Saturday, September 19, 2015

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago 2015

I woke up at 5:30am race morning.  I ate an apple and a few pretzels because I wanted to wait until 3 hours before to eat a bit more substantial, which was a bagel with PB.  I usually eat a banana, not an apple.  So maybe that's why I had stomach issues on the run.  Who knows.  Transition was open from 6:00-9:20am.  I wanted to get there early to get ready.  It was a cold, windy morning, and my wave didn't go off until 10:33 am.  So, maybe that was a mistake, standing and sitting around being chilled.  About 50 min before my race started, my family and friends found me down by the pier of Lake Michigan and we snapped some photos.  

The swim:  Once we were allowed in the water, we had maybe a minute or so before the gun went off.  I made sure to be up by the front.  I'm happy with where I started this swim.  But gosh, there were a lot of fast swimmers!  This is World- level, let me explain.  Not National level, and for sure not local level where I always place.  So it was tough!  I about had a panic attack a minute into the swim because I saw all the leaders swim way ahead and I couldn't keep up and the cold water and I was swimming somewhere new....I told myself to calm the heck down because I know how to swim, and to swim well.  So that's what I did!  It was still challenging because it was a little wavy.  Not bad at all, but just a bit choppy.  And disheartening seeing swimmers way ahead of me :). Once I reached the stairs to get out I was really relieved. Ripped my earplugs out of my ears, pulled my cap and goggles off, and pulled my wetsuit down to my waist.  The run to transition was looooonnnngggggggg.  The longest I've ever had to do, I think, and then transition was lonnnggggg.  So once I reached the mat to cross transition, I had to run to basically the end.  And I also got confused even though I practiced beforehand.  I suddenly ducked under the rack where I thought I was.  And I was, but my bike was facing the opposite direction lol I should have stayed where I was.  I also ran past my spot, which I never do, because the dang transition was too overwhelmingly huge!  So I hurried up, grabbed my bike and took off running with it through MUD. Because it rained last night.  So at the mount line, I had a tough time clipping in because there was mud on my cleats.

The bike:  I was worried about the bike beforehand because the course was confusing.  I felt like I knew the course because I looked at it so many times online (no opportunity to ride it beforehand) but it was still confusing on paper.  But it was well marked, I had nothing to worry about.  It was very technical, with 8 uturns and I don't know how many other turns.  I didn't know how I was doing because my average power was low because of all the slowing for turns.  I just tried to kill it as much as I could.  I knew some girls in my age group were ahead of me, and only 3-4 passed me on the bike so I knew I was doing well there.  The bike was 2 laps.  Once I got to the dismount line, I almost fell over trying to unclip my shoes because of the mud in my cleats.  I managed to unclip safely, though, and ran the long trek over to transition.  Again I had to run with my bike to the very end of transition where my spot was.  Took off my bike gear, grabbed my shoes, and took off.  Then I realized I had forgotten my garmin.  I turned around and was going to go back for it, but I didn't see my bike and didn't want to waste anymore time so I decided to run without it, which I've never done.  The run is my weakest, so I like to have something for pacing.  I already had that going wrong for me. garmin said 22.9 miles once I was TO MY SPOT in transition.  That's a short 40k(24.5mi)....About half the race was through tunnels lol.  Super interesting course through Chicago.  

