Monday, April 7, 2014

It Begins...Oceanside 70.3

It has taken me a little longer to write this report than I had initially planned. The week after Oceanside was a tough week because I had to say goodbye to this guy...

Jaromir. August 2003-April 2, 2014.

In the midst of dealing with losing Jaro I got a call that my 102 year old grandma (I call her Ama) was in the hospital with pneumonia and was not responding to antibiotics. My mom rushed out to Portland and I anticipated flying up within a couple of days.

Ama.
Amazingly, by the time my mom had got to Portland her fever had begun to go down and she perked up. The doctors called her a miracle and she was released from the hospital yesterday. It will still take some time to recover due to her age but my mother said "she is being bossy" so that definitely means she is feeling much better.

So, back to Oceanside---which seems like a long time ago!

Before Oceanside...Di2 was put on my bike thanks to Davis Wheelworks. A huge upgrade. It was a challenge and their tireless work and help was unbelievable. Truly an amazing shop. Thank you! 
In 2010 I swore this race off forever during the first 10 or so miles of the bike. The race starts early (6:43am), the beginning of the bike is fast (flats and downhills) and the sun is barely up. For me, this equals miserable and extremely challenging. I get cold snorkeling in the caribbean. After freezing in Branson last fall I made a decision to go back to Oceanside to figure out racing in the cold. My plan included putting on arm warmers and wool gloves in transition, having toe warmers and heated insoles for my shoes and taping a Ziploc gallon bag to my chest underneath my race top.

I swam relatively well but frustratingly got popped off Meredith's and Julie's feet around 1000m into the swim. This irritated me a bit but I stayed there longer than usual so I guess that is progress. I was able to see the stand up paddle boarder throughout the swim and made my way to swim finish without any problems. I really tried to run hard to my bike because I knew I was going to lose a bit of time fumbling around putting arm warmers on my wrists and slipping my gloves on. This took even longer because I heard the announcer saying who was getting out of the water and I was thinking "I gotta get the f*&^ out of here!!!" Note to self...focus on what you are doing and NOT the announcer.

Photo Credit: Nils Nilsen
 I jumped on my bike and promptly got passed by Heather (x2) and Rachel McBride. They were riding pretty fast. I tried to keep them in sight as long as I could but made sure to ease back on the throttle since the tough part of the ride comes once we get into Camp Pendleton.
Photo Credit: Tim Carlson for Slowtwitch
However, I still overdid the first part of the bike a bit. By the time I got to the climbs on the back half of the course I was starting to get a little annoyed at my power meter. The numbers were trending down slightly. I just kept making it hurt and paid attention to my hydration and nutrition. The one thing that annoyed me were the bottles from the aide stations...why did they not have sport tops? Did anyone else notice this? I was riding with an open bottle in my cage. I stayed warm throughout the ride and only peeled off my gloves at mile 50. I also ripped the plastic bag out at the last aide station.
Photo Credit: Dave Easa
The run was okay. I felt pretty crappy for about 5 miles and then rallied and felt a little better.

On twitter...@ENCkb. Thank you!
I finished in 4:35...a 19 minute improvement from 2010. It was definitely a solid start to the year. Next up is Wildflower. A bit different with the swim-run-bike-run format but it should be a good time like always.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Great Sports Moments

The other night I was watching an HBO special about great moments in sport. People talked about how these moments provided hope, inspiration and brought communities together. As I watched I got to thinking about the great sporting moments I remember in my life. Here is what I came up with:

-Michigan vs. Colorado 1994: This was my recruiting trip to Michigan. We were sitting a few rows back on the 50 yard line. The game was "over" with one play left so we began to walk up the bleachers to leave. We turned around to watch the final hail mary pass which never work except that day it did. We just stood there. No one said anything. The stadium was silent except for the small bunch of Colorado fans in one corner of the stadium. As we walked amongst the 105,000 fans filtering out of the stadium it was eerily quiet.

