Friday, October 17, 2014

The Last Six Months

So I'm sitting on a plane on my way to Kona and I fully intended to zone out and watch The Mindy Project and be completely unproductive for the next 10 hours. But somehow the DVD isn't registering and now I'm looking to pass the time, and my travel companions are asleep so I can't annoy them. Then I remembered a friend pointed out that I haven't blogged since APRIL so perhaps it's time to give an update since it's been half a year!

So since I last wrote I have raced not one but TWO Ironmans! I wish I could tell you I was on my way to race Kona, but alas spectating and training will have to do for this visit to the big island. A friend will be racing and also celebrating the big 5-0 so several Tulsans are making the trip for our friend John-Kelly Warren and we couldn't be more thrilled for him. What an amazing opportunity to bring our Tulsa tri community together thousands of miles away. I'm looking forward to a week of working and playing hard with some pretty special people, even if they fall asleep on me in flight.

So let me back up a bit. My goal this year, along with just about every other pro, was to race Kona. I fell a bit short and it's frustrating to look back and see what races would have been better to qualify for the big dance. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I'm thankful for the journey and memories 2014 brought me nonetheless.

After Galveston I immediately went to Team RWB camp in Austin. As long as they will have me, I will always go to this camp--no questions asked. While it's nice for the campers to tell me thank you and what not, the truth is I get far more out of this camp than I could possibly give. The veterans, the stories, the civilians supporting--it's an incredible organization and nothing short of inspiring. I always leave camp hungry for more, hungry to race for something far bigger than myself. I could probably write a book on each participant with their unique stories yet all tied together with the familiar theme of service and the dedication to not only country, but each other. This is what RWB is all about; building relationships and more importantly building community. As long as I have a voice, it will be advocating for Team RWB.

 
 
Great group of guys right there...
 
From there it was prep time for Ironman Texas. I was super fortunate to have two of my good buddies come and help me train in preparation for Texas. Molly escaped the frozen tundra of New Hampshire and Logan (along with super Ubu) were waiting to start his job as a wildfire fighter. It was a nice month of laughs, guitar playing and most importantly training our butts off. Before I knew it I was loading up to make the short trip to Ironman Texas in my hometown of Houston on my birthday.
We pretty much lived on my front porch during this time...And Ro pretending he doesn't like ice cream!
 
 
Kayaking!
 
Last hard run, Logan paced me out...on a bike.  Sorry Logan, maybe one day you can keep up :)
 

Lucky for these 2 as friends...and Ubu of course. 

 
Texas was my first race back that I truly felt prepared for. After injuries took out half of 2013, this was the first race I felt everything was clicking physically, and more importantly mentally and emotionally. The race itself went well. My swim was a big lack luster and I was definitely a tad irritated when I realized the pro men and women would start together. We make such a big deal out of the age group men catching the pro women thus creating an unclean race. The same goes for starting pro men & women together.

I passed a few ladies but rode solo for pretty much the entire day until a pack of age group men swallowed me up at mile 100. For the last 12 miles I tried to dangle off the back legally and I feel I did this pretty well, riding a fair and clean race. I came in just over 5 hours and took off running feeling great. My garmin didn't register the first 4 miles and when it finally did I realized I felt a little too great, running those miles in around 6:45 pace. I dialed it back and the second loop settled into my 7:05-7:15 race pace. The last loop the temps and winds continued to rise and those early miles came back to haunt me! This is why patience and pacing is so important in Ironman! I had closed the gap to less than 3 minutes to 3rd, but my final miles were a death march. I finished in 7th--but I was encouraged with my fitness level and realized I just executed my run poorly. So I definitely walked away from Texas happy yet not quite satisfied.

 
 
From there I had a little recovery time and immediately went into Ironman Lake Placid prep. My training into Placid is probably the best it's ever been for an Ironman. I was swimming and riding as well as I ever had. My run took a little longer to catch on, but that often is more to the summer heat of Tulsa. I went into Placid feeling the most confident I ever have for a race. I raced a little local duathlon a few weeks before and even though I was a bit tired since I hadn't started my taper, I pulled off my best race here ever, taking the overall men & women's race.

