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.


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!


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.


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. 


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.


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.  


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 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!


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!


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!


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 :)


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.


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 :)


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!


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 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 :)


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,


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.


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


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.


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!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Daybreak Sprint Tri - Win some, lose some

Ugh.  Where do I begin?  I am still pretty peeved at how this race went.  However, one of the ways I process things is to just write things down, and this is my blog after all, so if it comes across as bitter, negative, pissy, what have you, you can take it or leave it for what it is.  Not every race is a PR, a podium finish, or sunshine and roses.  Today was definitely not any of the above!

I started the week very excited about this race.  I sorta forgot it was even race week, or at least couldn't really focus on the fact that it was initially since it was the last week of school and in all the craziness that is wrapping up a school year and graduation, it was in the back of my mind, but not my main focus this week.

I had planned to pick up my packet on Saturday morning before the race as I usually do seeing as how most races I do seem to be 45-60 minutes away.  I then went back and reread the race week email and it said that same day packet pick up was NOT an option.  Well crap!  I readjusted my Friday schedule and made the 84 mile round trip trek to get my packet.  I got there and they handed me my shirt, my bib number, and a bag with a bottle of water and a bunch of ads.  I asked about my timing chip and swim cap.  The lady replied that I would have to wait in line to get them the next morning.  Why exactly did I drive all the way down here again?  I was a little peeved, but it is what it is.  

I then went home and did race prep.  I always love this. I  pump up music, and listen to it as I pack my stuff, prep my bike, etc.  I don't consider it a chore at all, I thoroughly enjoy the process.  I started to get into race mode and get seriously excited.  I didn't sleep much the night before, and I didn't even care, I was just excited!

This morning Ken and I got up a 4:30 to get down there by 6:00 when transition opened.  I imagined there would be tons of people waiting in line for their chips and caps, and I had also heard that there hadn't been adequate racking space in year's past, so I wanted to get a good spot.  When we got there, neither situation was as bad as I imagined and it all actually went quite smoothly. I then enjoyed visiting with my SLTC friends and Kim, who came in from Wendover.  I love this part!  Nate Last, a sports psychologist associated with the club, gave an awesome pre-race speech to our team.  It was perfect for getting into the zone!


Ben had told me to do the swim in a way that I "had another gear available, but don't use it".  I think this was wise and probably because I started out WAY too fast at Salem, so I planned to do just that.  With this being a time trial start, I knew it would help me accomplish this without the craziness of a group start.  I got into the water and lined up along the dock til they asked my number, and told me to go. I started out smooth and easy, sighting the bridge. I fell into a good rhythm and tried to maintain it.  I passed a ton of people on this swim, but didn't feel like I was maxed out.  I wasn't using that extra gear as Ben said.  I had no problem staying on course, and the swim went very fast for me.  I came to the end and actually saw several people cut the course at the end by not going to the final buoy!  What the hell?  I really, really hope it wasn't intentional, but apparently those people were disqualified, so no worries there.  

I made a point to hit the lap button on my Garmin the second I left the water. I wanted my real swim time, not the official swim time that includes a run across the beach, across the grass, messing with the wetsuit, and into transition.  My Garmin swim time was 13:51.3 for 863 yards, or a pace of 1:36/100.  I am actually stoked with this. I can't ever remember being that fast in an OWS.  My official swim time according to when I crossed over the mats was 14:22.  Fastest swim split in my division!


Pretty uneventful.  I racked my bike, and was a little annoyed that apparently someone came in late, rammed their bike and crap, complete with 5 gallon bucket next to my stuff, shoving some of mine to the side.  Who does that?  Oh well, anyhow, I threw my cap and goggles down, ripped off the wetsuit, untangled my bike from the "let's bring the bucket" person's stuff, and made my way out of T1 and then made the run all the way down a cobblestone path to the bike mount area.  Final T1 time was 1:27.


