Monday, November 23, 2015

Whoops! I raced again...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Coeur!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Kona Take 6

Fave Kona spot
I can't believe that this past Saturday marked my 6th finish along Alii Drive.  But at the same time, I can't imagine being anywhere else on the 2nd Saturday in October.  Along the way, Kona has become an incredibly special place to me and a time of year that I look forward to for so many reasons...I get to see friends that I only see on the island and I get to race my fave race of the year.  I keep thinking my excitement and love for this race will die down and it seemingly won't stop!

I got to Kona two weeks before race day so that I could do my entire taper there and have even more time to acclimatize.  It was awesome to be there early when the island was still a bit sleepy.  I stepped off the plane and knew I had landed in my happy spot with that first BIG breath of hot, wet, full fat air! The heat and humidity were high this year, I'm not a big sweater, but I would come back from a 30min run and Mark once asked if I had gone into the pool...the answer was, no.  It was just that hot. Thankfully, I was not feeling the heat and was getting ready for race day.  Once I landed, I immediately started using pee strips (TMI?!) to test my hydration levels on a daily basis.  I think many of us focus on hydration the day before and maybe even days before a race, but in talking with Stacy from Osmo, she says that it should be an area of focus for the entire taper.  That's right, for the ENTIRE time, you need to be making sure you're getting enough electrolytes.  Which, on an island in the Pacific can be a challenge! I think this really paid off and know had I not been as focused on it, I would have had "enough" water, but would not have been hydrated.
Nothing beats an ocaen swim

After a week by myself, Mark finally arrived and then the rest of the Coeur crew and Kayla arrived and I knew race day was near!  We had fun swimming at the pier, getting coffee and just laying low. Argon18 hosted a great dinner early in the week and showed off the can't wait to get my hands on one new line of tri bikes.  They were incredible at making sure our entire fleet of Coeur Argon's were ready to roll FAST on Saturday,  Enve also released a new wheel Tuesday night which was awesome. Knowing that the Enve's are so stable in the Kona mumuku's makes me much less nervous about race day and wind conditions.   The rest of the race week prep went smoothly, Mark put on new tires, washed my bike and I got bags ready, food prepped and bottles ready.

Thank you Erin and Mark!
Throughout the time in Kona, I was trying to think of the race as "just another race".  Nothing special, as I wasn't going to change anything on race day that would be different from how I normally race, this just happened to be the last race of the season...and the World Championships ;) I think this really helped and I was much calmer Thursday/Friday than I normally am and I also slept better Friday night.  I spent a lot of time visualizing- I was on the massage table and spent the entire hour going through the race- from eating breakfast to crossing the finish line, and everything in-between.  I also threw in getting a flat tire, terrible winds, choppy water and tried to imagine how I would just keep eating and drinking.  My goal was to not be outcome oriented but process oriented.  I wanted to do the BEST that I could, in each possible moment and trust in my training, and my ability to execute.

With all of that, here we go!

Nutrition Pre Swim: 2 eggs, rice, triple shot espresso, banana, peanut butter, bottle of pre-load, bottle of active ~800kcals

Swim: 1:04:37, 3rd AG and I believe top 10 Amateur. Garmin had 2.6 miles, so I will take this as a WIN for time :)
Race Day Hugs!

Pre-swim with KK
After the pros went off, that was my cue to start getting ready.  I went out of the athlete area and did my usual go talk to Mark, apply Body Glide, drink a few more sips of water and get my last pre-race hug.  We meet at the same place each year so there is no stress over where I'm going to find him. Then it was back into the athlete area and after the men went off, we still had a few minutes before we needed to get into the water.  I couldn't find Kayla but found a few Coeur teammies to hang with before we got in.  After we were in the water, the sun was BRIGHT and I knew it was going to be a good day, no matter the outcome.  I chose the Roka F1 dark gray/silver mirror goggle and was so pleased I did as there was truly no cloud cover for the start of the race. I went out hard as I always do to try and get clear water and away from the pack behind.  It was a really great swim, I didn't have too much contact and women, on the whole, are SO MUCH MORE POLITE in a mass swim.  I found feet immediately and thought that we were swimming really well.  Soon enough we hit the turn around and I stayed with the two women I had found for the rest o the swim.  One of them lead the entire way back and the other gal and I traded turns at her hip and then ended up single file as we navigated through the slower AG men.  I was blown away by the fact that we went through so many men, I don't recall it being like that LY and it seems that 15 minutes really isn't enough time between the men/women AG'ers.  As we approached the pier, I started thinking about going through transition, the order I would put things on and getting out of there lickity split. I didn't know where I was yet, but felt like I had swum comfortably and that I had swum well.  Thank you Stanford Masters and Roka!

