Sunday, December 27, 2015

Race Report: San Diego Holiday Half Marathon (AKA that time I signed up for a race less than 24 hours before the start)

Posted by Chen

Oh hey, blog world! Remember me? I didn’t intend to abandon this site for so long, but when you stop working out for 4 months, you don’t really have much value to add to a training blog :-P.

Before I get into my race report, you might be wondering what I’ve been up to since the Ironman. Well, post-vacation (see Rachel’s amazing recap), I returned to normal life and intentionally took August mostly off. I won’t lie - it was glorious! Lots of seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while, eating delicious food, and drinking all of the wine.

Once September rolled around, I diligently made a 12-week training plan for the California International Marathon (CIM), just like I’d done every year since 2011. I’ve always loved training for and running this race (it holds two of my marathon PR experiences!), but this year, it just wasn’t meant to be. To make a long story short, life got in the way; my motivation remained at an all time low, and I ended up deferring my entry to 2016. I also managed to not run the Healdsburg Half Marathon for other life reasons (though the rest of Team Running for the Win(e) ran it and crushed it!).

Running and I were officially in a fight.

Then, about a month ago, I went through a pretty difficult personal time, but instead of abandoning running further, I took it back up with a vengeance. It came crashing back into my life during a time when I needed it the most, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m currently on a running streak (27 days and counting!), and I’m reminded on a daily basis why I love this sport so much.

Most of my runs have been untimed and easy, which is exactly what I’ve needed. No pressure – just running for the pure joy and calm of running. I know I won’t be able to keep this streak up once I start my next marathon training cycle, but for now, it’s allowing me to get out there every day, process my thoughts, and heal.

My next few months will see the Austin Half Marathon with a Princeton friend in February, the Oakland Marathon with Rachel in March, and my goal race – the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon in May, where I will try to finally break 3:30 after years of failed attempts. Side note: I’ve already convinced one of my coworkers to run M2B as well – hi Chris! :-)

Given this upcoming race schedule, I’ve been trying to increase my weekly mileage as well as my long runs throughout this running streak. I was aiming to run 14 this weekend, so when I realized yesterday that the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon was happening today, I decided to sign up on a whim. I’ve had some pretty impulsive race sign-up experiences in the past (hello, first M2B experience), but this one probably takes the cake. I registered for the race at 11am, and 20.5 hours later, I was toeing the starting line.

Was hoping this shirt would magically help me fly :-)

I ran this race a couple years ago, so I generally knew what to expect when it came to the course and race logistics. The starting line is only 4 miles from my parents’ house, so I didn’t have to get up too terribly early to make it to the 7:30am start.  Parking was a bit more nightmarish this time (the race must have grown since 2013), so I had to walk ~0.6 miles from my car to the starting area, which left no time to wait in the porta-potty lines. I kind of expected that might happen, though, so I purposely didn’t drink anything until right before the start, and everything worked out OK (contrast that to my 2013 race experience, when I had to use the porta-potties no fewer than five times. Lesson learned – there IS such a thing as too much fiber).

I did have time for a 1-mile warm-up to hit 14 for the day, and I arrived back to the starting area just in time to hear the national anthem. I inched my way into the right corral, reset my Garmin, and at 7:30am, we were off.

I knew the course was a fast one with a net drop of over 700ft, though it had some considerable rolling hills throughout. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of a time, but based on my 12-miler with Rachel last weekend when we averaged an 8:29 pace while talking the whole time, I figured that a sub-1:50 might be a reasonable goal. That said, I didn’t pay much attention to pace early on and instead wanted to keep the effort easy – I basically didn’t want to be breathing hard unless I was going uphill.

Very reminiscent of M2B; just half as long!

When my first few miles clocked in in the low 8’s, I was surprised, but I continued to keep things easy. The last time I’d run 14 miles in a single day was over 5 months earlier, so I needed to play it safe, at least for the time being. The crowd slowly thinned out as we made our way onto the bike path that would take us to the beach, and I found myself getting into a groove. I took in the lovely scenery and chuckled at fellow runners who were in costume or in funny shirts, including a green painted Grinch and a dude whose shirt said, “I didn’t ask for this present.” For the record, I would LOVE to receive a race registration as a gift!

