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Triathlon

Meet the Athlete: Dean

By | Fitness, Fuel, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | One Comment

If at first Dean Hansen seems a bit intimidating, wait a few seconds for the punchline and characteristic smile. Even at 6 a.m. swim practices, I can count on Dean to respond with a sarcastic or witty comment. He is mentally tough in workouts and never misses an opportunity to encourage his lane mates. Thanks for taking the time to share some of your background with your ADoor-ing fans, Dean!

City of Residence: Ventura
Place of birth: Whittier
Day job: I own a small construction business called A Door Co. (Custom Garage Doors)
Dream job: Orthopedic Surgeon
Favorite hobbies: Trail Running and Triathlon

How did you become an endurance athlete? I became an endurance athlete to improve my health after many years away from sports. I also needed to drop 50 pounds. Triathlon started when the friends I ran track workouts with kept bugging me to do a tri. After a year of verbal abuse and hearing “you are made for this sport,” I bought a bike and took swimming lessons. Sure glad I moved to tris.

Favorite endurance athletic accomplishment: The first time I qualified for Boston Marathon was my favorite. The last five miles of the race I knew I had it! It was a very emotional end to the race.

Hardest endurance race you’ve ever completed: My first marathon in L.A. in pouring rain and frigid temperatures.

Most memorable endurance race moment: It has to be my first I M 70.3 Santa Cruz last year. It was my first long tri. At 10 miles in on the bike another biker hit my bars and sent me over the curb into the gravel and poison oak on the side of the road. My bike and I were a mess! I got up after a bit of time straightened my bars, levers and brakes and got back to it.

Current training/competition goal: My goals for this year are to complete more tris and to get my feet healthy so I can run fast again. I have been battling plantar fasciitis for a very long time.

Training/competition mantra: When there is a hard workout or race I’m going to learn to suffer like faster athletes ahead of me.

Pre-race ritual: There will be flour tortillas eaten on the start line!
Training tips: Hard days need to be real hard and easy days go easy.
Training pet peeve: Training partners that flake out at the last minute.
Post-race/workout treat: Post race there needs to be a beer or two. Post hard workout or ride, a cold muscle milk!
Ideal training “camp” location: I would love to have a training camp at Hume Lake, CA. Beautiful area and high altitude.

What motivates you to keep training and competing? My motivation comes from within. The thought of not being able to give 100 percent at my next race. Also not getting out of shape again.

What motivates you to keep going when it gets tough? When I am suffering I try to look around at others in the event and realize that I am truly blessed to have the physical skills I have. There is always someone out there with less abilities than I have and they keep going. The para athletes have reason to complain, I don’t… they are an inspiration for sure.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through endurance athletics: I have learned that I can accomplish what seems to be an impossible goal if I put my mind and body through the training. I never thought I could swim a mile or more in the ocean and with training now I can, well… that is subjective! Thanks Britt!

Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: “Suck it up” and put in the work. My wife Debbie always encourages me when I’m down. She always picks up my spirits when I’m going through “another” injury.

Athlete hero: Everyone that gets off the couch and puts in the work, without cheating.

Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes: Get out there and have fun! We only have so many days on earth and that number is getting smaller everyday. You can accomplish your goals if you put in the work.

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Fuel is what gets me to my athletic goals. Junk in, junk out.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Fit is being able to give 100 percent on race day and knowing that it will get me to my goals.

Pick one:
Swim, bike, or run? Run
Open water or pool? Open water
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Cheese
Watch on your left wrist or right? Left
Morning or evening workout? Come on, we are triathletes–both!
Hat, visor or headband? Visor
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap, to cover up the gray
Cheerios or Wheaties? Wheaties
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate
Crocs or Birkenstocks? Birkenstocks

If you could swap out one triathlon discipline (swim/bike/run) for another (anything!), what would you swap out and what would you add in its place, and why? I love the swim, bike, run. Maybe bike, swim, bike. Being a broken down runner, less running would be beneficial.

