Saturday, December 1, 2012

Straight Up the Strip

Straight Up the Strip

Would you like to see the largest group of running Elvises in history? Oh where, might you ask, could one possibly see such a history-making sight? The answer would be this Sunday, December 2nd at the Zappos Rock “n” Roll Marathon Series that is happening in, where else, Las Vegas! 

Yes, the call has gone out for marathoners to dress as Elvis Presley as they make their famous nighttime run down the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. So, if you plan on running and don’t want to be a hound dog, email to get in on the fun.

Speaking of fun, race weekend activities will start with the kickoff party at the Freemont Street Experience 3rd Street Stage. Live music starts at 5pm but the headliner, Australian rock band Sick Puppies, won’t be on until 9pm. It’s free and open to the public so if you want to get a spot close in, get there early.
Also starting on Friday is a bigger and better Health & Fitness Expo. It’s located in the Sands Expo and Convention Center adjacent to the Venetian and Palazzo hotels. Admission is free to the public and this is the location where runners will pick up their race packets. There will be about 100 exhibitors showcasing everything from new running technologies, fitness apparel, health and nutrition information and more. Parking at the hotels’ garages is also free, that is if you can find a space. A better bet is to walk if you are staying close by or take a taxi to save yourself the frustration. 
While you’re there, make arrangements to see “Da Vinci: The Genius” that will be located in the Venetian. This traveling exhibition is billed as the most comprehensive exhibition on Leonardo to ever tour the world. It’s open from 10a.m. to 8p.m. and there are senior, child, military, student and teacher discounts available.

Mannheim Steamroller is also in town, performing their Christmas renditions at 7p.m. at the Palazzo Mannheim Theatre. So far, the $103-a-piece tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday haven’t sold out.  If you want a seat, call 800-947-1081.

What would a visit to Vegas be without a magic show? David Copperfield tickets are available pretty much every night leading up to the marathon and afterwards too. They can be had for $119 each and the show is at the Hollywood Theater in the MGM Grand. 

For night life, Las Vegas can’t be beat. There are themed nightclub VIP tours that fit into any imaginable fantasy and some that you’d probably never imagine, or remember afterwards. There is a “What Women Want Pass” that includes a Stripper 101 class, because, yeah, that is what women want... There are pool parties at Tao Beach and Wet Republic and a bunch of other nightclubs with names like Tryst, Tabu, and Blush. I’ll leave you to figure out those last three.

But if you want something outdoorsy and different, jump on a bus leaving from the Excalibur Tour Bus Rotunda as it heads up into the Red Mountains for two and half hours of flightlining. Similar to a zipline, flightlines are suspended from cables but you sit in a para-gliding harness instead. Flightlinez Tour by Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon offers hourly transport from the Excalibur and consists of a multi-run and multi-line series that range in length from 1150ft. to 2545ft. There are four lines per run and four people can fly at the same time. You’ll hit speeds of up to 60 miles per hour while viewing Lake Mead, the Eldorado Valley and Boulder City from 3800 feet above sea level. Absolutely spectacular!

However, there are lots of Rock “n” Roll “official” events, some free and some not, including pasta parties on Saturday and pre-race on Sunday. Saturday’s carb fest starts at 6pm at The Mirage Hotel with tickets that cost $35. There is a pre-race party at Chateau Nightclub and Gardens and one at 10AK, also at The Mirage. To get everyone revved up, there will be a live music concert right before the race starts on Sunday. 

So SOAS wishes you a great time in Las Vegas this weekend and don’t forget to do the run-through wedding on race day. It only takes three minutes. If you can say your vows faster, it won’t take that much off your split!

Friday, November 23, 2012

What to do in Cozumel.

Turkey trots are OVER - athletes and spectators alike are pouring in to beautiful Cozumel for this weekend’s Ironman. 

Let's talk about activities for family, spectators, or post-race. Previously we discussed the venue’s potential places to stay and some of the diving and scuba perks. But there is so much more to a visit to Cozumel, not the least of which is its proximity to Playa del Carmen. And the best time to visit Playa is at night. 

Take the ferry boat across, it costs about $12-$15 each way and is well worth the trip.  The main streets of Playa del Carmen are closed to foot-traffic only and there is so much going on, you can spend an entire evening there just walking around. Filled with numerous unique restaurants, chances are you’ll dine seated in a cabana or balcony overlooking the nightlife. In both of my own trips there, I have never heard of anyone getting sick. And don’t forget to stop at the world-famous SeƱor Frog’s. Ferry boat tickets can be purchased from or Be sure you check when the last ferry boat leaves back for Cozumel, usually about 10pm, so you don’t get stuck! 

Don’t want to take a trip to the mainland but still crave stuff to do? Your best bet is to rent a scooter. Cozumel may be the biggest island in Mexico but it is still small enough for a scooter to get you everywhere you’d want to go. You see, there is only one main road on Cozumel and it runs around the coast perimeter before heading straight to the beaches on the east side of the island. Here you can go beach hopping, cove to cove, and often times you’ll find yourselves the only ones there. And hey, everyone looks cute on a Vespa!