Check out :45 into this video for the pass: 

-Michigan v. Ohio State 1997: Michigan was undefeated going into this game. Winning meant a trip to the Rose Bowl and a shot at the national championship. We had Charles Woodson. The stadium was so loud. Usually Michigan stadium is a little subdued and quiet. Not that day. When Woodson ran an interception back for a touchdown the place went crazy. Marcus Ray FLATTENED David Boston on a play, we won the game and then everyone tried to rush the field. We got pepper sprayed but it was worth it.

-Michigan BB vs. Ohio State 1992: I LOVED the Fab Five. Chris and Jalen were from Michigan so I knew of them when they played high school ball. Chris Webber's last game in HS was played against Albion HS in the state championship game so that was pretty cool. This game in 1992 was the regional championship and if they won they would go to the Final Four. I remember sitting on the couch at my house so nervous and excited. I was riveted by every basket. I think my mom was baking cookies in the kitchen---the memory is so vivid. They won and eventually got beat by Duke in the final.

-Michigan BB vs. UNC 1993: The Fab Five made it back to the Final Four. I was in Florida for spring break and I remember watching this game. Near the end, a timeout was called when they had none. It sealed their fate. I watched a documentary on the Fab Five and I still get upset when it happens. I want to make it go away. I bet Chris Webber does as well....

-Red Wings Stanley Cup Title 1998: I don't remember who they beat but I remember the team giving Konstantinov the Cup after the game. I was in tears.


-Derek Redmond 1992 Olympics: I did not know who this guy was before the 400m race. I just remember he tore his hamstring and his dad came out to help him to the finish line. I always cry a few times during the Olympics and this was no different.

Link to the video if you want to watch (his dad pushes the security away): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nifq3Ke2Q30
-Phelps vs. Cavic 100 Fly, 2008 Olympics: Unbelievable. All Cavic had to do was keep his head down (see pic). At that point I think it was just meant to be that Phelps would win all those gold medals.

Every swimmer should look at this picture and remember how important it is to keep your head down when finishing.
-4x100m Freestyle Relay, 2008 Olympics: Jason Lezak running down Alain Bernard to touch him out by .08. You can watch the video for some great (or not so great) commentating by Rowdy Gaines.


-Kerri Strug 1996 Olympics: I loved watching gymnastics in the Olympics. For a couple years I wanted to be a gymnast but then I figured out I was going to be tall, had more potential in swimming and I was not brave enough to do gymnastics so I focused fully on swimming. Kerri Strug doing that vault to help the team win after tearing up her ankle on the first vault is awesome and tragic at the same time.

I can't even imagine how painful running on that ankle was for her. 
-Floyd Landis, Stage 17 Tour de France 2006: Ugh...it pains me to remember this because I know it was a fallacy but it was so freaking exciting. I had the tour tracker on at work---I was a paralegal at the time. I was screaming at the computer. I could not believe the gap kept growing and growing... And then I remember when his positive test came back a few weeks later.

-Lance Armstrong, Alpe De Huez TT 2004: This is another one that creates a totally different emotion in me now. I knew it was probably too good to be true at the time but the story of it all sucked me in. Sheryl Crow was in the follow car and the crowds up the mountain were insane. I choose to remember the crowds and their enthusiasm instead of the athlete now.

-Patroits vs. Raiders, 2002 NFL Playoffs: The tuck play. The game was super snowy and for some reason I really like to watch football when they play in conditions like that. It is sloppy and not "good" football but it sure makes it exciting. Plus, the play was between Woodson and Brady---2 Michigan guys from my time in Ann Arbor. This play and the way it turned out could be difference between Brady being who he is now and just another QB in the NFL. Seriously, they won that year and everything changed. What would have happened if the call went the other way?


-Janet Evans, 1988 Olympics: She was 16 years old, weighed less than 100lbs and killed everyone in the 400 free, 400 IM and 800 free. Some of the records she set stood for 20 years. I remember going to watch Stanford vs Michigan swimming a few years later and I stalked her for an autograph. I remember saying "Janet, can you sign my program??"


