Sunday, November 17, 2013

Maui recap - XTERRA World Championships '13 the unabridged version....

Wheels up in Chicago, snow on the way!
Our march across the states

The desert
LaLa Land, wheels down quick layover
Finally, wheels down OGG Maui!
Legs up, coffee in!

A little photo montage to get you in the mood for what will invariably be a long - ish read. For that I apologize, unless you like reading my ramblings.

Left for Maui on a Tuesday early morning, arrived on a Tuesday late afternoon (losing 5 hours, traveling for over 12). My body fared much better this year with the shortened journey. Last year's flight to Maui took us to 3 airports with many hours spent in airport bars. Basically all the money I thought I was saving by taking multiple layovers I poured down my gullet in the form of $10 shitty airport cocktails.

Our group secured the same condo from last year right on the golf course in Kapalua in West Maui.  I don't really care about golf but it was amusing to watch what a $300 game looks like while I sipped my morning coffee.

Al spent most of the first day's morning reassembling our bikes, tuning and tweaking so that we could get out on the course before it got really hot (this last statement is tongue in cheek).

The pre ride started as would be expected when riding with a larger group. Someone always has a mechanical. First it was Brad, then it was Stan.

*note to the reader: this course wreaked havoc on dozens upon dozens of bikes. The steep climbing combined with the loose dirt cause more than one drive train to be bustimicated (yeah that's a word).

So, losing Stan to an unfixable mechanical (at least in the field) the five of us soldiered on. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and walked and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and cried and climbed. If this paragraph is annoying to the reader I'm attempting to illustrate through the power of words what ascending 1,500' in 3 miles feels like. You know what re read that paragraph again only this time sit inside of your oven with it on of course.

The ridge line, the first MAJOR climb, but what a view!
The 20 mile bike course takes you up several grueling climbs before you scream down only a couple of descents. It's not in my top 5 or really even top 10 MTB courses for XTERRA and definitely not a World Champion caliber course for a couple reasons. First, there's no technical in the sense that you have to possess steering skills. The technical in this course comes into play in the descents and ONLY if you let it go. The second reason is this course is for a specific type of rider, the small climbers. But it is what it is and that is humbling.

*note to reader, the above is not a rant, or bitching, it was a common criticism amongst some the the best riders on the circuit.

Post pre ride I learned that acclimatization to the heat better be a quick process and the "Filthy Whore" (my bikes name) needed a second water bottle cage for race day! We later did a few out and backs on the swim course at D.T. Flemming Beach and called it a day.
First of only a few descents, the island of Molokai in the distance. 
My memory is so bad....Thursday was a run in the morning with Shelby, a fellow Wattie and Shelby's friend pro triathlete Christine "Big Fish" Jeffery. We took the backwards approach to the course omitting the first 3 miles of the 10K course (same 3 miles on the bike course with all the same climbing) assuming to save Jeffery's legs from overuse. Al and I went back and ran the front half of the course after we left Shelby and Christine at the hotel.  We took a swim later that day to continue to acclimate to the salt water environment being sure to practice entering the water through the breakers. Last year was one of the most treacherous swim starts I have ever experienced most certainly due to the Tsunami warning the night before.

Friday we laid low and Saturday we decided to "give back" we volunteered at the trail 5 and 10K in the morning. What began as an easy morning outing went horribly horribly wrong when we were voluntold to work the finish line (no shade, no breeze). I was sweated on, nearly puked on twice and required to assist ALL of the runners with their tags until the VERY LAST ONE crossed the finish line. But I feel good about myself, I have Karma in the bank account now and it didn't affect my race AT ALL the following day ;)

Friday night was pretty fun. We attended the Night of Champions at the Ritz, enjoyed some tasty food, good friends and hit the hay relatively early. I had Al apply my #SpiderTech back spider before turning in.

Race day was upon us. I woke, ate some toast and coffee took a banana and #PowerBar fruit blend with me to the start with my frozen camelback, two water bottles and 4 #PowerBar energy gels taped to my top tube. I posed with some fellow Watties for a couple of pictures, slathered up with sunscreen and stuffed myself into my speed suit. Then I waited.

L-R Liz, Shelby, Al and me before the race
The waves weren't unwelcoming, but it wasn't glass either. We watched the pro send off with the bang of that really tiny cannon, how is it so loud, it's so tiny?

