Friday, April 29, 2016

In this moment

(What is is about the day before Ironman which evokes all the deep thoughts? Anyway, here are a couple of mine and I promise to return to a round-the-world adventures recap soon after the race tomorrow) 

I look through my Instagram pictures and Facebook posts and I see a life I never imagined living. Elephants and monkeys, absurd amounts of tropical islands, cycling with Kangaroos, a chiseled-looking Australian man (seriously, how did I score him?) and a perfect little girl. Sure, it’s the “best foot forward” tiny little glimpse of my life that showcases the highs and minimizes the lows, but the truth is that those moments are still lived by me and my little family. Never did I imagine in a million years that at 36 years old I would be traveling the world as a professional athlete with my daughter and my Australian triathlete soon-to-be-husband. 
early days

Koala crossing in Queensland
Candy the elephant in Phuket, Thailand

Lava fields in the Oregon high desert
It's more fun in the Philippines
In some ways, I’m living out my wildest dreams, but to be completely honest, in some ways I’m scared s$%tless. I was brought up in a family where hard work, education, and helping others were the primary family values. My dad is a doctor, my sister is a nurse, my stepmom is a child psychologist, and my mom is a college professor. Until three years ago, I followed their footsteps and was happy and secure in the future I had created for myself. As a school psychologist, I loved my career, I loved my school community and the families I was able to connect with. I spent 8 years in college & graduate school school to obtain complicated-sounding degrees and solidify my career. I knew that my retirement fund would grow every year and I’d be ok when I was old and gray. And then, I quit. What started as a leave of absence turned into a resignation as it became clear that if I returned to my psychologist position, Wynne & I would stay home in California, she’d be in full-time day care, and Luke would travel around solo to bring home the bacon. 

getting engaged on the Great Barrier Reef

sunrise in Melbourne, Australia

Cycling the canyons in Utah


exploring the woods in New Hampshire

posting in Paris
paddling with Dad

Instead, I chose to live a little traveling circus with my partner and our perfect little girl, pursuing my little slice of the triathlon dream and watching Luke live out his big slice first-hand instead of via Skype. Wynne has been to 5 continents & 14 countries (many with multiple visits) before her second birthday. 
where to?

ticket to ride

Life now is exhilarating and incredibly fun and adventurous, but even more so, it completely scares me to death. I cannot board a 12-hour plane flight, ride my bike through a monkey forest, or run through a remote village without wondering what life will be like in 10 years and “what the heck am I thinking?!?”. In my upbringing, you plan for your future. You make sacrifices today that will ensure payoff tomorrow and way down the line. Nowhere in the Gerdes family guidebook was it written that you choose a “career” that most certainly will end by your early 40s, or a partner who is along that same career path. 
bubbles at the Tour de France

on island time in the Bahamas

twinning in Hawaii
For me, living in the moment is harder than planning for the future. I wake up (wherever I am) every day completely amazed by the world around me (which in the past 18 months has included Australia, Chile, Panama, The Philippines, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Malaysia, Thailand, The Bahamas, Cape Cod, New Hampshire, Hawaii, California, Chicago and probably some spots I’m forgetting). But before I even pinch myself, I freak out that I should be at a desk somewhere writing a psychoanalytical report or back in the sleep-deprived state of train-work-train purely because I felt deep down I was the hardest working person out there and that gave me some sort of sense of accomplishment that I was doing the "right" thing. I constantly look at what I’m doing now and wonder if my parents are proud of me or if they just think I’m running around the world being silly. At the end of the day, though, even if I never win another Ironman or accomplish my biggest goals in sport, I know my parents are proud of me. They see me happy and in love with Luke, spending valuable time with Wynne, and doing my best to follow my dreams and work hard at "right now". I think they enjoy seeing me live my life in this moment and I hope that they’re confident that when this is over, I’ll find a way to be okay (we are saving, mom & dad, I promise!!!) . We may never be millionaires, but we certainly won’t live life with any regrets over paths not taken. 

Tomorrow, I’m racing Ironman Australia, my 7th Ironman start line since I had Wynne nearly 2 years ago. Tomorrow, I’ll try my guts out to go as fast as I can, but I’ll also be celebrating this opportunity, this dream, these people, and give thanks every mile that I get to live this life in this moment. 

Thank you to everyone who makes it possible to get to the start lines around the world including my friends, family, and 2016 sponsors. First Ironman of the year, here’s to making it count! 

added note: Since the Ironman welcome dinner last night and meeting Turia Pitt at the pro panel, I cannot stop thinking about one thing. And for this race, that's my "WHY". Why are you doing this? When the going gets tough tomorrow, Turia has given me my "why".... Because I want to be the one that gets to give Turia her finisher medal at that finish line... A job reserved for the race winners. That would mean the world to me. If you want to be inspired, read a bit about Turia's incredible journey here and tune into tomorrow to support her! 

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!)