This Sunday marks the 10 year anniversary of my first race. I have raced hundreds of races ranging in distance from 5K to marathon and sprint triathlon to Ironman over the last 10 years. I decided to take a minute and share with you my top 10 race memories.
10. Crossing the finish line at the Run for the Roses 5K in 2004. This was my first race and I was unsure if I would actually survive the short 3.1 mile distance. It is fun to look back and see how far my training, racing and mental fortitude have come in the last 10 years.
9. Crossing the finish line at the Dam to Dam 20K in 2005. This was the farthest I had ever pushed myself. I had no idea where I would go with endurance sport, but when I crossed this finish line, I was hooked…I found my passion.
8. Crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon in 2005…my first marathon. I had just conquered something I would have never suspected that I could or would ever do.
7. Crossing the finish line at the Copper Creek Sprint Triathlon in 2009. This was my first triathlon and I had found a new passion….I could combine my love of swimming, cycling and running and still challenge myself in endurance sport.
6. Crossing the finish line at Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2010…my first 70.3 triathlon. I had found my favorite triathlon distance!! I love triathlon and this distance was far enough that I had to train for it, but short enough that it didn’t consume all of my spare time. I LOVED meeting Chrissie Wellington for the first time after I finished as well…
5. Crossing the finish line at Ironman Kansas 70.3 2013 in 6:05:53…I set a new PR by 26:51. WOW!! I was super pumped to be so close to breaking the 6 hour barrier for the 1/2 Ironman distance. I’ve got my eyes set on breaking the 6 hour barrier…
4. Crossing the finish line at the USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in 2013. Not only did I set a new PR, but I had a blast and got to meet Sister Madonna Buder on the course. She is such an inspiration!!
3. Crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon was so much fun. I had worked so hard to get to Boston that running it for fun was definitely the best reward.
2. Crossing the finish line at the Lakefront Milwaukee Marathon in 2008. I qualified for the Boston Marathon with 1:13 to spare…YIPPEE!! 🙂
1. Crossing the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 2014 after overcoming obstacles earlier in the day. The fact that I did not remember crossing the finish line in 2011 made this finish so much more rewarding 🙂
This coming weekend I am registered to race Ironman Kansas 70.3. My original goal for this race was to break 6:00:00. Unfortunately I am going to have to adjust my goals for this race since I am just coming back from an injury.
I am hopeful to have no problem with the 1.2 mile swim and the 56 mile bike portions of the race. The run is where I am going to have some decisions to make. While I ran pain free for the first time on Saturday since May 5 (nearly 4 weeks), my left knee is still not “normal.” My knee feels relatively normal while running, but afterwards, it feels wonky…not painful, just not normal.
After having a successful 3+ mile run on Saturday and another successful 1 mile run off the bike on Sunday, I decided to run for 50 minutes yesterday (Wednesday). I had no pain at all while running, but my knee is still not healed and back to normal. I am continually icing, stretching, elevating, getting ART treatments and resting when I can to help with the recovery process.
My “A” race this year is IRONMAN Wisconsin on September 7. I know that I want to be 100% for IMWI and because of this, I am going to play it smart and not push to regression or further injury.
How does this impact my upcoming race? Well…I am planning to start the race on Sunday, hopeful that I will successfully finish the swim and bike, but knowing that I may pull myself from the race at some point during the run to prevent further injury.
This does NOT mean that I am giving up on my goal of breaking 6:00:00 at 70.3 distance race. I WILL continue to work hard and achieve this goal someday…just not this weekend. My goal for this weekend is to not regress and set myself up to finish this racing season strong!!
Some of you may have read my post about my best triathlon experiences for 2013 and noticed that Chrissie Wellington is the athlete who has inspired me the most. I have had the AWESOME experience of meeting Chrissie twice in my life (so far)…I received my finisher’s medal from her at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010 (my first every 70.3 distance race) and at USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships in 2013. She is an amazing ambassador for the sport of triathlon!! What makes her a good ambassador????
She is trustworthy, honest, follows the rules and is loyal to the sport of triathlon.
