Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Austin 70.3...Take 4!

Thank you Mario Cantu for the photos.

This weekend I raced the Austin 70.3. This was my first half-ironman starting in 2008. I started training for it a few months before. My twins were 18 months old, and I really don't think I totally understood what I was getting myself into. When I got off the bike, all I could think was, "How in the heck do people run a half marathon now??" I've returned each year, mainly it's as close to a "home" race as I'll ever get. I think of Austin as where I grew up in triathlon. When I was stationed at Fort Hood, which is about 45 minutes north, I spent a lot of weekends in Austin learning and training for this sport. I love the people, the energy, the hills, the heat, and on and on! Despite all this, I've never put together a good race in Austin. I've always just missed out of the money, and I've always had some late season issue going into the race. I vowed this year I wouldn't let this happen again!

We loaded and took off Thursday. Lucas had to bury his head in the books, so he was unable to come. I was a bit nervous driving by myself with the kids, but we made it okay with only a few meltdowns. We arrived at my brother's house and Rowan and Gwyn went crazy for their cousins. Times like these makes me really want to move back to Texas. I love Tulsa, but can you beat being with family? My Mom, who is an absolute Saint by the way, arrived that evening. She helped me with the kids and the next day entertained them while I did my short swim/bike/run. Later that day she loaded the kids up to go visit their other grandparents in San Antonio. (Again, thank you to my awesome mother and father in-law for helping me out!!) Leading into the race was relatively stress free. I had one incident at the pool with a head in collision. It left my head a little sore, but thank goodness I'm so hard headed to begin with :)

Okay, let's get to the race. Kevin and I had a specific game plan for this race. We knew I was running well. We also knew that this was a type of race that sneaks up on you. It gets hot and windy. Also, the run course is hard with some rollers that just come back to bite you in the butt. To top it off there isn't an ounce of shade on the run. They changed the course from last year and we would run 3 loops and exclude the off road portion from last year. I got my stuff ready and headed to the swim, hoping the sun would come up soon so we wouldn't be swimming in the dark. When the cannon went off I was really surprised how aggressive the swim was. I moved over to get some clear water and was back from a few girls. I noticed that I was on Caroline's feet. I also noticed we were losing contact with some girls ahead, so I went ahead and caught the next girl, which ended up being Morgan (who I swam with in Branson). I debated going around her and trying to catch the next group, or just chilling where I was. She decided that for me because I realized we picked up the pace while rounding the last buoy and I couldn't have gone around if I wanted to! I exited and was a little surprised there were so many girls out all ready. They must not have been too far ahead because I passed all but a few in transition. Once on the bike I concentrated on keeping my cool, staying focused, and taking my nutrition. Like I said, this race sneaks up on you. The bike was pretty lonely. I passed a few girls and a few pro men passed me. In the later stages a few collegiate guys (Go Army!) passed me in the last 5 miles. I will say that the roads were in bad shape. The drought caused cracks and holes. The organizers did an excellent job marking, but there was noticeably a lot more chip seal then years prior. By mile 45 I was ready to get off. I felt like my whole body was vibrating and I was just kind of getting bored. This is where I really lost my concentration and I undoubtedly gave up most of my time to the leader (Tenille having a great ride) up ahead. I finally got to T2 and I was stoked to get off the bike and get running. When I headed out I heard I was 5 minutes down. I didn't panic at all. Kevin and I fully anticipated I would be at this kind of deficit. I quickly calculated that if I ran 30 sec per mile faster, I should reach her by mile 10. Time to get to work. When I reached mile 2 I was told 4:20. Uh, Jessica that ain't going to cut it. Okay, keep calm and you have 3 miles of wiggle room. When I got to the first loop I was 3:30 down. Okay better, keep it moving. I suddenly felt better and the crowds were amazing! When I got past the far turn-around I got an update that I took back 1 minute in just that section. I got energized and just started to go harder. Through loop 2 and 1:20 down. I could see the lead cyclist ahead and put the hammer down to catch it. Finally I passed Tenille around mile 10, and I was concerned as she looked to be hurting. I offered some encouragement as we had quite some time on 3rd. When I got to the far turn around coming back I saw she was walking and having a hard time. I hoped she was okay as it was getting brutal out there. Once I reached mile 11 I knew I secured the lead and put the race in cruise control in order to "save" my legs a bit for Miami. Really, it was nice to enjoy the crowds who cheered me on all day to keep fighting. As I made the turn to go into the expo center, I saw Rowan sitting on my brother's shoulders going crazy. My brother yelled, "Are you winning??" Ha! High fives to them, ran inside and my father-in-law was holding Gwynnie near the finish. High fives and kisses to her. Finally I crossed the line and suddenly was worried I was going to pass out! I kept on two feet and my good friend Adam (announcing the race) interviewed me and I have no idea what I said. I was totally spent. I got to visit with some friends (even childhood that happen to be there!) and headed out to get cleaned up and get the kids out of the sun. A quick shout out to Kelly and Derik Williamson--each loop I would find them and they were just calm and cheering as if "go get it done already." I didn't even know they'd be there, what a treat! Also, to Richie and Melissa Cunningham. Richie, my Trakkers teammate, is coming back from an injury and passed me on the run and kept me calm. Melissa, thanks for the cheers and twitter updates!

