Saturday, January 6, 2018

Addison Oaks Fat Bike Race 2018

Addison Oaks Fat Bike Race in Leonard, MI (up past Detroit)

Since this winter NW Ohio and Eastern MI has some good snow we decided to take advantage of that and put our fat bikes to use by signing up for this race!  There was a 1 hour and 2 hour option.  Mike decided to do just the one hour but I needed at least 2-3 hrs on the bike this weekend according to my Triathlon plan, so I signed up for the 2 hr race.

It was -1 when we started, and about 4 when I finished, not to mention the negative windchill.  It was really a great course.  Nicely groomed double track trails, unlike the choppy snow of a fat bike race we did near Traverse City 2 years ago.  That stuff is plain hard to ride through without falling.  So I was happy with these trails!  There were a few spots that were choppy but that’s it.  The trail was about 5.5 miles long and you just ride as many laps in the time allotted.  I actually got a decent workout because the trail wasn’t too technical (although I was always really cautious).

I wore a lot of layers.  All tech-moisture wicking material-a long sleeve shirt, a T-shirt, my 40 degree and up riding jacket, and a wind breaker over that.  I wore my oldest and thinnest bike shorts, warm running tights, and my warm bike capris over that with crocheted leg warmers on the lower legs.  I also wore a face mask, which I pulled down to my chin so I could breathe, a hat, ski goggles, and my snowboarding helmet. I wore wool socks with toe warmers, my mountain bike shoes and shoe covers. On my hands I had my gore tex snowboarding mittens with hand warmers. Wow that’s a lot!   But surprisingly I never got cold or too hot.  Only my feet got cold.

During the second lap (I rode 4 laps), my goggles froze- and I couldn’t see much so I stopped and tried to wipe them off but they were frozen!  So I took them off and rode the rest of the lap without goggles which scared me because it was so cold I was worried my contacts would freeze to my eyes and cause damage (I don’t know if that’s true but cold temps while riding without eye protection sucks).  I was almost finished with the lap and I knew Mike was probably done so I rode over to the car and there he was- his goggles didn’t fog up so he gave me his.  I definitely lost some time there but I was more worried about having fun and getting the time I needed on the bike this weekend than actually racing since I’m not good at handling a bike on trails lol.

Other than that everything was great about the race- I fell a number of times through choppy snow and put my brakes on going downhill because if you get out of the snow rut you’re going to lose it and I didn’t want to while speeding downhill.  So I was very cautious around corners and downhills haha.  

Anyways, great race I recommend it!  And if you dress for the cold, all is good.  I’ll remember to bring a second pair of goggles next time!  

I ended up winning for the females, though there were only 3 of us but I won $60.00 wooo!  And Mike got 7th which is really good considering there were a lot more men!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, TN

Allow me first to explain what I qualified for.  So, I'm a competitive triathlete.  I truly enjoy competing and getting faster, it's really challenging, and I have always loved extreme physical challenges.  Yes, I win a lot of local triathlons, but those are small.  I come in at the top 10-20% in my age group when I compete at USA Triathlon NATIONALS for the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run- usually takes me around 2:16-2:20).  This is within the U.S.  The past 2 years, I had qualified for the ITU (International Triathlon Union) WORLD Triathlon Grand Final Championship for the Olympic distance.  I enjoy the shorter triathlons because I personally think it's challenging to get faster at them.  When I competed at Worlds the first time, I came in 42nd place, and last year 22nd place.  That just goes to show I am competing against women in my age group that are just as fast, or much faster than I am, and that's great,  again I love the challenge and am thankful I even got the chance to compete against them.

Last summer I raced my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon.  Now, that was my 6th 70.3, but have never done an Ironman branded race-the other 70.3 I raced were put on by a small race company.  Here at Ironman races, whether they are the full 140.6 or half 70.3 distance, the top 2-3 winners in the age group qualify for the Ironman World Championship.  Last year at the Ohio Ironman 70.3 I came in 7th overall female of the whole race, but placed 3rd in my age group, and they only took the top 2 in my age group to go to Worlds, which was in the U.S. in 2017.  So I was beyond frustrated.  So much so that I decided to sign up for another qualifying race a friend told me about.  Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in May 2017.  They only took the top 3 in the age group here.  I placed 5th after having a tough race and getting pretty dehydrated and low on energy, as I was just using liquid calories (bad news for Roseann).  Anyways if the top 3 people have already qualified from another race or choose not to take their spots, it rolls down to the next spot, so, boom, I got a spot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship!!

Ever since I started getting faster, I was having trouble figuring out my nutrition and hydration needs, particularly for the longer 70.3 distances.  I have tried all sorts of hydration drinks and gels.  I'm not going to get too much into it, but I've tried Infinit nutrition and after using it for two 70.3s I decided it wasn't for me.  I got pretty hungry towards the end of the bike portion (56mi).  And I just felt off.  One race I ended up getting stomach cramps on the run using Infinit.  (I tried 3 different types,too, not for me).  So I figured it was an electrolyte thing so I used EFS hydration and gels for the May 70.3 race in Chattanooga.  Well, that still left me dehydrated and low on energy.  I had read Stacy T. Sims book, called Roar about how to fuel for long events.  She also talked about female physiology and how it relates to training.  I now consider it my sports nutrition bible.  If anyone is still struggling with nutrition during endurance races I highly recommend it.  Basically, hydration in your bottles and food in your pocket.  I trained with a light hydration drink (called Osmo-light in calories, sugar, and carbs, but still high in electrolytes), Picky Bars (and now Cyclewerks carries them because of me haha!!) on the bike until the last 45 min)., and then transitioned to Honey Stinger chews on the last 45 min of the bike and the whole run.  And what do you know, it worked extremely well with my body!  Also, these things are all organic, so that helped on my tummy during racing, I believe!  Oh, and Peter Sagan uses Osmo nutrition.....yep!

