Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hello summer, Hello Coolcore!

I have been a big fan of Coolcore ever since I did my very first race in the heat, and knew that unless I can keep my body temp down, I will stand no chance of achieving my dream of winning the amateur title at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.  Never say never, but I doubt I will ever have to worry about being cold when racing in the hot and humid conditions of Hawaii.

I have been using the Coolcore cooling towel and headband ever since 2013 in all my hot races and when training during hot summer months so I am super excited to make our partnership officially official this year and I am even more excited about their NEW product launch! Keep reading to find out more!

That’s how excited and happy I am to be part of the Coolcore family!

Keepin’ the noggin’ cool!

The Coolcore products are perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle whether you are a weekend warrior who enjoys the outdoors, or whether you are super competitive like myself reaching for the top step on the podium.
Happiness is not being overheated at the finish line!

All Coolcore fabrics are chemical-free and I couldn’t be happier with the benefits they offer. They cool better, and also offer protection from the sun! Finally, they last longer because there aren’t any chemicals to wash out.

Putting the Coolcore top through it’s paces in the famous energy lab in Kona, Hawaii!

So what is the best part? Coolcore just came out with a kick ass apparel line, that you must try!   With summer FINALLY here, you will NOT be disappointed! Use code JANAR for 15% off!

Ready, set, GO! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Teamwork and The Refreshinq RQ Program

Triathlon may be labeled as an individual sport but it is far from it! We are out there on race day on our own, but nobody gets to the start line without a team!

The triathlon journey is a process that goes far and beyond the finishing time on race day, and strong support network of family, coaches, sponsors, and supporters make a big difference. All these people create YOUR team, and are along for the ride full of ups and downs.

I am super excited to have expanded my team this year to include The Refreshinq Co.! Their goal is to help everyone from top performing athletes to weekend warriors become their best AND never quit getting better via all natural, pharmacist-curated supplements in the form of vitamin packs and/or patches!

Quick look at some of the Refreshinq Co. products

Their goals line up perfectly with mine, and although my partnership has just started few months ago, they have already been a key part of my team in my mission to never quit reaching my goals, and leaving no stone unturned on my journey to the top of the Ironman World Championship podium.

Taking advantage of Refreshinq’s RQ program has already proven critical in my continuous development as an athlete that goes far beyond swim, bike and run.

The RQ program showed me exactly what was going on inside my body (via InsideTracker blood test), and it further provided me with next steps to optimize not only my overall health, but also my performance.

I did my Insidetracker blood test after a long/tough and pretty aggressive 10 week training build toward my first race of the season – Ironman Texas, and less than 48 hours after my longest training run of 21 miles on the Boston marathon course. Throughout my build I was feeling strong week after week, but I was definitely quite tired and sore after this run which wasn’t surprising – the hills of the Boston marathon course along with the accumulated fatigue will do that to you.

Black arrow shows my aggressive build. Blue dot simulates my fitness, while red dot (pink line) simulates my continuously building fatigue week after week.

After I received my InsideTracker blood test results, I completed an assessment form to give my “personal coach”(RQ Health Coach) more information with regards to my background, activity level and goals, and was then contacted shortly after.  My “personal coach” and I went over each and individual blood biomarker regardless of whether those biomarkers fell into the optimal range or not, and we further discussed how they affect my health & performance, and what I can do to optimize each.

It was very eye opening, and enlightening to know what each biomarker means and how it relates to my goals instead of asking “google” and worrying that there may be something seriously wrong with me because that’s exactly what I did when I saw this:

 What the heck is wrong with my liver? (Pro Tip: Stay away from WebMD!)

Oh, you just trained really hard for a while, and so your muscles are well – feeling it! This IS related to your increased liver enzymes – got it! (I finally feel like a huge weight got lifted of my chest)

No, I didn’t have a serious condition that Mr. Google suggested, and could stop worrying. Thank you Refreshinq! You put my mind at peace, when I was explained just how all these biomarkers are related to each other and my training.

Having the ability to speak with an experienced health coach allowed me to understand just when nutrition is enough to optimize my health & performance and when vitamins/supplements are necessary.  

What is even better is that I don’t have to spend more time online or in a CVS isle searching for which supplement – in my case which probiotic is best for me, because The Refreshinq Co. has me covered!

The advantages don’t stop here. Knowing that the recommended supplements are all natural, pharmaceutical grade and 3rd party tested is just another added and very important benefit to me as an athlete and supporter of clean sport! 

I am very excited to have The Refreshinq Co. part of my team, and would highly suggest for all of you to check them out and give them a try! Whether you are a weekend warrior or elite level athlete, their products AND services are first class and will make a difference in your health and performance! Let them help you never quit reaching your goals!

