After a bit of an off month I was eager to get going again and the Kenda Cup XC race in Big Bear was the perfect platform for that. I went back and forth about pre riding but in the end opted for a day trip so Ben (boyfriend) and Freddie (puppy) could join me. I felt pretty good going in to the race other than a bit shaky. My tummy was doing flips but thats usual for me before any race. However this was different….I made an emergency stop to the bathroom in Ghost Town, CA, and thinking I was in the clear we continued our journey. HA. After making the turn off at Barstow that urgent feeling returned with a vengeance. F*ck. There is literally nothing on this road for miles, nothing in the desert but dusty shrubs and cactus. But this was an emergency. I don’t feel I have to talk any more about said emergency, but rest assured I was a little nervous about how this was going to impact my race…
We rolled in to Big Bear and I registered for the race while Ben got the bike together and Freddie let himself be heard by barking at bikes. The nervousness built and after a couple more bathroom trips I rode up to the start. Its around a 15min ride from the parking lot to the start, however the course was now changed and it was much further up the road than I thought, luckily I had left myself plenty time and arrived with enough time to stretch off, practice a couple warm up hill climbs and chill before my wave set off. I recognized a couple faces but was also glad to see new faces.
The race started and I took off up the hill. Its fairly normal to start with a sprint but I quickly found myself alone and pushing up the hill. I didn’t worry though because what goes up must come down! XC racing is full of intervals where you blow up then kind of recover then blow up again. It was pretty hot out but I had a full bottle on my bike and another in my back pocket. I had quickly scoffed a gel before the start and had one more in my pocket also. I continued pushing and finally the downhills started. However, with the lack of rain the corners, downhills and fire road were all pretty loose and I seemed to be losing control of my front wheel a lot. I slowed down quite a bit thinking I had a comfortable lead but before I knew it I looked back and I had a couple riders hot on my tracks. A couple more uphills put some distance in again but sure enough with the downhills they were on my tail again. One girl in my age group past me and we shared a couple words but my heart sank a bit. DONT GIVE UP. We came into a switchback section but the trail was loose, dusty and tight, and with another rider hot on my tracks I wadded up on a corner and went half OTB. Luckily she was able to pass without incident and I collected myself, ego bruised. I couldn’t understand why I was having such issues, but then it clicked! Although I was trying to keep my weight back, in my nervousness I had a death grip on my handlebars causing my front wheel to give out on every corner. After I made the necessary correction I coasted around the course! I found myself actually laughing out loud at my mistake and grateful to be back on track riding smoothly. It was too late by this point to make up the ground for 1st place but I could hold onto 2nd.
I had now gone through almost all of my nutrition but I still had 5 miles to go, I had been guzzling down my fluids, but it wasnt enough. My Right Quad cramped up so hard I almost fell off my bike. It eased off but I was very timid to put much more power through that leg in fear it would cramp again. Finally I got to the last downhill stretch and with memories of riding this section the year before was surprised at how much better I was able to handle the descents, technical spots and corners. I rode into the finish line absolutely beat but honestly so happy.
So many emotions and thoughts go through your head on difficult races: ‘you’re not strong enough’, ‘you don’t belong here’, ‘your legs are empty’, ‘give up now’, and the most important one that screams louder than ANY of them….
‘NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!’
The Coffee Nap. This paradoxical beauty combines two of my favorite things: Coffee and taking naps 🙂 not that I often get to do the latter succcefully…until now.
I had read an article recently regarding brain chemistry during sleep and how caffeine can impact brain receptors during this time. Intrigued I have trialled the theory a few times since with great success I am pleased to report!
So what is the ‘caffeine nap’ or ‘Coffee nap’? Well, it does in fact have everything to do with chemistry, brain chemistry to more specific. Throughout the day a chemical in called adenosine accumulates in your brain blocking receptors, causing you to feel drowsy. When you sleep your body is able to reduce the adenosine molecules, so that when you wake you feel refreshed and you start over. Caffeine has been shown to interact with these same receptors blocking the interaction of Adenosine and therefore allowing the stimulating effect of Caffeine to work without having to fight against the adenosine.
So how do you take a coffee/caffeine nap?? Well here you go:
- Enjoy a cup of delicious caffeinated goodness (I recommend Adventure Roast from Grimpeur Bros. or if you’re in Las Vegas stop by Grouchy Johns’ Coffee Shop – they have awesome coffee combinations and super comfy nap-worthy chairs!)
- Set your alarm for 20mins
- Close your eyes, relax and NAP
- Wake up to your alarm feeling awesome!
