A quick recap of one of the most grueling races around
A quick recap of one of the most grueling races around
One race can change so much!! Staring at the beauty and wonder of the Pacific Ocean I am deep in the thought reflecting on the race Gran Trail Peñalara. It is amazing how impactful these races are for me personally. I type with ease and tired legs but a full heart of happiness and a renewed sense of self belief. Long distance running is hard, the sense of testing your limits physically and mentally. I have such an appreciation for the sport, those committed to it and all those inspiring people that guide others to achieve personal goals and beyond. I have to give my thanks to @aliciavargo for some advice about taking on this challenge despite ideal training miles and my ever changing schedule. Also, Brian Rowlett and Mike Hirst you really seem to pull me out of all my own personal disbelief and for that I am forever thankful.
The race GTP was 74 miles through the Sierra de Guadarrama, it was a challenge I knew that I would complete however, unsure how my body would handle it. It was the farthest I have run and the most climbing. I loved the idea of the night start, and racing in Europe is such an experience. The crowds all night amaze me, the support, the party the ENERGY! The race was a rollercoaster; both in elevation but also in feelings and emotions. Knowing the terrain was difficult and the distance, I just wanted to get as far as possible before the feeling of can I go on started…
Mandatory gear checks reassured me that we were in good hands with experts in charge. It is easy to take off and start a race with the excitement and cheers coming from all around. The amazing energy and darkness settled in, actually I can best describe the race as being dark and peaceful yet you have the confidence of a consistent crowd. The first climb was approximately 3,200 feet on single track, with race officialsscanning your bib at the top as you overlook the village below. The descent was technical and tough, I saw a couple big wipe outs and just tried to take it easy.
When the sun started to rise I could see where I needed to go and that was the moment I dreaded. The feeling of can I do this? The end is still so far away. This race was different for me. I ran what some would say was a smart run, and left ego/pride behind. I knew it was going to be hot, I knew I was going to be stronger on the climbing then the descents and I knew that I couldn’t go out hard in this terrain. So I just enjoyed the race. Taking my time at the aid stations to fill my water and eat was helpful. The fresh socks and fuel at mile 34 prepared me for thelarge climb to Peñalara, the highest peak in the mountain range Guadarrama. It really seemed to go on for a long time and the peak was steep and technical but after another scan I felt comfortable knowing I was going to finish strong for me.
The next section was a long rolling downhill and then some real hot miles as the sun was blazing. I ran with a guy but he did not speak any english, and unfortunately I have yet to speak another complete language so we just put our heads down and hammered some more miles. Along the trail there was a beautiful little stream with swimming holes and families relaxing. Seriously so tempted to jump in!
I remember getting to the aid station at 100k and was told the next stop was just 4 more kilometers. That later turned into my inside joke, as everyone always said just 4 more kilometers! It made me think of when I hike with my family and I always say oh just around one more corner for the next few hours…
Approaching the town of Navacerrada, what a feeling! One that is hard to put in words but mostly I am thankful and blessed to have had the experience, and so thankful for those who encouraged me along the way.
Another dream achieved.
Thanks to @newtonrunning @guenergylabs @rokasports for the support.
72 out of 510
Feeling the nerves I head north to Napa excited to honor my commitment to Ryan and Ian and race my last Ironman. (At least that is what I am telling myself now) Truthfully, I had no intentions of racing another Ironman, however; I had such a good ride during the chef cycle and I am newly equipped with swim gear, I thought why not. Blessed by timing I was cooking in San Francisco at Quince the same week so I figured it was fate.
It is so easy to forget how hectic the bike, run and drops of the day prior can be. I wasn’t in Windsor long before the race energy started to hit me. It is basically a constant buzz of gear, nutrition, and aerodynamics.
