Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Coming to an End

This has been the hardest post to write. It's been 4 months since I last wrote so I thought I should at least close out the year with a little something. Of course, since I wasn't writing regularly, I'm going to forget half of what I wanted to share!

I closed out my year of racing with a half marathon - SeaWheeze in Vancouver, BC, a 5K - Chosen benefit for adoption, and a reverse triathlon - Weber State Turkey Tri. This ended my fifth year of racing and as far as number of races goes, it was probably at the bottom of the list. But this was the year I attempted longer races - two half ironman and a full ironman attempt. I did not complete the ironman but it gave me incentive to "tri" again so 2015 will bring on the training for Ironman Los Cabos in October.

My life encountered some changes in the last part of the year. I stopped working full time - this is a temporary thing but it's been a nice break. I was able to do some traveling. My hubby and I took his mom to London and Ireland for a couple of weeks and then I was able to go to Saudi Arabia to see where the hubby is residing. Both trips were fun and interesting but I'm glad to be home for awhile now.

I became an official member of the BAM family and I'm really excited what 2015 will bring. They are such a great group of athletes and always inspire me to do more and be my best self.

And I finally had shoulder surgery to repair the damage from my bike fall last spring. The surgeon saw the MRI and said he has no idea how I raced all year. Well, duh! You just do what you need to do! It's almost been six weeks and my PT says I'm doing really well but won't let me in the pool yet. I've been running and cycling on the trainer but I'm anxious to get swimming again.

2015 is going to be a great year - some challenging races that have me super scared and excited at the same time!
Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jordanelle Tri - slow, slow, slow

I have never done this race and it was not on my schedule this year either since I just got back from USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals last weekend. However, I found out my good friend, Carmen, was going to do the Olympic distance for the first time so I just had to be up there. And if I was going to get up that early to travel 75 miles, I figured I would compete in the Sprint distance for a training day.

There is no parking at the race start/transition area. Everyone has to park about 3 miles away in Francis and the athletes ride their bikes while spectators can catch the bus. The morning was beautiful but at 5:30 am it was about 48 degrees so the ride was chilly. Note to self, remember to bring gloves next time!

As always, TriUtah has the greatest setup for transitions. Every spot numbered, USA Triathlon officials on site and really pretty settings for a race.

I got everything set up and then wandered around to see who else had arrived. I had a great surprise running into Teena, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. I knew this was one of her favorite races but we've just kind of lost contact so it was a happy reunion!

The race started a few minutes late with the Olympic distance first and I was to be in the last wave. The water was great! I only got bumped a few times. I think the swim was a tad longer than half mile and I felt a little slow which was to be the theme of the day. I forgot to hit the lap button at the right moment in T1 so I can't compare apples to apples. According to the timers, my swim was slower but transition was faster than my last sprint.

The bike is longer than a normal Sprint - about 14.5 miles.
We climbed and climbed and then turned onto the river road which had loose rocks for quite a few miles. I felt like I was going 10 mph but I just kept going since there was no other option! The turnaround was one final climb to get back up into Francis and then the fun started. I ended up averaging just 16.4 mph but what helped that number was the back end of the race. I don't think I've ever gone faster than about 36 mph and on this one I pr'd by hitting 42.8 mph. And that was even feathering my brakes a little!

I'm working on getting my transition times down, so with a 2 minute T2, I headed out on the run. The bike thrashed my legs more than I expected so my run was so so. We ran on the road for a mile and then it became a cross country race which was kind of fun. My time was about the same pace-wise as it's been in my last few races.

It was fun having so many of my Salt Lake teammates at the finish line. I race for the team from Atlanta and I'm the only one that is here local. I imagine that having my Salt Lake Tri club and BAM fam around me is what it's like for the other teammates to race the local Georgia races!

The finish line food was great, especially the watermelon which was to die for since the weather had warmed up a lot from the early morning! I waited around for the Sprint awards ceremony to cheer on my mates and learned that I actually won my age group! And not by default either - there was one other person and it looks like we were neck and neck on everything but I got her on the swim and T1.

I think I always avoided this race because I knew it was hard but I've come to realize it's good to do hard races. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!  Next up Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

No illusions - USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals

When I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship last year, I had no idea what to expect. It was a year in the future and there were many other races for me to overcome. As the time grew closer, I made the statement many times that I had no illusions that I would do anything but finish the race but deep down I hoped that I would finish at least in the top 50 percent of my age group. Hmmm. Little did I know how competitive this event really is!

