The Bests of 2013

Thanks to Abby at Change of Pace for this post’s inspiration!!  She recently posted about her year of running with a triathlon twist and gave credit to Miss Zippy.  I am posting my year of triathlon, but with a few of my own bonus “bests.”

Best race experience?

I had quite a few PRs this year (including shaving 26:51 off my 70.3 distance time), so one would think it would be hard to pick just one race, but this is actually an easy one for me…

USA Triathlon 2013 Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships

Not only did I have to qualify to compete in this race (by placing 2nd in my age group at the Lake Geode Olympic-distance Triathlon), but I did so by setting a PR (shaving 11:46 off my previous Olympic-distance time).  USAT Age Group National Championships was an AMAZING experience…awesome race venue (Milwaukee, WI), friendly and helpful volunteers, fierce competition, perfect racing weather and yet another PR in the books (shaving another 4:37 off my Olympic-distance triathlon time).

USAT Collage

Best run?

In 2013, I raced two marathons, one half marathon and a 5K to bring in the New Year, but my best run wasn’t a race.  My best run was with the Iron Hippie and our two black labs.  We ran through Carr Woods for a short, late afternoon run this fall…leaves crunching under our feet, perfect temperature, setting sun through the branches of the trees, uneven terrain, quiet surroundings…PERFECT!!

IMG_2469

Best bike?

Was without a doubt the Two States Ride with the Iron Hippie back in June…there was little vehicular traffic, we rode a perfect distance (70 miles), the company was great, we got to experience new scenery…this ride was simply wonderful!!

The Iron Hippie is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.
The Iron Hippie is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.

Best swim?

There really isn’t any particular swim that stands out to me as being “the best” this year.  This summer I really enjoyed starting my day with a swim in the outdoor 50 meter pool at 6 am.

IMG_2026

Best brick workout?

I LOVED (and at moments hated) the 3×60/20 brick that I completed on May 19!!  This brick consisted of 3 sets of a 60 minute ride followed by a 20 minute run.  Set #1 was completed in zone 2, set #2 was completed in upper zone 2/lower zone 3 and set #3 was completed in mid to upper zone 3.  While it was a very CHALLENGING 4 hour workout, it was also very REWARDING!!

3x 60/20 Brick
My workout summary from my 3×60/20 Brick on May 19, 2013

Best group workout?

Six friends set out on a leisure century ride around central Iowa on a HOT July 5th day.  We started with 6 cyclists, but shortly before mile 40, one cyclist had to head home and go to work.  About 5 miles later, another friend met up with us after he got off work, so our numbers were back up to 6.  Great time with awesome friends!!

century collage

Best new piece of gear?

This is SUPER easy…my new SOAS tri kit!!  Love, LOve, LOVE my SOAS tri kit…no chafing, perfect fit, cool white color…simply AMAZING!!

My new SOAS tri kit...LOVE,  LOVE, LOVE IT!!
My new SOAS tri kit…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!

Best piece of racing advice you received?

I think the best advice I’ve received has come from a variety of sources…Just Believe.  When you believe in yourself, anything is possible!!

Most inspirational athlete?

While Chrissie Wellington is not racing IRONMAN any more, she is definitely my most inspirational athlete.  Her compassion for sport, love of people, positive attitude, strong will, outstanding character and amazing smile are very motivational and extremely contagious.  With every workout that I do, or race that I compete in, Chrissie is at the forefront of my mind with a big smile and the following quote,

“It’s when the discomfort strikes that one realizes a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all.”                                                                ~Chrissie Wellington

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.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

PR (personal record), FUN, STRONG

Tell me about your 2013 year and then link back to Abby’s and Miss Zippy’s posts!!

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DNF…Did Not Finish or DID NOT FAIL?!?!?!