Please comment below if you have any questions, or use code JANA10 for 10% discount.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ironman Texas Lead Up and Race Report

After last year’s Ironman Texas, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do this race again. Not because the swim was changed the day before the race, or because the bike course had more turns than its distance, or because the weather was more hot/humid than Kona (I actually welcomed that because gaining more experience in Kona like conditions is beneficial to me!) but because I wasn’t sure I was ready to put myself through nearly 100% indoor training again.

Last year, I struggled! I struggled through many of my long rides, and as the weeks went by I was slowly but surely losing motivation. I was quickly approaching the edge of burning out. Indoor training can be quite monotonous and I honestly didn’t want to put myself through that again. So instead, I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid because I knew I would have plenty of friends to train with, and I wouldn’t be confined to my pain cave a.k.a living room weekend after weekend.  

Yet as the weeks went by, this little voice inside my head kept telling me to sign up for Ironman Texas regardless of all of the above. Come December, I was swimming better than ever, and my motivation to redeem my mediocre race at Ironman Texas last year was sky high, Right around the New Year, I came down with a nasty sinus and ear infection and there went my streak of kick ass training. I was laid up for pretty much 3 weeks with zero energy to train and that is not like me. With 15 weeks to Ironman Texas, I watched my fitness hit its lowest point since years ago. I did however become great at puzzles.

Home sweet home (Prague, Czech Republic) 

 My 2nd home 

Because this is exactly how I spent my New Years! 

Although sitting on the couch wasn’t exactly how I wanted to kick of 2017, I think it allowed me to really get hungry again and so while on antibiotics,  I finally pulled the trigger and signed up! 

I started the build toward IM Texas mentally fresh and ready to bring my A game day in and day out.
What followed was something I could only dream of. I put together probably my best ever training block, and I very much continued to surprise myself week after week whether it was in the pool, on the bike or the treadmill. (Yes – I did a lot of my runs indoors).  Just when I thought I was surely going to blow up, my mind was sharp, and my body continued to perform week after week.   

Consistent build from 1/9 to 3/26 (11 weeks of consistent build), followed by a down week, before one final push during our training camp in Tucson, Arizona. 

During this time, I averaged little over 15 hours of training between swim, bike, run and weekly strength and plyo session. 

Consistent build, with 1 down week followed by a big week in Tucon, AZ (training camp), and taper week before race day :) 

With 2 weeks before Ironman Texas, we had our annual training camp in Tucson, and although my swimming decided to go on vacation, my cycling and running were the best ever. I was putting out power day after day that I have never done before fairly effortlessly, and my running legs were sharp. The long run at the end of camp is always a struggle thanks to the accumulated fatigue and although this year it wasn’t any different I ticked of 15 miles at a pace 40 sec per mile faster than a year ago!
Needless to say I travelled to Texas knowing that I was in one of my best IM shapes to date even if all of my swimming has been done in the pool, all but 6 days of cycling had been indoors, and probably 80% of my runs were indoors too or in temps below 40 degrees (and I am being generous here) 

I arrived in the Woodlands on Wednesday mid day, and headed right to packet pick up before settling at the same homestay as last year – the Broncalo’s. It seriously felt like I never left and Jesus and Laura are seriously the best! I spent the next two days, just making sure I had everything ready for race day, and I even got a pre-race swim in with the PushGlideKick team and the awesome Gemma Hollis. My swimming really decided to show up that day, so it felt like everything was coming together just in time for the big day J.

 Outdoor pools make everything better! 

We won’t talk about the day I tried to squeeze myself into my wetsuit just to make sure I was ready for anything. I haven’t had mine on since September so had to do it. Good thing there is no photographic evidence of this as trying to squeeze into a wetsuit when it's nearly 80 degrees and just as humid really wasn't pretty! (It did take 2 people to zip me up!) 

 Mr. Flash ready to rock! 

 T1 bag plus missing rice/potato cakes (no I didn't use the toe warmers, but when forecast initially called for low 50s, I had to be ready) 

T2 bag 

I woke up on race morning to temperatures in the low 70s with humidity in the mid 90s! Humidity for breakfast anyone? With T1 and T2 being in two separate places there was no time for messing around. Just like last year, there was no in water warm up for us age groupers, so the 15 min walk over served just as that. 

The Swim: 1:16:30

The swim was a self seeded rolling start except there were no signs that would indicate any swim times. This is where I made my first mistake that 100% cost me some time. How much time – we will never know, but I know my swim is better than the time shows. 

 You can see the masses getting ready for the swim start! And that yellow circle - yup - that's me stretching it out instead of swimming already! (Photo Credit - David Reynolds)

I got in the water too late and found myself in a 2.4 mile boxing match inside a watching machine, with underwater visibility up to about my elbow. I spent at least the first half of the swim either swimming into and around people or looking up every 2 strokes to see where to go. I then spent the 2nd half of the swim trying to pee while swimming, which for me is impossible! It was becoming downright painful, and I welcome any tips and suggestions – TMI I know.   