- Charge forward with your day with renewed vigor and energy 😀
Now, I will say that although this is definitely an awesome solution, avoid indulging too frequently as this can have a negative impact on longer sleep periods. In addition to that, if you have any medical condition that could be negatively impacted by caffeine (heart condition or blood pressure issues) this won’t magically change that… so be smart people.
Good luck with you coffee naps and be productive, positive and happy 🙂
Oh man, now this was truly an event to remember! I travelled out to Arkansas last Wednesday for the USAT Off Road National Championship in Arkadelphia, AR. I specifically went out early so I could pre-ride the course having learned the value of course knowledge, and after putting my bike together Wednesday, I woke up Thursday, packed a sandwich and headed out to the race venue. I had switched out tires in preparation for the dirt and terrain of Arkansas to the MAXXIS CrossMarks and boy did these do well! The course was fast and fun, loose in places with short pitchy climbs and a couple small creek crossings. Pre ride was a success. Next up, swim; I don’t know if you have tried to get into a wetsuit in humid conditions when you’re already hot and sweaty, but it feels a lot like being unborn might feel….took me a good 10mins to squeeze myself into this suit! Swim was great but I was aware from the get go of the couple holes in my wetsuit letting in a good bit of cold water, not that I was complaining as it certainly helped to cool me down! But your wetsuit should not have holes. Regardless too late in the day to do anything about it.
The next day brought torrential rain, thunder and lightning the ENTIRE DAY AND NIGHT!!! A brief break in the weather on Saturday meant I could go and quickly run one lap of the 2 lap course in some pretty wet conditions, but again I loved the course, good climbs, fun footwork and a fast downhill finish! I felt very prepared having reccee’d the majority of the race and really excited for the course.
I received a text and then an email later Saturday afternoon informing us that due to rising lake levels the venue had been closed down by the Army corps and the race would be moved to a new location and that they would send further details… Now this would probably be a good time to panic but honestly that doesn’t help anyone. This is really just time to be CALM IN CHAOS.
Race morning came and I knew the new location but that was about it. On arrival we learned that the bike would be extended by 4 miles with a 2mile road ride to get to the trail and then 2miles to ride bike in from the trail and that the brand new run course was around 7 miles. People around me continued to panic over the longer distances and change to course but all I could think of was this was exactly what I train for! This is why I will do three hard laps of Badger Pass, or long runs on the trail with hill efforts, for this moment!
I got into the water for race start and felt my wetsuit fill with water around my midriff and torso. The race began and I quickly got into a rhthym. I felt that I was sighting well but my I also felt heavy like I was swimming through syrup. I remained calm and finished the swim, running out of the water I knew I had time to make up!
I jumped onto my bike, hit the lockout for the initial road section and got to business! As soon as I reached the trail I knew this course was going to be epic! MUD GALORE!!! This was almost a completely new course to what I had pre-rode but I learned quickly just how much I could push the corners and terrain with the deep muddy sections, and those small creeks….HA! They were now rivers!! I made up a lot of time on the time on the bike despite a couple epic wipeout crashes in the deep mud and water. I was literally covered head to toe in mud and it was awesome! Arkansas offered crazy fun XC trails with beautiful views spanning over the vast lakes that hug the forest coastline. I had stayed on top of my nutrition throughout per Coach Lesley’s instructions and felt good on an energy level!
Coming off the bike I wasn’t sure that my trail shoes were the right choice for the harsh road section that started the run course. Regardless I headed out on a steady clip, and pushed along the road section, about 1.5miles in we broke off onto the trail section, and I instantly felt better on my feet! I love the free nature of the trail and although still a little technical the ground had significantly dried since the bike leg. My eyes burned from the spurts of mud they had been thrown during the bike but I focused on the trail and my footwork…however I somehow caught my toe on a tree root and stumbled 20feet forward onto the trail, I quickly jumped up and hastened to get back into my pace. Feeling adrenaline rush through my legs I was sure to maintain my CALM. I continued to push the pace in my run and looking at my Garmin, and at 6.5miles we were still in the middle of the woods. KEEP THAT CALM! I knew now the run was going to be long and was grateful of the 2nd gel I had brought with me. Back onto the road section I was able to pass a couple more athletes and only build momentum. Seeing the finish line come in to view I kicked up that final gear and brought it home.
The result although important is only second to the experience of the entire race. Keeping Calm amongst the Chaos is integral to your performance. This was quite a turnaround race for me as I was really able to harness the confidence from my training and the process I have been through to know that whatever is thrown my way I can manage the obstacle and overcome it. This is racing. This is offload racing! It’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s challenging and I LOVE IT!!!