I kissed Al for good luck and I watched him run into the waves, then the lovely ladies were off. The swim was two out and backs with a short beach run between. The first loop was longer than the second with a total distance of 1500 meters (just under a mile). The run to T1 was pretty long and uphill. I found my bike, rinsed off my face, gloves on, helmet on, shoes on, gel in my belly and I was off.

I felt I had a pretty successful bike with no major falls, no mechanicals, enough water for the trip and I had enough #PowerBar energy gels to get me to T2 feeling ready to run.

My one requirement / expectation of myself  for the run was to enjoy the last run of my last race for 2013. I boogied man, I took off feeling great and that feeling stayed with me for the duration. I crossed the finish line so stoked. On a longer and far more challenging (in the climbing sense) course than last year I had beaten my overall time by 1 minute. I didn't place in the top of my AG for a win, BUT, I did place in the top 10. I see it like this, I am the 10th fastest 30-34 year old female XTERRA racer in ALL OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!! As far as I know there aren't XTERRA races in other galaxies.

A happy girl! Finished strong in a tough as ballz race! 

Christopher Rodriguez, a kick ass racer!
Sunday night the Awards dinner was obviously too much for some folks ---------------------------------------->>>>>>>

The rest of our time in Hawaii was spent taking in the sites, eating lots of food, drinking lots of beer, foofoo cocktails, buying kitschy gifts and chillaxing! I even bought myself a ukulele. I plan to learn, I've strummed my first 3 chords! Gotta keep that island livin' alive and well here in the Midwest!

Big thanks go out to #Wattie Ink (Sean Watkins) and my teamies that raced their hearts out this year on and off road. Also to my team sponsors #PowerBar, #Scott, #Reynolds, #K-Swiss, #Blueseventy, #454 Tattoo, #FuelBelt, #SpiderTech, #ism, #Kask, and #Speedfil

From Diamond Head, looking to Honolulu, O'ahu

Diamond Head looking into the crater 

Pearl Harbor, Arizona Memorial

SUP, we tried it. You stand on a board......meh

What my off season eating habits have resulted in.......

See above picture.....
See caption from two pictures above
CrossFit.....? Nope, just hanging around!
Sushi night with old family friends in Oahu, tres yummy
Our final night in Maui. Love you!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nothing INJURED nothing gained

My last post was June 23rd Whoa! That's 109 days ago. A lot can happen in 109 days, a lot did happen in 109 days. Yet, that's not what this entry is about. This entry is about looking ahead. Looking ahead to what's goin' down in 16 days, 19 hours, 43 minutes, 44 seconds....43.....42....41 you get the gist.

XTERRA Worlds, I made it. Just like I thought I would. It hasn't been easy. Especially from August 11th to present. A stress fracture in my third metatarsal sidelined this girl's running sessions for six weeks. A forced DNF at Rev3 Dells 7 miles into the 13.1 was a pretty low point. But what'dya do? If it's broke, you gots to fix dat shit! So blah blah blah, I did PT, rode my bike like a crazy banshee, and swam. Now I'm ready for whatever that oasis in the Pacific has to throw at me.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this entry, I'm hoping for some inspiration through creative writing bulimia. We'll see. I think it's pretty par for the course. It's been a LONG season. As my "A" race approaches is it wrong that I'm feeling disengaged?  I'm winding down. It's getting harder and harder to stay at race weight, stay focused, stay motivated, stay hungry for victory.

It's not gone, the spark, it's just dimmer than it was a few months ago. What's keeping me going is being able to pull on my running shoes and log the miles near the speed I was before my injury. That tells me my fitness is still there! I've figured out that injuries can often be a blessing, not a curse. My whole approach and attitude to biking has gone from HATRED to a healthy respect. I might even go so far as to say I'd ride over running, only if it were on dirt of course. That's a no brainer!

What I'd like to accomplish in Maui is to feel powerful. Those hills, those 3300' of hills in Maui, I want those hills to be my bitch. I want to attack the ups and ride fearlessly on the descents. I want to apply all that I've learned about MTN biking and cycling this summer to that course. The outcome is the outcome. The journey is what defines the outcome and I think the little bumps in the road we encounter make that outcome worth talking about.

