THOUGHTS

Michigan Racing

A Facebook reminder from 2016 popped up today and reminded me to collect a few thoughts from Steelhead this year.  The race was a few weeks ago at this point but still quite fresh in my memory.  Without question, this has been and always will be my favorite race of the year and this year was my third time on the course.  In 2016 the goal was to lay down a bike ride for my last amateur 70.3.  In 2017 the goal was to run better than the year before.  This year the goal was much simpler, enjoy the day regardless of the outcome. Race hard, have fun, and see what kind of bike legs existed after several weeks off.  Well, the bike ride went just fine but after some time off, my run legs were essentially worthless :-)  The third place finish was icing on the cake because the main goal was accomplished this year. 

 St Joseph, Michigan (just across the river from Benton, Harbor)

St Joseph, Michigan (just across the river from Benton, Harbor)

A very short summary of the race itself: the swim was SO rough but that kept some of the quick swimmers close. The bike and I bonded quite nicely which meant the fastest female bike split of the day. And then the run. Well, it happened and it wasn't the prettiest thing ever, but I was fortunate enough to have just enough to finish off the race in a good position.  Verdict, time to get that run fitness back.  Still, no complaints on the day and it was a great fitness benchmark before starting to put in some work.   

 Dad :-)

Dad :-)

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Now that we have glassed over the race, on to my favorite parts of Benton Harbor.  Dad has been at the race 3 years in a row, and I’m 100% sure that he will be at every race in Benton Harbor in the future (as long as the Pro race stays).  He’s had some practice scoping out his favorite cheering spots so I knew exactly where to look for him on the course.  He had his partner in crime, Kristy, with him this year and they were exactly where I expected them to be each time. Welcome to the family Kristy, sorry there are no pictures of the three of us! 

 

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The equally amazing part of this race, my homestay family.  Last year I submitted a request for a homestay, and I was lucky enough to connect with Moose and June.  I was told they expected me to return and stay with them again so I followed directions!  There were dinners on the patio with live music, lazy mornings, fresh Michigan peaches and cherries, and lots of laughs.  And post-race pizza…how could I forget post-race pizza?!?!  See the name on that pizza box? It has to be some of the best Pizza in Michigan.  A meeting by chance but a friendship that I know will last forever. Thank you for everything! 

Now that the pizza eating is out of the way, it’s time to get ready to race this fall!  Who am I kidding, pizza eating is never over. 

 

CC

From Australia to Japan

 Ironman 70.3 Japan Swim (PC: Peaman)

Ironman 70.3 Japan Swim (PC: Peaman)

3 races in 3 months. I'm playing the race once a month game at the moment. April was Challenge Melbourne mixed with a bit of training. May was Ironman 70.3 Busselton and that was interesting to say the least.  Fitness was high in April and May but took a dive after crashing in Busselton and running to finish the race (and eventually getting disqualified), so the 6 weeks between that and Ironman 70.3 Japan lacked in a lot of different areas.  It's all part of the game though. If everything went perfectly 100% of the time, what fun would that be?!

I was absolutely convinced Japan was going to be a do not start situation based on recovery from the crash and a few other issues but a few days before the flight the decision was made to go. Usually I have my neat little piles organized over a week before a trip so this was already outside of the norm!  There were really only two goals for the race: 1) Keep the tires on the ground and 2) kickstart the fitness build for the second half of 2018. Lucky for me I checked both of those boxes! 

The race was relatively uneventful but that was great after Busselton ;-)  The swim happened, the bike course was probably one of the most technically complicated courses on the Ironman circuit, and the run was crazy hilly and mixed in a few sets of stairs to keep things interesting. The bike course probably had 23 or more hairpin turns, even more 90 degree or sharper turns, and included biking on a sidewalk, a seawall, several narrow country roads, and just about any other place you could imagine! The amazing thing about the race: the volunteers. 1400 of them to be exact. The ENTIRE course was also lined with cones and giant arrows to help athletes navigate.   

 Run Course PC: Peaman 

Run Course PC: Peaman 

 Expo 

Expo 

On top of all of that, it was a legit point-to-point race so the logistics to organize it and make everything happen had to be crazy. The race organizers put on a show. Everything ran smoothly, shuttles happened exactly as they said they would, bikes traveled to T1 in trucks with rows of bike racks, and trust me I could go on and on.  It was an impressive operation!  The race meetings, expo, and awards party also took place in an airport. Yup, you read that correctly!  

 Tokoname Junior High School 

Tokoname Junior High School 

But the best part of the trip, visiting Tokoname Junior High School.  A group of pro athletes had the opportunity to race students in a triathlon-like event in the gymnasium as well as spend some time in classrooms over the lunch hour sharing experiences, answering questions, and participating in normal school gossip. I don't think any of us were prepared for the all out sprint efforts needed to race though!  I'm pretty certain we all got completely crushed in 25 meter running races.  While we were there to share our lives with the students, they also provided a reminder that the sport is more than just swim, bike, run, eat, sleep, train. It's about experiencing new cultures, seeing new places, inspiring others, and taking hold of each opportunity.  I needed this reminder and it came at a perfect time.  The second place finish was nice but was really just icing on the cake.