I started off on the bike prepared for the first half being up hill then you turn around a cone and it's literally all down hill back to transition.  However, the mile or two to get to the main road where that uphill starts is a down hill.  It is a fast bike start.  I was cruising through the first couple of intersections, feeling pretty good about things, and I noticed none of the intersections were labeled. I couldn't remember exactly which street we were supposed to turn on, but I figured there would be a volunteer, a sign, the road painted, a police officer, SOMETHING to let us know where to turn.  Well, I supposed wrong.  I got all the way down to a very busy street and realized I was lost.  I had no idea where I had gotten off course, but there I was.  I turned around and started going back up the hill I had just flown down and I found an officer directing traffic.  I asked him where I was supposed to turn and he said, "Ah man!  You're way off!" Gee, thanks.  He pointed me 3 intersections further up to where to turn.  Are you friggin kidding me?  How had I missed it?  I was 50 shades of pissed.  I had a "screw it all, I'm just going back to transition and turning in my chip and giving the director a piece of my mind" moment.  As I pedaled to where I missed the turn, I came to  my senses and immediately thought what I have prided myself on.  I am not a quitter, plain and simple. I've certainly done things way harder than this. I told myself a long time ago I would never quit a race unless an official or medical personnel told me my day was over.  I am not going to give up this easily.  I thought of how much I admired Meredith Kessler a year or so ago in Kona when she was having a crappy race, yet still finished, when most other pros would have quit, and many of them did.  She was a good 2-3 hours passed her projected finish time, yet she still finished.  I sent her an email after that and she said something that has always stuck with me.  She said in her reply email, "you must honor the finish".  If she can do that in Kona, I can do that at a local sprint tri.

Now, just because I decided to keep going doesn't mean I was happy about it.  I was pretty pissy as I pedaled up the hills the first half.  I kept cursing myself, the race director, my bike, you name it.  Then I started to pass a few people, and it helped some.  I just wanted to be done. I wanted off the bike, I wasn't having fun in the least.  I started feeling glad I wasn't doing the Olympic distance to drag this crapfest out even more.  I was pretty negative.  I finally got to the turn around and my mood seemed to lift as well.  The second half of this bike course is super fast.  You can almost stop pedaling and just steer the bike.  I tried to push as much as I could on the second half, I wanted to make up for lost time and try to salvage what might be left of my race.  I flew on that second half, with a max speed of 32 at one point.  I got to T2 with a final bike time of 57:40, with 2.78 more miles than the 13 for the course.


I was a woman on a mission!  I wanted to get in and out as fast as I could and try to have a good run.  I was in and out in 56 seconds!  Heck yeah!


You know your biking is bad when you look forward to the run.  At least that is the case with me as the two disciplines have switched places for which one is my weakest of the three.  But, all jokes aside, the run has been my favorite lately.  Not sure why, but in my training, I look forward to it the most, at least it's right up there with open water swims for being my happy place.  Anyhow, I was so grateful to be off the damn bike and on the run.  I felt like I was taking some control back in the race. I headed out and immediately noticed how good my legs felt right off the bat, especially compared to  my last two races where I felt like my legs were not my own.  Granted, they were not totally fresh, but they felt remarkably better than the past two races.  I tried to ease into this run, and be patient as Ben had said, but also try to not get too comfortable either. Eye on the prize, Katie!  I noticed as I made my way around the lake for the 3.1 mile run, there were several parts where the course wasn't labeled and runners were going all different directions.  Granted, none of the paths were drastically different, but I could see how if you took one of the other, you might be shortening the course.  I shook my head as it seemed to be theme for the day of poorly marked courses.  I followed the majority of the other runners and figured if I was on the wrong path, at least I was with the majority.

