blog banner900

blog banner900

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Xterra Fruita, Colorado 2nd Place!

Last minute decisions to race are usually the best. There is anticipation, stress, and nervous lead up. I decided to race the Xterra in Fruita Colorado at the last minute so there was none of the usual gitters. It is a race I've had my eye on for a couple of years, but it is usually the weekend before Xterra Pan Am National Championship race in Utah. This year it was still on the same schedule but I wasn't racing the Championship race in Ogden, so heading out to Fruita was a great option.

Xterra Fruita is centered around a triathlon festival so the roadies get to race on Sunday. A lot of people plan to do both races. Sprint and Olympic distances are both available for both on and off road triathlons. 

We arrived the day before, as usual. It was an awesome short 4 hour drive! As we pulled into the parking area to register, we just happened to pull into a spot next to pro triathlete Branden Rakita. He was very amiable and talked about riding the course "all out". It is a fast, non-technical bike ride, but when you ride it pushing the limits, it can be exhausting and super fun, according to Rakita.

We registered and then got ready for a pre-ride. We were able to ride most of the course and fast, flow-y, twisty, is the best way to describe it. I knew I would feel comfortable pushing my fitness limits on this course.

The day of the race was beautiful and not as warm as anticipated, which is great for me because heat is not my friend! The water was warm. As we started, I reminded myself that I was going to push the limits all day, from the gun start. The swim was short and quick. I could site off of a swimmer in front of me with bright green arm bands. We were swimming the same speed, so I let him lead because he was swimming straighter than I normally do on my own. One time around, then a short beach run, and back into the water. I stayed in his draft, happy for all the help I could get. 

As we headed toward shore after turning at the last bouy, I picked it up and led a group of about three that I had been drafting off. I was in the lead by about 5 seconds only to lose most of that struggling in transition,

This time, transition wasn't so bad, but still not smooth. Onto the bike course! I had to constantly remind myself to push, push, push. There wasn't a second to lose. I was hoping for a 1:04 bike split for the 13.5 miles. I knew my kids would be impressed with that. Unfortunately, I missed it by a couple of minutes. I'm pretty sure I lost most of the time in the twisty sections. There were a couple of these sections and we had two laps, so I could have lost time there.

Going onto the run I could feel that I was tired from the swim and bike effort. After a mile or so it became apparent that I'd be running most of the course with two other women. One was in a relay and one was a little older than me. (I know, surprising, right?) The older one passed me, and then we caught up to the relay runner. And there we stayed in a line of three. We were always within about 15 seconds or less. With about 1 mile to the finish I realized that I was feeling stronger than the other runners. At small hills they were stopping to walk for just a few steps. That was my opportunity to pass! I held steady as I closed the gap on the relay girl, and then focused on making up the 10 or so seconds on the older lady. As I approached, I tried to go past fast enough and strong enough to break any bands should she try to stay with me. It must have worked because she complimented me on a strong second half. I passed the last chance for water at the aid station without looking back and headed for home. 

As the gap became larger, I was aware that I was at my physical limit and glad to see the finish line!

I finished in second place in my age group. Super stoked to get points toward the 2018 Xterra season. Yay!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Through Cactus Alley and then home! Maui Part III

Racking my muddy bike was a great feeling. Exchanging my muddy bike shoes for clean running shoes was heaven. Off went the helmet and muddy gloves. Sunglasses up on my head, grab a quick drink from my bottle, grab some more gels for my pocket, put my race number on and I was off for the last event of the day. Lori was right by my side as we exited through "run out".

The six-plus mile run starts gradually uphill through the same tunnel and then gets steeper. A throws few hills are thrown in on top before the relief of heading down to the finish. I always start slow. I wasn't sure how I was feeling. It had been a long, exhausting day already and pushing the run on empty the first mile could make it a longer day than if I eased into it and paced myself. 

Lori and I walked/ran for the first mile. We talked about the bike course. It seemed that I was feeling pretty good, but I don't think she was. About 1.5 miles in, we finally parted ways. I figured it was good to start running a little and see how it would go. 