Mile 1: 8:08
Mile 2: 8:06
Mile 3: 8:14
Mile 4: 7:45 (way downhill – as in, elevation loss: 184ft; elevation gain: 0ft)
Mile 5: 8:00

During the middle miles, I was still feeling strong, so I allowed myself to pick the effort level up a bit. Every time I glanced at my Garmin and saw a pace in the 7’s, I would start to get a little nervous (because let’s be honest: after 4 months off, I had no business running anything that started with a 7), but then I’d remind myself that running by feel usually results in a smart race, so I kept on.

Mile 6: 7:54
Mile 7: 8:04
Mile 8: 7:51
Mile 9: 7:42
Mile 10: 8:01

After mile 10, I was still feeling good, so I decided to kick it into high gear to see what I had left. I knew by this point that a sub-1:45 was possible, and by Mile 12, I knew that a sub-1:44 was in the cards if I could just… hold… on. I haven’t done ANY tempo work since July, and I was being reminded of just how badly tempo work can hurt. It was painful, but it was also a good kind of pain – the type of pain that reminds you what you are capable of. I was expecting to average an 8:20 pace this morning and instead ran my last full mile in 7:24 - who knew I still had that pace in me! My overall time was far from my fastest, but I crossed the finish line feeling just as elated as if I’d run a personal best.

Mile 11: 7:39
Mile 12: 7:43
Mile 13: 7:24
Mile 13.16: 6:47

Overall time: 1:43:37 (~7:53 average pace; ~7:55 official pace)

I’ll run a race that ends at the ocean any day <3

I'm not sure when I'll decide to end my running streak, and I have yet to put together a training plan for either Austin or M2B, but there's one thing I do know: Running and I are no longer in a fight ;-).

Sunday, December 20, 2015

8 weeks until the LA Marathon

Posted by Rachel

It's been about 3 weeks since my last update, so here's how the training has been going.

3 weeks ago
I spent the week in Switzerland for work, so needless to say my weekly mileage was low. As in, my grand total mileage for that week was lower than the # of miles in a marathon, which is probably not sufficient for marathon training. There were a lot of challenges though, including having to run in the pitch black darkness every day. I had a light but I just wasn't sure how safe it was, so I kept running back-and-forth in the section of well-lit path behind the train station. Having to work too much was another challenge, though I stayed an extra day with a coworker and sacrificed running to have some fun. I just can't justify giving up sightseeing time in Europe in favor of running.

Europe has awesome Christmas markets, and Zurich has one of these including a Christmas tree covered in Swarovski crystals. Old Town Zurich on the Limmat was really nice, and one of my legit Swiss meals included what was basically mac and Swiss cheese with an excellent Burgundy (chocolate not shown). 

A day trip on my last day included awesome views of the Swiss countryside (so green!), a stop in Lucerne, and a couple of hours at 10,000 feet. I walked across the world's highest suspension bridge, rode ski lifts, and enjoyed the awesome views. As a bonus, it wasn't even that cold that day.

Two weeks ago
Back to reality. I got home from Zurich on Sunday evening then jumped right into a week full of work and marathon training. Not much to say about that week, except I had a solid 9 mile tempo run (2 x 3 mile segments with an average 7:14 pace) and a good 18 miler that included the hills of Piedmont. I capped the week with a concert Friday night and a party on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Cookie party, with great friends and entirely too much sugar

This past week
Another pretty solid week of training with a good track workout, solid 9 mile goal marathon pace run, and 20 flat miles at a steady pace on the Bay Trail (8:23). The best part was the long run because I got to meet up with fellow blogger Chen who ran the middle 12 miles with me. Since she's not posting about training right now, I stole her pictures to post here. The weather was perfect for a long run, and I never stop appreciating how awesome it is to be able to live and run here!

Views like this and awesome training buddies make it pretty easy to get out for that 20 miler

With mileage for the past two weeks of 45-50, I'll be taking a step back next week. I know this is lower mileage than a lot of plans out there, but I run a lot of them hard and am still maintaining 2 swims per week, which has to be in some way good for my fitness (I think?). Happy holidays! Here's to overeating, drinking too much, and hopefully managing to keep up with marathon training!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Eat/drink 5000 cal/day --> succeed at marathon training

Posted by Rachel

Well, marathon training week 2 was MUCH better than week 1. It probably helped a lot that I only had a 3 day work week and I ate and/or drank nonstop. I haven't trained in November/December since 2012, but I have to say it's not too bad so far. It turns out it's possible to have a "fat drunk November" at the same time that you are marathon training; previously, I skipped the marathon training part.

