Thursday, December 22, 2011

A New Job, a New Season and an (almost) New Year

After a year at my most recent job, I decided to, upon a girlfriends urging apply elsewhere. Somewhere where I wouldn't have to commute as far, would not have to work on the weekends and would be a move toward the less customer facing direction. Thanks to that recommendation, I now have a GREAT new job that is truly a hybrid. I get to continue to interface with clients a few hours a day and the rest are send managing a few awesome gals and making sure our clients are taken care of from the back end. I got my own lap top and a phone and it's official. I feel like a big girl. Did I mention I now get to focus on training a bit more?!! That was a major benefit of me taking the job. Oh that, and the fact that I can now commute by bike and have one of THE best masters programs in the country less than 2 miles away from my work doorstep...welcome Hailey to Stanford masters swimming. If I thought Santa Clara was slightly intimidating (and I grew up swimming), take it to the next level and you have Stanford. that being said, EVERYONE has been incredibly welcoming and it is so good to see good friend Jess there.

My first week of training is this week and I think I am finally ready to get back to the real work. I have been swimming and TRX'ing and riding a bit since Kona, but I have done NO running and the rides have been very short. I believe that after a 10 month season this is truly what does my mind and body the best. Although it leaves me a bit chubby- I can't seem to curb my food cravings during the off season! Transitioning to the new job in the off season is the best possible scenario as well, it left me time to get adjusted to a new schedule, the new route to work...all of those things that you can't be bothered with doing when heavily training.

So as we head in to Christmas and New Years, the training has begun and I have been working with my coach/husband on planning next season. New Orleans 70.3 or the Napa HITS half distance will likely be my season opener in April and then we have Ironman Texas on the schedule as a big race in the hopes of getting back to Hawaii for the third time. After that there is lots more planned with hopefully a mid season break watching the TDF and riding some of the course. Hill training anyone? Combine that with some french wine and bread and you have a vacation from heaven.
I have been lucky enough to be a TYR athlete for another year and I couldn't be more excited. Have you seen the Freak of Nature wetsuit? It came in its own briefcase...and beyond that it is rumored to be mind blowing in the water. I'll report back on that one soon. But seriously, it is amazing to have TYR on board for me again this year and if you haven't swum in one of their wetsuits, you need to. They are that good. Christmas from TYR Santa is good! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three Weeks

Three weeks ago I was in Hawaii racing the finale of my season, the Ironman World Championships. Three weeks ago today I was celebrating a near sub 10 hour finish among the best competition in the world. Three weeks ago, I was celebrating with some of my most cherished friends and family over lava flows and mojitos. Three weeks ago, my "off" season began. So where does that leave me now, three weeks later? Mark and I celebrating at the Fairmont
The 2011 season went better than I could have imagined, but it went as I knew it could. This already has me thinking to the 2012 season and what "can be" for me next year. Some wise coaches say that you have to have a plan in place to make your dreams come true, otherwise they are just that...dreams. I have been begging Mark to put a plan together for 2012 and to plan the races out and he tells me to " patient", you are not even supposed to be THINKING of that yet. "Later", he says. Can you tell we're have an age gap, and I am the eager beaver and he the wise sage? Mark Racing Cross:
So what have I been doing in the three weeks since Kona? I have been making up for lost time with special girlfriends who only know what I tell them about triathlon and that I am "crazy", sleeping so much that I am actually waking up on my own, rested and ready to go! I've also reversed the roles with Mark and have become Super Supporter at the local cross races where he has been getting fitter and faster each week...with the exception of this week since he took a digger and sliced his knee open...guess he just wants to match the scar I have from years ago taking a digger while running along Crissy Field.
What haven't I been doing since Kona? I haven't been running,that's for sure. I had a nagging Achilles going into Kona and I am determined to come out of the off season with a happy body, ready for the work ahead for the 2012 season. So that means, building back up the strength again with TRX...lord how I have missed that pain! And biking in the sun and trying to keep my Kona tan...we'll see how long it lasts.
Pretty soon, my off season will be over and it will be time to move onto the hard work ahead. But for now, I will continue to enjoy the less structured days and see how much fun I can cram into a small space of time.
See you on the road soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Racing in paradise, tales from the Hawaii Ironman

10:06:14. Shut. The. Front. Door!!! Long story short? I raced for my second time in Hawaii this past Saturday and with the time listed above finished 8th in my AG, 16th amateur female and 36th female overall...including the pros. Can I get a whoop whoop!!! Picture me doing my hands in the air dance right about now. I also dropped 48 minutes off my last year time along the way, having the race that I KNEW I was capable of. Read on for the blow by blow of race day.

Friday night and it's time to sleep. I managed to sleep better than usual, with only about two middle of the night wake ups. 4:30 and it's time to get up. Time to eat a massive bowl of peanut butter Puffins (I need sponsorship from Barbara's Bakery), a banana and a packet of Justin's honey almond butter. Yum-o! Combine it with a huge Gatorade and I hit my targeted 1000 kcal breakfast. Sunscreen and braid it up and its time to get to T1 to find my team gals and get the bike prepped and my swim gear on. We were lucky enough to get a pic with legendary 81 years young Lew Hollander...nothing says inspiration like this man!

SWIM: 1:05:21
Faster than last year but not by much. I got into the water with the Mark Renshaw of swimming, Kebby! Kebby was only going to swim and vowed to knock over loads of men and clear a path for me in the beginning of the swim. We decided to start next to the floating car which is far left and where I started last year. Last year I remember having really clear water from the get go. This year was MUCH different. From the beginning we were in the thick of it. We should have sensed this was coming from the massive number of men around us and how close they were getting...nothing like a little pre race action to get you pumped to swim! By the time the first bouy appeared we had gone from far left to right along the bouy line. Good for swimming, bad for body contact. My least favorite thing during an ironman swim is while taking a breath catching a glimpse of the chaos behind you. It's an indescribable image, hundreds of people swimming towards you in a very selfish mindset trying to propel themselves to the swim finish as fast as possible. I hit the turn around and glanced at my watch and saw :31, and thought to myself, yes this is going to be a 1:02 ish swim as we had already rounded the boat and were headed straight for home. And I even tried to push the way home after thinking I had taken the first half out way too easy...saw the clock on the way out with a 1:05 and said OK, let's get on and ride that bike!

BIKE 5:21:48
The bike was a 31 minute PR from last year and while I know that the winds were not nearly as bad as last year that meant that it was HOT out there in the lava fields. I remember going too slowly last year through town and knew that I needed to push from the beginning and try to catch Jess who had exited the water 4 minutes up on me. I am like a machine with my bike nutrition, an alarm sounds every thirty minutes indicating its time for a 150 kcal gel and every other beep it's time for two salt tabs. This combined with one initial bottle of Gatorade and then only water is my strategy and it has never failed me (touch wood Iris). I got on this from the start of the bike and never skipped a beat. I was feeling SO good all the way out and was telling myself as I passed girls in my AG who usually beat me, that this was the plan, this is how I know I can ride and to have faith in myself...there was lots of talking to myself on race day, some even out loud! Got to the turn around in Hawi and knew that I had to take advantage of all the free speed that the hill offers and move it back home. I was flying back and talking to myself about how much I love the wind, I am one with the wind, my aerobars are the best place to be in the wind, and before I knew it, I had no gears left and was going for broke. When all of these good patches came, I told myself to bank these moments and feelings as there were sure to be bleak spots ahead. And there they were, from mile 80-T2 I was in a rough patch, my back hurting keeping me from being aero and the head wind that prevailed all the way home. Sarah P came flying by during this section and I saw Beth as well. Coming back into T2, I was excited to see my running shoes, friends and family. Time to bring this sucker home.

