Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hometown Racing

Oh man, the procrastination on this one has been LARGE and in CHARGE.  It's been over a week since I raced in my hometown at the Ohio 70.3.  I've never had the opportunity to race at home and it really was awesome.  To have your closest friends and family there, the people that love you the most and could care less about your results, standing on the course just to cheer you on.  If you have the opportunity to do this and haven't yet..DO IT!!  While I feel like I had a pretty lackluster race, the experience was gold.  And like they say, in XX years time, you won't remember what place you got (really?!), you'll remember the experiences you had, this will go down as one great trip home.

My mama, the gal who started it all
One of the highlights from this trip was riding bikes with my mom...even though she didn't always remember WE were in taper mode ;) Riding with her reminded me of how naturally I come by my competitive spirit...I say "i'll be right here" and all of the sudden, she's 100 meters up the road just seeing how long it will take me to catch her.  Say it with me...MOM (roll your eyes).

Pre-Swim w/teammie Melissa
Leading up the race I'd been pretty tired and have been having some issues with my back/hamstring that saw me miss some key sessions.  I'm not setting these out there as excuses as on the day, my swim and run were flatter than a tire that ran over a pile of tacks.  I've raced a LOT this season and have had a fun time doing it, but it caught up to me at this race.  Now the only thing to do is ensure I'm getting enough rest, which is hard for me to do...I loathe seeing/hearing about others knock out BIG training weeks while I'm doing less.  It is hard to keep in perspective that what works for others doesn't work for me. I need to focus on staying injury free and getting to the start line in Kona in the best form possible. This is the time when I just need to put blinders on and focus on what I can do and what MY plan is.

My workouts the week of the race felt rough, but I am pretty good at not letting a workout effect how I think a race will go.  You never know what will happen on race day, right?  That's always my motto. However, the swim was also ROUGH from the get go..not rough water but I didn't feel strong even though I was at the front of our AG wave and then it just felt long, like when in the heck is this going to be over long...where's the finishing arch?  Oh man, over there?!!Just keep swimming...Turns out everyone felt the swim was long or very slow so as always once the swim is over, it's time to bike and forget the swim!

The bike getting dialed in!
Onto the bike we went...this was the best part of the day for me.  I was really looking forward to a flat bike course, this course had only 700 feet of elevation gain.  Do you know how rare that is in CA?! Like never...I can't ride 90 minutes without getting in 700 ft of climbing!  This was a treat as I LOVE flat riding. We were on tiny chip seal roads but there was SO little traffic and so many corn fields that it was perfect.  I saw the tar on some roads heating up and bubbling and remembered when I was a kid we used to go and pop the tar bubbles...Where'd you grow up?! ;) I got to ride in aero almost the entire ride which is great Kona practice and my Argon18 felt great! I've been loving the Gu StoopWafel's so had those on the bike (found the salty balls too tough to eat on really hard efforts like a 70.3 recently) I rode strong and came off of the bike in first place.  Cherish that feeling as it won't last long!

Pics by Dad are always better
Perfect OH summer day
Run...oh the run.  The BEST part about it was my crew.  That and running on roads I grew up riding! The run was a double loop and happened to run RIGHT by a close family friend's house.  So ALL of the family friends gathered there and created the best cheering section ever!  Honestly, the other runners around me all commented on both laps that "wow, you have the best fan club",  "ohh, your cheering section is awesome".  How lucky was I?!! It was cool to have everyone is one spot and then to have Mark leapfrogging me on the course to cheer me on.  He knew there wasn't anything in the legs and once first place stormed by me, he went into cheering mode :) I at one point stopped and tried to say sorry to Mark.  I had had such expectations for this race, so I was having a small pity party at the start of the run.  I then told myself oh well, this is what you've got today now pull your head OUT OF your rear and just do what you can do.  It wasn't even like I felt like the running was hard, but my HR was high and as soon as I tried to push harder, I just would have to stop.  But that's racing, sometimes you just don't have it.  Better here than in October.  And I got to work on my mental game when crap was going wrong, so why don't we count that as a win for the day?
W35-39 Podium! 

FAVE ice cream ever!!
I was reading a blog yesterday by Chris Hauth and it was the perfect time for me to read this.  Not that Ohio was a failure...it wasn't (and I know...2nd place is not bad at all), but it also wasn't the kind of result I expect from myself and my abilities.  I've had a week of rest and am now ready to roll into the last push to Kona.

"Failure reminds us what we are working for, why we are working for it.  Overcoming obstacles makes us stronger – helps us realize that the path is littered with challenges.  The path to great results must be hard, hence why it is such a rewarding, valuable, delicate path!  It brings out our true emotions to why sport is important to us.  Failure narrows our focus again on what our goals are."- Chris Hauth

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lessons Learned

Last Sunday, I toed the line at my 11th consecutive Vineman 70.3 race.  Wondering how that's possible that a sport has captured me for so long as well as looking back on old pics and thinking...MAN, I've come a loooooong way!

W35-39 podium
The short story is that I ended up 2nd in the AG (by an agonizing 71 seconds) and 6th amateur female.  This race continues to be extremely competitive and always brings out the best athletes from around the country. Which is awesome...you need to lien up against the best to see what you're made of.  It's no wonder either, the setting is ideal and the wine tasting post race is 2nd to none.