The run got hot, and I wished I had a small water bottle with me.  I usually don't carry any nutrition other than water on the bike for a sprint, but it was hot enough, it would have been nice to have a small bottle on my belt.  There was one aid station half way that I did grab a water for my head to cool off and a Gatorade.  I thoroughly enjoyed other people cheering me on simply because I had my SLTC kit on, whether they knew my name or not.  I got to the second half and Ken was there to take pictures and yell for me.  This was the first race of this season he has been able to be at, so it was nice to see him and hear him out there.  Before I knew it, I ran under the bridge and the finish line was just a quarter mile away. I tried to push that last part and crossed the finish line with a final run time of 28:03, with a pace of 9:03/mile.  I wanted sub 9:00, was hoping for around 8:45, but at least it was close.

Final time for the race was 1:42:30.


  • I came home and analyzed the results (Type A, much?).  I took 5th in my age group out of 17, even with the additional miles on the bike.  Yes, getting off course cost me a podium, and very likely a qualification for Nationals, which is my primary goal this year.  
  • I had the fastest swim split for my age group, and possibly my best swim in a race ever, not just looking at the time, but also considering other factors, such as staying dead on course, not starting too fast, execution, etc.
  • I had the third fastest run for my division.  Shut the front door!! Me?  The run and I have a long history of a love/hate relationship, but apparently we are on the upswing :)
  • There are many good races along the Wasatch Front and if Daybreak would like to see me back (not likely) they need to step up their game.  Races are not cheap, and others (Racetri especially, but also TriUtah) do a superb job without being cheap or cutting corners to deliver a superior product that caters better to local athletes.  I have emailed the race director my concerns, and in his defense, he offered what seemed to be genuine interest in the feedback and in improving. 
  • You can't appreciate the good without experiencing the bad.  The longer you race, it is inevitable you will have a bad race. This was not my race for sure, but I have appreciated Ben's texts this afternoon helping me to focus on the positive and gain some perspective.  As he says, I have made progress, I need to focus on what I can control, and let this fuel the fire.  Wise words from my awesome coach!
  • The best part of my day was racing with amazing friends.  I love the people in the Salt Lake Tri Club and the support they offer on and off the course.  I also LOVED seeing Kim!  She is my sister from another mister, and any chance I have to see her is a good day.  

What's next?  I have the Dinotri out in Vernal in 3 weeks.  Though I am not entirely sure what training looks like for the next three weeks, I am guessing 2 solid weeks of regular training, and a taper-ish week before the race.  The two weeks of solid training sounds heavenly at this point, because with the past 3 weekends either being races or out of town, I haven't really had what seemed like a solid "regular" training week, and I just want to get back at it, and now with school being out, that makes it all the more appealing!

So, Happy Training and Racing!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Salem Spring Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Any day on the block is a good day :)

My second tri of the year was Saturday.  This is my second time back at Salem Spring, I did it last year just two weeks after IMTX.  I knew that I had done it last year on a body that was still recovering from Ironman, so I went into it tired, mentally exhausted and expecting nothing from it at the time.  I somehow managed to land on the podium in that state.  Fast forward to this year!

I had talked with Ben just two nights before the race, and he really encouraged me to push this as hard as I could.  I know I am in so much better shape and have made progress across all three disciplines and this was attempt #2 to qualify for Nationals.

I wrote down last year's times and stared at them all week on my fridge knowing I could probably beat everyone of them, except maybe those transition times, those were pretty dang good!


Just like last year, we had a million things going on this day, and Ken wasn't able to come with me.  He took Janae and Joshua came down with me.  I thoroughly enjoy having Joshua along.  He is a kick in the pants, a total blast to hang with.  Plus, he has become quite the efficient race sherpa!  He carries stuff, remembers things I might otherwise forget, and takes pictures!  Bonus!  We got up super early and made the hour and half drive down since I wanted to be there right when transition opened, and I still hadn't picked up my packet either.  Thank heaven for preferred racking for SLTC members, I was able to get a good spot to rack Belle and set everything up.  


