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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Boise 70.3 is Over. Now to Juggle My Training....

Iroman Boise 70.3 was the end of an era for me. I've done this event more times than any other race. Because it was convenient. I missed the first year when they had good weather. I missed an in-between year when there was also good weather. And this was the last year for this venue. I should make it memorable, I thought.

This event and I have never been on friendly terms. I raced it the rainiest year (when the river flooded it's banks), the coldest year (Matt Reed wore his wet suit on the bike and won that year), the hottest year, and the windiest year.

This year I was ready. What more could Ironman Boise 70.3 bring that I hadn't already experienced? So, they changed the start time, changed the bike course, added more hills and some extra U-turns, and changed the run course. Thanks Boise!

As you might have read, I've been riding my mountain bike more than my tri bike. I've been running 6 mile trail runs and nothing further. However, the swim was the same. I swim a lot, so it should be okay, right? After check-in and my pre-swim/bike/run the day before the race, I took an actual assessment of where I stood and I wasn't really sure. 

Hmmmmm. How was this going to turn out?

We lined up on the water's edge. With no pros in the field, my wave was the first to go. The Iolite wasn't turning on, so I pulled it off my goggles and handed it to my husband. I swam what I thought was a pretty good swim, but nope. 2 minutes slower for some reason. I focused on getting out of my wet suit quickly so it wasn't a complete disappointment!

I rode my bike "carefully". Anxious not to get caught up in keeping up, I focused on my pace. I focused on nutrition. Even with the added hills and U-turns, my bike was a couple of minutes faster than it has been in recent years. So far, so good.

The run. I've done a lot of bricks in training over the last few years. Bricks are when you begin a run right after a bike ride to get your mind and body used to that change. Lately, my bricks have been somewhat shorter than in the past. So, when I came off the bike, I felt pretty good. The first mile was definitely a positive re-enforcement. I began to really enjoy the course change. The cooler weather (mid-80's compared to 90's in St. George and in previous years) made this run actually pleasant. 

Around mile 8, I began to struggle and slow down. By mile 10 something new happened. I began getting cramps in my feet and calves. This has NEVER happened to me before on a run. A few times I began to slow or even tried to stop, thinking that would help and I'd get back to running. However, slowing or stopping made my legs seize up, so I just began to hobble. It was slow, but I could move!

In the last mile, one lady in my Age Group came blasting past me. She obviously was a strong runner and I couldn't stay with her. Then two more in my AG came by. Two that I had passed in the earlier miles. Each time I tried to stay with them. One even encouraged me and tried to talk me into running with her, but after 1/2 a mile, I had to let her go.

It was a great race. I wish I could say I PR'd it since it was the last time I'll be able to race Boise 70.3. I will have to spend more time on my tri bike and running longer distances. But for now, I'll go find a trail...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

St. George 70.3 Race Report

St. George 70.3 always finds a way onto my race schedule. Sometimes I just can't say no!

This year, the race was only 7 days after the West Championship XTerra race in Las Vegas. I arrived home on Sunday night, had a few days to "recover", and then headed to St. George with my Tri bike. I knew going into it that I would be tired and I had very little long distance training.

However, I enjoy being with friends and doing this early season race. I overestimated my ability to bounce back after a hard race and traveling in a car many, many miles in one week!

I got up early Friday morning and tried to focus on setting up two different transitions and checking in. Each year I am so scatter brained at this race. I was determined to make the process go quickly, smoothly, and efficiently so I could rest and put my feet up the better part of the day. Unfortunately, I haven't changed.

I checked in and realized I forgot so many things. Half my nutrition, my salt tablets, my Garmin charger (and my Garmin was dead). I hadn't planned food and needed to shop, which is stressful for me. I forgot to plan my electrolyte drink. Things were not looking smooth.

I check in and then headed straight for the Iolite tent at the Expo. This little gadget can actually help a serpentine swimmer such as myself, swim straight. Operator error, it does not correct, however! (More on this later).

