Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas

Chicago
Christmas was a little different this year with my sister's newborn twins in the family. We usually congregate in Philadelphia, but relocated to Chicago where the twins live.
James on the blue line train. We ain't in California anymore! 

It was amazing to see my parents as "grandparents" and to see my sister as a mommy.

Other than daily visits to the gym, we did pretty close to nothing. Infant twins, if you were wondering, are not particularly mobile. Packing them up for a simple outing practically requires a U-Haul. So, we did much more sitting around than my fam is accustomed to, but it was a good excuse to NOT have to stand outside in the chill of the windy city all day, so I was pleased.


Luke has a christmas yawn! 



DOUBLE FISTING! (good birth control?)


James + Me at some famous reflective bean scultpure downtown Chicago. 
We arrived back in San Diego last night. I'm looking forward to putting in a few miles on the bike in the next 5 days before I return to work.My second attempt at The Coast Ride (375 miles from San Francisco to Santa Barbara) is in just 3 weeks and that should be motivation to get me out the door. Well, that or the 75 degree sunshine. Tomorrow I'm off to tackle Mt. Palomar with Katya. The last time I climbed Palomar with Katya, well, let's just say I hope I make it to the top this time...
Back in Cali, Business as usual

Thursday, December 22, 2011

James! Get my bottles ready!

More often than not, James prepares my water bottles when we go riding. Before you go hating on me for being a princess, make sure to watch the video below, where clearly I get creamed for such diva behavior.
Lately, I have been requesting , "one bottle with Hydration Factor & one bottle with fruit punch Nuun". Neither contain calories (I like to eat granola bars on long winter rides), but both contain all the electrolytes you need.




Hydration Factor is new to me and a totally new concept in hydration products from MRM.
I like it because:
* It's all natural
* It's in that convenient little sleeve you can take anywhere
* It's very tasty. Tastes kind of like a weak lemonade.
I SHOULD like it because:
*There are some herbs in there that promote hydration at the "intracellular level". Apparently, you are supposed to get extra hydrated when you drink this stuff. I think it would be excellent not only in training & racing, but also in the weeks prior to a hot event where you want to go into it being as hydrated as possible. I'm not the scientist here, but I do know that Hydration Factor was developed by scientists & MRM has some serious standards for all of their products. So, I believe.


Okay, now you can watch this video James made if you want to see how he views life around here. (He already  put it on Facebook & twitter last week so you may have seen it). Unfortunately, I can't dispute his arguments too much. Except when he says, "this is not an egg and spoon race.." Hey now.

Champion Factory: Episode 2
by: jdubcx


And because he made fun of me...Here's James getting all intense on the Hunger Games..."Hurry, Haymitch! Katniss needs a gift NOW!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry & Bright


Christmas came early for me this year in so many ways. One of James' gifts to me was my very own website for my triathlon "career". Lovely Sarah at Great 8 Creative worked her magic with site design and well, Merry Christmas to me!

Please visit www.bethwalshracing.com and check it out!

This here blog is going nowhere, but it is also now linked up from my bethwalshracing.com home page. I don't think you need to reset your feed or do anything. I'm also working on updating my sidebars and put a few new gadgets over there. Who knew blogger had some of these features?  Blogger will show a list of your most popular posts, or take your blog labels and make them clickable for easy referencing. Over the next week, I'm going to go back and tag all my old posts...

I also realized my blogroll was oh, about 3 years old (sadly not an exaggeration) so I need to start from scratch. I have a few favorite sites, but am always looking for another way to waste an extra 5 minutes per week. If you'd like to be included, please leave me your website in the comments. I'll probably get around to doing this sometime over Spring Break :), but at least I'll know where to look.

Another reason I'm feeling merry& bright is that you may notice that my 2012 sponsors include my longtime favorite, Zoot. I'll be joining the Zoot elite pro team and hope to make them proud. This is a huge sigh of relief because I know I'll be training & racing in the best wetsuits, compression, training gear, and shoes around.

