Monday, April 24, 2017

Two weeks out plus some updates!


I fully intended to do a race report on Icebreaker this year, but I didn't.  It was something else...the weather was around 40-45 and pouring down rain.  I can honestly say I have never ridden in the rain prior to this, and there was standing water on the course and some slick turns, but it was actually kind of fun.  I walked away with a course PR, and took second in my age group.  Still need to learn to suffer more in general, but I was happy.  I also didn't taper for this, and I had a long trainer ride waiting for me when I got home.  This race is still a must do every year, it's a great way to blow the cobwebs off and get in a race when you're just getting antsy to race after the cold winter off season!

I just got back from Salt Lake Tri Club Camp.  It is really designed for people racing IM StG 70.3 as it is two weeks prior to the race and on the course.  However, many of my house mates and other teammates came down just for the heck of it even though they aren't racing it.  It was just plain fun!

I drove into town and felt immediate anxiety driving the part of the bike course just to get to the house we were staying in.  I was at the house a few hours before my roomies for the weekend got there and it started to mess with me a bit.  For those of you that don't know, my worst experience ever was the last time I did StG.  It was an utter disaster, so going back to this race has brought on race anxiety like I haven't had before.  I knew one of the biggest advantages to me of coming down this weekend would be to ride the course again and gain some confidence as well as build positive associations with the course to over ride the negative ones.  I was able to do both!

Friday morning we were supposed to go swim at Sand Hollow.  Since this was one of two OWS there, I opted to do a pool work out I wasn't able to fit in earlier in the week.  I loved the Washington Community Center!  It's a nice facility and they seem to have been able to manage to let lap swimmers and the pool noodle water aerobics  coexist in peace.  This doesn't happen anywhere up here, but don't get me started!  I swam 3000 yards and felt great.  Then we had a break prior to riding Snow Canyon, we rode just a 21 mile loop that included the Canyon then we had a group run of the course.  Ben didn't want me running the whole thing, just an up and back of 8 miles, but it was enough of the course for me.  He then texted me that I had nailed the run!  Sweet!  I had to say, it felt really good overall and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Day 2 of camp was an OWS at Sand Hollow and a transition clinic.  I LOVED being back at Sand Hollow and back in open water.  The water was around 61 degrees, and though it was pretty cold the first 50 yards or so, it didn't last.  I loved it!  This is one of my favorite places to swim period, so I was in complete heaven for this part of the camp.  We then set off on a ride of most of the course.  Due to some road closures, we weren't able to ride the part through Hurricane, but still got 41 of the 56 in.  Man, I forgot how hilly this course is.  I ended up riding most of it with a new friend Brian who is new to our club and the sport.  It was great to have a friend and someone to chat with during this ride.  My legs were already fatigued from the day before, so I knew this ride would be hard.  Riding with someone makes it better!  He was talking all crazy like doing the "double loop" and doing Snow Canyon twice, as some were to make up for the lost mileage we missed by not doing Hurricane.  I knew immediately I wouldn't be up for it.  Climbing Snow was much harder the second day, but I did it without needing to stop or walk.  I dialed in nutrition and it worked well.  I have switched to custom Infinit and love it!  However, I found that the flavor is MUCH stronger in a concentrated bottle!  I can't say how much I love having just one bottle to use. The Infinit doesn't have as much sodium as I would like so I add a couple tiny scoops of Base Salt to the bottle, and it is still all one place. That and water and I am good to go.  No more million moving pieces to long course nutrition!I took in a mouthful of the mix every 15 minutes then washed it down with water in my torpedo bottle up front.  So easy!

That night I think our house we were staying at became the designated party house.  We had 15-20 people there and I was up way later than I have been in years.  It was just fun.  I love my tri club team mates!  I have to miss a lot of team stuff due to living an hour away from where most of the group functions and group work outs take place, so it was nice to have time with them this weekend!  I was exhausted coming home and still am today, but it was so worth it!

I am feeling good two weeks out from StG.  There is still some work to do, but after being on the course this weekend, I am feeling much better about it.  I have spent some time thinking, which is never a good thing, and am actively working on being more positive about life, racing, and myself in general.  After being called out on this lately by more than one person (Ken, Ben, Justin, and Nate, thanks for the reality check!).  It's not like me to be negative in general, but I think the anxiety and stress about this race has brought it out of me more than normal.  I am reminded that I don't HAVE to do any of this, I GET to.  It is a great opportunity and the negative self talk doesn't reflect who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to get out of it all.  I am grateful for people willing to call me out on it when I need it!

So, onward and upward!  This is going to be a fun couple of weeks!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I used to be way better at this...

Wow!  It's been almost 6 months since I updated my blog.  I used to be so much better at maintaining it because it really is something I enjoy.  I still read tons of blogs, but have failed to keep my own up to date.

So what's new?  High school swim season came and went.  It was so much better the second year than it was the first.  SO much smoother and a little less "deer in the headlights."  I still have so much to learn, and there are things that I want to change next year, but the kids are amazing, and its a pretty cool way to be involved with them in a sport I love.   I am sure, though I complain about the time commitment, I will be with them for at least a few more years.

I have been training as well!  I have Ironman 70.3 St. George coming up May 6.  When I did it 3 years ago, it was quite possibly the worst race experience to date.  It's a toss up between that and my first marathon, though overall, StG would probably win.  It was just a disaster.  I wanted to immediately go back and do it better, but then IMTX happened and made it impossible for 2015, then 2016 I volunteered, and then got sucked into signing up for this year.  I vacillate between being completely excited and terrified.