I was superiorly excited (ha ha ha) going into my last triathlon of the season…Superior Man Triathlon…Sunday, August 25, 2013!!  I had a great triathlon season, setting many PRs and was physically and mentally ready to set another one in Duluth for the half Ironman distance!!  I was determined to have a great race and not going to let the ghosts of Lake Superior haunt me…

I woke up on race morning at 3:30 am, ate my standard pre-race breakfast, changed into my tri kit, grabbed my transition bag and headed out the door for the DECC.  When I arrived at the transition area at 4:30 am, it was already very warm, humid and windy.  With these conditions, I knew I would have to adjust my race goals and expectations for the day.

I set up my transition area, relaxed by the water and at 5:45 am I boarded the boat to haul me out into Lake Superior where I would begin what would turn out to be a very challenging day.

The Vista Fleet took the athletes out into Lake Superior where we would embark on a day when Mother Nature woke up with a very bad attitude.
The Vista Fleet took the athletes out into Lake Superior where we would embark on a day when Mother Nature woke up with a very bad attitude.

While on The Vista Fleet, we donned our wetsuits, listened to the announcements regarding the swim course and mentally prepared ourselves to jump into ~60 degree water.  At approximately 6:30 am the boat stopped, we lined up and jumped off of the boat two at a time (one from each side of the boat) every 4 seconds.

A random athlete jumping from The Vista Fleet into Lake Superior.
A random athlete jumping from The Vista Fleet into Lake Superior.

Upon jumping into the water, I had an instant headache due to the cold water temperatures.  I took a few seconds to acclimate to the water and then began swimming.  With the winds in the mid to upper teens, the water was a little bit choppy, but not unbearable.  About every 3-5 breaths, I would end up with a mouth full of water instead of air, but I didn’t let this cause me to panic…”Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”  Heading north toward the first turn buoy went by very quickly.  When I turned around the north buoys headed back south, it was obvious the winds were picking up and it took more effort to swim against the wind and water current.  I ended up taking in just about as much water as I took in air throughout the swim…this would come back to haunt me later…those darn ghosts…

My husband was able to take pictures of me swimming as I neared the swim exit.
My husband was able to take pictures of me swimming as I neared the swim exit.

I exited the 1.2 mile swim in 45:51, which was a 2:03/100 yard average.  While this was definitely not my fastest swim, I was ok with this time considering the rough waters and strong current.  As I climbed the ladder out of the water, my left calf cramped and I had to try to shake it off while I kept moving forward.  I felt light headed as I came into transition, but I attributed that to the rough swim.  I took my time transitioning to my bike.  Duluth was under a heat advisory, so I knew I would need to make sure I had enough water and electrolytes on the bike.  T1 took me 4:35…and then the fun began…

Exiting T1, hopping on my bike and ready to take on the 56 mile bike ride.
Exiting T1, hopping on my bike and ready to take on the challenging 56 mile bike ride.

I knew there was quite a tailwind on the way north to Two Harbors.  I wanted to take advantage of this tailwind, but not tax myself too much since I knew I would be turning around and heading right back into those winds.  I felt my stomach cramping a bit at about the one hour mark, but I just kept drinking my water…I made it to the turn around and immediately felt that headwind.  This was the start of what would be a VERY long ride back into town.  Remember that lake water I drank while swimming ?!?!?!?!?  Well, it was about to come back to haunt me…About 2 miles after the turn around, I crossed the railroad tracks and immediately projectile vomited all of the liquids I had in my gut out into the open air.  With those strong headwinds, I was grateful that I had turned my head ever so slightly to avoid having it come back into my face.  This very well could be one of the reasons they don’t allow drafting on the bike during a triathlon.  I’m very sorry to whomever may have been behind me (if anyone was) that got a face full…With 22 mph headwinds, I continued to push forward and make my way back to Duluth.  I tried to take in my fluids and even an oreo cookie (which is usually a great fueling source for me on the bike…not today), but it all came back up…projectile vomit #2 happened at about mile 40 (just shortly after the water exchange) and #3 happened right before I entered back into town (Lemon Drop hill area for those of you familiar with the Grandma’s Marathon course).  I finished the 56 mile bike in 3:22:38 with an average of 16.6 mph.  As I entered transition, I told my husband to call Coach and ask her if I should even attempt the run…

