Sunday, October 29, 2017

Kona tales 2017

To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. A day hasn’t gone by without me thinking about “what if”. I was fit, I felt the best I ever felt, and I know I had a legitimate chance to contend for the podium and a sub 10 hour finish. I have no idea where the side stitch(es) from hell came from, but I do know that until then, I was feeling great. There were no warnings signs. It just happened. Until mile 80 of the bike, I was on pace for the fastest amateur bike split by a descent margin (5:06-5:08 vs. 5:13). Had I been able to fuel properly, I would certainly set myself up for a faster run too, but I digress. Kona 2017 is history and this is how it all went down. 

Let's back up a bit. I had the opportunity to arrive on the island 2.5 weeks before race day, which gave me a chance to acclimate to the heat and humidity of Kona. Unfortunately I was fighting some sort of a sinus infection for the first few days so training (against my liking) got off to a slower than planned start.

I did kick off my first morning on the island with the tradition of Lava Java breakfast

Once feeling 100%, my final prep was off to a great although very HOT start. My swimming was going well. 

My cycling legs were ready to play, and I felt as comfortable as one can in the variety of head/tail & cross winds that Madame Pele was dishing out on daily basis. 

My running legs were getting there as well although I did cut a few longer runs a bit short because the heat was plain sweltering and there was no reason to dug myself into a hole I couldn’t climb out of pre-race.

The week before race week flew by fast, and with that the small quiet town of Kailua-Kona was turned into a “shirts are optional, speedo’s are preferred” spot for triathletes from all over the world.
Just as fast as my first week on the island went, pre-race week went by even faster! 

I got a little taste of what pro triathletes go through, and took part in a couple of photoshoots/interviews and even started my first biological passport! Yup - I was picked for drug testing (blood). After just watching the documentary "Icarus" this was actually a very cool experience. What wasn't so cool is the fact I didn't eat lunch before I went to register and being selected for drug testing meant no food for 3+ more hours. Lesson learned - never go to registration hungry ever again! 

 First lots of paperwork (after 2+ hour wait) 

 The tubes that would eventually hold my two blood samples :) 

I also joined the WatieInk Hotties for the annual underpants run and replaced my E3 suit for “Fuck Cancer” one! Great cause if you ask me. We took pics with lots of sweaty strangers, and ended the day with building bikes with More Than Sport that were later given to local Kailua-Kona kids. I just hope I put it together right!

Before I knew it, it was time for my favorite breakfast of race week, followed by red carpet experience a.k.a bike check in, dinner and bed time.

Race Day:

Everything about race day is special! From getting your race numbers applied by volunteers, to weigh in, to pumping up your tires on the pier, to helicopters buzzing overhead, crowds of people lining the sea wall, to treading water in Kailua Bay for what feels like hours, to finally hearing that cannon go off! I get goosebumps thinking about it now. 

The Swim: 1:16:45

Hoping to swim around 1:10 (big fail!) I lined up in bit of a more aggressive position than in the past in hopes of finding some faster feet. I truly felt like I was thrown into a washing machine. I was getting punched, pushed and shoved but I held my ground and I was following feet. (Apparently not the right once) At multiple points someone actually even stopped, and started and stopped my Garmin. That's how close we were. Regardless of all the contact, I felt really good the entire swim. I thought I navigated well, and I was always surrounded by others, so when I saw 1:16:xx upon exiting the water, I was momentarily frustrated. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but it wouldn't be the first time. I was up for the challenge.

1:16? Are you kidding me look! 

T1: 3:32

The changing tent was super crowded so I had hoped that perhaps it was a slower swim this year, but that wasn’t the case – I just swam like a turtle!

The Bike: 5:16:08 (2nd AG, 6th fastest amateur bike split)

Ready to minimize the damage, and work my way to the front of the race, I set on a mission. As usual the first 7 miles of going through town were extremely busy, and also quite a bit dangerous. I had long forgotten about my below average swim, and instead of trying to make up the lost time all at once, I stuck to my plan. The plan was broken down into 6 sections. Breaking up the race like that really helps me focus on the task at hand and not look ahead. I took the first 7 miles conservatively, and was exactly on the power I was targeting! I began to fuel, hydrate and cool. 

At the beginning of the bike! 

Once I made it onto the famous Queen K, I again kept my head down, stayed aero and rode like the wind. Speaking of wind, I think we lucked out this year with fairly mild conditions. That’s not to say it wasn’t windy, or hot or both because it was, but judging by the weather the few weeks before and the days after the race, we got lucky! The number of (please don’t blow me over) moments was limited to a few, and I felt very comfortable out there even with me deep dish wheels.