Week 1 I died in pretty much every workout, but this week I had 5 good runs for 41 miles total. The first hard workout was a Tuesday track workout: 2000 tempo/200 easy/1600 tempo/200 easy/1200 tempo/200 easy/1000 tempo/200 easy/600 tempo. Before we started I dubbed this the "ladder of misery", but it ended up not being too bad. For the first few intervals the tempo pace doesn't feel that hard (I was running ~ 6:45), then once it starts getting hard the interval gets short. Then on Thanksgiving I had a solid 8-miler with 4 @ "marathon pace". MP is in quotes because it was actually about 15 sec faster than my goal marathon pace, but it felt relaxed and I don't mind training with a buffer. We were at my aunt & uncle's house near Santa Cruz, meaning I got to run on the beach and this view during stretching wasn't bad :)

Obviously, the rest of the day was spent eating and drinking. A lot.

Friday was an easy run through the Forest of Nisene Marks. On Saturday, I took a rest day and spent time with the family in SF eating and drinking even more. 

Then today I did my first fast finish long run. It was a 16 miler with target 8 miles @ 9:00 pace and 8 miles @ 8:00 pace. My legs felt good (probably from the rest day Saturday) and I ended up with the first half @ 8:41 and second half @ 7:43. I felt strong the whole time, which I attribute to having an infinite bank of calories within my body from the day before.

We rounded out the week by decorating our place for Christmas. I'm on travel for work next week and I don't anticipate really training, so maybe I'll check back here again in week 4. Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I unintentionally started marathon training this week, and other tales

Posted by Rachel

Today marks 12 weeks out from the LA Marathon. My plan was to begin a 12-week training plan tomorrow, but then this week I found out that I'm going to Switzerland for work the first week of December. This effectively eliminates a week of marathon training, so here I am on Wednesday of this week trying to figure out what to do. Realizing that I had already done a couple of quality runs in the week, I decided what the hell...this can be week 1!

I thought my fitness was doing alright, given the Ironman we did 4 months ago and the surprisingly good half last month, but week 1 of marathon training was a rude awakening. It kicked my ass, all 39 miles of it (and yes, I know that's not even that many miles compared to many plans). I would love to blame my cold but I'm pretty sure it's my shoddy fitness. To top it off, here are some things that went wrong:

1.) I body glided the wrong part of my inner thigh for my 14 mile "long" run yesterday (seriously? how do you miss?). Tons of chafing - ouch.
2.) I somehow lost a toenail already. WTF?
3.) Major stomach issues after my run Thursday and my Saturday. Macy's is not where you want to be when having stomach issues post-long run.

Granted, none of those things are that bad, but I feel like I have a long road ahead (in a short time) if I really want to PR in LA. This week a February PR felt like an impossibility, so but hopefully things start looking up as I get back into marathon shape (if that ever happens).

I haven't said much about my training plan, which is a hybrid of many things I read on the internet specifically designed for a sub-3:30 marathon. The main difference between what I'm doing this time versus previous plans is my use of the long run. Usually in the past, I just ran my long run at "whatever" pace. This time, I've designed my long runs to have a "purpose" based on this Asics plan:

The 3 types of long runs are:
1.) Target 8:30 pace. This is pretty much the standard/straightforward long run.
2.) Easy long run 9:00 pace. I'm going to reserve these for weeks where I have a long/hard tempo run on Thursday, or when I want to add some hills into the LR.
3.) Half the run @ easy 9:00 pace, half the run @ 8:00 (marathon pace). These are going to hurt, but I think they'll help build confidence.

I'll check in sometime soon on marathon training progress (or lack thereof).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Healdsburg half marathon 2015 race report (*see alternate titles)

Posted by Rachel

*alternate titles
Replacing some run training with wine drinking improves performance (n = 1)
I run faster when I don't care about my time
Taking tequila shots within 36 hours of race time is a good idea
Doing a tempo run hungover makes that pace seem a lot easier on race day
Good thing I did those two hilly runs
Ironman fitness lasts a long time

So there was a half marathon this weekend, but easily the best part of the weekend was the fact that two awesome friends (and former training buddies) came into town for the race and the whole group of us got to stay together at an amazing house in wine country.

Wait a minute... where is my wine glass?

The view was alright :)

Truth be told, I didn't have any hard goals and wanted to have fun with this one. I felt I had undertrained, especially compared to last year when I ran a 1:36, so if anything I was hoping to come in at a time that gave me a glimpse of hope that I might be able to break 3:30 at LA in Feb if I actually start training for it. I think this means I would have been happy with anything sub-1:40.

