IMCDA Race Report

It has been a few weeks since the race but better late than never…so here it goes.

Swim: 1:16

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In the days leading up to the race, there was constant talk about how the water conditions would be and if the wind would be a factor on the bike for race day. After one quick look at the water on race morning, we all knew we were in for a tough day, but I’m not sure any of us knew just how tough it would be.

The swim start at CDA is a rolling start where you self-seed yourself according to your finishing time. This was my second time starting a race this way since IMLP last year was also a rolling start. I decided to seed myself one group higher this year than last and started in the front of the 1:00 – 1:15 group. I figured I would rather have people swim over me than have to go around other swimmers. Here is a picture from race day to show how rough the water was but I don’t think it does the conditions justice.

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Once the gun went off for the age-group start, it only took 2 minutes or so before I jumped into the 60 degree water in my sleeveless wetsuit to begin my Ironman journey. It’s funny to think back how much you mentally prepare to get knocked and hit while by other swimmers but not as much for getting barreled by the waves. I tried to find feet when I could and just keep swimming. I came in after the first loop at 36 minutes which I was actually pretty happy about thinking I was on track for a 1:12. That would have been slower than what I wanted but for the conditions I would have taken it. The second loop was definitely harder than the first with some added tugging and pulling by other swimmers, having to wait/swim around a jet ski pulling a swimmer out of the water and getting a calf cramp.

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As I exited the water and saw my time – I quickly thought how slow that was but at the same time it was the same as IMLP one year ago which was calm water with much more of a pull so I’ll take it. My next thought was wow my feet are cold. Third thought, thank goodness for wetsuit strippers and volunteers!

Bike: 5:58

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It was time to play catch up! I headed out on the first out and back section while keeping a look out for HB and the other girls to see how much time I needed to make up. Much to my surprise I was only about 10 minutes back from one of my teammates who was in my age group and got the word from HB it was a slow swim! Good news for me!

If you read anything about IMCDA from this year, I can guarantee that the word “headwind” was mentioned! It was relentless the entire way out to the turn around on Hwy 95.

Thoughts from first loops:

1. Stay aero. Stay out of the wind.

2. You can push more watts on the way out since you will have help coming back

3. Drink. Eat. Salt.

4. Well, I am definitely losing time to Maggs and Courtney but it’s a long race.

Coming into town after the first loop is when the pain in my ass started. As most of you know, I have been riding my new Trek Speed Concept for about 8 weeks and working to dial it in to the right position…well it’s not there yet and this race was a big confirmation and also a slap in the face that Eagleman’s butt pain wasn’t just a fluke! I knew I needed to keep my head down and keep pushing but also knew the second loop was going to be harder and I had that marathon thing after.

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Going out for the second loop I saw HB and proceeded to give her a thumbs up and a smile and say I was feeling good even though I was feeling pretty terrible in terms of my legs. Fake it till ya make it right?!

The 2nd loop out on 95 was brutal and my only thought was to get to that turn around with some legs left and get back ASAP. I have never wanted to get to that turn around so much in my life!

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The one good thing that was happening was my nutrition was on point and I didn’t have any stomach discomfort. One issue was I could not pee! Not that I didn’t have to go but I just could not let it go on the down hills. I tried everything! More on this later…

Finally back in town into T2. I told myself going into this race that I would allow myself a few seconds to take a breath in T2 to prepare myself for the run. I sat on the ground instead of a chair thinking I may be able to pee…nope…nothing and I decided to chat and just take my time getting my shoes on to gather myself after a much longer bike than expected and a harder bike on the body aka my ass than I wanted.

Run: 3:48

I knew I had a lot of ground to make up and that was confirmed when I was told that I was in 4th with 10 minutes down from 2nd. Added to that news, my legs were not feeling great either. My butt hurt and I just felt very defeated after that bike. This is the fun mental part of racing Ironman where you come up with every excuse of why you should stop and at the same time why you should keep going all in about a mile!

At mile 3, I knew I needed to pee and someone had just come out of the Porto potty so I decided to finally go knowing that would help me run. Funny part of all of this, I wore a one piece triathlon kit and still sat down and went pee without taking my suit off and still wiped as if I didn’t have it on as well. Like I said, the weird things we do in an Ironman but I knew I had to sit down and pee or else I wasn’t going to be able to go.

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Another mile or so went by of me deciding if I could fake a foot injury and stop running but I just kept at it and finally around mile 5 I was able to get into a groove! I didn’t have any stomach issues and was high on coke! Now, I wasn’t running fast thanks to my terrible fit on my Trek that left my legs a bit wrecked but I was keeping a pace that would get me to the finish in a reasonable time.

