Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dream Big

I'm not one to harp over New Year's resolutions.. Except this year, because I resolved to make three very important things happen and wrote them down in my first blog of the year. My resolutions are "simple":

Find Peace.
Give Love.
Dream Big.

In doing my best to truly live these three resolutions each day, I feel very much on the path to becoming the best version of myself, something I have longed to be for a while.

Today I'm revisiting my "Dream Big" goal. I've noticed in life, that I am the most fulfilled when I step off of the beaten path, take risks and really go for it. That is "me". Playing it safe, hedging my bets, and maintaining the status quo have never been things that keep me happy or make me feel alive. Sometimes, I fall flat on my ass. More often, I think, "Why didn't I go for it sooner?" One of my favorite quotes is, "I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get." I know myself. I work hard at whatever I set my mind to and am passionate about.
you may know what i'm about to tell you if you happened to read this article in Freeplay Magazine
My big dreams this year have included giving a true stab at becoming a professional triathlete, starting an endurance coaching business, and traveling the world to race. I've already raced in Mexico and Australia in 2013 and I'm pretty sure there is more to come. I launched rêve endurance and have been coaching some incredible athletes of all levels around the world (Hi hi hi to K in Australia- my furthest athlete!).

The other part (becoming a true professional triathlete) was even more of a big dream, one that involves a lot of potential risk. I spent 8 years of higher education (4 years undergrad + 4 years of grad school) to become a School Psychologist. I love my job. I've invested a lot in my work, my school, and my school community. I love the people I work with. But, I have a dream right now that can't be fulfilled while giving 75% (okay, maybe 60%) of my energy to my school psychology position.

Back in March, I went "all in" and wrote to the Board of Directors of my school district, talked with my bosses, and formally requested a 1 to 2 year Leave of Absence. A Leave of Absence means that my position in the district is guaranteed to me upon my return, but until then- I'm on my own- so no, I don't get paid by them to not work. In April, I got news that my request was granted and what meant even more was to have the encouragement and support of my Principal and co-workers... Following your dream to be a professional athlete and race around the world for a year or 2? Not something you can put a price on. The district worked on hiring a new "me" to fill my position, and on June 20th 2013, I closed the door to my office for at least a 15 months.

So yeah, operation Dream Big in full effect.

As for Finding Peace and Giving Love- both are falling into place....I'm realizing something with need to find ones that have true real meaning for you, and then breathe them every day. In and out, day after day, making a commitment to staying true to them (write them, think them, be them).. And then, if you're "lucky" (remember how we get "lucky"), you may be closer to those goals than you ever imagined.

P.s. I wasn't able to take any more new athletes through rêve endurance the past couple months because of my crazy training/work/coaching schedule, but now I'm excited to open up 4 more spots for athletes interested in individualized triathlon (or running) coaching as I'm a bit more free these days. Check out or contact me at bethgerdes1@gmaildotcom if you have any questions or are interested in your own big dreams. the french verb rêver, does mean "to dream" after all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

cleansing for athletes?

After Ironman Cairns, I gave myself a full week of whatever I want. And for me, whatever I wanted included 4 full days of no exercise  and eating without thinking, "should I really eat that?" Now, I don't think I went overboard, I mean, sure, I had some of each of the following in the week post-race: gummy candies (lollies, they call them in Oz), french fries (chips!) , creamy lattes (flat whites!), wine, beer, cheeseburger (or apparently, in Australia- a "burger with cheese"), frozen yogurt, scones, muffins, chocolate...and I'm sure the list goes on. I didn't stuff myself crazy with all that crap, but I didn't say no to a bite (or ten). I kept the exercise super minimal for a week with being sick with a cold and traveling halfway across the world, the best thing was just to sit tight. But, by the end of the week, I was definitely itching to get back to "normal".

By the following Monday, I was ready to hit the "reset" button. I think its important to slack off for at least a week after a huge endurance event like an Ironman because life really is all about balance, and chances are, you sacrificed a lot of time, energy and made a lot of good choices to get yourself to that finish line.