Truth be told, I have NEVER done a triathlon in another brand of shoes and I'm so happy to say that I'm not going to start. As I've mentioned before, Zoot is like family to me and our loyalty is mutual.

Thanks to everyone for making this a holiday to remember...And may your days be Merry and Bright! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

swimming spirit: Holiday swim workout!

My friend Toby posted a link to this article on the top 10 things successful people do to reach their dreams. I loved the article and wanted to remember it here, and bookmark it to check on these next few years as I work to achieve my dream of competing at an elite level in triathlon. This post touches on "thing" #3: Early mornings & late nights. Because nearly every early morning at 6am, I hit the pool to work on something that has not come easily to me. But I love it. I love that I have to work reeeeaaallly hard to see tangible results in the pool. I also love that I have a great Master's swimming program to wake up to and make the work a little lot more fun. Let's face it: Swimming alone sucks! (to me).

You know what gets me in the Christmas spirit more than anything else? Master's swimming. Yes. Hear me out.
It all starts on December 1st when the "countdown to Christmas" 50s begin. On December 1st there are 25 x 50s (a "50" means you swim 50yards which is 2 lengths). The Christmas 50s preceed the main set ( main set=the bulk of the swim workout, the part where you usually are close to puking). Every day until the 25th, you swim one less 50 in the countdown. So today (Saturday the 17th, 8 days till Christmas, we swam 8 x50s).

Now, I know this whole "Christmas 50" thing is a little denominational and all, but heck, it IS the YMCA pool, so I guess they're allowed. Maybe at the JCC they swim Hannukah Hundreds? I think I'd love those too.
We've got a great indoor/outdoor situation going on. AND this is less than  3 minutes  WALK from my front door.  don't hate! 


Swimming doesn't get much airtime on this here blog. I think maybe because it's hard to take a camera in the pool, you know? But it should, because I'm LOVING swimming lately. I still have SO much work to do in the pool, but the coaches and my lane mates make it fun every day. AND, I just got a new teal Betty Designs signature one-piece that brightened up the pool this week. 







Anyway, back to the Christmas  50s. Well, I love them. I also love how every day, Coach Hux shows up with some evil Santa workout. You never know what to expect. In fact, I've been swimming masters at the Y for 3 years now and NEVER have seen a workout repeated. Seriously. AND, each session he pays attention to all 50 of us, running around, knowing all our intervals, and juggling 3 stopwatches to get everyones times. It's awesome motivation.

The Elf himself: Coach Hux sporting the So Cal winter look- board shorts, uggs, &gloves






About my lanemates. I'd like to also take this swimming air time to thank them for letting me be the caboose whenever I ask, for grabbing my ankles and pulling me under water to keep me on my toes, for not making too much fun of me for still not really knowing how to flip turn, for being patient as I played "fake it 'till you make it" the past 3months in "their" lane. I think I can finally say I "made it" in the 1:25 lane (lane 3).You should all know that I started in the 1:55 lane 3 years ago. And you bet I've  got my eyes on lane 2 for 2012...Not just yet though, one stroke at a time... (for those of you who don't swim- the 1:25, say, is your "base interval", a pace you should be able to swim comfortably for 50 yards. All the workouts are based off of this time. As you get faster, your base interval should decrease.)

Now, back to coach Hux & his workouts. Yesterday's holiday pain was the following. Give it a shot!
500 warm up
The Christmas 50s: 9 x 50 - 3kick, 3 drill, 3 swim on 5 seconds rest
The "Polar Express": 1000 continuous "train" with your lanemates, switching leaders every 100yards.
The "Egg Nog":
4 x 150 on base + 5
3 x 150 on base + 5 , 100 FAST (on base MINUS 10)
2 x 150 on base + 5, 2 x 100 FAST (on base -10)
1 x 150 on base + 5, 3 x 100 FAST (on base -10)
                                 4 x 100 FAST (on base -5)

100 warm down

total: 4550 yards (if you did the whole thing. I had to get out at 3800 yards and go to work. Darn job! truth: I was a bit relieved since the 4x100 was a little gnarly for my taste on that morning. But I DID do all my FAST 100s between 1:08 and 1:10- not bad for a girl from the 1:55 lane! )







Saturday, December 10, 2011

Going Pro

I often forget that I have some friends and family that follow my blog who may not know what "going pro" in triathlon means. Wait, actually, "going pro" means so many different things to people within triathlon that I think you need to come up with your own definition of what it means for you. 


