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The Three C’s of Ironman Coeur d’Alene Training Camp: Cold, Crotch, and Chafing

This past weekend Jas and I trekked to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to train on the Ironman Coeur d’Alene course with some teammates before the big race next month. Jason will be racing but my big dance isn’t until Canada at the end of August, but I thought I’d be an overachiever and go to the training camp anyway, figuring it would help me for my race. The weekend didn’t go quite as planned and I ended up getting slammed with the three c’s: a cold, crotch issues, and a new batch of chest chafing. Sicky-Ki-Yay, Motherf*cker A crappy cold has been working its way through my team the past couple weeks, so it was only a matter of time before the germs made their way to me. At least three of the teammates who I had swum with and met for dinner last week ended up getting sick, and Coach Teresa was battling the yuck all week, too. So naturally, as Jas and I were driving across Washington on Thursday heading to glorious Idaho, I started to feel rundown and kind of blergh. By the time we checked into the hotel and met Mark and Teresa for dinner, my head was aching and I was battling Lumpy Throat Syndrome. The next morning, I sucked it up, chowed down on off-brand daytime cold medicine, and did the group swim at a nearby pool (swimming in the lake was a no-go considering temps were hovering at a nope-inducing 46 degrees), then suited up for a long bike ride. The first part of the Ironman bike course is kind of nice, with some slight, steady climbs along the lake before turning around and heading back into town. After about an hour, however, the course dumps you onto the highway where you get to bike out 20 miles before returning to town and doing the entire loop all over again. You spend 80 of the 112 miles on the highway, which is pretty sucky because it’s a boring, long, lonely, and mentally challenging stretch. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about riding alongside a rumble strip while semis careened past me as I dodged roadkill and random bits of debris, but if I had signed up for CdA I could probably suck it up on race day, although training on the highway was somewhat grueling. After I completed loop 1, I was starting to feel kind of crummy. The day was sunny and warm, but I was feeling too warm and started wondering if I was battling a low-grade fever–I’m used to sweating and sniffling during bike workouts, but this flop sweat, snot factory, and throbbing headache felt more cold-induced. I ran into Teresa, who went into Mom Mode when I told her I wasn’t feeling well and made me ride back to the hotel and rest. I felt kind of chumpy for only busting out 80 miles instead of riding the entire 112 and for skipping the brick run, but after I showered and spent the next two hours sneezing and blowing my nose, I figured I made the right decision. My evening was spent curled up in a chair in self-mandated quarantine watching re-runs of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and wheezing while my teammates went out to dinner. The next morning I skipped the second group ride but thought I’d give the team run a try, figuring that if I had to choose one of the workouts to do, I’d opt for the run instead of the bike because I could bail more easily if I still felt crummy. I still felt a bit feverish leading up to the run but felt surprisingly...
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An Athlete’s Most Vital Training Weapon: The Support System

I’m entering my fifth season of triathlons and my seventh year of participating in races. It hasn’t been easy: sometimes the races are fun, sometimes they suck, sometimes I’m pleased with how I did, oftentimes I’m hard on myself. The workouts are grueling but mostly satisfying, the costs make me whimper, the injuries make me feel vulnerable, then indestructible. A lot of emotions and feelings go hand in hand with endurance racing, and without your most valuable weapon it all becomes that much more difficult. I’m not talking about compression socks or recovery drinks or carbon fiber gadgets; I’m talking about your support system. There are people on my team who have doting, caring family members and loved ones who are out there for every race cheering them on and beaming with pride. Mark’s parents have never missed any of his full Ironman races. Brent’s dad had tears in his eyes when he watched his son approach the finish line at Ironman Canada in 2009 (and when I saw his dad, I choked up too). Jason’s parents, sister, grandma, and aunt and uncle have all shown up at races to cheer for him (though Jim, Jason’s dad, is the most genuine fan of the actual sport and would eagerly watch a race even if Jas weren’t participating). And then there are people like me, folks who don’t have a familial support system. I have to keep reminding my mom what a triathlon even is, and when I told her about signing up for my first Ironman, when she wasn’t convinced I was going to die, she stated she was too busy growing hot peppers to fly out and cheer for me. I’m in the process of convincing her to watch me race at Ironman Tempe (should I decide to do that race) since it’s outside of pepper season and because her mother-in-law lives in Arizona, but I don’t have a ton of confidence that she’d come even though she has promised she would. I had invited my sister to come to Penticton with my nephews to watch the race, and she seemed interested but didn’t come out. I’ve invited her to watch me race at shorter, local events but so far she’s been a no-show. She’s eager to boast about our brother and his martial arts on Facebook but has said nothing of my endurance race accomplishments. I doubt it’s intentional or malicious, but the lack of recognition can sting from time to time. Speaking of that brother, when I had first signed up for Ironman Canada and was telling him about it, I mentioned that it would be really cool if he could fly up (he lives in Los Angeles) and support me and that it would mean a lot to me. He just laughed over the phone and scoffed that he doesn’t want to “stand around all day while [I] run a marathon.” Misinformed distance aside (hello, I’d swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles first!), the eye-rolling tone and complete disregard of something that meant a lot to me really stung. I didn’t actually expect him to come up and support me considering it would have been quite a trip, but his complete lack of caring really hurt. After I finished the race, my mom, sister, and other brother all congratulated me even though they really don’t understand the sport or the amount of training required. This brother was the only one who didn’t say anything or acknowledge my accomplishment (and to this day he still hasn’t). Sometimes I see my teammates and my boyfriend who have such a loving, supportive family and I get sad....
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Ironman Training: Measurable Via Baby Gestation

