Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ohio 70.3... Like A Well Oiled Machine

When you race a lot, you sort of learn how to do it. I feel like that’s where I’m at right now. #likeawelloiledmachine

I did 3x 70.3 races in June/July. Honu then Muncie then Ohio. I’m not sure I’ve ever done 3 that close together before? I don’t think I have. Mostly b/c living in Hawaii, logistically it is hard to pull off! But since Muncie and Ohio were just 3 weeks apart, it worked out this year to do them both. Staying in Ohio for a month accomplished another goal of allowing Moana to truly get to know her grandparents better, even if it meant we had to be away from our home (missing Scott and the animals!) for an extended period. 

Usually I don’t go into races with time/split goals. I’ve learned over the years to focus on the process and let the splits take care of themselves… b/c who knows if courses are measured exactly right? Or what the conditions will be like on race day? Comparing splits from race to race doesn’t really make a lot of sense. That said, the courses at Muncie and Ohio are really quite similar. And conditions were about the same this year too. So since I’d set some benchmarks for myself in Muncie (what did I swim there? 30:20? run 2:00:05? I mean, come on), I went into Ohio with a goal of besting those splits. Plus, Vince threw it out there that I should get under 30min on the swim, which should be a no brainer. (Except its not.)

Pre-race at Ohio was night and day vs my pre-race at Muncie. I was calm, collected, stress free, not sleep deprived, totally organized, etc. It was perfect. This is a benefit of racing a lot. I’ve got my process dialed! My only challenge was race morning breakfast. Staying in a standard hotel room posed a  problem b/c I didn’t have a kitchen, but there was a Bob Evans across the street so the last thing I did before going to bed Saturday night was to head there for a stack of blueberry pancakes to go, which I ate on race morning. Perfect.

W40-44 were the 17th wave, starting over an hour after the race had actually begun. That is not at all my preferred scenario but it is what it is. I actually watched the first wave start and finish the swim before I even started to get myself ready to go. Really, I wanted to see what the top first wave (men 40-44) split in the swim b/c that would be an indicator of whether or not it was a ‘fast’ swim. Didn’t seem like it was. Top guy in that wave came out right ~28min then 2 more guys just under 30 then nobody else until 32+. So. That gave me some perspective.

Finally it was time for us to go. I seeded myself on the front line and the horn went off and I started swimming and instantly knew I felt 100x better than I did at Muncie. Woot! I think the difference was that I was a lot more comfortable swimming in opaque brown water b/c I’d done it a few times this past month. Anyway, I took off swimming, looked around and saw no one was coming with me, so just put my head down and swam strong by myself. It was awesome! And then I arrived at the first turn buoy, where the course became a complete shit show. Left turn, swim into the sun, blinded, people everywhere, etc. I wouldn’t say I allowed myself to be frustrated by this (at least, not in the moment) but its just a fact that you can’t swim the way you’d want to when you’re navigating an obstacle course like that. I did the best I could, ran out of the water and laughed when I saw 30:24 on my garmin. Ha! 3x 70.3 swims this year and all 3 were like 30:12-3:25 range. I suspected that Vince would see that split and laugh. I tried! I swear! Anyway, I let it go and hopped on my bike.

Have you ever had one of those days where you start riding and you just know that your legs were full of watts? Ya. That’s awesome. That’s what I felt as soon as I started riding on Sunday. Beautiful! I mean, we live for days like that. The course was super crowded with all the people who’d started in the waves ahead of me, but I just got down in my aero bars and mostly just stayed left and like a fucking freight train just RODE MY BIKE. The scenario was this: smoothly paved flat roads, light winds, perfect temps, and strong legs. Can you say HELL YA? I mean, it was pretty much my dream bike course. I’ve raced enough over the years to know that days like these are rare gifts so I was not going to waste this opportunity! I averaged 22.5mph for 56 miles and was in heaven. While I was riding I was thinking that THIS is the rider I want to be… I mean, it’s the rider I used to be, but something had been missing the last few years... It felt so good to have my legs back I can’t even tell you… #thankscoach

T2 is super cool- you roll into the stadium at the local college there in Delaware and rack your bike on the football field. I racked my bike (by itself!) and headed out on the run. I always do a little assessment as I start running… mostly its like, Ok how bad did I fuck up by riding too hard?? Sometimes it’s really been an oh shit moment… but this time it wasn’t! Woot! Legs still functioning! No twinges of cramping. Muscles seemed fully functional. Ok then! Let’s get to it! I might not have cracked 30min on the swim but I cracked 2:30 on the bike and I figured if I cracked 2 hours on the run I could count it as pretty much the perfect day.

I saw my mom and dad and daughter right as I ran out of the stadium… all smiles and high fives and I yelped out BEST RIDE EVER!!! #sohappy Then like 1/2 mile later thought, for the first time that day, hmmm, it’s a lot warmer than I anticipated… I mean, I wouldn’t call it HOT, but it was warm, for sure. I wasn’t sure I’d had enough fluids on the bike for these temps? I drank 3 bottles on the bike but looking back, if there was one thing I’d change, it would be to have had another bottle on the bike. I was feeling fine at that point, but def thought that I needed to not be a moron in the first half of the run b/c if it felt warm at 11am, I knew it would be really warm at 1pm. First aid station I saw a guy with plastic gloves holding handfuls of ice. Usually they hand ice out in cups but for whatever reason this guy just had a handful of ice. I ran by and without speaking (I had an energy chew in my mouth so couldn’t really talk!) I just pulled open my Coeur bra and signaled for him to dump the ice in my bra. He got a good little laugh out of that but whatever. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, you know? #heatmanagement