At the end of the island is the lighthouse at Punta Celerain. You can enjoy a fascinating 360-degree view of the area and this is a prime spot to take spectacular photos to show off to your friends when you get home. There is also a place to snorkel and you can swim out to the reef. There are supposed to be alligators in the area and regular barracuda sightings though, so be careful.

For what is considered the best beach bar ever, stop in to a place called Coconuts Bar and Grill. It is considered the best spot on the east side. Even though the island is mostly flat, you have to climb to get to this one, which only means that the views are incredible!

For even more exploring, visit the little village of El Cedral. It has the oldest Mayan ruin on the island. Now, it isn’t as grand as the ones over on the mainland, but it is interesting and very pretty. There are some restaurants there including one with a fabulous steak and lobster combo!

Going back to San Miguel, you may be tired of Mexican fare and, if so, Primas is the perfect foil with Italian cuisine, fresh catch of the day and steaks. It also has great outdoor seating making you feel like you are in the middle of the town happenings.

Tired from the Ironman? Get some spa’hhh treatment at the Presidente Intercontinental. They have a 6,500 square-foot full service luxury spa called Mandara Spa. Using ancient Mayan traditional techniques, they relax, soothe and pamper you with signature treatments made from a variety of indigenous fruits, plants, herbs along with other natural elements.

So, here’s to wishing you a great time at Ironman Cozumel 2012! SOAS wishes you an amazing race!

The S(p)eedy Side of Vegas

The S(p)eedy Side of Vegas:

Marathon runners - here’s your chance to do The Strip in Las Vegas! Yep - the Rock n' Roll Marathon Series lands in Vegas December 2nd . 

Good thing capes are in style this season.

Despite the fact that running in a marathon might put a halt to having too much of a good time in Sin City pre-race, in what other marathon can you run right down the course along side drunken casino addled bachelor parties and cross-dressing show girls?!  Don’t answer that… 

You’ll start the run right in front of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino – the full marathon starts at 3pm and the half starts at 4:30 p.m. That means you’ll be running right down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. By the time you finish, in front of The Mirage, it will be dark and The Strip will be its usual famously lit-up self. Now, that sounds fun!

But it hasn’t always been fun. Previous years’ events were plagued with problems; everything from no coordination with the local governmental powers-that-be to the lack of volunteers (bless their hearts) manning their stations. Plus, it gets cold at night in Vegas.
Event coordinators, however, have promised a better, more organized event. And there are lots of other things for your family to do while you are tapering or racing, so the Vegas event is really a win-win.
Let’s talk about hotels. There are four “headquarter” hotels from which to choose, each offering special goodies for race participants. Then there’s a whole plethora of “official” hotels. Included in the list is The Mirage; quite convenient since that’s where you’ll finish, right in front of the volcano. Virgin marathoners beware.
Across from The Mirage, so right at the finish line too, is The Palazzo Las Vegas. Here you’ll find restaurants from some of the world’s most famous chefs. Reading like the who’s who of Food Network, The Palazzo has Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans-style restaurant named Table 10; Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio Bar & Grill as well as the one he simply calls “Cut”; Mario Batali is there with his Carnevino and Massimiliano Campanari has one called Lavo. You’ll need to stay extra days if you want to fit all these in.
At the other end of the race, at the starting line, is the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. If you are a pool person, this place is supposed to have the best in Vegas. Rent a cabana and enjoy. When you want to eat out, take your pick of several top celebrity restaurants including one of Wolfgang Puck’s and two of Hubert Keller’s. The Mexican food is supposed to be excellent and there is a sustainable seafood restaurant. However the Red Square will be closed for renovations during the marathon week so a visit to their exclusive vodka vault is out. Za Vas!
Right across from the start village is The Luxor Hotel and Casino. Yeah, it’s the pyramid. The Luxor has a pretty nice spa call Nurture Spa & Salon. For $180, you can get a 25 minute long Swedish massage, 25 minute facial and 25 minute scrub. You can probably find a coupon on groupon to boot.
You can join in (and may really need) the spa scene after your 26.2! Then, head out for more fun on the Strip. Time to swap stinky running shoes for some killer heels, right? Blisters be damned.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Traveling to IM Cozumel?


The final week homestretch to Ironman Cozumel 2012 is here! SOAS hopes you racers have your feet up and compression gear on!

Yep, November 25th is this weekend and, is it any wonder that, like the three years before, the event is SOLD OUT. 

This Ironman event is being held in the cruise-ship haven of Cozumel, a little island separated from Playa del Carmen by just a sliver of turquoise sea. Cozumel had to have been made by the great snorkel gods as it is home to the world’s second largest coral reef system. The hotels here tend to cater to divers with either dive shops on premise or ones right next door.

Getting to Cozumel, though, is always a challenge. Along with awesome diving and snorkeling, Cozumel features an airport that may take hours to get through. Just be prepared. Bring a book, preferably about diving, or, better yet, bring the Ironman packet to read. Just try and keep the end goal in mind while you push the frustration level down until it can be dissolved later by a fruity drink with a pretty umbrella. Make that a protein smoothie with a pretty umbrella if you are racing.

