, but also very, very hard. It really made me appreciate all the aid station volunteers even more because without them (Kona bike course has aid stations every 7 miles), the carnage out there would be unreal. Not that Jorge wasn’t super awesome, but I highly underestimated the cooling the body down part until it was a bit too late.

I was pushing the pace from the beginning (a bit over IM race watts on purpose), and was able to stay very strong all the way to Hawi, which is the turnaround point. Sadly regardless of my strong power numbers, I wasn’t going anywhere fast! Madame Pele had brought her A game and the very strong headwinds with the occasional cross winds came out to play big time! It took me nearly 3 hours (2:56 to be exact) to get there, and I was ready to quit.

 Climbing up to Hawi (check out the trees up ahead - no it wasn't windy at all ;) ) 

From lava fields to green fields

Quick pit stop at Hawi (I won’t pee on myself in training), and it was time to head back.  At least I was hydrated!

The descend from Hawi offers some magnificent views, potential for high speeds, but also some very dangerous and scary crosswinds. The way to know just how bad the crosswinds will be is to check out the ocean. If you can see whitecaps, you are in for a treat. And no, not the type of a treat you would want.

Magnificent views 

All I could see what “sea full of white caps” and my heart sunk a little. Thankfully I still only had training wheels on, but even with those heavy wheels there were more than a few times I was really worried I may end up getting blown off the road.

White caps everywhere - death grip initiated 

Regardless of my death grip, and genuine fear of the wind throwing me off the cliff,  I always find that putting the power to the pedals makes me feel more stable and in control even if that means more speed. Plus I guess the faster you go, the faster it will be over? (I think that’s one messed up logic but one I went with).

The first 5 miles back from Hawi, I was averaging 30+mph which was nice to see after I had just spend crawling and battling the headwinds for what felt like all day. That didn’t last long, as the crosswinds picked up the further down I got, and the heat was rising! I was still moving fast, but not 30mph fast. 

Just trying to get back to the Queen K as fast as possible! 

Somewhere about half way down back from Hawi, I started to get super HOT! As in someone stuck me in the oven, and turned it on high! (Thinking back this has happened to me back in 2015 and essentially cost me a podium spot). I did stop somewhere along the way, and proceeded to dump an entire water bottle all over myself for the first time, which nearly 70 miles into the ride was just a too little too late and kept me "cool" for about 2 minutes. (Aid stations with ice cold water every 7 miles were dearly missed) 

The cloud cover was non existent, and the heat was radiating of the blacktop. It was so hot that when Jorge kneeled down to take a pic he burnt his knee! Any skin that was exposed was on fire less than 2 minutes after I hosed myself with water.  I was seriously wishing that Castelli would make a full stealth body suit – I would have worn it! 

That sunscreen didn’t stand a chance and I am now wearing a permanent watch, 3/4 length sleeve shirt and cycling shorts! 

Overheated at its best, I made my way back to the Queen K, which put me at about mile 80.  I did have somewhat of a tail/cross wind with the now only occasional headwind on the way back into town so I kept making up time even though my power has now dropped a bit. I was dreaming of snow, and kept telling myself I was cold! I am always cold, so you know it was hot! I was somehow trying to get my mind stop thinking that I may melt any second. I tried staying aero as much as possible, and although I am super comfortable on my speedy QuintanaRoo PR6, aero meant that my face was way too close to the pavement which just meant more heat I didn't need! 

Melting one pedal stroke at a time

I was still moving at over 22mph but it wasn’t fast enough.  Sherpa extraordinaire had stopped along the way to grab some water, and didn’t even blink once when he dished out $15 for 3 gallons of water! I love Hawaii but that is just WRONG! When he caught back up to me with freezing cold water, I wanted to hug him but because he wouldn’t let me get in his air conditioned car, I didn’t ;).

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and as a result the views were beautiful! (but perhaps one could actually enjoyed them from that car) 

 Just me, my own HOT thoughts and the Queen K 

Are we there yet?

I made it back to the pier in 5h16 min which means I made up ton of time coming back, but I was just cooked. As in fried by the sun! 

