Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chic ride.......

Heather came to stay with us to get in some hill training this week because she lives in "flat Florida". So, I rounded up the girls on Friday and planned a little "chic ride". It was Heather, Eve, Annie and myself. Haley was invited but she had to be a responsible student. It was really windy with LOTS of hills. Thanks gals for the fun ride. All these girls inspire me. Heather-pro triathlete, wife, mother of three and multiple Ironman champ.....she's the energizer bunny. Eve-mother of two and wife of an Ironman athlete in addition to a full time job! I don't know how you do it all and still go SO fast?! Annie (ITU Pro), you work harder than anyone I know and I can't wait to see how Boise goes.....your first half (props to you for 5th at Memphis). Coops-bummer you couldn't join us but I admire how hard you're working in school, at work and in your Ironman are one tough cookie. And I know I look under-dressed but I was just fine, these girls had me working hard.

And we're off! Heather is still messing with her bike (it had just been assembled moments before we left).

I just read a post by Bree Wee (I've never met her and she has no idea who I am). But it was a good one. is the link. Anyway, her blog is a great read, she's got an inspiring story. The last post really hit home for me.

I think, so often as female athletes, we're made to feel bad for being competitive. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with wanting to win? Winning obviously has different meanings to different point in this statement is not that everyone shoots to win an entire race but more "winning your race" and what that means to you. I think we all set goals for ourselves whether it be finishing a race and running the whole run (Trish :), beating a time from a previous season, winning an age group or catching up and passing someone you are competitive with. Isn't that why we work so hard? That's why I work so hard.....and I'm not ashamed to say, I work really hard. It is called a "race" after all! We need to stick together, challenge each other, be competitive (& unashamed while doing so), cheer each other on and inspire one another to try hard and give it 100%. I love that I have many strong women in my life (too many to name).....who I learn from every day. Thanks for a great ride girls and for inspiring me to try hard! Thanks to Bree for writing a great post.

note: I added to this post re: the "winning" topic because after reading it again myself, I realized it sounded like I thought everyone was training to win races......and that I was as well. I wanted to clarify what I meant by "winning". We are all driven by something, recognize what that is and use it to help you achieve your goals. Ya gotta want it to get it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring Thaw Duathlon Series, Part 2

Sunday was the second installment of the duathlon series in 9 mile Falls. The distance was a little longer than the previous ones. 3.3 mile trail run, 22 mile bike, 3.3 mile trail run.

I am proud to say, I was the first one there. I'm not kidding. Haley can attest to my desire to get to races REALLY early. Cody was out of town so our lovely babysitter arrived at 6:30am. I was able to swing thru my trusty Starbucks and was racking my bike in transition at 6:55. Atta girl.

Eve showed up not long after I did and it was nice to have some company. We picked her a real nice transition spot and I joined her when she went over to pick up her number and swag bag. Then, we had an hour and a half to do absolutely nothing. I don't mind this. I like walking around with my tunes on and stopping and chatting. It's nice to be at a race where I actually know the participants. It's good time to catch up.

After Eve pulled a geriatric move and fell while warming up (seriously).....we were off to the start line. Eve looked tough with blood dripping down her leg and some weeds in her shorts. I just stood next to her looking jittery. We talked about paces and I decided that Eve was a good carrot. I have to admit, I was quite nervous before the start. I'd say more nervous than Oceanside.....and Wildflower. I am learning this is a good sign. When I'm not nervous, bad sign.

Countdown...and it's time to go. And, there goes my carrot. By the first lap, I could no longer see Eve. There are a lot of trees, maybe she's not that far ahead. Hm.

I had a solid first run, I went a little bit conservative but I'd never done this distance so I didn't want to blow it on the first run.

