Thursday, January 31, 2013

Move the Target

One of the (many) reasons that I have signed up for the Ironteam this year is to raise funds again for LLS. Although I've been a part of the organization since 2007, I have only fundraised for 5 of my 13 seasons. See, when you are a coach, you aren't necessarily training and fundraising - you are focused on your responsibilities to your participants and staff. So, between December 2008 and October 2012, that was my focus.

In the spring of last year, I knew I wanted to sign up as a participant (ie - someone who raises money while training for a race) again. Indirectly, I was motivated by the 100+ friends and teammates who had been completing their commitments, season after season, right in front of me. Directly, I was inspired by my friend and fellow coach, Jason. In the Spring of 2012, he was a coach on the Ironteam and a participant on the Westside Marathon team. He pulled double duty. He did not "need" the guidance of a team to complete the Mayor's Half Marathon in Anchorage. He signed up, I presume, to accompany his friends and to fundraise for LLS. Figuratively, he 'walked the walk' that many coaches talk about.

We went on a run, chatted about Ironteam, and learned about Danger Moose

Thaddeus, the moose

So among the memories I took away from the Alaska weekend this year is the point at which I mentally committed to another TNT season and another Ironman. That I joined the team's staff was a separate decision, and luckily I'm able to play both roles, coach and participant.

I was, however, very nervous about returning to fundraising - who would actually support me? I don't raise that question with woes-me tone. It lingered in my head because I didn't believe that what I was doing was novel enough. Or big enough. The upcoming Vineman race isn't my inaugural Ironman. And it's not a branded M-Dot race. What makes this challenge stand out?

My worries were unfounded, however. Turns out, you don't need the flashiness of a "first time" or to up the ante of a crazy challenge in order to garner support. All you need are amazing friends who buy into your passion. So far 71 people have stepped up and donated their money to #beatcancer. And each of those 71 have played and equal role in sending my well past my commitment numbers. I set my own personal goal higher than required, and as of two days ago, I edged over $5,000. Goal met.

Just like workouts, when you achieve one goal, you gotta up the challenge. So it's time to move the target.

New goal: $1,000 over the commitment number, or $5425

My very greatest thanks to everyone who has supported me so far:

Jeff Espinosa-Blohm
Caryn Shuken
Peter & Pam Siragusa
Cindy Zicker
Melissa Borek
Debbie Farrelly
Carrie Smith
Matt Friedman
Katherine Nesteby
Virginia Garner
Javier Rivera & Rachael Burnson
Karen Adler
Allegra Newman
Coach Dave
Eric Orvieto
Eryn Doherty
Tammy Lee
Melissa Sturm
Jake & Christina Rowell
Marissa Tiamfook
Mike Danyleiko
Christine Holmes
Danielle M Lagana
Darcy Nelson
Robert Welper
Shawn Legg
Rachel Chai
Peter Conlon
Patricia Reeves
Maura McCartan
Sanjay Advani
Karen Curtis
Jonathan Adelstein
Cristina Graybill
Christopher Wilno
Susan & Marshall Winer
Cory Mitchell
Aubrey Walton
Marvin Tabangay
Hilary Vogel
Dominic Labriola
Jack Archey
Elizabeth Johnson
Nicholas Gardner
Maura Feerick
Lindsey Rabinowitz
Ashlee Berard
Matthew Sherwood
Susana Rodriguez
Airionna Whitaker
Taraneh Fard
Lori Jomsky
Julian Renteria
Kim Nowak
Louise Shrimpton
Kelley Puckett
Sara Fay
Maia Jasper
Charlene Levy
Meghann Triplett
Eileen Ansel Wolpe
Joseph Pease
Chip Hooley
Lauren Plichta
Brenda Huckabee
Lillah McCarthy
Petty Goodman
Tim Weston
Heather Gonzalez
sitbones (Fern)
Matching Gifts from: DirecTV, GE, Amgen

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


These words struck me today.
I crossed upon them by accident. Simple but powerful.
And now they look nice against a picture of the Maui Sunset.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Peaks, Peacocks, Pain Management

Three weeks of ramping up our training and on Sunday, we reached the peak of the build. Pretty literally. Dripping sweat, battery-acid legs and an ocean view ... that was the Hawthorne climb in Palos Verde, CA.

But to rewind a moment, here's a look at what was already in the rear view mirror. As a team we are in the thick of 'physical recommitment' for our half and full ironman races. During the past two weeks, our group has been tasked with completing distance- or time-specific workouts: 1000-yard swim for time, a 2.5-hr ride for time, and a 60min run for distance.

Our big workouts last weekend were the 2.5-hr ride with a 30min transition run along Zuma Beach on Saturday. Sunday's prescription called for a 9-mile run on varied (ie trail and hill) terrain. The midweek workouts included two 3K swims, a 75min ride and the 60-min marker run.

After getting all that mileage in, what stood between us and recovery week were two major days: Saturday's aquathalon (first open-water swim and a 9-mile run) and Sunday's 40-mile ride (with climbs!) and a 45-minute transition run.

Saturday started with a 6:30a departure to head up to Hansen Dam rec center. We'd been battling the forecast and wouldn't be able to swim if the rain settled in. Thankfully it did not rain. Not so thankfully, the water was a crisp 58-degrees - the kind of cold that starts as painful and ends with numbness. Hands, feet and faces braved the chill.

But you know what? You want to get better at something? Well, you gotta get comfortable being uncomfortable. That's was this swim was. We couldn't change the water temp. We couldn't compromise our training schedule. The only thing in our control was our attitudes. The team did great. Everyone swam at least one 500m lap. There was some treading, some panicking and a lot of cursing. But everyone exited the water a champsicle!

Wetsuits were stripped and running clothes were donned for a 3x 3-mile loop around the park. I had the opportunity to run with a handful of folks, so I considered it a great run. Getting to talk to people one-on-one for extending periods of time is one of the things I most look forward to.

San Gabriel Mountains

As I stood at the turnaround point during the final minutes of the workout, I snapped a few photos of the area. We are certainly very lucky to have this playground to train in - mountains, beach, lakes, ocean.

Run course along the Dam

After some clinics and chatting, our workout wrapped up. I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with fellow TNT coach Pete. We spent almost two hours talking shop, philosophy and ways to become better coaches. Our conversation was the icing on a great training day.

Didn't get home until 4pm or so (long morning!). Met up with two buddies. Had quite an excessive evening, laughing and otherwise. Down for the count sometime around midnight, maybe.

