Thursday, November 1, 2012

IM Kona 2012 - Pre-Race Week

Wow! 3 weeks removed from THE race, and I am still having a difficult time putting it into words. It really truly was an experience of a lifetime that will be very difficult to top!

I have so much I want to share with all of you, yet I am struggling to figure out where to start, and how to “summarize” what happened in the 2 weeks I spent in Hawaii! I could really write a book or at least that’s how I feel, but since I know how time crunched most of you are, I’ll do my best to make this short, though I am sure it will still be super long but hopefully worth the read :)

If you are a regular follower/reader of my blog, you know by now that 3 weeks ago, I have competed in my first ever ironman - THE ironman that anyone even outside of the triathlon world seems to know and recognize – THE Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawai’i.  To this day it’s almost a bit surreal. Many people were shocked this was my first IM, because the assumption is that one can only qualify by winning or close to winning another full IM. So Yes – you have to qualify, yes – you have to win or almost win, yes - most competitors do so at another full ironman, and yes-  most have done many IM’s before competing in Kona! However, there are still a few half ironman races left that can qualify you for Hawaii, and that was the path I chose to follow if I was going to get to Kona this time around. I was fortunate enough to qualify back in June at Buffalo Springs 70.3, Texas. You can read that race report here.

Being fairly new to the sport, I have watched this race online from beginning to end every single year since I got into the sport 3 short years ago.  I had a hard time tearing myself away from the computer screen! Fast forward to October 6th – when I stepped off the plane in Kona, Hawaii and was greeted by the cutest airport ever seen and 7 days removed from the big day. This picture doesn't quite do it justice, but the airport is really tiny and cute,  I swear.

I knew this race was special, but watching it on the computer or on TV during the 1 hour or this years 2 hour coverage doesn’t do it justice. It really doesn’t.  It actually doesn’t even come close! This race is like no other! It really is SUPER special, and the atmosphere, and energy that comes with it is very hard to put into words. I’ll do my best to take you through my pre-race week, the race itself, and the post race activities, but I recommend to each and every one of you (whether you are or aren’t interested in triathlon) to put this on your bucket list of things to experience – it will be worth it, and you will leave energized to do whatever it is that you are dreaming of!) You don’t have to compete, but you can volunteer, or simply just spectate! This race or event is really truly like no other!

From the time I stepped off the plane, to my very 1st sunrise, to my very 1st stroll on Ali’I drive, to the 1st swim at Dig Me beach, or the 1st ride on the famous Queen K, I felt like I was at the Olympics!

1st Swim at Dig Me beach wondering how far I really have to swim before I can turn around!

Riding on the Queen K and trying to capture some of it J (The famous “energy lab” section of run course is directly behind me)

And the beautiful sunsets:

The atmosphere was electric, and the energy in town is really hard to describe! And better yet, unlike the Olympics where you need to buy tickets, this “show” is free! J

Here is my attempt at summarizing the pre-race week:

I arrived in Kona exactly one week before the race. My flight was a short (or maybe not so short) 5+ hour flight from LAX. I was already on the west coast for an entire week before that in cool (super hot 100+ degree temps) of Palm Desert ,CA for our annual sales meeting. Having the biggest sales meeting of a year 2 weeks before the biggest race of my triathlon career is not exactly ideal, but I did my best to get as much sleep as possible, get in my training and eat as much ‘good’ food as I could and stay away from too much alcohol. Not the easiest thing to do, but I managed just fine or so I thought.  Saturday am before I was heading from Palm Dessert to Kona, I woke up with a sore throat and I was beginning to get congested – OMG – am I really getting sick? This can’t be right, and why now, and why me – I began to enter “freak out” mode.  I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say there were a few tears shed.  With the help of some amazing folks (Thanks Briana, Jorge, and Karen), I was surprisingly very calm come Thursday, and even calmer come Friday. I don’t know what it was, but instead of getting more nervous as race day got closer, I was getting more and more confident and so ready to experience this race of many firsts – first Ironman, first non wetsuit open water ocean swim, first marathon etc.  But that’s getting a bit ahead of myself.

Sunday morning came quickly, I went for my first swim at Dig Me beach and it didn’t disappoint. I am not quite sure how much swimming I actually did, but between the beautiful underwater scenery, the fact I could barely breathe, the swells that were rolling in and the super duper salty water, I wasn’t sure what to take in first.Quick swim was followed by an awesome breakfast at the famous Lava Java,that certainly didn't disappoint.

Later on, I went for a quick ride on the Queen K, and what an introduction to the famous winds! Flying like a superwoman on the way there, only to turn around and run into a wall, while getting smacked sideways! Wow! Just what I needed to further question my 808 Zipp Firecrest wheel combo!

The rest of the week involved more swimming, another bike ride or two just to keep the wheels spinning, couple runs, but the main focus was to get rid of whatever bug that got me! I rarely ever get sick which is super awesome, however it also means that when I do get sick I really have no clue about which medicine works best for me so it was time for some trial and error, and I am happy to report that come Friday, I felt ready to go and could breathe again!  

Relaxing also included few official and if you are ever on the island must do pre race activities:

Parade of nations was up first and I think this event further made me feel like I was part of something special – very special. I have never been in the Olympics, but that’s sort of how I felt. Walking down Ali’i drive with the rest of the Czechs  and just taking in the indescribable energy of everyone that was so happy to be there and ready to race was very special. 

Maybe next time I too will get my own “float”, I mean Mercedes! J 

Then there was the famous underpants run, where pictures are worth more than a 1,000 words!  Don’t skip this if you are there!

And what about the awesome TYR party that we were fortunate to get into? No worries – I kept my extra special swimming abilities on the down low! We got to meet whole bunch TYR employees, pro athletes, and the food was simply amazing!  And look who was there? J

I also got to make my very own custom goggles – hard at work here:

And here is the final product or two - one of a kind czechchick TYR goggles as well as E3 team color once J

I am saving both of those for when I graduate from my turtle stage! J

Thursday night was the opening dinner and ceremony, and for the first time ever,I can actually say it was worth attending (for the most part). The stage alone was unbelievable, the local acts were the best, and the stories were very inspirational.

I definitely was reminded again that this is not just another race. I really began to realize that I am very fortunate to be one of the almost 2,000 athletes that would get the chance to take on this challenge.  It finally started to sink in. I was to finally be able to see what I can do with this distance and just how tough I really am or am not.  As my friend Ed would say – I would finally have the chance to play in the big leagues, and I was going to test my limits against the best of the best. Those countless morning swims, those long bike rides, and runs – I was little over 24 hours away from putting it all together, and all I could think about was “ Is it Saturday morning yet?”