So a DNF, stress fracture and a DQ last weekend (funny story) those are my bumps in the road. Aquathon, biking biking and more biking, and rocking last weekend's race despite a bonehead move on my part. Those are my responses to adversity. You holla at me life and I holla back!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Du it! XTERRA East Championships, Richmond, VA

I love geography, I love looking at maps, tracing the roads and the highways and imagining the different places I could go. So road trips are great! Funny thing about road trips, actually funny thing about maps, usually before a trip one will look at a map to determine the best route to take to arrive at said destination in the shortest amount of time. I said funny thing. As much as I love maps, I failed to consult one before we made the trek to the former capital of the Confederacy for the XTERRA East Championship off road triathlon. Did you know that it takes 14.5 hours to drive from Plano, Illinois to Richmond, Virginia? You probably did know that. Even with the advent of Google maps, iPhone, and yes the antiquated but still operable Mapquest, I failed to realize just how long Al and I would have to spend in the car.
Nevertheless, I kept somewhat occupied for the first hour, note the yellow toes and fingers. Wattie yellow! Yes, 13.5 hours to go! Miles ticked off slow, but at least the company was totally rad! Al and I have a new found love for Pitbull! Look at the way my husband can fist pump......go Al, go Al, go Al! I'm not sure how many cups of coffee we consumed, but it was way way too much! In fact I thought I might have been hallucinating when we saw a pickup somewhere in PA with the words "Whalebone Intergalactic" scribbled on the driver's side door. Oh, and "OY." Never underestimate the power of the internet to define the unknown mysteries in life. Like WTF is whalebone intergalactic? It's actually a word jumble, whalebone is
wholebean rearranged and OY is Oh Yeah! Whalebone Intergalactic is a coffee shop / bank, real anti establishment if you catch my drift. So there goes another hour.

Laughable now, well, actually laughable then, Al and I were pulled over by Illinois' finest State Troopers for speeding in the wait for it......the Prius.....robust laughing should now ensue! Yes folks, I'll say it again, slower now. The. Prius. Was. Pulled. Over. For. Speeding. We got a little professional courtesy and left with a warning. Phew!
By the time we made it outside of Illinois the rain was upon us. Torrents of droplets fell from the sky from Indiana all the way to VA. It sucked! Driving was slow going.

My mind was reeling, if this rain didn't let up, those trails were gonna be soggy, the roots and rocks would be slicker than snot. Shit!

Shit because this was the race where I wanted to earn my qualifying spot to Maui in October. Shit because there were only 2 of those sought after spots. Shit because my age group is tough as ballz. Shit because Maia Ignatz? Heard of her? No, how about her pro husband Ryan? Without giving too much away, Maia was the ultimate OA amateur winner while her husband was the second male pro finisher. Talk about a power couple!

So, reeling mind, yep, thoughts of endos, cracked ribs, scraped knees, walking when I should be riding all of it. But adversity is all part of XTERRA right? The adventure triathlon! But I'm not a strong technical rider. I'm learning, but just like anything skills take time and repetition to develop. Al kept telling me, it's the same course for everyone.

My anxiety kept my mind busy for most of the rest of the trip. We finally pulled into the hotel nearing midnight. Our friend Billie Jamison, also racing, also vying for a Maui slot, met us in the parking lot. We left Warpig and Filthy Whore to sleep in the car while we hauled the rest of our gear to our room. Still wired from all of the highway coffee we stayed up for a couple of hours talking race strategy with Billie and figuring out the next day's plans. Oh, big detail I have to mention here, we were smack in the middle of Tropical Storm Andrea. She was a real nasty bitch! She dropped over 3" of rainfall over Richmond the following day, resulting in the closure of the XTERRA bike course and and any chance of pre riding was not going to happen at the risk of being disqualified.
So see the picture at the right? That's what we did for most of the day Friday.
There was a short break in the rain Friday morning where we headed down to the race site to check out the swim course. There was rumor of a possible cancellation in the swim making the race a duathlon but nothing was official . . . yet. Heading back to the hotel we opted to get a short run in despite the rain that had started up again.

Later Friday to kill a little time and take our minds off the race and course conditions we caught a movie and went out to dinner.  Saturday morning came and there was still no chance of a pre ride. The course officials really wanted to give the trails a chance to dry out. The forecast was spotty, rain in the morning with clearing skies that night and the following morning. We headed down to the race location to scope out the swim clinic.