Bike Nutrition: 5 Bonk Breaker bars (LOVE the salted caramel with electrolytes!), 8 bottles of Osmo Active, 1 full bottle of coke. ~2100kcals or about 371/hour. #eatlikeachamp

Photo: J. Blanco
Bike: 5:41:12- 13th in the AG :(

Photo: E. Klegstad
I went into the bike in the top 3 in the AG and top 10 overall and came off in 9th/10th in the AG and 34th overall.  It certainly wasn't my pony was the best there is available and I rolled the best wheels...I just didn't pedal fast enough or hard enough.  The first thing Mark said to me was "you've got work to do".  This part is hard for me. I thought that I was biking well and my watts say I had "best watts ever" during an ironman...and not by 1-2, but by a lot! When the gals came by me, I may have been too good at staying focused on my own race and not focused on THE race for the win.  Who knows what would have  happened had I tried to go with the top gals...maybe I could have, maybe not- but I have never biked slower in Kona (OK- the 1st year I went, but not counting that one).  The winds were not bad on the way out, but on the way to Hawi, I thought, wait, is that a sprinkle?  That quickly turned into "holy shit it's chucking it down sideways with wind", to "man I have to take off my glasses and OWWIE that huts my eyes it's raining so hard!".  I got to the turn around and thought to myself that there was NO way I was going to bomb down that hill and risk riding aggressively with hundreds of other triathletes- people who don't handle bikes well on dry land, let alone in the rain (myself included).  I wanted to keep my skin in tact.  Thankfully for me, right after special needs the sun came out, the rain stopped and the roads were immediately dry- that happens when it's 90 out ;) Back to the game plan of getting down from Hawi and back onto the Queen K.  I knew that I had been passed by some OK a lot of gals and the first 10 miles along the Queen K are typically pretty rough.  You know you have a long way to go still.  Pretty much right after we made the turn, you could tell it was going to be a rough and slow return to town, no favors today.  It was a lift to see friends at Puako cheering for me and then it was pretty much quality me time for the rest of the ride. I felt good for most of the ride, but had been nervous going into the race as I crashed at a race in August and had had some shooting hip pain that didn't allow me to get into aero.  Thankfully on race day, it did not flare up.  I could talk about the drafting for days and how bothersome it is, but I think everyone knows about the drafting and telling more stories and getting mad about it just doesn't help....although I did ask some gal how another gals's chamois smelled ;)

Run nutrition: 2 packs of energy chews and endless amounts of coke water and ice, glucose tabs over the last 10k.  Let's say you get 20kcals/cup of coke.  ~880 or 251kcals/hour

Run: 3:32:03, 8:05's and 3rd best AG run

Happy Finish! Photo by E. Klegstad
Magic on Alii
I think the run is the part of the race that I am most proud of.  Not because I ran quickly, but because I could have so easily given up and said "it's just not my day" and run slowly and given up and accepted 10th place.  But I didn't do that, and Mark told me to just keep running.  Doing my tortoise and the hare thing, eating, drinking and keeping as cool as possible.  That none of the pro women managed to break 3 hours on the marathon speaks to the toughness of the day and the heat. I mentally struggled along Alii which you would think wouldn't happen with all of the amazing spectators, but it did.  I got passed at least one more time on Alii before heading up Palani.  But as soon as I got onto the Queen K, I found my rhythm and began to see gals up ahead and could tell that I was running faster. I always enter the energy lab with the goal to find at least one woman to pass.  I started passing them around mile 18 (going into the energy lab I think I was still 9th).  By the time I came out of the energy lab, I had moved into 6th place and found 5th around mile 21.  Here I told myself that I had less than 2 laps around the neighborhood left and that I needed to run for Kayla (she qualified for Kona but got a stress fracture a few weeks out so was only able to swim/bike). The headwind that was present on the return ride home on the bike was still going strong and I tried to tuck in behind as many folks as I could along the way,  Just before mile 24, Mark let me know that 4th place was just up ahead and that she wasn't running as fast as I was.  Some amazing dude racing told me to tuck in behind him and he would try to bridge the gap.  He took off a bit too quickly and I had to tell him I'm the tortoise, not the hare!  I passed 4th around mile 24 and tried to make it look like I meant business so that she wouldn't try to come with me.  I feel a bit woozy from the effort and thought, oh man, I hope this isn't it!  Only two miles to can do two miles.  I made the turn onto Alii and saw friends and family and made sure to SAVOR the moment. I was going to successfully cross my 6th Kona finish line as 4th in the AG and on the podium.