One last swim on Friday morning before the big day was followed by slightly oversized and overpriced breakfast (food in Hawaii is just a tad bit expensive – wow!), and the rest of the day was spent by relaxing, getting my pre-race bags ready, and dropping off my “Fireball”

Even dropping off my fireball was a process and we were each taken through the transition area by a volunteer. That’s right – 1 on 1 tour guide through the entire transition area.

This is where my “Fireball” spent the night.

Bike bags: 1st row on the left – I think my volunteer was a bit surprised when had to take a picture of every single spot I dropped something off J

Once “Fireball” and transition bags were dropped off, We walked back, I took one last look at the swim start, and the swim course, but instead of feeling super nervous and scared, I grew more and more confident. Sure there were butterflies, but not the kind that paralyzes you, rather the kind that excites youJ.  I mean how can you not be excited when you watch the famous finish line being built right in front of your eyes?

Finish line in the works:

Getting a bit closer:

And finally the stage behind the finish line, and the screen that you can watch yourself on when you cross the finish line! J

To everyone’s surprise, I was getting way too hungry, so it now was really time to go feed the worm :) Thanks to super chef Briana - I had a super-sized dinner consisting of pasta with red sauce and some super duper $10 a pound grilled chicken breast and off to bed I went. I  may have read my race plan 1, 2, 3, or 10 times over and over again (whose coach writes a race report that makes you shed a tear or two when you read your race report? – mine does), replayed how the race will go in my head a few times, and actually fell asleep.

And just like that race morning was here! 

Next up - How it all went down on race day! Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Las Vegas 70.3 World Championship Race Report - Keep Fighting!

I have to say that this was probably the toughest 70.3 race to date. Not because of the course itself, and how hilly/tough it is, but due to the weather conditions, and unfortunately the lack of support. Don’t get me wrong – the volunteers were absolutely spectacular, and the few aid stations that were there were fully staffed. Volunteers were great and they deserve a HUGE thank you for hanging out in the middle of the dessert in the blazing heat all day. However the aid they were supplied with or maybe better said NOT supplied with was actually a bit ridiculous. The bike course had 4 aid stations so maybe that was enough but the placement of them wasn’t so great. The bottles out on the bike course were hit or miss on whether they were chilled or luke warm, and the run course was just an absolute disaster. Think 100+ degrees, blazing heat, minimal ice if any at all, lack of cold sponges or cool liquids for that matter.  That’s just simply NOT okay, and really shouldn’t be acceptable for ANY race, and especially NOT acceptable for a World Championship race! 

But onto my own race/race weekend.

Let’s just say I haven’t raced since Buffalo Springs 70.3 back in late June. That is a loooong time, and I was really itching to get back out there. I had a GREAT long training block focused on both Vegas, and Kona, and for the first time ever I was so ready to taper, with Vegas week showing up just at the right time.  I had left for Vegas Thursday night with my bicycle in tow, and spent the whole weekend with Mr. 7:20s also known as Dan Arnett. He is also coached by my coach Jorge, and except for the time when he decided to let me hang out at the Las Vegas airport in the middle of the night, while he was taking a power nap, we had a blast! Thanks Dan for everything!

  •  Dan helped me to put my bike together so it didn’t take all day! Thanks Dan!
  • Minor hick up - front wheel not holding air, but fixed within minutes (or so we thought)!
  •  Major hick up – my joule was DEAD – and I don’t mean not charged, just plain DEAD showing either a grainy screen or lines going right through it!  NOT GOOD! I immediately went into freak out mode, because this would be race number 3 out of 3 where I have had problems with either the new wheels (the hub) or the computer (joule) – Seriously? The joule worked perfectly fine just 24 hours ago!
  • I then went to register, and got the wheel rental place guys let me borrow one of their joules! Awesome and super nice of them, however the joule didn’t have the new software on it so it wouldn’t talk to my new G3 hub! I spent the next 3 hours freaking out and trying to fix it to no success , and that is when I finally decided to call CycleOps and they were super helpful however my issues were unfixable  CycleOps was so nice to overnight me another brand new joule, but I was at the mercy of FedEx delivering it on Saturday am! Riding without it wouldn’t be an issue, but I like to look at the data afterwards, and honestly I didn’t spend all this $$$ for nothing! I wanted to race with power!
  •  Dan and I also went for a quick run on the course, went to the opening dinner ceremony.

This was actually drawn life as we watched - pretty cool

  •  After the dinner we went to see great show at the Wynn. We went to see La Reve  – awesome, awesome show that helped me take my mind off they non working joule!


  •  Morning practice swim on the course followed by a gigantic breakfast – I am pretty sure I put Dan to shame. How does this sound – Bagel, Scrambled eggs, huge plate size waffle, bowl of oatmeal with banana, walnuts, and cranberries, mini muffin and OJ – yup I call that a SUCCESS! I probably should have taken a picture, but I destroyed it before I thought about it!
  •  Breakfast was followed by a nap, and I spent the almost entire rest of the day waiting for Mr. FedeX guy and annoying the front desk staff asking them maybe every 30 min if he showed up yet.
  • We finally went to drop our run bag at T2.
  • When we got back to the hotel around 2:30, I saw Mr. FedEx guy – I have NEVER been so happy – I literally ran out of the car while it was probably still moving and almost tackled Mr. FedEx – my joule was here, and wait for it – first try, it synced with my wheel! Yes! All was good with the world and I was much better to hang around – just ask Dan

  •  We packed up our T1 bags, and bikes and were going to head over to T1, when I realized that my front wheel is leaking air AGAIN with a brand new tube in it. Really? Quick stop at T2 on the way to T1, problem solved, but not without a bit of an additional stress – gosh – why can’t things just be simple! When we arrived at T1, we took a little 20 min spin around to make sure all is good to go and “Fireball” was dropped off for the night
"Fireball" is ready for tomorrow! 

My name is there somewhere on that sticker though I was melting and could barely even take a good picture!

  • We then had a great Italian dinner where I ate my weight in pasta and bread sticks, and race morning was almost here. Again - I destroyed all of it before I even thought about taking a pic! 

Sunday: Race Day

I actually went to bed super early and was able to fall asleep in no time! Score! I woke up at 4 am and had the usual pbj bagel and banana, and almost ate it all. Unlike the day before the race when breakfast is my favorite food, nothing really tastes good on race morning. We made it to transition, set things up, made a few PP stops, and I let a volunteer rub sunscreen all over me! Thank God I did because the day turned out to be super hot, and I have no idea what they were using, but unlike last year I don’t look like a red lobster post race! I was in wave #8 going of at 7:10 – 40 minutes after the PRO Men. I was ready to go and couldn’t wait to get the race started. 