I passed Maggs and knew she was going to win overall and the thought that maybe I could catch 2nd was possible on the second half of the marathon. With about 4 miles left to go HB told me to run sub 8 minute miles which I tried my best to do! When asked if I was…my answer was “I’m getting there!” as I proceeded to push a bit harder.  Up the final couple of hills and a “sprint” down Sherman to the finish.

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Overall: 11:09 3rd Female (25-29)

Looking back on the race I am proud of the effort I put forth on that day. It was not my best performance or a good show of how much work I put in for this race but it was a good show of effort and overcoming obstacles the best I could.

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It was fun to go on stage the next day to accept my award for 3rd and wait and see if a roll down would happen. Unfortunately, there weren’t any roll downs which part of me was bummed about but the other part wants to get that spot when I deserve it and am able to race to my ability.

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Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

When I crossed the finish line – I had a familiar feeling wash over me. We lost. I lost. I looked up at my Mom and said, “I feel like I just lost a big hockey game.” The feelings were merely identical. Disappointment, failure, anger and sadness washed over me knowing I did not accomplish what I set out to that day at Eagleman 70.3. My Mom’s response surprised me, “that just means you’re competitive, just like you were in hockey.” After hearing that, I thought maybe this was the race that now made me believe I was finally a triathlete, not a hockey player who is trying to swim, bike and run. Even so, Eagleman was a disappointment but lessons can always be learned and positives can always be taken out of a tough day.

Swim: 40:26

We parked at the Middle School parking lot to get on the shuttle when the news broke that it would not be wetsuit legal. Now to all of your swimmers out there who laugh and make fun when you see people freak out over this – get off your high horse. If there was some way to have a “wetsuit” for running that made you faster and then one day you aren’t allowed to wear it, you would be bummed as well. I am not scared of the distance of a half or full without a wetsuit, but I do know I will lose more time to the top swimmers without one and sure enough I did. We were the last wave to start and I thought the swim was fairly choppy once we got going – but I just swam the best I could. One positive is I did swim six minutes faster than my previous non wetsuit half swim – 1 year ago. Still slow as molasses but faster.

Bike: 2:32:49

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Going in to the race – if I was going to grab that top spot I would need to make up time somewhere and take a chance on the bike. After my swim – there was no way I was going to hold back now. Plus, I wanted to see how well the new bike performed. Not much to say about the bike course, it was flat and I think fairly fast but since I was in the last wave there was a lot of weaving and bobbing going on to get passed the other bikers. I will note that in some sections there is a rumble strip on the side of the road in the bike lane which makes it incredible annoying to pass people. I was passing a lot of people and keeping a fairly strong effort that may give me a fighting chance on the run. I did notice my face was caked with salt already even with constant hydration and my left butt was literally being a pain in my ass for the last 20 miles or so. I wasn’t sure how the run would go but – I was going give it my all. I did have my fastest bike split ever for the half distance and only biked 2 minutes slower than my half in Charleston this year with a similar course that was 3 miles short. I’ll take it.

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Run: 1:43:39

I believe in my run but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I didn’t have the legs I needed to push a sub 1:30 half and the worst part is knowing it in those first few steps. Yes, it was hot and I can’t say for sure if it would have been different if the heat wasn’t a factor but the legs were not turning over quite how they should. I knew the run would be mostly a mental game which thankfully HB has well prepared me for (think running around a track for 2 plus hours) so the main goal was to keep pushing and maybe things would turn around. I kept moving at a respectable pace until the turn around grabbing water and ice at every aid station. Side note: I thought the aid stations were very well stocked with great volunteers but there was one area on the course that went way too long without an aid station. Around mile 9 is when I felt the side stitch come about…it was so painful to run. I did my best to slow down and let the pain go away then pick up the pace until it came back and repeated this until the finish. I know I am a salty sweater and this race confirmed salt tabs are a must on anything that resembles a hot day.

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As you can see from the finisher picture – there was pure disappointment crossing the finish line. I felt like I let myself down, my coach, my parents who drove 6+ hours to see my race on my birthday and my friends who have been cheering and believing in me. I want to compete against the top girls in my age-group and I failed to do that at Eagleman.