For me, it literally means that I have a USAT (USA Triathlon) Elite license (which you can obtain by meeting certain criteria. For explanation see here). It means that I will start with the elite field in any race and be eligible to earn money. Unfortunately, it does not mean that I will earn money, but that's a whole different story. For me, it means that I will become a bit more serious and detail-oriented in my training, because I am officially balancing two jobs. So, nope,  I am not quitting my job as a school psychologist". I am, however, working 4 days per week, so I have one extra day to train, travel, or work with my sponsors....



I recently contributed to an article for 3/GO Magazine that will be published in the next couple of months. 5 rookie pros from my age group also contributed, so my verbose answers will be snipped to just one or two sentence contributions, so I posted the complete interview below. Above, I talked about what being "pro" IS for me, and below is a bit about what it means....And I also let some cats out of the bag (wait? who puts a cat in a bag anyhow?) as to some big changes for me next year...much more on those soon!



Chatting with my fellow rookies...Photo by Larry Rosa
  1. How did you get your start in triathlon? I feel like adult “late bloomer” triathletes start as either ex-college swimmers or rowers with big engines, or injured runners. I was the latter. I began running (without a plan or any knowledge of endurance training) in 2007 and promptly ran myself into a femoral fracture and was on crutches for 5 months. Before the doctor allowed me to run, I was permitted to “spin on a recumbent bike” and run in the pool. Sounds like triathlon to me! Of course, being oblivious to proper healing and recovery, I took this to mean that I should go buy a “real bike”, learn how to clip in , and start “training” for triathlon before I was even allowed to walk. I distinctly remember crutching it down to the beach and hopping on one leg through the whitewater during my first (terrifying) ocean swim with the San Diego tri club. Needless to add, I eventually healed up and did my first Sprint Tri in May 2008. I placed 3rd amateur overall and was officially hooked.