I set up my transitions, did my short pre-race brick, called every friend I knew in town and finally found a charger for my Garmin. I was tired, stressed, sun-burnt and hungry by the time it was all completed. Needless to say, I didn't have a hard time getting to sleep that night. Staying asleep is another story.

Ironman Triathlons are the complete opposite of XTerra. The tension is palpable. I check and re-check how I've laid everything out. I second guess and third guess how I  should lay out my gloves and socks. We wake up so early to catch a bus to sit around in transition and stress about tire pressure. 

Finally, we are herded into huge corrals and I find people with the same color cap I have. I feel like we are sheep. Safety in numbers as we huddle together, slowly moving toward the water...

All of the sudden I feel this overwhelming calm. It happens every time. When I see the wave before me enter the water, the calm comes and I no longer think about the far future on the bike and "what will happen on the run?" I have this calm excited feeling that soon I will be in the water and get to swim. The swim is a great way to start a triathlon because I feel confident and can focus on what I enjoy doing and stop stressing about the long day and all the unknowns I might face.

I swam about the same as every other race. The Iolites worked great keeping me fairly straight at each turn buoy until the final turn to shore. They draw a straight line and show a green light if I stay on that straight path. Unfortunately, my goggle were foggy so I could only find the first yellow buoy that should be in a straight line to the "swim out". The problem? The yellow buoys were actually curved in a C shape to my left. I swam straight for the buoy, but the path to the swim out was slightly to my right. I kept trying to swim correctly while the Iolite goggles kept telling me I was too far to the right. My friend had no problem because she could sight correctly and swam straight the first 10m which is all that is required for this awesome gadget. Better luck next time!

My next problem was, and always is, getting out of my wet suit. I pull the rubber down to my elbows where it gets stuck. In frustration, I ALWAYS try to pull the other arm out, where it also gets stuck. So I  become stuck in a black, rubber straight jacket. The awesome volunteers in their enthusiasm to help, began rolling my wet suit down off my elbows, making it completely stuck because it is rolled over and over onto itself. Finally, I find a way to instruct them to hook a finger into the elbow-stuck part and pull down. This releases my right arm and I can unroll my left arm and slide it off. I sit on the ground and POOF! freedom in seconds as they whip that sucker off my legs! I grabbed my wet suit and run across the timing mat, which now has a much slower swim time by about 1 minute than I wish it did. Oh well.

The rest of the race is pretty boring, so you can stop reading here, or blame me for the loss of time you might experience! I rode my bike up some hills, then down some hills, then ate a PowerBar Gel, then rode some flat, and on and on... I also had three very long bathroom breaks, which is stressful, too. I sit in the outhouse and hear all the people I just passed, riding past me sitting there. I realize I just lost a lot of time. Again. 

Then came the new section of the race where you ride up Snow Canyon, back down, do a U-turn and ride back up. I think about 75% or more of the riders might be asking for that section to be re-thought! But I noticed one thing about the U-turn. I cornered it great and had already geared down for the immediate climb right after the U-turn. I noticed many people hadn't planned for that and going from a near stop, turn and back to climbing was awkward. Thank you, mountain biking for preparing me for that!

Other than that, it's just riding. And pedaling and riding some more. Heading back into town, I reached top speeds. That was fun.

I got to transition, grabbed my run stuff and felt great. For about 1 mile. I'd say it was "All downhill from there", but it wasn't. The run starts uphill, then continues up. One pro said it like this: You climb a mountain for the first three miles and then run up some hills at the top. Yeah. Like that. I obviously hadn't recovered from my traveling and racing the week before. 

I felt so tired. I actually had a second energy drink and still felt like falling asleep. There was an over-whelming desire to curl up on the curb and take a nap. I walked. I ate gels, I did the caffeine thing. Nothing. Finally, the last two miles I was closing in on two women in my AG and I focused on them. When they would walk, I would run my lightening 12 min. mile shuffle and hope I could pass before the finish line. 