Ok, so onto the race!!  The night before- I drank my prehydration drink to preload on electrolytes.  It's called Osmo Preload for women.  Then on race morning, I took in another 16 oz of my prehydration drink, like I had practiced all summer before racing.  And then I also ate a honey stinger waffle, both 45 min. before the start.  3 hrs before the start my breakfast was two slices of gluten free bread with almond butter spread on them and some honey on top.  Yum!

So the swim.  It was wetsuit legal-darn!  That meant more people would have an advantage, oh well, so I wore mine too.  It was a rolling start.  They only let 10 dive off the dock at once.  I started near the front but not the very front.  That was probably my first mistake because I swim faster when I'm around other really fast swimmers so I can chase them.  So I dove off the dock, and as soon as we did, the girl next to me kicked me in the eye with her foot when she dove off.  Oops.  It pushed my left goggle into my eye some, which knocked my contact off and pushed it up into my eyelid.  At least I was pretty sure that's what happened.  I freaked and felt panic start to settle in.  The girls were getting away, and I considered stopping to fix my goggle and contact.  But I blinked a few times and it was uncomfortable, but bearable, and I didn't get much water inside my goggle, so I decided just to keep swimming, and fix it in transition.  The whole swim I was worried I would lose it and not be able to see on the bike, which scared me because of all the descents down a mountain.  I need to wear contacts or glasses to see, so I can't just swim without contacts in.  I could wear prescription goggles, but then I'd need to leave them on until I got to my sunglasses, which would need to be prescription as well.  It's just easier for me to wear my contacts, and I've never had this happen before in my years of swimming.  Ok, so the swim- we swam in a big rectangle.  We swam out to a turning buoy, turned right, and had a long stretch (860m) upstream in the TN River.  I stayed as close to the buoys as I could tell- but I couldn't see a thing, really, the sun was so blinding.  I could still see with my right eye, so it wasn't so much I was completely blind, but that sun!  I just didn't feel fast on the swim at all.  I don't know if it was the contact issue, or just not a good swim day, haha, but my arms didn't want to turnover fast.  After the upstream portion, we turned right, then another slight right again to swim downstream for a short bit.  At this turning buoy I got caught on the string because I was so close to the buoy- and stopped for a bit to untangle myself lol- I could definitely feel the current here!  And then onto the finish.  I actually didn't realize I was at the finish until I was right there.  I accidently had the finishing buoy on my left, lol but oh well, I just didn't realize what I was doing at that point!  My swim was 31:54.  I can do better than that, but that's ok.  It's tough to get all 3 disciplines fast in a triathlon.  The day I do, I'll celebrate!

T1.  As soon as I got upstairs out of the water, I took my goggles off and a volunteer was right there and had me stand to the left out of everyone else's way.  I told her my contact was out.  I dug around- sure enough the contact was up in my eyelid.  That's every contact wearers worst nightmare, and it's even worse when it happens during the swim portion of a World Championship race.  I found it rather quickly, thankfully.  She cupped her hands under mine- and I made sure it was the right side, and put it in my eye, but then it fell out again.  So I had to make sure again it was the right side, and put it back in, and wooo got it this time!  Unfortunately, girls were running into T1 when it happened and passed me :(.  Ah well, I had to be able to see and probably only lost a minute there.  I had my wetsuit on still, so I went to the wetsuit strippers since I lost time with my contact issue-have never used them before.  All I'll say is I could have done it faster lol, oh well.  So my T1 was not pretty and long.  The bag thing- a volunteer handed me my bag quickly but then we had to run up a huge incline to where we had to change- a waste of time, then run out of there and into transition to grab my bike.  I did NOT like this stupid bag thing, I would rather have all my stuff at my bike spot in transition, but I understand why they do this with tons of people.  T1 was a slow 4:57.  Oh I also made sure to drink some Osmo I had in my transition bag- something I haven't done before but needed to because I sweat a lot and dehydrate easily.  