We got to "sleep in" a bit on Sunday and met up at 8:45am. I was in less-than-sharp manner but I rallied as much energy as possible, which translated into singing, "I knew you were trouble when you walked in" over and over and over again, much to the chagrin of my teammates and coaches.

How's this for a start/finish line?

Our course was challenging - many climbs up and around PV and the South Bay area. The epic ones included Hawthorne and the switchbacks. But with great climbs come great descents and views. I like climbing hills. There's no room for ego. They humble everyone. Doesn't matter how fast you are climbing them, you are feeling the same pain as everyone else regardless. Hills are an exercise in pain management. Practicing discomfort is very, very worthwhile.

Awesome stock photo of the PV Switchbacks

That bump on the right is the Hawthorne Blvd climb

Also, there were untethered, unleashed PEACOCKS at one of the houses along the way. If that doesn't say, "Hello, Los Angeles, I have arrived ...with my pet peacocks" then I don't know what does.

Took it easy on the first half of the ride, and then woke up and busted out the second half. Chased the hard work with 5 miles along the beach and through the Redondo Pier. They have skee ball there. I will be back, sans tri kit, some day.

Team time continued with a late lunch in which I learned a lot about some interesting personal trainer & nutrition certifications that one of my teammates holds. Hmmm...mind sparked. Got back to the apartment (thanks to Holly for the multi-carpools all weekend) just in time to shower, call my parents, and shoot some emails. Squeezed the last little bit of Sunday Funday out with my teammates at a Dine-In Movie theater. Heaven is a Barcalounger planted in front of a big screen - good food, good friends, good seats, good night!

A bit more coaching and committee work done when I got home, and finally the build phase closed out. Today, Monday, is a rest day. I am so all over this one.

I knew IM training takes a lot of commitment - time and energy mostly. Been there, done that. But training for it with a large group is a whole different beast. There's an ebb and flow to training physically and emotionally. To get to share it with other people - voices that don't live inside my head - makes this whole process so worthwhile to me. I'm lucky to be included along this crazy ride.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Pants-Salad Scale

Geiger. Fukushima. Celsius. And the traditional 'on a scale of 1-through-10'. Measurements of scale are everywhere. During this morning’s swim set – some very challenging swimtervals – a declarative statement popped into my head:

On a scale of pants to salad, swimtervals are pants.

That’s not quite English, it’s Goofy-speak that translates to: “On a scale of things I don’t like to things l like, I don’t like swimming intervals.” I like the Goofy-speak. It made me laugh.

A quick background into why pants and why salad:

I dislike pants for a couple of reasons. Lately it has been cold in LA, and so I’ve been taking really warm showers. And I get out of the shower and the last thing I want to do is put on cold clothing. Strike one, pantalones. Then there is also the fact that 85% of my body weight is in my quads and hamstrings. For real. So finding pants that don’t boa-constrict my pipes and also have a waist that doesn’t fall down on me is a challenge. Strike two. And pants, you are lucky there are belts to help you out. And lastly, they make my legs itch, and it’s hard to scratch an itch with fabric in the way. Strike three.

I like salads a lot. They are colorful and if you throw the right ingredients together, you get to eat so many great things in one forkful. Chopped salads are even more supreme because you don’t have to chew as much or worry about half a leaf of lettuce sticking out of your mouth. And salad dressing is like liquid icing. I went almost 2 years straight (back in ’09-10) eating a Caesar salad for dinner. Every night. Without fail. Now I favor mixing it up – Cobb, roasted veggies, Asian, with seared tuna or chicken salad … All good.

So there are the parameters for the Pants-Salad Scale. I decided to rate a bunch of random stuff on it. Why? Because it makes me laugh. And it's Friday, so the more laughing, the better.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Love and Money

Love and Money. You can have the fullest heart and fattest wallet in the world, but if you keep them to yourself, they aren't worth much. They sit there, gaining their own interest but don't ever get applied to anything. And it's those 'anythings' that transform them into something more.


A friend once told me of a song that reminded her of me. Turned out that after just one listen, it reminded me of me, too. I come back to these lyrics often.
Survive and you're amongst the fittest
Love ain't love until you give it up
Riding high amongst the waves
I can feel like I
Have a soul that has been saved
I can see the light
Coming through the clouds in rays
I gotta say it now
Better loud than too late
-Pearl Jam "Amongst the Waves"
Love ain't love until you give it up. My New Years resolution continues to be to connect with people more. Spend time with strangers and turn them into friends. Spend time with friends and turn them into closer friends. Call my sister once in a while. Listen and learn from my bosses. Tell people how much I care about them.

I never used to do these things. I used to keep my words and my worlds to myself. Other than when I coached - where I got more extroverted - I didn't share much. But now I do.

I've learned that you can be the most caring guide, the most loving friend, and most genuine person. But if you don't share your caring/loving/genuine qualities with people, what are they worth? They're just sitting inside of you, not transforming into anything greater. I gotta say it now, better loud than too late.


The more I think about it, I'm applying this same philosophy to my money. At least, in the here and now. Triathlon is not an inexpensive sport. Yes, you can do it on the cheap in some ways, but in the end, it's still costly.

I'm a saver by nature. My mom and dad have told me that my sister and I scrounge and save like people who have lived through war and poverty. We were raised never left wanting for anything, so it's weird do what we do. I'm an assistant in Hollywood, so the world knows I'm not burning cash for warmth. But certainly okay, and grateful for it.

So this past week I bulked up on triathlon gear - little bits and pieces of accessories that help me get through my training better. All "wants" and no "needs". Comforts, more or less. And there are more to be purchased. I haven't even gotten into the meat and potatoes of my nutrition - which may in fact be meat and potatoes if I can buy a bigger bento box.

I'm also looking at hotels and flights for the trip up to Coeur d'Alene with the team. Not my race, but no way in hell I'm not gonna be there. And then there's the plane ticket and final deposit for China in May. That's not free...

All these purchases grate against my "save your money for retirement, you idiot" mindset. But I'm trying, for now, to mute that voice. No, not to go on an irresponsible spending spree, but rather, when I think about the value of what I'm getting for what I'm spending, it just makes sense to me. A dollar is a dollar, and it only becomes something when you exercise it - apply it to a purchase. In my head, if you compare a dollar for a pack of gum and a dollar toward someone's #beatcancer fundraising ... the latter is worth more.

