Thursday, December 1, 2016

The driest place on earth I wrote this blog and then POOF tried to save more pics to it (#yourewelcome) and it just disappeared.  All of it...except the pics of course.  So I've been sulking and trying to recover the post to no avail.  So here goes attempt numero dos at this blog that will wrap up 2016.

Coeur gals in their Smith sunnies!
Last year when I arrived in AZ, I got a nose bleed every day I was there but race day (due to figuring out my issue).  This year I vowed to be pro-active and not re-active and was ARMED with Aquaphor.  Didn't you know it's best use is for lubing the inside of your nose to protect against nose bleeds?  Works well at altitude too ;)  See why I love humidity?  All of the heat of the desert, but NONE of the dryness.  If I lived in AZ, I would have to get even more serious about my moisturizing game, and I already moisturize with straight up coconut oil, so not really sure where I would go next?
Post race smiles at Snooze

I got into town on Thursday night and was lucky enough to stay with Coeur Teammie, Kristin for the first two nights and then with Sonja, who had flown in from CA to be my Sherpa.  Mark was in the UK working and let's be real, he only likes to come to IM in tropical locales ;) Pre- race was fun as there were SO many Coeur teammates racing that we got to have a dinner before the race and breakfast after.  I got to catch up with old teammies and meet new ones. 

I ended up staying at a hotel on Mill street so was able to walk to transition race morning which was race walk=not so nice!  Sonja and I walked down to transition and I met up with BFF Jess who had made a BIG 'ol batch of salty balls so was giving me half a recipe.  I planned on eating half balls, and half Gu wafels with PB smooshed between it (it has become my new training food LOVE).  I walked over to my bike after meeting with Jess put my stuff down and get to work on setting up my nutrition and pumping tires.  And then I go to get the salty balls and they are GONE.  Just gone.  I saw a gal walk by and pick up a bag, but thought she must be picking up her own stuff as it never crossed my mind that someone would pick up MY stuff that was oh so close to me and obviously not trash or abandoned.  Cue the panic.  I had packed about 600 other kcals so would be way short and depending on on-course nutrition if these things didn't reappear.  I found Jess and we searched and Sonja was on stand by telling me not to panic and that we would figure it out.  Jess and I gave up and then all of the sudden, Jess had them in her hand, saying they were next to the dumpster at the end of the row.  Awesome.  OK, well at least I had my nutrition, but it didn't have me in the most relaxed pre race mood ;)  See pic below with me middle right with eyes closed, cheeks blown out to the max while everyone else is smiling...
Current status is...Pic by John Nickerson

Pre-Race nutrition- 2 eggs, rice, half avocado, cold brew coffee, bottle of BT Nutrition Hydration, and bottle of pre-load 30min before the start.  Total was about 800kcals.  I had a banana and OB but I just couldn't.  

Swim: 58:36 vs 58:19 LY
After pushing my way to the front of the start queue, I found Kristin and a few other familiar faces and it was time to go.  Though we started at the front, they were really restricting the flow into the lake with barricades and letting about 2 people in at a time.  I found clean water immediately and just wanted to stay ON it as I knew that I would need as much of a lead as possible coming out of the water if I wanted to have a chance at winning and qualifying to Kona.  Each time I found feet I asked myself if this draft was fast enough and if not, swam around and found the next set.  The sun didn't come out the entire swim hell it didn't come out ALL day so I was pumped with my choice of the jade tint Roka F1's.  I was able to spot each buoy perfectly.  Kristin and I exited at the same time and got to head out on the bike together.  She's a stellar cyclist so I knew we could push each other all day.

Bike Nutrition: half recipe salty balls, 4 Gu Wafels with PB in-between, 7 bottles of BT Nutrition Hydration and water....oh the water in that dry can ALWAYS drink more in AZ.