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Overall: 05:00:05 8th in AG

Bad races will happen – but it always fuels the fire to get back to training for the final push to IMCDA. It was great to finish off this week with a long brick on Saturday of a 100 mile ride with a 40 minute run followed by one of the most mentally challenging long runs I have ever done before on Sunday. Looking back on Eagleman now, I know the race wasn’t great but the fact one week after I can bike the fastest 100 miles I’ve done and run that many laps on a track gives me confidence in my fitness and ability going into Ironman.

The Past 2+ Months

I have always been an early riser. It was engrained in me by my parents – when your alarm went off you got up or you would miss your time slot to shower or be left at home. I am much more energized and productive in the morning hours basically from 5 AM – 11 AM. If you asked me to do anything at 9pm that takes a lot of mental capacity – you are SOL….I’m done by that point, which is probably why I never pulled an all-nighter in college.

I have said it many times already but since being a part of Team HPB, I have been doing a lot of training. I wouldn’t say anything has been crazy…yet but we are putting in the some good weekly hours. Along the way I have learned a few things about myself and my body…

1. My body and mind handle volume well. Of course the aches and soreness are there but nothing to hinder my training. I’ve been averaging about 23 hours a week so far, split up to about 270 miles on the bike, 30-35 miles running, 20,000 yards in the pool.  As some people may say…more is more…

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2. Sleep is good! If I have a morning swim on a Saturday, I do not need to get up at 5 AM if the pool doesn’t open until 7. The funny part is once I gave myself the ability to “sleep in” I think my body was happy to be able to sleep past that 7 AM mark.

3. Easy sessions are in your plan for a reason. When I trained for my first marathon (picture from that race below) I always ran at race pace. Why would I train slower if I wanted to go faster? I have started to learn those days are in your plan for a reason. Go easy on your easy sessions so you can go harder on your hard sessions.

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4. I still need to learn to say no. This was one of my goals for 2014. I knew if I wanted to accomplish the goals I set for myself I would need to sacrifice things and focus on myself and training. These past months have been a build for me and I know the more intense the training gets the more important I will need to prioritize.

5. I need to do a better job figuring out my nutritional needs during training and outside of training for how to best fuel myself. It is always a work in progress for me but one day at a time. The smoothies are starting to reappear a lot more these days and I am loving it, especially green ones!

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6.  Duran still and will always be my biggest supporter, but will also put me in my place  when I may be being a bit irrational.  He’s not the type to hold my hand through anything – he will always let me figure it out first and as much as sometimes I want to be a girl and say why won’t you just ride with me – he is doing it for a reason. For one, he has goals with his own training which means he is going to be ahead of me sometimes on a ride and I need to learn things on my own! Just an example, my first time ever riding a cross bike was in Umstead last year on someone else’s bike in the pitch black with just lights on our helmets with no instructions. He could have said…oh by the way it could get a bit technical and there are some pretty steep inclines that you may just fall over on your bike because your back wheel will keep spinning. Result – he rode way ahead of me to where I couldn’t see him anymore and I ate shit on one of the hills but looking back I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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5. I need to start investing in more cycling and running clothes…2 pairs of cycling shorts and basically two pairs of running shorts is causing a lot of laundry.

6. There is still a lot of work to be done!

That’s all I’ve got for today! Oh except…I will be racing a half in Florida next weekend! Team DL ready for 2014!

PS Check out a great write-up on Team HPB Camp that went on in Tucson a few weeks ago…I couldn’t make it this year but will be participating next year!

February Comes to an End

February has come to a close and we are going into March full steam ahead.

While at the pool the other day one of the employees at the main desk asked Duran and I what we had on tap for the rest of the day. Duran replied, “Just a 4-hour bike ride”.  The women replied in a way that most do, “wow, that’s a long time!” With a quick smile at each other the conversation continues the way most do with people who aren’t sure about what an Ironman entails. She then asked the questions…how far, how long, are you competing or just finishing etc. We answer and nod and just say we love it and continue on our way.

Once again, February brought higher consecutive weekly hours and a lot of work was completed on the bike, swim and run. So why the story above, it sparked a question inside of me that I wish I had asked when she said why do we do Ironman’s?

My first answer or I guess question…what else would we be doing on a Saturday? I really have no idea what a day without a morning swim, afternoon bike and the added long run in there would be like. The second answer or once again questions would be…what makes you feel alive and what challenges you every day?

Triathlon does that for me. Some people want to do the train less plan or may not want to put in the hours but I’m not one of them. Triathlon is a lifestyle and it challenges me everyday but the motivation rarely leaves to train day in and day out. Why? It’s because of the feeling after a 2 hour trail morning run followed by an afternoon 50 minute treadmill run that leaves you smiling all night. It’s the bike interval set you nail and know if I keep waking up and riding my bike more and more I can hit an even better interval the next time.