Got on the bike and within a mile, I saw Eve pulling over on the side of the road, rubbing her butt cheek. I checked in with her (didn't slow down or stop, just yelled "you alright?"), she thought maybe she hurt her hip in that Rambo warm up. So I kept going. Since she was upright and not visibly crumbling, my conscience was put at ease. This is the Spring Thaw Duathlon after all. I knew I wasn't going to catch Haley unless one of her wheels fell off so I decided to look for some boys to chase.

Out on the bike course, Roger, Matt, Jessie & Jessi cheered and at the same time, Jessi hung out the window and risked her life to get the "good shots" (all photos here were taken by her). It was so nice to have some fans. It was also nice to have someone taking pictures of me. Although, I might take that back after seeing this shot.

Seriously, I'm not that scary in real life and I DO look like a girl when not yelling like a caveman. But I had to give a shout out to them. They were doing such a great job! Thanks also to Nat & Greg for cheering.

Here I am rounding the last corner of the last lap.

I had a good day. Placed 2nd overall (1st amateur) behind Miss Zooty Pants and won my age group.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honu 70.3....the countdown

After coming back from the dead with the "Wildflower stomach flu" I am 100% and counting down to Honu. I couldn't resist sharing my enthusiasm and excitement for this race. It is, by far, my favorite Half Iron event. I'll be flying out in 12 days and on the course, racing in 15 days.

To start, the swim is in Hapuna Bay (pictured below) and it's a mass swim start. In addition to that, it's a no-wetsuit swim. This is one of the reasons I first chose to do this race in 07. Personally, when choosing races, I try to find ones that not only compliment my strengths but I also look for races that challenge me where I'm lacking and make me a little "uncomfortable".

I figure in doing this, I don't rule any races out for dumb reasons like "I'm not a fast swimmer" or "I'm not good in the heat". I like to take these on and see how I come out on the other end and learn from whatever the result is. In addition to that, I feel it puts me in a better position for future races. Sometimes weather changes, water warms up or there's not an accurate course description. The more often you can suffer through tough conditions on tough courses in training and racing, the more natural it will feel in a race whether it's expected or not. Stepping out of your comfort zone only makes you stronger in the end.

Last year, my swim time was 40:11. Yes, folks....that's forty minutes, eleven seconds. But the mass start was harmless, the waves mellow and the scenery incredible! I'll try to focus more on the feet ahead of me this year instead of the colorful little fishies. I plan to see improvement on the swim from last year.....but who knows how much?

In this swim, you have the choice to do a running, beach start or deep water start. Last year I chose the deep water start but personally, I think the beach start is the smarter way to go. That's what I'll do this year.

The bike course goes on part of the Ironman Kona course. It's a nice course, not technical at all but you do have to consider the wind. There's the climb out to Hawi.....more of a rolling elevation gain than a climb. After doing Wildflower, I don't feel like I can call any hill a climb. Nasty grade is a climb. The photo below is the way back which is a refreshing way to do the second half of the bike course but this is also when a side/head-wind seems to kick in. Must stay in aero position and push through it....

Since I was SO far behind everyone else on the swim last year, I passed 305 people on the bike. Having to get through all of these people caused me to go a little hard on the first half of the bike. At one point, I just decided to stand and pass. I didn't want to get caught behind people and there were a lot of "clumps". I'd say I kind of hammered this first half, a lot of it standing. Mistake #1. Must be steady on the bike because the run is a kicker.

The run course is mostly on the Mauna Lani Golf course. It kind of reminded me of a cement roller coaster path at times.....there was a small run across sand but not bad. My mistake here was that I started out hard coming off of a bike time that I was happy with. I was just going to close it up with the run. Not so fast. As things started to go south, I stopped hydrating because in my "idiotic race head" there was no time for this. The run was 11 minutes slower than my slowest half iron run at the time. Must be smart before the race and carry plan through during race. For any of you planning on doing this race, I would strongly recommend a strict nutrition and hydration plan before the race that is followed strictly during the race. This is a tough run course and it's hot out there. There's not a whole lot of room for being under-hydrated or low on calories.