Photo: Trijuice
Now that it's over and the soreness has almost worn off, I am happy with the result.  You can always do more, and yes, I would have loved to have biked better...just 3.5 minutes better to be exact and I would have gotten 2nd.  But I didn't and I can't be upset with 4th place.  I'm usually incredibly ready for the of-season and I'm not yet, but after mentioning that to coach, he ensured me I will be taking an off season!  The awards ceremony was awesome and the after party in the pouring rain was even better. A few coffees later and it was time to go home on Monday and head back to reality.  Soon enough we'll start to get the build to try to do it all again!
  35-39 Podium

Thanks for all of the cheers and support and see you in the off season!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Santa Cruz 70.3

I was supposed to race two weeks ago at an Olympic distance race in Oakland.  Swim went well, but it was actually raining and if you've kept up with the weather in California, it hasn't rained in oh about 3 years.  So rain resulted in slick roads.  Long story short, I went down hard, cracked my helmet in multiple places and bruised my ankle and hip.  I came away from that, thinking MAN am I lucky- it could have been so much worse.  That made me think twice about racing Santa Cruz, given that it's always foggy there and could also have some slick roads.  I'm sure this would be good for practice, but thanks but no thanks, I don't want to take any chances this close to Kona.  In the end, mark said to just keep the rubber side down, keep it safe and that yes, I had to race. Off to Santa Cruz we went!

Awards from WTC on left and original from previous race years ago...I want my wahine girl please!
I've been trying to get a pulse on why I don't always love to race (outside of Hawaii and qualifying for Hawaii I sometimes am not so pumped to race) it that the more you race, the more you know how badly it will have to hurt to yield the desired performance?  When you first start racing, it's so exciting.  Racing is still exciting for me, but I know what it takes and sometimes I think that I get scared. Scared of the effort required, scared that I might not be able to do it and maybe even fearful of success.  While lying in bed trying to get to sleep, I kept reminding myself that I had to "take" my success.  I had to own it and want it.  Success doesn't just happen and as much as I wish there was there is NO "easy button" when it comes to any part of life.  Which is probably why success brings so much joy.  It isn't easy to accomplish.

I've raced this event in the past, when it was known as the Big Kahuna- see my love for all things Hawaiian started long ago! I tried to go back through the results, but I raced it in 2008/2009 and then I think? 2012, but couldn't find the results anywhere.  If you've not visited coastal California, it can be FOGGY and a bit cold, not my typical weather jam. We got lucky for a no fog swim so we could see the buoys, but it was a sunscreen optional kind of day, with the sun barely peeking out for the run.  We opted to sleep at home the night before- it's always SO nice to be at home the day before a race, on your sofa, watching TV, relaxing and then getting to sleep in your own bed.  The 4:00 wake up call was the only downside to this!

Pre-race nutrition- Staple of 2 eggs with rice and aminos, one banana about 30 minutes before the start, cold brew coffee(what no latte?!!), and one bottle of pre-load 

Ready to go!
Kayla and I hopped in the car and got to transition by 5:20 for a 7:00 start.  The water looked like glass, but as soon as we started, we saw that the glass was only a surface appearance...what lie beneath was the Pacific doing it's thing on a Sunday morning.  The current was trying to push us back towards the start, so I shortened my stroke to a short, choppy stroke and tried to time my breathing with the waves so that I continued to move forward without gulping mass amounts of sea water...cause I didn't order a side of sea water with my breakfast and did not need that in my belly. The only reassuring thing about the swim was knowing that after the halfway point, we turned for home and it was literally smooth sailing as the same chop that we had just fought, was now assisting us on a fun and fast ride home.  I always try to stay with buddy Christine as she is a SUPER fish, for as long as possible.  Same as at Vineman this year, I was 30 seconds back of her exiting the water and came out in 3rd place.

Bike nutrition: half a recipe of salty balls and 3 bottles (almost?) of Osmo Active

I managed to come out of T1 just a hair in front of Christine and we quickly set out in pursuit of the gal who was leading out AG on the road.  The roads were wet as we headed out of Santa Cruz and wound our way to Highway 1.  I was cautious as the memory of hitting the deck is still way too fresh and was excited once we hit Highway 1 and it was straight and dry...for a bit.  There was one section that was a course change and it took us off of 1 and onto a small parallel side road that was some of the worst pavement I've ridden and culminated with a 1 mile climb, and subsequent descent.  Somewhere along this climb, Christine came by me and I dropped into 3rd. Man, did I lose some time on that descent.  It was still foggy and I was still nervous, so I rode it like a granny.  I figured nothing was worth a crash, even if it meant that I gave up a position or two.  On the return trip a gal come by me like I was standing still- she ended up going to win our AG and was 2nd overall amateur. Once back onto Highway 1, I told myself I needed to do some serious work to keep myself ahead of 4th place (good friend and faster runner, Sonja) and to be able to start the run in a good position.  I was worried with it being cooler that I had not taken in enough fluid, even though I had pre-load both the night before and the morning of the race.  Nothing was wrong nutritionally, but I am used to hot races and just plowing through hydration!  My bike ended up OK with a time of 2:38:42 and I was in 3rd heading into the run.