Bike: 5:14:56 vs 5:14:21 LY (notice the theme yet?)
Pic by Nick Weiler
Pic by Nick Weiler
I REALLY wanted to go under 5:14 as I think that's my PB on any IM course and thought if there was no rain, really that should be possible right?  Maybe it was the wind, oh the WIND, or maybe it was racing 5 IM's in 13 months, but it just wasn't going to happen.  The wind was pretty strong on the way out which not at all surprisingly seems to encourage drafting.  I kept telling myself I just had to get to the top of the Beeline and then I could scream back into town.  The first two laps went pretty well but I definitely felt the slowdown on the third loop.  I was leading the amateur race until sometime in the third loop when Emily from 30-34 passed me like the freight train that she is on the bike.  So strong!  I was racing blind so not sure if it was just perception or if I really did slow (looking at splits looks like lap 2 going up the Beeline was actually the slowest).  I don't ever look at power when I race but record it and usually go by HR and perception.  I forgot my HR monitor at home and so that was it, perception it was! I'm really glad that this didn't throw me off.  I asked Sonja if she had one and once she said no, that was it, time to just RACE. Small rant...why is it that NOT ONE dude gave me an "on your left" when passing me?  It's safe and courteous...and BTW, if I pull out at the same time as you pass me that I didn't know, we're both going down...not just me, so really, it benefits us ALL if you just open your mouth and utter those three little words.  I rolled into transition in 2nd place for the amateur race and was still leading the AG.  I knew I would need to continue to build my lead if I had any hope of holding Emily K. off as the girl can run (ran a 3;19 in the end).  Unfortunately, I lost a minute to her on the bike and only had an 8 minute buffer.

Run nutrition: one scoop of pre-load as I hit the run and then 5 gels, coke and water at every aid station, a 5hour energy around mile 13 and then glucose tabs during the last 10k.  Total kcals using an estimate of 2oz/coke per aid station (let's say 20 of the 26) is 966 or 276/hour.

Running to the finish. Pic by Sonja
Run: 3:35:26 vs LY of 3:29:35 wah wha...
I think we all feel like this, but I'll still say it.  Why is it that what I can do in training doesn't materialize on race day for my marathon?  I can do my long runs at IM HR averaging why can't I even just seem to manage a 7:55 pace?  I'm not asking for 7:40's (yet...don't get greedy), but come on Hailey.  Maybe I just don't push hard enough?  I didn't have a HR monitor so no idea what my HR was and I was comfortably uncomfortable.  Mark always says I hate being uncomfortable so maybe that is the next things to work on.  Being uncomfortable running for long periods of time.

COKE! WATER! Pic by Nick Weiler
look at those high knees...not mine! Pic by Nick Weiler
The run course in AZ seems so desolate to me.  I think Texas and Kona spoil you, but truly the run support and volume of spectators is so high in TX (3 lap run) that it seemingly never ends.  The Coeur team had an AMAZING cheer section in the middle of nowhere along this course so that was so helpful, but if you do this course, be prepared for some serious YOU time where you will need to rally your positive self talk.  Speaking of self talk, I feel like I had a successful race mostly due in part to my mind on the day.  When I slowed, I assumed that so was everyone else and I told myself NO walking even through aid stations.  At one point, Emily was charging hard and Robin had shrunk my gap down to less than a minute.  But I did not panic and just kept telling myself that I am the durable athlete and that if I just keep WORKING MY PROCESS, I will have the success I am looking for.  Yes, I wanted to qualify for Kona and I knew that meant I had to finish in the top two as there were only 40 slots at this race.  But each time that thought would come into my head, I pushed it out and focused on the moment I was, drink, lean forward or at least try listen to the info Sonja gives you when you pass her and soak in the cheers.  On repeat. ON the 2nd lap, Emily made the pass and I moved into 2nd in our AG.  I had begun to open up a gap on Robin and was comfortably in 2nd.  At mile 24, a gal was coming from the 40-44 AG and Sonja asked me I had to decide if I wanted 2nd OA amateur or 3rd.  I couldn't rally my mind or body to hold on to 2nd and that is OK.  I think you can only go so deep a few times per year and I had already gone there in Kona.  I started to feel really rough from 24-26 and don't remember ever having to really will myself to the finish like I did here.  But then, there it was and poof, just like that, another IM is over and my season was done.  How does a nearly 10 hour day just go by in the blink?  I guess that' what happens when you're having FUN.

Kona Love
After the race, Sonja and I walked back to the hotel, showered up and wen tin search of pub food. The next morning after the usual, up until midnight on caffeine, girl talk and social media, sleep for three hours, picnic in bed, sleep another two hours, we were off to breakfast with the team at Snooze. I love going to this race for the sheer amount of Coeur teammies there.  It's such a special team, I really don't know where I'd be without these ladies.