RUN 3:33:14, 8:08 pace/mile

I have to say it. My major goal for this race was to hit 3:30 on the marathon. I wanted to improve in all disciplines, but I am no fool. I know that my run is the biggest weak link for me and to do what I want to do, it must get faster. My run here last year was a 3:46. Starting the run I felt pretty poopy, but who doesn't? Then my garmin beeps at me and tells me my first mile was a 7:22...ok well if that's what poopy feels like, bring it on! The plan for nutrition was to eat a gel every 2 miles and to get ice down the chest each mile and grab a few cups of water. And then salt tabs every hour. Thank god the aid stations are every mile, sometimes they couldn't come soon enough! The first 10 miles were at an 8min/mile pace and I was very comfortable, but the heat along Alii was crazy, no breeze and just HOT! Starting the climb up Palani, Mark is telling me to use my power to get up the hill. My"power" only allowed me to walk up Palani. When the watch said 8:45 for that first mile I knew it was still ok, as the next 7 miles out to the Energy Lab are a steady uphill. I wasn't getting passed at this point and was feeling pretty good. Mark had told me that I was likely in the top 15 for amateur women and I was thinking, seriously?!!! This is good news. In the energy lab I passed another gal in my AG and knew that there was only 6 more miles to go. With 2 miles to go, I allowed myself to really look at the garmin and see that I was on pace for a 3:3x marathon. I was really going to do it.

Coming down Alii is one of the best feelings in Ironman, you know that your day is almost over and the amount of high fiving is awesome. Everyone is cheering so loudly and you realize that all of your training and sacrifices throughout the year have indeed been worth it. I hit the line in 10:06 and busted into the top 10 in Kona. This is the real deal and I couldn't be happier. Of course I am already planning how I WILL get faster next year, but for now I am taking some time on the beach soaking up some sun eating some delish food and not caring about the calories, Dairy Queen anyone and enjoying some down time.

It's funny how I always tell Mark how I see other girls doing SO much volume and not as much tapering as I do and he always tells me to trust in our plan. And I do, but man alive did the plan work out this year. I think Mark has always known what I am capable of and I am only just starting to see it. Thanks babe! I also have to give a big Mahalo to my mom. She has always believed in me and told me that I can do whatever I want. She doesn't always think this for herself and sometimes thinks that I am a bit crazy, but her confidence in me is unwavering. Not everyone can say that and I am truly blessed. And how many other moms come swimming with their daughter into the Pacific for a recovery swim?!!

My other thanks go out to my unbelievable sponsors. Their help has made me faster and I hope to keep providing them with an excuse to sponsor me! TYR keeps me in the fastest and most comfortable swim products, arriving in Kona was like arriving to Christmas with TYR! The team keeps me looking good and keeps me comfortable all day long in their awesome kits...did you see us during the underpants run?!! Gray wheels make my bike splits even faster and nuun keeps me hydrated along the way. THANK YOU!!!

Enjoy the off season, gain a few pounds and let's do it again next year!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

80 degree water, 95 degree day, 50 degree racing

This past Sunday, the BEST of the BEST gathered just outside LasVegas, in beautiful Henderson, NV.  Beautiful might not be exactly the right word, but it was indeed an epic event.  I arrived on Friday and was staying with my fellow teammate Jess and a few other friends.  Friday saw us very busy, registering, building bikes, catching up and talking about the course.  We woke up early Saturday morning as there was only going to be one practice swim.  Jess, Sarah and I got there just in the nick of time to sprint to the swim start and get in a nice 10 minutes in lake Las Vegas.  10 minutes was all we needed to get a feel for the warm temperature (def no wetsuit allowed) and see how the buoys were set up.  After we got out, we quickly saw fellow age group star Beth and of course had to stop and catch up.  What fun would racing triathlon be without gabbing with your girls?!!

The 30-34 gals, Sarah, Beth, Me, Jess (current world champ tiara holder)

After the swim/gab session, Jess and I met up with our fellow ambassadors and headed over to Hotel Holden where Kebby and Reg, AKA super sherpa (who all of our husbands will be taking classes from in Kona) had whipped up an AMAZING gluten free breakfast...I ate more than my fair share of muffins, strada and fruit.  Pre-race fueling?  DOUBLE check!  WE had a great time meeting the other team beauties...and did I mention these women are fast?  2 AG world champs among us (out of 6 team mates).  Note to self...step up run game next year so I too can be badass!

Team ladies hamming it up for photog Reg!

OK, so enough of the fun stuff right?  Wrong!  All Saturday I got to hang with Kebby and Reg talking about all things NOT triathlon, UFC and our mutual love of GSP, tennis- there was a marathon of the US Open on that day and I kept thinking to myself how I love to watch tennis as you can totally see the mental attitude and strength of each athlete, and sometimes you can see when they are mentally loosing there stuff.  Gotta love Hi Def TV.  Lots of eating ensued as is my pre race tradition. Like clock work, the day before a race, I can pack it in like a linebacker.  Truth be told this may be one of the reasons that I will always have to be an endurance athlete, I LOVE to eat.  Later in the day after prepping our bags, Kebby and I headed down to T1 to drop off our gear.  This time always makes me giddy, you get to parade your bike (at world champ races) in front of the industry reps and show 'em what you got.  Argon 18 on a FAST set of Gray Wheels baby...mark it down!

Kebby and I looking hot!

Onto the race.  See how much I have been avoiding talking about it?  Sheesh lady, get onto the goods!  Going into this race, I have had one of the best seasons a girl can have.  I had qualified for both world championships and landed myself on the podium at each race I had entered (save for one where Jess and I took a 7 mile detour add on to the bike course).  My times kept getting faster and things were going smashingly.  So one can reason that this race was bound to happen and all have said better at Vegas than in Kona next month.  I take this all to heart but definitely am disappointed with my performance last Sunday.  I KNOW that I could have been at least in the to 10 of the age group and had that expectation for myself. 

So, what went wrong you may ask?  Absolutely nothing.  I can't tell you that X happened or I had a massive mechanical on the bike or that my nutrition sucked.  Nope, all of these things were in check.  I hydrated properly, got in my usual amount of calories and had a super pre race breakfast of Puffins!!  My bike was in great shape and I had put it together myself, making Mark a very proud coach in the process.  No excuses for the day that happened, I just didn't have the magic that was needed to mix it up with the best of the best on the day.  I ended up with a time of 5:06 and finished 18th in the age group and was the 11th American...almost a top 10.  No pity party for me, I know this could be a dream race for some and I truly am grateful for what I have achieved...I just always want more...just ask Mark ;)  This is part of what keeps me loving triathlon, there is always more to do.

After the race, I found a kindred spirit in Jess as she also loves Chipotle and Dairy Queen!  We hit both up after our post race massage and made sure to properly replace ALL of the calories we had just isn't easy to do, but we managed to get down a blizzard in the name of recovery.

Jess enjoying her DQ...a MUST post race treat!

The course was pretty phenomenal though, the ride and run were in one word: unrelenting.  It was either up or down, there was absolutely ZERO flat.  And you needed to WORK those downhills, so there was no letting up.  It was a perfect training day for Kona and with less than a month to go and the day light shrinking every day,  I can tell the end of the season is near.  So onward and upward I go. 

