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Ride with Neda – I’M HOOKED!!

edible-1024x768Aside from the fact that Julie has this awesome athletic resume, she has impressed me and so many others with her knowledge and sincere caring for our health, efficiency, and excitement. Anytime someone says “be safe” I roll my eyes… ya ya, nobody wants to get hurt but I don’t necessarily want to be “safe” either. The word itself comes from fear and fear can really hold you back from doing all that you love and are meant to do. Julie likes to use the words “train smart”. She has been so helpful in teaching me about quality, not quantity. I used to get into hamster mode – I could run and run for hours on end without really getting anywhere. I think I was running (or shuffling) at about 15-17 minutes per mile. I didn’t even care because it was my only “me” time. I liked taking my sweet “me” time and enjoying the sights. What’s the rush, right?!

Well… in cycling I am learning the RUSH is what it’s all about – It feels so freaking good to go fast! How cool would it be to fly through the Edible Pedal 100?! Well, Julie was teaching me a lot of quality training that actually allowed me to woosh right through the entire century ride. Leading up to the EP100, I was doing sprint intervals on the bike and single-leg drills. She also had me going up hills. I would ride up Manzanita (in SW Reno) for 8-10 minutes, then go downhill and do it again up to 6-8 times. That kind of training was fun and made me feel so confident about getting up Kingsbury Grade. I love that training with Julie never gets boring. I was constantly teaching my muscles new techniques. I was very quad heavy when I pedaled, meaning my quads were pushing instead of using my entire leg to pull and push with each stroke. So Julie taught me some off-the-bike moves that helped strengthen my hamstrings, glutes, and balance. Staying aligned helps with efficiency but so does distributing your weight and strength equally. So total body alignment and strength is crucial to what you do on the bike. I was also running during this training. I have the Triple Tahoe to conquer two weeks after the EP100 so Julie had me doing a lot more running sprints too. I could not believe that I was finally able to comfortably run 12 minutes per mile. If I tried I was down to 10 minutes per mile. Ask any of my running buddies… that was unheard of! I was the one who would barely break a sweat and could tell full on stories during running races, but now I just want to work my body to its fullest potential. No need to get comfy (and chatty) in “slow mode.”

So I took Julie’s lessons and my newly trained muscles through my very first century ride. I proudly admit that I felt strong, I mean real strong! I went through the ride with my new friends from Great Basin Bicycles. I was learning to draft and conserving a lot of energy that way. After the Kingsbury climb (which was about halfway through the ride), I then conquered Spooner Summit, then flew down Highway 50 until we got to Carson City. At that moment, I learned why we do this. Something about going fast alongside cars made me fall in love with this sport! I got this sudden spunk of energy. I told my new friends that I feel too good and I just got to give it my all. I completed the last 25 miles on my own through wind blowing right at me, but smiling the whole time! I finished strong, not tired! I had this rush of adrenaline of pure joy that made me realize I am destined to ride. I am so grateful for the opportunity to hop on a bike and to learn from one of the greatest cyclists. I certainly value everything Julie has taught me and I know I’ll use her lessons during every upcoming race… and there will be plenty, Julie – you got me hooked!

 

 

Ride with Neda – CONFESSION: I RAN 16 MILES… I’M SORRY?

bikegoofyI never in a million years, did I think I would feel bad after running 16 miles from Incline Village past Tahoe City and back. I’m not referring to the achy legs, sore back, and drained feeling.  I actually felt like I got in trouble for running so much. Here’s the deal… two weeks after the Edible Pedal 100 I am running the Triple Tahoe. Thats 3 marathons in 3 days. I’ve always wanted to do this at 33 years old because frankly, it has a nice ring to it… 3 in 3 at 33. See – it sounds cool, doesn’t it?!

I know, so silly but if I say I’m going to do it, there’s no backing out now.

What I didn’t quite fully grasp is that Coach Julie really cares about me. I should’ve told her about my ridiculous run far in advance. Instead, I had to confess to being on a 16 mile run because I was supposed to meet her for a long ride near Northstar but I couldn’t make it because my darn run took too long. I thought I had to run 14,16,18 miles in a row every week until September 27-29 when I will be running 26.2, 26.2, and 26.2 around Lake Tahoe.

