Friday, April 20, 2012

It's called a WORK out

I had a tempo run on the schedule after work. It started out, "I don't want to have to do this".. It felt like work. But we must remember that opportunity is disguised as work. Sho' nuff it ended, "I'm pretty lucky I get to do this.."

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson

"Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat." - Ann Landers

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all" - Sam Ewing

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" - Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dirty Vegas- XTERRA West Champs Race Report

I'm actually sitting down to write this race report just a couple hours after finishing the XTERRA West Championships. [Edit: Ok, so now it is Tuesday night....d'oh!) XTERRA Vegas was my 2nd race as a pro, and my first ever off-road triathlon...I knew coming in that the mountain bike portion would be a battle for me, but I was determined to give it a go and see what this XTERRA stuff is all about...

Race morning, I walked out of the hotel, only to walk back in to find any sort of rain/wind gear in my suitcase. This is supposed to be Vegas in April people, think hot & dry. Unfortunately, the conditions were reminiscent of Oceanside 70.3 just 2 weeks ago. Rainy, windy and definitely colder than O'side. I had a few #FML moments as I couldn't feel my fingers or toes and the race hadn't even begun. I took a quick jog to warm up and then threw on my wetsuit. Honestly, I was totally dreading the 57 degree water for the swim, but I reminded myself that I'm a "pro" now and I need to suck it up.


SWIM: 1500 meters 21:20 / 2nd pro female
I dove into the freeeeezing water, and was once again so glad I had on my Zoot Prophet. This thing is fast, but it is also warmer than many other wetsuits I had tried. I struggled to put my face in the water and did a 2 minute warm-up with some head-up freestyle. In Xterra, the pro wave goes off at 9am, 3 minutes before the amateur waves. I lined up near the front and put my head down and went hard when the cannon went off. I was out of breath and struggling those first 300 meters or so, wondering again why I put myself through this (sorry, just being honest). BUT, after 300, I realized that I was with a nice little (3 people) pack and near the front of the race. AND, the pace was totally manageable. I caught a glimpse of Melanie McQuaid swimming next to me and thought I was in a good spot. At the turn around buoy, we found a couple more feet and I swam behind 2 men (Josiah Middaugh - eventual men's 2nd place and someone else) for the remainder of the swim.
Pro start
That's me in the pink cap down right...hangin on to feet!
I was swimming comfortably hard. The draft was perfect and there was no way I could pull around the boys, but I was also able to maintain the feet easily. This was perfect since my goggles were like 2 years old (packed wrong ones!) and totally fogged and unclear. I just kept my eyes on the feet. I noticed another girl swimming with me and when we exited the water, I saw it was Kate Major, another roadie (and awesome chica!) trying out the off-road situation. The announcers said we were 2nd/3rd out of the water and I soon heard him announce Melanie right behind us. I felt #soPro . I am SO happy I put in the hard yards all winter, making masters swim a daily routine because this "non-swimmer" is totally turning into a swimmer. don't even know what to say here. I need to get my act together. It was like Oceanside 70.3 part deux but worse!!! I had to put on gloves, arm warmers, and a Camelback in addition to my Mountain Bike shoes that have a clip/ratchet situation...All of this with complete ice blocks for hands. It was SO bad. Lesley (eventual 2nd place woman and current Xterra World Champ) was in and out while I was fumbling and so was Melanie. The only saving grace was that Kate M. was having just as bad a T1 as I was, so at least misery loves company...

Bike- 30k- 1:34:18 - moved from 4th (after transition) to 10th pro...

Thanks, Dane, for the photos! 

