Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The weekend before that I had an opportunity to race in Bermuda. It was a great trip; the island was so beautiful with amazing beaches. IMG put on the race and did an excellent job; it was very well organized and a ton of fun. The pros also had the chance to help out with the sprint and kids races on Saturday which was fun and allowed us get to know some of the local athletes. The race course was tough with a hilly bike and very hilly run. Other than a sub-par swim, I was happy with the race. The poor swim probably cost me a few places as I was only one second out of 3rd and only eleven seconds behind the 2nd place lady. But at least if you are going to have a poor swim; the water in Bermuda isn't a bad place to spend an extra minute or two floundering around in... I definitely hope to go back next year and improve on my performance.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The day before the race Rinny, another pro, and I caravan'd with some of her Aussie friends to the race site. It was only supposed to be @24 miles away but driving there took forever. It made me wonder if the bike course is really 40 miles not 40K. After getting a bike, run, and swim at the race start, we drove the 20 feels like 40 miles and headed back downtown. After a relaxing lunch, I headed back to my room to rest and do all my pre-race rituals.
Race morning started very early....we had to be down and ready to go at 5am. It was still pitch dark for the first hour or so when we arrived at transition. I went on a dark ride through the park and hoped I didn't hit a pothole and crash before the race. The race started off well; the pack was swimming well and then we turned around at the far buoy and started swimming directly into the sun. I think our pack zigg-zagged back and forth and wouldn't be surprised if everyone swam an extra 100 or 200 as we tried to find our way. It was amusing and didn't really bother me too much as I figured everyone else was just as screwed as I was. I just tried to follow the feet and splashing up ahead...probably blinding following them as they zigg-zagged. Once on the bike, it was a bit of a draft-fest for the first few miles as we road through the pack on a tight single lane road. It was a bit frustrating but at least it was only for a few miles. Once on the main road, the pack spread out and drafting officials started hovering around us. Joanna Zeiger got a questionable call to stand down early in the bike; I didn't think she was drafting but sometimes the officials can see things we can't or make calls that suck but we have to live with....I had a great ride and was doing well in second place with Sarah Haskins and Julie Dibens. Then, with only 2 miles to go in the bike, I took a drink and had my water bottle in my hand as I went over a huge bump in the road. The bottle popped out of my butter fingers as I hit the bump with full force. Since I was in the front of the bike, the drafting official was right next to me and told me to stand down. After 90 seconds of standing on the side of the road watching competitors whizz by me I finally able to remount and continue. It was a bit of bad luck for me and very frustrating, but in the end I really wouldn't have done anything differently except maybe put my bottle back in the cage right away post-drink instead of trying to get in two swigs. After the stand down I arrived in transition, not in 2nd place but in 9th. I tried to keep my focus and not stew about the penalty. About 2 miles into the run, I started to cramp in my quads right at the teardrop and was struggling to continue. I tried to take in as many liquids and took a gel right away. After a few miles of struggling, I was able to push it a bit again but was constantly aware of my quads. It was not a good end to the race, and I lost another few places finishing in 12th. Without the 90 second stand down, I would have done better but at least I finished the race and did my best despite some challenges. Next year, I hope that I am able to be competitive at all the lifetime fitness races. On a positive note, I finished second overall in the Lifetime Fitness Series and definitely improved dramatically from my racing last year.
The town of Lorient was a very friendly seaside town in south Brittany. The people were very nice and welcoming. The race course pleasantly surprised me again as both the bike and run were quite hilly. I stayed the first night at a hostel and moved into a hotel downtown as the hostel wasn't quite the ideal place to stay. The karaoke the night I arrived along with constant opening and closing of the doors kept me up most of the night not to mention being on a top bunk. Luckily, Katie one of the USAT coaches let me stay with her a few nights in a normal hotel. The team and coaches for the race had a few dinners together, and I was impressed with the food though I am sure the waiters were annoyed with our antics and string of questions about the menu. It is always nice to spend some time bonding with the other team USA athletes at the world cup races.
Race morning came quickly; the day was gorgeous sunny but not hot and windy but not too bad. I had breakfast at the hotel, opting not to have the football size croissant race morning. The race went well. In the swim, I found myself at the front of the main pack behind a small breakaway group. I was fourth out of the water and happy that I was able to stay out of the mayhem that seems to be worse when there are wetsuit swims. On the bike, I worked with my pack to bring in the riders ahead Sarah Groff came back to us first then the small breakaway came back. When they were reeled in, I knew everyone would sit back so I threw in a surge and managed to get a gap on the group. It was early for a breakaway, and I knew I would only stay away if the pack let me go. Unfortunately, they chased a bit and reeled me in about three quarters of a lap later. I then sat back and worked through on the bike but didn't try to take on too much of the work at the front. Unfortunately like every world cup, so many of the girls just sit back for the whole ride it is a frustrating experience. Once off the bike, I tried to focus on having a steady run. It wasn't great but I was happy to run a 37 and finish 16th overall. While I was happy with the race overall, I definitely want to keep improving and move up to finish in the top ten consistently next year.