The run: Once I took off running without my garmin, my legs did feel like bricks, and just kept getting worse.  I was so mad,  I had done some good runs leading up to Worlds.  I tried to tell myself I was running at least a 7:30 pace.  And maybe I was at first, but the side stitch soon set in.  Felt like a huge bubble of air on my right side I couldn't do anything about.  I'm not sure why.  It was either the apple, or possible dehydration, I didn't drink my full 40 oz of heed on the bike.  It was too technical and lots of people.  I tried to drink as much as I could though, I drank close to 3/4 of it.  We had to run 3.5 laps.  That sucked, too.  Because you run past the finish line 3 times.  I knew in my head 3.5 laps but since I didn't have my garmin, it was hard to tell where I was.  I made sure to keep note.  I even asked a Team USA girl who said to keep it up, run with my heart since I left my garmin, if we ran 3 full laps, then the half lap.  She said yes, so I was comfortable.  I felt myself slowing down throughout the race.  That side stitch just kept getting worse and worse....ugh.  A Canadian in my age group passed me, so I tried to keep up with her, even passed her for a bit, then couldn't hold that pace and she ended up passing me.  I really tried to run as fast as I could with that side stitch.  Ohhhh welllllll I was happy with my swim and bike time.

Overall, a good time at my first World event.  I was just happy I made it that far, really.  I had a really great year, too.  I either won or placed top 3 in all the local triathlons I did.  I swam solid this year, PRd on the bike, and on the run.  Pretty bummed about my run at Worlds.  But you cant always have the best race possible, not even at your goal race, I guess.  This is a good learning experience for me because I usually do well under pressure.  Puts me in my place.  My body just didn't want to cooperate today :(.

So, next year, there will be more bike to run workouts starting in the winter, and not halfway through summer like this season....I was doing one a week, moved up to two 5 weeks before Worlds.  Also, more quality over quantity runs this year, too. I should also be very happy, too, because I used to injure myself a lot running.  I made it at a higher level these last 2 years without running injuries, I consider that a success!  I'm not swimming until maybe February or March.  I always pick it up real quickly.  I will be focusing on my run and bike more next season for Cozumel Worlds!!  

Thanks to all my friends and family who have supported me throughout the years, and especially to Mike who had to deal with me and my sometimes cranky self from heavy training haha.  Now we can enjoy the rest of the year with a little less stress.  We have some things planned, looking forward to the fall.  

Will I ever stop this?  Probably not.  I get too much joy and sense of accomplishment out of it,  I'm sure there will be times in my life when I have to stop exercising so much, like when we start having kids, maybe one race a year?  Haha.  I enjoy endurance exercise and the outdoors too much, love the adrenaline I get from it.  Now for a bit of a break, time to enjoy fall weather and the holidays, and more time for my other love, crocheting!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

USA Triathlon Nationals 2015

I've been far too busy racing and training this summer to even write about my other races!  I have some time, so I figured I'd write about Nationals.  I wasn't even sure if I was going to do Nationals this year.  About 4 weeks before, though, I signed up :).  My thoughts were, I'll give it my best shot, but Worlds 2015 is what I'm training for, and hope to taper well and go my fastest at.  So, with that mindset, I did not race at my fullest potential last week.  Also, I just wanted to qualify for Worlds 2016, I didn't care what place I took in my age group.

The swim:  The water temperature of Lake Michigan the day before was 63.  On race morning, they claimed it was 65.  But as soon as we jumped in, it definitely felt 63 or colder, the coldest I have ever swam in!!  Before the swim, I was debating on whether or not to wear my sleeveless wetsuit like last year, or the full wetsuit.  Glad I chose the full.  Here is where I first messed up my chances of getting a better swim time.  My goggles were dirty.  If you saw some of the pics Mike posted, I was trying to clean them.  Once I jumped in and warmed up, they  fogged up right away.  Great.  Being a good swimmer, I wasn't too worried, but it definitely had an effect on seeing the buoys!  Note to self, make sure your goggles are cleaned.  I cleaned them when I got home, lol.  So, last year we all started treading water.  I think I was somewhere in the middle before the gun went off last year.  This year, we had to hold onto the dock.  I also positioned myself far left.  Bad idea.  For some reason, from where I was, it looked like a direct path.  Nope.  When the gun went off, all the fast swimmers seemed like they were in the middle.  So, I had to swim over to the middle.  Once I did this, though, I got stuck mid-pack it seemed.  I was in the midst of the chaos.  I never am, I'm usually up front, or at least chasing the lead swimmers!  I couldn't move much.  I almost started hyperventilating because I couldn't get out.  It was scary.  But then I told myself to calm down because you're a good swimmer.  So, I did.  I looked around for the next yellow buoy, which was very hard to see with my foggy goggles.  Got around that.  Finally, on the turnaround, I was able to fish my way through all the swimmers and finally have more room to swim in a direct path.  I was good from then on.  Except the part where I wasn't sure to keep the orange buoy on my right or left.  Kept it on the right just in case.  I saw people doing both.  So.....after all that chaos...I think I could have swam at least a minute faster :(. But maybe it was good because my legs were more fresh for the bike and run.  I'll never know.  What I do know is that I certainly emailed Team USA about the swim for Worlds so I can know in my mind the best path to take while swimming.  The run to T1... It was long, but same as last year.  And after doing many tri's, definitely not the longest to T1.  I did struggle with my wetsuit strap a bit to pull the zipper down, but it wasn't bad.  Guess I'll tell you my swim time.  22:35 :). Still rather fast.