This was a great day. It wasn't an incredible time, but it's one of those races that force you to believe in yourself. I am most proud that I raced my race and never panicked. We had a plan and we stuck to it. Huge thanks to my family, especially my parents, for always supporting me in this triathlon dream. To my incredible sponsors: Trakkers, Rev 3, First Endurance, TYR, Recovery Pump, Kestrel, Louis Garneau, Avia, 918 XC, and Team Red, White, and Blue!! Thanks for sticking with me. This season has been full of downs, and now finally ups!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back in Branson

Last I wrote I was bummed about my race in Vegas. I was scheduled to go do Augusta, which would be two weeks later. In the few days after Vegas, my legs felt pretty decent (minus my quads from all the climbing) and I had a little talk with Coach Kevin about doing Branson instead. At first Kevin was pretty hesitant. I think he was just concerned about my state emotionally after Vegas. He says that can take more out of you then a good race, and I definitely agree with him. But once I took the emotion out of the race, I knew that I was ready to go in Vegas and truly believed I just made a few costly errors there. I knew I was fit and ready for a good race. Was I little scared? Heck yeah! You can't come away from such a disappointing race without doubting yourself. That's normal. But I refuse to let fear dictate what I'm going to do with my life. Branson is a 3 hr drive, my kids and husband could watch, and quite frankly I couldn't afford the trip to Augusta. So Kevin agreed but told me to be realistic. I can deal with realistic.

On Friday I dropped the kids off to school and did some last minute errands of the swim/bike/run variety. Lisa picked me up and we hit the rode by 11. We had a nice little girl's drive to Branson. Once there we checked in and then decided to go ahead and drive the course. I went to this race last year but had my first ever DNF with a broken chain. So it was nice to get familiar again. Also, they changed the last part of the course. Last year was a nice decent back into town. This year not so much! It included going around a school, a bike path, and then a nice little 14% climb. Thanks guys! ha! I'd also like to mention that it rained the entire time. This was going to be a tough day.

Saturday morning Lisa and I did a little bike/run. I was worried because my quads still felt a bit heavy and tight. Lisa reminded me I still have another whole day. What really gave me some confidence is teammate Hillary Biscay's message letting me know that I could do a dirty double. She is the queen of the dirty doubles! And she said the 2nd is usually the better race. Okay, keep telling myself this! After our little day before bike/run we met up with my good friend, Jasmine and her boyfriend Brandon. Jasmine is like a little sister to me. At the OTC when we first met she was 19 years old. We were best buds there and did all our training together. I am admittedly jealous that now she and and Amanda get to do all their training together :( In any event, it was just like old times. I have found that I have a hard time being serious at all when she is around. But I guess that's good for the nerves? We hit up the race meeting later that day and by the time I got back to the hotel Lucas and the kids arrived. They were psyched about the hotel. I apologize to the people below our room as they immediately started jumping between the two beds!

Race morning came and Lisa and I set up our transition 2, then took the shuttle to the swim start/transition 1. I left my bike overnight with my friend Amanda E., who was staying at the hotel there. After getting the bike all set (thanks Amanda again for letting us crash your room), Jasmine and I decided to just chill in the lobby instead of sitting in the rain outside. We put on our wetsuits half way, then took off around 615 (race started at 7). We were the last pros to arrive, but we just racked our bikes and headed to the swim start. During warm-up I knew my "swim" body felt a little sluggish. I hoped that I would have someone to swim with because Jasmine would crush all of us in the water. The cannon went off and sure enough Jaz was gone (by the way she beat all the men). Luckily Caroline was next to me and and I hopped on her feet. Around half way through another girl came by and we all swam in together. I had a quick transition and got on the road. Luckily the rain had subsided and stayed that way until about 5 minutes after I finished the race! My legs felt great, but I still played it pretty conservative because I knew this ride would take over 2:45. I caught Nina pretty early on and knew Jasmine would be well up the road. Once one the main road (they closed off a 4 lane highway, how cool is that!) I could see Jasmine ahead but just stayed focused on my efforts as this ride is literally up or down. On one of the ascents I looked over and poor Jaz was changing a flat. I asked if she needed anything and she said she got it. For the next two loops I just tried to stay focused. I knew I was riding away from the other women, but one thing Vegas taught me was anything can happen! Once we got off the 4 lane highway, we were back on a 2 lane highway and things started to get a bit sketchy. A sprint tri was going on in conjunction with the race. Usually I would have been hammering this section, but this section was open to traffic. Several cars were stuck behind some of the sprinters. So I'm riding my brakes because I can't go around the cars, and the cars won't go around the cyclist. It was a tad frustrating and I definitely lost some time here. Finally what felt like an eternity it cleared out and I was back at it and was finally back at T2.

The run was a 3 loop course that took us through the Branson landing which has a bunch of shops. It was great for spectators and they definitely helped keep the morale high. Around mile 2 Matt Leito caught me while he was on his second loop. He told me to stay with him because it took him a long time to catch me. I did just that and it made the miles just click by. I knew I was putting more time on the girls, but didn't want to take any chances. Also, Matt was pretty entertaining so I had to keep up! Matt, I apologize--I usually have a little more wit when I'm not so tired. The best part was seeing my kids multiple times each loop. They would yell things like, "Sprint!!" and "Move it Mommy!" I also got to see lots of Tulsans out on the course, which was awesome. The best is seeing your training partners: Amanda E won the whole amateur race, Susie was 2nd in her age group, and Lisa was hanging tough after an especially long, hard season.