I am SO looking forward to going to Hawaii, for the race for sure, but maybe even more so to connect with all of the amazing people that I have met along this journey.  It will be a fun time for sure and the race is guaranteed to be epic.  I feel a USA domination coming for the those other gals had better run like they stole it.

THE best sponsors a girl could ask for:

A HUGE thank you to all of my supporters, for making the most comfortable kits that keep us looking better than all the other girls on course, Gray wheels for making my ride fly like the wind, nuun for making me WANT to drink all day long with the delicious strawberry lemonade flavor, TYR for keeping me as fast as possible in the water, and to ALL of my friends and family for always being there for me and being my biggest fans.

See you all in Hawaii!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Happens In Vegas...Triathlon Style

This airplane is full of the usual Vegas crowd, girls wearing birthday girl tiaras, boys getting ready for a raging bachelor party weekend and then you see it: a sprinkling of your not so typical Vegas crew...the compression wearing, fit triathlete.

This year the 70.3 World Championships have moved from Clearwater Beach to Las Vegas. It's also a month earlier than Kona instead of a month after making it the perfect prep for those of us also headed to the Big Dance next month. It's been 100+ for the past week and is now "cooling" down to the 90's. Making it another perfect prep race for Kona. We get to get out in the desert on a potentially windy, hot course. I'm excited!

My co-workers keep asking me if it's really healthy to be out in this kind of weather pushing myself so hard. I tell them my sodium load started already and I should be OK :). I hope to be by the hotel pool alternating nuun and mojitos before Sunday afternoon is up.

I'm also excited to hang with my crew of team mates. These ladies are some of the toughest in the field and all possess an amazing attitude to boot! Who could ask for a better team? As I keep on in triathlon, it seems to keep getting better and better by the year. Not only my results, but I keep meeting more amazing women and these events become so much fun. Not just the race, which is always awesome, but the before and after. Meeting up in Vegas this weekend and in Hawaii next month seeing all of my ladies will be two of the highlights of the year.

I'll be staying with two of the BEST athletes in the 30-34 division Jess S. and Sarah P. I've been training with Jess and am pumped to meet Sarah. I know that these ladies, along with a few other buddies, will push me to new limits come this Sunday and I couldn't be more excited to see the results.

I had a fantastic day at Vineman in July, mentally having a breakthrough. I told myself that I deserved to be at the front and that I needed to do everything possible to stay there. That'll be my mantra for this Sunday's race as well. The season is almost over and for now as all the work is mostly done, I will look back on the seasons successes, all the training that I have put into the bank and get rallied for Sunday!

I have plenty of Nuun to keep me perfectly hydrated for the weekend as well as my speedy speed suit from TYR. The team kit is ready to rock, perfectly matching my trusty steed with it's beautiful and FAST Gray wheels...who said color coordination was't important out on the course? You can take the girl out of fashion, but not the fashion out of the girl (says the gal wearing full compression tights)!

So as the rest of the 6:30AM flight is sipping on cocktails, I will sip my nuun and get ready to rock!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Only 2 Races to go...How'd That Happen?

Only two races to go. Not just any two races, but THE two biggest races of the season are the only ones left on the calendar. And I still feel like I haven't gotten a proper summer! I'm sitting here on the sofa wondering just how the season has passed by so quickly. There have been countless laps done in the pool, around the track and miles logged on the bike. Is it really almost time to hang it up for the year? ALMOST, but not quite yet! There are only 7 weeks until Kona, and Vegas is even closer just a week and a half away. A girl had better start working :)

I am SO excited for these two races though, Vegas is going to be a girls weekend out, as I'm staying with some super FAST gal pals Jess, Sarah and Mimi. Nothing like sharing the house with some of the biggest competition out there! I am looking froward to meeting Sarah P and the after party that I am SURE to drag the rest of the house too. Is it bad that I'm really looking forward to the after party? I mean it's VEGAS! Better save up some energy...I can see the headline on Slowtwitch now, "1800 triathletes and they all go to bed by 10PM"...Vegas won't get it's monies worth. OK, so back to the focus. I know Mark will read this and think, of course my wife is more focused on the party than the race. Not so I will tell him. I am pumped to race against some of the baddest girls around town and to rip it up in the heat prepping for Kona. Vegas is going to be a great indicator for us all on how we will do in the heat, humidity and pressure of Kona. Then we'll have 5 more weeks to plan for the big dance!

Fast Girl Jess and I in training

So in between now and the middle of October, I am starting to shape up and fly right, as my Grandpa would say. I am cutting back (out will come after Vegas...duh!) the alcohol, focusing on what Mark and I have dubbed "operation sleep". The goal here is for us to get at LEAST 8 hours of sleep per night. I used to be a great slave to this process and somewhere this season have gotten off track. Oh yeah, that's right...there is SO much going on in life and I am having SO much fun that sleep has taken a back seat. Not for the next 7 weeks or so. Just call me Boring Manning. I'm sure this is a large club right about now and I am not alone. I just try to tell my "regular" friends that I'm not that crazy...and that they'll see me again soon. I am also focusing on getting Mark and I the right nutrients at the right time. This can be a bit challenging for someone whose husband would rather eat potatoes and white bread than swiss chard. Just sayin. But we make it work!

Future swimmer in training, niece Fiona

I am also really looking forward to seeing even more family and friends in Kona this year. one of my besties from high school is coming to watch in Kona and my mom and her hubby are making this a part of their annual vacation rotation. Not really a bad place to vacation right? Mark and I plan to go up the coast after and do some serious beach time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Racing and Training....Kona is a comin'

This past week we began my final push to both 70.3 and the Ironman World Championships. I started off the week with an Olympic on Sunday and have been plugging along all week with a short (red line effort) splash ‘n dash at the local reservoir. After the Olympic, I noticed that I biked the bike course at Vineman 70.3 FASTER, yes faster than I did this Olympic that was a bit flatter than Vineman. Was I more excited for Vineman and had more riding on it (I had given myself only one opportunity this year to qualify to both Kona and Vegas)? Yes. But did I feel like I was trying SO hard on Sunday and going no where? Absolutely. With this information, coach Mark informed me that I should def be able to go faster in an Olympic than a half, but I think he has a pretty clear understanding of my body and that it is made to go long. Did someone say Ultraman?

So I went to the splash ‘n dash armed with a HR monitor. I haven’t raced with one ever. So it was going to be cool to see if I was actually pushing it. Again, coach seems to think that I don’t usually put myself into pain and that I am WAY too fresh looking coming across the line. Mission accomplished. My HR had a max of 199 and an average for the first mile which was slightly downhill of 181. This may have had something to do with trying to keep up with the top girls in the water, one of whom has been first out of the water in Kona and the other is a Cal stud(ette). I was able to get 3rd in the “open” category AKA women from 18-40 and won the series title for being there consistently at all 3 races and landing on the podium at each. Won a nice gift certificate for a dinner out in Los Gatos and some Cyto Sport product. All in all, a good Thursday night.

You may ask? Aren’t you training for an Ironman? The answer is yes, and the long runs and rides are on deck for this weekend. I will be searching out hot weather to train in and keep hitting the South Bay hills to mimic the immense climbing that is rumored to be in Vegas. Today saw a 20 mile run after work...pesky job gets in the way of all my FUN training. I was able to keep up well below IM hopeful pace until mile 17 when the wheels came off. I am left with 2 huge feet seem to be incapable of going longer than 15 miles without blowing up like a sausage in a microwave. Tonight I compress like a queen and we shall see how fun tomorrow's ride is after the 20 mile sufferfest of today. Thank goodness it'll be on my might be one of those days where suffering is best done alone.