Anyway, I was cruising along and all was well and I was running what felt like strong but controlled effort. I walked through every aid station b/c I wanted to make sure I was getting enough fluids and cooling myself off best I could. None of the other aid stations and one though and that was a huge bummer. But at least for a while, I was managing. Even with the aid station walking I was avg right ~9min pace for the first ~5 miles so I was happy with that. Then things just got hard. I mean, they always get hard at some point. I tried to tell myself that it’s fine- only 7 more miles! But it was a long 7 miles. My legs still felt fine but HR felt like it was through the roof and breathing was loud and labored (I was that athlete- the one who grunts and pants and is super annoying. Sorry!). That course isn’t hilly but it isn’t flat and if your HR is pegged on a flat section, you’re screwed when it starts to tilt up. So that’s pretty much what happened. I managed my brain and body the best I could but I had to take a bunch of short walk breaks in the back half of the run b/c I was just absolutely at my aerobic limit. I was wearing my HR strap but garmin wasn’t picking it up, which at this point I’m sort of glad about b/c I would guess that its as hovering around 170 for a lot of that last hour. When it spikes like that and doesn’t come down it’s typically a sign of dehydration and heat accumulation. The only thing that was going to help me was to just stop completely and sit in the shade, which wasn’t an option until I crossed the finish line. 

Toward the end I saw one of my athletes running out (her wave was dead last ugh what a nightmare!) and she was all full of energy and smiling and high-fiving and I think she asked me how I was doing and all I could manage to do was hold my hand out and grunt <can’t speak>. I genuinely was happy to see her (yay her first triathlon and she was right on schedule as we’d anticipated!) but I couldn’t exactly express it in that moment. I know she understood and probably even respected the level to which I was pushing myself. #atmylimit

Eventually I made it onto the track and ran to the finish (first time I’d stepped on a track all year!), with my parents and my daughter cheering me on from the stands. I didn’t make my sub 2 run goal (2:03) but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. I mean, it could have been a lot worse! I crossed the finish line all smiles in 5:08, which landed me 3rd in my AG. I wasn’t in need of medical, but I was in need of some water and shade, and as soon as I found those I was flat out on my back with my eyes closed. It was then that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my other athlete, Brian. He also started behind me but we calculated that if we both had decent days that he would pass me maybe around mile 4-5… So I started to worry after I was done and was like crap Brian didn’t pass me. I tried to collect myself while I had a bunch of thoughts about all the negative scenarios that might have happened to Brian... Did he flat? Did he crash? Did he DNF? Was he just having a bad day?? I didn’t know and it took me ~20min before I could function enough to get to my mom who had a phone with a tracker. She looked him up and was like oh ya he did great! Landed 3rd in his AG as well with a lifetime best so there you go! We must have both been too focused during the run to see each other, but we made up for it with a little #TeamBSC podium party after the race was over. :)

Tia also finished with flying colors and I managed to get myself right on the finish line so I could present her medal. That was a highlight and so fun since it was her first one! So. All in all OH70.3 was a great race experience. Not my perfect day, but pretty damn close! And I mean, if we ever had the perfect race, what would we strive for next time? I can definitely see myself coming back to this one at some point in the future though… 







Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Muncie 70.3... On Instinct & Experience

The day before Muncie, I got an email from my coach... Whats the plan tomorrow?

Um, to swim bike and run as quickly and efficiently as I can? My approach to this race was interesting... Totally different than how I have approached Honu every year. This race just felt different to me- I think because I'd never done it before, I couldn't envision it, I didn't know any of my competitors, I felt zero pressure. I knew I had decent fitness b/c my training had been going well, but there were so many unknowns. My biggest concerns really were the long travel, the missed night of sleep on a plane, and the 6 hour time change. I mean, I was doing the best I could with that travel scenario, and it is what it is, but it definitely required some medication to get myself to sleep for a few nights.

Anyway, I basically told Vince that I was just going to race on instinct and experience. While I had not done this particular race before, I've done enough other 70.3 distances to have a decent idea of what the effort should feel like. And I knew how to fuel and hydrate even if I didn't write out the whole plan beforehand like I normally do. So. Whatever. I'm just going to get through the course as quickly as I can. End of race plan.

I left my daughter to play with Grammy for the weekend and drove from Cleveland to Muncie by myself, which was sort of fun (for the first few hours at least). I don't mind going to races alone. Partly b/c I almost always have an athlete (or 3) that I coach also racing, and I almost always have a whole group of awesome Coeur teammates to socialize with as well. Being a wife and a mom, its not really all that often that I get 3 days completely to myself, so I embraced them! I mean, I don't think I'd want travel and be alone all the time, but for a few days, I enjoyed it! And real road trips for me are rare. We just don't do those in Hawaii. Driving through rural central Ohio was a trip. Truly.

The day before the race was a complete clusterfuck for a variety of reasons. Let's just say it wasn't my ideal day. I like to just have everything prepared and have time to chill out and relax with my feet up the day before I race, but that doesn't happen when you're scrambling around to find a replacement for your broken helmet, its piss pouring rain and storming, your cell carrier suuuucks and keeps telling you no service, you don't know where you're going and can't use google maps b/c T-Mobile is so shitty, the road is flooded but you don't know an alternate route, you can't find a decent healthy food option to save your life, etc. Eventually though everything worked itself out. I found the shitty hotel I was staying in and packed all my race stuff and knocked myself out with an ambien. Only broke down into tears once.