Fast forward to race morning, we could tell the weather was going to be awesome (and it was). Last year when I ran this course I charged the hill in the first mile WAY too hard and felt I suffered the rest of the race, so this year I ran much more relaxed and hit the first mile about 15 sec slower than last year. After 2 downhill miles, the next 5-6 miles are rolling and my plan was to try to keep a 7:30ish pace if it felt ok. When I let myself run by feel, I noticed that I was hitting a consistent 7:20. Sometime in mile 5, I thought to myself "I have no business running this fast based on my training, and if I keep doing it I will probably blow up. Oh well, let's just see what disaster happens if I don't back off." By the time I got to the hill at mile 10 I hadn't died yet, and I could tell I was somehow feeling way better than I had at this spot last year. Even though this was shocking, I figured I might as well take advantage of it. I ran the hill comfortably, and then mile 11 is net downhill and I clocked a 7:06. It seemed so miraculous to me that my legs still felt good, so I thought to myself "I wonder if I can run a 7:00 pace for miles 12 and 13." I kept trying to do math and I thought that 2 x 7:00 miles might get me to a PR, although I wasn't sure how much "extra Garmin distance" I had accumulated at that point so it was hard to tell exactly. By the time I hit mile 11.5 I realized that 7:00/mile pace is really hard (duh), but I figured the race is supposed to be hard and and I hadn't come anywhere near the struggle I had at points in the IM yet (thank you, 13 hour race). So I just kept pushing to the end. One detail I forgot from last year is that the finishing chute is deceptively long (almost 1/4 mile) and I had started cranking as soon as I could see it. Although sprinting at this point was really starting to get painful, I knew I only had a minute or so left and I somehow came across the line in a 1:35:37, a 59 second PR from last year!

This is what over-striding (because you started sprinting way too early) your way to an unexpected PR looks like! Thanks to Lois for the picture!

Travers had a huge PR!

(split 14 - 0.19 mi)

Why couldn't I execute like this last year?

Everyone on the team did so awesome, and we were all able to enjoy the wine festival afterward. And as an added bonus, team Running for the Win(e) got 2nd place, and more importantly, 6 bottles of (almost) victory wine!

Yeah team!!

Afterward we stayed in, continued the wine drinking that we began at 9:30 am that day, cooked awesome food, and enjoyed the views!

The next day wasn't so great weather-wise, but I was ok with that because (1) we didn't have to run, and (2) we need water. Even in crap weather, Healdsburg still has a certain charm.

Next up: in 3 weeks, I'll begin a 12 week training plan for the LA Marathon. More on that later!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

6 days until Healdsburg, and my training has been...

Posted by Rachel

...variable. In my last update, I mentioned that I suffered a minor groin strain at a swim meet 2 weeks ago. Luckily it was just that - minor. I ended up not running (and not biking or really swimming either) for about 4 days to let it heal, and then it was fine for running. The longest effect was that I couldn't do breaststroke for almost 2 weeks - oh darn. Even that's fine now though. By the way, this is what resting an injury looks like in our house:

I hope this doesn't surprise anyone.

Then last weekend my sister came to visit. Usually two weeks out from a half I prefer to do a run that is longer than the half distance to make sure my endurance is all good. But with my sister here, I just couldn't be bothered.

We had better things to do like going to Sonoma. 

And canoeing on Lake Merritt (followed by a milkshake from Trueburger, because obviously canoeing burns at least 800 calories). 

Then this week (I thought) I was going to get a really solid week of running in. Tuesday I had a pretty solid track workout, and a fine recovery run Wednesday. Normally I would've followed this with a tempo on Thursday, but instead my wonderful aunt treated me to a wine-food pairing at Mourad in SF (Moroccan) - my second experience at a restaurant with a Michelin star, theirs earned recently. Thanks for the early birthday present, Becky! :) 

Food was AMAZING. But I may have accidentally drank WAY too much wine. 

I decided to skip Friday morning masters swim practice, but was surprised when I woke up and didn't feel that bad! Not to mention, sunrise over Lake Merritt was awesome!

It was much more colorful in real life

Unfortunately, as the day went on I still didn't feel that great. Turns out I'm not in my 20s anymore. Which maybe explains that when I went out to do a 7 mile run with 5 @ tempo pace that evening, I shortened it 6 with 4 @ tempo and almost died of asphyxiation. Not a good run.