Just a quick update 8 weeks from Kona. On Monday Mark's parents will be visiting us for a week of fun! It's Mark's turn to race and then it's off to have some fun with the rents!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I've Found My Tribe: A race report from the Vines

I know that I love triathlon and the life of an athlete, but do you ever have one of those days (in life)-whether you're a triathlete or not- where you look around and think to yourself, "man, this is what I was born to do and this is where I am at my happiest!"? This past Sunday at Vineman, and the whole weekend for that matter, was one of those days. From start to finish, it was a great weekend with friends and my super star supporter Mark gave me the royal treatment all weekend (even washed my wetsuit). On that note, ever have one of those moments with your significant other, where you think, "man, I'm so glad I found this person!!? I do, and sometimes I have them so often, Mark might gag a bit. But that's OK, I just rub it in then. Again, this weekend was one of those days.

Vineman is my FAVORITE race, always has been, and most likely always will be. I'm always one of this first to sign up, and I don't miss it. It's just that great. It's close to home, I always have lots of friends there, you can go wine tasting after, and it's usually guaranteed (this weekend being excluded) to be a scorcher. What's not to like?

Mark and I headed up after his long ride on Saturday, a morning I spent dallying around the house keeping so busy with small chores that I couldn't think about the race. Clue number one I was excited and pre race nerves were a comin'. After registration we headed back to old faithful, the North Bay Inn, chosen for its proximity to my favorite Santa Rosa Taqueria and smoothie bar. My pre race meal dwarfed Marks taco plate. I can rival most men when packing in the kcal's the day before a race and this tamale platter hit the spot! Perfect pre race meal done and off to the hotel to number the bike and catch up on the Tour before bed time.

I knew it was going to be a good day as I kept waking up excited to race, not thinking that I wasn't getting my rest but thinking...come on, isn't it time to go yet!!! Maybe I should mail my parents some sister and I used to have to give them a nickle every time we asked "are we there yet?" on car trips.

Right, 4:30 alarm. Sunscreen on, hair braided, team kit looking SO good, massive bowl of puffins, check. Off to the start to get this show on the road. The usually foggy Johnson's beach was clear, crisp and not too cool. Great I think, gonna be a hot one. Perfect. My wave was the 2nd wave after the pros. This was a much different experience, lots of clean water and not too much swimming over the guys. Already off to a good start. I kept with some gals for the entire swim and had the motto that I was going to get in under 30 and break my dirty 30 spell. 28:35 later and I hit the shores ready to get my bike. In what seemed like a year, I got my wetsuit into it's bag so I was sure to get it back at the end of the race. I am so attached to my TYR Hurricane that I took the most care I ever have making sure it would find its way back to me.

I had a goal to hit 2:30 on the bike. I really wanted to average 22MPH. I went 2:36 on this course in '09 and this weekend would only see me hit 2:37 or 21.2MPH. It was not sunny, but instead very wet and actually rainy in parts and windy. SO, I will take it, especially after looking at the pro times. I am most happy with my mental attitude at this race. I KNEW that I had to push on the bike and would have to maintain the pressure ALL day as the field here was HUGE, and if I wanted to do well, it had to happen before I hit the run. I got off the bike just behind 2nd place and was able to pass her on my way out of T2...another teammate, Christine from CA who I would meet later! Mark got some awesome pics for the crew and I can't wait to share them!

Out of T2 I went, very happy with my decision to have one final gel right before the bike ended. The more I race, the more I try to stuff into my face over the day and the better I get. Luck? I think not. More calories, makes for a happier, negative spaces come much less frequently Hailey. First mile done in just over 7 minutes. This is GOOD I think to myself, you can do this...However, it ain't over till the fat lady sings...don't get cocky. I saw Mark for the first time and Christine and I were still running neck and neck. Keep going girls he says, you are going so strong! I kept running through the aid stations which is good, if I start walking the aid stations, I know it costs me valuable time, and man oh man, did I know who was coming. We entered into La Crema and while trying not to think about how nice a glass of wine would be, I thought, now you just have to run home. NO problem. Keep it going. I run out of the winery and Mark tells me the inevitable is happening. Mighty Beth is running her booty off and coming for me. The catch comes around mile 9 and exactly as I envisioned it, she tells me to "come with her". Did I mention this gal ran a 3:10 in Kona? Fierce is this girls name. So with her I went...for exactly 30 seconds. But then I did my best to keep her in my sights. Around mile 11 I could feel the slow down coming on. I grabbed another gel, and said to myself, now is not the time to relax, you must focus. Two miles to go. PUSH! Mark had told me that I had 3rd covered with both Beth's in front of me. Final run time was 1:36 averaging 7:20's the entire way. Total PR for me on the run by 3 minutes...and the 1:39 came t Clearwater...flat, not rolling like Vineman.

Across the line in 4:47 and a 10 minute PR for this course. Good enough for a slot to Las Vegas 70.3 World Champs in Vegas. The race is 3 weeks before Kona, so really perfect timing for me and my race plans. And who wouldn't want the opportunity to go to a pool party at the Wynn after? Maybe my girls will come meet me after....

Highlights of the day had to be getting a photo with Chris Lieto, getting interviewed by 3GO magazine as a "top age grouper", seeing friends all day long RIPPING it up and the awards ceremony where so many accepted their slots to Vegas. We picked up a shipment from Williamson Winery (hello birthday weekend) and ended our day with dinner at the Russian River Brewing Company with a large crew of awesome athletes and friends.

BIG thanks as always to my FANTASTIC supporters for their amazing products: TYR Sports for the best wetsuit/goggle combo on the planet, Gray Wheels for the fastest wheels out there, nuun for keeping me perfectly hydrated, the team for keeping me looking good while keeping me comfy ALL day long, and Mark and my entire family for cheering and coaching me each and every day.

Next up, training for the big dance in October and a birthday this Sunday. I live a good life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TV Coverage, A New Bike and A New Sponsor

I figure since I don't have a race for another few weeks, I will blog about the OTHER exciting things going on in my life...there are so many!

Like any good tri geek, I am always DVR'ing any triathlon. Thank goodness for Universal Sports and their coverage of all non mainstream sports. Want to catch a marathon...all 26.2 miles of it? This is your station. Want to catch each day of the Giro D'Italia? Again, look no further. So, naturally this is THE place for all things triathlon. Ironman Texas was in for the first time this week and I had my DVR set to go...who knows maybe I'll see some folks I know. Coach Mark had some days off for his birthday and called me at work. Guess what? Full frontal of me in my HOT team kit ripping (or trying to rip) up the run! And Phil Ligget commentating! How exciting. For all two seconds that it lasted, I felt like a celebrity. In fact, I've replayed it several times just to verify it really was me. Indeed, it is. Exciting thing numero uno. Check!

Exciting thing numero dos? Mark recent;y got an Argon 18 road bike to replace his 15 year old Serotta...He likes to keep things for a long time and treat them right. I of course got on said new Argon 18 to see what it was like. I think my exact quote was "ohhhh I want one!"...this was pre-Ironman Texas. Mark tells me if I qualify for Kona again then I too can have a new TT bike from Argon 18. This was a small thought for me on race day. As soon as I knew I qualified I texted coach to ask if he had already ordered my new ride. It arrived this week along with the Sram Red grouppo and it's almost ready to ride. A few more cables and a fit session with M and we'll be ready to rumble. Plenty of time to get it used to me before Vineman!