Coach Julie had a very honest heart to heart with me that day. She said the idea of just racking up the miles is very “old school.” It’s not about going out and running and riding forever, its about training with quality workouts and quality recovery (something I also have a problem with.) She said she would help me train for both of these events. She also said because they are so close together in timing, it will be like training for a duathlon. Something she apparently, also helps people with. She’s told me before that she helps all kinds of athletes at Silver Sage Performance Center but I didn’t want to burden her with my goals. I guess she’d rather be burdened with my goals than deal with my injuries if I train incorrectly.

So the next thing I know, my training consists of a balance of running and riding. Instead of feeling the overwhelmed by having to run for hours on top of the cycling workouts, I am now able to run one or two days then get into a hardcore cycling workout the next. She also has me sprinting – something I definitely always thought of as torture. (As I have learned – even if I don’t ever imagine myself sprinting for a finish line it is a valuable training tool to institute efficient mechanics. But like everything else – its all about doing it well with understanding and purpose as opposed to ticking off the box.)

I needed my boyfriend to actually go with me to the track the first few times because I was scared of it! I know, silliness again. But I’m slow. I mean real slow. I can jog alongside tall people who are walking and be at a nice comfortable pace. I’m happy with that. I never wanted to be fast at running, I only want to be fast at cycling – isn’t that enough of a goal?

But I promised to follow my Coach no matter what. So I sucked it up and wheezed my way through the track workouts. My boyfriend would constantly tell me to “push it,” “c’mon you can go for it,” “go faster.” I obeyed but for the first time in our relationship, I hated him for brief spurts.

And of course after the workout I would thank him, while trying to hold back the puke. I needed the nudge.

And guess what?! The more I sprinted and went outside my comfort zone… the faster I got on longer endurance days. I feel stronger now when I run, my back doesn’t hurt and my legs want to go faster, instead of settling into a comfy trot.

Coach Julie is a genius, a life saver, a truly wise athlete, and any other word I can think of for my HERO!

She has really helped me understand the concept of quality workouts and recovery days. Here’s one week in my world: Monday – complete rest or active recovery with focus on off-aerobic foundational work of hip, trunk and single leg stability as well as range of motion, ie yoga; Tuesday – running with speed and power track workout; Wednesday – quality hill intervals on the bike; Thursday running endurance day, with diligence to stay in the endurance zone; Friday – rest, same as Monday. This is then followed by another two to three day training block.

I just completed a four week build of training – and now she wants me to take the next five days easy – complete and active recovery, my mental and physical hall pass from structure to regroup to keep that love of it. Rest, I have learned, is vital – its where I build and take steps forward in fitness, and helps me pace my training to be a lifestyle as opposed to cram session, bucket list-type training approach. I will rest, I promise. I don’t want to have to apologize again for doing something silly that could hurt my body.

Thanks Coach Julie for showing me the way!

 

Ride With Neda – WHAT THE GU?

Eating properly before, during, and after every long ride has been crucial in providing the energy I need. I make sure I eat a decent meal of ground turkey, spinach, and quinoa about a half hour before I ride. I’ve been a fitness competitor and I still train and diet like one so I’m used to measuring balanced meals, taking them in tupperware and a cooler, and eating in my car, at work, in waiting rooms, at Starbucks, anywhere just to make sure I’m getting the nourishment I need all day.

I have experimented with different energy chews, gu’s, bites, and juices during my workouts on the bike. A little jolt of sugar makes all the difference between a lame workout and one that makes me feel like superwoman. Coach Julie has really created a kick-butt workout plan where every day is different. Some days I am doing sprints every 5 minutes or single leg drills. Other days I am going up and down, up and down, up and down Manzanita, then the next day I will hop on my bike and ride for up to 4 hours to Carson City and back. I’ve seen all parts of Northern Nevada and Tahoe while whizzing by on my bike and its incredible. I pass by quaint homes and large ranches, with the view of the Sierra to gaze upon. I try not to interrupt the horses chewing their grass but my Pandora radio (I listen to Pitbull on my iPhone in speaker mode) seems to always wake them up and they stare at me as I ride by. It’s as if they’re saying, your Pitbull rap music doesn’t belong here. Well don’t worry horsies, I’m going so fast you’ll forget about me in 3-2-1…

Anyway, I’d love to hear from YOU now. How do you eat to ride well – what type of Gu do you Chew?