Russian River Goodness
The longer version starts here.  Mark has and continues to make fun of me and pretty much ALL triathletes for our complete lack of skills on the bike...lack of flying dismounts (I actually do this), running with bike shoes on, not able to get going on a hill (what, doesn't everybody scoot and then try to pedal?!).  You name it, and he calls us all muppets.  I'm not outing the poor guy, he'll gladly make fun of you to your face if you show up and do one of these things...he expects more from me for sure and feels it's a vital part of triathlon that is grossly overlooked.  Noted coach, noted. I've never felt more sure that I need to work on some things than after this race.  Losing by 71 seconds is a tough pill to swallow.  Not that Robin (the winner) wasn't awesome...she is, but I made some errors Sunday that I am disappointed in and they ended up being costly.   I think in Ironman racing, it's so long, that we tend to overlook the smaller details that could end up saving us time, brushing them off as not necessary in triathlon...when am I going to have to get going up a hill?  Um...at Vineman?
Post race FUN with friends

To be clear...2nd isn't bad, I'm not ungrateful for the good things, but I expect the BEST from myself and this is the first time in a long time that I felt I made easily avoidable mistakes and for that, I'm disappointed in myself.  As I voiced my disappointment on Tuesday to a friend, I was asked "did you have a good time?".  The answer is YES, I did.  I got to race with friends, and then go out in wine country, and have a great meal with friends. And even in disappointment comes good learnings, so that is a good time too!

Positive take away's from the race:
I was faster than LY, yeah!  Only a minute, but hey, faster is faster, right?!!

Bike JAM Session
The bike...I have been working on trying to have a higher HR on the bike and to really push as last season was kind of meh for me bike wise and I used to be SUCH a biker.  So to really get after the bike was the goal on Sunday and I did that.  It felt great to try to just JAM around the vines.  However jamming, led me to not be loving eating whole food as much as usual...those salty balls a re a bit hard to chew when breathing and snotting all over the place!  Maybe chomps for halfs from now on?

I was destroyed on Monday...almost like I'd done a full IM...so I was happy with that knowing that that feeling only comes when we push hard.

Things I need to continue to work on:
LEAN...say it now. Pic by @MarioFraioli
Run form...lean forward coach said...and I just could not lean forward.  I couldn't force the hurt. Don't get me wrong, it hurt...but I just couldn't go beyond that into the next zone. My HR on the run matched that on the bike...not exactly what we're shooting for! I consistently run much faster in training and my IM pace seems to be my 70.3 pace too...not cool dudes.  I hope to really work on this for Ohio 70.3 next month.

Two girls looking to re-fuel!
Speed jersey woes...I didn't wear the speed jersey under my wetsuit as I've not done it (nothing new on race day) so i put it on in T1...is that what everyone does?  It is so worth it from a sun protection perspective, but i hate feeling like I lose 10 seconds to do this...see above ;)  I then also took it off in T2 costing another few clicks of the second hand.  It's starting to add up!  In Ohio, I either need to go without or try to wear it under my swimskin...Opinions on this are welcome!!

So now we move it right along and as Mark said to me on Sunday when I asked what the gap was to 3rd..."we're not even looking at that, we are only looking at what's ahead" (FYI, I totally didn't appreciate this at the time...it's a much better metaphor than it is in real time). It's time to look ahead to Ohio 70.3 and the final push to Kona!

Hope your training is KICKING BOOTY and thanks for following along!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Escaping The Rock '16

Gear Ready to Roll
Escape from Alcatraz is the race I say each and every year that I will never do again (sorry Mom). Especially after 2013 when it was moved to March due to the America's Cup and the water was about 53* and had (what I thought) were the biggest waves I've ever swum in and I thought I would have to call a rescue kayak.  Somehow, I end up getting roped into doing it again and this year at least, I had friends joining in the madness so I HAD to do race after I roped them in!

The best thing about this year's Escape for me was that I FINALLY WON an amateur title!  I have won my age groups and been a bride's maid overall at many a race over the past few years, but the overall win has been elusive...last year at Texas, I held the lead until about mile 24, and similarly at Ironman Cabo in 2013.  And this past Sunday, at a race distance that is not my specialty, and a week after racing Honu 70.3, I managed to be the passER and not the passEE and took the lead at around mile 7.5 of the 8 mile run and had to HAUL into the finish.  Need more details?  Keep reading...got enough?  Hope to see you here again soon!

Mark prepping the kayak
I got back from the clear blue waters of Hawaii on Thursday of race week and had to mentally turn it around to start thinking the murk and lurk of the Bay versus the clear water and tropical fish of Kona.  Can you see my sad face?  The one good thing about cold water was that I got to try out my new speedy ROKA Maverick X.  First impression was awesome, SO easy to get on and off and so soft and even easier (if that's possible) to move my shoulders and feel natural in the water.  I get nervous every year about jumping off of that boat and into the frigid waters of the SF Bay.  Sightings of sharks in the bay this year did not help to ease my anxiety!  It was great to have Mark in a kayak in the Bay and friends Kayla and Mark to jump off with.