T1:  I struggled with my darn wetsuit again getting it off over the ankles!  The timing chip was flat this year, so I had no excuse.  Guess I have to practice more.  This transition was about 15 sec faster than last year still, so I was happy.

The bike:  Here is my true strength.  Yes, the swim is my strength as well, but after seeing I came in 21st on the swim in my age group, and 11th on the bike, I believe cycling is another strength.  I flew past a bunch of the fast swimmers in my age group, it was great.  So that put me in a good position for the run.  I don't have much to say about this except I held back just a little bit because I wanted a good run.  I have killed it on the 40k in 2 tri's this summer, and wasn't able to run well.  I biked a 1:05:11.  22.9mph.  My average power was 210watts.  My FTP (threshold number) is 240, I could have pushed harder!  So I will be doing more hour-1.5 hr bike to runs up until worlds to get used to the pain of running after.  The 1:05:11 is not my potential.  I went faster in June.

The run:  Well, I PR'd with a time of 46:35.  Could I have gone any faster?  No, not at this point in my training.  I started speed work 5 weeks ago, lol, after a cycle of hill repeats.  I did this because I wanted to get a great run at Worlds, the end goal.  I did not want to end up injured from too much speed work.  Next year I will do things a bit differently, but I am rather happy with my run!  I did slow down after mile 4 of the 10k, but that's ok because I'm not done training yet.

My total time was 2:18:44.  I could have been faster because of my swim and bike.  They take the top 18 for Worlds.  Last year I made Worlds because they took 25 in each age group when Worlds is in the home country.  It's in Cozumel next year.  Even after the roll down, I was sitting at spot 20.  My placement and times were faster than last year, so I'm pretty happy.  I may still have a chance if 2 people back out.  They roll down to the 25 athletes in each age group if someone backs out.  Even though, I'm not sure, it would be very expensive.

Also, I have learned my lesson.  I got pretty sick this week.  I have done something 5 weekends in a row.  Another reason I could have been faster at Nationals.  July 12, womens 60 mi road race, July 18, sprint tri in Defiance, July 26th, extremely hilly bike tour in the Cuyahoga Valley, August 1- Olympic distance tri, I only did this because I signed up for it and thought I could compete in the elite wave, but that didn't happen because I did not get a 2:15 or faster.  And then the weekend after Nationals.  NEVER AGAIN!  One-two races a month in the summer from now on.  But at the same time, I have done very well this season, so I'm happy.

I am looking forward to continuing training soon, feeling better today.  I do hope to PR there, but you never know, each course is different. I am so happy that I qualified last year for Worlds this year in Chicago, because I doubt I would be able to afford it if it was out of the country!  I feel very lucky. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Grand Rapids Triathlon 2015

Grand Rapids Triathlon 2015 (Olympic Distance-1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)

I had one goal today for this triathlon:  be as aggressive and as fast as possible on the bike.  I also had wanted to get in the top 3 overall to win some money.  I actually succeeded in both!  I’ll start with this weekend.