 Bodies everywhere 

Looking at my splits, the last 2000 yards were actually nearly 5 sec per 100 yards faster than the first half!  Unlike last year, I didn’t panic and just kept on trucking although apparently way too slow! I wore the BlueSeventy Nero Race yellowlense goggles that will make even the gloomiest day bright, which allowed me to see the buoys very clearly. I did have a bit of a hard time finding my way into the canal, but once in there I found a descent rhythm. The water in the canal was super choppy but it didn’t really phase me – the very slowly moving bodies however did. I made my way around everyone the best I could, even if that included multiple times of me coming to a dead stop to actually survey what may be the best way to get around the wall of mostly men in front of me. I got pushed, and punched and kicked and shoved, but I shrugged it off. Before I knew it a volunteer was literally pulling me out of the water up onto the stairs like I was a 5 pound weight!  

T2: 3:34

I glanced at my watch, saw my time and very quickly bolted out of there. This wouldn’t be the first time, I would be dissatisfied with my swim time, but I knew the day was young. I actually felt the best I have ever felt coming out of the water, and quickly shifted my focus to what I needed to do in transition and onto the bike I went.

The Bike: 4:58:53

Although I would normally let my crappy swim dictate the first part of the bike, I never once again even thought about my swim time (until post race of course).  I held back a bit even though my legs really wanted to go. I also knew what it was like to race in the heat/humidity in April after training through the east coast winters. (Although the weather was far from what it was like last year even temps in the 70s coupled with 90+% humidity at the start of the day will eventually catch up with you when you are used to the temps in the 20s & 30s). I was moving well, and sticking to my pacing and fueling plan. As a very rhythmic rider, I was actually really excited about this bike course.  It really played to my strengths especially coming of 99% indoor training. I love to just put my head down and go to work. I never even used the front chain ring!

Just getting started! (Photo Credit - Scott Flathouse

Once on the highway, I just put my head down and began to pick up the pace some. 

The scenic IM Texas bike course ;) (Photo Credit - David Reynolds)

The wind was starting to pick up too but it felt like we had an equal head and tail wind both directions. The whole first loop I was staying steady at around 23 mph, and I even did some quick math once I passed the 56 mile marker. At mile 56 I was on pace for a 4:52 bike split. Say WHAT?

Beating trains! (I sadly don't even remember this train!) 
(Photo Credit - David Reynolds)

At mile 82 I was still on pace for that very same time but the last 30 miles back into transition, the wind decided to come out and play! It was headwind and crosswind from hell! I was actually still feeling strong and was able to up my effort/power some more hoping to add some more time on my competition. After averaging 23+ mph for 82 miles, going less than 20 mph however felt super slow, and I spent the last next 20 miles watching my average speed quickly deteriorate to just over 22 mph.
As much as I always wanted to ride my bike on the highway, I was very glad to get of it and put in the final push toward T2. I rolled into T2 with my best power output yet over the IM distance, and feeling strong! 

T2: 3:09
I hopped of the bike, handed Mr. Flash to the volunteers and immediately noticed that my legs were feeling awesome! Thanks to an empty changing tent, I had about 3 volunteers helping me with just about everything! I don’t know who you were, but thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Run: 3:27:40

I bolted out of the changing tent on a mission, with my heart rate way too high! I knew better than that yet I was still flying high. Thankfully only few hundred yards in Kurt Perham of PBM Coaching pretty much told me to cool my jets and I finally began to slow my pace down – my running has been coming along great but not 6:40s-6:50s great ;).

My HR was still a bit high but my effort was feeling super easy, and my legs felt fresh! The weather was a far cry from last years heat and humidity, so for the first time ever, I wasn’t overheating from step 1 BUT my HR was still a bit elevated for the pace I was running. The challenge of racing in the heat/humidity after training through east coast winter is real.  

 Thumbs up to feeling awesome! (Photo Credit - Janina Rajecki Davis)

The eventual winner Emily did pass me fairly quickly around between miles 1 – 2, but I was able to keep her in my sights for the next 6ish miles. I also learned (from her husband) that there was another competitor about 2:30 min up the road from Finland currently leading our AG. I wanted to find her! (This was probably around mile 5)

Still in control (Photo Credit - Janina Rajecki Davis)

I kept on moving with ease and it was at the beginning of the 2nd loop (probably between miles 8-9) that I all of a sudden lost Emily. It turns out she made a quick pit stop and hence I now found myself in front of her. My legs were still feeling good – my HR had settled although still a bit higher for the pace I was running, and I continued to look for Venla the Finish girl who I knew was still in front of me. 