Waving to the Muscle Milk Crew
The swim was really rough this year and I had to adjust on the fly.  The sighting is normally straight forward (pun intended) and you look to Fort Mason and the strong current of the bay flowing out to sea will normally take you "across the river" and into the swim finish without dong anything other than thinking you are swimming straight.  This year, the tide was going out as usual but the wind was whipping from the West (against the current), creating major chop and no assist "across" the river.  After getting so frustrated with the waves in the bay that I stopped, started breaststroking, and yelled STOP! to the waves (seriously...I was at that point), I realized I wasn't moving across and was going to need to start sighting to the right.  I kept looking for swim patrol kayaks and if I had seen one would have grabbed on.  Mark and a friend were out on a kayak and after we jumped in, I never saw them again.  This swim is always like that...you think, oh there's so many of us, we'll just stay together...and then you realize how wide the swim is and you feel like you're all alone...with sharks!  I just kept swimming and finally hit the exit.  I ended up taking a great line and got really lucky, lots of people ended up under or over-shooting the swim exit and once you overshoot the exit, you have to get out and walk to the finish as the current is just too strong. I saw a time of 39 minutes for the 1.5 mile swim and knew it was rough and was hoping that I had an OK for me swim and that everyone was similarly effected and thus I would still be close to the front pack for the women...but it's always hard to tell .

Pic from Jordan Blanco
I ran the half mile to transition and after getting on my bike kept telling myself that I wasn't going hard enough, it's only an hour ride, and that I had to keep going harder if I wanted to do well and make up any time lost in the swim.  I have always wanted to bike under an hour on this hilly course and finally did it this year!   I always ride my road bike at this race and think for how technical it is, this is the best choice...you barely have time to get in aero and for those moments, I had clip on bars that were perfect!

My "i need a minute face...priceless!
This race also gets tough to tell where you are due to the fact that there are relays.  I ended up going by the assumption of dry hair=relay participant.  Just to confirm though I was absolutely that girl that when I passed or got passed by said dry hair ladies, I asked them...relay?! I hit the turn around on Ocean Beach...ahh sand running, so lovely!  I saw that there was one wet hair girl up ahead...oh man, she is NOT in a relay...up the sand ladder I went as fast as possible and then thankfully, it's time to start running downhill towards the finish.  This is where I can jam and I started to push the pace.  I saw Mark in his normal place along the run where he spectates and he told me there was a girl up ahead.  I didn't see her until we hit the gravel path along the marina and i was catching her, but also was running at a 6:30 pace, which, um, is not my normal race pace ;)  I made the pass with about half a mile to go.  Immediately this gal jumped on my heels and then literally stepped on my heel she was so close to me.  I gave her a LOUD "off!" but she kept quite close.  She wouldn't pass me, so I decided that if she wasn't going to pass, I was going to slow down a bit, collect my self and prep for a sprint to the finish.  I recovered for a minute, she still didn't come around, and then as soon as we hit the turn to the pavement along Chrissy Field, I pulled away and had to run a 6:15 last mile in order to pull out the W.  2nd place crossed the line just 7 seconds back.  I had the fastest amateur run of the day which has NEVER happened before!  I was so excited that I treated myself to a grilled cheese sandwich!
mmmm, grilled cheese with my honey!

35-39 podium and Uggs in June! SF for the WIN!
After the race, I kept thinking about the "what-if's"...what if I hadn't pushed as hard on the bike and run, I certainly wouldn't have won, and what if I would have just put my head down and swim...could I have then put myself in an even better position?  My mental state during the swim was abysmal...I wanted to quit, I was a bit freaked out by the big waves and I swore to myself that I would NEVER do this race again.  I tried a few times to think positively and try to enjoy it, but there was just no enjoyment of that swim.  I think the good thing about the "bad" swim, was that I came out of the water hungry to do what I could to make up for any lost time and that made me push harder than I usually feel capable of.

Next up is Vineman 70.3 for the 11th year in a row...and I'm excited to toe the line with so many friends and Coeur team mates!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Hui Hou, Kona

Morning Kohala view
how to keep gear dry
What started almost a year ago, as a trip with a dear gal pal, ended up as a solo racecation to my fave place, Kona to race Honu 70.3 and then recharge for a few days.  I've never traveled to a major race by myself, and I wasn't nervous, but I also wasn't terribly thrilled (initially) at the idea of 6 days in Kona flying solo.  I knew that I had friends racing and would see people, so wouldn't really be lonely, but the more I thought about going to this race, the more I realized something about my (racing) self: I tend to stay with nurturers, or my husband...he's not a nurturer in the traditional sense, but he makes sure shit is in order when we go to races and I don't normally have to think too hard about logistics as that is his arena, so he nurtures in his own way.  On the other hand, when I travel to Texas to race IM, I stay with friends...both of whom are nurturers...they make me coffee, tune my bike, you name it, to ensure my race goes well...all while they are also racing.  Kona is the same thing...a house full of people and I am typically the only one racing...and everyone ensures I have a great lead up into the race...food, feet up, etc.  I like to think I bring something to the table too, but if tuning your bike is a need, don't look this way.  Cheery disposition and great pre race pep talks? I'm your huckleberry. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why this was, as in day to day life, I am a leader, very independent and (I think) a nurturer, albeit a no bullshit nurturer, to others. I don't think I have the answer, but I mention this as in a recent blog, I talked about how triathlon helps us discover things about ourselves...there you go, I discovered something new!

Phew...anyone still there after my deep thought session? 

