Back from Paradise.

Anyone who lives in the Midwest knows that any time after October is sketchy for training. It could be 70° and sunny one day and 3 feet of snow and -10° the next. I got to experience this first hand in a race situation just a few weeks ago when it had been beautiful only 2 days prior to the Prairie Creek Tri and then upper 30s and sleeting on race day. That was fun!

So, I couldn’t be happier to have gotten to go to beautiful Palm Desert, California for the past 3 weeks. Being fresh off my injury, I stayed as close as I could to my training plan from Coach Brant. And, it really paid off!

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t take Veronica there. The great guys at Gray Goat were sure to tease me by sending pics of her all finished with LIME GREEN Zipp 808s and LIME GREEN Look Keo Carbon pedals. Turds.

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But, Kevin from BikeMan really hooked me up! I highly recommend seeing him for all of your cycling needs if you find yourself in Southern California! He can fit your needs from just heading out for a peaceful stroll or for your pro racing. He set me up on this awesome KHS Flite 750. It was even LIME GREEN!

We arrived in California on November 19th. I had until December 6th to be tri-ready for the HITS Championship.

My first full day there, I decided to take the bike out for a ride and see how it went. I was curious to see the area around Lake Cahuilla where I’d be racing. So, I mapped it out and rode there from where I was staying. It was right about 15 miles away, so it would make for a great ride. I wasn’t fast and my cadence wasn’t very good. But, I also wasn’t fitted on the bike, so there were lots of things to stop and adjust on the way.

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I came back and did a 1 mi brick run. Talk about bricks! My legs were HEAVY! But, I was still able to pull off a 7:30 pace. For just one mile 🙂

Only 2 miles from where I was staying was the Palm Desert Aquatic Center. It was amazing!

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I thought it was a salt-water pool because how salty the water tasted. But, apparently, according to a master’s coach I met there, they pour in baking soda as a stabilizer for the chlorine. Either way, the pool was awesome. I just had to make sure to be there at 5:30am when they opened to claim a lane and be done by 7:30am when they closed the long course down to 25M.

I trained pretty steady through Thanksgiving when I did a 5K race to benefit a local food bank. It was the Martha’s Kitchen 5K on El Paseo in Palm Desert. You can read the race report HERE. I PR’d but I’m not sure entirely by how much because the course was quite short. My time was 19:49, but the course was only 2.78 mi according to my Garmin 910XT.

I took a few days off as rest and to enjoy vacation and resumed light, tapered training for the tri. During that time, Jeff and I traveled out by ourselves to beautiful La Jolla. While there, I swam in the ocean for the first time. It was insane. To think that only 5 months ago, I was afraid of the diving well at the high school pool and that now I was swimming in the ocean was overwhelming. Just a few months ago, I had anxiety about getting in a lake and here I was jumping in the OCEAN!

It had been raining the couple of days preceding and the health department apparently frowns upon swimming in the cove for a couple of days after. But, this was my only chance! I spoke with a lifeguard there and he said to go for it…so I did.

The beach was empty. No crazies except me out there. Until I saw another crazy! Yeah!!!! I met this nice man named Dave, who was a pro at swimming there. He was so gracious to take me out and stay with me while I kept stopping and having minor freak-outs.

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We swam out to the quarter mile buoy and were on our way to the next buoy when it happened…

we got into the kelp forest.

Ok, ok, ok. Breathe.

Anyone who lives around there will tell you how great the kelp forest is. It keeps the sharks away. It keeps the water clear. Blah, blah, blah. All I know is that when I felt like it was grabbing my feet, I was DONE. Time to go back.

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(Pretty much)

Overall, it was a great swim.

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The water was crystal clear. There were beautiful fish under water. I’m still kicking myself for not having an underwater camera there!!!! Garibaldis flourish there. Here’s a grab from the internet of what I was looking at…

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It was beyond amazing.

We also went kayaking there, which was also fantastic. I did buy an underwater camera for that, but it was circa 1990 and needs to be developed. Updated photos for that coming soon!

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I only puked once. Great follow up to that was a California burrito and beer. That’s the only way to do it! We caught a decent little wave coming back in for some fun “kayak surfing”. Saw some sea lions and steered clear of any sharks. Fun time!

We got back to Palm Desert and I continued my training. Got some beautiful runs and rides in around the desert! Could not beat the weather or the views!

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Time came for the tri and I was more than ready to rock. I knew it was going to be a great time. I was going to make sure of it.

Read the entire race report <HERE>

Being back in Indiana makes me appreciate how hard I have to work in the “off season” to stay fit. Getting up at 5:30 am when it’s 30° out is much harder than getting up at 5:30 am when it’s 70° out. Fact. But, I am determined. I *WILL* be an Ironman in 2015.

One day at a time.

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