Last night when I was at track, my coach Teresa, with a big grin on her face, blurted out two big announcements. The first was that one of my teammates had gotten engaged, which I knew about thanks to Facebook (nonetheless, congratulations once again, Karissa!). Maybe now that Karissa will be busy with wedding planning, I can finally catch up to her swim speed. (I say this with 100% sarcasm because she is insanely fast in the water and I am dumbfounded by how she does it–I’m convinced she stows some fins and a small motor underneath a dock or something before races.) The second piece of news was that one of TN’s coaches, Bridget, is three months pregnant. That was more surprising to me, although not mind-blowingly so since her mom had been putting some not-so-subtle pressure on her to start popping out grandkids already and Bridget had mentioned that she wanted to start a family soon. I started having my Usual Suspects moment where I thought back to all of the workouts Bridget hadn’t participated in lately and how I hadn’t seen much of her in general before my brain went “Ohhhhhhhh, right, because of the whole ‘fetus’ thing.” I was happy for her and her husband, but then it dawned on me. Despite being terrible at math (I’m a disgrace to my Asian heritage, I know), I was able to calculate that if she’s three months pregnant now, she’s likely due at the end of July or the beginning of August. I started my Ironman training program in September, having gotten more of a head start than when I trained for my first Ironman (which was about an eight-month regimen back in 2010). By the time Bridget squeezes out Bridget Jr., I’ll still be a few weeks away from racing Ironman Canada; thus, in the amount of time it will take me to train for and complete an Ironman this year, I could have conceived, gestated, and given birth to a baby and have been taking care of it for a couple months. Mind. Blown. So basically, my baby is Ironman Canada. There isn’t that much of a difference between being pregnant and training for an Ironman, if you think about it: You’re often sore and bloated Your feet hurt You’re hungry all the time You’re tired all the time Nausea (puke and rally!) You get mood swings and can be crabby Random, copious amounts of sweat You’re spending tons of money on gear and supplies You have mental breakdowns where you think you’re not ready and that you can’t do it, but you can By the end of it you just want it to be done with it already When the big day arrives, it feels like it goes by in an instant even if it did take you all day You finish with a sense of accomplishment and a brand new “baby” (in my case, a medal and an upside-down printed hat, but whatever)…and a sore hoo-ha. I’m a few years away from making the “should we start a family” decision, but for now Ironman training is giving me a taste of what it’s like to endure nine months (or, this time around, 11 months) of feeling uncomfortable, miserable, randomly sticky, and going through weird body changes. As for Coach Bridget, knowing how tough she is and what an outstanding athlete she is, this whole pregnancy thing should be a piece of cake for her. Just don’t eat too many ketchup chips, Coach B, or your baby may turn into a ginger. (And...
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Operation Kill Rebecca’s Legs Was a Resounding Success