She has respect for the sport of triathlon, her fellow professional athletes and the age group athletes that follow in her footsteps.
She has ambition and drive to do and be her absolute best…full of self-control and self-discipline. She is accountable for her words, actions and attitude.
She is open-minded and not afraid to take advice from others around her…always willing to learn and trying to grow as an athlete.
She is compassionate and shows extreme gratitude…I experienced this first hand after IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010. I was waiting for a massage in the massage tent after the race. When it was my turn for a massage, Chrissie walked into the massage tent inquiring to the massage therapist about when she should come back to get a massage. She did NOT want to cut into the line of age group athletes that had been sitting and waiting in line. I gave her my spot in the massage line and she was UNBELIEVABLY grateful…and for the record, everyone behind me in line still let me get my massage. I was also very grateful!!
She has a vision, both for sport and for making the world a better place. She volunteers her time at races, supports charities she is passionate about and has a “pay it forward” demeanor about her.
She sets goals and pushes her limits trying to achieve those goals…while training and racing.
She lives life with a positive, “I CAN” attitude, even when faced with challenges…keeping a smile on her face and believing that she can overcome any obstacle in her path.
She inspires many athletes just by being real. She does not try to hide the struggles she has gone through or struggles she is currently going through. She has shared her struggles with eating disorders, injuries, her coaches, other professional athletes, etc.
After she crosses the finish line, she always returns to hand out medals to the age group athletes that follow in her footsteps…inspiring us, encouraging us and displaying her passion for triathlon.
In my opinion, Chrissie is an amazing ambassador for the sport of triathlon. What characteristics do you appreciate and look for in an ambassador?
I met with Coach Julie in early November to discuss my 2014 racing calendar. We discussed many topics, but I am putting some of the highlights out for the public to help hold me accountable during 2014.
The Iron Hippie and I renovated our back yard…regrading the slope of land, installing a new fence, putting in a fire pit with a small patio around it and seeding the lawn. We still have some work to do, but the yard already looks 100% better than when we bought the house.
I was blessed to spend time with family (both immediate and extended) when we celebrated Grandpa’s life.
Indianapolis Marathon, October 19: I ran my 2nd fastest marathon to date and finished in 3:56.42. While I didn’t qualify for Boston like I originally hoped, I did execute a near perfect race given the circumstances of the day.
I was blessed to create MANY amazing memories with family and friends in 2013!!
Finished off they year happy, healthy and ready to start IRONMAN training 🙂
This last Sunday I raced Ironman Kansas 70.3 making this event my 5th 70.3 mile triathlon race finish. Ironman Kansas 70.3 was my first Half Ironman distance event on June 7, 2010, which I finished with a time of 6:46:24…It was time to go back and see just how far I’ve come in my training over the last 3 years.
Since then, I have completed Ironman Branson 70.3 in September of 2010 and Chisago Lakes Triathlon Half Distance in July of 2011 and 2012. I have gotten slightly faster in each discipline of the 70.3 mile distance (although it doesn’t look like it on the run below…bad run day). I set a new PR for the 70.3 mile distance on July 22, 2012 at Chisago Lakes Triathlon Half Distance with at time of 6:32:44.
Going into Ironman Kansas 70.3 this year, I knew I was feeling really good (both physically and mentally), but I had no idea that I was about to SHATTER my previous PR!!
We arrived in Lawrence, Kansas on Friday evening and went straight to athlete check-in before they closed for the day. We then went back to the hotel and checked in, unloaded our car and went to find some dinner, before calling it an early night to get some “good sleep” as Coach Julie calls it 🙂
I had every intention of sleeping in on Saturday morning, but I woke up at 5:45 am. Adam would be so disappointed, but he would also know that this was sleeping in for me!! 🙂 After some breakfast and lounging in the hotel room, I packed up my swim gear (for a pre-race swim), run gear (for a short pre-race run), and Mojo (to leave in T1) to head to the race site.