The Bike:
I enjoyed this whole course.  Loved the climb up Lookout Mountain- it was an 8-10% grade, 1,100 feet of climbing in about 3.5 miles.  I just passed everyone who was on the course at this point here :). Then we descended some, and did another 1000' of climbing to mile 22.  After that, we had a nice lonnnggg descent.  I descended really well, and it was so much fun flying down the mountain!!  Unfortunately I got caught up in some cars- but thankfully I was able to get around them ok.  The second half of the race was kinda windy, but I just tried to stay between 80-85% of my max power.  I ended with a solid age-group bike split in 2:48:31.  My power to weight ratio shined there and I was very happy with that.  It was definitely the hardest and slowest 56mi bike in a 70.3 I've ever done though, since I became faster.  I'm very happy with it, though.  I maintained 80% for the whole bike, and 3.1 watts/kg for the split.  Would be nice to one day maintain a higher watts/kg for 56 mi (not necessarily increase my FTP, though). Another thing I'm super proud of was taking in nutrition and fluids.  I drank every 10min, and took in food every 20min.  I realized after the climbing portion was over that I needed more fluids than I carried ( which was 90oz already!!), so I grabbed some plain water at an aid station and poured it into my aero bottle.  I ended up not drinking all the water, but drank some of it and it was there if I needed it.  No, I didn't drink 90oz in 22 mi but thought I should grab extra now instead of possibly running out later on in the bike course.

T2- Now this transition was a little smoother with the bag issue than T1.  Again, kinda annoying to grab the bag then go to the changing area and have to pull out your run gear, and then put your bike gear back into this bag then hand it off to a volunteer, it just takes more time.  Didn't like it.

The Run:

My plan was to start slower and move into a nice pace after the first mile, like I had practiced all summer.  Because I used to run as fast as I could right off the bike in a half which is bad news for me, I have learned.  So this worked well for me the first few miles- I was speeding up.  I was even surprised that I didn't feel too sore from the bike elevation gain.  Buuuutttt then the hills on the run came :).  This course had about 1000feet of elevation gain in 13.1 miles.  Not fun.  I figured I could maintain an 8:30 pace on this course, though.  The best I've been able to do was last summer maintaining an 8:20 pace at Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  This summer I have gotten faster at the run.  So I knew I could maintain an 8:00-8:30 pace.  And I was close-an 8:38 pace.  It was just brutal out there on the course.  We had two loops of the run, and had to do the same hard hills twice.  They were pretty steep, some of them.  If you look at the elevation profile, it's just uphill, then back downhill, the whole time.  It sucked.  But I was here to enjoy it.  I didn't walk any of those hills.  Some were a slow jog haha but no walking!!  As far as my hydration and nutrition went- they went pretty well.  When I ran out of my 40oz of Osmo on the run, I had to grab more water at aid stations.  I also carried extra nutrition and had to use it with all the hills.  I had only really practiced using honey stinger chews, but carried a honey stinger gel for towards the end if I needed it, and need it I did.  I took a honey stinger gel in at mile 10 because I figured even if it did make my stomach upset I would probably be fine for 3 more miles.  It actually energized me more than I thought, and maybe I'll just use honey stinger gels on the run, no stomach upset!  I felt a little out of it during the run but that was it, telling me I executed my nutrition and hydration really well, and will just make slight adjustments using the same nutrition and hydration in future 70.3s.  

One key thing that helped was carrying extra nutrition with me on the bike and the run.  I'm glad I did because climbing hills on the bike and run takes longer and more out of you than a flatter course, so you will need more fluids and calories during the race to keep your energy levels up.  Nutrition and hydration can make or break your race, and I'm so glad it made my race.

I will continue to get faster on the run, I know it is my weakness, but I also improved this year which makes me so happy.  I used to be REALLY slow at running :) I am very happy with my big race this year, couldn't have asked for more!  Of course, I will always strive to get stronger and faster.  Can't settle for anything less than your best, and I believe you always have to strive higher.  This is not the end :). As far as next year, I want to train like I'm going to win my age group at USAT Nationals for the Olympic distance and see what happens.  It's in my favorite city, near where I grew up, Cleveland, Ohio!  So of course I have to train to race really well here :).  Other than this I haven't figured out other races for next year.  My IT band has been injured all summer, I've just been managing it so I can still run, so a break from running is in order to let it heal. 

My final placements after all the DNFs was 57/211 in my 30-34 age group (tough, tough field, some really strong women from around the globe!!), and 281/1433 total female finishers.  So, top 27% in my age group, and top 19.6% total woooo I couldn't be happier!! :) :)  That course was a beast, the hardest thing I have ever done athletically before, no joke.  But I think it's my favorite course ever, and will never forget it.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grand Rapids Tri 2017

The swim (or should o say struggle...)

I had been putting in some good work in the pool and was swimming very well lately, so I was expecting a really strong swim, if nothing else on Sunday.  Well, that didn't happen, unfortunately.  I get more nervous when I have to wear a wetsuit.  I hate swimming with it on, because it's just not comfortable.  But everyone else was so I better wear it because I wanted to swim as fast as I could and the wetsuit does help.

