Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rockcliff Olympic Triathlon 2013

This was my first Olympic distance race of the season, and one that I went in to with mixed feelings, so here ya go!

I was excited to do this race in the beginning because I love Racetri and they have done fun events in the past.  They did Icebreaker back in March, and I was excited to race with them again.  They also do sweet finisher's medals, so you know me, that is enough to get me to a race :)

We got several emails in the week and a half up to the race from Racetri that started making me nervous.  One thing was the decided to change the course from what they originally thought and they would have two transition areas.  Um, okay.  I know that this isn't terribly unusual for races, but it would be a first for me.  Second, they repeated what I guess was in the race info and I missed it, you would have to park 4 miles away from the race start and bike in.  Shuttles would be available for spectators, but no bikes were allowed on the shuttles in the morning, so you would have to bike in.  Not thrilled about that, but what do you do, right?  Thirdly, we got an email saying that the finisher's medals were not done and would have to mailed to us afterward.  Really guys?  This is starting to look bad!

I told all of this to Ken as it unfolded, and with each new piece of news, he decided not to go. I know he would have gone if I had insisted, but really, it was okay if he missed.  He goes to everything else, and this was turning into a nightmare from a spectator standpoint, so I told him not to sweat it and I had bigger races in later in the summer he can come too.  I was okay with going by myself, but then I thought it would be nice to have someone along, so I called my sister Lisa and she was game.  Ken agreed to watch the kids so that we could go.

We left the house at 5:00 am in order to get down to Jordanelle Reservoir where this is held and be able to set up BOTH transition areas and be ready to start.  We really got there in the nick of time, as it would play out.  I set up my first transition area and the whole time I kept second guessing myself, do I have everything I need?  What am I forgetting?  It was really frustrating as I usually have no issues setting up transition and feeling like I am ready, but with this whole two transition thing and having never done it before, I was unnerved and it didn't help my pre-race jitters at ALL.

We had the race director on top of all of this yelling over his loud speaker that the pre-race meeting was going to be starting in 20 minutes....15 minutes....10 minutes...etc.  So to feel rushed when I already wasn't sure of what I was doing wasn't fun.

We had the pre-race meeting and then it was off to the beach for the swim start.  That is when I realized that due to the water level being really low we literally had a quarter mile run from the water to T1.  Nice.  Nothing they could have helped, but I was prepared for the most craptastic T1 time ever! Little did I know how right that was!


I made sure to get ahead of the other women on the swim at the beach start.  I liked the layout of the swim, it was a long narrow rectangular lay out that I would do two loops around since I was doing the Olympic distance.  I made sure to spot the buoys and make mental notes of where I needed do be.  Then we were off!  It was that simple!  The water was cold, but not terrible considering I was in a full wetsuit.  I quickly found a rhythm and was able to keep it. It seemed like the first buoy to turn around came quickly!  I then made it to the other one just a few yards away and then turned back to head into shore.  This was harder because I had to spot into the sun in order to get back to shore.  I got off course a few times, but nothing as bad as at Big Bear Lake.  I then quickly realized that I was swimming by myself.  I didn't really have any one else around me.  I started to panic and wonder if I was off course.  But, I found that I was in the right spot and just kept going.  I couldn't get to the turn around soon enough as I hated spotting into the sun.  The next loop was much easier and seemed to go fast.  Even coming back into shore and having to spot into the sun a second time seemed easier.  Before I knew it, I was out of the water, trudging through the mud up the sandbar towards T1.  This is where a pair of throw away sandals would have been nice.  The rocky beach up to T1 was rough on bare feet!  Anyhow, I made it and was first out of the water for my age group with a swim time of 29:00.  This was a few minutes faster than Bear Lake Brawl!

This transition was so freaking slow I could have pulled up a chair and knitted a sweater in the time it took.  Granted, everyone had slow transition times due to the long run from the water's edge to the transition area, but mine was REALLY slow.  Total time for T1 was 4:22.  It took awhile to get to transition, get my stupid wetsuit off, get the mud off my feet, and make sure all of the stuff was packed so they could transport it to the finish line, and then get myself ready for the bike.