In order to recover, I allowed myself to sleep 11 hours that night. Turns out I hadn't slept in for over a month! Then I did a hilly 10 miler Saturday in 8:24 pace the day after nearly dying in a tempo, which was a surprisingly good pace given the effort. Then on Sunday I did a short easy 4 to recover but my legs actually felt great anyway. So hopefully this is a good sign for the half (?) . With all my extra time this weekend, I also decided to cook a lot.

Some hearty Italian cooking- (braised) pork ragu with polenta and pumpkin pies. Those pumpkin pies are supposed to be the same so don't ask why they're different... I think for some reason the cinnamon floated to the top in the left one? And yes, there is wine in the top picture but I had to open it because it was an ingredient in the sauce!

My "race" plan for next weekend is to see how my legs feel day-of. I know I'm not in the shape I was in last year (you know, when I actually trained for this), but I think on a good day I could have an ok time (PR + 2-4 min). However, if I don't feel great, I'll probably just take my foot off the gas and maybe drink the wine on the course. Wine drinking is something I actually have trained for :) 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Life, a swim meet, and a freak "injury"

Posted by Rachel

Hello readers, it's been a while, although my fellow bloggers have been much worse :) Things have been going well and training has continued to be unstructured. However, I have had a few decent track workouts and "long" runs here and there.

Our trip to Santa Barbara last weekend was a great combination of fun and exercise. On Friday night I got hammered and stayed out until 1 am (1 am!! This is unheard of for the post 30, IM-era version of myself). I was way too hungover and tired to exercise the next day, so we spent it lounging, drinking wine, and hanging by the beach instead.

Luckily by Sunday we were recovered and went for our longest run since the Ironman (together!) - 13.6 miles. I felt great and always LOVE running in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately it rained most of the day after that and there's a lot less to do in Santa Barbara when it's raining. It did result in an awesome rainbow though.

Then this past weekend I participated in a masters swim meet. The weird thing about this meet was that it was in a short course meters pool, which I've never actually competed or practiced in before. I'm going to give a quick rundown of my events for anyone who wants to hear about them (which is probably only my mom, but that's ok!) It went as well as I could hope for with a 2x/week swim training regimen.


100 m back - 1:16.13 (conversion - 1:08.56)
Being my first race ever in a 25 m pool, I did feel like things were a little off, but the time is better than I swam in April so I can't complain. The coach also joked that I swam 102 m; seeing that I didn't grow up training backstroke outside, I don't actually swim straight unless I'm really focused on it. Which I forgot to do during this race.

200 m IM - 2:48.57 (conversion - 2:31.86)
This was surprising considering my breaststroke leg was 50+ sec. My coach actually tried to break it to me nicely that "your breaststroke is more up and down than forwards..". It's ok coach... I have always sucked at breaststroke. Not new info.

50 m backstroke in the 200 medley relay - 35.65 (conversion - 32.09)
Pretty good! And thanks to having superfast teammates, we won the mixed medley! And I remembered to swim straight.

800 m free - 11:01.88 (conversion to 1000 yards - 12:43.15)
This was 10 sec faster than my 1000 fr in April and it felt pretty good. Maybe training for an Ironman swim was helpful. 


I woke up Sunday morning and my shoulders were SO sore, which is really my own fault for not warming down correctly after the 800 and not stretching at all. If I only knew that my shoulders were the least of my problem, I would've spent some time stretching everything else.

200 m free - 2:31.83 (conversion - 2:16.85)
My arms really felt dead during this but I still consider it a good time for my current shape.

50 m back - 35.52 (conversion - 31.97)
Probably my best swim of the meet. It felt great, and it turns out that even with sore arms it's not that big of a deal to swim a 50. I ran smack into the lane line once and still came out with a great time. I was starting to get really excited for my 200 back later in the meet. 

50 m free (relay start) - 31.9 (conversion - 28.61)
Another awesome swim, but sadly this is where it went awry. In a relay you have to get out of the pool before the swimmer comes back, so I got out as quickly as I could, lifting with my left leg. Everything seemed fine until I went over to the warmdown pool and my left groin/hip adductor KILLED. Really killed. I couldn't swim breaststroke at all and backstroke kick hurt it too. I had to make the tough decision to scratch the 100 IM and 200 back. I knew that pushing it in a race would be a terrible idea, and even though it killed me to quit, it was probably a good move.