I also have a new running partner!  Maggie passed away in November, not that she had been able to run with me in years anyway, and in January we added Murphy to the family.  He's an almost 2 year old husky mix.  He LOVES to run.  Running and going for rides in the car are his very favorite things.  The furthest I have gone with him in one setting was 8.5 miles and he could easily go more.  We did 11 yesterday broken in to two runs, and he was finally sort of worn out last night.  He is great!  I am worried about him as it warms up though because he is a husky with a built in fur coat.  I foresee a lot of very early morning runs when it is cool enough to take him over the summer.


The training is going well, but is so different training with my coach Ben, vs how I would do it on my own.  Ben simply pushes me more, which I can't/don't know how to do on my own without being injured.  More hours, more volume, more intensity, and more consistency. I have come to the conclusion that cookie cutter plans don't do that for me.  Most are pretty generic, at least the ones I found and used previously.  Plus, there was no one to be accountable to.  Having Ben there to tailor it to me, giving me specific workouts, intervals to hit, etc, really challenges me.  I am such a nerd because I love opening Training Peaks on Sunday to see what he's got on tap for me that week.  

I also have the chance to go to Alaska this summer to help play race Sherpa for my friend Jason doing Alaskaman.  It will be so much fun!  I can't wait!  We will also go to San Francisco for a week, and I am checking an item off my bucket list be doing the Alcatraz swim.  I have had people ask if I would do the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.  It really holds no interest to me, just the epic swim!  It's stupid expensive, and who wants to bike those hills and run them for a ridiculous price?  Not me.  I then heard that a local swim club does monthly swims and when I looked it up, found they were doing it the Saturday we are there.  It's FATE!  I signed up and that awaits me June 24.

I have Icebreaker in two weeks (year 6 going back), East Canyon Oly in June, then Brineman 70.3 at the end of September.  I don't really plan on racing more than that.  I am totally okay with that as well.  It just so happens that other races I've looked at we either will be out of town or have other family stuff going those weekends, so that was the main limiter.  But then again, I raced so much last year trying to get to Nationals, that it was almost too much, so I am happy with what's on the docket for now and don't see it changing.

I go back and forth on my desire to do another Ironman.  I will do another one, that isn't in question.  What is in question is which race and when.  I really thought 2018 would be my year to do it again, but now I am not so sure.  The time, effort, energy, etc that goes into it doesn't really appeal to me right now.  Plus, training for one with Ben just might kill me.  His training is totally different than what I've done on my own (all good) and training for StG is no joke.  Its hard and challenging, but at the right level.  Doing more than this right now would probably max me out more than I can do in the foreseeable future.  I am starting to think 70.3s might just be my favorite distance.  I hate olys.  Love sprints, but like endurance, hence 70.3s being pretty sweet that way.  Enough to challenge you, but not enough to (quite) kill you :)

That's it for now.  I will probably do an update after Icebreaker.  No aspirations there other than to go and have fun.  I am not even tapering for it as it is just a sprint on the road to StG.  In fact, I have a long trainer ride waiting for me post race :)


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Haunted Half Marathon Race Report

This was my last race of the 2016 season and one I have been very excited about.  It was also my first half marathon in almost 3 years, so that was cool as well.  Other than a handful of 5ks this year, I haven't done a run specific event in that long!  It was pretty weird to pack for this race as it was just run stuff!  Ha!  You know you've been buried in triathlons for awhile if this is the case!

Training for this half was no joke.  Again, I learned that training for an event with Ben is way different than how I've done it before.  I enjoyed the run emphasis and saw many gains along the way, even if they were just small ones.  I was reminded of why I love running.  I thoroughly enjoyed the training.  I was also reminded of the importance of self care such as stretching, rolling, and proper recovery, or else my body starts to hate me with the additional stress on it.  I was also reminded why I entered triathlon to begin with...I missed my bike and swim and the variety in the training! Average training for this run block was 5-6 runs a week, sometimes two a day, with an occasional bike or swim mixed in.  Most of the runs were easy, some with drills, some with strides, one speed work session a week, and a longish run on Saturdays followed by a shorter one that evening.  It was different than I what I would do left to my own devices, but again, I enjoyed it.

This was a Halloween themed race, but I had no intention of dressing up. I am not a big Halloween fan anyhow, much less dress up for 13.1 miles for it.  I told people I was going as a runner, since I still don't consider myself much of one :)

I did packet pick up the day before and rode down race morning with my friends Alicia and Cristin.  We all had our own goals for this race, so it was agreed upon that it was every man for himself once the gun went off and we would meet at the finish.

I remembered that in the past the pacers have served me well in run races.  I knew that my goal was 1:45-1:55ish, so I found the 1:50 pacer guy before the gun went off.  He was dressed as Peter Pan in green tights! He was super nice and told me his strategy was to bank some time in the beginning on the downhills, then conserve a little for the uphills at the end.  I told him I would hang with him for as long as I could.  The gun went off and away we went.  I immediately noticed in the first couple of miles I was going WAY faster than Ben told me to, but my HR was where it was supposed to be, so I went with that instead.  It only took a mile or two into this run for my hamstrings to start feeling the steep downhill, and I knew this run was going to kick my trash and I would be sore later.  Part of the deal though!  I felt great and took in a Gu every half hour, and slowed some at aid stations, but not much, long enough to take either a water or Gatorade.  The first 7-8 miles are down the canyon, and they are very fast.  They are also so, so pretty!  I never take for granted what a beautiful place I live in!