Oceanside 70.3

By | Race Reports, Triathlon | 2 Comments

First off, thanks God for a safe race with no med tent, no crashes, and no penalties! This was the first real positive long course race experience for me since my first 70.3 in 2010, and gave me the motivation to try it again sometime. Prior to this past weekend, my long course racing experience consisted of the following:

  • 2010 Lake Stevens 70.3: 5 hours even. Pretty solid race. Felt strong and “in the zone” the whole way. I felt I raced beyond where I “should have been” according to my preparation.
  • 2011 Wildflower Long Course: 5 hours, 40 minutes. Something went horribly wrong here. I raced okay on the swim and bike, and survived the brutal run course, but didn’t realize how deep of a hole I had dug myself into until I still couldn’t eat or drink (or move) an hour after the race. I was carried to the med tent and given 3L of IV fluid. I finally got up (with my mom’s help) and squeezed a few drops (they wouldn’t let me leave the medical tent until I could pee!). My mom helped me catch the shuttle back to our campsite, where I laid miserably nauseous and half-awake until the next day.
  • 2011 Long Course World Champs: DNF. I was determined to get it right this time. The swim was cancelled due to cool temps, so we started single file onto the cold bike course. I thought I had kept my pace conservative, but somewhere around mile 50 of the 74.5 mile course, I realized that something was off again. I think it must have had to do with my pacing. I was bonking. I stopped at an aid station to refuel and rest a bit, then rolled through the rest of the course while hundreds of athletes zipped by me. I took my time in transition, and decided to start the run course and see what happened. I was running very slowly just hoping that things were going to turn around. It was an 18-mile course with two loops of a double out-and-back, so I got to see my parents on the course a couple of times. Once I realized that things were not turning around, and that I would probably need to walk the majority of the course, I found my parents and told them that I did not want to finish. I didn’t want to end up sick and in the med tent again. I was very sad. This was my first DNF ever.
  • 2012 Wildflower Long Course: 6 hours, 11 minutes. I was SO determined to race smart and nail my  pacing/nutrition/hydration. I somehow did not do that. I finished the race but had to walk/shuffle a good deal of the run course to avoid the same health outcome as the year before.

…After 2012, I stepped away from long course racing to focus on gaining some lost speed and figuring out my body. I completed a graduate degree in nutrition, and soaked up as much knowledge and experience as I could with regard to training and sports nutrition. I sought help from my collegiate triathlon coach, Coach Gareth, and we embarked on a long journey of discovering my triathlon potential. We are still on this journey today, more than 4 years later.

I was a touch nervous going into Oceanside 70.3 knowing it had been 7 years since I had executed a solid race at this distance. I told myself that this was a brand new beginning. I tried to forget about all of the negative experiences and give myself a fresh start, a do-over. Here’s the lowdown on my race at 70.3 Oceanside, 2017:

Pre race: I felt strong and fresh leading into the race–thanks Coach G! I did a better job of keeping my mind calm and not getting too amped in the days leading up. I learned from my N’awlins experience that getting my adrenaline rushing for a few days straight up to the race is actually exhausting and leaves my nervous system drained for the race itself.

Brice and I traveled to O-side on Friday and got caught in some bad L.A. traffic…who’d have thought? I made it to the pro athlete briefing just in time. It was neat sitting next to Heather Jackson, Holly Lawrence, and the other really, really, ridiculously speedy people.

After the meeting, Brice and I ate at a cool brewery in San Marcos. They even had a “Triathelete” Pizza, so I obliged.

After dinner, we stopped at a Target *because Brice forgot his toothbrush*. This meant that I was *forced to pick up some Talenti cookie dough gelato for dessert*! Geez, Brice. Our final destination for the evening was at our Homestay in San Marcos. We were very fortunate to land an AMAZING homestay host family with beautiful, cozy, accommodations. They also had the best little wire fox terrier named “Chesty”. He was just as ferocious as a cute fluffy puppy can be, and equally sweet.

