Gina’s Blog

Enough is enough…or is it?

Posted by on 8:39 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Enough is enough…or is it?

  Music from my alarm clock fires at 4:15. I stumble out of bed and shuffle down the hallway in time for my watch to holler its’ tune.  My feet ache with the first few steps, my hips are tight and my legs are heavy. Lately I’ve had many conversations with myself about whether I’ve had enough of long course Ironman training.  It’s not easy. That’s plain and simple. I train every day during the week for 2-3 hours and 4-8 hours on the weekends.  I get anxious when my job requires I begin work earlier than expected because I know it will impact my training. My schedule (work, training, and family) is so packed that I can’t afford an extra 30 minutes of make-up anything.  I don’t watch TV or read books unless I’m on vacation because I can’t afford to miss out on necessary sleep.  Is life passing me by while I’m focused on chasing my dream of qualifying for Ironman Kona? I don’t want to miss out on anything. Not my daughter’s prom preparation, not a day trip to SF with family, and not even a special work event.  Truth be told, I typically don’t miss out on these things…what I miss out on is sleep, recovery, and the little things.  The little things can actually be the best things though. These are the casual conversations with friends without worry about having to get to the next task at hand, the spontaneous visits with my parents without having it scheduled a month in advance, or laughing with my husband before bed over a silly television program.  So why then can’t I let go?  I could train for sprint, olympic, or even half ironman distance and spend a fraction of the time.  What is it about Ironman that keeps me coming back for more? Enough is enough…or is it? Kona is the “Big Show”. People who don’t know Ironman don’t know what it takes to get to Kona.  “You’ve done Hawaii, right?  I want to be able to say, “YES, I’ve done Hawaii, YES I qualified for WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS”! I’m not a lottery kind of gal, if I go to the show it’s because I earned a spot. Truth is, I’m more interested in simply qualifying for Kona than DOING Kona.  I’m scared to death to experience Kona’s wrath but I figure I will deal with that when the time comes.    I’m currently training for IM Santa Rosa but I have not registered, just can’t pull the trigger quite yet. My mind is not ready, I’m still debating if I’ve had enough. The little things seem bigger somehow. If I decide Ironman distance is too much for  2017,  one thing is for sure, I will one day make it to the BIG SHOW. Keeping it real,...

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Ironman Arizona Race Recap

Posted by on 4:14 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Ironman Arizona Race Recap

Ironman Arizona Race Recap

I can’t believe the season is over, gone, poof, there it goes… I’m happy and sad at the same time.  My body needs a chance to recover from what I hope are minor injuries. I have been dealing with sciatic pain or piriformis syndrome for a few months, which really seems to worsen when I pick up my pace in either cycling or running but mostly running.  I stopped running a week before Ironman Arizona in hopes I could reduce the inflammation and pain in my butt.  My friend Kelly and I set out for the 11 hour drive to AZ on Thursday morning after I taught my 5:30 a.m. cycle class at JRRC. Thankfully another friend let me borrow a small inflatable pillow so my butt didn’t hurt so bad during the drive, that sitting can be brutal on the ‘ol tush! This would be my third Ironman distance race in Arizona.  My first IM distance race was in AZ in 2011, I went 11:14 for 5th place. I raced IM AZ again in 2015 and had my all-time fastest IM at 10:39 and placed 4th.  I had a really bad swim experience in 2011 so I spend too much energy worrying about not drowning on the swim.  There was a major change in water temperature from AZ 70.3 in October to November, I couldn’t believe how much colder the water was when I got in on Saturday for the swim warm ups.  The open water swim on Saturday was pretty awful, not only was the water cold, murky, and choppy but the athletes were super high strung and I could feel myself getting anxious. The 800 yard swim felt more like a mile… not sure what happened but my eye was stinging and got super red after the swim.  I was worried that I got some sort of infection because my eye was red and swollen and tears continued to stream down my face for the next 24 hours. The AZ volunteers and IM staff are really awesome! Bike and gear check in was pretty fast on Saturday. I spent most of the day in my hotel room waiting for Jeff (my husband) and Nat (my youngest daughter) to arrive. We stayed at the host hotel, Mission Palms Inn because it’s the most convenient.  After my usual pre-race meal of fish and rice I crawled into bed for the night around 9 p.m.  I didn’t sleep well on Saturday but by now I know not to worry as I never sleep well the night before Ironman.  After breakfast (rice cakes, bananas and peanut butter and a cup of coffee) I was off to the race start.  I lined up with the 1:05-1:10 swimmers hoping I wouldn’t get swallowed up. My plan was to swim straight to the inside edge of the buoys because I don’t like to be smashed with swimmers on both sides of me.  The gun went off with a huge BOOM and we slowly walked to the stairs and jumped in the water.  Even though I was scared and feeling anxious, the sun was rising and the sky was the most beautiful red, orange and pink colors you could imagine. I could see people standing on the bridge and knowing Jeff and Nat were...