Race morning it was a whole new day! Blue skies and perfect weather in store for the day. I got to the race site early and got all prepped and had time to chill. They called the water wetsuit legal but that was a bit of a dubious call, I think. I mean, I was happy to wear my wetsuit for the hour prior to my wave start just standing around b/c the air temp was cold (to me) but once I was in the water, all I wanted to do was take that wetsuit OFF. My fault, really, but I hadn't put that thing on since probably January, and I didn't get in to warm up, so when the horn went off and I went running into the water and sprinted that start, I was immediately out of breath and uncomfortable  and unhappy. I mean, it's exactly what I advise my athletes to NOT do and there I was doing it. To be fair, I wasn't able to swim the day before b/c the storms had the lake closed by the time I arrived on site, so my only option really was to have confidence in my ability to swim and just keep swimming.

The water was brown and like an obstacle course. Tons of swimmers in the water before my wave went off, and then there were boats and kayaks and buoys everywhere and it just felt super congested to me. My thoughts during the swim went something like this:

~Swimming around people is just a skill required of women 40+ since we almost always start toward the back.
~I can't see anything. Don't worry about it just keep swimming.
~I want to take this wetsuit off.
~Why is that kayak *directly* in the middle of the swim course and not moving? Oh b/c there's a guy hanging onto it for dear life. Swim left to get around them.
~I can't see anything. Don't worry about it. Just keep swimming.
~Ocean swimming is more pleasant than lake swimming.
~I was swimming with a gal in my AG side by side. Eventually she dropped behind me to draft (smart) but then kept aggressively grabbing my ankles (annoying). I wanted to tell her You know that by slowing me down you're slowing us both down, right? Like, maybe just come along for the ride respectfully and don't be obnoxious about it? She was obviously a good enough swimmer to know better, which is the only reason I was annoyed. I don't get annoyed at people who are new at it and out there just trying to survive and inadvertently grab you along the way.

Anyway, eventually the swim ended and we ran through the mud to the wetsuit strippers, who accidentally pulled my whole aero top off along with my wetsuit (I had it rolled down around my waist for the swim and figured I'd just pull it up as I was running to my bike, as I did at Honu). So that was fun in T1 to wrestle with my wet aero top! Lol. Whatever. Eventually I got it on and with some relief, started riding my bike.

I really liked the Muncie bike course! Except for the road leading in and out of the park, the pavement was perfect and just awesome... like IDEAL road to ride on! And it was closed to cars. SO GREAT! The course was definitely crowded with lots of riders everywhere, but because of the wave starts, it seemed that just about everyone was moving along at vastly different speeds, so it was NOT hard to ride legally. I was riding by feel, checking in with power at times, feeling pretty good, doing my thing. Then some gal with a 43 on her calf rode by me (correction, FLEW by me) and instinct took over and I tried to go with her... picked up my effort and look down to see I'm pushing 200w and she's riding away. I kept that up for what felt like too long... 210w... she's still riding away. So. Ok. You go girl! Have at it! I settled back into my groove. Later another gal rode by at a similar speed, but she was glued to some guy's wheel. Her shorts said, "Ride Responsibly" and I had to ask myself, does 'responsibly' include 'legally'?? Apparently not. She really was the only gal I saw drafting out there though. Everyone else I saw was 100% legal and fair.

Anyway, that was that on the bike. I had a harder time than normal chewing/swallowing my Clif bars b/c they weren't hot/melted like I'm used to. I really had zero desire to try to chew them BUT I repeated to myself that mantra Fueling correctly is a choice so I stuffed them down one bite at a time. I only drank maybe 3 bottles of fluids which is about half of what I drank at Honu but temps weren't as high so it felt like enough. I felt relieved and grateful to get off my bike without any major mishaps or mechanicals and looking at my file afterward, it appears I rode pretty steady with only a slight fall off in power in the back half and a low 1.02 VI. Not a perfect ride, but nothing to complain about!
I started the run and saw right away that there was a gal like 25yd ahead of me with a 41 on her calf. I hadn't seen her on the bike so I assumed she had passed me in T2. Normally I'm just out there trying to survive on the run but at that point I felt ok and my run has been going a little better in training so I sort of ignored that whole thing about keeping the first few miles of the run relaxed and easy... I mean, I wasn't killing myself, but I wasn't running 'easy' either. But I was keeping that gal in my sights(!) and for once I was actually racing that run and that felt cool to me. Somewhere around mile 3, I passed that gal and was like whoa I actually passed a gal in my AG on the run?? I mean, other gals were passing us both but for me to actually pass someone (anyone!) in my AG on the run felt like a win. :) For the first 6 miles or so I was absolutely in love with the Muncie run course. Probably because it wasn't the Honu run course. Lol! The rolling hills seemed minor to me and I was able to get up/over them in a way that felt strong/efficient and I was just rolling along and feeling pretty stoked at how it was all unfolding. Around mile 6 I found myself running with a Wattie Ink gal who was super friendly. We had been together basically since the beginning of the run and I think she wanted to work together (she was 39). I told her I was having the best run I'd had in years and she was super supportive like cool then come with me and I wanted to and I tried but I was starting to fade. One of my goals for the run was to prove to my coach that I was capable of running faster than the 9:12 pace he calculated I could do off the bike. At the half way point I was sure I was doing this! #Illshowyou!