When I hit probably mile 13ish, Emily’s husband told me the gap to the Fin was now down to 1:16 so I knew if I just kept my pace, I had a chance of catching her before the race was over! Of course I am sure he was saying the same to his wife, who kept getting closer and closer to me all of 2nd loop. It was so FUN to be in such a close race! 

 It's getting more real! And yes - the competitor behind me is Emily! 
(Photo Credit - David Reynolds)

By mile 18-19, I ended up passing Venla, and was told by David that I was now leading my Age Group! At this point Emily was back on my heels, and was closing fast. I was definitely starting to feel the hurt. I began to feel low on fuel and I couldn’t get enough liquids in me at each aid station. When Emily passed me around mile 20-21, I went with her for nearly 2 miles, but the lack of fuel has caught up with me and I was feeling awfully thirsty secretly wishing for more aid stations along the way! 
 You gotta love the matching stride! 
(Photo Credit - Janina Rajecki Davis)

Anything can happen in the closing miles of the marathon, and I made the choice to settle into more manageable pace instead of potentially blowing up just a few miles before the marathon. I had come to Texas to get a slot to Kona and I knew if I could just hold on to my pace it was going to be mine. Emily’s pace was too fast for me, and as much as I wanted that “W”, I wanted that Kona slot more.  Blowing myself up and getting caught in the end of a very long day wasn’t in my best interest.  I made a safer decision of the two, but you better believe if this was Kona, I would turn myself inside and out!  

I ended the day with an Ironman PR of 9:49:46, one speedy bike split, new run PR of 3:27:40 and the Kona slot I came here for so it’s hard to be disappointed.

 Hello Kona #5 

Kona girls - 2nd, 3rd, and 5th (1st and 4th already had their slots from IMAZ)

2nd AG by couple minutes stings, but finishing 3rd overall amateur at a competitive North American Championship race after being 10th last year is nothing to sneeze at, and I am super excited for the rest of the season! 

I may have travelled to this race alone, but I felt far from alone! The Woodlands community is absolutely amazing, and I have met many people here that make this race feel like a hometown race for me! Big Thank you to my homestay – the Broncalo’s, David Tilbury-David for being my bike mechanic away from home and making sure I put together Mr. Flash just right, his wife Janina for the awesome run photo’s, Gemma Hollis (PushGlideKick) for letting me swim with her squad while I was here in the Woodlands, Scott Flathouse and David Reynolds for the awesome photo’s used in this blog! The Texas triathlon community is truly awesome!

And of course thank you to my coach Jorge Martinez (E3 Triathlon Coaching), and all my sponsors/supporters without whom I wouldn’t be standing at the start line ready to go year after year!

Next Up: Patriot 70.3 followed by Ironman Lake Placid!

Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Reasons WHY Power Meter Will Make You a Stronger Cyclist & My Favorite Power Meter

I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the cyclist I am today without a power meter. Power meter is a single one piece of equipment that you can see indoors AND outdoors that will change your cycling forever IF USED PROPERLY. 

My first experience with power was after I was in the sport for little over a year, and when I hired my coach – coach Jorge Martinez of E3 Triathlon Coaching. I have come a long way since then. My all out 20 min effort from 2010 is now equal to my half ironman race pace/power. That’s 56 miles (2-3 hours) on the bike after swimming 1.2 miles, and before running 13.1. It’s been a long journey but a fun one! 

Whether you are beginner or elite triathlete or cyclist, you too can and will benefit from using one and here are just a few reasons WHY I believe a power meter will change your cycling forever. 

1.     Power Meter takes the guessing out of the game!
Unlike Heart Rate which is a highly dependent “input” variable easily affected by outside factors such as air temperature, lack of sleep, hydration (too much caffeine) or dehydration, and will lag behind especially in shorter workouts, power is an “output” measure which shows you the work you are doing right at the moment!

If you read my blog from last week, and decided to try to one of my favorite workouts – “The Feel the Burn” workout, the power meter will instantly measure your output, while your HR will lag behind. It will take a few intervals for it to climb and catch up to your effort. So, if we were just looking at your HR, it would seem as if you were “slacking” at first even though your actual effort was the same and so was your power.  But was your power the same? You will never know unless you have a power meter, which will show you the true output immediately!  It takes the guessing out of the game, and adds accuracy to your training.

2.     Power meter is extremely efficient!
Most of us have a limited time to train so eliminating “junk miles” is key! Junk/endless miles won’t improve your fitness, but focused quality work will! Power meter maximizes your available training time and keeps you focused! Power meter re-defines what both “going easy” & “going hard” means. Since power output gives you instant accurate feedback (power numbers don’t lie), you or your coach can easily identify where your focus should be and whether or not the training you are doing is working!