Getting ish done! Photo cred: @mariofraioli
Run nutrition: half bottle of pre-load/active combo, coke, water, 1 pack Muscle Milk chews, and 2 gels (sorry Stac!)

Onto the run I went, starting in 3rd, but could hear the announcer just ahead at the first mile mark, calling Christine's name. I knew Christine was in 2nd and I was able to move into 2nd place by the end of mile 2.  Now to run the next 11 miles with Sonja chasing me!  Going back to my thoughts on success, I had to make a decision.  Try to run hard and get the very best of myself, or be scared and let myself get caught.  I chose to work hard and try to maintain my lead.  I have really been working on increasing my cadence and leaning forward, trying to be a more efficient runner, so that in the later stages of Kona, I am able to maintain a good pace.  The good thing is, a quicker cadence doesn't hurt so much.  This method paid off in multiple ways on Sunday.  Most awesomely, I had a half marathon PR, by nearly 90 seconds, so bettering my previous half mary PR (from 2012) by 6 seconds per mile.  I was thrilled to get home and figure that our, especially since I hadn't felt like I was running 7:15's. i also felt like I could have sustained that effort for longer, so hoping the same tactic and techniques pays off a little under 4 weeks from now on an island in the Pacific :)

2 miles to go- RUN! Photo Cred: @jenbaer
The final stretch of the run- is on deep sand along the Santa Cruz boardwalk.  I am sure the families there for a beach day were like, what is happening here, and who are these crazy folk?! I tried to keep myself in the hard pack sand, but ended up getting hit by incoming waves, so not sure that was any better than running in the deep sand. The only thing that I would like to have nailed a bit better is nutrition- I think truly, I didn't drink enough during the bike and on the run, I was desperate for drinks and to keep fueling myself, something that rarely happens to me in races.

35-39 podium and FRIENDS!
I crossed the line still in 2nd place in the AG and as 3rd overall on the day!  Now it's a bit of recovery along with Interbike this week and then it's time to wind it down for Hawaii!
Post race Sunday dinner...the usual!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

10 years in a row, VIneman 2015

Wow, hard to think that I've been doing triathlon for more than a decade, and that I've spent a weekend in July every summer for that decade racing in wine country with friends at Vineman.  Vineman was the first half where I qualified to 70.3 Worlds and outside of Kona, is my favorite race. There is something about racing close to home, on a familiar course with tons of friends on course for support.  When I go to visualize race day each year, it gets easier and easier as I know the course so well that it's just fun to go through the day in my head OK maybe not fun to go through the part where I get RUN down but we can talk about that later.  I've been super pooped the past few days, but am excited for the recovery to be over and to start the build to Kona!

It had felt like an odd build for Vineman as I took 3 weeks off after Texas (May 18th), and then did a small 3 week cycle for Vineman.  Last year was different as I raced in early April and not May, so had a much more robust lead into the race.  Needless to day, I wasn't sure what was going to unfold on race day.

best Air B&B house ever
I was excited to race, and just as excited for the post race activities- we were going to stay over and do a wine tasting and have a fancy dinner with friends.  YES, please!  I had made Kayla and I pre-race salty balls but kept them in the freezer and on my mental checklist of "things to grab as we left the house".  Guess what's still in the freezer?  Kayla got the ingredients and I made a new batch Saturday night at our most excellent and retro Air B&B before we went to bed.  A pee strip to check hydration levels (how proud are you Stacy?!!) before bed and we were ready to (try to) snooze.

Breakfast- Rice, 2 eggs, avocado, bottle of active and a vita coco coffee (very tasty!).
On way to race: bottle of pre-load, spoonful of PB
Right before race: half banana
Coeur Teammies and CG!
Total AM kcals:  ~850

Swim:  EXCITEMENT...shiny new BIG 70.3 swim PR of 27:30, 2nd in the AG
I got in the water and knew that the goal was going to be to stay with friend and Stanford Masters lane mate, Christine.  CG is such a fast swimmer that I thought this would be s stretch goal, but it's only a half and I needed to be comfortable being uncomfy.  So I lined up next to her and then after the gun went off, we charged and were quickly in the lead.  We swam side by side until the turn around, where we were running into more and more folks from the previous waves.  After the turn it became harder to stay with her due to congestion...and her speed, but I kept her in sight and knew that I was having a good swim. I didn't look at my watch or the race clock (who can do that math when you start 60+min after the first wave?!) as I knew if we were the first out of the water, the time didn't matter too much.  I hit the line just :24 after her for a PR of almost a minute in a 70.3 swim.  Maybe I should only go to masters 2x a week all the time and have Christine at all of the same races? BIG thanks to the Roka team as the Maverick Pro is obviously a huge advantage in the water!!

