Sunday, April 17, 2016

bits and pieces - April 2016

reflecting / on Putrajaya 70.3 in Malaysia.
course recon- Putrajaya, Malaysia
 In my 2nd 70.3 of the season, I was actually prepared for a better race than I had. By no means taking away from the 3 women who deservedly beat me, I just didn't show up on the day with my best performance. I did have a solid (read: average) day across the board for me but I was left wondering why I didn't have a little more. 4 days after the race, I went on a 4-hour ride with some local friends. It was hard, but not crazy hard. I came home and saw my normalized power was actually higher than it was IN THE RACE. WITHOUT TRYING. I think I underestimate sometimes how much a true "freshening up" can benefit me before a race, and I didn't give that race the respect it deserved in that capacity, only backing off the volume/intensity in the final 3 days before the race. 5 days after the race, I had my best-ever running hill repeat times up the local (12 min) hill. My conclusion is that the small amount of rest heading into the race, PLUS, the two solid recovery days post-race had finally added up to enough "rest" for me to express my fitness. This isn't really news to me, but we never learn, do we? I'm promising to take this lesson into Ironman Australia in 2 weeks..which means taper starts pretty much... now!

i'm the one in the background... missing the podium by thiiiiiiiiiiissss much

planning / a wedding! Luke and I have decided to get married this year. We are having a really small beach wedding with family and a couple local friends... Hoping to have a bigger par-tay when we return to the U.S. this summer!

listening / my new jam for a hard run off the bike is "I took a pill in Ibiza"(Mike Posner).. Ok, it's definitely about drugs (which are not my jam), but it keeps me going. 8x 1-mile efforts off a race simulation bike this past weekend- that song got me through!

traveling / last weekend we went to Australia's Gold Coast in Queensland (about a 3 hour drive from our home in Noosa) for a few reasons: We wanted a training getaway where we could put in some big miles in a new locale (freshness is always good for motivation!). This coincided with spectating the World Triathlon Series Gold Coast race, an Olympic qualifier, where many of our favorite Olympic distance athletes were competing, many for coveted Olympic slots. Lastly, Luke was nominated for "Male Performance of the Year" by Triathlon Australia and we had a lovely dinner to attend for that.
We packed so much into those 3 days that we left completely satisfied and completely exhausted.

Spectating..... Waiting for the leaders to come through on the run
super long run on the Gold Coast- Surfer's Paradise in the background

I loved bringing Wynne to the WTS race. She already is growing up in the triathlon lifestyle and being exposed to fitness and challenge. Here she is giving US 2016 Olympian (and quite possibly favorite for the Gold Medal) Gwen Jorgensen, some feedback on her race.

preparing / for Ironman Australia just 2 weeks away. This weekend I completed my final race simulation brick workout and last long run..... Taper. Is. Here.

recovering / We just got the Normatec Pulse full-body recovery system. I'm sitting in the boots right now and it has become a daily routine. Training 30+ hours per week, my one weekly massage was just not cutting it in the recovery department. It boggles my mind how tight the compression gets- haven't even had the guts to turn it up to 10 yet!

snapping / always something fun going on over on snapchat.. follow me, username: bethgerdes .

That's all for now. Off to top off the afternoon with some bike hill reps..

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Q1 in review

Another week, another blog post. I'm totally on a roll.

Since I just updated my USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) athlete "whereabouts" for Q2 (a one-hour window where I must provide my daily location to be available for drug-testing), I thought it would be apropos (always love a good reason to use that word!) to review the Q1 happenings from 2016.

I began the year with a training block in Noosa, Australia, mostly focusing on speed, strength, & power (i.e. everything except big volume) to prep for the 70.3 Pan American Pro Championships in Panama City, Panama on January 31st.

"On our way" from Australia to Panama, we "stopped by" Chicago to visit the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) for some testing on sweat, fat utilization, and other (super secret d'uh) things. Chicago visits are always welcome because we get to spend time with my sister's family and Wynne gets some great cousin time.