Race Morning:

I woke up and went down stairs, where Chesty greeted me with a fierce growl (until he realized who I was and again became adorably playful). I also had the fortune of hearing the family’s chinchilla chirping. I thought it was an alarm at first! Ha!

I went about my usual morning routine, made coffee with my handy Aeropress and ate a TJ’s Force Primeval Bar toasted with peanut butter and jam. Nom. I grabbed my bottles for the race, and we hit the road. We arrived to find that our parking spot was in a primo location. Score! Making my way into transition was a bit hectic. I wasn’t prepared for the hugeness of this race-3k+ athletes, plus volunteers and spectators– so many people!

After preparing my transition area, I headed to the “professional porta potties”. Holly Lawrence and Meredith Kessler were standing behind me for about 10 minutes during the wait, and I got to hear them talking about random stuff. It was comforting because they sounded like normal people. Even the best athletes in the world have to poop.

The Swim:

After the gun went off, my first thought was “I forgot to start my watch!” so I opted to wait and get my times starting with the bike leg.

Pretty soon into the swim I found myself swimming with Heather Jackson. I was happy to have someone to pace with. About 500 or so yards in, I didn’t see Heather anymore, but as I rounded the first left-turn buoy at the far end of the harbor I saw a line of girls at my feet. I kept my pace to the next turn, a sharp left back toward the swim start/exit ramp. This is where things got foggy (literally). I couldn’t see a thing because the sunrise was blinding me and I had cleverly decided on my clear, untinted, goggles. I had been warned about the sun coming up but shrugged it off, thinking it would be no big deal–wrong! I stopped abruptly (sorry, ladies behind me) to try and find out where I was. I sat in behind a couple of women (including Heather) and we arrived at the swim finish in just under 29 minutes. I felt like the swim had passed by pretty quickly, which is not my usual feeling–so that was good. I was ready to test my fitness on land.

Starting my watch. Thanks for the pics, June!

The Bike:

After a tour of the very long transition area, we cruised onto a bike path and eventually into the hills of Camp Pendleton. The course was one big loop. I like that because it doesn’t feel as monotonous as some of the multi-loop short course races. I was expecting some hills because I had heard about them from friends who’d race Oceanside in the past, but I was not expecting such a steep gradient on the first climb. Okay friends, I believe you now. This hill was not joking around. My focus on the course was to fuel and hydrate well and to keep my power output under control. I think I did a pretty good job with those things. I consumed a fig bar within the first mile, a nut butter-filled Clif bar around the halfway point, 2 bottles of Skratch, and a large Gatorade Endurance (course support). I think that my fueling/hydration plan worked out pretty well–it left me feeling focused and without stomach sloshing on the run.

Acknowledging Brice, who was chanting his usual “THAT’S MY WIFE!!!!”.

I don’t have much else to say about the bike course, except that I heard my friend Savannah cheering for me at least 3 times. She was also racing, and feeling really good apparently 😉 She ended up having an awesome debut 70.3 race and qualifying for 70.3 Worlds!! Woot!

In T2, I decided to spray on some sunscreen and put on socks (I don’t usually race in socks). I am glad I did those things, because I ended up with neither a sunburn nor the gnarly blisters I have had in past races. I did end up with one blister on the bottom of my foot, but it didn’t really start talking to me until the last 3 miles of the run– not too shabby.

The Run:

I felt really good at the start of the run. I came through the first mile in 6:18, but did not feel like I was running that fast. My plan had been to start out closer to 7:30 pace (assuming my legs would be feeling like Jell-O) and gradually cut that to sub-7:00 pace. My gut said “You should slow down. You feel good now, but you will pay for this later. You can’t maintain this for 13 miles.” But, the pace felt smooth–almost effortless– in the moment, and I wanted to see how long I could keep it up. I thought “but, what if I can maintain it? What if I am having a breakthrough run right now? I want to see what I can do!”

