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Training for a half Ironman

By 09/15/2014November 23rd, 2016Blog


It’s nearly here, my first long course triathlon: Ironman 70.3 Lake Tahoe. I’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child, but I hadn’t appreciated that the saying also applies to preparing an athlete for competition. It all began with a heart-centered feeling that I want to do a triathlon this year. I had dabbled in the sport 3 years ago, even bought racing wheels. But after competing in 2 short triathlons in 2011, I chose to refocus my time and energy on rock climbing. Until 2014.

The first in my village was Coach. I had a connection with him already- had been attending his PacWest running workouts for years. I knew he coached triathletes too, in a serious way. So I chose Jay Ridgeway’s 4-month group training program. I love the 3 disciplines of triathlon: born a water bug on Cape Cod; a recreational cyclist since age 6 or 22, depending how you look at it; and a competitive sprinter/jumper in college. But putting them all together in an endurance fashion creates the beast known as triathlon. I’m glad I chose someone as experienced as Jay to lead me through the proper kind of training.

The second and third in my village were my friend Tuan, who sold me his brand new tri bike, and Mitchell, who expertly fit me to the bike. I could’ve done the race on my very non-aero cyclocross bike, and I almost did, but at the last minute I bit the bullet and got myself a super fast tri bike. Five weeks prior to race day, I spent a couple hours with Mitchell Reiss (he shares my office) for an impressive bike fit complete with saddle and pedal pressure measurements. I could’ve left the office with a perfectly fitting bike that day, but I needed to order a new saddle, per Mitchell’s recommendation, and cut the seat post (the bike frame has an integrated seat post). Which brings me to my fourth in the village, Andres….

Andres is the owner of a new cycling shop in Berkeley, Beyond Aero. He meticulously (and quickly) cut the carbon seat post of my frame in accordance with Mitchell’s bike fit measurements. He then mounted the brand new Cobb JOF saddle which I bought from him. Little hitches threatened to mess with the gearing on my bike, but Andres quickly made adjustments to my derailleur and evaded any problems. He also found that someone along the way, maybe it was the guy that Tuan bought the bike from initially, had mounted the aero bar pads backwards. Good eye, Andres, and thanks for switching them up for me!

The fifth in my village is Mom.  Yes, even though my mom lives in Massachusetts, she still played an integral part in my preparations for Tahoe 70.3.  You see, I was on vacation for 10 days with her on Cape Cod last month, and instead of basking all day on the beach with her, I spent MANY hours of my vacation training. I rented a road bike from Orleans Cycle and hit the famous Cape Cod Rail Trail- meandered many miles through rural roads along the ocean and bay toward Provincetown. I swam nearly every day in our crystal clear ponds and in the calm waves of Cape Cod Bay. I ran alone through the streets and trails. Mom supported me, instead of complaining, and posted many proud photos of me on her Facebook page.

The sixth in my village is the collective teammates- compadres who have also been training for this Tahoe Ironman or half Ironman race for at least 4 months and sometimes much longer. These guys and gals are fellow athletes with PacWest. I can’t imagine doing all of my training alone. We meet religiously on Tuesday nights for grueling track workouts. We get our asses out of bed on Sunday mornings for masters swim workouts with Coach Jay.  We ride for HOURS together on our bikes and then we hit the pavement in our “sneaks” and pound it out— lightly with natural running form. And then there are my yoga students who keep me coming back to the mat to teach and partake in the awesomeness that is breath-body-spirit practice.

My treatment team comprises the seventh through thirteenth in my village.  Luckily, I encountered no injuries during my 4-month training interval. Maintenance care was key to my body’s successful adaptations to the increased loads from swimming, biking and running. Beyond my own self-care regimen of rolling, stretching and self-Grastoning, I benefitted from the caring hands of some talented chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists. Thanks to Drs. Laura, Jeff and Sandy, my joints got the relief they needed from tight restrictions. Thanks to Becky and Michael, my tender muscles were soothed. And thanks to Jean Louis and Jorge, my internal organs remained vital and chi flowed as it should.

So, off I go this Wednesday night- heading for Tahoe with all of my training behind me, and a car loaded with gear.  Special thanks to the fourteenth and fifteenth in my village— my friend Felicia and her dad Bob— for providing me with a beautiful accommodation in Alpine Meadows, just around the corner from the finish line at Squaw Valley.  Anyone who wants to virtually encourage me along the course, I invite you to check out the Results- Race Coverage- Athlete Tracker on the Ironman 70.3 Tahoe website for live chip tracking. You just need the athlete’s name. That’s THIS SUNDAY, September 21, 2014.

Thank you, my village! -Dr. Johanna

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