When we came into the city by the zoo, I could not longer hold the pace of Peter Pan.  My legs were starting to feel the fatigue of the rapid down hill and I knew I couldn't keep up, so I let him go, even though I wasn't happy about it.  The course then turned into a neighborhood which I didn't love this part.  I sort of turned off mentally for a mile or so, disappointed that I couldn't keep up with Pacer dude, but also because there was a lot of winding for a few miles in the neighborhood and I felt they kept taking us up the same hill a few times over.  Not fun!  I was glad when I finally knew where we were and knew we were near Sugar House Park where the finish was.  I really tried to push once we entered the park.  These last two miles sucked.  I hurt, I was tired, and the only thing that kept me going was the fact I desperately wanted to be done and running was the fastest way to get there.  They actually have a decent hill a half mile from the finish.  Rude!  I ran that hill and immediately had to walk because I was so winded.  However, this only lasted a few seconds, then I ran again and pushed to the finish.  I was so thrilled to see my finish was 1:51:25!  This was an 8.5 minute PR and I was pretty thrilled to be just :25 off my goal time, and I found the Peter Pan Pacer Dude and he had just barely finished as well, so I wasn't that far off!

I had to sit down and I enjoyed seeing several friends at the finish.  My legs hated me already, and the next several days would continue to do so :/

Overall, I am thrilled with how this went.  There is always the part of me that is my own worse critic and can't help but see how I may have done things just a little differently, but I am super happy.

What's next?  I literally have nothing scheduled until IMStG 70.3 on May 6.  I am sure I will end up doing smaller races between now and then, but that's it!  I am looking forward to the next 1-2 weeks off for a break, and then slowly building into 2017 training with Ben.  He says he is going to "load me up" more than last year, so I am a little scared what that means!  But, by the time swim season ends in January, I know I will be ready for it :)

Happy Training and Racing all!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

USAT Age Group Nationals 2016

One of the advantages of traveling solo to a race is that post race I can do whatever I want when I want.  If that means sit and stew over the race and think about what went well and what went not so well and all, I can! I have so many thoughts about this race, I want to write it all down while its fresh.

First off, this was my end goal for the season.  Every race I did was trying to get here.  When I finally had an awesome race at Dinotri and qualified and got the much awaited email with the the registration link, I was thrilled!

I ended up making this trip to Omaha solo.  Ken had some meetings at work he couldn't get out of and the kids honestly have no interest in my racing, plus, who would watch them while I raced?  I tried to get a girl friend or someone to come along for the company, but anyone that could come, couldn't.  I was bummed at first, and then I started to think about the advantages to going solo, and realized it would be fine.  Plus, come hell or high water, I wasn't missing this race.  

I left SLC with the kids and dropped them with my parents in Denver.  They get time with Grammy and Pa, and Mama gets to focus on her race and do what she wants when she wants it over the weekend.  Ken gets peace and quiet for 5 days. This was win/win for all involved!  

I arrived in Omaha on Thursday. I got in a quick bike ride and run as was in Training Peaks for me to do.  Luckily the hotel is close to everything, including a quiet road around the airport to ride on.  I immediately noticed how humid it was here.  It hit me like a 2x4 when I got out of my car.  I haven't been in this kind of humidity since Texas!

Friday was very chill.  I got up early for another ride and run to just turn the legs over, had breakfast, then went and got my packet and check in Ivy.  I went back to the hotel and slept for 2.5 hours! Blissful! I went to dinner with some women in the Women for Tri Facebook group I'm in.  It was awesome!  Got to bed early so I could get up early to get to transition early.

A side note here.  I had a start time of 10:02. Total crap time to start.  I was going to be doing the race in the heat of the day, along with the humidity.  I wasn't thrilled with this, but what do you do?  In my pre-race talk with Ben he suggested that I try to get to transition early to set up and then go back to the hotel to be out of the heat and humidity.  He also told me to plan on tampering the efforts for the day due to the weather forecast.  I was also given the instruction to take in 150-200 calories on the bike and then another 150-200 early on the run.  I was also to keep my heart rate under 160 until I got to mile 4 on the run and be patient.  Um, I don't do patient well.  I'm sure he knows this by now, but I was determined to follow his instructions as close as I could. 

I got up and got to transition and had a sweet parking spot.  Too bad I could give it up to go back to the hotel.  I got back, went back to bed for an hour, ate breakfast, and then headed back to the race.  So glad I did this earlier than I planned because the roads were all closed and I had to walk in about a mile to transition.  I still had plenty of time though, so no biggie.

Swim: 

Water temp was 86.9. It felt like it too.  It was like bath water.  This was even warmer than IMTX!  The gun went off for our age group and I was off.  Immediately I felt sluggish.  Ben wanted me to ease into this, and it looked like it wouldn't be too hard to do.  The start was crazy, I was hit, kicked, swam over, grabbed, you name it.  I don't mind, I've come to expect it and at Nationals in Milwaukee two years it never got better.  Here it did, and I had clear water most of the swim.  The swim felt long.  It started to feel like some kayaker had a rope tied to the yellow turn buoy and they were just pulling it further and further from me.  It was the epitome of the "Are we there YET?" feeling.  I felt like I was sighting well and with keeping buoys on the right, and me breathing to the left, I made sure to sight diligently so I wouldn't get off course.  When I finally got to the buoy, the next one was pretty quick.  Thank heaven after that turn we headed into the swim exit and it went way faster than the first half.  I was actually thrilled to be out of the water.  Final swim time was 29:50. Not thrilled with this, but it was a no wetsuit swim in very warm water.  Not as bad as it could have been!

T1:

I was stoked to be getting onto the bike.  This was my first time riding Ivy in a race, so I went as quick as I could.  Total time in T1 was 2:38. This is a huge transition area and it had a long run to get into it.  Pretty average for my group.

Bike:

Like I said before, I could not wait to get on the bike. I noticed right away she was in the small ring, and I don't remember putting her in that gear, but whatevs.  I seriously love riding this bike.  So smooth and easy! The bike course was fairly flat but there were a few rollers and one pretty good hill.  The first half of the bike we had a tail wind and I felt like I was flying. The first half, other than on the hills I was at 20+ mph with what seemed like little effort.  It was awesome! I loved the smooth and freshly paved roads that were the entire course.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself for the sheer joy of riding.  I was in a goofy mood, I decided to try goofy poses and faces for the course photographers, made sure to whoop and holler on the down hills, that kind of thing.  It was just plain fun!  I also enjoyed the course scenery! You may not picture Omaha as scenic, but it really was! I can't get over how green it is here and the rolling farm land and picturesque red barns and corn fields are straight out of a Norman Rockwell photo! Gorgeous!