I was staying about 30 min away from the swim start. YIKES those 4 am wake up calls hurt. I’m usually up on the early side but not 4 am! One and ½ hrs before the race started I saw so many people ready and geared up… stomach drops again. It is that same feeling as a long travel day. You get there early with nothing to really do but wait yet you don’t want to leave your spot. Basically the hurry up and wait game because I wanted to be ready to take off.
With a little more experience under my shorts, I did not allow myself to check my bike a hundred times or bike drop bag as I covered that the day prior.
The swim was much more controlled than I thought, worrying again for nothing. I couldn’t comprehend how all 1500 people would swim in a river with only 2-6 feet deep. I tried to swim the best I could even though my Roka Maverick X wet suit probably did it all for me. After swallowing a good amount of river water and some seaweed I actually felt great getting out of the water.
Loved the biking… just pretended to chase a few of my Chefs cycle buddies, Jeff Mahin and company which seemed to pass the miles quickly. I had Skratch labs hyper hydration for the heat. It was a two loop course and I really was trying to stay on a average pace of 20.5 mph. It started to drop around mile 98 and then I just could not wait to run.
Off the Bike into the running mode and I managed to rip open my tri suit. Feeling silly until a girl commented, “wow you are ripped” I let that comment blow up my ego and head and hit the run. Passing 33 people in my age group, I felt good….race completed with a PR.
Vineman 2016 Full 11:30
Why ride? For me the question was easy. 300 miles? Great, love Challenges!
I am a chef, I love to cycle, run, be outdoors and I love kids. Every child should have the opportunity to eat healthy food, and thrive. “Chefs Cycle”, an incredible opportunity to make a difference, while; doing something I love.
Could we really make a difference?
I was nervous about the fundraising at first, but once I explained the cause and sent emails to everyone I pretty much knew I was personally able to raise just under 9,000 dollars. I thank everyone that donated to this great cause!
It is no secret I love to bike and run and my profession is in the kitchen. The event fit my personality, and experience perfectly. What I didn’t expect was to be completely moved and inspired by the other riders, the cause and the kids. Thanks to the riders who pushed the pace, you know who you are.
To think 1 in 5 kids in America is not getting the food they need on a daily basis.
We set out on our ride a bunch of chefs, doctors, professionals and acquaintances. I believe it is fair to say the No Kid Hungry ride turned out to be as moving for me personally as the cause itself. Challenged to exceed my personal limits both on the road and in the kitchen all participants inspired me. The new relationships formed and the physical challenge itself was exhilarating. I feel blessed to have participated and thankful for the $1,000,000 we raised.
Next year 2 million dollars and 300 Hundred riders!
“Don’t do it Chef…, you will never make it”
Well that is all I needed to push me over the limit, that and winning a free entry into the Big Sur International Marathon which I call fate. I had three friends who believed in me. Despite all others they encouraged me, helped me shop for appropriate gear and changed my life by physically challenging me. Daily I was told by others I couldn’t finish the race.. This my friends just pushed me further.
I was overweight, unhealthy, my legs would swell when I sat on a plane, energy was low and I wasn’t able to keep up with my family/friends. I was uncomfortable in my skin and I knew this is not the path I wanted to take. The career of a chef requires standing all day and taste taste tasting. Simple energy boosts is what I relied on to get through the 12 to 15 hour days in the Kitchen.
Training for the marathon at first was challenging. It meant changing my entire life style. Instead of staying up late creating menus I ran. Soon I realized running inspired me more than having a drink and looking through endless cookbooks. I left work and would run in the middle of the night as not to take away anytime from my family.
Now my lifestyle is so incredibly different. I look at the pictures of who I was and I am thankful for the life I have now. I cannot imagine a week without some physical component challenging and inspiring me in all areas of my life.
Thankful for those who said I couldn’t do it. You pushed me right to where I need to be: Inspired, inspiring others, pushing limits, and dreaming big.
When asked: “If you can do any trail run in the world which would you choose?” Without a moment of hesitation, I could hear myself answering “Transvulcania Ultra Marathon”
Ever since seeing the mass start at Sea level with all the headlamps and the dramatic elevation changes of this small Island I had to research more.
