Race Report: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride

Okay, so I wouldn’t really call this a race, it is more like an event!  But either way, the first weekend in June, as part of Team in Training, Mason and I participated in the 100 mile route of America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, an aptly named ride around Lake Tahoe on the California and Nevada border.  Since this isn’t your typical race, my report format will be a little different than my past reports, but here is all the info you will need if you plan on participating in this wonderful event:

About the Ride:

  1. There is a 72 mile route that just goes clockwise around the lake, and then there is another 100 mile route that goes around the lake and does an out and back through historic Truckee, CA.  We did the 100 mile, so that is what this post will be referencing.
  2. This event takes place at Lake Tahoe, which FYI is at an elevation of about 6000 feet.  Now, physiologically, elevation shouldn’t start bothering you until around 7000 feet, which is about what the top of the climbs of this ride sit at.  However, if you are not a conditioned athlete, you can start to feel the effects as low as 4000 feet.  For this reason, I would not recommend this ride for a beginning cyclist.
  3. There are 2000+ extra people in Tahoe this weekend, so I definitely recommend getting in Friday instead of Saturday.  Two benefits to this are: first you get to beat the traffic, AND you also get a day to hydrate and prepare your body for the elevation if you aren’t used to it.  My husband and I live at sea level, so we had mild headaches the first day, just from dehydration.  You want to be well hydrated for this elevation.
  4. ALSO keep in mind that that is 2000+ people at roll-out in the morning!  We rode with some AMBBR veterans and rolled out a little early, ahead of the crowd.  We missed the start line excitement yes, but we also got to head out at a normal pace.  I recommend studying the route and doing the same.
  5. Piggy-backing off of bullet 2, this ride has quite a bit of climbing, with about a total of 4800 feet of elevation gain over the course of the ride.  The first “big” climb is up to the Emerald Bay scenic overlook, and is about 800 feet.  Its about a 2 mile climb starting at mile 11.  If you are a climber or are exposed to some climbing, I would say this is not a hard climb.  I never had to get out of the saddle, I just spun right on up it.  If you are a flatlander, another reason to get some hills on your legs.
  6. There are well stocked aid stations every 20 miles or so.  They have fruit and snacks and beverages and the nicest volunteers!  I stuffed so much nutrition in my pockets before the ride and I hardly ate any of it because there was so much support offered on the course.  You’ll find your first aid station at the top of the Emerald Bay climb.
  7. After this climb, its pretty much easy downhill for 20-30 miles.  If you are pace-lining, then you will be flying!  You won’t start going uphill again until about halfway, and it will be more of a headwindy false flat, so your pace team will want to make quick rotations.
  8. At mile 70, you get lunch.  And its a legit lunch.  Sandwiches, brownies, chips… definitely fill up because you have 30 miles left, and its going to be mostly uphill.
  9. Right out of lunch is a short but steep climb, and then its rolling until you hit around mile 80.  That starts the second big climb.  Again, I wouldn’t say this is a hard climb, its just long.  If you aren’t used to climbing, this will be challenging for you.  If you are used to climbing like we are, then it will feel like a long false flat.  Again, I never had to stand up for this climb.
  10. The last 12-15 miles are mostly downhill! Yay!  There are a couple rollers in the last 5 miles, but again if you are pace lining, you can use the momentum from the downhills to get over them.
  11. This ride ends at 98 miles.  Go ahead, be that OCD cyclist and ride around for 2 miles to hit 100 😉
  12. There is a huge expo when you finish, with shops selling last season cycling gear for royally good deals (Mason got a new jersey and bibs for 20 bucks, and they are good!).  Theres also lots of food and beer, so go ahead and get that first recovery meal, you earned it!