So, I held about 6:20-6:30 pace for around 3 miles. Then, I noticed that my legs were not moving quite so fast. I stopped looking at my watch. I didn’t want to let my slowing splits discourage me. I decided to focus on trying to run steady.

Around mile 6 or 7 is where I started to really need the coping mechanisms that I often rely on when things get tough: sipping Coke and splashing cold water in my face; singing up-beat songs in my head; meditating on my current favorite word: “Fearless”; focusing on keeping my shoulders relaxed, elbows pumping, and legs turning over; remembering all of the hard training sessions I’ve completed.

At mile 10-or-so is where I was questioning why I had run so fast at the beginning. Would I have felt so sore and awful if I had just paced it more evenly? My focus became increasingly narrow: Just get to the finish line!

Post-race Reflections:

  • It took a while for me to feel as strong and healthy as I had in 2010, but I chose to believe that it would happen…and it did!
  • Triathlon is one sport, not three. It is a game where you have so many pennies in your pocket at the starting line, and you have to figure out where to spend those pennies to put together your best possible race. Don’t spend them all too soon, or you else will end up overcooked too early in the game. Don’t arrive at the finish with leftover pennies or else you will have not raced your best race on the day. You want to spend your last penny right before/at the finish line, feeling like you gave everything you had and played a smart hand.
  • The challenge of long course racing is in finding your “sweet spot” where you can push just hard enough on the bike to have a fast bike split but not hard enough that you mess up your run too much. That’s where I see room for me to improve for future long course races. I would like to get a little closer to finding my limits while still erring on the side of going “too easy” on the bike.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you:

  • To all of the friends and family who have encouraged me (at home and on the course): Brice, Mom & Dad, Tiff, the Olivers, Buenaventura Tri Squad, Lisa, John, June, Greg, Rebecca, Keith, Danny, Betsy, Steve, the list goes on.
  • To my brilliant coach, Gareth Thomas. As I’ve demonstrated in my prior attempts to coach myself through long course race preparations, even coaches need coaches. While I enjoy coaching other athletes, it’s nice to have someone else that I trust to look after my own training.
  • To my favorite chiropractor, Dr. Romeo. Thanks for helping me through all of the aches and damage that comes with training and racing. You’ve helped me to recovery quicker, train consistently, and show up ready to race.
  • To the best local bike shop, Metal Mountain Cycling, for taking care of my bike and keeping it looking tops.
  • To my VC Swim training buddies and coaches, Coach Josh and my M26 Tribe buddies, Skratch Labs, and Verve Cycling.
  • To the Ironman peeps who provided an awesome experience in Oceanside, and to the awesomest homestay hosts we could have asked for–the Hatalas.

Bonus Content:

Before this race, I considered buying another bulky bag to fit my spare tube and tire levers under my seat. But, rather than spend extra money for something to add weight and size to my bike, I decided to wrap some electrical tape around the items under my seat and call it good. Brice used his engineering skills to rig this up for me and keep the stuff from falling off my bike. It worked out great! I highly recommend it for anyone who is riding a road bike with limited storage space and/or wearing a kit that lacks pockets to stash stuff in. I think I’ll even keep this setup for my training rides so I can finally use my bento box (on the top tube of the frame) for snacks!

Brice’s super aero spare tube rig

 

Meet the Athlete: Rebecca

By | Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | No Comments

Have you missed reading about awesome athletes on this blog? I had been missing them too, so I recently interviewed a friend and local triathlete, Rebecca Aquino. I have the pleasure of coaching Rebecca at our Buenaventura Triathlon Squad swim practices. She is motivated, hard-working, and always brings a smile at 6 a.m. She has been improving steadily in the water due to her commitment to refining her technique and putting in the time week after week; she is setting herself up for an amazing triathlon season. Go Rebecca!