Landing in Kona is always awesome, big lung fulls of "full fat air", the lava fields, Kona coffee...  Over the years, Kona has become such a special place to me.  The memories I've made here and the friendships I've formed here are so special.  I hopped in my rental van, that I affectionately named Bertha, and headed to Puako. Bertha was so big, I could barely rest my arm on the door/window. We've stayed in Puako before and it is just gorgeous.  Views of the Kohala's and so many Honu sightings, you just can't keep track.  So it was awesome that the race started just a few miles from here and I had the opportunity to stay here.  I headed into town to get groceries (Kona), have a coffee along Alii and then headed to my rental.  I got totally spoiled as the owners of the property were there as well in a different house and they became fast friends who offered to feed me and tell me stories.  So much for flying solo!  I met up with awesome teammie, Michelle on Friday and swam along the course with her as well as the eventual winner, Lectie!!  The swim course was gorgeous and I got the low down from the ladies that if the sun was shining, we would be going directly into it as we headed into the swim finish.  Thankfully, I had brought a few pair of my ROKA's and ended up going with the new white/super dark mirrored version.  Race morning was a bit overcast, but these were still the perfect choice.  I also registered Friday and had to drop off both my run gear and bike...in two different locations.  Two transition races are tough, but it made the day fly by and before I knew it, it was time to eat and get to bed!  

Having just done Ironman Texas 3 weeks ago, I was cognizant that things were likely to go one of two ways...AWESOME, or AWFUL! I feel like after an Ironman, that 2nd weekend post can leave you feeling like, "YEAH, who just raced? Not this girl, she feels AWESOME"...week two is quickly followed by week three where my body is typically like, "yeah...you got a bit ahead of yourself...we're still recovering, so take it down a notch, OK?!!"  I continued to do some training, and rode 106 miles the week before the race (Jess was doing her biggest ride post bébé, and I couldn't not be there) and eventually (thank you Sonja and Mark) decided to shut it down after Tuesday's workouts.  Like really shut it down.  I didn't end up doing anything Thursday after I arrived in Kona and Friday was just a practice swim with the girls.  But it left me feeling good and confident, I just love racing her so much that I was excited to just be on the island and race, regardless of the outcome.  

Pre race dinner: chicken, potato, avocado and bell pepper mash.  Keep the fiber low and get some good protein, carbs and fat.  

Pre race breakkie:  two corn tortillas, two eggs, can of coffee, bottle of pre-load, and 3 (tiny) apple bananas and PB.  Total kcal intake was about 800.  Seemed about right for a half, but I do hit a bit more pre-IM.  

I ended up getting to the race SUPER early...being a newbie to getting myself to the race and having to take a shuttle from the finish where I parked to the start, left me a bit anxious.  Plenty of time to set up, talk to Michelle (and meet her fam!) and relax...almost too much relaxing, I was thinking, ok chica, you are too calm...time to rev it up a bit...also where I drank the coffee!

The swim ended up being a bit overcast, but just beautiful...and choppy!  Anybody?  The water looked like glass that morning, but once we were in it, it felt like anything but.  I tried to think about short, choppy strokes to match the choppy water, and thought about how we might get to be pushed into shore based on how the chop was.  We did end up almost body surfing to shore, and once you find a rhythm with the current, it's awesome!  I was thankful the swim was coming to an end and was happy to end up 3rd out of the water.  

just keep drinking...
Onto the bike. I didn't know what position I was in, but I just wanted to ride HARD and try to keep my HR up.  I didn't feel like I had gotten passed too by many women in the swim, but I knew Lecite would be up the road already...girl leads everyone out of the water...even the dudes.  The course heads south a bit before turning around and heading up to Hawi.  I remember thinking, man, I still feel so FRESH for this point in the course...yeah, cause you started in Hapuna, not Kona!  There was no wind and I was jamming on that climb.  One of our friends died this past week from cancer (fuck cancer), and Mark had sent me the details of his memorial before the race and told me to race for DY.  DY was a bike racer, with a young family, a friend to everybody and this week has been tough for our local community.  I swear he was with me the entire course, telling me to push, and was sitting on my shoulder pushing me on when it got tough.  I kept thinking of all of the pain his family is going through, and thought of the wings I had temp tattooed on myself...time to fly for DY.  I could see a pink Smith helmet in the distance and knew I was catching (soon to be friend) Steph.  Steph and I have only been friends over the interwebs, but as I passed her, I gave her a good yell and she replied back, just like I hoped she would.  We went back and forth a bit with our position, and exchanged a few words about the doodes on course who make it regally tough for us gals to race legal.  We headed back into T2 which is a no-passing zone...I was later told, I was a good "chirpper" by Steph...nicely encouraging, but vocal to the guys in front of us to keep the pressure on...we are RACING!! 
LOVED the new Coeur aero jersey

Bike food: I was a champ here...2.5 salted carmel Bonk Breakers and 4 bottles of osmo.  At a 2.5hr ride that gave me 950kcals or 380/ hour.  I think I can oush this to 400 and will try for that over my next few races leading into Kona.  I think the more you can front load the run, the better off you will be.  

charging when i could
Steph and I entered into transition together and as I was hollaring for my bag, she actually gave it to me.  How cool is that, we were 3rd and 4th woman heading into the run and she took time to give me by run bag.  I hit the run first and immediately was like, oh Nelly...3 weeks post IM may be too close...which morphed into my mantra for the day, "just slow down LESS than the women behind you!".  No wind on the bike, means NO wind on the run (pick your poison)...over lava and a moist, steaming, fairway.  Just let your mind do some wandering on that and you'll know what it felt like. I love the Kona heat, but this run may have taken a bit of my soul. Thankfully, it was collecting souls all over the place and I did my best at heat management.  I yelled as I went into each aid station for water and coke and then filled my hat, bra and shorts with ice...that was all melted within moments, it was that hot.  It's a two loop run and I was in 4th and saw that 2nd place was walking.  I moved up into third, but could see that one gal was moving well and my overall position was at stake.  I didn't know how old she was, but also saw an ex-pro in my AG coming and just tried to charge when I could on the sections where it was possible get a bit of rhythm and manage the other parts.  My grandpa has been dead since college, but he loved to golf.  I kept thinking of him as I ran on the fairway and had him pushing me over the run.  Have I mentioned Kona is an emo place for me?! It gets me, every single time.