Even though this run is hard, I kind of like it. I walked/ran the first section and then started to feel quite good as I ran around the pond. The down hill is great. It isn't rocky, but there are a few root-y parts to watch out for. I start to feel a flow on the down hill section of this course but the tired feeling settles in, too. There is a point where you have to jump over some trees that have fallen across the path. Each year I plan to jump them like the pros do. Each year, I barely slide my body over them. I would never be able to jump them at this point in the game. There is another larger tree you must duck to run under. Disoriented, I'm afraid I won't get low enough and run my head straight into it!

But, I'm usually fine. After some great downhill running there is one small but steep uphill on a paved road that seems to appear suddenly. It took me by surprise again this year. It's probably 200 meters long, but it feels like forever when my legs are just. Dead.

Then you run down through Cactus Alley to the beach. Crowds are cheering, people are sun bathing and playing in the ocean. I think I'll sprint across the beach and up one more time to the grassy uphill finish. I always stay high on the beach, drawing the straight line along the flags which is a few feet shorter than running closer to the water and back up.

Beach run to the finish
This is a mistake. The sand is deep and impossible to run through. If you run down closer to the water, it is hard packed and easier.

A very muddy finish
I came up onto the grass and ran to the finish line. I cannot get enough of this race. It tests my absolute limits from overcoming the fear of ocean swimming with only a "skin suit", to testing my resolve to quiet my screaming legs through all the climbing on the bike, to dealing with heat, humidity, rain, and mud. Someday I hope to finish feeling like I conquered. But for now, I am one happy survivor.

Xterra Worlds, Maui. Part 1. To Swim or not to Swim...

Maui, Xterra Worlds in 2016 was a second try for me. The first time I raced Xterra Maui was in 2014. That seemed like a long time ago and it was obvious I was out of my comfort zone and ability level then. 2016 was the same. Out of my comfort zone and overwhelmed, but some things were familiar. Familiar surrounding, familiar course, familiar people.

Swimming in Maui becomes my least favorite part of Xterra. Normally swimming calms my fears at the beginning of a race. In Maui I watch the large swells from the ocean hitting the beach and wonder how to get out past the surf and back in safely. Two years ago, during a practice swim, I made it out and couldn't figure out how to get back to shore. A kind swimmer swam by when I was stuck in the calm, past the turbulence and asked me if I was okay. She gave me pointers on how to make it back safely. That was my now coach, Jacqui Allen. This year she met me for a quick lesson and tips on diving under the large swells to get out past the break, how to anticipate the waves coming back, and how to avoid having my head being pounded into the sand as I exit the ocean. I'm pretty sure she was as nervous for me as I was after meeting with me. She probably realized my complete incompetence in ocean/large wave swimming.

All week it rained. Each day after my arrival, it continued to rain. I describe my 2016 Maui experience as, "I was always wet." Pre-riding the bike course was out of the question. True to Xterra spirit they assured us the race would happen on race day. Even the pros seemed nervous about the conditions and that is saying something! Everyone wanted a chance to race their best on the day and Mother Nature was sure to challenge our "best".

Not knowing anything about Maui mud, I asked questions. The local bike shops and some pros such as Josiah Middaugh talked about getting a "mud" tire instead of a race tire up front. I made the change for confidence, not knowing the difference it would make. Maui mud is not like Utah clay. Utah clay sucks you in and you stop moving. Maui mud turns slick and smooth like an ice skating rink or bobsled track.

After the short swim practice with coach, I pretended I could handle this. Pretty sure she saw through me. I doubted I would start the race. If I did start there was a good chance (in my mind) that I wouldn't make it to the muddy bike course!

Athletes waiting for the start
Race day arrived. The ocean was a giant swell of water walls that kept coming and coming. Clouds were gathering. It was apparent it would rain yet again despite the fact it was race day. How did I handle it? I sat on the beach and cried. At the back of the athletes standing on the edge of the ocean anxiously awaiting their wave start, I sat on a log and cried. Yep. Truth.