Other Logistics:

  1. Book your hotel SUPER in advance, and get a place that is close or biking distance to the start!  Parking is very limited in the town, so you won’t want to have to deal with that.  This is a major Team in Training event too, so many of the nearby hotels are already pre-booked for Team in Training participants.  There are lots of little lake houses you can probably AirBnB, and lots of nice hotels to stay in town.  The race starts on the California/Nevada border, and you might want to stay on the California side, as the hotels are a little quieter.  Here is why: gambling is legal in Nevada and not California.  So most of the hotels on the Nevada side have casinos that are lit up and playing music all night, and allow smoking indoors.  Not exactly what you want right before a 100 mile bike ride.
  2. There is a really great bike shop in town that is well stocked and ready for this event!  We forgot to pack our bike pump and they had exactly what we needed.
  3. Weather is highly variable in Tahoe this time of year.  It was 48 degrees at roll-out, and then reached 78 degrees by lunch time.  Wear lots of layers, and they will have drop bags at the aid stations so you don’t have to carry them with you.
  4. Speaking of drop bags, they just put your number inside of them and leave them in a pile based on the aid station they got dropped at the finish.  It was very hard to find our bags.   If you feel like carrying it, bring some brightly colored duct tape, or something to make your bag stand out after you drop it.  This will make your life easier at the finish.
  5. Finally, as the race is on Sunday, don’t be us.  Don’t drive back home that night and go to work on Monday.  Take another day and enjoy Tahoe, as it is truly beautiful.

 

Pictures to come!  (they are on my other laptop)

Have you done America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride?  Are you doing it next year?  Have any questions that I didn’t cover?  Comment below!

happy riding,

-jules

Race Report: IM Santa Rosa 70.3

The girl is officially back into triathlons!

So back story:  I was on my collegiate triathlon club in undergrad.  Thats how I first learned about the sport and got into it.  I took some time off during grad school and just focused one exercise for fun, not for ‘training.’  Once I moved to California, in order to get plugged in with a community I joined a triathlon club, and did my first triathlon in 4 years last fall, IM Santa Cruz 70.3

After that race I got hooked again!  I signed up for Santa Rosa 70.3 later that month.  This time I decided to take it more seriously, and even trained with a coach, which has made a world of a difference, something that I may blog about later.

ANYWAYS.  Here’s what I thought about IM Santa Rosa 70.3.  (Also sorry, I didn’t get many pictures for this one, so you’ll just have to take my word on some things.)

Packet Pickup Day:IMG_6801

  • You’ll notice I said “packet pickup DAY.”  Packet pickup and bike drop off is a full day event.  You’ll wanna get started early.  The event is on Saturday, and we did packet pickup Friday afternoon.  I was rushed and stressed out of my mind!
  • I recommend picking up your packet on Thursday, and here is why:  The bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of Santa Rosa.  And you can sure bet parking is tight.
  • You have to drop your run bag off at the packet pickup in town either Thursday or Friday, so if you are planning on going for a shakeout run, bring some backup shoes.
  • Again, bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of town, and its super helpful to have a race sherpa, so that they can drop you off, you run your bike in, and they can circle the car because unless you are there first, you probably won’t be able to find a place to park.
  • Thursday or Friday is the only time you will have to get a swim in before the race, so if you need to do that, do it now.
  • Packet pickup is located at the run transition, so when you drop off your bag, I highly recommend taking note of where your bag is in relation to surroundings!  Or bling out your bag with some brightly colored duct tape or a balloon so you can spot it amongst the 2 THOUSAND other bags there.