So now I'm out of running and biking until this thing heals, which is hopefully only a few more days. My hypothesis is that it is a minor groin strain, which is about the dumbest injury ever to get in a 50 FREE, the most trivial event ever (getting out of the pool is the hardest part). But I'm thankful that I made it through the year healthy to the start of the IM, and luckily I wasn't planning to run Healdsburg too seriously anyway :) So I guess for the next few days I'll sit on my ass and watch TV after work, and hopefully soon I can be moving again!

Monday, September 7, 2015

More post-IM fun and...I signed up for my next race!

Posted by Rachel

Actually, Travers signed me up for my next race. But I'll get to that at the bottom.

I thought I'd go through a few of the fun things I got to do the past few Saturdays, all because I didn't have to do a multi-hour bike ride!

Two Saturdays ago we attended my company summer picnic. Now, I'm not necessarily saying that's better than a bike ride, but there were several things about the picnic that made it a good call in my mind:

1.) The giveaway- a beer cooler with isolated speakers + ipod connection. Who doesn't want a beach cooler that plays music?! I do. Also, a decent quality beach towel came with it.
2.) Archery- they let us shoot stuff! I was horrible, as expected.
3.) Unlimited beer + adult tricycles. Enough said.

To be honest, I really did wish I had a helmet. It was possible to roll the tricycles.

Then last weekend, we went to San Diego and met up with my sister! Most of the weekend was spent on the beach, although we did do a few other activities.

Hiking at Torrey Pines- awesome as expected. 

And can you believe it? I got this girl to run! (a little)

Then, we closed out the weekend with an Incubus concert. How old is too old to go to a Sunday night concert, fly back Monday morning, drive directly to work, and work the rest of the week? 31 is too old. 

Never would've done this on a Sunday night during IM training

Then this past weekend, we did a nice bike ride up Skyline for a solid 20 miler. I actually LIKE 20 mile bike rides. I don't really like 70 mile bike rides. It was really clear in the Bay and the views were amazing.

We rounded out our day with a whole lot of this:

Typical, I know.

So we have a half marathon coming up in October and I'm still not ready to return to structured training. I think this will be the first standalone race (not in the middle of a training plan) of this length that I am not planning a structured training for. I'm not too worried about it because I don't care about my time, and also I randomly did my first tempo run in 6 weeks and it was as if I had been running this whole time (funny how that works). However, I'll probably have a do a run longer than 7 miles at some point before 10/31 (haven't exceeded 7 since the IM).

And with that, I get to my next real race reveal- I'm signed up for the LA Marathon! I don't really want to race that many marathons in life (I'll always do Oakland for fun though, if I'm capable and not injured) (where marathon fun time = marathon PR + > 20 min), but I think I'll put in some work for LA. I haven't tried to race a marathon since 2012, and I think I'm a stronger runner now. And I think the only reason I'm this committed to it is because Travers is really into it, and eventually I'll stop sitting here lazily as he goes out running 6x/week. I'm only going for a 12 week training plan, but I'll be making it a tough one. It also means I have until 11/23 before I have to start training, so more fat drunk lazy time for me. More on my training plan in a future blog entry. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My post-Ironman vacation

Posted by Rachel

Life since the Ironman has been great! Right now, I'm drinking wine for the 3rd time in 4 days. But that's not all. We also used the opportunity to take an AMAZING vacation in Pacific Northwest. Let's face it... I'm not nearly qualified to be any sort of travel blogger. However, I'm going to post about my vacation with my recommendations, because it's 1/8 my blog and I can.

The day following the Ironman, we took a couple of days in Vancouver. What a cool city. The first day (we got there in the afternoon) was mostly spent staggering around, searching for booze and Ramen. We found both and it was great. The second day we took a touristy bike ride around Stanley Park. This is evidently one of the most obvious things to do on a beautiful day in Vancouver, since pretty much every tourist and their mother was also doing it. But it's an awesome way to see the park when you're pretty much otherwise immobile, and it may have actually helped our recovery along.


Everyone keeps asking what my favorite part of the trip was. I really don't like choosing because the whole thing was amazing, but if I have to pick it would probably be Vancouver Island/Victoria. When we first arrived (Wednesday after the Ironman), we drove out to Sooke (coastal place 40 min from Victoria) and went for a hike. It was beautiful minus many complaints (rock climbing in the blistering heat in tight, sweaty jeans, and the fact that I had only eaten a tiny salad for the day 3 days post-IM and we didn't finish the hike until 2:30). But assuming you are dressed and fueled appropriately, this hike is a winner.