So, no February totals because everyone has the number and mine is what works for me.

My question is what motivates you? What drives you to feel truly alive? For me it’s training and racing triathlons…yes both of them. I always use to tell my student’s…I don’t care what you are passionate about but BE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING and put your whole heart into it!

Happy training friends!

What I learned…

Since the start of the year I have been on my bike more each week than ever before. Having rode about nine 4 hour rides already this year along with riding more frequently during the week I am building my bike endurance which I definitely need. On the weekends I have been lucky enough to get outside but this winter has been tough on a lot of people so most rides during the week have been done inside on the trainer. Riding so much has taught me a few things that I thought I would share with you all.

1. Get a good saddle!

I am very comfortable on my bike in terms of fit. I could ride in the aero position all day but in saying that, since getting my bike I have never had a comfortable saddle. At the end of every ride or even 2 hours in – my lady parts were screaming at me. Before working with Hillary, I couldn’t ride the trainer for more than an hour without being in tears because of the pain. Since I knew I would be riding the trainer much more and for longer, the first thing I did was try to find a saddle that would actually work for me. I am now using and ISM Adamo road saddle, which has worked great so far.

2. Be All In!

What I mean by this is, I can’t go into a trainer ride dreading it or being bummed I have to ride the trainer. I’ve got to be ready for it and be mentally all in for it.

3. Movies, TV shows, Podcasts, and Music!

Get all the entertainment you may need to keep you occupied for those hours you are riding. Now I may be a the minority on this one but I can zone out for a long time and don’t need much to keep me occupied…for example last night I had a two-hour trainer ride and all I did was listen to Pandora. No TV on, just staring at my Garmin numbers or at the wall, zoned out or I guess you could say zoned in. This isn’t the case for every ride but I’ll have some episodes of Criminal Minds on DVR to watch or a Podcast ready just in case.

4. Workouts!

When inside especially, but outside too have a workout planned. It could be a low cadence and strength work or sets of hard interval but times goes by much faster when focusing on completing a workout.

5. Get ready for your legs to be tired!

If you are riding 5 days a week the likelihood that your legs will feel fresh everyday is zero to none. You may have only one ride the whole week that you can say, “that felt really good” but in the end your legs start to get used to the load and adapt. When I did my first two weeks of 13 – 14 hours of riding per week I was beat by the end but now I am getting more accustomed to it and my legs are coming around. On Saturday’s long ride I felt like my racing legs and power was saying hello for the first time in 2014.

6. Time.

Riding a lot takes up a lot of your time. Be prepared to say no to doing most things outside of riding your bike and make sure your family or significant other know that your bike may be seeing more action than you.  I am lucky to have Duran who understands how much training goes into this sport and he is on board and does basically the same amount of riding and training that I do if not more.

7, Towels, Fans, Windows!

Do not go into a trainer workout without the above! You will sweat a lot and keeping a towel maybe two or three towels near you is a must. I always have the ceiling fan on just to give a bit of a breeze since our bike room tends to get very hot compared to the rest of the house. I would also open a window to get some cool air especially during this time of the year.

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I’m sure I left out plenty of stuff but those are my tips and experiences riding the bike a lot and I’m sure even more coming up!

What are some of you tips during a big bike build?

My Swimming History

My background in swimming is pretty nonexistent.  I remember swimming in gym class and being scared I would drown. My friends can attest that anytime we played water polo I threatened their lives if they dunked me.

When I made the decision to do triathlons, the first thing out of my Mom’s mouth was, “but, you don’t know how to swim”…and for the most part she was right. So I joined the Capital District Triathlon Club where on Tuesday nights they had training night where you could do an open water swim up, bike 20 miles then run a 5K. The first time I showed up with my friend Tara, I skipped out on the swim and just did the bike and run. The second week – I finally got in the water. Oh my gosh – that was the longest 40 something minutes of my life for a half mile! I had signed up for my first half ironman distance triathlon for the Fall of that year and I think I swam maybe 5 or 6 times before the race. Adding to that, the week before the race I had to buy a wetsuit since the water was going to be so cold and I had never swam in one before. I think the wetsuit was the only thing that got me through that 1.2 mile swim! The only reason my Mom came to watch the race was to make sure I got out of the water and didn’t drown! Thanks Mom!