We left the hotel at about 10 am and drove the bike course before heading to the race site. Having completed this race in 2010, I had plenty of time to forget just how hilly this bike course was and wanted to get every hill and turn fresh in my mind for Sunday…Oh yes…my nemesis was at mile 50…
After driving the bike course, we ended up at the race site by 11:30 am. First things first…I needed to get Mojo checked into T1 and scout out my spot in both T1 and T2. As we were waiting in line to enter T1, I found out we didn’t have to put our bikes in transition on Saturday due to the 60% chance of severe storms over night (with the potential for hail and straight line winds). I was very pleased with this since the winds were already well over 20 mph and many bikes were being blown over. Some people decided to leave their bikes in T1 anyway, but I wasn’t one of them…Mojo would be spending the night with me in the hotel room…YAY!!
We encountered many athletes from our Zoom Performance team at the race site Saturday and thus talked to many people over the next 2 hours. By 1:30 pm, we hadn’t really gotten anything accomplished…except my race number tattoos in place…
…no pre-race swim, no pre-race run, no bike check-in (although I did see my spot for T1), no T2 scouting, lots of talking to people…and I was HUNGRY and drained of energy. I convinced my husband to leave and go find something to eat. As we were leaving the race site, who should we stumble upon, but Craig Alexander (AKA…Crowie)…
We left the race site, grabbed a late lunch (3 pm) and headed back to the hotel where I showered, got all of my race gear organized for morning, revisited my race goals, did some race visualization, went downtown for a couple of gourmet cupcakes and then went to bed (at 6:30 pm)…that 3 am alarm clock would be early…
In typical pre-race fashion, I didn’t sleep well…every 20-30 minutes I would wake up and look at the clock. At 2:55 am I woke to look at the clock one last time and decided it was time to get up and do this!! I had 3 servings of my “superfood” breakfast with almond milk and fresh strawberries and a glass of Trop50 Orange juice, got into my race gear, revisited my race goals, loaded the car (we were checking out before going to the race site) and off we went to the race site.
There had been storms overnight, but they did not affect the race start. Arriving at the race site by 4:15 am gave me plenty of time to really get organized and get all of my gear into each transition…yes you read that correctly, the bike to run transition (T2) is in a different location than the swim to bike transition (T1), so I really had to think through what I needed at each transition location.
Everyone had to be out of both transition areas by 6:15 am. Because I had gotten to the race site so early, this was not a problem for me at all!! At 6:30 am, the professional men started their race, at 6:35 the professional women started their race and then the age groupers went in waves. I was in wave 12 and was allowed to enter the water at 7:02 am. Because this is a floating swim start, we had to swim out to the start buoys and float until 7:04 when the air horn went off. I love the floating swim start…it gives me plenty of time to acclimate to the water temperatures (and increase the temperature in my wetsuit a little 🙂 ) before starting the swim.
7:04…we were off!! “OH MY…This water is rather choppy!!” I was trying to do my bilateral breathing, but it wasn’t working. I took water in with nearly every breath. “Flip over on your back and kick…get your heart rate back down. Ok…let’s try this again, but breathing every stroke with 3 strokes on the right and then 3 strokes on the left…3…2…1…go.” That wasn’t working either…these waves were getting in my way and I was still taking in water instead of oxygen…not to mention all of the other athletes kicking and hitting around me in the same dilema all floundering for a little air. “Flip over on your back and kick…get your heart rate down. Ok…let’s try this again, but breathe only on your right side with every stroke. This is where you are most comfortable anyway, so give it a try…3…2…1…go.” Finally something that works…well occasionally!! “Nice and steady, straight swimming, breathe…Nice groove you are in!! Keep this up!!” I continued to stay mentally focused throughout the swim. As I approached the swim exit, the swim traffic really picked up as athletes of many different waves were all trying to exit the swim at once. I stood up, ran up the ramp, looked at my watch…”HOLY COW!! 39:05 with those waves…AWESOME.” I yelled to my husband…”39 minute swim…Wahoo!!” and continued on my way to T2.
At T2, I inhaled my Oreos, stripped my wetsuit, drank some water, geared up for the bike and was off…4:38 in T1…What was I doing?!?!?!?