I placed 3rd Female overall and awarded 1st Elite Female in the Off Road National Championship. I have mixed feelings about this result as it feels like a steal but I also hesitate to feel this way because of the effort and fight I put into this event. I really fought as hard as I could especially coming out the water so far back. I earned the fastest run split of the day of the women which is a great way to finish a race…just as strong if not stronger than how your started! I’m excited to continue this journey, and happy to get back to the grind to get faster and stronger!
I was doubly sure to thank and congratulate the race organizers for pulling this event together in less than 24hours in tough conditions, and they truly did such a great job under pressure.
Thank you to everyone who supported me at this race especially my boyfriend Ben Ward and his wonderful family who came to watch and cheer and take care of me over the entire race week!
There’s no way around it, if you want to become a better swimmer you have to swim more…and not just a couple days a week, I’m talking like 20,000yards a week minimum. Yes technique is definitely important but ultimately its your feel for the water and the time in the water, that will take you from just getting through your swim, to actually seeing improvement in your times. Not only that, but in Triathlon, allowing you to emerge from the swim FRESHER!
So in my quest to improve my swim, I have been swimming more. I’m still building and am no where near the mileage needed yet BUT what I have noticed are changes in my body and in my run! People often ask how often I lift and I tell them I basically don’t, unless its a coffee mug at 4am! But seriously, swimming (and mountain biking) are both great for sculpting your arms. Thats pretty logical. Swimming also utilizes your core strength and stability to keep you fluid and smooth in the water as you glide, pull, kick and breathe. I have noticed my core feeling a little stronger and more firm as a result, and that has transferred over into how solid my ‘chassis’ feels as I run! Not that it was noodle like before but I definitely can feel and reap the benefits of this increased swim volume.
The great thing about being an athlete and a coach is that as a coach you understand the theory and philosophy of coaching and physical performance, but as an athlete you get to FEEL that!
I am lucky to be able to swim with some of the fastest guys in the sport and although I’m a long way off their interval times and splits, they couldn’t be more encouraging and supportive! I also have the luxury of a great local Masters swim group which meets, Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings, Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, giving plenty of options and levels of ability. My advice is to find a group or lane that are just a little faster than you, and use that to drive and motivate you forward with your swimming practice. Check out the masters group at Henderson Multigenerational Pool, at their Facebook page: Henderson Aquatics.
I have my swim bag in the car ready for practice tonight! Maybe see you out there 🙂
Back in 2008 I think it was I bought an iPod. Apple have an option where you can engrave the back of the iPod for you. I had mine engraved with:
Swim. Bike. Run.
I used this iPod ALL the time. I used to teach all sorts of exercise classes and loved putting together different playlists for the classes, really using my musicality to get the most out of the participants. I also used it for all my training. Well I did bring it to the states but lost it for a long time. I mean I knew it was somewhere, I just didn’t know where somewhere was… Well I found the iPod the other day whilst cleaning!!! And let me tell you, what a throwback of music you will find on this iPod, its great!!!
So, I went out to Cottonwood trails yesterday, just West of Las Vegas to take my FSI Cannonade Hardtail out for a shred accompanied by said iPod. Had a blast! Rode up around lawnmower the
n up badger pass then down red valley back over to the downhill section of badger pass. It was an absolutely beautiful day to ride bikes, not too warm, not too cold, no real wind, sun in the sky. Even think I may have gotten a QOM up lawnmower, not the downhill section cause, man the girls out here get GNARLY!! Someday I’d like to be more like them!
So I start descending down badger pass, and I’m kinda pushing it to get back to work on time, and Im not even sure what I hit but, booking it downhill I hit something and was sent OTB (Over The Bars) landing on the right side of my pelvis, right forearm and right knee!!! The wind was clean knocked out of me and I thought initially I might pass out or vomit but did neither and instead just exhaled very loudly…ok screamed for a couple minutes to help the pain escape. But F*** it hurt bad.
I looked at my bike and it seemed to look ok, the garmin had ‘ceased to be’ but nothing glaringly wrong with the bike. I stood up, or attempted to, but my pelvis/abdomen were throbbing. I had been making a lot of noise for a few minutes (seemed like an hour), but I knew it was in vain and that most likely no one would be up that trail for the rest of the day. I mustered myself to a stand and climbed over the bike. If I could just roll down to the late night parking lot I could probably find someone there or at least be off the trail for help. I sat my feet on the pedals and literally rolled down, grunting as i went to get the pain out, every tiny bump sending shooting pain through me. I got to the only uphill section on the way back which is only maybe 20 feet…yesterday it felt like a mile. I couldn’t pedal so had to climb off and stumble up to the top. I got back on and rolled to the parking lot. Luckily there were a few cars there and I had managed to call my boyfriend to meet me at the blue diamond lot. A very nice man named Mike calmly and patiently took my bike, loaded onto his car and then helped me in and drove me round to blue diamond. He then stayed with me and talked the entire time to help and distract me, he was my trail angel! Thank you Mike!