The picture at the left is the James River Friday morning. By Saturday morning the river had risen 10' and and wasn't expected to peak until later Saturday afternoon. The sandbars you see here had turned into raging rapids. Race officials made the decision to cancel the swim and replace it with a 1.6 mile run. Oh yeah, my first duathlon. I was pretty happy about this. Adapt right? Theme of the weekend.

The three of us wandered around XTERRA village, ducking under the vendor tents when the rain picked up.

Saturday night Al and I decided to play it safe and found an Olive Garden for dinner while Billie hung with his mom at her hotel nearby.

Race morning we woke to sunny skies. We headed down to transition, set up our rigs and waited the 2 hours and 45 minutes till the race start. Interesting thing about East Championships is that there were several races going on simultaneously with the AG
championship the last to head out. Coolest part of the morning was watching the pros start their race. Up close and personal with the best in the world.

Our time finally came, we lined up and the loudest tiny cannon in the world went off. Like caged animals finally set free we stampeded up the river trail under the freeway and through the streets of Richmond. I was back at Filthy Whore's side in a little over 10 minutes.

The thing about Richmond that made this race so different from any other XTERRA on circuit is that its described as an "urban" course. So, a lot of manmade objects to navigate. Including steps, walls, tunnels, bridges - wooden and rock. I took it in stride, I rode what I could, I hopped off my bike when I couldn't. More often than not I fell off my bike. But whatevs....I tried most off the obstacles. In the end I had a pretty slow bike time. Let's just say my 10K run at the end was a faster mph average than my bike. HOWEVER, there were moments of greatness when I was able to hit 25 mph speeds. So it goes to show you that this course didn't have a lot of what Al calls FLOW. Totally evident when I uploaded my Garmin and it looked like a seismograph. Lost my nutrition somewhere on the bike course too, not too rattled by this, I knew I had had enough pre race calories to hold me over. Nevertheless, I lost that blasted gel flask at mile 7 on the bike with 13 more to go.

Panoramic of the James River, Richmond, VA

The bike was a two loop course, my second loop was faster than my first. At that point I was really wishing there had been an opportunity for a pre ride. I muscled through, made it to the end, racked Filthy Whore and pulled on my running shoes.

I was stoked to be on my feet again. I knew I had energy to have a great run since my bike didn't physically exhaust me like it should have. I took off, feeling my groove and the miles ticked off one after another. Right around mile two I ran into a wall, literally. They lovingly call it the Mayan Ruins. Straight up, hands and feet climbing dozens of railroad ties to the top. Not much else got in my way after that. I flew to the end in :49 minutes, race time 3:30 and some change. Not enough to get me that automatic qualifying spot but good enough to get me a 4th AG and 11th OA female.
World Champion Lesley Patterson entering T1

Me #rockingtheW at the finish
Needless to say the top 2 amateur females were in my age group, I'm crossing my fingers I get a roll down in the coming weeks.

Big shout out to new friend Allison Linnell who rocked her 20-24 AG with a 1st and a well deserved Maui slot. Allison decided East Championships would be a good FIRST XTERRA. So impressed.

Also, I have to once again thank my awesomely supportive husband and Coach, Al for patiently waiting for me to figure out that I actually LOVE mountain biking . . . .7 years after I first tried it. Al finished nearly :45 minutes ahead of me, placed 33rd OA including pros, a few of which he beat, and 5th in his AG. He's such a rockstar! All of this on his 42nd birthday!

Lastly, I want to thank my sponsors, Wattie Ink, K-Swiss, Blueseventy (I was totally gonna rock the Helix in the raging James River), Speedfil (loved my F2), Fuelbelt, 454 Tattoo, PowerBar (some furry woodland creature is probably feasting off my gel flask right now), Scott, Reynolds, ism, Kask, Wedgie, Geneva Running Outfitters, North Central Cyclery, XF Muscle.

By the way, it rained the whole way home too. The day we left town there were Tornados in Baltimore and the Richmond airport was closed due to a bomb threat. This picture kinda sums up the weekend . . . . Oh Shit, hang on!



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

XTERRA Last Stand, feelin da flow

Dude, it's time to get dirty! First road tri over and done with. Now let's PARTAY! 

Sunday marked my season opener for XTERRA. So being the intellectual that I am :) it would be S.M.A.R.T. to  get one under my belt before vying for a Maui slot in Richmond June 9th at East Championships. 