The bike turn around seemed to come quickly, but that meant a head wind and back up the hills.  They weren't as bad the second time around but I definitely didn't have the speed I had the first half.  I didn't care, I was still enjoying myself.  My heart rate was around 160-163 most of the ride.  I couldn't remember what Ben wanted me to do HR wise for the bike, so I tried to stay there but more go off feel.  I tried to ride comfortably hard, yet still be patient because I knew I had a run ahead.  

Final bike time was 1:26:48.  I'm sorta pissed about this.  I felt like it should have been faster, but there it is.  I have no idea why it is like to, other than perhaps that the humidity was affecting me more than I realized? It was hot and humid for sure, but I didn't feel it too much, and definitely not like I would on the run. 

T2:

Nothing to report here.  I had a ton of grass on my feet so I took my time to try to get it off so it wouldn't rub or give me blisters.  In and out in 2:11.

Run:

I hit the lap button to start the run on my Garmin and my heart rate was almost 180. Well crap.  Looks like we will be starting this run off with a walk to bring that down.  It took longer than it should have to come down and when it finally got into the high 150s, I would "run" and it would shoot right back up.  This would go on for the first 3 miles.  It was so frustrating.  I just couldn't get or keep it down.  I was about to ditch what Ben told me to do with this heart rate business, but then I saw people ending up in the med tents and decided following his advice would keep me out of there.  There was also tons of people walking, so I was in good company.  The heat seemed to be radiating off the pavement and there is absolutely zero shade on this course.  And it was ugly! It was all in an industrial area of the city, so I didn't even have that going for me.  I just decided to focus on my heart rate and make sure I took in Gatorade at each station and dump a few cups of water over my head to attempt to stay cool.  I remembered that at IMTX I had dumped ice down by bra at each station and it worked well to keep me cool and my HR down.  That would have worked swell if they hadn't run out of ice at all of the aid stations except one,  which were every mile. 

The run turnaround was the coolest part of the run.  We actually got to run into the TD Ameritrade stadium and run around the perimeter of the baseball field and see ourselves on the Jumbotron. It was pretty cool.  I needed the mental distraction at that point as well.  I was officially half way done with the death march!

I finally noticed that my heart calmed down a bit.  I was able to manage a jog of sorts.  I decided to focus on what I could control.  I could control my run form.  So I kept telling myself "run tall.  Slight forward lean. Relax your shoulders.  Arms at 90 degrees."  Well, wouldn't you know it, by running efficiently, I could actually sort of run and keep my heart under control.  Coach is right again! Then I thought he must continually bang his head against a wall at what a slow learner I am.  Well maybe not slow, just stubborn :)

I finally felt decent.  Not great, but decent.  I happily hit the mile 4 part and decided I could really push if I wanted to, and I sort of did, but it was also so hot, I didn't think I could push much more.  I did push the last quarter mile but it was painful! Final run time 1:12:57. Ugh. That's awful.  I believe that is my slowest 10k ever.  

Final race time was 3:14:26. My heart sank when I saw this.  I so thought I would and could be under 3:00, and since I hadn't looked at the time at all during the race, it felt like a slap in the face.  

Post-Race:

I knew that Ken and my family and Ben would want to know how it went.  I was so bummed I couldn't bring myself to call or text any of them.  I went to the food tent, but couldn't eat.  I got a plate anyway, but it tasted like crap.  Not that it was bad, I just had zero appetite.  I made myself drink a bottle of water, but that was all I could keep down.  I went to get my bag, and my bike.  I remembered I wanted to buy a tshirt and water bottle from the TriSports tent, so I went and did.  While I was there, a woman whose hadn't raced and whom I don't know asked how my race went.  I told her I've had better.  She asked what went wrong.  I told her I guess it was the conditions, I just didn't know.  She then said, " If you can make it here surely you can figure it out."  The she rolled her eyes and walked off.  What the hell was that? Who does that? Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound! I was so over this whole thing, I quickly got my shirt and bottle and left.  

I had to ride my bike back to my car.  No biggie.  When I getting to my car another athlete asked where I was staying.  She had ridden to transition and now had a flat and was having to walk back.  Turns out she was staying in my same hotel.  I told her she could have a ride, and we finagled both bikes and all our crap into my car and drive back.  It was a nice diversion because I was about to completely crumble into a sobbing mess when I saw her.  

I have now had a few hours to think about it all.  I did have a good experience.  I loved the race.  It was well  done, as I expected.  The swim wasn't great, but wasn't bad either.  I loved the bike regardless of the split, it was just pure fun and the best part of my day.  It is fun and humbling to race the best in the nation from all over the nation! I met people from all over and it was humbling to see some super fast talent out there.  It's awesome to be considered one of them and have the opportunity. It gives me hope that I can continue to grow and improve in the sport I've come to love, especially when I see an 80 year old woman out there kicking trash. 

Regardless of the tough race and the butt kicking, there was so much good heading into it and about it.   I have an awesome support system.  I have a good husband.  Good kids.  A good coach.  I've had some good training and consistent training leading into this. This is a great opportunity. Every finish line is a gift, no matter how painful it may be to reach them.  

So, what's next? This is the end of my Tri season.  I'm going to start a run focus training block with the goal of doing a half marathon later in the fall.  I'm excited about this for many reasons.  One, I need a change of focus.  Two, my run needs the work.  Three, even though running is my obvious weakest link, it is also the one that I enjoy the most lately in training, regardless of the not so great performances.  

