Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's GO time!

Water temperature: 56.4F
Wind forecast: 35 - 30 MPH
Weather forecast: rain

Seeing the pros racing hard no matter the cold and rain: INSPIRING!

It's NOW time to JUST GO and GO FAST!!!
Race number 2094

Send me the positive energy! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Live Life NOW

One week untill New Zealand!!!

So much to do but enjoying every second of it from the last bit of training to the bike prep, crazy work load schedule, trip planning and especially every word of encouragement, motivation, inspiration and excitement!

Taking in the amazing memory in the making!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Power of the Mind!

Never underestimate how powerful is your mind.

The countdown is here! In less than two weeks I would have participated in the ITU World Championship. It seems so unreal.

Over two weeks ago, I competed in Escape to Miami Triathlon. The race was meant to be a tune up for the big A race. However a few weeks prior I was lacking motivation. I had in mind that I was only going to compete in Escape to Miami to see where I stood. I wanted to have no expectation and rather focus on having a consistent race. No ups and downs but a steady strong pace to the very end.

Race weekend started under the rain. Saturday pre-race workout was unusual. Some team members did a short run under the pouring rain while the girls chatted and argued what to do under the trunk door of an SUV. It is quite ironic to think that we portray ourselves as tough girls while we can’t stand the cold rain on our shoulders at 6:30 in the morning and instead of going for a short run and getting it done we stayed outside cold contemplating about our workout. But as superwomen as we are we thought of the perfect solution. Pre race training in the gym!

Our stationary bike followed by a quick run on the treadmill.

Nothing better than to start race weekend with a fun out of the ordinary workout with a good group of crazy ladies. The day followed by great moments at the expo mingling and chatting away pre race day excitement. Many of my co-workers showed up to pick up their race packet. Many had never done a race and here they were about to compete in one of the toughest triathlon in South Florida. I still don’t think they realized what they were about to do. Many shared their worries while others expressed confidence. The post race word on the street: it was not easy!

While enjoying sharing my passion, mingling with old friends, and discovering new product and building new relationship, I also tried to concentrate on my performance. I debated whether to take it seriously. I knew all I wanted was to have a consistent race while still being afraid of hurting my confidence.

All those words of encouragements could not go to waste.

Race morning was absolutely superb. I am fortunate to have the race site literally in my back yard. After a good night sleep, my teammate and I rolled out of bed no more than 30 minutes before transition closed. We spent a few minutes cheering a few teammates and some co-workers and there we were back in my apartment with many recruited triathletes to hang out in the AC and the opportunity to warm up on stationary bikes. I took the opportunity to share the passion with two co-workers who started getting involved in triathlon. Jimmy who was supposed to do a relay got stuck doing the whole sprint alone and Monica who is a veteran after doing the swim portion of the sprint relay last year decided to do the whole sprint alone. She taught her how to clip in just one week prior to the race. Both completed their first triathlon with pride and I am ecstatic to report that both are already registered for the next triathlon! J Congarts to all!! Now time for the next challenge!

 Going back to my fun pre-race morning, it was absolutely perfect having so many people around. I did not have time to even realize what I was about to do. I was enjoying myself. I wanted to share my passion and I knew I had made a difference even in one person’s lifestyle.

The gun went off. I had a strong start. I knew I was ahead and while concentrating on my technique, I ironically forgot to sight leading the group past the buoy. One strong swimmer took the lead and for the first time I was able to enjoy swim draft for a few moments until I had to swim around, above and under people. It was a scene from the titanic. People trying to survive all around.

Swim exit was fun having all the relay co-workers cheering. I got on my bike as soon as possible while weaving around the masses. The bike felt so strong. I was so focused, I can not recall having one negative thought. I was concentrated on moving forward. Being in the moment one stroke at a time. It was so powerful and felt just right. It lead into the run portion of the race. After seeing a few teammates and competitors I had in sight, I knew I was in good standing. My thought was clear : just keep moving one step at a time.

My mind was so focused. It was exactly what I needed. Now thinking back, this race was mine. I wanted it and I got it. All the doubts and weaknesses made me stronger. They made me realize that the mind is extremely powerful. If you want it, go get it!

Who would have known... Woohoooo 1st overall woman . 8th tide overall!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Motivation Report!

If you read my last two posts you know that I have been feeling a bit of stress lately: having a reality check that the big race is coming real soon and experiencing a lack of motivation.

