Friday, December 30, 2016

16 in '16

When Jen first mentioned doing an end of year blog, sort of along the trend of 100 Things About Me (how was that nearly two years ago?!), I was immediately IN.  It's fun to look back over the year, combing through pics of memories created, and taking some time to, in a society where we just get to a place and then say "what's next?!", reflect and be grateful for the past 12 months.  This is a mix of things that happened in 2016 as well as the highlights...with pics of course to make it much more fun!

Happy New Year!! 2016 UK
  • the first fun thing of 2016 was spending New Years Eve and New Years Day with friends and family in the UK.  It was cold and dreary, but seeing Mark's friends and family always makes me wish we all lived a much sunnier and warm environment ;)

  • Throttling around the English Countryside in Mark's other wife, a 1974 Min Cooper that he restored with his mate Duncan.  Her name is Polly and he goes to visit her in the UK as often as possible under the guise of business trips to Europe!
Her name is Polly

Rally bar and seat belts...

    Kona Finish #7
    Kona waters with my sis and bestie
  • Ironman Kona...duh, of course this would be close to the top ;)  This year was my 7th Kona and it was my third year of swim, bike, running myself onto the Kona podium. From swims in the ocean with friends and family, to getting blown on the Queen K, Kona remains one of my most beloved places to be.  

Ending the year as the #1 ranked All World Athlete by Ironman for the 2nd year in a row :) I know it's based on how much you race, but I am pretty proud of it.  
Overall AWA Ranking
  • Qualifying for my 8th Kona this past November at Ironman Arizona.

Focus on Sonja's words...GO!
  • Taking the 35-39 North American Champion Title at Ironman Texas in May.  Ironman Texas has been on my list for a long time, with me racing it all but one of the years it's been in existence.  
Just missed the downpour and now we have shakes!
    Sherpa's gotta EAT, and me too...
  • Claiming my VERY FIRST overall amateur win at Escape From Alcatraz.  This is not my typically jam as it's COLD and SHORT, which makes it an even more awesome moment of 2016 for me.  
Weird arms that I do post race...TGI OVER!
  • Celebrating 7 years of marriage to Mark.  No one tells you that being married is different to living together and that it isn't always easy.  You've been warned!  But it is awesome, and I can't wait to continue this life we've created together.

Does he look aero?
  • Swimming 100x100's...OK, so I'm doing that tomorrow, but 100x100's is always an EPIC event.  Pic to follow tomorrow morning...

just this.
  • Swimming. With. Dolphins....TWICE in one trip. This was something that I had been gagging to do every time I've been in Kona.  I was only ever going to swim with them if it happened in the wild as I don't believe in paying to swim with them.  And it finally happened.  Thankfully the first time was by myself of of the Kona pier as when I saw them, I literally couldn't stop laughing with excitement.

  • Taking a helicopter tour of the Big Island.  It more than solidified that it's my favorite place on Earth and was just awe inspiring.

The other side of the Big Island...lush
  • Getting to race in my home town of Delaware, Ohio at the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  There's something about KNOWING a course and being back home on the race course with friends and family.  I got cheered on by my BIGGEST fans and longest time friends and family and it was just awesome. My dad has never gotten to see me race as traveling is tough in a wheel chair, so having him out on the course was the cherry on top.

Hometown goodness and another 2nd place :)
  • I celebrated my 5 year anniversary at my job.  I can't imagine working anywhere else and my team mates and colleagues are beyond supportive of my outside of work pursuits and I cant explain how grateful I am for that.
The support I get from my colleagues post IM...just WOW

Coastal Bliss
  • Riding down the California Coast for two days with three amazing friends, Pia, Kayla and Erin. We missed the true Coast ride over MLK weekend due to rain so we made up for it with a GLORIOUS two days in June, complete with lots of mid-ride treats at Big Sur Bakery!

  • Christmas in Tahoe.  The cold may not be my jam, but my family is and the only thing missing was my dad.  But it was AWESOME to be with my sis, my nieces, my mom and the rest of our family over Christmas.  Baby girls even have #heartandcourage and can make a heart better than their Aunty.

Best Nieces evah
Good Friends and vino!
  • Last but not least and maybe not the most exciting, but it's always a highlight to spend another year doing what I love, and being surrounded by those I love.  So cheers to a sturdy (for the most part) body, and friends and family that I can't imagine being without.  
This was a group effort so please see these lovely ladies' blogs for the rest of the theme!  Erin Klegstad, Laurel Richardson, Lizzie Cullen, Christine Cogger, Caitlin Constantine, Jennifer Ward and Elizabeth Rich

Happy New Year's to you and yours and can't wait to see everyone on the course in 2017!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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