The one race each month trend isn't over yet. I'm headed to the mainland to race in July and August!  For now, I'll be settling back into the training routine to allow the fitness build for the second half of 2018 to begin. 

As always, a huge mahalo to all of the companies and people helping me make this happen. It can't be done alone! 

CC

For the ladies...sorry guys...

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Real talk for a minute ladies. Sorry guys, this is probably not for you unless you are shopping for your better halves who enjoy a bit of running or cycling. Better luck next time ;-)


Hawai'i life means it's basically warm all year long and most training hours are logged in a jog bra or a jog bra under a cycling jersey (or a jog bra on the bike trainer).  It's just too warm to wear more layers. Even if you live someplace cold, you still need a solid jog bra under all of your layers!  Translation,  I literally wore one of my Epix Gear jog bras 6 days a week in 2017 and the trend continues this season.


Fun fact #1: The black and pink fabric doesn't fade in the Hawaiian sun, and the white stays crisp no matter how many times you spray yourself with sunscreen and sweat more than humanly possible (gross, I know!).  Trust me, I've tested this over and over again.


Fun fact #2: My jog bras from 2017 are literally just as tight as they were out of the package.  The beautiful black and pink bras for 2018 have been worn, washed, and air dried a handful of times already with the same wonderful results. No stretching!


Fun fact #3: Some people are blessed with skin that doesn't get irritated, I'm not one of them. Sorry if that's too much information.  Chaffing, rubbing, and skin getting so raw it bleeds have been real problems for me in the past. I have had NONE of those problems with the Epix Gear jog bra. The seams are flat and placed so they do not rub. Better yet, there is a second layer of defense, a liner!  Everything stays in place and nothing rubs. No anti chafe cream of any kind needed. 


Fun fact #4: For women who race in just a jog bra, it doesn't gap in TT position on a bike. AMAZING!

Stay tuned for the next review!!

In Love with NZ

The 2017 season literally just ended, there were exactly zero races on the 2018 schedule, and I was enjoying some down time right up until I met Lindsay and Jess Dymond for a glass of wine a few days before the New Year's Day holiday.  These two crazy kids were going on a vacation to Wanaka, NZ and planned to race Challenge Wanaka (along with several other races).  Funny how that works!  Jess showed me picture after picture of this magical place everyone talks about and, thanks to her persistence, a plan was in place by mid-January.  Okay, twist my arm...back to New Zealand! 

 Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

 Junior Challenge Wanaka 

Junior Challenge Wanaka 

Wanaka absolutely lived up to its reputation of being the world's most scenic triathlon. I could try to put it into words or show you a bunch of pictures but neither would do it any justice. You have to go see for yourself.  

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Lets start with the Junior Challenge Wanaka held the day before the middle distance (half distance) race.   Wanaka puts on the world's largest youth race allowing triathletes from ages 5-12 to take a shot at a smaller version of the course.  I have never seen so many youth bikes racked in transition! Even more impressive than the sheer numbers and sprint finishes, these young bundles of energy raced through relentless wind gusts making even the more experienced athletes nervous. 

 

Lucky for us, the wind calmed down on race day and the swim went off in 18C water under a layer of clouds.  The lake temperature was considered "warm" this year for those of you thinking about making the journey to Wanaka in the future!  Trust me, I'm never going to complain about unseasonably warm water temperatures when the norm is someplace around 14C.  

 

Sometime during the swim cloud cover turned into drizzling rain and that turned into pouring rain which continued for the entire 90+km ride. Yes, Wanaka is beautiful rain or shine but man was I cold, totally numb, and completely soaked.  I  knew I was really cold when I needed both hands to press one di2 button to shift the small chain ring.  Yup, I was really that cold which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me!  The ride ended up being a bit of a solo effort but a beautiful tour of the area passing lakes, riding over over well known bridges, and rolling through very cute towns. 

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If shifting wasn't hard enough, getting my helmet unclipped and shoes on in T2 proved to be quite the challenge! After some fumbling I managed to get everything sorted out and it was time to run.  The run course took us on trails along Lake Wanaka and an adjoining river.  The course is defiantly best suited for trail runners but I managed, ticked off my longest trail run, and walked away with a 4th place finish very early in the 2018 season.  

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Wanaka, another destination checked off the list and a place I will without a doubt return to in the future (after some more trail running experience)! To Lindsay and Jess, thank you for including me in your hiking, wine tasting, cookie making, exploring, and racing adventures. It will be a trip I never forget!  To Challenge Family, thank you for having me and I can't wait to continue to race on the circuit this season!  To Cindy, a massive thank you for putting together a doTERRA essential oils plan to keep me healthy while traveling and racing. To my family and the people who believe in me (i.e. put up with me) and my desire to race in new places, thank you for making this race happen short notice.  Last but not least, to Epix Gear, Infinit Nutrition, blueseventy, Body by Juliet, Hawaii Sports Chiropractic, and Waikiki Brewing Co, thank you for making this all possible!

