Boca Hawaii Triathlon Training Weekend 2015


Awaiting our flight from Honolulu to Kona.

Awaiting our flight from Honolulu to Kona.

What, besides three sports, do triathletes have in common? Actually, not much. What unites us is a desire to swim, bike and run. You know, the kind of stuff we did as kids. What separates us is the rest of our lives: family, friends, professions, physiques and political affiliations. I think we are also comfortable with being by ourselves, alone in a crowd. When you are training, even among fellow triathletes, there isn’t much time for talking. There’s a lot of introspection. Somehow, we manage to achieve a cohesion of overachievers and struggling wannabes united by commitment, heart and passion.

A boardroom of bikes.

A boardroom of bikes at the Hapuna Prince Hotel. 

In May I will participate in my third Ironman 70.3 triathlon on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. This past weekend, about 60 Boca Hawaii athletes were joined by coaches and generous family members as support at the Hapuna Prince Hotel for a training weekend that would mimic and exceed the intensity of the event itself.

Resting at Hawi.

Resting at Hawi.

This was my second Boca Hawaii training weekend. I got there Thursday evening so I’d be fresh for the Friday morning bike ride to Hawi. Throughout the weekend we had scheduled bike rides, swims and runs. For me, this was the weekend where the bike route finally clicked for me. During last year’s race, I had an awful bike ride. But having done the ride twice during training weekend, I’ve figured out a way to budget my calories and effort to make each stroke count. No longer was I telling myself that the finish was just around the bend. I knew already. I credit this to riding my bike several times a week since January with super handsome coaches and equally attractive freshmen cyclists. Hey that sort of thing keeps me coming back! By the time endurance triathlon training came around, we were all bike ready.

My side of the room. Love the beds at the Hapuna Prince Hotel!

My side of the room. Love the beds at the Hapuna Prince Hotel!

My swim has gotten progressively better, despite the 30-60 second freakout at the start. I injured my wrist a few weeks ago. It didn’t help that it got slammed a few times this weekend while we were swimming in tight-knit clumps to get the feel of spinning arms and kicking legs, courtesy of our loving teammates. One thing I learned from masters swimming was to swim with as narrow a profile as possible. The motion keeps your arms close to your torso and head and can protect you from the novices’ deadly frog kicks. Whenever we swim in the ocean, I always feel someone touching the bottom of my feet as they draft in my bubbles. I often wonder about the person who ran their hand down my legs. Pausing to check would waste valuable seconds. So I just wonder.

My view from Tower Four includes Tower Three and a slice of beach.

My view from Tower Four includes Tower Three and a slice of beach.

Normal triathletes (well, typical triathletes) usually have one sport that is harder than the others. For me it’s the run. My cardio is strangely insufficient and both of my knees are bums. Add the stifling heat of baking lava fields, and I feel as though I am drowning, never quite able to breathe sufficiently. It hurts a lot.

Sunset at Hapuna Prince Hotel.

Sunset at Hapuna Prince Hotel.

How is it that some people can run so effortlessly? I envy them. I am trying to get to that point. I’ve lost some weight, so I expect it to get easier. I need to lose more. And what helps me lose more? More running. This weekend my runs scaled from OK to crap. When I got started on the last long run, my plan was to run out an hour and run back an hour to catch our plane. I started and three of my coaches passed me on the rolling hills with words of encouragement. Then Coach Felipe snuck up on me. I certainly didn’t expect him, but it was the most perfect time for the most perfect person to get to me. I was heaving, my heart rate was soaring, my legs were dragging, and I was melting. He assured me that I could never finish a 13.1 mile run breathing so laboriously. He made me slow down and catch my breath, he had me push out the CO2 to help my body get more oxygen, and he put my head in the right place. Then he moved on. I was motivated, as I always am, when a coach take the time to work with me when I am struggling most. I didn’t have a good run, but I did have a better perspective.

This TED Talk helps, too. Emily Balcetis, a social psychologist, talks about why some people find exercise harder than others. I watched it because I think I have a block about running. According to Balcetis, I should keep my eye on the prize and not be distracted by my surroundings. Is it that easy? Sometimes while running I come to realize that I was in a little zen zone for a while. And like a dream, it slips away as I desperately struggle to reinstate it. I am again reminded of how heavy my legs feel or how hot it is or how long the race is. Balcetis says that if one focuses on the goal, the finish actually seems closer.

My goal for the next month is to work on my run, build strength in my leg muscles, and preserve my knees. I hope that will result in a solid event and a personal record.

I have a theory about triathletes, based on my personal experience. We’re all a little crazy. We love to suffer together. We’re competitive, but we enjoy each other’s accomplishments. It’s a solo sport best prepared for en masse. Training our bodies is only part of the equation. If you can stand the person who you are while racing, then you’re that much closer to happiness.