For those of you that have waited until now to find accommodations, it isn’t too late. All still have availability except the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort. It sold out early, which is really too bad because it offered a special Ironman rate of $89 per person. Also, the drinks from the bar are well-poured and can pack a wallop, especially if you say, "yeah, come on" as the bottle tilts. 

Don’t worry though. The Ironman coordinators set up no less than eleven host hotels in which to choose. All except the Presidente Intercontinental are all-inclusive with room rates starting in the $70 per person per night range. And, since Cozumel is an island, most are somewhere near to some part of the Ironman event. Most of the hotels have plenty of great activities for the rest of the family to partake in while you are either packing your transition bags pre-race, or are incapacitated by soreness post-race.

So, here’s the rundown of the all-inclusive ones, beginning with the Fiesta Americana. It is basically known as a diving destination. Go to the Dive House to make arrangements and you can dive directly from the hotel. It books up, though, so call ahead. If you don’t get a mini fridge and a safe in your room, just ask and they’ll bring one. You can expect decent buffet and al la carte style food. However, if you have to have an on-site fitness room this isn’t the one for you.

If you’d like to be within walking distance to the finish line, choose the four star Hotel Cozumel & Resort. It has the largest pool in Cozumel. It also caters to divers with a full service PADI center called Dive Paradise and a private pier to dive from. An added plus is free Wi-Fi in all the rooms.

Two miles from the starting line is the Sabor Cozumel Resort and Spa. It has a “real” beach at 2,000 feet, the largest on the island. Adults without kids can stay in an “Adults Only” section and, for further, away-from-the-kids relaxation; you can get a Coconut and Aloe Vera Body Polish at the spa for an affordable rate. Unfortunately, the food is rated badly. But, hey, there’s a licensed doctor on call if it comes down to that!

Close to Palancar Reef is the five-star Iberostar Cozumel. The hotel offers competitors transfers from the hotel to the starting line as well as mechanical services for the bikes. Dressel Divers is on site and $40 gets you two hours on a scuba boat with dives from 2 different spots. You can indulge in nightly entertainment at the hotel’s theater or work out in their fitness room. And, even though the Wi-Fi isn’t free, the food reviews are good. 

The Cozumel Palace is the most expensive of the host hotels that are all-inclusive. It is considered five-star and has food and drink reviews well above average. Upgrading to a junior suite gets you an ocean view, king-size bed, Jacuzzi, porch with a hammock and complimentary 24-hour room service. Be aware that rooms by the elevator are LOUD due to the marble floors and this isn’t where you want to stay to go diving.

At the Park Royal Cozumel, you’ll have to be above the fifth floor if you want to see the ocean. But then the views are quite lovely. There is an open-air amphitheater for nightly live entertainment, an on-site spa and a fitness center. For divers and snorkelers, the Del Mar Dive Shop is right across the street. Beware of the “un-hot” hot tubs and the fact that you’ll have to pay extra for spotty internet service as well as for a safe in your room that may or may not keep people out. 

The Occidental Grand Cozumel is tucked into the jungle, so consider requesting a 2nd floor room or higher so lizards don’t run in when you open the door. A better bet is to ask for a complimentary upgrade to the resort's Royal Club level. Sometimes they’ll say yes! 

Among the hotels with the worst food and bar drink ratings are the Allegro Cozumel and Melia Golf & Beach Resort. However, the Allegro has been an Ironman host hotel for three years and has a prime location on San Francisco Beach for the event. They do tend to leave the “hot” out of the hot tubs, but the on-site dive center is supposed to be excellent. That and other amenities at the Allegro may be enough for you to overlook having to eat elsewhere.


Check back later this week and we’ll go over places to eat and things to do at Ironman Cozumel 2012!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inspiration... Where do you find yours?

Inspiration is everywhere. From the words of our favorite writer, to our children taking their first step. Finding someone or something to inspire you is as easy as opening your eyes in a different light.  I have found many inspirations in my life. When I was in the midst of Ironman training, my favorite pro triathletes were my inspiration for getting out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes a good beer and burger are enough inspiration for me to get my butt going on a ride.  And what is it that people find inspiring about you?  Is it that you are fast, or that you have a good heart, or that you have fun doing what you love?  Hailey says that generally, positive people are a huge inspiration to her.  “Those folks who go out day in and day out with a GOOD attitude, and are grateful for what life has blessed them with. And those who may not be as talented as the pros, but have SO much heart and passion for life/sport that they are just jazzed for it. These people reignite my fire.”

My father has always inspired me. He was incredibly active and fit. He would get up extremely early and go run every morning before his very demanding job. This is back before jogging was really popular. I would get up with him when I was little, like 6-7 and he would let me jog a little ways with him. It was our special Father-Daughter time. Dad always worked really hard but he was also always there to help me with tennis lessons or basketball drills and was always there for a big game or match. I can't thank him enough for that. He just passed away recently and I can for sure say that he will absolutely be my inspiration for my training and races going forward. The next Ironman is for you, Dad! I love you!

