December 17, 2011

(Off) Season's Greetings!

With the 2011 triathlon season behind us, Jason and I have entered a short period of time we like to call the "off-season." This is a time to physically and mentally restore our bodies and minds in anticipation of an exciting and busy 2012 season. It's a time to go on "casual" rides, swim as long or as short as we wish, explore new running routes and leave the Garmin watches at home. It's also a time to take a step back and enjoy the simple pleasures of swim/bike/run....

...a chilly morning run around Town Lake decorated with frost and the smell of burning wood in fireplaces...

...steam coming off the water at Barton Springs as you swim amongst fish, turtles and the humorous deep-water-diving-duck (whom I've affectionately name Stu)....

...solo rides down Riverhills road with only deer and peacocks to keep you company... rides with good friends, lots of laughs, and hills, Hills, HILLS!

...and, of course, more quality time with my husband-to-be...

Our 2012 triathlon season promises to be exciting and jam-packed, with some adjustments in our respective training plans. I've teamed up with professional triathlete and coach, Hillary Biscay, to focus on Iron Distance racing, while Jason has the 70.3 World Championships to prepare for while focusing on his strongest distance, half-ironmans. Casual base training has begun for me and I'm fired up! Jason remains in chill-mode for a few weeks yet, but even at that, he still out-sprints me on the bike. Arrggh!

Here's to hoping your holiday season is filled with laughter, the outdoors, good friends and a Christmas-themed Clif Bar (or two)!

December 11, 2011

Holiday Gift List/Lust

With the holiday season upon us, Jennifer and I thought it would be appropriate to compile a list of our top 11 (because we just couldn't whittle our list down to 10) favorite triathlon-friendly gifts. These are all great products and, truthfully, a list of items we would love to have ourselves. So, if you're in the giving mood, we will GLADLY accept any of the items below... ;)

1. NormaTec MVP Pro

These dynamic compression boots are a great recovery tool for serious endurance athletes. The boots provide pulsating dynamic compressions to legs or arms to reduce swelling, muscle fatigue and stiffness, which allows for a more rapid recovery. The crew at Tribomb have a great in-depth review up. Check it out

Price: $5,200

2. Garmin 910 XT

An upgrade to the Forerunner 310XT and offers numerous enhancements. The GPS-enabled 910XT provides detailed swim metrics (heck yes) and tracks distance, pace, elevation (via barometric altimeter) and heart rate for running and cycling. Designed for open water and pool swimming, it records distance, efficiency, stroke type, stroke count and pool lengths. The 910XT is water resistant to 50 meters and has up to 20 hours of battery life, making it ideal for multisport athletes, distance runners and water sport enthusiasts.
Once the workout is done, data is sent wirelessly to the user’s computer for detailed analysis, mapping and data sharing at Garmin Connect.

Price: $449 with the premium HR strap and $399 without

3. Garmin Vector Pedals

Another pre-order item for Christmas, the new meter will be compatible with Garmin’s Edge 500 and Edge 800 GPS computers. Availability is set for March 2012 and price will be $1,500, placing it squarely in the middle of power meters currently available.
The Vector will be easily swappable between bikes, as quickly as swapping any other pedal. A four-sided array of strain gauges sits inside each pedal spindle, with data sent via the ANT+ protocol from the external transmitter to a head unit on the handlebars. The external transmitter is clamped in place by the pedal itself, in between the axle and the crank arm. The pedal itself is a Look KéO-compatible platform built by Exustar for Garmin.

The transmitter sits perpendicular to the crank arm, meaning that during a pedal strike or crash it is protected by the shoe, pedal body, and crank arm itself.
By reading power out of each pedal, left and right side power output can be analyzed independently, in addition to viewing total power output.

4. PB Gu

Enough said.