Turtle time ;) 

The ride all the way to the climb up to Hawi was quite uneventful, and I continued to easily stick with my power, fueling/nutrition and cooling.

The climb up to Hawi is about an 18 mile section (not all uphill), and that’s where I encountered the first bunch of guys happily riding in a group that couldn’t be bothered being passed by a girl. The fact it took nearly 45 miles I say is a huge success. Thankfully I was able to drop said group fairly quickly, and continued on my way. There was wind going up Hawi, but it was mostly headwind and only a few sections with mild (mild for Hawi) crosswinds. As I made the turnaround, I now knew I was closing in on some of my competition – you gotta love the out and backs! 

It wasn’t long before I passed the eventual AG winner, so I knew I was in a good spot and making up time, especially since we still had 40 miles to go and I didn’t even really press the pace yet.
I “hammered” my way down the Hawi descent (the faster you go, the faster you get out of the crosswinds, right?), and for the first time EVER arrived at the bottom NOT completely cooked and overheated. 

Then out of nowhere BAM! The side stitch from hell! Thankfully there is still a short climb back out onto the Queen K that I think is the most difficult section of the whole course because the air doesn’t move there, the sun is beating down and nobody talks about it – because it’s not the Queen K and it’s not Hawi. I hoped that by sitting up, I would hopefully stretch out this side stitch, but nope! With every single pedal stroke, the pain was getting more and more intense and I felt like someone was stabbing me in my lower and eventually upper right abs. Aero position was out of the question for the most part, and so was fueling.The pain just kept getting more and more intense regardless of what I did and so I slowly but surely began to go backwards as I watched my power numbers downward spiral all the way to my recovery watts!

Time to ride like a sail (NOT) ... Grrrrrrrrr! 

With 30 (into the headwind) miles still to go, I began to question how I will make it to T2 never mind the finish line. Eventually, albeit much slower than expected I made it! Between sitting up into the headwind and spinning at 40 watts lower than race pace power for over 90 minutes, I have never been  more disappointed but also happy to be off my bike. 

T2: 3:36

I hopped of the bike and questioned my existence. I gingerly made my way around the pier toward the changing tents not only unable to stand up straight but also quite a but under fueled. Never having side stitches before, I was actually wondering if there was something seriously wrong with me because the sharp stabbing continued with every breath and step.

The run: 3:37:57

Still wondering how this was going to happen, I began to put one foot in front of the other. Of course my legs felt great because I had just spun my legs out for 90 minutes, but I felt weak and sick of being stabbed in my stomach over and over again. Thankfully it wasn’t long (5ish miles maybe) when the pain finally subsided. How? I have no idea, but it was gone and I wasn’t complaining. But now I was in a huge calorie deficit, and every time I tried eating anything, the pain was threatening to come back.  

One step at a time

I walked every single aid station from mile 5 on, and was still ticking of sub 8 min miles and keeping my HR in check, but I knew I was starting to run out of energy. By the time I hit Palani hill, I felt dizzy and weak and resorted to a walk/shuffle. How I kept moving for the next 16.2 miles I honestly don’t know. I ran from aid station to aid station, and walked ALL of them to help me stay cool, and if nothing at least get in some fluids.  It was water and coke kind of marathon, since that seemed to be the only thing not waking up the ab stabber.

Almost there! Still the same darn focus to keep moving

Final time: 10:17:57 (9th AG)

Although not the result I wanted, I am proud of my will and determination to fight. I certainly couldn’t be more motivated to get back to Kona and compete again. This year’s race taught me that I can persevere through more than I ever thought, and will most definitely fuel the indoor grind that awaits once the offseason is over. I am hungry, hungry for more because I just know it's there. I can feel it. 

The relief! 

Big thank you to my coach – Jorge, to my family, friends, fans/followers and to my sponsors who help me chase my dreams – Quintana Roo – definitely the most comfortable and speedy bike I have ever been on; Refreshinq – for making sure I am healthy and recovering well day to day,  Coolcore for keeping me comfy, and cool in training and racing, BlueSeventy for helping keep getting faster in the water and Levelen for allowing me to dial in my hydration. To my supportersCycleOps and FinisSwim - thank you! Your tools play a big part of my training routine on daily basis. 

Next Up: Offseason! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

70.3 World Championship Race Report

Last time, I did the 70.3 World Championships was back in 2014 in Mt. Tremblant, and it was there and then I swore I would never do another one of these again because of the blatant drafting that dominated that race. So when a women’s and men’s specific races were announced for the 2017 World Championships, I was 100% in.

Before getting into the nitty gritty, this was hands down the most fair, honest, tough, challenging 70.3 race course I have ever competed in, and I can only wish that every single race would be this honest and fair!