Run nutrition: bottle of pre-load/Osmo on my way out of transition, half a pack of Muscle Milk energy chews, water coke at every aid station.  Estimating about 230kcal/hour.  

I crossed the line, knowing I was 4th female, but not knowing if I had won or was 2nd in my AG.  Once I got to my morning bag, I had texts from my family congratulating me on winning my AG.  Yes!!! I was so stoked.  Honu are my fave animal (tied with elephants) and I remember seeing last year, that the trophies were Honu...I wanted a Honu!! Turns out, they made the trophies, umeke bowls.  If you don't know the definition of the umeke, it is basically a bowl that each Hawaiian family has and that is filled with important items, those items in life, that fill you to your brim.  Triathlon is one of the things that fills me to my brim.  

my go-to face at the finish ;)
me and my umeke
The awards at Honu were about 4 hours after my finish...plenty of time to get to hang with teammies, make new friends and hang with old friends.  Steph and I got to hang out, and I always love it when someone who you think you're going to like, ends up being such a rad person.  Social media for the WIN. I was able to borrow a friends hotel room for a shower and cooled off with he and his fam at the beach before awards.  We were treated to hula dancing, which I just love, and then post awards, I went to dinner with friends and didn't end up getting home until about 9, where my new friends who owned the place were hanging and asked me how I did and invited me in for ice cream.  What a day.  

I've spent the past few days relaxing, doing tourist things and just staring at the ocean. I hopped over to Kauai to be with my sister and her girls for about 30 hours and we had such a blast.  I completely unplugged from all things work (thank you work teammies!!), and by the end of this vacation, wanted to look at the ocean more than I wanted to look at my phone.  I'm trying to be more present, and this was certainly a trip where I was present. 

Kona, as always, mahalo.  You mean so much to me.

A hui hou.

Monday, May 23, 2016

64 turns and a champions jersey

I read Jesse Thomas's blog on race reports...he says as much as we think anyone other than our mom is reading, it's probably best to keep it simple and highlight lessons learned and not bore folks with the minutiae.  So I thought I'd do a 14 things about Ironman Texas in keeping with my 14 things about Ironman post in honor of this, my 14th Ironman finish!

  1.  I WON!  My age group that is.  Was really wanting the OA win but I would have to settle for 5th OA amateur...turns out those young (teeny tiny) gals can RUN...will keep trying to up my game here!  Last year since it was the first year Texas was the North American Championship, they gave out champions jerseys to the winner of each AG.  I wanted that jersey...no, not the design (please IM, contact Kebby at Coeur and ask her to do the design next year?!), but, I wanted to be the champ, to be No1 at the NA Championship.  When I was running and struggling, that is what I thought about...oh and milkshakes- to which I told Sonja about and she started singing the milkshake song to me!  

Coeur Teammies Denise and Barbara
2. Friends make everything better.  I stayed with my friends who live in The Woodlands and along with myself, they were hosting the soon to be champ, Patrick Lange (there's an E on the end...it's not Lang!) It is so much fun to have a relaxed environment surround you when you arrive to a race and even better to have other tri geeks to be with right before and after a race when all you want to do is talk about the race...and at this point, your SO/fam has heard enough about your pre-race poop needs that they'd rather have a needle to the eye.  Find your tribe and be with them so you can geek out!

3. Swim- I swam a 1:02:11 here which is a 1:10 PR on this course!  Hooray for my ROKA swimskin, a fresh pair of goggles and Stanford Masters swimming for this.  I've always found this swim to be tough- it's not wetsuit legal and it's fresh water so there is NOTHING helping your body position.  I usually feel like my stroke falls apart here towards the end, but something was different this year and thankfully that translated into a faster swim split.

Homestay and dear friend Moe!
4. 64 (at least) turns is a lot, but it's not the end of the world.  The bike course was shortened this year to 95 miles and it had at least 64 turns that I had counted.  Thankfully not all of them were u-turns and you were able to take them at a reasonable speed.  Mark and I had talked about the importance of taking the turns well here and not loosing too much speed.  We practiced before the race and I believe that helped.  Coming into Texas and really Arizona, I wanted to show that my bike doesn't suck and that Argon should still be proud to support me!  I had a pretty bad bike in Kona and lost a LOT of time to the ladies who ended up in 1-3rd position on the podium and I have vowed to not let that happen again!

5. When shit changes, go with the flow.  The swim course was altered this year due to the canal being too dirty to swim in and the bike course was shortened.  People were up in arms over the bike course being shortened.  News flash, we're all on the same course on the day, so what is truly (unless this is your first IM) deal?  Simmer people.

6.  The WTC is good at what they do.  Say what you like, and hate the WTC for the corporate $$$ suckers that they are, but when shit hits the fan, they manage the situation and keep everyone safe and as happy as can be.  When I was at mile 24, the cloud cover came and so did the thunder.  After crossing the line and making my way through the food tent, the heavens literally opened up and the thunder/lightning/rain was insane.  They ushered us all into the med tent to get out from the elements and no one panicked.

feeling the fatigue at the end of the run!
still looking fresh...for now
7.  Hoka's...this was my first marathon in a pair of Hoka's and I went with the Clayton.  If you've visited this site before, you know an Ironman marathon spells disaster for my poor feet.  Some people never get blisters and some of us are just "blessed" with blister prone feet...doesn't matter the shoe/sock, after an hour swim, 5 hours of biking and then dumping water over me for the next 3.5 hours, my feet will get blisters.  I'm happy to report that while this is no miracle shoe (i still got a few blisters), my feet are in the best condition they've ever been post race...i may not even have to say goodbye to any toe nails!  Could it be?!!