T1: Rookie alert...I had run the transition that morning and felt confident of where my bike was, but somehow went down the wrong row and ended up searching around for it for about a minute :(  I left T1 JUST behind Christine and it was time for us to ride!

Bike Nutrition: 3 bottles Osmo Strawberry Active, almost half recipe of salty balls ~301kcals/hour

Bike: 2:35:38
The bike loves its vino too!
Good new for Vineman this year?  The normally really terrible West Side Road had been GLORIOUSLY repaved and we would have smooth tarmac for about the first 40 miles and then a bad few before hitting the last 6 of smooth pavement again. This was amazing as the road surfaces are typically pretty bad and it affects how/when you can pass.  No issues with that this year and I set out of T1 chasing Christine.  Girl was PUSHING the pace which was good as I had wanted to go HARD on the bike this year.  Mission accomplished!  I passed Christine for the lead maybe 10 miles in?  I kept telling myself there were only 56 miles and I needed to be working all of them if I wanted to have any chance of winning this race.  Around mile 40 I made sure to have food as Chalk Hill is at 42 and you need to be topped off to do well on the remaining miles.  I got to the top of the hill and saw Mark in his usual spot waiting to cheer me on.  He encouraged me ok, shouted at me to throw it in the biggest gear I could and hammer home.  By the time I came off the bike, I had about a 3 minute lead on the next gal in the AG. Would it be enough?

Run nutrition: bottle of half scoop pre-load and 1 scoop active on the way out of T2 to top off hydration in order to avoid on course gatorade,  5hr energy on way out ot T2, 1 pack Muscle Milk energy chews, cups of coke at most aid stations, glucose tabs over the last 10k. ~300/kcals/hour

Run: 1:41:10, pace of #notawesome
Photo Cred: @heatherrosescott
Thanks @heatherrosescott
Not much to say other than the run will continue to be a focus of mine as we head into Kona.  I struggle as soon as the earth even points remotely up to keep up a good pace.  On flats, I can run ALL day long STRONG, but this course is far from flat and I will need to improve my run to improve my placing here next year.  I don't know that I've ever come off of the bike in 1st place.  Mark was there but would have to take off at some point to go race his own race (best husband/coach ever award for getting up at o'dark thirty to get me race ready, cheer almost all day long and then go race his own race).  Mark was able to get some splits and Sonja was 2nd off the bike and was going to be hard to keep away.  We have been racing together for years and it is great to finally be on the same team this year. I headed into the just over a mile loop in the La Crema vineyard around mile 7 and then hit the out and back where I would finally see what was coming.   Around mile 8, Sonja was closing in quickly and I knew that the pass was near.  Just behind her was Jen (who had a baby only 18 months ago?!) who was HARD charging.  Sonja ran with me side by side for a while and wanted me to go with her, but I just didn't have it in me (maybe mentally more than physically?) to go with her.  Being in fight mode with friends and people I love is hard for me.  I tend to just back down...can't seem to want to "kill, kill, kill" some of my dear friends!  This is obviously something to work on and thankfully I don't know most of the girls in Kona, so I can mentally do a bit better.
Bad Ass W35-39 Podium

Shower in a box!
I hit the line in 3rd, about 5 minutes back from Jen and 2 back from Sonja.  It was awesome to hang with them post race and then cheer for Kayla as she crushed it as well with 2nd in the 30-34 AG just two weeks before Lake out ladies of Placid!!  We bought some wipes from the corner store (shower in a bathroom for the win!) got a quick snack before the awards and then it was officially time to celebrate by wine tasting and dinner at a nice restaurant. Mark made it back from his own race with just enough time for a wipe shower of his own before our dinner reservation.  It was an awesome way to celebrate the days accomplishments...good friends, food and vino.
ewww, what was that?!!

His and hers vino awards

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Escaping from The Rock

I think this must have been Escape from Alcatraz #5 for me?  I took last year off as I was traumatized from the swim in 2013 when a man died and I thought that my race would be over as I swore I was going to need a rescue kayak...the race had been moved to accommodate America's Cup in 2013 and the San Francisco Bay in March is not nearly as "calm" as it is in early June.  I remember the waves so big I thought I might not make it "chop" and the frigid temperatures after the swim...not exactly my ideal Kona like conditions!

