Best Race Memories

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.

Copper Creek Run

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…

Chrissie and Me IM Kansas 70.3

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…

Finishers medal around my neck!!  70.3 miles in 6:05:53...that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!

Finishers medal around my neck!! 70.3 miles in 6:05:53…that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!

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!!

Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships.

Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships.

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.

I made it...the finish line of the Boston Marathon :)

I made it…the finish line of the Boston Marathon 🙂  The view from my camera that I took pictures from all day long.

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 🙂

Yahoo!!  Photo courtesy of Finisherpix.

Yahoo!! Photo courtesy of Finisherpix.

What are some of your best racing memories?

Adjusting Goals

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!!

Don't give up on Goals

Have you ever started a race knowing you may DNF?

Chrissie is an Amazing Ambassador to Triathlon

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????

  1. She is trustworthy, honest, follows the rules and is loyal to the sport of triathlon.
  2. She has respect for the sport of triathlon, her fellow professional athletes and the age group athletes that follow in her footsteps.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!!

    Yep...That's me with CHRISSIE WELLINGTON after IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010!!  Only the BEST!!

    Chrissie and me in the massage tent after IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 in 2010!!

  6. 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.
  7. She sets goals and pushes her limits trying to achieve those goals…while training and racing.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships.

Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships in 2013.

In my opinion, Chrissie is an amazing ambassador for the sport of triathlon.  What characteristics do you appreciate and look for in an ambassador?

——————————————-

Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4200 yards

Bike:  50.5 miles

Run:  21.9 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green 😉

——————————————-

March Totals:

Swim:  11.42 miles

Bike:  198.6 miles

Run:  86.62 miles

Brick: 141.15 miles (biking and running together)

Strength Training:  10 hours & 45 minutes

Hot Yoga:  8 hours

Goals and Wishes for 2014

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.

2014 Races:

Racing Goals:

  • Get my nutrition spot on for IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • Break 14 hours at IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • Break 6 hours at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3
  • Run the Drake 1/2 Marathon in 1:45:00 or faster
  • To have fun training and racing
  • To get my mental training spot on for ALL of my races

Racing Wishes:

  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 13 hours at IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 5:45:00 at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3
  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 1:40:00 at the Drake 1/2 Marathon
Goodbye 2013...Hello 2014!!

Goodbye 2013…Hello 2014!!

What are your goals and wishes for 2014???

2013 Had Ups and Downs

Like most years, 2013 was a roller coaster ride.  There were ups and downs.  Luckily I had more ups than downs 🙂

Let’s start with the lows, so I can end 2013 on a high note!!

Downs:

  • Superior Man Triathlon, August 25: DNF (Did Not Finish)
  • Grandpa died September 9 (just 6 days shy of turning 96 years young): While I am very sad that he is gone, I am happy that he lived such a monumental life and is now reunited and dancing with Grandma.
  • I fell into a mental slump after my DNF in August and really struggled to find self-control again.  Every workout I did was a challenge both physically and mentally and I lost focus for a while.
  • I injured my right shin after the Indianapolis Marathon and had to go though physical therapy.  As it turns out, it was caused by my back on my left side…go figure.
  • I got sick, strep throat, severe sinus infection and the beginning stages of pneumonia, in the middle of December (just before winter break).

Ups:

  • Bringing in the New Year with a New Year’s Day “5K” race
  • Little Rock Marathon, March 3: While this wasn’t a PR for me, I was very happy breaking the 4 hour barrier and had a fantabulous weekend with friends!!
  • Drake 1/2 Marathon, April 28:  While this wasn’t a PR for me, I did get to help a friend find the inner strength to push herself when it got challenging and finish the race.
  • Ironman Kansas 70.3, June 9:  I set a PR with a time of 6:05.53 (shaving 26.51 off this distance)
  • Lake Geode Olympic Distance Triathlon, July 13:  I set another PR with a time of 2:53.40 (shaving 11.46 off this distance)
  • Okoboji Triathlon, July 20:  Another PR with a time of 1:55.07 (shaving 3.00 off this odd distance triathlon)
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon Age Group Nationals, August 10:  I broke the PR I set at Lake Geode one month earlier and set a new PR with a time of 2:49.03 (shaving 4.37 off my Lake Geode time)
  • 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.
  • Signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2014, September 9:  I will again be competing in Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2014.  I am excited to train and race at that level again!!
  • 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 🙂
Successful 2013 = 6 medals and 1 trophy

Racing Success in 2013 = 6 medals and 1 trophy…I’m looking forward to many more “ups” in 2014!!!

What were some of your ups and downs of 2013?

Another One Bites the Dust…Ironman Kansas 70.3 Race Report

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.

Ironman Kansas 70.3 - 2010 Race Results

Ironman Kansas 70.3 – 2010 Race Results

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.

Chisago Lakes Triathlon Half Iron Distance - 2012 Race Results

Chisago Lakes Triathlon Half Iron Distance – 2012 Race Results

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 saw this safety mascot that I named "Safety Sally" on the side of the interstate in Kansas City as we were passing through.  It was fun to see that people still have fun on the job...even when serious work is being done!!

We saw this safety mascot that I named “Safety Sally” on the side of the interstate in Kansas City as we were passing through. It was fun to see that people still have fun on the job…even when serious work is being done!!

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 🙂

Athlete Check-in complete!!  I'm ready to race :)

Athlete Check-in complete!! I’m ready to race!!

YUMMY gluten free pizza at Wheat State Pizza in Lawrence, Kansas

YUMMY gluten free pizza at Wheat State Pizza in Lawrence, Kansas

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…

There were only a couple of flat miles on this bike course.

There were only a couple of flat miles on this bike course.

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!!

At Bike Check-in with Mojo on Saturday at T1

At Bike Check-in with Mojo on Saturday…T1

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…

801...Like 801 Grand, I plan to tower over my competition!!

801…Like 801 Grand, I plan to tower over my competition!!

…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)…

A little pre-race mojo with Crowie...professional triathlete who has won Ironman Kona 3 times

A little pre-race mojo with Crowie…professional triathlete who has won Ironman Kona 3 times 🙂

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…

Getting Race Ready!!

Getting Race Ready!!

Gear

Let’s do this!!

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.

My Pre-race "superfood"!!

My Pre-race “superfood”!!

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.

39:05 swim for 1.2 miles in rough water...YAY!!  PR number one for the day...

39:05 swim for 1.2 miles in rough water…YAY!! PR number one for the day…

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…

Coming into T2 from the 56 mile bike ride through the hilly Lawrence country side...

Coming into T2 from the 56 mile bike ride through the hilly Lawrence country side…

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.

Feeling strong on the run!!

Feeling strong on the 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…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNQRfBAzSzo

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!!

Finishers medal around my neck!!  70.3 miles in 6:05:53...that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!

Finishers medal around my neck!! 70.3 miles in 6:05:53…that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!

Finisher Certificate

2013 Finisher Certificate

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)…

Zoom Performance Athletes and Hines Ward...Congratulations to all!!

Zoom Performance Athletes and Hines Ward…Congratulations to all!!

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!!”

Ironman Kansas 70.3 Race Goals

“Triathlon is about pain – how you endure it and the mechanisms you put in place to deal with it when it comes.”

                           ~Chris McCormack

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.