Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kansas 70.3 race report

The Ultimate Tri Sherpa and my husband, Steve, drove Lesley Smith and I up on Thur and we headed straight to our good friends and hosts for the trip Mike , Kim ( pictured above ) and their son Michael’s house in Olathe , KS late that night.
Fri morning was a short run in the neighborhood with Steve while Kim and Lesley did a spin then we were off to the expo to get our packets and do a lake swim with other Texas friends Leslie and Tri 4Him team mate Matt.

The group effort for Dinner was Salmon on the smoker by Mike, the yummiest rice ever by Lesley ( salt and olive oil to the boil was the trick ) , Kim’s Salad, and my healthy and superstitious side dish of Sweet potato fries ( baking pan , foil, spray with spray stick olive oil, cut sweet potato into fries, top with Lawry’s salt ( the secret ingredient to amazing fries) and bake at 450 for 20 min ) Honestly, try it ! Every time I eat them I am immediately revived and have my best workouts the next day!

Sat was a short bike and run in the morning and then off to the expo for the pro meeting. I was trying not to gawk at Chrissie Wellington sitting 2ft away from me, but it was hard. She was kind enough to smile every time she looked my way to find me staring at her once again. The rest of the day was spent off the feet, compression socks on, some quality time with my Trigger point Therapy kit to roll out my calves , IT band and quads which have been particularly tight lately and then continual snacking on Oatmega bars and Athletes Honey milk straw-ban shakes before the usual dinner of chicken, rice and sweet potato fries with my last pre race pedialyte. Yes, part of the plan going into this race to try and be cramp free was 1-2 pedialyte drinks per day for the week leading up to the race, Hammer Fizz for electrolytes in every 2nd water bottle I sipped on, and no caffeine for the last 3 wks. Yes , I gave up caffeine ! Those who know me know this is a big deal. We figured out that I was drinking way to much coffee which in turn was dehydrating me as well as making me drink more water and visit the restroom 25 times a day which was flushing out all the electrolytes out of my body. Tomorrow was the big test, and my No 1 goal for this race was nail nutrition, and don’t cramp!! Hopefully all those non caffeine days were not in vain.

They were expecting 80% chance of showers that day, and I was partially praying this would be the case knowing they would cancel the swim. But unfortunately / fortunately it didn’t rain and we were up for an overcast and windy day.

I started in the water next to Chrissie (yes, while we were waiting to take off I was smiling ear to ear ) and just did that to see how long I could hang with her before she dropped me. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to swim side beside with her and the group for 100 or so yards to the first buoy before the slowly pulled ahead. I maybe got another 100y draft and then I was on my own . But I took that as a good thing, knowing that if I can hang on for at least 200 yards the difference is swim Strength. And fitness .Yes , I don’t have any. I hate to admit this but I cannot do ONE pull up and yesterday I tried to do some pushups to start working on my swimming muscles and 10 pushups has me sore today. Terrible…. Anyway, hopefully more swimming and getting fitter and working on my swimming specific muscles can have me hang in for longer. Swimming is the only 1 of the three disciplines that I find hard to dig deep during workouts and endure the 90 min swims that were being thrown at me at UT masters, so i was either swimming in the slow lane just to get through it, or getting out 60 min into the workout out of boredom and honestly my lack of enjoyment for swimming. They always say you don’t enjoy the sport you are worst at, it’s so TRUE. So I am working on changing my mind set and from now on if anyone asks me what my favorite discipline is, instead of my standard biking answer, I am going to say “I love swimming and can’t wait to swim more” and hopefully I will start believing this.
To finish – The water was a joke. Probably the roughest swim I had ever done due to the winds that had picked up and the boats that were zipping up and down next to us, for what reason, I have no idea. A few times when I tried to lift up my arm out of the water, a wave would consume it and my arm literally didn’t come out. It felt like I was doggie paddling, and I couldn’t help giggle thinking how ridiculous this was probably looking.
Lesley and I worked together on the swim and as she put it “It was like the blind leading the blind” I was drafting off her going out and at the turn around, she tucked in behind me. We are still joking about it because at one point we were swimming at almost a 90 degree angle from the buoy. So Steve termed that swim the “Sailors overboard swim” ( if you can picture sailors getting thrown overboard, with arms flailing trying not to drown, yup that was us ) Lesley and I were the last 2 out of the water with a 34 min swim, and at least we would have company on the bike since usually we are way back chasing the pack.