Swim:IMG_8842

  • I woke up at 4 AM, and stuffed a dry bagel, coffee, and a clif bar down.
  • Please head the race planning committee’s advice and take advantage of the shuttles that will take you from downtown Santa Rosa to the swim start/bike transition.  I got on the bus around 5:15 and we barely made it in time because of all the people who didn’t take the shuttle having to find a place to park.
  • If you do drive there that morning instead of taking the shuttle, parking is going to be very difficult and you will have nearly a mile walk up hill from the parking lot to the swim.
  • There were plenty of porta-potties and while the lines looked long, they moved fast enough.
  • The swim is a rolling start, and while you can seed yourself by standing near some ‘pace’ signs, the signs were not spread out enough so I couldn’t really stand with my seeded time.  It was 40 minutes between race start, and me getting into the water.  Be prepared to hurry up and wait when it comes to the swim.  Also you can’t really get in the water to warm up, nor do you want to since you’ll be standing there 20-60 minutes before you can swim again.
  • Air temps were chilly, but the water was mid-60’s which was warmer than the air, and its nice freshwater.   They had to change the direction of the swim for us to minimize chop.  The swim is a big L, with 3 major turns.  I had a hard time spotting the yellow buoys after the first turn, but no problem seeing the orange ones on the way back in.
  • Because people are generally not good at seeding themselves, I was either crawling over or being crawled over the entire swim.
  • Also bring some transition sandals to leave at the swim finish!  You have about a quarter mile run up the steep boat ramp, and the concrete WILL hurt your feet.  I learned that lesson after Santa Cruz.  People were complaining about their feet being raw on the run because of that.

The Bike:IMG_3300

  • After the swim, I just put a long sleeve bike jersey over my wet tri suit and pulled some gloves on, and I would say I was just right, if not a little too warm by the end of the ride.
  • You won’t be coming back here, race organizers will bring your items to the finish.  I stuffed everything else into my bike bag that I got from packet pickup so that it was all together, and gave Mason my extra ticket to keep so that he could pick up my things for me while I was running.
  • This ride is faaaaast!  I was in tail wind basically the whole time.
  • There are some rollers, one short climb near the beginning and another short one towards the middle.  If you live in a hilly area (note, not mountainous, just hilly) this course will be a breeze for you.  If you are used to riding in the flat lands, might want to get a couple climbs under your belt just to get used to what that feels like on a long ride.
  • There will be a lot of riders with you on the bike course (you know, unless you’re winning) so be very careful that you are not drafting.
  • The course is beautiful, through wine country.  I wanted to stop and take a picture so many times.  There wasn’t much on the course as far as aid and support, so make sure you have plenty of water and your own snacks on you.

The Run:IMG_5356

  • Hopefully you remembered where your bag is!
  • The run was a 2 loop paved/trail run right near downtown Santa Rosa, with the first loop being 9 miles and the second being 4.  I actually really liked this format because you got a lot of crowd support, and when you came back after the first loop you knew you only had 4 miles left.
  • The run got hot, but luckily there was an aid station every mile.  After the first few miles I took gatorade and water at every mile because I could feel myself fading.
  • I found a run buddy!  I recommend doing this if its your first 70.3 or maybe you haven’t had a successful run for one of these yet.  I saw a girl that was running up ahead of me and possibly going the same pace.  So I caught up to her, introduced myself, and we ran and chatted the whole run.
  • This is the best time for you race sherpa to see you, because parking so hard at the lake, and much of the bike course is hard to get to.  Your support crew is best dropping you off at the shuttles and then getting some more shut-eye before seeing you on the run.

Overall:IMG_5365

  • This was a great race, and possibly a PR course due to the super fast bike leg and strong crowd support on the run! I finished comfortably around 5:49, 17/83 in my age group.  I’m looking forward to coming back and dropping some time next year.  Maybe theres a podium in my future?
  • Having a race sherpa was super helpful for this one.  I don’t know what I would have done without Mason there!
  • They had my favorite post race food at the end: fresh watermelon.
  • Also its in wine country, and the race is on Saturday, so you  have all Sunday to recover with a nice glass of vino.IMG_5385

Did you race Santa Rosa 70.3?  Or do you have any questions/ something I didn’t cover?  Comment below 🙂

 

Happy race day

-jules

Personal Rant

Its really hard to keep up the “I’ve got my shit together” act sometimes.

Throughout grad school I was an anxious mess.   I feel like I was always stressed and talking about how stressed I was over everything: not scoring the best on an exam, not exercising enough, not being the best girl friend, not being able to find a job.  I worried about everything.  Surely my friends were annoyed.