After this difficult race, it was really fun to come through the finish line and just "be" in Hawaii. The grounds of the resort are beautiful and there's no better place to revel in your accomplishment. There's even Hula dancers! I'll admit, these aren't as good as the naked people (that weren't even there!!!) at Wildflower.....but still pretty cool. Last year I spent the day after the race, laying in the sun. I burnt my backside SO bad, the red-eye home that night was less than comfortable. I will wear sunscreen this time but still lounge by the ocean the day after the race and take it all in.

I'd recommend this race to anyone who wants to do a half. It is an incredible experience to say the least. I'm counting down the days.....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to ME!

Oh, what a wonderful day! I had the option to sleep in but couldn't seem to stay in bed past 7:15. So, I guess that's sleeping in for me now. Got up to find my boys watching some kind of 'quality' tv and my husband fast asleep on the couch. What time did everyone else get up?

Come to find, Hayden was up in the 5am range (I guess any holiday, even Mother's day, their internal clock tells them to get up EARLY). The other tid-bit was that Cody now has the flu that I brought back from Wildflower. He's on the first day, which shows up as just being extremely tired with an aversion to being upright. I can proudly say, that yesterday was the first day I felt normal. After having a whole week off of any training, I ran for an hour and although I felt a little more tired than I normally would have, it went well.

So, I showered, drank a smoothie and went to visit my trusty Starbucks store. We met the Duchows for brunch at Twigs at 10:45. After that, we headed downtown to Nordstroms :) to look for my mother's day gift. After looking at all the lovely purses and being mildly entertained by my kids bouncing around the cosmetics department while Cody sat in a 'makeover chair' with my 'old purse' on his shoulder, in a total daze, completely unaware of anything going on around him, we left my "home away from home" and headed over to Fitness Fanatics (my newly adopted "home away from home"). I am confident in saying, I am the only one that was disappointed to be leaving Nordstrom.....not to mention, empty handed. Hayden made it clear that this whole day was incredibly 'bowing' and many a time he posed the question "why can't we do something fun?". Why would anyone in their right mind CHOOSE to do this with their "very own day"? Cody explained again and again that this was Mother's day......Mommy's day to have with her family and do what she wants. Hayden's response was "well, then TOMORROW, we are going to Chuck E Cheeses". Poor guy, still doesn't get the concept. Oh well, on to Fitness Fanatics.

I had to include this picture I took of Hayden in the opitimizes him and the usual form he was in today.
So, we walk in and were greeted right away by Robin. Haley was holed up in the back, working in the shop (she's such a grease monkey). So, I said to Robin "well, it's a choice between a new, designer bag and wallet OR carbon base bar & aero bars". The fashionista in me is somewhat ashamed to admit Robin didn't need to twist my all. I've had the same Coach purse for 5 years now, and I do have a vision base bar with some nice, carbon s-bends.......BUT, time to chuck the idea of a new purse out the window because this is what I got........

Profile Design, Cobra Wing carbon base bar. Pictured below

Profile Design, Sonic CSX Aerobars
And of course, I had to get a new, fancy Oval R900 carbon stem!
So, even though Hayden didn't think it was very fun, it was a great mother's day. I was really spoiled! Thanks to Robin and John at Fitness Fanatics for taking the time to help me find just what I needed and helping me make (what we all know) was the right decision. Who needs a new purse? Thanks to my wonderful husband for making it through the day and refusing to go home and lay down because he wanted to spend it with me......not to mention, spend on me :) Thanks for making me feel like a princess.....uh, of the "tri kind".

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wildflower-Race Day

The cars are parked and it's time to head down to transition......butterfly's!!

Me, Jeff and Steve.

Sam heading down to transition.

Laura took this shot from the bus down to transition. This is Lake San Antonio. The water was looking very calm which I was happy about.

Transition on race morning looks a lot different than it did the day before. I found my way to my spot and got set up. I had plenty of time to freeze my butt off since we got there so early. It was cold but the heat was on it's way.....