Last week, I promised myself to make a change in the way I think. Turning every negative though into positives no matter how hard it is and no matter how fake I might feel. The power of the mind is so important in building confidence and embracing the journey.
A good friend of mine is going to Kona very soon ( He had to overcome an ankle injury a few months back. He had all the reasons to be unmotivated and quit. By the time he would recover, he would only have less than two months to train for a full Ironman. But he did it. He turned his spirit around and is going for it. Working his body and mind to the fullest all the way to the finish line.

He had a few words with me. I am grateful he did!
This week was a good training week. I swam hard. I biked hard. and I ran hard. All consistent, painful and enjoyable! :) I am coming back strong! No Regrets!

Here is some of the messages he has been sending me randomly making sure his World partner is on her toes!


Thank you IronBeto!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Final stretch - why is motivation an issue?

I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything. I have not been feeling myself lately and did not want to share my negative energy.. but after all I am not super woman so here’s why:
In 30 days I leave for New Zealand. Am I ready? Not at all!
I have spent over 14 months anticipating this upcoming once in a lifetime exciting adventure. I would not say to the extreme of putting my life on hold but my life has revolved around triathlon: my friends, social gatherings, eating habits, and let’s not forget my budget and vacation planning. Fourteen months ago, I competed at the national level with a thought of competing among the best in the world and the opportunity to visit New Zealand. Although I am certainly not one of the top triathlete in the world, I took the opportunity seriously and dedicated part of my life to be disciplined and dedicated to triathlon. And although I have had a breakthrough by winning the age group division several times and took one Female overall podium spot, I do not feel I am ready. I have kept myself motivated throughout the past few months but I am now wondering if all that hype and excitement wasn’t premature… I am 30 days away and feel like I should be 6 months away. I am not even looking forward to competing in Escape to Miami Triathlon which is 1 week away. When discussing race schedule with my coach, Escape to Miami was supposed to be a tune up to the World’s Championship. I had in mind of winning my division and I am now thinking of taking the race as a brick workout.
Why this up and down? Why this short fall of motivation and excitement now? Am I taking this race too seriously and unable to focus and cherish the moment? I am usually one to scream, cheer and motivate my fellow teammates to take it all in and have no regrets… Why aren’t I able to follow my own advice and exhort this positive source of power and aspiration I know I have in me?
At this time it is a mental game! I am very aware that mental strength is crucial at this time. This video always puts me back in place, makes me realize how grateful I am to have such an opportunity. I have thirty days: thirty days to refine what I have been working for, thirty days to change my negative downer attitude and gain that confidence I once had. One of my greatest fear  in life is regret.
If I have to watch this video for the next 30 days, I will. If you hear me be unenthusiastic or pessimistic slap me! Regret is not an option!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reality Check!

In 60 days I will be competing in the 2012 Sprint Triahtlon World Championship … wow I am starting to freak out. I keep on telling myself that I am in for the experience and the journey more than actually competing. I know deep down that competing at the World Championship level is a long shot. I keep on telling myself that the race is not that important mainly because I am an extremely competitive person and also so terribly afraid of disappointments.
Tri 2 One had a 3 K test this morning. The purpose of a 3 K test is to set training goals and zones. We had an easy swim set on Monday, rested on Tuesday in order to be rested and perform our best. No excuses.
My excuse: Not only I have not been sleeping well lately; unfortunately, I went to bed late last night and woke up exhausted. I tried to motivate myself to wake up and be ready to complete this 3K test with pride. But it was a complete failure. I thought I would have been able to pump myself up considering today starts the 60 days countdown to the championship. I started my first lap too fast in under 1:27. After completing it, I felt amazing. I tried to keep my pace constant and was actually successful for the following lap and a half. It was a downfall from there. I completely bunked. I could barely hold an eight minute per mile pace. My endurance was fine. My legs were fine (besides my hip hurting a bit). It was just impossible to run fast. I body could not do it. I had no energy. No need to share my time. I felt so disappointed in myself. Here I am supposed to feel fast and excited as the “once in a lifetime” race is approaching but I felt the complete opposite.
Once I arrived home, I started stretching and thought to myself of how much of a loser I was, thinking about how much of a stupid idea it was to spend so much money going across the globe for an hour and so race. I am far from being at the world’s top athlete level. Why would I set up myself for failure?  Why would I would I even have hope to somewhat come close to compete at that level.
Just like any time I have a mood variation, I posted on facebook how disappointed I was and how awful this morning felt. As soon as my post went live, I started receiving messages from fellow triathletes.

Stephanie Hartmann It's good to have a bad day now, not later.
Cynthia Morales I don't like your disappointment, i liked because I feel your pain. This just proves you're human! Even rock stars have bad days...
Christina Starr MontesdeOca One day of training does not make a champion. You have put in many many days of hard work, it will pay off!