Transvulcania is one of the toughest trail running races of the world, with a distance of 74.33 kilometers and 4,350 meters of positive cumulative gain and 4,057 meters of negative cumulative gain.
The route: Legendary. It begins at Faro de Fuencaliente and continues through the “Gran Recorrido” trail until Puerto de Tazacorte.
From there, it connects with the GR 130, Camino Real de la Costa, until the finish line, located in Plaza de España – Los Llanos de Aridane. From its start line located at sea level the course climbs to Roque de los Muchachos (2421 m.), the highest point on the island, then descends to Tazacorte and ends in Los Llanos de Aridane where the finish line is surrounded by an amazing environment with lots of people.
…. How does one get there? Is this really going to be happening? Is this going to be possible? A flood of questions also filled my head but it was too late. The seed had been planted. I was hooked and wanted the challenge.
Now how to do it… Busy work schedule, life schedule and I need to start running. Thankfully we live where “sea to sky" running is possible. Logging 707 miles and climbing 170,000 feet this year I was ready, or so I thought. Adding an extra challenge to my adventure, my flight back to work required me to complete this mission in 12 hours or less. I am sure you can sense I love a good challenge.
Four flights later, I faced my challenge of the dramatic coastline of La Palma. The island was beautiful. I felt the distance as the sunset, dogs howled and geckos climbed the walls.
I was told around 1600 runners would compete in the ultra-marathon, mostly Spanish runners. The European energy and colorful gear is fantastic and energizing.
Race day. Just like the Big Sur marathon they had a 3:30 am shuttle for the runners, as some of us were an hour ride to the start. Once we arrived at the start it was already very exciting. The energy was building, I saw Sage Canaday get interviewed and the eventual winner Luis Alberto Hernando. I was also on the lookout for fellow Americans Chris Vargo and Alicia Shay, who both did amazing.
With around 3 minutes to go I got ready and the Spaniards I was standing next to started to chant like Bulls. The start was just how I expected. It was as tough as the Kona swim start.
Elbows flying and a big push up the first hill. I felt great and knew we had about 12 miles of climbing for the first push. The energy was captivating. I started to feel a little dizzy and realized this was no joke. I had to keep my head in the game; fuel focus and have fun. Running along I saw a San Francisco Running Company shirt; great to meet Ben Zuehlsdorf in person and see a familiar sign from home.
Mile 31: wahoooo! It felt good to make it to the top before the 11-mile decent. I was feeling really good until it starting raining a bit and made the rocky steep trail slick! My knees were screaming at me. This is where I had a lot of trouble. I have never been on a trail like this. Made it through and just tried to push to get to the Tazacorte switchbacks. Once down to the black sand beach and the final aid station. Had a coke, and knew I still had one more climb up the steep banana fields. I was able to pass a number of people on the last 1,000-foot climb back to the road. I was so happy to see the road again and knew I was very close. The finish line and the last mile was insane, people drinking and yelling. Crossed the line in 11 hours 19 minutes. The great thing about staying close to the finish line… I was going to make my flight. Double challenge done and done. Only possible with the support of friends and family. The memories of this amazing island, people, and trails will last a long time.
Sea Otter Classic Skratch Labs trailer year two for me….another cooking adventure under my apron. No two are alike and each experience leaves something new on my plate.
Allen and Lentine asked if I would partake in the event again a couple of months ago, excitedly I expressed it was already on my calendar! Lessons learned from last year, my goal was tasty healthy high quality food that I could push out fast. Mission accomplished in my opinion…. perhaps the constant line spoke for itself.
The experience is grand in many ways. I am thankful for all the peeps I have had the pleasure of meeting in the endurance world. This event brings my two passions together, food and fitness. If I am being 100 percent honest it is seeing the familiar faces of family and friends that kept me charged all day.. that and being located beside10 speed coffee…thanks for keeping us fueled the whole week. Food truck by day and restaurant service by night, the fuel was appreciated.
