Friday, June 29, 2012

Ironman France Redux

I went back and added in these photos to my race report for the multimodal learners...For those who've had enough, just the photos below here....

Photographer Thierry Sourbier from TRIMag France is pretty incredible. He said he took 10,000 photos over the day. 
Mass start....5 minutes after the pros thank goodness ;)
Pro start

Views from the bike
Me & my SLICE 
Reason #201 to be in the top 3 at this race- Rollerblade escort! Francois Van Lierde on his way to course record

Reason #542 to love Ironman France...The spectators!
Reason #543 the cheerleaders along the run course

#544 the FINISH!

Women's podium Gina Crawford, Tine Deckers, Kristin next year ;)

And the first 30 seconds after my  finish captured by Thierry...
2....Not so strong?  
3...Where's the med tent?

 A bit more on post-race coming soon. They know how to throw an after party in France! For now, I'm back stateside, enjoying a few more days of rest with my sister and her twin kidlets....Cheers!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ironman France Race Report

Sitting here in bed eating a pain au chocolat & drinking a cappuccino the morning after the race. Yes, really. And it's so good and if the boulangerie wasn't a block away and I wasn't embarrassed to go back for another, I probably would. I wrote down my initial race report below, but have no pictures yet :( - I'll update this once I get some good ones.

Ahhhhhh Ironman.....You are so much longer than a half that's for sure! Interestingly, my body feels much better and less sore than post Hawaii 70.3, probably because the Ironman shuffle doesn't pound you to the ground as much as the go go go of the run in a half... Anyway...

I started the morning with some coffee and a couple big bowls of cornflakes & soy milk & a banana. I try to keep it gluten and dairy free for a week before a big race which is pretty dang hard in France when all you see are baguettes and croissants and yogurt. Their yogurt aisle is twice as long as ours in the supermarket...Anyway, pre race all was good and I headed to transition at about 5:15 for a 6:25 start.

Swim-2.4 miles-  59 high
Mass swim start (pros avoided the chaos 5 minutes earlier)
My goal was to swim under an hour and stay with the ladies pack if there was one (men & women pros started together). Off the start, I went hard and missed the first pack and found myself swimming in no man's land for about 1200 meters to the farthest buoy. I was swimming pretty hard and kept thinking, wow, this is going to be a tough swim, swimming alone, sighting, navigating. As I rounded the buoy, I saw a pack of 6 people about 5 yards behind me. What? They've been here the whole time? D'oh! I let the pack swim around me and I hopped on for a free ride. Wow, for the same speed, I was putting in about 30 percent less effort. It. Was. Awesome. AND, I had thought the pack had swum away, but in reality, I just went out too hard. We exited the water for about 10 yards and dove back in for loop 2 which was a bit shorter. I continued to swim with the group and exited the water squeaking in just under an hour! An Ironman swim pr for me by 4 minutes...Thank you to coaches Hux & Patty & all my swim buddies.

T1 is very very long. They need to cram 2500+ bikes onto a beach path and this takes more than 1k of real estate. So T1 is a mini race in and of itself and I was determined to drop a solid Ironman transition. I spent maybe only 30 seconds grabbing my things (helmet, food, watch) then I booked it to my bike.

Bike-112 miles- 5:44

bike with a view

me & Slice...

Oh, the bike. It's funny. I had the MOST fun on this Ironman bike course than I have had anywhere else except maybe Kona. It is truly breathtaking, so hard and so very interesting. There are constant twists and turns and switchbacks and rolling though all the villages is just  exquisite. Sadly, despite having a fine time and having a perfect bike thanks to Cannondale, SRAM, Race Day Wheels (& Sonja!!!), & my Blaze, my bike tactics and technical skills were just not up to par yesterday. I was hoping for a 5:30 bike split, but rolled in at 5:44. I lost some time in the beginning of the ride as there were officials riding all around me & a French local pro. She was clearly a favorite and at one point, I passed her and was riding in front of her. The official came up and whistled at me and started speaking quickly in French. Now, I speak French, but had difficulty understanding this speedy-over-the-rumble-of-the-motorcycle French. I think he was telling me I couldn't just pass her and move right in front of her. But honestly, it felt like he was just trying to slow me down so she could get away. I spent a minute or two figuring out that he was not in fact giving me a penalty...And when I finally got back on track she was gone. Anyway... nothing too crazy, but after that, i was again probably overly conscientious of drafting, etc - the penalty here is 6 minutes and I didn't want one!
The middle of the ride is punctuated by some beautiful climbs, most notably the Col de L'Ecre which lasts from about 50 to 70k and is a long long grind. But I loved it.