However, I also want my body to bounce back stronger and fresher than ever and I thought a little kick start could be fun. I've been visiting Beaming (Superfood vitality bar) in Del Mar since they opened 6 months ago and have been buying the Kale salad w/ gojiberries, Thai salad, Beaming Protein bites, and superfood smoothies anytime I'm in the neighborhood. I also love their philosophy that centers around balance, moderation, and one size (or cleanse!) does not fit all. The focus is to create a partnership between you and your body- I can get behind that. SO, while my post is about the Beaming cleanse, I think it could be applicable to any cleanse you choose as an athlete and how I adapted my needs to work with the cleanse as much as possible.
Chilling at the B-Bar

Beaming offers 1 to 4 day cleanses (primarily juice/smoothies/raw soups, but also some "real" raw food each day in the form of dinner salad or entree) and I got to talking with Kirsten about how & why a cleanse could work for an athlete (any type of athlete, not just the super crazy type like me). So, we decided to do an experiment. I love that Beaming urges you to make this "your cleanse". That means, you do what you  need to feel good during this cleanse. For some, adding in bits of alkaline foods (they recommend 1/2 an avocado, a handful of sprouted almonds, coconut water) could be the extra boost they need to get through a light hike or pilates class. For me, I added in those things I listed above, but I also knew I needed to supplement the cleanse with foods that could fuel my workouts
one day of goodness...

So, for the past 4 days, coconut water, bananas (and some peaches & strawberries), and Beaming Protein bites (sold at the store) have been my best friends in addition to the food they gave me. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I haven't eaten a grain (or had chocolate) in 4 days. Okay, so doing a 4-day cleanse when you are burning 8,000-10,000 (by my calculations) extra calories through exercise within those 4 days is a lofty goal, but my goal was not to restrict my access to good, raw foods or calories. Rather, add in as much as I needed to train properly and focus on feeling fresh, full of nutrients, and seeing which of my "go-to" foods I missed the most.

Here's how it went.... I picked up 2 days at a time in my neato Beaming cooler bag.
my Day 1 & 2 pickup
Each day includes (the full list is here)
  • 2 organic cold press juices
  • 1 Superfood smoothie
  • 1 Raw soup
  • 1 Superfood Elixir
  • 1 Salad or raw entree
 The juices/soups/smoothies/elixirs are numbered but you are allowed to go out of order if you're a rebel like that. They also include Milk Thistle (to help with digestion), Beaming Cleanse & Balance tea, and some powershot boosters with cool things in them like E3live and algae.
bad photo- but check the smoothie ingredients...tasted SO good after a hard treadmill workout. 
Dinners are something I would absolutely be happy to eat for lunch or dinner on a regular basis. Here's tonights raw veggie lasagna & salad:
Raw, vegan lasagna

Well, oddly enough, I was never really hungry even with my training load. Part of this was because I was SO busy. I was wrapping up the school year at work, I had a solid docket of swim, bike, run, and strength workouts and a bunch of other appointments and errands to run after 10 days in Ausrtralia, so I actually found it convenient to just grab a juice (ok, and usually a handful of almonds) and go.
The juices and salads are well, quite freaking tasty. The green juice (#1 each day) took me a little getting used to b/c I love sweet and they are not sweet, but by day 3 I was into it.
I also strategically planned the each day's smoothie (seemingly the most calorie dense and good for recovery- and the most tasty in my opinion) following a tough workout or between workouts to keep me going. I ended up supplementing A LOT of fruit & coconut water, so I might recommend the cleanse when you have very light training- I would love to do this cleanse during a taper (but not too close to the race) or directly following a race. Also, during a mid-season break, it would be the perfect jumpstart to a nutritional change.

packed my cooler to go from pool to work to Rehab United strength class. 1 juice, 1 raw soup, 1 apple, raw almonds