All these stories made me believe and some made me cry. I love sports and everything that goes into it. The hard work, the sacrifice and the inspiration.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Race Nutrition

I have learned quite a bit about what I need during training and races. However, some of those lessons have come from epic failures. For example, during my first half ironman distance race in 2005 I remember reading you needed to make sure you replenished yourself after the swim. I did that by jumping on the bike and eating an entire clif bar (about 240 calories) in the first 5 minutes of the ride. I was literally shoving it down my throat. Do you know what happened? It sat there the entire race.  I continued to drink more gatorade and have honey stinger gels throughout the bike. Did you know that honey can have a laxative effect in large amounts??? I got to the run with a full stomach that sloshed with every step. The first 6 miles of the run I endured a jiggly stomach and then around mile 9 I had to find a bathroom immediately. This debacle taught me that while you do need to drink and eat when you get on your bike you have to pace yourself---little sips and little bites are key.

PowerBar...gets me through training and racing.
I have done pretty well with nutrition in training. I think we all have those days where we bonk or think we don't need to take advantage of the one last chance to fill up our bottles but I have learned to keep everything topped off no matter what. I always try to remember to take "emergency" nutrition on all my rides and I don't let the water bottles run dry. It helps me finish the workout in a good state and the less depleted you are at the end of the workout the less depleted you will be for training the next day. Training is most often not what you did today but what you can do the next day that makes you fit!

I first saw Powerbar products on deck at the University of Michigan when I swam and ever since then it has been my go to product. They offer a huge selection so I don't get bored with just gels or chews or bars. I try to mix it up. Luckily, my stomach seems to allow this type of approach. I also think you have to train your gut. This past year I looked back at some of my races in 2010-2012 and concluded that my best runs had come after bike rides where I drank A LOT of fluid. I ran well in 2010 at Honu 70.3 and I distinctly remember taking sports drink at every aid station on the bike. I ran great and while I was fatigued at the end I was still able to push myself. Quite of a few of the races where I did not drink enough on the bike I found the last few miles I would struggle to hold pace and felt like I was just surviving. I figured it could not just be a fitness thing because I knew I was strong and quite fit. The effects of dehydration was quite obvious at Vineman in 2011 when I lost a bottle on Chalk Hill road and had nothing the last 13 miles of the bike. I ran relatively well through mile 9 but then I fell apart. My min/mile pace jumped up :30-:45 per mile abruptly. I remember it took me a few hours to pee after the race and I almost passed out waiting for breakfast.

I started to really hydrate well during my training rides to see how I felt on runs off the bike. While I was fatigued from the rides I had muscles that were willing to work when I asked them to. I trained my gut to accept 1-2 bottles per hour depending on the heat. The big test for this was Wildflower this past season. It was in the 90s and the bike was so hot. I remember climbing Nasty Grade and just baking in the sun. I drank 5 bottles of sports drink. My stomach needed and accepted all the fluid and while the run was hot I felt stronger than I had the year before. I even had to pee right after I finished! I also found that remaining hydrated allowed me to digest more nutrition. At quite a few races I would get a yucky/upset stomach feeling and just chalked it up to being the race, the effort, etc. However, I think when you are hydrated your body has the ability to digest what you put in your stomach. When you become dehydrated your body takes blood/energy it uses for digestion and sends it to the working muscles. Hydration aides in digestion which in turn keeps everything running smoothly.

Like I said, this needs to be trained. Some nutrition products might work better than others and you have to come up with a flexible (contingencies are good) plan for race day. Most likely, you won't be able to carry everything on the bike unless you want it to weigh 1000lbs, and look goofy with 5 water bottle cages and 20 gels taped to the top tub. If you have a sensitive stomach it is probably worth it to find out what will be on course and train with it a bit to get used to it. I did a race in Australia in 2006 and they had a product (Enervit) I had never heard of so I scoured the internet to get it and try it before I drank it on the course.

Post Vineman 70.3 deliciousness
Post race I love a treat like a burger and fries and a cookie or cupcake for dessert. After Vineman we hit up a new restaurant in Napa called The Pear and they served Chicken n' Waffles. It was pretty solid. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nutrition

I am keeping committed to this blogging more theme! I have sure things will go by the wayside eventually but perhaps writing more here is like training---getting started up is tough but once you get into a routine it seems odd to omit it from your daily rituals. Speaking of which, training has begun and I am doing a little more each week. It is still pretty light compared to the mid season but working out everyday has me feeling more like myself.  I swear I was stupid and unorganized during my break. Now my thoughts are seem more coherent instead of jumbled.