In training I've been really good about progressing my long runs but on that day I was just running out of steam. Looking back I think it was a fueling thing, which is crazy b/c normally I pride myself on fueling really well, but that heavy leg feeling I was getting is classic bonk. I'd had 2 gels by mile 8 and at that point started on red bull hoping for some wings, but I think it was too little too late. The hills on the way back seemed WAY bigger than they were on the way out, and I just faded more and more each mile. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other in those last 3 miles. Looking at my run file its clear I started too fast. Vince pointed this out and he was right but I told him (in my defense)- those first 3 miles I wasn't pacing, I was racing, and I don't regret it b/c I learned a little something about myself by playing the game the way I did.

The funny part though... That 9:12 pace I was going to prove I could beat?? I didn't. Coach was right. Dammit. (Honestly this made me laugh so hard when I saw it at the end!)


5:12 landed me 7th in my AG, a full 6min back from 6th. Looking back I'd say there were a few little mistakes here and there where maybe I could have gained a few minutes back but I don't think there's anything I could have done to gain 6min this past weekend. I mean, my legs were DONE at the finish line and 3 days later I still have some soreness. So I am happy with that result. 5:12 is as fast as I've gone since 2012 so YAY finally starting to head back in the direction I want to go, reversing my 5 year trend of getting slower and slower every year... And I saw a glimpse of the runner that I know I can be, so its just a matter of keeping at it until I can hold that pace for the full distance vs fading off. Overall I'd say I really liked this race. It had a great old school type feel to it. It's not easy for me to get to, but I would not rule out making the effort to go back.

I get to try again in less than 3 weeks at Ohio 70.3 so I'm looking forward to that opportunity! I previewed that course a bit on my drive home from Muncie and it looks like a great course too. So stay tuned for an update on that one. :)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hawaii 70.3 ~ I Can Do Hard Things.

Race morning I woke up at 1:30 feeling like I needed to throw up. I’m not a puker. Even when I was in college and had over-consumed alcohol to the point where it would have been best for my body to just purge it, I never did. My body just doesn’t really use that protection mechanism. And yet, there I was laying in bed thinking I needed to puke. Was it race nerves? I didn’t think so. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20+ years. Yes, I still get nervous, but not that nervous.

The nausea feeling lasted and I couldn’t really sleep very well. I had some weird dream that it was race morning and for whatever reason I was all alone (no friends, no family) so I went to this room the race directors had set up for people who were alone at the race. It was like an orphanage of sorts, but for triathletes. I remember wandering around that room and trying to get some coffee- next to the coffee maker were the finisher shirts and medals. Just take one now so you don’t have to do it later?? In my dream I was also totally disorganized… like I couldn’t find my kit or any of my gear and I was just frantically scrambling around trying to get my shit together.

In reality, I was about as organized and put together as I’ve ever been for a race. Bags were packed. Bottles were prepped and in the fridge. Checklists were made. Kit was laid out on the bathroom counter next to the zinc sunscreen. I had 3 TeamBSC athletes at this race, plus my husband and daughter and probably 50 friends. So I don’t know where that dream came from. It was opposite of my reality.

The nausea didn’t go away though. When my alarm went off at 4:30, the feeling of wanting/needing to puke was consistent. I made my normal morning oatmeal but had zero desire to eat it. For years I’ve harped on my athletes about the importance of race morning breakfast, and when they skimp on it or skip it and then go on to have a crappy low energy race, I point out that they should have just forced down breakfast. I don’t care if you don’t feel like eating. Fueling correctly is a choice. And yet. I was, for the first time ever, having an incredibly hard time choking down my oatmeal. I brought it in the car with me and winced as I made myself swallow a bite every few minutes. I think I ate some bad/contaminated salad the night before. That’s the only explanation I have.

We got to the race site and Scott dropped me off and I made a decision. Mind over matter. I would feel fine. I pumped up my tires and put my bottles on my bike and put my speed suit on and drank my pre-load and stuffed down the Honey Stinger waffle just as planned. The nausea didn't bother me again for the rest of the day.

A few days before the race they announced a new rolling- but by age group- type of start. WTF? I was not happy about that. I mean, it looked better to me than the way they’d done it the last few years where the older women just get relegated to the back #lastwave but in my mind like if you’re gonna do a rolling start then at least make it self- seed so the swimmers can just go to the front and people who don’t want anyone swimming over top of them can start further back… Reality is though, it was a decent way to organize it. Of course I’m a bit biased b/c I happened to be lucky enough to be in the age group that they scheduled to go first for the women. I like being at/near the front of the race. It helps me stay engaged and motivated. So even though we were behind all the men, I was still at the front of the women’s race so personally, I had little reason to complain because that’s exactly where I wanted to be.

The day prior to the race the winds were blowing a good bit harder and the swim course was C.H.O.P.P.Y. I swam the whole course alone on Friday morning (People were like What? You did what? Swam the whole thing? All the way out there? Alone? Are you crazy? Lol. #noproblem) and honestly was just salivating at the thought of having an opportunity to race in those conditions. It’s so rare for swimmers to have a real advantage like that! Race morning turned out to be much calmer. Little bit of a bummer but that likely made a lot of other athletes super relieved so it was probably for the best.

They started the age group ‘waves’ 4 athletes at a time every 10” on a beep. I seeded myself in the front row of my wave and when the beep went, I ran into the water untouched and swam off alone. Water was perfect in every way. Clear, calm, warm, open, beautiful. I swam the whole thing completely alone buoy to buoy (just as I had done the day before!). It was exceptionally easy to avoid the men who had started ahead b/c they were all completely spread out. In years past when they start men in waves, we would run into a ‘wall’ of men that was hard to get around. But with the rolling start, it was a complete non-issue. So. A+. There’s nothing I would change about the swim.