I got to the finish line and was greeted with flowers and huge bottle of wine. I gave Lucas and the kids a quick kiss and the first thing Rowan says to me is, "Is it time to eat now Mommy?" Ahhh yes, kids will keep you grounded!

It began to downpour so we got the kids out of there and warmed up back at the hotel. We hit up awards. Congrats to all the ladies, it was a lot of fun, hard work! We got home by 730 and the kids were out by 745. I think I made it to 8.

I really learned a lot from Vegas. You can ready my full nutrition report on firstendurance.com. I changed just a few things but it made all the difference!

Again, thanks to all my sponsors who make this possible. Trakkers, Rev 3, Recovery Pump, First Endurance, TYR, Kestrel, Avia, Louis Garneu, 918 XC, Team Red White and Blue. Thanks Kevin for encouraging me and keeping the faith! You always say the right things. And most of all to my family! Your support means more then you'll ever know!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

70.3 World Champs 2011, Las Vegas

Let me start by saying this was an absolutely awesome course! I like it so much better then Clearwater. Just driving the course the day before I knew this had the elements I thrive in: hilly, windy, & "hot"! I was excited for race day and was so ready to go on Saturday I wished it was a day sooner! Sunday came bright and early. This race has two transitions so it threw in some logistical difficulty, but we got it figured out pretty well. I got to transition and wasn't my normal self. By normal I mean that I usually don't get flustered, but I dropped my electrical tape in the dark and couldn't find it, and almost walked off without putting my bike shoes on my bike! What was I doing? Well, in my defense there were 2 or 3 camera crews next to me. No, not taking pictures of me as one would think :) But taking pictures of the bike, or rather the person racked next to me, the awesome Julie Dibens. I was trying to duck out of the video crew's shot half my time setting up. Ha!
We hopped in the water about 10 minutes before go time. I had a nice little warm-up, got in position, and before I knew it the cannon was firing. We took off and I never conceded in the swim like I have in the past. I swam hard and then once it strung out a little bit hopped in behind a few feet, one being the eventual World Champ. I had a great, smooth transition (despite my rough time setting it up) and got out on the course. Right away I knew my legs were ready to bike. I caught up with several girls, and then it became a bit of cat and mouse the whole ride, but also with a male pro?? I tried to keep my distance off the back or get to the front, but never me in the middle because I knew this guy was going to cause a penalty, and sure enough he did. Luckily it wasn't me but not so fortuate for my competitor Melanie McQuaid who hardly needs to draft. She was blitzing through our ride.
Off on the run it took about a mile for my legs to come around. Then I felt strong and ready to pick off some girls ahead of me. My legs were moving, I felt great and I was within 90 seconds of 4 girls ahead while sitting in 8th. Perfect. Around mile 6 I head a rumbling in my stomach. Hmmm, this is not so good. In all of my years of running and triathlon this has never happen. I wouldn't call it a blow-up but more a blow-out if you catch my drift. Luckily there were port-a-johns on site. After a few of these I had nothing. It took all my energy just to move my legs. I've never wanted to stop so badly in my life. But on the other hand, I knew I'd never forgive myself for stopping (although that probably would have been the smart thing to do!)
After letting the dust settle and taking out the emotion, I'm obviously disappointed with my result. I made a few mistakes. While they were simple mistakes, they caused major problems in the end. The important thing is to fix these mistakes, and not spend another minute beating myself over this race. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a good reminder that Jessica Meyers having a bad last 7 miles of a 70.3 is hardly a tragedy. Also, I was able to look up and see that my good friend Jessica Jacobs was about to win Ironman Wisconsin. She has had a tough year and it brought tears to my eyes. That is resiliance right there. And then Amanda and Michael Lovato won their first 70.3 together! How cool is that? Finally, I was proud of Heather Jackson for running into the top 5. What a cool chick. I love seeing nice, friendly people do so well. Way to get after it!
I wanted to thank everyone that contributed to my race for Team Red White and Blue! Much much appreciated! And also to my wonderful sponsors, Rev 3, Trakkers, Kestrel, Recovery Pump, First Endurance, TYR, Avia, Louis Garneu, 918 XC. Also to Superleggera for getting my fit just right! Lastly to my awesome parents for coming to support me. You guys are the best pit crew (sorry you always pick the not so great ones!) Until next time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Better Late Then Never? Buffalo Springs and Muncie!

Yes, I am way late in posting my race reports. Apologizes again. I'm a broken record, again...Let's start with Buffalo Springs!

I arrived to Lubbock on Friday. As soon as I got out of the airport I felt that dry, Texas heat and had to smile a little bit. Yes, it's certainly not comfortable, but I love racing in my home state! I will say that the humidity of Houston is nothing like the dryness of Lubbock. Although they are probably equally unpleasant! In any event, I got to the hotel and built up my bike and got to meet up with my vatos, Amanda and Michael Lovato. The best thing about these races is catching up with friends, and I've come to love my vato-time, even if it is a bit tardy!