Saturday Al and made the short drive to Michigan excited for good weather and fast times on the course. Since we couldn't check into our hotel until late afternoon we made good use of our day by driving to the park doing a little recon of the transition area, dipped our tootsies in Eagle Lake (not cold by St. George standards) and unloaded our whips for a pre ride. 

I totally wanted to upload some of the pre ride video Al took with the GoPro, but blogger is being douchey and won't allow it, so I have a few pics that will have to do. 

Initial thoughts on the pre ride up until mile three, BORING. Both Al and I uttered the words "hammer fest" at the same time indicating the lack of hills, obstacles and twists and turns would mean the bike portion at least would be cranking and panting from start to finish. Glad we were wrong. We came up on a turn into the woods and the trail came alive....literally with mosquitos. Fuck, I'm pretty sure they snapped and snarled at us. Michigan, you have a mosquito problem! The trail did improve. There were log crossings, water crossings, bridges, climbs, sandy climbs, steep descents and plenty of flow and go!

By this point on the bike course most of the directional arrows were up. However, we learned a very valuable lesson, don't ride ahead of the marking crew, you'll get lost, and we did. Stopping wasn't an option either with the blood suckers flying about. Well the bike course was advertised as 12.5 miles, we ended up riding 16+ and race day I noted 14.5 miles on my Sigma. Well played XTERRA, well played, my kind of measuring!

Once we got back we opted for a quick 1 mile run and then it was time to pick up our packet, check in to our hotel in Battlecreek and find some good eats. 

Pre race dinner was scrumptious. Ate at a little restaurant called Maia and I had the wild mushroom fettuccine. Not usually the one to indulge in dessert, but Al and I went a little nutz and ordered some sweet treats! 

Race morning food deff not as good as the dinner the night before. Hotel breakfasts just don't do it for me. 

Rockin' the W in a really bad selfie
At the park Al and picked up our timing chips, racked our bikes. Unlike most XTERRA's the host club Elite Endeavors gives every participant a specific spot for racking your bike. So once I got my transition area set up to my liking Al and I went for a quick mile-ish run to warm up before slipping into something a bit more comfortable . . . oh that means putting our sweet ass custom Wattie Ink Blueseventy Helix wetsuits on. 

Last Stand was a mass start so men women and children crashed into the waters of Eagle Lake and were off to the races. Simultaneously the duathletes ran down the beach and headed into the woods for a 2 mile loop before rejoining their triathlete buddies on the trail for a little bike ridin'. 

I came out of the water at 12:16 (half mile swim @ a 1:23 per 100 avg.) Just a few seconds behind Al and at the same time as our good friend Ian. Running into transition I went straight to Filthy Whore (that's my bike's name, cause she likes to be dirty) helmet on, gloves on, shoes on, glasses on and ready to rock in 1:21! 

1:05:14 later (13.34 mph and the same bike split as the overall female winner) I emerged from the depths of the tree line and made my way to T2. Bike racked, shoes on, hat and race belt in hand I bolted out of transition in 00:41 seconds. Knowing there was 1 girl for sure who passed me on the bike early on, I knew I had work to do. However, what I didn't find out until the first mile was there was one more gal ahead of me who just had an astounding 9:50 swim (4th fastest OA swim split). I didn't know how fast of a biker or runner she was so I couldn't really gauge whether or not I could catch her. But I was gonna try! 

Al bringin home an AG win and 3rd OA
I ripped through the first few miles clocking a 7 ish minute per mile pace. I got a few updates from racers and volunteers that I was in fact the third female and the other two were anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 minute ahead of me. faster! I did make up quite a bit of ground but just not enough to get me that OA title. In the end I raced a 7:26 avg. mile for 4 miles and finished in 1:49:12, 2:15 behind the leader and 2 minutes behind numero deuce. My run was actually 9 seconds per mile slower than the OA female and 30 seconds per mile faster than number two. It was a close race on all accounts. I do have to give mad props to number two girl for racing like a beast for a 1 hour bike AS A 50 YEAR OLD. Damn mama!

So the Wades brought a couple pieces of hardware home to Illinois, both Al and I placed 3rd OA and 1st in our respective age groups. Pretty excited to have developed a bit of confidence going into Virginia. That is by far my A number 1 race. 