Current town of residence: Ventura
Hometown/place of birth: San Diego
Day job: Office Manager–PT & Sports Rehab
Dream job: Travel Writer, Marine Biologist
Favorite sports or hobbies: Trail running, hiking, playing guitar.

When/how/why did you become a triathlete?: My boyfriend Greg did his first triathlon in 2014 (Dina La Vigna), and I watched the whole event in total awe. I did not know how to swim, so I never thought that triathlon would be on my radar. He ended up doing Nautica Malibu later that season and needed a training partner, so it was something new and fun to try together. Swim dates at the pool became a regular thing!

Favorite triathlon accomplishment(s): My first half Ironman in Santa Cruz, 2015.

Hardest race and/or workout you’ve ever completed: Training on Mulholland Highway with my cycling group last summer, trail races with Greg and his brother Ben (they pick all the hard races).

Most memorable training and/or race moment(s): Swimming with a pack at the Carpinteria Sprint Tri last fall instead of hanging back and swimming solo per usual. It was the first race that I felt confident in the swim.

Current 2017 training/competition goal: PR in Oceanside in a few weeks (!) and get stronger and faster overall.

Why do you want to accomplish this goal?: Always want to learn and improve. I’ve gone from “Can I do a triathlon?” to “Can I race a triathlon?” I also hope to build some fitness towards an Ironman (possibly 2018).

How do you plan to go about accomplishing it: Consistent and quality swim/bike/running, incorporating strength training, focusing on all the little things (sleep, nutrition, PT exercises, etc).

Training/competition mantra: “Strong and steady”

Pre-race ritual or superstition: Lucky race socks.

Training “secrets”/tips: Let your “easy” workout days stay easy. Practice your race day nutrition.

Training pet peeve: I’ve only encountered this while training in Orange County, but having someone draft behind you and never take a turn at the front. Not cool.

Post-race/workout treat: McConnell’s Ice Cream. My current favorite combination is olive oil and salted almonds + salted caramel chip.

Ideal training “camp” location: San Luis Obispo, CA. We did a weekend of riding + family time + wine tasting and it was perfect! Forever grateful for family that let us bring the bikes when we come to visit.

Who/what motivates you to keep training and competing? It makes me a better person. I can concentrate more and perform at a higher level at work, sleep better, and I’m overall happier if I’m outdoors doing something that I love.

Who/what motivates you to keep going when it gets tough? My SOAS Racing Teammates near and far, Adobo Velo cyclists who push me through challenging climbs and routes that ultimately have made me a better cyclist, and of course, Greg (he will let me draft on his wheel when I am tired).

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlons: Anything is possible, and that I’m capable of more than I had ever imagined. I went from not knowing how to swim, never riding a road bike, and being an injured runner, to a triathlete.

Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

Athlete hero: Gwen Jorgensen, Rinny, Beth Gerdes McKenzie

Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes: There is so much information out there–reach out and ask someone. I credit people like past physical therapy patients in my office, teammates, and Dr. Romeo Dimaano for sharing their knowledge with me throughout the years.

What does “Fuel” mean to you?: Eating to train/race/compete! Originally my relationship with food was training/racing in order to eat, which turned out to be very restricting and unhealthy despite running PR races many years ago. Now, I’m happy to say that I have a better mindset on food as fuel.

What does being “Fit” mean to you?: Getting to the start line and knowing that you’ve done the work…and it’s time to have fun!

Pick one:
Swim, bike, or run? Bike
Open water or pool? Open water
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Watch on your left wrist or right? Right
Morning or evening workout? Morning
Hat, visor or headband? Hat
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap
Cheerios or Wheaties? Cheerios
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Coffee!
Crocs or Birkenstocks? Birks all the way

If you could swap out one triathlon discipline (swim/bike/run) for another (anything!), what would you swap out and what would you add in its place, and why? Honestly, I’d probably throw in a wine tasting for T3 😉

Any other fun facts about you: Studied biology and music in college. Played guitar in a mariachi ensemble. Learned how to swim in 2014.