Dismounting the bike at T2
Dismounting the bike at T2

When I exited T2 2:54 later, I was advised to try the run and if by mile 3 or 4 I wasn’t getting better, I was to call it a day.  I began the run having a serious conversation with myself…”You are strong.  You are tough.  You can and will overcome this.  Body…just suck it up!!”  I also started to play a little Jason Alden in my brain…”Straight ahead, never turn ’round…Don’t back up, Don’t back down…Full throttle, wide open…When you get tired and you don’t show it…Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more…That’s the only way I know…”

With VERY limited shade on the run course and the heat index nearing 99 degrees, I was starting to feel the effects of not only Mother Nature, but also the lack of hydration and fuel that my body had so “pleasantly” decided to discard on the bike ride.  By mile 3, I was walking like a staggering drunk and the volunteers were asking me if I was alright.  One volunteer even asked me if he could open my Honey Stingers for me.  I kept drinking water and putting ice in places most people would never want to carry ice…running was no longer even an option 😦  It took me approximately 1:20:00 to cover just over 5 miles and I knew if I were to finish I would have to walk the last 8 miles.  I knew I would be out in this “hell” that Mother Nature had decided to descend upon us for another 2+ hours and my body would continue to suffer for it.  With a marathon only 8 weeks away, I made the gut wrenching decision to pull the plug and call it a day.  My first (and hopefully my last) DNF…those darn ghosts…

I prefer to look at is a Did Not Fail rather than a Did Not Finish…while it was a very crappy day, I can positively say…at least I didn’t crap myself 🙂

While my body got the better of me Sunday, my mind is strong.  I am focused, I am strong and I am a tough cookie!!  I will continue to push my limits and I will persevere!!  My mother said it best…”There are other races, but there is only one body.”  That mother of mine…she’s a very wise woman 🙂

Growth…Just How Much Can I Improve in One Season???

I have seen definite improvements in my racing this year, setting PRs in both the Olympic-distance and Half Ironman-distance triathlons, but I haven’t been as aware of how my training has progressed until today.

Yesterday I completed a 3×60/20 Brick for the second time this year.  This brick is a one hour ride, followed by a 20 minute run repeated 3 times.  The first brick should be solidly in Z2, the second brick should be in Z2/Z3 and the third brick should be solidly in Z3.

On May 19, 2013 I completed this same workout with the following results:

Bike #1 = 15.6 mph

Run #1 = 8:58/mile

Bike #2 = 15.8 mph

Run #2 = 8:39/mile

Bike #3 = 16.3 mph

Run #3 = 8:33/mile

Total = 55.04 miles in 4:01:29

After completing this workout I was SUPER excited about my performance!!  I had nailed every part of this workout and showed improvements in my speed, both on the bike and the run, for each “leg” of this workout.

I spent most of my summer training and racing, making improvements here and there, but I wasn’t sure about the gains in my training until I completed this same 3×60/20 Brick yesterday.  Here are the results from yesterday (August 4, 2013):

Bike #1 = 17.3 mph

Run #1 = 8:38/mile

Bike #2 = 17.8 mph

Run #2 = 8:36/mile

Bike #3 = 17.5 mph

Run #3 = 7:59/mile

Total = 59.15 miles in 3:59:03

After completing this workout yesterday, I was beat!!  I was slightly disappointed with my decrease in speed from Bike #2 to Bike #3, but I knew I had pushed to my limits…at least for the day.

This is how I felt after Sunday's 3x60/20 Brick...UGH!!
This is how I felt after Sunday’s 3×60/20 Brick…UGH!!

When I looked at my growth from the middle of May to the beginning of August, I was AMAZED!!  I have gotten stronger and faster throughout the season 🙂  I am very excited to see how this momentum and these improvements will translate into Ironman Wisconsin 2014!!