Saturday was a little swim/bike/run course preview. I knew this race was going to be epic, and like what I learned in Mil Art--a war of attrition so to speak on race day. This race you had to play your cards right, there really was no room for mistakes. To me, one word came to mind--conservation! Getting through would be an accomplishment! The pro race meeting was totally laid back and I got to catch my with more friends that I've know for years now (crazy!) Kelly W and Jessica Jacobs (yes, this might surprise people but I am not Jessica Jacobs :)!

Race morning came too early as usual. Amanda and I kept Michael in order and we arrived to race site with plenty of time. We got the bikes all set up and head down for the swim. I opted for the sleeveless TYR Hurricane. Again, I knew it might not be as fast as the full wetsuit, but I was more interested in conserving. When we took off and got to the first buoy I was just behind the feet I wanted to grab. Perfect. Although right next to me a girl that I don't know is pounding me every stroke. I'm thinking really? Yes, this definitely impedes progress and I couldn't quite catch the feet in front of me, perhaps because every stroke I took half her body was on me. I thought, "Well, she must be a swimmer and know what she's doing, we are getting nowhere." So I moved over so she could go ahead and grab the feet and I'd fall in behind her. Big mistake! She died about 100 meters later and I realized that she probably wasn't fighting for the feet like I was, I think she was probably just a little over anxious and firing on all cylinders! In any event, I couldn't bridge back up, and then I was pulling several girls. This is not the situation I wanted--remember the buzz word "conservation!" So I soft stroked and let the girls go ahead and fell in. I look over and who do I see? Amanda! Every stroke I'd smile at her and knew she was having a great swim, so don't make her laugh! I kept my heart rate down and finished the swim. I got a time check in transition of about 2 minutes down. Not too bad, although I would have like to be a little closer! I got on my Kestrel 4000 and went to work. The whole bike I focused on nutrition and not ever extending myself. I kept a consistent effort that was within myself. I slowly picked girls off and was able to get a good idea where I was at 2 180 turns. I caught Kelly with about 10 miles to go. I rode into T2 and they announced me as the first woman. I thought "how silly, they missed Margie" but unfortunately I learned later that Margie had gone off course, so I really was the race leader. I wish I would have enjoyed it a little bit more! I started the run, again--conserve, Jessica, conserve. Get through it. I was waiting for Kelly to come flying by. Sure enough she did, but not until around mile 2 which really surprised me. I guess I put on a little more time than expected those last few bike miles. I kept trudging along, focusing on my nutrition and putting one foot in front of the other. I kept seeing this guy out on the course (bike and run) and I figured it was a pro woman's coach. After seeing him about 10 times I felt like we were old pals, and he started to give me a little feedback. At around mile 12.5 I said to him "am I almost done already?" He smiled and said just ahead. It turns out it was the legendary Dave Scott! He was Sherpa for his son who started in the wave behind me! Very cool. So I finished with a bit of blurred vision and stayed strong for 2nd.

The next day I flew out straight to Denver. My family was having their annual family reunion in Estes Park. Honestly, Buffalo Springs is not like other half ironmans. It just takes a lot out of you--the heat, the course, the wind. I was beat up. And recovering at 7200 feet is probably not ideal, but good for the soul nonetheless. We had a great time and I'll post some pics when I get them downloaded. "Training" was definitely interesting. I was just really beat up from Buffalo Springs and started to feel pretty run down. We came back to Tulsa for 1 day and then I was on another plane to Indianapolis for the Muncie 70.3.

I'll admit I wasn't feeling too zippy for this race. If I hadn't been chasing 70.3 points I would have scratched it. But being worth more points I decided to go for it. Unfortunately so did a group of talented women, including good friend Kelly W who went on to come in 2nd! If "conservation" was the buzz word for Buffalo Springs, then "blah" would be for Muncie. The gun went off and within my first 10 strokes I thought "uh-oh." I had nothing. My arms just went through the water, seemingly grabbing nothing. I got on my bike and just biked, no power behind them. It was a lonely day out there :) I started the run and actually felt pretty decent, although my time might not reflect it. I finished 6th. For as blah as it was, I had to be satisfied. You just can't expect to be in the race with these women without a little pep in your step. I had nada. Was it worth it? Only time would tell if I got the precious points to put me in the top 25. When it was all said and done, I landed at 27. Hopefully 2 women would decline their spot. Luckily they did and I confirmed my spot to Vegas last Friday.

So where does this leave me? Getting ready for Worlds 70.3 in Vegas! I'm loving that it's going to be hot and hilly. This is my type of course! Again, none of this would be possible without my wonderful family and friends, and I include my awesome sponsors in this friends category! Trakkers, Rev 3, Kestrel, First Endurance, Tyr, Avia, Recovery Pump, Louis Garneau, 918 XC...Just a quick story on Recovery Pump. I brought them along with me to Muncie 70.3 I had a late flight out the following day so I sat around in them for several hours. No soreness! No joke! These things are worth their weight in gold!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nutrition at Buffalo Springs (and Muncie), yum...