Bike starts with rolling hills, and from the get go I was struggling to get my breathing under control. You could probably hear me panting from a mile away. As we got out of the park I looked back to see I had put quite a bit of distance on Lesley, so I tried to get my heart rate under control, settle in and get comfortable focusing on taking in the right amount of salt.
Nutrition plan for the bike was 2 water bottles of Hammer Heed and carbo pro and 3 saltstick tablets mixed in each bottle which I sipped on through the ride adding water to it at every water stop. Then a gel every 40 min with 2 salt tablets every 20 min. so it would end up 1200 mg of sodium and about 250-300 calories per hour. I was diligent with the salt especially after feeling some cramps in my hands ( the bad sign and where it starts ) at mile 25 or so, and took some extra salt right away to nip it in the butt, and it worked.
While the nutrition plan was being executed, the hopes of having a strong ride was not, at mile 20 I was ready to get off the bike and usually I feel like I could ride all day long. I usually love to ride the hills and make time up there, but today I was losing ground since I felt like I had no strength in my legs and found myself spinning in the small chain ring just to get up and over them. I did all I could to just focus on the present knowing that I was trying my best , even though my best today was not very good. I found myself asking every 2 min “ Can you go harder? “ and the answer was always “no” I was going as hard as I could today. Came off the bike a disappointing 2:40 ride, 7 min slower than last year on this course, and I knew I was fitter this year, but I just had to swallow it, stay positive and look ahead to the run praying that I wouldn’t cramp today.

No Cramps in the legs !! Yay!! Usually I feel tightness in the quads right away, but today nothing ! I was so excited that I saw an age group guy running strongly a few feet ahead so I caught up to him to try and get in his draft and pace myself off him. That was stupid. While I was keeping myself from having to fight the wind to its full extent, I was never able to settle in on the run at my pace. I found it hard to get my breathing under control, and soon a side stitch followed. I had never had a side stitch in a race before so hoped It would just go away. Well, 6 miles later it did, but it was unfortunately replaced with right knee pain. There is one steep downhill on the course that we hit twice on the course and after the 2nd time of hitting it too hard trying to make up time I had lost, I found myself unable to bend my knee pain free. So I worked as hard as I could with my left leg, mostly kept the right leg straight as it followed behind and put the arms to work trying to help the forward momentum. My day was already somewhat a bust so I tried to focus on the positive – I was not cramping and any day I get to swim, bike and run is a great day ! I had a ton of friends out there racing, so I cheered loudly for them as they ran by. Shout out to Matt Russell ( Tri 4Him team mate ) and Lesley Smith( picture above - Oatmega 3 Teammate and training partner ) , both had amazing runs, like top 3 of the day in the mens and womens pro division ) 3 miles to go and I really thought “ this better not lead to surgery” as I limped along and considered stopping, but I was so close to the finishline and DNF is never an option. I tried to pick it up with the last 2 miles to go. The mind and rest of the body was willing but the knee wasn’t, so I just tried to bite my tongue making noises that probably sounded like a dying animal ,having most people I was running up on actually look back to see what was coming.
Finished 1h40 later on the run with a 4:58 overall time.

Bitter sweet…

While I was totally excited that I had figured out my nutrition and not cramped for the first time during a 70.3, I had some expectations for a good performance on this race especially since I raced so well in Kansas last year where I did a 4:41 and earned my pro card. I still believe that my training and recent racing has me fitter and faster than ever before, but unfortunately I have yet to put together a decent 70.3 for this season. Again, I am not trying to compare my performance to Chrissie or any other pro’s. I am still a ways off being in the same time zone as them, and trust me, I am realistic about that and my current ability. If I thought I could compete with them that would be stupid and I would be consistently let down wk after wk. I am focused on my triathlon journey and my progression, and know that with time, who knows how long, I will be there. As I have heard many times before and believe to be true – “ It’s HARD WORK and TIME – This sport rewards athletes that are dedicated enough to be consistent with their training day in and out and are patient” It takes time to develop into an endurance machine, and experience to know what is the best way to get there without injury and burnout. Instead of extreme measures and quick results the theme of 2011 has been “Small deposits”. Little by little I am moving in the right direction, and one day I know it will all come together.