My AG win and 3rd OA chickadee
Totally stoked for the AG win but what is more pleasing is how well Filthy Whore responded for her maiden voyage. She is the best bike evah! Steel may be real but titanium is by far a gals best friend, fo sho! 

Al took a gnarly fall and ended up with a hole
in his knee
I gotta tell ya, the XXI set up is the cats ass. I am just over the moon for it. With that, I gotta give many thanks to my ever devoted husband, moral support, psychologist (probably really need a legit shrink) and all around bike wrench extrordinaire for the build. I also gotta give a great big should out to wheel builder and friend Chad for the awesome job he did lacing those pretty white rims with just a touch of gold bling! A girlz gotta have a little jewelry! 

Insert quick product review here: I rode with the Speedfil F2 during this race and gotta say, it worked out really well. Obviously technical sections aren't ideal for taking a swig of water, but you can't drink out of conventional bottle or Camelback when you're crawling over roots and baby heads (imbedded smooth rocks) either. The F2 fits nicely in the "up a level" bottle cage I already use given to me to demo by sponsor Tom Schopf of MyWedgie. Al used zip ties and   a small length of velcro to afix the length of hose to the frame leading up to my handle bars. I tucked the mouth piece between my brake and shift lever on the right. I had enough hose to half to bend over slightly to take a drink. The bottle was a typical 16 oz water bottle with Speedfil's patented quick fill cap that keeps dirt and debris from craping up your water.  

Lastly a big thank you again to all of my sponsors including Wattie Ink, Blueseventy, PowerBar, K-Swiss, 454 Tattoo, Speedfil, Kask, ism, Fuelbelt, Reynolds, Scott bikes, wedgie hydration systems, Geneva Running Outfitters, and North Central Cyclery.

Me, Al and our new friend Brad. Princess shot this pic
Got to say, aside from the mosquitos, I dig Michigan. The trails didn't disappoint and Al and I had a great time with old friends, Ian and Amy and made some new friends, Heather, Brad and Princess! 
Until we ride again!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

St. George 70.3 Race Recap or What goes up makes me sad :(

It's been a few weeks now since I raced in St. George so that means my memory is such that I only have good thoughts in my heart!

Truthfully, this race was pretty awesome! My results didn't measure up to my pre race plan, but then again, maybe I was a little over ambitious.

As a Midwesterner a May race is tough to train for, especially this year. Secondly, as a Midwesterner a hilly race is also tough to train for. The logic that "we have wind her in the Midwest" yeah, that's bullshit, hilz is hilz folks! We definitely don't have hills that last for miles and miles either. Thank gawd Al and I sought out the hilliest place we knew of relatively close by and hit them hard during our "Misfit Immersion Camp" on the Kentucky Tennessee border in early April. Great showing by the way - insert sarcasm - which included me, Al and our friend Nicholas Sikes from Team Kestrel.

Vegas Baby! Why does
everyone say that? 
So back to recapping. We left for Utah on May 2nd flying into Vegas and making the drive into St. George. The four of us (myself, Al, Kyla and Stan) stayed with friends in the area making the entire experience less stressful.

Day 1 included a quick 4 mile run to shake the legs out and get the travel off our bodies. Threw in a few 2 minute stride-outs feeling those muscles wake up. Food during our stay was on point. Niki and Dean, our hosts, prepared an assortment of vegetarian / vegan options that worked well with our diets. Personally I find traveling totally messes with my tummy, I'm a creature of habit with my food and race week is notorious for wrench throwing!!!

Later that evening Dean, a veteran of the St. George full Ironman, took us for a guided tour of the bike and run courses filling us in on some key tactics! This year both he and Niki were race captains at the 5 / 8 mile aid station on the run course.....the best aid station BTW!

Al, me and fellow Wattie Jake Steen sportin' our custom
Blueseventy Helix wetsuits
Day 2 included a quick 2 mi run up Snow Canyon and a peek at the notorious "BEAST." The 4 mile hill on the bike course near the end of the race. For most of us (except Speedy McSpeederson Wattie Teammate Mike Larsen) this was the point in the race your avg. mph laughed in your face, single digits folks! Later that day we dropped our run gear at T2, checked in and headed out to Sand Hollow Reservoir for a dip in the ice bath (no jokes kiddos, water was said to be 54 degrees) then we rode a few miles of the bike course and racked our bikes. Pre race dinner was nothing fancy, just a veggie sub.