In the beginning of any triathlon I have ever done, people always start out wayyyy wayyy way too fast.  There's a lot of thrashing and kicking going on.  I've been swam over before.  Well this time, during the first 500m I ended up turning my head to breathe, and swallowed a huge gulp of someone's kicked splash.  The heart rate was high in the beginning and I was gasping for air- I had to stop swimming.  I panicked a bit- I have never felt this panicked in the water before- I couldn't breathe and thought I might be experiencing a drowning-like feeling.  I almost waved my arms for help, but told myself to calm the heck down and try to breathe normally.  I was gasping for air for awhile.  I tried to swim, but still was having a hard time getting my breath.  I grabbed at my wetsuit collar to undo the Velcro, but I couldn't grab it.  So I stopped again.  At this point I had let most of the females pass me it seemed, and there was nothing I could really do about it until I felt safe enough to try swimming again.  Thankfully I calmed down enough, and was able to undo my Velcro at the neck so I could breathe better.  I no longer cared if the long zipper strap was flapping in the water behind me, I needed to breathe better.  That helped, and on I went!  I ended up passing most of the people who passed me when I started struggling.  Phew!  I was out on my own, away from all those people.  Unfortunately I had lost some time there, seemed like 40-50sec or more who knows.  I was just glad to get into a nice rhythm and relax.  I breathed almost every stroke after that incident and that's ok.  I have decided to start out at the very end from now on to avoid getting kicked at and splashed around.  Wow that was the scariest moment ever in a triathlon swim for me.  Thankfully I was only off the top females time by 50 seconds, not too bad considering things, just frustrated I wasn't up there with them.  

T1:  a note about this- I got my wetsuit off and was ready to go, however the GR triathlon has a very strange transition set up to me- it's one longggg line.  The 70.3 distance is at the front and run out, Olympic is in the middle, and the sprint is in the back.  I had to wait in this long line to get out of transition and there was nothing I could do about it :(. So my T1 was 3 min long.  Racers were coming in from the bike one way, and us racers trying to get out of transition were in a line the opposite direction.  There was no me running around these people because I simply couldn't or else I'd run right into a racer coming from the opposite direction.  For this reason, I definitely do NOT like the GR triathlon transition set up.  But that's probably the only way they can fit it in.  I guess....

The bike:  I felt pretty strong at first.  You know, I was going 24-30mph at any given time in my watt zone.  Of course we had a Tailwind.  The course was out and back.  I focused on drinking early and often, and took in some honey stinger chews to supplement my calorie intake.  Worked well.  Probably drank about 30-35oz on the bike.  

Now on the way back to transition....the wind hit pretty hard.  So I let my power drop.  Yep-couldn't even maintain correct wattage and then I decided that was probably for the best.  I wasn't going to fight it because I knew if I did, I would just have an awful run.  So I just did what I could in the wind.  1:07-pretty slow for myself, my average wattage was only 5 lower than usual so who knows.  Or maybe I'm just not as strong this year.....yet!

The run:

I actually felt really good.  Coming off the bike though I was a bit sore, so I took it easier the first mile.  I also noticed I wasn't too hot, considering it was supposed to get up to the 90s later that day- it wasn't humid yet.  I must have gotten my nutrition and hydration right!  I ran quickly, but it felt easier than it normally does for me.  I ended up passing a girl who was in 3rd on the run. This never happens on the run haha.  I stayed pretty consistent with my pace- around a 7:30ish pace until the last mile.  I thought I had seen another girl up ahead.  So I picked up the pace to see if I could catch her, and at that point- some guy was running next to me and said he would pace off me since he was doing the half.  That mile I did start to notice the heat.  I started to slow but that person kept motivating me which really helped.  At the second to last aid station I drank 2 cups of water- it was hot and I was getting a bit dehydrated.  I probably should have just drank 1 because my stomach started to feel odd right after that.  Ah the finish line!  I ran as fast as I could to the finish!  My last mile ended up being 7:15.  I actually negative split the last 3 miles too which never happens.  It wasn't a PR probably because of the heat but it was close and I'm proud of that run!  Probably could have ran faster, oh well.

I didn't know what place I had come in, but when I found out I came in 3rd which meant I won some prize $ I was a bit shocked because I really struggled and lost time on the swim!  

Now a long break from racing.  I'm going to focus on everything really.  My upper body is starting to get stronger for the swim, I need to work on getting in some 3-4hr rides, and work on some off the bike runs.  I think not racing as much as I did the past years will really help me focus on my weaknesses and get faster for the goal race.  I just hope I can swim strong and show it from now on- never want to experience this again!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Believe in Yourself, and Never Give Up No Matter How Bad You Feel

My Experience at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga.  What a tough race!

The swim:

It wouldn't be a triathlon for me without some blonde moments.  The day before I ended up forgetting my timing chip after I had already checked in, listened to the athlete briefing, and drove back to the place we were staying.  Glad my friend Daisy mentioned it or I would have been struggling around race morning trying to get it.  On race morning after setting up transition, we headed on the bus at 6:05.  Found porta potties, waited in this dumb line until 6:35.  Race start at 6:50 and I had to put on my wetsuit yet so we ran towards the front.  Get there, get the darn wetsuit on, then realize I had plenty of time because the pros started first.  Like an extra half hour.  I could relax some!  

The swim was supposed to be upstream at first, turn, then head mostly downstream with a nice current.  Well the current was too strong for us age groupers I guess( the pros got to swim it though so I was disappointed because that left me at a disadvantage, with my swim being pretty strong).  Everyone swam about a 1500m, and with the current I ended up swimming a 16:33.  I hope at Worlds they make us swim the whole thing.  Other than that it felt like a decent swim, no real complaints.

