Life has been crazy busy lately…training, vacations, trying to get some tasks done before summer is over and school starts back up. As a result, blogging has taken a back seat these last few weeks.
Training is going well. Only 5.5 weeks left until race day…3 weeks until the taper and I start school back up in less than 2 weeks. Where has the summer gone?!?!?!?
A couple of weeks ago, we participated in the Okoboji Triathlon. It is a non-USAT sanctioned event, which is great for your first triathlon or if you don’t want to have to remember all of the rules. As I was getting ready for this race (which just so happened to be my first triathlon of the season), I was thinking about what I put in my transition bag. For those of you doing your first triathlon in the near future, I hope you find this list beneficial.
Hoo Ha Ride Glide (sample pack)
Nutrition and Hydration (the amount depends on the distance of the race)
As you may remember, I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 11, 2013. Coming to Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship was like coming full circle…back to the place where I ran the Lakefront Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2008.
I woke up Saturday morning at 4 am, ate my pre-race breakfast (Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood with fresh blueberries), gathered up my gear and headed down to the race site. I knew I wouldn’t start swimming until about 8:58 am, so I decided to wear comfortable clothes down to the race site, set up my transition area, inflate my bike tires and then walk the short distance back to the car to deposit the bike pump and change into my tri kit. Since I needed to be to transition at about 5:30 am to set up my area, this seemed to make the most sense. I eventually made it down to the water’s edge by about 7:15 am and began the waiting game…
Since I had quite a bit of time to wait, I soon noticed the absolutely BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2…
It was a PERFECT day for racing…there were few clouds in the sky, humidity was low, temperatures were in the low 70s and the winds were about 4 mph out of the north. I didn’t think it could get much better, but I was wrong…the weather got much better while I was racing!! 🙂
There was a delay by about 15 minutes to the official start of the race, because there were some problems closing the interstate so we could ride on it…yes, they closed the interstate for a triathlon…that doesn’t happen often!! Because of the delayed start, each swim wave was pushed back about 15 minutes, so I didn’t start until about 9:15 am instead of the planned start time. At about 9:05 am, we jumped off the dock and into the water where we were given about 8 minutes to acclimate to the Lake Michigan water temps…surprisingly Lake Michigan wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be 🙂 We then had to swim back to the dock and hold onto the dock in a floating swim start fashion.
When the air horn went off, it was complete pandemonium in the water. I have NEVER experienced a swim quite like this one…I know I have mentioned swim experiences in previous triathlons that are similar to rugby tournaments in the water, but this was more like a loaded washing machine on the spin cycle where not one piece of clothing has any freedom…it was FULL CONTACT for the whole swim!! “Just Keep Swimming…Just Keep Swimming…” as well as “Relax, Breathe and Swim Straight” kept playing through my head. These women were out for blood!! There was not one moment in my roughly 30 minute swim where I had open water and was not in some kind of contact with another woman in my age group…whether it was getting kicked in the goggles, hit on the arm, swam into by someone who couldn’t swim a straight line, hitting a slower swimmer in front of me or kicking someone behind me who kept swimming on my feet…swimming in this race was a full contact sport!!
As we approached the swim exit, I knew I had to swim up onto a steep ramp and that there would be volunteers there to pull me out of the water. I emerged from the water after having covered 1.5 km in 30:16 and was pulled up out of the water by my husband…I forgot to mention he was volunteering at the swim exit and pulling athletes out of the water all morning, so he got in a good strength training session while I raced. As I emerged I said, “Thanks!! Love you!!” to my husband, then ran up the ramp and down a long sidewalk into transition.
By the time I entered transition, I had my goggles and swim cap off and my wetsuit was nearly completely off…it was a long run to my bike. I quickly finished taking my wetsuit off, put on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses, drank some water, loaded my tri top with my spare tube, tire lever and CO2 cartridge, grabbed my bike and headed out on the road. T1 time was 4:00…I chalk that up to the incredibly long run from the swim exit to my bike and out the other side…
As I started out on the bike, I quickly found my rhythm and mentally recapped my swim…I was so pleased with how well I kept my focus and didn’t let all of the contact in the swim negatively affect me. Now I was on the bike, so it was time to do what I came to do…give it my all. As I was cycling, I kept thinking what a BEAUTIFUL DAY it was…cue U2… The sun was still shining, so I was able to warm up a bit from the 69.4 degree Fahrenheit water temperatures of Lake Michigan. At about mile 10 I rode up onto the interstate…it was a decent climb, but I did not get out of my big chain ring at any point during the race, so it wasn’t too steep 🙂 “I am strong. I am tough.” It was between mile 10 and 13 that I noticed the clouds moving in…YES!! That would make the conditions on the run even better…What a BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2… I rolled into transition after having covered 40 km on the bike in 1:20:38, which was an average speed of 18.5 mph…WAHOO!!
I was quicker in T2…having to only change my shoes, grab my visor, race number, nutrition and run out onto the course…but still had quite a distance to cover in transition, so my T2 time was 2:19.
As I started the run, I felt like my pace was a bit fast, but I decided to go with it and see just how long I could hold onto it. “Think strong, be strong, finish strong.” I was feeling great!! I was thinking just how lucky I was to be running in the footsteps of some amazing people, when I happened to run up to a very inspirational person at about mile 4, so I stopped and walked with her briefly…Sister Madonna Buder, age 83…I said, “Sister Madonna, you are such an inspiration.” She said, “Thank you, but it gets harder every race.” I said, “But you are out here doing it and inspiring others.” She said, “God bless you child.” Gave me a hug and I ran off re-energized all the way to the finish, where I crossed the finish line with a run split of 51:49 for the 10 km run, which was an average pace of 8:20.
I received my medal from Chrissie Wellington, who also gave me a hug and then I went to the results tent to find out my official finish time…ANOTHER PR!! 2:49:03 was my official finish time…this didn’t qualify me for Team USA at the Worlds Championship, but I pushed my limits, broke my previous PR by almost 4 minutes and had a lot of fun!! 🙂
After crossing the finish line, Dad was waiting for me. It was so nice to have him there cheering me on and supporting me throughout the day in what he refers to as “crazy.”
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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 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!!
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!!”