Then we headed to awards and I accepted my Kona slot.  I can't believe this will be my 8th time on the island.  There's no place I'd rather be on the 2nd Saturday in October.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tri Holiday Guide

So it's Black Friday/Small Biz Saturday/Cyber Monday and maybe you're wondering what could you ever get that triathlete in your life?  Or you're looking for a list to give to folks buying for you...or maybe you just need to treat yo self! Look no further...these are the things that I use day in and day OUT to get me through my triathlife and maybe they can work for you too!  Look for the discount codes too! they for tri, bike run or swim, Coeur Sports has me covered.  We're also doing a Black Friday sale for 30% off so use code BF1630 to get you some as this stuff is rarely on sale!

Wheels, handle bars, stems...all the trimmings to make your whip fast and aero.  Hand made in Utah by the great folks at enve composites.  These wheels have NEVER let me down and I feel oh so stable in them, even in the mumuku winds of Kona.  And if you buy more than $75 right now, you'll be entered into a drawing for a set of wheels or a handlebar.  #treatyoself

BT Nutrition keeps me fueled day in and day out without all of the sugar of powerade.  Keep the hydration, ditch the sugar.  Use code WELOVESNBS for 10% off and see for yourself how much better your GI system behaves once you put the hydration in your bottles and keep the food in your pockets. enough of us pay attention to this and it is CRUCIAL to staying injury free (my new fave word is DURABLE) as well as keeping bone density high for the ladies.  The team at SBT Extreme has THE suspension trainer and right now you can get 25% off using code BF2016

Real Food..I live for it during training so that come race day, my fave race nutrition tastes fresh and like a treat.  Barnana is the perfect training food or pre/post workout snack to refuel with a good amount of carbs and fiber.  These tasty bites are organic and non-GMO.  My fave flavors are coconut and peanut butter. BOOM!

Race food- race day is a whole 'nother ball game and for race day I use a combo of my salty balls and Gu Stroopwafels with a little PB squished in it sammy like on the bike and then switch to gels on the run.  My fave flavors from Gu are the Caramel Coffee and GF Chocolate wafels and then I love the caramel macchiato and espresso love.   Right now Gu is offering 20% off site wide, no code necessary.

Just keep swimming...Just like Dory, we all need to keep swimming and the off-season is a great time to work on that swim stroke with pool toys by ROKA.  They also make the best wetsuits.  Full stop.  I get no neck chafing, and my shoulders feel unrestricted.  My go-to goggles from ROKA are the F1 in the jade tint for overcast days and the dark amber mirror for sunny days. These guys are offering 40% off for Black Friday (no code needed) so get some before it's GONE. 

What to keep all of your dirty clothes in while traveling, or put that wet swimsuit in instead of using yet another plastic bag and wasting things?  Aloha Collection offers bags that I use for everything...toiletries (even if they explode in the bag, i can just wash the bag and nothing else gets ruined), clothes, race day nutrition....the list goes on.  They're offering 25% off for this weekend with the code ALOHAFRIDAY!

Sunnies...for race day or post race looking casual chic, Smith Optics has you covered and looking on point.  My go to's for race day are the Arena for biking and the Asana for runs. For casual glasses, the Sidney is my jam. They also make amazing aero helmets (coming in March) and an incredibly safe road helmet, the Overtake which I've been using for 2 seasons now. 

Protein.  Say it with me, 30min window.  That's what you have after each workout to refuel properly to get your body kick started on recovery.  My recovery shake that I make is so good that I sometimes train just so I can have one! My recipe is 2 scoops organic chocolate Muscle Milk powder, 1c almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 serving peanut butter, ice and Voila!  If you like chocolate and PB, you will love this.  Sometimes i add a shot of cold brew and it's like a mocha. 

This might be on the bigger end of what you're asking for for The Holidays, but hey, a gal can dream, right?!  I've been riding Argon18 bikes for 6 years now.  I can't say enough for how well they handle, how well they are built and how amazing the Argon Family is.  For day to day riding since it's so hilly here in NorCal, I ride the Nitrogen Pro road bike.  I also raced Escape From Alcatraz on this since it's such a technical course and the bike is so aero.  My race bike is the E119 tri+ and it is amazing and so easy to take apart/build for races that include travel.