Hello all, I'm trying to get my stuff together after two races in two weeks, and a family reunion in Estes Park in between. Those of you who have been so lucky to spend time in Estes know that there is little reception in the area, so I apologize for the delay! More to come about my races, but I wanted to give a quick run down of my nutrition at Buffalo Springs, and Muncie for that matter!

After Quassy I realized I need some more calories. I knew Buffalo Springs was going to be a race that would afford little mistakes. With temps well over 100, nutrition would be key (even more than usual!) in this race. I woke up and ate 3 hrs before--my usual bagel with Justin's Nut Butter with honey, totally 400 calories. I made sure to drink lots of water, but also to sip on mild grape EFS before the race. About 45 minutes before the race I took one scoop Pre-Race with roughly 100 calories of EFS liquid gel. One thing I did do differently this race was to stay away from caffeine before the race. After getting a little light headed in Quassy, I just wanted to see if staying away from the coffee would make a difference. So, in total before the race I had about 600 calories.

Once on the bike I had two bottles of EFS mild grape with 300 calories each. I made sure to grab water at every aid station. So I drank an EFS bottle, then a water, EFS, then water. The temps started to climb, so of course my appetite went south. I couldn't quite stomach all of my send bottle of nutrition, so I made sure I had plenty of gel, 300 calories in total. I was able to get this all in, so a total of roughly 700-750 cals. Also, I took salt every hour on the hour, as I knew I'd really be sweating a lot this race.

During the run it got even hotter. I made sure to grab every liquid I could get my hands on, which included water and the occasional coke. I took about 100 calories worth of gel on the run.

I ended up the day in 2nd, which I'll gladly take! I did get a little light headed, but this wasn't until mile 12.5. I think just about everyone was light headed at this point! It was a brutal day out there!!!

As you can see, my nutrition continues to be tweaked just a little each race. In Muncie I had the same game plan, but this time I decided to break up my pre-race. I had half a scoop before the race, and then put the remaining half (so a quarter scoop) in each nutrition bottle. Did a make a difference? Well, I finished 6th, so let's just say that's obviously why I didn't podium. Joking!!! I really couldn't tell much difference. I will say my swim was terrible at Muncie, so perhaps I'll use the whole scoop to rev of the engine a little better next time!!

Thanks First Endurance for the continued fuel!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Photo courtesy of Eric Wynn and Sean Watlkins

Where do I start? First off, this race was a big question mark for me. I really debated doing the race. Since New Orleans I've been nursing a calf niggle and I really wasn't sure if the timing of Quassy was so great for the healing process. Two weeks before I thought there was no way possible I'd be able to start the run. One week away I thought maybe I could just start the run and go a short time and call it a training brick. On the other hand, I knew that was not a good scenario. I have never gone into a race with this in mind, because I know me better than this. If I start a race I plan on finishing. In a few rare instances this hasn't happen and I tend to lament it longer than I should! So as soon as I told Rev 3 I was coming, I knew I was all in!

With that said I have to mention that no other race would I have struggled with this decision. I think it's pretty safe to say I would have just said no! Rev 3 is an absolutely incredible race organization. They treat Pros like Pros, but more than that they put on spectacular races for everyone to enjoy. This includes spectators! Quassy is in the perfect location for a race and as soon as I got in and checked out the race site on Friday I was glad I came. Of course there was a little, "what did I get myself into?" between the course and the start list. But I reminded myself that I'm in this beautiful location with the most incredible triathletes in the world and I need to embrace it and enjoy it. I'm so glad I did because it really allowed me to free my mind and not over analyze things. I think in this sport we can be our own worst enemies!

After checking into the hotel Friday I was lucky to have an awesome roommate, Kate Major. She is such a veteran of the sport and also down to earth and most of all funny! (Although sometimes I wonder if she's trying to be funny, I just have to laugh at some of her Aussie "sayings" ie what she yells at bad drivers! ahhh, I still laugh sitting her ;) I digress. Also, many of my Trakkers teammates were at the race and it was great to catch up with them and see how their season is going. Michael Lovato was commentating and I've got to give him big thanks for helping me out and not get freaked out about my situation. He made me feel comfortable that whatever I chose was okay and in the end it's not the end of the world. Saturday was a little bike/run then to the race site for a little swim and race meeting. I didn't have time to get my wet suit on for my swim. The water actually felt great, and the big debate would be if the swim was wet suit legal. The temp that morning was 69, and the cut off is 68. Needless to say it would be a close call!