The weekend started with me meeting Barbara Nelson at the airport and then we flew together the rest of the way to Milwaukee. We were going to be roomies for the weekend and it was nice to be able to spend some time with her and hear about her Ironman Boulder experience from a few days earlier. We saw very quickly that we were in the perfect part of town. Walking distance to everything!

We headed over to the expo and packet pickup. Our timing was perfect, we were there before the rush. We had a slight disappointment discovering the race jackets in our packet ran small and we couldn't exchange them until after the race. As luck would have it, we actually were able to do this on Saturday! Pretty happy about that! We saw the finish line set up -
Walked around a little more and found our teammates and bike transport guys. Jeff and Adrian were so great to drive our bikes from SLC and make sure they were in good working order. Plans were made for our pre-race workouts the next morning then Barb & I were off to find food. One of the cool things about Milwaukee is the waterway running through the city. We had to wait for drawbridges by our hotel several times. While a little annoying when you're in a hurry, it was cool to watch!

On Friday, our SLC group met up for a pre-race swim, bike and run.
 And after dropping our bikes into transition
we got ready for our group dinner that night! Barb and I stuck to our walking and found a cheese shop on the way - yummy!
Race morning started about 4:30 am with breakfast and final preparations. We walked the mile to transition and finished setting up.
The swim start times were spread out over a couple of hours but I luckily was in the fourth wave and the first of the group to start. The swim, bike and run were all one loop courses. In all my races, I've never been beat up as bad in the swim as I was with this group. These old ladies are tough! I got in the groove pretty quick though and pr'd my swim by 9 minutes. It was about a quarter mile transition to T1 so my time seemed a little long even though I thought I got out of there pretty quickly.
The bike was a little more hilly than I anticipated but I was still able to maintain an average just under 17 mph. It helped that I maxed out at 32 mph. Wasn't great but I'll take it! It was starting to get warm so I was a little worried about the run. I managed to finish the bike with high cadence and my legs were ready to roll out of T2. I stuck with my run/walk plan that works for me and finished the run just a tad off pace from normal. I grabbed water at every stop and dumped ice down my top to stay cool.

It was fun to see a couple of other team members out there. To the guy I hugged before the swim - sorry! I just was so excited to see ya! And to Thom who passed me on the run, thanks for saying something. You were looking strong!
This post is going on too long but I wanted to give a shout out to our youth that raced on Sunday in the sprint and our very own pro, Zara,
who took 3rd in the Super Sprint race on Saturday. Super exciting to watch up close how speedy and just allover great the athletes are.

Back to my no illusions thought from the beginning of this - I beat only 5 people in my age group of 110 so didn't even come close to the top 50%. Very competitive ladies! This was one of the most humbling, inspiring and awesome experiences of my short racing career!


Monday, August 4, 2014

East Canyon Triathlon 2014

This race was not on my schedule. Last year was the inaugural race and I did it and thought it was a great venue. I had an Olympic distance last weekend and one coming up next weekend so it took some cajoling and pleading with my coach but she said I could do it if it was a training race! I really like competing in the TriUtah races. They are very organized and professional and will most likely be on schedule year after year.
TriUtah leader, Dan

This is a two transition race, starting with the swim and T1 at East Canyon Reservoir and ending down the canyon in Morgan. I took my bike up to T1 Friday night and dropped it off to save some time in the morning. Saturday started with a 4 am alarm and I met a fellow tri club member at 5 am to make the drive to T2.
Since I am chronically early, we arrive at Riverside Park in the dark and are some of first to set up our stuff and get body marked. We got on the shuttle bus and had some resting before it loaded full enough to head up the canyon. Back up at T1, we finished setting up our area and then played the waiting game.
I was in the last wave start. I saw a bunch of people I knew and met some new friends.
After the race meeting, it was finally time to get started. The air and water temperatures were perfect. I got in the water just before my wave started and made sure the goggles were working. I felt good on my swim and saw that I was about five minutes faster from last year. We have to run up the boat ramp to T1. They had most of it covered with carpet and some people left shoes to put on but I went barefoot.

