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What a flippin' blast!  It's called California Multisport.  Friends of mine have set out to bring some new endurance event adventures to endurance athletes in So Cal.  After experiencing it myself I can tell ya, I'm on a mission to recruit (and inspire!) ya'll to come out and join me...mix things up from time to time...both on and off the road...with these (and other) excellent endurance experiences.



This one in the series was up in the mountains at Big Bear Lake which is an outdoor adventure playground just under a two hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego.  The race start was a relaxing 11am...which makes it easy to get to the race from LA or SD on the same day.  Many thanks to Paul and Karen of Team Sole and the heart and soul of California Multisport who have opened their home up to me with open arms anytime I want to come play (and train my butt off) up in Big Bear. 


Also check out Open Air Big Bear for additional events throughout the year including snowshoe 5k/10k, mountain biking, multisport, paddling and a marathon.




It was a 9k trail run / 20k mountain bike / 4k trail run.


Big Bear sits at 7000ft altitude.  It might sound daunting, coming from sea level, to do a race at that  altitude. Luckily I'd spent a weekend up there just a few weeks before with some killer training sessions and found that I couldn't really tell where the challenge was coming from: the altitude, the efforts on the climbs, etc. It was just one big great challenge and I didn't feel like I necessarily 'felt' the altitude.


After a relaxing morning with good nutrition, I got to the race start with more than enough time to enjoy the music, do some great movement prep and get ready to race.


I started the race thinking "keep it easy." I've learned the hard way that its extremely easy to go too hard too soon at the start of running races.  I needed it to feel as effortless as possible for as long as possible.  Pretty quickly I found myself passing by all but 2 men in front of me, and kept asking myself, "Are you really going easy or does it just SEEM easy since its still the first mile?"  There's a big difference.  I settled into a pace that I felt good about, running my own race, not worrying about who was ahead or behind.  However, pretty quickly we hit the climb and that was the end of easy.  It was a steady uphill that took about 30 minute to reach the top.  I was happy to see the top AND the gorgeous Pacific Coast Trail that we then got to run on to decend all the way down to the finish.  I thrive on combining footwork, agility and speed to maneuver as efficiently as possible on the trail.  My speed seemed to get the best of me at one point however (on wide, flat section of the trail??) and I quickly found myself diving toward the ground.  Slammed my right knee and hip, and must've rolled a bit too...seeing as how dirty I was coming into transition.  Oh well.  Go fast, take chances.  Got right back up and forgot about it in a couple steps and made my way back to transition.  57 minutes...a LONG 9km!


Once again my speedy transitions helped out.  I came into T1 in third place, 30 seconds down from 2nd pIace, and left transition in second place (albeit ever so briefly!) Love that!


The bike was pretty straight forward.  There were 2 long climbs over the 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I got into  a rhythm and did my best to relax every bit of my body that I didn't need to get me up the hill, including my neck, shoulders and face.  I tried to maintain my posture and keep the pedals turning over smoothly.  It seemed to get hard at the end to maintain...all I wanted to do was round my back over and curl into a ball...but I did my best!  A few times I had to remind myself that I'd just ran hard for an hour prior to this so it was ok to feel not quite as flash as I would have had I just jumped on the MTB fresh.  I also kept reminding myself that everyone else was probably feeling the same way...I wasn't out there alone!  I pretty much rode solo the entire way.  I kept wondering when the killer Big Bear local mountain bikers would come flying by me, but...apparently I'd put enough time on them in the run that I never got to see them.  In the

last few minutes decending back to transition, adventure racer extraordinaire Addy Goodvibes blew by me.  Thought I might be able to re-pass him in the run...but no chance! 


In T2, the volunteers and Karen herself were awesome.  I was kind of confused when they told me I had to keep my helmet on for the run...but I went with it, and quickly forgot it was on.  I was trying too hard to pick up my knees and put one foot in front of another.  I was pretty fried and it never really got any easier.  Hitting the finish line, as usual, was awesome.  Those last 20 meters or so, as I've mentioned before are always the best!  This time though...there was a twist!  Sometime between our start and finish, ropes had been placed on the finishline scaffolding.  Just when I thought I was done...