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Race Report AZ 70.3

Posted by on 9:02 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Race Report AZ 70.3

Bright Spots: hanging out with Freeplay teammie: Mary Tanner; AZ 70.3 Volunteers; Qualifying for 70.3 World’s in Tennessee on September 9 Things I could do without: Yucky water on the swim and a bike course with way too many turns To get into Arizona (AZ) IM you either have to show up the year before you want to race and volunteer, register the day before competing in AZ, or get very lucky and get in through general registration in the first few seconds it opens. In 2015, Ironman offered early registration for IM AZ to those who registered for both AZ 70.3 and AZ IM at the same time.  I figured if I had to fly to AZ anyway to volunteer, I’d rather be racing. I flew to Arizona on Saturday, arriving at 12:30, in plenty of time to check myself and my gear into the race venue.  Tri Bike Transport (TBT) picked my bike up from Walnut Creek a week before the race and drove it to AZ for a mere $350 (cough cough).  TBT no longer picks up in Davis so now I have to schlep my bike to the Bay Area for drop off and pick up (well, not me but my husband, Jeff) …yes, it’s a pain!  Note to Santa, I want a Scicon Travel Bike Bag for Christmas, for details see my teammate Mary T! It was fun to connect with Mary and share our stories.  Mary is a very experienced and accomplished triathlete! She knows a lot about equipment and who’s who in triathlon, so it was cool  learning from her.  We also had a chance to talk about our families, including our most favorite furry friends Scout and Murphy our yellow labs. We arrived at the race venue around 5:30 and learned that race officials decided to close transition earlier than they originally planned. After a bit of rushing we made it out of transition in plenty of time to sit around and wait for our swim wave.  Mary was in the water 8 minutes before me so I knew we would eventually see each other on the bike and run as there were plenty of turnarounds in the race.  The water was really warm but I had decided to wear my new long sleeve wet suit because I planned on wearing it for the full IM and I like to know how I will respond in a race situation with new gear. I felt comfortable but fast on the swim but I did notice pulling to one side a few times.  My swim took at least a minute longer than I thought, not sure if that’s the warm water or my less than straight line. The first few miles was pretty slow on the bike, only because the course takes you up and over an overpass.  Things picked up until the first of many 180 turns on the course…there were more than a few turns on this course and the roads were bumpy.  Around 7 miles into the race my saddle bag  Velcro ripped away from the bag and was dragging on my wheel. I had to stop and secure my bag and get back on my bike.  It only took a few seconds but afterwards I started holding my bag...

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Lake Tahoe Half Ironman 8.28.2016 Race Report

Posted by on 8:02 pm in Gina's Blog, News | Comments Off on Lake Tahoe Half Ironman 8.28.2016 Race Report