 

Lanikai Triathlon, Part 3


Look closely. There are two of me! This is getting out of the ocean and running toward transition one and the bike ride.

Exiting the ocean to transition one and the bike. John Bender photo.

Not that I’m getting super casual about being in triathlons, but when you’re training for a half-Ironman (70.3) a sprint triathlon doesn’t even qualify as a workout. The Lanikai Jamba Juice Triathlon was last Sunday, hosted by our coach, Raul Torres of Boca Hawaii. He and his tough team of coaches crack their whips all week long. Doing a sprint triathlon without the usual prodding would be fun. We were told to ride our bikes for two hours later that day, because, DO MORE.

As typical for this event, the wind was howling and the sun rose behind a bank of clouds. It sprinkled as we set up our transitions along the bike racks under the glare of spotlights in the early morning. Most normal people are still in bed on such a Sunday. Why be normal?

Good morning chop for crazy triathletes!

Good morning chop for crazy triathletes! John Bender photo.

After a briefing (be nice, don’t draft, don’t break the rules, don’t say mean things, don’t be an ass), we walked down the beach to the boat ramp at Kailua Beach Park for the beach start of our 500-meter swim. How intimidating could it be? The conditions were victory at sea, my favorite. I love the chop and the swells and I try to take long strokes to take advantage of their power. Somehow I managed to stay inside the crowd. Other years I’d swim outside, and it was way too far. This time I made a dash for the last buoy and got to transition one at 11:38 minutes. Not bad for this kid.

I ran to the bike transition. I tried to put on my bike shoes but D’uh! I had put my spare bike tube in one shoe and socks in the other, which I totally forgot. So I tried to put my feet in my bike shoes and they were getting all jammed up. I grabbed the stuff and put it in my bag, got my number belt on and ran across transition to run through the park and out the back to the road for a 10-mile ride, which took us to the gate at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, through a winding road badly in need of repaving, over a big-assed hill, and back toward the beach. Just like my friend and coach Lectie recounted in her blog here, I, too, could hear coaches Ryan and Alika: “Am I pedaling fast enough? Am I pushing a high enough gear?” Dudes. You are so in our heads. I kept thinking I would see the leaders on their way back but then I realized we were going up Mokapu and across the saddle, a pretty substantial hill that didn’t kill me. I killed it! This was a good ride. I think they should keep this route for future triathlons. I hammered Mokapu. Take that.

I love riding the bike, I was so happy when I turned down toward the end of the ride and coasted down to where we were to dismount. Right pedal out, left pedal, stuck. I fell on my left wrist, my left hip and okole, and the bike was carefully cradled between my legs and didn’t suffer a scratch. Whenever I fall I think about how crumbly my bones are or how I could just be crippled for life. But I was able to get up and run to transition, although my pride was quite bruised at this point. That had never happened to me. It sucked. My wrist still hurts.

After I brought down the bike rack. I always do this little cup shower thing. Mahalo, Edna, for the photo.

After I brought down the bike rack. I always do a little cup shower. Mahalo, Edna, for the photo.

At bike transition, already flustered from the fall, I tried to put my bike on the rack and the whole rack fell to the ground with one other bike on it. I tried to right it for like two seconds and figured, “Fuck it.” My nose was dripping half the ocean and I shoved my feet into my shoes and took off for the run exit. I was determined to beat last year’s time, which beat the time from the year before.

Transitions are kind of crazy for me. I’m very disoriented. So, this was good practice for me. I need to figure out a way to get my head screwed on right. If the rack falls, just say fuck it. Observe, detach and move on.

Running across the sand in the final stretch to the finish.

Running across the sand in the final stretch to the finish. John Bender photo.

The swim was great, the bike was almost great, and the run is my achilles heel. I took off, had to be redirected by the volunteers, and headed toward the Lanikai Loop, which has a few baby bump hills during the first half and a revisit to one of them on the way back. Tonight I ran for an hour and twenty minutes and it felt OK. I’ll ice my knee, but, it wasn’t excrutiating. Neither was my run in the triathlon. However, I felt as though I were suffocating. Did I use my inhaler in transition? I really ought to take a hit from my inhaler before my runs. This was just a 3-mile run, which is about how long I have to go before my legs feel OK. As I came out of Lanikai and ran across the beach toward the finish, I was happy to be getting so close to being DONE. Then this lady passes me with some young guy. I didn’t know who she was, but, I thought she was old.

So yeah, I have this delusion that I’m actually 40. I swear to g*d. There is no way I am not. I am way too fun and hip and silly and goofy and crazy to be anything else. It blows my mind, which is, you know, 27? And it’s why I do all this training. If I lay off, gravity wins. Must resist.