3.     Power meter can tell you OR your coach when it’s time to rest!
I know, most of us think we don’t need rest! Wrong! Power meter allows us to see exactly what happens in each session. So, if all of a sudden you stop producing the same numbers as you did in the same or similar session last week, you or your coach will know something is up, and it may just be time for a few easy days before starting to push again. Of course, online software’s like Training Peaks for example can quantify all this for us, but that’s a post for another day. Bottom line is, power meters don’t lie and allow us to track not only our fitness but also fatigue!

4.     Power Meter will positively effect your overall race day performance & make you a better runner!

You want to win a race or you simply want to do your best. You get out of the water, and are not happy with your swim performance. You jump on your bike and start hammering away in hopes of catching up for lost time, not exactly thinking that perhaps you still have 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon to run. If you are lucky, you have a strong ride, get to the run and boom! Your running legs are dead! Perhaps it was a cooler day out, and your HR was super low so you thought it was ok because you were feeling great.

Power meter can answer all these questions and more that previously couldn’t be answered with precision.  Power meter allows you to control your race day performance much more accurately because it allows you to better and more precisely monitor your effort during a race. You know from training, what power you should be able to hold for a given distance while still running well off the bike. There is no guessing! Power meter will stop you from over biking out of pure race day excitement allowing you to ride to your potential while setting you up for a strong run! Power Meter 

5.     Power meter holds you accountable & makes training and racing more fun! 

Training with a power meter provides you with not only greater accuracy but also accountability in your training vs. training by heart rate. It helps to erase any doubts about your training, and allows you to accurately monitor your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly or year over year performances. It holds you and your coach accountable because it clearly shows us the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of your training plan!
The immediate feedback you get while riding together with post ride analysis also make it possible to keep track of your personal bests during both training and racing, which serves as a great motivation to become a stronger cyclist.

So there you have it! Let power meter help you become more efficient, fitter, and stronger cyclist BUT do NOT become a slave to the numbers! Use your power meter to your advantage and not a disadvantage! Continue to pay attention to how each effort feels, and don’t ever ignore the signs your body is giving you. Some days you will have it, some days you won’t, and that’s ok. Soon enough you will be able to put your power meter in your pocket and know what each effort feels like. You will get in touch with your body, your own efforts better than ever before. I used to always think I was riding very hard, but I had no idea what riding really hard meant until I got my power meter and vice versa.

So, if triathlon is your lifestyle, I highly suggest investing money and buying a power meter vs. buying fancy set of race wheels you will be using 4-5x a year, or that fancy Di2 electronic shifting because that’s the cool thing to have. How fast you will go on race day will still come down to the engine, and not the bike itself. And if you are looking for advice on how to use your power meter, shoot me a message! We at E3 Triathlon Coaching are big proponents of training with power while of course considering your individual needs, and goals!

My favorite brand of Power meters is PowerTap.  I have started with the Power Tap hub power meters and have now converted to the Power Tap P1 pedals that are allowing me to step up my game even more! 

My 1st hub based PowerTap power meter

The P1 pedals are super convenient and can be switched from bike to bike in no time, they also let me track power for both my left AND right leg uncovering any inefficiencies or potential individual leg weaknesses. 
 The PowerTap P1 pedals! 

My power output displaying power for both left and right legs

And finally my road bike and tri bike with race and training wheels ALL with power thanks to one set of P1 pedals! :) 

 Mr. Flash all dressed up for race day with P1 pedals

 Mr. Flash on a training ride also with the same pair of P1 pedals

My roadie also with the same P1 pedals - talk about convenience

There are obviously many more other brands, and power meters, and you can read more here and check out DC Rainmaker's power meter buyer’s guide.

Happy Shopping AND training J

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ironman Kona 2016 Race Report

After spending 2.5 weeks on the island, I was beyond excited for race day, and I was feeling the butterflies! I was what I call confidently nervous. Whether racing here for the 1st time or 4th time, the combination of excitement and nervousness is the norm, which makes race morning breakfast quite hard to get down. (This is no doubt my least favorite meal). I think this year I was nervous the most even though I was probably prepared the best! I had very high expectations of myself which isn’t anything new, but I also knew just how hard it will be to top last year’s performance. I really wanted to improve upon it, and I was afraid of letting so many people down if I didn’t. Self-pressure is real!

I woke up at 3:45 so that I could be done with my usual breakfast (bagel with peanut butter/jelly, banana and “Beet It” powder mixed in with apple juice) by 4:15 as I like to finish my breakfast 3 hours before race start to ensure it’s properly digested by race start (7:10am for all female amateur athletes). Shortly after breakfast, I was on my way to the transition area, and in a long line of athletes waiting to just get in. I really felt like the security at this year’s event had been stepped up - they even had sniffer dogs! (Sadly this is now the world we now live in and I would rather be safe than sorry).