Thanks to friends Mike and Kim Brosseit for hosting us in their wonderful home for the weekend and showing us what Kansas BBQ( picture above ) is all about. I would recommend Kansas as a race to put on your schedule. Great course, Great weather and great people. I will be back next year, no doubt.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

30th Bday race - My 1st Danskin Tri

My 30th (tear) Bday. And what better way to celebrate and start the day than to RACE !

My Sponsor, Boundless Nutrition, a local company known for the yummy and super healthy Oatmega 3 Bars, and now Perfect Fit Protein cookies, were providing post race snacks for the 1500+ women that raced, and had set me up to race in my first every Danskin race. You think i would have raced this before since it is the biggest womens only race around.

On the way to the race i got my usual Daily devotional. And today it talked about using your God given ability to be of service to others. So that was my focus for the race. I tried to help as many women as i could pre race with putting air in their tires or helping set up their transition since there were many ladies doing their first tri. It was great to be apart of all the excitement and energy of all the women, and i was really trying to just take it in. I was able to squeeze in a quick 10 min run and swim before we took off.

Swim - I had a great swim for me, and came out 3rd out of the water, aobut 2 min behind the leader, and a minute behind Elizabeth Moorehead who i swim with at UT Masters and is an amazing swimmer.

Bike - Having done this course many times before, i knew what to expect. Rolling hills, with a few good climbs. But what goes up must go down which makes it a relatively fast bike course. At about mile 4 there is one steep hill and about midway up it, my chain dropped. I tried to do the pedal back and hope that it would catch thing, but it was down. I had to get off my bike and fiddle with it to get it back on then i had the choice of walking the rest of the climb since there was no way i had enough momemtum to get on the bike and get going, or to cycle to the bottom of the hill circle and go at it again. That is what i chose to do, almost running myself off the road to make that u-turn. When i finally got going and up and over the hill, Elizabeth who was still ahead of me, was nowhere insight. so i just had to put my head down and know i had a tough run ahead of me since there was no way i was gonna catch her on the bike, since it was so short and she is a great cyclist.

Run - Came into T2 1 min 30 sec behind her, and had 3 miles of off road sprinting ahead of me to try and catch her. So i had to run 30 sec per mile faster than her to catch her. I was completely out of breath and working as hard as i could knowing that the 6:20's i was running should catch her between mile 2 and 3, but she was flying too. By mile 2, the volunteer shouted out 1min 5 sec back. Wow, i had hardly made up any time and now i had 1 mile to close. There is one long downhill with a very uneven surface which i knew she would probably run somewhat hesitantly in order to not turn an ankle, so i knew this is where i would make up time if i went after it. So i just flew down the hill praying not to turn an ankle or step into a ditch. The downhill was followed by a long uphill, and at that point i was running on fumes. For a brief moment i held back and got comfortable thinking "just enjoy the run, its your bday,Elizabeth had led the whole was so i should let her have the win today" and continued that frame of mind with about 150 meters to go. As we were running to the finish line, i saw her start to sprint and then i really knew that 2nd was going to have to do for the day. But 20 yards later, i saw her shoulders drop and my competitive instinct kicked in. About 100 meters out and i started a full out sprint for the finishline, finally just passing her between the two timing mats to win by 1 sec. While i felt bad that i had beaten her like that at the finishline,she was a good sport and totally excited to have run about 30 sec faster per mile than she usually does and have had such a great race. Guess that happens when you know you are being chased :). A big congrats to Elizabeth on the race, and a thanks for making me dig that deep !!!

All in All, Danskin Tri was an amazing experience, and i would recommend all women to put that race on their calendar at some point. Its well organized and supported with the bonus of having all our friends out there as swim angels.

Thanks to Trevor and Amy at Boundless Nutrition for the entry and the support, and the delicous Oatmega 3 bars and Protein Cookies that i totally overindulged in on my birthday. yes, 3 chocolate chip protein cookies were my big yummy indulgence for the day. Thank goodness they are the healthiest cookies out there, since i have Kansas 70.3 7 days later.

And most importantly, a big thanks to my husband for putting together the best birthday ever and being such a great supporter and teammate. The below link is one of my birthday presents from my husband. He was evently putting in the final touches while i was out racing. yup, he got the whole family in tears,he's a keeper.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Cap Tex Tri

Cap Tex Tri - the race i always say i am not going to do this year and then i end up racing. This year it was especially hard to turn down because it was part of the LifeTime series and was going to bring in a big pro field because of the prize money, and its hard to pass up a free entry to a race in my backyard.