I wanted to write today about daily nutrition. I will preface this by saying that I am FAR from an expert in this area and what I am writing is just my experience and what I do. Some ideas and food choices may resonate with you and others may not. Hopefully, at the very least, it just gets you thinking about your own approach to eating well.

Here are my main themes:

*I am not vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or have any allergies. I am slightly lactose intolerant so I avoid heavy creams, cheese, milk and (gasp) ice cream.

*I don't drink coffee. In the morning I have green tea. For the rest of the day it is water to drink. I don't do juices or soda (AKA "pop" where I grew up) because it is just sugar I don't need. Diet Soda is out as well because it is all scary chemicals. During the hot summer I will have coconut water or water w/ an electrolyte tablet.

*I don't drink alcohol. This is funny since I live in wine country. I don't think it is a major detriment to performance (unless you are hungover) I just don't like wine, beer or cocktails enough to drink them. Kombucha suits me just fine.

*I don't have many things I can't stand, except cilantro, but there are definitely things I like.  And, if I like them, I eat them A LOT. You will see what I mean below.

*When I am not training or racing I don't touch my Powerbar stash. During my two weeks off I did not even open the cabinet where I keep it.

*I don't deprive myself of fuel when it is immediately before, during or immediately after a training session. This is the time I want to be well fueled. It allows me to work harder and recover more quickly.  This is not the time to skimp on food. I "watch" what I eat between sessions but other than that I make sure to keep the engine running hot. My thought is that you have to keep the fire burning. If you let it get really low it will burn more slowly (think of embers and coals). So, in essence, feeding yourself is what makes you fitter and leaner. You just have to do it at the right time!

Fresh California strawberries. I can hardly wait for spring again!
When it comes my daily food (not including sports nutrition) I try to stick with fruits, vegetables, good fats, lean proteins and carbohydrates. For breakfast I have a load of fruit (pears or peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), some cereal, greek yogurt and a bit of almond butter all mixed together in a big bowl. I know a lot of people do a no processed food type diet but I don't avoid boxed cereals. I don't load up on them and I include more fruit vs. cereal. My favorite cereal is Peanut Butter Puffins. They are little pieces of deliciousness in some of my bites. I usually save them for the end because I love them so much.

For lunch I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day. I look forward to it every day.  I have eaten it for lunch since I was in kindergarten EVERY DAY.  This makes me a bit unique. A couple of the swimmers on the team I coach found this out about me a few weeks ago. Now they ask me every time they see me at practice how my PB&J tasted. I told them they probably think I am really weird now but one girl replied that it is pretty "cool" I love something that much. I have gotten into the habit of grilling the sandwich on a panini maker. I use sourdough wheat bread from Trader Joe's. I vary the jelly. My favorites are cherry, strawberry and grape. In the summer I will slice fresh strawberries really thinly and put them on there too. Proportion wise I prefer a heavily peanut buttered sandwich. I think if I could only have one food for the rest of my life peanut butter would be pretty high on the list.  When I travel to races I always take one serving packets of peanut butter so I don't miss eating it on a daily basis. Along with my sandwich I have Pop Chips and a banana. I have a slight addiction to Pop Chips.  They are great!  See..I don't avoid the processed and boxed/bagged foods. Moderation is key!

For snacks, if I get hungry before dinner, I might have some almonds or hummus and carrots.

I use quite a bit of olive oil. We have 32 gallons from our harvest so we don't run out....
I cook dinner for Andy and I every night. Chicken and rice, pasta, steaks, burgers, tacos, homemade pizza are just some of our favorites. This time of year I fire up the slow cooker. It is great to just throw a bunch of ingredients in it and have a great meal 4-6 hours later. Chicken thighs seem to do really well in the slow cooker. One of my favorite recipes is Thai Braised Chicken thighs. Give it a try!  I use more chicken broth instead of the water in the recipe. It just makes the liquid a little more flavorful.