When I arrived at the race site on Friday, I was pleasantly surprised and started to get a very excited for the race, my first ITU style, drafting race, since June. Race day was beautiful for us; we started late in the morning so it had time t warm up and the sun was trying to breakthrough the cloud cover. It was the perfect temperature where I was never cold but never hot either. The swim wasn’t my best; I picked the wrong feet to follow and was SOL when the feet I chose were dropped off the back of the front pack. Definitely a lesson to not be happy at the back on the front pack but rather try to get closer to the front so that I at least have a shot at staying with the small pack around the buoys. I came out of the swim in the second pack and felt good the second I got on my bike. I rode with our group for about 2 laps and then made my move and rode very aggressively over the next two laps to close the minute gap up to the lead pack. Entering my 4th lap through transition, I was only 8 seconds off the leaders and was definitely going to bridge. Then disaster….I hit the corner at the top of the hill going down into transition and my tubular tire came off the rim. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I hit the deck. I got up quickly fixed my chain tried to ride and the wheels wouldn’t move. I checked the brakes tried to go again and the bike still wouldn’t go. Hmmm what is wrong. .. Needless to say, after about a minute and a half of chaos, a spectator volunteered that my tire was off the rim. I checked and indeed they were correct a six inch section of the tire had come unglued and was off the side of the rim. I popped the tire back on adjusted the font brake as it was rubbing again and was off…a minute and 45 seconds later with a few bruises and scraps and a much more timid riding style. While I was off the side of the road, the girls in the second group both went by me and I busted my ass to try to make up all the ground I lost. By the 5th lap, I caught one of the riders and she sat on my ass for the rest of the ride. I made up some time on the other rider and the lead pack but definitely wasn’t as aggressive through the technical sections and keep worrying that my tire would pop off the rim again. Starting the run, I felt a bit tired and frustrated that all my hard cycling effort really netted me no gains with the time loss as a result of the crash. I tried to focus but ended up just running smoothly and simply holding my position of 7th. Overall the race was frustrating but I wouldn’t change the way that I rode or anything I did except to maybe have a better swim. On a side note, the tire was a USAT wheel that was glued by the trade team mechanic, the husband of a competitor I might note. In retrospect, I need to do a better job of checking the equipment that I receive since in the end it’s my job to be safe and stay upright out there.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Looking at my schedule, Thursday to Sunday were jam-packed with some workouts that weren't going to be fun. Luckily, I had Amos to motivate me each day. Friday was going to be a tough day; the weather was bad: cold and rainy, and the schedule called for a track workout and hard swim in the outdoor pool. So Amos gave me long look in the morning and said he would disrupt his busy day to accompany me on my workouts to make sure I gave it 100%. At the track, Amos watched from the dry warmth of the car and kept me on task for the entire session. Later at the pool, Amos came on the deck and bravely fought off his drowsiness to keep me motivated. It was a good day, and I have to thank coach Amos for all his inspiration and for working hard to stay awake on the job.
There may be coaching regime changes in the future as Amos is now eyeing the absentee assistant coach's job. He is thinking of all the treats he can buy with the extra income.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The race in LA went as well as I could have hoped. I really enjoy the ocean swim and had a good start and decent swim. Once on the bike, my legs felt good and I enjoyed working the hills. I biked most of the way with Becky in sight; she would drop me on the flats and I would crawl back to her during the hilly sections. I took the lead for about 2 seconds on the fast downhill into T2, and Becky quickly took it back. On the run, I did my best to be steady and smooth thinking about my form. Becky took off and had a great run to finish strong another win. I was happy to finish second and enjoyed the second lap of the run. Overall, I was happy with the race but definitely think there is room to improve for next year.
The trip to Chicago was easy; any race that is only a few hours away by plane is a treat. Our race started at 11am and race morning was a bit hot and humid. In hindsight, I really should have been more vigiliant about my hydration on Saturday and Sunday morning that is a rookie mistake I need to prevent in the future. According to the race officals, the water temp dropped magically from 76 to 71 in the 12 hours before the race so it was a wetsuit swim. Judging by the overheating going on in my wetsuit, I would say the water was probably closer to 76 than 71 but all the other women had to deal with the same issue. On the bike, the windy city delivered its wind and we had a headwind going north and a tailwind coming back south along lake shore drive. The bike was not my best; I told my legs to go and they just weren't having a great day out there. I watched Becky take off on the bike, and she had a great ride and made me feel like I was just spinning out there. Getting off the bike, I was with two other athletes in 3/4/5 positions. On the run, I melted; it wasn't quite a death-march maybe a very sick march. I did my best to hang on to my position and finished in 6th. All things considered the race was okay; it was a tough day out there but at least I finished better than last year and didn't give up when things weren't going my way.
Other than the race, Chicago was very nice. I was able to catch up with my parents as well as Uncle Hugh and Aunt Karen and their wonderful daughters. It was nice to have a small cheering section during the race and spend some time relaxing with everyone after the race. Uncle Hugh was great to carry my race bag around for a few hours after the race.....only to find out it was an imposter. Overall, it was a fun weekend with great weather in one of my favorites cities; next year maybe I'll pull through with a good race too.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I saw many of the typical ones like....
- My Kid is a Honor Student (or Band Member or Gifted or ....) at Some School Sticker
- Election Stickers mostly of the 2008 variety but some as far back as 1992
- Various Sports Team, College, and Radio Station Stickers
- Hard-core Opinion Stickers - either Religious, Feminist, Vegan, NRA, Pro-Troops, Anti-War, Road Rage, or something similar
- Life Philosophy, Affirmations, Exclamations....half of them trying to be funny
- Some just not explainable to me...