The women's wave is the last to leave the Maui beach. I could hear breathless "Ohs" as the men entered the water and a large, overwhelming swell reached the surf. I tried` hard not to look at the water. If I didn't watch the swells, when it was time to start, I'd just walk out into the ocean and "give it a go" as coach would say.
Men's wave heading out
Finally it was time to enter the water. With a big breath and one last look at my husband, I faced the water. In a few seconds I found myself following the crowd of women facing the large waves.  I walked forward through the water as others ran and then dove under the swell as coach taught me, trying to grab the sand underneath and force myself forward to come out on the other side, hopefully a little further out in the bay. There is a point when you realize you are committed. It is too late to go back. Forward is the only option. 

Xterra swims are unique in that you get the opportunity to swim out, swim back to the beach, stand up and run on the beach around flags then head back into the water to do another lap. This is a cool opportunity you don't get to do if you are doing an Ironman. However, in Maui, this means you have to get in and out of the surf two times. As I headed back in to shore on the first lap, my thoughts were focused solely on not getting my head slammed into the sand. This happened in 2014. When exiting a lake swim, once the water is so low you are grabbing the sand, it is time to stand up and run out. In Maui, I stood up. The water was leaving the shore and only ankle deep. I started running for the flags, only to be slammed head-first into the sand by a wave well over my head. This year I knew it could happen and looked back over my shoulder, stayed low, straighten my body with my arms tight over my head and stiff as a board I rode the wave into shore! 

Heading back out the second time was a more positive experience. I had done it once, the race had started and I was committed. But by now, the wind and rain were picking up. Pros were already out on the bike course. There was no line of athletes coming in and out of the water. It was a mass of athletes going in all directions. I actually had a head-on with two swimmers coming in as I was headed out. It was impossible to "sight" for the buoys. The water was chopping and wavy. Most of the time it seemed as though I was in a low part of the wave, unable to see any markers. I tried to stay pointed "out", following others and lining up with the safety boats and surfers lining the course. 
Running to shore
Somewhere going out to the second turn around, I suddenly felt like laughing. The rain was coming down harder and the wind had picked up significantly. This whole experience seemed completely ludicrous. I couldn't believe we were actually doing this. It was CRAZY!
Once again I rode a wave into shore, but this time I didn't plan it exactly right and didn't get the boost I did the first time. Oh, well. I looked over my shoulder, realized it was safe, stood up and ran to get away from any swells that might be chasing me. 

On tv the Xterra run from the beach to bike transition looks flat. It isn't. If you decide to do this race, you should know. Also, When you watch on tv you might get the impression that the top of "Razor Ridge" is the last of the climbing or the half-way point. It isn't. You should know. 

And this is the end of Part 1.

Mayday! Mayday! Maui Part II

Relief swept over me like a warm, happy blanket when I realized I was still alive and running up the beach to my bike.
Swim exit

As I mentioned, it is one of the longer Xterra runs to transition 1 and it is uphill. It's not so bad, really, but it isn't like on tv. The first year I expected flat.

Everything for the long bike ride was laid out. It takes me a while to get out of my skin suit, put on my socks, shoes, gloves, sunglasses, water pack, and helmet. (A skin suit is a tight swimming suit you wear over your tri kit. It helps you swim more efficiently when it isn't wet suit legal conditions.) I usually eat one gel in transition so it can begin digesting and working in the next 10 minutes or so. I grab my "bike fuel" to put in my back pocket. I keep an extra water bottle at my spot to drink from before I unrack the bike and begin running up to "bike out".
Pushing the bike uphill to bike out

The first part of the Maui course is on a paved road through the golf course. It's a slight uphill through a tunnel that you will also come back through to finish the bike only to run back up again at the start of the run. My husband stays at this spot to get pictures of pros, friends and finally me starting the bike, finishing the bike and starting the run. Honestly, I think that must be harder sometimes than racing. He stands out for hours in the rain, wind, or sun cheering and taking pictures. No one hands him gels, water, bananas or pretzels! What a trouper!