Price: $1.30 per packet

5. TYR Hurricane Freak of Nature Wetsuit

Yes, the $1200 wetsuit....Worth the money? Who knows. A wetsuit is the biggest time-saving piece of equipment in triathlon and based on TYR’s reputation in the swim game, it's got to be ridiculously fast. At least that’s what this guy probably thought…

Price: $1,200

6. Endurance Sports Travel

Jennifer and I traveled to Ironman Cozumel with Ken’s (Ironman Legend Ken Glah) company and couldn’t have been more impressed with the service, knowledge and overall quality of our trip. When you travel with EST you not only get to experience the culture of the area you are visiting but also get to interact with EST clients from all over the world.

Price: Variable depending on location of Ironman or 70.3 race

7. The Sufferfest Training Videos

Want to give it to yourself so hard you fall off your bike while the rest of the world is still in bed cuddling up to their blanket? I thought so. If you haven’t had a chance to try any of the Sufferfest videos I highly recommend you do. If you’ve only got about an hour to get an effective workout in, these videos are hard to beat. And if you really want to suffer, do a couple back to back. My go-to video is Fight Club. Try it! The training videos are all available online at At roughly $10 per video, they're worth every penny!

Price: $10 per video

8. ZIpp 303 Carbon Clincher Firecrest Wheels

The ultimate training wheel. At 45mm deep (perfect for all conditions IMO) 28.5 mm wide the new FCCC wheel are said to be 8% faster than their predecessor and with the convenience of being a clincher, they’re hard to beat. At $2699 you better be ready to ride the hell out of them!

Price: $2,699

9. K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light

A great race only/speed work performance stability shoe with a very comfy upper, the KBL looks great and performs well in sprint to iron distance. New colors for 2012, too!

Price: $129

10. Trigger Point Grid 2.0
You're probably familiar with the TP Grid. But they’ve made it even better by making it longer. The Grid 2.0 is 26" long and 5" in diameter. Take traditional foam rolling to the next level. If you’re still using foam, prepare to have your mind blown.

Price: $65

11. Woodway Desmo H Treadmill

WIth their world HQ located in my hometown, Woodway is the gold standard when it comes to treadmills/treaddys. For all your indoor runs and speed work, the Desmo H fits the bill perfectly.

Price: $9,845

So there you have it. Now get shopping and make a tri-geek's Christmas one to remember!

December 2, 2011

Jason's IM Cozumel Race Report

Our raceday began at 4:00 AM in order to head down to the lobby to grab some coffee. With caffeine in my system, I was able to consume my usual prerace breakfast. At 5:15 AM we took a shuttle to Chankanaab beach, aka Transition 1. Upon our arrival I found my bike, topped off my tires and made sure my flat kit and bottles were in place. After one last trip to the restroom it was time to put on my swimskin and get ready to make the walk down the pier. After saying goodluck and “see you in a few hours” to Jennifer I weaved my way down the pier and jumped into the crystal clear water.

Swim- 58:29 (1:32/100m)
Goal- 58-60 min
Swim Start:

The swim venue for this race is like swimming in a fish tank. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I positioned myself in the water so that I could make a straight shot to the first buoy. This seemed to be a popular idea as I was shoulder to shoulder with other athletes as the one minute countdown began. And then…SIREN!! The first 400 meters was a controlled sprint to spread out and find some nice feet to sit on. By about the 800 meter mark (first buoy) I was in a good groove but was swimming solo as the feet I sat on began to lead me in the wrong direction. My open water sighting is the best it has ever been, so I decided to break off the group and find another swimmer. The only problem was that I had a hard time finding another group that swam a straight line from buoy to buoy. So it was time to be a big boy and swim alone. The rest of the swim was very comfortable but a bit annoying as my feet were being slapped every other stroke by some blokes who never wanted to take a pull up front. The same thing happened to me at Longhorn 70.3 in October. It was frustrating, but that’s just a part of the sport. No sense in surging ahead and wasting an effort. The rest of the swim was uneventful other than a few jelly stings on my arms. That was a new sensation… I hit the swim exit steps in 58:29 and was right on my target pace.

