Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Patience, young grasshopper

Ironman number 7 is now in the books and Kona qualification is wrapped up. This past Sunday, Ironman Los Cabos gave me my "best" result to date. Not best time, or best feeling day, but overall I was 2nd amateur female and I nabbed my very first Ironman age group win. Now if only I hadn't gotten passed at mile 25 of the marathon, I would have taken the amateur title as well...but when that truck passed, there was no going with it!

I was excited to come here and race and had SO many friends doing it that even though it meant training through the winter...(and yes winter in Northern Cali DOES was cold lots of mornings and there was some major trainer time on the bike) I was stoked to see what kind of fitness I could have in March when my season usually starts 2 months later at Ironman Texas.

Mark and I arrived on Thursday with friends and immediately got settled and registered for the race. That left Friday to be a low key day practicing our swim and then putting our feet up in prep for the busy day that Saturday would bring. Why is it that the day before the ironman, when ALL you have to do is drop off your bike and gear bags, you end up out running around almost all day? I'm used to it by now and it doesn't stress me out (too much, although Jess may have a different picture in her head) and so Saturday came and went and before you knew it, it was time to WAKE UP and get the party started!!!

Quick break to tell you about the beauty is incredible. The water is gorgeous, the beach is perfect and the town is sleepy. Even during spring break time. I can't wait to come back here next year. No Ironman hoopla, no queue for dinner at good, not any more expensive than dinner in California dinners, and easy logistics. Shhhhh, don't tell anybody that this race rocks!!!

Pre-race nutrition: oatmeal, banana, chocolate coconut peanut butter, bottle of cytomax, one bottle pre-load and half a bag of chews right before the start... 800 calories

Swim: 1:01:59 PR by 90 seconds
I lined up for my first ever beach swim start (nervous much?!) and took the inside line straight towards the first turn buoy 700 meters out. There were swells race morning, but once you got past the first one the swimming was phenomenal. Perfect for a wetsuit and not too choppy. I was lucky to find some feet and was able to stick with them and feel comfortable. About half way through the swim, I saw Rachel who always swims 2+ min faster, and thought OK sister, keep it going, if you are with Rachel life is GOOD!! She pulled away the last 500 meters as it got choppy towards the shore but I was able to get out of the water in a great position and when I saw 1:01 on the clock, I was stoked about the first leg of the race. Now let's VAMOS and get this bike underway!! Note: Garmin users sat the course was long... 200-300 meters...making me even happier with my time!!

Bike: 5:57:05
Now once I ran through the uphill deep sand run section that was T1, and hit the changing tent, I was almost out of my wetsuit. I sat down to get it the rest of the way off, and the awesome gals in the changing tent decided to help me the rest of the way...which with all of their force, pulled me OFF of the chair I was so nicely sitting on and onto the floor. Not exactly the best way to begin the bike, but I was out of there quickly enough and was feeling good. Mark and I had talked about the bike course and how hilly and hot and hard it was going to be. Not in a bad way, but in a "you can't really go too easy on these hills" way. The first lap saw a few gals go by me, but I had faith in my tortoise and the hare strategy and had to hope that the girls passing me now would come back to me on the second lap of the bike or the run. The second lap was hard, the air was so still at points that the heat was overwhelming and then there was a strong wind out at the airport that made the last 10 miles seem long. Think going over bridges in Hawi-esquevwinds. Thankfully my water bottle was blocking my garmin so all I saw was my current speed. By the time I got off the bike, I had NO idea that I had been out there for almost 6's been three years since a bike course has taken me anywhere near that long. But, I was ready to run and knew that a few girls were right in front of me and it was GAME ON!!

Total bike nutrition: 2bottles cytomax, 5bags Cyto energy chews, one Gatorade and two e-gels: 1560 calories total... Not nearly my 350/hour normal. Should have had a bit more here to really front load the run.

Run: 3:34:34, 2nd best IM marathon time
I was gunning for my first sub 3:30 marathon, but after that bike and a hillier than advertised run course, it wasn't to be. The race guide said there were going to be aid stations at every kilometer...this is almost 2x as many as at your typical Ironman, where they are every mile. Mark told me to be cautious not to take too much, there was the total possibility to OVER hydrate here. And given the state of my stomach at this point in the game, we want to minimize any distress. I stopped for some Pepsi at the first two aid stations and got quick reminders from Mark that if I kept walking for Pepsi and stopping at every aid station, I was going to really slow down. So I took water at every aid station to pour over me and ice to put down my shirt and then did Pepsi every other aid station. It's amazing how quickly you start to speak another language when in the heat of battle...I was all "ielo por favor, agua por favor..." rather automatically, no thinking in my head, ok what word means what? And the volunteers were beyond amazing...I would call out for ice or water and would immediately have 5 volunteers running with me (did i sound that desperate?!)to do a hand off and make sure that I was taken care of. First class race all the way. I had come off of the bike in about 11th amateur and was more than 11 minutes off of first place in the AG. I saw a few girls rather quickly and didn't think their current run form was going to carry them to a swift run split. So I began to think to myself when I would see another rabbit, easy does it...she's right there, you don't have to speed up to get her, she's coming back to you. Mark, Jordan and Monica were awesome at giving me splits. With a three lap run course, I needed all the help I could get. They were all so encouraging, "just keep running like you are and you can do this". Having Steve and Jess out on course was also awesome, we we're able to cheer each other on. How that makes a difference!! I normally talk back to Mark when he's giving me coaching during the run, but I didn't say one word to him on Sunday, only nodded my head that I heard him. Sorry Love, I was using all of my energy for the W!! I knew that there was one gal who had been a few minutes behind me the entire way and by lap three she was making a move. With about 5 miles to go, I only had a 2 minute lead and she was a skinny runner girl...I thought my days as the leader were numbered. The pass came at mile 25 and she was great, "let's finish this thing!"... All while moving at a faster clip than I was capable of at that point...the finish line couldn't have come soon enough and after throwing my arms in the air, I went straight to the massage tent.