  1. What’s your athletic background? In high school, I was quite sporty. I played varsity field hockey and lacrosse. I did swim on the swim team for a couple of years. I use the term “swim team” loosely. We never won a single meet. I was actually quite good for our team standards since half the team was actually learning to swim. College was a different story. I was on a strict training regimen of beer, Wendy’s, and (gasp!) half a pack of cigarettes a day. I used to heckle the girls in my dorm for working out and didn’t comprehend why anyone would do that. I slept past noon at least 3 days per week. I may or may not have gained the “Freshman 15”. You’ll never know because I destroyed all the pictures. I never in a million years imagined I would become a pro triathlete at age 31.
  1. What’s your strongest discipline? Well, running is what got me into this whole “mess”. Straight away, when I began running in 2007, I was  not bad. After one month of “training”, I ran my first ever 10k in 40 minutes and 30 seconds. So, I literally took that and ran with it. Running myself into the ground. But it all sparked a belief inside me that I could be “good”. Since then I’ve worked on my run and in 2010 I ran a 2:59 standalone marathon and a 3:10 marathon off the bike in Kona.
  1. Which discipline do you think needs most improvement now that you’re joining the pro field? How do you plan to tackle this? It’s a good thing I can run ‘em down because I have a lot of improvement to make on the bike and the swim. Although I’m no fish, I still see that I need to make the most improvement on the bike because that is where I’ll see more “bang for my buck”. In the past 3 years, I’ve improved about 3 minutes on my Half Ironman swim times, and about 30 minutes on my bike times, so clearly, the return on investment is highest for the bike.  I know that if I keep working on my bike fitness, I can be better and I finally believe in my ability to improve. For a long time, I felt like I put in the work, but wasn’t seeing the results. Now, I know that it just took a couple of years of building up some mileage in my legs and I’m starting to reap the benefits of hard work and dedication.
In order to maximize my output on the bike, we are also going to work on my TT position with a bike that fits me. I know that to compete with the pros, you need attention to detail. In the past, I’ve ridden whatever bike I was available, regardless of fit, and never spent much time on my position. 2012 will be different. When looking for a bike sponsor, I was clear that I would rather have no sponsor at all than to “settle” for a bike that wasn’t perfect for me. I am one of the tricky “in between sizes” women and I knew there were only a couple of 700cc bikes that would fit me perfectly. I lucked out and I’m going to be working with Cannondale Women’s bikes. The Cannondale Slice is my “goldilocks” bike. I rode a borrowed Slice briefly (for one race) in 2010 and haven’t felt a connection like I did with that bike since then. I’m also going to be working with Retul fitters at Studeo DNA to tweak and dial in a position that is fast and aero. My previous TT position was the butt of many jokes on our Saturday rides… Apparently I looked like a “monkey [doing something unmentionable to a] football”. In 2012, I will have no excuses about my bike or position…Now, just to prepare the rider.
  1. What made you decide to “go pro”?
For me, “going pro” was a really tough decision. I felt like I had reached the top of age group racing but I still felt as though there was a gap from that spot to the pro field.  But, I’ve never been one to live life with any “woulda-shoulda-coulda’s”. I’m 31, so for me it was now or never and I’m ready for the challenge.
  1. Will racing as a pro change how you plan your season? If so, how?
For me, racing as a pro is going to allow me to plan my season much more organically. With races selling out for age groupers a year in advance, you sometimes get “stuck” in a schedule. Now, I’ll have the flexibility to race when and where I want to. If training is going well and I feel prepared, I can race a lot. If my base needs more work, we can back it off.
  1. What do you expect to be the challenges of competing in the pro field?
First, of course, I’m nervous about the swim. Aren’t we all (Except Jess Smith :) ) ?  As an average age group swimmer, I’ll have my work cut out for me even more in the pro field. I’ll be honest- I’m scared of swimming and biking alone in no man’s land for an entire Ironman. I tend to daze off on the bike if I’m not around others who are pushing and motivating me. I may be doing lots of talking to myself and finding that “inner” strength (or crazy depending which way you look at it).
  1. What will you not miss about being an amateur?
I won’t miss the trepidation that comes before and Ironman mass swim start where you know you are about to get clocked by 2000 of your closest friends. I also won’t miss the drafting packs in age group racing.
  1. What concerns you most about your decision to race as a pro?
I’m aware that just because my mind and my USAT card say that I’m a “pro”, my body will have to make the jump as well! I’m not delusional and certainly don’t expect to be the next Chrissie Wellington in 6 months, but I hope that I can make myself and my supporters proud by sufficiently stepping my game up.
At first, I was worried that by keeping my day job, I would be at a disadvantage to those true professionals who are able to make triathlon a full-time career. However, I’m starting to believe that the balance may in fact be good for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of balancing two day jobs. 

How will your training change in the coming year as you prepare for your first season as a pro?
Contrary to many rookie pros, I actually may end up doing less volume than in the past. My former coach, Dirk Aschmoneit, helped me reach the point where I’m at now, and we did lots of volume (and I loved every minute of it!). I have him to thank for getting me ready to take this next step to “pro”dom . In 2012, I need to focus on getting FAST, so we are going to take those base miles and long days and translate them into a platform for speed. I need to mentally prepare myself for the fact that my workouts might not be as long, but they are going to HURT.
I’m doing more group riding out of my comfort zone and I’m lucky to have a group of cyclists that put me in the hurt box on a daily basis. As luck would have it, my next door neighbor is Pete Coulson, who has coached and mentored several Ironman World Champion athletes and is currently working with the phenomenal 70.3 pro Heather Jackson. Pete has taken me under his wing and Heather is a great model to look up to and chase in training. My husband, James, is also a huge support and gets me through our training rides.  I feel very lucky that I get to go out and ride my bike with this crew and I know that I’ve got the best “team” out there. They even send someone to pull me back to the group when I chicken out on the descents .