Here were a few stickers that stuck in my head for a few hours after the ride:
- Unwrap a Smile and Eat a Little Debbie Today
- Stop reading this bumper sticker and watch the road
- I am already against the next war
- Real men don't ask directions
- My other car is a Porsche...
- Make Levees not War
In full disclosure for this post, I should say that I do have stickers on my own car and am not anti-sticker. On my back window, I have both a Lawrenceville and Northwestern Alumni sticker, and Jeff has a 140.6 sticker.
Next time you're out riding start reading those bumper stickers; you may not learn anything but at least the time while start going by faster.
The series started with a bang when I won my first 70.3 race. I led from the start of the swim through the bike and run, finishing with a five minute lead over the 2nd place athlete. It was tough in a different way than my usual olympic distance races; the bike and swim were a bit lonely at times. I am so used to racing world cups where you are surrounded by other athletes for most of the swim and bike. In addition, the bike was a challenge because I wasn't quite sure how to pace myself and didn't want to destroy myself for the run. The run went well except for some cuts on my feet that really started hurting the last 8 miles. Jeff told me not to run in my trainers without socks, but I didn't listen. As I ran those last 8 miles, I couldn't help but smile thinking that he was so right...running in trainers without socks is not a good idea at all. I am glad that I decided to do the Lake Steven half; Jeff and I had a great weekend and were able to catch up with our friends Dan and Kim living in the Seattle area. Dan did the race too; both he and Jeff did a great job and it was fun to see them finish.
The next race in the series was the Lifetime race; it was my first trip to this race and I was very excited especially since the race fell on my birthday. I was a bit trashed from the 70.3 and only had 6 days to recover. By Friday before the race, my body seemed to be doing better, but the cuts on my feet were still hurting badly. To run with them, I had to do apply layers of Vaseline and bag them up all week long...but this wasn't an option for the race. I decided to tape over the cuts and hope for the best. On Saturday morning, I felt good and started off with a good swim exiting the water with the leaders minus Sara McLarty who was somewhere ahead of everyone. On the bike, I managed to stay with the group and had a great ride. It was a non-drafting race, but it felt almost like a drafting race with all of us bunched together. No one was trying to draft but there was definitely an advantage to riding with a strong group of other women. I exited the bike with the leaders and felt a bit tired on the run. I managed to hold on for 6th place but was never able to hit 5th gear. It felt as if I was doing the whole run in 2nd gear running steady but not fast. Despite the disappointing run, I was happy with the race especially since I had done my first 70.3 less than a week earlier.
The final race in the series was the New York City triathlon. I must admit that by the time the third race rolled around I was not very enthused to race. I tried to keep a positive attitude but felt pretty poor during my training all week. On the positive side, I spent the week at my parents home visiting family and meeting my adorable little niece, Lexie or Alex (her official nickname is still tbd). It was great to catch up with all the family in town, but it made fitting in all my training a bit hectic as it was squeezed around lunch and dinner plans. Sadly, I didn't event get to spend much time on the beach. I did get in one open water swim and felt very wimpy as I only lasted 30 minutes since it was so cold @68 degrees F. On Friday, my parents and I went on a 6+ hour journey up the city; normally it takes about 3.5 hours but with the traffic we spent quite a few extra hours in the car. We stayed at an amazing hotel, the Loews Hotel downtown, and many thanks to Jeff's brother's brother -in law, Jon, who set us up with the suite. Saturday flew by with me trying to fit in all the requisite workouts, and my parents spending some time shopping and meeting with friends around town. Race day started off badly and went downhill from there....I wasn't mentally on my game and it showed. Despite all the challenges, I am glad that I managed to finish in 5th and didn't give up on the run even though I really wanted to stop. The humidity on the run combined with the hills in central park made it a tough end and definitely the hardest run of the series of races. I was glad to finish and see my parents, cousin Bridget, and mom's friends waiting for me. Many thanks to everyone for their support and a special thanks to mom and dad for their support in the ensuing days. It was hard to leave on Monday; it always seems like my visits go by too fast.
After the third race, I was mentally fried and really needed a break from triathlon. I did have a special treat planned first a visit with friends and then a weekend away with Jeff. First, I visited with some friends in Bethesda before flying back to Colorado. It was great treat to catch up with Ashley, Antonio, and of course little Lorenzo Cole. Last time I met the little guy he was in the NICU, and it was great to see him thriving at home. It was great to spend some time talking about all sorts of things non-triathlon and hear how things were going in their life. When I arrived back in Colorado, it was great to see Jeff. And I had a much needed mini-break from training to rest up before getting back into serious training for the second half of the season. The weekend with Jeff in the mountains was perfect. We had a great ride on Saturday, the Copper Triangle, 80 miles and 8000 feet of climbing; then we followed it up with a long run at altitude on Sunday. By the time we got back to regular life on Monday, I felt refreshed and ready to start training again.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
- Podcasts! I was first introduced to the magic of the podcast by my homestay in LA. Jay told me about these crazy Kiwi triathletes with some show and that they were talking about doing this things called epic camp, which involved a crazy amount of ironman training over a week. I listened to Jay and then started downloading the podcast, Ironmantalk. It was very interesting and I had almost 100 episodes to listen to since I missed their first two years of shows. Here are a few of my other favorites: This American Life (an NPR podcast that is excellent - there are a a variety of great NPR podcasts but this one is my favorite), The Final Sprint (running podcast with all sorts of interesting interviews), The Competitors (interviews with a wide variety of athletes), TrainingBible Coaching Podcast (interesting training tips for endurance athletes). I definitely recommend these podcasts, but there are so many great ones out there I am sure that you can find some favorites that fit your interests.