This is a small race so there were only four swim waves.  Pro/Elite, Men 0-40, Men 41-100, and Women.  Women were the last wave to go.  It was pretty chilly and overcast out so I was in my wetsuit early for warmth, and I couldn't wait to get in the water since I knew it was probably warmer than air temp.  When the gun went off for our wave to go, I immediately started off way too fast and felt it.  My heart rate was crazy high, I was having hard time breathing, and people were  hitting, kicking, and all over each other. I just tried to reign it in some, but I almost panicked it was so crazy.  For a split second I actually considered rolling onto my back for a minute to chill.  What the hell?  That is SO not like me!  I was relieved to hit the first buoy and it seemed to immediately thin out and I was up with all the men from the previous waves.  It seemed like it calmed down and suddenly I was just fine.  I felt like I was going fast, but not panicked and I was where I wanted to be.  I got into my rhythm of counting strokes and sighting and stayed right in the buoy line.  This was good since I got off course last year.  This swim went extremely fast, and it seemed like I was at the swim exit very quickly.  I immediately started peeling off my wetsuit and a volunteer offered to strip it.  I was excited for this, but it was like she was scared of the wetsuit itself as she barely tugged it.  I told her JUST YANK IT and she did and it was off.  However, I lost time here for sure trying to get the dumb thing off.  FINAL SWIM TIME :15:00.  Beat last year's time by one second.  However, this wasn't just the swim, this was the wetsuit struggle, the run across the grass and the parking lot to the timing mat that starts the T1 time. I would be really curious as to the actual swim time, but guess who forgot to start her Garmin?


I really wanted fast transition times, so tossed my swim crap down, and went to get in my bike shoes, helmet, and sun glasses.  In and out.  One of these days I will be cool enough to try the whole flying mount thing, but not yet.  FINAL T1 time was 1:11, a twelve second improvement from last year!


Man, did I want a good bike time.  Ben had told me to push it as hard as I thought I could, and this would be an experiment to see how hard I could push it without it affecting my run.  Challenge accepted!  This course starts out fast as you round the bottom of the pond, take one quick turn, then it goes up THE HILL.  Anyone that has done this course knows which hill I am talking about.  It is not very long but it is very steep.  If you don't know it's coming and don't gear accordingly, it catches you off guard and many people end up walking it.  Today was no exception.  Both loops of the course I saw people walking it.  Not me though!  Belle seemed to struggle with the gearing, and she kept slipping and clicking.  I just prayed we would make it to the top.  We did, but that hill takes a lot out of you!  It took me a bit to get my breath back and get my HR manageable again.  Luckily it is followed by a slight downhill and I could setting into aero and regroup for a bit.  I started to think I was taking it too easy and immediately got my head back in the game and started to push harder. The weather started to get worse during the bike, it became cloudier and it started to lightly drizzle.  There was a few times I wished my sunglasses had windshield wipers. Then there is a few gradual hills and false flats until the turn around back to the pond where it is a downhill and you can fly.  It was awesome!  I so wish I could have seen my speed at these different times, but noooooooo! Stupid, stupid, stupid for not starting the Garmin.  I passed many people on the bike, mainly men, but a few women as well.  It was cool!  I felt very strong 98% of the bike, with the exception of right after the hill. Final bike time was 41:59, a 36 second improvement from last year.  I'll take it, though I had hoped for more of one.


I ran in, racked my bike, and tossed my shoes, slipped into my running shoes (I don't use socks for short course) and grabbed my race belt and visor to put on on my way out of transition.  In and out once again and I tied for last year's time with a :57 T2 time.  Sweet! I love it when I am under a minute!


The first part of this run sucked,  I honestly felt like I had giraffe legs and wondered when my legs would show up.  I just kept pushing knowing I didn't want to lose any time and they would show up eventually.  The first mile was really a struggle. I just couldn't find a rhythm and it was frustrating. I felt like I was going so slow, but I have learned that when I feel this way, I am usually going faster than I think, so JUST KEEP PUSHING.  There are two hills on this run and they suck, plain and simple.  However, going up the first hill, I realized I hadn't been passed by anyone in my division.  That thought really encouraged me as I realized I could very well be in the lead for my division for the time being.  But wouldn't you know it...I got to the bottom of the second hill and some gal comes and blows me and the hill out of the water.  And, she was in my division. (How many races has this been the case?  That I get passed in the last portion of the run? So many I've lost count) Well, there goes first place.  I really tried to catch her, but I just didn't have it in me.  I was still pushing hard enough I had to suppress my gag reflex, but she was crazy fast.  I was glad to hit the down hill, and just push hard to the finish.  Final run time was 28:50, an average pace of 9:19, and with the hilly course, I am pretty happy with that.  It is also an improvement of almost 2 minutes from the previous year :)