Pre-race one of my bigger decisions was aero top or sleeveless tri top? I’d always raced in a tri top but I really like the look of the aero tops (and the sun protection was a huge bonus!) Some Coeur teammates had reported back that they were great to race in as well. My biggest concern was that I didn’t want sleeves on the swim (under my speed suit). I practiced tucking the aero top into my Roka speed suit and turns out, it was a complete non-issue. Lectie opted to wear the aero top and just swim with the sleeves hanging out so she wouldn’t have to deal with pulling the top up in T1. I opted to have the top rolled around my waist and then pull it up in T1. Both ways worked perfectly fine. Lectie- as always- had the fastest swim of the day even with the sleeves out. I swam as well as I wanted to swim and had no problem pulling the sleeves up/on while running to my bike. And I loved racing in the top for the rest of the morning. It kept me cooler, I think, because I could keep it wet and the material is really nice and thin and perfect. I didn’t get sunburnt back/shoulders. I just can’t say enough good things about the Coeur aero tops. I see no reason to go back to racing sleeveless. 

Apparently, its so common to race with sleeves now that Ironman actually gives instructions about where to tattoo yourself if your upper arms are covered.

Anyway, onto the bike, I was pretty certain that the only women ahead of me on the bike were part of relay teams. I set about doing my thing. I glanced a little at my power data but I wasn’t sure it was giving me accurate wattage numbers, so I mostly ignored it and rode by feel. The wind had picked up some, but I’d call it pretty standard wind- not super scary wicked gusts as it had been the day prior. I don’t think there’s a ton to say about the actual ride itself. I feel like I have learned how to do an excellent job at staying focused on the task at hand (Stay aero! Pedal strong! Eat! Drink!). The ride was as fair as I’ve ever seen it on this course. I saw exactly zero draft packs, which is shocking, really. But therein lies the benefit of the way they split up the rolling wave start I guess.

I felt like I was mostly riding as solidly as I could/should be riding. Legs didn’t feel exceptionally strong and the whole ride I was doing a balancing act of how hard I could push before I would feel a twinge of a cramp. Something about the big island, man, just tends to leave my muscles threatening to completely seize up, so I was really teetering on the edge the whole time. I only got caught/passed by one woman who claims she hasn’t been riding her bike at all in training. She went storming by right before we made the turn at Hawi. I wonder what it would be like to ride a bike like that without any recent training? I sure as hell couldn’t do it. Unapologetically, I train consistently and I work very hard. I don’t have enough talent to do it any other way.

One goal I had for myself for this race was to be brave on the ride. I’d had it worked up in my head that it was going to be scary windy and last time I raced here when it was scary windy (2012), my biggest disappointment in myself was that I felt like I rode like a wimp. I sat up and braked when strong gusts came. That was 5 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I looked at the wind forecast this year as an opportunity to make that right! And I’m pretty happy with the confidence I rode with. I do remember having the thought that my Enve wheels were performing beautifully. There were times toward the end when the wind had really picked up where I was just flying and in my aero bars leaning right into a very strong crosswind and passing guys who were whistling at me (it was a complimentary whistle- not a degrading one!) and I was like YASSSSSSSSS I AM DOING IT. Just a personal proud moment for myself. 

Overall I am happy with my execution on that ride. I ate and drank everything I’d planned (1x bottle NBS, 1x bottle Infinit, 3x waters, 2x clif bars, 1x honey stinger gel). I also took 4x e21 tabs and that stuff continues to do a miracle job at holding off full on muscle seizures. I stayed focused, calm, and brave. I rode fairly. There’s nothing I would do differently if I could do it all again. Ok, well maybe I wouldn’t hit lap on my garmin at mile 10, making garmin think I was in T2 for 46 miles… I totally screwed up that data coach wanted. #sorry.

Strava thinks T2 was 46 miles! Lol... No segments. #sadface

I arrived in T2 as the second female on the course and leading my AG, but as I was putting on my shoes, I saw Nell riding in to rack her bike. Nell beats me every year at this race (she can run!) so when I saw her there I figured my shot at the top step of the podium was all but zero. My playbook at these races is quite thin. I’m never going to run as fast as the top gals run so my only chance to win, really, is to swim and ride as hard as I can and hope for a decent enough gap where maybe I don’t get caught. I didn’t have it in me to ride any faster than I did though, so I was just going to get beat by a stronger athlete. No worries. Next goal is always just to hang onto whatever place I’m currently holding. I knew I’d be thrilled with 2nd so that became the goal.

Being at/near the front of the race is fun b/c when you’re one of the first women spectators see, they cheer really loudly for you! Plus, I was dressed just like Lectie so a lot of people thought I was her so they yelled GO LECTIE!! at me. That’s a huge compliment so I wasn’t the least bit annoyed! :)

Onto the run, the game I played was simply to continue to attempt to strike a balance between how quickly I could move along without cramping. This run course is just stupidly hard. I was probably more mentally prepared than physically… I mean, my run is going ok in training and I’ve had some decent training runs, but I don’t know. I don’t think anything can truly prepare me for running that course in those conditions off a ride like that… I like to come up with a pre-race motto and for this race it was I Can Do Hard Things. I told my husband and he laughed. His reply was, You pay money to do hard things! #truestory :)

I knew I was having a decent day so out there on that golf course I was just trying to not screw it up! I did have the thought that I can’t wait to do a “normal” 70.3 course where the run is just like 13 “regular” miles. I mean, I love this race and all, but it’s almost laughable to try to run on that spongy golf course grass. Then you finally get onto a stretch of solid pavement and think maybe you’ll get a little reprieve b/c you’ve got a mile going slightly down, but, Psyche! There’s a 25mph headwind preventing you from relaxing while still moving faster. GAH! I mean, it was almost funny. If you were there you know exactly what I mean! I took short walk breaks up most of the steep little kicker hills. At one point I was walking up a short hill next to a guy who had apparently resigned himself to walking for the foreseeable future and he said to me, We can speedwalk together! And I replied, Oh no! I’m running again as soon as we get to the top! And I did. So that’s how my 13 miles went. Once I was within a mile or so of the finish line I actually started grunting. My friend Jodie was running nearby and she could hear me grunting and she was cheering me on- Go ahead and grunt! Grunting helps! Lol! I think it did help.