With about 3/4 of a mile to go, I crept up on them and "blasted" pass so they wouldn't try to take back the lead. I was probably moving at a blazing 11-minute mile pace. And with about 1/4 mile to go, I noticed another person in my AG. Was it possible? Could I actually catch someone else? Wow, with rocket boosters pushing me to what was probably 10.5 minute miles, I passed her, too, and maybe had a 4 second lead at the finish. Small triumph.

My legs immediately seized and I spent the next 48 hours sleeping and eating. Usually I can't eat for hours after Ironman Events. This time, I downed pounds of food, went to bed just to wake up in the middle of the night to eat some more. It went on like this for 48-60 hours. 

The next week was a recovery week. Which couldn't have been anything but recovery. I spent most of my days eating, sleeping, and trying not to think about how much I wanted to start riding and running again. The second week I began doing more workout-type things and by the end of the second week I was feeling almost "normal" again.

I was shocked at how tired I felt. Not sore, but tired. I was shocked how long it took to feel better.

I still love doing Ironmans. It is not "Disneyland Fun", but it is social fun and challenging fun. I like being with others, and how Ironman treats you like you are special. No matter HOW you do, WHAT you do makes you a rock star on that day. The volunteers, the brand itself, makes you feel like there is nothing more important that day than getting you across the finish line. It's fun in an "I just did something miraculous" kind of way.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Time to update a little!

Last year was a learning year full of fun and challenges. I was able to race enough races to qualify for Nationals in Ogden and then I headed to Maui for XTerra Worlds. What a BLAST. However, that's just too much to review so we'll start over again with this year and try to keep it more updated! Hope that's okay for my 2 or 3 readers....

This year started with a BANG at XTerra West Championships again in Las Vegas. Last year this was the race where I qualified for Worlds. This year I was returning to see if I have made improvements on the mountain bike. Every XTerra course is unique in terrain, obstacles, temperature and even distance. I was excited to try an event that I started this journey on and have a comparison.

This is XTerra's 20th year so the field was stacked with people wanting to qualify for Worlds. The competition was confident enough to fly from all over the country and even from outside the country to throw their "hat into the ring". I recognized right away I wouldn't be qualifying. This took a lot of pressure off me and actually made me relax and enjoy the whole XTerra atmosphere. Everyone is friendly, supportive, competitive, and actually pretty chill. Until the gun goes off!

I went early enough to pre-ride the course and noticed right away that I was handling the loose gravel downhills better than last year. At the bottom of each hill, however, there is a collection of sand. If you don't keep the handlebars pointed straight, the bike comes to a complete stop and does a little jack-knife kind of move. I was trying to listen to suggestions so I could get through these patches without slowing down too much or falling. Without much success.

The day of the race, I get super excited to swim. Open water swimming is like trail running. But only on race day do you get to do it. No boats (except for support) and I get to swim and swim. Unlike Ironman races, at XTerra, you typically do two laps with a beach run between laps. Last year I couldn't wait to try it. It's harder than it looks to stand up, get your equilibrium, run, and than jump into swim again. The Heart Rate really spikes. However, now that I've done it a few times, I'm good with it. I just look like a dork in the pictures!

I came out of the water in a pretty good position. The course had been changed from last year and the run to the bikes was a little longer. I'm still having major struggles getting out of my wet suit and need to figure this one out!

I was off on the bike and right away had people passing me. This always causes me an undue amount of stress. Eventually, I calm down and concentrate. When Mountain Biking, this is imperative. I don't think about being tired, hungry, thirsty, what's for dinner... I can only think about "light hands, heavy feet." That seems to take care of everything else. The one problem lately is that my hands/fingers are always hurting. I have to be careful on long rides to not grip my handlebars!

This year I made it over obstacles I had to walk for last year. There are two particularly weird places and I was proud to ride them both. Even that weird natural cement section. You'd have to be there to understand, but riding super technical flat mesas has helped me handle it.

