Saturday, May 10, 2008

Olympic Trials on TV

The Olympic Trials were on TV last Sunday. We don't get cable here in Thornton, but my mom was nice enough to tape it for me. I just got a chance to watch the tape and was definitely impressed with it, nice voiceover Siri. I just wish there were less commercials and more coverage.
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)

Goodbye LA, Hello Thornton Colorado

After the Olympic Trials, I headed back to LA for a week of hard training, intense packing, and saying goodbye to my favorite haunts in the area. It was sad to leave my LA family; they were so amazing to stay with and so hospitable. I got very lucky when they agreed to let me stay with them. To show my appreciation, I got them some gifts but there is really no way to thank a family for taking you in for months and letting you be a part of their life. It was such a great experience for me to get to know the kids as well as Sam and Jay; their son Wing grew up so much in the few short months that I was there from saying a few words to talking in sentences and their daughter Lela was always a breath of fresh air. I definitely am going to miss everyone and of course the crazy dogs…but I am heading back to a crazy dog of my own in Colorado not to mention his crazy owner.
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.

Olympic Trials

I arrived in Tuscaloosa feeling very excited. I healed well over the past two weeks and was ready to roll. The only difficulty post-crash was getting the wetsuit on and off my arms. The entire weekend was a ton of fun and organized very well. They had a parade for us on Thursday…a two block parade but still it was my first time riding in a parade. There is pretty neat You Tube video posted of the parade if anyone’s interested in what a two block parade of 21 athletes looks like….. On Friday, I had the opportunity to speak to a local school about triathlon and try to get the middle school kids interested and excited about the sport. It was a great experience and the kids had some very thoughtful questions. We did a short race to see who could get on their running shoes fastest, simulating a T2, and I lost badly. I guess I have some work to do. I hope that the kids enjoyed the presentation as much as I did and that some of them are able to continue in sports through high school and make it part of the rest of their life. Maybe even a few will do a triathlon one day. The race was on Saturday after the collegiate race. I woke up feeling great…well rested and excited to race.
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.

Healing in LA

I arrived back in LA a bit of a mess; I wasn’t able to swim and my whole body and head still were in a lot of pain. But in than 2weeks, the Olympic Trials will be held in Tuscaloosa Alabama. I am scrambling to try and plan my last minute travel down to Alabama and find flights that aren’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. Since I don’t have funding from the national team, I will have to pay for everything and hope they reimburse me something in the next year. Plus the reimbursement has a cap so I am trying to keep the travel under that so I don’t have too much out of pocket. This week it is very hard still not being able to swim. Each day that I can’t get into the water is tough, I am definitely concerned since tapering and traveling for the past 2 weeks along with not being able to swim this week after the crash is going to hurt my chances of keeping up in the swim. I can’t afford to miss 3 weeks of swimming leading up to a race where Sara McLarty and the other girls are going to be on fire in the water. But at this point there is nothing I can do to change what happened in New Zealand so I just am just going to focus on what I can do. And on the bright side at least I am no longer feeling sick and nothing is broken. Here are some pictures from the race in New Zealand courtesy of my amazing home-stay family:

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.

The New Zealand Curse Continues....

I arrived in New Zealand to rain and cool temperatures on the 1st of April. I was lucky enough to get an amazing homestay family right in New Plymouth, but that is were my luck ended. I woke up the first morning feeling sick as a dog. After calling Heidi to let her know that I caught the bug too, I decided to rest up and try to get better in time for Sunday’s race. Again my great homestay family helped get me everything I needed to recover. By Thursday, Heidi still wasn’t feeling any better either so we both ended up getting antibiotics from the doctor that she was staying with. As soon as I started the antibiotics I felt immediately better; the congestion in my sinuses was still bad but at least the body aches and sore throat weren’t as bad. By Saturday, I was starting to feel better but when I tried to do any hard workouts I wasn’t feeling quite myself just weak and tired. The next day, race day, I woke up feeling not so great and considered skipping the race since I was already high enough in points to race the Olympic Trials. After calling home and breaking down in tears when I couldn‘t get Siri on the phone, I was a mess, I decided to just start the race and stop if I started to really feel much worse.
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?

Season Opener 2008!

The first race of the season is always tough especially when it’s the Mooloolaba World Cup in hot Austrailia at the end of the their summer. Not only did I pick one of the most stacked world cups of the year (it is the Olympic selection race for Australia and New Zealand as well as an important one for many other athletes trying to get their ranking high before June) but also the course and weather make it one of the toughest races of the season. However, I would rather race against the best and get an accurate benchmark of my fitness than have a sub par performance where I score lots of points merely because the field is weak or small.
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.