Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A day in The life

Last week I was on a mission to enjoy every ounce of sunlight, and get out on my bike as much as possible.
On the day I was scheduled to leave, I got an email telling my my flight was canceled and I'd be rescheduled on a direct flight the following day. No problem...and off I went on my bike.
It was a bit easier to leave the beach oasis the following day. Temps dropped dramatically and serious rain was in the forecast. My winter wonderland was waiting. So too was Santa (do you see him in the castle?):
I've been quite the gym rat, and today returned to my old stomping ground to visit old friends in some of my favorite places.  Ann Arbor is without a doubt one of my favorite cities.  There are so many memories within the confines of that campus. My morning started with a solid treadmill session in the training room that once seemed like my "half home" back in my college days. This was my first re-introduction to some sort resemblance of "speed" in my running. It hurt...but I was surrounded by a few young track/CC studs for motivation.
My time there had me wishing I still had access to this kind of facility! Next up: the cold whirl pool I once hated, but now love to hate!
Then the healing touch from one of our kick ass athletic trainers. Sadly, our former team trainer was already off enjoying her holiday.
Why stop here, when one of my favorite pools was calling my name from below:  Off in the corner you can't miss the countdown to the next Olympic games in London (that's a LOT of minutes!).

No visit to Ann Arbor is complete without divulging in my favorite meal: Pizza Bob's Chipatti (if you've been reading my blog for a little while now you know this is a must on all my visits home). I enjoyed an awesome visit with Caroline, UofM's athletic department nutritionist and still my #1 source for credible nutrition info. (For instance today I learned that one of my favorite post race smoothie ingredients, Glutamine, is highly tested but is yet to show beneficial results)
These beauties were born while I was still a student athlete. Leah (far left) is now taking middle school finals. AHHHHHH!!!  Am I really getting that old =(
Finally, on the way out of town I took in the most beautiful sight in all of Ann Arbor, The BIG House.
I love everything Ann Arbor! Even the fire hydrants. Every ounce of that city hold a piece of history and a special sense of magic for those who are lucky enough to call themselves student athletes during their time on campus.
My legs are spasming while I sit here typing this. I think they're just trying to tell me how happy they are to be running again! Even so, maybe yoga should be on the list for tomorrow's gym rat session. 
4 Sleeps until Christmas! and it's looks like it is going to be quite the White Christmas indeed!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life After Ironman

So I've been a bit m.i.a! I swear I've started about 5 blog entries, but haven't finished any of them. I've been enjoying the off season, while attending to...life beyond ironman. There's been more sleeping in, more time with friends, and more time to send my mental energy to the various things that are partially (or fully) neglected during the tri-season. The little running I have done, has centered around enjoying my surroundings instead of caring about my pace. Sunset runs in the crisp "winter" air- breathtaking!
Every day is about doing what I want in that moment. Suddenly working out doesn't seem like training at all, and in turn I've enjoyed quite a mental break.

I finally caved and gave mountain biking a try. Uphill, fun. Downhill, not so muchhhhhhhhhh
My body is getting quite the break, while my mind is re-energized and hungry for what's to come next year!  I've done a lot of thinking after leaving the BI and am really excited for next year. Step one, improve my cycling. I have no doubt that the race portion of my racing has been well under par. I am capable of more, and can't wait to deliver on it next year. Thankfully, a few fast fella's have stepped in and are towing me around the county. Some days I've hung in there, others I've been left on the side of the road in tears. It's all part of my plan to keep having fun with the sport, while pushing my limits. In my search for MORE POWER I even found new mountains to climb.
I can't help but feel continually blessed to not only this home, but to love a sport that enables me to keep exploring it.
Tomorrow I'm off to Michigan to enjoy time with my family! I can't wait to see everyone there. I'll be trading in the sunset beach views for snow and (hopefully) a white Christmas.
Cheers to a healthy and very happy off season!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Keep those shoes moving well beyond season's end!