The bike:  I felt strong maybe the first 5 miles then fatigue set in.  I just tried to stay within a 10- watt range but that was sometimes hard on hills when trying to pass people.  I also forgot to calibrate my power meter so who knows what I was doing!  The hills I think took their toll on me today.  I think I also tapered too much.  Usually for races I'm not this low for form (a training Peaks terms- how well rested you are).  I was only at it for Cozumel last year, I think at Delaware 70.3 I was at 15 (if anyone knows what that means). An article I had read said some athletes do better with 5-10 (I think I'm in that range).  I'm not going to taper down to 25+ anymore.  I did not feel like I was in that "flow" state that I feel in when I race well.  It's hard self coaching yourself but I enjoy the learning experience and challenge and pressure of it all.  

So in triathlon you must remain 6 bike lengths away from the person in front of you and if someone passes you, you must drop back for them.  So I was obeying this rule, and was extremely irritated at the amount of drafting I saw.  I even said to someone, "hey it looks like a group ride up there!".  Lol.  Mainly the men.  Huge groups.  No one would drop back.  I wish the officials were around.  I've never seen that amount of drafting in any of my other races.  Frustrating.  

The bike course was beautiful, and hilly.  It had 2400 feet of gain.  Nothing too steep but a bunch of little rollers that killed me today.  

The run:

When I got off the bike my first mile was under 8:00 and I felt great.  I had planned to stay around an 8:00 pace.  After that I couldn't hold it because I became pretty hot.  Also, my hips didn't feel right and wouldn't let me fully extend for running.  So I did my best.  About halfway through I wanted to give up.  I knew I wasn't going to have a good run split at all!  But I did not come down here to give it all away.  I had wanted to qualify.  So I sucked it up and jogged and walked when I had to up some hills but it was a constant struggle.  And I slowed down.  But I knew I had to keep going to do my best just in case there was a slim chance I could still qualify.  I didn't see any but one girl in my age group pass me yet.  I wasn't giving up.  Sometimes it's ok to slow down and do what your body is capable of at that given moment.  I was going to finish the race.  I was actually shocked I came in 5th.  I thought it would be much worse with my slow run.  Even though I didn't race well I was ecstatic to have qualified for the 70.3 World Championship this year in Chattanooga!  And what's great is I will already know what to expect on the course!  

A huge congrats to my friend Daisy Brey who won her 25-29 age group!  She smoked it, and killed the run.  Amazing! 

My goal for Worlds now is to work a bit more on my run and not worry about placing anywhere at Worlds.  My goal is just to improve my own personal time on that course and worry about myself.  There are a lot of really fast people at Worlds so I'm not going to get caught up in thinking I can place high because that just makes me even more nervous.  I'm just going to enjoy the experience and race the best I possibly can because I took USAT Worlds way too seriously the last 2 years.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel

Oh triathlon.  How I usually love you, but sometimes the nature of competing in three sports one after the other is very challenging.  Mostly why it attracts me.  Anyways, the Saturday and Sunday of the pro and amateur races were both very hot.  I watched the swim and a portion of the bike of the pro women's race, then Mike told me it was a good idea to hang back at the hotel to stay out of the heat.  We were both dripping with sweat just watching, not a smart thing to do the night before a race.  I had been drinking a lot of water in the days leading up to the race so I didn't think watching the first part would affect me much.

Onto race morning.

After my friend Daisy and I set up our transition, we warmed up with running as you couldn't take your bike out of transition or swim before the race.  This may have been a mistake for me because after a few laps around the transition area I was dripping in sweat and I wasn't even working hard.  I knew it.  I took a few sips of my water because I already drank at least 32 ounces with breakfast, maybe 48 I cannot remember if I had more with breakfast.  I ate my normal breakfast, a plain bagel and a banana about 2.5-3 hrs before my race start.  I took another bagel with me to eat half of it before I started, but my nerves set in and I didn't want to go to the restroom anymore than I already had....or have GI issues because of it.  It's so hard to figure out sometimes what will work and what doesn't.  I realize now that I should have been hydrating with my sport drink before the race and the day before to get in more electrolytes because of the heat and since I'm such a heavy sweater.  But I didn't, it was all just plain water except what I took in during the race. (I did add more salt to my dinner the night before, but it should have been more). You live and learn.  

The Swim
The swim was shortened to 1250m instead of 1500m because there was a strong current.  When my wave was allowed to jump in off the deck, I definitely felt the current it was crazy!  When I let go to take a few strokes, I had to work a bit to get back to the deck because the current had pushed me out. When the horn went off, it was a cluster like usual, girls kicking and splashing all around me for the first 500m or so until some swimmers died out and the faster swimmers swam ahead.  Thank goodness.  We swam with the current to the first buoy, then the majority of the swim was against that current.  At this point, I didn't even notice the current, everything happened like it normally does in a triathlon swim, I was following and trying to catch some faster swimmers ahead of me.  Halfway through, I felt pretty warm, the water was warm, and actually I think it was the warmest I've ever felt an ocean before.  Hawaii was cooler than these waters it seemed to me.  

Anyways, I got to the second to last buoy, which was a turning buoy to head back to the finish.  Well, all of a sudden, two race officials in a small boat or kayaks moved the buoy as soon as I and a few other swimmers got there!  It was extremely frustrating!  I looked up at the kayaker across the way and asked if I was supposed to swim further around that buoy or head back in.  The two girls I followed continued to swim to the finish, but I did not want to get disqualified so I tried to understand this guy's finger signals.  Finally I got it that we were allowed to swim to the finish.  So so so frustrating!  The only reason I can think of is that the current was no longer strong, so they moved the buoy back to where 1500m would be for later waves.  I wasted maybe 30-60 seconds with that, who knows it seemed like an eternity.  I let it go and decided not to let that ruin the rest of my race.  Out of the water and into transition.....we had to run up and down this large set of was actually kind of ridiculous.