I was doing well, but knew I was in the back of my own category. Still, I had others around me and that made me stay focused. I came off the bike 17 minutes faster than last year, which is almost completely due to my improved skills on my Specialized Epic.

Quick change in transition (or not so quick), I was off on the run. It starts uphill on a paved road before turning back onto the bike course that we've already seen twice. I had people in front to focus on and kept trying to close the gaps. It was a great game of cat and mouse because right away I knew I was also a mouse to a very skilled trail runner coming behind me.

In Vegas, the terrain lets you see behind and in front for a long way. It's deceptive because you can't really tell how much ground you are making up or losing, but it keeps you pushing. I was very happy with my run, but did have to walk a few uphills at the end. I hate to admit it, but I was just getting tired. In the last mile, the cat caught and then passed me. I held her off as long as I could!

In the end, I was also 16 minutes faster on the run than last year. This is purely because last year I was so wasted after the bike, I walked most of the 6.2 miles. Over all, I was ecstatic to realize how much I improved since starting this 1 year ago. I was also impressed with the level of competition in an XTerra. It seems people my age don't just join this crazy sport. They stay on the roads!

And no matter what, even if I am in the back of the pack, I am grateful to have finally found something that I truly enjoy doing. Not enjoy because of the challenge, or whatever... I find myself having "Disneyland kind of fun" out there. That's what I call this particular type of fun. Disneyland Fun!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A forgotten post...

XTerra West Championships was a crazy race. I'm not 100% certain of what was happening out there, but I'll do my utmost best to write a race report!

I chose this early-season race because I need to do four XTerra series races to qualify for Nationals in Ogden, Utah, which is my goal. Even though I have done a lot of Compu-Trainer riding and even had a few outdoor rides, very few have been mountain biking. Weather, snow and mud make mountain biking difficult this time of year.

AND, I just began Mountain Biking last summer. So, I checked the course out ahead of time on Strava. I certainly didn't underestimate the difficulty, but at the same time, I certainly didn't understand the difficulty.There was about 1500 ft of climbing over 18.6 miles. I do THAT every time I ride out my door....

As a family, we spent the week mountain biking and swimming about 2 hours from the race. This helped me acclimate. I went from 50 degree weather to 90 degrees. At the end of the week, my kids went back home and the Computer Guy and I drove to the race.

At the pre-race meeting, Josiah Middaugh and Shonny VanLandingham described sections of the bike course to watch out for. Since I hadn't pre-ridden, it was a little foreign but I tried to keep some things in mind: watch out for the off-camber sections, gear way down for the sandy washes. Ride with really low tire pressure so you don't pinch flat on the sharp rocks. Got it.

Fast forward: I met Luke McKenzie, 6X Ironman Champ. He stopped by my car and asked for sunblock. I am sure this was a pathetic excuse to come over and meet me...

That night I slept better and more than I have in months. With a band playing very, very loudly down on the hotel plaza, I was thankful. I awoke ready to GO!

I love open water swimming so it was hard to wait until my Wave was sent off. And we were the last Wave. This was going to be the first swim where I had to run on the beach, past the flags and do another swim lap. For some reason, this was something I couldn't WAIT to try. It was FANTASTIC!

The Mountain Biking was unexpected. Lots of sand and climbing. The climbing was straight up. No switch backs, trees, and roots like I am used to. It was a ride of all guts and very little glory! Every couple of minutes I was riding in something new and eventually, the frustration of not knowing what to prepare for subsided and I just began wondering what would come up next, enjoying the variety.

Transition 2 was smooth. I grabbed a gel, some water, changed shoes and headed out. For the first 1/2 mile or so, it was along the lake side. Smooth, grass and fun. All too soon, we turned onto the bike course of dirt, sand, and rocks. Again, the same climbs I pushed my bike up found me walking up one more time. For the last time, thankfully. As I rose to the top, I looked behind and noticed a couple of people falling further behind. I kept my eyes on one man in front that I could see.