The amount I will spend to head to CDA and to China - sure, that pays for transportation and a roof over my head ... but what I'm really investing in are the experiences. Those invaluable moments when you see your friends and teammates out on the course, becoming Ironmen. The first moment in my life I'll set foot in Asia and see in person of the world's greatest wonders.

At this moment, keeping money in my savings account is like keeping love to myself. I will miss out on a lot. Sure, there's a cost and a risk, but I know the value I'm getting for my dollar is beyond worth it. I'll set an end-date for this permissive spending for sometime this summer. And perhaps a little OT at work will not be unwelcome. But in the end, I have little doubt that this will be one of the most memorable stretches of time in of my little life, so that's what I'm going to invest in. Everyone wins, I hope. Including you,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eat / Smile / Sleep / Sugar

Team's first ride out at Zuma Beach happened over the weekend. On Saturday we logged 150-minutes of biking and a 30-minute transition run. Some short hills climbs on the ride and a pancake-flat run course alongside the ocean. The weather could not have been more perfect.




Go Team!

Finally back on schedule after returning from Flordia. Early mornings and late nights aside, my body feels pretty good. Ran Sunday's 9-mile workout very easy (81 minutes) and felt energized. I finally got my swim marker set (1000 meters for time) in this morning. It was a decent day at the pool. I even incorporated a few drills into my warm up. There's a sign of maturity for this non-fishy!

Oddly enough I have been craving sugar since last week, right after the big mileage from the weekend wrapped. I have a moderate sweet tooth but, man oh man, the sugar monster came out to play.

Pennies and pennies of candy

I think I've tamed that little guy with a whole bag of kale. But we'll see if he's just gone into hiding for a while. I kick myself some when I don't eat well enough. I know it bags my training. But at the same time, I know me, and if I get all militant on my diet, I'll get aggravated and angst-y. Not my favorite flavors of feelings.

Looking ahead:

Tomorrow will be an AM bike ride, only semi-chilly.
Thursday is our 60-min run marker set. Thursday night is the first Coaches Committee meeting of '13 and I'm nervous, honestly. I feel a lot of pressure to fill some big shoes left by Coach Dave, who led us in '12. Lots of inner critic conversations going on in my head. But I know I can rise above my doubts.
Friday is a group swim workout at 6am.
Saturday is our team's first aquathalon ... fancy non-English word for a swim-run brick. We take to Hansen Dam in the north valley, where we will do our first open water workout of the season! Fun times, creepy lake creatures. Picnic to follow.
Sunday is a long bike ride - 40 miles - followed by a transition run. Then a fun lunch with our team staff.

Lots of hours going into this journey.
Lots of dedication among this Team.
Lots of lives being changed for the better.
Lots of eats, smiles, sleeps and sugar.

Thank you Pai for the amazing photos!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Forging Iron with Water

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” - Muhammad Ali

There is nothing glamorous about putting on a swimsuit, two sweatshirts, yoga pants and sandals at 5:30am. There is nothing sexy about stripping down 30mins later, jumping into a lane and drilling yourself through the workout while the sun still hides. And there is certainly nothing appetizing about how wolfishly breakfast gets inhaled before running off to work.

But these are "the moments". The ones that we remember in the last strides of the run on race day. We remember the work. The time when steel dedication got welded to an iron heart, and promise ignited. The point at which the cranky pants and bleary morning eyes fell away, the animal-athlete brain took over, and the hay went into the ban.

13 weeks in. 2900 meters for breakfast. 8 teammates nicknamed the Rockettes. 2 lanes of green swim caps. 1 Friday morning workout in the books. Just another day at the office.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goofy Challenge - Weekend Recap

Goofy Challenge #4 (and, technically, Dopey Challenge #1) is in the books as of today. Since last Thursday morning, I've traveling / moving / running / recovering almost non-stop in the name of completing the three-day endurance challenge in Orlando, FL. And this time around, I really felt the exhaustion of a back-to-back-to-back schedule. (Here's hoping I build a bridge and get over it before taking on the Tahoe Triple.)

Took a red eye out from Los Angeles at 11pm on Wednesday night. I can normally grab 1-2 hours of sleep on these flights, but this one proved impossible. I'm not a nervous flyer, but the turbulence on this travel was unnerving. Violent was the word that came to mind - the kind of knocking around that shakes the overhead bins and makes your stomach queasy. It was an ongoing affair, 4.5 hours of skyquaking. Unhappy camper.

Thursday - Packet Pick Up

With no real sleep in the bank, I met up with my Mom on Thursday morning. We headed to the expo to pick up our packets. We would run the 5K together Friday morning, and then I'd set off on Goofy Saturday and Sunday.

In years past Disney's expo had been less organized and more crammed. They expanded the circus to two buildings as of a few years ago, and it relieved the crowds tremendously. Packet pick up is barely a wait, despite the massive number of runners (I think 27,000 for the half, 20,000 for the full and 2,500 for Goofy? ... not sure how accurate those numbers are). I rarely buy extra race stuff at expos, but we came across some good finds, and I bagged a pair of INKnBURN running tights (they are not pants - I dislike pants), a zip-up tri shirt and a Goofy '13 headband.

Post expo we walked through Epcot (one failed attempt at going on Soarin' - 140min wait!) and went to Kouzzina for dinner. It would be the first of many seafood-based meals of the trip. I know myself well enough when it comes to running that fish/shellfish and other light proteins are key to me feeling well on race day.

Pre-Race Dinner #1

Friday: Family and Friends 5K

Alarm time: 4:30am. Another night bereft of sleep, but there's no room for snoozing on race weekend.

Very literally family and friends - Mom and I met my friend and TNT teammate Robert at the start line of the 5K around 5:45am. My mom was nervous to run the race, as she hadn't trained much and hadn't done a race since we did the Wine and Dine Relay last October. But with Robert joining us on the run-walk, she eased up. He and I chatted along and she was able to do her intervals at will.

Somewhere in Mile 2

This course was new to me - last 5K I did at Disney was at the Animal Kingdom in Oct '11. The first mile was a dreary trek through the back roads of EPCOT. But miles 2 and 3 took you right through the park. Always a great distraction.

Finish Line! One down, two to go

It was really great to see my Mom feeling happy and relieved at the end of the race! She even said, "That wasn't so bad!" We finished in about 45mins. While Mom ran/walked, I ended up "running" the entire race at her pace. Unfortunately for me this meant some extra stress on my calves. I run on my toes, and to slow down, I end up bouncing higher and shortening my stride. By the end of Friday, I could feel the soreness in my left calf.