This was a race course that highlighted your strength and exposed your weaknesses! It was a swim course for swimmers with nearly half the swim against the current, bike course for cyclist with 3500 feet of climbing with 1000 feet of climbing coming over a 3.5 mile climb only 5 miles into the bike course, and finally run course for runners with nearly 1000 feet of climbing and essentially no flat ground over the 13.1 miles.


I arrived in Chattanooga on Thursday mid afternoon few hours later than expected thanks to the unexpected traffic on the drive from Atlanta. I went immediately to the expo to register and hopefully put my bike back together. Seeing my bike packed up in a bike bag is always stressful no matter what.

Thankfully Chattanooga is home of Quintana Roo, and my bike was put together in a blink of an eye! Thank you Quintana Roo.

"Black Firebird" in all its beauty

After getting up at 3:30am, sitting on the plane for 3 hours, and then another 3 hours in the car, I finally made it to my hotel, which was a short 15-20 min drive away, although at this point even that felt like forever.  My original plan was to drive the bike course, but the thought of another 56 miles in the car didn’t sound appealing at all. I opted for a quick swim at the local YMCA, and the welcome banquet before getting whatever food I needed for race morning.

On Friday (the day before the race), my plan was to get up early (sidenote: the sun doesn’t rise until 7:20am), do a quick swim on the course, followed by a quick bike ride to make sure “Black Firebird” was ready to go, and finally the best part of the day - breakfast before driving the course.

I don’t think I have EVER raced on a course I didn’t ride or drive before hand and I wasn’t about to make an exception. I like to know what I am in for and where I can take risks or where I need to be cautious.

All was going according to schedule, until it wasn’t.

I guess better before the race than during the race! 

Time to get a new tire and tube. Of course the tube I wanted to use was in my hotel room, which was at least a 40 min round trip, and who knew that buying a new tire would take an hour. Yes - the check out line at the expo bike store was that slow!

To spare you the details, it wasn’t before 4pm that “Black Firebird” was ready to go and checked into transition along with my transition bags. 

New tire and all - racked & ready!

 T1 transition bag

T2 transition bag

And just like that, my chill day turned into quite the hectic day instead. At this point, I decided to grab dinner for later (thankfully my hotel room had a microwave) and drive the bike course.

At least driving it this late meant that all the turns were marked so I couldn’t get lost. I drove the entire 56 mile course, and I knew we were in for a treat! I finally got back into my hotel room around 7pm after a lot longer day on my feet than expected but it was what it was.

I ate my dinner, visualized my race plan a few times, and went to bed.

Race Day:

Because I was flying solo for this one, I wanted a good close parking spot to transition so I arrived at the race site super early – as in, I literally was like the 10th person into transition! It was actually great and I enjoyed the quiet and stress free atmosphere. I put air in my tires, nutrition on my bike (2 bottles of Levelen 5 – hello sodium, and 4 clif bar gels), and I also added couple of rice/potato cakes along with my salt pills into my T1 bag. Then I just chilled out for the rest of the morning, and visualized my race from the beginning to the end a few times. Before I knew it, it was time to line up in the age group corrals which were extremely well organized!

The Swim: 37:21

I lined up at the tail end of the 28-30 min group, and although I was a bit nervous about getting into water with this bunch because I certainly knew I wasn’t going to swim this time, I didn’t want to wait too long to get in like I did in Texas which I dearly paid for. I was essentially just hoping to hop on some faster feet, which happened but sadly not for too long.

The swim start was unique and definitely a bit stressful.

This is how the pros do it! Sadly there isn't a shot of my running start cannonball! 

Since we weren’t able to warm up in the water,I brought a water bottle with me that I poured down my wetsuit and over my head shortly before it was my turn to dive in – I mean cannon ball in. The saying don’t do anything new on race day couldn't be more true, and I sure wasn’t about to belly flop and lose my goggles.

I was able to grab feet all the way to the first turn buoy (which really wasn’t that far) but the turn ended up being super congested and I lost my draft. After the turn buoy it looked like everyone just went their own way, and thanks to swimming nearly 1000 yards against the current and into the sun that had just began to rise 30 minutes earlier, I couldn’t see anything at all. I was really wishing for that underwater cable from Lake Placid! I noted this during my practice swim so I was mentally ready for it, but it still sucked. I couldn’t see the buoys until I was on top of them, and I am just glad the turn buoy had a kayaker at it because otherwise I could have kept swimming.

My goal was to stick closer to the shore line on the way out, and then swim back on the inside of the buoys closer to middle of the river so that I could avoid and then take advantage of the current.  I didn’t quite execute on that on the way out, but stuck to the inside of the buoys on the way back. Even though the current supposedly wasn’t too strong – looking at my watch I was swimming 1:50s against the current and 1:20s with the current so there! I hit the stairs with 36 and change. I had no idea where anyone else was, but I knew one thing- I felt great. 