For the first few miles, I was slogging along with the rest of the crowd. As the miles slowly ticked by it became more and more obvious that the course was crazy bad and difficult. The rain and 900 athletes riding in the mud before me had made it a slippery mud fest. My thoughts went to the pros. If this is possible, they would know how to ride it. What do they know that I don't? How can I get through this? Because of the conditions, the race director had given everyone an extra 30 minutes for the bike cut off. The cut off is a time where you are too slow and they pull you off the course. As the day continued, aid stations workers were informing us that the cut off had been increased to an extra hour. It was sure to be a very long, dirty, tiring day.

I'm not sure how many miles into the bike course it was, but it wasn't many when I noticed people were beginning to stop and take sticks to their chains, derailleurs and any bike parts that were seizing because of the mud clumps. Praying for each pedal stroke, I tried to go as long as I could until my bike was so gummed up it stopped moving, also.

On and on this went. Up climbs, and along flat sections. The best way to describe what was happening: I was making bird's nests in my front fork. Gathering mud, grass, twigs, and leaves and forming a big glop on my front fork every few meters until the nest was so large, the tire couldn't move under the fork. I would have to stop and remove the bird nest to continue. Finally, (much to my kids and husbands dismay) I realized I was going slow enough that I could watch the nests form and pull the gathering mud and twigs out as I rode. This saved time because I didn't have to come to a complete stop to clean the fork quite as often.

Getting to the top of Razor Ridge is a highlight. It is flat at the top. Usually a good, fast, pedaling time. Flat in a rain storm means water and mud are pooling. It was impossible to ride. A long line of us were trying, but it became obvious that I'd have to walk the bike. This was even slower because the mud gathered quicker and made cleaning the bike happen more often because it was impossible to push when the front tire didn't roll. I tried carrying my bike, but it became heavy and awkward. So, between pushing, carrying, cleaning and riding anytime I could, I slowly made my way through the course.

At some point near half-way I met Lori, from TX. We have been at a few races together and she usually finishes 30-60 minutes ahead of me. I was in a great mood. Muddy and wet, I kept thinking, "this is incredible!" I don't mean "incredible" like "awesome", but "incredible" like "NOT CREDIBLE". There was no way to describe the insanity that was Xterra Maui 2016. You really had to be there and I was so happy that I was. Fear of missing out? Not that day!

Lori, however, was frustrated, I think. Expectations can be a bummer with bad race conditions. No expectations make it an adventure! As I passed, I offered some words of encouragement, but I don't think it helped.

The rain stopped but the mud continued. Carrying my bike across the flat sections, riding as much of the hills as possible, and sliding (literally on my butt a few times) on the down hill. One down hill in particular was so smooth and glassy that about 10 of us were trying to walk down the side of the trail grabbing trees to keep from going down like a luge track. Still, a couple of people luge(d) it anyway!

Somewhere the course dried out near the bottom and one thing became clear: DON'T SHIFT! My derailleur and all important bike parts were stuck. Shifting at all would completely disable my bike. Knowing I would be out for an extra hour, I had taken two water bottles in addition to my water pack. I used this extra water to clean off the important mechanical parts as much as possible, and with a twig did a fairly good job. I now had a small range to shift which would be nice since the bottom half of the course is more like rolling hills.

This being my third world championship event, I've learned that it is a world event meaning that people come from all over the world. Not everyone speaks English on the course. And sometimes when people yell "left", the person in front thinks they need to move left, not that you want to pass on the left. As I enjoyed the only pedaling part of the course so far, I passed an athlete from some country I'm not sure. With minimal English and maximum gestures, he asked for water. My extra two bottles on my bike were completely empty, I tried to explain. I tried to reassure him that an aid station was coming up in about 1 kilometer. We parted ways and I hoped he was okay.

Next, I saw another friend on the side of the road. Broken derailleur. Yep. Right through the back wheel, ruining the spokes and everything. Yikes. I had that happen 100m from a finish line. I was able to jump off my bike and run it across the line. Dave had a few miles left to go...

I finished the bike quite exhausted. And muddy.
Out of the tunnel muddy and tired.
 My husband was at the bottom on the tunnel trying to take pictures of people we knew. However, everyone was so muddy it was hard to recognize them! By the way, it took hours for all of us at the bike cleaning stations to get our bikes clean enough to put in the rental car. I still can't get some of the Maui mud out of the kit that I wore that day.