- Probars! I have tried a wide variety of nutrition bars from powerbars back in the early days when they were only in chocolate and came covered in that strange white powder to all the newfangled uber-protein bars. I tried probars about a year ago when Jeff was using them for his Ironman since they are calorie dense without being hard to digest. I liked them but wasn't in love until last month when I tried some of the new sweet & savory flavors. The new flavors are amazing; I have tried the Cherry Pretzel, Maple Pecan, Kettle Corn, and Cocoa Pistachio....all great. Jeff is partial to the more understated flavors (aka he's not as adventurous as me); his favorites are Whole Berry Blast, Nutty Banana Boom, Apple Cinnamon Crunch, and Original Blend. My other favorite thing during workouts now is the Cliff Shot Bloks or the Powerbar version; both are easy to digest and are definitely on the menu for my 70.3 debut. (I think the bento box will be stuffed with the bloks and probars...we'll see what is appetizing when I am out there.)
- InSport! I love their running apparel. I have a several pairs of shorts, shirts, sport bras, a jacket, and running tights. The shorts and tops have become my lucky hard running workout outfits. I know it sounds strange but for those hard workouts it definitely helps to at least start them feeling comfortable and looking good. Then, when things start to go down the tubes and you're falling off the back of the treadmill or collapsing onto the infield of the track, at least you look like a professional or a jackass....one of the two.
- Calamari Steaks....okay totally random, but Jeff and I have been making a Calamari steak salad about once a month. It is delicious definitely my favorite; it must be on my mind since we just had it again tonight. We get the steaks at whole foods, and they are remarkably affordable.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
On Thursday, I flew into Kansas City and drove up to Des Moines not only was the price right, but it also gave me a chance for a quick visit with my Kansas cousins and aunt after the race. The only downside was the 3 hour drive through some areas; it reminded me of my Alabama drive earlier this year. I was very fortunate to get a home stay in Des Moines. My host family was amazing, and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with them and appreciate their kind hospitality. The new race site in West Des Moines was great especially considering the organizers found and designed it in less than 2 weeks. All the athletes that I talked to were so impressed with the new course and event set-up; the volunteers and race crew deserve a huge round of applause.
Friday and Saturday were uneventful just some training on the course, the race meeting, and lots of down time for stretching and relaxing. The night before the race I had a completely outrageous dream where I was in 2nd place in the swim way ahead of the front pack; this is not a likely scenario in real life. But I took it as a positive sign better than the dream where I miss the race start or forget my goggles. The race morning was beautiful not a cloud in the sky warm but not hot and a decent breeze to keep things interesting on the bike. The late start, 1:30pm for us, is tough as there are too many hours in the morning that need to be filled up before heading down to the start. Finally, race time came.
The swim was rough considering there were only 31 women in the field; I had a very aggressive person hitting me each stroke and sending me off to the left for the entire first leg. Luckily, I was able to escape her around the first buoy. The rest of the swim went okay but I finished the swim at the back of the front pack making it hard for myself to catch the front group of swimmers on the bike. In the transition, things were going great until a girl mounted right in front of me and about 20 meters before the mount line. In her defense the mount line was not clearly marked and none of the race officials were showing us where to mount. In my shock, I almost ran right into her but managed to veer off my course and came to a dead stop waiting for her to stop wobbling. I cried out but none of the officials even seemed concerned that she mounted in transition but that is racing for you. Once on the bike, I missed the girls that exited the water with me and was dismayed to see that a front pack coalesced very fast maybe a half mile into the bike; once a big group forms it isn’t as easy to catch them. I paid for my poor transition and rode the first 6 laps of the bike course solo trying desperately to catch the front pack. I was 30 seconds down the first lap and narrowed the gap on the 2nd , 3rd laps only to see it grow larger again on the 4th and 5th . Then during the 6th lap, I made up a ton of time and caught the girls at the end of the lap. It was such a huge relief to finally be with the front pack, but the damage was done . I could tell that my legs were fried from the 34K time trial. I tried to recover a bit during the last two laps on the bike and surged to the front on the last lap to be ready for any breakaways knowing that my fried legs wouldn’t respond as well as fresh ones. When I started the run, I felt exhausted immediately. I tried to focus on my cadence and do my best. I managed to hold on and felt stronger during the second half of the run. Unfortunately, I was passed just before the finish by two surging athletes and didn’t have a response; I was 12th but was only 8 seconds out of 9th as we all crossed the line within seconds of one another. Overall I was very pleased as 12th is my best world cup finish ever but definitely know that I can improve my run especially if I don’t have to time trial almost all the bike.