With every race I love my bike more and more.  This was no exception.  I left T1 grateful to be on the bike, and I was off.  I had heard that the first half of the 25 mile course was a false flat, meaning gradual climb, then there was one really good climb supposedly.  I felt this most of the first half.  I just felt like I was spinning my wheels and not getting a ton of traction.  I felt like I was putting more effort in than I was seeing for speed.  But, I enjoyed it, it was a gorgeous course.   I happily made it to the half way point and then enjoyed some nice speed along the way.  There was a decent climb in the second half, but it wasn't bad and it was short.  We were paid for our efforts with a sweet down hill that was in the last couple of miles of the bike portion.

This whole time I was paying really close attention to my nutrition.  I know that this is only an Olympic distance, but I was using it as a trial/error for my 70.3 coming up.  I made sure to faithfully every 15 minutes have some of my Perpetuem and some water to wash it down and I munched on Powerbar Energy chews from my bento box in between that.  I felt great though there were a few times I felt like I had plenty so I laid off.  I was happy that this was all working and my stomach was handling it.  I made especially sure to take in a lot of water as temps were to reach 95 today!

I finished my bike feeling strong and had a good bike split of 1:24:50, which averages out to 18 miles an hour.  Very happy with that time considering this course!


Craptastic could very well be the word of the day for describing my transitions in this race.  This one was nothing but embarrassing.  In what should have been a very easy in and out, turned into me running around like an idiot trying to find my stuff.  I wasted so much time because I couldn't find my stuff!  I am sure a few choice words came from my mouth, but I finally found it.  I racked my bike, threw on my running shoes and was off on what I will refer to as the Death March.  Total T2 time was 2:39

Run  Death March:

Now to do 6.2 miles, or two loops of a 3.1 mile course.  This course was hard, it was hot, and it was mentally very hard for me.  Although I felt fine in many ways, it was still challenging.  You start out and run around the board walks of the nature center there and it seems kind of like a maze in that you can't really fell where you are going, just following arrows.  I was okay with this for the most part, because at least it was shaded.  Then we ran out onto the main road of the state park.  This was NOT shaded and it was very hot.  To make it worse, I kept seeing people that had finished the race and were leaving.  I know that they were people that had done the sprint distance, but it still was  somewhat demoralizing.  I kept feeling like I was this loser that was still out there racing and everyone else was going home.  I knew in reality it wasn't like that, but it felt like it.  Then, after you go down that stretch of road, you go out onto the hot highway and up a nasty hill.  Once you get to the top of that hill, you come down a very steep and gravely trail that was difficult.  You then wind back through the boardwalks then start Lap 2.  Oh boy, I get to repeat that fun!  It was very hot, I was tired, and still feeling like I was the only one left.  I did see others behind me, but still, it was  hard.

For nutrition on this run, I did a first for me in a tri and carried my own water.  I had the race belt that I bought at the Salt Lake City Half marathon and it holds two 8 ounce bottles and has a big pocket for gels or whatever.  I had a gel at about mile 2.5.  I was very glad to have my own water and used every bit of it and then some more at aid stations because it was so hot.  That was a smart last minute decision on my part.

Final run time came in at 1:06:31 or a 10:20 pace.  Not thrilled with this, but considering the heat and the difficulty of the course, I will take it.  If I had to do this run over again, I would have packed my trail runners instead of my road running shoes the terrain was that difficult in many spots.

Finishing the race felt good as I was ready to be done.  The finish line though was disappointing.  They were doing the awards for the sprint and the Olympic groups by the time I finished, so there was no loud music, no cheering, no announcer at the finish line at this point.  They didn't even have any one handing out finisher's medals since they didn't have them yet.  It was the lamest finish line I have ever crossed, and pretty disappointing seeing as how they should at least have some one there to tell you Great Job!  If it hadn't been for my sister being there, no one would have noticed I was done :(  My final time for this race was 3:07:19. which is 5 minutes faster than the Brawl, so it was a new PR for me at this distance.  I took 5th in my condensed age group of 0-34, and 4th in my official age group of female 30-34.

Race Organization:

I'll be honest, I don't know what I think here.  There are so many things I didn't like about this race and how it was organized, but I know that many things were out of their control.  One, the logistics of having to park 4 miles away sucks.  Not so much prior to the race, but after ward when you are tired and dirty and just want to leave, it really sucks.

Second, I didn't love the long run to T1 from the swim, but then again, they can't control the water levels.  I loved the swim other than that feature.

Third, the finish line sucked.  Sorry Racetri, but it did.  I was grateful for the full size chocolate milk given to me at the finish, but the lack of supporters, cheering, or anything special that I am sure the sprinters and earlier finishers had, sucked.  This they could have controlled, whereas the first two items were the best that they could do given the location.