 

Back to work and then on to the next adventure! 

CC

Have Bike, Will Travel

My original 2017 plan was to race 70.3 Miami to spend some time with my grandmother, but life happened and plans chanced. She passed away on July 12th, after a life of traveling the world.  Two weeks later, I turned 30 and decided to take a page out of her book. I found two international races close somewhat close together, sent in my passport paperwork, and put myself on the have-bike-will-travel plan. I packed my bike and ventured off to see Australia and New Zealand.

 Sydney Opera House 

Sydney Opera House 

The Sydney experience was epic thanks to Shannon, Paul, Maddi, and Ned (the pup)! We biked through the Royal National Park and over the Sea Cliff Bridge, had a glass of wine sitting next to the Sydney Opera House, and watched the Sydney Harbour light up at night while Jack Johnson played in the background. I know, it all sounds terrible!  To top it off, I really, really wanted to see a kangaroo and koala, so Shannon and Paul humored this crazy American. 

 New friend 

New friend 

Oh, there was also a race, 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship!  The swim and bike didn’t quite go as planned but after several conversations with myself on the bike, I laced up my shoes and ran with every ounce of energy I had.  Lesson, always run a race out until you cross the finish line.  I distinctly remember running by Paul and saying, “I’m going to do something right today.”  That something right was a 1:24 run. Paul, thanks for keeping me moving on race day and Shannon, HUGE congratulations on your first 70.3 finish!  I know there will be many more in the future! 

 Sydney Family 

Sydney Family 

 Huka Falls Trail 

Huka Falls Trail 

The next stop was Wendy’s home for 70.3 Taupo. After successfully navigating traffic circles by bike in Sydney, I was pretty confident I could drive the 275km from Aukland to Taupō.  It was a bold move, but the scenery was well worth it.  Sorry there are no pictures, I was trying to make sure I kept the car within the lines on the correct side of the road.  Sadly, I never found the “Blonde American Female Driving” bumper sticker I was hoping for.

Between the lake, the swimming facility, stunning bike rides, great coffee spots, and a community that truly embraces the sport, it’s the perfect race destination.  I’m already trying to figure out how many times I can go back in the next two years.  We did have a minor encounter with toxic algae in the lake so the swim was cancelled, but the race officials had an exciting plan for us – we became duathletes for the day with a run-bike-run format so we got to run up a massive hill 4 times instead of the original 3! The unexpected challenge was a fun way to end the 2017 season. 

 

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 The cheering section in Taupo :-)

The cheering section in Taupo :-)

Wendy and Polo (the pup), thank you for hosting Juliet and I. Juliet, my big island mom, thank you for making the trip to NZ and cheering louder than anyone with a microphone! The trip would not have been the same without you guys!

7 races in 2017 in the books and I've learned a ton.  I wanted to keep racing this season to gain as much experience as possible and that's exactly what I got and I fully intend to stay on the have-bike-will-travel plan for next season.  To the people and companies supporting my dream, I’m forever thankful! On to 2018, I’m excited to see where my bike will take me…

CC

June -> August

 The most popular dog on the 70.3 CDA course.

The most popular dog on the 70.3 CDA course.

 Grandma visited UofM in 2007.

Grandma visited UofM in 2007.

June and July flew by and August is doing the same. Next thing I know I'm going to be fulfilling my job as lead cheerleader, supporter, sherpa, and split taker for my husband at Ironman Coeur d'Alene and goodbye August.  Before we get too far, lets back up to June. 70.3 CDA fit the race calendar for me and the hubby wanted to race on the course for his upcoming Ironman so off we went. He had a solid day and an AG podium!  My day had one or two glimmers of hope but overall was pretty frustrating.  Note to self for future races: do not spend the entire day moving back in the field.  I took the good parts, analyzed the bad parts and moved forward. The best part of the trip was by far that Melis and Fitz made the trip to cheerlead and little Fitz provided plenty of kisses before and after the race!  

 

 

July was a bit eventful, my grandmother passed and the big 3-0 birthday hit - two major events all at once. Grandma, although stubborn and very opinionated, did everything she could for the family and lived the life she wanted to. She traveled to destinations far and wide, enjoyed her beer, and shared her opinions. Although she didn't really understand the joy behind swimming, biking, and running as an adult I know she supported hard work.  Grandma, here's to you! The work is only getting harder in my 30s but I'm having a blast! 

August meant a trip to Michigan for 70.3 Steelhead. I loved this race last year and I loved it again this year. A huge thank you to the Cotner family and my homestay for welcoming me and my family into your homes and making it feel like a hometown race thousands of miles away from home. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

 Photo by Beke Heine

Photo by Beke Heine

Race morning was a chilly one and presented a really rough swim. If anyone is wondering why the water level in Lake Michigan is down a bit, I'm going to guess its because a few thousand triathletes (including me!) swallowed their fair share of lake water.  I made the front swim pack and we got thrown around by the waves but eventually made it out on onto the bike.