I remember back in 2009, a few hours after getting my PR at the Boston Marathon, my husband Rich and I went to Nike Town to see Kara Goucher after her finish.   She was scheduled to do a Q & A after the race.  The whole week was a huge hype for her. Posters all around town, her special custom Nike Lunar Light shoes on display at the expo.  She was America’s Sweetheart that was supposed to take the Boston crown. But with less than a half mile to go it was taken away from her. She finished 3rd, in an amazing time and America was still so proud of her.  A few hours later she was cleaned up and answering our questions.  She had some pain in her throat and her eyes, you could tell.  She wanted today’s win, but had so much respect for the sport and her competitors that it was ok and still a great race for her second ever marathon.  Even before that day Kara was my inspirational athlete that I looked up to for all of her hard work.  And that day she taught me humbleness, and that winning isn’t everything.  As a highly competitive athlete, myself, I have to remind myself that if you fight and give it your all, that’s all you can do.

People that inspire me? The list is infinite. My family and the amazing kids I somehow created. My husband for putting up with me on a regular basis. My patients, some who have gone to heaven before us, and some who continue their paths here, but all who have fought the hardest endurance event known to man - childhood cancer. I am amazed and inspired everyday by so many.

And sometimes it’s not so much as people that inspire me, but their attitude. Those folks who go out day in and day out with a GOOD attitude, and are grateful for what life has blessed them with. And those who may not be as talented as the pros, but have SO much heart and passion for life/sport that they are just jazzed for it. These people reignite my fire.

Although many different types of people from all walks of life have touched my life and inspire me in different ways, I would say the person that inspires me most is my husband.  My husband Oscar, who lives a relatively ordinary life. He’s a high school math teacher, a cross country and track coach, a marathoner himself - but to me he is absolutely extraordinary! He is such a selfless, giving person that he truly inspires me to be the best person I can be. I think the best compliment you can give someone is that they make you want to be a better version of yourself and that is exactly what he does on a daily basis for me.
One of my main sources of motivation in training and racing is to honor all the support and love Oscar (and my entire family) has given me in pursuing my dreams as an athlete. It's not hard to get out the door for those long rides or early morning swims when I think of all that he's sacrificed for my dreams - the least I can do is make sure I get my work done and push as hard as I can when I'm out on the race course! So yes, he is one of my biggest inspirations and motivators for sure!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chili

It's getting cooler out, and it's that time of  year when pumpkins and beautiful varieties of fall squashes are of abundance.
I love making chili. For athletes it's a simple fix too, being that you can make it in the crock pot and come home to it after a long training and working day.  It's such a versatile meal and most of the time you can find all of the essential ingredients right in your pantry.  It can be healthy too!  This particular recipe was made with elk meat, very lean, but could be easily substituted with  beef, chicken, turkey, or other vegetables for a vegetarian version.  I made this chili over the weekend for our neighborhood fall festival.  It was a hit! Just the right spice factor, depth and variety of chili flavors, and of course that pumpkin spice that we all love. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chili
Makes on full standard crock pot.
Chili Base:
3 dried Ancho Chilis
2 Dried New Mexico Chilis or Guajillo for extra spice
5 Cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Onion
2 Cans Diced Tomato
3 c Chicken Stock
1 T Cumin
1 T Coriander
1 T Mexican Oregano
2 t Onion Powder
2 t Garlic Powder

Chili Base
2 Onions Diced
1 Can Diced Tomato
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 1/2 lb Ground Meat, Beef, Turkey, Chili, etc. (If vegetarian try some mushrooms and zucchini or variety of other squashes)
3 T Chili Powder
1 T Cumin
1 T Coriander
1 t Onion Powder
1 t Garlic Powder
1 c Pumpkin Puree
2 T Pumpkin Pie Spice
Salt and Pepper to taste

First make the Chili Base. Simmer all ingredients in a small sauce pan for about 5-10 minutes until all spices have dissolved and dried chilis are completely soft.  Puree the chili base.
In your crock pot combine all of the ingredients. You may need a little extra chicken stock to adjust the consistency.  Set the crock pot on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.
For extra carbs serve over pasta or rice.   If you like beans, add cooked beans in the last 30 minutes.

by: Chef Karleen Dirmantas

Friday, October 12, 2012

Here They Are! Our SOAS KONA GIRLS!!!

From left: Kebby, Willow, Alana, Robyn, Hailey, Laura

Here they are... Our Kona bound ladies, all who have landed safely on the island and looking forward to having a great race on Saturday.  We are so proud to have such amazing and strong women this year at this amazing event. 
Our thoughts and prayers are with Kimmie Rouse and Amy Gluck who, unfortunately, wont be racing because of terrible bike accidents.   