Transition 1- 3:33

Bike- 5:31:12 (20.7 mph)
Goal- 5:15 (21 mph)
I got on the bike energized from a solid swim and motivated from the electric crowd support. As I rolled out of transition and made a right-hand turn onto the course locals were blasting horns and screaming louder than I’ve ever heard in a race before. About five miles into the three-loop bike course I rode over a pothole and didn’t think anything of it. A few minutes later, as I was looking at my shadow, I noticed my draft box (storage unit on the back of my bike) was flipped open. This was suboptimal as my flat kit was perfectly packed inside and if it opened that meant that I may have lost something. I had to pull over to check that I still had everything. The verdict: Craptastic. I lost my CO2 and tire lever, but I still had two tubes and an inflator. I closed the draft box and hopped back on. I didn’t want to waste any time and was probably only off my bike for ten seconds. If I flatted, I’d just change the tube and wait for race support. The first lap of the bike went by rather smoothly. My watts and heart rate were steady and right on target. Miles were clipping by and the wind gradually picked up as we made our way down the coast. At the end of each lap you ride through downtown and it seems as though the entire island was out in full force cheering, banging drums and blowing whistles. I hit the timing averaging 205 watts and 21mph—spot on. The first half of lap two went by rather smoothly until I came across my first peloton of triathletes. I understand that congestion can occur on a flat three-loop course, but this was blatant drafting. I’m talking three riders across and thirty deep. Absolute chickens_it! As I rode by, I screamed at the pack of dudes and shook my head. I can’t even describe how angry I was, but I definitely made my point. Or so I thought… About twenty miles down the road, as we entered the windiest portion of the ride along the water, I was swallowed up by the same peloton. You’ve got to be kidding me! I didn’t want to waste any more energy screaming so I just let them pass. I put my head down and just worked. The stretch into town at the end of each lap was a great opportunity to stand up and stretch. With a flat course it’s easy to cramp up when you never get the chance to stand. I came through lap two at 21.3 mph and average 210 watts for the loop. The start of lap three is where I began to feel a bit flat. Over the course of an Ironman, you’re going to experience highs and lows. They will pass, but the lows are low and the highs are high. Unfortunately, I was entering an extremely low spot. I needed calories fast and I chugged a Gatorade and sucked down two caffeinated gels. After about twenty five minutes of suffering I finally came back to life. But it took its toll and I saw my watts dip well under my target pace. Just as I was getting back into a groove I saw this woman riding with one leg. Yeah, one leg and no prosthetic… Harden up Jason. I recovered from my low spot but the wind was definitely getting crazy on the last portion down the coast and I was ready to get off my bike and run. I pushed it to end of the ride to make up some time, but I didn’t want to hurt my run so I was cautious. I entered Transition 2 over fifteen minutes slower than I planned on riding. I was angry with myself as I entered the changing tent but knew that if I put together a strong run. I could still break ten hours.