 Last weekend I was up in L.A. sharing my GU love with the RNR 1/2 marathon participants. It was awesome to escape the nutrition knowledged world of ironman to help newbies find a nutrition plan that works for them. Here i am working it, and lovin' it
The booth next to us was Give Your Sole, an absolutely awesome company! So many of us, myself included, run a few hundred miles in our shoes and then just leave them sitting in our closet or under the seats in our car (or in my case, both). But in most cases the shoes are still in excellent condition. I love love love organizations that help charities and missions over seas, but the reality is we need a lot of help right here in our country, and in our home towns. And this one is easy.
Gather all your retired shoes and send them my way. I'll collect them all and get them to Brett at Give Your Sole. From there they will be donated throughout the country to the homeless.
Seriously, come on- it's easy! If you live in San Diego you can drop your shoes by my place, or email me and I will happily come get them from you: ckgregory@gmail.com.
Together I'm hoping to donate 500 pairs of shoes. We can do it, we can do it! This won't be hard if everyone simply gets their retired shoes into the right hands. If you live outside of San Diego just send me an email and I can either find you a drop off location close to you, or you can mail them to me.
Speaking of running. My ankle is still a long work in progress. This week I hit up Rob Rich to pick his brain about making a few changes in my cycling orthotics. Later in the week I met up with a foot ankle guru here in town. His answer: make major changes in my cycling, running, standing, walking, and siting mechanics. Yippee. Daunting! but I'm on it. The swelling is going down, and I know I will get to the bottom of this.But this time, it has to go away for good. Heck, last winter I completely changed my running form, so I can make this change too.  I also have a shinny new pair of cyling (yes cycling, my first non-triathlon cycling shoes) to test out. The boys at Louis G say they will be the secret to my healing success!

Ok now get those shoes together and send them my way.  I just know some homeless woman is going to LOVE my hot pink Newtons- fresh of Ali'i Drive!  (note, if you've taken the insoles out of your shoes bc you use orthodics, put them back in if you still have 'em lying around)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The last of 'em


Well, here are the last of the pitures and stories from the Big Island. The memories are starting to fade a bit and that makes me sad. One thing is for sure, for a girl who swore she wasn't going to race Kona in 2010, I sure did have a blast!
Beautiful, right? High, right? In my post ironman daze I tried to play like the locals."try" being the key word. The locals jump like this:
But,  California Girls? We jump more like this: First we stare down at the water. Then we discuss who should go first, second, third.
And then we (ok just me) let out a huge "AHHHHHHH" until the our feet penetrate the water). then it's all smiles and laughs until we have to rock climb our selves back atop.

On the climb back up I quickly realized I wasn't quite as strong and sturdy as I was two days prior. The aftermath was not so pretty :( Several deep gashes on the same ankle that was already a swollen mess. Remembering the discomfort of this moment might help me resist the strong desire to throw on the running shoes tomorrow.
But nothing stopped me from partying it up with everyone I wasn't able to hang out with prior to race day. Seriously, I squeezed as much as I possibly could into the time I had there.
GU crew, you guys are awesome. Thanks for making my last night on the Big Island special....even if you did deny me from binging on frozen yogurt.
Ok, So I'm back in San Diego eating too many sweets and avoiding my regimented schedule. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking ahead to next year. But before I can think of the next race, I'm determined to get to the bottom of this paroneal tendon issue. The ankle inflammation is going down, but clearly the problem remains. The cortisone shot I had prior to Canada wore off the week before Kona. I tried to ignore it, but it roared its ugly head during the race and became impossible once the post race swelling began. It is officially time for some RNR, and non-swim, bike, run activities with friends.
I am certainly missing the Big Island, and the random fruit that drifted onto our beach. Have you ever cracked open a coconut? If not, take note: knife and lava rocks won't do the trick
but, a pedal wrench? Now we're talking ;)

So that's a wrap. To my amazing house mates! Thank you thank you for an unbelievable week. You (yes even little adorable 1year old P.K.) kept me relaxed going into race day and full of life following.
The 2010 Triathlon season has been full of fun surprises! It was more than I could have dreamed and definitely helped me through a lot of tough times this year.  I couldn't have done any of it without the support of so many amazing friends, fun training partners, my family, and of course those that took a risk to sponsor my search for speed! I 100% believe in everything TYR, Newton, GU, TriBike Transport and B.C!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Take me back!