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I flew in early and met with Molly in New Hampshire. We spent a few days at her amazing lake house then drove into Placid. I have to also point out that I absolutely love this part of the country.  I am a Texas girl, but I was lucky enough to go to college in New York. The views are spectacular and the history at Lake Placid is so rich, which is a big part of why I chose this race.

 
"Molly, how much will you pay me to wear this hat to the pro race meeting?"  "Jess, if you really want to stand out just wear normal human being clothes."
 
 Seeing this never gets old...
 
 
Yes, I sported this sweat shirt after forgetting cold weather clothes in 100 degree Tulsa.
 
During this time it's hard to put my finger on it but I just felt off the entire week. My digestive track was way off (feel free to read between the lines) and I just felt sluggish the entire time. I don't think this had to do with training or tapering, but more likely I picked up something during my travels. On race morning I was excited, but again just felt off. My swim was better than Texas but no where near what I had been hitting in training. On the bike I quickly realized I didn't have the legs and worse I was trying to hold my nutrition down the entire race. This was the first race in my entire life that I've actually up-chucked while riding. I spent the ride trying to manage my power efforts with my nutrition because I knew I wouldn't be able to make the marathon without keeping fuel down. I came off the bike in 6th and felt surprisingly okay. While I didn't feel spunky, I was worried it would be a long 26 mile death march. I was able to hold around 7:30-7:45 the entire day, minus a few miles in there when I contemplated letting 7th catch me for The Real Starky. Dark Mark, Pay 10 Deep paycheck but she was too far behind and I saw I was closing quickly on 5th. **Sidenote this was the most exciting race for 7th I've ever been able to participate in.  Thanks guys for bringing awareness to Pro prize purses!! I don't care what anyone else says, you guys are all good in my book! ;)** I make the pass around mile 20 and actually felt the best the entire race these miles. Ironman--it's a crazy sport! I was happy to finish this day with a smile in by far my slowest Ironman but on also on the hardest course I've ever been served.


Crowds were amazing at Lake Placid!

TRS, DM, P10D--can you throw this puppy in for 7th next year??

I knew I didn't make the Kona cut off and looking back I wish I had gone for Monte Tremblant...but then again shortly after the race WTC announced Lake Placid would no longer have a pro field and I'm thankful I experienced this legendary race. I'm told outside of Kona this race has the most history and magic, and it certainly lived up to it.

My goal was to race either Ironman Arizona, Florida, or Cozumel at the end of the year. I had a bit of a setback with a pretty significant ankle injury. While I will make a full recovery, after racing 3 Ironmans in 8 months Kevin and I decided this would be a good time to let the body take a little break. While I enjoy the break, I never enjoy not running. I've been playing around with the cross bike a bit just for something different and while I completely suck, I'm enjoying it nonetheless. Besides that life has settled down quite a bit and I'm enjoying an early off season. While raising kids is always stressful, seeing my kids continue to improve in school and extracurricular activities is equally exciting.
 First day of school...G sporting Ironman pack pack and brought "Tour De France" pop up book.  Raising them right!!


5K at age 7: Ro 26:18 Gwyn 27:38...how long until they can beat me??

We are figuring out the 2015 schedule. Of course making it to Kona is the big goal, the most important is to stay happy and healthy and enjoy the ride. What better way to kick that off than spending a week in Hawaii with friends?

I want to thank my family (especially mom & dad, Rowan & Gwyn) and friends for this 2014 season. Each of you are special and motivating in your own way--and each of you know who you are! Thank you!! Coach Kevin, I can't quite do justice to how important you are to me.  You're more than a coach.  You're a friend, mentor, confidant.  Your belief in me means more than I can adequately express.  And I want to thank my sponsors and supporters. We all know you don't make it to the start line alone. So Tensegrity Chiropractic (Chris and Ali, you guys rock!), Powerbar, Rudy Project, BlueSeventy, Zoot, Kiwiami, PowerPlay, RaceQuest, Runners World, Elite Cycling, John Cobb Cycling, Bama Pies, John R. Jones PC. Thank you for all your help! Ryan and Bryan--a good mechanic is essential.  Thank you two for keeping me rolling! Team RWB--simply gratitude.

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