Inaugural Ames Triathlon

June 30, 2019 was the inaugural Ames Triathlon. I was not able to race it as I was part of the team of people who made this event the success that it was. The cliff notes version:

  • We had 302 registered athletes
  • We had a PC friendly course
  • The high heat index was 105*F when the last finisher crossed the finish line at about 10:30 am
  • Zero penalties due to not following the rules
  • Zero disqualifications
  • Only one athlete needed medical assistance from the medics on site (he was throwing up in the water, but finished the swim)
  • We’ve had so many positive comments about the race
  • We have some suggestions for how to make it better for next year
  • We are SUPER excited to have this race in Ames and are already planning for next year…fingers crossed, we get approval at the Parks and Rec Commission meeting in August!
Waiting to start!
And they are off!
Three Cheers to Allen Bierbaum and Dr. Chris Feil for helping one of our para-athletes in and out of the water at the Ames Triathlon!!
Michelle is crushing the run on this hot, Hot, HOT day!!
We had a great day at the Ames Triathlon and couldn’t have done it without all of you…the athletes, volunteers, spectators, other race directors, sponsors, partners, medical support, photographers…YOU!!
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First race of 2019 is in the books!

Last Sunday was my first triathlon of 2019. As an endurance machine, going short + fast was SO HARD, but it was OH SO MUCH FUN!! This was my first opportunity to #explore and see what I was truly capable of in 2019!!

Negatives:
-Lots of time spent waiting…waiting for other athletes in my wave to finish, so we could go on to the next leg of the triathlon. Waiting for the people in the wave before us to finish the leg they were on so we could go on to the next one.
-Not being able to ride Mojo…those stationary bikes are NOT comfortable!! I really missed my gurl!!
-My race didn’t start until noon. In my opinion there was too much time to wait for the race start.

Positives:
-The triathlon was INDOORS in Iowa in January!! So much warmer than my Ironman Louisville experience in October.
-I got to sleep in my own bed and arrive to the race start right before it started because…small, local race.
-I needed less gear (no wetsuit, helmet, race belt, etc.)!!
-There was no contact during the swim because we split lanes with only one other athlete.
-There was music playing during the bike ride to keep us motivated and distracted from the “pain” we were inflicting on ourselves.
-There were only 10 people in my wave, so I didn’t have much traffic to dodge during the run.
-Part of my tribe was able to come out and cheer me on as I pushed my limits.
-Going short + fast means the “pain” ends much sooner than an all day Ironman event.

Notice there are so many more positives than negatives for this event! This may have to become an annual event on my calendar!!

Doesn’t everyone shovel snow to “warm up” before their triathlon?! Oh wait…this is actually the first triathlon I’ve ever done where I’ve WARMED UP with SNOW! We had to shovel out to get to the race…
Focus…Today is going to be tough, but I’M READY to push myself to new limits!
Goal swim was sub 8:30 for the 500 yards. Actual swim time was 8:06 (1:37/100 yards)…BOOM!!
This stationary bike was so not fit for me, but 8 miles…that’s all I had to tough it out for. I missed Mojo SO MUCH!! That gurl and I have a bond…she gets me!! Actual bike time was 25:55 (average speed = 18.5 mph)…BOOM!!
Onto the run…running 16 laps on an indoor track isn’t easy…hence the ugly grimace.
Finally…done and I can honestly say that was the toughest race I’ve had. I pushed myself into a state I’ve never been in before. Actual run time was 16:02 for 2 miles (average pace = 8:01 min/mile)…BOOM!!
Overall finish time was 50:03 for 2nd place in my age group!!
Podium finish is a great way to start 2019!!
A free massage post race was much needed!! #grateful
So grateful to have some of my tribe coming to cheer me on…even though it was snowing!!
Cheer squad!! #grateful

What a great way to start off my 2019 season!! Let’s keep this momentum going throughout 2019!!

The power of the mind

The mind is a POWERFUL tool! When I am positive, focused, and open minded I have performed at much higher levels and generally been a much happier person. I have made some changes since Thanksgiving that have freed my mind of negativity + chaos, allowed me to be more focused + present, and opened my mind to so much more! More exploration on so many levels. More belief in myself. More grit. More physical strength. More tenacity. More mental fortitude. More resiliency. More desire to be better than I was yesterday. More potential to be the best version of myself I can possibly be.