T1: 3:34

I definitely wasn’t expecting to see wetsuit strippers, but these volunteers were absolutely amazing. One guy unzipped my wetsuit before I even made it up the 5 stairs out of the water, and before I knew it, 2 people were pulling the wetsuit off my arms and another 2 of my legs! Can we have these guys at every race?

Slightly akward but that dude is literally getting my out of my BlueSeventy wetsuit on the go!

 I grabbed my T1 bag, and before making my way up the first hill of the race – the ramp in transition – I began to put my rice potato cakes and salt pills into my pockets. All that was left was to put my helmet on, sprint to my bike with my shoes in hand, shoes on at the bike and I was out. One of these days I'll practice a flying mount. 

The Bike: 2:34:04

The strategy? Go big or go home a.k.a hammer time! With the Lookout Mountain climb starting around mile 5, my goal was to push it! If I blew up later, I blew up but this was my time to make my move and take advantage of my strength! There was no saving watts. I knew it was going to be around 20 min of work thanks to Best Bike Split, and the total climb took me just little over 19 min.

Controlled hammer time! 

I felt like I was in either Tucson, Arizona or the App Gap in Vermont, chasing the mountain goats I normally train with. I have done climbs like these many times, but this was a first in a race and it was so much fun! 3.5 miles and 19 min of fun!  (Just a tad bit steeper than you average hill)

Climbing and smiling :)

Once we crested the mountain, my work wasn’t done. I kept the foot on the gas, and before I knew it was going through the first aid station at mile 15 of the race, which is when I realized I have barely eaten or drank anything! I am usually like clockwork but I don’t usually go out this hard either. 

1st hour power because "fearless" 

Because I didn’t have any water on board, I quickly tried to finish my 20oz of Levelen before tossing the bottle to make room for water.  Chugging nearly 50g of carbs so quickly didn’t prove to be the best decision I have made all day, but I had to roll with the punches.

The rest of the bike course continued to be very undulating but nothing like the very first climb. It really awarded athletes with great handling skills, great descending skills, and the ability to carry momentum and speed from downhills into uphills and vice versa. I was in heaven!

Still climbing, and still smiling :) 

I spent a lot of time screaming on your left, especially on some of the long descents. Most everyone moved over, but the 2 cars I came upon on the most fun and fastest descend didn’t. (I guess they didn’t hear me). I was easily moving 40+mph and there was no need to touch the brakes but I digress. I pulled up next to an official that was also behind these cars and asked them if I could go around. The answer was of course – NO  as the course was open to traffic. I eventually snuck through on the inside and continued to hammer! It sucked, but I will take this over racing on a course full of male egos anytime.

Zoom, zoom, zoom 

Like I already said – this was by far the most FUN and FAIR bike course I have ever been part of! I surely didn’t miss the cat and mouse game that some men like to play when they realize they are about to get passed or when they get passed by a female. And I certainly loved the fact that no girls had a chance to hop into big male draft packs! Girls drafting other girls is very different than girls hanging in the middle of or behind packs of men!

As very much a rhythmic rider, I was able to get into my own rhythm for 56 miles, and it certainly showed at the end! I was super excited to have posted the fastest amateur female bike split but most importantly my highest 70.3 power and effort to date.

T2: 1:51

I did my flying dismount, handed my bike to a volunteer and struggled a bit to find my run bag because most of them (except for 2) were all still there. 

The Run: 1:38:20

I am not super happy with my run time (I can do much better than that), but I am happy with my effort and my never give up attitude. The run course was tough – it was either up or down, and although my legs were feeling pretty good given the effort, my fueling mishaps during the bike have eventually caught up with me.

Still moving well cuz mile 1 ;) 

On the first loop, I tried to eat a bit more, attack the uphills within a reason, and attack the downhills a bit more. I wasn’t watching my pace or HR – I was going purely on effort. I was pretty much alone the entire 6.5 miles which was a bit surreal, but being the 3rd wave of amateurs will do that.

The 2nd loop was a bit more congested, the hills surely grew bigger and I really began to struggle especially on some of the steeper uphill sections. My legs just didn’t want to leave the ground, but I knew I had to keep moving. I tried my best to keep moving on the ups and then returning back to good form on the way down.

About half way through still holding strong 

With about 1.5 miles left, Robyn who had beaten me in Lake Placid just a few weeks ago came by me, and I knew I had go with her. She is an awesome, super nice chick, but there was no way she was beating me again.  With the rolling start I had no idea when she started but since she is a better swimmer than I am, I assumed she started somewhere in front of me. I gave myself 15 seconds.  I was literally hanging on for dear life, trying to close the 10 or so yard gap that Robyn opened up and praying she slows down because I didn’t have much left.