In the meantime, I'm going to head back to real life tomorrow and school starting soon.  Happy racing and training!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Meet Ivy!

This post has been a long time coming!  Not that in its overdue, but because I've wanted a new bike for quite awhile! Well, as luck would have it, 24 hours ago I got my wish and finally added a tri bike to my training/racing arsenal.

Here we are leaving the bike shop.  The awful saddle is GONE!
It all started with shattered sunglasses.  In Training Peaks, my instructions for Tuesday's ride said "preferably outside."  I have turned into a trainer junkie and have only done about 2-3 rides outside all year other than races.  I decided I would make the effort.  I got all my crap together (yes, riding outside requires more crap.  Helmet, Road ID, sunglasses, pumping tires, etc) and headed out to the Island.  I was having a pretty good ride but MAN nose was running something fierce!  I was so tired of sniffing and trying to take care of it that way I decided since I was riding alone I would work on my snot rockets.  Maybe it's TMI, but the struggle is real!  I tried and don't ask me how, but it landed on my sunglasses.  Lovely.  So, while riding, I tried to take the glasses off and wipe them on my jersey.  In the process I dropped them and they shattered on the causeway.  CRAP!  Those are my favorite pair of racing glasses that I've had for 3-4 years (huge Tifosi fan here.  One of the few pairs I can wear that don't give me headaches).  I came back home and knew I needed to replace them immediately since I use them daily for training.  I cleaned up and headed into Bikers Edge to pick some new ones up.  

I get to Bikers Edge, pick new ones out (these have interchangeable frames Woot Woot!) and while I am checking out I start up a conversation with the associate.  I asked him how many tri bikes they sell.  He said almost none, maybe 1-2 a year, but if I am in the market they can always special order one.  I shrug it off and then another associate behind him says, "Yeah, take that one over there, it's been here as long as I have and it hasn't sold, that's why we normally don't keep them in stock."  What?  They had one in stock?  How have I not seen it when I come in here before?  I go to check it out and it's a Cannondale Slice 105.  Gorgeous too with black, white and lime green.  And wouldn't you know it, my size of a 54!  I immediately know I better walk away.  It was too tempting.  As if that wasn't enough, they had it marked WAY down, like by more than 50% to get rid of it.  

I left but couldn't stop thinking about the bike.  I texted Ken, my Dad, and my coach about it.  I have been looking casually at bikes online and in the classifieds and nothing had ever been quite right, either size, price, features, etc.  This one was almost too good to be true.

I went back yesterday morning and asked if I could ride it.  They put some pedals on it and I borrowed a helmet and just rode around their big parking lot.  Immediately I noticed two things.  One, it was amazingly smooth, like complete night and day from my roadie.  I now realized the difference between aluminum and carbon :)  Second, I notice how low the aero bars are.  It was a definite more aggressive position than aero bars on Belle for sure.  However, it was super comfy to get into them.  I have always been more comfortable on a bike in aero anyway, so this is no biggie, though it is a lower position.

I tell the associate consider it sold.  I go in and get pedals and a bottle cage and have him add those to her.  They ring me up and she left the store with me!  I get her home, and put her against the wall in my living room deciding I'm going to wait until it cools off to get my maiden voyage on her.  My son brought up just putting her on the Kickr, but that would be just wrong!  The first ride needs to be outside.  However, I am impatient.  I couldn't wait to ride her.  Thirty minutes later I am  fully dressed in my riding gear, jersey pockets stuffed, and on my way out the door to try her out for real ride, one that was not in a parking lot.

I noticed a few things immediately with riding her (yes, its a her).  It is still incredibly smooth.  The chip seal on the way to the causeway is all of sudden less annoying and jarring.  Though I was initially scared of the lower position of aero, it feels awesome once I got down into it.  Shifting in aero now is a possibility!  Game changer!  I click my way through all the gears figuring out how exactly it all works.  The shifting is immediate, smooth and effortless.  Belle, the roadie, has never been this smooth, and lately there is a delay in the changing of gears and some ghost shifting going on.  I also notice how close my torso is to the top of my legs when I pedal.  I also am glancing down at my watch and noticing how fast I am going with seemingly hardly any effort.  My normal comfortable speed on my roadie when cruising the causeway (which is very smooth and pancake flat but ALWAYS windy) is between 16-18 depending on which way the wind is going.  I was between 19-22 on this bike!  Woohoo! My quads also seem slightly more taxed in this position and on this bike.  And finally, I am reminded how much I hate stock saddles and realize this one will have to go ASAP.  

I had texted my neighbor and friend Cristin to tell her about the new bike.  She wanted me to come over and show her so I rode it later that evening in jeans and flip flops down the street to show her.  Her husband, a bike mechanic and former professional cyclist arrives home while we are chatting over bikes.  I tell him about the tweaks we need to make and we immediately go into his garage and on the spot he does the bike fit and makes the tweaks to the saddle, etc.  He swapped out the saddle, lowered the aero bars, adjusted the seat height and angle and she was good to go.  Awesome!

Maiden voyage with Ivy pic
I rode outside with Cristin today.  The bike feels amazing.  This should be noted for a few things.  One, I have never ever been comfortable on a bike.  I had finally accepted to be "comfortable being uncomfortable" while riding.  I have enjoyed Belle and riding, but I have always had comfort issues whether they are saddle issues, my shoulder (which thank heaven hasn't been an issue, even a little bit ,this year), or weird leg pain, what have you.  I have read many times about people saying the bike feels like it is just an extension of them, but have never been that way or completely comfortable on Belle.  However, on this bike I feel like I could go for days in the aero position (yes, I realize I am on a new bike high, but seriously, its soooo much better than its ever been).