As I approached, we decided to walk/run the rest of the course together. I was tired in a different way than I was used to. The last mile, I left my new friend and cruised down to the finish line. A welcome site.

Off Season Resolve

It's the off season and this triathlete is close to thumping her head against the wall. So, this morning I resolved to break out of the dull-drums (do people USE that word anymore?) and do something unique, different, out of the ordinary. Something that is a stretch for me. Something I wouldn't normally do.

For some, they might sign up for the new Ironman Silverman in NV. No, that's something I WOULD do. I need something really challenging and completely off the grid. My mind instantly thought of something, but can I do it? Is it even possible?

Drum roll ---I thought the CRAZIEST thought! Go to a movie and eat movie popcorn!!!

For you movie goers out there, I am not dis'ing on you. Not at all. You are my heroes. This is a feat rarely attempted in my life. I've done more Ironmans and half Ironmans than times I've attended the movie theater. I've ran more marathons. When I remarked to the Computer Guy what I'm actually considering,  maybe overcoming huge obstacles and attempting such a thing, his brow furrowed. "I've think you've actually done that once, a few years ago." I was shocked, "I have?! Did I eat the popcorn?!"

"I think so," was his very unsure response.

This is why hoping on a mountain bike and hurling myself downhill for the first time was easier than going to a movie. This is why deciding to swim 2.4 miles when I didn't know my local pool was actually 50m and not 100m. (I was SURE one time down was as long as 100m! HEHEHE. It still makes me laugh when I think of this guy's face when I asked if it was a 100m length pool.....)

Anyway, back on track. First, I don't actually know of any movies that are playing. I only watch skiing races - if I'm training indoors. Go Ted Ligety!

Next, theaters are so uncomfortable. Granted, I haven't been in quite a few years, so maybe they've changed. However, my kids still remember the last time I went with them, I fell asleep, curled up like a cat in the seat. It wasn't comfortable, but that's what happened. They were super, duper impressed that their mom is probably the only mom that can curl up in a movie theater seat. Yes, Multiple Ironman's and a few XTerra's later and THIS is what impresses them!

There is a separate issue from movie theater comfort, but sort of goes along with it: I am always so COLD in the theater. I don't want to carry a quilt in just so stay warm. I'm old, but not that old! When it is 46 outside, I jump up, grab my shorts and a long sleeve shirt and head out for a run. That's the best temperature for running! And yes, I hate swimming in cold lake water, but if it is around 54-56 I'm EXCITED because I KNOW I'll be leading my Age Group out of the swim. However, 70 in a movie theater? Really? Not happening.

Another problem getting me to a movie is they always show it in the dark. I, know, right? For some reason I hate watching things in the dark. The lights have to be on. I can't explain it, it's weird. I had a easier time in the Boise 70.3 rainstorm doing 40 mph downhill from the Lucky Peak Dam, rain streaming down my glasses and not being able to see anything, than watching a movie in the dark.

Another difficulty I can't overcome is how LOUD the sound is. I stood next to the cannon at XTerra World's in Maui. It was a rookie mistake. I was so nervous, I didn't see the cannon. Right there. Until they fired it off. Movies are louder than that.

But it is the off season, and I am going nuts. I need to do something different and out of the ordinary to keep me sane. Will setting a new goal and rising to a new challenge help? Eating the movie popcorn would be the ultimate "Out there" thing to do. If I go, I have to eat the movie popcorn and I'm not sure I can actually do that....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Come live 18 hours in 2 minutes!

Hey!  For this week I thought I'd do something COMPLETELY different and do a video blog of what my 'workout' week is like.  Lucky for you I sped it up so it won't take as long to watch as it did to do the actual workouts! Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I've Got a Gut Feeling

Today I took an online quiz to find out what career I should have. Guess what!? It came up as ATHLETE. Sigh. After all these years I'm on the path that was meant for me.