Not having to pre-ride or pre-drive the run course, I had no idea where the finish line was which was less than ideal but forced me to really run with my heart and dig deeper than deep. When rounding the corner for the finish line, I was told it was right there, so I kicked it up another notch except the finish line wasn’t RIGHT there!

Here is my training partner in crime responsible for telling me that finish line was right there ;) (NOT) 

My pace was nothing to write about, but I was definitely running on empty as a result of my bike fueling mishaps. I shut my eyes, gritted my teeth and eventually face planted ITU style after crossing the finish line.

Yup - THAT hurt! 

I think my quad and lungs are about to explode. (Sorry - no face plant pics) 

Overall: 4:55:10 - 4th AG (35-39), 15th overall amateur 

In the end, Robyn was 5th but she definitely pushed me more than I would have pushed myself if she wasn't there. Only racing a single half ironman this year, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, so I am super happy with my first ever 70.3 podium after a year of focusing on the long stuff. This race had given me a lot of confidence as I continue to get ready for Kona in just a few short weeks! 

As always, big thank you to my sponsors who help me chase my dreams – Quintana Roo – definitely the most comfortable and speedy bike I have ever been on; Refreshinq – for making sure I am healthy and recovering well day to day,  Coolcore for keeping me comfy, and cool in training and racing, BlueSeventy for helping keep getting faster in the water and Levelen for allowing me to dial in my hydration. To my supporters CycleOps and FinisSwim - thank you! Your tools play a big part of my 
training routine on daily basis. 

Next Up - Kona baby! :) 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ironman Lake Placid 2017 Race Report

And just like that it’s been over a week since my Ironman #9, and my first Ironman Lake Placid! Lake Placid has been the very first ironman I ever spectated back in 2010, and it would be another 2 years before I did my first IM. It sure took me long enough to make the trip back to Lake Placid to actually race.

In 2010, I was a complete rookie and although I really wanted to do one of these things, I wasn’t quite sure how that would be possible. The descend down to Keene absolutely terrified me, and I remember to this day how scared I was barely hitting 40 mph. I literally thought my bike was going to fall apart!  

Fast forward to 2017, and what difference a few (ok – 7 years) can make. I was super excited to race for a few reasons:
  • ·       Racing with teammates, athletes I coach, and friends is the best! 
  •       With the close proximity to Boston, LP would feel like a hometown race and the amount of on course support would be second to none! (the truth) 
  • ·       Already having my Kona slot from Ironman Texas, this was a no pressure kind of race – well except for the fact I still wanted to win because that’s just me
  • ·       No women’s pro race, which meant the possibility of winning the whole thing was of course super exciting as well
  • ·       My 1st ever Ironman wetsuit swim – yes – you read that right!

THE SWIM: 1:07:36

After my less than average swim at Ironman Texas this year, I was a little hesitant about this whole time trial, self seeded swim start, but I must say it was MUCH better organized than in Texas. Instead of dodging bodies for half of the swim, I could actually move straight forward without swimming into walls of people. I suppose this is also a lot easier when the under water visibility extends far beyond just your own elbow!

Calmness that is Mirror Lake before all of us jumped in!

I even got to warm up in the water, which for me is huge! (Also not a possibility at IMTX), Before I knew it, Bash and I were slowly making our way toward the middle of the 1:00 – 1:10 corral. It was super awesome to be lining up with my training partner in crime, and it sure helped to keep the nerves in check. Bash is definitely faster off the start line, and he regularly kicks my ass in the pool, so my goal was to just try to stay on his feet. Heck if he could have just dragged me around the lake for 2.4 miles, I wouldn’t mind either ;). 

Around 10 people in every 4 seconds! 

We both ran in side by side along with few others, and the trashing began. As expected, Bash took off but without me (insert sad face). It wouldn’t be the first time, so I just focused on my own rhythm and swimming as straight of a line as I could. I also stayed away from the buoy line and the underwater cable because I simply wasn’t up for a boxing match. 

Churned up Mirror Lake 

The lake was crowded, but I was holding my own space and shortly after probably 500 yards or so I found a set of just the perfect feet to draft behind. I tried passing the guy a few times to no luck and every time I pulled up next to him he would pull away. He was my guy, and I stayed on his feet – the entire 1st loop! He was clearly staying away from the cable, he was swimming straight and he also avoided the congestion at the turn buoys by swimming wide. I happily followed. We had to swim around a few folks throughout the first loop, but for the first time ever, I really fought for my feet and stayed there even through congestion! YES! 