I am hoping that this was just an isolated case as they are the organizers for the Utah Half, my first 70.3 in eight weeks. I have heard nothing but good things about that race, so I will give them the benefit of a doubt and look forward to the bar being raised from today.  Will I do this race again?  Probably not.  There are just too many other options out there, and this is not one of my favorites.


1)  My nutrition plan was a success!  The Perpetuem, water, energy chews, etc, and the timing of them was perfect.  I did everything right in this aspect of the race today.  I plan on practicing this more in the coming weeks of training, but it went really well in a race situation, and it was a huge confidence builder for me to get this nailed down.

2)  Though this was a hard race, I did it and did well.  I finished and wasn't even completely trashed like I was after the Brawl.  It gave me some increased confidence that with 8 weeks of solid training between now and the Half, I can probably actually pull of a Half Ironman!

What's Next?

Focusing on nailing all of my work outs for the next 8 weeks, and I have one race between now and then, Spudman Olympic Tri on July 27th.

Until then, Happy Training/Racing all!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bike nutrition success!

As I am heading into this new territory for me of half Ironman training, the advice I hear over and over again is that I need to dial in and nail down a solid nutrition plan.  I have never done anything over an Olympic distance tri, and you can wing that on water and a few Gus.  However, I have noticed that on longer bike rides, Gu just doesn't but it.  I always feel like I drain faster on the bike than I do the run, and I have to eat more substantual things on the bike.  However, who really wants to pack all of that stuff when you are on a bike?  It is one thing if you are on an organized ride like Little Red was, where you stop at feed zones and are taken care of.  I really was intrigued by the idea of having all of your calories in a liquid form, but I didn't know of a drink that would cut it for me.  I kept reading about Hammer's Perpetuem.  It supposedly has everything you would need in it for a long ride/race with only supplementing with water.  I liked the idea and thought it was worth a try so I bought a canister of the Strawberry Vanilla and tried it on my longer ride today.

Granted, today's ride was only 40 miles, but still 2.5 hours with the climbing.  However, this route with the climbing and wind can be very draining.  I usually come back exhausted.  I took the Perpetuem in one bottle, mixed a  multi hour bottle as it said to, and had another bottle with me on the bike of plain water to chase it with.  Every 15-20 minutes I had a couple mouthfuls of the Perpetuem and then a swallow or two of the water.  I didn't get thirsty, hungry, or drained one time!  I felt great the whole time, and as the day has gone on, I seem to have more energy than I usually do after a ride like that!  I am going to keep using it on my long rides as the summer progresses, but so far so good!

Now I have to nail down run nutrition.  Lately on my long runs, I feel great until I have a Gu.  It doesn't matter what kind, or if they have caffeine or not, I start getting cramps and GI issues.  This is really baffling to me as I have been using Gu for the past three years as a runner and have never had any issues with tolerating it.  I like the idea of using Perpetuem on the run as well, but don't know how to carry if for multi-hour long training runs.  I am going to try the solids, which are chewable caps and see how that goes.  I'll keep you posted as I do my experimenting in this new area.  It is kind of fun, and scary at the same time.  I hate that when something has worked for so long, and it suddenly does not.  I actually like Gu, but apparently the feelings aren't mutual as judging from my last two long runs :)

In the mean time, Happy training!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Worst. Run. Ever.

Today I set out on what was supposed to be an 18 mile training run.  I hadn't run all week as we have been on vacation, so I figured with the rest I have had, this should be a good run!  I know that my 16 miler a couple of weeks ago was brutal, but I just felt good about this run.  I had all my stuff ready the night before, my fuel belt loaded, my watch and Ipod charged, and my clothes laid out.  I set my alarm to wake me up promptly at 5:30 so I could get out and get this beast of a run over with before it got to hot.

I woke up just a couple of minutes before my alarm went off, so I went ahead, got up and went into the bathroom to quietly change into my run clothes with out waking anyone up.  I got dressed, used the potty, then went out to the kitchen to grab my belt and go.  I stepped outside and noticed it was even a little cool out there!  Bonus!  It took my watch FOREVER to pick up a GPS signal (no surprise here, I hate that POS).

