Wow – it has been a LONG time since I last blogged – well over a year in fact. My mom is always harping on me to write SOMETHING, but I dislike writing just for the sake of it, so I’ve inherently struggled to sit down and get something on paper. Yet, as my 2017 season starts to heat up and go into full swing, I figured it is about time for an update!
Suffice to say that 2016 didn’t end the way that I had hoped. While I felt good about the progress I had made and many aspects of the 2016 season, I was disappointed with my performance at the World Championships and then not defending my title at Ironman Western Australia in December. Don’t get me wrong – there was a lot of good: two 70.3 titles, one Ironman win and a Sub-9 hr Ironman performance. I suppose it just didn’t happen when it counted most.
In hindsight, I made a lot of mistakes: in short, I was too outcome focused and forgot to respect the process of preparation. I went into Kona tired (my own doing) and a bit fried from pushing myself too hard for too long. I wanted a podium so badly that I was doing extra sessions and extending almost all of my prescribed sessions to be far longer and more intense then asked. I wanted to work harder than ever before so that I could make those extra gains. What I learned – HARDER and MORE is not always better. Smarter training is better.
At the beginning of 2017 Matt Dixon (my coach) and I sat down and talked about the season ahead. I promised him (and myself) during our talk that I would do no more than prescribed, if I was tired I would let him know, and I would truly take the easy days easy. I also fully committed myself to the nutritional plan set forth by my nutritionist – Phil Goglia from Performance Fitness Concepts. I’ve always roughly followed his plan, but not to the exactness he’s often asked of me. For example if he said eat 12 ounces of red meat or fish at night for dinner I would each 4-6 ounces of chicken. Kind of like the training, I wanted to cut those extra calories, likely often leaving myself under fueled. This year I agreed to get fully on board with his plan.
And so far things have been great. Mentally it has been a bit challenging for me to not be doing more more more, but I’m genuinely trying to be a smarter athlete, not the one that trains the most. This year, if my ride says 3-4 hours and I’m feeling particularly tired that day, I’ll ride only 3 hours. It is HARD for me to do at times, because I’ve always been the person that has worked longer/harder/more than anyone, but I’ve found my body seems to be absorbing loads and adapting better than ever before and the stronger I feel the more confidence it gives me to do things like only ride 3 hours, or truly swim EASY on easy days. Similarly with my nutrition, it has been a game changer for me. I feel like I am really nailing the nutritional side of things and feeling like my foods are truly supporting the training load I am putting on my body. It’s been exciting to see the adaptations and changes.
I kicked off my season this year in early April at a 70.3 in Liuzhou, China. While the race didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped – or even really expected given what I was seeing in training – it felt amazing to be out on the race course and pushing my body hard. The experience itself in China was an incredible one. The course was AMAZING with a beautiful swim, awesome bike on perfectly paved and safe roads, and a fast run. The event was incredibly well run, and the city of Liuzhou was beautiful in so many ways. I felt extremely fortunate for the experience and really look forward to go back to Liuzhou and racing there again. The race also gave me a chance to take stock on where I truly was at and make some changes to my training. For example, I started swimming 2-3 times per week in San Francisco Bay (brrr!!) to get more valuable open water practice in, and we made some significant changes to my run training and pacing.
After Liuzhou I felt that I really needed another race under my belt as I began my preparations for Ironman Cairns, which is the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship race coming up on June 11th. Matt and I decided to add in a 70.3 in Lima, Peru. So in late April I made my way down to South America. Kind of like Liuzhou, I was underwhelmed with my performance there, but had some great take aways and really accomplished what we wanted – another hard strong race effort to help with my prep for Cairns. I made a pretty critical mistake at the start of the race that I think cost me big time on the swim. I’m not someone who can go from a sedentary place to sprinting. My heart rate spikes too quickly and I begin to panic in the water and hyperventilate. As a result, I typically build in a LONG warm up into my pre-race routine. I’ll run sometimes up to 3 miles (or more, on occasion) with some hard efforts to get my heart rate up to my 70.3 effort. I typically have a good sweat on by the time the race starts! This allows that uncomfortable feeling of getting your heart rate up to take place and then I find it easier at the start of the swim when my heart rate begins to rise. In Peru, we had over an hour delay on the swim because of a car accident on the bike course and I sat around, effectively allowing myself to cool off. I then didn’t go and get my heart rate back up before the swim start and when the gun sounded I promptly imploded! I was annoyed with myself as I have been swimming extremely well in training and doing plenty of open water swimming to know where I SHOULD be versus where I was. It was user-error right there, and I feel like it cost me being in a better position to contend for the win.
Since returning from Peru I’ve put in a great block of training and really feel like I’ve been seeing some strong gains across swim,bike an run. This time of year is one of my favorites – when the race fitness starts to come back and you can feel your body beginning to work more efficiently. It makes the training and racing so much more fun!
Up next is Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa this weekend! I am REALLY excited for this race for a number of reasons. First – it is pretty much in my backyard (only 1 hour from my house). My parents are coming to cheer me on, and (because it is local) the purplepatch community will be out in full force cheering and racing that day. Though it is a very competitive field, it makes the race feel local, and I love that!
After Santa Rosa I’ll put in my last little block of training before I head over to Cairns, Australia for my “A” race of the season – Ironman Cairns. Outside of Kona, this is my biggest race of the year. It is the Asia Pacific Championships and my goal and hope is to put up my best Ironman to date. A BIG goal for me this year is to run under 3 hours in the marathon and so I’ll be targeting that there.
As always – a MASSIVE thank you to my incredible sponsors: Cervelo, Saucony, Clif Bar, Shimano, Zone3, SOS Rehydrate, Bear Mattress, Rudy Project, Polar Global, Boheme Wines, CycleOps, Zealios, purplepatch fitness, Avanzare Chiropractic, Performance Fitness Concepts, Movement as Medicine, and Shift SF
And hopefully I’m turning over a new leaf and you might get some regular blogging from me 🙂
Don’t Dream It. Be It.