As I popped of the bike, I noticed Lori was right behind me. She must have pushed the bottom part of the ride to catch me. I wondered if it had been too much effort. It's hard to tell because she is a stronger athlete than me, so the run will tell. It always does...

Excuses, Excuses. Life and Races.

2016 was full of life and races. None of which I recorded because of Life. However, I have decided to fill in blanks and blog again. The next few entries will be highlights of great races and places I've been able to participate in.

The summer of 2016 saw changes for me and my racing life and goals. I had gone on my own for training to regroup my thinking and level of commitment at the end of 2015. Spring 2016 I needed focus and a coach to plan my programs. Unwilling to rush into another coaching relationship held me back. However, I knew balancing recovery and training for three sports and adding trail running and mountain biking into the mix would make it more confusing. I couldn't do it myself and needed an outside source to put all the pieces together in a fashion I could trust and take confidence in.

Enter my new coaches, Jacqui (Slack) Allen and Ben Allen, Xterra Champions. Since I wanted to do more Xterra racing (off-road triathlon), getting help from people who understood and knew the sport would be optimal. Asking Jacqui to coach me was another thing all together. I worried that coaching an older, new-to-the-sport athlete would be well, basically boring. And I wasn't going to be a "star" athlete that would promote their coaching business like a younger, more successful athlete would; an athlete that could showcase their amazing ability to coach. Jacqui and Ben were kind, approachable, knowledgeable, and supportive. So began a new chapter of racing for me.

Xterra was where I should have started years ago. I always wanted to do the dirt, mud, Bad-A courses I saw on videos and television. But every time I tried mountain biking, I'd end up saying things I don't normally say and quitting about two miles in. Once I made it three miles! Finally, I was willing to give mountain biking a "go."

As a family, we began racing in a local mountain bike series during the summer that helped "force" me to do the hard things and gain as much experience as possible. This was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people in the sport in my community. It also forced me to swallow my pride and race despite my nerves and fear.

2016 was a summer full of learning to mountain bike and learning to trust my training. By Fall, I had raced a few Xterras including the Pan Am Championship in Ogden, Utah and in October, Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii. Which is where the next part of my story begins again...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ironman 70.3 Worlds Zell Am See, Austria

Ironman Boise 70.3 was my gateway race to Ironman Worlds 70.3 in Austria. I dreamed about qualifying years ago when this competition was stationed in Nevada. I had given up ever getting a top spot or a roll-down to Worlds and began enjoying my new activity: mountain biking.

But here I was, heading to Austria. My bike had left weeks ago on Tri Bike transport. Sitting on the plane, I look down on what I suspected was Germany. I clutched my passport and try to stretch my legs. In a few minutes we would depart the plane. I'd grab my Ironman bag containing all my race essentials: helmet, bike and running shoes, wet suit, goggles and my Garmin watch, and make my way through airport security, the car rental, through the streets of Munich, and arrive in Austria.

It seemed surreal because I don't travel. Unless I can drive there. Traveling was never convenient, or so it seemed, with a house full of seven kids. Never a good time, never enough money... and the excuses lined up like soldiers at roll call.

We arrived with a few days before the race. I was able to run, swim, and ride a little in Austria. The area of Zell Am See is beautiful. We relaxed, toured, and became familiar with the people. It was a great experience.
Kaprun, Austria from my window.

Race morning arrived and as usual, I couldn't eat. Everything was upsetting my stomach and had been all week. I hadn't found anything "safe" so my choices were to get sick and not race, or race with no fuel. I chose the latter which is common for me. Par for the course. We had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to "eat" and get everything ready. My goal was to be in town and try to park as close as possible which meant we needed to be there by 8:30 a.m. This was a super good decision because as the day went on, if we had parked outside of town like they suggested, and rode a shuttle in, the chances of ever getting back to our car were slim. We didn't realize that then, but by night fall, we were so very, very grateful we didn't listen to the race announcer. We drove into town and took a chance at finding a spot within a mile. Luck was on our side.
Line into Transition 1