Unfortunately my guy decided to take his sweet time in between loops 1 and 2, and so I bolted out of there and dove in for loop 2 on my own.The water actually seemed to be clearer, and before I knew it I found myself on the cable. After not even catching a glimpse of it on the first loop, I honestly thought they took it out for the race. But there it was! Best part – there was nobody on it! I felt like I just won the lottery! 75% of the 2nd loop was contact free – I swam around a few folks but not many and was smooth sailing on top of the cable breathing 10 strokes to the left, and 10 strokes to the right! Yup – for the first time in a race I breathed to my right side (It only took 7 years but that’s a story for another day). I only left the cable when swimming around the turn buoys so that I didn’t get stuck and could keep my rhythm going – mission accomplished!

Gotta love the BlueSeventy Helix! 

I got out of the water with a new shiny PR of 1:07:36 just under my best goal time of 1:08, I breathed to both sides, and for the first time in my triathlon career, I took absolutely zero breast strokes. (Oh the little things). I felt like I didn’t even swim, and was only 12ish minutes down from the super fast fishes, and 7ish minutes behind the contenders – great start to the day for sure!

T1: 4:24

Wetsuit strippers for the win! The half mile pavement run to transition – not so much, but I did my best!

THE BIKE: 5:16:19

Where to begin. “Black Firebird” was ready to rock and so were my legs. My legs felt awesome all day long, and the power numbers reflected that. Unlike back in 2010 when 39.1 mph felt like flying, I found myself hitting nearly 50 mph and looking for more gears.

Turtle time!  

It however apparently wasn’t fast enough for select few, that figured riding in a group would be more fun. By the time I got to the bottom of the Keene descend, and began the flattish trek from Keene to Jay to Ausable Forks (my favorite section btw), the group only grew in numbers. I put in the first of my (bigger than I really wanted for this stage of the race) efforts to get away only to get swallowed right back up momentarily. And so the cat and mouse game began. I grew more and more frustrated and had a few choice words with the group as they squashed my first couple of attempt(s) to get away. I knew that given the nature of the course at this point, this group wasn’t about to break up anytime soon, and so I had a choice to make.

I chose to put in one final surge and was finally able to get far enough away to not get caught and cut off instantly. In order to stay away, I had to keep the pedal to the metal, which meant 200+ watts for 90 min. Not something I am not capable of, but not the strategy I wanted to employ this early into the race.   I don’t know how long the group behind me stayed together for, but at this point, I was just glad to focus on my own race.

I rolled through the first loop above race pace, but at least finally defrosted and feeling great, trying to forget what I just witnessed on loop 1.

Up the bears and smiling! :) 

2nd loop was essentially empty, and I rode probably about half of it with 2 other male riders leap frogging back and forth in a LEGAL paceline! It was a breath of fresh air when I wasn't being re-taken right after passing them because I was a "girl" and girls shouldn't be able to keep up with guys. I was still holding my goal watts and was glad to see that riding legal is possible when everyone makes the effort to!  My power was right where I wanted it to be and so it looked like and felt like I may just survive my harder and more variable effort from the first loop without any consequences. (Ironman however is a long day so more on that later)

Aero is the name of the game! 

Somewhere along the 2nd loop I also realized I had lost half of my rice/potato cakes and since I only brought one extra gel, I had to adjust on the fly. I opted for bananas, and they seemed to do the trick. Let me tell you – peeling half bananas while moving swiftly through aid stations is a lot of fun! ;)

Overall I had a very strong ride, and one I am very proud of. I rode clean, I had my highest IM power output ever, and better yet – I never faded. My effort all day long never felt forced even when I rode way above my goal watts for quite some time, and that is something I can 100% build on for Kona.

I rolled into transition with the fastest female bike split, and as 3rd female overall.

T2: 2:41

I probably could have done a little better but don’t tell my coach (I had to fix my hair – my bun came apart and it was really going to annoy me on the run). The volunteers were awesome as usual and I think I had about 5 of them trying to attend to me. If they only knew how many times I peed on myself during that bike ride you would have probably stayed away so thank you ALL!

RUN: 3:37:51

I have never ran more hills in training that I did in prep for this race, and I was excited but still a bit intimidated by the hills (mountains really) on this run course.

As I started the run my legs were feeling great, but although I was trying to hold back, my HR seemed a bit higher than usual. I kept trying to slow myself down to get the HR down, but it wasn’t budging. (I do sweat quite a bit and I did drink quite a bit less during the bike especially on the first loop because I was freezing so dehydration may have been settling in)

Look ma - both feet of the ground! 