Ben arrived and carried me to his car. We headed to the ER where they admitted me through as a trauma patient. 3 doses of morphine, a tetanus shot, X-rays and a CT scan later I was declared free to leave, no fractures but just pretty beat up. And now high.
It wasn’t the greatest day but man am I glad to ride in such a supportive community of MTB’ers who will not hesitate to help a fellow biker out. I’ve been that helper a couple times before and will continue to contribute to this brother/sisterhood of bikers for as long as i ride!
Sucks being out of commission but Im confident its only for a couple days. I tend to heal pretty fast and Im stubborn so this won’t keep me down for long! 🙂
Ride safe Friends
I left Nipton at around 3am and drove to Primm to sleep in the car until 5:30am. I knew I couldn’t even think of doing this crazy challenge without help, and luckily my partner in life 😉 Brandon was more than willing to provide support in this part of the weekend. Having not managed to eat or drink following stomach issues I gingerly ordered hot chocolate and oatmeal from Starbucks while Brandon loaded up on a Venti extra everything coffee! I closed my eyes slot of the way but couldn’t fall asleep. I would ramble about the race and then fade off for a while before eventually just turning up some music and amping up for the day. We arrived in big bear and I signed up. I was eager to try and continue hydration so I sat behind the sunshade in the car sipping on water and a rockstar evergy drink. The race started up on 2N10, a dirt road ‘an easy 10minute ride’ from snow summit. An easy ride, my arse. I kept in a low gear climbing up to the top.
I got to the start line with around 10mins to spare. The girls around me looked strong and ready for the day. I looked like death. A girl in a Velo Hanger kit rolled up beside me. I knew her! I had raced with her at a stage race earlier in the season and boy was she strong!!! Another couple familiar faces rolled up and I knew I was in trouble. These girls are good!
At this point considering the race the day before, there was nothing left but to enjoy it. At least that’s what Brandon said. Although he and I both knew that once the gun went off I would undoubtedly be giving it my best.
We were off. Our field raced forward and soon the likely contenders were all at the front pushing up the climb. I kept true to my legs and myself and didn’t get excited. Slowly I inched passed one then one more until it was just me and Katie (the VH badass!). We to’d and fro’d between 1st and 2nd position. Knowing we were all cat 2 but not knowing age groups she called forward at one point as I’d got in front, “WHAT AGE GROUP ARE YOU?”, I replied “19-29!”, she laughed, “THEN THIS IS GONNA BE FUN!!”. I smiled too and it was on!!!!
We continued back and forth, she took me on a couple climbs but I kept her in my sights, mindful of the pack behind us too. We turned onto a single track and I was grateful of my fast and furious training on narrow trails in Las Vegas. I saw an opportunity to jump in front of her and I bolted! Suddenly adrenaline kicking in, I was sharp and thrashing into corners and descents. Of course, courteous to much faster guys who would catch me on these descents, “RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT” I would shout, aware they were close and signaling to pass by.
I glanced at my watch, 16.5miles. Only 0.5 to go. I glanced behind, no sign of any girls! But it’s not over til it’s over! Glanced again, 17miles…did I miss the turn? Am I on the right course? DROP! Big boulder drop out of nowhere. ‘Ok, focus and trust that you’re going the right way!’
Soon the crowds started emerging. The final turn and I crossed the line. 1st. Bloody 1st!!! I could hardly believe it! I was elated. Katie came in 2:30 after me and we commended each other on a true race.
This weekend showed me that I could achieve seemingly unattainable things, but I could do it with power, speed and heart. This was the confidence booster I needed to get right back into Ironman training. And with that being said the countdown is on.
Thank you to everyone for the support and for the encouragement to follow my dreams. I won’t let you down.
Not even 2weeks ago I received a message from AJ Mesalic via Facebook, asking me to fill a spot in their team in the Mohave Death Race. Someone had had to pull out at last minute and it was crunch time. I did a bit of research and was inundated with info about the race from AJ, and it really looked quite rediculous. 280 mile relay race across the Mohave Desert in summer, comprising 24 legs of road bike, mountain bike, road run and trail run. Being an endurance junkie and loving a good challenge I was definitely intrigued. I only had one problem: the next day was the next round of the Kenda Cup West in Big Bear, and I was so eager to gain some points in the series standing after winning my first race in Bonelli park. So I asked him. Logistically, disregarding the lack of sleep and recovery, would it be possible to finish one and be in big bear to race on Sunday… AJ seemed confident we could be finished by 5am. Providing I could ask someone to drive me to big bear and back it wAs definitely plausible… I WAS IN!