This year Kayla said that she was going to do it and that so should I...mind you this would be 3 weeks post Ironman Texas...who does that?  Think about it...a taper before Texas, race and then three weeks of easy and unstructured workouts.  Perfect race prep!  The goal was to not embarrass myself or have wine leak out of my pores while I was sweating.  We were lucky enough to stay with friends on Saturday night, so enjoyed a walk through Golden Gate park to dinner before hitting the sheets for some pre-race sleep!

Swim: 33:41, two minutes better than my previous best time.

If you've never raced Alcatraz, it's kind of hard to imagine.  They bus everyone from transition to one of the piers.  All 2000+ athletes get on ONE boat and mozy out to the island for the start.  I'll let you use your imagination as to how 2k athletes on one boat is...a bit hot, lots of nerves and a bit of pee in the carpet ;)  Everyone goes off right after the pros...there is an opening on the side of the boat and they just start yelling "GO, GO, GO!!!" and everyone jumps off in a rolling start style.  Your face hits the balmy 58* water and after a quick "holy MOLY it's cold!" internal dialogue, you are off to sight 1.5 miles straight ahead.  You have to sight straight ahead as the current is so strong in the bay, when you sight straight, you will actually end up half of one mile down the road.  Crazy!  And that is exactly what that swim feels like from beneath you...even if the water is "calm" on top and not very choppy, the current stirs it up so much that it feels like you are being thrown around from underneath you.  I know that's a bit dramatic, but your stroke feels like you must look like a 2 year old thrashing about.  The entrance into Aquatic Park is a welcome sight and hearing people yell "WIPE YOUR FACE!!!" as you exit the slimy bay waters is always funny.  After wiping my bay beard off (just scan some of the will see what I mean), I headed to find some shoes to put on my frozen claws for the half mile run to transition.
Beautiful whip ready to roll!

Bike: 1:00:16...I've been faster, and I've been slower

I had arm warmers and gloves to put on as I ran to transition, but opted for gloves only.  Figured since it was in the high 50's when we started that I could get through ;)  I rode my road bike  with my rad new Enve clip on aero bars as the course is so undulating that a TT bike (for me) just makes no sense.  I was super pumped to have the clip on aero bars though as there are a few section through Golden Gate Park where you can actually get a rhythm and I think the bars truly helped here. Kayla caught up to me right as we went past the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to the Ocean and I knew my job was to just stay close...girl is training for Lake Placid and is on fire right now!  Once we got going towards the Ocean, we got treated to see the front of the men's race coming back on the course and then saw the women as they were flying out of the park and up past the Ocean towards home.  It's always so inspiring to see the pros hammering it out and fighting for the win.  I felt pretty blah on the run and had to keep reminding myself that there were only 18 miles in total, that I needed to PUSH and HURT and not have a low IM heart rate.  I stopped at the top of a climb, positive that I had a flat- checked my tire and NOPE, just some flat legs ;)  Kelly passed me here and was like, "are you OK?"...yes, nothing to see here, nothing to see!  I tried to push as much as possible to get back to T2 and hope that I'd be able to run!

Run: 57:51 for 7.5 miles or a 7:42 pace...

I felt like such a rookie as I headed out of transition.  I didn't eat anything on the bike, knowing that I had had a huge breakfast and I was only 1:30ish into the race, but this meant it was time to eat as I headed onto the run!  I dropped my energy chews as I headed out onto the run and made the decision to go back and get them as I knew there would be no on course nutrition other than drinks and I would need some kcals over the next hour to propel me to the finish.  The run is just like the bike; all over the place terrain wise- but I've done it enough, that in my head, I know that I just have to make the it to the sand ladder and from there, it's downhill/flat the rest of the way tiny word!  I was so glad to see Kayla on the beach running towards the sand ladder and then to see the finish line!

yes please!
beer garden gals!
35-39 Podium
After the race I was HUNGRY.  Why does post race food always look so yucky?  I made a bee-line for Chestnut street and found a massive which my hunger said, "YEAH RIGHT lady!", so we had fries while waiting for the awards to begin!  The sun came out just as we were finishing up which meant it was fun to hang around and talk to people after the race.  After the awards, we headed home and I got to spend the rest of the afternoon with my sis and her girls in the pool.  Not a bad Sunday indeed!
Everyone loves pool time

Next up is Vineman!  See you in July!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Awesome Sauce...a recipe

Here's my recipe for awesome sauce.  We throw this on grilled or raw veggies or wrap it up in turkey for a quick, healthy snack.  It's whole30/paleo compliant as well, but don't let that deter's AWESOME!!

Do a "quick" soak of 2c raw cashews.  Put the cashews in a bowl, cover with water and microwave for 3 minutes.  This is quicker than an overnight soak and achieves the same goal.