Okoboji Triathlon Race Report

We arrived in Okoboji to a decorated yard on Friday evening.  My parents, sister and aunt had decorated my parent’s yard to celebrate my National qualification…

Some of the decorations at my parent's house.
Some of the decorations at my parent’s house.
More decorations at my parent's house.
More decorations at my parent’s house.
Even more decorations...I think my aunt thought I was racing to compete in the Olympics instead of competing in an Olympic-distance triathlon.
Even more decorations…I think my aunt thought I will be racing to compete in the Olympics instead of competing in an Olympic-distance triathlon…

Saturday morning, we woke up at 4:30 am, ate breakfast, loaded the bikes and headed to Arnold’s Park Amusement Park, where the transition area was located.  We arrived at 5:30 am to the typical Okoboji Triathlon experience…

  1. No one is patrolling the transition area, so anyone can enter the transition area at any time throughout race morning.
  2. You have free pick of whatever spot you want to stage your transition area.
  3. The bikes have PLENTY of room to be spread out and arranged however the athlete deems appropriate (the Hy Vee Triathlon could have fit 1000 bikes in the same amount of space as 200 here).
  4. Body marking is optional and self administered.
  5. The water temperature is NOT announced and is on the border of being wetsuit ILLEGAL, but no one seems to care.
  6. As athletes wait for their race to start, they get a history lesson about the “oldest wooden roller coaster west of the Mississippi” that resides at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park.
  7. Even though the race says it starts at 7 am, that is just a rough estimate.

After getting my transition area all set up, I wandered over to watch the start of the marathon (6 am start time).  I am always in awe of the marathon runners who sign up for this event.  Since the race is held in the middle of July in Iowa, it usually has some unbearable weather, but we got REALLY lucky with the weather this year!!

The start of the Okoboji Marathon at 6 am had about 80 people racing...there is a reason so few people race the marathon...
The start of the Okoboji Marathon at 6 am had about 80 people racing…there is a reason so few people race the marathon…

After watching the marathon runners start their day, I went back to my transition area and checked everything over…looks good!!  Time to head to the water for the swim start…should I wear my wetsuit or not????  I think I’ll wear it and take advantage of the hydrodynamics it provides me…

My transition area, with my husband's transition area staged right next to me...
My transition area, with my husband’s transition area staged right next to me…

I was in wave 3, so I started 6 minutes behind wave #1 and 3 minutes behind wave #2.  As the announcement was made for our wave to start swimming, I seemed to have positioned myself just right as I had very little contact with other swimmers and didn’t have many slower swimmers (in my wave) in front of me.  I felt nice and relaxed throughout the entire swim and was grateful to NOT see any eyes in a scuba mask looking up at me this year… 🙂

I finished the 0.6 mile swim in 16:23.  I was super happy with this…1:33 per hundred yards.  The transition area was quite a ways away from the swim exit.  I felt that my transition was super efficient, but my time shows otherwise due to the distance covered…3:18.

I was quickly on the bike and circling West Lake Okoboji.  At about mile 7 on the bike, I saw a spectator cheering us on and she said to me, “Girl, you look like you’re having fun!!”  From that point on, I had a new theme song playing in my head…”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper…

At about this point, I felt the slight headwind, but continued to push hard around the lake…and I did so without dropping my chain…YAY!!  First time while racing this year!!  With only about one mile to go on the bike, my dad, sister, two nieces and my dad’s friend/neighbor were standing on the side of the road cheering me on.  It was so much fun to see them!!  I rolled back into transition after covering the 18 miles in a time of 56:54.  I was very happy with this smokin’ fast (for me), average speed of 19.0 mph!!  My transition was smooth and efficient…1:21.

Off to the run I go…I know this run like the back of my hand since it basically goes through my parent’s back yard.  I run most of this route nearly every time I am home for a visit.  🙂  I saw the same spectator, who said, “She’s still smiling!!  Go get ’em girl!!  Have fun!!”  I smiled, ran on and immediately listened to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in my own head again…I guess I may have to create my own soundtrack of music that plays through my head while I race afterall…although I don’t actually listen to music while I train or race, it could be funny to hear how all of these songs flow from one to the next…At about mile 2.5, there were two women who were cheering on spectators and hoola hooping continuously…they are definitely going to have abs of steel after that workout!!  I only walked through 3 water stops (long enough to down a quick glass of water), otherwise I ran at a pretty consistent and speedy pace for having just pushed so hard on the bike.  I covered the 4.5 mile distance in 37:13 for an average pace of 8:16.