Usually i go into this race really wanting to do well. But this year looking at the amazing field of gals that were racing, and the fact that my stellar swim sets me back 8 min ( ouch ) out the water which is hard to make up at this distance, my expectations were extremely low and i was just excited to be apart of the field and get a close up view of the race that was going to unfold out there. Which i did :). When Andy Potts, Cameron Dye ( picture post race with them above, and next time you see them at a race go and speak to them and get some great insight and tips, super friendly !) Hunter Kemper, Matty Reed etc came by me on the last loop of the bike, i got so excited i literally had to remind myself to try to focus and not sit up and watch em go.

With Kansas 70.3 around the corner( next wkend ) and the big picture insight, i didnt want to waste a good taper on this race, so my coach and i decided to hammer up until race day. And honestly i liked this strategy since for the shorter races like Rookie Tri, Skeese Greets etc which i always do well and feel great at, i have always done a 4 hour brick the day before. And also because Every Olympic distance tri i have done in the past i usually have a crappy run/race and then regret that i wasted some good training days the week before.

so Sunday after a 2 hour run, swim at Barton springs, then being at the expo at the Tri4Him and Boundless Nutrition booth for most of the afternoon and then having the pro meeting at 3-4pm, i was beyond wiped out and really thought that i had dug a big hole for myself and tomorrow was going to be a lo-ong day. But after an ice bath,some time with my Trigger point kit, my awesome new compex (thanks Tri4Him ),2 bottles of pedialyte, 2 bottles of Athletes HoneyMilk, and the usual pre race dinner of chicken, rice, and baked sweet potatoe fries i felt amazingly better, and knew an early night was needed, so an 8pm bedtime it was.

Monday, i woke up feeling amazingly rested and ready to go.
Goals for race:

1. Swim - Swim straight . Check ! ( yay ) Be controlled in the swim and come out of the water feeling good. Check !

Usually on the Olympic distance swim i try to swim way to hard to try and stay as close as possible to the main pack, knowing i dont have alot of time to catch up on the bike. But i always come out exhausted doing that and it effects my bike cause i am trying to catch my breath for the first 30 min. This time i came out feeling great, and was able to attack on the bike from the get go and catch up and pass a few gals right off the bat. and FYI, amongst all the other swim/course confusions the day brought - the pro's were in fact told that we didnt have to hit the last turn bouy but could just swim straight in from the bridge,which was confirmed to me by other pros post race, the RD and through slowtwitch forum posts.

2. Goal for bike - dont get blown over. :) but seriously, i wanted to ride hard but within my ability. Check !

for 30 - 40 mile per hour winds, lesson learnt - dont run a disc and 808 front.
As far as intensity. Usually i ride with my heart rate in the high 170's, have a great ride then blow up on the run. This time i held back just a touch, still worked my ass off, but made sure i could breath and didnt feel like i wanted to pass out coming off the bike. bike was 4 min slower than i have done in previous years, so a little dissapointed with that, but looking at other bike times, it seemed everyone was slower because of the wind and i am sure because of the fact that we had to slow down and hop over a median every loop.

3. Goal for the run - just run to my current potential. Check !

I just wanted to feel good and be able to run like i do while training. I have had some frustrating races lately with the 70.3 distance, where i have gotten off the bike and cramped up, so never been able to run to my full potential since i am walking half the time. And as i said before, i usually have terrible runs at the olympic distance because i had just come off killing myself in the swim and the bike to just be in the mix. So toning it down paid huge dividends and it definately felt good running with everyone shouting your name every few seconds knowing that i dont look and feel terrible and slow.

Came in 11th for the day, just out of the money by about 30sec , but i was so excited to put together a good race in my hometown that i didnt care about that. Thanks to all those that came out to cheer and support. Every cheer helped, and some yelled out instructions like "Pace yourself" and "Relax". Hearing those words honestly help, so thank you.

Shout out to Derrik Deyhimi, who qualified for USAT Nationals and placed top 10 on his first Olympic distance attempt and being only 8 mths into the sport, Kim Hutson( who did her first tri after very little prep and almost no swimming)and came in 6th women for those doing the First Tri, local pro's Matt, Pete and Leslie and visiting pro's Pedro Gomez and AJ Baucco for great post race company( check out slowtwitch for the latest articles on AJ,and above photo by the poolside is with Pedro ), And to Andy Potts for some great advice that he imparted on tapering, racing, and loving the sport we all do that keeps us coming back for more.