Karen Garcia Super Juju, in the eight months I have known you, I have never seen you have a low day...your are consistently awesome! So I say, in the game of endurance you are ROCK strong! 60 days to another super race!! Go Juju, go!!!!!!!
Cristina De Molina Ramirez Ditto on what everyone said. To savor success you must taste failure. Keep on and you will reach the skies
Dirk Smeets What race?
Amrei Smit We all have bad days...better now than at Worlds. You will rock it, I have no doubt!
Caryn Vogel Lubetsky You are my hero and inspiration - you'll pull it out. Rehab that injury now - today you were smart, you felt it and didn't push it. That's the true sign of a champion, knowing your body.
Jose Manny Garcia Juju relax your a superstar.... You'll shine bright when it counts!!


I am so thankful for their comments. I do need to snap out of this negative and dragging feeling. I have the opportunity to compete among the world’s greatest. Many would love the chance to travel the world to compete at this level. So what if I am not in the top finishers. I need to keep my eyes on the goal which is to do my absolute best.

Moral of this post: Not everyday can be a win and only with failure we learn tough lessons. It is time to get over it and get mentally and physically strong. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me but I have 60 days, the race is not tomorrow. Anything is possible! Especially thanks to the moral support I have.
On this note, I am excited to share the the actual course of the race - courtesy of Tri Auckland.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012 National Championship Report!!

This weekend was the 2012 Triathlon National Championship – that same event a year ago that destined me to go to the World Championship. I am so proud of all my teammates – Joey, Ola, Mickey, Oriana, Amrei, Andrew, Gene, and Nico for competing. It is a tough race among the top triathletes of the nation. Five of them have qualified for the 2013 World Triathlon Championship. I am so proud of them. Somehow, I feel like I have inspired And motivated them to compete. I look forward to sharing my experience with them! Congrats to all who competed!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Art of Motivation

About 50 of my co-workers will experience their first triathlon as part of a relay at Escape to Miami triathlon. Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to motivate them to train. I have offered my own time to share my experience, guide them through swim survival, how to hammer the bridge on the bike and how to push through the hot and humid run. However, for some reason, I have not been able to fully motivate this group. Most do not know me personally. They do not know that all I want to do is inspire them to be active and enjoy a nice day out doing their body well. I supposed that some might be intimated. Some might not want to get up so early. Some might suppose that it is a piece of cake and might simply not understand what a triathlon entails. Whatever the reason (or excuse), I will continue to encourage them, one at a time, because even the slight change in one’s lifestyle is worth it.

This weekend turn out:
Terry and Michelle competed in a relay last year and are now going to compete in a full sprint triathlon. This weekend they decided to drive 45 minutes south to take advantage of the group workout. It was day and night to see him swim a nonstop 800 meter swim. Last year, he could barely swim 150 meters without having to turn on his back to rest. The best part is that he was able inspire his wife to join him to train and complete a full triathlon. I am very proud of them for making their goal into a habit!

Jimmy has been showing up to almost every workout for the past four weeks. He thought he would only compete in the swim portion of the triathlon. Unfortunately, his cyclist has a knee injury. Consequently, he might need to do the bike portion as well.  I think it is a surprise in disguise. Last week he stated that he hates running but yesterday he decided to arrive prior to the group workout meeting time and run with me and my group. I have no doubt that this is the beginning of a new journey for him and that he will one day complete a full triathlon.
Inspiring Michelle, Terry and Jimmy makes it a successful group training session in my book!
Out of 50, only a handful of them are coming to the group workouts I am organizing.  If only I could motivate a few more to come… There is still time. I have hope!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Riding hills just for fun!!

I talk about triathlon being a lifestyle. This weekend was exemplary. A much needed weekend spent with amazing athletes and most importantly incredible people, all sharing the same joy of playing with our bicycles! 

After a two hour bike ride, thirty minutes run, and a fifteen minutes swim, seven of us drove about four hours from Miami to Clermont to ride our bicycles in the hills of SFL. Unfortunately, Florida is not known for hills. We only have the ridiculous so called Miami Mountain known as the Key Biscayne Bridge. A few of my teammates are competing at the Triathlon Nationals in less than two weeks in Vermont, so it was time to explore what real hills feel like.

That's how you fit 7 bikes in a car!

We are ready to kill those hills! (look at Gene's guns!)