With a 3 minute transition, I was out of there. It's a mostly downhill ride but there is about a mile out of transition that climbs out of the park. The next few miles are full of hairpin turns and I was not able to stay in aero. There were some crashes. I was able to slow down enough to stay upright. Since I was in the last swim wave I had quite a few people to catch up to. I safely passed a few dozen and was in the home stretch before I knew it. The bike is a little longer than a normal sprint at 14.5 miles. I was almost 2.5 minutes faster than last year. And I managed to top the 20 mph average speed I've been reaching for!

With a minute slower transition than last year, I was on the run. The first part is on the grass out of Riverside Park and then on a trail by the river. There was a water stop at mile one and on the way back at mile two. I came on the sprint turnaround faster than I expected but then found the run to be only 2.7 miles according to my Garmin. I think I'm finally dialing in on my breathing and was able to maintain a sub-11 minute pace.

They throw a great spread of watermelon, cookies, etc. so I grabbed some and found a few friends to find out how they did. It took a little while for them to bring our T1 bags down which was perfect since I was waiting for Caroline to finish her first ever Olympic distance.
We waited for the awards ceremony and they started with the Olympic distance athletes. Caroline won her age group of 20-25! There were a few of the Salt Lake Tri Club and BAM athletes that were on the podium. I missed out on first place by 2.5 minutes but had a 9 minute faster total time than last year so was not too bummed!
I had planned on going on a hike later in the afternoon with my boys and dogs. What had been a happy day, quickly turned sad when my older dog, Belle, started having problems on the hike. We got her to the Animal ER but she did not make it. We are not sure what happened but it was probably a combination of overexertion and an underlying kidney or liver issue. I'm not sure how we will get through this loss but get through we must. She will be missed a whole bunch, especially by her Boomer pup. He's never been alone.

RIP Our Sweetheart Belle


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Burley Spudman Triathlon 2014

I love this race! I'll just start out saying that because this is my all time favorite event. Don't get me wrong there are some great race organizers out there and I enjoy most of the events in which I compete but this was my first open water tri so it holds a special place in my heart. This weekend is usually a camping trip with my hubby and some good friends from Park City and my brother from Boise. Unfortunately with hubby gone and my brother predisposed, I was camping in my trailer alone. Park City friends were there as well so that was fun.

Spudman is an Olympic distance triathlon. 1.5k swim down the Snake River, 40k bike and 10k run through the farm fields. I've always considered this my A race and this year was no difference. It's a two transition race so after picking up my packet (which includes a potato!), I took my bike over to T1 to claim my favorite spot by the bike out.
Several of us were then meeting up for a pre-race pizza dinner. We had a newbie with us. It was going to be his first open water Olympic tri so we talked about a lot of things that he could expect. I was so excited for him!  Then it was back to camp to finish preparing for the morning and early to bed.

Transition open at 6 am so even though I was in one of the last start waves, I headed over to finish setting up T1 to try and beat the crowds. Ran into a few other Salt Lake Tri Club peeps and snapped some sunrise pics and went to set up T2.

I was so early that I was able to sit in my truck and stay warm until the race started.
And they're off!
As usually happens wave starts are age dependent so I'm usually in one of the last waves, having plenty of time to gather my wits and get ready. Waves are 10 minutes apart so about 5 minutes after the previous wave started, I got in the water. It was very comfortable and the current felt strong. You don't want to get in too early so that you don't use too much energy trying to stay behind the start line. I timed it just right and was at the start when the horn blew. Except for one guy who kept cutting me off for a ways, the swim was uneventful. I was happy to see I took off a couple minutes from last year when I exited.

For some reason, I took my sweet time in transition. It's a "clean" transition so everything you have has to be put in the provided trash bag and dropped off with volunteers at the bike out. The bike starts out on the main road and then winds around through some neighborhoods before getting on the straightaway country roads. It's basically a 25 mile flat rectangle. Even though drafting is illegal, there were several draft packs that passed me and I saw a lot of it throughout the day. But whatever, I was just worried about my own race and pedaled on! I averaged 19 mph which is something that I have not been able to do in a race before. Came off the bike a little over 3 minutes faster from last year.

The run is my Achilles heel this year. I've been having problems breathing but this day, I remembered the inhaler and some extra nutrition. My run plan is always a 5 min run/1 min walk even in a triathlon so after walking the hill out of transition to get my legs going, I stuck to the Galloway method the entire 10k. It was warm but not unbearable. I didn't want to take a chance on overheating so I took in plenty of fluid at the aid stations. The run takes you through some farm fields along a canal. I saw lots of people squatting in the potatoes so I don't think dehydration was a problem! My run was only 20 seconds faster than last year.