And last but not least in exciting things in Hailey's life is the addition of my newest sponsor, Synergy/Gray Designs for all things wheels. This sent me over the moon. I had been on the hunt for a company that represents high quality goods and has a large focus on their athletes. I found this in Gray and am so thankful to Jason and the whole team. I will have my wheels later this week and can't wait to test them out with my new ride. I'll tell you all about them as soon as I get that first ride in. I feel like a kid at Christmas, and her birthday and all the other gift giving occasions wrapped into one.

Training is going well and I've been taking advantage of stops in the sun to enjoy my favorite mid ride snack of Coke and some potato chips! The heat has also been turned on here in Mountain View and I have had some awesome sessions in the heat. This is all money in the bank for Kona.

Next up is more prep for Vineman, shaping up to be a show down not only for the pros, but also for the age groupers...there will be some MAJOR talent there! Looking forward to seeing all my gals.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When 56 Turns into 63

Sunday's after a race are usually pretty mellow but this one has been especially great. It started off with a mani/pedi with my best gal pal KC in the city then a drive back to the sun where I promptly put myself in the back garden to get some more vitamin D while lunching on papusa's with Mark. Sounds good right? Add to that all the windows are open, and Thai food for dinner and you have one perfect day. So let's go back to yesterday and it's not perfectness.

A local racing company had decided to put on a longer version of it's wildly popular Silicon Valley International (olympic) tri. I signed up for the long course despite knowing that this company usually is a bit off in at least one component of their day. We champion adversity as athletes and it makes us stronger I reasoned. The distances would be a 1 mile swim, a standard 56 on the bike and then a shortened 9 mile run. PERFECT I thought, this will be a hard days work but won't trash my "just three weeks off an ironman" legs. Iron Anne came down on Friday night, she is my racing companion as of late...we go to all the races together and always have a blast. She decided to do the Aquabike and would be there to cheer on the run. Mark would also be making his spectator debut for the season so it was really shaping up to be a fun day. Add to that seeing friends and you see why we do this crazy sport.

5:00 and the alarm is off. A massive bowl of steel cut oats and almond butter later and we are out the door. I love this time of year as by the time 5:30 rolls around it's already light out. The race was close by and soon enough we were in transition with friends setting up for the day. The swim would be two loops with a short beach run after the first loop. The sun had come up and we were off! There were the usual super swimmers there and I exited the 1 mile swim in 24 minutes. The beach sprint after the first loop left me gasping for air starting the second loop. What is it about getting out of the water and then reentering that completely throws us off? The swim was a good start to the day and I see many men who had gone before us in T1. Time to ride the bike like there's no run after I told myself. Nothing to loose today.

I met Jess for the first time race morning, and Jess just won 1st amateur overall at Ironman St George. She is no joke and I can't wait to start training with her. AND she's on the same team...makes perfect sense! It takes me until about mile 20 to catch her after her amazing 21 minute swim and from there on out we are riding legally pushing the pace on the course...unfortunately we were working so hard with another elite gal and one guy that we missed the turn at the back half of the course. We blew through 2 red lights (sorry mom) and were cursing the officials for not having the course marked or manned with volunteers. "Someone's going to get hit" I said...3.5 miles down the road we concluded that it was us who had gone wrong. No one was behind us and we made the decision to turn around and get back on course. We worked hard and 3.5 miles later were back on track. This was mentally very hard to get over...we had been CRUSHING the bike, we were leading the race and then took a 7 mile detour that would end up costing us 20 minutes based on our average MPH. MBK came into my head and said a big "keep calm and carry on"...if this is the worst that happens all season long no big deal. So we are back on course and a few miles later see Mark who is making a training day out of spectating. He would end up riding 80 that day. He sees us and asks where we've been. Jess and I tell him the details and he laughs and says he thought we either ran into each other or BOTH got flat tires. Nope, turns out we just couldn't follow directions. So for the rest of the day when he would see us, he would make a point of making sure to tell us which way to go. Thanks babe, I can always count on Mark to make my life funny. We roll back into T2 only passing back one gal that we had passed earlier. Not a great sign, but hey, we have 9 miles to make up time. But 20 minutes is 20 minutes.

I am in and out of T2 in a flash and onto the run course. Legs are tired. No biggie I say, you only have to run 9 miles. This is an hour tempo run plus one extra mile. OK. The course is pretty flat which is good since my legs still feel as if they have no real power to push in them. I had exited T2 so quickly that it took Jess (and her sticky shoes) 3 miles to catch back up to me, but when she did it was quick! BAM! 6 miles to go I said. Mark is out on course telling me to pick up the cadence and I am good until about mile 6. Great only 3 to go, you can do this any day of the week. 2 to go and Mark tells me to sprint for home. I tell my legs to go and they respond with a big "WTF Hailey?" dice. I do a half stop and almost feel tears of frustration. But then I tell myself OK no worries we'll just get home.

I crossed the line in 7th place...12 minutes behind the leader and 3 behind Jess. so all things considered it was a great day out. I would have been in 2nd position to a competitor that I totally respect and I pushed myself harder than I think I've ever done. I don't know if that's because I'm still a bit fatigued from training (making the perceived effort harder) and I started back to big training this past week or if I am becoming able to ask more of myself and dig deeper. Which ever, I'll take it. It's good to feel like I am learning to dig deeper and maintain a good attitude while doing so. What I definitely learned though yesterday is that I can take in more calories than my usual 300/hour on the bike. This I attribute to working harder than usual...I was actually craving more gels. I even asked Mark if he had any food on him at one point. Again, no dice. Thankfully I had taken a flask with watered down gels in it for the run. There wasn't much nutrition out on course and I sounded like an army general shouting out my orders for "WATER!!" to the volunteers. I thanked them politely in a much nicer voice after I had gotten my drink.

I ended up being pretty disappointed with the lack of course direction on the bike and one of the other gals who got off course gave the the race director a big piece of her mind. This would be my first non-podium finish of the year and I was looking forward to continuing my streak.

Lessons for the day:
1. eat more on the bike
2. look at the course prior so I don't have to rely on others
3. remember husband is coach on race day, not husband till after I finish and listen to him and not get frustrated. This is a biggie.

Next up is Vineman 70.3 in July. This is my favorite race of the season (outside of Kona) and I am looking forward to seeing all of my team gals as they'll be in town for this one. Until then, back to training and gaining back my strength with TRX. But first, a glass of vino in the warm night air.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Texas to Kona, tales from the Woodlands

Where to begin? This past weekend, to quote Beth, "race day magic" happened in The Woodlands, Texas. Long story very short, with the glorious details to follow, I wound up 3rd in my age group, 4th amateur overall and 17th female...including the pros at Ironman Texas. Oh yeah, and I got a slot to Kona! Another October vacation in Hawaii? Yes please!!

Knowing that vacation time would be limited this year with all of my (hopeful) travel plans, I knew that I could only fly to Texas on the Thursday and race Saturday, which left little time for acclimatization to a very hot and steamy climate. Thank god for two things. 1. I grew up in Ohio so I am no newbie to the heat and humidity, the bike leg reminded me of home and I had many thoughts of my family and I riding all throughout my childhood. Just around the loop, right mom? 2. Thank my stars for my endless supply of nuun, hydration was going to be the name of the game in Texas. So Iron Anne, yes with the broken metatarsal picked me up and we were off to plan and prep our bikes and race day bags. Along the way, we ran into fellow nuuners, Sonja and Michelle who were going to be guiding Patricia, a blind athlete to a sub 12 hr finish. Need some inspiration? look no further, these girls were amazing!