Saturday: Half Marathon

Alarm time: 3:30am. Though it was really early in the morning, the heat and humidity were apparent. You could "see" the thickness in the air. Not ideal running weather, but hey, at least I didn't need any drop clothes at the start line.

I took the monorail from the Polynesian over to the start line (Mom would be sleeping in this race, and I met her back at the hotel afterward). Upon arriving at EPCOT, I had a real-life deja vu moment with my friend Coach Mike from Arizona TNT. See, Mike and I have gotten to know each other on twitter, and we wanted to meet up last summer at San Diego Rock n' Roll. But our schedules didn't seem to work out. That is, until we walked right past each other in the pre-race darkness and were able to say a quick hello. Well, fast forward 7 months, and who comes walking up the monorail platform alone? Mike! Turned out he's a good omen for the day.

Robert and I met up at the coffee cart around 4:15am and realized we were dressed as twins. and took the 20min walk to the corrals. Normally Disney Race Corrals are blasting Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Pitbull and all sorts of too-early-in-the-morning dance music. But this year, the corrals were eerily subdued. No music. Some interviews on the big screen. A very quiet crowd of runners. I still can't figure out why there was such a change in tone this year.

Like twins on school picture day

A few months back I set my sights on PR'ing this race, but as the weeks crept closer and my ironman training schedule seemed to overtake my race strategy, I backed off on high hopes of running strongly. I did not taper correctly (See: New Years Half Marathon 6 days before this) and with a bit of soreness in my calf, I wasn't sure what to expect.

I decided to consider the run a "fitness test". Our tri team uses the phrase "marker set" to measure where you are at in a sport at a given time. This race would be my half marathon marker set. Robert - who runs much, much quicker than I do - wanted to run together. We said we'd go for beating our time last year - 1:56.

Start Line fireworks

Strategy was this - miles 1-6 were a warm up, 6-10 were a moderate pace and miles 10-13 were what I was calling 'hammertime'. As we were out on the course, we also set the goal of beating the sunrise - finish before it came up.

Robert was an amazing coach for me. I told him my PR (an ancient Santa Barbara Half '08 relict), and at around mile 9.5 he said he'd bring me in under it. So I stopped looking at my watch. I stopped trying to push/pull the pace. I let him take over, and off we went. The last mile we held onto a sub 7-mile average. Ouch. But worth it. A new PR of 1:48. That's about where I feel my fitness is right now. Plenty of room to whittle that down to 1:40. But I won't get ahead of myself right now.

Happy Finishers. Two down.

The rest of the day my Mom and I walked around Disney Hollywood Studios (can't escape the industry as hard as I try!), and grabbed another seafood dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe.

I can't remember what it was, but it was all sorts of goodness

Sunday: Full Marathon
Alarm time: 3:20am. It's hotter and more humid than the previous two days.

Okay, this whole getting-up-early bit has lost its luster. Four days of very little sleep compounded. It's about this time - early morning Sunday - when I realize that this whole challenge would be easier if it were done in a single day. The false promise of rest and recovery for 18 hours between races isn't quite what it should be.

Again Robert and I meet up at the coffee cart and head over to the corrals. Again, they are subdued. But by this time, we are so tired that everything we see and do is inexplicably funny. Like the red-haired, white-guy MC who Disney hired to dance around solo on stage. Blue work pants aren't helping anyone, sir.

He did the Electric Slide, too. Available for birthday parties and weddings...

Cannot. Stay. Awake.

Even from the beginning, and even having done this more than once, this seems like an impossible race. For me, the first half was the challenge. For Robert, it was the second half. Instead of us being a terrible twosome to run together, we complimented each other's weaknesses and pushed each other along.

Miles 1-2: Tough. Tired and heavy legs. A 9:45/mile pace feels like a sprint.

Mile 3: We hear bells, and look up to see a man in a jester hat adorned with the little noisemakers. Every step he took, they rang. Every. Step. We tried to run past him. He sped up. We tried to slow down and leave him. He slowed. The only way to shake the jester? Bathroom break.

Miles 4 - 13: Like Saturday, we decided to try to beat the sunrise, this time, to mile 13.1. We stop and snap pictures at the castle and with some characters. We run a bit and walk when we need to. Finally I feel like we are settling into a rhythm.


Cinderella's Castle

Disney debuted a new course for the 20th Anniversary of the full marathon. This year, instead of looping through EPCOT at the beginning of the race, we cut that out entirely. Instead, we were guided through the Speedway (a real race track) for an entire lap around the bowl. We hooked back up with the "normal" course and ran past the fire department, sanitation plant and water conservation station.

Miles 13-17: The Animal Kingdom came and went earlier this year. It's usually mile 18, but this year it was more like 14. The course support and music in that area is great. Somewhere around mile 16 I start to feel like we will actually finish this race sometime this decade. Slow going, but we will get there.

Miles 17-20: Another new addition to the course is a tour of the Wide World of Sports Complex - it's a great feature. We ran around track, a soccer field and through the baseball stadium. And a funny surprise for us? Out of nowhere, jester-man was back!! We ran ahead and never saw him again.

Mile 20 was billed as "Spectacular" by the race brochure, again in honor of the 20th anniversary. Robert and I joked without end that the only thing that would make it spectacular would be if it were actually the finish line. As in, just kidding, you ran a 20-mile marathon. Here's your medal.

It was not. Instead, it was a line up of two-story tall, human-controlled puppets - Pixar Characters on stilts. A fun and unusual sight for a race.

Mile 21: They were playing "Sweet Caroline" so we sang along. And I got REALLY hungry.

Mile 22: The chocolate mile. I ate for snack-size candy bars. Robert gave me one of his, too. So good!

Mile 23-25: Home stretch between DHS and EPCOT. The crowds of spectators never cease. We found my twitter friend and TNT runner Tim in the crowd outside of the Beach Club. He was such a great cheer squad this weekend. Thank you Tim!

Mile 26 onward - We ran. .We crossed. 4:26 We medal-ed. Happy. Tired, but happy.

Two Dopeys

We reunited with my mom, and found Robert's boyfriend and his family. After snapping a few photos and downing some Powerade, it was time to call it a day. Only 10:30am, but still ... a long morning.

After a shower and a GREAT salad (and my standards for salad are high) Mom and I headed to the parks for more rides. During our entire weekend, we walked over 15 miles, and I swear I am always less sore because of it.