Alana Kennedy-Nasser from Bellaire, Texas (Houston), 35-39
Where She Qualified: Qualified at IM Florida.
Is this your first Kona?: First Kona!
Ever Been to the Big Island?: No experience whatsoever and will soon discover my favorite things to do on the Big Island!
Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, banana, nutella toast and skim milk followed by 1000mg of Tylenol. Yummy!
Post-race meal: Coke and whatever the cheering crew eats!
Who’s traveling with you?:  My husband, Dean, and two younger children, Julia and Alexi, along with my two awesome girlfriends, Chrystal and Claudia - the same cheering crew as my first Ironman. At least they won't need heavy coats for this one! My older teenagers are pretty excited to be staying home alone for a week. We hope to find our home in one piece upon return...
Good luck charm: Earrings!
Which SOAS Kit will you be wearing on Race Day?: Black team kit or red and white team kit. I'll let the cheering crew decide since they will be the ones looking for me out there!

Laura Sophiea from Atlanta GA  55-59
Where you qualified: Kona Hawaii Ironman
Is this your first Kona? If not, what years? This will be # 22 in Kona
Previous Kona experience, if any: Gosh, I guess I probably have a lot of experience, but that said, Kona is and always has been a different day. No race has ever, ever been similar!  That is why I love it…Always test you!
Favorite thing to do on the Big Island, place to go, or place to eat: Kua Bay to relax a get a little sunshine.  Magic Sands beach to ride waves, I like Huggos on Rocks for coffee after an ocean swim.  Green Flash for a sandwich, and Lava Java
Your pre-race meal: Pre race….chicken, quiona and sweet potato small glass of wine.  I never give up all the pleasure of a good meal!
Who is traveling to Kona with you: My boyfriend Kevin is here.  I also have about 8 GF here from Atlanta.  Huge Dynamo Swim and Multisport cheer group.
Good luck charm, or pre race rituals: My mom…her ashes are buried in A-Bay out at Waikola.  Talk to her on race day.  My oldest daughters first boyfriend who was killed and love that I did triathlons…talk to him.  Then on Friday finidng a quiet piece of land to mediate and prepare for the race.
Which SOAS kit will you be wearing? Either the polka dot outfit or the red and white one from last year.  Love that one the best!!

Stephanie Swanson, San Diego CA, 30-34
Where you qualified? Ironman Louisville
Is this your first Kona? First one
Previous Kona experience: I'm usually out here for work (SOAS) and other design stuff. Funny having to "participate" in the race this year while being out here working. The key word is participate. Should be fun!
Favorite thing to do on the Big Island, place to go, or place to eat: I love getting to spend time with all our are friends. During the year they could be scattered all over the world but in Oct. everyone is all together. Doesn't hurt that it just happens to be on a beautiful island too!
Your pre-race meal, post race meal: I think I had GF pepperoni pizza and a blizzard from dairy queen my last IM. I wouldn't go out and smash a dozen oysters the night before… but I'm not scared to kinda eat whatever. Post race… A bottle of wine.
Who is traveling to Kona with you? I've been out for the last couple weeks with our partners in crime and dear friends the McKenzies. Brit my husband will join us later this week for some important post race activities like golf and after parties. He's gotta use his vacation time for the fun part of the trip ;)
Good luck charm, or pre race rituals: Usually no… but I am very excited to be wearing an Amy sweatband. My thoughts will be with her and Kimmie.
Which SOAS kit will you be wearing? Probably the Red Race. I have new matching shoes to go with it.

Willow Harrington-Holland, San Francisco CA, 30-34
Where you qualified? Ironman St George
Is this your first Kona? Yes
Previous Kona experience, if any: Just vacation, and Honu 70.3
Favorite thing to do on the Big Island, place to go, or place to eat: snorkeling! (aka chasing fish!)
Your pre-race meal, post race meal Pre race: chicken, rice, grilled veggies. Post: whatever sounds good in the moment. Often burritos.
Who is traveling to Kona with you? SO LUCKY to have a squad of sherpas going: Husband, mom, mother in law, 5 of my most awesome friends, brother and sister in law.
Good luck charm, or pre race rituals: My husband had a bracelet made for me for my first Ironman that i keep over my TT bars that says: Eat, Breathe, Relax, Smile. i love it...all the basics and makes me think of him while im out there.
Which SOAS kit will you be wearing? Black Team Kit.


Hailey Manning, 30-34
Michelle Gailey, Pro


Monday, October 8, 2012

10 Things We Love About Fall

Soon the air will be crisp, grocery stores will have pumpkins, and leaves will fall from their trees.  Enter FALL!  So long are the dog days of summer and back into Autumn, my favorite time of year for so many reasons.
We can enjoy Fall Foliage, if you’re so lucky to live in a region that has a change of seasons, like Beth Shutt in PA who says, “The colors are amazing!”  