There was a practice swim on Friday and with all of the overcast weather there was talk of it being a wetsuit legal swim. The rest of the day was filled with dropping off bikes and transition bags, and getting the visual picture in my head of how transition was going to flow so I could visualize that night. After that was done, Anne and I picked up my pre race nutrition go to of Chipotle and headed back to the hotel. We relaxed, triple checked our game plans and called it a night around 8PM. Old ladies? Yes. Fast old ladies? You betcha. Saturday morning the alam goes off at 4AM for a 7AM start and we are up and at 'em fueling up with oats and nuun. Sunscreen on, hottest kit on the market from  on, hair braided and we are out the door. And for all my ladies out there, can I tell you that there is no additional sports bra necessary with? And trust me, this was a new one for me. Phenomenal. No more double bagging.

In transition we pumped up our tires, checked our bags for the last time and headed on down to the water, which was a short walk away from T1. I was hoping for no wetsuits allowed and got my wish, the water was a balmy 79 race day morning. However, I was baffled by all of the age groupers who chose to, despite being taken from the rankings, wear a full sleeve wetsuit in that hot water. I would have overheated for sure. BIG shout out to TYR Sports for getting me into the Torque pro, I had the 3rd fastest swim in the AG and no nasty neck rashes like other suits I've worn. The swim ended down a very narrow canal allowing for a very cool finsih, seeing and hearing all of the fans was spectacular. Into T1 in style I go! The volunteers as always were phenomenal, getting my gear sorted for me and able to tell me that there were only 4 other age group women in front of me. Good news! Total time in the water, 1:05, right on target.

The bike had reports of being very rolling and windy with a lot of chip and seal pavement. Much to my surprise and delight, the roads were unbelievably clean, I actually took notice of the lack of crap in the shoulder. Score one for the IM Texas team. My pretty pony was loaded up with salt tabs and gels in preparation for the ride. The sky's remained overcast throughout much of the ride, keeping the heat and humidity bearable. No Wildflower exams sun burn for me thank you very much. East Texas again is very similar to Ohio, not a lot going on and very beautiful in a calming way. Top age grouper Beth and I spent the majority of mile 20-70 motivating each other riding peacefully through the Texas forest with only the annoying occasional male interrupting our speed train. I heard a male age grouper describe the bike course as "boring" today and I thought he couldn't have been more wrong. I already have such great memories of this place. Did I mention I already signed up for Texas 2012? Total time on the bike was 5:22 averaging 20.87 mph...with a little less wind, I coulda, shoulda, woulda rode... Mrs Consistency was my name this race and I remained in 3rd place in the AG, with only superstars Beth and Jenn ahead of me.

I got off the bike feeling pretty good but knowing that hydration was going to continue to be a factor, even though at EVERY aid station on the bike I grabbed a bottle of water. I could feel in my body things weren't perfect. No problem though, we (to quote super supporter Meredith) keep calm and carry on and focus the first few miles on cooling down and fueling up. Following coach Marks strategy, I wore a hat so that I could put ice underneath it and continually cool my body. My goal was to run 8:15's and set a marathon PR of around 3:35. The day would not see that, only 8:34's for a total time of 3:44, also a PR of 2 minutes and again 3rd best on the day for the AG. See the trend developing? Like I said, it was very hot and steamy and you could see the carnage developing all over the course. And with three laps of it, you could see it go from bad to worse as the day wore on. The real wind developed on the run course and I would have hated to be out on the bike then, it was gnarly!! The run was three laps of almost 9 miles and I thought to myself, just three hour long tempo runs to do. You do one every week, no reason why you can't go do three in a row. This is how it always starts for me. And a very wise woman once told me on the morning of my firs Ironman just one year ago, that I "GET" to go out and do this. There is no "have" to about this day. And so that was my thought process much of the day, especially on the run. I had read a quote the night before from professional Angela Naeth and she said something that resonated with me along the lines of we choose the pain, and if we don't like it then perhaps we should choose to do something different. This would be my motto on the run. Super hot, three laps of madness, only made more fun by the spectators sitting course side at a restaurant and getting drunker every lap. But they still managed to recognize me every time...must be the kit :). Thank the stars for the spectators, they truly make it an amazing day and their job is as hard as the athletes. OK, where was I?

The final six miles were tough, I could feel my body slowing and the desperation to walk at each aid station for longer each time was getting hard to overcome. I did walk through most aid stations and told myself that I could have another break at the next station. This kept me going. I had no one to tell me of my splits or who was coming for me, but I knew that I hadn't been passed out on the run yet and that would be my only way of gauging where I was at, as there was no real opportunity to see the competition. I was hoping to cross the line in as close to ten hours as possible, knowing that on a flat course, this type of goal would be achievable. Turns out, only one age grouper would break the 10 hour barrier, and she is a true star. I crossed the line in 10:18, for 3rd place in the age group and a slot to The Hawaii Ironman World Championships for the second time in as many tries. Over the moon. This would be how you would describe my emotions. And I think it showed going down the finish line...can't wait to see the pics! But first, there would be a quick pit stop in the medical tent, just to make sure I was OK. Not too bad, just needed a bit of warming up and I was good to go. And it was luxury at it's best, the nurses even got the tracking device and were able to tell me my race stats. How's that for service with a smile?

A quick shower later and Anne, (who even with a broken foot and no run training for five weeks before yesterday, finished on the podium in her AG in 4th place) and I were out enjoying a hot meal, a cold glass of vino and an even colder milk shake. One has to replace vital nutrients right?!! And there may have been a stop at Lululemon to treat ourselves to a podium award of a different kind. We watched as the later finishers came in, and then decided to call it a night. Today was very busy as well, I had to go give the WTC all of my money and sign up for Kona, and next years Texas event.

Flying back to SFO, and tomorrow I'll celebrate with Mark on a super swanky date an even more important occasion, our two year anniversary! And I got just the dress for it in Texas. Turns out, not everything is bigger in Texas ;)

Major thanks again to all of my sponsors, you make me faster, and keep me better hydrated and looking cuter than anyone else out there. For this, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thoughts On My Mind 6 Days To Texas

May 15th.  How did it get here so quickly?!!  I'm looking at the family of two calendar and already the summer seems to be jam packed and full of fun.  But seriously, Ironman in 6 days? 

This weekend we came to Lake Tahoe with some friends to watch the tour of California and get away from the Bay Area for a few days.  That meant that two days of taper would be at altitude, and seriously those gals from Colorado have got some iron lungs.  20 seconds into an effort and you would have thought that I was an out of shape, overweight gal from my breathing.  I will say this for the record.  Training at altitude never inspires confidence.  Period.  No problem though as I was riding with one of my best pals who is 4 months pregnant and we had tons of catching up to do.  Taper workout number one done.  

One of my key items that I always bring to altitude is my supply of nuun.  And everyone always seems to need it- good thing I am such a good sharer.  Altitude makes you so dry and nuun keeps all of the altitude sickness that Mark always gets at bay.  