Here's me going down to the swim start....feeling ready!

I lined up with my other 35-39 age groupers (yes, I just turned 35 and moved up an age group) and got ready to start the swim. I placed myself up towards the front and the gun went off! I started out smooth and slow and didn't get caught up in all of the craziness. I had to swim through a few people but settled in quite quickly. Initially, I tried drafting off of another girl but she was going too slow and I needed to pick up the pace. I pulled out in front of her and focused on my stroke and rhythm. I seemed to swim on course and didn't even run into any buoys! It was a lonely swim, running into a few people here and there but mostly going it alone.

I got out of the water and looked at my watch. NO WAY! I had started my watch about 30 seconds before the swim start and it said 35:20 so I figured I was right around 35 minutes. In all actuality, I broke 35 minutes with a swim time of 34:57. For some, this swim time would be a total failure, but for me, it's a milestone. I have been putting a lot of time and effort into improving my swim for the last 3 weeks and this is the first glimpse of some measurable improvement. Just a month ago, I swam a 37:08 in Oceanside. For me to take over 2 minutes off of my half iron swim time since my last race just a month ago, made me feel really happy. Here I am running up the hill to transition.

Swim: 34:57

Had a smooth T1 of 2:32. This is a pretty big transition area so that seemed like an acceptable time. I mounted my bike and hit the course. From the start of the bike, my legs felt a little 'heavy'. This was a bit concerning but I just focused on my power and kept going. I'd find myself fading a bit, power dropping and then I'd start pushing a little harder. I was just so tired but I couldn't figure out why. It was clear that the bike was not going as well as I'd hoped but I did my best to stay on target with my power and hope that this meant I'd have a good run. I've had races in the past where my legs don't feel great on the bike and then I get on the run and my legs feel fresh because I couldn't go hard on the bike. I was hoping this would be the case.

Bike: 3:03:27

As I came down lynch hill on the bike, Haley was running down to finish her race. It was fun to see her and loved that the timing worked out so perfectly. At the same time, I wanted to be her, and be done (not to mention, be as fast as her). I still had 13.1 miles to run. We gave each other a shout and I made my way to T2.

I had a smooth T2 although I ran right past my spot and had to run back. Headed out on the run and right out of transition you have to climb stairs! Oh man. I settled in and noticed that my heart rate was a little low but I thought I'd just go on perceived exertion since I was heading into the toughest half iron run I'd ever done. I just never got my legs under me. Surprisingly, the run seemed to go by pretty fast. Now, this was not due to me running fast, I think it actually had something to do with the fact that I was somewhat delirious. I just focused on the miles, one at a time and at times felt like I wasn't moving forward. It was really hot and the hills just kept coming. To top it off, there were NO naked people! Rumor has it that at aid station #4, there are naked people cheering. I looked forward to this because any form of entertainment would have helped me stay conscious but they never appeared.

I never did walk but passed a lot of people that were walking. I don't think I was going much faster than them but nonetheless, I was still "running". I took a ton of water and gatorade in, unlike past races that go south. I knew from the beginning, not to look at my run splits because I didn't want to get discouraged and I was already trying as hard as I could. For those of you that haven't done Wildflower, this run course is just plain HARD. There's lots of ups and downs as well as a nice, steady climb that is never-ending at around mile 10. Then, the last mile is straight downhill which I found to be a bonus. This just made me go "less slow".

I refused to look at my watch to see what my finishing time was going to be until I was done with the race. As I entered the finishing chute, I stopped my watch and saw it said 5:46. OHMYGOD. I didn't realize I went THAT slow. I tried my best to finish strong but I was in bad shape. I felt a bit of shame as I saw Laura in the stands, cheering me on with camera in hand. Sigh. It is good to be done.

Run: 2:04:08

However, I can honestly say-I tried really hard. It was just a very tough race.