Life and triathlon can be very uncomfortable at times with so many uncontrollable factors and unknowns. This can make it difficult to stay positive, focused, and in the present moment, but positivity, focus, and staying in the present moment is where it’s at! I have achieved SO MUCH success when I focus on what I need in the present moment. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t worry about my workout after work. Don’t worry about tomorrow’s work meeting. Don’t worry about the next interval. Don’t worry about how the conversation is going to go. Don’t worry about what others are/aren’t doing. What do I need right here, right now?

As I embark on my first race week of 2019, I am happy to report that my mindset is strong, positive, focused, excited, and I’m ready to unleash some serious attitude on Sunday!!

How do you use your mind as a powerful tool? 

First tri of the season – light my fire

On Mother’s Day, I had the privilege of getting to do what I love…swim/bike/run!! My fave and I went to Kansas City for a weekend getaway so I could shake off the cobwebs to start my season. Here is a brief rundown of how my race unfolded.

As I was getting ready to leave the hotel on race morning, my fave was tightening all of my bolts on Mojo when…one holding my seat to the seat post busted. So we did what we could and jimmy rigged it by putting the bolt in the hole and tying to my bike with a bread tie. The question became…how long will this hold???

So grateful to have my fave as Sherpa/spectator extraordinaire jimmy rigging Mojo for me!!

Pre-race:

I set up my transition area and then found Michelle, one of my Coeur Sports teammates for a morning hug! Morning hugs from fellow triathletes are always the best!

Pre-race with Michelle! #heartandcourage

There was a LOT of time to stand around on the beach and wait for our swim wave to begin.

Swim: 33:50 (2:16/100 yard average)

When the horn sounded, I entered the water and then…hyperventilated. I don’t ever recall hyperventilating in the water before, but there is a first time for everything. I couldn’t find my rhythm, I was swum over by the wave of elite men just starting their 2nd loop, I felt restricted in my wetsuit (this was only my 2nd time in it this year), I couldn’t see any of the buoys while swimming away from the beach…I was a mess! I took a quick break and tried to relax, then continued to swim. I made it to the first turn buoy and eventually back to the beach. At the start of the 2nd loop, I began to find my rhythm and finished much stronger than I began. I was so grateful to have the swim behind me.

Swim…lap #1 done! Photo credit my fave

T1: 2:58

I was a flustered mess in transition. I was frustrated by my swim performance. Instead of letting it go, I was thinking about how it could have gone better. This was NOT helpful in the moment! Instead of having a fluid transition, I was dropping things and a hot mess!

Swim…done! Photo credit: my fave
T1…fumble, fumble, fumble Photo credit: my fave

Bike: 1:23:51 (17.7 mph average)

Ok…FOCUS!! Leave the swim behind and move onto the bike!! As I left transition, there were a few packs of people that I had to maneuver my way around. On the first out and back stretch, I took in my nutrition and worked to pass as many people as I could. During the next out and back stretch, I passed people walking up hills and realized there are probably a lot of first time triathletes racing today! As I climbed hills, I would say, “On your left” only to follow it up with, “no, no, no. I’m on your left. Don’t move left!” Yep, you guessed it…the people I was trying to pass would move to the left when I told them I was on their left. I continued to the 3rd out and back stretch of the first loop where the biggest hill climb of the race was. I was ready to rocket down the hill, but was afraid to really let ‘er rip since there were some riders in front of me that I couldn’t get around because they were riding 2 and 3 abreast. Oh well…time to move onto the second loop!! This was pretty much a repeat of loop #1, but I found my groove. Let’s finish the bike strong!  I ate another round of nutrition shortly before pulling into T2.

Here we go! Time to ride! Photo credit: Kansas City Triathlon

T2: 2:15

This went much more smoothly than T1…bike racked, helmet off, shoes on, grab the visor + race belt and go!