SWIM: (41:57)

For the first time ever, I wasn’t dreading the swim. I have been working on my swim (I know it may be hard to believe but I have), and I was in a great place mentally.  I was confident and I was excited to just get going. After my 2 mile swim race last weekend, I figured this swim would feel “short”, and I was determined to swim my own swim, and keep my head in the game. None of the “is the swim over yet”, or “where is my bike” thoughts. I was really determined to just stay in the moment and race – race my own race, without trying to follow whoever passed me. I almost wanted to treat this like its own race. We got in the water maybe 10 min before the actual start, and the water so warm – 83 degrees to be exact that nobody even really warmed up. We all swam towards the bridge and sat right up on it for good 5 min before we were called to the start line and treaded water for another 5. 

Almost go time! Just waiting to be called up to the line though this is not my wave, but it's the bridge that saved us from treading water for another 5 minutes! 

This was also the last time I had to pee for a long, long, long time. (not good). I seeded myself in the middle of the pack to the left of the buoy line because the buoys were eventually curving left anyways.

The gun went off, and for the first time ever, I didn’t even get beat up! Sweet! I had a great first half of the swim. I was sighting well, swimming on course, and was surrounded by purple caps! I even had someone tickling my toes, and I unintentionally drafted of someone for a while too. I didn’t even get caught by the wave behind us until after the turn bouys and I was so excited!  But then something went wrong, and the wheels literally fell off! And by off, I mean off. I have never felt like this before, but I thought my race was over right there and then. It wasn’t the usual feeling you get when you are tired, my arms didn’t feel like bricks, they didn’t feel heavy. Instead they sort of just turned into jello arms, noodles, almost like they weren’t there, and I was getting a bit warm.  Maybe 85+ air temp, combined with 83 degree water could have something to do with that? I kept on swimming but I don’t know that I was moving much and the negative thoughts started to creep in. The buoys seemed so far away, and I literally didn’t think I was going to make it. I wanted to stop right there and honestly called it quits, that’s how crappy I felt. I was huffing and puffing, yet I wasn't even trying to move at this point. I felt so weak that sighting became something impossible to do, and in the effort of trying to do anything to make my arms feel better, I started to breast stroke. Yup – I sure did – I just had to keep moving forward, and I figured that maybe a different movement will make me feel better but to no success. I rotated between freestyle and breastroke for the rest of the way and pretty much the entire 2nd half of the swim, and I still couldn’t swim straight!  I was just so happy to make it out of that water alive.  I didn’t get into negative space, I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I somehow kept my head and didn’t get frustrated. I stayed in the moment, and I am so glad I did because the race was just beginning. I did make the quick math when I got out of the water and the huge digital clock was staring right at me, but I glanced at it, and let it go – it was in and out of my head, and I didn’t dwell on it.  


Super long run out of the water to get to your bike. One good thing about it is that it was pretty much all carpeted so it felt good on the feet. It was actually almost half a mile! I was huffin and puffin big time, but I ran pretty hard. It was time to get on my “Fireball” and catch Dan that started 5 min behind me but put good 10 min into me on the swim. I know that now, but I didn’t know it then. There were few bikes left on the rack but not many, but it actually didn’t affect me – I was so concentrated on my own race, and minding my own business, I was back in the zone.

BIKE: 2:36:57

The bike starts with a 2-3 mile climb out of T1, loops around and then you head into the Lake Mead Park area, where the hills begin. This course is literally either up or down with close to 4,000 feet of climbing. I love the course! 

Part of the bike course but most of it pretty much looks like this! 
I kept on moving along, but I didn’t feel great. My legs didn’t have the same energy like they did the day before. I was pretty sluggish and pretty hot already. I went through my fluids very quickly and with the first aid station not coming till mile 14, I had just enough to get me through. I fueled, and settled into the lower end of my wattage range, which I usually never do. My legs felt like crap and that was hard to deal with especially after what just happened on the swim. I still kept passing tons of people, whether it be guys or girls, but I just didn’t feel like myself. Sure it was hot, but I didn’t think it would affect me so fast. My skin was literally on fire boiling. It wasn’t even my head that was hot, it was just my face and the rest of my body that was exposed to the heat.  The aid stations were at mile 14, 28, 40 and 47, and I went through every single one of them and grabbed a bottle of perform, water, and another water to just cool myself off. That cooling affect however lasted about 10 min and I went from looking like I just got out of the shower, to looking like I fell asleep on the beach! I literally went from soaking wet to dry in no more than 10 minutes if that. I was covered in salt stains in the first 5 miles of the bike, and it just kept getting hotter and hotter. I kept on moving along, coasted the long descents more than I usually would, but still continued to pass everyone in sight.  I went through some feel good patches, and I thought my legs finally returned but those moments were not long lived.  I wasn’t impressed with the power I was putting out, as it was on the low end of what Jorge and I thought I should ride, and it actually was the same power that I have been holding for pretty much double the distance in training on much more tired legs.  As I made it to mile 50, I started to do the math, and I realized that even though my mega legs didn’t feel on, I still had a chance at beating my split from last year. As we hit roughly mile 52, I also spotted Dan who kicked my ass in the water, so I returned the favor like I said I would, and I slapped his butt as I went by encouraging him to come with me.   All we had left was 4 uphill miles! Seeing Dan actually gave me a bit of a boost, and my legs all of a sudden started to feel better, at mile 52 – just in time!  I ended up beating my time from last year by roughly 3 minutes, and now it was time to rock the run!

Nutrition wise, I went through almost 4 bottles of perform, 4 bottles of water, 4 bottles of water I just dumped all over myself in an effort to stay cool, 3 gels (one every hour), almost a whole pack of gel blasts (3 every hour), and I took 2 salt pills. With as much fluids as I had, I am usually like a clock and have to pee at mile 20 but yesterday, I didn't stand a chance. 

T2: 1:16 

Pretty uneventful. Volunteers caught my bike, gave me my bag, I threw my socks/shoes on in trasition, packed up my helmet and off I went. I did lost a bit of time because there was noone helping in the tent, but it was minimal. 

RUN: 1:44:41

Oh where to begin. 100+ degrees, no shade, and a 3 loop course - 1 mile downhill to start, 2 miles downhill to follow and repeat that 3 more times.  Yes – the run course is tough, but what made it that much tougher was the lack of ice, cold sponges, cold fluids period.  I have been feeling really strong running lately, and I wanted to have a killer run split, one that I know I am capable of. Last year, I totally melted on the run and the temps were about 10 degrees lower. I didn’t want to repeat that experience again, but I came pretty close, though I ran a lot stronger this year. With temps over triple digits, and the inability to cool of your core temp, it was ugly out there. I have never seen so many people either walking/cramping (that was the best case scenario), puking on the side of the road, falling over and literally passing out and being carted off the course. I have also spent some time outside of the medical tent waiting for Mr. Dan, and have seen things I wish I never did. The heat got to a lot of people. Just to give you an idea, one of the pro’s at the post race press conference said this:
 "This course was harder than the Cozumel full marathon I ran with a split jaw and concussion”

My legs felt great, but with each loop, I kept getting hotter, and hotter and when I was finally able to get a cup of ice, it literally melted in about 30 seconds. I felt “relatively speaking “ good for the first 10 or so miles, but the last 2 uphill miles were brutal, and especially the last uphill mile! With 2 miles left (1 uphill, 1 downhill), I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. That’s when Kris came up and ran with me for about 10 yards, and tried to lift my spirits up (Thanks Kris – your support was great). I literally spend the last uphill mile talking to myself and it was as simple as “You can do this” … I laugh now, but if I let myself stop, I would have never started back up. All you guys tracking me, following me at home –you would have been waiting in front of that computer for a very long time, so I just couldn’t have stopped then. I somehow willed my way up that hill although not very fast, and with the last mile pretty much being downhill, I just let it go, and gave it all I had. I may have sounded like a freight train coming by, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to cross that finish line on empty, and jump into a bucket of ice!