I made sure I fueled properly (1 clif shot block every 10 min plus salt and I tried to get in as much water as I could between my tiny 8oz handheld bottle and the aid stations). It sure was nice not having to worry about overheating and cooling down every mile because the temperatures were essentially perfect! I did wear my CoolCore cooling towel around my neck and headband which I just kept pouring water on to keep wet and cool throughout the day.  

Clif shots #nomnom

Since this wasn’t a female pro race, I also started the run with a biker, which was awesome! Although they are not allowed to ride in front of you, I sure felt like a celebrity all day long (well until mile 20 ish when I lost her) because I fell to 4th overall. 

There she is - Brigitte, my biker

I was running well for about 17 miles and although I was 3rd female on the road, I was still running in 2nd due to the nature of the rolling swim start. 

The wheels however started to fall off at mile 17 and my legs became harder to turn over with each step. The thought of taking another clif shot block was making me sick too. Too bad I still had two mountains to climb (they joys of a run course with 1600’ feet of elevation!) and 9 miles left to run!

Miles 17 through 21 were still sort of respectable although this is also where I lost my biker. Probably a good thing because I don’t think the snail pace with which I was moving up the hill would translate well to being able to stay upright on the bike!

Miles 21-25 were some of the toughest miles I ever ran – I mean shuffled. My pace dipped into the 9s, and I nearly saw even 10s – the wheels were off and perhaps this is where my early bike effort coupled with a few fueling mishaps reared its ugly head. With 1 mile to go, I saw couple other girls closing in on me (on an out and back section), and somehow willed myself to kick it into high(er) gear. After spending the last 4 miles what felt like barely moving, I turned on the afterburners so that I wouldn’t get caught (turns out those 2 girls were just finishing the 1st lap), and what felt like a 6 min mile effort turned out to only be 8:22 mile pace – funny how that works, eh? 

I don’t remember much from the finish line, besides the fact that I was really happy to see it! 

Hello, Ironman finish line #9

I loved the ever so challenging and relentless Ironman Lake Placid race course, and I absolutely loved the support I received out there on the course. SO SO SO many people cheering for me literally all around the entire bike and run courses and sharing the course with my athletes and friends was absolutely amazing too! They all kicked ass and either PRed or finished their first IM and I really couldn't be more proud of all of them. 

 Finish line smiles! 

 Part of the E3 Crew along with the boss 

The first time Ironman and his cheering crew! 

My finish time: 10:08:51

Not sub 10 hours, no finish line tape but lots of lessons learned and positives to take out of this race! I wanted to race fearless and I am proud to say I did! It wasn't good enough to break the tape (4th overall, 2nd AG), but I had a great swim for reasons far beyond just the time, my strongest bike to date power wise, and although I faded hard on the run which cost me that sub 10 finish, I have learned a lot! 

Thank you to ALL the volunteers, my bikers on the run, and of course my coach Jorge for everything, as well as my sponsors Quintana Roo Tri - we had the fastest bike split :) , The Refreshinq Co. for making sure I am healthy and recovering well day to day, Coolcore for keeping me cool, BlueSeventy for helping me keep getting faster in the water and Levelen for helping me dial in my fueling! To my supporters  CycleOps and FinisSwim - thank you! Your tools are part of training routine on consistent basis! 

After much needed recovery, it's now time to buckle down and get ready for the World Championship double with 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga, and Kona. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Patriot 70.3 Race Report

This year was my fifth year in a row racing the local SunMultisport Patriot 70.3. There is just something about sleeping in your own bed and rolling to the start line few hours before the race. The logistics are super easy, and it really doesn’t get more convenient than that. I don' usually have problems sleeping the night before the race, but the butterflies were flying high on Friday night! 

The lead up to the race went super well, which is rarely the norm! My sighting and straight swimming has been more and more fluid, my power on the bike has been the best yet, and I can’t remember last time, I actually rode so well and not just physically but also mentally executed some of the toughest sessions I used to really struggle with. My running off the bike has been super solid too, so I was very excited to give cracking that 4h30min mark another try. (Spoiler Alert – it didn’t happen, and I really wasn’t even close - dammit) 

Race morning was rainy but at least it was warm because the humidity was like 1 million degrees. I set up my transition in pouring rain but by the race start, the rain stopped, and the fog somewhat lifted of the lake!

 Just a little foggy at the swim start

SWIM: 33:33

I snuck into my BlueSeventy helix although not so easily because humidity, and did a quick swim warm up to get the heart rate up and get ready for the swim start. Since I was starting in the open/elite wave I actually had a real strategy – so pro I know ;). No worries – that strategy of staying on Lisbeth’s feet went out the window very quickly, as I watched her swim away from me in a heartbeat or two. Although I got dropped like a bad habit, I swam hard, and eventually settled into my own race pace as I found myself swimming completely alone! Dammit, plan B to the rescue. Plan B was simple – swim straight! Mission accomplished (for the most part), and a new Patriot swim 70.3 PR. Still not quite where I want to be but PR is a PR. I felt good about my swim and how fresh I felt coming out of the water, which is often overlooked by athletes, but being swim fit makes your bike and run easier too!  