Rebecca, after conquering the Bandit Run

N’Awlins

By | Race Reports, Triathlon | No Comments

NOLA Elite Nationals Race Report

Last weekend, Brice and I took a trip to NOLA for a triathlon and some exploration of the city on the side. This was pretty much the end of my race season, and it was fun to end it with a mini vacation–a prequel to our not-so-mini vacation coming up next month (we are going Down Unda!). I didn’t have the race of my dreams, but I did meet some of my goals and gain some good experience.

Strange Voo Doo

The days leading up to this race were weird. I tried to practice my usual visualization and mental preparation stuff, but just thinking of the race made my heart race and adrenaline skyrocket. I felt unusually amped up and anxious/nervous/excited. While I normally can handle 2-3 cups of coffee without any jitters, suddenly one cup of coffee would give me the shakes. I was also super sensitive to alcohol– a sip or two of wine felt like poison. I thought I might be getting sick, so I pounded Emergen-C and drank lots of fluids. The jitters, high heart rate, and adrenal response did not disappear until I dove into South Shore Harbor on race morning. Only then could I turn my nervous energy into focus and work.

Swim in Lake Pontchartrain

The swim was warm (about 80 degrees!) and non-wetsuit (my favorite!). We got to dive from 5-feet above the water, which added some extra excitement. I felt much stronger and controlled in this swim than in my previous swims of draft-legal races (Clermont/Sarasota). Maybe that’s because I have actually been swimming more than 3,000 yards per week now! Even though I don’t feel like I have been going significantly faster in my swim training, adding in some good volume has given me a solid foundation to work with. Back in March, I started my races feeling strong but about 200m into the swim would feel like I was drowning–I had no swim base to rely on whatsoever. So, I’ve learned that even if I can maintain relatively good speed in the water with extremely minimal swim training, I need to exponentially increase my volume and frequency in order to maintain that speed in a race. The added training also helps my bike/run legs as I don’t go into the rest of the race so fatigued from the swim. Noted.

T1 + Bike + T2

After the swim, we climbed a cement staircase and ran to T1. Abby Levene, the eventual race winner, bolted past me and gained a good distance heading into the transition area. Another thing to work on: sprinting out of the water. Thankfully, I had a pretty smooth transition and got onto my bike quickly, while Abby seemed to have some trouble mounting her bike not far behind. The two girls who exited the water right in front of me had gotten away, so I was by myself until Abby and another woman (Alissa Doehla) caught me. We worked together to catch the two ladies up ahead. Then our group of five chased after the two leaders, who were about 30 seconds up from us. I didn’t feel awesome on the bike, but I was happy just to stick with it mentally and not get dropped. Once we caught the leaders, at a little over halfway, the pace seemed to mellow out, but there were a couple of surges mixed in. We all came off the bikes into T2 together.

Run

At the start of the run, I felt a giant cramp take over my abdomen. It wasn’t the usual side stitch that occasionally visits me during hard training sessions and races. It was my entire stomach–maybe it was upset from the nervousness and acidic “voo doo” building up the past few days? I focused on staying calm, breathing, and finding my own pace. I saw everyone else in the field cruising up the road, but there was one other athlete who I kept my eyes on. The gap between us got smaller and smaller until we went through a water station around mile 1. Then, just as I accidentally knocked over my water cup and apologized to the volunteer who may have gotten splashed (I didn’t look back to check), she picked up her pace–or maybe I slowed down– and the gap began to grow once more. I felt powerless to increase my pace, but stayed positive, telling myself “there is nobody behind you; you’ve got nothing to lose.” The weather was mild for New Orleans, around 80 degrees, but felt increasingly warm to my tired body. I ran in the shady parts of the course as much as possible. I finally rounded the curve for the finish and crossed the line in 7th place, about 30 seconds behind my closest competitor.