Here are some of my faves… Watermelon Gu Chomps, baby food in banana-anything flavor (it’s the cleanest form of healthy sugar in a packet, promise!), Bolts from Whole Foods, and Shock Blocks (although they hurt my stomach).

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Ride with Neda: THE CLIMB…

Neda marches on toward the Edible….

IMG_9173Kingsbury Grade is the Goal. I haven’t even seen the thing, but I hear it’s brutal. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t downright frightened of giant mountains these days. I drive up them, passing cyclists who look pretty miserable but I stare with envy. How can I become one of those daring people who climb up Mt. Rose Highway, Geiger Grade, or all the way around all of Lake Tahoe? Well, frankly I just need to do it.

Coach Julie suggested I go up the road that leads to the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe to start. I rode strong down Highway 267 and that itself was enough of a climb for me! Then I made a right turn, following the signs leading up to the Ritz and tried to push it, I really did I promise. But I turned around somewhere between quivering quads and a wobbly bike. OK, so maybe it’ll take a few tries.

I’ve been doing single leg drills which Coach Julie says will help strengthen my legs and get me mentally prepared. She doesn’t want me to freak out, just trust the training… and I’ve been doing a lot of it.

I also had the awesome experience of meeting Michael Phelps at the Celebrity Golf Tournament’s after-party at Harrah’s Tahoe. I told him I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. He simply pointed to his head. I said “Yes, I know I’m crazy but what advice do you have?” He said, “No, it’s all mental. You just have to know you’re going to do it and you will.” Woooooaaah! This, coming from the record-breaking gold medalist himself! I asked him “Well, what about training?” He said, “It’s all mental.” Ok, well there’s no arguing with Phelps. I asked him for a hug and he obliged – his cheek touch my cheek! I have yet to wash my face…

Every time I’d hop on my Trek Bike, I think of Phelps. Doesn’t everybody?!

But his words hit me hard. I realized a lot of cycling is mental. I was feeling inadequate because I didn’t have as much cycling experience as a lot of the people on the road. I had to go through that learning curve of clicking in and out of the bike, I had to learn the right way to wear a helmet, and don’t even get me started on fixing a flat!

But, who cares! As Phelps said, its all mental. If you doubt yourself, you will not make it. If you believe you will, then you will. So with this extra jolt of confidence and a few more weeks of training under my spandex… I decided to go up to the Ritz again.

OK up Highway 267 I go again, then I hang a right towards the big hill. I had no idea how long the road was and I had no idea what curve I needed to pass to make it. So i just kept pedaling. I put the bike into my easy gear and just kept on twirling those feet. Every time I would get exhausted or my legs wanted to stop, I would just tell myself to keep going. I needed to see what was waiting for me at every corner, what was beyond that shadow, what was behind that sign. Until finally, I zoomed underneath some ski lifts and whizzed by the beautiful forest and lo and behold, I saw the prettiest thing ever – The sign to the Ritz-Carlton!! I think they should offer a free room for everyone who rides to the top, don’t you?! I took a pic and sent it to Coach Julie, my best friend, my boyfriend, and posted it on Instagram/Facebook (yes, I have no shame!) If I had Phelps’ digits, I would’ve sent it to him too.

Then I realized what goes up, must come down… Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

LET’S RIDE WITH NEDA!