I keep clicking my heals, snapping my fingers, saying my prayers to the island gods, and even drinking mai tai's, but I remain far away from the hawaiian side of the pacific. Sadly, I'm trying to fight through a bit of the post ironman daze/aid (after ironman depression, duh). So although life beyond ironman moves on, I don't mind taking a moment to look back at the days following the race.
If I haven't said it once, or twice, or three times, I must say it again: TYR rocks! How awesome is it that while we were out there tearing up the streets in our TYR red kits, the entire TYR crew was right there at the swim exit and on Ali'i drive supporting us with matching attire.
Sunday we got together to eat, drink and watch the waves crash into the lava. TYR, and GU all in one place, mmmm mmmm.
But I'm not sure anything compared to the most amazing morning swim IMAGINABLE! Yup, you guessed it...Dolphins. Not just a few, but 35. And yes, Tyler I counted them as they swam beneath me. Check out the babies! I may have done an ironman the day before, but I was in the water faster than Roch could say "dolphins."
My favorite Mate's: Kate, and our BEYOND amazing massage guru Simone, were there to take in the sights (and sounds) with me! Thank you Simone for clearing the Canada out of my legs so I could get 'er done in Kona. And Kate, you are my hero!
 I tried to swim to the depths of the ocean with the dolphins, but for some reason I couldn't hold my breath very long. Dang Ironman.
And as if that wasn't enough for one day I joined the GU crew for a little cliff jumping excursion. I only had 2 days of real vacation, so I made sure to live it up! You'll have to wait until tomorrow for those pics.
Hopefully these pictures can help me dream of being in the care free, stress free, fun filled Aloha state.
Care to join me? Good night

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010 Ironman World Championships

 It seems like a dream. I can't believe that only a few days ago I was anxiously awaiting the start of the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championships!
In my pre-race warm up I felt a sense of calm that I have NEVER felt in previous visits to Kona! I swam back and forth between the pier and beach with a smile on my face, and with that, a sense of calmness came over me. I separated myself from the rest of the crazies and found my way over to the secluded beach. The spectators were amazing! I put my feet on the ground and they erupted into cheers for #1718! I heard my sherpa extraordinaire, Jenny, off in the distance and took a moment to run up and give her a huge hug. This picture says it all: calm, relaxed, happy and ready to kick ass!
Swim: The waters of Kailua Kona Bay featured a good/strong current with decent chop. However, I'll take rough water over awful foot cramps any day (as was the case in my previous 2 trips to kona)! I now believe that a huge reason for the cramping I've experienced in years past was nerves. I didn't think I was nervous at the time, but comparing 2008 and 2009 to this year I know that is probably the largest contributing factor. I also didn't abide by the "adjust to the heat" no air conditioning rule this year. This meant my electrolytes were not totally depleted before the gun went off.
It was a pretty physical swim out to the first buoy, but I hung in there and fought back. As was the case in Canada, I didn't take being clocked over the head very lightly. I fought back! and held my line/feet. Once around the final turn buoy I felt my draft starting to slow. I looked up for new feet to follow but there weren't many around. All of a sudden a guy came rip-roaring by my left, and I took the opportunity to jump on. This was my ride back to the pier. I probably should have left my initial draft buddy earlier on in the swim, but all-in-all it was a decent swim. Hell, I was singing to myself the entire time. Maybe I could of swam a bit faster, but I relied on the luck of the draft, and still exited the water within a minute or two of the leaders.

T1: get OUT of MY way!
I used a bit extra time this year to put on arm coolers and apply sun screen. I haven't done this in years past, and ended up a fried mess. I knew the extra 30second in the tent would be worth it if the heat and sun were anything like last year. I'm not sure what the deal was in that transition this year, but seriously I took out about 5 people on my way through. I am not sure why people thought it was ok to take their bikes out of the rack and block the entire row, but I yelled my whole way through transition: "on your right, on your left, coming through, MOVE!" It must of been comical to watch me throw aside anything and everything in my path, but I wanted to get the heck out of there. I think people think of transition as a break. But not me, the clock doesn't stop, so neither do I!
Bike: Once on the Queen K I stayed well within myself. Pain instantly filled my quads, and with it I realized this was not going to feel as "easy" as IM Canada. I was passed by a ton of packs, but tried hard not to let it fluster with my emotions as it has in previous races. I instead said a prayer and asked God to be my witness and remind me that I was an athlete with integrity and didn't need to play at their game in order to have a worthy race. That is what kept me smiling as I reached the end of the Queen K and started my climb up to Hawi.
 If you read any other race reports I'm sure people will talk about the hellacious winds up to Hawi. I came into the race expecting nothing less. Instead of hating life (as in previous races on the BI) I accepted it. The faster I get to Hawi, the faster I get off this awful stretch of road. I remained aero as long as I could and did the best I could. The cross winds sucked and were a bit scary, but I handled them the best I could and just kept fighting.
I honestly did not feel strong, and nothing seemed to come easy to me, but I did remain calm and content. I couldn't control the feeling in my legs or that my heart rate wouldn't go up, but I could control my mental toughness.After watching the drafting and inefficient refereeing I almost threw in the towel. I could rant and rave on this topic for paragraph and page on end...but I'll save it.