I am an athlete and I am truly happy being one. Therefore, empirical  evidence shows this quiz is 100% correct.

Please don't get confused with "career athlete" as being the same as "professional athlete". Surveys, under "occupation", have "homemaker" listed as a career. This is usually the box I check. However, now I'm going to select "other" and write in athlete. Obviously, Occupation/Career have nothing to do with getting paid. I've never collected a dime as a mom... oops. That's a lie. Coins I get in the washer and dryer are mine. Always mine; and members of my household know that. But you get what I mean, right? My career and arbitrary success isn't limited by the amount of money I make doing it.

I love my sponsors which help out and support me. (Shameless plug for 2014 Team SOAS) But it has been a long road to reach this point.

Am I the only one with Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder, or more appropriately, in my gut? Gut feelings lead me through this world. They are invaluable.

When I insisted on trying to start a business, there was a gut feeling. No matter what hurdles I jumped or how many friends insisted on helping me, supporting and making me feel good about it, that gut feeling wouldn't subside. The one that makes you insist, over and over again, "I can DO this. I can MAKE it work!" If you find yourself saying this a lot, this article is for YOU.

Years ago a friend told me I should be a real estate agent. Oooooh, that gut feeling started, but hey, "I can make it work! I can do this!" I thought if I had more information the feeling would go away. Nope. Maybe I just need to pay my money and take the classes. Friends and family thought it was a fabulous idea. Refueled, I recommitted, doubled my resolve and took the classes. The feeling got stronger. Well, that's just because I need to take the test and then I'll feel better. Remember, everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.

Totally confident that I had made a commitment and fighting all gut feelings, I kept insisting, "But I can make this work". I continued down the path and refused to listen to Jiminey Cricket squeaking in my gut. I took that test. I paid for the license. I found a broker. I bought business cards. No backing out now!!! The ball was rollin', man! With tons of "likes" on FB, I was gonna be a real estate agent! But after spending one day with my first client from Las Vegas, I realized nothing was calming my gut.

But, you say, what about Michael Jordan? He didn't make his high school basketball team. He must have had a conversation with himself that might have had, "But I can Do this! I can make it work!" And he forged on and look how that turned out! What about the snowboarder I just heard about who lost her legs at 19 and is still snowboarding 15 years later? She sat down and said, "Well, I can do this, I just need to figure out how". Well, I say, we don't know what their gut was saying. Maybe it was calm as they faced the odds.

I've had those conversations with myself, too. Like when I decided to do my first triathlon and couldn't even swim. AT ALL!! I watched Ironman and thought, "I can DO that. And I'll have to figure out how to make it work!" All outward indications were screaming otherwise, but my gut was calm and quiet.

When I barely finished my first sprint triathlon and told myself I wanted to be sponsored, some people supported, some people doubted, but I didn't need their "likes" on FB to make me feel good about my decision. Because Jiminy was quiet as a mouse.

When I crashed three weeks before Ironman and had to find a new bike, and not having the chance to ride it before the race, my gut was also calm. I couldn't walk, run, swim, or bike for those final three weeks because of the stitches, the road rash, the stiffness, and my knee was the size of a cantaloupe, but I went ahead and competed. Why? Because my gut was calm. (Nerves were shot, but my gut was calm).

Now I am an athlete. I am on the path I was meant to be on. Was it always easy? Absolutely not. Was it obvious to everyone else? Probably not. Do I care? Did Michael Jordan care? Probably not. Because when you are on the path, you should feel calm. You feel sure. When you are all by yourself, alone in those quiet moments, you just KNOW. You don't rush to others wanting them to calm Jiminy Cricket, or that feeling in your gut. Others don't know what's right for you. Find your better path.

Race like there's no tomorrow. Train with confidence in yourself. Listen to your Jiminy Cricket and become the athlete you are supposed to be, not the one you are insisting you WANT to be. What you may think you want might not be what you need. Your gut knows what no one else does. Listen.

Happy Day! It's almost race season!! Race CALM!