Sunday morning always comes too early. I got up 3 hours before race start and had my usual bagel, pb & honey. I also sipped on mild grape EFS until the race start. I got my nutrition squared away for the bike and we headed out to the race site. The pro racks were awesome--they had a poster up behind each of our racks. Definitely makes us feel like rock stars! Once we got out there and Kate did some sneaky parking, we learned that the swim would be non-wet suit. I actually was kind of glad by this! This race was odd in that I didn't want to run to warm-up, I figured I'd better save all my running for the race! ha! I took my EFS Pre Race 40 minutes before the start with a quick shot of EFS Berry gel. Once I got on my TYR Torque I headed down to the swim. I think I made the smartest decision of my day here--with air temps in the 50s and the water at 69, I decided to skip my swim warm-up. I knew once I got in I'd have to get out and probably get cold waiting to start. Instead I just did a few dry land exercises to make sure my muscles were "warm" and ready to go. Kathleen Calkins husband was nice enough to take my jacket at the last minute. (thank you so much!!) This proved to be a good move as several of the women were shivering, and a few had to drop out on the bike because of hypothermia. Back to the swim--one of the good things about not running is you have more time to devote to biking and running. I didn't jockey for position on the swim. Most of the strong swimmers lined up to the left, and I started to the right. I figured I would just go hard and hope the feet were there!! When the gun went off (or actually I think it was just a guy yelling "Go" because I wasn't expecting that!) I just swam hard, had a few run-ins but nothing significant. Suddenly I was on some feet and I thought, "I hope these are some good ones." After a few 100s I figured they had to be because I was swimming hard to stay on them. This is a perfect scenario for me--being on feet that I have to "work" to stay on. That's when I know I'm going to have a good swim. We rounded the last turn buoy and I actually felt really good. I suppose I was warmed up then! When we got out I was stoked looking around. Finally, a swim that I knew I could have but just kept missing! I got in and out of transition and realized Rinny was just ahead. While this was exciting, I knew on this course it was important to ride my own race and stay within myself. I immediately felt comfortable and strong. I loved each and every hill. This is my type of course and I never had that feeling of "get me off this bike" that can creep in. Turns out my pace put me in good company. I lost contact a few times but just stayed focused on the course and on my nutrition. Somehow I'd look up and I'd be back up to Malika (who was having a fantastic ride) and Rinny. At around mile 53 I made the mistake of putting my bike in the small gear and then suddenly lost contact and couldn't figure out why. When I realized my mistake I was like Homer Simpson "DOH!" as I lost 20-30 secs right at the end! But on the other hand, it's probably good I didn't run out of T2 with these ladies as I really needed to make sure I wasn't going to hinder my calf more on the run.

At T2 I made the decision to wear trainers, the Avia Rhythms. Let me tell you, there is nothing like running (or stomping rather) our of T2 in trainers. It just feels wrong. I ran out and settled into a pace that I thought I could manage for 13.1 miles. Granted, this was not a great pace. I'll be honest--I don't like getting passed on the run. But this was my reality for the day and this was also not a course you could fake a great run. The good news about running slow--my calf held up great which is a huge confidence booster and I'm not nearly as sore as normal! Imagine that! In the end I finished 7th, which I'm more than pleased with on this day. Am I satisfied? Heck no!! But that's what keeps me getting up in the morning and chipping away at this sport. Things are headed in the right direction!

Now, the most important factor of the race: Nutrition, I had two 300 calorie bottles of EFS mild grape. I decided to have only about 100 calories worth of gel. At around half way I grabbed water to sip on the remainder of the ride. I didn't quite finish the 2nd bottle, so I'm guessing my total calories were about 600 calories. Looking back I probably could have used a little more because I started getting light headed around mile 3 of the run. For me this is usually an indicator I didn't get enough calories on the bike. It's tough in cooler temps to get all the calories in but it's an absolute must! I took more than my normal gels on the run, 3 total. I also took in coke and water at the aid stations. These are all good things to know for the future! Also, I have to mention--an integral part of my training and recovery has been the EFS Multi-Vitamin and the Optygen HP. I know that this has been key in my recovery, which tends to be my biggest limiter. I will definitely be taking these every night!

So, what's next for me? Chasing down some points to get a spot at 70.3 Worlds! Looks like Buffalo Springs and then maybe Racine 70.3. I will keep you posted! Let me thank my awesome sponsors: Trakkers, Revolution 3, Kestrel, Avia, First Endurance, TYR, Recovery Pump, Louis Garneau. My bike store 918XC for putting up with me! Also, Ted at Superleggera for squaring away my fit (he's the fit guru fyi!) Team Red White and Blue, thanks for keeping me motivated! My family, thank you! I have to mention that in New Orleans I forgot to thank the most important person, my Mom. She watched the kids so that Lucas could go with me. Without her it wouldn't have been possible. Sorry Mom I was too busy throwing a pity party, but I hope you know how important you are to me! Until next time!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Orleans in Pics

Please excuse that I only have bike photos, but as it turns out my triathlon turned more into a bike TT! Love the Kestrel 4000, and love my Brand Betty designed suit!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Orleans 70.3, errrr, 62.18725

New Orleans, New Orleans! I did this race 2 years ago and absolutely loved it. I knew if I could fit it on my schedule for 2011 that I'd be back. There was some question after my bike crash if I could be ready for Galveston, and I felt one extra week of healing/training would do me well so I went ahead and signed up. It actually turned out well. After about 3 weeks down from Costa Rica, I got a great block of training in and came into New Orleans feeling very fresh and surprisingly fit. I love it when a plan comes together at the last moment! I absolutely love my Kestrel 4000, it fits me so much better than my previous bike, and it's just so smooth. Also, Zipp was kind enough to send me some new race tires and I couldn't believe how much better (and faster!) the bike felt. I digress...I left on Thursday afternoon and made it out before all the tornadoes hit Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Lucas and the kids had to camp out in the basement for awhile! No damage, everything was fine. I got to the hotel and had Friday all to myself to completely chill. I relish these moments of doing nothing, as they don't seem to happen often! I also brought my Recovery Boots and spent some time in them. I was feeling very relaxed, which is always a great sign.