We had to jimmy up a knotted rope to the top of the scaffolding, climb over and make our way down a giant net to the official finish.  HOW MUCH FUN IS THAT??!!  I was thankful for my upper body and core strength which made the challenge more fun than anything.  It proved to be quite a feat for some people...yet in the end everyone agreed it was such an awesome accomplishment to top off an already epic day! 


NOTE:  See photos worth 1000 words HERE.


In the end I ended up 1st among the women and 4th overall.  Got to pop my first bottle of champagne on the podium!  I did alright if I do say so less than 25 people got soaked haha.  And they hooked me up with, among other very first altimiter watch.  The first altimiter that has been made to fit a women's wrist:  The Highgear Axio Mini.  Adventure racing here I come?!




As I mentioned, I hope you'll keep an eye out for these off-the-beaten path type races...and join us for the fun!


Wanna race??

3,502 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, mountain_biking, duathlon, mtb, off-road, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, multisports

Here are three statements I've heard over the years, from all levels of athletes, that have made me cringe.  I've been thankful to have known differently and have always wanted others to know the same, whether they are looking to set a personal best, dealing with injury, or just believe they "can't run anymore."  There's a good chance I would not be running today, certainly to this level, let alone racing, if the following were true.


1. Injuries are inevitable and/or unavoidable and/or just a part of the sport.


2. If you want to run faster, run more and run faster.


3. Running is basically a technique-free sport.




1. Injuries are inevitable?


Change that to: Injuries are avoidable. By taking responsibility for your actions, your body and your movements and committing some of your training time to creating injury resistance within your body, you can avoid chronic injury 100% and minimize your chances of acute injuries as well with increased body awareness, coordination and quickness of movement.


2. If you want to run faster run faster?


If you want to run faster, more often than not you'll benefit most from learning how you can be more efficient with your efforts every stride. Less efficiency = more energy leaking. Running farther = even more energy leaking, more pounding on the body, and greater chance of injury. Running faster can force the body into somewhat better running mechanics naturally, however it is not the cure all for inefficiencies in your running and will only get you so much faster and who knows for how long.


3. Running is technique-free?


Running is highly technical. At least efficient, injury resistant and fun running! Much like swimming, running is heavily driven by body position, mechanics, technique and efficient power production along the ground. Just as simply moving your arms and your legs around in the water does not constitute swimming (as it pertains to the sport,) the same goes for running. Understanding even the most basic running mechanics and being deliberate with movements during running is key to more efficient, injury resistant and, i'll say it again, FUN, running.


Think about it...then spread the word! : )

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The Carlsbad Triathlon is a 1K / 25K / 5K.


Turns out my race was all about the bike......and the transitions.  I was stoked to finally see that those hard core efforts on the mountain bike actually do translate to the road!  As usual I had no expectations going into the race.  I just planned on giving it my all and seeing how my fitness level was faring in racing.  I was surprised.  I love surprises!


The quick version is this:


My swim and run were solid.  I could tell my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in a long time.  My bike felt insanely strong in many ways (read on for more.)  My transitions were super clean and therefore fast (free speed!)  I came off the bike in first place (more like tied for first place) and ended up finishing second to Kate Major…one cool chick and my great friend.


The longer (more fun) version is this:


I love this race!  Come to think of it, it was the first race I ever raced in the ‘Pro’ division. That was back in 1999.  I would race it every year and even won it the last time I raced it back in 2005.  It was great to be back.  It’s a beautiful course with an ocean swim and both the ride and run along the Pacific Coast Highway.  Familiar faces both on the course and on the sidelines cheering always make a local race a mustdo.