Once I got the GPS signal, I was off.  The music was pumping, the air was on the cool side and I was feeling good!  I made my way out of my neighborhood onto the trails and I was noticing that my pace was all over the place.  I didn't think too much about it as the first mile is basically the warm up and find your groove mile, so I just continued on.  I was excited to be heading north on the trail, I don't get to this section of it very often, and it is so nice!  I noticed that my pace quickly seemed to stabilize and I was having a great run.  No pain, feeling well, having one of those "all is right with the world" moments.  I continued on until I hit Mile 4 and then took in  a Gu and some water, as I have always done every 4 miles.  About Mile 6 I started to get side cramps.  What the heck?  I was plenty hydrated, I had a small breakfast, and had done everything as I normally do before a long run, so I couldn't understand it.  I took in some water just in case.  The cramps got bad in that I tensed up and my breathing was off.  I made a point to try to relax, and focus on good deep breaths and keep moving forward, even if the pace sucked.  Luckily my pace wasn't too out of control, but you could definitely see how the cramps had slowed me down.

I got to about mile 9 and it was a little better but not tons.  I had taken another Gu in at Mile 8, and I don't think it helped or hurt anything.  At about Mile 10 I had to stop.  There was a bench in the shade, so I paused my watch and sat down.  I put my head between my knees, took some deep breaths and felt better. The stomach cramping is SO not typical for me, and I was frustrated trying to figure out what I had or hadn't done that was causing this.  I was feeling better, so I got up, took another short swig of my water and headed out.  I got to the north end of Jensen Pond when the WEIRDEST thing happened.  Some crow from out of nowhere literally came up behind me and attacked me.  It hit me in the back of my head, then grabbed some of my hair with his claws.  I had my music going and was focused on getting to the restroom as the cramps had gotten more urgent, if you know what I mean, and this came out of NOWHERE.  I seriously freaked out.  I screamed starting batting and just RAN to get out of there.  I got to the bathroom in enough time and I noticed immediately that one of the bottles in my fuel belt was gone.  SERIOUSLY?  What else could go wrong?!?

I finished up in the restroom and decided to trace my steps back to find my bottle.  I saw it not more than 50 yards from the bathroom at the scene of the crime where the dumb bird got me.  As I went to pick it up, the bird came back for another stab at me!  He did the same thing, and I was just ticked at this point!  Really?  I grabbed the bottle and got the heck out of there.  I obviously  was not welcome!  I seriously considered ending my run at this point.  I was not mentally in the game any more, but I was feeling somewhat better, and decided I needed to just suck it up and continue on my way.  I headed back down the trail to round the south side of the lake and just when I though things were getting better...think again.

There are tons of ducks and geese around this lake.  They tend to mind their own business and don't bother people.  I have run around them dozens of times with no incident.  I have never been a fan of geese though, it stems back to hanging out at my Grandmother's as a child and they were always in her yard and they were mean, nasty, and dirty.  Well, nothing has changed.  As I turned on this part of the trail, a white goose came at me!  He was hissing and spitting and squawking like nothing I have seen before!  At this point, I just ran faster and was even more ticked and not believing my luck, all in a span of 20 minutes!

I got to the point of the trail where it ends on a farm road that I take home.  I immediately knew I wasn't going to make is as the cramps had returned and I knew that there were no more bathrooms between this point and home.  I looked at my watch.  12.6 miles done.  I decided to call it good and call Ken.  He came and got me and laughed at my luck.  His guess was that all these psycho birds are probably protecting nests and I was apparently up in their business!

I felt bad about cutting this run short.  I have always hated 18 mile runs, I don't know what it is, but they are always hard.  There is something mental about that 18 mile mark in marathon training, as I have done 20 milers that have been way easier than 18.  I kept thinking maybe I should make up the miles later in the day, but honestly, this training program that I am doing has enough 16,18, and 20 milers, that one run cut short in the scheme of things isn't going to make a difference.  I am just going to chalk it up to a bad day and call it good! But I think I will be avoiding that lake in the near future and remember this as one of the most bizarre thing ever to happen on a run!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Big Bear Lake Sprint Triathlon 2013

My first out of state race has come and gone it was one I was so excited about!  But, like always, there is good and bad to every race, so it is best to start at the beginning.

We arrived in Big Bear on Thursday night.  I was so excited to get there and see what it all looked like as I have never been here before.  I started wondering which parts of the area were in the race and we even drove the bike course and I have to admit, I was scared!  It was a pretty technical course with a lot of up and down hills and many curves, many of which were sharp ones.  There was also little or no shoulder, so most of these factors had me scared, but more on the bike stuff later.