Onto the bike…I knew this was a challenging bike course and decided to take it easy out of the park and up the first big climb. “Keep your heart rate low, stay focused, believe in yourself and your training.” I was staying focused and really excited about how I was performing on the bike…about mile 18 I dropped my chain on a hill climb, so I quickly put the chain back on and continued to climb…”Remember, focus on what you can control…yes your chain dropped, but it is back on and you have the ability to let it bother you or throw your frustrations in the ditch and leave them on the side of the road…” I chose to leave my frustrations in the ditch and move forward 🙂 I continued to feel strong and in control!! At the first turn around, I was excited to get around the cone and have the wind at my back…oh yeah…it was predicted to have winds at about 10 mph winds from the WNW, but they were closer to 17 mph with gusts over 20. “Wind…Kiss Me Harder!! Push me back to the next turn around cone…” I continued to feel strong and in control of my race. I was alternating Oreo cookies and Carbo Pro for nutrition every 30 minutes and drinking lots of water, so I felt really good. “Finally, the 2nd turn around and I can head back to Clinton Lake Campground…YEEHAW!!” At about mile 50, my nemesis appeared, but this time I was going to conquer it!! In 2010 I remember struggling to stay around 5 mph while climbing this hill…NOT TODAY!! I was able to maintain between 9 and 10 mph as I climbed…YAY!! I have gotten stronger on the bike!! Time to push into T2…
At T2, I quickly changed out of my bike gear and into my running gear (or so I thought)…2:57 for T2…WHAT AM I DOING IN MY TRANSITIONS?!?!?!?!?
Oh well…put it behind you, focus and get out on the run!! I usually struggle to keep my heart rate low when I start the run since I usually start out too fast, but I was able to keep my HR low and maintain a nice, even pace around a 9 minute mile for the first couple of miles. I was feeling really full off the bike, so I decided to just drink water and suck on orange slices for the first few aid stations, see how I felt by mile 6-7 of the run and reevaluate whether I would consume the Honey Stinger Chews I was carrying. This plan worked quite well for me and I ended up not consuming anything other than water and orange slices for the entire 13.1 mile run.
While running a race, I typically spend the first 1/2 of the race finding my groove (depending on the distance of the race)…both physically and mentally. During the second 1/2 of the race, I start to look for people to “pick off” while I’m running. As I pass people, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” chorus plays in my head…it has been known to escape from my lips on accident a time or two…
This experience held true on Sunday during the run portion of my race. After completing the first loop of the run (only walking through the water stops), I made a pack with myself that I would continue to push forward, finish strong and only walk through the water stops. This strategy allowed me to pass MANY people on the run and “Another One Bites the Dust” continued to play in my head. Remember that wind on the bike…well, it made for some good air conditioning on the run. Adam was in my head…”Kiss me harder wind.” With only 2 miles to go, I picked up the pace a bit and finished strong…1:59:18…YAY!!
I was overjoyed with my finish!! While I didn’t quite reach my sub 6 hour time goal for this race, I did meet every performance goal that I set out to accomplish and I still had a 27 minute PR on a VERY challenging course…What could make this day better?!?!?! How about a finisher photo with Hines Ward (professional football player for the Pittsburg Steelers)…
When my husband asked Hines which hurts worse, getting hit by a linebacker or completing a 70.3 distance event, Hines immediately responded with, “Definitely this!!”
“Triathlon is about pain – how you endure it and the mechanisms you put in place to deal with it when it comes.”
This coming Sunday I am racing Ironman Kansas 70.3. I have done a lot of thinking about my race goals for this race, and while I do have time goals in mind, I feel it is much more critical for me to focus on performance goals to help me achieve a PR…
1. Be patient with myself…I will remain steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity throughout the race.
2. Believe in myself and my abilities…I will trust myself, my training and my ability to meet and conquer challenges that may arise. By believing in myself and my abilities, I will effectively execute my race and have the best race experience I can.
3. Be focused & relaxed…I will focus on the factors that I can control and control my reaction to any factors that are out of my control.