 Being a part of the Gatorade family has been unreal so far- we are doing some cool next-level stuff that should help get that extra 1%. 
In the lab at GSSI

Once we finished up at GSSI, we took the bird south to Panama (the country not the spring break locale in Florida). Race day for Panama 70.3 dawned and although I wasn't "fully cooked" on the training front, I still managed 8th place in a Championship 70.3, one step up from 9th at the North American Pro Championships in 2015. So...progress.

Panama 70.3 run photos by Nate Kortuem
by Nate Kortuem

After Panama, we went straight to Costa Rica to guest-coach a triathlon training camp hosted by Race Quest Travel. The experience was unreal and the best part was sharing it with the group of campers we lucked out with ... Each day was filled with sun, ocean swim time, bike rides through the countryside, runs that finished with fresh coconuts, and sunset yoga. For Luke and I, it was a welcome break from our typical training "grind" and gave us a nice re-set prior to embarking on our Ironman training blocks back in Australia.

The Costa Rica crew (Costa Rica photos by Christopher Jarc aka Jarc the Shark) 

afternoon core session led by moi

Run drills and technique afternoon

Zip line at Diamante Eco Adventure park.. Get a load of this....

holy s$%t 

Paddling around some of our open water swimmers. 

After Costa Rica, we squeezed in 10 days in San Diego (hello, burritos!), & one more quick trip to Chicago before heading back over the big Pacific to Sunshine Beach, Australia.
We literally hit the ground running and dove into training... I had just 10 WEEKS to prepare for Ironman Australia, my first big race of the year.

Training has gone really well for both Luke and I. We both seem to be picking up fitness really consistently, though we can't seem to coordinate the days we feel amazing and the days we feel like crap. Our bodies definitely respond differently to different types of sessions.

weekly hill reps with Luke ( & usually Radka Vodickova)

last weekend's 205km ride with a view of the Glass House Mountains from Maleny, Queensland
After 5 weeks of massive training, I am quite pleased to say that we've reach a stepping stone.. Race week!

This weekend (actually tomorrow now that I am actually finishing this post I began earlier this week), we will open Q2 in Putrajaya, Malaysia for Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. It will be a good (and very hot) test of fitness. The start list is quite dense with strong favorites like Liz Blatchford, Radka Vodickova, and last week's 70.3 Tawian winner Sarah Crowley, so I'm looking forward to putting down my best on the day and to see where I'm at!
Fresh Endura QDC aero tri kits have landed! Now these are available to consumers via 

Shake it Off - should be everyone's T-Swift mantra for an easy run after a long plane ride. Love to #runtheworld and see new things
The race hotel pool is 88 degrees fareinheight (31 c) - same temp as the lake we are going to swim in for the race (insert fire emojis). Needless to say, tomorrow will be #HAF (thanks, Clint, for the perfect hashtag)

See you at the finish line! Talk to you next week with more "Bits and Pieces", April edition. (I know, you are TOTALLY on the edge of your seats!)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bits and Pieces

I'm starting a new addition to my blog called "Bits and Pieces" that I hope revitalizes things a bit around here and helps me get out all those things I want to say, without committing to a novel or a chronological play-by-play of my last week/month/season (which you will still be subjected to if you visit this space). It's a bit of a rip on Erin's "currently" posts (thanks, Erin!), but as you'll see below, my creativity has been lacking lately.

"Bits and Pieces" is one of about a million Australian (so probably British) colloquialisms they seem to use all the time:
"Just heading down to the shops to get some bits and pieces"
"Spending the morning organizing all my bits and pieces"

Anyway, my Bits and Pieces will be snippets about my current events in (mostly) triathlon. What I'm thinking, loving, disliking, fearing, wanting, doing, sipping, and generally humming and hawing (another Australia, likely British one) about.