Because my wave was one of the last to go, just after 12:00 noon, I had plenty of time to get ready in transition. Feeling comfortable, I talked with friends, set up my stuff, checked my bags that I had checked in the night before. And then I went to fill my bike bottle. !!!!! I left my water bottle with my husband on the outside of the transition area. This does not seem like a big deal, normally, but they had made it nearly impossible to get in and out of transition. And they  had not provided water in the transition area. We had to circle around the track multiple times to get in and out. I ran around the barriers and tried to force my way through the crowd to see if I could find my husband. I frantically looked all around, with no luck. Then I heard my husband's voice calling me as I turned to leave, not sure what I was going to do without water. He had done the Boy Scout thing. He found a bench and stayed put. I took the water bottle and asked him to follow me back through the crowds.

We had offered to take a bike pump from my coach, and have Richard hold it until after the race. We parted at the split and I told Richard to wait there for the pump as I ran up and down the barriers circling the track. On the inside again, I learned that coaches' husband had popped a tire and had no replacement tube with the right valve stem. With less than 30 minutes to transition closing, I knew that even if the tire got pumped, we'd never get around the barriers, get the pump to Richard, and back in again. I ran all the way back around to tell Richard he was released from pump babysitting.

After the tire problem was solved, already tired and hot from running around, and around, and around the barriers, we were kicked out. The last people to leave, but we were finally ready. Now we had about an hour of sitting and waiting for our swim start, outside the transition area. The stress was finally starting to diminish and I got in a pre-swim warm up. Things were going well. I was calming down and starting to feel better. And hungry. This was a bad omen.

My wave went off without a hitch. The beautiful clear water of Zell am See is honestly the nicest water I've ever swam in. The start of the race was as much kicking and punching I've ever had, but I'm okay with it now. Again, the buoys weren't lined up on the way back and I followed the buoys, not the straight line. I just can't see that far away so I have to trust the buoys to be placed correctly. My first hint that I was off was the straight line of people so far to my right as I zigg-zagged in and out for each red beacon. But my time was fairly okay, considering...
Beautiful Lake in Zell am See, Austria

I hopped on my bike and took it easy for the first part, knowing that the long climb up the alps was coming. As I climbed I enjoyed the scenery, the people, and the cheering. I stayed comfortable and hoped for some replacement gels. Which never came. I was doing the entire ride on 300 calories! That was all I took for the bike ride, hoping for replacements at the aid stations. 

The top of the climb was supposedly a 14% grade for the last 2k. It was a tough, get-out-of-the-saddle climb, but I enjoyed the fact that I could do it. I knew I could. As I rode past people who got off and walked, it gave me even more confidence. As I rode past people dressed in traditional Austrian clothing, cheering, shouting, and waving flags, that inspired me even more! I was laughing inside-it was such an awesome experience! One I will never forget. Near the top, spectators were yelling, running a long side me, dropping refreshing water on my head, and pushing me up to the top of the alps. I felt like I was in the Tour D'France!

Nearing the 35-40 mile mark on the bike, it was increasingly obvious that I needed fuel. My speed was dropping drastically and I was becoming light-headed. My longest rides had been around 20-30 miles so mentally I was done, also.
Heading back into town at the end of a very long, hungry bike ride.

I focused on each mile and ticked them off slowly. If I could get to T2, I had more gels. I would be okay if I could just get there!

As I came off the bike, I thought I'd land on the ground. Walking into T2, I sat down and ate 2 of the gels I had for the run, changed my shoes, and headed out. Unsure if there would be more gels on the run (since there weren't any on the bike course), I wasn't sure how this race would end. Face planting on the ground? Maybe...
Transition 2, trying to stay upright.

In the first 1/4 mile, I saw a gel someone had dropped, lying in the dirt, completely unopened. Thankful, I picked it up and put it with my last two I had in reserve. I am not proud. I would have eaten a doughnut off the ground at that point. Lucky for me, Austria 70.3 did have gels on the run, however!