I ended up running 4+ minutes faster than last year which again is a huge success in the conditions we had this year and I am very happy with that. Heck even Craig Alexander ran 3 minutes slower this year than he did last year.

Overall I went from 5:13:xx to 5:08:xx and though I didn’t accomplish the sub 5 performance I was hoping for, everyone suffered just as much as I did, and I was super surprised that I ended up 6th in my Age Group, and 21st overall amateur female.

I gave it all I had, and I have definitely grown mentally stronger today.  I really wanted to give in at mile .5, but I ended up pushing through the full 70.3 and looked what happened. The moral here – whether you are an athlete or not: “Don’t ever give up”, “Don’t ever stop fighting” “Don’t ever stop competing” “Do your best and leave it all out there” because you never know how your competition whether it’s in sports or work or your every day life is doing or feeling! Do you best on the day, learn from it, and build on it! 

Again Thank you AlL for your support. It means a lot as I continue on my journey. You ALL know who you are, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without each and every one of you.

Now it’s time to recover, and put in a few more solid weeks of training, and onto Kona! Wow – I can’t believe it’s only 4 weeks away! 

 Tights on, feet up - now hurry up and get me home Jet Blue! :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Never say never!

Where to begin.

Few shorts years ago, I swore that I would never do a swim race in my life. Fast forward to yesterday, there I was signing up for a 2 mile Merrimack River swim. Merrimack is not exactly the cleanest river around, and one thing I knew about it is that it does possess and nice current. How fun! Or maybe not so much – I had these images of myself being taken by the river, taken from Lowell (where the race started) to Newburyport (few towns over), and being spit into the Atlantic Ocean! Sounds like a one long Disney water ride, doesn’t it? The race was only $40 so way cheaper than a trip and ticket to Disney too! That could have been a win- win J

The goal for this race was to just really swim the distance in prep for Kona, and feel what it’s like to swim with currents. I spent good 3 weeks trying to convince Karen – the swim master, and Jorge that I could just as easily swim 2 miles in the good ol’ Walden pond, but to no success.

I really had to fight with myself quite a bit to actually go and do the race. It wasn’t even as much about the distance, or the river and its current, but more the fact that I am way too competitive, and also realistic and knowing  I had no chance to win this one didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t giving up by any means, but reality is reality, and I really don’ t like to lose! As a matter of fact, I hate it.

It took a lot of back and forth in my head to do it! I knew that the only way I was going to have a good experience was if I let go of the time (not easy for me), and just race my own race. Embrace the opportunity to just swim, work on some of the things I have been working on with Karen – the swim master, keep my head in the swim the entire time regardless of if I was first, or last, and when it came down to it, I really just had to swim!  Then I saw this:

And THAT was exactly what yesterday was all about. 

I showed up at the race, and it was just so different from any other race whether it be tri’s, running or cycling. Very laid back atmosphere that helped to calm my nerves a tiny bit though the fact I couldn't see any buoys anywhere was a bit concerning.  Karen – the swim master who was also racing though it’s really just a warm up for her (anything shorter than 5 miles is a sprint for her) gave me a couple of tips and before I knew it we were in the water and off we went. I think I took the tips a bit too literal, and found myself hugging the concrete wall of the Merrimack! At one point in time I actually swam into a tree branch that was hanging off the wall. I had to laugh at myself! Pretty ridiculous since the river is as wide as it gets, but the lack of buoys – I think 5 for the 2 mile swim gave me nothing to sight. In addition to that, since most people were in front of me, and yes – there were a few behind me too though not many, I found myself really swimming all by myself. It was a bit weird, because at least in triathlon swims there are always people around you, but this race gave me a good opportunity to swim my own swim, mind my own business, and try to keep my head  in it the whole time, which is what I need to do regardless but rarely ever do.

When I finally made it to the turn around buoy (I did take a little de-tour to get to it), but at least I got closer to the 2.4, I tried to find the current that I fought with for an entire mile, and I did, but not for very long. Not one, but two kayakers one by own proceeded to stop me and tell me I needed to move over closer to the buoys – WHAT BUOYS? I didn’t see any J. I just wanted a free ride. To no luck, I made my way closer to the two buoy, buoy line and was no longer getting any help from the current, but at least I didn’t have to fight it anymore. Now it was just a straight up swim. I could go into way more detail, but I’ll spare you of it.
In the end, I did accomplish bunch of goals that I had for this race. I saw a big group of people getting away from me during the first half mile of the swim, and though it tried to get me down, I didn’t let it, I stayed in the swim, I didn’t look at my watch once (ok – I did once at the turn around, but I didn’t let it get to me and that’s a huge win), I didn’t freak out when I was in the middle of the Merrimack pretty much all by my lone self, and just kept on moving, I truly approached this as a training race, and ignored the clock for the first time ever. Once I actually saw buoys and knew where to go, my comfort level definitely sky rocketed, and though I didn’t win, and got my ass pretty much handed to me, I am ok with that. I am taking away many more important things that I’ll take with me to Vegas this Sunday, and Kona in a few weeks.  There, I’ll have my bike waiting for me J.

Getting out of the water, and being done with no bike to get on, was super awkward, and I know I definitely didn’t swim hard enough because I could have kept on swimming and I had plenty of energy left, but yesterday wasn’t about that. Many lessons were learned, and confidence gained from one little swim race. I’ll continue to work on it just like I have been, and one step at a time, I’ll get there.

The whole point of the post besides my own personal experience and mental battle is that you should NEVER say NEVER. There is always that first time for everything, and if you put your mind into it, and work at it, you too can surprise yourself, and reach new goals, new heights!

I almost don’t want to type this out, BUT sitting here 24 hours later removed from the race, I almost want to do it again next year just so I can see how far I will come.  Did I REALLY just say that?