Bits and Pieces: March 2016

EATING // Training is so full-on that we've actually standardized our weekly meals to make things easy. After we pick up Wynne at little-people-school on Mondays, we shop as a family and I always buy enough for the following 5 easy dinners. This gets us through the week as we usually eat out one night and often go to Luke's parents for a night. Each meal takes me less than 30 minutes to make and is a good mix of protein carbs and healthy fats. I make some other meals too, but these are my 5 go-tos and a very typical week in our house.

MONDAY: Rotisserie chicken, big salad, roasted potatoes
TUESDAY: Taco salad tuesday: Grass fed lean ground beef w/ spinach/lettuce mix, tomatoes, salsa, fresh corn, guacamole, chips, a bit of cheese and sour cream.
WEDNESDAY: Salmon quinoa kale bowls similar to this recipe

THURSDAY: Steak (filet mignon for me, rib eye for Luke), a big ass spinach/arugula/avocado salad, and roasted sweet potatoes.
FRIDAY: Spaghetti bolognese made with grass fed lean ground beef or turkey. I mix it up with zucchini noodles made with my Vegetti. Simple salad on the side.

TRAINING // Training has been 110% focused since we returned from the U.S. in mid-February. I am currently 6 weeks out from Ironman Port Macquarie and we have most definitely been putting in the hard yards. I've been joking (sort-of) lately that I've lost my personality to Ironman training. I'm even struggling to put together a coherent/funny blog post, so instead I'm just listing out things. I'm also excited to head to Putrajaya 70.3 in Malaysia in just a little under 2 weeks! Though the full Ironman is my focus, I always like to test my fitness in halves and I'm excited to visit Malaysia again. Luke and I are both racing which is always a lot of fun.

Ironman training problems

photo by Tommy Zaferes

READING // I finished "Fates and Furies" by Lauren Groff about a month ago. It is one of the most-deep dive character portrayals I have read in a long while, following the two main characters from young-and-in-love through the course of their lives. I thought it was funny that at one point, Matilda goes out for a casual 80-mile ride... Until I later found out that Groff's sister is none other than Olympics-bound triathlete Sarah Groff. Um, hello, TIME magazine or TODAY show segment, is this not the most talented family of the year? Anyway. Loved the book.

PLANNING // The Island House Triathlons 2016! We are getting soooooo close to being able to tell you about this year's installment of the Island House Invitational. It will be bigger and better- details coming very soon.

SIPPING // In an effort to get race weight to come a little easier for Ironman Port Macquarie, I'vecut back on wine, so I don't have any big reds to brag about. However, in this same effort, I've transformed Luke's daily "smoothie" (quotation marks used as this is actually a milkshake considering the ingredients are milk, chocolate syrup, and ice cream). I bought  a new Ninja (with the money we're saving from forgoing a few bottles of wine per week) and gave his smoothie a makeover. It now includes Gatorade recovery protein, raw cacao powder, milk, and extra Glutamine, BCAAs, and L-Carnitine. He's impressed and I'm impressed with the Ninja. With 1500 watts, I find it just as good as my old Vitamix (so far) and you can even choose whether you want to make the whole pitcher or use just a single serving on-the-go cup. Mine also came with a food processor which I've been using for pestos and cacao/banana/avocado "mousse".

LAUNCHING // Ok, launching is a bit of a stretch of a word, but I did "launch" a new Facebook athlete page. I got to the point where I was no longer answering Friend requests on my personal page because I couldn't be hassled to research whether or not requesters were true or spam. Also, I feel that by having an athlete page, I can make my personal page a bit more family-oriented and private and keep the athletic goings-on to the athlete page. I will post links to my blogs, etc from the athlete-page only, so If you have a chance, please "like" it here

That's it for now... Will check back in before Putrajaya 70.3 with some updates on recent races and life!

Monday, March 14, 2016

For the moms...

I've been thinking a lot lately about being a mother, being an athlete, being a career woman, being a wife, and how they all can fit together. It truly is impossible to "do it all", but you can do a lot of it. What's important to remember is that it is your choice and if possible, tune out the noise from all over of what you should or shouldn't be doing. Do what is right for you.