Shockingly, I hung on to my 2nd place AG finish all the way to the line. I remembered to make the Coeur heart with my hands at the finish line for the finish photo so it’ll be fun to see how those turned out. I’m sure I had a huge smile on my face! 5:25 isn’t even in the ballpark of my best time at this race but I feel like I did so many things right that I can’t be upset about that. I mean, I did the best I could in just about every regard. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in 20+ years of racing triathlons and I feel like yesterday I managed to pretty much put all of them together, which in and of itself is a big win. Then of course the finish line party is quite possibly my favorite few hours of the whole year… Everyone hanging out on the lawn and drinking beer and swapping war stories and its just super fun. 

I’d had 4 beers and very little food by the time I got to go stand on the podium. That smile was genuine! 7 years in a row on the podium here at Honu, but this was my biggest bowl.
I feel like I want to take a minute and thank my coach, Vince, for believing in me and working with me this year. I think he's the perfect match for me at this stage of my racing... He understands me and he cares. I can tell that he pays attention because I can tell he truly wants to. I just really appreciate that! It's funny though- when you have a coach who really believes in you, I think it easier to believe in yourself. It's a good scenario and its exactly what I need right now. So, without getting mushy, thanks, Vince.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honolulu Triathlon... Moto Motivated

On Friday afternoon I got an email that said my name was on a list of local athletes suggested to start in the 'elite' wave. I wasn't planning on putting myself in that wave but somehow having someone else suggest me for it made it ok. In hindsight I'd say it was 100% a good choice! Having clear water to swim in and open roads to ride without shouting on your left on your left ON YOUR LEFT the whole time made for a way more pleasant (and less scary!) race experience...

They gave me #666 for this race. I decided that meant I should race like a bat out of hell! #beastmode

I drove to town at like 4am and parked on a side street not too far from the race start. My parking spot happened to be on a road right outside a bar where a bunch of people were hanging out after a night of partying... and all along the sidewalk were homeless people sleeping. This was not lost on me as I got my bike out of my car and realized that my wheels likely cost more money than those people see all year. Mental note: I live a life of privilege and it was a privilege to get to race today. #BeGrateful

Prior to the swim start I wanted to get in the water to warm up a bit... I looked around for someone who might speak English who would be able to zip up my speed suit... I asked some guy I didn't know and he tried to get it zipped up but in the process the zipper totally broke. DOH! Never fear I had a spare speed suit in my bag (I already mentioned my privilege) so I ran back to transition to swap speed suits and was good to go. Phew.

Swim was clean. I don't have a lot of starting speed but after the first buoy managed to pull away from some others who do have starting speed! There were several folks up ahead and I had one person near me but for the most part it was just head down swim strong for 23min. SO much better than swimming over/around/through a billion men in the age group waves! The only issue I had was that the sun hadn't come up like I thought it would (5:45am start!) and my dark tinted goggles left me wanting to see more clearly. In good news I don't have much fear of swimming in most scenarios so I handled swimming in the 'dark' just fine. If there was one thing I would change about how I executed this race today though, I would have chosen clear goggles. 6am race start would have resulted in being blinded by the sun on the way back... but 5:45am start is too dark for tinted goggles!
Look at that clear water! #soloswim

I heard that there were a couple women in front of me getting out of the water so onto the bike I went into HUNTING mode. This race they have lead moto for the lead male AND female(!). In 20 years of racing I've never had a lead motorcycle AND I WANTED ONE. So. Off I went. It took ~50min and a lot of watts (and some twinges of cramping) but eventually the cop on the motorcycle looked back at me like wait you're not my gal but I just smiled and waved as if to say I AM NOW YOUR GAL. GO!

Carly and I (all matchy matchy in our custom Coeur Sports kits!) were the only 2 women to crack an hour on that 22 mile course this morning! Want to learn how to ride a bike fast? I'd be happy to teach you. #callmemaybe #shamelessplug

Onto the run I knew my lead wouldn't last, so I wasn't surprised when the first Japanese gal went storming by... Carly went by a bit later than the other Japanese gal... I felt ok though and was ticking off pretty steady miles ~8:30s which for me off a bike like that would be filed under the 'great job' tab. Somewhere around mile 2 I was running along and saw Moana and Scott (yay!)... Scott was attempting to take a video and in the process, he let go of Maia's leash... and of course Maia was like HI MOM OH WE'RE GOING RUNNING YAY I LOVE RUNNING I'LL COME WITH YOU!!! Ha! I just about tripped over myself as she came at me. The video is pretty darn funny. I'll text it to you if you want to see it!

Was happy to not get caught by anyone else. The last 1/4 mile or so is along this stretch of path and when I got here I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude... Like just so happy to be healthy enough to be out there racing and competing and I don't know... Even if I wasn't smiling the whole time, I just really had fun with it all today!