And finally, I do have to give a HUGE thank you to Karen – The Swim Master, who was behind this whole Merrimack swim idea. She had to listen to me bi%$c and complain for the last few weeks when I was really trying my best to get out of this swim pretty much on daily basis, but she didn’t back down, and helped me to get my head in a good enough place where I could actually toe that starting line.

Who knew this swim could have had so much positive effect on me regardless of the outcome. I now feel like this is a beginning to a new swimmer wanna be me, and I can’t wait to finally race Vegas 70.3 in just 6 short days! Then it’s few more weeks of some work, and then Kona here I come!  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What I have been up to since Buffalo Springs

 It’s been FOREVER since my last post though it feels just like yesterday when I claimed that Kona spot I set my eyes on last winter when it was time to figure out the goals for the 2012 racing season.  After couple of years of talking about maybe doing Lake Placid, I finally got the green light from the master  - Jorge to try to qualify, but not by doing another IM, but by trying to qualify at a half ironman.  We picked Buffalo Springs, TX more or so due to the timing of the race rather than anything else. I had no idea how I was going to handle the dry Texas heat in June, especially after my not so stellar run debacle at last year’s 70.3 World Championships in Vegas but you all know by now what happened.

Believe me, it wasn’t easy to wait this long to just have a shot to make it there. I would constantly find myself checking the Kona qualifier list and results of different ironmans to find names that I usually compete against at the 70.3 distance punching their tickets left and right. The peer pressure was also there, and many wondered why I didn’t try sooner. Honestly, I am not sure I knew “WHY” then, but I chose to listen to the master, and only NOW I know why.

I used to think it was because I couldn’t swim fast enough and my deficit out of the water would simply be too much to overcome if I wanted to win, but now that I am in the midst of getting ready for my first ironman, I finally know WHY! And I couldn’t have been more wrong! I have been working with Jorge since July 2010, and I have watched myself improve year after year, month after month and week after week.  It hasn’t been easy by any means, but trying to get ready for the Vegas/Kona double has opened my eyes to the reality!

This IM stuff is no joke! It will tear you apart if you are not ready for it. And I am not talking just physically, but also mentally! There is absolutely NO WAY, I was even ready to train for one 2 years ago – NOT physically and NOT mentally, and I am so glad I listened to Jorge.  I am now 47 days away from toeing the line or treading the water of Kailua Bay in Kona, HI and I wouldn’t lie if I wasn’t nervous as hell.  YES – it will be my 1st IM, and yes – it will be in Kona against the best of the best, but I will be as ready as I can be and I’ll have no regrets on that day because regardless of what happens, I know I have put all my heart and soul into being as ready as I can be on that race morning. I have trained my little ass off, and I hope there is some left in those 47 days or else it will be a long 112 miles! J  There isn’t much more time for anything else besides work, train, eat, sleep and repeat, and I can’t say enough for those that support me and tolerate my “crazy” goals. You ALL know who you are! Thank you – it really means a lot!

Throughout this IM training, I am learning a lot about myself, and I am sure I’ll learn more on race day, but as I said earlier, I have to know I did absolutely everything I could to get there and be ready to compete.  And this leads me to the MAIN focus of this post, and goes back to what I initially thought was the reason why Jorge was advising me to NOT do an IM 2 years ago – SWIMMING! My triathlon resume doesn’t extend that far but here it goes:

  • Year 1 – 2 sprint races, 2 olympic disntace races which was enough to get me hooked
  • Year 2 –3 x 70.3s (Mooseman - My first half ironman – I guess I like to do things backwards and I did my first 70.3 before I ran an open ½ marathon), Timberman, Clearwater World Championships) and  1x Olympic distance race – it was in July of that year I started t work with Jorge
  • Year 3 – My first ½ marathon, 1 indoor time trial,  3 x 70.3s (Quassy, Providence, and Las Vegas World Championships), Am. Zofingen duathlon which may as well count since to date that is by far the toughest race I have done even though it doesn’t include swimming). If you want to read about my experiences there – check out my race reports from 2011, and 2012.
  • Year 4 – 2 x ½ marathons, 2 Indoor Time Trials, why not do that crazy Am. Zofingen duathlon again, and I’ll end up with 3 x 70.3s(Quassy, Buffalo Springs, Las Vegas Worlds) and then finally Kona

You may notice, that there is no mentioned of any swim races, and or a marathon! Yup – you got that right – I have NEVER raced an open marathon, nor have I ever ran more than 14.5 miles at once and that was last weekend. I’ll change that today, when I put up 16 miles as my new all time high, and I’ll get to 22 come race day, but Kona is going to be a challenge in more ways than one. FUN challenge of course, and I’ll have expectations.  It’s actually pretty “scary” but if it all comes together, I could have a hell of a race, but I know it will be a long day and anything can happen especially with it being my 1st shot at the distance.  

And then there is no swim races! That may also change as of next week, though I still didn’t click “Register”. I know deep down inside that doing this swim race will help me regardless of what happens. This race won’t be about winning, but rather about getting over myself.  This will be a training race, and let’s face it – although winning rocks, and I like to win every race I enter, my race will not be next week in that Merrimack river, my race will be in 2 weeks in Vegas, and in 5 weeks in Kona.  I will potentially get my ass handed to me by real swimmers, but I guess that’s ok. I bet if I asked them to come race me on a bike or on the run, I could return the favor. The win for me will really be just toeing that start line, and doing my best. No time goals, just swimming.  Just like Dory says:

But where did this “crazy” swim race idea come from?  

I have recently started to work with a swim coach, and seriously, I am one lucky girl that coach Jorge recommended Karen to me because Karen rocks!  Yup – she can swim FOREVER, she can swim FOREVER  and faaaaaaaaast, she LOVES open water, and really she just LOVES the water, and LOVES to swim.  That is all awesome, and I hope it rubs off on me, but more importantly she is an unbelievable coach!  We have been working together for 3-4 weeks now, and yes – she is helping me with my technique, and all that other fun stuff, but more importantly she somehow sees right through me, and knows exactly what buttons to push when.  We may have swam together all of 8 times, talked a bunch of times, and she has me figured out. And THAT is NOT easy! She knows when to be tough and tough she is. I am sure I have only seen the beginnings of that, and in a strange way I am excited to see more. I am pretty sure she could make me cry in my goggles, BUT she also knows when to pull back, which I never really realized was SO KEY to a potential breakthrough. I have a hard time pulling myself back, because I am just way too competitive, but Karen is changing that. I am still competitive and always will be, but my outlook is changing a bit.  And that’s when this little green light started to go off in my head.