Our journey started as expected, not even after driving 30 miles we stopped to have lunch and purchase snacks for the ride. Once we arrived to destination, we did not go check in the hotel but rather went straight to have dinner. It is amazing how important food is in the life of a triathete.
After a nice meal and a refreshing shower we all went straight to bed with no complaining. We woke up bright and early energized and excited to start our adventure. Are you starting to understand why I refer to triathlon a lifestyle?! :)

We went to Clermont with the purpose of experiencing rolling hills as well as build leg power. However, the purpose did not matter. We did not drive four hours to train. We drove four hours to act like kids and play with our bikes. The adventure was thrilling. I was so happy to actually be able to use the gears of my bike. It was a game to try to find the perfect time to be as efficient as possible. Imagine the feeling of going downhill in aero position, refreshing air drying the sweat you just endured climbing to the top of a hill, your core is tight, your forearms and biceps are burning from holding your weight on the aero bars, you legs are barely making any effort to rotate and the momentum takes you through the bottom the hill and right back up. All you are waiting for is the perfect time to change your gear from big to small ring to best use that leftover momentum and be as efficient as possible. And sooner than you are ready for, it is time to get off the saddle and hammer to the top of the hill as hard as possible, no matter how much your quads are burning. One hill at a time. Each hill is as different and challenging as another but the adrenaline keeps flowing and the feeling of exhilaration is revamped one after another.
Hill workout is very important to explore your ability as a cyclist. You have to know your strength, your bike, and follow your intuitions.
Tri 2 One Head Coach Marcelo instructed us to ride Sugarloaf, one of the toughest hills in Clermont and ride through Buckhill which is a series of steep rolling hills. I am happy to report that we rode through the longer and steeper than expected Buckhill and climbed Sugarloaf 3 times!

Yes we are pretty awesome! Suagarloaf x 3... why not?! 

We might be tough, but we are also fun! :D

The whole crew - Mike the Swag, IronBeto, Gene The Rock Star, Andrew the Boss, me (Juju), Oriana (Potata), Ola The Superstar and IronBrenda

We rode just over 47 miles with barely any interruptions (besides from replenishing at the top of sugarloaf) and it was all feasible thanks to our awesome motorcycle swag Mike. Mike is one of my teammate Gene’s friend. Pretty cool guy considering he rides a speed bike and works for Nasa!! Mike was extremely nice to ride his motorcycle for three hours to guide us through the hills. I have to say that he looked like he was having so much fun speeding by us trying to keep all of us together. At each turn, I looked at him and he was smiling. Thinking back, I am not sure he was smiling because he was so happy to ride his bike, just to be nice, or laughing at us seeing how much pain we were in! No matter the reason, I took it as encouraging! I have to say though that I often wanted to steal his speed bike! He was having way too much fun! Thanks Mike for being our guide. We all felt like pros having our own swag! J

Life is good! Such a great weekend with great friends doing what we love!
I am not sure if my abs are sore today because of the tough bike ride or the many laughter but it is a great feeling!!

Photos courtesy of IronBeto - Follow his experience on

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No Opportunity Wasted!

I am very happy to share that I am now part of NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) bars team!

Now bars are gluten-free and dairy free and most importantly all natural and yummy! They contains manuka honey from New Zealand - must be a coincidence! ;) 

If you want to know more check out their website on:

Check out my profile:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Key Biscayne Trilogy #2