We were all amped up to watch stage one of the tour and had our fingers crossed that the weather predictions of below freezing temperatures and a rapidly moving storm would pass over and not bring any snow.  Wake up this morning at 8, peek out the window and what do I see?  A large coating of the white stuff and more falling from the sky.  Shoot!!  Quick check of Twitter and the web revel a decision to be made at 9.  9AM comes and the start is delayed until one.  perfect for us, we grab another large breakfast at the Log Cabin in King's Beach and head back home to taper workout number 2 at altitude.  Taper workout number 2 felt much better than number one although riding on a spin bike indoors really isn't my thing.  Oh well, we make do right?  As we leave the gym to get ready for the race, turns out they cancel the whole stage less than one minute from the start.  Poor riders have less body fat on them than your average triathlete.  That mixed with thirty degree weather and snow is not a good combo.  Rumors flew that the riders were willing to ride but a neutral stage and that the tour organizers wanted only a race and so they decided together that no race was the best way to go.  Poor us.  So what to do now? Another meal?  Why not!  Wild Cherries in Truckee here we come.  This happens to be right next to the local Dairy Queen.  Seeing how as the one was closed on my way home from Wildflower, I made an exception to my no out of competition Dairy Queening.  

This leads to another one of my thoughts.  I have real trouble during taper mode not feeling deprived of food.  I know, you are thinking I must be able to eat what ever I want when ever.  How I wish this was true.  And most of the times, I do not struggle with this, but this particular taper has been bad for me hunger wise.  I am close to the end and I know I have been so focused nutritionally that I think mentally I need a break.  One more week girl!  Tomorrow is a new day.  If any of you ladies have the secret to this or just any tips, please share them with me!

So now here we sit driving home in Sunday night Tahoe traffic, me typing away on the iPad.  How I LOVE technology...most of the time.  This week will be busy, busy, and more busy!  Massage tomorrow to get the last kinks worked out and muscles firing properly.  I have to get my nails done so I can feel girly on the course and then of course my bags need packing.  The bike is already en route to Texas via tri bike transport.  One less hassle for me to have to worry about.  Seriously worth the cash, especially since my CBM (chief bike mechanic) will be sitting this one out.  I fly out Thursday morning and will meet Iron Anne there.  She is racing but likely won't start the run due to a broken metatarsal that happened five weeks ago.  Almost enough time to start running, but not for a full marathon.  This is a true disappointment.  But, we will make it a girls weekend and celebrate another ironman and her birthday on Saturday night with a guessed it, Dairy Queen!!

So with six days to go here is what I have to say.  I am SO looking forward to this race.  The heat, the humidity, the tough mental spaces that will inevitably come- I feel I have a strong plan for them all.  I have a feeling of calm this time around and know that my preparation has been what it needs to be.  If all goes as close to plan as possible next Saturday, I know the race of a lifetime is possible.  And that makes me smile from ear to ear.  

More to come in just six short days.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wildflower Weekend: Sun, Wind and a Podium Finish

I was SO excited for WF weekend this year after missing it last year for Ironman St George. Mark had plans to ride down as usual and I would take my friend Anne with me in the car for company. Things fell apart quickly. Mark and I had a wedding to go to and he was our chosen delegate and Anne broke a metatarsal a few weeks back and the camping of WF would be no good for her, as we have her on a "super" taper to IM Texas later this month and need to keep her injury free. So, I would be on my own driving down and would connect with my new South Bay team, TRIbe. Thank goodness for them, they made it a true WF weekend, filled with beer and BBQ after the race on Sat night (not that I could actually drink after the race..but at least I gave it an effort).

I am training for Ironman Texas on May 21st, so there would be no taper for WF, only a few days of rest before Saturday. This meant I had very low expectations for myself as the field at WF is always stacked with some of the best competitors from around the in point, the podium ended up being from Washington, Idaho, California, Utah and Colorado (blessed with altitude). Having low expectations is always good as it lets me be very relaxed before the race which is good. I was excited, the bike had been prepped by Chief Bike Mechanic and coach, Mark before I left for Lake Naciemento, and the weather was looking to be phenomenal.

I opted to camp in the car, which is just as cozy as any tent with a thermarest and settled in with fellow campers who, not racing, decided it was time to crack a bottle of Jack on Friday night. Ear plugs? Check. I even offered to hydrate them with some nuun, but they passed. Their funeral, not mine :) I slept better than I normally do even in my own bed and woke up Saturday morning at the pleasant hour of 6. They left the ladies for last this year which meant I was to go off at 9:15...better get your sunscreen ladies, it's gonna be a hot one!

A big bowl of Leapin' Lemurs later and I'm ready to head down to Transition to get set up and prepped for the day. I found lots of friends down there which always makes the morning go by quickly, and takes away any nervousness. I knew it was going to be hot as there was no "typical" WF fog in the morning, only bright sun and already warm at 8AM. I double checked my sunscreen plan (but it totally failed my shoulders) and headed down to the water. The gun went off and I SWEAR my TYR Hurricane makes me swim better. I feel so fast and perfectly formed in it. I started in the front row hoping to catch some good feet and ended up being the feet. I was with the front 3 girls until the turn around, all of us swimming next to each other (no the best drafting strategy) and then the buoy came. I could feel the current helping us on the way out and had prepped for when the turn came that it would not be nearly as much fun on the way back in. I was SO right, chop chop chop went the water and I got a bit off the pace. I reeled the top gals back in by the end and came out in 4th position (tied with 3 others for this spot) and got out of T1 in 3rd.

After a small mishap with getting my already clipped in shoes on...I do this at every race, why was there a problem Saturday?!! I was onto the bike. The plan was to ride as if there was no run afterward and see how that went. Being that we had gone after ALL of the men, and we had swum over about a quarter of them, it was now time to take more down on the bike. It was so windy that I felt like I was back in Kona! I tried to legally use each person in front of me as a draft as I passed them, slingshotting my way around the course. This worked until I found myself in no mans land head on with the wind. No problem, everyone is facing the same thing. Nasty Grade came and went and the Energizer Bunny was waiting at the top for us as always beating his drum signaling the end of the hill. 12 miles to go. I continued my rolling buffet and spun into T2 feeling pretty good.

Back in T2 there were very few bikes racked and I told myself that I have been working on the run for years, now get out there and do it! Year by year, race by race, fewer and fewer women are passing me. When I first started racing, I used to dread the run, the time when I would go from being a top contender to fading to top 10 if I was lucky! So I started running and fueling. I must have had a gel every 2 miles and let me tell you, this was MAGICAL! No bad mental spaces on the run and I felt fantastic. The first 8 miles of the run are all on trails and the first 5 are VERY hilly...don't even ask me about mile 4-5- the split was ugly and the pace may have included some walking. May have. Getting to mile 8 is always good and went by quickly. This is the section through the camp grounds and the crowd really rallies you here. I saw friends cheering for me and those happy to see some of the lead women coming through. Mile 9 Brings the 1st and only opportunity to see the competition and where you are in the standings. 1,2,3,4,5...OK I only counted 5 and then me. I turned and then a minute later saw 2 gals gunning for me. I knew out of the 5 in front of me that at least 3 were not in my AG. OK, Hailey- keep it in your pants and you could do this. Run for your life! 11-12 was a long slightly uphill mile and I started to feel the fatigue set in. I checked back and didn't see the other two girls and knew that mile 12-13 is all downhill and I had better work it. And work it I did! I hit the line in 5:17, feeling good.

Turns out 5:17 was good enough for 3rd in my AG and 6th woman OA. At Wildflower?!! Ohhh buddy I was excited. Protein shake me baby!

Things I was really pleased with: Breaking :30 on the swim. By the hair of my chinny chin chin, but mentally this needed to happen. I have had a tough time with that number lately and it's good to be back under :30. My run. I only got passed by one girl younger than me and I was able to run 11 minutes faster than in 2009, the last time I was at Wildflower. This is progress people! Fueling was also a total success. I will try to eat a gel every two miles in TX as well, keeping the stores topped off is key and I really was able to feel how successful of a strategy this is.