Once I graduated and landed a great job in California, I thought “great, this is my time to get my life together.”  And I’ve been able to maintain that.  I moved to a small apartment in Cali, started my job, got engaged, moved to a bigger apartment, got a raise, joined a triathlon club etc.  When things are going well, its pretty easy to appear like a well adjusted adult.

Underneath, friends and family don’t see that you come home sometimes in tears because some people you work with can be unbearable.   Or you are just in tears because you are so freaking tired after a 12 hour day.  You face mansplaining every day at work.  You are having trouble eating at normal times because you are working weird hours, so you work out over your lunch hour, and squeeze food in when you can.  Someone you love died.  Your credit card is wracking up the wedding costs.  Every time you think about your wedding, which you are looking forward to, you also have this nagging feeling that your bridesmaids would much rather not go because you have asked them to do something insanely expensive.  You feel that you are constantly letting them down, even. Your beautiful apartment is a wreck most of the time.  Friends who don’t live in California and aren’t paying $2550 a month plus utilities for a one bedroom apartment think you are making bank, and you fear they are surely judging you for your expensive resort wedding.  Your student loans also think you are making bank because they don’t consider cost of living when they see your income and decide you can in fact pay the maximum monthly back.  Your eyes hurt and you are due for an eye appointment but your not covered for another month.  You have lower back pain.   And bad posture.  And your significant other is just as stressed about different things, so you tend to put your issues on the back burner because honestly your problems are smaller problems.

Sometimes a bunch of insignificant problems turns into the weight of the world.  A ton of feathers still weighs a ton.

Heres to everyone keeping their shit together, and hoping for the sun to come out.  Because I can’t get any more of this rain in California, I already had to shell out 500 bucks for a new wheel after my Passat hit a pothole.  Until then, in the words of many psychologists before me, fake it til you make it.

happy faking it!

-jules

8 Uses for Apple Watch series 2

Hi!  So I am the proud owner of an Apple Watch series 2!  This post is not a review, nor is it to promote or try to convince you to also buy an Apple watch.  I just often get a lot of people asking me “what do you do with it?” or “what can it do?”

SO here are the 8 main things I personally use my Apple Watch Series 2 for:

  1. Working out.  Not just working out.  I use my watch for legit training.  I am training for a triathlon this year, and with the water-proof, GPS-enabled Apple Watch series 2, I can run, bike, AND swim with it.  It has been the easiest transition from my trusty Garmin.  HOWEVER if you are a stats and numbers person, this may not be the watch for you.  I rely purely on distance and HR training, and I find it is just what I need.apple-watch2
  2. Travel.  Apple watch is super handy if you are a frequent flier, because you can access your wallet from it. This doesn’t seem like a big deal.  But imagine that you are rushing to your gate, hands full of all of your luggage, and instead of having you free up a hand and pull out your ticket or your phone, you just scan your watch, right on your wrist, and you are on the plane.  See?  Game changer.
  3. #Fashun.  The faces AND bands of the Apple Watch are interchangeable.  You can set a picture as your background, and there are hundreds of different bands you can find on the internets.  The possibilities are endless!  Going back to my working out point, its nice to have a watch that can be both classy and elegant, and also a bad-ass workout device.applewatch
  4. Directions.  More specifically: on wrist directions.  One time while riding my bike, I got lost and couldn’t find my way around.  I was able to pull up Maps on my phone, find directions home, put my phone back in my pocket, and then be able to see where I was going right on my wrist.  Clutch for when you are on a bike.
  5. Daily events.  At work, I often have projects and meetings happening throughout the day.  Instead of having to pull up a phone or a day planner, I can just glance at my watch and see whats next and what time it is.  When you are on the go and trying to squeeze in workouts, this is an amazing thing.
  6. Apple pay.  Oh my god the most convenient thing on the face of the planet.  Also secure because the device is ON YOUR WRIST.  Many if not most places accept Apple pay here in the Bay Area.  Can’t wait for more companies to accept it!apple_pay_watch1
  7. Bells and whistles.  I use my watch for so many other little things.  I check the weather, I use it as a stop watch, I count my steps, I can voice-to-text on it, I can check instagram, answer a call on it.  There are so many little things that I use it for day to day.
  8. Minimizing screen time.  This sounds counterintuitive.  I have become less dependent on my phone with this device.  Knowing that notifications are going to come straight to my wrist means I check my phone less.  This is impactful just throughout the day, but also while in meetings, or doing things like driving.  If I get a text, I can quickly glance at my wrist and then either go back to what I was doing, or decide to pull over to address.  This has been the most profound thing I have learned having the Apple Watch.