In preparation for the World Championship, the plan was to race Trilogy #2 just to put the hard work to the test and see exactly where I stood. Unfortunately, about 2 weeks prior to the race, I started having hip pain following an easy 4 mile run. I did some research online to determine what could be the cause as well as talked to some of my med friends. My IT bands might be to blame most likely caused by the continuous strain of hard  training every morning and rushing to get to work on time while ignoring the importance of stretching and taking care of my body. I knew I needed to take better care of my body. I immediately reduced the amount of running I was doing and focused on cycling and swimming. However, it did not last long. My type A personality and competitive spirit took over my desire to listen to my body. The pre-race brouhaha and the thought of being forbidden to compete caused me to become extremely eager to race. In addition, my coach lent me his racing wheels. In my mind it is “a little’s dream” to use racing wheels. They are used by fast athletes. You must deserve to use such expensive equipment. I found myself puzzled: should I or Shouldn’t I race?  My friends and teammates shared their opinion:  “Juju, concentrate on the goal”, “start and if it hurts stop” to “just do it, you will regret if you don’t”. And so I decided to listen to that last one. I knew I should not be racing while hurting but registered two days prior to the race anyways.
Unfortunately, I found myself not able to run the day prior to the race. My hip was aching. After picking up my race packet, I spent the remaining of the day stretching, taking Elson salt baths, and stretching some more. At that point I regretted spending $100 on a race that had no meaning.
On morning race, everything went smoothly. I felt rested after a full night sleep and woke up no more than 2  ½ hours prior to race start. Some might think it is extremely risky. However, I arrived with enough time to get ready and not too much to get nervous.
Oriana and I have been training and pushing each other extremely hard over the past few months (probably another cause of my hip pain). Unfortunately, the swim is what keeps us apart from finishing at the same time. I have been pushing her to swim hard. Seeing her behind me at the swim start, I advised her to keep swimming on my feet so she could use some of my streamline and draft to her advantage. Immediately after the swim start, I felt someone touching my feet. I thought to myself “wow Ori is doing so good”. However, the persistent hit on my feet was quite annoying and did not seem to be like her. I became irritated and sprinted to break away from the pack. Little did I know that the girl “on my feet” was actually a competitor that will be representing Team Mexico in October at Worlds. I finished 2nd in the swim with no idea one girl was ahead of me. To this day, I have no idea who this girl is. Overall, my swim felt consistent but I know I can do better.
The transition to the bike was awful with t¼ mile run in the sand. Not the ideal condition for my hip.
I have been focusing on the bike lately and had high expectations. However, with regret, I did not even average 20 mph. The race was in fact rainy and windy which made the bridge difficult but I thought my training would have prepared me for such condition.  However, one factor I did not anticipate is the cross wind affecting my ability to handle the bike with the racing wheels. I did not feel as confident as I wished to. I then learned that racing wheels should probably not be used with a cross wind. As much as I could have regretted to spend the money  on this “little” race, it actually made me a more experienced cyclist.
After the bike, I knew I was close to be in the lead position. I knew I had had a strong swim and did not let anyone pass me on the bike but rather passed many. All that was left was the run, which I knew was going to be difficult. The run was exceptionally hot and humid. My hip was aching but the adrenaline was helping. I tried to run with a consistent stride while concentrating on my posture. I encouraged a few teammates on the way, told a few walkers to run and walk after the race. To my surprise, no women were to be found around. By mile 2, my shoe lace became undone and so I thought to myself “here’s another lesson to learn from this race!”  I was glad to see the finish line although I was not able to sprint as I usually do. I gave it my all and it is what matters.
Key Biscayne Trilogy actually was not just a “little” race for me and I would have definitely regretted not doing it. Not only did I learn valuable lessons, I had the opportunity to meet ( and beat :} ) a member of Team Mexico that will compete with me at Worlds, I also finished 2nd female overall but most importantly, this race took place on July 22nd and marked exactly the 3 months from the World Championship: A reminder that a lot of hard work is left to be done. I must stay healthy and train hard and SMART and keep my eyes on the goal. At this point, anything is possible!

Congratulations to GIO for getting 3rd place! She will kick butt at national!
Still not sure who #1 is.. All I know she is amazing!

Ola taking 1st place female overall in olympic distance

Super Mom taking 1st place in her first olympic distance! She is such a role model!

And THE MAN! Joey taking 2nd place Male Overall!

Congrats Andew! You will get him next time!!!
Allright Yanko! Winning it again!

Whoohooo Congrats Ori! And here goes Team Mexico. Good job! I will beat you again at worlds! ;)

Good job Aime!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tri 2 One Newsletter

I made it to the Tri2One newsletter! Here's the exert! :)

Tri2One is represented in Team USA

Our very own Julie "Ninja" Lucas will be part of Team USA for the Triathlon World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. Julie was one of Tri2One's first members and is always cheering and pushing her teammates to give their all. She is an example of determination, speed, strength, and leadership. Good luck Juju! We are so proud, and will be cheering for you from this side of the world. You can follow her adventure at

Photography by: AlinaMPhotography

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Escape From Alcatraz Race Report

Better late than never, below is my experience at Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. I apologize in advance for the long report… I hope you can feel the excitement! J  

After a good night of sleep, I was ready to tackle this unbelievable triathlon… My bag and gears were ready from the night before. The only things left to be done were to get dressed, fill up the water bottles, and answer the big question: pump the bike tires to 120?