Post-Race Eats!!

A wonderful dinner at Todd English's bluezoo - one of my favorite restaurants in all of WDW, and a tradition for post-marathon Sunday dinner.

The walk to dinner. Unfiltered.

Slept in Monday, went for a recovery swim and then for more park time. A final dinner at a new restaurant called Monsieur Paul. Yum.

Final moments of the trip were watching the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom from our hotel room.

But like the movie Groundhog Day, today (Tuesday) came around and I had a 3:20am wake up call. On a bus by 4am. On a plane by 6:30am. Back at the day job by 10am. Such is the life of a runner who does not get paid, but just loves to run. We make the sacrifices we make (sleep), and smile gratefully for the opportunity to do such great things.

And as always, race weekends offer a chance to be grateful for those who support our crazy questions. Tim and Mike, my TNT buddies who are always supportive; Fern, who I drew upon around mile 10 of the half marathon when I said "Run for Fern. Run for Fern."; Robert's and my many TNT teammates who cheered us on via facebook; Holly for the Chickens of Fire! video and chicken/donkey clipart; my Ironteammates for their daily messages, and of course my Mom for making the trek each year and not discouraging my attempts at running farther and faster than I ever have.

Would I recommend WDW Marathon Weekend and the Goofy Challenge? Yes. Will I be back next year? Debatable. Not because of the race, but because of other adventures I may go on. We'll see. Among the right crowd, these races could be a very memorable weekend. I'll curious to know where I'll be 364 days from now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

42.4 Things To Think About

So there's going to be a lot of "time on my feet" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That means lots of time spent between my ears. Disney does a wonderful job with course support and entertainment. Not only do the races run through the parks...

Family 5K

Half Course

Full Course

...but the course is also lined with spectators, dancers, musicians, and many of the costumed characters. It's a hyper-visual race.

I'll be run-walking the 5K with my mom, so that's an easy 3.1 miles I don't have to worry about. I'll also be running the half with my friend Robert. He's quite a speedster, and I was happy he slowed down and ran the half together last year.

6:00am, Magic Kingdom

So, yes, there is plenty distraction by way of the course and the company. And yet, staring down the barrel of 6+ hours of run time, I figure there are going to be some blank miles I'll just have to mentally muscle through. Instead of risking getting a single line of a song stuck in my head - Holly's Rhianna line "Shine bright like a chicken" is threatening to be that earworm - it's best a get prepared.

So, a thought or phrase or song to focus on for every mile. Packing this post in my fuel belt just in case.

    1. Mom's first race in two years. Wheee! Off we go!

    2. What is the best race I've ever run? Desert Dash Nighttime Half, possibly. Maybe Anchorage. Definitely not Rock n' Roll Arizona. Discuss with Mom for a mile.

    3. It's 4:00am in Los Angeles. So starts a surreal, clock-less weekend. Jet lag is like the 43rd mile.

    4. First mile of the half marathon, don't leave it all out here. Keep the pace / Keep the peace.

    5. Citius, altius, fortius...swifter, higher, stronger. -Olympic Motto

    6. Should start planning an adventure for 2014. Race or no race? In country or out of country?

    7. This. Girl. Is On. Fireeeeeeeee!

    8. Try not to trip and pop a finger joint this race. No stupid steps like that allowed today or tomorrow.

    9. "Titanium" - Sia/David Guetta

    10. Bummed to miss Man v. Bar this week. But probably a good thing for my tummy. And anyone who watches me dance.

    11. "It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired you quit when the gorilla is tired." -Robert Strauss

    12. Let's discuss, alone in my head, the concept of masochism. Let's also note I've slipped into third-person.

    13. Ironteam is at practice soon. Hope they have fun at Griffith Park. I will miss them, and the team brunch. Been a while since I stole eggs and bacon and coffee from Jason. And Rob. And EWS. And Clare. Pretty much everyone.

    14. “Organizations exist only for one purpose: to help people reach ends together that they couldn’t achieve individually.” Robert H. Waterman. I might be running alone. But I'm not really alone.

    15. Run hard these last miles. Turn off your brain and go.

    16. "Feel Again" - One Republic

    17. Better TV show - Friends or How I Met Your Mother?

    18. Pause for a moment. Channel the sax from Thrift Shop. Do a little dance. Start running again.

    19. Jones, Wilnos, Jomskys, Riveras, Cilellas. Thank you for everything you've done for me between Goofy #1 and Goofy #4.

    20. "Carry On" - Fun

    21. Mile 5 of the full marathon - half way through the weekend mileage.

    22. Tweet Fern!!! She's watching and cheering from CO!

    23. Pictures don't take themselves. Stop running, snap a picture. Tweet it.

    24. The flight to China is going to be 18 hours. How the heck am I going to entertain myself? Watch all the movies...ever made?

    25. "Anna Sun" - Walk the Moon

    26. I am fearing my inbox when I get back to work.

    27. Note to self: Need a sports massage back in LA. Stat.

    28. Please, no more sports drinks.

    29. Stay #champstrong. Final stretch.

    30. “You can quit if you want, and no one will care. But you will know the rest of your life." – John Collins

    31. The last time I ran +40 miles in a day was October 28, 2010 coaching the LA RnR Half Marathon and an afternoon TNT practice of 18 miles. This is nothing compared.

    32. Take the promotion at work, or stay in the same position and take advantage of the time allowance to focus on coaching? This debate could last a few miles.

    33. High five the next ten children I see cheering. They might be future marathoners.

    34. "Shine bright like a chicken" ... that was inevitable.

    35. I want a cheeseburger. Now. Not later. Now.

    36. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

    37. What's my favorite salad? It used to be Caesar, but lately Cobb has been giving it a run for its money.

    38. Don't get caught up in the fatigue. Smile and laugh. Relax. Don't fear pain. Lean into the sharp feelings and let them pass.

    39."This is about doing something difficult and not stopping when it becomes not just difficult, but cold and difficult... or cold and wet and difficult... or cold and wet and dark and difficult." -Suzy Hamilton

    40. Coming up to the chocolate aid station!! Bring on the Hershey and Crackle bars.

    41. "More More Mile" - Paper Tongues

    42. #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer

    42.4 The medals are pretty, but where's the food.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Namesake: Going for Goofy

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. - Friedrich Nietzsche

In 2006, two month after graduating college, I moved from the East Coast (Connecticut by way of Philadelphia) to Los Angeles. I had no family on the West Coast. I knew no one. All I had was a graduate school admission and a desire to work in film.