I quickly realized I was in second place.  I was thrilled with this!  Unfortunately, with only 10 people in my division, this wasn't good enough for a qualification.  I would have had to be in first for that, and I missed first place by 42 seconds.  Ugggghhhhhh!  Final time for this race was 1:27:58.  I'll take it, though it was frustrating to be so close! However, I am thrilled to have beat or tied every single time from last year, so that shows definite improvement.

I stayed for the awards and then Joshua and I quickly left since we were freezing.  I seriously think Utah races are cursed this year.  Every race I've done or been part of the weather has sucked.  Hopefully this trend changes quick! I have also come to the conclusion that I do better in heat.  Or at least I prefer it to the cold.  

I only have two weeks until Daybreak. I am excited to return to that race, it was my first open water triathlon 4 years ago and I loved it at the time. It is also a flat run course, which will be a good thing, and though there is an uphill on the bike, you immediately go right back down it.  If the weather holds out, it could be a very good race for me :)

In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing!

Monday, May 16, 2016

One year post IMTX...and I'm just getting started!

A year ago this very moment I was probably a few miles into the marathon at IMTX.  I was hot, tired, sweaty, and oh so glad to be off the blasted bike!  Though the marathon was hard, in many ways it was my favorite part of the day.  I loved the run course for its crowd support and the people I met during that Death March, and I loved digging deeper than I ever had before to meet a goal I had been working so hard on for a very long time.

Fast forward 365 day until today.  I cannot believe I did that!  I also can't believe its been a year!CRAZY!  I would be lying if I said I didn't have some major race envy this past weekend as IMTX 2016 unfolded in what will no doubt go down as one of the most epic (and maybe cursed) races ever.  I often wondered before IMTX what I would do next.  I always have gone for the next big thing, and after IM, what is after that?

The first few months after IMTX I was admittedly burned out, but not for the obvious reasons.  I was pretty frustrated with my performance in all three disciplines and very much felt stuck.  I felt a "what's next?" feeling in that not only had I now accomplished this major goal, but I also didn't know how to improve on what were my very slow paces.  If you look at my TP and my training June-November, it is pretty pathetic, almost non-existent.  I guess I figured why bother at something I didn't know how to fix? I didn't want to give up triathlon or running, but I really wasn't sure what would happen next or what my next step was.  A few really good things came along to help me out of this slump.

One, it was my first year as head swim coach at LHS.  That gave me a really good diversion from triathlon and a way to be involved in the sport but in a completely different way. I fell in love with the kids I was working with, had a steep learning curve to get over, and something that took a great deal of time.  It really was a god-send.

The second thing is I found a coach, Ben Cagle. I had always been self coached, and it did work okay for the first few years in the sport.  However, this couldn't have been more perfect timing.  I decided that going back to square one and focusing on short distances would be a good place to start, sort of building from the ground up.  Ben has been awesome at this.  He completely changed how I looked at training (no more by miles, but by time, now with intervals, goals for each session, etc).  He also took away what I now realize was what many call "paralysis by analysis".  So much of my getting stuck on  a training plan would come from always second guessing what I was doing, adjusting things, or missing things, or not knowing how to make it up, or how to adjust it to my schedule, etc.  Now I don't do any of that, that's what Ben is for!  I can't reiterate or stress enough how nice it is not to the planning and analyzing.  I just do whatever he tells me to do in TP.  Plain and simple.  It has also given me great accountability, and knowing someone else is looking at my training and also that it has been planned around a schedule I've dictated, sort of kills any excuses you might have :)  I have made gains across all 3 sports, and feel I have a refocused goal and hope that maybe I don't suck as bad as I was thinking! So if you are in a rut, get a coach! I  can't recommend that enough!  (Just make sure its the right one, there are plenty of yahoos out there.  Thank heavens Ben isn't one of them.  He's pretty badass)