My daughter is admittedly no longer a baby (she's nearly 2!), but I still find myself drawn to posts, articles, podcasts, and people who are going through pregnancy, childbirth and life with a newborn.

As I look back on the story that I shared with 'you', I feel as though I didn't do many of the new moms justice. Somehow, without meaning to, I made it look 'easy'. Sure there was the odd 'help me get some sleep!' tweet. But mostly, it was all "Oh, I popped out this baby, now let's do an Ironman yahoo!"

Funny enough, that's never really the story that I wanted to share. However, I felt, at the time, that others were making it so 'easy' for me that it wasn't my right to complain about mastitis, or trying to cook dinner when you are so f*&cking tired from caring for a newborn and training that all you want to eat is a big bowl of sleep.

After all, I had recently left my full-time job to focus full time on being a professional athlete and being a mom. I had lots of family help and a supportive partner who encouraged me to get babysitters every day to ride my bike and be the best I could be. What did I have to complain about?

And so, I went about acting like it was all so easy. But in doing that, I feel as though I've sold all you other mothers out there short. Because even with the amount of support that I had, I still (2 years later!) cannot imagine ever trying to do that again. It was ludicrous, but in saying that, I wouldn't change a thing and I love the journey that I have been on with my family.

I think that part of the impetus for this post is that I recently read a blog post criticizing the "competition" for women to see who can get back in shape the quickest after having a baby. Ew, this a race now?

I want us to stop judging each other for how quickly we do or do not get "back in shape" post-baby. The most important thing after you have a child is to be their mother. Period. Forget about how everyone thinks you should parent or work out or not work out (except your doctor, of course.)

And guess what? Everyone's circumstances are different. Everyone's circumstances are different while they are baking that child as well! I continued to exercise 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day throughout pregnancy but guess what? I wasn't doing much else! I was coaching athletes from home, but other than that... free time to sleep as much as I wanted and exercise for fun. Not many other moms have that luxury during pregnancy. If I had been going to the office every day from 8-5, you can bet your bottom dollar that I wouldn't have been waking up at 5 every day to get a workout in. Because you know what? Pregnancy is TIRING!

For me, after I had Wynne, I was returning to my job as a professional athlete, and unfortunately, I had some really time-sensitive goals that I wanted to achieve to help with my long-term job security. I had one year from my daughter's birth to amass enough points to qualify for the Ironman World Championships with 35 other women in the world. Big goal. Stupid timeline. But you know what? It was important to me to try. And it was my job. I think it's ok for me to have "rushed" back to the start line a bit more than an age grouper with an office career or a stay-at-home mom. My job is different. And that should be ok.

As someone who has always been able to support myself, not creating an income from my new career  as a pro triathlete was not an option for me in my mind. At 35, I also was facing potentially my best few years in the sport head-on. So, I resolved to get my ass back into the sport as quickly as possible after having my daughter. Not to prove anything to anyone or do something shock-worthy (or dumb) like completing an Ironman basically in the 4th trimester. I did it because I wanted to go back to work and I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could help support my family, help us buy a house, secure better long-term sponsor partnerships. And what I am most proud to say is that I did that.

But I sacrificed a lot for that. I didn't have too many lazy snuggles with my daughter. I was only able to breastfeed for 7 months before I didn't have any more milk (yes, probably due to training).
In fact, if I do it again (not planning on it at this point, though), I would do it differently! I wouldn't be racing back to a start line because although I have no regrets, I'd like to enjoy being a new mom a bit more and have that experience as well as the one that I already had. I think it can be really enjoyable, but I admittedly took some of the fun out of it with all of my rushing.

I guess this is all a long-winded way of saying that you should honor your own journey as a new parent, whatever that may be. I like that I've given (along with the likes of Sarah Haskins, Gina Crawford and many others) professional women another story about what is possible after having a baby. In fact, when I see other professional triathletes get pregnant, I like to hope that they think, "she came back, so can I."  But I also want to say hey to all the other moms out there who should know that just because something is possible, doesn't make it right for you, or even something to strive for. I am honestly more in awe of moms who have a child, go back to work full-time, and then bust out a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon a year later.