Run: 1:01:31 (9:55 minutes/mile)

I started off on the run at a slower pace than I was hoping for. It was HOT…the temperatures had started to climb and were now in the mid 80s. This may not seem so bad, but we had not really had summer temperatures to this point, so it felt like I was in a steam room at the gym. Instead of dwelling on the pace, I decided to monitor my heart rate. Monitoring my pace for the duration of the run would only frustrate me…FOCUS on what I can control. This was the smartest thing I had done all day! By the time I had gotten to loop #2 of the run, I was melting and ready to be done. I pushed on all the way to the finish letting my heart rate creep higher and higher with each mile.

What a HOT run! Photo credit: my fave

Overall: 3:04:19 (6 out of 16 in my age group)

I finished strong and was super happy to get to swim/bike/run with my fave there cheering me on all the whole time. #grateful

Race done! Photo Credit: my fave

Things to work on:

-practice in my wetsuit more so I don’t hyperventilate
-have my fave practice swimming over me in the pool + in open water
-practice transitions so I am more seamless
-be more comfortable pushing HARD on the bike
-be more comfortable and confident getting around people on the bike who are slower than me
-be more comfortable with the uncomfortable…PUSH HARDER all around!!
-get into my race pace on the run right away
-believe more in myself and my abilities

Things that went well:

-I eventually found my groove on the swim
-I ran by monitoring my heart rate instead of by pace
-I had fun
-I got to swim/bike/run on Mother’s Day!
-One thing is for certain…this race really relit my fire for triathlon + working hard to chase my dreams

Photo credit: Kansas City Triathlon

2018 Race Schedule

“Don’t put your life on hold to watch someone else live their dream. Today is the day to resolve to live your dream.” ~Unknown

Until a few weeks ago, I felt like I was putting my life on “hold” waiting for those changes I hinted at earlier to actually happen (hint: they still haven’t happened). I had hit the “hold” button back in September and was listening to elevator music. It wasn’t very good music either! I came to realize I wasn’t being true to myself. I wasn’t following my heart. I wasn’t allowing myself to experience joy and fun at a level that lights my fire. I decided to hang up on the elevator music and take control of my future. With the help of Coach Kelly + support from the Iron Hippie, I am following my heart and have put together a 2018 race schedule that I am SUPER EXCITED about!!

Friendly Son’s 10K – March 25, 2018

Drake 1/2 Marathon – April 22, 2018

Kansas City Triathlon: Olympic Distance – May 13, 2018

Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 – June 10, 2018

Okoboji Triathlon – July 21, 2018

Ironman Ohio 70.3 – July 29, 2018

Okoboji Point to Point Swim – August 4, 2018

Ironman Louisville – October 14, 2018

I have some BIG goals for this year and am really looking forward to working hard to achieve them!! I wish there was a smiley face emoji with an INCREDIBLY large grin…that could accurately express how pumped I am about 2018!!

Liberty Triathlon “70.3” Race Report: Adversity Adventure

Hmmm…I have so many thoughts about this race, but I should probably start at the beginning. Be prepared for a LONG report about the sh*t show…errrr…adversity adventure that was the Liberty Triathlon “70.3” race! Grab your favorite beverage and dessert to enjoy while you get a feel for my experience.

When the Iron Hippie and I decided to sign up for the Liberty Triathlon 70.3 race, we were waffling back and forth between the Liberty Triathlon 70.3 and Ironman Wisconsin 70.3. We raced Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 last year (when it was non-branded) and knew it was a GREAT race, but had heard good things about Liberty Triathlon as well. We opted for the cheaper race…Liberty Triathlon 70.3 (remember this for later…you get what you pay for).

Pre-Race:

We finally received an email from the race director Thursday (our race was Saturday). This was rather late correspondence in my opinion, but at least I knew I was actually registered!

Liberty Triathlon – It’s getting hot in here!
Race day is coming up and it’s looking to be a hot one! Due to the expected temp on Saturday, we are allowing participants to transfer from the Long course to the Olympic course free of charge. Please email us at info@finalstretch to transfer your distance.

We will also have ice water and towels at the waters stops for participants to cool off.”

I had no intentions of transferring to the Olympic distance event, so I ignored it, packed my bags and was ready to leave Friday morning. I checked my email Friday morning before packing up All. The. Gear. for two athletes into the vehicle. We had an updated message from the race director:

Liberty Triathlon – Note from the Race Director
Changes due to Weather for Liberty Triathlon

Do to the 103 plus extreme heat index for Saturday there is going to be changes to the timetable for the Long Course participants. This change is not only for the athletes but all the volunteers that will be out on the course helping direct runners and manning the water stops.