Kyla and Stan in Snow

Waking up race morning was easy, I slept soundly, went for my coffee, banana and almond butter sandwich and called it good.

We drove to the downtown square, parked and walked to the busses near T2. I popped in my earbuds and tried to visualize my race. My race mantra "the faster you race the higher you place."

Fellow Wattie Jake Steen, Al and me with our bikes at
at Sand Hollow Reservoir 

Now the good shit. My swim, goal time: 34 minutes, actual time: 36:28. was cold guys and gals, really cold. My salvation, I wore the Wattie Blueseventy Helix full sleeve wetsuit. This was it's maiden race voyage. Thanks to Ryan Vanderloop and the good people at FedEx our suits were delivered two days prior right to Dean and Niki's front door. Let me tell you this suit is EVERYTHING your suit is not! It fits how it's supposed to fit, it sheds water like its supposed to shed water, no chaffing on the neck, no tightness in the shoulders, it's just AWESOME! I chose to double up swim caps opting not to wear the neoprene cap. Once the initial OMFGawd chest clenching I can't breath shock wore off I relaxed and fell into my swim groove. Glide, stroke, glide, stroke, breath and repeat. Never really had to battle for real estate in the water, the wave starts enabled enough room between groups for that. Boom, out of the water and up to transition, a little hypoxic, a little wobbly and feeling more like a pirate with peg legs than a Wattie Ink Elite age grouper I made my way to my bike.

My bike goal: 2:46, my actual time: 2:57:22. I feel like, no wait, I know this is my weakest link in the tri. If one wants to be faster on the bike, one must bike A LOT and FASTER. Well, I'm workin' on it, promise. The bike was incredible. The views, sweeping, the ascents, brutal, the descents, pee your pants scary, but scary with a smile on your face. I won't break it down mile by mile but I will say the bike went by faster for me than it ever has during any other race. So something in my training is working....could it be that I actually am beginning to like the bike? Let's keep that under wraps.

Into T2 I had a little potty emergency, remember that travel belly I mentioned before... yeah, about that.... Soooo K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights on my feet, PowerBar energy gel in my tummy, I was set for a run.

 Smoochin' my man after a hard earned finish!
My run goal: 1:37, my actual time: 1:51:25. This. Was. Disappointing. Not sure what went wrong here? I've run hilly courses, I've done the Z2 training.....all signs pointed to a much faster minute per mile than what I ran. What can I say, one foot in front of the other, pick people off one by one, see a 30-34 on the back of that chick's leg, run. her. down! That's what I do, the run is MY event. It's where I shine. I guess not every day is graduation day though.....

So total time: 5:31:57, you can do the math if you want to see just how far off I was from my goal time.....just don't laugh too loudly. Let me just say, It is attainable, I was close to breaking the 5 hour mark last September in Cedar Point, even won my age group. Different course, different terrain, different time of year. But still, you get those numbers in your head and you think, maybe just maybe there's a chance I could best that time.

Moral of the story is, goals are great, but don't get hung up on them. Race plans are invaluable, but don't live and die by them.

Looking forward I'm pretty stoked to say I'm putting road tris on the back burner for a few months and hitting the dirt. Stay tuned for my XTERRA race recap coming shortly......

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gravel roads hurt my butt and my ego

Today began like every other day this spring, COLD. April 13th greeted us with a wintry mix of light snowfall, wind chills near 20 degrees and wind gusts near 20 mph. Sounds like a good day to ride, outdoors.

On the docket today, a 41.3 mile gravel "group" ride leaving from our local bike shop and touring some of the off the beaten path roads in rural DeKalb and Ogle counties. Today's ride was / is in prep for next month's Gravel Metric (62 mi) event. My steed of choice, my new Raleigh CX bike. My most fav part of that bike, the bar tape, there are tattoos on it.

Leaving the shop at 8 a.m. the group of 30 ish riders sped comfortably through downtown DeKalb heading south (I think) on pavement. Sweet, this pack was moving together and the wind didn't really suck that bad. My hands snug inside my lobster gloves were all snuggly next to my trusty hand warmers. I remember thinking to myself "I can do this." I mean I just spent an entire week in Kentucky tackling crazy hills on my tri bike in prep for St. George 70.3, gravel schmavel! We logged a 22 hr training week, followed up with an 18 hr training week culminating in this rodeo.