Friday night I drove to Nipton, CA where the race would begin and finish. I met my team (most of which for the first time!), AJ and Ashley who I knew through the local triathlon scene, Kas, a crazy great climber with Mcghies/Mandalay bay cycling team, Ryan and Chris who are both incredible seemingly effortless runners and Patrick a fearless mountain biker AND roadie. Our team was completed by Carrie, Kas’ wife who drove one of our vehicles, provided constant support and who spent her entire Friday creating an entire cooler full of Feedzone Portables which kept us fueled through the entire event.
After sleeping in our pretty glamorous 8 person tent, complete with noisy freight trains passing through the night I woke bleary eyed but altogether quite excited for the adventure that lay ahead. The year before the competition had been tight with only 80seconds between 1st and 2nd place! The theme of the day was to never let our ego get the better of us, never give up, keep pushing until it’s over.
The race was soon underway and the first leg runners took off at an incredible rate! We hurried to our next check points and strategised as we went: who would run support, who would get the next athlete to their next checkpoint…
By the time it came to my first leg we were in the lead. Ashley had started us off in a strong position with Kas taking the lead in the second leg. Ryan and Chris blasted through their first legs, leaving Patrick to ride like the wind to me. My first leg was an 11.6mile uphill road bike, and it was already HOT! I was warned of the several false summits that I would encounter so I kept my head down and kept grinding upward. Man, the pressure of leading with 19teams chasing you down is no joke!
The temperature was now well above 100degrees Fahrenheit and in the Mohave Desert there is no hiding from it. Kas rode the 34mile leg with an incredible amount of climbing in the heat of the day, we did what we could to support him with hydration and cooling but it was brutal! His leg was followed by an equally grueling 9mile uphill run in one straight line. Ryan took on this one and I don’t even know how he physically pushed so hard but I was in awe! Ryan handed the baton to me in my unsupported mountain bike leg and all I could do was think how hard everyone was already pushing, I couldn’t let them down now! My own goal was to try and finish the leg as much as I could before the next athlete started…I powered so hard through that bike finishing in just under 30minutes and a full 30mins at least before the next athlete could set off! At this point it would have been easy to become complacent but no one even considered this an option!
We pushed on.
My next leg was a 7.8 mile undulating trail run. This started well, the sun was finally starting to go down and I felt like the worst was done..how wrong I was. I started to get a stitch about 5 miles in but all I could do was stop, breathe and push on. My teammates gave support from the team van and encouraged me to slow down the pace, well I couldn’t do that! Not now! I finished my leg having run at a 7 minute pace, but my stomach was flipping. I got in the car and things went from bad to worse. I couldn’t bare to eat or drink anything and I was sure this was going to be my low point in the race… And low it was.
I had a bit of time before my next and final leg. I focussed on nothing more than being still, trying to get the minimum fluid into me and of course supporting our athletes on during these dark hours. With less than 35miles left in the whole race, I was up. A 4.8 mile run in the dark along a rutted dirt road. I ran like everyone was chasing me…because they were. I ran for my teammates who had busted themselves all day long, who I had supported and who had supported me along the marvellous adventure. I ran and ran until I started to feel a pain in my side again. I drastically slowed down. The support vehicle pulled up beside me and Patrick called out to me “I hope you’re having fun! This is it! Enjoy it!” I turned to him and smiled. This guy knew how to pull me out of the darkness I slipped into and once again I was flying! I created over the hill and saw the lights of Primm, the shine of the solar panel fields and in the distance my home, Las Vegas. I threw my arms up in the air and continued flying down the hill. My elation was met by distant cheers in the distance behind me from the support vehicle. I handed over to Ashley and my work was done. The support van pulled up next to me and we all smiled. This had been a day like no other, an adventure like no other. Starting the day barely knowing one another’s names to becoming each other’s closest support crew.
I went on to Nipton, giving Kas a vote of support on the way and went about getting ready to make a dash out of there after the finish. After all, this was still just part one.
Kas crossed the line around 2:20am. We had finished with around a 2hour lead on our competitors, but I was filled with nothing but admiration for every single participant and volunteer who made that event what it was. We all suffered and we all loved it. This is what we live for, what we thrive, the challenge…and it was beautiful!