I crossed the finish line in 1:55:07, with my California niece in my arms, setting yet another PR!!  My previous PR for this odd distance event was 1:58:07…PR by 3 minutes…this is a good chunk of time to cut when covering only 23.1 miles total.  So far I have raced three triathlons this summer and set a PR on all three…I have two more triathlons this summer…will the trend continue?!?!?!?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see 🙂

“Rock for a Rockstar”

This last weekend, I raced the Lake Geode Triathlon, which is an Olympic distance event.  Friday afternoon we drove 3.5 hours to Burlington, Iowa for packet pick-up.  We arrived at about 6:30 pm to “The Drake,” which is right across the street from the Mississippi River on the Illinois/Iowa Border.

My husband and me down at the Port of Burlington along the Mississippi River looking into Illinois.
My husband and me down at the Port of Burlington along the Mississippi River with Illinois behind us.
The Drake Restaurant (packet pick-up) directly across the street from the Mississippi River.
The Drake Restaurant (packet pick-up) directly across the street from the Mississippi River.

After packet pick-up, we headed  to Geode State Park to set up our tent and settle in for the night.  It was a perfect night for camping and relaxing by the campfire.

Welcome to Geode State Park...
Welcome to Geode State Park…
The tent is up and we are ready for a cool night of sleeping under the stars...
The tent is up and we are ready for a cool night of sleeping under the stars…
Relaxing by the campfire reading a good book before bed...
Relaxing by the campfire reading a good book before bed…

Saturday morning, we woke up at 5 am to perfect weather…60 degrees and overcast.  We ate some breakfast, loaded our gear into the car and headed down to the beach where the transition area was.  I got my body marked, picked up my timing chip, took some time to set up my transition area and took a photo with friends before walking down to the water to start the race.

In transition, I was told by a fellow athlete that my race number (#111) looked like the dotted lines that are painted down the center of the "highway."  This would come back to keep me moving forward later in the race!!
In transition, I was told by a fellow triathlete that my race number (#111) looked like the dotted lines that are painted down the center of the “highway.” This would come back to keep me moving forward later in the race!!
I was the first one in the transition area for my bike rack, so I got the luxury of picking my transition spot and chose right on the end of the rack.  This turned out to be a great location!!
I was the first one in the transition area for my bike rack, so I got the luxury of picking my transition spot and chose to set up at the end of the rack. This turned out to be a great location!!
Who's ready to race?!?!?!  Let's have some fun!!
Who’s ready to race?!?!?! Let’s have some fun!!

After the athlete meeting, we headed down to the beach, where I waited for wave #3 to start the swim portion of the event.  The water temperature was about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so it was definitely not wetsuit legal (although there were a few people who chose to wear theirs and were not eligible for awards).  This was not a beach start…instead, we started in the water.  As the alarm sounded for our swim wave to start, I managed to get myself behind a few swimmers who were slower than I was.  After being frustrated about their lack of ability to swim a straight line (allowing me to pass with little contact), I grabbed on and pulled them under so I could swim over the top.  During this maneuver, I managed to get kicked in the left tricep pretty hard…hard enough to leave a bruise on my arm…small price to pay to find some open water.  After passing the slower swimmers, I got into a rhythm and had Dori (from Finding Nemo) in my head, “Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”  As I felt my swim form start to falter, I would mentally refocus, get my form under control and allow Dori to continue to invade my brain.  I finished my 1.5 km swim in 32:08…this was not my best, but without my wetsuit and some drag on my tri top (which has gotten a bit larger since I have lost some weight), I was relatively happy with this swim time.

I spent 2:10 in T1…trying to get my spare tube into my tri top was my biggest obstacle, so my T1 time wasn’t were I had hoped it would be, but I know what I can do differently next time.