I have to eat something sweet after dinner---a small piece of chocolate usually does it. My favorite treats here in Napa are Annie the Baker cookies and Sift Cupcakes. Annie's cookies are amazing. They are cookies that have the shape and consistency of raw cookie dough but they are cooked. Crazy good!  She can ship to you---my favorites are SugaSuga Rainbow, chocolate chip, peanut butter and toffee chocolate chip. She has gluten free and even vegan options but I think that unless you are seriously allergic you need to let the gluten thing go for a minute and give these cookies a try.

So...that's it for fueling outside of racing. Next blog I will tackle training and racing nutrition. It is hardly a scientific approach and I have had my fair share of disasters. I have definitely improved in this area and have found some things that work for me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anatomy of a Two Week Break

After Rev3 Florida I embarked on one of the most challenging times for an athlete---the off season. For me, this included a two week break from activity. Since a daily dose of exercise keeps me happy and functioning effectively in mind and body I knew the next 14 days would be difficult at times but very important for recovery after a long racing season.

Here are the four stages of a two week break, as I experienced them (everyone is different this is just what I went through):

Stage 1: JOY

I had no worries. It was lovely. This lasted a few days.

Stage 2: RESISTANCE

After I caught up on sleep, did some laundry, laid around and ate lots of food I kind of wanted to do a loosen up session. This is when I "cheated." However, it was for a good cause. I had to test some wetsuits for Roka. Plus, the swims were only 800 yards on Wednesday and then 2000 yards on Thursday so they don't really count.

Then, in an effort to keep myself out of the pool I subjected myself to this:

At Black and Blue Tattoo in San Francisco.
It is a rule that you can't swim for 2 weeks post tattoo (a rule I used to break in college...oops). I don't want to lose any color from the new work so I am following the rules. You also have to endure a bit of pain getting a tattoo so it was a challenge in that regard. However, this diversion tactic is a dangerous one to employ. I could end up looking like the painted lady in a few years if I get a tattoo to keep myself out of the water.

Stage 3: ACCEPTANCE

By the end of the first week I had completely accepted my predicament and embraced it. I read books in the sun (thank you California!), went to a movie at 10:30am and ate a normal breakfast when I woke up instead of breakfast #1, train, breakfast #2. I had a road bike fit which took up the entire afternoon and I got in 20 minutes of spinning so that kept me happy. This is probably considered another "cheat" to the ultra strict but I think it was okay. Andy commented that I was doing a "really good job of relaxing." I started to feel a bit plump but I think it was just a lack of activity vs. actually gaining a ton of weight. I ate sensibly and completely cut out any sports nutrition so I don't think I overdid it too much. Plus, I don't drink so I did not get puffy from alcohol. When I was a swim coach in Chicago I could always tell when the kids overindulged those first few weeks of school---many were "puffy." Sorry guys, you did not fool me; I was in college too, albeit a LONG time ago.

Stage 4: PANIC

This past Friday I was feeling excited about getting to exercise on Monday but I also had a bit of apprehension. I worried I would never be fit again. I was also starting to freak out about my swimming stroke. I always feel terrible when I first get back in the water. I can't feel the water and my stroke is all wrong and foreign. It is simply awful for me. I am worried I will lose all the improvements I have made to my freestyle this year. I was never a freestyler so I have been focusing on some technique this year that has helped me swim faster but over the weekend I became convinced my body would never remember those changes and my stroke is never going to be the same. I told Andy I was heading for a run on Monday and he said "you are going to be so gassed" followed by laughter.

It is Monday now and I have endured my first run back. I did not feel super light on my feet and fit but it felt really good to get out and run on the trails. On Wednesday I will do my first swim so a bit of worry still remains but I know it will be fine. The first 10 days will probably be ugly but that is okay; I managed a two week break every year in college (fueled by partying--no worry or panicking then) and swam faster the following season. So, embrace the time off, reconnect with family and friends and remember the crappy out of shape feeling will pass and you will be fit again!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rev3 Florida...and a quick look back at Rev3 Branson