For the next two years, life was was rough. During the first few months, I called my parents ever day. And I'd hang up the phone after a 20-minute conversation and be really upset that I "couldn't" call them again until tomorrow. I didn't understand this world - it's traffic, it's segregation, it's sprawling culture. When you are surrounded by change, you gravitate toward the familiar, the comfortable.

I held fast to one thing - running. Oh, the irony.

I was not a runner in college by any stretch of the brain. I played volleyball (setter) and threw the javelin for the track team. But running? Hell no...And then, hell the spring of '06. After wrapping up team sports, I knew I had to find a way to stay active. Walking seemed easy. Running, a bit harder but okay so long as I could go at my own speed.

When I stepped onto the treadie the first time in January of 2006 ... meaning, the first time I ran without the threat of drills/sprints/measurement from my coaches... I walked for 1 minute, ran for 28 minutes, and walked for one minute. That was all I could coax myself to do.

We all start somewhere.

I did it every day. Without fail. A college senior in the "senior spring" of life, I set my alarm for 6:30am and got my 3 miles in daily. No excuses. Just determination to overcome something I hated but knew could transform me.

So when I moved to LA five months later, I took that habit with me. And I decided to train for a half marathon. Given that I did not love running - but, rather, enjoyed the challenge of doing something new and painful - I figured Walt Disney World was a great place to test my endurance. I signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon in January '07.

I trained on my LA apartment complex treadmill, out at the Santa Monica boardwalk, and through the neighborhoods of Mid-City LA. Many of these runs I was upset and thinking of my friends who were so far away. The first time I ran six miles along the Santa Monica/Venice beach boardwalk, I cried buckets. Not after the run, but during. I was moving in and out of a sea of people along Venice Beach. I felt very alone, but also very determined.

#Champstrong. This moment would change me. I kept stepping left and right, left and right. That day would come only a few months later: In Jan '07 - I did it. My first half marathon. Rag-tag and messy, but I met my goal - completed it, and do so at a sub-10 min/mile.

13.1 miles of grit. Done.

I was bitten by the bug. Did I think I could do a full? No. Did I sign up for one anyway? Yes. Less than 3 weeks later I committed to the San Diego Marathon with Team in Training ... Seven years later ... here I am, a life-time warrior for the program and for this sport.

I left-right-left'd my way through that half marathon, and then through 20-some-odd races to come. I have logged marathons, ultra-marathons, and an Ironman since the first time I stepped on the treadie. I have learned from it, your future will not be what you imagine it to be. In some lucky cases, it will be even better.

My twitter name @goingforgoofy was inspired by my sign up for the WDW Goofy Challenge in 2008. It is the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon at Sunday. Both a big part of WDW Marathon weekend, and I always looked up to the folks who donned the Goofy bracelets. They were inspirational. So inspirational that I have returned year after year to WDW for the Goofy Challenge. For me, it is the origin of boundary-pushing.

My Mom completed her first half marathon at age (cough)56(cough). For me, the first half of the '09 Goofy Challenge

My buddy Robert and I during the '12 Goofy Challenge with our West Side TNT Marathon Team

It's been years since I tackled my first Goofy Challenge, and I've often thought of changing my twitter handle. But the cool thing for me is, that over five or so years, that name has shaped my personality.

Goofy is the name of the race, sure. But 'goingforgoofy' to me is now a way of living. I'm going for, as in aiming for, a little goofiness. Life is serious, and heavy and tiresome. Many times we get caught up in the weight of it all. I like to think I'm always, a little bit, trying to go for goofiness - break up the seriousness and add a little humor.

On Wednesday night I will head to FL for my fourth Goofy Challenge. I have a feeling this may be my last one in the immediate future. Previous recaps of my races are here, and here and here. I don't plan on bringing any time or pace goals with me. If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is better when you are laughing. So during the 5K, half marathon and marathon that my feet will traverse this weekend, I only hope to find plenty of opportunities to laugh, cheer and celebrate we will / Because life is short but sweet for certain." -Dave Matthews Band

Many rounds of good luck to all those going Donald, Mickey and Goofy this weekend. And even to those of us going Dopey. Happy trekking, and I hope you go for your own goofiness.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Years Half Marathon: Crime Fighting Edition

Saturday morning found the Justice League of Ironteam Coaches at the northern end of the Thirty Mile Zone, in Westlake, CA. Our team assembled for a 90min ride and 20min transition run, which was our first recovery week workout of the season.

The Hulk, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Batman, Robin, The Flash

We're well-aware we took some liberties with which superheroes are actually in the League. The point we so cartoonishly were making was standing as a united front for our team, against evil, to #beatcancer.

After practice - and, for me, a wonderful lunch with fellow TNT Coach Pete - I headed back home to prepare for the New Year's Half Marathon in downtown LA at 9pm. Many of my friends were running the race, and since a few of us were not actually prepared to "race" it, we decided to reassemble as superheroes and spent 13.1 miles together for fun.

We took the eco-friendly route of taking the Metro downtown. LA is not known for it's public transportation, but this new Expo Line that runs across the southern part of the city is quite nice. It was timely, clean and cheap. I'm looking forward to venturing downtown more frequently.

The race itself was a TNT party on foot. There were so many alums from different programs and different seasons. I couldn't turn around without recognizing someone I knew or coached or that my friends had been teammates with. And that all these folks were so friendly was a really cool thing to see - I say it often, TNT attracts some really great folks.

Don't let the costumes fool you. That's Holly, me and Riz

Robin, Batman Wonder Woman, Captain America (sans outfit) ran the race together. Or rather, we ran most of the race, and walked a lot of those damn uphills. The course was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be ... wait, that's not true. I hadn't thought about the course at all - I was actually in denial I had to run a half marathon until about 4 miles into the race.

Inside Dodger Stadium for a hot minute

Nevertheless, it was great to see downtown LA at night and do a 6-mile tour de Dodger Stadium parking lot. The only downside to my race was that somewhere in the middle of it, I took a tumble and broke my fall with my left index finger. The middle joint popped out of place and I caught a glimpse of the grossness, but squeezed it quick back into place.

I like to put on the voice of Danny from 'The Shining' and say 'REDRUM' while trying to flex it

It hurt but not too bad. Today's a little worse, it's got a case of the chubs. Ironically, this is the same finger I got caught in a blender last spring! This poor digit never had a chance. Cool and gross pic of the blender aftermath here.