This race was less of "how fast can you ride your bike" and more about "how smart can you ride your bike" to set up a solid run. The bike course rolls a bit on northern country roads and then finally gets back on the highway and heads home. The country roads make for a pretty bumpy ride and give you the opportunity to jump railroad tracks around mile 35 if you're feeling like you need to get out of the saddle for a second. Once you get back onto the highway its smooth sailing home. I rolled into T2 in 6th but only about 45 seconds down on 4th. 

 One mile from T2 (Photo by Beke Heine)

One mile from T2 (Photo by Beke Heine)

 Passing through 7 miles (Photo by Beke Heine)

Passing through 7 miles (Photo by Beke Heine)

At mile 3 on the run I made a pass for 5th and around mile 7 I made the pass for 4th.  There were really strong runners behind coming up on the field like a freight train, and I just kept reminding myself of the note I made to myself at 70.3 CDA. When I finally got onto the carpet in the finishers chute and knew there was nobody behind me I couldn't believe I hung on for 4th. My dad, sister, and part of the Cotner family were at the finishline which made it that much more special! I've been lucky enough to have friends and family at every race this year making this season truly special.  

 He's ok even though he's a Spartan....

He's ok even though he's a Spartan....

My bike is on its way to across the US thanks to Bikeflights and I'm home for a few days.  4 races down, 3 to go! Thank you to the people and companies (Infinit Nutrition, blueseventy, Atom Composites, Epix Gear, and Body by Juliet) that make this possible for me. 

Cheers to the second half of the season!

CC

Sonoma Race-Cation

Racing Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa wasn’t part of the original plan; it was added to the calendar after a losing battle with GI issues at Oceanside.  Santa Rosa seemed like an awesome idea – ideal average temperatures, postcard worthy scenery, the coach liked it, and wine. Somebody (Mother Nature??)  must have figured out I registered and removed several degrees from the air. The low temperatures were trending in the wrong direction and I spent the days trying to figure out how to not turn into a block of ice, which was a legitimate concern. I’m well aware most things turn to ice at 32 degrees, but I actually turn to ice around 50 degrees. This called for packing as if I was going on a ski trip – multiple pairs of gloves, jackets, hats, multiple pairs of socks, hand warmers, toe covers, and anything else you can imagine to stay warm. 

Gear was organized Thursday, the bike was checked into T1 on Friday, and run gear was also checked into T2 on Friday. The race is a point to point format so you get to get all of the logistical gear “stuff” out of the way before race morning which is actually really nice. Less to worry about the morning of the race. 

 All about pink and black!

All about pink and black!

 Pretending to be warm.

Pretending to be warm.

The race kicked off at 6:10 for the pro men and our start was 5 minutes later at a balmy 41 degrees. Rumor has it the hand warmers I passed off to a friend right before the start kept getting passed back. Yes, hand warmers that people generally pack for ski trips.  Hopefully they helped several people stay a little warmer! 

After running up a small mountain to get to T1, we were off onto the bike course. It was an unseasonably cold day resulting in a very cold bike ride but the grape vines as far as you could see through your watering eyes made up for it. For those racers and spectators already planning 2018 race-cations, there are plenty of wine tasting rooms along the bike course and most of them open at 11 according to all of the signage ;-)

 We aren't in Hawai'i anymore!

We aren't in Hawai'i anymore!

 Catching up with great friends! 

Catching up with great friends! 

I didn't turn into an ice cube on the bike which meant it was time to run. Sunglasses on, hat pulled down, Infinit Tripwire in hand, and go. The run course was mostly on a walking path next to a river which made for a really peaceful setting and an opportunity to really live in the moment.  Just keep those feet moving at whatever pace you can and count down the miles. The miles went by quickly except for mile 11 to 12. The 12 mile marker never wanted to show its face and when it finally did the finishline came up quickly. I saw Andy when I turned the corner for the finish chute and didn’t stop until I safely secured my 6th place Pro Female finish.  Stoked with the result at my second Pro race and forever thankful to my friends, family, and sponsors for supporting this journey! 

First Pro Experience

Circumstances aren't exactly ideal when your body decides to empty itself out for three days straight prior to racing. The season kicked off on about my 14th (or more) dose of Pepto which wasn't part of the original plan (shocking I know!) but thats how it was going to unfold. Temperatures were freezing, my tank was literally empty and we decided to give it a go.  It was far from the best race I've had but the ultimate goal was to learn as much as I could leading up to and during my first pro race.  End result, I learned a TON and the next chapter is offically underway. 

Lesson 1 - I should probably travel in gloves and a mask. Ok, this might be overkill but you get the idea. 