The thought of a 12 mile run and further baking wasn’t appealing at all, and I just really thought that pushing through that would have put me in too big of a hole less than 2 weeks out from race day. I ended up doing 4.5 miles and to my surprise felt absolutely amazing.  My legs felt fresh, my HR has finally seemed to settle (it was 10+ bpm higher during my 20 mile run couple days ago), and it also meant that regardless of the extreme heat, wind and humidity, and overheating on my part, I did a great job on my nutrition, hydration and salt intake! Thank you Levelen! 

In the years past, I would have kicked and screamed and ran myself into the ground to prove myself that I can, but I knew today cutting the run short was a SMART decision. It may have taken me a few years, but I have learned to really listen to my body and know when to push and when to back off.

After such long day it was time to refuel and relax a bit. 

Dinner hit the spot

And I followed that up with a little R & R by the pool while watching the sunset! Not a bad way to finish of a monster day!

 I could get used to this 

Another magnificent sunset that this iphone doesn't do any justice

Of course the day wouldn't be complete without a proper snack, and time in the boots! 

Papaya filled with a cup of plain greek yogurt into which I mixed a scoop of chocolate brownie topped with my now favorite local granola! Get in my belly! 

What a day, that brought a roller coaster of emotions, but one I am extremely thankful for. I have learned even more about the course than I thought I could, and I am walking away from today more confident than ever, and ready for race day. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #4 (13 days till the big day)

This morning I woke up before my alarm clock again, but felt so much better than yesterday. This R&R stuff works, who knew? Instead of heading right to the pool, I headed to our patio and enjoyed the morning breeze because it wasn’t going to stick around for long! I swear it feels like each and every day keeps getting hotter and more humid and windy.

Good Morning Kona! 

Who knew taking a little time to decompress this am was the right move. The pool didn’t open until 8 am and apparently most people except for me knew that. Duh! I swear I’ll swim open water soon, but I can’t be the only shark bait in there and swimming in such a large body of water although very beautiful water by myself just isn’t for me. I get a better workout in the pool.

As a reward for being early, I got to essentially open up the pool, and have it ALL to myself for all of 5 minutes.  It wasn’t long before I had to share my lane with a super fish! (I swear everyone here is such a GREAT swimmer!

So peaceful! 

Then it was breakfast time, and this time I won’t bore you with another picture because if you have been following along, you can tell me what I had for breakfast. It was just as good as yesterday, and the day before. I did have a “friend” that attempted to join me though.

 The biggest cockroach ever (I may have screamed a little and I didn't eat any extra protein with my breakfast!)

Playing dead? 

Then it was recovery boots time and nap time  - this is THE life! Napping also apparently makes me hungry, so I had to have a snack (good ol’ fashion pb&j) before heading out for a 30 mile – 90 min easy spin. 

Today sure was hot, steamy and a bit more windy than before so I didn’t quite make it to the donkey sign from the other day.

 Hualalai - my turnaround point today

Time to head back to Kailua 

Overall, my legs felt a ton better than yesterday, which is a good sign because I have one last monster day coming up tomorrow.

Hi there :) 

Ride was followed by lunch (sandwich time!), followed by papaya “bowl”. I really wanted an Acai bowl but was too lazy to rush to get there – they do close way too early (4pm).

I threw in some granola and coconut milk and it was sooooo good! You are all lucky I took a break and snapped a photo before it was all gone

I did make it to town eventually and scored a Mango Cinnamon muffin from Lava Java! 

The picture really doesn't do it justice, it is SOOOOO good! 

It really is to die for, but I had to save till after my 30 min easy run. I went out for my run right at sunset around 6pm in hopes of perhaps bit cooler temps but no such luck. The real feel was apparently still 92 degrees, and the air was so thick you could cut it up and serve it as dessert (I think I really wanted to just eat that muffin instead of doing my run). I even high fived a couple of walkers along the way – they were cheering me on like I was racing already! This place really is awesome and like no other. I am not so sure they will do it again though because they probably weren’t expecting just how sweaty my hand would be. Oops, I am a sweat machine what can I say.