While me, in Arizona, I just look forward to the sub 90 degrees, that’s how WE know it’s coming. That’s cool to us.  And along with Cooler Weather, Hailey says she hates losing the light, but it’s definitely a signal that the off-season is here.  Cool weather means better running, for all of us.  No more dragging butt though your hot long runs anymore.  Your water bottles may just start to stay cool for the whole ride. Our fitness is at its peak and we’re back into the last few triathlons of the year.  Kona will be here before we know it! And so will Ironman Arizona and Cozumel, and all of our own favorite local races of all distances.  Summer was just a break in the season, giving us a chance to train our butts off for race season.
The Days are Shorter and Sleeping In gets to be enjoyed again.  Of course it’s harder to get up anyways, when it starts to get cold outside of your snuggly comforter.  This is for sure the best time of year to be out there running.
Some areas actually have a Running season, and now is the time!  The roads, trails, and canals are soon to be crowded with groups of friendly runners training for various winter marathons. 

And how excited are you to break out a whole new wardrobe? Cycling Knee Warmers, SOAS Arm Warmers, gloves, LED headlamps!  Yes, this is just the cycling stuff I thought of.  But come the season to wear comfy Hoodies and sweaters, scarves, corduroy.  I can’t say yet, that I’m ready to give up my tank tops, but it will be fun to dive into my trunk and see what’s been hidden away since March.
And after those chilly rides we love Mint Hot Chocolate and Hot Coffee.  Wait, is mint too early? Should we be talking Pumpkin spiced lattes first? Who doesn’t like Pumpkin spiced anything?  Pie, bread, coffee, muffins, scones, pancakes, candles.  Pumpkin Porter anyone?

 You can make just about anything delicious with a little pumpkin love.  Even your post ride recovery Pumpkin Muscle Milk Smoothie, Hailey’s favorite! And I love all of the other delicious fall squashes and root vegetables that start popping up at the farmer’s markets.
And of course sharing all of your long missed time with Family and friends.  Thanksgiving is here in just a few more weeks.
Whether you’re finishing up your race season, or diving into something new.  Enjoy into the season, and make it count!  And put some whipped cream on that pumpkin pie, you deserve it!

Karleen Dirmantas- SOAS Ambassador

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SOAS love to Amy

Hearing the news about the terrible bike crash involving our teammate, Amy Gluck, deeply saddened and worried the team. As an ambassador for SOAS, Amy’s smile, strength, and determination in the sport of triathlon have served as a positive example and role model for others. Although I have not met Amy personally, I can see the impact that she has had on so many lives – both to those close to her as well as to complete strangers. We, as SOAS ambassadors, want Amy to know that we are constantly thinking about her, praying for her, and wishing her a speedy recovery. Below is a collection of our thoughts, prayers, and motivational quotes that we want to send to our teammate so she can absorb our strength and positive energy to facilitate her healing.

Karleen Dimantas:

I am deeply saddened by the news of Amy Gluck’s horrific bike crash.  I only met Amy once in Kona 2011 when all of us SOAS ladies gathered for brunch a few days before the race.  She is darling and was so excited that day to get her first Black and White Stars SOAS kit. She wore it in the race and I can remember seeing her on the course with smile, several times, on the run as we passed each other and when she blew past me.  She is a fighter and will pull through and tell us the story of how she overcame this feat.  Stay strong Amy! We love you!!!

Fall seven times, stand up eight
– Chinese proverb

If what you’re doing is not your passion, you have nothing to lose.”
– Celestine Chua

“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.”
– Belva Davis

Beth Shutt:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11


Hailey Manning:

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination.
 - Tommy Lasorda

Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you
- Arnold Palmer

To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them
- Picabo Street

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a   year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
- Lance Armstrong

champion is someone who gets up when he can't.
- Jack Dempsey

Laura Sophiea:

Dear Amy.....Courage and strength and faith are yours!!
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” I will try again and again and again as long as I believe, and as long as I have faith in what I do.

Kebby Holden:

Amy first came on my radar when she passed a good friend of mine (also named Amy) in the last 3 miles of the run for 3rd place at 2007 IMWI. She became "The Other Amy" for us in our age group. Then she pulled a similar move on me at  2009 IMLV as she whizzed by on the run to her 2nd place - gorgeous, blonde, fast, and always smiling. We chatted on that podium and stayed in touch. She was also in my circle of Tri friends thru her incredible coach & World Champ, Laura Sopheia, who is one of our SOAS gals. I just assumed Amy, with all her accomplishments and podiums and friends, would be too busy and too in demand to join our start-up SOAS team. But when we asked Laura if she thought Amy would be interested, she said "Definitely ask her!" in true Amy fashion, she jumped in with both feet and had been a tremendous ambassador for the company. Way more importantly, she has been a great friend and teammate. We feel extremely lucky to have her!

Anyone that knows Amy knows that huge smile, ripped body and flowing blonde ponytail. Her enthusiasm for life and her love of our sport is infectious! Every time I would ask somebody if they knew Amy, they'd always say, "Oh, you mean the tall, good-looking blonde that is really fast?  She is sooo nice!"  Roger that!

I am praying hard everyday for her recovery and know, being the champ she truly is, she'll come back from this terrible thing and teach us all amazing lessons from it. I, for one, can't wait.

C'mon Amy!! Your team is rooting for you!!

Alana Kennedy:

"There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster." Dalai Lama XIV

Never lose hope.