Pre-race feeling great!
I went and picked up my packet on Friday night at Nottingham's, a restaurant located in the Village at Big Bear.  It was a breeze, just in and out and no waiting or any hang ups.  I grabbed my t-shirt, my timing chip, and race numbers and was on my way.  Nothing more to it than that.  I went back to the condo and Ken made me a spaghetti carb loading dinner, that was awesome!  Then it was early to bed since I wanted to be the transition early to get a good racking spot and get my stuff set up.
We arrived at the race location at 6:15.  I was able to get a good spot like I wanted.  I quickly set up my transition area and visited with people around my area.  Most were from Orange County, and were worried about the elevation as they were coming from sea level and Big Bear sits at 6750 ft.  I then realized that training and living in SLC might actually serve to my advantage here!  I was in a great mood and just excited to race, though I did have some pre-race jitters both the morning of and the day before.  Not too typical for me, but nothing major, thank heavens.


The swim was 800 yards or a half mile.  I haven't been in open water at all this year, so I was a little worried about that.  I know it is like riding a bike but it does take some getting used to.  I made sure I could see exactly from shore where I was going to turn around.  I made sure to seed myself up in the front of my age group.  I hate being caught up behind other swimmers, so I knew I could probably do fine up front.  When the gun went off, it was a beach start, so I just charged into the water.  I immediately noticed the plethora of lake weed.  I have been fortunate enough in all my open water swims to swim in pretty clear water that way. It was disgusting!  It wasn't like the slimy sea weed you might think of, but more like piney weed.  It was like  pine trees in the bottom of the lake.  They warned that there was a lot of it and they had the clearing boat (whatever you call that thing that sweeps lake weed out) come through, but it wasn't near enough in my opinion.  I was grateful that I was in a full wetsuit that  kept me from feeling it all over my body, or I would have gone crazy.  It was bad enough I was spitting the crap out of my mouth when I was breathing.  I was able to stay pretty much on course, though there was a few times I got disoriented and lost track of what I was sighting, so I would have to pause and look around to get back on track.  Again, this is where getting into the water sooner than race day would have paid off.  The whole swim I was just thinking GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE.  Maybe that is what made for my best swim time in a tri to date.  Total swim time was 17:14 for the half mile.

Geez this felt slow, and it was apparently.  I was messing with my new wetsuit and struggled to get it off.  Once it was off, I was able to get my bike stuff on quickly and get the heck out of there.  But, like I said, T1 was very slow with a final time of 2:56


 Like I said, I was glad to get on my bike after that swim.  I was nervous about the bike course, but also, I have done some great bike training lately with the prep for my Century Ride, so I was excited to see how this transferred over into a race.  I was able to get on my bike quickly and we headed out of the marina area and headed out onto Big Bear Blvd in order to make our 17 mile loop around the lake.  I took off and felt immediately like I was flying.  The road was smooth, and there wasn't many people around me (this was a fairly small race) and I was able to drop into aero and stay there the majority of this ride.  Like I mentioned before, I was nervous about this course for the lack of shoulder, the technicality of the course, and the rolling hills and winding road the whole time.  What I didn't anticipate was how much fun this course was!  It wasn't a course that you could just coast in, it required constant shifting, getting into and out of aero, but it was so fun!  There was one good climb right before the dam, but other than that, the hills were such that the momentum coming off one hill was enough to throw you up the next one.  It was so much fun.

I also noticed on this course that for the first time in any race ever, it was just me and the guys on the course!  I knew that I had a great swim and I was doing well on the bike, but the only women I saw on the course were women that were doing the Olympic distance and when the sprint bike course broke off from the Oly course, I only saw two other females, one of which I passed and one other that passed me.  It was a huge ego boost to realize I was up with the boys and passing many of them!

I felt great the whole time, but did take a few moments on the bike to drink my water so I would be set up well for the run.  I loved the whole thing.  I took the time to look around me and see how gorgeous this course was and felt like I was in Heaven.  Best. Bike. Course.. Ever.  Apparently, my time agreed with me because I had a bike split of 58:40 averaging 18 mph.  Sweet!


Thank heaven T2 went faster than T1!  I had a great transition with a time of 1:08.  It was pretty uneventful, but that is what you want, ditch the bike stuff, switch shoes and go!