*New chill pre-race routine.*


The race started at 8am.  Typically I would plan to arrive 90 minutes prior to the race, giving me a good 60 minutes to prepare transition, warm-up and get down to the start.  This day I had a different plan.  I got to transition at 6:00 a.m., two hours before the start, so I could grab a great spot in transition while it was still quiet, drop my gear to save my spot, and still have plenty of time to pedal my bike up the coast about a mile or so to Starbucks, grab a double espresso and relax for a bit.  Ran into a friend of mine who happened to be there (who was surprised to see me there!) who’s husband was doing the race.  She pointed out the fact that I seemed so relaxed…and I was…there IS such a thing as the able-to-chill-triathlete!  Thank goodness I’ve found out how.  I love it.  After that I hit the bathroom, said a quick good-bye, then headed back toward transition.  Along the way I found a quiet spot to do my movement preparation for about 20 minutes.  I got back to transition by 7:25am, 30+ minutes before the start with more than enough time to take my pre-race nutrition, dial in my transition area, chat it up a bit with some friends, put my wetsuit on, and head down to the water for a quick swim before the start.  Caught a GREAT wave in to shore from my warm-up and was hoping I would be as lucky in the race.




It was my favorite kind of start:  a long run in the sand to the ocean.   It spreads the field out a bit so if you’re good at it and get ahead on the run into the water, then dolphin strong through the surf, you’ll have a nice clear view of the buoy ahead, instead of having to maneuver in and around lots of arms, legs or feet!  I felt great from the gun and had a quick start.  There were a lot of athletes in that first wave, including not only the pros, but relays, 30-34 age-group men and firefighters.  Because of that, things got a bit messy around the first buoy but then spread out once we hit the open water and swam parallel to shore for most of the 1km.  I felt better and better as the swim went on.  Usually a sign that I could’ve used more of a warm-up.  Next time I’ll remember.


I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a wave into the finish.  No problem.  There was a long run from the ocean, up the beach, and up and back through transition.  I had a super quick transition.  This is what goes through my mind:


“Pull wetsuit down to ankles. Sunglasses on.  Helmet on.  Wetsuit off one foot.  Wetsuit off the other foot. Grab bike and go.”


Kate and I left transition together…I’d made up good time but had no time to think about it.   There was a short steep climb directly out of transition and I was hoping that my decision to keep my shoes on my pedals wasn’t going to prove to be more challenging than I thought.  It ended up being the right decision.  I had no problem getting up the hill with my feet on top of my shoes.  Once we were out on the open road, slightly decending, I got my feet into the shoes without losing any ground to the other athletes.  Then started pedaling my heart out!




Out on the bike I immediately felt good.  This was confirmed by the fact that those in front of me weren’t getting any further ahead.  Hmmmm I thought.  Interesting.  I kept that effort going.  It felt like it was as hard as I could go in the TT position and still felt greawt.  As we hit the small hills, I only felt stronger.  It was at that point that I knew that my mountain biking efforts were paying off on the road.  It makes all the sense in the world, but I had yet to see or feel it directly.  In mountain biking, there are times I’ve been climbing straight up for 30-40 minutes powering through the pedals at a high threshold just to get the bike up the hill.  Certainly a small roller on the coast highway was going to be a piece of cake!  I also noticed that I was keeping my cadence really high naturally.  It felt super smooth to keep the pedals turning over probably 90-100 rpms.  My TT position felt great.  I like to say that because of my body awareness, functional performance training, and movement efficiency, my body is TT-position ready all the time.  I don’t have to train in that position to be  comfortable in it, because I have the mobility through my hips, spine and shoulders, and the power, as always, through my glutes.  That all added up to an amazing feeling out there that day.  A few of us, including Kate and I rode pretty steadily together the whole 25km swapping places here and there.  Once again, if anything, I only felt stronger by the end.  I was aware that I was able to sustain a really high effort, the kind where you know you feel like you’re actually racing and not just covering the distance from point A to point B.  In the back of my mind I was curious to know how I was going to feel on the run, and even thought for a second whether I should back off a bit, but I remembered that I had told the ActiveX Triathlon Training group just yesterday, “Don’t hold back on the bike!” so I took it to heart for myself.  At this point I knew the bike would be my strength that day since I haven’t been running as much as riding.  I decided it was best to go as hard as I could and just see what happened.  We all came off the bike side by side…




In my mind T2 goes like this:


“Helmet off. Shoe. Shoe. Grab visor/racebelt. Run.”


