Monday, May 23, 2016

64 turns and a champions jersey

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

  1.  I WON!  My age group that is.  Was really wanting the OA win but I would have to settle for 5th OA amateur...turns out those young (teeny tiny) gals can RUN...will keep trying to up my game here!  Last year since it was the first year Texas was the North American Championship, they gave out champions jerseys to the winner of each AG.  I wanted that, not the design (please IM, contact Kebby at Coeur and ask her to do the design next year?!), but, I wanted to be the champ, to be No1 at the NA Championship.  When I was running and struggling, that is what I thought about...oh and milkshakes- to which I told Sonja about and she started singing the milkshake song to me!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

friends help the blues!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

14 things Bout triathlon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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