In your blender put:
2 large cloves garlic
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (don't like spicy? reduce the number of peppers)
2tsp red wine vinegar
juice off one lemon
drained cashews
chicken/veg stock to taste- you will need at least 3/4 of a cup.  After that it's preference for consistency.  I tend to use at least a cup.

Blend!  scoop into an airtight container and use within the week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Woodlands Y'all

To say that I am happy about punching my 6th ticket to Kona this past Saturday would be an understatement.  As triathletes trying for Kona, you don't get many opportunities to qualify...if one race goes to poo, you can't (usually) do one next week as a do-over.  So the anxiety leading up to a race is reasonable.  I knew that I had put in the work, had given up more wine than ever before, run faster than before, done more mobility work than before to make sure that my ever so slightly aging body was ready for the day, done more X...but you can only control what you can control, and after Wildflower a few weeks ago, I thought I had "allergies".  An ear ache, chest tightness, etc.  Allergies turned out to be "you may be sick".  Thanks Doc.  I ended up taking vitamin C in massive doses, zinc'ing it up and trying my VERY best the week of the race to get better and get rid of the yuck that had crept into my body before the gun went off on Saturday morning.

Pia and I in our Roka's
I flew into the Woodlands with Pia on Thursday for a Saturday race...maybe not my best laid plan as from the moment we landed, time went into speed mode and just raced the expo to pick up packets and say hi to friends, grocery store so that I could make salty balls for race day, get to the friends house, pack bags, practice swim and before you knew it, it was Friday night and time to go to bed!  If you haven't done a course before and can afford the extra day, I would go in on a Wednesday for a Saturday race just to give yourself that extra bit of wiggle room.

It had been raining in The Woodlands for the past few weeks, but as race day approached, the chances of rain kept going down and I had a feeling that as usual, race day would BRING her glory and the sun would come out and with all of the rain, the humidity would be off the charts.  Maybe I'd make an excellent weather girl?  This is exactly what happened as part way through the swim, the clouds parted and gave way to what was the start of a brutally hot and windy day in Texas.

Pre-swim nutrition: Bottle of Osmo mango, serving of Pre-Load, two eggs scrambled into cold rice (didn't want to raise my core temp on an already hot morning), liquid aminos on top and an iced latte.  One banana right before the start. ~800kcals (should have had some PB in hind sight to get this close to 1k)

Swim: 1:03:38 or 1:38/100m
Coeur Gals at the Practice swim
A Roka Sandwich
This swim is almost exactly what I swam in 2012 here.  A freshwater swim in 81* water means no wet suit and no added buoyancy...good for those of us that grew up as swimmers.  I also think that non wet suit swims are good in hot weather...the last thing you want to do is swim in a wet suit in barely legal water in sunny/80* outside temp and arrive in T1 already dehydrated. This was my first time in a rolling start.  I had a bit of concern that there could be gals that seeded themselves further back (meaning I wouldn't be able to really know where I was at in the race), but then I also thought if anyone thought they were in contention for either the AG win or the amateur title, there would be no way they would put themselves anywhere other than the front.  I put myself in the :55-1:00 category knowing that I might be a bit slower, but it would be nice to draft as much as possible.  All around me there were green caps...not many of us ladies! It was a MOST pleasant start, I wasn't run over much at all and I chose perfectly with a fresh pair of Roka F1's in light amber that I may have had to panic order so that I had the best tint for race day. The Viper Pro swim skin from Roka is also stellar and they have updated it with a break away zipper this year which makes it SO easy to rip off as you are hustling through T1.

Bike: 5:20:56...good enough for fastest in the AG (let's not talk about the fact that it was the 11th best bike split for the AG women)
This bike LOVES to ride
After hustling through what could have been a mud wrestling pit of T1, (don't search for funny videos...) I made it onto my bike and headed out for a fun day in the sun.  Just me, my thoughts and an entire batch of salty balls to get through before it was time to run ;)  The beginning of the bike course in TX typically has a tailwind and we did start off pretty quickly, but also pretty early on, the wind started.  Coupled with the fact that I could feel the heat immediately, I knew it was going to be a pretty spectacular day in terms of blow ups.  I made my way to the front of the AG race and was riding comfortably.  A few gals (and a ton of guys) came by me like I was a toddler riding a bike for the first time.  I told myself "either I am riding like a toddler, or these gals are making some pretty bad decisions".  Let's stick to my race and see how it plays out.  Every 15 minutes I have an alarm that goes off queuing me that it is time for a salty ball (70kcals/ball).  when I didn't' feel like eating, I would tell myself that the food tasted like winning, the food tasted like Kona and that if I wanted to do either of those things, I had better get that ball DOWN the hatch.  I rolled them in a bit more salt than usual and that was a good move! The aid stations were only every 10ISH miles and in weather like that, they should be like they are in Kona, every 7.  I was pouring water over me at every stop, adding cold water to my bottle and was ELATED when I arrived at the special needs stop and found my foil wrapped bottle of Osmo still slushy.  There is NOTHING like an ice cold drink at mile 70 of an Ironman.  When the wind really picked up it got a little frustrating as the drafting would seem to increase as well.  People just seem to gravitate towards others in order to shield themselves from the wind.  I kept telling myself that to focus on others is to waste energy, but that didn't stop me from getting a bit frustrated.  At one point a pro gal I had passed was right behind me so I looked at her and she apologized and then came around me as if to offer me a break...uh, no thanks chick, I don't want no penalty.  It got a bit ugly for me towards the end of the bike and I found myself yelling at the wind that I "LOVED" it and then in turn making loud grunting noises...does anyone else do this?  Good friends know exactly how this sounds. Good thing not many people were around...they might get the incorrect picture that I am a bit strange ;) I got off of the bike in 2nd position and told myself it was time to run!