Saturday morning we had to wake up at 4:20am to drive to Mike’s road race in Mt. Pleasant, MI.  I was a bit worried this would have an effect on my race today since I had to get up so early and drive to Mt. Pleasant the day before.  I tried to sleep in the car during his race, but that didn’t go too well.  I was pretty exhausted all day long.  It’s ok though, it was the only way this weekend would work the best.  So once Mike finished his race (on his cross bike because his road bike was in the shop since he crashed), we drove over to Grand Rapids, MI so I could pick up my race packet.  Lots of driving in one weekend!

As a result, we were in bed by 9pm.  I got about 8-8.5 hours of sleep and felt awesome race morning.  However, when I woke up, Mike looked at the forecast.  Rain and thunderstorms the whole morning.  It was POURING when we drove to the start of the race, but eventually slowed some once I got out of the car, thank goodness!  I was running a little late, because I took my time in the morning and thought maybe the race would be delayed.  I gave myself about 30 minutes to set up transition.  Well…that didn’t happen.  The road was blocked off where we were going to turn, so we had to turn around and go all the way around here and there to get to the start.  I had 10 minutes in transition.  Mike dropped me off, you had to walk about a half mile to get to transition.  I started walking, and realized I left my helmet in the car!  So I called Mike, thank goodness I had my phone with me, and I ran back to the car to grab it.  Then I ran to transition.  Nice warm up, I thought.  10 minutes to set everything up.  I used every last minute.  And I had to run back to put my sunglasses in, which I didn’t need anyways and lost L Lesson learned, make sure you know where you’re going race morning and give yourself plenty of time.  This is my number who knows how many triathlons, I should have this down LOL.  The blonde in me :)

Anyways…onto the swim!  It actually stopped raining when we started.  My wave was the very last wave that went off.  This was the Clydesdale and Athena Nationals, so there were women of all ages and Athena in my Olympic women wave.  This was the first race where I wore my long sleeve wetsuit, too.  It actually worked out great, fits well!  As soon as we went off, everyone sprinted.  I started out in the front, but it’s always annoying when you have who knows how many swimmers splashing around you in the water.  After about maybe 30-40 seconds, I was able to pull away, thank goodness, and follow who I thought was the lead girl.  I enjoyed the swim, it was out, around, and back, nice and fast.  I got dizzy again pretty early on.  I’m not sure why I keep getting dizzy now during the swim.  I wonder if it has to do with the cold water?  If anyone knows, let me know haha.  At least this time it wasn’t so bad and I didn’t almost fall over multiple times.  I ended up with a 23:27 for the swim.  Pretty good.  Second place overall swam a 20:17, I guess I never saw her, and the girl in front of me swam a 22:50.  That was the girl who I thought was first out of the water, and me second.  Nope! 

T1:  Well, I was a bit out of it and dizzy again, so I felt I needed to take my time getting my wetsuit off, shoes on, and helmet on.  I certainly tried as fast as possible, but it was still slow compared to the 2 girls ahead of me.  2:43.  Yeah that needs some work.  Oh and I started running the wrong way with my bike LOL.

The Bike:
As I said…my goal today was to go as fast as possible on the bike.  I was tired of having sub-optimal bike times lately when I know I’m strong.  My watts/kg is 3.77, I should be able to put out a great 40k time.  At Island Lake, it was 1:11, but I was very fatigued from the 4 hour high effort at the adventure race the week before.  So I wanted to redeem myself.  My goal was a 1:05.  At Nationals last year it was 1:07:03.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull off a 1:05 but I was going to try my best.  I didn’t even care about my run much, I just wanted a good bike time.  Mike adjusted my aero bars, so I was lower, and more aero.  He also let me borrow his aero wheels for the race.  I would have had a disc wheel, too, but the one we ordered didn’t quite fit, so I couldn’t use that for the race today.  Which is OK.  When I left transition, I thought I was in second place.  So, I pretty much rode as fast as my body would let me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my power tap because I had Mike’s aero wheels.  With my power tap, it’s on one wheel, and you can’t switch it between wheels.  I really wish I knew what my power was!  I was passing people all the time, and near these two guys for most of the race.  We kept passing each other the whole time.  Towards the very end, I blew past them finally, turned and looked around because I thought I saw a female, stared at her right in the face, then took off :)  And I was in second. 