I had the privilege of having my dad drive me to the race while my friend, Sophy, and my mom got to sleep in a bit longer. My father rarely went to any of my synchronized swimming and gymnastics competitions while growing up. But this time, however, it was different. Not only was he going to support me but he actually decided to drive me to the race himself. For a late morning riser, I was impressed to see him actually awake and on time. Within minutes, he was ready to go. I think he was starting to be worried about what his little girl was about to do… Swim across the San Francisco Bay with extreme cold water, currents and sharks, bike through the hills where even his big SUV has difficulty climbing, and run up hills, through sand and up sand ladders; all among 2000 elite athletes. I could tell that he knew this race was not a small competition his daughter used to do as a child.
Once I arrived to transition, all was according to plan. Good bike position near the bike out and bike in. All I was missing was the Tri 2 One race morning story telling drama and excitement. :)
Transition set up tired but happy and excited smile!!!
Extremely fit athletes were surrounding me. Some seemed to have lost their sense of touch with no garments on, and some were wrapped up as if they were ready to climb Mount Everest. It was chilly but the cold wind did not intimidate me. I was ready. Mentally ready to swim in freezing water.
Beautiful sunrise view of Alcatraz Island

While heading to catch the shuttle, I made a quick glance to my right and saw Leanda Cave, one of the top triathletes in the world. She was just like any of us heading for the bus with her wetsuit and goggles in hand. It made me smile seeing how focused she was. At the same time, she did not let the race affect her and was willing to take a picture with another fellow competitor. I wish I had my camera. Once in the shuttle, a very tall man sat next to me. He was sipping on natural Zico coconut water. This was definitely a conversation starter! Did I mention I love ZICO!! This unknown man seating next to me was quite interesting. He shared his swimming experience and told me he was doing the race as CEO relay challenge and representing his brand as a main sponsor of the race. He was about to complete in his very first open water swim and was not nervous at all. I wanted to find him after the race to know the details of his experience and whether he was ready to become more active in the triathlon world. Unfortunately, I did not find him but I am sure the swim exceeded his “expectations!”
Once I arrived at Pier 3, volunteers were very well organized getting the pre-race swim bags. I applied glide everywhere and left my sandals and sweater in the bag and headed for the boat. With exhilaration, I found and greeted my teammate Courtney. We sat together for a while discussing our preparation and expectations. I had found my Tri 2 One drug! Nerves were starting to settle as we chatted with two other elite triathletes. One of them was a 50 something year old women who had completed 5 Ironman across the globe. She shared some amazing stories and how this race still remained one of the most challenging and thrilling race she has ever done. Before we knew it, the ferry was surrounding the Island of Alcatraz. I headed to my age group start location and was able to admire the prison island and its surrounding. While anticipating the start I met two Team France athletes. I was delighted to meet my home countries top athletes but they were actually not quite friendly. Consequently, I moved on and ended up meeting a 25-29 competitor (Ginger I believe.) She had the biggest smile on her face. She was observing her surrounding and taking everything in…. I took the same initiative and enjoyed the pre-race start. We both advanced to the edge of the start opening, walked on top of the blue map and heard the beeping sound. It was on…My Escape from Alcatraz had officially started! While jumping into the water, I glanced at the Golden Gate Bridge in the far distance and an extreme feeling of nervousness took over my body. I started swimming away from the boat fighting for my spot and trying not to let any swimmer take advantage of me. It was a fight but this fight actually enabled me to ignore the cold water. Half way in the swim I looked up and saw a vast array of swimmers everywhere. I tried to sight for the piece of land I needed to go to but my vision did not enable me. It was just too far away.

As highly suggested, I did a few strokes on my back to observe the breathtaking view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate through the fog. I cannot even describe how breathtaking it was. All of a sudden, a very cold feeling went down my back. I then realized I was swimming freezing water and needed to keep swimming to keep warm. At this point, I did not feel my hands - nor my feet - but my body knew what to do! Once getting closer to the swim finish, I glimpsed at the four yellow buoys marking the swim finish chute. I took three strokes and as I looked up again to breathe I found myself past them. The current was so strong that even as good of a swimmer as I am, I was unable to fight it. I sprinted and gave my all to try to get to shore but I was barely moving. My first real fight against open water.!All could think of was my shuttle neighbor and hoped he was doing ok. 
Spectator view of the first swimmers arriving from the island

Once running out of the water, I could not feel my feet. I knew sharks did not bite them away since I was able to run. I glanced to my left and saw one of my supporters yelling my name. It made me smile and helped me forget the pain I was in however it also made me forget I needed to start taking off my wetsuit! Oops!

Forgetting I have to take off the wetsuit! oops!

A few meters away from the swim exit, volunteers helped athletes take off their wetsuits. I tapped on the back of one of them and requested his assistance. I probably looked like a crazy lady desperate for help. He pulled down my top, through me on the ground and pulled the wetsuit off my feet. The process probably lasted less than a minute but, as much as I had seen it done at other races, I did not expect to be treated so aggressively. It was awesome! His energy conveyed me to suck it up and keep racing as hard as possible!

Thumbs up! All Smiles! - I obviously don't know what's ahead of me!