Olympic will stay the same.

Long Course

1. Swim will be the same
2. Bike will be the same
3. You must be in from the bike no later than 12:30 pm to continue on the run
4. If you get in from the bike from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, you will be required to run the 6.2 mile (10K) run course. This is so that all runners are in from the run by no later than 2:00 pm when the heat index gets very high.

Thank you everyone for your understanding with this difficult weather situation.

Questions: email info@finalstretch.com

What?! NOOOO!! With wave starts, this did not offer an equal opportunity for ALL athletes! Since my swim wave was not scheduled to go off until 7:45 am, I would have to finish the 1.2 mile swim + 56 mile bike in 3:45…doable, but with the extreme heat we should be conserving energy to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. I immediately emailed the race director and asked them to consider starting the race earlier (even 7 am would give us an additional 30 minutes) to allow more time for all athletes to have a fair shake at meeting this 11:30 am cut off. Here was their response:

“We’ve considered it. Due to other factors including permits, set up, police, volunteers, medical staff, and out of town athletes, we are not able to start the race any earlier.”

In actuality, they could have applied for an emergency change in the permits, but they didn’t want to mess with it. I get it (not really)…so I emailed them again and asked them if they would consider combining swim waves since they were encouraging people to switch from the long course to the Olympic course. Nope…not happening:

“We will not be combining swim waves. If enough people switch to the Olympic course, we will shorten the time between waves from 3 minutes to 2 or 2.5 minutes between waves to get people in the water sooner.”

Ok, so they are not willing to make accommodations for athletes to make this a fair experience for ALL athletes. Now the question is do I stick to my race plan knowing I will likely miss this time cut-off, or do I put the hammer down and try to make the time cut-off?! I decided to wait to talk to Coach Kelly about this until after I had checked in at packet pick-up to make sure there weren’t any more changes being made (good thing I waited…more changes to come).

The 3+ hour commute to the race site was uneventful. After checking out the lake and checking into our hotel, it was time to go to packet pick-up (which was at our hotel). While waiting in line, the first lady said there was another change to the 11:30 time cut-off. We now had to finish the 1.2 mile swim, the 56 mile bike, and get to 3.1 miles on the run by 11:30 in order to be able to continue for the full 13.1 miles. I IMMEDIATELY spoke up! “This is not what the email said and they have NOT communicated this with the athletes in any email. This is not acceptable!” The lady at the 2nd table knew many of the athletes in the line were frustrated. She called the race director for clarification and relayed his new decision to us:

We actually had until 3.1 miles on the run to catch the sag bike that would leave transition with the last cyclist to arrive into T2 at 11:30. If you are a strong runner, this will give you an opportunity to continue even if you get into T2 after the 11:30 time. This also meant if you were not a strong runner, you may get passed by the sag bike even if you made the 11:30 time cut into T2…HELLO SH*T SHOW!!!

Grrr…now it is time to call Coach Kelly! After eating Mexican food at El Azteca in Plymouth, MN, I relayed all of this information to Coach Kelly and said, “What do I do? Do I put the hammer down and try to make the time cut-off, or do I stick to my race plan?” Coach was LIVID with the decisions the race director had made. This was not only unfair to all athletes, it encouraged athletes to push harder and risk dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke on a day when we should be conserving a bit more than normal. Since this was not my “A” race for 2017, I was told to stick to the race plan and if I didn’t make the 11:30 time cut-off or catch the bike, it would still be a good training day…hello 97F heat index and 20-25 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 35 mph from the SSW.

Ok…I have a plan and know what I need to do.

I received the BEST email from my Coeur Sports tribe:

“WISHING YOU ALL KINDS OF GOODNESS ON RACE DAY!!
Rumor has it you have a race coming up.
Well, the Coeur Cowbell Team is ringing their bell (virtually, because otherwise the neighbors get annoyed) for you!
We hope your race is all that you wished for and more.
Heart and Courage my friend!
Let us know how it went!”