I have a 2000 Ironman Cannondale that I bought off a friend for cheap.  It’s aluminum.  My 40k TT time was 1:02:48!  That’s 23.7 mph I can’t believe it!  I’m still shocked!  My thick yet small Italian curvy legs can put out some power :)  Who says you need a Carbon frame to be fast??  The bike course was very flat and fast, hardly any turns, so that helped for sure.

T2:  2:11.  Horrible.  But I was so out of it from cycling so hard I couldn’t help it.  I should practice these I guess.  But it’s hard when you’re out of breath during the actual race.
Run:  Well, I got passed in the first mile by the girl I passed on the bike.  Her bike time was 4 min. slower than mine, but she had a fast swim and transitions, so that’s how I was able to catch up to and pass her on the bike.  I struggled on the run.  Not much to say about this except my legs were so sore from pushing so hard on the bike, that I think it definitely effected my run.  It was also pretty humid.  No matter what positive thoughts I was telling myself, I just couldn’t make my legs run any faster.  My run time was 48:54, which is a 7:52 min/mi pace.  At Nationals and Island Lake I was able to run a 47.  Still not that fast, but ohhh well.  I’m super happy with my bike time.  Hopefully I can get my run time down some by the end of the year.  At least a 46:00 would help.

So, my overall time was 2:20:05!  That’s a PR for me by about a minute and 40 seconds!  3rd overall female, second place female was 2:17:00, and the first place female was 2:11:50.

It was a great day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Following Your Heart

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved, LOVED the outdoors.  I wasn't the kid who stayed inside much watching TV or playing video games.  In fact, my parents and the surrounding neighbors parents told us to play outside.  Different times now, different times.  But I was ALWAYS outside as a kid.

Thinking back to why I have this desire inside of me to compete in endurance events.....I guess it has to do a lot with my sense of adventure, and my love for the outdoors.  I just really enjoy being in nature, being outside, and one of the best ways in my opinion to do that is to go on long hikes, bikes, swims, runs, etc.  I've seen a lot of things in nature that most people may never get the chance to see because I've been on crazy hikes and bike rides.  It really is a blessing to be physically fit.   I do thank God often that I am able to do what I do.

I believe I was blessed to have some natural ability to compete in endurance events, as well.  Nothing makes me more happy than training for and racing in endurance races.  When I was a kid, my family would go on 20 mi bike rides through the Cleveland metroparks, or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  For some reason, I always wanted to try to catch up to and beat my dad.  He was always ahead of us!  It eventually happened as I grew older and more fit, but I will always remember those times!  I went on my first 50 mile bike ride with my dad :). I think I was 16 or 17 then.  My heart, for some reason, longs to be outside, and to compete in triathlons, and to train and race to the best of my ability.  I'm not sure why, but all I know is that it's an awesome feeling to follow your heart, because while doing so, you will find great joy in knowing that you are truly living.  I am also blessed to have found a husband who also shares in the love for the outdoors :). I wouldn't have gone on many of these adventures without him.

I am going to continue to use this gift I was given until I can't anymore.  I will not regret any of this when I'm older, because I will have seen great things and accomplished many things along the way, all while having fun.  Whatever your passion, I think everyone should follow it.  You will learn new things about yourself during the journey.  And have some awesome accomplishments along the way :).