Thanks to Nick Morales for the photo

Transition 2- 2:22

I exited the changing tent and fired up the Garmin (THANKS COURTNEY). My legs felt great and I was determined to run smart and strong. My first two miles were under seven minute miles but it felt easy. I forced myself to slow to my planned 7:30 pace and got into a groove. I grabbed water and ice at every aid station to stay cool and keep my water levels topped off. My gut was full of Clif bars from the ride and I really wasn’t hungry. As I made my way to the first turnaround on the back end of the three loop course, dark clouds began to fill the sky. I settled into a groove with two other runners. I ran with them for the next six miles and we clipped off 7:30 mile after 7:30 mile. Jennifer was heading out on her run as I was heading into town to finish my first loop. I was so happy to see her on the run and looking so strong. Sidenote: I can’t tell you how stressful it is to worry about someone you love when you’re racing. I wasn’t worried about her ability to compete or finish, it’s just that there’s so many things than can happen during an Ironman, and when I saw her I knew she had made it through the washing machine, the windy ride and now she was in her element: the run. I knew she was going to be great. As I started the second loop our group of three runners faded to two and then to just me. My legs felt strong and I continued to shove ice down my shorts and suck on pretzels at each aid station. At about mile 14 I started to feel something brewing in my gut. A trip to the porto was in my very near future and I jumped into one at about mile 15. No problem, I thought. Now you’re even lighter! I got back into a groove and then I felt another urge to stop and use the porto. That’s weird. Maybe it’s just gas. Nope, crap. Hang on Jason. I trained too damn hard to let this slow me down. Sharpen up and run through it! But I couldn’t. Each time I ran at my race pace the stomach issues were ugly. I couldn’t keep any Pepsi down but I knew I had enough calories in me to make it. At this point the skies opened up and the streets began to flood. It was surreal. I was at mile 17 and I saw Jennifer. I was walking and I was in a pretty low spot. She looked so good and strong and I knew I had to pull it together. At this point I zeroed out my watch that had my overall time running. I didn’t want to know how far off pace I had fallen. After four or five more porto visits and a lot of shuffling I was at mile 20. It was at this moment that my stomach allowed me to engage in something that resembled running. By this point in the race my legs were fatigued but I had some strength left. I had 10k to go and I managed to hold onto 8 minute miles or so. Coming into town was pretty amazing. The drums were pounding and horns were blasting. Hundreds of spectators lined the streets the entire last mile. I felt like a kid splashing through puddles and high-fiving the locals. I had no idea what my overall time was going to be. It was getting dark and I felt like I had been running for five hours. But I didn’t let it get to me. I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. I had the whole finishing carpet to myself and I ran down the last stretch. I looked up at the clock at saw 10:33:xx and was actually surprised. I thought for sure I’d be somewhere over 11 hours after that pathetic run. I crossed the finish line and headed to the athlete garden for some calories.

Run- 3:56:54

Swim: Solid. A bit more pool time and strength and I know I can get faster and swim with a faster group. Also, I’ve never felt more comfortable in open water. I love Barton Springs where Jennifer and I do all of our swim training.

Bike: Pacing was spot on for laps 1 and 2. Lap 3 had a low spot that cost me my goal split. Also, I ate too many Clif bars on the bike. When I’m working as hard as I was, my body can’t digest all that fiber and it bit me in the ass (literally) on the run.

Run: Legs felt great the whole way. My stomach issues really affected me from mile 15-20 due to overconsumption of Clif bars on the bike. I must develop a new nutrition strategy for the Ironman distance bike.(i.e liquid calories.)

Special thanks to Endurance Sports Travel for making our trip completely stress-free and taking care of all the details. We won't do another international race without their help. Brazil 2013? Yes please.

Time for a week of relaxation and then get back into training routine on Monday

November 29, 2011

Jennifer's Ironman Cozumel Race Report

(Editor’s Note: This report was written the day after the race, but with limited Internet access in Mexico, was not posted until we were back in the States. Ok, carry on.)

Wow! Where to start? It’s the day after the race and I feel like yesterday’s race was all a dream! To sum it up in one phrase, I would say that my first Ironman made me realize that I was “born for this distance.” The longer the distance and the longer I’m required to deal with pain, the better I perform. I’ve found my niche within  the swim/bike/run Ironman racing circuit. I’ve got some big plans and dreams ahead of me…but for now, I’ll give you the inside view of my Ironman Cozumel race experience.

Jason and I arrived in Cozumel the Thursday before the race and were instantly gratified with having arranged our travel experience through an awesome company, Endurance Sports Travel. We didn’t have to worry about transportation, food, bike maintenance, traveling with CO2 cartridges or general race logistics. It was all taken care of for us. We stayed at a beautiful resort, Sabor, just three miles from the swim start at Chankanaab Park. The scenery was amazing, and the oceanside view from our room helped to keep us calm in the days leading up to the race.

The couple of days before the race were spent doing the usual triathlon race prep, including swim practice at Chankanaab Park….

…a few short runs to acclimate us to the heat (generally around 80-90 degrees) and humidity (umm, 100%)…

…and preparing our bikes for race day.