Big mistake...should have gotten food first, then massage. 20 minutes,later, I went straight from the massage tent to the med tent, shivering so bad my teeth were chattering. I was properly warmed up and spoon fed cup of noodles by my husband until I was ready to roll the bike home. After taking a shower that completely drained the hot water, it was time to put on my compression tights and head to dinner to refuel with friends, ribs, fries and a few margaritas.

Total run nutrition: 3 gels and a whole lotta coke...again, not impressed with my performance here. I needed more calories than that and maybe if I had, I could have held off "the pass".

So overall it was a pretty special day that I'm excited to build on. Next up is a bit of recovery on the beach here in Mexico and then time to get ready for Ironman Texas in just 8 short weeks.
Big thank you to my amazing support system: these companies make sure that I have all the tools to perform my best, Smith Optics protects my peepers, TYR Sport keeps me swimming like a fish, team kits are the most comfy, Argon18 makes a bike that flies when paired with Gray wheels, and Cytomax and nuun keep me hydrated and recovered each and every day! Special thanks to my husband and coach Mark, things just keep getting better and I have to thank you for your help along this amazing journey!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Escape From Alcatraz

Yesterday was the fourth time that I have had the opportunity to be an escapee from Alcatraz. And yesterday was the first time that I thought about having a kayak rescue me and haul my neoprene clad booty to shore. Having the race in March combined with 15mph winds made for a very COLD swim with a side of surfable waves. Nothing like busting off the rust for Cabo in 2 weeks time! I am much looking forward to warmer temps in two weeks. Beaches and margaritas beat the seal infested waters of foggy SF any day. Sorry SF, we had a good long run, but my heart lies in the heat.

I was also fortunate enough to have team mate Jené in town from San Diego. Did I mention she CRUSHED it with a podium finish as well?!! She tells me she hasn't ridden her tri bike since September and then goes out and ticks off the competition one by one with a super bike/run combo. Here she is on the podium:

TYR Swim: 1.5 miles: 35:58/1:22/100 yds
This is the time I swam last year, and there weren't no waves last year, so I am taking this as a sign of success in the pool. I boarded the boat with the AG winner and friend Laura and we had a great time on the boat and were told by a 1st timer from England that we had made a rookie move by not wearing neoprene booties. Said dude had the neoprene equivalent of a balaclava on and to say I might have been jealous was an understatement. Then Laura says, "WOW it looks rough out there...look at all the white caps!". I tried to convince her the waves we were seeing were due to the cruise ship that hash just passed by. Turns out, she was right. As soon as they said "GO, GO, GO!!!", we were off and immediately it wasn't the cold that was occupying space in my mind, it was, "holy shit it's wavy, look out for that rescue kayak surfing that wave, he may just land on me!". I went into total survival mode and automatically tried to adjust my stroke to a short choppy stroke and was breathing only to the left to try and limit the intake of salt water. I was around more people than in previous years and that gave me some comfort. Then, much sooner than I expected, I could see the exit markers and after a final burst of chop and a full coating of Bay Beard, I was out of the water and off on my 3/4 mile haul to transition.

Argon18/Gray Wheels Bike: 1:03:24/17mph
This was three minutes slower than LY, but there was definitely more wind this year and I knew that I lost some time in the beginning trying to pull on my arm warmers. I also rode a very deep front wheel and with all of the wind yesterday and my (apparently) light frame, I felt like I was being blown about the road so this led to an increase in hesitancy an a decrease in speed. I felt some good power on the hills like I could really climb, and would pass all of the fearless dudes that had passed me recently on the descents. Coming back from Golden Gate Park I saw Mark and he let me know I was still in a good position. Laura was up the road a bit as were 2 or 3 other gals. I hauled the last few miles and before I knew it, it was time to RUN!

Cytomax Run: 1:01:40/7:43/mile

Ahhh, the EFA run course, 2 miles of flat and then the fun starts. The climb to the bridge is accompanied by a set of uneven stairs and then it's through a narrow tunnel and out onto the path that will take you down to the beach where your legs will get softened up by the sand in preparation for the Sand Ladder, a set of "stairs" that take you back up to the path for the remaining 3.5 miles to the finish. And the word stairs is used loosely, round logs make up the stair and these are unevenly separated and tied together with metal rope and then covered in sand. LUNG BUSTER anyone? I may not have sprinted those, but could see another gal coming from behind and knew that thankfully about 2 hours in, I am just starting to feel good. Time to move those buns home! That worked and I was able to see 1 mile with a "6" at the beginning. Success!

I saw Mark 2 miles from the finish and knew that 2nd place was out of reach...that went to new teammie, Sarach C. I tried to hustle it home though and that was good enough for 3rd place in the AG and 5th amateur overall.

Cold water anxiety aside, this was a great way to dust off the cob webs and get a glimpse of what Cabo would be like in two weeks. I am excited with the results, and starting to get super excited for Cabo...I am a true diesel engine and while EFA is fun, my love of triathlon lies in the long distance races.

I couldn't have gotten to the start line without some amazing support from family, friends and sponsors. So thanks you Smith Optics, Argon18/Sinclair Imports, TYR, Cytosport, Gray Wheels, and nuun. All phenomenal products that get me through training and racing in the best shape possible.