Few weeks ago, I had a sucky swim workout. Like awful! I know those happen every once in a while, but I was bummed and just over it. I have just started to work with Karen, I have been doing bunch of dryland work including stretch cordz, upper body and core stuff. That day, I could barely make it through 3,500 yards. I finished the workout, but I literally wanted to cry. How the hell am I to swim 2.4 miles if I can’t even make it through 3,500 yards in a pool? The doubts started to creep in. I had some 100s in the end of that workout, and I swam them so freaking slow, I was really over it. I pretty much told my coach Jorge, that maybe NOT swimming will allow me to get faster because one would never know I actually swam quite a bit. That entire offseason when I bitched and wanted to ride my bike instead of going to the pooI every night after work, it all was really started to get to me. I am by no means the one to quit, but I was just THAT down and over it. Two days later, coach Karen does what? Yup – you got it – more 100s, more 100s the week after that and let’s just say though I knew what she was doing, I wasn’t thrilled at all. When I showed up this past Friday, I was expecting more 100s, or perhaps something even more “torturous” J. And I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had the most FUN swim workout ever. Not that 100s aren’t fun, but this was SUPER FUN in a laid back kind of way. Not only did I have a blast, but in the process of caring less about the clock, I actually swam the fastest 200s and 100 I have swam in a VERY long time.  I was seriously super happy, and I actually felt “fast for me” in that water – that too was FUN!  Since I was on a swimmer’s high, I figured I should sign up for that 2 mile river race mentioned above, but I made it all the way to the “pay now” button and couldn’t do it. Ugh!

I swam with Karen this morning (OWS), in a place we swim at ALL the time – for locals – Walden Pond.  There was barely anyone there and the water was so smooth! My 1st thought was – perfect was water skiing! I went from not being able to get up on one ski, to tearing up that slalom course and actually even entering a few competitions! I can have no fear, I just have to get over myself!

 We made it ¾ of the way through and I noticed Karen had stopped. I just figured she was watching me swim my zig zag line as I was making my way across to the other side of the pond (I think I actually for once swam pretty straight), so I popped up expecting some sort of advice, but instead we just chatted our way across to the other side and all the way back enjoying the quiet pond that Walden was yesterday morning.  We saw very few swimmers around but not many, and the few we saw really had no business of being in there – they made ME look like Michael Phelps, but they didn’t care and they were just enjoying themselves.
It really was the combination of the today’s swim/chatting session, and the super FUN workout yesterday that made me realize something! I have been swimming at Walden pond for 2 years now, and I have NEVER just floated around and really looked around and just relaxed. It has always been about how fast I can make it to the other side, and how much faster I can make it back. Even if I was just suppose to swim EZ, I would always pay attention to that watch!

I had a 112 mile bike to follow yesterday’s swim, and I actually spent good 3 hours thinking about swimming,  and what is it going to take for me to learn to like it, and love it. I actually don’t hate it, or dislike it, I just hate being “slow”.  I know I will one day love swimming, and I can tell you that this offseason will be a fun one because Karen and I are going to make it happen. I know it, I can feel it! The only reason why I struggle with it a bit right now is because of I am sort of slow (too slow for myself), a bit too slow if I want to be winning races overall, and that’s why it bugs me, but that will change. Looking at the final results, coming 3rd overall by 2 minutes but getting beat in the water by 10 minutes is OLD, and tears me up inside EVERY time! Sure, I am still able to post awesome results, but I want better. I want to bike from the front and build the lead rather than bike through the field to get the lead.

I have tried fixing the swim myself with the help of Jorge who has gone over and beyond what a triathlon coach really should do.  I have gotten better, but it hasn’t worked as well as I had hoped for.  Karen is definitely going to take me out of my comfort zone – that 2 mile race next is of course HER idea J, and she is making me see the real FUN aspect of swimming so much more than I ever could have.  Some days it will be about the clock, and some days it won’t. I am sure I’ll still have days when swimming can bite me, but I am so excited for the new journey ahead.  I know I can do it. When on that bike today, I thought about the days when I first came to the U.S. – 19 years old, thousands of miles away from family and friends, just following my dream of playing basketball and really learning English.

Swimming is easy compare to that. I tend to forget because it has been so long ago, but it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It was HARD! I did take English in school, but it was British English, and let’s face it – I was a bit lost. It’s kind of like I could swim as in I wouldn’t drown, but I never swam laps, never mind miles. No friends, no family, everyone spoke what felt like million miles an hour, and let’s just say it was extremely frustrating to have to ask everyone to repeat everything at least 3 times and then still don’t understand. I couldn’t joke with anyone, and I was too shy to speak because I thought I sounded funny!  That’s a bit similar to how I feel entering a swim race! I could potentially be surrounded by swimmers that have been swimming all their life, and then me – the swimmer wanna be.

It wasn’t until I got over the “fear of sounding funny”, that I started to get better. Sitting at home, talking to my friends in Czech online and studying my dictionary wasn’t going to work, just like swimming on my own won’t.  I stopped worrying about what others thought, and if someone wanted to laugh at me because I sounded funny, so be it. I knew they couldn’t say a word in any other language but English.  I had to get out of my comfort zone and try to talk to people if I wanted to make friends, learn the American English and all the awesome slang that comes with it. And no – you will NOT find slang in any dictionary. Oh, do I have plenty stories about the use of slang! But it finally dawned on me yesterday morning, that  swimming is actually VERY similar to what I went through 12 or so years ago. I know deep down that in order to become a swimmer, I have to tackle swimming head on, and I have to step out of that comfort zone. That comfort zone of swimming alone all the time, the constant ” me vs. the clock battle”, I have to find the real FUN in swimming.

The point I am trying to make with myself, and I am on the right track, is that if I was able to pack “my life” into 2 bags (120 lbs) leave for the unknown, and come out of the shell, swimming has nothing on me. I’ll be a fast swimmer one day! Learning English, and actually having to carry on a conversation didn’t exactly take over night, it took months, and it really took years to get to where I am today. Some people don’t even believe me when I tell them I am not American, so I have come a long way! So yeah – I will one day be a great swimmer, and I’ll let Karen take me out of my comfort zone. It’s barely been 4 weeks, and she has honestly changed my entire outlook on swimming (and really NOT just on swimming) in so many ways.

So now that I shared my thoughts with the world, I think I am ready to do finally leave that comfort zone, which means I better swim that 2 mile race next weekend, eh?  Oh boy J

In the mean time, with Vegas being  13, and Kona  47 days away – I can assure you I’ll be ready!  I’ll definitely be in the best shape of my life, and I am looking forward to some revenge on that Vegas course. I  have had a GREAT training block since Buffalo springs, and I am ready to race again. I have put in some tough, tough training sessions, and I am so ready to race. I am stronger than I have ever been across the board. I am feeling stronger in the water, my biking keeps improving, and I have been feeling stronger and faster on the run than ever before.  Week in and week out I have been able to improve, and amaze myself with how much my body and mind can actually handle without giving me that middle finger.  Had I tried to do this 2 years ago, I stood no chance. I would have fallen apart, my body would have fallen apart, but I am ready now! Thanks Jorge! J

So here you have it, this post has 3,000+ words and it used to take me hours/days to write an essay for English class with 500 words.  You know what that means

Monday, June 25, 2012

I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!

I diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid it! OMG – I REALLY REALLY diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid it and if you couldn’t tell, I am just a tad bit excited. I should really be sleeping right now, but I can’t! I have such a mixed emotion of feelings running through my head, I didn’t know was possible. I am excited!  I want to scream, I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to hug Jorge (my coach) – I really hope he is reading this because he is going to have to brace himself for probably the biggest hug EVER, I am super stoked about what lies ahead, and it would be a lie if I didn’t say that I am just a little bit “scared”. Of course I can’t forget to thank to all those around me that make my dream come true – my family/friends – this is for ALL of you too! Let’s ALL go to KONA baby!

I am honestly still not quite sure it has all sunk in yet, but I know that 109 days from todayI will be toeing the line of my FIRST EVER full ironman and there is NO turning back now! What better way to lose my ironman virginity than in Kailua- Kona Hawaii, right? Somebody PINCH me now! 

And here comes my weekend recap. You better grab a drink and a snack, because this may be a long one! I would like to say, I had a perfect race, but I didn’t. I am very proud for overcoming the adversity that I was faced with, and obviously I am ecstatic about the final outcome. Now without further adieu, here comes the recap of my adventure to Lubbock, TX and the Buffalo Springs 70.3.


I arrived in Lubbock, TX on Thursday early afternoon. I have received multiple warnings about what I was about to see, but I was still quite in shock when I got off the tiny little plane (I may have smacked my head once or twice trying to get my carry on bag into the overhead space), and hopped in my little red companion for the next few days. Lubbock isn’t exactly a lively town, and the highway surroundings – well there really aren’t many. I went to check in to the host hotel, but because my room wasn’t ready yet, I explored the surrounding area, and found Barnes & Noble, and couple of quality reads!

The rest of the Thursday was quite uneventful minus the trip to Super Walmart for some groceries, and Sunday really couldn’t come fast enough.

I got a great night sleep, and set out to check out the venue! And quite the venue it was. I decided to drive the course first, just because at that time I thought it would be a GREAT idea to do my EZ 35 min run with a few pick ups right around the time that I would be running during the race to really see what kind of heat I’ll feel on race day. Did I mention yet that Texas is hot? So I am driving, and driving, and driving and the scenery is NOT changing – well there really was NO scenery. Below are a few shots I snapped while driving the 56 mile bike course, and parts of the run course.

Run course pics: The entrance into the energy lab II road and the "beautiful" view :)

 The Not So scenic bike course pics in no particular order:

The only friends I saw along the way:

They were actually quite amused that I was taking pics of them

Better make that turn right here or else it will end in dirt!

 My ride for the trip:

Aaaand the never changing scenery:

Different spot, same view:

From the top of the hill (who knew there were hills in Texas!)

One of the U- turns

The MAIN road scenery and more friends :)


During the 56 miles, I may have seen one other car, many more gigantic tractors and other machines that I had no idea what those were called. The race director was already out there marking the course and the few potholes that were there all while also riding a weird looking “machine”, I later realized he was sweeping the roads for us! The course wasn't beautiful, but the organization was top notch! The course had a few (7 to be exact) hills in it but nothing to really be worried about. It was really going to be the heat, and strong headwinds that were going to play the major factor for me.

After that I went for a quick swim in the Buffalo Springs Lake. 

I think it took me longer to put my wetsuit on than I swam for, and in the process I managed to “poke” a hole in my TYR Hurricane. Aaaaaaaaaargh – I swear that wetsuit is so hard to get on, and so easily “ripped”. The lake was warm, and super dirty – like you couldn’t even see your arm in front of you dirty. Note to self – try NOT to swallow water during the swim which is easier said than done.

Swim was followed by a 5 mile run on the run course without any water in the heat of the day! NOT exactly one of my smartest decisions to date. It was HOT, I was cooking, and I didn’t even run hard – all I could think about was HOW am I going to run 13.1 in this heat? Flashbacks from my awful run from Vegas last September were starting to creep in – Nooooooooooo. 

I was all done for the day by lunch time, and because there isn’t exactly that much to do around here, I actually kept my feet up for the rest of the day except for when I had to pick up my “Fireball” – he made the trip with TriBike transport unharmed! Thank you TriBike! I also had a great dinner with Pat Dwyer (BTT friend) and his wife (thanks guys for letting me tag along), and for finding a good dinner spot! 


Saturday was here before I knew it, and I got another great night sleep. Pat and I went for a 10 mile spin on our bikes. We pretty much rode the run course and boy was it windy! We were both riding discs, and we were both questioning the call, but it turned out to be a good one. “Fireball” was ready to go J and my legs felt great!

I then hopped in for a quick swim in my TYR Torque speedsuit this time, and water felt so nice. Nice enough that I figured race wouldn’t be wetsuit legal, and if it was, staying cool would be a bit of a problem. Bike/swim was followed by a HUGE breakfast! My favorite pre-race meal – and I ate like a champ! Bowl of oatmeal with fruit, 2 gigantic pancakes, 3 egg whites, hash browns and orange juice to wash it all down. YUM! Rest of the day again, was spent mostly in my hotel room, just relaxing. I even took a nap. J Then it was time to eat dinner, and try to fall asleep as 3:15 alarm was going to be here before I knew it.
And now, let’s finally get to one of the most exciting days of my young triathlon life. 


My alarm went off way too early but I was ready! For once actually awake, and ready to get this party started. I almost ate my entire bagel with pbj, and a banana and drove over to the site. Due to the early start most of morning was pitch black, but the sun rose as we were ready to get started. I walked through the transition at least 10 times so that I didn’t forget where my bike was and so that I could be in and out of there FAST! (Now let’s remember this comment later). I visited the PP many times, and before I knew it, I was putting on my wetsuit. In the process, of course I managed to put ANOTHER freaking hole in it! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh what is wrong with me! I warmed up quickly, and it was time to line up for the start of the race.

The Swim: (36:11)

This was the HARDEST and MOST PHYSICAL swim of my life! I was in the 2nd wave after the pro’s and all females were together. I have no idea how many of us were together, but most of the swim was a boxing match. As a matter of fact the whole first half of the swim was insane. I kept getting punched from left, and right, getting pulled and pushed down from behind, and I was giving away my fair share of the same – there was literally just NOWHERE to go. I have been working pretty hard on my swim, and so I have made a deal with myself. No more, old lady like sighting and braking my rhythm to pop my head up, no more sighting every 4 strokes because honestly, I don’t go very far with my 4 strokes. I was going to count to 15 – 20, trust my line and only then look up. It takes me anywhere from 18-20 strokes to swim 25 yards so even if I didn’t swim straight how far of the course could I really be, right? Well that went out the window fast because honestly I just kept bumping into people, and getting bumped. After the half way point, I finally found some clear water, and did just what I set out to do, and I think it is what helped me to my new swim PR of 36:11. Now just imagine if the boxing match could have been avoided, I know I would have swam sub 35, and that makes me super happy. I know I still have long ways to go, but have no doubt I WILL get to that 30 min mark. I didn’t swim with a watch so I had no idea of my time, but the girl whose bike was next to mine shared her swim time with mine, so I was excited to get on with the bike – good swim – CZECH!  Now let the (excuse my French) shit show begin. 