The Start. I am in the purple cap. This was the first time I got a different colored cap so they could "identify" me. 
Well, I finished up the 2013 season in sunny Florida. Unlike last year I got to swim in the ocean and it was perfect on race day; the water was about as calm as an ocean can be. I had a solid swim, got popped around the first buoy because I thought "I don't want to get kicked." This caused me to back off just a touch to stay out of trouble and a gap opened up. I ended up about :20 behind MBK and Lauren but with Bec Wassner out of T1. She took off very quickly and while I had practiced in training to ride a bit harder at the beginning to catch any "groups" I was not able to match her pace. So, I settled in and rode the 56 miles all alone. The course was a collection of out and backs and the occasional glimpses of those ahead and behind me kept me motivated. The gap to the front seemed to grow quickly and then less in the last half of the ride. Since I was riding alone I did not have to worry too often about staggering which was kind of nice. I missed a bottle at the 2nd aid station which worried me a bit. I had about 12 ounces of Powerbar Perform to get me to the next aid station at mile 43. Luckily, I had downed almost 60 oz of sports drink by that time and, since the course was flat, the actual riding time had only been 90 minutes. I felt like a slight lull in my drinking for about 40 minutes would not put me in a spot of trouble as long as I got the bottle at the next aid station and made sure to drink it all before I got back to transition. I got off the bike alone and started out on the run course that took us along the coast and then in towards a waterway. The air is pretty still on the run course so it was warm, but, in all honesty, I really welcomed the heat. I don't do that well in cold, particularly on the bike, so I was happy to have a nice warm day to race. I did not have any idea if I was gaining on anyone in front of me the first 6 miles. I felt pretty good and kept sucking down my PowerGels so I did not have a replay of the last mile last year when I was passed for 5th place and had to fight the last 1/2 mile to keep from being passed for 6th. As I approached the far turnaround Meredith came by and said "you can do it, she is right there." At first I thought she was just being super encouraging to keep me going but then I caught a glimpse of Bec running in 4th. I took my last Powergel and reminded myself to run strong but be patient. We still had 2 miles to go and I did not need to use all my energy to catch her immediately. As I  closed the gap I could tell she had heavy legs so I made one big push to pass her and then kept the pace up for the last 1.5 miles. I kept telling myself to enjoy the pain and the feeling of pushing myself since I knew an off season break was next on the agenda. I was happy to finish the year with a solid effort. I feel stronger and made some changes in the middle of the year that really helped me capitalize on all the hard work I do in training. As I look at the last few years my improvement has been relatively steady and consistent. There has been no major "breakthrough" moment and that's okay. While I daydream about having a race where you beat a major favorite and come to finish line with no one knowing your name (a la' Jesse Thomas) I will take my approach of just chipping away. Sometimes I break off a bigger chunk of rock and sometimes my pick axe breaks (ie, bad race) but, no matter what, I really enjoy the process of trying to get faster. So, after my last race of the season, in an effort to get faster, I am sitting on my behind for the next two weeks. This is probably one of the biggest challenges of the year!  To keep myself out of the pool I had a tattoo modified just a few days ago so I "can't" swim until it is healed. Andy does not believe that I will follow the rules and stay out of the water but I am going to make it!

Mile 6. 

2013 is a wrap. 
Lastly, I wanted to write just a little bit about Rev3 Branson at the end of September. I always intended to write about the race because, while it was not an earth shattering performance, it was not disappointing either. I often think that people's omission of a race report indicates their level of satisfaction with the performance, but in my case, that was not the reason I did not write. For some reason I just figured no one really wanted to hear about it. Unfortunately, I have slipped into a habit of just writing about races and I think when you do that the "pattern" of the race report becomes more apparent to the writer. Perhaps if I wrote a bit more I would feel more connected to my audience and I could actually share more than a rundown of race details like "the swim was wavy, I was cold on the bike, I ran okay" type of reporting.

On that note, here is the Branson run down:

-the swim was stressful as the water was warm and the air was cold. Fog collected on the water and I did not know where I was going which caused me to let off the gas a bit.

-the bike was FREEZING for me and I rode like crap the first 20 miles. Then, as the temperature went up, so did my watts. The bike course was up and down the whole way but one of my favorite courses EVER. We got to ride on a closed 4 lane highway. It was like a dream. No cars. Amazing and challenging.

The Bike Course. We had BOTH sides of the highway. No cars.
-I ran fairly strongly off a solid, but not great, bike ride. I moved up and that is always nice. Honestly, I started the run a little pissed about my ride so I had some motivation.