They're the ones doing it all. I'm just doing my job.

And with that- here's a pretty cool documentation of that journey I took. Thanks to Gatorade Endurance for believing in me, being a part of my dream, and documenting it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fall Recap

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Ferris Bueller
post-race pool time in Thailand

Lately, I find myself wishing I could pump the brakes a little bit on life. So many cool things are happening, but it all seems to be a bit of a whirlwind. By the time one thing is wrapped up, we're already on a plane and off to the next. If you've ever had a toddler, you know that no matter how long your flight is, getting a chance to sit down and reflect and write is pretty much a pipe dream.

Finally, I'm sitting here in an airport, en route the final adventure of the year, and our flight is delayed. I'm even childless (!) as we're on a quick weekend trip to Ballarat 70.3 and Wynne is staying with the grandparents. So, I have an entire hour to do nothing other than recap the past few months. One day I'll look back on these blogs and I know that even a sentence or two and a picture will bring me back to this time and place. (#whyiwrite)

Post-Kona, I took a solid 4-week break from any real training to rest and rejuvenate after a looooooong season. We caught up with friends in California and prepared for the Island House Invitational Triathlon, our first foray into race directing. The Island House Invitational was a 3-day stage race on a private island in the Bahamas. 20 of the worlds' best triathletes (10 men & 10 women) were to compete for $500,000 in various triathlon formats over the three days. The invitees mixed up both short course and long course stars (i.e. Gwen Jorgensen vs. Mirinda Carfrae) and we were determined to produce an event that was new, fresh, and exciting. After three days of battle, Gwen Jorgensen and Javier Gomez were crowned the champions of the inaugural event.
Nils Nilsen took a million amazing shots of the whole event, but of course right now my computer is not cooperating so you get a couple crappy iphone shots that don't do the races or location any justice:
Gwen Jorgensen ripping it up on the run
Women's start Day 2
The Island House events ended up being amazing thanks to the entire team that worked to make it happen, but I have a newfound respect for any type of event producers & directors. Jordan Blanco helped us make it happen and we both proclaimed to have completed more manual labor over a 1-week period than ever before in our lives. I have never been so exhausted from zero hours of training in my life!

Being behind-the-scenes can seem like a thankless job, but for us, it was anything but. The athletes were outstanding and supportive and appreciate and flexible. The race sponsors (The Island House/ Mark Holowesko) and the supporting teams on the islands at The Island House and Highbourne Cay gave us every opportunity we needed to create a premier event and all the helping hands we could ask for. Now, the only task is to make it bigger and better in 2016! The race will be broadcast across the USA from Jan-March 2016 and I'll keep you posted on the TV schedule.

the usual kit-n-caboodle. airlines love us. 

After The Island House Invitational in the Bahamas, we flew straight to Australia to fit in a couple of weeks of solid training before the end of the year. Insert poke-your-eyes-out emoji here for flying over 24 hours with an 18-month old who doesn't sleep anywhere but her crib anymore. Back in Noosa, Australia, we settled in quickly and went full court press on the training front. After a DNF in Kona, Luke was prepping for Ironman Western Australia, with Challenge Phuket in Thailand along the way. I had also decided to race Challenge Phuket earlier this year (failing to factor in the break I would need after Kona) and I added in Ballarat 70.3 on December 13th to end the year. Sounds funny, but I knew that if i put in a short block for Phuket, that would boost my fitness and I could train just two more weeks and hopefully have a good result at Ballarat. Challenge Phuket had been a bucket list race for me after watching from the sidelines last year, so I wanted to muster up enough fitness to give it a go.