And it was very exciting to see Sarah Haskins and Hunter Kemper win the last two spots on the US Olympic team. They are both such talented athletes and will do an amazing job representing the US. I can’t wait to watch the games this summer and cheer on all the athletes that I know and have raced against.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Sadly, the race was going great up until the pedal left my bike! I had a good swim and was the second woman out of the water only a few seconds behind Linda Gallo. Once on the bike, I charged to the lead and was winning until about 7 miles in when climbing out of the saddle my entire pedal still clipped into the shoe came out of the crank. After laying on the ground in shock for a few moments, I quickly got up and wanted to continue. The first problem was the pedal still stuck on my shoe. Some race officials helped me to take off my shoe and after a few minutes of tugging we finally got the pedal off the cleat. Then, I tried to screw the pedal into my crank, as I wanted to get back on the bike ASAP thinking I might still have a shot at the top ten. The pedal would not go back into the crank...I tried for ten minutes, a race official tried for ten minutes, another official tried, a volunteer tried, a random guy on the side of the race course tried, another random dude tried, I tried again....eventually we realized the the crank was stripped. But on the positive side, at first it appeared that I had trashed another front wheel but after fixing the skewer the wheel was fine. On the side of the road, I watched all the elite women pass me heading out on the bike course. Then about 20 minutes later watched them all pass me heading back on the bike course. After waiting on the side of the road for about an hour, I decided to one leg pedal back the start after pedaling and walking my bike up the hill back towards transition for a mile. I ran into the bike mechanic (funny how the race officials never mentioned that there was a mechanic up the road). The mechanic was able to use a tool to force the pedal back into the crank; he warned me that this would really ruin my crank but at that point I didn't care. After a brief debate in my head, I turned around and started back out on the bike course to complete the race. After losing an hour standing on the bike course, I knew my chances of placing were nil. But I love the Alcatraz course, wasn't hurt from my fall, and most of the field had already gone by me so the course wasn't too packed. I tried to use the race as a workout, enjoy every moment, and have fun racing when nothing is on the line. The run was a bit of challenge as the course is mainly single track so would sprint past slower runners then I would have to tuck in to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming runner to wait for another gap in oncoming traffic to pass the next group of runners. It was frustrating but as I was no longer running for any place or prize money I wanted to be considerate of all the other athletes. So, I cooled my heels many times waiting for a gap and was forced to walk or jog very slowly before I could run again. The one highpoint is that I did log the fastest women's time up the sand ladder. When I finished the race, I saw Siri at the finish line and just burst into tears. All my emotions from the day just spilled out at the moment...all my disappointment and frustration at being in the lead and having it taken from me by a pointless bike mechanical error. But I am very glad that I was able to finish the race and was proud that I didn't quit. It was nice to at least finish the race this year....and it made me hungry to come back next year and go for it again. And next year I can guarantee that my pedals won't be cross-threaded.
And a special thanks to Jeff for flying out to cheer me on in the race. Sadly, he ended up having to cheer me up after the race instead. But Jeff and I did assuage my sorrows with some retail therapy at the sports basement and a delicious lunch before he headed home.
The race site was in a park in downtown Madrid; it was so rural considering its in the middle of the city. There were a few women of the night working in the park as Jenna and I saw on Thursday night during our jog but they were gone by race day. I loved the race course; the bike was challenging with a decent hill on each of the 8 laps, and the run was flat and shaded. The only bummer was that the water temperature was just under the cutoff so it was a wetsuit swim. This makes the swim much more intense as the differentiation between the slower and faster swimmers is less pronounced.
I had some nerves and only sleep a few hours the night before the race. The race didn't start as planned. I had a good swim and then right before the first buoy I was dunked by another competitor just as I was taking a breath. As a result, I started hyperventilating and stopped dead in the water trying to regain my composure. Even though I only stopped for @ 10 seconds, a sea of other swimmers swept past me. When I finally started to swim again...tentatively, I had lost the front pack and to fight my way back the rest of the first lap and second lap. Unfortunately, I didn't make up all the time I lost and started the bike in no-man's land. I biked hard to catch the front pack and after 2.5 laps finally caught the group and was able to relax and recover a bit. By that time there had already been a breakaway of 4 from the front pack so I was upset that missed the opportunity to be among those girls. I rode with the pack and during the last lap launched a small breakaway to get into transition with a small lead over the rest of the pack. I headed out of transition ahead of most of the pack and felt good right away on the run. For once, my turnover felt great and everything flowed. I felt great until the last 3K on the run and then my legs started to cramp and even my arms were cramping. I backed off a bit since the main goal was simply to finish in the top 20. I finished in 17th and was the first American finisher. I was very happy with my finish especially considering how the day started on the swim. And I know that with some nutrition adjustments I can stop cramps in the future. The only bummer is that Jenna took a spill on the bike at the bottom of the hill when she was going balls to the wall to catch the front pack. But on the plus side, we all had a great time at the post-race party.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Here are some pictures from Trials and link to the humorous You Tube video of our two-block parade.
That is me on the far right of the swim start...I was last to pick my spot. And in the second picture, I am at the front of the 2nd pack on the bike.
Here is the link to the Parade: (if you're really into it you can check out part 2 as well)
After a week of getting my butt handed to me in practice, I packed up the car with all my stuff and then added all Jenna’s stuff and then squeezed in some more stuff until there was not one ounce of extra space and headed back home early on Sunday April 28th. It was great to have Jeena along for the ride; she was a great driving companion and we made amazing time. Sorry Mary but she doesn‘t need to pee quite as often as you so I was forced to hold it and so we only stopped every 4 hours instead of every 2. We did the drive all in one day and arrived exhausted in Colorado at 10pm ….after 16 hours of driving and an hour lost to the time zone difference. Jeff was suprised to see us so soon and we ruined his welcome back suprise, sorry about that. Jeena and I settled in and will be ready to start training camp thornton edition on Monday morning.