So there's the long story of me finally getting a tri bike.  I have named her Ivy with the green accents on her.  I wasn't initially going to take her to Omaha with me in a week, because I was expecting a much greater learning curve than there has been with getting used to her, but that just hasn't been the case, so she is making her racing debut at Nationals :)  I will log more miles on her between now and then, but I'm pretty sure it will be fine.  

I've had a few people ask what my plans are for Belle.  She is staying!  I'm not about to sell her.  I love the idea of having a dedicated road bike and a dedicated tri bike.  The reality is Ivy will get most of the time and attention.  However, there are times when a road bike is just called for.  When I think of all the riding I do with my Dad, that is usually climbing some mountain pass or doing rides where a tri bike wouldn't even be permitted, so I will keep her for such things as that.  I am going to change her back into a true road bike though.  The aero bars will come off, the old seat post will go back on, and I will finally get a road specific fit for her instead of a "lets try to make her a tri bike" fit.  It will be nice to swap them here and there in training, and it will be nice to have a back up bike if one is in the shop, or whatever.

Nothing else is new to report.  Nationals is one week away, and I have most definitely noticed the build and ramping up in training.  It has been challenging and fun.  School also starts in just two and half weeks, so I have to go back to juggling training with real life.  It's all good though! I am excited for a new focus on both fronts. Oh, and I did sign up for IMStG 70.3 for next May.  I am excited and nervous all at the same time, but I've got several months to work all that out :)

Happy training and racing all!



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Echo Sprint Tri Race Report


I don't know what my deal was this week, but I just couldn't get excited about this race.  Nothing at all to do with the race or the organization, I just wasn't feeling it.  I actually tried to bargain with myself and Ben to a small extent about skipping it for a training day. I finally decided since I was cheap and had paid for it, I would go and Ben felt that racing it I had nothing to lose and the fitness boost alone from racing it would be worth it.  I did all my pre race prep on Friday and though I didn't mind it, I still wasn't excited.  When my alarm went off at 4:00 am and woke me from a dead sleep I thought, "And why am I doing this again?"

I made myself get out of bed, but I was moving at a snail's pace.  I tried to put in my contacts and they just weren't working.  One eye kept feeling like there was something in it, and I kept taking it out to readjust or clean it and it just didn't work.  I pulled out a pair of one day ones I have and they were much better, but I thought, "Really?  Is this how things are going to go today?"  I then stopped for breakfast from Maverick because nothing at home sounded good.  I went to pay and the card reader wouldn't read my card...at all.  Great.  Luckily I had cash.  I got up to the race start and picked up my packet to see my number for the day was 333.  The gal handed it to me and said, "That's HALF as bad as 666."  She thought she was funny, but again, was this another sign this was going to suck?

I set up my stuff and chilled with my SLTC peeps.  Love my tribe!  Even seeing them though I couldn't get too excited.  My friend Justin said to me he was tempted to just not even get in the water because he wasn't feeling it either.   I told him I was just going to do what Ben told me, and push as hard as I could and if I blew up on the run, who cares?  I've already qualified and have nothing to lose.

I then went back to get something from my bag in transition (we had assigned racking spots) and I saw my stuff had been completely moved around and bike was facing another direction.  A girl there (#319 to be exact) had moved it.  She said I had it facing the wrong way.  She had also taken it upon herself to move 5 other bikes in addition to mine.  What the hell? Who does that?  Another guy noticed his had been moved and called her on it.  Finally a race official told her SHE was wrong and we moved them all back.  I was so glad I caught this before my race, it would have messed with me a bit finding my routine transition set up all mixed up!

SWIM:

I had done my pre-race warm up in the water and it felt good.  I have never swam in this lake before, so I was glad to get my bearings.  The course looked easy to sight, though the wind was blowing and creating chop.  Further out there were actually white caps.  I don't mind these swims, I actually look forward to them and like the challenge.  They announced that this was going to be a rolling start.  I had never seen this with short course before and thought it was way cool!  However, I was going to seed myself with the 1:30-1:45 group, but my friends were one group up in the 1:15-1:30 group so I decided why not?  Turned out to be just fine!

The rolling start got going and I hit my start button on my Garmin and took off.  The first buoy I couldn't see when I tried to sight.  All I could see was the people splashing in front of me, and the waves.  I finally spotted it, and I had swung a little wide on that leg of it, but it wasn't too far off.  Going to the next buoy was a further stretch and I had a hard time staying straight due to the waves pushing us.  It was fun though and I took in several mouth fulls of water, but it was hard.  Before I realized it, I was at that second buoy and it was straight into the  swim exit!  This part was the most difficult to sight because it was directly into the sun.  I just focused on following the people in front of me and it worked okay enough.  I was glad to be done.  The swim time involved a run up a ramp and then to throw my flip flops on since it was a rocky run through transition.  Final swim time was 14:17, which was a 1:33/100 pace (keep in mind I apparently added about 170 yards to this, or the course was off).  Very happy overall with this time!

T1:

Not sure what my problem was here, but this was slow!  This is a large race and the transition area was pretty big, and I had a decent run down to my bike rack, but my final T1 time was 1:34.  Really?  I could have knit a sweater!

BIKE:

On to the bike!  I was feeling really good though my heart rate was pretty high coming out of the swim and T1.  I fell into a good routine and tried to get my bearings.  I was truly racing this blind as I am not familiar with the area, hadn't done this race before, and I didn't drive the bike course beforehand.  I found it had lots of rollers and was a fun course!  It was also beautiful!  I kept thinking about how I had thought  I had pushed the bike at Dinotri two weeks ago, but when I got back to analyze my results, my HR showed it was mostly in Zone 3, which sort of makes me believe I could have pushed that more.  I made an effort to check my HR frequently during this ride to see if I was working hard enough.  Side note here.  Ben is big on RPE, or how it feels, not necessarily relying on the Garmin.  I agree whole heartedly with this philosophy in theory, but I find it isn't reliable.  Sometimes I feel I am pushing hard when in reality, I am not if you look at my cadence, or HR, or other data that shows I could probably push more.  I need to get more on board/in tune with all of that.  Not quite there yet.