Through the transition out to the bike, I saw my mom screaming my name, I smiled for the camera and kept going. A few meters away, I heard Sophy shouting my name and inspiring messages. She knew exactly the words I needed to hear! She ran through the crowd on the other side of the fence probably knocking out a few people in her way. It was amazing. She was a crazy lady running for her life. Her liveliness made me feel as if I was in the finish chute going for gold… At last I got to my bike. I put on my helmet and glasses and headed for the mountains. I mounted the bike and started cycling at a very good pace of around 24 mph. I felt strong passing fellow competitors until all of a second I made my first left and there it was the anticipated hill my teammate Craig had previously described while sharing his experience. I got off the saddle and even with all my weight on the peddles, I felt a wind tunnel in front of me… As if I was pulling 10 big men on bicycles. Once I completed that hill, we made a right turn and there it was again an even more aggressive hill. At that point, I regained feeling of my limbs and it was clearly not a pleasant feeling. My muscles were burning. Little did I know I was going to endure this pain for the next hour and six minutes. When climbing one of my first hill, my heart raced with delight. I heard the loud zooooooooms sound. All in the most aero position, professional athletes were flying down the hill I was trying to climb. As a wannabe pro, you can’t imagine the excitement I felt to see them fly by. The up hills I experienced were strenuous but the toughest part of the bike was actually going downhill. Holes and cracks made the road of San Francisco not very thin-tire friendly, hence I made the right choice to not pump my tires that day. It was so steep that my watch displayed a speed 39.8mph. I freaked out. No wonder my biceps and forearms were burning. I felt as if at any moment my body would be thrown above the handle bars. The continuous braking did not slow me down but barely helped me not reach a speed above 40 mph. I am certain, I reached 40+mph at one point but did not want to risk looking away from the ground in front of me…. Nevertheless, the muscle burn was immediately forgotten once I glanced at the panoramic outlook. The view of the Pacific Ocean with a light fog hovering in far horizon was calming and breathtaking.
Part of the bike course was familiar as I ran through the path last December while training for the half marathon and other part I biked through the day before. The best part of the course was this amazing cliff we climbed. Drafting penalty was not a possibility. Most of us were trying not to go backward. Athletes were breathing hard, some off the saddle, some on the saddle with aspirant high cadence and some walking the bike. As I tried my best to climb, I complimented a few women who were also struggling to push hard to keep their position. I passed a few men who vice versa encouraged me to keep this “good pace” (10mph). It was mind-blowing to see so many fit athletes together fighting the massive hills. Living in Miami, nothing could have prepared me for this bike course. The many stair climbing and bridge repeats most likely helped a bit but feels ridiculous compared to the atrocious elevations. After the last downhill, I felt extremely strong going 26mph on flat. I knew the race was almost over. The adrenaline rushed as I saw the amount of spectators cheering. I heard my friends and family in the background shouting and encouraging me. I was focused to finish strong and in style.
(I am behind the man... very focused!)

The run out transition was one of my favorite moment of the race – seeing this amazing triathlete coming in the opposite direction right next to me. Andy Potts was flying through the finish chute. The crowd was going wild. The speaker shouted “ ... and for the 5th consecutive winner, Andyyyyyyy Pooooootts!!!” No need to describe the emotions that went through my body. It was extremely moving and exciting.

After this transition rush settled in, I started the run with fatigued legs. I tried my best to keep an 8:15 pace but my legs had a hard time adjusting. I climbed my first hills turn after turn. When it came to the 3 flights of stairs, my legs could not handle the pain. My achilles tendons were burning so much that they felt as if they were ready to snap. I walked the stairs but do not regret it. I took the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the most astonishing view once again. I took a moment to take it in before pulling together the remaining strength and courage in me. I knew the race I had been talking about in the last few months was about to end. I ran up some more hills, down the trail path and there it was: the beach run. It was amusing seeing the runners follow the path of the water in a snake like motion. The excitement of the big waves crashing onshore made me forget my painful legs. It was now time for the sand ladder. Just like the other athletes by me, I am proud to say I walked the ladder but also proud to say I passed a few man! :) After the ladder, I knew I had to give it my all. Going down the stairs a man shouted “1-1-7 , keep it strong, I am 17 years older than you, don’t let me catch you”. I proudly replied “bring it!” Little did I know this man started running a 6:05 pace. I tried to keep up but only after less than sixty seconds, I had to slow down the pace. I concluded the race feeling tired but strong and focused, with an average pace of 7:15 for the last 2.5 miles.

The finish line met my expectations. It was exhilarating reaching the finish line was worth every second of pain endured!