What are your fave things that make triathlon easier?  I hope you enjoy and have a great Holiday Season!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Big Island Time

Super Supporter
It's already been almost two weeks (how is that possible?) since Kona #7 and we've been home for almost a week.  We flew back home after a week of relaxing with friends post race and arrived home to....rain!  Oh man, not at all what I wanted to see.  Yes, CA is still in a massive drought so we def need the rain, but after a month of sunshiney paradise, it wasn't a beautiful sight.  I know, you can play the worlds smallest violin for me...a MONTH in Hawaii and you are complaining about coming home to California?  I know, terrible, how about we blame the post race blues? do you have post race anything after a month in Hawaii and the opportunity to race your 16th Ironman and 7th Kona?  Now you have a bit of insight into how I feel after each race.  Particularly post Kona is  really hard for me.  Not doing much training, still tired from the race and worst of all?  Friends that you normally see for almost the entire weekend between 6 hour rides, 2+ hour long runs, swims and strength, are also in their off season, so friend time goes down to a lot less (yes, we will work on some dinner/wine dates, but not at all the same as all weekend sun friend time!).  Queue your sad panda face here.  Does this happen to anyone else?  It must, right?

Friends make Kona even better
The race?  Ah yes, the purpose here is to talk about the race.  It's hard to be so Type-A, this was a really hard race for me (what about it was so hard?  I can't put my finger on that yet).  I got back to work and colleagues asked if I had a great race.  I had a GOOD race, it was solid and consistent with my performances over the season.  For that, I am incredibly grateful.  You see the carnage that Kona creates and all along the course, you see dreams crushed.  When I see that, I put any ego in check and tell myself it ain't over until I cross that line, shorts unsoiled ;) I am incredibly aware that I have been gifted 7 solid races in Kona and for that, I am so thankful.  Did I want to do better?  ALWAYS!  Who doesn't?  Was I happy with 5th place and a 3rd umeke bowl?  To use meaning from the umeke, yes, I know what it feels like to feel full to the brim with happiness and gratitude.  The women in front of me, were stellar, all running a few minutes faster than me and a few biking faster.  In order to have done better, I would have had to have one of those, ON FIRE, feeling FAB races.  And I just didn't have that day, and that is A-OK...those races are so few and far between, that you have to mostly do the best with a GOOD day that you can.  And that's what I did.  Below are some thoughts on each leg...

Coeur and Betty Undies!
Race week was so much fun as always, the underpants run is a great fundraiser and a chance to be silly pre-race, and bike check in is like the red carpet for triathletes.   Argon18 had a great dinner on Wednesday for their athletes and getting to see the crew from Roka often was just awesome. 

Pre race food: rice, two eggs, avocado, cold brew coffee, bottle of BT hydration.  30min pre race, 1 bottle pre-load and a banana.  Total kcals ~750

Roka Swim: 1:01:38 (EXACT same time as 2013 aka the FAST year when I went sub-10) ties for my PB in Kona
pretending to swim like a dolphin
I lined up pretty much in the center of the front line.  I planned to go out hard and then hold on as best I could for the swim.  It honestly wasn't that bad, I am such a fan of the separate start for women.  It did get crowded and a bit pushy right before the gun went off, but that's 700+ nerves just WAITING to be released, that is not avoidable.  I hit it hard and at one point was thinking it would be nice to slow down..then reminded myself if I did, I would promptly be run the eff over by the women not slowing down on their dreams.  So I pressed on.  I messed up my garmin at the start so didn't have swim time, but only actual time of day so I saw at the turn around it had been 29 minutes, which I have seen way too often en route to a 1:04/1:05 swim split here.  Finally, we got a bit of assistance on the way back and pretty evenly split the swim.  We started going through the men before the turn around, but I and by I, I mean the gal I was drafting off of for the ENTIRE race seem to have found a better path through them this year and didn't have too many issues.  I was happy that I kept on it and was able to stay focused the entire swim, thinking about good cadence and finishing strong.  As with this entire day, the swim was over before I knew it and it's time to RIDE!

Bike Nutriton: Half recipe of salty balls, two Gu stroopwafels (SO GOOD), 7 bottles of BT Hydration, loads of water, and two bottles of coke (can I get an amen for coke on the bike?) For a total kcal count of about 1700 or roughly 310/hour which is LOW for me, I am typically around 350-375