I told you this would be a long post, but I’m finally to race day! 🙂

Race Day:

The alarm went off at 3:45 am. After eating my typical pre-race breakfast (muesli + peanut butter + Pure Clean Beet Powder and Karma Kombucha), donning my beautiful Coeur Sports race kit, and loading the car with all the gear, it was time to travel the 30 minutes to Lake Rebecca.

The sh*t show continued when we got to the race site…we could set up our transition area where ever we wanted, no one was making announcements, (What was the water temperature? Was the water wetsuit legal?), and no one seemed to know where body marking was. There was no one working the entrances to the transition area, so anyone could enter (including spectators). I’ve experienced this at smaller local races, but NEVER at a 70.3 event!

Mojo is ready for a fun day on a new playground!

After setting up our transition area and relaxing at the car for a bit, it was time to put on the wetsuit (I had found the one and only USAT referee earlier who said the water was wetsuit legal) and head to the lake for a short pre-race swim and the pre-race informational meeting on the shore at 7:15 am. Thankfully I saw my Coeur sister, Megan, before the race and she gave me a quick hug. This is just what I needed to calm the climbing nerves. We were reminded of the changes to the time cut-offs, told there would be ice, wet rags, water, and heed at every aid station on the run. We were also informed that there would be 2 minutes between wave starts instead of the original 3 minutes. After the National Anthem, it was time to line up on the beach for the race start. One more quick hug on the beach from Megan and we were ready for the swim!

These waters look much calmer than they actually were when we got into them!

Swim: 51:10 for 1.2 miles at 2:26/100 yard pace

The first wave (Elites/Athenas/Clydesdales) was supposed to start at 7:30 am, but it was delayed because of other athletes swimming back to shore from their warm-up. So…my swim wave (women 40+) started at 7:42 am (3 minutes before the originally scheduled time). With the winds already at 20 mph, the lake was very choppy, and we were swimming straight into the chop on the way to the turn around buoys. It was rough! Hello first open water swim of the year…yep…on race day! I started out trying to swim with bilateral breathing, but that was short lived. I couldn’t get in a rhythm that allowed me to breathe and not consume 1/2 of the lake water because of the waves crashing back into my face. Like all of the other swimmers, I fought my way to the turn around buoys, and then got a free ride on the waves back to transition. Throughout the entire swim, I just kept telling myself to enjoy the adversity adventure that was just beginning! Learn from it, grow from it, and keep moving forward! This was officially my slowest swim time on a 1.2 mile distance EVER!

T1: 2:27

After quickly making my way to my bike, getting a random stranger out of the way of my bike (he was just hanging out in the transition right in front of my transition area…not sure what he was doing in there), stripping out of my wetsuit, throwing on my helmet, socks, and bike shoes, I was out of the transition area and on the bike!

Bike: 3:16:09 for 56 miles at 17.1 mph average speed

The first 10-12 miles were straight SSW into the headwind that had picked up since the swim start. The winds were now closer to 22-25 mph sustained winds, with gusts up to 35 mph and boy could we feel it! Let the adversity adventure continue! Mojo and I just buckled down, found our groove, and sang our way to the turn. Once we turned, the cross wind was SO strong that I got blown off the road twice! I screamed out loud that I wish I weighed about 100 pounds more so I would stay on the road (but later found out from the Iron Hippie that the extra weight didn’t help him either…). Only a few short miles to the turn and a tailwind! Hello 25+ mph speeds climbing up a hill in my most challenging gear…you are a VERY welcome sight! Unfortunately we had to do the loop again, so back into the headwind we went! Let the singing commence…

  • “I feel good”
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
  • “Full throttle, wide open, 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”
  • “Vanilla ice ice baby”…I was dreaming of ice and cold temperatures at this point as the outdoor temps were really climbing
  • “I saw the sign”…HELLO HWY 10 sign + tailwind all the way back to transition! What a welcome sign!

I also may have startled other athletes by screaming “Wahoo! St. Bonifacius you are a welcome sight! No more headwind!” Hee!! Hee!! Let the adversity adventure continue!

T2: 1:41

After cruising into transition and learning that I was between 1 and 2 miles behind the sag bike (it was after 11:50 am), I decided to leave my hydration bottle in transition and run hard for the 10K that I was going to be forced to run.