Run 3:38:15/ 8:18/mile and 6th fastest amateur run

TX budgy smuggler cheer boys!
What do you say about a disappointing run that saw you go from leading the overall amateur race to landing as the 5th best amateur and 2nd in your AG?  I struggle to (audibly) say I'm "disappointed", as I feel like that may come off as ungrateful.  2nd in my AG and 5th overall IS good, and I get that.  But I wanted more from myself and I wanted to win. With the run training I have been doing, I felt like on the right day, this could be a possibility.  So I am a bit disappointed.  Not a go throw a pity party or even really wonder "what" I could have done better, but just a bit like damn...what happened those last 5 miles that I just couldn't hang on?  I try not to make excuses as I simply was not THE best on the day, but I am hoping that I get to blame a small amount of this run on the fact that I had been sick and am still not over it.  I can do that, right?

In the lead...for now
I always throw a bit of a party as you hit the run as you know the only thing that can let you down from here on out, is your body.  No more opportunity for a mechanical, no one to possibly kick your goggles off and drown you...nope, all you have left is 26.2 (don't for get the .2) miles on your feet, and for some reason, that seems like the most controllable portion of the race to me.

 I exited T2 with a half bottle full of a mixture of pre load and osmo active to top off the salts for the rest of the day.  I won't drink the on course nutrition so get all of my salt from pre-load the night before/morning of and then in T2. It all started off OK enough...the first mile is always brutal for me. But I've learned to just take that one easy and build into it as the legs will come around.  The course is not at all hilly, but very quickly I felt myself really feeling the ever so slight nonexistent inclines that are on the course.  I didn't have Mark there with me, so had to be really on myself to take coke, ice, water at each aid station.  I definitely slowed/walked a bit at most of the aid stations so that I ensured I got all of the nutrition I needed.  I didn't want to be in such a hustle that I skipped calories cause who can eat and run at the same time?...ROOKIE.  The run in Texas is just awesome...three laps of crazy spectators cheering for you!  Definitely needed when you are in the hurt locker!  I was focusing so much that I couldn't even high five people :(  It was good to have team mates Heidi and Kelly on the course and to have Jordan helping me out with where I was at in the race.  Thank you ladies!  The wind continued onto the run course from the bike and at one point along the canal it was like you hit a WALL of wind...I would try to find the biggest guy I could to tuck behind for that portion of the run!  I headed into the last lap of the run and with about 6 miles to go was like, quads have never felt like this...what is this terrible feeling?  Time to start popping my glucose tabs and hope that the finish line magically appears!  Glucose tabs are like pixie sticks in solid form...and so tasty late in the marathon and offer a quick hit of sugar...who knew they weren't only for diabetics?  Thank you Stacy for that tip!  I got passed in the last 4 miles by 3 of the 4 women who would finish in front of me (the 4th started later).  Kudos to those fleet feeted fast and all cheered me on as they passed- fast AND good sports!  Love this sport for just that reason! hawt!
I hit the line in 10:10 and nabbed a spot to Kona.  Quickly hit the massage tent to try to undo some of the damage done by the 26 miles on pavement and then went in search of the biggest milkshake I could find!

Thanks for all of the cheers throughout the day! Thank you to my husband, Mark, for guiding me to my 6th Kona qualification.
Podium girls!
Thanks to all of the people that got me to the start line in such good shape such that all I had to do was go out and execute my plan.  I can't say enough how grateful I am for people in my life that make this sport a possibility for me.  I've built so many friendships through triathlon over the past decade, and I can't imagine where my life would be with out all of these wonderful people!

See you in a few weeks at Escape from Alcatraz!