Lucas got in that night and Saturday morning we met up with our good friends Jon and Sandra. Jon was doing the race and picked us up to do a little swim/bike/run. I panicked when I loaded my bike and realized my front 808 was completely flat. After sorting it out and realizing it was just a slight mechanical error, I was confident in my equipment for Sunday. When we got to the race site the wind was howling and there were white caps on the water. They wouldn't let us in for a test swim, but I figured in the morning with less wind everything would be fine. No worries.

Sunday morning always comes too early. I got up and ate 3 hrs prior to the start. I also sipped on First Endurance mild grape drink. Although it was not going to be a scorcher of a day, I know from Oklahoma winds that dehydration can be deceiving. We got out to the race site and quickly learned the swim was cancelled. Bummer. I'm never happy about this. Not that I'm the world's greatest swimmer (obviously) but any chance to swim in a race setting allows me to gauge my strengths and weakness. I need to know these things, it's imperative to my training. Plus, it changes the whole dynamic of our race. I want to know where I stand, not where I think I stand in a race (as in trying to add or subtract the time according to where you start). But, this was not the time to dwell. I'm actually very proud that I stayed focused and realized it is what it is, it doesn't change your objectives. 30 minutes prior I took my EFS pre-race mixed with water and a little bit of gel. This stuff is amazing. I love that it doesn't make me jittery like coffee can. And there is no crash, it's just pure power baby :) Seriously, I kept my nerves in check and lined up for out time trial start. The plan was to start 30 secs apart, and I was number 7. I actually kind of liked this. I was able to stay focused in the wind, and there were several 180s where you could see everyone. This was huge for me, I really like to see what's going on. While it was tricky actually knowing where you stand, I knew I was having a great bike ride. My coach and I carefully planned how to execute this ride. I rode conservatively, knowing that the wind would take more out then people realize. I had two bottles with 300 calories each of mild grape EFS. I grabbed one bottle of water from the aid station and had about 100 calories of vanilla EFS gel. I also went ahead and took a few salt. I felt great, very in control and as the ride continued I felt stronger. The was a good sign for my #1 objective-- to run fast. I've been running very well lately and was psyched to have a good run in New Orleans. I got into T2, slipped on the Avia Bolt III and took off. I love these shoes. They have a lot of cushion, which I need for my heavy forefoot strike. When I started running I knew it was going to be good. I felt snappy right from the go. Again, I wanted to be conservative the first 5k, and then really build and try to negative split the run. While I felt great, I felt a little tug in the back of my left lower leg. Almost exactly 1 year ago I experienced a level 2 strain of my soleus. It was kind of a freak thing, I had a sinus infection and had been on the antibiotic Levaquin. I was out on an easy run and suddenly it felt like someone was stabbing me in the back of the leg. I couldn't figure out why--all my years of running and nothing like this has ever happen. Upon further research it turns out one Levaquin has been black boxed by the FDA for causing Achilles tendon ruptures. As you can imagine, I was not pleased to learn this. After a few weeks off, I seemed to get it under control but really had to manage it as it seems to flare up at random times. When I felt the tug in my leg I got a little worried. I backed off the pace a little and tried to change my gait, thinking I could keep it under control. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7 I suddenly got that stabbing pain again. When this happens there is nothing I can do. It's not like a cramp that you can work out. It kind of reminds me of the movie Pet Cemetery when the creepy toddler cuts the old man's Achilles, rendering him totally ineffective. I knew I was done, and trying to do more would probably just tear the soleus more. The problem was this was a point to point race and I was literally smack-dab in the middle. Besides my crash, I've never DNFd (except Branson and Armed Forces one year, both mechanical). I have no idea how it works. I didn't know if there was anyone on the course that could take me back. I just kept moving forward with a walk, trot, thinking Lucas is waiting for me at the finish. Luckily a spectator on his bike was on the course taking pictures. He asked if I was okay. I told him no and asked if I could borrow his phone to call my husband to come pick me up. He was so kind and generous and let me use his phone. It felt great that people were so supportive, other women going by shouted words of encouragement, which was great as I was incredibly disappointed. Okay, I have to tell this story because now it just makes me laugh. So this nice man is letting me use his phone. I'm limp trotting down the road on the phone as he is biking next to me. This part of the course happen to be an out and back. Another athlete sees me and yells out an accusation of "outside assistance!!"??? I'm caught so off guard as just about everyone else is yelling things like, "sorry girl" or "keep it up." Perhaps she thought the man was pacing me as I was gimping along rocking out to Pink on the phone?? I guess in these races at a calorie deficit one can be void of common sense? I'll admit, I was pretty angry. I take my reputation very seriously--and by that I think I'm pretty up front that integrity is probably the biggest quality that I hold to myself and look for in others. But like I said, if you know me then you know this about me. Yelling things like that is just sad and laughable....So luckily down the road I was able to get a ride back from an official and there you have it.