The race started off well, since there were only eleven of us on the start line, position wasn’t too much of an issue. I tried to get out hard and hang on to the feet in front of me. I didn’t have a very good swim. Not only did I struggle but I was also at the back of the pack and the last one to see as we went off course and the last one to correct the error. Swimming even slightly longer than the course is a mistake that I couldn’t afford to make. I exited the swim way off the back of the leaders and knew that I had a lot of work to do on the bike. My goal for the race was to never give up so I decided to go after it on the bike. I caught up to Becky Lavelle almost immediately and we worked together to catch the 2nd pack of riders during the 2nd lap. I went by strong and yelled for them to grab on as I wanted to help us catch the lead pack. Sadly no one came with me, I ended up in no-mans land and got as close as 35 seconds from the lead pack but wasn’t able to bridge the gap on the strong group of four working together. After fighting by myself for a lap or two and not making up any ground on the lead pack, I eased back a bit to wait for the second pack in the hopes that together we could catch the leaders. It just wasn’t meant to be…we spent the entire rest of the ride about 50 seconds off the lead pack not losing or gaining any ground. On the run, I started off strong and felt good for the first mile. Then I struggled to find my form from 2K to 6K and finally in the last 4K I began to feel better and tried to finish as strong as possible. I finished in 6th place a heart-breaking 10 seconds off of 5th. Overall , I was happy with the race. If the swim had gone better, I think I could have bridged to the leaders on the bike and come off in the lead pack. But I don’t think it would have changed the results significantly as I wasn’t ready to run fast enough to land in the top three, those girls all blazed to 35 minute 10Ks. The Olympic Trials was a great experience, and I am definitely happy for Julie Ertel who earned her spot with the win. She had an amazing season last year, and it is nice to see her get named to the team. Sarah Haskins in 2nd and Sarah Groff in 3rd also had incredible races, and I am sure they will both be in Beijing one on the team and one as an alternate. The race in Des Moines could be pretty exciting if Sarah Groff can pull off the upset and be first American. If I am not at the race, I will surely be glued to my computer that day.
Congrats again to Julie Ertel and Matt Reed whose gutsy bike and fast run got him a spot on the mens’ Olympic team. I am definitely inspired to keep working hard and hope to be back in contention 4 years from now in 2012.
The photos above are from the race...pre-crash. This photo below is me and the girls post-crash. You can see my arms are pretty bandaged up and I have some nice cuts on my forehead and lip.
During my warm-up I felt okay and started to be a bit more optimistic. However, as soon as the swim started things went downhill. The effort required to swim was taking so much more out of me than normal. My arms and legs were sluggish but my heart rate was ticking right along at a high rate. When we exited the swim after the first lap, I was exhausted and wanted to stop right there but decided to focus and actually had a good second lap. Exiting the swim, I was down on the leaders but in a good position to get into the lead pack by the 2nd lap of the bike. During the first lap of the bike, I coalesced around a great group including Lisa Huthaler from Austria and Lisa Norden from Sweden both great riders so I knew we‘d get that front pack very quickly. During the first lap on a short but steep descent, I was following Lisa Huthaler’s line as she pulled abreast of her teammate Kate Allen. Then I remember being shocked as Lisa veered quickly into Kate and away; Lisa’s back wheel hit Kate’s front wheel. I saw Kate wobbling out of control but didn’t have any time to react as she crashed directly in front of me; we were both going well over 35 mph. I don’t remember much of what followed except that the left side of my head hit the pavement very hard. I rolled down the hill for about 15 feet and came to a stop just before I would have hit the curb with my head. My front wheel and helmet were demolished but otherwise my bike was okay. I on the other hand wasn’t in great shape; I had road rash on both hands, forearms, and shoulders not too mention a very sore head. Amazingly my lower body seemed relatively unscathed. The EMTs arrived very quickly and were worried about a concussion especially after seeing my helmet in pieces. Kate Allen was in worse shape than me; she had deep cuts on her hands and face. I think we were both in shock and upset at Lisa’s aggressive bike riding. Kate and I were taken on a bumpy ambulance ride back to the race start then I was taken on another one to the hospital. Again, my homestay family was incredible; they took great care of me every step of the way.
Heidi and my homestay family were amazing in taking care of me and helping to get my bike and everything else packed since I was without my hands. The next day, I headed up and was upgraded to Business class on my Quantas flight home when they say my sad condition. It was pure luxury and probably the last time I will ever see that side of the curtain.
So the New Zealand curse has 2 and I have 0...should I dare try to break it with a trip back next year?
It is such a shock to the system to go from training where you think you are working as hard as you can to racing where you need to give it that extra 10%. The first one of the season is always a wake up call. Not to mention the nerves, I am always a bit more on edge when I haven’t raced in awhile so I was feeling those as well.
I left on Tuesday March 25th out of LAX and arrived Thursday morning in Brisbane Australia. I was traveling with and staying with another US athlete Heidi Grimm. The flights were uneventful but I was stuck in a middle seat for our 14 hour flight it was a tight fit between two large men. After we arrived in Brisbane, Heidi started to feel sick, and I kept my fingers crossed that she didn’t pass it along to me since we were staying together and spending much of our time together. I did start to feel a bit sick on Friday and Saturday but it never turned into a full-blown illness. Unfortunately for Heidi she started to feel worse much worse and didn’t get to race on Sunday.