I felt amazing coming off the bike.  I felt awesome heading into this run and noticed that like the bike course, it was again just me and the guys!  I only saw one other female the entire run course of 3.4 miles and she passed me on the last  half mile (more on that later).  Anyhow, this course ran through a quiet neighborhood there on the side of the lake.  There were many of the residents that were out and cheering and kids with hoses and cowbells cheering us on.  It was awesome.  I noticed that my legs didn't feel like lead like they tend to do coming off the bike, and I was grateful for that.  There were several hills in this run course, but also a good fair of down hill as well.  I was able to pass  other men, and one of which yelled at me "Go get it girl!"  That is always awesome to hear from other people on the course.  The run flew by and before I knew it I was in the final mile of the run.  I was feeling pretty good about my chances of placing in my age group, as I knew that there weren't a ton of women ahead of me.  Then. on the downhill in the final half mile of the run another girl my age (I checked her age on her calf muscle) few past me.  Dangit!  I hated that feeling.  As much as I tried to catch her, it wasn't going to happen.  This chick was FLYING!  Oh well, maybe I could still place?  All I knew was that I had to finish strong and if I puked at the end, so be it :)

I crossed the finish line feeling great, with a smile on my face, knowing I had a great race.  Final run time was 31:02 for an average pace of 8:58/m.  I'll take it!


Upon completing the race, I was handed a finisher's metal, a can of juice and a Cliff bar (full size too!) and there was a tent with the unofficial times.  I went over and was able to see my final time for the entire race was 1:51:02.  I found out that I had gotten 2nd in my age group and 6th Overall Female!  Are you kidding me?  I was so happy with that!  I have never done that well and was thrilled!  I would have taken my age group all together if that other girl hadn't passed me in the final half mile!   But, good for her, she deserved it.  I was disappointed to hear though, that they were not doing age group awards for this race.  I must be honest, I was really disappointed by that, as for the first time ever placing in my age group, and they weren't doing any awards for it.  This was a first year event, and I understand that they have budget considerations, etc, but I was disappointed.  

But, I knew I had a great race.  There is nothing I could have done better, I honestly gave 110% and it went very well.  I am happy to see my training paying off, and I am excited to see what other races this season bring!

Overall, I think that this race was really well done, especially for it being put on by the local tri club and a first year event.  The best thing they have going for them is location, as it is gorgeous up there and a good course.  I was disappointed that it took a week to get the final results with split times included (hence why this report took so long for me to do) and I was disappointed in the lack of AG awards.  But, they had great volunteers, a good course, and the best race photos ever.  I was very impressed by the photographer.  I would do it again if I was closer to it, but I doubt I will go back for a sprint tri.

Short course is the bomb.  I know I haven't done much else, but as I look at going longer, I really think that I could really get into training specifically for short distances with a higher intensity, etc.  Anyhow, it was a lot of fun.  

Rock Cliff Olympic Tri is in two weeks.  

In the meantime, Happy training/racing all!

Post race feeling good!  All smiles!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jumping to 70.3

I've completely lost my mind.  I have decided to make the jump to a half Iron distance triathlon, which is 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running.  The exact break down is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, then a half marathon of 13.1 miles of running.

I always knew that this was in my "plan", however it was much further down the road, like in a few years, kind of thing.  I actually was starting to think about it more and more for next year, starting with IM St. George or Boise, the 70.3 distance.  I was torn between which one of those though, being they are only a month apart, but there are varying factors or pros and cons for each.  St. George is close(r) to home, I love the area, but it is also a very difficult course.  Some have called it the most difficult course in North America.    Maybe not a great choice for a first stab at that distance?

Then there is Boise.  I have heard it is a great course, pretty, flat, and a good one for first timers.  However, they also have the huge factor of weather.  Last year they had an ice storm and the course was shortened to just over 29 miles.  I would be ticked if I had trained and spent months anticipating a 70.3, and then only get to do the shortened version!

With school getting out on Friday (for those of you readers that don't know, I am a teacher), I started looking over my training plan for the summer.  My main goal races are LOTOJA (a 206 mile bike relay) and the St. George Marathon on October 6.  I have a heavy training plan with tons of biking and running.  I already consider myself a good swimmer, but I will still have 3 swims a week.  Anyhow, as I looked at the break down of the training, it dawned on me that this is very much what the half Ironman training programs look like that I have looked at in the past.  Tons of biking above and beyond the race distance, lots of intense running in marathon prep, and a good amount of swimming as well.  Hmmmmmm....if I am already training like I'm doing one, maybe I should do one, right?