Argon18 and Enve Bike: 5:39:56
Mile 111 and smiles
Pre-race, for the past few months (er, 6+) I'd been having some pretty rough back pain and had been doing everything I could to quash it....mobility daily, massage, chiro, acupuncture, anything I thought would help it, I was doing!  Thankfully, the rest from the taper made things much better and I was able to ride pain-free which was awesome...I normally start to get really tight in my lower back around mile 90?...maybe an indicator I could have gone harder if nothing was hurting?  I want my 2013 time back please of 5:16!  I've not had amazing bikes here over the past three years and need to get some of my biking prowess back.  This is where I was out split pretty significantly by 4th and 1st place...there is always work to do right?  And that is what keeps us coming back for more, and more and more....The bike this year was very different, I was riding closely to a few women who I know to be very solid performers so thought I was having a pretty good bike if I could stick with them.  It's fun to see how differently people ride, I tend to be strong on flatter sections and will get passed on hills and then re-pass on the flatter to down section.  Being around these women I know personally was great, we were able to encourage each other, exchange a few words about how drafting sucks, etc.  But again, having them in my sights was a great motivator.   There was a head wind in both directions (how does that happen every single year?!), and thankfully the cross winds coming down from Hawi were pretty tame.  Mark was out on the Kuakini, and at Kawaihae along with two other friends so seeing them and getting encouragement is just awesome.  Mark has the spectating game NAILED.  The aid stations were also one point I was giving too many fist bumps to "Let me take another Selfie" and missed a bottle...whoops!  I had also been having some MAJOR stomach issues race week (hello stress and too many acai bowls) so was not able to eat as much as I normally would have and started to crave water only around mile 90 but forced myself to keep drinking the hydration mix as I know how critical electrolytes are.

Run kcals: 5 gels, 2 glucose tabs, coke!  Total about 322/hour estimating 2oz of coke/mile

Smith and Coeur Run: 3:33:00 pretty standard...I ran a 3:32 LY and a 3:30:59 the year before...where is the 3:25 that I KNOW is in there?!!

Anyone behind me?!!
I knew that as I headed into the run, I was a bit low on calories so as I headed out of transition, I immediately had a gel, my 5hour energy, and a top up of pre-load so that I didn't have to drink any gatorade. I carried 4 Gu's with me and had one more in special needs (anyone else find that the Clif gels on course are like bricks and you actually have to bite into them?) and planned to have one every 30min so that combined with coke, I would be able to hit a pretty good kcal intake for the run.  I know that we got lucky this year on the run as cloud cover came in just after I left Alii and headed up onto the Queen K.  So again, it was a hard year for me and really with cloud cover, I'm not so sure why, but MAN did the run hurt.  The first few miles for me are always pretty hard, you've already gone a long way, you've got a long way to go and I haven't yet really found my rhythm.  I immediately start my, ice in the bra/hat, coke, water at every aid station and am oh so thankful for those cold sponges.  I came off of the bike in 6th place and just had my plan of running as I could and hopefully I would find gals as the day wore on.  Going into the energy lab, Mark told me 4th was JUST ahead of me and I made my pass to overtake her on the downhill into the lab.  Unfortunately, Mark had miscounted and he let me know as I came out of the energy lab, that I was actually in 5th.  WAH,wah...6ish miles to go and I had to hang on for 5th as 4th was 7 minutes up the road, there was not likely to be a 4th place finish in my future.  The gal in 6th was about 2 minutes back and stayed there, but the 7th place gal was moving fast and overtook for 6th and ended up only a minute back from me, so the end of the run wasn't super enjoyable as I was feeling the pressure to keep up the pace and wasn't really able to enjoy the end of the run on Alii as much as possible.  Thank you to Michelle for taking the best panic pic of me and telling me there was no one behind me! As I went under the Banyan tree, I tried to smile and enjoy it and as I crossed the finish line, I just had nothing...couldn't even do my normal arms in the air as I cross the line in celebration.  The tank was empty! I had an awesome catcher at the finish line who had to hand deliver me to Mark as I needed a bit of support!

Waterfall landing
It really was one of the most awesome trips ever.  I got to swim with dolphins for the first time ever, hung out with good friends who I only get to see in Kona, and took a helicopter trip of the island that BLEW my socks off. To see lava flowing is just powerful and awesome.  

Jana & I share another podium
There really is no finish line like the Hawaii finish line, the spectators along Alii are just awesome, all of the chalk messages from friends and family, the smell of the Banyan tree, it's just magical and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have crossed another finish line.  It's now time for a bit of rest and to see what the next year will bring! 

I couldn't get to the start line without the help of my immediate and extended family including sponsors and friends.  Many mahalos to all of you!

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 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 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? 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 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 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'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 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 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 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, 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 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, " 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.