Moving forward, I'm super motivated to eat clean. I've definitely been feeling more vibrant this week and I swear my eyes are glowing green. I even went to Whole Foods tonight and stocked up on all the good foods I want to keep eating (chia seeds, kale, jicama, watermelon, kombucha, canteloupe, beets, almonds, coconut milk, and other whole raw foods). I didn't really miss muffins and cookies that much (which if you know me, is AMAZING) and I'm thinking they were spiking my insulin so much I just kept eating them to feel "better". I also didn't really miss meat & yogurt & fish (ok I did have a sushi craving or two), but will add these back in in smaller amounts for protein. The only things I REALLY missed were some kind of grains for breakfast (oatmeal or anything to make me feel full before a big workout), my Bonk Breakers on long rides,  and CHOCOLATE. I decided I'm not going to live life without chocolate. That's just silly.

I'm also motivated to do some more research on an Alkaline diet in moderation.....Judging by the way I've been feeling, I think they're on to something over there at Beaming...

Thank you to my friends at Beaming for letting me be your athlete cleanse guinea pig- I think we're on to something! And to my friends near - check em out, and far- check out their recipes until they get a store near you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ironman Cairns race report

My 5th place female finish at Ironman Cairns 2013 was not the "race of my life" in the way we usually use this phrase. No amazing breakthroughs were had, no sub-3 marathons were run, no swim or bike times crushed. Not even close. However, it was the "race of my life" in so many other ways. 
It was the "this is my life" , no really, "this is my life!" race and I loved every second of the experience. It all started race week in Port Douglas, which you can read about here

But for now I'll skips to Cairns... On Thursday, I rode with some friends down from Port Douglas to Cairns (North end of the bike course to T1). Riding into the headwind and through intermittent rainstorms, I mentally prepared for whatever we'd be granted on race day. Truth be told, I don't mind a good headwind. Tuck in and roll with it. "Get small" and hey, well I'm small so I think I'm good at that! 
Riding down to Cairns
Rainbow over T1 on Friday... After the rain, comes the rainbow

The rest of the pre race preparation went really easily. Thank you to all of the Aussies that helped me prep my bike and gear...The guys at SRAM/Zipp Australia really helped with some last minute bike adjustments and new tires as I had gotten a bunch of debris in my tires and needed to ride with some freshies. 

Ironman gear round-up. (I've got a post on this in the works!) 

Race morning: 
Alright. I'll mention it once, but then I'm hopping off the excuse train. On Friday before the race, I came down with a nasty cold/sore throat/low fever situation. I was not well. I really tried not to focus on this, and have some good friends who've had fantastic results while being sick, so I wasn't ready to pack it up and give up. That said, feeling 100% was not an option on race day. I made a decision to swim only aerobically as my breathing was really not going well. 
Breakfast went down just fine (a couple of bowls of gluten free cereal, MRM Hydration factor, and a Peanut Butter Choc Chip Bonk Breaker while prepping my gear in T1) . 

The Swim: 1:06 (2.4 miles)
Well, the swim was not the sub one-hour I was hoping for! Not even close. I "allowed" myself to swim comfortably and breathe, thinking this would still get me around maybe 1:02 or something... I just never felt great in the water. The water was hot. Definitely pushing the temperature cutoff, but due to possibilities of huge stinger animals that supposedly inhabit these waters, they keep it wetsuit legal. I came out of the water knowing there was work to do, but ready to put my swim split behind me. 
2 lap swim course..
swim venue

The Bike: 5:23/20.7 mph (112 miles)
The Cairns bike course is mostly flat/rolling until a 2-loop section which includes 4 climbs over the same hill that is about 1 kilometer long in each direction. The home stretch (last 40k-ish) is directly into a nice headwind. So, it is one of those courses that is not incredibly challenging on paper, but can really get you if the weather chooses to get hot or windy (both strong possibilities on any day in tropical north Queensland). 
loving my Slice! (Thank you Adam Weathered for the photos!) 
I felt pretty good on the bike ride and think the bike was indicative of my current bike fitness (nothing glamorous, but a work in progress). I held steady power all day long, passed Michelle Wu on the bike, kept my head in the game, stayed on my nutrition, and rode with the intention of getting off and running myself onto the podium. And all through the most beautifully amazing bike course I reminded myself, "You get to do this. Racing Ironman in the professional field in Australia. Seriously. So what if you are in 6th place and not winning the damn thing right now?, keep your head in the game because so many people don't have the opportunity to make this their life." I really never gave up on that day because I felt so incredibly lucky. 