Post Race Reflections

After the race, I was curious about what my splits had been–especially my run split. I have been seeing huge improvements in the run training over the past few months– comfortably hitting paces that not long ago had felt much more laborious, and maintaining increasingly higher weekly run volumes than ever before, all while maintaining higher bike and swim loads. Just over one week ago, I had run a relatively comfortable 19:40 5k split in training, and followed that up with a 19:16 during the Carpinteria Triathlon. I went into this race feeling very confident that a sub 19:00 5k split was in reach. During races, I typically do not wear a watch or worry about pace. I rely on my body’s signals and go by feel. So, I had no idea what pace I ran in NOLA. I only knew that it felt pretty slow. Still, I hoped that my split was at least a little bit faster than it felt, which is sometimes the case for me. I was sad to find out that my split was 21:01, almost 2 minutes slower than my split just one week prior in a race that I had felt much less rested for.

While I can think of some possible explanations for the slower-than-expected run, I think that sometimes you just have a bad day. Sometimes there is no perfect explanation as to why things go the way they do. There are factors that affect our physical performance and mental capacity during a race, but just as you can’t always pinpoint the exact formula that creates one of those rare “perfect” races, you can’t control or predict those performances that are sub-par. They just happen. I am trying to be okay with that and move on. That said, I want to learn from the obvious mistakes of my race preparation and execution. For future races, I want to avoid excess feelings of pressure and anxiety by keeping my mind off of the race approching and not making such a big deal out of “key races”. I want to treat them just like any other race and take the pressure off of myself. I want to practice race day mental strategies (i.e. visualization, positive self talk, mantras, etc) in training so that there is no need to “cram” in the mental prep during the week leading up to the race. I think this will help keep nerves at bay. Finally, I want to continue to focus on quality training to give me the confidence to go into a race knowing that I have done all that I can to have a good race rather than simply wishing for a “good” day!

Mini Vacation in NOLA

After the race, we explored Bourbon St. and Frenchman St. hoping to find some good jazz music to listen to. We didn’t find much, but we did see some street performers and found a good place to eat seafood. I do not recommend Bourbon St. (and neither did any of the locals!). I do recommend going to downtown NOLA, which we did the following morning. We stopped by some coffee shops and a cute little place called the New Orleans School of Cooking, where we picked up some freshly made pecan pralines–yum! Then, we walked along the Mississippi and found the famous Cafe Du Monde. The lines were loooong! I recommend leaving plenty of time to enjoy this cute little place. We got to peek into a window and see the bakers throwing freshly rolled & cut beignet dough into the deep fryer. Mmm. The cafe is also known for its cafe au lait, which we tried both hot and frozen (think Wendy’s frosty with coffee instead of chocolate) versions of. We enjoyed our treats in the park across the street, right next to a line of horse-drawn carriages. Our last stop in NOLA was at Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours. We booked the large airboat tour, but got to ride in the smaller (more intimate, more expensive) boat because it was a slow day. We loved it and highly recommend going during the spring/summer! Our airboat captain was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the area, history, local flora and fauna, airboat mechanics, etc. He was good friends with lots of the local alligators and even brought one up onto our boat. Brice got to hold a baby gator, too!

Thank you to those who’ve generously supported and helped me along this season-Brice, my parents, the Olivers, the amazing Coach Gareth, Trevor and Khrystle at Metal Mountain Cycling (they fixed my broken spoke in record time during the week leading up to my last two races!), George Galbraith and the folks at Verve Cycling for setting me up with a top-of-the-line InfoCrank power meter, and my favorite local tri/run shop Mile 26.

Diving off of a 5-ft high wall into the harbor

Diving off of a 5-ft high wall into the harbor

 

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Almost there

 

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Voo doo on Bourbon St.

 

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M I S S I S S I P P I

 

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’bout to eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde

 

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Park panorama

 

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Beignets and cafe au lait

 

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Our tour guide with She Devil

 

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Brice got to hold a baby alligator