Once in the body marking/transition area, I picked up my tri tats number (I picked up my number from the very same guy that guided me through transition the day before! Out of the thousands of volunteers I ran into the same person two days in a row – that surely must mean good luck, I thought). I then had another awesome volunteer apply my race numbers and finally got weighed in. This is not to make you feel bad about yourself, but rather for medical purposes and for your own good. It allows the med tent personnel to easily determine just how dehydrated or overhydrated you may be post race in case you do earn a trip there. They really don’t mess around here!

Then it was finally time to re-unite with my sexy beast; I mean my bike.

Mr. Flash Ready to Go! 

I pumped up my tires, added on my nutrition (Fluids, and 6 PowerBar gels) and then I added a few last minute essentials into my T1 & T2 bags – my race top (Castellli Stealth Top) pre-stuffed with my rice potato cakes (I wouldn’t want to leave those overnight) and PowerBar Perform powder packets into my T1 bag, and completely frozen Nathan handheld thermal water bottle into my T2 bag so that I could start the run with plenty of cold fluids to have whenever I wanted to. That was something I have never done before, but after learning how much I sweat particularly on the run thanks to the great support and work I have done with a company called Levelen, this was going to be important! If you struggle with your nutrition/fueling - you should check them out! The information they can give you is simply invaluable. Here you can also read how coach Jorge developed my fueling plan for race day. 

Click here to check out me entire fueling plan

After that I dropped of my morning clothes bag and went to find coach Jorge. I am quiet and focused race morning so not much gets said, but it’s always awesome to have him there. 

 Nervous but ready smile 

Now enough with the pictures already! 

The sunrise race morning was amazing, and I took a moment to appreciate just how incredible it was to be there!  (I unfortunately don’t have a photo to show you because I shy away from electronics on race morning – I mean business). Before I knew it, it was time to get the party started. For the first time ever, I got in a little swim warm up at the beach behind the King K hotel. I only did a couple hundred yards with some pick-ups but it helped to ease the butterflies and got my heart rate up a bit. I was even a bit chilly but I knew this was going to be the last time I felt like that all day so I didn’t complain. In fact I was trying to figure out how to bottle up that feeling for later.

Shortly after I was walking down the stairs into the water and my feet hit the sand of Kailua Bay. It’s really hard to explain what that feels like, but it is very special. This was my 4th time, and I don’t and never will take it for granted. I had a few words with Madame Pele and swam up to the start line.

I positioned myself about half way between the buoy line and the shore near the Roka floating sign and couple rows back in the hopes of jumping on some fast feet that would carry me to a new swim PR. The 10 minutes of treading water while surrounded by 100s of your closest friends while getting pushed around by the waves and trying not to kick anyone or be the recipient of a pre-race charlie horse feels like eternity!  And then all of a sudden the count down is on 30, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 boom! The butterflies disappear! GO TIME!  

THE SWIM: 1:13:22 (5 min PR)

The “relatively” calm waters of Kailua bay get quickly churned up and the race is on. Everyone goes full speed ahead, yet it feels like there is nowhere to go. I don’t have the starting speed (yet) to get away and find clear water, so I was what felt like completely stuck in the middle of a washing machine.  I was getting pushed, and pulled and the jockeying for position was real! I don’t even know if it was so much jockeying for position as much as it was the fact we all just wanted to make forward progress. I held my own ground and defended my own “mini” space. There were a few times where I suddenly had a bit of clear water, but not for long. I took that as a sign that I was swimming faster since the course seemed much more crowded than ever before. I was keeping the effort in Czech. I felt smooth and strong, and I didn’t have that usual panic of getting lost and swimming off course (I have done that many times before). I swam straight, I sighted well, I drafted at times and I was swimming in a group. I glanced at my watch at the turn around and saw 33 min. I smiled a little on the inside, and even though I knew better to not simply double my time (the way back has historically always been slower), the thoughts of a 1:10 swim began to pop in my head.

This is seriously what I felt like half way through the swim! I do love my BlueSeventy two piece too :) 

I may not have a fast start, but I am “diesel” engine and tend to either speed up or keep whatever speed I have during the 2nd half of Ironman swims. As a result, I usually end up swimming in no man’s land but not this time. I really focused on passing whoever was slowing down, and getting on some faster feet for the way back. Mission accomplished! I had a company of a few female swimmers and together we were making our way back to the pier. I found a pair of feet and I stayed on them 90% of the way back. With each stroke my excitement was building. I continued to feel strong and relaxed. We had to weave in and out a lot of men and I eventually lost my feet but at that point I could see the pier, and I was oh ever so close!

The last couple of hundred yards seemed to last forever, but when I finally made it up the stairs and glanced at my watch and saw 1:13 ,I was beyond excited! It wasn’t the 1:10 I wanted, but it was a 5 min PR and probably my best executed Ironman swim to date. I wore the same Garmin as last year and although I know the swim distance may not always be correct I swam 4,399 yards vs. 4,608 in 2015! Progress!