The last 50k of the bike is nearly all descending and this is where I lost most of my time. Martina was behind me until this portion of the bike and then passed me at the start of the descents. Looking at the times- she put 8 minutes into me over the last 50k and I'm quite sure the other girls put more. Live and learn. As much as I LOVED this bike course and am dying to do it again....It's just not suited for me at this time and I'll choose better in the future...Anyway, getting off the bike I felt ok. Nutrition was good. no real low spots and it was time to run.

Zoot Ultra tempo 5.0s, visor, change glasses & GO!

Run- 26.2 miles 3:08
Spectators having fun....
As much as I loved the bike, I must be honest and say I did not love the run. The run is four 10.5k loops of a stretch of boardwalk that goes from downtown Nice to the airport. It is hot hot hot and by loops 2 and 3 it gets very very crowded. There is also nearly no shade and no ice! Ice is not a big thing in France. They never serve it with water or sodas and I guess not on the Ironman run either. It was sorely missed by me as I love having little ice parties at every aid station by mixing it with coke and water then stuffing cups of it in my mouth and sports bra ;). What they lack in ice, however, the Français make up for in spectating. There were thousands of folks lining the run course and I never got tired of hearing "Allez les filles!" and "Bravo" and "Courage"..It was very lovely and you can tell this race is very special for France.
note to self: Top 3 have Rollerblade escorts! Must. Get Faster ;)

Although a flat course is nice to get into a rhythm, it doesn't allow you to have much variety which can be pretty draining after 20 or so miles. It was just a get-er-done kind of day. Nothing dazzling, everything painful but I kept moving. Wah wah wah...enough with the complaining! I just had one of those "I'm sticking to 70.3s!!" runs for about 22 of the 26 miles ;).

I think I ran the first half in about 1:30 and the second half in 1:38. I was only able to pass one pro girl on the run as most had put some serious time into me on the bicycle ride. I was closing in on 5th place but ended up 2:30 back from here. The last few kilometers, I just focused on breaking 10 hours since I knew it would be close. I squeaked in round 9:58. Looking at the splits, I'm happy with a 3:08 run, but was secretly hoping to run around 3 hours. But let's face it. Signing up for an Ironman 3 weeks ahead of the game and throwing in just one 2.5 hour run 2 weeks out is not exactly meticulous preparation. Lesson learned, but I'm happy that I was able to eek this one out on fumes. I'm not even too hemmed up today but that may be because I visited the med tent and got a couple IVs...

I finished in 6th place in a time of 9:58. Cheers for a paycheck to pay for some of my travel expenses ;)

First 30 seconds of my finish caputured by Thierry Sourbier, race photog extraordinnaire



Didn't get in too much IM celebrating post-race as I needed a nap, but I did have some frites and a glass of rosé later on!
Congrats to women's podium : Gina Crawford (2nd), Tine Deckers (1st), Kristin Moeller (3rd)

Thank you to all those who support me and help me follow my dreams. Thanks especially to Cannondale and to the Ironman France race organization who helped me so much in making this last-minute trip possible. Also a huge thank you to Tino from SRAM in France. He took amazing care of my bike and made some important adjustments and made sure my SRAM red was perfect.

*Thank you to Zoot for taking on the local girl and supplying the best gear & shoes out there. I'm in love with my Prophet wetsuit and I finally broke an hour in the swim!!! Cannondale- my Slice is the perfect ride decked in SRAM, & the perfect Zipp firecrest carbon clincher 404/404 pair of Race Day Wheels (& one from my Zipp pal Sonja!) . 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 Designs, & Beaker Concepts  for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. I never race without my Adamo racing 2, my betty designs wrist band or my Beaker Concepts Blaze. 
And last but very much not least, thank you to my family, my training partners, and James  for always believing in me and being there for me. I hope (& promise!) that the best is yet to come! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Allez-y! (Let's go!)

Port of Nice...
Of course there is free wi-fi in my hotel. But of course I am in the room where there is no connection. Or maybe they tell everyone that. Anyway, I'm keeping this short so I can head back to my room for a little siesta before bike check-in tonight....