The Bike
This was the best portion of the race for me.  It always is these days, and I am very thankful because with my pretty strong swim, and even stronger bike, I can get a good head start until my weakest, the run comes.   The 40k wasn't very technical.  Besides a few turns out of transition, it was an out and back course.  There was one, very tight 180-degree turn.  A super flat course, too.  Low wind.  I put 240 calories of electrolyte drink in my 40 ounce speed fill water bottle, mixed with water.  I saved the other 100 calories for my run.  This is usually enough for me during an Olympic triathlon.  Well, it wasn't.....and actually I'm thinking I might need a bit more calories during an Olympic.  I am still figuring out my caloric needs as I get faster.  It's hard, for some reason.  I don't want to end up with stomach cramps, either.  Anyways, the first half of the 40k was awesome, but I started struggling the second half.  Sure enough, when I looked at my power output after the race, I did slow down a bit the second half.  My watts for the whole 40k were 10 watts lower than what I usually do for a 40k.  I wonder if it was the heat, or not enough electrolytes and calories for the heat, etc.  I'm sure a combination of both.  The whole bike race I was near a guy from Great Britain.  During the second half of the 40k, I was near Great Britain and an Australian.  The Australian decided to race me, I believe.  When I caught up to her and passed her, she sped up and got in front of me.  It was like that the whole rest of the way to the finish.  It was a little annoying, actually, but it helped me finish strong.  This girl just wouldn't accept the fact that I would get in front of her!  After the race she came up and hugged me.  I know I helped push her too haha.  Anyways, I ended up running out of my 40oz of fluids with 5 mi to go on the bike.  That never happens.  It was very hot.....and I remember thinking it was the hottest ride I've ever been on. But with cycling, you don't notice it as much as you do running.   I was drenched in sweat, though.  When it came to the transition area, I sped up to the Australian and passed her while she was struggling to get her straps on her cycling shoes undone (that is why I just do it in transition, you can waste time trying to do that coming into transition).  I just had to beat her.

I was pretty hot getting off my bike.  I grabbed my handheld water bottle (I never use one during a 10k, but it was super hot and figured I could use the extra fluids with me in addition to water stops).  

The Run
As soon as I started running fast, I immediately knew I wouldn't be able to go on like that.  My heart felt VERY strained.  I had never felt like this before.  I think right then and there is when swimming and biking in the heat got to me.  It scared me.  I drank everything in my water bottle and passed the first aid station.  I felt so weak and slow, and SUPER thirsty even though I drank all the fluids in my water bottle (even though I don't remember much of that part, it was empty).  So when I got to the second aid station (there was one every mile because of the heat),  I just stopped.  I felt awful, and very thirsty, so I stopped and took in 3 cups of water and dumped a bunch on my head.  Then I continued in.....and decided this run portion was just going to be about finishing, no matter how long it took me.  I felt disoriented, and if I pushed any harder I know I definitely would have passed out and it would have been a DNF, I felt way overheated, like I never have before.  Towards the end of the first 5k, I questioned if I should even finish because of how awful I felt and how slow my 'run' was.   But I decided to continue on, even slower, and walking some because I didn't want to DNF since I had traveled so far to be there.  It was very disheartening.  I trained hard for this.  It totally sucked to be out of control.  But I had to listen to my body because I didn't want to go to the ER, not finish the race, or die.  Sounds dramatic, but heat illness is real and you can die from it.  So the second 5k was a jog and walk, jog and walk.  I ended up getting stomach cramps.  This was the second time in a race I developed them.  The first time was at Mohican where it was a 90- some degree day.  I don't do well in the moving forward if it is hot during a race I signed up for I need more calories and electrolytes, and will be sucking up a can of salty chicken broth the day before.  When I was maybe two-tents from the finish line, I did speed up some.  I just couldn't speed up before then, haha.  I felt like I was going to puke during that push, though!  When I got to the finish, I about almost passed out from that little push to the finish.  But I didn't, some guy puked in front of me at the finish, passed out, then got carried away on a stretcher.  I was very disappointed in my run.  It was a whole 12 min slower than my PR.  I expected it to be a bit slower, but not that much!  Oh well, you live and learn.  I was actually surprised I finished 22nd in my age group out of 57, I thought I would be one of the last with my terrible run.  

ITU Worlds in Cozumel, Mexico was definitely an experience I never want to have again, haha.  It was just too hot.  Friend that was with us told me the heat index was 100 when we finished, around 9:15 am and the humidity was 100%.  No thanks.  Yuck.  No amount of training here could have prepared me for that.  It really sucks, because I was running in the heat.  But sometimes here in Ohio I had to stop my run because of the heat.  My body just can't handle high heat.  I ended up in the ER once when I was 18 after lifeguarding one day.  Oh well.  I will try my best to avoid races with high heat, but you can't predict the weather.  However, even though it was hot, I am glad I got to race at the World triathlon again, and it is an experience I will never forget, and have with me the rest of my life.  