The following launches a weekly blog post from Neda Iranpour, with Reno’s CBS station KTVN. I have the fortunate pleasure to train and coach Neda over the next several months in preparation for her first Edible Pedal 100 mile century. Enjoy her journey…

ABOUT NEDA:

Before you read my blog, let me explain why I signed up for the Edible Pedal 100. I covered the EP100 scholarships for KTVN Channel 2 News where I report and anchor the morning show every weekday from 430-7am. We always say certain stories leave a lifelong impact and this was one of them. I met a couple Reno High students who were among 8 across Northern Nevada to receive an EP100 scholarship. It was immediately clear that the EP100 organizers created this event not only to provide a healthy outlet for athletes (or wannabes like me!) but they also wanted to give students a chance to showcase their locally grown and raised foods — which will be served during the race. The more people sign up for the 10, 50, or 100 mile race the more money goes right back to student scholarships so… here we go!

I walked into the bike shop with my Lululemons and my beat up Brooks running shoes and said, “I’m riding 100 miles in September, I need a bike.” They looked at me with a sweet smile and seemed to speed off to the bike rack, as if there was not even a second to spare. I tried out a couple bikes at one shop and a couple more at another shop. My baby felt just right. I hopped onto a black and green Trek and even though I know nothing about the inner workings of my bike, I know that it felt good to ride… I mean, real good.

Julie Young, Director of Silver Sage Sports Performance Center and a world champion cyclist has so kindly offered to be my coach! I will learn to ride a bike properly (from hopping on and clicking in to conquering a mountain — oh boy!). The winner of the Tour de L’ Aude (the woman’s version of the Tour de France) will train me for the grueling, yet amazing EP100. A century ride that takes cyclists up Kingsbury Grade is no joke, so they say. But, I’m sure there will be plenty of jokes along the way. I’ll gladly blog about the mishaps, the nerves, the butt soreness, and the rush of the ride!  LET’S DO THIS!

Day 1:

I got my bike — thats a good start, right? Now what?!

Well, Julie Young (have I mentioned she is a world champion cyclist and my new coach?) she wants to meet with me to do some sort of analysis.

I am kind of nervous to meet her, she’s a PRO for crying out loud! I went to her office at Silver Sage Sports Performance  Center in South Reno where I quickly learn that Julie is very detailed in checking every bone, joint and muscle to make sure I am as safe and efficient as possible on the bike. Who knew my flexibility and ankle strength mattered. Don’t you just sit and pedal?

Julie explained that when you train as much as I am about to, then it’s all about making every move as easy as possible. So the goal is “ease and efficiency” — sounds good to me!

Julie got images of me pedaling on my stationary bike. Then she pulled out what looked like a giant protractor and measured the angle of my knees. Apparently I was in a danger zone. So she adjusted my seat and my handles until all my angles were good for her. My back was straighter, my core was tighter and each rotation allowed me to use my glutes and leg muscles. My arms used to be like straight logs which would’ve killed my neck and shoulders. So Julie taught me to bend my elbows and relax. Relax I did… until I got home.

After all her adjustments I was looking forward to hopping on but guess what? I couldn’t get on!

Let me back track a sec. I raced last year in a 68 miler called Ride Ataxia in Davis, CA. So you would think clicking into those pedals would be a cinch. But the problem is… every time I had to click in or out of the bike I would get a knot in my stomach and a wave of fear would rush over me. Stop lights were my biggest fear because I would relive my many moments of falling. Do you ever worry that you could topple over and a car might run right over your head? Ok sorry for the graphic and scary thought, but this is what goes on in my twisted head. I work for the news, we see and hear it all!

But I put the fear aside because I got a giant race ahead of me and this time I think I would’ve been able to click in, if only my short legs could get over the seat. I tried over and over again but I really couldn’t reach… short people problems.

So I called Julie in a panic because I didn’t want to miss a day of training. She said to not to worry and try a seat that would allow me to sit further back and a bit lower. I went to Reno Cycling and Fitness and they got me a great demo seat. Julie said she never remembers not being able to get ON the bike so like a good coach, she wanted to see what the heck I was doing wrong so she could show me what NOT do. I hope that by the next post I will be on the bike. If not, these blog updates may be a bit… repetitive. Wish me luck!

Neda Iranpour
KTVN Channel 2 News
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TWITTER @lightenupwneda