On Thanksgiving week, we headed to Thailand. Green curry and mangoes replaced the turkey and cranberries this year. I had only done about 2 weeks of training, but I knew that a year's worth of fitness would still be there deep down. We raced tough fields and I ended up 4th in the professional women's race (behind Simone Brandli, Jodie Swallow, and Radka Vodickova) which I was pleased with on the day. It was HOT. It was HILLY. It was, actually, FUN! Without high expectations, I was able to race for the joy of it and just go as hard as I could.

scouting the bike course in Phuket
always take time to enjoy the view
rehashing a hot battle with Katy Duffield

Post-race pool time with my peeps
Proof that Luke McKenzie had mojitos the week before he went 7:55 in an Ironman #livealittle
We flew straight from Phuket, Thailand to Perth, Australia for Luke's final preparations for Ironman Western Australia in Busselton. I knew Luke was in good shape. Really good shape. I thought he had a good chance at the win, and supported him in quiet confidence. He had that quietly confident air about him too.
quiet time during race week

We woke up race morning and I exploded the aeropress coffee all over the kitchen, including the ceiling. Then I went to make the standard gluten-free pancakes and for some reason the mix ended up being the consistency of water, not holding together in the least. I poured it in the pan and it created a thin film on the bottom on which I used a spatula on to scrape up some pancake scraps. It was horrendous, but Luke didn't complain and he ate his pancake scraps and drank his coffee that had grounds all through it and I think we both thought, "Well, maybe (or let's hope) this is the worst that happens today." And then we headed down to the race. Ok, he did say one thing.. As I handed him his plate of scraps, he joked, "you had one job". Touché.

Turns out, that was definitely the worst thing to happen that day for Luke (Okay, except for the rainy morning in transition which nobody ever likes). Luke went for it from the gun on a tough, chilly, windy day and he just. never. stopped. He ended up winning the race in 7:55 on a course where the previous record is 8:03 and the race has been around for 12 years. That 7:55 is now the fastest ever Ironman on Australian soil. Luke rode 4:08 (27 miles per hour wtf) and followed it up with a 2:52 run. The day was exciting, nailbiting, and I felt like an anxious little rabbit all day long bouncing from one place to another tracking him and taking splits. It was one of those days where my happiness for him exceeded any happiness I could imagine for myself.
on his way out of T1 to destroy the bike. (hopefully one day someone will write the words "destroy the bike" attached to my name and it won't be because I drove into a low-ceilinged parking garage)
Heading out of T2... 17 minute lead
Sub 8! Photo by Korupt Vision
family hug. 
Luke enjoying a job well done at Eagle Bay Brewery

That was last Sunday... Now I'm here finishing this blog on Saturday night in Ballarat, Australia as I get ready to race the final race of the year, Ballarat 70.3... I'll let you know how it goes. 
Good night! 

Oh, and in case I don't get a Christmas card done.... Wishing you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and excellent adventures in 2016.
 from, Beth, Luke, & Wynne

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ironman World Championships 2015

At the risk of writing "just another race report",  I'm about to write "just another race report" on the Ironman World Championships 2015. I feel like these things are easier to write when something goes terribly wrong, or conversely, amazingly right. I didn't really have either of those experiences in Kona last week, but it's still something I want to remember and, most of all, learn from.

Sometimes on my blog I write, "this is for me", but in some ways, it's for "you" too. It's for the women whose blogs I have read for 7 years and continue to read to this day. It's for the few folks who I actually do know spend the time to read my blog and enjoy it for what it is. It's not always sparkly or mind-blowing. Blogs aren't even cool anymore! They are sooooo 2008. It's for those who think "its just another race report" when writing their own, but may not realize that people like me, actually care and read them. This one's for those who have been there and watched me through good days and bad. Well-written, funny race reports and boring ones alike. I just saw that "california training" has reached over one million page views. Who knows if there is anyone still here from the beginning, but if so, this is for you (Kerrie? Rachel? GZ? I don't think GZ is here anymore, but he is one of my original faves.)