What's next?  Well I took a whole week off exercise and laid around on beaches in Mexico.  When we got back, I started some exercise, and was exhausted the first week, now I have a lot more energy.  My volume and intensity is half of what I normally do, and I won't start swimming for awhile.  I signed up (while I was in Cozumel!) for IM 70.3 Chattanooga in May.  I looked up the weather before I signed up- mid to high 70s for the average.  I can only hope!  I signed up for this race because it's one more chance for me to qualify for IM70.3 worlds in Chattanooga later that year, in September (and if I do qualify, I WILL worry about the heat then!!).  Since I came so close to qualifying at IM70.3 OHIO, I am determined to try to qualify since it's close and in the US this year.  But now, time for some fall running, fat biking, and some strength training.  My mind needs a break from killing it, so I probably won't even sign up for any fall running races.  Fat bike on the other hand, maybe in early winter!    It is good to take a little break.  I am actually excited to start swimming again, I just wish it didn't wear me out so much!  But I won't start until December or January.  Yay for another year stronger!  I'm definitely very happy with most of my other races this year.  So even though Worlds didn't go well for me, I had a number of races that did this past summer.  Happy training!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ironman Ohio 70.3

I'll try to make this short. This was my first Ironman 70.3 branded triathlon race.  I've done the distance before from other race companies, but since this was the inaugural Ironman 70.3 OHIO and was a qualifier for the world championship for Ironman 70.3, I figured I would sign up (ironman has a very steep registration fee which is annoying to me but whatever).  Going into this race, I actually did taper well, at least I think.  My form was right where I wanted it to be ( I use training peaks to monitor my training so form is how ready you are to race).  My goal was to finish under 5 hours, but I was pretty sure I would finish well under 5 hours, I just didn't know by how much so I tried not to set a specific time goal.  When I signed up for this race when it first opened, my goal was to finish in the top 10 overall females and qualify for the world championships for Ironman 70.3 which is in the US next year, Chattanooga, TN.  My goal for the swim was 30min or less, but it all depends on how well I'm feeling, if the course was measured correctly, and the amount of people I would get caught up in.  So it all depends.  My goal for the bike was originally a 2:20, but I switched that to a 2:30 or less because I saw the wind was going to pick up to 10mph and there were a lot of turns on this course. My goal for the run was to hold an 8 minute mile pace, which is a 1:45 for a half marathon.

Ok onto what happened during the race :)

The swim:  Naturally, I started in the front, haha.  Oh I didn't get a chance to warm up in the am, bikes were not allowed out of transition which we put in the night before. Also no one was allowed in the water unless you were racing and I didn't want to run to warm up so I figured I would use the swim as a warm up haha but swim as fast as I could. The gun went off and I noticed two girls in my age group were swimming pretty fast on my far right. I was over to the left closer to the buoys because I like to hug buoys to swim the most direct route. Anyways it was super annoying at first like it always is especially in larger races. I would take a stroke and other girls were stroking all over my arms. Finally after about 400-500m I was able to pull away. I didn't notice the two faster swimmers anymore so I thought I was in the lead.  It's hard to tell in big events. Especially when you're in open water. I thought I had a solid swim, although I didn't feel quite as strong as I did in Sylvania, I was cold before the race started, too, so my legs felt a bit tight on the swim. Once I started passing a ton of people though I was no longer worried :).  It was a great swim, I finished in 31:04.  Not bad.  Mike and Chris Tracey told me I was in second or third place out of the water. Ok I can deal with that.

The bike:  I just felt like I was flying the whole time. I felt super fast!  My legs definitely felt strong on the bike. I could have held a higher wattage, but I think I did pretty well.  Halfway through I felt a little strange and didn't want my salted caramel Infinit. So I drank all the water that was in one bottle. Let that settle then finished the last salted caramel bottle during the last 45 min. I stopped feeling so weird and thought I did pretty well hydrating and fueling (it's nice to be able to drink your calories during a long event like this one ).  Let me mention one more thing, the turns. I would have been even faster but no one in this race knew how to turn. Which is typical of triathletes, I was once a slow turner and probably still am, but gosh I had to slow way down sometimes for people in front of me turning, that was the only annoying part. As far as the crappy roads, they were kinda crappy but I still felt like I was flying haha so I had a great bike leg.  There were small potholes, some gravely roads and a ton of patches everywhere.  The wind wasn't too bad either. Overall I thought my bike performance was awesome!  I PRd the 56 mi bike with a time of 2:26:41.  A 22.91 mph average I was shocked and excited!!

The run:  As soon as I got off my bike in T2, my legs felt pretty sore. I'm not sure why because I stayed in my power range but will look at the file later; I know I did start hard but not for too long.  When you train you don't typically bike 56 miles then run 13.1 at race pace so I think that's why.  Also, in transition I struggled putting my socks on. I debated going without but never have for a half because of the potential for blisters. I do for sprints and olympics but worry about the half distance.  Oh well.  Not like 30 sec faster would have mattered anyways in my placement lol.  My first mile was a 7:44 pace. I wanted to maintain 8:00 minute miles but that didn't happen. My legs just didn't have that in me today which was fine. I tried not to go too fast after that first mile and just kept a pace I could manage and it worked!!  Because with the soreness in my legs I couldn't push any faster.  I maintained an 8:20 pace, a 1:49:21 half marathon. That's a HUGE PR for me in a 13.1mi run in a 70.3 triathlon.  By about 6 min :).