The drive from Grandma’s cabin in Myers to Sugar Pine is about 40 minutes. Although my girlfriend and I had done the ride around Lake Tahoe several times, it had been years since the last time riding it and the Emerald Bay section is likely the most challenging section of the ride.  As we drove the bike course I felt a pit in my stomach realizing exactly what I was in for the following day. Not only was the course super hilly, there wasn’t a lot of room for bikes on the course with all the construction. As the race director mentioned during the pre-race discussion, “there are two seasons in Tahoe, winter and construction”, he wasn’t kidding! Emerald Bay Within a few minutes hanging out on the beach my daughter Natalie was stung by a yellow jacket. I’m not sure if it’s the time of year or this side of Lake Tahoe, but the bees were bad at Sugar Pine.  In fact, both Debra and I got stung during the bike while racing on Sunday. Nonetheless, the beach was beautiful and the rest of the race venue was spectacular.  After race check in we went to South Lake Tahoe for dinner.  We ate at Riva Grill, where the view was better than the food.  We enjoyed a glass of red wine and fish tacos. After the sun went down it got pretty chilly and I started to get nervous about what the next day would bring as far as weather and other race challenges. We woke up at 4:45 and were out the door by 5:15.  On the drive there I was really quiet, as usual, I get super nervous before a race. This time though I wasn’t just nervous, I was angry!  Why the hell did I sign up for such a challenging race?  I was kicking myself as we made the drive one last time over the hills near Emerald Bay, still asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” Surely the run course would be easy since the bike course was pretty brutal, right?  Wrong! We parked at the Sugar Pine Campground and rode our bikes to the start. By the time we got into transition we only had a few minutes to get to the start. The little rocks on the beach were rough on the old feet but we made it to the race start.  The temperature was about 43 degrees when we woke up that morning but it was a balmy 53 when the swim started.  The water was warmer than the air so getting in wasn’t that bad.  I told myself to take it easy at the start because I wasn’t able to get to Tahoe to train in elevation at all and I didn’t want to go breathless and freak out in the swim.  I went off course in the swim and started to turn at the Olympic buoys and then realized I was alone and quickly corrected. The water was so clear and beautiful, the boulders under the water seemed so close that you could touch them.  The swim was by far my favorite part of the race, well… that and the view above Emerald Bay, simply gorgeous! I was shocked that I came out of the water in 33...

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Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Progress

Posted by on 5:54 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Progress

It’s been three years since I last raced Vineman 70.3.  In 2013 I placed 3rd in my AG and qualified for IM 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.  Although I knew my fitness wasn’t what it was in 2013, I was excited to see if I had made any progress since racing Folsom International in June.  The good news is I’ve made some progress in my fitness since June and I performed better than I expected. This was my first 70.3 of the season in my new age group. Friends and family offered words of encouragement “Hey that’s great, you’re aging up, it should get easier then, right?”  It’s true, there are fewer women ages 50-54 who are competing; however, it only takes one or two really good athletes. You see, there’s no longer 2-3 slots at IM World Championships for my age group, now only 1st place earns a spot at World’s.  There are fewer women, which means fewer qualifying slots going to my age group.  That’s the deal, you have to win, and winning is hard… but of course, that’s why I LOVE it! Race day is always stressful, in fact so is the day before the race!  On the way to the race the “check air pressure” gauge went off in my car and I later found a screw in the middle of the tire.  Rule #1 avoid non race related stress the day before a race, God knows you’re stressed enough as it is. We checked in at Windsor High around 2:30 to pick up our race packet. Traffic in and around Santa Rosa, Guernville, and Windsor was crazy due to all the extra people who flood the area for Vineman.  After waiting in traffic for what seemed like an hour we parked our car on a side street and road our bikes into Johnson Beach.  I wasn’t doing such a good job minimizing stress the day before the race, nonetheless, we managed to get our bikes checked in and then drove to the Hampton Inn located in Rohnert Park.  I would recommend this hotel because they don’t require a two night stay and the rate decent.  We got our race gear ready after checking into our room and then we were off to a great dinner at The Pullman Kitchen. I slept awful the night before the race, which is typical for me.  Vineman had two waves for exiting transition on race morning, which was great because it helped with traffic congestion getting into the race.  Lining up for the swim is always stressful, but after small talk with women in my age group we were herded into the water for our start around 7:55 a.m. I told myself to take it easy to begin and pick up my pace as we went along.  It’s fun to see the locals hanging out on their decks having their morning coffee as we go swimming along.  The water was shallow as usual and pretty warm.  You know what was super weird? I felt single hair strands getting caught in between my fingers as I swam, not sure if that was some sort of weird algae thing or what. I was happy to exit the swim in about 33 minutes and race to my bike.  There were a few women in my age group ahead...

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Folsom International Triathlon Race Report … a whole lot of hope!

Posted by on 1:11 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Folsom International Triathlon Race Report … a whole lot of hope!