I think my cheer section, Jordan is yelling for me here, hence the smile! Or maybe I'm just laughing at myself ;) 

Okay, so the course is mostly fire roads, some single track LOTS of up up up and down down down and some loose & rocky descents. My only goal for the bike was to finish. I'll be honest here, I've ridden a mountain bike less than 10 times in the past year, so I know "where I'm at" and was willing to just go with the flow and not put myself in too much danger. I kept trucking along, and over the course of 18 miles, 6 women passed me and a bunch of age group & pro men. I crashed twice, one time wiping out fully right in front of Kate Major (sorry, matey!) and then dropped my chain on 2 climbs. Other than that, I was actually "impressed" with my ride and I must admit I kind of had fun. Ok, I was slow, but you can't expect to be a mountain bike genuis when you really don't ride one. I had to take all the technical sections really slow, but I rode them! I only hopped off my bike for one section on each lap. I was scared a bit on the bike, but also amazed at how the laps flew by. Before I knew it, I was heading back to T2, stoked to get my run on...P.s. I was SO impressed by these Xterra girls on the bike, damn they can RIDE!

And my Cannondale Lexi was amazing. It has two front chainrings (my old bike had 3) and I LOVE this setup. it makes the shifting so much easier. I think I need to tweak my position a bit- looking at photos, my saddle seems too low and my front end is way high- kind of like I'm heading on a stroll to the farmers market on Sunday, NOT a gritty off-road pro! #sonotPro

Run- 10k- (42:26 moved from 10th to 8th, 2nd fastest run) 
Ok, so the up up up, down down down thing continues here. There are lots of long/runnable climbs and steep quad ripping descents. There is also one holy-crap-you-want-me-to-go-up-this-thing? climb that requires 2-3 minutes of straight up hiking. It was NASTY. I passed 2 girls on the run, moving from 10th to 8th place, but I wasn't able to close the gap on Kate, who was in 7th. I ran strong and focused in my head on picking off all those age group men who had blown by me on the bike. I also focused on not giving up. I kept reminding myself that this was a race, but also a workout and I was making a nice deposit in the fitness bank with this one. I'm hoping to cash in a bit at Wildflower in just a couple weeks!
Happy to finish....

The real race- Lesley Paterson & Renata Bucher duke it out in a 1/2 sprint finish! 
All in all, it was an awesome experience. I finished in 2:41 (results here) and had an epic fitness adventure ;). I almost made a pay check (they paid to 7th!).  I traveled solo & got to spend some quality time with the Blanco fam - Jordan & Rich- who are becoming race family to me...I got off the race course and swore I'd never do another Xterra....Until about 15 minutes later ;)

*Thank you to Zoot for taking on the local girl and supplying the best gear & shoes out there- love my new race kit!!!! I'm swimming better than ever in the Prophet wetsuit and I love love love to race in my Ultra Tempo 5.0s.  Cannondale- LOVE my LEXI decked in SRAM, & although I didn't need 'em for this race, if I did I would thank Race Day Wheels. Thanks to Nytro for keeping it all in working, blinging' order and Studeo DNA for my bike fit & so much more. 
*Thank you to  Dan SelstadRehab United, & MRM for helping me build my chassis, recover quickly and stay healthy-.I use so many MRM products, but I couldn't function without my Hydration Factor & Reload. Rehab United- functional strength 2x/ week, ART with Selstad every other week...the secret sauce! 
*Many gracias also to ISM saddlesBetty DesignsBeaker Concepts & Bont shoes for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vegas, Baby!

Today I'm off to Vegas for my first ever Xterra off-road triathlon- Xterra West Championships. I will be joining the pro field so I am predicting quite the entertaining race report in just a few days.

1.5k swim, 30k mountain bike, 10k run

I am armed with my Cannondale Women's Lexi and ready to go!
Lexi "lefty" ready to roll
Typical Vegas weather is hot and dry. Just my style. "Lucky" for me, it is going to be chilly and rainy according to the forecast. WTF? Seriously, rain in VEGAS? Oh well, the more mud the better...

I hear the course is all UP or DOWN. And more than one person has described it as similar to riding on the moon. Sounds like the most technical part of the course is the loose rock/ sandy descents...
Going up! 
moon walk
We shall see. I have a pre-ride of the course planned with Rich & Kate on Friday so I'm hoping I build some confidence by knowing the course a little bit.

Ok, off to Vegas, baby!

Monday, April 9, 2012

California 70.3: Race Report: Paris has left the building

Ok, the one week grace period is now overdue, but I finally have a little sliver of time to reflect on my first 70.3 race as a professional.