I thought I would do an Ironman brand race for my first. However, I have heard tons of great things from people in my triathlon circles about the Utah Half on August 24.  It is down in Provo, and I have heard from tons of people it is a great one.  They only offer that distance at this race, no sprints or oly folks.  They cap it at 500 racers, and it is very well done.  Racetri is the company that organizes it, and I loved the Icebreaker tri I raced with them in March.  They also do the Rock Cliff one I am doing on June 29.  I figured it would be a great starting point for me.  Great course, close to home, a good reputation, and the date fits well into my training/racing schedule that I already have laid out for the season.  I also ran it by Ken, and as always, he is supportive.  Of course he thinks I am nuts, but he is supportive as always :)

I have always prided myself on having a plan, and I have tentatively planned out my race goals for the next 4 seasons.  This was not in that plan for another year or two at least.  But, I also like to change things up, and as my race schedule/times page on this blog says, things are always tentative.  I am so excited about this!  It is going to mean tough, but doable training, and with my summer off, I can totally hack this.  This race is actually the weekend before we go back to school, so perfect timing!

Now I have to nail other things down, I have struggled and am experimenting with different nutrition issues on the bike and will need to definitely nail those down.  Believe me, I am open to any and all suggestions!  I am going to experiment on my long LOTOJA training rides each week.

What's next?  I'm super excited that we leave to go on vacation to Big Bear this week, and I am doing the Big Bear Sprint Triathlon next Saturday!  My first out of state race!

Happy Training/racing!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood Century Ride

Today was Little Red!  This is an all women's ride that has distances ranging from 18-100 miles.  My friend, Leanne and I opted for the century.  She is the one I rode Wildflower Pedalfest with last year, and after doing that 78 miles with the BRUTAL Big Mountain climb (we are both still suffering from PTSD after that), we figured we could handle a fairly flat century ride, so we signed up for this one together!

Going into this, I knew we could do it, I just wasn't sure how bad it was going to hurt given that I have had some tough training rides with her that capped at 50 miles, and I was toast!  I knew that we could finish, I just wasn't sure what condition we would be in at the end.

We started the weekend by meeting in Layton and driving up together.  I love Leanne!  She is so fun to hang with and the two hour ride up to Cache Valley was fun, as it always is with her.  We went right to the expo, did some shopping, and then headed back into town for dinner and to check into the hotel.  We settled into bed around 11, but had to get up at 5:45 in order to make it to the 7:30 start.  We wanted to be in the first group that headed out, since we weren't sure how long this was going to take us and we wanted to beat the heat as well.

START TIME!  We started right with the first group at 7:30 am.  It was chilly out, and Leanne had brought some throw away layers, and lent me one of them.  It was great to have a layer on the first part of the ride because it was cold.  I had wished I had full fingered cycling gloves because my fingertips were FROZEN!  I knew they would eventually thaw out, but it wasn't fun at the time.  By the time we hit the first feed zone at Mile 14, I was good to shed the throw away layer.  I was immediately impressed with the feed zones.  They had everything you could want!  Such a variety of foods - fruits, granola bars, candy, chips, pretzels, peanut butter sandwiches, crackers, Gatorade, first aid supplies, etc.  And the volunteers were amazing!

The whole ride was beyond scenic.  I love Cache Valley.  Ken and I met and fell in love up there, and then lived there for a few years before finishing school and heading south.  I will always have a fond place in my heart for Cache Valley, but even someone with out those memories and ties to the area would enjoy how scenic and perfect this ride was.  Due to this being a fairly early season event, the weather was perfect (we hit 70 for the day) and it was sunny, very little wind, and hardly a cloud in the sky.  The mountains, valleys, and trees were all just a gorgeous green.  The entire course  is all on county roads and state highways that get very little or no traffic, and it was awesome!  They were well maintained roads too, which is always a bonus.  

Leanne and I hit almost every aid station.  We stopped for the below pic at Mile 40.  That was a great feed zone with volunteers to dump crushed ice into your water bottles.  We were feeling good at this stop!  Leanne was having some hip issues, and my shoulder was giving me crap, but nothing more than any other ride of 40+ miles.  We knew at this station we were only 14 miles from lunch!

40 miles down, 60 to go!