The run portion was a struggle as I tried to recover from my lack of nutrition. I began to feel better by the second half of the run, but without much run training, I struggled to keep one foot in front of the other. There were small victories of passing others, or just willing myself up a hill. 

Every time I passed a table with gels, I took one to eat and one for my back pocket. I finished with 6 extra packets by the end of the race, but I was so mad that they hadn't given them out on the bike course, I felt they owed me at least that much!
The finish line with cheerleaders! (?)

When I finished, it was starting to get dark. The awards banquet would start in an hour. I had to hurryto get my bags from two areas (the swim start and transition), get my bike and take it to Tri Bike Transport for the trip home, standing in a very, very long line. The one thing I regret is not having time to just finish and bask in the fact that I had just finished a World Championship event. I didn't get finish line food (of course, I never eat it when I do, anyway). I didn't get a finisher's hat or warm blanket.

I rushed to grab my stuff and bike before they closed it all down. This is when I realized that if we had parked outside of town like the race director suggested, we would have had to walk miles and miles to the car. The shuttles would no longer have been running. The race started so late and the post race wrap up of getting gear from two transitions would have made catching the last shuttle impossible. I was so tired and grateful that we had parked in town!

It was a tough day but I will always cherish the fact I was able to complete a goal I made years before: to participate in a World Championship Ironman 70.3 event. The fact it was in beautiful Austria was a bonus and a great excuse to get a passport for the first time and travel. Maybe I'll try another race somewhere else in the world. To see the world, doing what I love - racing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Boise 70.3. The end of an era for me. I didn't know it was the end until I arrived at the venue the day before the race. Boise 70.3 was my first official Iroman-Brand race. And this year would be the last year they would hold this event.

I had to make it memorable for me. So far, Boise had not treated me well. The first year I did it, I had my best race. However, it rained so much the river was flooded and we ran through pools of water. It rained on the entire run. This is my Boise 703 track record. I did it the rainiest year on record, the coldest year on record (This was the year Matty Reed won by wearing his wet suit on the bike. I had the same idea but thought I'd look like a dork and didn't want to chance being laughed at.) the windiest year on record, and the hottest year on record. I didn't attend the only two times I heard they actually had fantastic conditions.

Bring it, Boise 70.3, I thought. What else could there be? And I wanted to qualify for World's 70.3 for the past few years. I had come in 7th twice and prayed for a roll-down spot. Which never made it that deep. This year World's is in Austria and I don't travel, so pressure was off! I just wanted to race it one last time under decent conditions.

The race started at 10:00 a.m. The first time I did it, it started at 2:00 and finished at night. I loved that. Then it was at noon. Now, to beat the heat and wind, we were starting at 10:00. I like the later starts, like XTerra does. It seems more chill to me and I have time to calm down and assess what I'm doing.

Everything went well that morning except the buses were late. Very late. I was not a nice person to the volunteer and I apologize. Soon, I was ready to race, all my ducks were in a row and we were heading to the water. Another weird thing. There were no pros and my Age Group was first.

My Iolite was not working so I whipped it off my goggles and handed it to my husband. Praying I could swim straight for once, I entered the water. I thought I swam pretty well and only went too far left for some of the swim. However, when I exited the water, my time was about 2 minutes slower than usual. Confused, I focused on getting out of my wet suit like I had been imaging it in my head. It wasn't great, but much, much better.

The entire bike out, was crazy weird. I've done this event more than any other event. This year they CHANGED THE BIKE COURSE!! There were a few more hills and a few more U-turns. Triathletes like to be pointed in one direction, and then turn around and go back. Sometimes we like do one big loop so we just keep going straight ahead with a few right or left turns. U-turns are WEIRD!!!!

And the wind was going in the wrong direction. There is always a head wind out and a head wind back. Because it switches directions in the middle of the day or something. I'm not sure what is really happening, but this is how it has always seemed.

As I rode out with a tail wind, I kept thinking that I needed to hurry so I could get back before the head wind came. I had ridden my bike more than about 30 miles since St. George 70.3 and I hadn't run more than 6 miles at once. I kept telling myself to take it easy and just see what would happen, although I was feeling pretty good.

I think