Got an Apple Watch?  Got something else?  Tell me about it!  Post below 🙂

happy ‘watch’ing

-jules

A Little Vacation

In case you don’t follow my Instagram  then you may not know that I am getting married!  I am SO excited, for many reasons.  First and foremost, I get to pronounce my lifelong devotion to the love of my life and best friend BHLDN dress (guess which one 😉 ).  And finally, I am very excited, because we chose to have a small destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort near Cancun, Mexico.

Last weekend, we got to go down early to check out the resort, and it was AH-mazing!  We are staying at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya for our wedding in June.  As soon as we got there, we were taken back by just the lobby, so beautiful!

We were impressed by the service and hospitality as it was, but while we were checking in, we found out that we had gotten a complimentary upgrade from our normal room, to the Sky Terrace, which meant we had a standard balcony, PLUS our own private rooftop balcony with a jacuzzi!  The resort is split into two sides, the Heaven side, geared towards the 18 and up crowd, and then the Hacienda side, geared towards families with kids.  They each have their own lobbies, with slightly different amenities, but you are free to roam between the two.

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Now our weekend was a whirlwind, because we only had 4 days, two of which were travel days, and one of which we had an appointment with the weddings department to pick out the venue and decorations for our big day.  We tried to take full advantage of as many of the offerings though – at least on the relaxation side!

Most of the days we hung out by the pool or on the beach while waiters kept our beverages topped off.  My favorite thing to drink was the pina colada, while Mason was a fan of margaritas.  The pool had a fun swim-up bar, and was totally lit up at night.  The beaches were soft and sandy.  We waded into the water around waist deep and could see big fish swimming around us.  Can’t wait to check out the complimentary snorkel gear next time we are there!

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View of the pool all lit up at night, with the swim-up bar in the cabana to the left.

The food on the resort was amazing.  For lunch there was a buffet, as well as a grill going by the pool, so you could chill out with a burger and fries.  For dinner, there are multiple restaurants with varying cuisines (French, Mexican, Italian), and then there are also little food carts on the Hacienda side, where you could get crepes or tacos.

After dinner we went out dancing in the resort nightclub.  The club went back farther than we realized!  It was so big!  It seemed to be made up of different lit up platforms surrounding a couple jacuzzis (which we didn’t even realize were there until we watched some guys take their shirts off and hop in).  At the end of the night, we went up to our room and ordered room service (also included!).

On our last day, we did our wedding appointment, and picked out the venues for our wedding events, aaaaand of course tackled the most important job: picking out our cake.  They didn’t have cake ready for us right away because Mason has Celiac disease and can’t eat gluten (if you or someone you know has a gluten intolerance and would like some tips, please comment below!).  They sent them up to our room, and we ended our stay sitting in bed eating cake.

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We had the best time at this resort!  All of the managers kept asking us for reviews or anything they can improve on, and I honestly couldn’t think of a single thing.  The only thing I wish was different, was I wish that I had checked a bag so I could pack my own sunscreen instead of pay a god-awful amount at the resort gift shop.

Cannot wait to be back at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya this June to marry the man of my dreams!

Happy vacations!