The next 14 miles were pretty uneventful.  We had some people ride along with us, draft off of us for a bit, and we would visit then part ways.  Lunch was fantastic when we finally hit Mile 53ish.  They had all kinds of Subway sandwiches, chips, peanut butter and jelly, candy, cookies, and DIET COKE!  I can't tell you how good the chips and the Diet Coke in particular tasted at this point!  I was amazed again at the selection, the service and the volunteers!  This was so well done!  Even with so many riders at each stop, we hardly ever had to wait in a line for anything, and it was just so well done!
We then had another 20+ miles till the next stop.  These miles were more scenic parts of the western half of Cache Valley.  We went through Newton, and past Newton Lake that I had never seen before.  Oh man, those lake waters were so inviting!  I was craving an open water swim!  So glad that part of the season is almost here!  We had a gradual climb after Newton lake but it really wasn't bad at all, then we were rewarded with a FANTASTIC down hill.  I am usually all about a good down hill, but on the other hand, sometimes, things just get a little too steep, and this was a little intimidating.  I didn't dare to it in full aero, but I was in the drops where I could duck low, but still have control of the brakes if I needed them.  It was so fun!
Mile 80, and still smiling!
The course then took us over the Utah/Idaho border, but the scenery stayed much the same.  Rolling hills, farm lands, and people out on their driveways to cheer us on with waves and cowbells.  We stopped at Mile 80ish for our final aid station.  I was again amazed at how good I felt.  Though my shoulder was achy and my butt was clearly feeling the miles in the saddle, it wasn't as bad as I expected!  Energy wise I felt fantastic and my legs were doing great! I loaded up the water bottles, grabbed some Gu Chomps, and we were off to finish the final 20 miles!
This is where things got interesting.  Even though we were both feeling good, it didn't mean that we were up for making this ride any more challenging.  We left that final aid station and had some gently rolling hills that we weren't excited about, but felt that we could deal with.  Then we rounded one corner and could see what lay ahead for us at about Mile 89.  This HUGE hill was there and the road sort of wrapped around this beast.  It was pretty steep too.  Yikes!  I mean, really?  Who does this at Mile 89-90 of a 100 mile ride?  Well, apparently the organizers of LRRH.  I guess they figure if you are up for 100 miles, you are not a beginner and are up for whatever they want to throw at you, right?  HA!
The climb was a beast.  I put it into the smallest gears I could and just grinded my way up.  My quads were burning, but I kept thinking that this was a BONUS!  A Century ride with LOTOJA training mixed in!  Lucky me, right?  I kept my head on the road and decided not to look too far ahead because it was just depressing to see how much more there was to go, so just concentrate on what was immediately in front of me.  Before I knew it I was at the top, but it was NOT easy.  I just kept praying that was the final climb and that the worse was behind us.  Luckily, it was.  

We had gotten slightly off course due to the course markings, or lack there of at one point, and we weren't sure how much more we had to go.  Our watches read 91 miles after that climb, but even though we were back on course, we weren't sure if we had lengthened or shortened the full 100.  I told Leanne if we got to the finish and we weren't reading a full 100, we were going to keep riding until we hit that.  Luckily those final miles were easy, and we finished feeling great at the finish line with my watch reading as follows:

We had done it!  We conquered 100 miles on our bikes!  Our first Century ride complete and we were feeling great!  Both Leanne and I couldn't believe how good we felt, and we were so excited to have this as an item we can cross off our lists!  I would be lying if the thought didn't cross my mind that I could easily go 12 more, and then could I run after that?  (Ha, ha. Can you tell I totally want to do an Ironman someday?)

100 miles in the books!

- This ride was a great ride.  So well done and organized.  These people clearly have this down to a science.  I have no complaints whatsoever.
-  A century ride if you have good conditions, isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Granted, it isn't easy, but it didn't kill me either.  Way easier than a marathon.
-  I rode 90% of this ride in aero.  I was proud of myself for doing this, and it just feels like the natural position for me on the bike.  I handle left hand turns better than right hand turns, and I can handle a down hill in them if it isn't too steep.  And even though my shoulders still ache, it beats how much it used to really hurt in the traditional bars.
-  I am thinking this definitely needs to be a yearly event.  Very few events will I make a regular part of my season, but this may have just made the cut :)
-  I love my bike!  Happiness is simply defined as a good down hill, in aero, on smooth roads, with great company, and the feeling that you are flying.

My awesome chariot.  She worked hard today!
Until next time, Happy Training all!