Completing Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was definitely on my bucket list but I am greedy and hope to get the opportunity to do it again. Having gone through it, I have an intense desire to raise the bar on this extreme challenge and finish in the top 10%!

Thank you all for motivating, pushing and supporting me! What a wonderful experience! :) 

All Smiles and appreciating the reward: Beer Garden!
Even Better Reward #2: Smitten yummy ice cream! :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Power of positive influence

Numerous loud thunder struck a few minutes prior to my 5:55am alarm rang this morning. My not awake mind jumped to conclude that our long run workout was canceled. Once 6:00am came around, I regained consciousness and texted Coach just to make sure the workout was in fact not going to take place. With surprise, his text said “yes, we are running!”. I also contacted Oriana whom I had promised I would go to training and again to my surprise her reply state “I’m already on my way…” So I gathered my will power and told her I would get out of Bed and get my behind over to the meeting point. Meanwhile , Gene texted “uummm lighting outside” followed by “It’s nasty out there” but afterm commiting I was not going to let HIM slack… I told him there is no excuses we are going to do this! His later reply stated that he was on his way! :)

After a friendly 11.7 easy run, I am very thankful Oriana motivated me to get up and get going and that I consequently returned the favor and got Gene out there. That's a great reason to smile! :)
Aaaaaah the power of positive influence!!!
Moral of today’s blog post:

I rewarded my body and mind with a heart friendly breakfast loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidant: Greek yogurt, blueberries, and wheat and barley cereal.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Escape From Alcatraz: Pre-Race Report

First, I must say Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was one of the most amazing and most painful experience of my life!

Since I completed St. Anthony’s triathlon on April 29th, my eyes have been on successfully escaping from Alcatraz. Over the past two months, I have been training rigorously to get myself ready to climb the Hills of San Francisco doing bridge repeats and stair climbing. I live on the 32nd floor and it seems that the elevator has been out of service ever since! Throughout my training, I worked my way from climbing the building (44 floors) in 8 minutes to climbing in 6 minutes. Great progress but was it enough?

Here’s my elevator speech taken 3 days prior to the race:

My pre race training went well although the ocean was terribly cold. My face was burning and felt as if it was going to pop out of my swim cap. My hands and feet? Felt like a shark ate them... I wasn't sure they were still attached to my body....
Thank you Alina and Gave for lending me your Go Pro… I did put it to use. Check this out:

The day went well. The expo was exciting! The check in was fast and pain free. I did drive the bike course and it was terrifying... Good thing I don't get sea sick because it was up and down and down and up.... and turn and up and turn and up some more and down and turn... All that just does not fit in one picture!
 I felt ready and happy to have my friends and family with me although I did miss the Tri 2 One pre race gossip! J

I promise to publish the actual race report shortly!!! J

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Like a kid in a playground

I just completed a 3.5 hour bike ride and feel amazing! I felt like a little kid in a playground playing with my bicycle!

Tri 2 One athletes gathered together at 6am in order to beat the Miami heat! The workout was ½ hour easy, ½ hour hard and so on… when I say hard, I mean we went hard. I pushed my teammate Cynthia to exhaustion… She is probably dead asleep right now! ;)  Our speed averaged 20.6 mph against the wind and 24 mph with the wind and up to 25. So much fun!  My favorite part: the sound of those wheels  Voom Voom Voom Voom.. I am sure triathletes and cyclists reading this are thinking “ooh yeaaaa, love that sound”!
Climbing the Miami Mountain! Almost there, you can do it girl!
I once in a while looked back to make sure Cynthia was still there and to my gratification, there she was, right on my back wheel. Very proud of her! During the easy ½ hour, she was very concerned about her heart rate making sure it was down to the acceptable zone Coach Marcello recommended. But during the 3 x ½ hour going hard, she had no time to look at her watch! There was no time for whining!

I am very pleased with today’s workout! My first workout back on the team's regular traning schedule since Alcatraz. It was fun, tough and most importantly, seeing Cynthia’s face and hearing her comments to coach and other teammates was rewarding! I love to push athletes to their limits and Cynthia was no disappointment! I am very proud of her! Bring it girl, show the world what you are made out of!
Now time for a healthy breakfast! Eggs, onions, lots of spinach with a little pepper! YUUMMM!!!

 Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's Beautiful?

I know all of you can't wait to read my race report! ;)

But tonight, I would to share with you a new way of challenging myself with hope of also challenging you!

I am extremely proud of what Under Armour has produced: Numerous women challenging themselves and motivating other women to believe in themselves and show the world they are beautiful!

Check it out!

Look for Julie L. :)