We ran through the Promenade (outdoor mall) and into the surrounding neighborhoods.  Since we had a lot of hills on the bike we got a flat run to finish out the day.
-I REALLY enjoyed Branson. It was a weird little place but the scenery at Table Rock Lake and on the bike course was absolutely stunning. Branson was full of southern hospitality and I loved it. I HIGHLY recommend the race and really hope it will be around next year.

Branson.

The Branson airport. Two gates. Southwest and Frontier fly there.

And there you have it. 2013 is done. I need to make a commitment to write again on this blog even though I won't race again until March/April 2014. I often wonder what to write about. Is anyone really reading? Perhaps I need to write more to make people interested in what I have to say. If you are reading and have anything you want to hear about leave a comment! I always like good ideas and I want to make my reading audience happy. Thanks for following along this year, Happy Holidays!

Major props to RokaPowerBarRudy ProjectRolf PrimaSmashfest QueenFocus, Calavera SwimwearZoot, Napa River Velo and Davis Wheelworks for all their support this year.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Missed the (speed) Boat at Rev3 Wisconsin...

Last weekend I ventured to the Wisconsin Dells (via Chicago) to race. A perfect pre-race day weather wise greeted me and I checked out what the course had in store for us on Sunday. The bike had a few hills, some rollers and lots of beautiful farm views. The run was hilly the whole way---not a bit of flat ground.

After living in California for three years I have gotten used to the obligatory sun that shines from May-September. The midwest offers lots of green but to have green you need rain. Unfortunately, rain is what we got on Sunday morning. I knew there was a chance since the weather peeps had put it at about 10-40% depending on which website you checked. There were rumblings in transition that it was only supposed to sprinkle so I remained positive that it would not be a redo of last year's downpour in Chicago. I was wrong. Sprinkles quickly turned to a steadier rain and just before entering the water to warm up it became a solid downpour. I won't lie and say I was still super motivated and ready to go---the rain definitely dampened my enthusiasm a bit. However, once I got in the water all the trepidation faded away and I was ready to go.

Since it was an olympic distance raced stacked with short course specialists the swim was on from the start. I remained in the chase pack until about 1200m and then a large piano came crashing down on my back. I literally felt myself sink in the water. A couple girls who were swimming behind me came around me quickly. I focused on building my kick into it since I had to run up a steep hill right out of the water. I thought about not crossing over because as Andy says, when I get tired during our open water swims in Lake Berryessa (he kayaks), I begin to "snake like Alberto Contador climbing a mountain." Tight core, turn the arms over and kick was all I said in my head for 300m or so. I was happy to have pushed myself so hard to reach this point but I would have preferred to last through 1500m!

I ran uphill and jumped on my bike. It was pouring. The first 1.5 miles were on a narrower road with a lot of curves so I took them a bit more gingerly. I felt like everyone was biking away from me awfully quickly. However, once I got out on the main road  I could see my competition was not that far ahead. Well, not all my competition, but some. I biked hard and tried to be brave on the fast descents but as I recounted to a friend in an email post race I did have the thought "I am too old to go down and break bones." His response was appropriate because he basically told me to toughen up and asked if I was in the "osteoporosis division."

I biked as hard as I could muster, made a few passes and laughed at the absurdity of biking in a downpour. It was a replay of Chicago minus the potholes on Lake Shore Drive. Other than puddles the course was in great shape and I was not worried about going through a puddle that was actually a huge pothole. I made my way to the finish of the bike and was relieved to get there unscathed but also felt like I could keep going. Except for Alcatraz, I have done all half ironmans this year and I think the lack of specialization in training for the olympic distance showed. This was probably magnified racing against the caliber of athletes that showed up in Wisconsin.

I got out on the run course and felt pretty smooth but not super strong. I just needed a bit more speed (and some killer instinct too). Laurel and Kelli passed me and then I was stuck in no man's land with no one to chase and no one super close behind me to hold off. I was alone in race pain and struggling to push myself harder. Mentally it was tough for me.

I finished 9th. It was not great, it was not bad. Next up is a good training block to prepare for Rev3 Branson in September.