I know so many people give up triathlon after an Ironman, because they are burned out and loose focus.  I really feel that was just the beginning for me.  I realized exactly how much I don't know about this sport after doing IMTX and there is so much more I want to do!  I need Ken (the husband) and Ben (my coach) to reign me in at times and be a voice of reason when I get ahead of myself, which is fairly regularly.  I also have great role models in the sport that are years ahead of me that show me that the best is yet to come!

Yes, there are definitely more Ironmans in my future, but I am very happy with where I am at this point.  Short course has been such a good focus for me this year.  I love the training, I love being able to push myself in a new way, and it is nice to have races that rarely take over 2 hours :)  I have several races just in the next 6-8 weeks and with sprints you can race that often!  It's awesome and so much fun! Plus, I need to be racing this often for I need as many chances as I can get myself to get to Nationals in August!

I hope to be in this sport a long time.  There is still so much I want to do.  I want to keep getting stronger and better.  Almost all of my PR's are over 2 years old. I want to make new ones.  I also have a Bucket List of races that will take me years to get through, so I've got a lot of work to do! I wanna be the 80 year old grandma still doing races, riding her bike, and adding to her race bling collection.  So, IMTX was just a spring board for me to all that I still want to accomplish.  Here's to another great year!  Onward and upward!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lessons Learned from Kayak Support Volunteer - IMStG 70.3

With my focus being on short course this year, there is no Half Irons happening for me this year.  However, there was 150 fellow tri club members racing this weekend, and I knew it was going to be one giant party, and I didn't want to miss out.  I wanted to be involved somehow, so I figured it would be fun to volunteer and have always wanted to do kayak support for a race, so here was my chance! I went to the Ironman website, and signed up.  I was stoked!

I drove down on Friday, hit Ironman Village (this is where a miracle occurred.  I left the Merchandise Tent spending less than $100!), then headed out to Sand Hollow where most athletes were doing bike check in.  The wind was really blowing and there were white caps on the water.  Sand Hollow Reservoir has a history of bad weather conditions, in particular wind, and this was no exception.  It was cold as well, so I knew that if things didn't calm down, it would make for a very rough swim in the morning.  However, I don't love "rough conditions" for the bike or run, but in the water, I kind of relish the challenge and was somewhat jealous I wouldn't be racing in it :)

I headed over to the briefing from Ironman Officials and Washington County SAR officials for all swim support volunteers.  They went into detail about conditions to watch for with swimmers, what protocol was if we needed to have a swimmer assessed or pulled from the water, and what our assignments were going to be for the morning.  The Ironman official said that if conditions didn't improve by morning they would cancel the swim, only letting the pros swim since it was a championship event for them.  My friend Eric from SLTC was also volunteering and we stuck around for the barbecue dinner that was provided.  During dinner the wind and weather calmed down and the water was like glass.  Eric, who competed in the infamous 2012 Ironman there, said the conditions were almost identical to that year, where it was like the calm before the storm.  Then he was nice enough to offer to let me crash on his couch for the night since I had planned on camping out or sleeping in my Jeep. This proved much better than those options would have been.  Thank you Oscarsons!