I kept thinking I have nothing to lose so if I go balls to the wall, why not?  I didn't allow myself to use the small ring on the climbs, I just powered up them.  It wasn't too bad!  I passed a lot of people as well (why, oh why can't more people learn the meaning of ON YOUR LEFT?) and felt really, really good for this ride.  It was over far too quick because I was thoroughly enjoying myself and feeling great!

Final bike time for this ride was 39:48.  Fastest bike split ever in a sprint tri.  Average mph of 18.78. Finally a good bike split! Given the amount of hills, I was actually surprised by that, I am not a strong climber, though I love a good down hill :)

T2:

Nothing major to report but I passed my rack and lost some time finding the right spot.  With the gravel surface of the transition area I look my time to carefully throw on my run shoes to make sure none of those got into the shoes making for a painful run.  Final T2 time was 1:22.  Not great, but worth the extra time to not have gravel in my shoes.

RUN:

I sooooooooo wanted a good run.  I feel like the goal of a sub 9:00 pace run was been so close, yet not quite attainable all season (with the exception back of Icebreaker back in March where I ran an 8:47 with a downhill course).  I just pushed, and found that right away my legs felt great.  No awkward or heavy feeling like I sometimes have post bike.  YES!  I started off on the dirt rail trail  this was on and went about my run.  I decided to push, but not quite all out until the turn around for the first half.  My watch beeped at a mile and said 9:08 pace.  It was higher than I wanted it, but I figured I would just keep dialing it up a notch as the run went on.  I passed the aid station and decided against taking anything.  I got to the turn around and decided it was really GO time! My Garmin then beeped for Mile 2 and it said 9:06.  Okay, it was a little faster than Mile 1, but time to dial it up more! That last mile HURT!  My throat started to hurt, my hamstrings were tight, but I just kept going.  When I crossed the finish line, I was light-headed and wanting to puke and would have if I hadn't have put my head down and taken some deep breaths.  Final run time was 28:42, an average pace of 9:04.  DANGIT!  With that hard effort I really thought it might be better.  And again, that sub 9 pace evaded me.

Final race time was 1:26:05.  When I saw that I was thrilled!  This is a PR for the distance by 2 minutes! (I don't count the Icebreaker sprint tri for this, because it is all shorter distances than this one and the others I've done all season).  I was pretty stoked with that.  Every race this year my overall time has gotten a little better each race.  Today my biggest time drop was on the bike, which I am thrilled with :)

POST RACE THOUGHTS:

1)  I am glad that I made myself do this race.  It was pretty fun to not care about the end result and try something out of the box to see what happened.  Turned out to work okay!

2)  This was a blind race in more ways than one.  As I mentioned before, I didn't know the course at all, so I couldn't get all wrapped up in analyzing it or worrying about it.  Second, this race does not put the ages of the participants or what distance they are doing on the calf muscle.  So guess what?  You have no idea who is passing you.  Are they in my age group?  Who knows!  Are they doing sprint or Olympic?  You'll never know.  It really made me focus on my own effort and race, which is a good thing :)

3)  This race is put on by TriUtah.  I haven't raced with them in almost 4 years since I did the Ogden Valley sprint tri.  I had heard nothing but good things about this race and it was all true. I loved the course, it was well organized, and the post race stuff was awesome.  Freshly made pizzas out of the back of a food truck,  Full cans of Coke ice cold waiting for you in coolers.  A shirt I will actually wear and fit well.  The medal was pretty cool.  Very well done event, I will definitely be doing more of their events in the future.

4)  Part of my issue with not wanting to do this race today is I just feel like I have been racing too much!  It was all fine and dandy when I was trying to qualify, but since I did that a few weeks ago, I really didn't want to do this one.  I never thought there was such thing as racing too much, but I think I hit that threshold.  I haven't had a build phase in training in weeks either due to races or me being out of town.  I miss that, oddly enough.  And wouldn't you know it, I am out of town again this coming week, then I thoroughly hope Ben kicks my trash for the weeks leading up to Nationals.

5) As much as I have been racing, I am still stoked for Nationals.  That will probably wrap up my tri season and I will find some running events to do in the fall to focus on my weak link.  I can't wait for that! Even though it is my weak link, it is still my most enjoyable of the three disciplines in training, so I am looking forward to that focus.

What's next? 5 weeks until Age Group Nationals in Omaha!  Happy racing and training!



Monday, July 4, 2016

Dinotri Sprint Tri Race Report

I finished this race last week and then left on vacation just a couple of day later with a million things to do in between and writing this report was not on the top of that list.  So, a week late, here it is.

I have been excited about this race because I have never done it before.  Now that I am into my 5th season of doing triathlons, I have done most of the local ones numerous times.  That isn't a bad thing, but I loved the idea of doing one I hadn't before.  Granted, this involved a 4 hour drive to Vernal, in Eastern Utah, but I am always game for a road trip.  Given the fact that our children have now reached the ages of being in a million different activities, Joshua had something on Saturday and Ken had to stay to get him to it, so I was solo for this race.  However, I was meeting Kim there, and other members of SLTC would also be there.