The lead up.
This is the stuff you try to keep off twitter because you want to limit the number of excuses you put out into the universe, but it's stuff that still counts. We flew to Kona from Australia just over 2 weeks before race day on what is going down (for now) in history as "Wynne's worst flight yet". None of us slept. At all. Overnight. About 20 hours with connecting flights, layovers, etc. Once we arrived in Hawaii properly strung out, Wynne proceeded to simultaneously get a full body rash, a fever, cold and hacking cough. Awesome. The rash subsided after a few days (heat rash maybe?) but poor thing was sick (& hence not sleeping). None of us slept. After about a week, we had to call in the reserves and shipped her off to Grandma & Grandpas condo so we could get a good nights sleep. We are athletes after all?! Or were we? It was rough and both Luke and I got milder versions of the baby croupe. I pounded Emergen-C and Zinc for 5 days and came out ok about 3 days before the race.
So, it was all far from ideal, but as usual, I remind myself that most other competitors out there have their own version of "unideal" before a race and you just deal and move on.
Our condo was in a great location, but with no A/C  in one of the hottest Kona seasons ever, we had yet one more reason to complain. Oh the joys in our house those first 10 days! It was good times. Real good times. The actual bonus there, though, was that it was too hot to cook inside, so we got to eat out almost every night which saved me lots of trips to the grocery store and sweaty prep and cooking time.
Why tell this part? Honestly, all this crappiness had nothing to do with how I actually performed on race day. But while it's happening you think, "oh my gosh this will ruin my race, blah blah blah I can't believe my baby chose to get sick NOW, oh my gosh." But you know what? In the end it was fine. Ideal? No. But do I think my race would have been any different if we were all happy and healthy the 2 weeks before the race? Nope. In those pre-race moments when I worry it's all gone to s$%t because of some flu etc, I call up in my mind other people's "just another race report" and remember that it's actually par for the course.

Training on course with Luke. Photo: Aimee Johnson

The week of... 
The week of the race was busy and we overcommitted ourselves a bit, but Kona is the one time each year that you get to see most of your sponsors and be involved in some really cool media stuff like interviews, videos and lots of photo shoots. Triathletes like to complain about not being treated like they're important and then they like to complain that it's "all too much" when people act like they're important. I love it all. I just have to make sure to stay focused on the race at hand and schedule in down time. We write our schedule for Kona week about a month out. We stick to it as much as possible. It's not rocket science. I'm not Beyoncé.

I also had an "extra" something-something going on as my new sponsor, Gatorade Endurance, was featuring me in a soon-to-be-released short Win from Within documentary. I felt super important having a Los Angeles based film crew (think 5 people!)  follow me for four days, but I was admittedly a little tired at the end of it all too. I am not naturally "on" all the time, so I needed to decompress a bit after it was over. Overall though, it was an incredible experience, probably once-in-a-lifetime and I can't wait until the finished product airs.

 G Endurance was awesome and scheduled the bulk of filming to be completed 4 days before the race. So, once the-day-before-race-day hit, we had properly relaxed and tapered and I was nothing but ready for the race. I had done the training. I had ridden the course in all possible conditions. Ready for 140.6 miles to call on both my mental and physical strongest version of myself.
Training on course

The swim...2.4 miles, 1:05
Moments with Luke just before the start. Photo: Triathlete magazine
I swam a 1:05. In 2011 as an age grouper, I swam a 1:04. I have swum (by my somewhat accurate calculations), about 4 MILLION YARDS since then. So 4 million yards netted me negative one minute.
The funny thing is, I'm not actually disheartened by this statistic because it doesn't tell the whole story. In all honesty, I think the course was long this year (based on reports I have from 3 Garmins that showed 4, 2.6 miles, 4000 meters and 4400 yards respectively (Ironman swim is 2.4miles/3800m/4200yds) ... that's about 3 minutes long for the pace that I swim. Now, chances are that all 3 of these people did not swim a straight line, but you just don't know. I know there was current and a significant swell. I know that I swam with a group of girls who beat me out of the water by 4 minutes at IM Western Australia 8 months ago, so for me, I am happy. I swam really hard in the beginning and fell into the group I should have been swimming with. End of story. I got out of the water feeling like a million bucks and ready to ride, as you should in Ironman. Nothing sparkling. No "cracking an hour", but I got through, with about 10 minutes down on the lead.