The only disappointment on the weekend? My ritual of passing by a Dairy Queen after every race was not to be this year. The Gonzales DQ has been closed and is up for lease...not that it would have been open at 8AM on my drive home, but I had to at least try. mark made it up to me later Sunday night with local fried chicken, a cheese plate and some coconut macadamia nut gelato. Gets me every time.

Now I will rest, recover and get ready for 20 days from now in The Woodlands, Texas for the first Ironman of the year. Here's to having the third race of the year go as well as the first two.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First race of The Season, Done and Done!!

This weekend would be the first tri of the season, an Olympic distance tri close to home in Morgan Hill. Gorgeous place!! I love racing there, but back to the details. I am in solid prep for IM Texas and went against coache's better judgment and decided to ride 5 hours (easy) with a girlfriend on Saturday. I had second thoughts about the ride while doing it, but know that this was a part of the bigger picture and just would let the race on Sunday be what it would be.

Race morning and I was PSYCHED! I was super excited to race, the weather was looking good, breakfast went down easily, I had my friend Anne with me for the day and after the race I was off to celebrate my niece Fiona's first birthday and that meant cake! It was already a good day!

I was excited for the swim as I have been really WORKING it at the Santa Clara Masters and knowing (OK, hoping) it would pay off. On top of my hard work, I had my nifty new TYR Sports Hurricaine 5 wetsuit. Can I just say this thing made it feel like it was assisting my arms go around...not the normal restricting my arm movement. Seriously impressed and another sure sign of a good day. Into the water all the women went, and it was all smooth sailing until we turned to round the buoy and then it got choppy. No worries here and I ended up coming out of the water with the front pack of ladies. Into T1, off with the Hurricaine and onto the Orbea!

I had prepped myself that the bike may feel crappy due to my long ride the day before but I got on and knew there were a few women ahead of me and I wanted to get them! The legs were a bit pooped but I had Mark in my head telling me to be the most efficient rider on course and to never relent. It took me until mile 20 to get into the lead slot for the women and I rolled into T2 with my team mate and friend Erin.

Holy moly were we out of there and onto the run in lightning speed...being set up next to each other in transition was definitely good for us, we were no non-sense. We took the first mile at a 7 minute pace and I was excited...even in Olympics I usually can only run my half IM pace, so things were looking up. The first hill did come and that's when I felt the fatigue of the day and the previous day's ride. Ohhh Buddy!! OK, mantra time. Quick, light steps. More positive self talk and we were rolling again. I managed to hold on to 2nd place overall until mile 4 of the run, and this is where my not so rested legs were defeated by my awesome team mate Erin! She took those last two miles and crushed them...I was just praying (and looking behind me often) that no one else would come by.

Sawheet! 3rd Place Female Overall and 1st pace in my age group. Best of all, I won the bike prime of the day for having the fastest women's bike split and got myself a gift certificate to Sports I have to decide what to buy!!

Overall, a great day out. Shook out the cobwebbs, got some sunshine...had some pizza, caught up with friends and then got to go hang out with Fiona and crew for her first birthday. She wasn't as impressed with my results, she was all about her Strawberry and whipped cream cake.

Next up is Wildflower in two weeks time and then we start the slowdown to Texas. I can't wait to see you all out there!

A special thank to TYR sports, Pacific Bicycle and my coach Mark for all of their support this season. It's gonna be a good one!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tour of Flanders, 155 miles of fun in Belgium

So about six months ago, Mark's friend Craig mentions going to Belgium and riding the amateur Tour of Flanders and then watching the pros the next day. Mark mentions it to me and BOOM we are signed up like that. Who wouldn't want to go and ride the entire 250k course, the same one the pros ride, with thousands of other passionate cyclists and then watch cycling where it's treated like the super bowl(more to come on this)? I told him it was the opportunity of a lifetime, which he thought may have been a bit of an overstatement but never the less we agreed this would be a very fun if not epic adventure.

We booked our tickets to Amsterdam and hung out with friends for a few days before heading to London to shop and hang with Mark's family before heading to Belgium for the ride. The weather is notoriously terrible in Belgium at this time of year and most of my memories of the TOF include mud covered George Hincapie and wet slippery cobbles. So I had prepared myself for an "epic" ride in the cold, windy, wet Flanders. Imagine my delight when it turned out to be sunny and in the 60's.

The ride has an optional roll out time from 7-8:30 ad we ended up rolling around 8. I knew this was going to be a long day in the saddle even though there would be groups so I would not waste a ton of energy but I was ready for the long haul. The first 60 miles were like the Saturday Spectrum ride here in Palo Alto, full of cyclist moves like sprinting out of turns and up hills after relaxing on the flats. Note: triathletes are not built for these "small" accelerations and I was feeling if this continued I may burn all of my matches before mile 75. Luckily an aid station appeared, I had a few DELICIOUS Belgian Waffles and we motored on. My favorite part of every aid station were the pee buckets for the men. Now if we could just have these at triathlons, the lines would move much more quickly and the ladies would be happy.

We continued to ride with groups, every time they would read my shorts and see the Pacific Bicycle logo and San Francisco. It would start in other languages and pretty soon I would hear "San Francisco" and then they would ask me if we had really come all this way to ride? Could it be possible? I think we won the award for furthest traveled for the Ronde. It was great to chat with the guys (I only saw maybe 5 other women ride the whole thing) listening to how many times they had ridden it and that this was some good weather we were having. Based on this, Mark and I think this will be a one time experience. Why go back when it was perfect the first time?

The famed hills don't really start until after mile 100 and then they come fast and furious, but the cobbles are along the entire route. They were novel for the first two sections, as I likened myself to Tom Boonen climbing up the Muur and then the pain and shaking and my power tap computer breaking off came and by the end of the 155 miles I was making animalistic noises as I went over the cobbles and getting angry. Good to find out how to channel the anger, but not so fun while happening. You go from flying on the flats to riding a flat section of cobbles with massive power going 5 miles an hour. My hands hurt for days after. Every time a turn came, you could tell what was up we go again!

The spectators were amazing even for us amateurs, I imagine they were out there staking out their spot for the next day...not really there to cheer me on, but I just kept telling myself I was winning! On the most famed climb, the Kapple Muur I had given myself permission to walk if needed- the road is narrow, I had already ridden 130 miles...but then I got there and I had to do it. Thank God for crowd support. I started to falter and VOILA a push on the butt from a kind spectator and then cheers for being a girl riding the Murr, I couldn't let them down now! Ahh, the sweet feeling of satisfaction. I felt like a pro as I grit my teeth to get up that wall, it was good.

The top the Murr and just about 20k to go. We are almost home and I am feeling good. Still lots of energy and can't believe how quickly the day has gone by and how much fun Mark and I have had together all day long...these types of rides can test a couple for sure and we passed with flying colors. The last 12k is down hill and we power on home to the finish where frites await. We may have had two portions. Frites with mayo? Always a post ride favorite.

The next day was just as good. We watched the race live in a pub where there were other cycling fans. The entire country treats this day like Super Bowl Sunday and does the drinking to prove it. I have never known the fun of sports bars until this trip. Having fun drinking shouting at the TV for your favorite athletes to attack is a GOOD time. We will definitely go back to watch more cycling in Europe, it feels like home.

This day was unbelievable, gave me confidence that my endurance is there despite many shortened rides due to rain. Ironman Texas is only 7 weeks away and things are looking good.