The Run: 3:19 (26.2 miles)
The run is my jam and I truly believe on any day I can run darn close to 3 hours in an Ironman marathon. On Ironman Cairns day, it was not to be. I just couldn't push and hold beyond the comfort zone. I never felt terrible, but I never felt great, and I'm thinking my sneaky sickness stole a bit of my sparkle 'n shine. I just kept plodding along, knowing I would make it to the finish. I passed Michelle Gailey on the run to move into 5th place. I crossed the finish line, happy to complete my 9th Ironman and ready to be done!

Huge congratulations to Liz Blatchford 1st, Gina Crawford 2nd, and Stephanie Jones 3rd for an incredible race to the finish and showing how to really get these things done- constantly amazed by the women I get to race with. 
Running... photos by Adam Weathered
and another one...
Post race...
Finishing an Ironman, in 5th place, in Australia, was an amazing feeling. I don't care if you don't have what you or others may consider the  "Race of your life", finishing an Ironman is an accomplishment that will teach you more about yourself in one day than almost anything else I can think of. I embraced the feelings of accomplishment and am always proud of where I've come from in this sport and looking forward to where I'm going to go. 

Post race was about my next door neighbor in Cardiff, CA -Luke McKenzie and the night was all about celebrating his big, well-deserved, long-time coming victory. I was so happy for Luke, I think I forgot I had actually raced too. 
enjoying some Australian suds with Steffy

As always, thank you to my amazing sponsors, supporters, friends, and family. I have a post coming about all of the gear, nutrition, and time that it takes to go into an Ironman race ready and the details of my race plan... 
And thank you to the amazing people of North Queensland, Australia...Some of the nicest, most hilarious, and honest people I've met. The volunteers were incredible (especially the children!) - Hearing an 8-year old scream "Well done!" in a ridiculously cute aussie accent during an Ironman marathon will never get old! 
Cheers to this adventure and the next ones soon to come! 2013 has only just begun (in my mind at least!) 

P.s. I finally learned how to order a proper coffee in Australia...just as I was leaving. If you ever go, this may help....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The other side of the world...

After a few days in North Queensland, Australia, I can't believe that I even thought about not taking this trip for Ironman Cairns. You can't put a pricetag on life exeriences and I feel lucky that I sometimes ignore common sense and practicality in favor of the unknown or risky choice.

The travel day(s) to Port Douglas, Australia were quite the long haul... I think Thursday morning in San Diego, I woke up, went to masters swim, went to work, had a jog, drove 2 hrs to LA, caught the plane to Sydney (15 hrs), transferred terminals, caught another plane to Cairns , Australia (3hrs) , then drove up to Port Douglas the day before the Coral Coast 5150 (Olympic Distance Triathlon).
you...are here.... (see the Star at the top!)

first proper coffee in Australia: Sydney airport
As for that 5150....I thought I'd come out okay, but I definitely struggled to stay afloat in that one. My legs felt like absolute junk, but I kept the head down and the feet going in the name of a good training day for Ironman Cairns on June 9th. I ended up 5th place pro woman for a little paycheck. The entire 10k run was on this beach, so I had nothing to complain about (other that having to run 10k on the sand).

5150 run course...
The day after the race, I lucked out and joined a bunch of the athletes and race organizers for a sail out to the great barrier reef.
floating near a deserted Island

Emma Moffat at the wheel

feeding prawns to reef sharks

Another weekend adventure included a walk through the Daintree rain forest and a dip in the cold pools at Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge...Daintree

 After the weekend, I've just been spending some time training, tapering, coffeeing and exploring Port Douglas. I head down to Cairns tomorrow and the Ironman weekend begins!

Country road outside Port Douglas

Yes- this is the Ironman bike course....

Port Douglas morning routine: Sunrise &....