Run: 1:01:17 for a 10K at an average pace of 9:53/mile

As I exited transition, I ran into my Coeur sister Megan! She stopped at the loo, and I continued on my way! I was pushing a bit harder than I should have been. My heart rate was high…too high! I periodically walked to get my HR back to a respectable beat. I took in Base Salt and water at every aid station, but there was NO ice or rags at any of the aid stations on the run like the race director said there would be. Let the adversity adventure continue! Then at mile 2, I caught the sag bike. What?! How did I catch him? I decided to walk for a minute and ask the athlete how I had caught up with him. In briefly chatting with him, I learned that he had decided to walk the entire first 5K to give as many of the women an opportunity to make the decision to run the 1/2 marathon if they wanted to since our swim waves started so late. I thanked him for allowing me to make this decision and ran on. Shortly after this, I saw the Iron Hippie heading back and quickly learned he was only doing the 10K by choice. As I ran to the 5K mark, I did some thinking and data analysis…could I run the full 1/2 marathon? Yes, but I had no hydration with me (I left it in transition remember?!), there was no ice or rags at the aid stations, it was HOT and only getting hotter, and this was not my “A” race. Coach Kelly told me to not end up dehydrated, with heat stroke, with heat exhaustion, or hyponatremic…it would prolong my recovery. Based on all of the data I had in my arsenal, I opted to turn around and only do the 10K run. As I crossed the finish line, I was happy with my decision to turn around, but was immediately disappointed because there was no water at the finish line for the athletes. SERIOUSLY?! What an adversity adventure…or is it a sh*t show?!

Since it doesn’t say “70.3” on it, I guess I can keep it.

Overall: 5:12:43 for 63.4 miles

I set a PR on a new distance (since I didn’t do the official 70.3)…63.4 miles. I got to meet some amazing new athletes and ladies decked out in Coeur tri kits. I overcame a lot of adversity that was mostly out of my control. I learned that you get what you pay for! I’m disappointed that the race director did not make the time cut-offs equal for all participants and I’m very disappointed in the lack of care for the athletes at this race. Many athletes were in the med tent at the end of the race…likely because they pushed too hard in the heat and wind to make time cut-offs, but not having ice and rags/sponges at the aid stations on the run definitely didn’t help. I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. The timing company was separate from the racing company. They were very angry with how things were handled as well. All athletes who ran the 10K were disqualified…whether they were forced to only run the 10K (because of the rule the race director implemented) or because they chose to. I ended up spending about 30 minutes helping the timing company figure out who had actually run the full 1/2 marathon in all of the age groups before the award ceremony, because the man in charge of the timing was VERY frustrated! If someone were to pay for my entry into this race in the future, I would turn it down. I want to support smaller, local races, but not at the expense of the athletes and their safety!

The heat index was 97F with sustained winds of 22-25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph. It was a rough day! Not what we’ve trained for, but we each set a new PR since we did a new distance…

Well, that’s a wrap! My adversity adventure or sh*t show…

2017 Racing Season

Mother Nature (errr…Global Warming) has blessed us with BEAUTIFUL weather this “winter”…weather we typically see in April and May here in Central Iowa. This beautiful weather + back rehabilitation got me thinking about my 2017 racing season. I have had WAY MORE downtime than is typical for me during this rehab process, so…I had plenty of time to plan for my 2017 racing season and register for some races. Thanks to this downtime, my 2017 racing season is taking shape! I have registered for the following races:

  1. Drake 1/2 Marathon (4/29/17)
  2. Hickory Grove Sprint Triathlon (5/21/17)
  3. Liberty Tri 70.3 (6/10/17)
  4. Okoboji Triathlon (7/15/17)
  5. Ironman Mont Tremblant (8/20/17)

I am super pumped about these races! This schedule will provide me with some opportunities to test my race day plan for long distances, but also give me some opportunities to go hard, fast, and have fun at some shorter distances!

I have also registered for a 3 day training camp in Vermont on July 27-30 with Track Cat Fitness! This training camp is 3 weeks before Ironman Mont Tremblant, so we will be extending our vacation to 4 weeks! We will be heading to the New England States before going to Mont Tremblant, Canada…visiting new places, training in new places, and having even more fun!

How is your 2017 season shaping up?