Last week Teresa must have weighed all her objectives and settled on one that was especially important to her: Operation Kill Rebecca’s Legs. And so she embarked on a week-long plan to destroy my little Asian stumps and succeeded quite handily. The week’s workouts weren’t too bad…who am I kidding, the entire week sucked. Let’s revisit the schedule of pain: Monday: dryland. I was already feeling kind of tired and Bridget sensed fatigue and pounced, making me do lunges, squats, burpees, and a bunch of other dumb crap because she’s sadistic and mean. Swim: Pacing/conditioning workout. Teresa tried to drown me by incorporating sculling into my workout and very nearly succeeded because I am terrible at sculling and think it shouldn’t be a thing that exists. Tuesday: track. Oh goody, a run test. I ran as hard as I could for 30 minutes, sucking in air like a Biggest Loser contestant on week one. On the plus side, I PR’d for a 5k and posted a good pace for the half hour test. On the minus side, the workout was hard and hurty and I got a wicked side stitch that hurt through the next day. Wednesday: dryland. Admittedly this wasn’t on my schedule but I had already signed up so I went anyway. Teresa showed some mercy on me and gave me minimal leg workouts so she could lull me into a false sense of security before destroying my lower limbs with the rest of the week’s workouts. Cycling class: Who gives a bike test the first day of cycling class? The TN coaches, that’s who. I emerged from this one exhausted, legs burning, and with new bike heart rate zones. Thursday: Sweet fancy Moses, a day off. I celebrated by gorging on fish and chips, a fish taco, and cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. That’s how you take advantage of a rest day. Friday: cycling. A 1:30 workout in various zones. Not too bad, but after that I had to run to… Swim: A tempo trainer swim clinic. I only ended up swimming around 800 yards and it wasn’t too taxing. I learned a lot about using the little tempo trainer device and posted my four fastest 100s ever, including a personal best of 1:33. Whaaaaaaat?! I never swim that fast. (And yes, I know that time isn’t fast for 90% of the triathlon population but it is for me. Maybe this “devote more time to swimming” strategy is starting to pay off…) After class I went out with a couple friends and had a few drinks that wouldn’t have affected Fat Rebecca but ended up giving Less Fat Rebecca a bit of a hangover. I didn’t get to bed until 2 am, which set me up for a grueling Saturday workout. Saturday: 1:35 run with tempo efforts. I was supposed to go to the group run but seeing as how that started at 8:30 and I was operating on no sleep and too many sickly sweet cocktails, I didn’t start hauling ass until about noon. The run wasn’t too bad but since it was colder than usual, I was atypically sore afterwards. I stuck my tight calves in some compression socks and headed off to a dinner party thrown by a fellow teammate. I debated sneaking off and taking a nap because I was exhausted but figured I wouldn’t get a return invite if Amanda caught me snoozing in her bed and drooling on her pillow, so I fought the good fight against consciousness and (barely) won. Sunday (aka D-Day): The triple whammy of workouts coming off a day where I was already getting pretty sore. Cycling:...
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One of Those Days

We’ve all had them–I’ve certainly had my fair share, like when I set out to ride the Lake Stevens course a couple times and made it 10 miles. Or when I set out to ride 82 miles and made it about 30 and nearly froze to death. Sometimes you just have one of those days where you set out to do something and the forces combine to eff up your ess so that you have the worst day imaginable as one thing after another goes wrong. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I had a speed run workout scheduled, so Jas and I headed to the Greenlake track on our lunch break to bust it out. The plan was to do a 20 minute warm up, then two miles all out with a five minute recovery, then 4×100 at my previous all out pace with a three minute recovery, then a 10 minute cool down. Total workout time: 1 hour. I started my warm up then began my hard effort. It sucked. Bad. My stomach was really sour and I felt like I didn’t have any speed. I stopped after one mile, figuring I’d do my recovery and then I could do another hard mile. I started my recovery time and the sour stomach went into overdrive. My easy set quickly incorporated some “awkwardly mosey over to the portapotty and unleash the fury” time (at least there were portapotties nearby — I wasn’t about to fail my #1 goal). When my stomach quieted down, I left the portapotty and dejectedly made my way back to the track. Okay, so my two mile hard effort was kind of a bust, but at least I could do my 4×100 sets, right? I started one and had a decent lap time, then did a recovery lap. During my second lap the stomach acted up again, and once again my recovery lap included a sprint to the bathroom where I had to do the walk of shame past the same tennis players who I had just passed five minutes ago. I felt like waving and announcing, “Yes, yes, it’s me again. Yes, clearly I’m having some sort of bowel issue. Thank you for noticing. Yes, I have seen Anna Kournikova on The Biggest Loser. Uh, no, I don’t really like her more than Jillian. I mean, she kind of sucks and she’s got the crappiest team, so…you know what, speaking of ‘crappiest,’ I really gotta go. Again.” After Wave of Number Two #2 came and went, I managed to bust out a super sad cool down mile, figuring that the workout was a complete bust considering my guts weren’t letting me run hard. Instead of 7-7.5 miles, I managed a fairly sad five. We drove home and I had some soup and some tea to try and quiet things down, then I headed to the allergist to get my weekly shot. I needed to get a swim workout in but wasn’t sure I’d make the swim time at our gym, so later that evening after my shot I headed over to Medgar Evers to drop in on their lap swim time. When I got there, the employee recharged my parks & rec card and was about to scan it when I looked over at the pool and noticed an unusually large amount of pre-teens occupying the lanes. Me: “Uh, is lap swim going on right now?” Employee: “No, it’s a youth swim clinic.” Me: “Oh…how long does that go for?” Employee: “From now until 6:30.” Damn it all! Me: “Does lap swim start after that?” Employee: “Yeah, from 6:30 to 7:00.” Oh,...
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