So fall, winter and spring went by and guess how many times I got in the pool to train? Zero! Summer came and I joined CDTC and BTC triathlon clubs again where I got to swim open water twice a week with my trusty wetsuit and called it swim training!

When I made the move down to North Carolina – the triathlon club scene was completely different from where I lived before and I knew I was going to have to actually swim in a pool for the first time since middle school gym class. The added motivation from signing up for IMLP helped because I knew to swim 2.4 miles was no easy task for me!

Even with IMLP on the dock – I wouldn’t say my swim training was the best and I still wasn’t comfortable in the water. I think my longest workout was 4,000 yards at one time before Placid and to be honest some days I would get in and swimming 100 yards in a row was tough. Luckily, I was able to get in Mirror Lake a week before the race and swim the 2.4 mile course to make sure I could do it. After being down 20 minutes after the swim to my competitors in my age group on race day – even if I am a strong biker and runner I knew my swimming needed to improve if I had any plans to be competitive and get to where I want to be.

Training for Cozumel – my swimming picked up a bit but still wasn’t ideal since the only time I could swim with my schedule was at 8:30 pm on my own. That brings me to where I am today – working with Hillary and getting a new job has already drastically changed my swim and where it will be in the next couple of months.  Things that have helped….

1. I can swim in the mornings when my motivation is the highest!

2. Having a coach write you swim workouts and having you report times – everyone wants to impress their coach! And in case you haven’t heard – she loves 100 X 100 workouts and by god if she tells me to do it I’ve better be able to do it!

3. Masters! I had always been scared and intimidated to go to a Masters swim before but after doing Hillary’s workouts and getting in the water as much as I am – I finally have the confidence to get there and even lead my lane if I can. Now I just need to make sure I am moving up lanes and pushing myself!

4. Kona – I need to swim faster – not necessarily because of time lost but for positioning during the race. I need to get out of the water with bikers that are more around my level so I actually have people to work with instead of saying “on your left” or “slow swimmer coming through” all the time during the race.

So after being called out by James for not having any swimming goals – I guess my answer to him is that since my training was pretty non-existent before January 1 – it is tough for me to see where I can be with sufficient work and training…so I guess my only goal is to complete every workout given to me and push myself to get uncomfortable while in the water and see where it leads!

2013 in Review

I thought I would highlight some of 2013 since it is coming to a close in a couple of days.

The DL Experience – Spring Break to Lake Lure and Asheville NC

This was the first big trip for Duran and I and one that would include a lot of riding! We had plans to use it as a mini training camp before the season starts but as it turned out with weather and all it was more of a biking trip than an all around triathlon training week. It turned out great and I gained a lot of fitness and confidence before the season started!

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The Boston Marathon

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Boston was not an ‘A’ race on my schedule but it was Boston so I obviously wanted to do well. I only did one 16 and 18 mile run as my “long” runs before and had just come off a huge bike week in the mountains before the race.

I raced well and performed with the fitness that I had. But, Boston will not be remembered for my race time there or how well I ran. It has a much deeper meaning and will be a day I will never forget.

Climbing Mount Mitchell

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Duran and I headed back to Asheville for one main purpose. Climb Mount Mitchell. I did not write a blog about the climb but it was the weekend before Raleigh 70.3 and we started off on the Parkway in Asheville and it was basically a 3+ hour all uphill ride until you reach the top of Mitchell and then about an hour ride all downhill ride home.

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This was another one of those confidence boosting rides and mentally challenging rides to do but felt great once back home – the worst part was probably descending Mitchell – I really need to get better at going down.

Top of Mitchell

Ironman Raleigh 70.3

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This was only second half and my first ironman race I had ever done. I had a feeling I could be in the hunt – but wasn’t quite sure how the day would play out. Much to my surprise I had a very good race and qualified for the 70.3 Worlds in Vegas by coming in 2nd in my age group which I proceeded to pay for that day and ended up not making it out to race because of the cost of the trip.

Ironman Lake Placid

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Placid was my first full Ironman and although it did not go quite as planned, I still had an amazing time and a fairly decent race.

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Beach to Battleship

My first overall female win! I raced a lot in the Fall and was coming up short to some speedy girls for 1st place but finally managed to pull off a win in Wilmington with a PR half marathon.

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Ironman Cozumel

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Cozumel was going perfect until it wasn’t. I learned a lot from this race and know what I need to dial in and focus on for 2014 if I am going to make it to the next level and get to Kona like I want to.

Those are my triathlon highlights for 2013 and I am sure there are to be plenty more in the next year. Just for fun – one of my favorite pictures of us after Placid.

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