The crew in Trailer this year was also an added bonus. Allen Lim throwing down cooking eggs, Uriell Carlson cooking all the rice, Shanelle Tanaka working the window, Lentine making all the cookies and helping me with all the assembly, Gabe Kennedy, whom you may know from winning The Taste on ABC. Gabe kept me laughing for four days, I loved the energy, and just having fun in the kitchen.
A HUGE shout out of thanks to my amazing kitchen team at Aubergine. The team has had some growing pains and I am so proud of what we have become!! The team worked hard to prep hundreds of pounds of protein. Ron and Caroline rocked out some really tasty Iberico and Ossau Iraty croissants… Thanks! It takes some amazing people behind the scenes to have a successful event. Feeling blessed that I have a team I can trust. Appreciate everyone’s efforts in making this year another success!! Looking forward to writing about many more successful events from my team.
For those of you who haven’t explored the Sea Otter Classic, its worth it! Chris Cleary from the Treadmill introduced me to the world of endurance. I am grateful and my life will never be without it again. Enjoying the people, the places and the new opportunities of the lifestyle. All in all its a great ride!! Hope to see you next year Sea Otter Classic.
What an opportunity/blessing to “play” race and train with some of the best triathletes in the world. Feeling lucky to be there I had one goal, finish by sun down. My heart was full and thankful for all the friends I met and have who encouraged me every stroke, peddle and step of the way.
Nerves hit fast within hours of being on Kona…seeing gear, bike bags and the caliber of athletes brought me back to my skating days. Although, this time I am not seeing a young pair team pull off a split triple twist. I was walking through crowds of athletes that have trained for years to have their turn at the Kona World Championship competition, with personal/professional goals to achieve.
Traveling with gear is the first of many challenges I embarked on. After upgrading to a bright orange mustang I was able to transport my bike to the hotel. With the top down it was liberating… I yelled Kona! And my prayers started…
Thankfully I ran into Ryan & Ian from Roka, and Yo from Newton Running at the expo and who got me sorted for the days coming! Thanks Again! Taking Ian’s advice I watched the underwear run from the sidelines. Glad I didn’t miss it. A quick swim in my new Roka swim-skin and a run along Ali’I drive put my head in the game. My ride along the Queen K to the donkey crossing sign kept me smiling.
Race day started around 4am, after setting up my only thought was " enjoy this experience". With no strategy in place I went out into the water early thinking I would head to the far end. I kept getting pushed way out to the left. Mistake! Treading water and looking at the clock I kept telling myself enjoy the moment, while watching the sunrise, helicopters and drones overhead.
Coming out of the water I knew I had a tough swim, 2.4 miles is a long swim! Again, reminding myself to enjoy the experience and truthfully trying not to freak out. Ironman Kona was turning into a head game.
The ride up to Hawi didn’t disappoint. I just kept my head down and kept going. The head game started again, hearing tires blow, and sensing panic it started to rain hard. Praying and again reminding myself to enjoy the moment, I did just that. As the ride came to an end I could see runners on the course and excitement settled in as I looked forward to the next challenge and getting off my bike.
My next beginner’s mistake was not applying enough sun block. I actually felt pretty good on the run. There were lots of people cheering and spraying water, and once I saw Ian and Katie at the bottom of Palani they gave me another boost. Upon getting onto the Queen K it was all business, and I was looking forward to the turnaround at the Energy Lab. The run going down Palani was painful and fun as the crowds were out and cheering everyone through. I made my way back to Ali’I and again, I tried to really enjoy the whole experience of the finish.
Ali’i was packed with people and I could hear Mike Riley yelling out finisher names. It was a great experience running down the finisher shoot and to the line. I’m honored to have had this opportunity and raced in Kona and I did what I prayed for, I finished and enjoyed it.
Ironman World Championship 11:41:36