4. Be strong & tough…I will have uncompromising determination even if faced with challenges throughout the race.
Monday, May 27th was my last big workout before the taper for Ironman Kansas 70.3. Tuesday I was ready for the taper and was excited to have minimal workouts for the day. I knew I my gratitude for having made it to the taper would be short lived and the taper demon would show up, but I didn’t expect it to show up on day #2 of the taper.
Wednesday, May 29th I was scheduled to do an open water swim (that was my only workout for the day). When the ridiculous Central Iowa weather continued to pound on us, I knew I wouldn’t be swimming outdoors and that taper demon didn’t just show up, but it reared its ugly head!!
My husband even made the comment, “I can tell you are tapering and you weren’t very happy about not being able to complete your open water swim.”
Thursday evening (May 30th) we had a lot of the local runners who have been training for the Dam to Dam race (mostly for the 20K distance) over to our house for a pasta feed, so I didn’t get a workout in on Thursday…the Taper Demon became a little bit uglier.
Saturday morning (June 1) we went down to the Dam to Dam race and I finally got some workouts in throughout the day…My Reverse Triathlon Post
This helped calm the Taper Demon a bit 🙂
This week the Taper Demon has reared its ugly head even higher…not only am I tapering, but today was my last day of school for the summer. As a middle school science teacher, this means lately I’ve been focusing on finalizing grades and getting my classroom ready for summer, which means putting everything away…including all wall coverings and bulletin board decorations…since there are different summer school classes in my classroom throughout the next couple of months. I look forward to the summer months when I can relax, train for events, recharge my batteries and spend quality time with family and friends…although the current June weather feels more like April in Central Iowa.
I can definitely tell that I am tapering and the lack of physical exercise is affecting my attitude…I feel sluggish, lazy, weak, etc…typical taper feelings. I know that proper tapering will allow me to be physically ready for race day, so I am trying to focus even more on the mental training during these taper weeks.
I am definitely looking forward to my race this weekend…and getting the opportunity to Push My Limits!!
A: When I sign up for each race, I am at the beginning of a new journey.
I am currently on a long-term journey to Ironman Wisconsin 2014 that will include a few short-term journeys along the way. While I have finished Ironman Wisconsin before, I started it with the goal of “just to finish”…and finish I did…though I was hyponatremic and don’t actually remember the last 8 hours of the event. For this reason, it is time to go back and do what I am capable of with proper race execution!!
I sign up for races to take me on another journey. My Ironman journey will include multiple journeys (races) between now and September 7, 2014. The first of which is coming up in just 2 weeks…Ironman Kansas 70.3 on June 9, 2013. I have been mentally focused and my training has probably been the best it has ever been!! I have been VERY happy with both my physical and mental training lately!! I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that my current momentum will continue to carry me forward through Ironman Wisconsin 2014!! With Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 2 weeks away, this short-term journey is nearing the taper. I have created many posts about various workouts I have completed on this journey that you can find at pushmylimits.wordpress.com. With only a few more “big” workouts left before the taper, I am finding myself more ready than ever to properly execute my race and PR!! I am in the best shape, both physically and mentally, that I have ever been before…Let’s do this thing!!
I decided to ask Coach Julie where she thinks I can and should be for Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2 weeks…Here is her response:
“Swim: You had a great swim at Chisago last year – that time would really please me again, maybe a minute or two faster (if the races have properly measured swim courses). GOAL: 42-43 min.
“Bike: Kansas and Chisago have different bike courses, and I think the times you put up there were great for where you were then. We’ve worked a lot on cycling this season, and you’ve really improved. With the right mental approach (and staying focused throughout the bike leg – plus nutrition, etc), you should be able to average 16.5-16.7mph for the Kansas bike and closer to 17+ on a less challenging course. GOAL: 3:20-3:25 (for Kansas). 3:12-3:20 for other courses.