Race week/Pre race
There is a double-edged sword to a hometown race. Of course, nothing beats sleeping in your own bed and not having to pack a bike box. However, for me, this also meant "business as usual" and I was working hard all the way through Friday, the day before the race. I scurried out of work mid-day to hit a quick spin on my bike and go to the pro meeting. Things were moving WAY to fast and I had a minor freakout when during this spin, the gears went click click click- not the smooth whoosh whoosh of the Zipp race wheels you want to hear. CRAP. I ran to Nytro with zero time to spare, and the guys quickly replaced my bed derailleur hanger (yeah, I don't know what that is either) and sent me on my way with a perfectly working bike.
For dinner, we went to Rimel's and I got a huge brown rice/veggie/Sea Bass bowl that was absolutely perfect. Our dear friends Jordan & Rich were in town from San Francsico and it was an oddly relaxing dinner. Though 3 of us were racing, there was little conversation about the race and it was just a chill night.
Race morning, we woke at 3:45. OUCH. James was a huge champ all weekend long and packed the car while Rich, Jordan, and I got our breakfast and all race ready. I had picked up one of my favorite gluten free/vegan blueberry muffins from Jimbos and threw it in the toaster....a little too long...Oops. Plan B ended up being peanut butter toast & a banana which went just fine.
At the race site, I was one of the first pros there around 5:15 a.m....Since we went off at 6:40 I was kind of surprised. The air was misty and chilly, but I thought for certain it would clear up. I spent a little time with Heather (who ended up pulling off a fabulous 2nd place finish) and went on my pre-race jog alone to the "secret" bathroom exactly one mile away. Back in T1, I threw on my Zoot Prophet and ran down to the start, beginning to get very nervous. However, there was really no time to think as before I knew it, we were piling in for the 6:43 start, 3 minutes after the pro men.
Rubbing Heather's back hoping some speed will rub off...
Me & Krisitin - Thanks Kev of Tri Lounge for the photo
Swim- 1.2 miles- 28:39 (1:30/100meters) 13th 
The women's professional start was a bit more tactical than typical age group racing I have done, I could tell in the last minute before the gun that girls were trying to position themselves near the strongest swimmers and mark each other. The gun went off and I went head in and hard to try not to lose the feet. 100 meters later I was surprised I was still with "the pack". I think 2 or 3 (or 6 for all I know) girls went off the front, but then there was this massive pack of about 10 of us. I hung on pretty well until we made it to the halfway point. The swim course goes out and back and the turnaround is a few hundred yards in the open sea (vs. the protected harbor for the rest of the swim). The swell out there was huge and myself and two other girls got a few feet behind the pack. I think I was on the "wrong" feet going into the turn, the girl ahead of me got gapped, and then I couldn't close the gap and go around. Lesson learned that floating near the back of the pack is not always the best idea. As I plowed through the big swell and waves out there, cardiovascularly, I was fine. However, strength wise, I just felt like I was on a treadmill for those few precious minutes when the swell was really big. When I  hit the final turn buoy to head back in to shoes, and I was about 10 feet off the back and now I was with Linsey Corbin. We swam together for nearly the remainder of the swim, just out of reach of "the pack" and then with about 500 to go, she put a few seconds on me. I came out of the water, did the math with the timing clock, and realized I was in the 28-minute range. HUGE improvement on a tough day for that swim. I guess swimming masters 6 days/week since October is actually working. phew.

T1- 3:15
T1 was the real s%$tshow. I made it to my bike and then had some massive decision paralysis of whether or not to put on arm warmers & my vest. I put the vest on. Then I put on one arm warmer. Then I took it off. Then I remembered I needed to pack my wetsuit and other T1 junk to be transported to T2 in a plastic bag. I struggled to get my stuff in the bag. Then, I put on my sunglasses (although it was dark & rainy) and they were too foggy so I took them off. Unfortunately, the nose piece also fell off, so then I spent WAY too long trying to fix it. Needless to say, my T1 was ridiculous and several girls who had swum 1+ minute slower were out of there before me. Massive fail! Note to self: Spending hundreds of hours in the pool for 90 seconds gain is of no use if you lose it all in T1. ugh. moving on...