  1. What has been your favorite/most memorable triathlon experience to date?
My first time competing in Kona at the Ironman World Championships in 2010 will always be very special. I wasn’t close to winning my age group (I went 10:13) but I enjoyed every second of that race and all of the experiences surrounding the race itself. The Kona “vibe” is one-of-a-kind and the whole week is a true celebration of the best things about long distance triathlon. Swimming in Kailua Bay out to the Coffees of Hawaii boat for an espresso the day before the race with friends & family might be my  favorite triathlon “experience”. That’s what I love about triathlon….It’s not always the race itself or the finish line that is the most memorable.
For me, I want to remember the entire journey. I happened to start a blog right when I was learning to clip into pedals in 2007 and have documented the good, bad, and embarrassing since that time. I love being able to look back (and I just did so to find out the date/times from my first triathlon for this article) and laugh and reminisce. I also love sharing my experiences with other aspiring triathletes because I’d say that I’ve learned 50% of what I do in triathlon from reading blogs and testing things out and I hope to be able to help others in the same way.
  1. What question(s) do you wish I had asked you? And what is your response?
Mmmmmm….I’m pretty sure my responses are already WAY longer than you hoped for. So I’ll stop now...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And just like that...

And just like that....It's December. The last week has been one of those blurs where I was moving too fast to take care of some of life's essentials like: Stop, breathe, blog. You know, the important stuff.

First, and most importantly, "MoVember" is over! So, creepy creeperson is gone and clean shaven James is back.
End of the Mo

Since Thanksgiving, it's been all "Go" with a high volume week at work :) and some fun winter racing.
A quick recap in Photos:

Thanksgiving day we headed up to "Tom's Farm" for a 9 mile time trial. Seriously. 9 miles? Isn't that like the warm up? Anyhow. It was fun and hard and I placed well, but I need to work on my "hard". I averaged just over .5 mph faster than my Ironman bike split. Yes, I know, "one gear Greta" over here.


Boys warming up for time trial...VERY SERIOUS!  Nobody would talk to me as they all tried to get "in the zone". Boys are weird

The weekend brought sunny skies and  more riding and more racing.I took a go at the District Champs for Cyclocross (my first 'cross race this year) and was proud of the effort. The win went to Allison Mann (as usual!) and I used my "fly over the handlebars", "roll on the ground" and "drop my chain all over the place" moves to secure 10th in the women's A race. [Yes, there were only like 14 girls]. Might help to ride a cross bike more than twice to improve my skillllz.
Pete & me....pre race. (Post race, there was more spit, more hacking "red-line" cough, etc)

James and his best 'cross face

Back in the swing at work, I made time to head to Studeo DNA for a retul fit on my current road bike. Now that triathlon is officially going to be my "second job", I need to really work on the DETAILS. The little things that will add up to make a difference. 


We wanted to work on my current position (I was WAY too far forward) and also look at my dimensions to pick the perfect sized road bike for next year using this cool Retul bike finder thing (more on next year's ride soon!) . Nestor (Mr. DNA) fixed some big things as well as all the little things I usually ignore...
Before this little adjustment- my cleats were a few CENTIMETERS off (not symmetrical) , so I had been pedaling totally different with each leg...oops. 
Yesterday we went on a coffee ride down to Pacific Beach. Yes, December around here is not so bad! 






Other than that, just cruising along. Today we're going to set up the Christmas tree and get in the spirit! I'm also finalizing some things for my new website so I have lots of exciting things to share in the next couple of weeks!
I hope you all take time to stop, breathe, enjoy these next few weeks amidst the holiday mayhem. I know I need to take this advice myself.  How do you relax around the holidays? Any good tips?