T1: 1:58

T1 was a bit of a mess - I am really much better at IM transitions. My wetsuit got stuck on my ankles (duh - I should have used the wetsuit strippers), and when I put my new aero helmet on I couldn't see a thing - oops!

Arms out - that's the easy part ;) 

BIKE: 2:24:42

My helmet shield was covered with rain drops and since I never used this helmet in a rain I didn’t know what to expect. (In my defense I just bought it 1 week ago and the day I tested it the sun was shining). I blindly clipped in, and set out on my merry way, 6-7 min down on the super swimmers Stacy, and Becky, and 3 minutes down on Lisbeth who can really ride! You are not a multiple ironman Kona World champion if you are not a great athlete!

I spent the first 5 min trying to decide if I will be able to see well enough through the rain drops on my shield or if I should remove it instead. Eventually I successfully without stopping and or falling off my bike removed the shield, and surely sacrificed some aerodynamics for visibility. (Safety first) I put my head down and went to work. It was just me, myself and me for pretty much the entire bike ride. It’s a VERY different feeling from having carrots to chase the entire ride, but at least I didn’t even have to say on your left once ;)!

If I haven’t done this race before, I would have thought I was lost. I have never been this completely alone ever. I was riding strong but I was starting to question just how far I really was or what was happening at the front of the race. When I rolled through the transition area again, I finally got a word I was now about 2 minutes behind the leader, which at least gave me a breath of fresh (although VERY humid) air. I was closing the gap.

Serious chase mode! 

At this point I put my head down (shield back on), and it wasn’t until probably mile 35ish that I passed Becky, and it was another 10 miles before I found Stacy and Lisbeth at the front of the race. I was never happier to see them. I put the pedal to the metal for a couple miles to make sure they didn’t try to stay with me and although my nutrition for some reason wasn’t staying down, I was able to put down my best 70.3 power ever. My time didn't quite reflect it but that's more thanks to the conditions rather then mega legs. It was also nice to build bit of a lead going into the run. 

T2: 2:34

T2 was much of the same as T1 – this time I was fumbling with my socks because my feet were covered in mud and last thing I wanted out of this race was blistered feet. I also came to find out my sun glasses were broken in half L

RUN: 1:35:41

Running without sunglasses is weird, but I managed. I had a lead biker who was awesome and at least that reminded me that perhaps I wasn't lost, the run course was just that empty ;). Quite refreshing not having to fight for fuel or ice at aid stations, but also a lot easier to chill out and forget that you are racing. I got passed by one guy whom I tried to keep in sight for as long as I could, but he was moving and me – not so much! I did end up catching 2 more guys and those were the only athletes I saw for the 13.1 miles.

My run was rather unimpressive and although my huffing and puffing would indicate one pace, the real pace was much slower. Heck I ran faster the week before on a much hotter day in training, but so is racing. I suspect the slight lack of my ability to keep my regular fuel down may have had something to do with it, but I kept pressing on, and chasing my lead biker.  (Thanks Rachel :) )

TOTAL TIME: 4:38:27 

I was really glad to see the finish line and live up, I mean race up to my bib number! Wearing #1 is NEVER easy and raising the finish line tape is always special!

Finish line smiles :) 

It wasn't my fastest, but it was my best swim on this course, and highest 70.3 power output on the bike, which gives me confidence for the rest of the season.

The podium :) 

This year's race was even more special because I got to watch many of my teammates, and 3 of my own athletes absolutely crush it with big PR's, and be right there as they finished! Locally races really are awesome, and watching hard work pay off is awesome and rewarding! 

 Lindsey crushed it, won her Age Group, and came in Top 10 overall female! 

 Chris had some nutritional issues but despite that absolutely destroyed his PR by 30+ min

Geoffrey too bettered his PR in only his 2nd 70.3! 

I am already looking to this race again next year! 

As always, THANK YOU to my coach Jorge for keeping me at the top of my game, Quintana Roo for Mr. Flash and yet another fastest female bike split that helped me get back into the race, Refreshinq for helping me stay on top of my game day in and day out, BlueSeventy for the speedy wetsuits and awesome goggles for any and all conditions, Coolcore for making sure I stay comfy, and cool while training and racing and also all of our E3 Training team sponsors - you guys rock, and I appreciate the support more than you know. 

Next up - Ironman Lake Placid!