So, where does this leave me? Of course, very disappointed--but mainly because I don't know what triggered my leg for this to happen. I haven't had any problems that would warn me. I'm trying to figure it out as I write this. But on the flip side I know I can get it better and still have a good season, as I did last year. And as for positives, I have confidence of where I am with my fitness. I have confidence in my training plan. I'm not run down, I'm just more hungry to get this leg better and get out there and race!! I never want to let my sponsors down, and I feel as if I've done so. Please be patient with me, I promise good things are to come :)!! Special thanks to Trakkers/Revolution 3, Kestrel, Avia, Endurance First, TYR, Recovery Boots, Louis Garneau. Also, the best bike shop ever, 918XC. The bike rode like a dream! To Rip at Zipp, you came through in a pinch, thank you! Team Red White and Blue, I promise to represent next time! Coach Kevin P, this is the start of a beautiful friendship :0 Most of all to Lucas for being so supportive this weekend and not letting me dwell! Until next time!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Costa Rica!!!!

With super-star Hillary Biscay. Not only is she tough, she makes a mean coffee...

This weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for part of Rev3 Tri Series. I got the call a few weeks before saying this trip would also be part of our Team Trakkers launch. At first I was a little hesitant at the idea of racing in February, but on the other hand how could you pass up going to such a beautiful place? I knew my fitness would not be the greatest at this time, but then again I think we are all in the same boat. No one wants to be killing it in February only to be burnt out come October. So I got my mind ready to go, only to get hit by a blizzard that left us indoors for nearly 2 weeks! Not such a big deal, but during this time I got my new awesome Kestrel 4000. With the conditions I was never able to ride the bike outside. Again, not a big deal but as you know with riding on the trainer you never switch gears and it's difficult to tell how the bike handles. I knew it was a sweet ride nonetheless!

So off I go to Costa Rica! The coolest part of the trip was meeting up with old friends, and making new ones. I'm so excited to be a part of Trakkers. I can honestly say everyone on the team is amazing--not just as athletes but as people. This says a lot about the team. I know that I want to be surrounded by good people, and this team has a plethora of them. The great thing about Rev3 is that you are treated like a Professional. They just really get the details down, and I'm excited to race in the series this year. On Friday we had a series of events to attend and Saturday we pretty much had all to ourselves. I did some short riding, swimming, and running with Kathleen (absolute super-star, 2 x Kona AG overall winner). I was so impressed with her. She broke both her thumbs in an accident in October and had just started training again. It takes a lot of guts to be a new Pro and go into a race not feeling prepared. And on top of it leaving her son home, what a star! Again, this was the first time I had ridden my bike outside and I absolutely love it! I was ready to go!

Race morning I got my Endurance First Pre-Race down and was feeling pretty good. I planned on drinking the EFS on the bike and taking some gel. There was some confusion about the swim course. We started and somehow got a bit off course. The pack diverted back on but somehow I went totally blonde and continued on the wrong path. I was frustrated because I should have been more aggressive at the start, there was no reason for me to be swimming off the back and losing contact. On top of it, I kept getting stung. Some say it was jelly fish, others say sea lice (wt? gross). In any event, by the time I got out I knew I had some serious time to make up and took off. We were told this course was flat, which kind of became the running joke. We had to climb a huge hill that seemed to go on forever. I actually kind of liked it- before getting stuck training indoors I'd been training a lot on hilly terrain. I started my first big descent and threw the bike in the big gear and started hammering down. There was a local biking on the course and I wasn't quite sure what she was doing. She wasn't part of the race and I knew I was going to overtake her at the round about at the bottom of this hill. I tapped the brakes and my back wheel came off the ground. Next thing I know I start wobbling and braking more at this point would be worse so I think to myself, "Okay, you're probably going to crash so you need to get over on the dirt and try to avoid that pole." So I prep myself, tuck my shoulder in and get ready to go down. This all happens so fast but I just lay there as the locals surround me. They were so sweet and genuinely concerned. I also heard, "click click click" and realized they were taking my picture!! HA! Not my finest moment! I got taken to medical (with a really hot doctor that Bree called the Costa Rican Doogie Hawser which kind of killed it for me) and knew nothing was broken, just half my skin was left on the Costa Rican country side. If anything, I can say I crash well! I also learned several things. First off, this crash was a 100% avoidable. While it was a difficult course, I know that in the end I was the match that lit the fire. I took a lot of things for granted. I should have known the course better. And by that I mean not just driving it, but actually getting on my bike and riding it. Also, I had no business going that fast on this section. I went down at nearly 40 mph. Without being completely comfortable on my new bike I should have been way more conservative then what I was. Lastly, since I had lost contact on the swim I was rushing myself instead of "keeping calm and carrying on." I need to trust myself and not rush through things. This is not just in racing, but everyday life. This is how accidents happen! Lesson learned!

After the race we had several photos to take. I put on a smile, took some advil and had a good time! Really the pain did not settle in until I got on the plane the next day. By the time I got home I totally became a big baby. Hey, my husband and kids are being really sweet. I'll take it when I can!! I'm on the mend for the next couple of days and hoping nothing is too serious. Looks good so far.

I really want to thank my sponsors! They went out of their way to make this happen--Trakkers, Rev3, Kestrel, Avia, Endurance First, TYR. And a huge thank you for the local support. 918xc jump through hoops to get my bike built, Superleggara to get my fit, and Zoellner Chiropractic to get my legs treated last minute. I can't thank the Tulsa community enough!