Bike- 56 miles- 2:41:07- (20.85mps) moved from 13th to 14th to approach this in a positive manner....Not too easy! I can honestly say this may have been the most sorry 56 miles I've ever ridden. It was cold, wet, rainy, and did I mention cold? At mile 2, my rear bottle flew off. *Someone* (me) changed out the bottle cage the day before the race and didn't tighten the bolts enough. But no worries, I still had my front bottle...Until mile 2.5...another bump and my 2nd bottle flew over the front, almost taking me down en route. CRAP. I had changed out the bottle cages Andrew gave me for a couple I thought looked cooler, but apparently looking cool is NOT what you want in a horizontal facing bottle contraption. Totally my bad and SO dumb, but regardless, I was without any fluids (and calories) until the first aid station. By then, I think I was already in the red on drinking & calories and never feel like I really recovered from it on the bike. My heart rate was really low, I was freezing my arse off, and I just felt, honestly, miserable. I didn't feel like I was going super hard (because I wasn't d'uh) and I just had an off ride. Lesley passed me around mile 10 and I hung behind her (legally) for several miles until she rode away after an aid station as I was playing calorie triage and fumbling around. Other than that, I basically saw no one. 2 other pro women passed me easily, and at some point I passed 2 other pro women. I came off the bike in 14th place with frozen blocks on my feet, but never in my life so excited to get off that darn bike and run. If anything to warm up! On a good note for the bike, my position felt great, the Slice was tuned perfectly and I had no mechanical issues thanks to Nytro. It's also SO freaking comfortable, I finally feel like I'm racing my bike. Next time I'm not freezing and calorically depressed ;) I promise to do some damage on that thing and be worthy to ride it!
Finally heading into T2- thanks StudeoDNA for the pic! 

T2- 1:27
My T2 was much more respectable than T1 and I was outta there in my Zoot Ultra Tempo 5.0s....
I love this shoe for 70.3s and think I'm sticking with it for the season. Last year I changed around a bit, but I've always had my best runs in the Tempo 5.0s.

Run- 13.1 miles- 1:20:53- (6:10/mi pace) - 14th up to 8th 
Ok, and we're off...
Check out the crowd! 
I wore my garmin and started clicking off the miles. The crowd support was IN-credible and as it was a local race, I had so many friends and sponsors out there cheering it was such a huge motivation. I get goosebumps even thinking about it. Welcome to my happy place! I got worried that I was getting carried away as I saw my first few splits hovering around 6:05 min/mi pace. CRAP. I thought for certain I would blow up trying to keep this pace, but I just kept running because it felt comfortable. At mile 4 I saw James, Coach Pete & RV again and started talking to them...RV promptly told me I wasn't working hard enough and looked way too comfortable. I decided then and there that even though the splits on my watch were scaring me they were so fast, I had to ignore them and just run comfortably hard. Why slow down if you don't feel like you need to? There is no room in professional racing for "playing it safe". So, I kept laying down the miles.
The middle miles....Doing work
Other pro women would come into view and I'd keep my pace steady, no surges, and eventually make some solid passes. No one came with me and I'm not sure what I'll do when that happens! I saw Heather in the other direction killing it, just down from Melanie McQuaid and was stoked she had ridden and run her way through the field. The run course was different from previous years and included 2 very steep but short hills on each loop and some really tight 360 degree turns.
At the top of one hill, turn around and go right down- kind of like a maze! 
 Luckily, the new hills were plastered with spectators, so by using my "distraction" techniques, I barely noticed them. I kept my legs moving, my breath steady, and focused on all the friends and folks on the sidelines. Now, I know most people like to focus, and find a spot within to keep them moving...Me, I love to zone out with the faces on the sidelines and my fellow competitors. Similar to Oceanside every year, the run felt a little bit like a cocktail party. I swear if every race had this kind of crowd, especially people I knew, I would run a lot faster!! I'm sure this says something about me, but I'll save the self-analysis for later (I AM a psychologist, you know). Anyhow, the rest of the run was a surprise because I did not, in fact blow up. With 2 miles to go, I was in 8th with Rachel one minute ahead and the next girl 2 minutes back. I also did the math for the first time and realized I was going to run low 1:20s...WTF? Who knew?