The race started out well. I had a very good swim and came out of the water 12 seconds off the leader and made my way into the front pack by the start of the 2nd bike lap. It was a frustratingly slow bike as I was trying not to work too hard and wear myself out like in my drafting races last year, but everyone else seemed to be saving for the run too. I ended up pulling a bit but not the entire way like I would have last year. I started the run feeling very flat and cramping in my stomach. The stomach issues were my own fault: I broke the golden rule and tried something new on race day a combination of red bull and endura which I won’t recommend to anyone plus I didn’t have a bottle of plain water. The run started badly but definitely improved and by the last lap I felt good it was just a bit too late. I finished 25th overall and was the 2nd American. I was disappointed that I wasn’t in the top 20 but with the strength of the field a 25th wasn’t too shabby. I have very high expectations for the rest of the season and know that I am capable of even better results. With this finish, I should also be good to go for the April Olympic Trials! Next weekend, it’s on to New Zealand for the 2nd race of the season. I haven’t had the best luck there so I am hoping to break that curse.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
The interesting thing about doing sports is that every workout is an opportunity to improve my physical and mental fitness. Thinking that there is no possible way I can take another step let alone finish the workout and yet gutting through it to finish makes it easier to get through a tough race when the body really start to hurt. Staying focused and positive when a workout goes poorly is the best way to prepare for that situation in a race.
I love this quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." I have definitely been at the end of my rope and somehow managed to survive. I remember my first marathon in Chicago, I had an unseeded number so was supposed to start way back from the elite runners. But I wanted to really give it a go in the race so I jumped the barrier and started up to the front as close to the pros as was allowed. My attitude was either your going for it or you're not, and I didn't want to finish with any excuses as to why I didn't have a good race. So I wanted to hold 6 minute pace as long as I could and managed to hit the first half in 1:19. While I paid for the early pace during the last six miles, the risk also garnered me a great finish as well as made me mentally stronger and smarter for the next one. In triathlon, I have had similar experiences where I don't think I can possibly finish a workout or race yet somehow I manage to get through it. Every time it is much better to finish even if it's ugly than to quit and it makes the races that go well according to plan even more magical.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Confucius emphasized the importance of study and is still seen by Chinese people as a Great Master. He wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world, relating the moral problems of the present to past. One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasise virtue, self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment.
What does all this have to do with triathlon? On the surface of day to day training, not a whole lot.... However, after all the workouts and hard training, life and our journey in triathlon still has to have meaning and provide fulfillment aside from success or failure at any specific event. Each day involves personal choices: to give 100% or cheat yourself, to support your teammates or put them down, to appreciate your coach, friends, family or to take them for granted, to see the world through empathic eyes or critical ones, to see your challenges as opportunities or dread them as insurmountable mountains. This season, I want to find embrace each step of the journey and remain calm under all the antagonizing eternal pressures.
Here are a few wise quotes from Confucius that really capture the essence of my hopes for this years' adventures.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do. "
"Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it."
"Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. "
"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
But, I know that this will pay off when I get to the races this year...it's just not always easy to remember that when my legs are on fire only 2 miles into the climb.
My trip to the Olympic training center was quick but packed full of activities. Thanks to Nate and the rest of the resident team for making my trip so easy and helping me to get set up while I was there.
On Saturday, Jeff picked me up and we had a fun-filled weekend together. The highlights included dinner at one of our favorite local restuarants, the exchanging of cheesy but cute gifts, a relaxing but not so fun ride together where I complained about my saddle the entire time (sorry again about that), a hilly trail run in the snow, and some good old-fashioned quality time. with Amos oh and Jeff too.
On Monday, a very sad girl returned to the training camp in LA. It took me a few days to get over my home-sickness but by mid-week I was back in the swing of training and too tired to be sad. But I still miss the boys and look forward to seeing Jeff in March.
Monday, February 11, 2008
This season I want to be more like Lela and not worry about the all the external things I can't control. During all the hard workouts, I am focusing on doing the best that I can whether I am on-fire or feel awful. Failing or succeeding in one workout in February will not determine my race results or define my season. Keeping the daily challenges from getting to me and enjoying the journey will help me find the success I am looking for this year.
It has been a nice treat living with Lela and the rest of my home stay family, and I look forward to learning a ton more over the next few months.
I did get a nice interview featured in the online news section for Lawrenceville. Check out the article here. I would like to thank Barabara from the alumni and development office for writing such a thorough and complimentary piece. She made me sound impressive.
And last week, USAT published a list of the American Triathletes who have qualified to compete at the Olympic Trials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There are 12 women and 10 men on the list, and at this point I am perched percariously at the tip of the women's list.
Monday, February 4, 2008
The other beep beeps this week have been in the pool. A few of my teammates and I tend to swim similar speeds and it's sometimes a toss up who will be feeling the best any given day. So when we misjudge how one or another of us is going to rip it up in the pool we tend to bunch up and a train ride ensues. During one time trial swim this week, I was caught by a teammate coming up and we swam side by side stroke for stroke during the rest of the swim. At one point, there were 4 of us swimming across a standard size lane...it was a bit tight to say the least. Not ideal for training but definitely good practice for those tight world cup race starts.
The last beep beep is for the exciting LA traffic. The traffic hasn't been too bad but some days the freeways are just at a standstill....even at random times like Sunday night. And the funniest thing is the parking lots are so small for most supermarkets and other big box retailers that you end up waiting longer for a parking space to open up then you spend in line buying your items. I am suprised there are not more road rage incidents in parking lots as people fight over one spot.