I entered T2 feeling a bit depleted, but I still cruised in around 5:39. Considering we faced head winds for 90% of the ride I was content...and ready to run.
T2: there is a good funny T2 story, but in the effort of space I'll spare you the sun screen debacle. But obviously by my awesome lack of tan lines you can tell that I won the quick but brutal battle.

Run: The first 8 miles I tried hard to hold back. I wanted to duplicate my IM Canada run, and knew the secret was in the first few miles. Hold back now, fly later.  The only difference was the lack of "flying." Unlike Canada I was not enjoying the run, and nothing came easy. I tried to put on a smile when I ran by the countless friends lining the course, but in reality I was in a whole heap of pain. The one thing keeping me going was the fact that I was finally the one doing all the passing. 
When I hit the energy lab I knew I had a shot at sub 10:10. That is a "dream come true time" for me, and to achieve it in Kona would be sick. I thought sub 10:10 would certainly be good for the podium, so I tried hard to keep ticking off my competition. Robert was out on the run course trying to figure out where my competition was. By this point he thought I was in 6th, but I had 4 minutes to make up on the next closest girl. He willed me and cheered me on, but I was Ms. Negative pants in return. I was near tears when I yelled back "I can't...I'm running out of real estate." Both him and Jenny refused to accept this and insisted I keep fighting. They told me I could catch a few more girls if I just kept fighting. It was this moment when I finally allowed thoughts of my friend John Adams to enter my mind, fill my heart, and fuel my feet. Many of you reading this blog are blessed to also call him your friend! Those who don't know him, he was an amazing friend, athlete and coach! He was in a tragic car accident several weeks ago and has been fighting HARD for his life.
Friday night I learned that his family decided to follow his wishes and take him off life support. I wanted to grieve but didn't feel I could. I tried hard to sleep, but I couldn't do that either. Until this moment, I simply thought of crossing the finish line for him. But he decided to join me a bit early, and with three miles to go he let me know he was right there with me. Ask Robert and he'll tell you I was holding back the tears. I had NOTHING left in the tank. NOTHING! But, just as I turned to run down Palani I saw my next target. I flew! I was on her tail and waiting to make the pass. I figured I'd wait until we hit the hot corner, that is until she turned back and saw me on her feet. That was all it took and I was off. I turned back one and she was still within 100 feet, I turned onto Ali'i and surged again.
And as I entered the finish area I saw Sierra was right there as well. I thought we were both on the podium. When I passed her I thought I had run my way into 4th. Turns out a few of the girls ahead of me looked more like men, and my friends didn't calculate them into the equation. oops.

10:07! only 6 weeks after my break through 10:17 at IM Canada. And a new run PR of 3:21. I waited a few short seconds to great my good friend Sierra and congratulate her on an amazing race!
Moments like this are so much more enjoyable when shared with those we love. Sierra is an amazing athlete and even better person. It was awesome to share this moment with her! Now if only I could learn to bike like her!
And then, I took a moment for John. I finally let myself accept that he has left this earth. Sharing something like this with him gives great meaning to what I accomplished out there. You have to know John to know what I mean. Dear friend, you will be missed! And those lives you touched will continue to live with a spirit and love greater than any one of us possessed before you entered our lives. Finally I let the tears flow! =(
What a day, and what a journey! I never thought I'd be a contender in Kona, and never thought I would break 10:10 there. I've always been one to dream big, but I guess this year, on this day  the dream was too big for even myself to conceive.  Thing is, it was not to big for John! 
...I have to end this blog post on that note.
 and give a special thanks to my race day sherpas: Robert, Jenny and RJ! You guys kept the fight within me alive.