Temps were perfect, the costume and mask didn't chafe much, and our chatting along the way passed the time. Our costumes got a ton of cheers, some catcalls, and we were interviewed at the finish line. Equally awesome was our cheer squad of two, who took part in the fun and cheered until the last of our friends crossed the line.

Holly-bird and EWS-bird

It was cold and it was a late night, and a couple folks in our group dealt with stomach/GI/fainting issues, I think it's safe to say it was a fun and memorable race. After a train ride back, a long shower and some salad, I clocked out at 3am.

Medal shot coursity of Bobbi

Woke up feeling great, sans the digit and logged a quick 30-min recovery run. Goofy on the horizon - more on that later this week - and I'm feeling pretty jazzed. Not sure that's a costume run for me - though it is for many folks. Just looking forward to the opportunity to do what I love for 41 miles. I come alive at 145 heartbeats per minute. I was alive all of yesterday, and look forward to more livin' this weekend. It's gonna be good times.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lightning Rounds

When training for endurance events, especially when training solo, you often must resign yourself to the fact that you will be doing a repetitive task for a long period of time. Swimming, pedaling, running. Over and over and over again for minutes and hours on end. It's psychological battle.

I recently wrote about mental training and mindfulness, which is all well and good for certain workouts. But other times, even while paying attention to a specific set of instructions - drills or pre-determined paces - my mind still wanders.

If I'm not dwelling on a problem or trying to recall some specific moment, my brain just goes into lightning round mode and random thoughts pop into my head. I started writing them down after the workouts. It's crazy to see just how many random things pop into your head ... For instance:

While swimming -
  • I wonder how many pushups I can do now. Would doing push ups underwater be easier?
  • It's not an acceptable hydration plan to drink the pool water.
  • It's not socially acceptable to drink the pool water.
  • God, I just drank a lot of pool water.
  • Keep these swim workouts up and I will have to walk sideways through doorways. I feel like a tree trunk.
  • Did I just fall asleep? I don't remember swimming that length.
While biking -
  • I think I've developed an allergy to pants. My legs itch when I wear them.
  • I don't think I'll ever get tired of being able to bike to the beach. But I really want to move closer to it. Is it worth the commute to work then?
  • Life is better with fruit snacks: Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll Ups, Shark Bites, String Thing. I think FbtF is my favorite. Or String Thing.
  • I'm finding it difficult to make time for my friends who are not triathlon-ing at the moment, and that bums me out.
  • If I had to choose between cheese and sushi, I'm not sure what I would go with. Can't have both at the same meal. Or can you?
While running -
  • "Sorry for party rocking" is a good answer to almost any question.
  • I am looking forward to trampoline night. Remember to pack a water bottle.
  • It's amazing how you can listen to the same songs for years, and they can take on such new meaning. I can't believe I've been running for seven years now.
  • I have developed a slight obsession with Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Sweetrose Creamery. Make time to go back there.
  • I really have to do an Ironman this summer? That's a long distance for one day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"It's not about me. It's not about you..."

"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."
John Wooden

Or, in the words of Tony Dungy, "It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about others."

An Ironman race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. In order to be crowned an Ironman, you must complete these 3 feats in under 17 hours. And to complicate your journey, you may not take aid (nutrition, hydration, or any help moving along the course) from anyone who is not participating in the race.

There are few challenges in the endurance world that are more trying as an individual. Inevitably, there are some lonely miles between 0 and 140.6.

And yet, irony of ironies, I am connected with a team that is collectively working together to acheive not only our own individual Ironman races, but to also raise money for a cause that supercedes these self-separating goals. It's a tricky concept for the uninitiated - to work with a team all year, only to compete solo on race day.

To complicate the individual/team dynamic even further, the coaching staff I am a part of is eight-people large. As individual coaches and as a united front, it's our obligation (and passion) to steer our ship of 70-some folks to their individual successes.


I am very relieved that I can fall back on Wooden's and Dungy's words. As a coach, I have the benefit of removing my ego from the equation. Admittedly, I'm not perfect at it. My ego still lingers around sharp corners and in dark alleys. But I am always on the lookout for its negativity.

What this means is this - I coach people who are faster than me at all three sports. I coach people who are slower than me at all three sports. And there is a mix of athletes in between. If I were to try and compare myself to all - or even any - of them, I would be distraught. Compare and despair, as the phrase goes.

But thankfully, I don't have to. Because it's not about me. My physical abilities are a non-factor. For those argue otherwise - that a coach should be able to keep in step with his or her players - I ask, god forbid that I (or, insert your own coach) are in a wheelchair tomorrow, for the rest of our lives. Would they or I lose credibility? No. Because standing, sitting or all tied up on a tree, a coach's integrity is separate from athletic ability.

Being a coach and a leader is not about standing in front of a group proselytizing a certain way of life and sport. For me, as I describe it in my own head, it's about checking out of myself and into another. Or, rather, out of self and into service.

It means being among my participants - being human, being silly, being real, being trustworthy, being loyal and being genuine. I didn't always approach my teams this way - and it has been a learning experience to "be okay" with not being perfect or have all the answers.

What I respect now, though, is that being a coach means that maybe you are just a kid who loves to run and wants to find the best in others, and help them find it for themselves. And that you will be looked upon for guidance, trust and praise: Guidance during unknown ventures; trust because what you ask of your team may seem daunting; and geniune praise when those who invest in the former two ideals reap their rewards.

A coach does not make a team. Eight coaches, or twelve coaches or an army of coaches do not make a team. A team makes itself. The organic energy it creates from the hours upon hours of training, challenging and laughing, is what makes creates such a strong unit. And it is what fuels each individual to face down those 70.3 or 140.6 miles that lay in wait.

The greatest gift of coaching? To witness it. To be a small part of it.

Stolen Words and Sleep

I've been grappling with a draft about teamwork for the last 24 hours. A John Wooden quote that I read lit my brain up. But the ideas are still stuck in my skull and not ready to be married with words on a screen. So I'm not going to force it. It'd be like junk miles - pointless, and I risk spraining my brain. I admit defeat for today, that sleep - or a lack of it - has stolen my words.

My rest/train/work/sleep/be human ratio is a little out of whack from the holiday break. I enjoyed goofing around, training hard, and studying up. But now it's back to the working world, which requires diverting some of that fun energy into let's-make-animated-movies energy.