On your next drive, please don't beep at me save it for the jerk stealing your spot at the super market.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
This week, our team also tagged along with another biking group, LaGrange, to join their Mandeville climb session. It was a good 5 mile climb without a killer grade until the last 200 meters or so. But after the 3 time up the climb, my legs were jello and ready to be done for the day.
We also got kicked off the track and did our track session out on the paths in palisades park off ocean boulevard. I wouldn't call it fun because hard track runs usually don't fit into that category, but it was pretty neat to be running up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean with views of malibu to the north and the beaches to the south. We also did a hard fartlek run from the canyonbacks trail head it was a nice trail maybe a bit rocky with lots of long rolling climbs and descents. But some of the views of the city from the top were impressive. You could see the city buildings to th south and valley to the east and malibu/ocean to the west. It definitely made running hard a bit more enjoyable.
Otherwise, the week was filled with some uneventful swims....when is swimming ever eventful unless you are in the open water . But it is nice to swim long course, it definitely is much harder than short course and will hopeful make my swim stronger this year.
More of the same to come next week...but so far I am really enjoying this training camp and know it is the start of a good season.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
To start off the weekend I went for a swim, not in a frozen lake, back in a pool, heated pool, in Boulder. Then we went up skate skiing in Eldora for most of the day at about 3pm we headed over to the resort to make sure we were in time for our couples massage. After the massage, we headed out to the natural hot springs right along the lake. Treking around the resort on the icy roads was a bit scary but once safely ensconced in the hot pools it was well worth the risk. After a nice soak, we got ready and went to enjoy our 3 course dinner. The food and wine was spectacular...the venison and the onion soup Jeff choose were terrific as was his wine selection and I am ususally one to really enjoy wine but this one was very good.
The next day, we went on a snowshoe in the morning; it was a nice and mellow with some good views of the indian peaks and peaks in the rocky mt. national park. We got back into Boulder about 1:30 and had to rush back home when I retrieved my cell messages and was notified that I had a bit less than 2 hours to report for an out of competitions drug test. It made the end of our weekend a bit abrupt; despite this it was still a great last getaway before I had to leave for training camp in California. I am definitely missing my boys now and look forward to visiting sometime in February.
It is awesome to be in LA. Despite the rain which started the afternoon we arrived, I am very excited to get back into the groove of training with the group and to ride my bike outside and run without the fear of hitting a latent ice patch. I met my home-stay family and look forward to getting to know them over the next few months. Though I am going to miss my boys back in CO, I think this is going to be a very successful training camp and the start to a great year.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Do not borrow your mom's ipod for a running workout....the songs went from Aretha to the B-52s to Bob Dylan to Snoop Dogg and Frank Sinatra. It was odd and shocking at the same time plus trying to run hard to old blue eyes isn't ideal.
Do not try to swim hard in the 90 degree YMCA pool enclosed in the 95 degree aquatic center without some nice ice cold water on deck. After a hard swim set, the only way to cool off is to pour the water directly onto your head.
Do not try to run on the Colorado trails after a messy snow left from a storm has started to melt. Either you risk running on ice and falling flat on your ass, which I have done - not fun at all, or you run through the shit-kicking mud that sticks to your shoes taking them from 8 ounces each to 5 lb shit-kickers. Just suck it up and run on the roads.
Do not eat the sausages and bacon wrapped scallops. They will not add in your training sessions the next day. And steer clear of the $60 pudding and canolis too just not a good idea.
And a final one courtesy of Marion Jones....
Do not cheat yourself. Whether it's simply backing down during a hard training session or doing something much worse. Not only is it not worth it, but it always catches up with you and you pay later. It just came out that Marion Jones will serve 6 months in jail for lying and cheating - more that Lindsey and Paris combined- if that isn't incentive to stay clean then maybe your integrity is.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
After our trip to Boston; we headed down to Rehoboth. I always love going home and enjoyed taking Jeff there finally after he dodged the bullet last year by doing his snow dance. We had a fun time celebrating a belated Christmas with my extended family. Before Jeff returned to Denver, we also visited my good friend Ashley and Antonio in Bethesda and were able to meet their new son Lorenzo who is busy getting big and strong in the NICU. They moved back from South Africa this summer, and it is always such a pleasure to spend time with them.
Then, Jeff flew back to Denver on New Years Eve, and I spent an extra week in Delaware so that I could attend my sister-in-law Cindy's baby shower. During my extra week in Delaware, I managed to squeeze in some good base training around all the family outings. I swam in the 90 degree water at the YMCA, which is always fun - nothing like trying to swim hard when you body just wants to lull around in the hot bathtub-like water. But, other than the Y, the weather was great for running, and I even got to bike outside a few times. I was also able to catch up with my good friend Shan from high school; she too caught the pregnancy bug and is expecting her first in April. We met up in Easton and had a nice relaxing lunch and chatted about her wedding this past summer. She always has the craziest stories - only her wedding inn would have Michael Jackson refusing to leave and causing a scene and umbrella shortage before her rehearsal. The end of my trip culminated with the baby shower for Cindy; my mom and aunt did an amazing job with all the food and decorations....it was amazing. My mom got tons of kudos for her various stratas, her cupcakes, and of course the homemade diaper cake; my contribution, the pumpkin chocolate bread pudding, also received some nice praise. It was sad to leave home, but I was also excited to get back to D-town and my two favorite men.