The night before the race, I spent a good amount of alone time out on our hotel porch using some great sports psychology techniques (courtesy of my brother!) to get my mind in the right spot to “conquer” on race day. After a bout of food poisoning the night before Longhorn 70.3 kept me from racing at the level of fitness I knew I was at, I had a fire lit inside me in the month leading up to Cozumel to not let anything get in the way of me dominating this 140.6 mile race. When we awoke early Sunday morning my mindset was “I. AM. READY.”

This is truly a special race considering the location, the crowd support, and of course the Kona-like conditions. The swim start was at Chankanaab Park, where the spectators were treated to a dolphin show thirty minutes before the race (none of which I got to see due to the hustle and bustle that is characteristic of race morning). By the time 6:50 a.m. rolled around, we were walking out to the docks and jumping in the 100% visibility water to start our Ironman journey!

The swim course formed one big counter clockwise oval in the ocean, of which half was with the current and half was against the current. My goal time for the swim was 1:15. As was expected, the swim start (and for about the first 400 meters) was one big washing machine of arms, legs, feet, hands, punches, kicks in the gut, and clawing. It’s just part of the mass swim start experience so I dealt with it. Once I found my groove and a good pack of similarly paced swimmers I settled into a nice steady swim pace. At the first turn around I veered slightly off course due to the fact that the buoys were orange and so were the men’s swim caps (uh, note to the race director…choose a different color for the swim caps!). A race official blew his whistle at me as I swam back on course. His whistling was implying that I had skipped the first buoy and cut the course. I explained to him in Spanish that I had indeed rounded the buoy and was trying to get back on course. Too much energy was wasted in this exchange with the race official, but it was better than having to go back and swim around the buoy a second time. Once he was appeased, he let me continue on. The rest of the swim was uneventful except for a few jellyfish stings (normal in these waters) and a few more episodes of fighting to get around the buoys. Once we approached the dock, I popped my head out of the water and took a quick glance at my Garmin…1:14. Nice! I was right on goal. Onward!

Swim – 2.4 miles (3.8K)
Time- 1:14

Transition 1:
There was a 400 meter run from the dock to T1. I quickly pulled off my TYR Torque Pro (as this was not a wetsuit-legal swim) and put on my appropriate cycling accessories. I had chosen to wear the newest SOAS kit for this race and did NOT disappoint! But I’ll save this “tri-kit report” for another post!


This was definitely where I exceeded my expectations for this race. My goal for the bike was 6:15 or a little under. The course is three loops around the island, with the middle third of each loop along the coast. It was gorgeous, but windy, and definitely the toughest part of the course. Fortunately for Jason and I, the course was pancake flat. After countless long training rides of 5,000 to 6,000 feet of elevation gain, I quickly realized during the race that my bike fitness was much better than I realized! This was the hottest part of the race. The beautiful, but strong, Mexican sun was beating down on us. I stayed consistent with my race nutrition and was able to get in the hydration, calories, and electrolytes that would eventually set me up for a solid run. Yet, I couldn’t help but think ahead to the run and worry about heat exhaustion. My feet were beginning to swell in my cycling shoes and I felt a headache coming on, which for me were both signs that the heat was getting to me. But I pressed on and didn’t let my foot off the pedal the whole ride. One significant memory from the bike came from my third loop. The winds had picked up and my legs were fatigued from the effort. It was a low point for me mentally, and I was fighting the urge to have a pity party. As I approached the windiest part of the course, I came upon an athlete who was riding her bike with one leg. Yes. One leg. Her left leg had been amputated at the hip, which meant she riding without a prosthetic. The determination in her face was inspiring. So much so, that I declined the invite to the “pity party” and busted through that low point to finish the bike portion on a strong note. I must also mention the crowd support for this race is AWESOME! The whole town comes out to cheer the athletes on, and I felt like I was riding in the Tour de France as I approached the downtown center to enter transition 2. The best part was glancing at my Garmin as I dismounted and seeing a 5:55 bike split for the 112 miles, way exceeding my expectations!

Bike- 112 miles (180 K)
Time- 5:55
19 mph

View of the bike course

Transition 2:
A quick three minute change into my K Swiss Kwicky Blade Light running shoes and a sip of water and I was off unto the run course!