OMG, sooner than that thought flew from my head the "pack" including my husband shit me out the backend like a carnivorous amoeba. Then. They. Were. Gone. Dropped, alone, unwanted like a hairless Chihuahua.

Sigh.......then began my arduous journey to complete the 41.3 miles mostly alone. But not completely, I managed to latch onto a group of riders including Tim (Slender Fungus), Brent, Dave, Katy, and Mike.  Tim described our group as akin to the Postal Service, "We're not the fastest but we'll get there eventually." At my darkest point - insert inane laughter here - around mile 8 before I met up with the group I wanted to call it quits, ride the tailwind back to the shop, drink espresso with the Chad (friend and bike wrench) and wait for Al to finish up the hammerfest with the lead pack. I don't even know from where these defeatist thoughts were coming from. I NEVER QUIT! I've RUN 62 miles before and you bet your ass I wanted to quit during that nightmare, but didn't! Looking back I'm not sure if it was the feeling of being left in the dust, feeling completely out of shape compared to these titans of the gravel world or perhaps just being tired after two long weeks of training. But my negative thoughts were closing around me like a thick smoke. I had to break away, regroup and just stick it out and I did, it wasn't fast, but then again it wasn't a race.

There was only feeling good after that, or at least that was my self talk. I've ridden farther, I've ridden faster and I've been more uncomfortable than I was today. I guess in the end I found that you learn the most about yourself in the brutal beautiful places. You get closer to finding out who you really are and the best parts of what makes you you. You're out there along the gravel roads, blowing in the breeze, tangled up in the prairie grasses, and at the crest of the climb.

Cheers to growing . . . even if it is only at 10 mph


PS 41.3 turned into 42.2 group rides are never AS ADVERTISED.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Run slow to go fast . . . .say what?

I'm no expert but doesn't the idea of running slow now to go fast later sound counter intuitive? My mind is the perverbial toddler, kicking and screaming, stomping my feet. There's no effin way running slow or biking slow will get me on that podium.Oh but touche, might I have a little broccoli with my CROW?

Part of my resistance comes from my experience with HR training last year. Last year my zones were figured ALL wrong. We might as well have used the standard 220-age formula, WRONG! It's my contention this formula is okay for the lay person but completely innacurate for HR training and athletes entering into base building phase...your whole season could be f8*kered up.

It works! Not only does it work, it is MAGIC! Let's go back in time seven weeks. Heart rate zone testing day. We must have hit the nail on the head with our testing, we figured my max to be 11 beats higher than the "standard formula."

Crazy Al "Poodle" doing his initial
zone assessment
This completey changed my training. I went from z2 runs that were 10:30 min miles to 8:40 min miles. Big relief, no more would my morning 5 mile runs take me nearly an hour, with forced walks just to stay in the correct zones. Mega frusterating! The irony of it all is that I'm super efficient when it comes to zone 4 and up! Why? Because I train with my husband. I run faster to keep up with him for long periods of time. He in turn is efficient in his lower zones as he runs slower to allow me to keep up. At least that's my logic. This is why I managed to run a 3:20 marathon (7:38 min/mile) ticking along at a high heart rate.....crazy eh? Goes to show you that proper fueling can sustain you at least for a while...but that's an entirely separate issue.
At the VAC for z2 testing, the day
I went from 8:20s to 7:33s BOOM!
Notice my @KSWISS #Kona kicks
they make me run fast!
Fast forward three-ish weeks, zone 2 progression, not a lot at first but improvement went from 8:40-8:20. Now fast forward again three weeks. I'm sitting pretty at a 7:33 min mile in z2+. What I thought wasn't possible has become quite possible. We have one more base building phase (3 weeks) to go before entering into our force phase so I can't wait to see the improvements.

Mostly I'm curious to what my z2 running / biking will translate to during race pace conditions. First event to show my stuff will be the IM 70.3 in St. George....picked a doozie didn't I?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cabin Feeevah!

I wanna go on the record here and state that I AM SO JEALOUS of my Wattie non-climately challenged teammates posting pics of their epic desert trail runs, or bike rides along the coast line. OMG, you guys are killin' us here. So tomorrow, much like the rest of my stark winter training I will haul my biscuits to the INDOOR track and run around a 1/6th of a mile circle over and over and over again. I do this so that I too can ROCK THE W when MY season begins . . . 

Seriously? Feels like -5....WTF?