 My BlueSeventy swim skin surely contributed to my improved swim time, and I had ZERO chaffing! 

My brand new pair of Nero Race goggles (I like to wear a new pair for races) was perfect for the conditions! 

T1: 3:13

I sprinted through the showers, grabbed my T1 bag and ran into the changing tent that was beyond packed! I guess that’s what happens when you swim a little faster. There was literally nowhere to sit and all the volunteers were busy! I just stopped in the corner and did what I needed to do on my own. Threw my trusty BlueSeventy swimskin and Nero Race goggles into the bag, put on my Castelli Stealth Top pre-stuffed with all my nutrition, along with my favorite pair of Swiftwick socks and of I went.

THE BIKE: 5:22:05 (Fastest AG, and 4th overall amateur bike split)

It’s always easy to start too hard especially when riding through town! This section of the course is lined with spectators, and even though I really tried to hold my horses back I still rode a bit too hard. It was what I had to do to stay out of the draft zone of others. When I hit the famous Palani hill, I really made sure I wasn’t burning too many matches. My power was still up there, yet I was getting passed left and right by people just hammering away out of their saddles, and rocking side to side willing their bikes up that hill.

Thumps Up going up Palani and feeling good! 

Once on the Queen K, I just put my head down and settled into my race pace! I was focusing on my effort, fueling, and cooling!  I felt strong and was riding well. I would slow down at every single aid station to grab extra water to cool myself of and I always kept 2 bottles of water on my bike in addition to my Profile Design bottle between my aero bars. I know it’s not exactly very aero and I may have lost some time there as a result, but in favor of not overheating and having the ability to have extra fluids for not just drinking but also cooling in between the aid stations, it was well worth it and I would do it again. I also decided against the rear hydration set up for ease of access.

2 bottles on the frame; profile design aero bottle on the front and one sexy bike! 

Of course the head wind picked up about 20 miles into the ride and never stopped! Although I love to go fast, and I love a nice tailwind, I know headwinds do play to my advantage due to my aggressive riding position. The windier it was, the more people I began to pick off one by one.  I knew some of the girls I was up against, and I always judge how I am doing based on the spot I catch them on the bike course.

By the time we began the climb to Hawi around mile 42, I had already passed a few competitors that I normally wouldn’t see until much later, so that gave me a nice little extra boost for the 18ish mile climb up to the turnaround at Hawi. Of course we had a headwind most of the time, with an occasional crosswind or two, but it wasn’t the worst I have ever experienced.

Once I got to the turnaround, I saw Gary (husband of one of my favorite 35-39 AG speedy competitors – Michelle Barnes whom I both met at IM Texas), and he told me who was up ahead and how far! I couldn't believe it! I was closer than ever before.  I also happened to see one of my major competitors hanging out at the penalty tent (She went 25 min faster than me last year), so I knew I was racing well! I made sure I started the descent fully loaded on fluids, and took off. The crosswinds were blowing a bit, but I just put my head down and put the power to the pedals.

Flying with the tailwind down from Hawi (You can see the direction of the bushes on the side indicating much needed although momentary tail wind) 

I love to descend, and I love to go fast. The winds at Hawi do scare me no doubt, but I always think the faster I get down, the sooner it will be over – not quite sure that’s the safest logic, but that’s what it is. I averaged nearly 35 mph for little over 6 miles on about 65% effort! Talk about flying! Makes me excited just thinking about it! Mr. Flash is FAST!

It didn’t however last long and the rest of the section my average speed dropped to barely 22mph! Not that that’s not fast, but after going 35, 22 feels like standing! It was on the descend from Hawi that I went by another one of my competitors Hailey, whom I have shared a few IM podiums with before. This was definitely the earliest I have seen her on this course so it gave me yet another little boost.

I knew I had to keep the pedal to the metal if I wanted a chance to get the “W”. The last 30 miles of this course have always gotten to me before, and I still didn’t get it completely right. (I guess I'll have to try again).  I knew my power would most likely drop a bit due to the nature of the course, but I let it drop a lot more than I wanted to. 

The power wasn't quite there at this point, but at least I was staying aero and still moving fast thanks to Mr. Flash! 

I was still cooling like a champ, and for once didn’t overheat, but perhaps the lack of electrolytes I somehow lost about 30 miles into the ride had finally caught up with me. (Had I known I actually lost them, I would stop, but I had no idea I lost them until I went to reach for my container with SaltSticks and it was gone!) Because I not only sweat quiet a bit but my sodium sweat concentration is very high, I needed to be taking anywhere between 1,400 – 1,500 mg of sodium every hour on the bike. When your daily (not hourly) recommended value is 1,500, you get the picture. I get some sodium from the drinks, gels and rice/potato cakes, but the 2 additional salt pills I should have been taking every hour weren't happening. Was that why I was struggling to hold my usual power late into the ride? Maybe, but we will never know, and such is racing. I kept moving along as best as I could ignoring my power meter and at least staying fueled and hydrated all the way into T2.