Now it is time for the bike…I had a BLAST on the bike.  My goal was to push hard and see what I had left for the run.  I managed to do just that.  Remember the “highway” reference to my race number???  While out on the bike, I started singing “Life is a Highway….I wanna ride it all night long.”  It is amazing where the mind wanders…  I dropped my chain on a hill climb at about mile 22 (only 2.8 miles from the bike finish), but quickly fixed it and moved forward.  I finished the 40 km bike in 1:24:45 with an average of 17.6 mph on the bike…That was a LOT of fun!!!  I was super happy with this, but knew I had a hilly run to follow and this would be the true test…let the fun begin!!

Having fun going fast down a hill...
Having fun going fast down a hill…

I was much quicker in T2…1:13…I still have some work to do to cut some time, but it is a much faster time than the last race this season.

Now for the run…I knew this would be a hilly run course, but I had no idea that the only flat part would be crossing the dam.  We don’t have many hills like these in central Iowa…I kept singing “Life is a Highway” through the first part of the run, and then my mind went negative…”Highway to Hell.”  I didn’t allow this negative train of thought to stick around for very long and quickly moved back into a positive mental state…”Another one Bites the Dust” started to play in my mind as I passed people.  Many people were struggling on this run course (661 feet of climbing while covering 6.2 miles), so I passed many athletes.  I kept a smile on my face and told everyone I encountered that they were doing awesome!!  This kept me in a positive mental state and kept me moving forward AND…it paid off!!  I finished the 10 km run in 53:28 with an average pace of 8:38.  I was super happy with that and so was Coach Julie…”Solid all the way around! Especially that run!!”

I knew I was pushing hard on the run, but this face says it all!!
I knew I was pushing hard on the run, but this face says it all!!

I ended up finishing in a time of 2:53:40…this was a PR by 11:46 and on a MUCH more challenging course!!  I was so excited!!  The icing on the cake…I won 2nd in my age group 🙂  I couldn’t have asked for a better race…SO MUCH FUN!!

2nd Place finish in Female 35-39
2nd Place finish in Female 35-39…there was a Geode (the Iowa State Rock) on each trophy
The "Rock for the Rockstar" as one of my friends put it!!
The “Rock for the Rockstar” as one of my friends put it!!

Thanks Coach!!

It is time to give credit where credit is due…

With today marking the start of the second half of 2013, I decided to really reflect on where I’ve come from, where I’m currently at and where I want to be.

Let’s start with where I’ve come from…Prior to January 2010, I had coached myself through 8 marathons, 8 half marathons, multiple 5K, 10K, 10 mile and 20K road races, 4 triathlons and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  I decided it was time to take my fitness and training to the “Next Level” and in January 2010, I hired Coach Julie with Zoom Performance Endurance Coaching to help me achieve my fitness goals.  This was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made!!  She has helped transform me into the training/racing monster that I have become.  🙂

Where I’m currently at…Since January 1, 2013 I have:

  • swam 31.5 miles
  • biked 1095 miles
  • ran 441 miles
  • completed 409.3 miles of brick workouts (Bike/Run)
  • raced 110 miles (that includes both running events and triathlons)
  • completed 34.5 hours of strength training
  • completed 17 hours of yoga
  • set a PR of nearly 27 minutes on the Ironman 70.3 event
  • become much more mentally and physically strong
  • become a much more well-rounded individual

Where I want to be…I have many more races I am planning to participate in and many race goals that I hope to achieve.  Some of these races have dates attached to them, while others don’t…

  • Future races include:
  1. Superiorman Triathlon – August 25, 2013 (70.3 mile triathlon)
  2. Indianapolis Marathon – October 19, 2013
  3. Ironman Wisconsin – September 7, 2014
  4. Ironman New Zealand – No idea when this will happen
  5. The Lake Tahoe Triathlon – No idea when this will happen
  6. Dublin Marathon – No idea when this will happen
  • Goals include:
  1. Break 6 hours on a 70.3 mile triathlon event
  2. Break 14 hours on a Ironman (140.6 mile triathlon event)
  3. Become more physically fit and tough
  4. Become more mentally strong
  5. Qualify for the Boston Marathon again

Thanks Coach Julie for helping me become a much stronger, faster, well-rounded person and athlete!!

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!!”