As I trailed other triathletes and approached the final berm of sand and climbed toward the finish, my friend Caroline comes running down the hill to whip my butt with “GO GO GO” and it really helped me get up that hill and across the finish. I expected that hill to trip me up, but it didn’t.

Across I went, a minute and 24 seconds faster than the year before; but 20 seconds behind the woman who placed third on my age group podium with my friends Faye and Yvette. The lady I thought was old!  WTPho?

Next year.

 

Share the Road with Us!


Big shoulders on the Big Island made doing the Ironman 70.3 a relaxing ride. Headed north to Hawi from the Mauna Lani turnaround, 50 miles to go.

Big shoulders on the Big Island made doing the Ironman 70.3 a relaxing ride. Wish we had bigger shoulders on Oahu’s roads! 

Yesterday during our Boca Hawaii Summer Triathlon Training workout three of my teammates were in accidents with motor vehicles while we were riding our bicycles. No one was fatally injured, all are on the mend, and to the best of my knowledge, each was a victim of hit-and-run rudeness. It is illegal and morally wrong to leave the scene of an accident or to not assist people who are hurt.

In 2012 Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the Vulnerable Users Law, designed to protect bicyclists, pedestrians and people who work on crews such as those who groom road landscaping, etc. It isn’t a snare net to capture and punish drivers. It’s to make drivers aware that they have to look out for everyone who isn’t in a steel capsule hurtling down the highway.

I live in East Oahu, and that’s where these accidents involving my teammates occurred yesterday. This part of the Island is chock full of Type-A captains of industry and their high-maintenance Rogue- or Cayenne- or Lexus SUV-driving wives in their yoga pants, phones illegally at their ears, kids set to ignore in the backseat. One woman in her Mercedes coupe got very close and then told me to get out of the way because she was in a hurry to get to her tennis match at Koko Head District Park. I was completely unaware of her importance.

The point is, people out here need a refresher course on sharing the road with bicyclists. We get the lane. We get the whole ENTIRE lane. Do we take the entire lane? Not unless the shoulder is junk. Most of us ride on the shoulder and we’re OK with that. Sometimes I see riders doubled up to shoot the breeze while we are out there on Kalanianaole Highway and I am not OK with that. I have a little mirror clipped to my sunglasses so I can see what’s coming up from behind me, so I can see that a city bus is about to pull up to the bus stop, or a car or delivery truck wants to turn right. The mirror is very helpful to me, but not everyone uses them or needs to.

East Oahu gets its share of tourist drivers, and I suspect it was a tourist who caused my two women teammates to crash by Hanauma Bay yesterday. I do not know how this person is enjoying their Hawaii vacation. One woman has a dislocated shoulder and the other one has a broken collar bone. Needless to say their bicycles are totalled.

Those of us who ride road bikes and triathlon bicycles have a healthy respect for the road and for the vehicles with which we share it. Most of us obey the laws to the letter. Some of us will roll through a red light if there is nothing going on. Most of us will help each other out if we’re on the side of the road changing out a punctured tube.

I make a point of making eye contact with drivers while riding. I always say thank you with a big smile and an Island-style shakka wave to convey my gratitude to those of you who are getting a chance to pass me because finally I have a shoulder to ride on. Believe me, if it were up to me all of our roads would have broad, clean shoulders for those of us who ride bike or who like to run along the highways.

I have a theory: Bicyclists make excellent drivers because we have the perspective of being both the vulnerable and the infallible user. We ride in the heat, the rain and the wind. These elements add to the challenge of navigating along the shoulder and sometimes in the path of traffic. We know we’re not as fast as you in your big truck or little sports car or your tourist bus or your delivery truck or mom mobile. But do you know that as a driver on Oahu’s roads, you must protect the rest of us who are considered by law vulnerable users? Awareness. We just ask that you have AWARENESS.

 

Run Like A Mother

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Over the last couple of days, a lot of searches to lavagal.net indicate folks are looking for Run Like A Mother, the blog by Hawaii’s Blonde Bombshell Super Triathlete Duo Rachel Ross and Katherine Nichols. It’s OK. I’d call them … Continue reading

Today’s Milestone

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This gallery contains 2 photos.


Mahalo, whoever you are, you wonderful soul who checked my site as visitor number 50,000 today. Lavagal.net got lots of hits today. It might get to 100 before I sign off. I’m grateful, even if it might be mostly paranoid … Continue reading

Anxious vs Eager: Running.


@postaday 255; #postaday2011.