“Run: There is no reason that you can’t run a 2 hour run split. You’ve become a much more mentally strong runner in the past two years (all that experience is starting to pay off!). If you can keep that mental focus going throughout the bike AND through the run, you’ll be golden. GOAL: 2 hours
“If you do the math, that will set you up for that elusive sub-6 hour half IM – I know you’ve been shooting for that, and I’ve been shooting for that for you. Kansas may/may not be where it happens, BUT the mental training from that tough of a half is going to be what sets you up to make it happen this year. You’ve already overcome some hurdles in your training (many of them mental), but you’re finally on the right track. Let’s keep that going for the next three weeks!”
I am focusing my training (both physically and mentally) on doing my absolute best and pushing myself to a PR!! I am very excited to see the results of the journey I am on and shattering my previous PR (6:32:44)!! I am anxiously awaiting my new PR of 5:59:59…or faster!!
3x(1 hour ride & 20 min run)…the first set was to be easy (with my heart rate in Zone 2), second set should be a little harder (Zone 2-3) and the third set closer to race pace (solidly in Zone 3).
I was SUPER excited to do this workout and see just how far I could push myself…both physically and mentally. When I woke up Sunday morning it was dark and gloomy outside…it better not storm…I have been looking forward to this workout all week!! I looked at the weather forecast and saw that there were chances of severe storms starting after 1 pm, so I knew I needed to get started!! I had already decided that I was going to ride the same route and run the same route with each set to see if I could get a little farther every time before turning around and heading back home. This would prove to be a much bigger challenge than I originally thought…especially on the bike!! Come on Mojo…Let’s do this!!!
Set 1: I started out on Mojo heading east, then north and finally east again. When I got to the 30 minute mark, I turned around and headed back home via the same route (west, south and west). With the winds from the ESE at 13 mph, I thought I would be able to get home a little faster (heading west)…and I was right. I ended up riding 14.76 miles in 56:36 (just shy of the planned hour). This meant my average speed was 15.6 mph for the first ride. I felt as though it was really easy and I wasn’t pushing hard at all. I took very little time transitioning to the run…I was shooting for a 9:00 pace off of the bike for the first set. I started off nice and easy and felt like I was at a pace that I could maintain for a few hours at least. I was right on pace…I ran 2.26 miles in 20:16. This meant my average pace was 8:58 for the first run. I was off to a great start!!
Set 2: I immediately transitioned back to Mojo and headed out for the second set. I started off slightly faster on this set than the last set. I felt as though I was working, but not very hard…little did I realize that the winds had picked up and were now closer to 18 mph from the ESE. I did make it farther, but decided to ride for 32 minutes before turning around to get me closer to the 1 hour time I was shooting for…this strategy worked!! When I turned around and headed south back into town, I really felt that headwind…WOW!! I ended up riding 16.17 miles in 1:01:14, which gave me an average speed of 15.8 mph. While I was not much faster on the bike this time, I was faster…and every little bit counts!! 🙂 I knew I needed to keep some energy in the tank for the last set, so I quickly transitioned to the run and went out faster than the first set, but not pushing to exhaustion. I ran 2.34 miles in 20:15. This meant that my average pace was 8:39…I felt like I could have maintained this pace for quite a while…I’ll take that!!
Set 3: I again quickly transitioned back to the bike and hopped on Mojo for the last set…Let’s get ‘er done!! I knew I wanted to push hard, but at a pace I could maintain and I did just that…I made it even farther than set #2 before turning around. This time when I headed south back into town, the winds were even stronger than during set#2…the winds had increased to 21 mph from the ESE. I was mentally really strong and focused during this set…”I am strong. I am tough. I am strong. I am tough.” I rode 17.16 miles in 1:03:04 during my last bike leg…WAHOO…16.3 mph average speed for my last set!! With my fastest transition yet, I was off and running. I quickly found a pace that I could maintain, but with difficulty. I ran 2.35 miles in 20:04, giving me an average pace of 8:33…YEEHAW!! I DID IT!!
I successfully completed this workout as planned!! With Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 3 weeks away, this was a HUGE mental boost!! I was exhausted, but ecstatic…time for food, a shower and a nap 🙂 Oh yeah…the severe storm that was suppose to come…it came later in the day with 70 mph straight winds and tornadoes around us. Glad I wasn’t out on the bike then…