Sonja doing her thang and cheering me on
8. I love Texas heat and humidity.  People always ask me about this race and how it was.  It was hot.  It was incredibly humid, but I love it.  Now ask me about the conditions at Escape from Alcatraz next month and you'll get a MUCH more animated and horrible face when I describe the horrific cold ;)

9. Post race blues are real.  I was definitely so please to walk away with the win, but got hit a bit with the post race sads this week.  Mark was out of town in the UK and with all of that down time and not a lot of endorphins from reduced exercise, the struggle had been real.  I don't think this ever gets any easier to deal with, aside from knowing it will always happen and accept it as part of the game. 

friends help the blues!

the evidence...
10.  Falling off of the food wagon does not help with #9.  I was pretty good this week, but did have a few times where I just ate things that I would not normally have...donut and a sandwich anyone?!  I avoid these foods as they don't make me feel good on the inside and turns out they don't help you feel good mentally either!  The more I race, the easier it is to get back to eating well post race and the more I crave getting back into my food routine.  I know this sounds like old-lady curmudgeon talk, but I want to recover well and poor diet choices do not help with recovery.

11. Positive self talk is good.  Duh!  But seriously, when I hit the run, I was like, oh man, I struggs.  And then I thought to myself, yes but if you struggs, so is every other girl out here and you just have to strugg the least.  Keep moving mama.

12. Walking aid stations, each and every one is A-OK.  Seconds lost at each aid station did not cost me 1-4th place and I wanted to ensure my lead did not deteriorate due to rushing and not fueling properly.You know Jan Frodeno slowed significantly and even walked a few aid stations in Kona this past year?  I hit the run feeling a bit woozy and truly walked each of the aid stations to ensure I was really getting in everything I needed.  I wasn't lolly gagging but the first few aid stations I got passed by gals who I would then pass pretty quickly.  eventually they stopped passing me and I stayed ahead of the pack.  I told myself I was Jan mo-fo Frodeno ;)

post race shakes and fries with Katie and super dad!
13. Breakfast the day after the race with friends is priceless.  The re-hashing of the stories, war wounds is just so fun.  And spending time with women I only see a few times a year is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this sport, year after year. 

14.  Success is so wonderful, but it does not free you from the "what if" thoughts and the "what could I have done better and what WILL I do better next time" thoughts.  I wish there was a cure for that and that we could be satisfied (at least for a few days), before allowing ourselves to be the Type A'ers we are and want to focus on what we can do better.

Now the racing season is really underway and the next few months have me racing ALL over the US...from Honu and Escape From Alcatraz next month, to Getting to race in my home TOWN of Delaware in August, I'm excited for summer!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

14 things Bout triathlon

This Saturday, I'll start and aim to finish my 14th Ironman.  Little did I know that when I did my first Ironman in 2010, that I'd still be racing and that I'd continue to get more serious and competitive as the years passed...cheers to endurance sports where being young isn't an advantage!  In honor of this 14th start, I wanted to take a look at 14 of my top things all triathlon...lessons learned, top tips, and the best (to me) parts of tri.

I hope to see many of you in Texas this weekend and BEST MECHANICAL LUCK to you 

1. The number one thing I love about this sport is the people that it's brought into my life.  People always joke about the lack of social life of triathletes.  We may not have a typical social life, but I have Friday night spins with my girls that end at the wine bar, hours upon hours of uninterrupted (OK, maybe it's interrupted when we're working hard) chatting with them on the bike on a Saturday and coffee after a swim.  Now who's not social?!  Triathlon has brought me some of my best friends and fondest memories. 

2.  Comparison.  Tough for all of us not to do, but we must try not to compare ourselves to others...their body fat %, their more fancy equipment, their opinions on XYZ, etc.  Once you start comparing, you will think "man, maybe I'm not as good as her because of X".  I've learned that skinny doesn't always equal fast (simply a blend of genes and a dedication to diet), and old equipment doesn't equal slow.  Keep that in mind at the next race expo you go to and have confidence in YOU and YOUR abilities.  Isn't that why we got into this sport? To see how good we can be?!

3. Avoid the chatter race week. There is absolutely nothing you can control but YOU.  Focus on you and what you are doing in that moment to be your best.  Really, this is in life too, not just sport, right?

4. Race week it's time to stick to your plan, your tried and true regimens.  The expo has hoards of shiny new toys, fun looking sports nutrition...You're in new place with FUN food, the list goes on...Buy the treats and shiny new gear but don't use them until after race day.  Consider it a post race treat!

5.  Be nice.  Everyone's nerves race week are off the chart, which doesn't always lend itself to sweet as pie behavior.  Try to take a deep breath, remember others are stressed and see if you can smile...bet you they will too!

6. Be aware.  This is an individual sport, but you are sharing the course with 2k+ of your TRIBE! This is your chosen group of people, don't let a race turn you into a massive d-bag.  The sport is small, people remember that stuff!  Look before passing, give a girl and "on your left!", and every once in a while, a "nice work" will help someone who's struggling get back on pace.  