I had another lightning fast transition and headed out onto the run in first place.  I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel ‘flash’ (as I like to say.)   I knew I would get to the finish line as fast as I could that day by focusing on my running form, in order to cover the distance as efficiently and evenly paced as possible.  It was more about getting from point A to B than actually racing it in this case.  THAT I knew immediately was something I wanted to commit to working on as soon as the race was over.  Intervals and more running drills, here I come!


It was great to see that my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in years and that my hard core (long and painful) efforts on the mountain bike (that, as you know, I’m loving) really are translating to both my overall fitness and my power through the pedals on the road bike, even in the TT position.   I love the saying


“Do what you love.  Love what you do.”


It really has paid off for me so far…so I’ll keep at it!


And I’ll say it to you too:


Do what you love and love what you do!

3,216 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, racing, triathlete, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

4th of July Adventures

Posted by Jessi Stensland Jul 8, 2009

I love doing new things and this weekend was full of them!  I knew I'd be in for an epic weekend with the gang I was hanging with.  It didn't disappoint.  AND I'm happy to say I'm all in one piece as I sit here on Sunday evening looking back on the weekend. 


Learned a lot. Worked out a lot.  Ate a lot.   Survived the challenge. Loved every minute.


Here's how it went.


Headed up to Big Bear, a great little mountain town that's just a 2+ hr drive from San Diego.  I joined a couple people from Intense Cycles and the three of us, along with off-road racer Slater Fletcher and his wife Monique, stayed with none other than uber adventure racer, Big Bear local and super host, Team Sole's Paul Romero.  All of us were looking forward to a weekend full of everything and anything outdoor adventure. Have to mention that Paul's other half, super Karen Lundgren, is off in Sweden competing in the epic 1100km adventure race, Explore Sweden.  Her team, Team Sole Herkules, is currently 3 days into the race and have slept only  8 hours.  Part of the course so far has included a 300km MTB.  Unreal.  Then there's Paul's son, 12-year old Jordan Romero, who is on a quest to climb the Seven Summits of the world, the tallest mountain on each continent. He's climbed FIVE so far.  Coolest kid.




We went straight to Snow Summit Ski Resort.  Paid $20 to take ski lift up and ride the trails down over and over for a few hours.  Less work, more play!  Mom was happy to know that I used a full-face helmet and knee and elbow pads.  I was in a little over my head at times, but never I'm-gonna-die type stuff.  I was on a new bike: Intense had brought me a demo bike to use that was more suited for downhill...heavier and more inches of travel (bigger shocks.)  As usual, I got more and more comfortable as the day went on.  Sweet part of the day was the cafe at the top of the mountain where we all stopped to eat. Delectable tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches in the sunshine. Heavenly. I made it through the day with only a couple cuts and scrapes which I was thankful for.  In the end I was thinking that I DID miss the climbing.  That somehow downhills are a lot sweeter to me if I've worked HARD to earn them. Good feeling.


After that we chilled a bit then Paul's core workout coach came over and put us thru a killer 45 min session.  The kind that you love to hate...


Night finished with BBQ under the stars and late dinner at the Himalayan.  Awesome Indian and Nepalese food in downtown Big Bear. They know Paul well, and treated us like part of the family. Special.




Saturday started with a paddle on the lake, and go figure, it didn't end up as a cruisey paddle, but a full on race paddle lesson.  Thanks to my functional training and body awareness, I took to the pointers fast.  Which just meant when he cued me to do something I could do it.  Being smooth at it came a bit later in the lesson.  When you do it right, using your core and hips/glutes, not your arms, its effortless. I couldn't hold onto that form for long, but I knew with more practice I'd be able to.


The rest of the weekend was all MTB. It was a ton of climbing and fun, fast descents. My climbing position, according to the crew is great. I feel super powerful climbing. Downhill with speed is another story. Again, I was treated to many, many tips to help me get more natural going downhill, like getting lower over the front of the handle bars to lower my center of gravity...among other things. Not easy, but I'll be working on it. Here are a few shots. Awesome awesome awesome.

It was a weekend I'll never forget.


Next up is the Carlsbad Triathlon, one of San Diego's gems.  I'm hoping that all this riding will transfer over to the road!!  This week I'll be back in San Diego gearing up for that...and watching the Tour, of course. GO GARMIN!!! Good stuff.

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