I crossed the finish at 4:35 (clock was set for pro men's start 3 min ahead) with a fist pump (no, this is not for "celebration" because you don't celebrate 8th!, but it's my little tradition). I was happy with a solid race and it felt great to finish well within the top half of a very deep pro field. I saw coach Pete and James and I was chatting a million miles a minute about  my crap T1,the miserable bike ride, and the fun run. I told them I didn't believe I had just run that fast and still didn't feel demolished. Pete said, "Believe it". Looking back over my training, its pretty clear that I've been running a lot faster overall and I know it's due to my increased swim & bike fitness combined with lack of overall fatigue from grueling Ironman training. I'm able to train "fresh" on the run and it looks like it's paying off. Now, I just need to lay it down on the bike and see if my run legs will cooperate...

I know I started some thank you's in my last post but I need to say again how much the belief & support of Pete, James, HJ, Katya, Donna, Wattie and everyone else means to me. To have a group of people who believe in you often more than yourself makes it easy to strive to meet their expectations. I want to be as good as they believe I can be.
Me & Pete - happy camper & coach- his charges were 2nd & 8th with the fastest runs of the day- Thanks to Larry Rosa for the pic! 
Let me let you in on a little secret. Ok, so it's clear that I like blogging and I'm a bit of a social media tart. I've been lucky to have some amazing supporters and sponsors in my very first year as a professional....Mostly because of my passion for the sport and my passion for communicating with others about triathlon and the things I love. I know that my sponsor support is not necessarily due to any results as I'm just coming up from the amateur ranks and never threw down any times close to the top pro women. So, Pete joked around for months over the winter calling me the "Paris Hilton of triathlon". You know, someone of no real substance, "famous" for no reason, and kind of a sham. Well, I texted Pete after the race and said this:
"Paris Hilton no longer". 

*Thank you to Zoot for taking on the local girl and supplying the best gear & shoes out there. I'm swimming better than ever in the Prophet wetsuit. Cannondale- my Slice is the perfect ride decked in SRAM, & the perfect Zipp firecrest carbon clincher 808/404 pair of Race Day Wheels. Thanks to Nytro for keeping it all in working, blinging' order and Studeo DNA for my bike fit & so much more. 
*Thank you to  Dan SelstadRehab United, & MRM for helping me build my chassis, recover quickly and stay healthy-.I use so many MRM products, but I couldn't function without my Hydration Factor & Reload. Rehab United- functional strength 2x/ week, ART with Selstad every other week...the secret sauce! 
*Many gracias also to ISM saddlesBetty DesignsBeaker Concepts & Bont shoes for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

California 70.3: Please hold....

Ok folks, it's Thursday and I haven't begun my race report! Life is on the crazy train right now and I've had my busiest week of work ever. That, combined with a few nights of wine with my girlfriends has left me exhausted... But, I'm so excited to sit down this weekend and knock it out because there was SO much I learned from this race and I have such a clear picture of where I need to go now...

My overall performance at Cali 70.3 was beyond what I believed I could do right now in a few areas,  and was only possible because of the folks who believed in me more than I did in myself. I am so lucky that Coach Pete, James, Heather, Donna, & Katya have made me believe in myself... Sure, my bike ride was dismal, but it wasn't indicative of how I know I can ride right now- and that, right there, is an awesome feeling...For the first time, I actually believe I'm better than that. Usually, it's "well,l I rode to my capabilities"...Nope....Done with that and so looking forward to the road ahead. 
I'll be back this weekend with a full report, but until then:
I swam a 28-smthg, rode 2:41, and ran from 14th place to 8th place with a 1:20 run
and a big smile
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