Lesson 2 - Pay very, very close to the course description during the pro meeting before the race. The beginning of the swim course was dangerous for the pro race and the Ironman officials worked with the group to improve the course and make it safer. It was a really, really smart call and a really interesting dynamic that I didn't know about behind the scenes. The course can be negotiated and actually changed to address safety concerns.  Great lesson!

Lesson 3 - Know where you want to swim so you are biking where you want to be biking when you get out of the water, or you could be in for a lonely bike ride. This is a huge change from the age group race where you get used to starting in the back and just working your way up throughout the day.  Another great piece of information!

Lesson 4 - There are tons of motorbikes up with the pro race. You have to get comfortable hearing them coming up on you, sometimes from both sides. 

Lesson 5 - It's not ideal to start a race with no gas in the tank but you can still fight through the day. It might not be pretty, it might not be fast, but you learn a lot about yourself on that type of day. 

Lesson 6 - If you can't keep anything in your system, Infinit actually stays in mine!  My highest caloric intake in several days was without a doubt my custom mix on the bike and (grape) Tripwire on the run. 

Lesson 7 - You have to have the perfect combination of pink and black! The Troublemaker is all dressed to race this season on a new set of Atom Composite wheels with hot pink decals!

 

At the end of the day I got to race in a beautiful location, catch up with old friends, meet new friends, and cross my first pro finish line.  A huge thank you to Body by Juliet for keeping me in one piece, Infinit Nutrition for fueling the journey, blueseventy for keeping me warm, and Atom Composites for the training and racing carbon!  Can't wait to race in the pink and black EpixGear kit in May!

Happy training, 

Looking Back on Kona

It’s difficult to fathom the Ironman World Championship finished last weekend and even harder to believe that the 2016 racing season is over. While the season didn’t end on the highest of notes from a racing perspective, a ton of family made the journey to the middle of the Pacific to be a part of the experience.  Having family around supporting the journey was awesome and makes this lifestyle possible.  My brother and sister-in-law took the extra step and arrived with shirts and hats for the entire family and if we were better at coordinating and taking pictures I would have one of the entire gang. Next time, I promise! I’m sure my family is thrilled that I’m already planning a future family Kodak moment. Before I get too far, let me take a second to highlight a few interesting facts about the family during their weeklong stay:

Sister-in-law: Can ride a 50 plus pound beach cruiser with limited gearing up massive hills and literally won't give up…and can also eat 50 pounds of powdered sugar in one sitting.

Mom: Retired from 140.6 viewing - rumor has it’s a maternal thing.

Brother: Already planning his second IM race and we all knew this would happen.  Also, don't try to race him up hills on beach cruisers. 

Dad: Also retired from 140.6 viewing for the time being, I’m sure he will change his mind eventually.  Good news dad, you have a couple years to change your mind. 

Husband: Will yell literally anything to keep my feet moving forward and will follow through on his promise to have a margarita ready as soon as you can drink one after the race.

I have to thank these people and the family that wasn't here from the bottom of my heart for their unconditional support when things are going well and when things are going a little (or a lot) sideways. This time they helped me get through a sideways race which wasn't the plan but those were the cards I turned over.  

 I look a tad salty here....Lack of water is really evident! 

I look a tad salty here....Lack of water is really evident! 

Now let’s get onto the sideways race. The swim went well. I swam a bit wide to stay out of the brawl. Swimming in the bay is always beautiful, making it hard not to enjoy perfectly clear water where you can see the bottom the entire time. As expected, the temperature on the bike went up quickly and the wind was in our faces going out and it’s not much of a surprise it was also in our faces coming home. I planned for it by putting a shallow Atom Composites wheel up front and by carrying extra nutrition to account for the possibility of being on the bike a little longer. The kicker, after some analysis, was that I did not intake enough water or my body was not retaining the water I did drink. It started to show around mile 90 on the bike, which is normally where I ride strong. I drank bottle after bottle, but it wasn't enough. By the time I reached T2 things had gotten worse and the doctor and 2 volunteers held me in a chair while I argued with them that I needed to go run. News flash, I paid for the opportunity to suffer! Yes, they were doing their jobs and I’m grateful because if they didn’t hold me I’m sure I would have fallen flat on my face. I wish I could thank them and apologize for my arguing because they kept me safe. The run turned into a battle of Christine vs. Christine for 26.2 very, very dark miles and the race plan shifted into somehow getting to the finisher’s chute. My brother and husband kept my feet moving and I knew if I could get to 13.1 miles I could finish the other half. It wasn’t pretty. It was actually very much the direct opposite of pretty and it didn’t go as planned, but that is racing. We take the lessons, make adjustments, and apply them going forward. This is why we do what we do. 

This season has left me hungry and 2017 season planning has commenced. I will be racing a new group of ladies and I can't wait to undergo the challenge. I want to say a special mahalo to some very important people and companies for helping make 2016 happen: Infinit Nutirition, Atom Composites, Juliet Nacino of Body by Juliet, Aren Viveiros of Hawaii Sports Chiropractic, BlueSeventy, and Waikiki Brewing. Now on to some very special people: my husband and family for allowing me to chase the dream, my coach and his family for continuing to guide me along this journey, and all of you following this adventure. 