Afterward we all hung out in the park and talk story while drinking beer/champagne which is a bit of a tradition at this point. The only real negative thing about this race is that they don't do an age group awards ceremony. They call the top 3OA up onto the podium, but not AG. Instead they tell the age group athletes to go to the table/tent to collect a coin that serves as the award. #WTF? That makes no sense to me. Age groupers want to be acknowledged and stand on a freakin' podium when they get top 3! In a lot of ways this race is great and I like it, but in this way it's a #fail. Seriously. Win your age group so you can stand in this line and collect a cheap coin? Makes it imperative to simply race for the experience of racing... Certainly at this race it's not about getting an award! And this isn't me bitching that I didn't get one- I pulled myself out of AG when I agreed to the elite wave... I just think that age groupers should be acknowledged for their efforts and their success. That's all.






Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recently...

OMG... It's mid- May! Reports from some athletes on the mainland make it appear as if it's still winter (what? snow? are you serious?) but around here it's starting to feel like race season! Our temperature shifts are slight, but it's definitely a few degrees warmer now and the sun is coming up earlier and it just feels like spring.

There are 3 races that I tend to do every spring... Lanikai, Honolulu Tri, and Honu. Lanikai was a few weeks ago. It went ok. I went a little faster than I did 2 years ago and won my age group so, nothing to complain about. Well, I mean, I pretty much always complain about how my run sucks and should be faster, so I guess that's something to complain about... but, whatever. I got to wear my new Coeur team kit and I love it so that was cool!
Honolulu Tri is coming up this weekend. Maybe I'll write a more interesting race story about that one! Depends on if there's anything interesting to write about I guess.  I am looking forward to doubling the distance from Lanikai though... Those short fast races are so hard!

I started coaching the Kailua Masters swim team. I have to say, having the opportunity to be on deck and coach people in person has been awesome. I mean, it's just totally my thing! I love it, I have fun with it, and I think because of that, the athletes who show up are also having fun with it! Even when I make them tie their feet together...
Seriously though, its definitely the case that being on deck has helped me gain confidence as a coach. I don't get to do as much 1:1 stroke correction there as I'd like, but I get to do a little. It's enlightening though to get to watch how these athletes respond and step up to challenges and work together. I have no doubt that people who show up regularly will get faster. If you're local, come join us Mon/Wed nights from 7-8:15. If you ever come visit Oahu, drop in with us! I mean, for $5 you can't beat the workout experience!

My main coaching gig continues to grow and thrive. It almost feels weird how TeamBSC is growing... since we've brought on a couple new coaches and they've brought on their athletes, our private team page now has 66 members and I don't know some of them!?!? I mean, last month I saw a pic posted on the TeamBSC FB page and it was of 2 of our gals who were running Boston and they got to meet up b/c their coaches teamed up to work together and put them in touch... so there I was looking at that picture from this island in the Pacific and thinking WOW... How crazy that the team has grown to that point where these athletes get to have a 'teammate' at a race like Boston... and I don't even know either of them? I mean, it's crazy in a good way and looking at that picture made me think that what I started sort of on a whim 8+ years ago has turned out to be so much more amazing than I ever even hoped it would be. I feel like I'm blathering on a bit right now b/c I don't really have words for it, but, well, it's super cool. I don't feel like our growth has been forced. I haven't had to drill myself into the ground to accomplish any of it. I think the basis for our success is that we are passionate about triathlon and we love helping athletes succeed and we do our best to be the best that we can be and that's really all there is to it, at least in a big picture sense.

On a personal level, I've allowed myself to develop very real friendships/relationships with my athletes... Making myself open/available and communicating a lot facilitates this... and because of that, the personal satisfaction I feel when an athlete succeeds is fulfilling in a way that I don't think it would be if I closed myself off more and went about coaching in a more stoic way. I think a lot of athletes these days are craving the coach/athlete relationship where they know that their coach truly cares. So it's totally a win/win!

Lest you think that life here is all perfect, I have a sad shitty story to share as well. Did I ever write about our most recent rescue dog, Duke? I can't remember. Anyway, I saw Duke on a local pet rescue FB page and felt an instant connection like I wanted to help him. So I took him in... In a lot of ways, 2 dogs is a lot harder than 1 dog... but the dogs also had a blast with each other and the level of happy craziness in the household skyrocketed. It was all good until Duke bit one of Moana's neighborhood friends. We were shocked and obviously super concerned... I set about on a mission to rehabilitate this dog. I thought I was doing a good job with it and seemed like he was gaining confidence and getting better... but then out of the blue Duke bit my husband's sister when she was here visiting. After spending the day in the ER with her getting her stitched up, I had no choice but to return Duke to his original rescuer. It was one of the saddest days of my life, if I'm honest. He's such a sweet dog to those in his immediate pack. I hope one day he finds a home where they can help him overcome his anxiety so he can be around (and trust) people he doesn't know.


Monday, March 20, 2017

TeamBSC !!!!

I just had a meeting with a new athlete who's going to be coming on board with me/TeamBSC in the next few weeks. She came to my house and we spent some time getting to know each other. I'm excited to work with her because she has more potential than she thinks. That's one benefit of having been working with athletes for so long- I know potential when I see it. And that potential isn't always physical- sometimes it's more of a mental state where you can tell that an athlete has such a great never say die attitude. That mindset will take an athlete a long way in our sport! Anyway. What was cool was that toward the end of our conversation I showed her a mock up of our team kit (sweet aero tops made by Coeur Sports!)