Transition 1:  (2:08)

Earlier, I made sure to “remember” where my bike was racked, right? In those 36 minutes, I somehow forgot and took the wrong turn down the wrong row. I actually went one row too far and when I got roughly to the middle of it, my bike wasn’t there. Now imagine the panic, with my wetsuit hanging off my hips when I couldn’t see “Fireball” and the numbers I was reading weren’t anywhere near mine. Panic has set in and I finally realized I was in the wrong row! Crap! I ducked under the set of bars, hoped over to the correct row and finally spotted “Fireball”, but it felt like it took an hour! I am actually pretty sure it was quite comical! OMG – I really couldn’t believe it! My transitions are usually super fast, and now this, not now. I was so frustrated with myself and it didn’t help that there was literally a traffic jam trying to get out of the transition area through to the “Bike Out”.  I had to stop – this is a race people – move and get out of the way please - every second counts in my mind!

Bike: (2:31:38)

Let the shit show continue. I finally hopped on my bike, more than ready to work my way through the field. I climbed the first hill, which is followed by a screaming downhill that finishes by going over a bridge. I must have been going pretty close to 40 mph when I hit the bridge and heard a loud noise. Oh oh. I look down and my 2 weeks old joule bike computer is GONE! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, OMG! No, no, no, no – this CAN’T be happening right now! This thing was far too expensive to leave behind, but so was getting here, and I came too far to stop during a race. I wanted this Kona slot BAD! My heart sunk, and my brain made the decision for to me. I slammed on my brakes turned around, and went back to look for it. I looked around for couple minutes and just didn’t see it L. I couldn’t waste anymore time. There were couple of volunteers on the golf cart collecting water bottles and whatever else fell of people’s bikes so I told them if the find it to give it to Lost & Found. (so far it hasn’t been returned L) . So computer less, powerless, timeless, distance less, just simply BLIND, I set out on my way. UGH! I never ride without my computer, how am I am going to know when to eat, drink, pop salt caps – I wasn’t exactly in the happiest places of all, but it was time to GO GO GO , if I wanted that slot! I quickly remembered that since the aid stations were every 10 miles, and I knew roughly what time I should be able to ride, I could figure out how long I have been on the course. I also asked couple of times when going uphill by people how long into the ride and how far they were. I did get a couple of weird looks, but when I mentioned I lost my computer, they at least didn’t think I was totally crazy! I kept working my way through the field, and I was feeling good. I kept hydrating and pouring an entire bottle all over myself at ever aid station – definitely worth the slow down. I wasn’t hot, and I kept moving. The headwind got pretty stiff for the last 15 miles, but I love my aero position, and I really believed it actually played to my advantage. I kept passing people the entire 56 miles and I rode aero even on most uphills hiding from the wind. I am very happy with my final time, and really would like to see my power file if I could, but we will never know. I felt great getting off the bike, and I rode right around the time Jorge said I would, so I am again happy with my bike time though if I didn’t stop at all, I could have broken 2:30 which would have been sweet! 

Transition 2: (1:20)
A lot faster than the first one! Phew! I found my running shoes in no time J, and I only saw one bike racked so I assumed there was one girl in front of me. Time to go get her. In reality there were two but somehow I missed Ashley. 

Run: (1:43:56)

Guess what – my GARMIN worked and I didn’t lose my watch!!!!!!!! J And yes – it was HOT! Like 95+ hot and there really wasn’t anywhere to hide. The plan was to take it out relatively EZ, make it up the hills EZ, survive the energy lab, and then push the last 6.5 miles to the finish. I started out controlled, and my pace was GREAT! I didn’t feel like I was pushing it, and my legs felt awesome. I passed the girl whose bike I saw racked very close to mine in the first mile, and I thought I could be in first at that time, but because nobody had their ages on the calf you really didn’t k now. I kept taking ice at every water stop and half the cup went down my pants and other half I held on to in my hands. That strategy worked for good 8 miles and the ice in my hands really kept me cool from aid station to aid station. I won’t bore you with my splits, but I did actually negative split the energy lab and felt really good until the last hill between miles 9 and 10. I wasn’t able to grab ice there because it was too crowded and I chose not to stop. Maybe that was a mistake, but I was never quite able to get the mojo back after that, and the last 3 miles lasted FOREVER. I kept trying to pick it up, once I grabbed some ice at mile 10, but I was so hot at that point, that the ice cubes that would last me a mile before, would seriously evaporate from my hands in less than a minute. I could feel the heat rising from the palms of my hands. I kept trying to pick it up, and I was running scared – I had no idea who was behind me, but there was no way I was getting beat in the last 3 miles of the run. I was sooooo glad to be done! Not exactly my fastest run by far, but I felt much better than I did in Vegas back in September in similar heat, and I think I can figure this whole heat thing up and get faster in it. I am definitely not as “intimidated” by it as I was 24 hours ago. Proper cooling sure goes a long way.

Final Time: 4:55:13 (2nd AG, behind Ashley Johnson who had an awesome race). Great, super nice girl, and I am looking forward to seeing her in Vegas! It was very nice to meet you Ashley!

So here you have it. I came to Lubbock, Texas this weekend with one goal in mind and that was to qualify for KONA! I knew it was going to take a great race, and I knew I had to most likely win my AG. I didn’t have a perfect race, but I am very happy with the way I overcame adversity I faced today. It was my lucky day when Ashley decided to not take her Kona slot and told me right after the race so I didn’t have to wait till awards that night to find out we actually had 2 Kona slots anyways! I wanted it, and I wanted it bad. I had raced 2 tough races in the last 6 or so weeks, so I felt like all I have been doing was tapering and recovering, but all the work that went into this throughout the year (s) had paid off! It’s now 24 hours later, and I am still NOT sure I quite comprehend what happened yesterday.

I am going to KONA to compete in my first EVER full ironman! Holy Shit! It is for REAL and not just a dream anymore. 

I say it every time, and he always says it’s all my hard work, BUT I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today, if it wasn’t for my coach Jorge Martinez ( (@coachJorgeM) He is much more than a great coach, and I think he deserves to come to Hawaii with me. What do you think?

Thanks to all for reading, and you can now follow my journey to Vegas and Kona! Why not do the double, right? J