The next morning I was awoken to the music LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE at 3:30am. All I could do was smile because Eric's wife, Mandy, was racing and it was race morning for her and this was her pump it up music.  We got up, ate, changed, and headed over to Sand Hollow where our boats were waiting for us.  I had set up my boat the night before with the essentials on it and added my own bag of snacks, water bottles, etc.  I had a head lamp and was glad that I did as we were on the water before the sun was up.  We actually had to paddle in almost a mile to get to where we would be staged for the race.  I got out on the beach to get one more bathroom break and ran up to use the porta potties and ran into none other than Meredith Kessler!  I was so excited to see her, I had missed the pro panel on Thursday and didn't think I would get a chance to see her at all.  Of course, being gracious as always, she let this major fan girl get a picture :)

Getting back out on the water was fun. It was gorgeous, though cool out.  It was nice to see the sunrise on the water.  I swear, when I retire, mark my words, it will be by the water and look something like this:

Then a guy on a boat came up and pointed at me and my friend Eric and appointed us to be the lead kayak (the one the pros sight off of) for the male and female pros respectively.  I was STOKED!  How much cooler was this morning going to get?  Eric has done this several times before and said that the goal was to stay one to one a half buoys ahead of the pros and you had to haul a$$ as they are fast and you have to stay out ahead of them. I could do that!

The gun went off and I did just as I was told. I couldn't believe how cool it was to watch the pros this close.  The swim is always my favorite part of any race, but also the hardest to spectate and hear it was I had a front row seat.  I had the slower male pros right in front of me and the lead pack of pro women right behind me.  It was very, very cool.  They operate on an entirely different level.  Now, with that being said, I was surprised to see how many of the slower male pros (I couldn't tell who they were due to the wetsuits and the swim caps) that really seemed to be struggling with the swim.  Hey, we all have off days, right?  Meredith Kessler was the lead swimmer and KILLING it!

By the time the pros finished, I worked my way back to the start where they had already started the age group waves.  My friend Mike had told me he was in the light blue cap wave and I was there right as it started.  I stayed close to his wave and him most of the time due to the fact Mike struggles in open water with rough conditions.  Apparently, he is not the only one!

I was then amazed by how many people do not prepare for the swim portion of triathlon.  By this time, it had clouded up again, cooled down, and the wind and rain started.  The water was choppy and far from ideal conditions.  I had dozens of people grab my kayak over the next few hours grab and hold on to my kayak.  This is completely fine and allowed as long as the kayak makes no forward motion.  I heard time and time again from numerous swimmers the following statements that left me completely dumbfounded:

  • This is my first time in a wetsuit (or this wetsuit)
  • This is my first open water swim
  • I am so much faster in a pool, I don't know what my problem is today
  • I haven't swam in open water in years.
Are you friggin kidding me?  Why on earth would you do this to yourself?  As the conditions only worsened through out the morning, this lead to some scary incidents on the water watching people that were struggling and adding to it rough conditions.  They then said, "I just try to survive the swim to get to the bike and/or run".  Um, survive is the key word here!

So here's my rant.  First off, I firmly believe that this sport has a spot for everyone.  However, with that being said, if one is not prepared to swim in open water, one should not do so.  That is why there are sprint triathlons and many with pool swims.  A Half Iron distance tri held in a lake with a history of bad swim conditions is NOT the place to start.  I had many people tell me "Well, everyone has to start somewhere."  Yes, they do, but this is not the place.  Or I also heard, "They are chasing a dream."  True, but again, most dreams have to built upon.  This should not be the first step to your dream.  Dreams take time and work.  THIS was not the place to start.

To further clarify, I am not talking about slow swimmers.  I have no problem with them. I have an issue with those that can barely swim.  There were many slow swimmers who were still getting the job done needing no assistance from us volunteers.  I am talking about the ones that in a pool would put the lifeguards on edge (you know, like myself when I attempt butterfly) and put us volunteers on edge for 1.2 miles.

So, moral of the story (aka, my rant) is be prepared.  Start somewhere, hire a coach, go to Masters swimming, take lessons, practice in open water prior to race day with a wetsuit, and be safe out there! This all seems like no brainer information, but if you saw what I saw on Saturday, you would see that apparently it is not.