... and our new team shirts and of course the bat caps that can't be bought (have to earn these babies!) and she was like WOW you guys really have a great team going, don't you?

And my thought was Yes! Yes we do!

Going into my 8th year of coaching here I feel really proud of what we have created. And it just keeps getting bigger/better! Krista and I have recently brought on not one but two new coaches joining us with TeamBSC. You can read more about them on our newly updated(!) website, but briefly, Taryn and Juda are going to make awesome contributions to our team. While we each still work with our own athletes individually, we work together as coaches to grow and expand our own thinking and the way we approach our jobs. When Krista approached me about Juda coming on as our 4th coach, my first thought was Whoa this is like a real coaching company now!? I mean, it was always 'real', but maybe you know what I mean... I started this thing as a part time hobby 8+ years ago and now I not only have my athletes to look after, but I also get to help mentor 3 other coaches! It's totally my dream job. We've set up regular conference calls where the 4 of us get together and brainstorm ideas about everything you can imagine when it comes to sport. And it's true what they say... 4 brains are better than 1! (Do they actually say that? We say that!)

Anyway, it feels good, to say the least. TeamBSC has been my baby but look at her now!?! This past weekend we had athletes flying all over the world... From Virginia Beach to California to Puerto Rico to Taiwan... Sometimes it all just blows my mind, if I'm honest.
Anyway, if you're a hard working athlete with big goals and you're looking for highly individualized coaching and an inspirational guide who will interact with you daily, check us out at TeamBSC. I bet we have a coach who would be a good match for you!

Monday, February 27, 2017

What's Going On?

The other day I got a text from a former athlete of mine and she said that I should update my blog more often again because she doesn't know what's going on in my life anymore. So, ok. Here you go! ;)

I told her I feel less of an urge to write the blog and I think it's because I (mostly) see this blog as a way to write about and share my training... but currently I'm sharing all my training with my coach (who pays attention- yay). Plus, it's all on Strava. So writing about it again here would just feel like complete overkill to me, I guess. But if you're not my coach and you're not on Strava, here's a basic summary:

It's going well! I feel like I am regaining some of the old "me"... The "me" from years ago when I trained kind of a lot and often felt like a machine. The "me" when I'd be melting into the couch thinking OMG there's no way I can go train again right now but then I'd start and surprise myself by not feeling so terrible. I like that athlete and I have missed her.

My hip is apparently all healed up. I'm running again and have no lingering niggles or injury issues <knock on wood>. Fwiw, I built that run pretty patiently with short frequent easy easy jogging... starting 3x/week for 15min then working toward 3x/week for 20min then eventually 5x/week for 30min. Then one of those runs got longer and that "long" run felt like it always just totally sucked, but now that's getting better too. Now sometimes my 30min runs have become 45min runs and sometimes they include hills repeats or short efforts where I pick up the pace. It feels like its been a reasonable build and while I'm still not where I used to be in terms of speed/distance, I'm WAY closer than I was 3 months ago and have hope that 3 months from now I will have nothing to bitch about.

Riding is going well enough. I'm doing a ton of it in my garage these days, which I actually enjoy a lot more than I ever thought I would. I like the control I have over watts and effort when I'm on my smart trainer. I like a lot of the Trainer Road sessions. I like the idea of not being smushed by a car. I like not worrying about a mechanical or a flat tire. I like not stopping at stop lights. I like that a 3 hour ride takes 3 hours, not 3.5 hours. I like watching Netflix. I worry that I might lose some of my confidence and/or skills on the road if I ride inside so often. But then maybe once/week I go ride outside and realize that I'm not losing my confidence and/or skills at all, so I stop worrying about that.

I've raced a little bit so far this year... Just short little local races for fun and to check in on where I'm at. I did the 3 run/swim biathlon races that Waikiki Swim Club puts on every winter. They consist of a 5k run straight into a 1k swim. My 5k got faster with each race so that was fun. And I won my AG at all 3 of those so that's also fun! Those were really low key non-stressful events that didn't make me nervous at all. 

Yesterday I raced a short 20k TT on my bike and was nervous as hell. Not sure why so nervous? I cared more, I guess. Plus, I knew how much it was going to hurt. Bike TTs have got to be just about the most painful thing we do. Instructions from my coach were to ride hard and for the love of god, wear your heart rate monitor... He just wanted the data afterward, which I totally understand. I didn't want to look at HR while racing b/c that would freak me out, so I had my garmin set so I wouldn't see it until I looked afterward. You know how they say your max HR is ~220 minus your age? That would put my estimated max HR at 177. My avg for the last 20min of the TT yesterday was 176 (max 179) so you can guess about how big of an effort that was for me. I couldn't have pushed any harder. I landed 2nd in a close race for top 4 and came away feeling happy with that effort.
In non-training related news, our animal sanctuary has expanded. Long story short, I adopted another dog who had been abandoned and was in need of a good home. I worried that he might have a legit case of anxiety disorder, because he seemed like an extremely *nervous* dog when we first got him. Pacing and panting and just seemed like he could not relax at all... But he absolutely adores Maia and he follows her around everywhere. He loves me and our whole family as well- very loyal dog. Moana named him Duke and that fits. His anxiety disorder disappeared after his first day with us and now he's just a normal happy dog who plays and eats and sleeps like a normal happy dog. 

It feels really good to be able to provide a life like that for a dog. 

Or in our case, 2 dogs. And 3 cats. All of these animals as one point were just dumped on the street. Now they all lead happy lives at the #SimmonsSanctuary :) 
Scott said no more animals. Fair enough. So that's it for now!