Race week prep has been excellent. I was lucky to have some French amis who took me out and showed me 112 mile one loop bike course on Thursday. We rode drove the entire loop, getting out of the car for all of the tricky descents. Yes, they are tricky. Lots of switchbacks, but all manageable. Instead of blowing my confidence, the pre-ride actually boosted it. I think I can do this and not lose too much time descending.
Bike course...we ride through 17 of the little hilltop villages you see below...In between- lots of up and down!

Today I have spent doing my last mini workouts, preparing my billions of Ironman things, and feeding myself. My bicycle has gotten plenty of TLC from Tino from SRAM Europe and the Slice is ready to roll.

Bike love & Breakfast
The race starts at 6:25am Sunday here (9:25pm PST)...The field is stacked at the pointy end with former IM France champions Tine Deckers, Martina Dogana, & Alexandra Louison) and also 9x IM champ Gina Crawford...So my work is cut out for me, but I'm ready to give it a go. Ironman is a long race and my goal is to stay in the moment, work hard, and breathe.

Allez Allez! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tour Bus on Two Wheels

Besides putting Nutella on nearly everything imaginable, I've been soaking in the French Riviera & countryside from 2 wheels. 

What better tour bus than my Cannondale? It's easy to stop & take pictures, and nothing makes you appreciate the winding roads up to a hilltop village more than actually climbing them yourself (easily, now, because it is race week!) 

On Monday, I checked out the latter part of the #IMFrance Bike course. I road the last 40k in reverse direction of the race and then flipped it so I was able to practice the final descents. A little note, it is steamy hot here! The first day felt like I was in summer in Houston, TX. It cooled off a bit yesterday, but who knows what race day will bring. 

Now, The Ironman France bike course is not one for the "head-down-and-hammer" TT crowd. Heck, I didn't even bring my aero helmet as I'll spend much of the course climbing nearly 6,000 feet and descending switchbacks and such. Time to put on my big girl pants for those descents! 

Love the profile!
The bike course is one big loop. See those 7 mountain icons? Those are the "cols" or "cotés" if you will. I do LOVE to climb and have made so much progress that I'm excited to see what I've got in that department. My goal will be to climb strong physically and then descend strong mentally. I'm not going to write candidly about my descending skills here right now. This is race week, people. I believe in the power of positive thinking. I am a GREAT descender, I am a GREAT descender, I am relaxed and smooth and one with my bike! 
villages and hillsides from the back half of the course...You can see the road cut into the hill in the Bouyon pic. 
On Tuesday, I took a spin to Monaco and redefined my version of the coffee ride...This coastal route still has some small climbs, but all manageable. 
Café ride
I passed through Villefranche sur Mer, Beaulieu sur Mer, St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Forget heaven, when I die, I want to go to Cap Ferrat! 

The run course for Ironman France is at the other end of the spectrum... Four flat loops (10-ish K each) of the Promenade des Anglais, the beach boardwalk path in Nice. 
Promenade des Anglas

One one side you have this....

Men can get an extra "Boost" by checking out the topless offerings while running the marathon.
On the other side, things like this
The architecture here is so rich and ornate, will help pass the time during 26.2. And a good reminder to keep your head UP! If you don't look up, you miss the best parts of the buildings. 

 Other than that, I've been doing a little swimming in the Sea...Holy salt factory! But purrrrrfect temps.
New custom swim suits from Betty Designs, thank you Kristin! And NO, twitter people who asked, these are not what I'm lounging in the beach in- I have proper bikinis! These are for exercise-related dips only!
 And finishing the days like this....

Just one! 

Today I'm taking a full day of rest. Tomorrow will be more checking out the bike course (by car!) with some friends who are arriving. A Bientôt!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


In French, the verb "rêver" means "to dream". 