The bike... 112 miles, 5:11 (21.6mph) 
The ride is the part of the race that I am the most satisfied with. I worked so hard all year long for that bike split. Aside from the first 20 miles, when I rode with a (legal) group of 3 women, I rode alone. All. Alone. At one point coming back in the last 30 miles of the race, I was getting a bit wonky and actually wondered if I had made a wrong turn (pro tip: you really CAN'T make a wrong turn in Kona- it's basically one road) because I literally saw no one for over 30 minutes. Finally a few age group males (most of whom I knew) blew by me in the last 20 miles ( Hi Adam! Hi Levi! Hi Clint! Hi Chris!) and restored my faith that I had not lost the plot entirely and was, in fact, on the Queen K. For me, I rode really well. I may have ridden too conservatively in the beginning with the group of women (I was so excited to be "in a group" that I neglected to think for a while that I wasn't pushing the watts I wanted) , but once I made the move ahead of the group I rode steady and strong with few exceptions. I stayed on top of my fueling, opting for 1 bottle of G Endurance & 1 bottle of water per hour plus 2 gels or 1 pack G Energy chews per hour (to hot to eat bars in Hawaii for me).
Enjoying the ride on my SRAM 1x Scott Plasma 5. I chose Enve 4.5/ 7.8 combo. perfect for the day.  Photo: Jay Prasuhn

Let's see...what else... It rained in Hawi. There was headwind the last 25 miles that nearly broke my soul. It was really hot. Insert other Kona-typical sentences here and I'm sure they'll fit. In the end, my ride was in the top 15 pro bike splits. That is a big win for me (meet 2010 me who rode a 5:48 in Kona). And I rode alone. The bigger win is that I saw the places that I can gain minutes next year, and it seems do-able. I learned a lot. I'm already excited to do it again.

In from the bike, out on the run

The run.. 26.2 miles, 3:16
Grrrrrrr... the run. I was prepared to lay. it. down. on the run. Instead, I wanted to lay down. From step #1, it was a struggle. I don't think I've ever felt so bad in an Ironman marathon for nearly the whole run. In the end, I got through it, but it really just felt like a forced jog, not what I was envisioning. It was a very hot day.
Photo: Heather Scott
I felt like I was on top of my heat management, but maybe I wasn't quite enough. I also think I was a little "low" starting out as there was no final aid station on the bike and I came into transition possibly underfueled/hydrated from the last 20 miles of the bike. Either way, it wasn't the shining moment I had hoped it would be. It wasn't a disaster, either. I kept plugging away even though I was sure I was running 10 minute miles (I stopped looking and decided to just run). I never felt great.
little moments that lift you up: The sign read, "We love Beth Gerdes" (Thank you, Danielle!) 

But I never walked. Eventually, I reached that finish line, having passed one woman in the final 3 miles to squeeze into 15th place.

Photo: John Segesta

In the end, I finished as the 15th woman overall in 9:39, a 25 minute personal best on this course. I can look at my race objectively and be proud of what I accomplished last year and that I hit my goal of placing top 15 in the world championships. The tough part is that I didn't have the "race of my life". The silver lining is that there is a lot of room to go and find that race. I think it would be almost harder if I had the race of my life and still came 15th. Improvement from there is so much more daunting. I feel a bit lucky that I have those minutes to chase and shave on the bike and run.

From here, I'm taking some down time and then will do one final race at Challenge Phuket in Thailand on November 29th. I'm still working on the race schedule for next year, but we have some exciting ideas.

Drowning post-race blues at the More than Sport bike giveaway for kids in need of bikes! #morekidsonbikes

 Thank you to all of our friends, family, supporters and sponsors who make our lives possible. The grandparents and aunties were critical in this Kona trip and all year long and we couldn't have done it without all of them. To my amazing team of sponsors, "Mahalo" and I hope I made you proud this year! Also, a HUGE thank you to #AUSSIETOM our new amazing sponsor who is not in my sponsor picture page yet.