Overall Time: 5:47:21
9th in Age Group

Haley came and found me in transition and knew that it didn't go well for me. Both Laura and Haley said I looked really rough coming in. It was nice to have her there and get a big hug from her. She understood. She did mention that my belly was really bloated. Hm. The first signs of something on it's way.....and no, I'm not pregnant.

I got all of my stuff out of transition, hooked up with Laura and we met up with the gang. Jeff Blackwell, Steve Rupe, Sam, Haley, Troy Nelson, Molly and Sean Linder. Molly placed 5th in our AG, Sam got 5th in his AG and Jeff got 5th in his AG. The Spokane clan made a great showing! Haley placed 12th in the pro's and it was quite a competitive field.

Usually, when I finish a race, I get over it if it didn't go well and I'm ready to celebrate someone's victory! But, I just couldn't rally. After waiting around for a long time to see if Sam and Jeff were going to place in their age group, we had to pack up and leave. I couldn't stay upright. Laura and I headed out. She was racing the next morning.

Here's me, Troy, Molly, Haley and Sean.

I couldn't eat much and felt completely wiped and achy. By bedtime, the huge victory burrito I had bought sat on the nightstand with one bite out of it. For those of you who know me, I can put away the food. Especially after a race. Not to mention, a beer or two. I went to bed that night disappointed in my lack of appetite and fatigue.

As the following day passed, it became clear that I had the stomach flu. I haven't been that sick in a long time and am still battling this lovely gift. The ride home was torture as I did my best to stay curled up around my pillow in the fetal position while Laura drove. Thank god for her, I can't imagine having to drive all the way home by myself feeling like that.

Speaking of Laura, she raced the olympic distance on Sunday. I got to be her sherpa. I went to hang out at the swim start. I found my way onto the dock and was approached and asked if I wanted to announce the next wave start as well as blare the horn. So, I got to give a shout out to Laura and Roger (who was already on the bike) and got to mention our tri-club and talk about myself (they asked!). As Laura later explained, she could hear me saying her name and she was looking around at people saying "that's me". The funniest part was after this shot. The announcer had just realized that the Laura that I had given a shout out to earlier was now warming up in the water. So, she interviewed her in front of everyone and after they were done, she quickly walked over to the back of the pack and got ready for the gun to go off.

She really doesn't always have her tongue hanging out of her mouth.....

Here's Laura after her race, looking pretty fresh. Maybe, you could give just a little more effort next time, so you're actually sore the next day?

A shout out to Sam Picicci for an awesome race and only one minute off of the time I predicted he would do, Steve Rupe for a solid effort on his first half of the year, Jeff Blackwell for placing 5th in his AG with an injured calf, Troy Nelson for taking 10 minutes off of last year and Coops for being my hero :). Also, a shout out to Roger for killing the field in the olympic distance race (3rd overall and 1 second behind 2nd). You can check out his blog for all of the details and photos.......that I took. Make sure to check out the posts below, I made three today. It was a long trip!

Thanks to all of my pals for making this such a fun weekend, can't wait for next year. Who's in?

Wildflower, Day Before Race

After a few hours of sleep from our late arrival into Paso Robles, we got up and showered and hit the road with Steve and Jeff (who had flown in the night before). Steve drove the course which was nice because I got to sit back and just take it all in. I was excited to see that there were some descents on the bike course to reward all the hard work. Let me tell ya, folks.....this bike course is tough, not just physically but mentally. The hardest part is the last 15 that's just hangin' over your head the whole time.

Here's Steve and Jeff, I thought they looked like they belonged in some kind of men's catalog.

Laura went into the port-a-potty......I was going to shake it but thought that was mean. Not to mention, she was going to be my sherpa the next day and I didn't want her injured in some freak, port-a-potty "accident".

Coming out, totally unscathed.

Here's me, trying to look important. I don't know if anyone was even on the line.

Jeff and Steve heading over to registration.

Here's the view of the massive transition area. Pitter patter.