Once I got to Vernal I checked into my hotel and then went to meet Kim at packet pick up.  We then drove up to T1, some 20 minutes from town to do bike check in.  Two things hit me at this point, knowing this was the bike course we were driving.  First...this is surprisingly pretty.  I had several preconceived notions of Vernal, and this was not one of them.  The swim area looked like a mini Lake Powell.  This takes place at the Red Fleet State Park, and it is very pretty.  Second....holy hills! There is a huge steep hill coming out of T1 that isn't very long, but it was very intimidating looking.  But at the same time, what goes up must come down and I could also tell this was going to be a very fast bike course as well.

I asked one of the volunteers how many people were in my age group since this was a Regional Qualifier for Nationals.  He looked it up and told me 12.  Being a Regional Qualifier, the top 2 for every age group for the sprint distance would go to Nationals.  I knew that if I was smart about my race, followed Ben's advice, and also pending no getting off course (hence the Daybreak mess) I might have a decent shot!

Now to the actual race!

SWIM:

They allowed a swim warm up so I got in the water and swam easy with some sprints in there.  I felt really, really good.  I also was in love with this lake!  So pretty, water was clear, and temperature was perfect.  The course would be really easy to sight. I was super excited!

The swim is a deep water start off of a boat dock.  They only had four waves - Olympic Men, Olympic Women, Sprint Men and Sprint Women.  This put me in the last wave.  As we waited for other people to go, a guy from the sprint group said he heard it was good luck to do a cannonball into the water before your swim wave started.  Well, I needed all the luck I could get, so I did my cannonball.  Pretty fun because you rise to the top pretty quick in a wetsuit :)

I then treaded water until it was time to go, then I just went when I heard the horn.  I felt fast, but I didn't feel like I was working very hard.  I was passing many people and caught up to the sprint men and Olympic women waves.  It never was a very crazy swim except around the buoys where everyone was turning, but it went well and it went fast.  I loved every part of this swim..it felt fast and at the same time I knew I wasn't maxed out.  Before I knew it, I rounded the last buoy and was headed into the boat ramp to exit the swim.  Final swim time was 13:23 for the 800 meter swim.  This is a swim PR for this distance for me!  It was also the fastest swim for any of the sprint women :)

T1:

This transition involved a .2 mile run up a hill up the boat ramp and into transition. I thought that because of that I would have a slow T1 time, and also because I felt like I had a hard time getting my dang bike shoes on.  Final T1 was 2:23,

BIKE:

The initial hill out of transition wasn't as bad as I thought.  It was just a matter of grinding your way to the top, and it wasn't that long either.  It does suck that it is literally right out of transition though, so there is no warming up, or chance to get momentum before you are climbing it.  It was followed by a short down hill, then up another one before you hit the main road coming out of State Park.  I felt really, really good on these hills. I passed a few guys on these climbs and one of them wasn't too happy about it.  He said, "As if my swim wasn't bad enough, now I am getting passed by girls."  What. A. Tool.

I was happy to be to the top of the second hill, because I knew at that point it was basically downhill into town.  The down hill was sweet!  I looked down at my watch and I was easily with hardly effort ding 26-27 mph.  Very cool!  I tried to keep spinning my legs even though it would have been very easy to just coast. these easy miles.  Even when we headed into town, there were a few more rollers, but we had good momentum that they were no big deal.  I felt good the whole time, I tried to stay tucked into aero and push as hard as I could but still being aware of the fact that I would have to run shortly.

Final bike time for the 13 miles was 43:22.  Fastest bike split in my age group.

T2:

This was cake.  In and out in 52 seconds:)

RUN:

I was the first female to hit T2.  It was pretty sweet knowing that I had a lead on ALL of the other women, but I knew I would have to bust my butt to keep it, and the run isn't exactly my strength.  I left T2 and headed out onto the run course, which, if you ask me, is the only lame part of this race.  You literally run a half mile from T2 down to a round about.  Then you run another half mile down one side, turn around a cone, then run back to the round about, repeated 3 times (to where the run course looked like a T) until you head back home.  It was mind numbing and boring.  I was so glad that I was doing the sprint and not the oly, where you would have to run that twice.  Ugh!  Surely they can come up with something better for the future, especially after such a great swim and bike course.

Anyhow, I really felt like I was pushing, so much so that I felt I could puke.  It wasn't until the top of the "t" of the run that I saw another female.  At that point I had about a mile left of the run.  I had a good lead, but I knew I may not be able to keep it, she was FAST!  And here goes the story of my life..getting passed on the run.  This would be the case for the next mile as I dropped from first overall to 4th overall, or 1st in my age group.  The first two women that passed I couldn't have caught.  They were cruising.  However, the 3rd girl that passed only beat me overall by about 18 seconds, so I can't help but think maybe I could have tried harder?  I honestly felt I had nothing left to give though, and she deserved it!  Final run time was 28:26, or a 9:03/mile pace.  Dangit!  So close but not quite the sub 9 I had hoped for.

POST RACE:

I was elated to know that I was first in my division.  The three women who passed me all congratulated me and me them for a great race.  We all talked about how we qualified for Nationals and whether or not we would be going.  (Of course I am!).  We talked about our training, coaching, etc.  It was great to be there with great women/athletes.  I found several other people from my club and we enjoyed the post race food and waited for awards.  I was thrilled to see that my overall time was 1:28:25!


This was a great race.  I was thrilled to have all the pieces finally come together and get my first 1st place for my Division.  However, I still don't think this was my best race.  My swim was awesome, I wouldn't change anything there.  My bike was good, but I still think I could push harder.  My HR shows I was in Zone 3 for most of the ride, so I probably could have pushed more. How much more is to be determined, because I still don't want to sacrifice my run.  I still really want a run with a sub 9 pace!  However, it got the job done and I am thrilled to be going to Omaha in August!  Now to just wait for the email with my registration link!

What's next?  I do have Echo Sprint tri in a week.  I honestly couldn't care less about it now that I have qualified.  If nothing else it can be a good training day, but we'll see.  

Happy Training and Racing all!