The run is a three-loop course around the downtown market place with amazing crowd support, beating drums, and the smell of delicious Mexican food in the air (uh, pure torture by the third loop!). My goal for the run was 3:50, and getting off the bike feeling physically and nutritionally the way I felt, I knew it was definitely achievable. Just as I was halfway through my first mile, the heavens opened up and it began to POUR! It was a welcome respite from the heat, but what it did create were flooded streets at some points in the run. There was one particular section of about twenty meters where we were knee deep in water! This slowed me down a bit considering we passed this section six times throughout the course of the race, but it’s an Ironman, right? Deal with it.  My nutrition went so well on the bike that I had to rely very little on the fueling support provided on the run course. I just sipped away at my EFS Liquid Shot and kept pushing. Kept pushing. Kept pushing.  It was hard. My body said “no more!” But my mind said, “yes….MORE. Remember all those times in training when your body said no, and you said ‘shut up’!” My glutes and hamstrings were cramping, but I refused to walk. NO WALKING. That’s my rule. And I didn’t. I didn’t’ stop the whole 26.2 miles. This is how powerful the mind is. There is so much untapped potential inherent in the human mind. As an athlete I’m discovering new mental strengths every time I race. It’s awesome! Once I approached mile 24 I knew that I had the 3:50 marathon in the bag. But a last glance at my Garmin revealed just how much faster my finishing time would be than what I had anticipated. I teared up… and then kicked it into full gear towards the finish.

 I. Couldn’t. Believe. It.

I was going to finish my first Ironman having almost broken 11 hours! As I approached the finish I realized I had the whole finishing chute to myself. For fifteen seconds of pure elation I got to run down the blue carpet, high fiving the crowds who, at this point, were going crazy and cross the finish line hearing the best six words of this whole trip…

Jennifer Marquez, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Run- 26.2 miles (42.2K)
8:42 min/mile

Overall Time: 11:09
9th in age group 25-29
330th overall

With Jason after the race
 Hard-earned hardware
 Along with the medals, the athletes received these hand-made seashell necklaces.

Now it’s time for some relaxation in paradise! Jason and I are now in our off-season for a bit before we gear back up for our 2012 triathlon season. And I do have big plans, exciting goals, and more adventures to share with you as we enter the new year! But until then, I plan on taking it easy, getting back into yoga and strength training, putting on a few healthy pounds, and enjoying the holiday season with family and friends. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Stayed tuned in the next few days for Jason's race report...

November 22, 2011

On Our Way...

Welcome to our blog!

Jason and I have wanted to start a blog detailing our adventures as a young engaged couple living and swim/bike/running in Austin, Texas. So what better time to start one than the week before we leave to Mexico for Ironman Cozumel? (Insert sarcasm here) Our life is crazier than it has ever been, which is why I find it the most opportune time to start a blog....because people like to read about craziness...drama....adventure! Both Jason and I will be entertaining you with details of our adventures related to life, love and triathlon here in Austin and around the world!

And so we are "On 'our' way...."

To Cozumel, that is.

Jason and I have spent countless hours swimming, biking, and running to train for this race. We've dealt with sweltering heat and humidity.

We've dealt with rain, wind and the consequent bike crashes that result because of these conditions.
We've dealt with pain. 
We've felt the rush of endorphins that comes with completing those epic workouts that seem ridiculous on paper.

We've eaten our way through every grocery store in Austin.

(That's quite a few post-training protein shakes!)

                                                             We've raced to prepare.

Even George, our one year old weimaraner, is tuckered out from all of our training.

Race day continues to forecast hot, humid and windy weather. We are racing on an island after all!
These are the conditions we have trained for and have been fortunate to have 80 degree weather and humidity these past few weeks in Austin to keep us acclimated. However, it's an Ironman. There are so many "uncontrollables"on race day but....

We. are. ready.

And so it is with much excitement that Jason and I leave the States tomorrow wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving! When we return we promise to have a full and detailed race report for your reading pleasure. Onward!