Here's Jeff, standing in line at registration. I had to put this picture in here because, little did anyone know around him that he'd place in his age group! Nice job, Jeff! Note: Jeff just started triathlon last year with a running background. Coeur D Alene was his second triathlon and he qualified for Kona there. Not bad.

Laura, Sam and I went to a BBQ place for dinner. Jeff and Steve opted for something less fun.

As we were walking out, Laura wanted to get a picture. So, Sam grabs this random guy to take a picture with us.

It just so happened that this monster truck belonged to the stranger in the above photo. Knowing that Sam and I are both vertically challenged, that Sam has a background in monster trucks and mullets, I couldn't resist having my picture taken with him in front of the truck. And yes, we are standing.

After dinner, we headed back to our posh accommodations and settled in for the night. I felt ready and excited to tackle this difficult race and quickly fell into my best pre-race sleep yet.

Road Trip to Wildflower

Wednesday night, we packed up the car and went to bed. Laura and I woke up at 4am and hit the road by 4:10. Ready for a 17 hour road Maybe it turns out a smidge longer than that. Details to follow. Here's the first shot of our Nav....somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.

Although this shot is blurry, I love the feel of it. The silhouette of the saddle with the sun rising......ready for an adventure.

I felt it was only appropriate to take a picture of every Starbucks we stopped at. Here's the first one. Many to come.

YARD SALE! We were a little afraid to get busted parked out in front of this persons house taking pictures with my telephoto lens. But seriously, how could we not?

We drove for hours on hwy 97 at 55 mph because that was the speed limit and we didn't want a ticket (cops were hiding out everywhere). After tirelessly looking for "just the perfect picnic spot"(per Laura's request) we stopped to eat our lunch that I'd prepared for us the day before. We found this trashed parking lot and this was our view. This lovely (dead, but lovely) tree had a tag on it that actually read "SOLD". It wasn't quite the spot that Laura was hoping for but it did give us something to ponder on while we ate lunch.

Across the street from the sold, dead tree, we could see this sign. Great lunch ambiance.

Now doesn't that look good? We decided that we couldn't depend on the gas stations and fast food restaurants to get good pre-race nutrition in. So, I shredded up chicken breast and we ate some fully loaded cold chicken tacos with fresh guacamole for lunch and dinner.

Here's Laura, loving me for making her such a good lunch.
Notice how much bigger the taco was in the picture above. That was my taco. I'd like to say my eyes were too big for my stomach but I devoured the entire taco completely. Power to the little people.

Just one of the many lovely views we found along the way.

Laura and KISS go way back.

Shoe tree. Like, a real tree with shoes in it. Stopping to take pictures of things like this and the yard sale is probably what turned our "17 hour road trip" into a "21 hour roadtrip". Next year, we are going to bring a pair of our own shoes to hang. Hopefully, it's still there.

A bunch of smelly, old shoes in a tree.

And Laura is trying to touch them.

Starbucks stop in Bend, Oregon.

Me, happy to have another cup in my hand. Many hours to go.

This is at the last Starbucks stop of the day.

I love this picture. Notice Laura's parking job. There were even folks sitting outside on the patio to witness this. When I got back into the car, there was a guy that was getting into his truck next to us. I noticed that he was really checking out our bikes.....I felt cool. Then I realized he was most likely gawking, not at our cool bikes, but a car that was most definitely parked by a girl.

So, the sun went down and we continued driving. We talked on the phone with Spokane crew #2 (Haley, Troy, Sean & Molly) who left a whole 6 hours after us yet were only 3 1/2 hours behind us. How did this happen? Was it the shoe tree? This is when the realization hit that we probably weren't going to roll into the Paso Robles Motel 6 at 9 or 10pm. Oh no, it was going to be much later than that. We were in our lovely motel 6 beds at 1:30am and asleep by 2. After a 21 hour road trip.

That's day one of our Wildflower adventure. More to follow.....