I had a great day volunteering/spectating.  After helping the final swimmer out of the water, I went to get out of my boat and could barely stand I was shivering so badly.  I was immediately escorted into the med tent to be treated since (according to them anyway) I was hypothermic.  They wrapped me in tin foil blankets and forced chicken broth down me.  I won't lie, that stuff was amazing at that point. It took awhile to stop shivering, but I eventually warmed up enough they let me leave.  I was anxious to go and change into dry clothes and head over to the run course to cheer on my tri club mates.

I later found out after the race that there was a 27% DNF rate for the day.  No doubt, it was tough out there.  I give mad props to all those that raced under such tough conditions.  I personally had 5 friends not finish on Saturday.  The conditions on the bike were terrible, making it to where people were so cold they couldn't shift or brake.  With so many hills on this course, that would be unreal!

I firmly believe every triathlete should volunteer for a race.  If you choose to do kayak support, even better!  It is a great opportunity.  Here are some suggestions I wish I woud have known prior:

  1. Dress in layers.  It might be cooler in the morning than later in the day, so be prepared to add or take away layers as the conditions arise.
  2. Wear clothing that can get wet, because you will get wet.
  3. Wear gloves of some kind, exercise gloves like those for weight lifting or cycling would be great.  I got a blister on the inside of my thumb from paddling.
  4. Take snacks and enough fluids for a long morning on the water. I  was out there for 4.5 hours.  
  5. Having a head lamp was invaluable for the morning.  We started paddling at 5:15am, before the sun was up.  It was great to have the lamp.  Have a whistle ready as well, though Ironman provided them for us.

So what's next?  Ironically, I am volunteering at another triathlon this weekend (a sprint) that is held right in my neck of the woods.  Then I have Salem Spring Sprint tri (attempt #2 to qualify for Nationals) in two weeks.  Happy training, racing, and volunteering all!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another year older and wiser (?) too....

I turned 37 yesterday.  I don't know why, but this is a hard pill to swallow.  I have never really had a problem with birthdays, but the older I get, and the higher the number gets, its getting kind of weird!  I loved birthdays as a kid. I mean, who doesn't?  Then when I was in my 20's, I liked them and liked the number getting higher because I seemed to think it gave me more credibility.  I felt like people don't really take you seriously in your 20's, so hitting 30 was cool too.  Then when I hit 35, it seemed weird.  I was now "mid 30's".  For some reason 36 didn't bother me, but 37 is just seems, well, OLD!

As I have been coming to grips with the fact that I am another year older, I have thought about a lot of things both triathlon and life related (after all, this is a triathlon/racing blog).  In my last race, and in others lately, I have found that the older I get, the more competitive women get.  There are some seriously fast women out there! Some crazy talent!  While this could be discouraging, I am inspired when I am passed in a race by someone that has a 40 something, or 50 something age on their calf muscle.  It gives me hope that as I get older I can get better too!  I love that these women (and men) are not letting age define them and are continuing to go out there and kick butt and be the best they can be, and be pretty good at it too!

I have a friend who is in her 60's.  In fact, she turned 64 yesterday.  She is still actively training and racing Ironman races! Sweet!!  I have another friend who started off as a back of the pack runner, and now is a Kona qualifier at 47.  There is hope yet!  If I keep going like they are, I have another 20-30 years in the sport I have grown to love!

Triathlon seems to be the only sport that the older people get, the better they get.  Most pro-triathletes are in their 30s.  Compare that age to the average age of other professional athletes, and I would guess it is older.  I love how no matter how old or competitive people get, this is a very welcoming and supportive community.  That never ceases to amaze me as I go to races or tri club functions.  What a great thing to be involved in!

So, as I started yesterday as I have started every birthday of mine for the past 8 years...with a run.  Ben had a speed work run on tap for me, and I couldn't wait to tackle it.  I got up at 4:15, dredged outside with my headlamp and reflective vest, and enjoyed starting my day hitting intervals that had me running at a 7:30-7:45 pace.  If you had shown me that pace, or those workouts even a year ago, I would have laughed at you.  I wasn't quite sure how it would go, but I really wanted to try it.  And you know what?  I hit every single one of them.  :)

Here's to another year of training, racing, and improving.