-jules

My Favorite Things: January

Ever have those products or items you just want to rave to everyone about?  I do!  Here are some things I am currently obsessed with this month:

#1)  Bralettes by Lively: I came across this brand on an instagram ad, and thought they were so pretty I had to look.  Not only are they pretty, but they are so comfy!  I got these two patterns, and a solid black on.  They fit nicely, and don’t pull on the shoulders.  Bralettes are $35 each, or 3 for $75.

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#2) Garnier Charcoal Blackhead Eliminating Scrub:  THIS SCRUB.  It works so well on blackheads that even my fiancé uses it.  My face feels so fresh and clean, and I finally was able to wean my skin off of benzoyl peroxide with this stuff.  You can get it at places like Target or drug stores for five or six dollars.

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#3) Dakine Women’s Cruiser Kit: I am always on the go and squeezing in workouts.  This means that I don’t always have the time to shower, but I like having a kit to freshen up.  This toiletry bag fits everything I need for the day and traveling.  On a normal day, I have packed into it: my makeup, deodorant, extra contacts, a hairbrush, face wash (see above), hair brush, and a can of dry shampoo.  With plenty of room to spare.  It also has a hook so you can hang it up.  I pretty much just keep all my daily things I use in it, and keep it hung in my bathroom, and then roll it up and pack it when I’m ready to go.  Get it HERE for $40.

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#4) Si, by Georgio Armani roller ball:  So I just can’t commit to having a full bottle of perfume, and I love the portability of roller ball perfume.  This scent is sweet and subtle, floral with a touch of vanilla, and my current favorite.  You can get it at places like Ulta and Sephora for $28.

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#5) The Lake House, by Kate Morton:  If you haven’t read anything by Kate Morton, I suggest drop whatever you are doing or reading, and pick up either this book, or The Secret Keeper, or the Forgotten Garden.  Her stories are these epic mysteries that span over generations, and always end in a twist.  Trust me, you’ll be hooked!  Learn all about Kate Morton and her books HERE.

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What are some of your favorite things?

-jules

Team in Training’s Newest Member

Sometimes you get some news that just devastates you.  That happened this week.

Without going into too many details, because it still hurts, my family lost a very special person this week.  We didn’t know she was sick, because she didn’t want anyone outside of her nuclear family to know.  This strong woman only wanted people to think of her as the healthy, smiling, beautiful person that she was, not as someone who was sick.

Grief is a weird thing, because it affects everyone differently.  She was the first person in my life that I have lost and grieved for.  The first thing I did was cry.  A sloppy wet cry.  The next day I was numb, until I ruined a cake I was making, and found myself sobbing again.  The cake had nothing to do with her.  It was like the negative emotions associated with ruining the perfectly good cake summoned the harsher, pervasive realization that she was gone, and that was worse.  I felt guilt.  I felt like I didn’t even deserve to grieve.  I didn’t see her enough.  I didn’t talk to her enough.  My mom and I really should have visited more.  Why haven’t I kept in touch with her daughter?  For days I have teared up at just the thought of her, and the thought of her daughter, my age and without her mom, her rock.

She’s not having a funeral or memorial service, which makes losing her even harder to cope with because theres nothing I can do for the rest of the family.  They are all the way on the east coast, while I’m powerless in California, with only my words to help.  And the only words I have are the same words that so many others are saying.  The only way I can cope then, is to honor her in the best way I can:

Lynn was a 3 time cancer survivor, and Team in Training member.  She raised over $100,000 for cancer research by participating in endurance events like marathons, Race Across America, and even an 80 mile roller blade for charity.  In her honor and spirit, I’m going to continue her legacy by completing a 100 mile bike ride for Team In Training.   My Team in Training is Team Lynn, and our current goal is to raise 4,800 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  To visit my fundraising page, and maybe even donate, please click below:

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Please support me in continuing the legacy and spirit of beautiful, strong, kind, amazing Lynn, and donate to my Team In Training.

Go Team!

-jules