7. Day in, day out, we work.  We "grind".  It isn't usually pretty, contrary to all of our insta pics and Twitter feed would have you believe.  You have to find the pleasure in the daily routine of triathlon.  Sometimes it's not fun, you feel like you can't add 2+2 without questioning yourself and all you can say to your partner after a day of training, is what's for dinner?! 

8. Triathlon has allowed me to find my special place in the world.  Ever since that first trip to Kona in 2010, I've been hooked.  I'm overwhelmed with emotion everytime I touch down on the Big Island.  It's got a hold on me.  I love Europe, and have many places I still want to travel, but I don't think any other place will soothe my soul or feel like home like Kona does.  

9.  Health.  I know we live on the other side of crazy with how much training we do, which can be considered too much exercise, but I am healthier now then when I started this sport.  I was still a drinking, partying gal who had packed on a few too many lbs! I loved to exercise, but I hadn't made my body my priority...we've only got the one, time to treat it right!

10.  Race morning will suck.  If you're anything like me, you're typically so nervous that it's hard to eat the 1k kcals you need pre-race, you're wondering "why did I sign up for this?!", the line at the port o potty will be long, and no matter how many times you've already gone, you will need to go again.  Pretty much until the gun goes off, you'll be a bit of a hot mess.  Try to find peace with that, know that it will be like that and accept it for part of the day.  

11. The night after an Ironman, I am hardly able to sleep.  Part of its due to the adrenaline still pumping, the gobs of caffeine that I had throughout the day and then part of it is due to just being pumped for crossing another finish line. Thank God for social media...I am typical MORE than caught up after a race 😂 I typically can't eat that much post race, so I always know that I will be starving at 2AM and have snacks on the ready for when I wake up!  Remember all that fun food you wanted to try?  Now's the time!! 

12. Self discovery- not in the new agey sense, but triathlon takes up so much time that you will truly find out what is important to you and what is not.  And you'll pretty quickly find out if you're passionate enough about the sport to minimize time spent doing other things you like in the pursuit of achieving your best.  There needs to be a balance for me, but I've learned over the past few years that the balance isn't an equal one (as MUCH as I've tried to fight this)...i don't get to drink as much wine as I want as it packs on weight, disrupts my sleeping and isn't helping me win Kona!  Darn it...can't they make a wine that does all of those things?!

13.  Discipline. Triathlon is important to me.  So is my job, my family, my friends. I want to do them ALL to the best of my abilities.  That means I need to be as efficient as possible.  I try to cram as much as possible into each day so that I can do everything that I want to do in this life.  The only downside to this is when I do try to slow down, I'm not very good at it.  I hustle around the house tidying up, unable to sit still, and continue to reply to emails quickly even when I have a bit more time, simply because I am always in that mode.  Something to work on I guess...how to savor the moment and really focus.

14.  The finish line.  No matter how your day has gone, the finish line of a race is a beautiful sight and brings with it such a feeling of accomplishment and happiness.  Have you ever looked at those pics? Hands in the air, jumps for joy (I don't know how they do it), tears of happiness, and faces full of pride for what they have just done.  We ask a lot of our body and mind on race day.  Take that last mile or two and be grateful for what you have just been ABLE to do and celebrate that.  

Now it's time to put the final preps in place for race day and relax!! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Whoops! I raced again...

I did a pretty good job of not shouting from the rooftops that I was going to race Ironman Arizona until I got there on Thursday.  Why?  Well, for one, I didn't know I was going to race until 2 weeks post Kona, when while watching friends race Cabo, I got so homesick to race that I decided I HAD to race one more time this year too.  And two, I felt greedy racing again.  I had just had a great Kona and had had enough support from friends and family...isn't that enough I thought?  Why aren't you satisfied and ready for the off-season?  Unlike past years after Kona, I was feeling fresh.  I hadn't taken to drinking heavily and eating all the treats.  The urge just hadn't hit and mentally I was just not ready to be done.  And I think we all know that your body can physically make it through an Ironman most any day if you've been training for a long time, but it's the MIND that will allow you to race and compete.  My mind wanted to go one more time.  So off I went to Arizona, my first race on this course and sealed the deal for Kona #7 this coming October.  It still thrills me as much as my first qualification, I can't seem to gobble enough of Kona up and my soul is at peace on that island.

Pre-race good luck flat
Pre-race bike fixing by Sag Monkey
I had been checking the weather and was really concerned that I might be cold during the race.  I am a summer baby at heart, and my ideal conditions are Kona...not AZ on a rare, cold and rainy 60* day.  But, you can only control YOU and certainly not the weather so I adjusted my wardrobe choices and went about prepping for another day of FUN in the sun RAIN!  I got to stay with good friend and Coeur teammie, Andrea and her hubby and wonderful dog.  This made things so much fun, it always beats a hotel when yo can be with friends and do your own food and spread out.

Race morning came fast enough and Andrea and I were off to transition after breakfast and braids!

Pre race breakfast: rice, 2 eggs, cold brew coffee, bottle of pre-load, banana and peanut butter on drive to transition. ~900 kcals

ROKA Swim: 58:19 and my FIRST first out of the water award!  BAM and thank you Stanford Masters!!!