Then we spent some time in Victoria, which is much older than Vancouver and a very European-style city. We walked all around the paths and took a boat tour of the area to learn more about it. Highly recommended. I would love to go back and explore more of the island. I noticed that there is a Victoria 70.3...someday maybe :)

Before leaving, we took an obligatory trip to the Butchart Gardens. It was pretty spectacular if you like flowers, but I doubt I'd visit again if I return.

San Juan Islands
Another winning decision. The Pacific Northwest islands were AMAZING. Even the ferry ride felt like a huge treat.

We stayed two nights (but really only one full day) in a tiny town called Friday Harbor. It was very small and super chill- the exact slow, beachy lifestyle you'd want on a post-IM vacation. Earlier our first day there we drove around the island which is only about 20-30 miles, getting an awesome mix of short easy hiking and other random stops (alpaca farm, for example).

That evening we went on a whale watch and saw SO MANY orcas! I also saw some bald eagles for the first time in real life. I didn't get any great photos because I spent most of my time watching rather than trying to get a picture, but here's a small taste:

After the island relaxation portion, it was onto Seattle. To me, Seattle was sort of a mixture of San Francisco and Oakland. We somehow fit a ton of activities into a very small amount of time, including the space needle, underground tour, and boat tour of Union Lake and Washington Lake (where we saw Bill Gates' house!). 

Olympic National Park
After our quick urban stop, it was onto the wilderness. We had two days in Olympic National Park. I've recently taken a liking to National Parks, and while Olympic had some pretty awesome things, I think from what I saw I'd rate Zion higher. One of the activities I highly recommend in Olympic Park is Hurricane Ridge.The only caveat is that it's up a decently big hill. Big enough that I had to question whether I had lost all my fitness, or if I was still recovering, or if my problem was just a general don't-operate-so-well-at-high-elevation issue. But I made it and it was really worth it.

Then we went on to Sol Duc falls. It was pretty nice, but I'm not sure it was worth the long drive to get there. The out-and-back hike was pretty easy at 1.6 miles or so total.

We stayed at Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent that evening and it was AWESOME! It was basically like your classic childhood lake vacation but with way nicer scenery. They served soft serve in the lodge lobby for $2/cone, and offered boat rentals and cornhole/various other games. It was a PERFECT way to spend an afternoon after hiking. After a short open water swim (like.... 300 yards short), Chen and I rented kayaks while Travers drank beer.

The next day we started at the Hoh rainforest. I'm not sure if this is a much cooler experience when it's not in a drought, and again I'm not entirely sure this was worth the long drive.

Finally, we ended up at Kalaloch Lodge and beach. While it was pretty nice, I would say that the California beaches are as good or better and there wasn't nearly as much to do here as at Log Cabin. We did get a beach run in first exercise that resembled a triathlon activity!

We spent very little time here- just enough to eat ice cream + 3 meals, drink, go for a quick run, then bounce. It seemed to me like a place that might be a lot cooler to live than visit. The neighborhoods are quirky and neat but it's tough for a tourist to navigate in terms of knowing what to do. As a side note, Travers expected to see way more hipsters than we actually did.

The most important meal of the day

We initially added this stop partially because it sounded like a cool place between Portland and Crater Lake, but mostly because we have friends that live there. However, it turned out to be an awesome place to drink. Unfortunately I had developed a cold, and because I don't like beer much and wasn't feeling well anyway I ended up as the DD. But in terms of consumption, I did eat a full pretzel (all to myself) for both lunch and dinner, which was a huge win. It seemed like there were a lot of outdoor things we could've done here if we hadn't spent the day drinking. I'd visit again. 

Crater Lake
I thought I was only mildly interested in Crater Lake, but now it's on my 'highly recommended' list. We spent one full day there. Earlier in the day we hiked up Mt Scott, which was the tallest peak around (I think) topping out at 9000 ft. I was worried about this hike given my cold + weariness of high elevations + poor air quality (nearby fires and a lot of dust), but it was surprisingly enjoyable!

If you end up visiting Crater Lake I highly recommend taking a boat tour. You can see a lot of neat geological features from the lake that you'd miss from above.

And that, sadly, concludes the story of our vacation! I think this looks longer than my Ironman post, but it's really mostly pictures. I think.