The first race of the season always brings a little extra excitement, also known as stress, pressure, and anxiety!  Let’s face it, we don’t train as hard as we do to NOT care about the outcome. No matter what triathletes tell you, they care about the outcome of their race and typically they care quite a bit. Some athletes put more money into triathlon than time put into their training, this is a funny clip to illustrate what I’m talking about:  This season I planned on spending more time with family and less time training.  Due to my foot surgery in January and my daughter’s graduation from high school in June, and many family vacations, I planned a late start to my season.  Although I knew the late start would affect my performance, it didn’t stop me from hoping I could pull off a repeat performance of FIT 2015. Well… here’s the deal, hope gets you nowhere and training gets you everywhere!  Coming back from surgery has been a little more difficult than I had hoped.  By FIT race day I had trained 15 weeks of swimming, 12 weeks of biking, and 8 weeks of running, by most standards that’s not enough to perform at a high level. My swim time was basically the same compared to my 2015 race, but my bike was 2 min slower and my run was 4 min 30 seconds slower.  Really, my results make perfect sense, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.  See you can’t rush fitness, it takes time, commitment and consistency.  Although I am consistently training, I haven’t been back at it long enough to be able to push my body the way I did in previous seasons.  I learned the hard way by pushing a little too hard a little too early and finding my body breaking down.  Thankfully Vince Hoffart from @hoffartchiropratic has been doing his job and keeping me tuned up. I’m paying attention to my body and how it responds to the incremental training intensity and stress. I don’t expect any huge gains in fitness in 2016 but I know I am slowly getting back into shape and hopefully by Ironman AZ in November I will be doing less hoping and more performing.  I am happy with my second place AG finish at FIT, it was an overall great race for me. The swim was pretty cold this year, the water temperature really shocked me at the start.  I got a little bumped around at the first turn by some of the guys but I was able to talk myself off the ledge by the second turn when the sun was finally behind me.  I was pretty cold when I got into T1 so putting on my socks was kind of a joke. I know many triathletes go sockless, I am not a fan…I hate hot spots and blisters.  I ran into my friend Jeff Dubois in T1 and yelled at him to pick it up; he is so fast, but transition is not his strong suit. The bike was nice, the wind was moderate and there was plenty of room on the course once we made the turn onto Folsom Rd.  It was so fun seeing my teammates (Elise Winter & Dina Neils) out on...

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Posted by on 9:54 pm in Gina's Blog | Comments Off on Radioactive

Imagine Dragons’ lyrics to the song Radioactive resonates: “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system blow. Welcome to the new age.” Yea for me, I move up in age groups this year. Wait. What? Yes, I turn 50 this year people, did you hear me? FIFTY YEARS OLD… just for the record, that’s half way to 100. According to Wikipedia “Radioactive” describes something undergoing radioactive decay. Technically I am not “decaying”  but considering the number of x-rays this ‘ol girl has had over the past few months, I may as well be radioactive and I can certainly attest to feeling like I may explode if I don’t get some serious physical activity in the very near future. Do you ever feel like you need a tune up?  You know what I mean, the same attention you give your car, you need to give your body?  I do this every few years after my race season of course, I start to pay attention to the aches and pains I’ve been neglecting  all season long because God forbid I see the doctor and she tells me I have an injury and I need to rest.  Let’s face it, that’s the answer most doctors give their athletes, “You should really take it easy and rest, rest is the best medicine for you.”  Of course that same doctor tells his obese non-active patients to get up and exercise. Okay, I realize there is a happy medium, but really, I DON’T WANT TO REST, there has got to be a better way!  If you’re an athlete and I’m sure you are or you wouldn’t be reading my blog, you know what I’m talking about.  After my final race in 2015, Tahoe Ironman, I had a few issues needing a tune up. I lined up a doctors appointment and prepared myself for the worse. After an exam and a few x-rays I learned I had a broken foot…it’s just a little broken, probably more like a bone spur to be more accurate and it’s probably been that way for close to two years.   In addition, I have the old Shoulder Impingment Syndrome, I did mention I’m turning 50 after all!  I’ve rested since being diagnosed, well… I sort of rested… it turns out I wasn’t really supposed to do the elliptical while in my boot, nor was I to take my boot off  to teach cycle, but I didn’t think that was against the doctor’s rules.  Doctors need to be VERY specific with athletes about what “limited activity because that IS limited for me. Needless to say, I’ve refrained from swimming and running for more than two months and it’s KILLING me!  My shoulder is feeling pretty good now but I’m still in the boot because my foot has not healed. Soon I will know if surgery is in order, but even if it is, the recovery is relatively simple and I should begin my 2016 season in March.  In the meantime,  I’m getting plenty of quality time with my family which we’re all pretty psyched about.  I enjoy staying up past 9 p.m.,  sleeping in and having coffee with my husband and being home when my daughters wake up on the weekends. I know I will look back on this time and be grateful for...

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