 The Offseason, a time to unwind and reflect. 

The Offseason, a time to unwind and reflect. 

To everyone who has wrapped up their 2016 season, congratulations! Learn from the good and more importantly, learn from the bad. To those of you who still have races on the calendar, enjoy them and best of luck out there!

An August to Remember

 

We want everything to go perfect always. In case you haven't figured it out yet, life just doesn't work that way. We chase the perfect plan, the perfect day, the perfect (insert something that is important to you) always.  When things don't go as planned, I don’t like to say they went wrong, more like they went sideways. Something at some specific point sent the plan off track.  It's important to find the lessons from those situations and apply them going forward. It's not always easy to find the lesson and it can be difficult to figure out but keep looking, something is there.  

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty but lets just say there were some rough patches in May, June, and July.  The question became how to move forward.  After throwing around a few ideas with some really smart people, 2 adjustments were made for August. Adjustment 1 was to add a 70.3 to the race schedule. Adjustment 2 was to just go out there and enjoy the day.  I can’t tell you training was great or races were great leading up the the 70.3 because they weren’t. The good news was the rocky summer lead to a pretty awesome opportunity. I got to go do something I love someplace I love. Translation, it was time to race a 70.3 in Michigan! Here is the short list of awesomeness...

  • Dad would be able to see his FIRST triathlon (yes, his very first)
  • Racing with close friends
  • Getting to see college roommates and my old stomping ground
  • Spending time with Dad
  • Racing in Wolverine country (you Michigan people understand) 

Clearly a no-brainer.  August rolled around, the bike was packed, and it was time to head to Michigan.  A huge thank you goes out to the Cotner family for making it feel like going home.  

You're not going to find a breakdown of the race if you keep reading.  The focus was to go out there and have fun, nothing else. My husband asked me what my plan was the night before the race and I said, “Go.”  The plan worked.  It was by far one of the most fun race experiences with friends from all over, family, and an awesome venue. To top if off, I spotted Dad at mile 55 of the bike.  He jokingly informed me after the race that spectating triathlon is hard work and running shoes are required.  The realizations of a newbie triathlon spectator!  

How many jumped their bike at mile 45?! I wish there was a picture just so I knew how high my bike was off the ground.  I know my bike flew and the first thought I can remember was, "Good thing my husband didn’t see that!”  The run course was tough, and I paid for my bike ride a little, but I knew I just had to keep my feet moving forward.  I saw Dad twice on the run and he noticed I looked better on the first loop.  Pretty impressive that a first time triathlon spectator figured out the bike course, the run course, and made it back to watch the finish!

Best part of the entire day, Dad was at the finish line. It didn't matter that I got to hand him the finish line banner or that I went significantly faster than my previous best time. It didn’t matter that I suffered on the run. What mattered was he was there taking it all in, and I got to give him a sweaty hug at the end of it all. 

August wasn’t over with my race. Next up was a more important role, cheerleader and family coordinator for my husband and brother at IM Coeur d’Alene.  My stomach was in knots for weeks leading up to this duty! Anyone would agree that spectating and sherpa duties are far more stressful than actually racing. I couldn't be more proud of these two. All of the dedication, sacrifice, and determination that has gone into one day. Although one day ended in a heartbreaking bike crash, one day ended with a first time Ironman finish. We talked about it above, sometimes plans go sideways but we live to fight another day.

The month of August brought family and friends together to overcome challenges, adjust plans, and embrace opportunities. What more can you ask for.  A huge thanks to the continued support from Infinit Nutrition, Blueseventy, Headsweats, Atom Composites, and Waikiki Brewing Company. An even bigger thanks to Coach Brady and the DeHoust family for guiding me through this sport.  Lastly, to my husband and family, its impossible without you.  

 

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  ~ Aristotle

Oceanside 70.3 "Race-Cation"

Va-ca-tion: (noun) A period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.  In our marital dictionary, the word “vacation” is nonexistent.  Instead, the term has been replaced with “traincation” or “racecation,” neither of which includes relaxing.  Whether it is a long training camp amidst the Kona lava fields or traveling to a race, the muscles and nerves are always firing at one hundred percent.

Leading up to race day the sleepy beach town was crammed with bikes, athletes, sherpas, families, surfers, surfers, and some more surfers.  How these people manage to surf with an air temperature in the low 40s amazes me.  If I knew the temperature was going to be 43 degrees two days before race day, I would have reconsidered this adventure!  Fortunately I was armed with gloves, hand warmers, arm warmers, jackets, and a hat.