Andrea Astudillo:

Hi Amy,

As a friend of mine, who is a retired Navy SEAL once said to me “the human body is capable of amazing things.” This is so true! Over the past week, we have heard/seen so many stories about how strong you are and I’m looking forward to seeing you pull through this and recover like the champ that you are.  Know that you have a huge cheering squad here in San Diego and we will be cheering for you the entire way!

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”
 – Confucius

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Julia Polloreno:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
~Marianne Williamson

Willow Harrington:
I’ll be honest; I am not one for fuzzy Hallmark inspirational quotes or “Stuart Smalley” approached to personal encouragement.  Maybe I just need it simpler when I going to the wire, drool rolling down my chin, hanging on to the edge of the pain cave. Whatever the reason, I find the greatest strength and the ability to dig deep is greatly aided by 3 simple words that keep me focused on what matters.
 First and foremost, I try to remain GRATEFUL. Whatever the challenge--tough day in the office, mother of a track session, or your race just went belly-up--there is always something in that experience that you should be grateful for. Stay humble and remember that, it makes the pain (more) bearable.
COURAGE. It’s easy to let doubt creep in and to just give up. Call yourself out on it! I literally can be heard muttering under my breath at times, “Be brave.” In an interview with Lauren Fleshman about her bumpy, injured journey to the Olympic Trials, and in it she said something that totally hit home for me: “I’m not asking for a miracle. I’m asking myself to be courageous enough to step on the line less than what you want to be and let that be enough.”  Stop thinking about all the ways you could fail, fall down, blow- up or end in a less desirable result and just focus on the courage to try. 
I’m not going to lie; I am a competitive as the next girl—especially with myself. I know what I am capable of and when Im not performing, Im my worst critic. When I begin to feel myself looking for the easy way out, making excuses, or otherwise not applying myself 110%, it’s time to buckle down and TOUGHEN UP. When the positive thinking isn’t working, suck it up, do the work, and just get’er done. This may not seem like it belongs in a list of inspirational quotes, but trust me, once you push through the rough spot, you will feel like a superhero.  

Christine Gould

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Amy!!! Sending you lots of SOAS love.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ironman, Family, and Life... How to Find the Perfect Balance!

Ah… multi-tasking. My favorite subject. Like most people, my life is best described in one word: BUSY!  I have 4 super cool kids (the oldest two were born while I was in college, one in med school and one as faculty. Hence, my multi-tasking background started early in life). Add in somewhat busy careers – my husband is also a physician, and we have pretty tight schedules. Add in some Ironman training, and I think you can see where this is going…

After being a triathlete the past several years, the best plan I have come up with is simple. 1. I avoid workouts after work or evenings if at all possible. Workouts are for early mornings, with friends, and before the kids are shuffled off to school.  2. Work is for the day and family time is for after work, and for chauffeuring kids all over the city for a variety of reasons. 3. The weekends take creativity. Every week, I look ahead to the weekend to determine when to ride and run “long” with the least amount of family interruption. Having a strong support system (aka great husband) helps tremendously. Many of the other soccer parents have seen me roll up on my bike, while they roll up in their SUVs. I have skipped workouts, especially those pesky open water swims, so that I could spend time with the family. I enjoy going out to dinner with friends or date nights with my husband, even if it means a late night with an early wake-up call. Got to have balance, right?!

So, last year, Ironman Florida race week rolled around. I felt good about my training and my “life balance.” I tapered at Disney World (excellent idea, by the way). Race day came and we took what has become one of my favorite race photos, although I assure you we all look better in person. I am all ready for the swim. It is freezing outside, kids bundled up and looking like they would rather be warm and cozy in bed. The picture is snapped, everyone gets a kiss and off into the water with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” blaring in the background (thanks Journey!) The day goes fairly well for me. I see my family at the start of the bike and on the run at the beginning, mile 13 and then at the finish line chute, with my husband yelling, “We are going to Hawaii!” My first thought was that the kids will kill me for training for another Ironman, but then they quickly reassure me they want to swim with dolphins, so all was well with the world if I got the Kona slot. Smart kids!

I didn’t see this picture until after we returned home. And when I saw the adorable pout on Alexi’s face, and her body language, I asked her what she was thinking. She said, “I was frustrated.” I asked her why and she replied, “Because you were going to be gone ALL day.” Ah, yes, she knew exactly what an Ironman meant. Let’s be honest here, triathlon is a fairly selfish sport. And she was right. I was “gone ALL day.” And there is no way around those long training weekends. 100 miles is a long way, even in a car, but choosing the best day to ride long to minimize interruption in your family’s busy schedule typically makes for a happier family and a happier athlete. Putting your family above your workout schedule is important. Actually, there is nothing more important than your family. So, get out there and train, but don’t forget to make that ballet practice, soccer match or date night with your husband! Here’s to hoping there are all smiles on race day in Kona.  Either way, I am sure it will make for a great picture!
Alana Kennedy-Nasser, SOAS Ambassador

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Travels and Training... Our favorite places!