So while I love this...

...I'm aware enough to know my limits. The drool on my desk and keyboard indentations on my cheek offer up a clue. The vertical blinking bar on the screen, a curtain that constantly moves right and encourages writing, just keeps blinking. No good words. No good at all. Recovery time is the remedy. And maybe a bit more coffee.

Recovery does not, however, mean complete rest. The next seven days are proof:

Upcoming Non-Sleep Activities:
Friday 6am swim, Saturday team bike/run in the morning and the New Year's half marathon at 7pm. Sunday is a recovery week run. And this Monday is definitely a rest day that I will cuddle with gladly. The following Tuesday is an AM swim and PM coaching session. Wednesday is an AM bike ride and an PM red eye to Florida.

That right there, to me, is a fun schedule. I love what I do. Not a day goes by that I don't think about why my life is the way it is, and the luck I've had. Since I don't have my own words to use today, I'll steal some lyrics...

It's not that unusual / When everything is beautiful / It's just another / Ordinary miracle today - Sarah McLachlan

Today's extra-dark-circled eyes and lazy lids still got to see sunrise, still appreciated the walk to work, and will still consider today a good one. And it's bound to get better when I find a pillow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nine-Foot Sea Slugs and Other Irrational Fears

We all play the genetics lottery when we are born, and among the many prizes I won was anxiety. It's a nebulous label and it manifests itself in many different flavors - usually it comes in a variety pack of three or four or ten behaviors.

One of my anxiety superpowers is that I can drum up the most irrational fears in my brain and actually convince myself they are true. Picture yourself fully believing that a piece of the MIR Space Station is going to drop from the sky and crush you. You'd walk around all day in terror, wincing while you look at the sky. Maybe you'd even make a cement umbrella and wear a suit of armor. To the rest of the world, you look crazy. But in your head, you totally buy into your death-by-space-junk theory.

(No, I've never had that fear. But now I am considering it...)

Because I spend a lot of time around sports, some of these superpowers get channeled into athletic performance. I refer to it as "race anxiety" but it isn't limited to a specific day or date or event. It can be a big blanket of irrational worry - should I go meet my friends for a run? What if I can't find parking? What if no one shows up? What if part of the space station falls on me while I'm running?

I've spent, by now, a good handful of years digging into these crazy thoughts, and luckily I've got them on a good leash. But every now and then the superpower cannot be contained. Which brings me to last Sunday night's 3am triathlon. The one in my dreams.
The first part of my dream was about one of my ironteam teammates trying to kill me. Actually lunging at me with a knife. I was intensely afraid, and actually continued to believe it for a moment when I later woke up.

The second half of the dream had me at a triathlon. I was very unprepared - threw together my gear, but did not check to make sure I had everything. I arrived late, and could not find parking in a giant parking structure. Did not know what time my wave started, and since I haven't been open-water swimming this season, I was concerned that I would not finish.

I ran back and forth between my car, the faceless spectators that were there to cheer me on, and the transition area. I felt very confused and unprepared. I realized my wave was a few minutes from starting, and was told to get into a truck - they were driving the athletes to the swim start.

As I get in the truck, I hear a scream (from 'off screen'). It's coming from the lake where we were to swim. And then I hear someone next to me say - "Sounds like the sea slugs got her. They are nine feet long."

Something like this...

AHHH! So no longer am I concerned about my goggles. Or sharks in the lake. No, now I am afraid of getting eaten by a sea slug. And to make matters worse, the truck drives by a big fish tank full of sea slugs - just for show! It's like the biggest, grossest, palest, living hot dog you have ever seen.

And if that's not enough, one of the sea slugs in the tank JUMPS OUT, GROWS FEET AND STARTS CHASING THE TRUCK.

And then I wake up.
I've yet to decipher the lesson behind this little, unconscious freak out. Perhaps there is none. Or maybe it's just a little memo from my id to my ego reminding me to chill out and not worry so much. Whatever the meaning, I've no doubt this crazy memory will be with me when we take to the open water later in the season. My superpowered brain would not have it any other way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year's Sandwich

No, not the food. Rather, the last 24 hours of 2012 and the first 24 of 2013 - a workout/friends/workout sandwich that is quickly replacing my current favorite - egg and cheese on a biscuit.

For the last day of the year, in a moment of ambition during my easy run, I decided to tackle a hill that has been calling me since the summer. Originally, I set out with no plan other than to run easy for however long I felt like. I estimated 60-80 minutes.

I ran the neighborhood and then strayed south to the Baldwin Hills Overlook Trail - a familiar mile-or-so climb up to a panoramic view of the city.

courtesy of

I ran up and then down and enjoyed each step immensely. It was a great climb. Adjacent to the trail is a steep stretch of asphalt called "Hetzler Road". It is a 0.5-mile climb with some wicked grades and turns. This summer I ran it, but could not manage to climb without walking.

Hetzler Road

That fact needed revisiting. So I went to conquer it. And I did. Ran without stopping, all the way to the top. And not only that - I felt great! Yes, a bit tired. Yes, I went what I consider "slow" for me ... but damn it I did it. A fulfilling measurement to assess the second half of the year. Finished the run with 8 miles of smiles.

Following the day's workout and shopping, I went to a fun NYE party at the house of one of my co-coaches and my teammate. There was a ton of laughing, some singing, a little dancing, and many wishes of 'world peace' during the night. I could not asked for a better wrap to a pretty good year in my book.

Crazy friends

Sleep was scarce, and I headed out on New Years Day to ride with my teammates on the East Side of LA ... aka, Las Vegas. Kidding, it was only 30 miles away.

San Gabriel River Trail

I'm so happy I did. I got a chance to ride with another co-coach, Dave, the entire 30 miles. He's a really great guy and a triathlon fiend. We traded stories of coaching and bike crashes and day-job challenges. Unless my fellow coaches carve out time in their own busy schedules to teach me, these opportunites to connect one-on-one are rare. Beyond worth the haul out East for this chance.

We finished the morning ride with lunch at Dave and Bobbi's house - she's a cooking pro and I have dreams of her kale salad, and now her soups. Ten of us huddled around the Rose Bowl broadcast and chatted. I realize that, while I draw great energy from our giant team, it's equally as pleasant to get to know my future family in smaller settings.

So there it is - my workout / friends / workout sandwich, with a side of more friends and laughing.

"Time moves in one direction, memory in another." - William Gibson

To a memorable 2013. Cheers.