 During the few days prior to the race I kept with my normal routine: a few training sessions, equipment organizations, nutrition preparation, realizing my heart rate monitor battery died so testing my husband’s patience (normal pre-race activity) and driving to 6 (literally) different stores to try to find a small screwdriver, and taking one last glance at the Pros on the start list.  Next to Kona, I have never seen a Pro list as deep as the one for Oceanside.  I knew it was going to be an amazing experience chasing some of the world’s fastest females from the back in the age group start.

Fortunately on race morning the temperate *warmed* up to a balmy 52 degrees.  I was arguing that I could see my breath, but Andy kept telling me I was crazy.  The nerves are definitely firing at full speed when you show up to transition with over 3,000 of your closest friends.  I remind myself to harness my energy and stick to my plan because I will need that energy later.  I set up my gear, loaded my bike with Infinit, and hustled myself to my swim wave.  When you start nearly 40 minutes after the pros, you get to watch them exit the swim, which is always fun!

The seconds treading water just before the gun blast are the worst.  Tensions are high, nerves are on edge, and the swimmers are all plotting their path to the front.  The female age group swim start was not a friendly event.  Let me just say I am pretty sure all of you ladies really wanted a boxing match!  After swimming over piles of men the swim was over and on to the bike. 

The bike course was a bit tricky navigating some of the tight spots while trying to get past people, but it eventually opened up.  The weather ended up perfect and the course rolled through the hills of Camp Pendleton.  The back half of the course was challenging just like everyone said it would be.  Bike the first half correctly and you are fine.  Anyone that over-biked the first half probably didn’t appreciate the second half of that course!  I stuck very closely to the plan my coach and I agreed to and kept clipping off miles (and men who generally don’t like being passed by a female, sorry guys!). 

Rolling into T2 I was still navigating my way around men, it was the name of the game.  Get around as many guys as you can.  Time to throw on the runners, grab a Redbull, and go.

The big question, did you bike smart? The answer was yes. I decided not to look down at my watch for several miles and just go. I realized that the way things shook out based on the Pro female start time I was literally going to be running my first lap in the middle of the girls on their second lap and then I realized nobody was passing me. "This is good, maybe I should look at my watch. No I'll wait. Ok, I'll look. No don't. Ok, look. Oh this is going well. Keep going. You will finish this out. You will NOT give in."  Just a snapshot of my thoughts, if I share too many I'll scare people.  My legs were ok so I just kept going. 

They were almost ok the entire way and Andy was waiting for me at the finish. In typical fashion, I ran at him until he caught me which put me safely across the line.   The cameras don't usually catch it but he is always there.

It wasn't a picture perfect race but it wasn't bad. There are lessons that I will carry forward into the rest of my races and the desire to race again is high.  With the first 70.3 out of the way in early April, there is a lot of time to build and take on 2016 full force. Congratulations to everyone who made it to the starting line and a huge thank you to all of the volunteers. More thanks to Infinit Nutrition for supplying the best race nutrition, Waikiki Brewing Company for making race recovery ideal, Headsweats for keeping the sun out of my face, and Hawaii Sports Chiropractic for keeping me in one piece!  Another huge thank you to the people who were feeding my brother information from the race, you know who you are!! The biggest thank you to my husband, for allowing me to chase my dreams!  

Happy training and racing!!!

 

To-Do Lists

I'm sure if you are still buried under 2 feet of snow you aren't wondering where winter went but I'm finding myself wondering how December, January, and February have all passed by already. The part of the season that isn't packed with racing and heavy training while juggling work and family is quickly coming to an end and its time to start juggling again. On second thought, we never really stop juggling, we just fill our time with other stuff that don't happen when the training load is heavy. Stuff, a very simple work, is just a general term for all of the other responsibilities you have.  Life, unfortunately, is not as simple as swim, eat, bike, eat, run, eat, sleep, repeat for most of us.  Everybody has an entire collection of other stuff that keeps multiplying and getting pushed to the back-burner or to the side.


Its time now to make sure you have a plan to juggle only what you can handle without dropping anything important.


My personal list of stuff is long, but I know that some of the items need to get crossed off before the meat of the season starts or focus will be compromised. When focus is compromised, your goals are compromised so make the decision to ensure this isn't your reality. 


This week I made a list of things that need to get accomplished outside of work and training that willmake next week less complicated.  They have to do with all of that other stuff we talked about earlier. Get out a sheet of paper and a pen and start writing. Take a few minutes to write down a few things that you know need to get crossed of your to-do list this week to make next week less complicated.  Stick that paper someplace where you see it everyday. Seems simple enough, right? 


Resolve to cross one of those items off your list. Do you know how good it feels to cross things off a list?!  If not you are missing out on a simple pleasure in life, I promise.  I've crossed three things off this week and have a couple more to go but they will get done. Take some time to do this before your season starts, your mind will have less weighing on it!

Ironman Louisville 2015

I emphasize experience because it was much more than a race on any particular day. The race was meticulously planned, goals were outlined with my coach, and the process of training began. All of the miles, the races, and the focus this year were geared towards executing a smart race in Louisville. After an explosion in 2014, there was some unfinished business to attend to in Kentucky.