Ever have a funny experience of traveling and training?  Vacations sometimes seem like a past time when you have to train all the time.  But fitting a little vacation in with your main squeeze, turning it onto a "train-cation", or planning an exotic cycling adventure can be just as much of a break. We shared some of our favorite places to travel to, and some funny experiences of trying to fit training in while on vacation.  Feel free to share yours with us in the comments below!

Michelle Mitchell
I worked on a mine site in Nhulunbuy Northern Territory, Australia. There was a massive pool in the town that no one used much and because my work hours were 6-6 there wasn't much time for training at "normal" hours. I managed to acquire a key and sneak into the pool regularly before anyone was around, only to be too scared one morning to hop out of the pool because a pack of dingoes/camp dogs had gotten into the pool area (not sure how) I had to stay in the pool (3hrs) until it officially opened and was rescued and then had to explain how I was in the pool.. I managed to keep my key though :).

Kebby Holden
I signed up for a bike tour in the Dominican Republic. I wasn’t able to bring my bike shoes on the trip, so thought I could at least get some pedal strokes in this way. Turns out it was just me and the guide. He was leading and I stayed glued to his wheel. I think it kind of pissed him off so he kept speeding up and I stayed with him. 10 minutes in, he is no longer telling me about what we are seeing but rather we are on a full TT through some pretty dodgy sections of town. That was the last time I did a TT in flip flops! At the end, my guide/new training partner said: "You're not so bad...for a girl."

Karleen Dirmantas
I go to San Diego every summer for a "Train-cation". It’s about 105 degrees plus at home in AZ, so it’s a great break from the heat.  I was lucky to get a few “map my ride” routes from Steph so I could get in some good bike training for my upcoming Ironman.  On a Saturday I left for my 120 miles bike ride with no real idea of where I was going, but a small piece of paper with turn-by-turn instructions of where I was to go.  Somewhere, about half way through, I ran into some other cyclists who seemed to be going the same route. I rode along with them until I got left behind with a flat.  I continued on this beautiful ride through lush farms and mountains.  I was still following my written instructions until at about 75 miles I hit an “End of Pavement” road sign.  I continued on, downhill, as it was kind of paved but kind of dirt.  And then it ENDED!!  I hit a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  I had missed a turn somewhere, probably at the top of this 2 mile steep downhill.   I tried calling Steph and was cut out because there was no cell service.  Then, out of nowhere came a car down the dirt road and they asked if I needed help. Almost in tears, looking at my little piece of written notes, this guy comes out of the back of the car and says, “I’m a cyclist, you’re not supposed to be here, where are you supposed to be?” I seriously think he was my guardian angel. He guided me to where I needed to go, which still took me down another 1 miles of dirt road to the Palo Casino. Who rides their bikes in Palo? No one!! I took a Redbull and Pop Tart break at the gas station and continued on the highway back to Oceanside.  I got in 102 miles that day and  a heck of a sunburn from my 8 hour long experience.

Andrea Astudillo
My husband and I try to take one big trip a year. We usually do this in November, so it doesn't really impact any serious training. Summer of 2011 was the exception to our November travels when we went to France to view the tour and do some of the climbs in the Alps. We had read that it would be really warm (high 80s and 90s). We didn't check the weather when we left and when we got there they had one of their mid summer cool fronts that brought snow. It was so cold and we were completely unprepared. I had to borrow warm gear from others in our group (who I had just met!) and we had to go into ski shops to get warm stuff that included ski masks and ski gloves. I wore my arm warmers under my clothes at night to go to dinner. I washed them first, of course. So ridiculous! Fortunately, it warmed up over the next couple of days.
Other than that, my favorite trip that I have gone on was in 2009 when we visited three countries in Africa. It was a great combination of all the things I love in a trip: outdoors, animals, wine, interesting people, beautiful beaches, adventure and culture.

Alana Kennedy-Nasser
My favorite place (thus far) to vacation is Costa Rica. Something about rolling blackouts, in a jungle overlooking the Pacific, with howling monkeys keeping you awake and scared for your life, just adds to the excitement of a trip. I hear the Rev3 series there is great. Might give that a try!
Funniest training story was a bit tragic (it's funny now!) During a training ride,
my husband, who is a critical care doc, went down in a crack. A rider rushed over to him and she said, "Don't worry, I'm a doctor." To which he replied, "What type?!" He was dismayed to learn she was an OB/Gyn because "that wasn't going to be very helpful!" He is perfectly fine now.

Hailey Manning
Belgium 2010 we went and rode the entire Tour of Flanders course the day before the pros did…all 156 miles. Funniest thing about that trip was the “open” port o pots for the guys, one big trough with “privacy” dividers so that 8 guys could pee at the same time. Like a guy pee pie.
Aid station food? Not your ordinary PB&J, there were DELICIOUS sugar filled soft waffles at every aid station…I certainly had no problems keeping the kcals a comin’!
Usually my vacations are around a race or in the UK with family…the training gets a bit relaxed there…too much TopShop shopping to do!
Fave person to travel with: Mark…close second would be my girlfriends.
I want to go to Southeast Asia, and all of the south pacific islands, like bali and Fiji….any place warm with a beach is my dream