 Around the corner from T2 - still staying aero and doing my best with what my legs were giving me. 

Feet on top of the shoes - ready for my flying dismount! :) 

T2: 3:20

I may not be able to do the flying mount, but I have perfected the flying dismount. I “flu” of my bike and headed toward the T2 tent. I wore my favorite pair of Swiftwick socks on the bike for one and only reason – NOT burning the bottoms of my feet during the run from the bike to the changing tent (I did last year and lesson learned – never again!). This time the tent was completely empty, and I had about 5 volunteers taking care of me – what a treat! Cycling socks off, fresh pair of Swiftwicks on, Dr. Cool cooling towel and headband on, and with my still semi frozen Nathan handheld I was out of there.

THE RUN: 3:31:38 (Run PR)

I started the run 2nd in Age Group which is the highest I have ever been starting the run. Again – I was trying to hold my horses back and not go out too fast! My running has been going really well, and I was ready to show it. 

Excited at the very start of the run decked out in my Dr. Cool cooling accessories and of course my Castelli Stealth Top! 

I ran by HR the first 10 or so miles and was really trying to keep it in control. The crowds along Alii’ drive make it really easy to go out way faster than one would like. 

Checking the HR early into the run


I have learned the hard way. It’s all fun and games until you shuffle up Palani hill and turn left on the famous Queen K. All of a sudden the crowds disappear and it’s you, your fellow competitors and your brain! The terrain is nothing but flat – it’s either slightly up or slightly down, but it feels much more up and down when running rather than riding. The heat is radiating of the road and the lava.It just seems like the road will never end until you take a 90 degree left hand turn into the famous energy lab.
Energy Lab – the place where air doesn’t move; the place that owned me the last 3 years BUT not this time. (Well at least not as bad as in the years past).

I used my special needs bag for the first time ever and picked up another still nearly frozen Nathan handheld water bottle that I used to cool myself of on the way out of the energy lab! The gigantic Cliff bar sponges while in the energy lab were also life saving. 

Two feet nearly off the ground in the energy lab is always a good sign! 

I was slowing down, but never let my pace drop below 8:30 min/mile which in comparison to my 10 min miles the first time around, 9:30 the next, low 9s the next is another step in the right direction.
I was definitely hurting, but this time not giving in. I was now running from aid station to aid station and just chugging coke and water like it was my job. I didn’t quite get the same boost like I did last year in the closing miles of the race, and ended up getting passed twice around mile 25. It sucked, but I had nothing left to respond. I threw myself down Palani as best as I could (I LOVE downhill running), but I just couldn't close the gap. I really tried going with the girls, but the tank was empty. My brain was telling me to go, but my body had nothing more to give, and THAT is a great feeling. 

 So so close now! 

The best "last" mile of any Ironman! 

Yes – I went from 2nd to 4th in my AG at the end of a 10 hour race, but I gave it my all and cannot be disappointed. I left it all out there, and for the first time ever I was happy with the result even though I didn't reach the top of the podium like I wanted to. 

 The smile says it all 

 This feeling NEVER gets old! 

It hurts SO good! Couple hours later, and a few hours in the med tent and all is good in the world again! The chicken soup in Hawaii is damn GOOD! 

 Did I want to be faster? You know it! Did I win? No! Did I reach my goal? No! But I finished the race having no regrets, with a new Swim PR, run PR AND overall Ironman Kona PR of 10h13min, and with more fire in my belly then ever to come back and try again. I will win! ;)  

 The 35-39 podium on the best stage ever! 

Coach Jorge (the mastermind) and me! 

 The World Champion - Lisbeth Kenyon and me

 My "Umeke" at the beach! 

Celebrating at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been too! "Umeke" came along :)

Till next time :)! 

As always Thank You to my sponsors and supporters without whom I wouldn't be where I am today. E3 Triathlon Coaching and coach Jorge was his constant guidance, Quintana Roo for one speedy ride and the constant support at all races, BlueSeventy for the super comfy swim suits, skins, wetsuits and goggles, Levelen for all the sweat rate testing and help with dialing in my fueling/nutrition, Dr.Cool providing me with all the cooling products anyone could ever need especially in Kona like conditions, and of course Castelli Triathlon for the super speedy/comfy & cooling kits and training apparel, CycleOps for durable enough trainers that withstand all my sweat, and Beet Boost and Elevated Legs to keep me going strong for as long as possible while feeling fresh! 

I am one lucky girl, and can't wait for 2017! The plan to come back and climb to that top of the podium is in full effect! :)