Travel to Louisville packed like you a ready for a blizzard - Check

Andy, my husband, and I showed up early to get acclimated, and of course he made fun of me for packing like I was going on a ski trip. The plan was to do everything in my power to stay warm and I was determined to stick to that plan. As the week progressed, more teammates flooded into Louisville to include Big Sexy himself and, most importantly, my brother Robert. After a little swimming, biking, and running every day leading up to race day, race morning finally arrived and it was time to put the plan into motion. Lets skip all of my idiosyncrasies because I'm crazy and just say that I checked on my bike in transition and made the journey to the swim line along with thousands of others. Time seemed to be flying and before I knew it, the national anthem played and we were off.

The Swim - Get in, get, out, get warm (or as warm as possible) in T1 - Check

It was a beautiful 69 degree, brown, currentless bath in the Ohio River. A lovely way to start the morning! There was a lot less current than expected, but that is something you can't control so it wasn't worth dwelling on. With so many years of swimming under my belt, I don't worry too much about the swim.

The Bike - Try to stay warm, do not over-bike, stay within yourself, stay smooth - Check

The bike course is very honest. The hills are a little bigger than rollers and the pavement is smooth as you roll through beautiful countryside with roads lined with supporters. It was a very cold start and there were the crowded sections on the second loop and a few cars in the way but that is part of the game. I'm truly sorry if I yelled "left" at you on the bike course! Sometimes its difficult to navigate on crowded sections and yelling left is the safest way to notify people you are there.  

Robert and I agreed he would be in certain locations on the bike course to provide a little insight as to how the women’s race was breaking down which was very helpful. I'm pretty sure he worked out intervals to text updates to my coach as well!  Biking is on my list of strengths, which gives me some room to play. I needed to bike to the front of the women's race on course and do it very comfortably to make sure there was some juice left for the run. The other critical factor was making sure I consumed all of the nutrition I planned to consume - a steady diet of Infinit Nutrition. One woman down, two women down, three women down and the plan was working. The last 20 miles back were not crowded and I rolled into T2 very comfortably with a nice cushion.

The Run - Do not give in, do not stop running – Check

Everybody has something they have been working on and running has been my something. For those of you who know me well, you know I write a few motivational words on my arm and draw on my wedding band in black permanent marker before the race starts.  It’s important to know what motivates you and then use it for motivation when you need it! This year my coach's family was not camped out on the run course offering up the best high-fives but Robert, Chris (Big Sexy) McDonald, and the Big Sexy contingent were camped out at about mile 1.5. The women were flying out of T2 behind me and I was a bit unsure of my ability to go with them. I got a high-five and some words of wisdom from Chris and the same from my brother, and it was time to get moving. I quickly dropped to running as the third female on course but because of the time trial start, I still was working with a buffer. Coming through the halfway point I felt surprisingly strong and received very pointed directions from Chris, "Turn your brain off. It's time to go to work." His tone was nothing short of direct to make sure I knew there was only one option.   Miles 15-20 were dark, very dark. I saw my brother at mile 17 on Chris's QR PRsix and I don't remember if we had an exchange, I just know he was there. At mile 20 he said, "The gap is holding."  With six miles left to go, it was time to push the needle over to empty. I decided there was absolutely no way I was giving into the run and I knew nobody was running faster in front of me. Opportunity. At mile 22 Robert found me again and screamed, "it’s going to come down to seconds." I found out later that he lied to me because I was holding the lead by 30 seconds. He knows me well and he knew it would be better to lie to me at that moment.

The Finish - Do not stop running until you are safely across the line - Check

Although the pro race was removed, there was an opportunity to put Big Sexy Racing on the top of the podium at a race Chris has won four times. The countdown calculator was hard at work. The 22 mile marker actually translates to 3 more miles plus 1 finishing mile in case you didn't know. As the miles count down, so does the countdown calculator: two plus one, one plus one. I ran from mile 22 on with everything left in the tank.  Running down 4th street was epic and this year I remember it (a significant improvement over last year). People were everywhere, energy was high, and I could see the finish line. I had no idea how it was going to end but I ran through the chute eying the closest people to collapse on which happened to be my husband who had a great race and finished a few minutes ahead of me and Chris. The first words I remember hearing from Chris, "You did it, you won by 27 seconds."

Put Big Sexy Racing on the top of the podium at Ironman Louisville and get your finishers medal from the man who has dominated that race - Check

The list of people to thank is too long to mention everyone but I want to say a special thank you to Andy, Robert, and my family for being there every step of the way. Brady, thank you for putting together the plan and providing guidance on the good days and the bad days. Chris and Erika McDonald, thank you for giving me and all of Big Sexy Racing a platform to chase dreams. Trav and Nickey Hill, thanks for all of the training, food, and fun this year. To all of the Big Sexy teammates and supporters, thank you for being loud and crazy all year long!

Its time to rest up and set the sights on 2016!