Roka FOTW awards
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the swim initiative.  It allows you to self seed and I think if you do that, that the swim shouldn't be too terrible....at least better than a typical mass start.  I lined up on the very front line and when the gun went off hopped into that cold water and started swimming!  I had seen others wearing neoprene caps and thought "why didn't I at least double down and wear a silicon cap underneath my race cap?!" But really, after I got going, I wasn't cold at all.  I chose the perfect goggle for the morning (thanks to a 10PM oh shit, my goggles are for direct sun and now it's going to be cloudy tomorrow, let me switch them out moment) and with the F1 light vermillion was able to see the buoys. I kept thinking, man, why is it choppy in this man made lake?  I swear that Ironman Texas is like this too, for man made fresh water it sure moves a lot! I kept with the feet I was on until they started to not follow a tight line along the buoys and then readjusted to new feet.  I kept telling myself not to get complacent.  This is my biggest issue in the swim, I just settle in and get comfortable-  much to my husband's chagrin...it's not supposed to be comfortable!  So I kept saying, faster turnover.  I was pumped to get out in under an hour and quickly got focused on what was up next.  I swam in my tri shorts and a Coeur bikini top so that I could change into a dry top after the swim.  While this was a stellar plan for warmth and didn't end up effecting the overall day, it was a MIGHTY slow transition and hugely comical as I got a wet bikini top off and then proceeded to have volunteers try sorry you had to touch my boobs so much to get a tri top with bra in it on, arm warmers, gloves and a jersey on top of that tank (because I def didn't want a sunburn in AZ!!)

Bike: 5:14:21 
Don't fall, don't fall...Pic by Erin Klegstad
Bike Nutrition: recipe of salty balls, 7 bottles of osmo active ~360kcals/hour (update to salty balls, they are RAD with chocolate rice krispies)

Photo by: Sonja Wieck
Onto the bike I went thinking that I was among the first few AG women- what I didn't realize that it wasn't all AG women in the change tent, that there were pros in there as well.  Unfortunately for the pro women in AZ, the AG'ers started only 5 minutes back.  Although I think this is mostly unfair for the faster women as it allows the slower women to both legally and illegally take advantage of age groupers on the road.  I raced Kona actually looking at power and this is where I think I made a big mistake there- as when the competition passed me, I let it go as my power was great...yeah, but the race just went up to Hawi without you ;)  So I recorded power at AZ, but took it off of my Garmin screens completely.  we would go back to racing by feel and the race here and see how that did.  The first lap was really quiet and it's always cool to see the pros going in the other direction for a bit of motivation.  After each lap, I would see Sonja and she would yell encouragement at me and give me the stats and let me know I was 3rd...I was hoping she meant overall and not AG, but all I knew is that there was still work to do!  And then the rain came, it was already cool and I was SO thankful that I wore everything I did and had toe covers on my bike shoes.  I needed all of the warmth.  I kind of just laughed at all of the rain, really AZ?  My main issue with people in the rain is that on a course that gets narrow in town and where EVERYONE is trying to have THEIR day and THEIR best time, they are looking out mostly for themselves and forget about their community.  I kept looking back each time I needed to pass and said "on your left", and was appalled by how many did not extend the same courtesy...really, you can't be a bit safer when it's raining, we're all in aero and oh by the way, have you tried to brake recently?  The last few miles of the bike I took really slowly as the course was really crowded, there were quite a few turns and the last thing I wanted was to go down right before the run.

Run: 3:29:35 (please accept Garmin time of 3:28:50 due to port o loo stop)
Run Nutrition: 1.5 bananas, coke at every aid station, glucose tabs last 10k ~225 kcals/hour

Photo by @quadrathon
I ran a 3:30 in Kona in 2014 and was oh. so. close to breaking it and had really known that I was capable of doing it, it just needed to happen.  I exited transition and had to laugh as the volunteers were standing there with their hands covered in sunscreen.  They offered it to me and I gave them the best laugh I could muster- they knew it was a bit silly at that point too- I don't think anyone got a drop of sun exposure this year at Ironman Arizona. I started out on the marathon and Sonja let me know that I was in 2nd place in the AG and 3rd OA heading onto the run.  My first thoughts were "man this cement is really slippery!".  The cement was a slightly polished cement and so it was hard to get much traction and I kept feeling like I was going to fall down.  Not awesome, but move it along Hailey!  I made the pass for first about 4 miles into the run and just focused on keeping a fast cadence and making sure to eat and drink.  It was awesome to see so many friends cheering and racing along the course.  And then, for just a moment, the sun came out and I thought the rain might be done.  NOT! Somewhere along the second lap, another funny volunteer offered me ice.  Really sir?  Please I'll take the broth!  That stuff was tasty!

Photo by Pedro Gomes
My watch had both total time on it and run time.  I try to keep myself in the present and focused on the process and not the outcome as you just never know what can happen in those final miles of a marathon.  You could (quite literally) shit the bed and your day could be done.  I had a few moments of ohh, this is great, you're going to go sub-10 again and you are going to WIN this thing.  Then I told myself it ain't over until the fat lady sings and to be focused on keeping the pace until the end.

That finish line appeared and was so sweet.  I had really been excited to do an Ironman that day and had kept telling myself that day that It was (rain aside) so awesome to be out there racing and being able to do what makes me happy.  Mike Riley called me in and referred to me as"happy girl"...I think my finish line arm dance might have gone overboard this time!  I crossed as 1st in my AG, 2nd overall amateur and 15th overall female including the pros.  I was so thrilled with the day and so thankful that I had gotten to do it just 5 weeks again after Kona.

The next morning, all of the Coeur gals had breakfast together and it was just rad.  I hadn't met most of them in real life yet and to get to put faces and names and stories together was a highlight of the trip.

And NOW, we post-season.  I'm excited to relax and indulge but also mindful of the year to come and the goals that I want to work towards. 

Team Coeur!