My overall time was 4:51:56 :). I am stoked.  PR by about 24 min!! And this was my first Ironman branded race!  I finished 3rd in my age group and 7th overall female and 68th out of men and women. There were over 2500 people who did the race so I'm VERY happy with my placement.  I did not make the world championships, however.  Ironman takes only the top 2 in each age group.  3-4 spots were offered for larger age groups, but since my age group only had 63 (only haha) females, only the top 2 were taken. I'm pretty bummed about that because I did finish 7th overall for the females.  It just seems like I should be going!!  Oh well guess you can't have it all.  I'm going to rest tomorrow, then shift my focus to the World championship in Cozumel for the Olympic distance (about half the distance of a 70.3 Ironman I did today) where I'm on the amateur team for Team USA!  So excited!!  And I get to watch Gwen Jorgenson race the pro race, and hopefully meet her!!

Triathlon is in my heart and soul, you can't help what you love and what you are passionate about. I probably will continue to compete in this sport for awhile.  I'm only getting faster.  I will figure out what races I'm doing next year after Worlds in Cozumel :)

Also, a huge thank you is in order to my husband, Mike, for supporting me during this race, and for helping me train on the bike and fixing my bike and getting it all ready to race for me always :). I owe him lol.

It was also nice to see so many people I knew, Team Toledo triathlon club was represented well today!  :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sylvania Triathlon 2016

I had big goals going into the Sylvania Olympic distance triathlon.  I wanted the overall female win, and I wanted to PR.  I had invited my parents and my mother-in-law to come to watch the race, and my sister and her puppy came, and so did Mike.  I really wanted to win it for them, too because I didn't have a great race at the World triathlon in Chicago last year where they were watching.  I also did not taper for this race, either, I just slept 12 hrs on Friday night and went for a short walk yesterday.  I am getting ready for the Delaware half Ironman 2 weeks away, where I hope to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 Worlds if possible, or podium, but they only take top 2 in each age group, and the competition is much bigger at an Ironman event.  I also wanted to race as fast as I  could for this Olympic distance tri to get an idea of how it will feel like in Cozumel, where I'm racing the same distance as today.

My goal was to win, and my time goal was a 2:15,  or close to it.  I managed to get pretty close, with a 2:16:11, which is a PR for me in this distance.  In addition to winning female overall, I happened to finish 2nd overall out of 108 for the men and women.....pretty cool!

The swim:  Before the swim, I was intimidated by a fast looking girl next to me in transition which made me more nervous. When we went off, she was on my left, and Meredith Erwin was on my right, and a few others.  After about 500m, the girl on my left started to fade, and I was able to hold my pace.  It was a great swim for me.  I felt strong the whole way.  Sometimes I don't always have a great swim, but today's swim was so strong and so smooth.  I ended up being the first female out of the water with a 23:10. 

The Bike:  I was really hoping to bike as close to an hour for the 40k as possible, but the wind made it tough to do that today. On the windy roads, I just let it be and tried to stay within my power range.  I had to shift down 1-2 gears, but it certainly saved me for the run.  I felt pretty strong on the bike and stayed within my power goals, so that was good.  I did this leg in 1:06:05, which is 22.57 mph.  (I really wanted closer to 24mph but the wind made it tough).  No other female passed me on the bike, so I was still in the lead when I got into transition, yes!!

The Run:  As soon as I exited transition, Liz Young said to me, "You were the first female out of the water, enjoy the run now," and that really helped me.  I did enjoy the run.  My legs ACTUALLY felt fresh.  I usually am somewhat sore off the bike.  I wanted to PR on the run, too.  It's something I'm always working towards since running is my weakness.  My legs felt fresh all the way to mile 3, I thought I would slow down then.  I just didn't know if I should push harder in the first few miles because I felt so good.  I bet I could have ran even faster than I did, but I had never maintained a 7:18 pace before for a 10k so I kept everything in check.  At about mile 5.6, Mike was in the road and started running me in.  I quickly asked him who was behind me, if there was a girl behind me.  He said no, so I kept running as fast as I could.  Just before mile 6, I asked him again if there was a girl gaining on me.  He said no, so I felt relaxed about this issue, haha, but still pushed hard across the finish line.  I won, and I PR'd a 10k in a triathlon with a time of 45:20, that's over a minute faster than my best from last year I am so happy!  All the intervals, tempo runs, and long runs in 90+ heat and humidity is paying off!  I'm so excited!  

Two more big races, and then I can take a bit of a break.  Just a little bit, I'll relax in Cozumel on the beach the week after my race, and will stop swimming until next March or May.  As long as I keep cardiovascularly fit, it comes right back.  I love swimming, but it takes the most mental toll out of me because you are staring at a black line the whole time.  I'm looking forward to riding my fat bike more and fall running after Cozumel.  

It was so nice to have my family and husband there cheering me on, I really appreciated it!  It was also nice to race with a bunch of friends and people I know.  It was a great day, a great race put on by Elite Endeavors, as usual!  Thank you!!