As a writer, a proofreader, and an editor I have built up a little arsenal of pet peeves when it comes to other people’s grammar. I say other people’s, because my husband John reads my daily blog entries and secretly emails me edits. And my editor Lisa Baxa, the publisher of Island Scene magazine, and the perfectionist who scans every word the HMSA Mothership intends to communicate, never misses an error in my copy. I am grateful to them, and others who assist. In other words, I’m not perfect.

So if you’re excited about doing something, you’re EAGER. If something you are about to do fills you with fear, you are ANXIOUS. And let’s not get into apostrophes and possessives today. My gawd. Did Pet’s Discount really mean only one pet gets the discount? Why would anyone think it’s ever OK to write “Do’s and Don’t’s,” when it’s “Dos and Don’ts?” And yes, punctuation marks belong within quote marks.

Biking is my thing. This is what I do best! I've added swimming, and now I'm thinking about a 5K. Photo by David Lum, husband of colleague Kari Lum. We ran into each other at Makapu'u Lookout.

OK, now that that’s out of my system: About my anxiety and eagerness in regard to running. One of the Twitter accounts I follow, @BradGansberg, has a website that helps people learn to run a 5K in 100 days. Brad says on his site that he had an epiphany when he was a big fat blob on the sofa. We all get to that point, don’t we? I saw a tweet of his yesterday, noted the hashtag #5Kin100days and decided to check it out. So, following instructions, I sent him an email and I’m now drumming my fingers waiting to hear if I am in. And I think I should be because he tweeted today about how he’s looking for more participants. So, BRAD? ALOHA and here I am under your nose and you’re blowing me off.

Either way, if I’m in or not, there are other build-up-to-a 5K running programs. My concern, as many of you know, is the Achilles tendon drama in my life. I was trying to start a running program back in February 2010 when the 45-year-old wound popped apart. The doctor who did my surgery, Dave Mathews, said it broke right on its old scar. I’ll be checking in with my personal doctor to get a green light for my new goal.

When I wear athletic shoes to work on Casual Fridays, my right leg hurts by the end of the day. I put inserts under the heel, but I still get pain. Sometimes I think I would be better off starting a running program in high heels, but then I’d look like a drag queen! LOL.

After a fine personal finish in the Na Wahine Festival: first in my age group in the Swim and Spin, third overall in that event, I thought about how I might do if I could do the 5K that’s part of its triathlon. A year out is a reasonable time to try and see if I could do it.

I follow a lot of bicyclists and triathletes on Twitter, and I am humbled by their accomplishments. Mine are so small compared to theirs. I’m not going to set myself up for huge disappointments by aspiring to be a senior champion, but I am very competitive so I’ll have to work hard at not disappointing myself.

I’ll be walking a lot before I break into a slow jog. At this point, I wonder if I’ll ever run. And if  you see me out there crawling, literally crawling on my hands and knees, or fallen, please help. Part of me thinks that it might pop again. I think that with every step I take. I thought that as I struggled to get out of the water last Sunday at the Na Wahine to get quickly to my bike across the beach and across the road and into Kapiolani Park. It’s not that I don’t trust the surgeon or the surgery. I just don’t trust my own body.

Admiration for Tinman Triathletes.


Drizzly morning at the start of the Hawaii Tin Man in Waikiki.

@postaday 208; #postaday2011.

“But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man/
That he didn’t, didn’t already have…”

When I grow up, I wanna be a triathlete, too!

This morning I woke up early, the same time I get up for work, to ride my bicycle at the butt-crack of dawn to see the start of Hawaii’s Tinman triathlon event at 5:45 a.m. My ride in Hawaii Kai was already coned off but I passed the cone truck on Kalanianaole Highway before Maunalua Bay, so I was extra careful on the way to Waikiki. Along the Waialae Country Club golf course, I encountered no cars, and none passed me on Kahala Avenue until I was approaching Black Point. Then, while on Diamond Head Road, there was some punks-in-hot-rods stupidity going on at the lookouts. I expected to get harassed, especially when the BMW driver turned his lights on as I passed, but they didn’t bother with me. Thank goodness.

Triathletes and their bicycles launch through the chute at Kapiolani Park.

I got down to the Tinman start, which was relatively calm with the hum of triathletes tweaking their transition spots, and walking over to the start of the swim. I ran into two of my friends, Kevin, aka @ElementalGeek on Twitter; and Margie Davis, the Koko Head kindergarten teacher who taught both of my daughters and is a good friend of the family. They were both really calm. I think the gray of the morning is conducive to pre-race mellowness.

Swim caps are used to segregate the swimmers, and the first “elite” wave was that of those in yellow caps. Water patrol, aka, contracted beach control dudes on stand-up “SUP” paddle boards and surfboards, helped the swimmers stay on course. I was relieved to see that, as my swimming time for the Na Wahine Festival Swim and Spin event in September could possibly double because I have a tendency to zig zag!  Continue reading