As soon as I got home, the sky opened up and it poured buckets. I inhaled my dinner before I remembered to take a picture for your viewing pleasure but let’s just say it hit the spot! 2 bison burgers (1 bun) with rice and asparagus for veggies. 

After dinner I finally had to enjoy that muffin along with another protein “shot”. Tomorrow is a MONSTER day also known as Race Rehearsal day. The plan is to ride the whole bike course, run between 10-12 miles and practice my race day fueling and nutrition. With winds in Hawi forecasted to be 30+ mph, it will be a fun day for sure! I am not going to lie, even I am slightly worried but we will see what tomorrow brings! Maybe my new neighbor – Tim Don will want to come for a ride? 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #3 (14 days till the big day)

After one monster day yesterday, today was time recover and rest up. I slept in until 6:30am this time without waking up. 8+ hours of sleep is ALWAYS good and I may finally be on island time!

With banana in hand (That’s what happens when you get like 20 bananas for $2), I headed to the pool again. I certainly have love/hate relationship with swimming, but there is just something about swimming here in Hawaii. Even though I felt like I was swimming through mud for majority of the swim, I was still so happy to be swimming (and working on my tan lines).  

The pool was also a bit more crowded with a few super swimmers quickly demoting me to the turtle status 

But no worries - there are always paddles and buoy to assist in keeping up with fishes! 

Few pool PRO sightings this morning included Leanda Cave, Heather & Travel Wurtele along with their coach Paolo Sousa on deck. No big deal, it's a very similar crowd I am used to swimming with at my YMCA (bahahahaha) 

2500 yards later, it was time for breakfast on the patio. Did I say how much I love the place we are in this year? 

I am a creature of habit so my breakfast today was essentially identical to yesterday’s minus the papaya. I saved papaya for snack this time.

I have also upgraded my water bottle - staying hydrated here is a mission of its own!

Post breakfast I got some work done, took a 30 min nap while in my recovery boots, and followed that up with a snack before heading out for a quick 1 hour recovery ride.

Best napping spot! 

Papaya time - nom, nom 

Today was a bit overcast, but it sure was hazy and humid! Even after training in super hot/humid conditions all summer back in Boston, Kona heat & humidity is just like no other.

Even the coach ventured out on the Queen K today :)

The Queen K was super busy especially when heading back into town! 

It was fun flying by all the cars even when just recovery spinning. You can see the "energy lab" where dreams are either made or crushed far on the left

Until "this" was blocking the shoulder! Apparently they have duck tours in Kona, who knew? Although this one wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. 

And the spin ended where it will all begin in just 14 short days.

Hello Dig Me beach. This too will long very different in a few days as more and more athletes keep coming in. That seawall to your left is crowded with people on race morning and to get a spot on the wall as a spectator you gotta be pretty dedicated and early to claim it! 

The calm before the storm. What a magical place. 

And this is the T1 where thousand of bikes will be racked the day before the race. 

It sure looks nothing like what we are used to seeing with a few thousand bikes there instead!

After riding, it was lunch time! It was a bit of a late lunch and I couldn’t even wait to shower.

Turkey/ham, bread & butter (my favorite) pickles sandwich, and a whoooole bunch of chips and carrotts with hummus (not pictured). I did have a lot more chips than what you see too but you get the idea - more carbs and protein - gotta feed the beast :) 

Then it was time run a few more errands – Hello Wal-Mart! After Costco, that’s your next bet – it’s a super Wal-Mart and it’s “super”cheap in comparison to most other places here on the Island. I think we are finally done with running errands for the next 2+ weeks.

Post errands, it was time for recovery boots again! My legs are really feeling the big day yesterday so the more love I can give them the better.

Dinner followed shortly after and the bed was calling my name.

 BIIIIIIG bowl of salad with cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes topped with lots of protein and fat - leftover steak tips from yesterday plus chicken and almonds, cashews, cranberries and feta cheese 

"Aaaaaah Fudge Nuts"

I was really craving dessert so one of my favorites to the rescue! It's essentially just like a brownie. 

I washed that down with a protein "shot" and it was of to bed. 2 weeks to go but who is counting? ;)