It's always such a great feeling to run down that last hill to the finish chute and have them call your name and where you are from!

I first did this race in 2011 where I finished 22 of 24. The second year I was 14 of 21, 28 minutes faster. Then in 2013 I was 8 of 17 with another 18 minutes faster. I really was hoping and planning on 15 minutes faster this year but it was only 4 minutes and 7 of 21. As one friend said, a pr is a pr! One of my friends and training mates won our age group, beating me by over half hour - she's fast!

I met up with Dr. Tom at the finish and we waited for his brother, Steve to finish. It was Steve's first open water tri and I am always very proud when someone does something that pushes past their comfort level. Can't wait to see the next one (hint, hint, Steve!).
This event is truly a community event. From the organizers to the high school football players and cheerleaders and other volunteers to the residents who held water hoses or put sprinklers in the streets to help keep us cool - they are all so very great! As if you can't tell, I highly recommend this race to all.

As is tradition, after cleaning up and grabbing a bite to eat, I finished off the day with 18 holes of golf with Ron & Susan. My one concession is to take a cart since it is in the heat of the day. It was weird this year without my hubby and brother but we had a good time and mostly played well.
Packed everything up the next morning and made it home in time for church and to prepare for the upcoming week!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Echo Triathlon

It was a beautiful Saturday morning for the Echo Triathlon. The day before, the weather forecast had called for a chance of thunder showers but as you can see there was nary a cloud in the sky. It's a little bit of a drive from my house to the reservoir so I opted once again to go up the night before and stay at the one hotel nearby. A fellow club member and I shared a room. It was the first time we had met and I know I say this over and over again but I love this sport because of the people! Every time I meet someone, I feel like I've made a new life-long friend. It was fun to spend time visiting and getting to know each other.

There was to be a swim clinic before packet pickup so we all headed over. I opted out of the swim but was there to take pictures.

After packets were picked up, it was back to the hotel to finish our prep and get our eyes closed early. The 4 o'clock hour comes way to soon on race morning!

There is little parking at the venue so we have to ride our bikes the two miles with all of our gear. Our group headed over about 5:30 am. The temperature was great, just a hoodie over the tri kit.

TriUtah puts on such a great race (I know I've said this before as well!). Bike spots are marked with our numbers so no question on where to set up. With setup done, it was time to catch up and visit with friends for awhile. I was doing the sprint and as often happens I was in the last wave so I got to watch my friends at their start.

Something new this year (I think) was participation of the Push to the Finish organization. Check out their website. Several athletes pulled kids with physical disabilities in rafts on the swim course and then they were pushed on the rest of the course. It was so great to see the joy in the kids as they were coming out of the water. I know I'm not strong enough to pull or push one of the kids, but this seems like such a worthy cause for me to check into.

The Olympic and Sprint waves started and soon it was time to get in the water for a warm-up. The water was perfect. The buoys were staying put (last year one of them moved so my swim was short). The air horn blew and we were off. Even with my bum shoulder, I felt like I was having a good swim and was happy to come out of the water at 18 minutes. Official time shows 20 something because it's quite a long way up to transition.
Photo credit goes to my favorite mommy-to-be and one of my surrogate coaches, Jen.
Love her belly!
With a quick transition, I started the bike. Since I'm not a fast swimmer, I usually make up my time on the bike. I passed a lot of people and was feeling really good. The course has a false flat out of transition with a little climb and then some rollers. On the return, there is climb up to where the dam is and I even managed to pass someone on that stretch! The run course parallels the road in spots so I was seeing my fellow tri club members out running.

Another quick transition and I was off on the run. I'm struggling with my breathing on my runs and had forgotten to bring my inhaler. Last year's run was about three minutes faster. I forgot to look at my time from last year so didn't know until later that I pr'd by a few minutes. I definitely made up time on the swim, bike and transitions. I believe it was one of my best open water swims yet, pace-wise.

So many of us made it on the podium. Even some newbies!
It was the first tri for one of my new friends, Melanie, and only her second open water swim!

This was one of the races last year in which I qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals. I thought that was a one time thing but when I looked at the results, I found that I beat out second place by a few seconds and have qualified again for next year.
I've taken a few weeks break from serious training and it probably helped with this race. Monday is my re-commitment day to my training schedule. It felt good to hit GPP this morning at 5 am. My favorite race of all time is in two weeks - Burley Spudman!