A few weeks ago I dreamed of racing Ironman France on June 24th. It was not in the plan, not on the schedule, and I can count the number of 5 hour rides I've done on my thumbs ;) .But I'm feeling fit! And I've been having this itch...The itch to travel and adventure and make the most out of my time as a professional triathlete. And also I got that little Ironman itch. The one I said I wouldn't scratch until at least September. Oh well, I was always one of those kids with scabs for weeks because I just couldn't be patient. Right, mom? Anyway, a few weeks ago, a podium finish at Hawaii 70.3 was just a "rêve"as well, but as that dream became reality, I was reminded  that I really can dream big and that you only get to live once. Hawaii had also been on the "maybe if I can afford it" list. And now that I made it happen, I was able to leave with no regrets.....and ready for another adventure. Life is short! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

My job as a school psychologist ended for the summer on Friday, June 15th and the timing seemed perfect....Ironman France...Could I make it happen?
Ok, I found this logo after I wrote the above. It's a sign, oui?  (translation: your dream starts here)

So, with a little hope, a little luck, a little summoning of the powers of "The Secret", and some amazing support from sponsors who believe in my dreams & the race organizers,  I found myself last week with a ticket to Nice, France! Bonjour Ironman France! People ask, "why?". I say, "why not?". 

I left work on Friday and nearly directly hopped on the plane for an 18-hour travel-fest. The trip started most perfectly when the ticket agent looked at my ginormous wheely bag and asked, "Is that a bike?" I replied, "It's fitness equipment for an expo". So, I didn't exactly lie (I never said it wasn't a bike). It IS fitness equipment...And I AM going to an expo, probably transporting myself there with that "fitness equipment". As I walked away from the ticket counter, happily only $30 poorer from baggage fees, I realized I was lucky my new hoodie hadn't given me away! 
Said hoody. Guess the ticket agent wasn't a cyclist!
The rest of the trip went smoothly and I arrived in Nice in the gorgeous, humid, salty-aired twighlight at 9pm the next night (It stays light SO late here!) . 

So, here I am, on the French Riviera, "acclimating" (re: sitting on the beach and exploring the town) for Ironman. The SoF (South of France, d'uh!) is everything I remember it being when I lived in nearby Aix-en-Provence in college. J'adore...

These pros (professional sunbathers I think) were good reminders to NOT forget my sunscreen. Funny, just as uber-bronzing is not dead in the SoF, apparently rollerblading is not either- I saw at least 50 rollerbladers today, some admittedly going faster than me on my bicycle.

My agenda for the next few days is that I have no agenda. For the first time in a year, I feel I have time to breath, to relax, to nap, to think, to. just. BE. And of course blog while drinking coffee at cute little sidewalk cafés (ok I'm actually in my bed right now, but maybe tomorrow) . Other than that, I've got nothing planned other than getting used to the 9 hour time change and perfecting my taper (which sadly means saving most of the crêpes, baguettes, fromage and wine until post-race.  But a glass or two never hurt. And maybe I just had a gelato...oh well... A Bientôt! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hawaii 70.3 Race Report

Hey! I'm working on scaling down the ginormous new header photo. It's a little huge.
Never gets old.
If you want the short and sweet recap, you're in the wrong place! Go here for my quick rundown of the results. If you're in for the dirty deets, grab a Kona coffee.....Or, just scroll down and check out the pretty pictures and skip the race babble. 

Pre Race
When you're racing in Hawaii, your're racing, but you're also IN HAWAII, so the race is just one of the bonuses on the agenda. I'm so lucky to have such fabulous friends to visit with, laugh with, drink pina coladas & Sangria with, and occasionally (very occasionally) talk triathlon.

I arrived in Kona with plenty of time (in theory) to prepare for Saturday's race, but not enough time to actually relax. Friday before race day, I felt a bit too stressed (wishing I could be on island time) and like I had a million places to be and things to do (short s/b/r, drink coffee!, go to pro meeting, athlete check-in, prepare my bike and drop it at Hapuna beach for T1 (T1 & T2 are about 8 miles apart), and prepare and drop my run bag.) Besides all those things, I also had to eat most of Rachel's costco sized peanut butter M&Ms, find some goggles (whoops forgot those), and get everything prepped for an early wake-up call on race day.

Pre-Race dinner was Ahi tuna, rice & bok choy (with a corona & a Sangria) with Rachel & Ken at Tommy Bahama. I think I made a pretty good 3rd wheel and I hope Ken had enough beers to drown out our squaking (poor guy)...But skipper & barbie only get a couple reunions each year and its hard to get all the words in!

Racked next to Mr. Livestrong....lucky sign?
Before I went to bed, I received a text from Linsey Corbin saying, "Sleep well missy. You're my pick for a sneaky top 3 tmrw!" I thought that was gracious of her, a little too generous (my stretch goal was top 5...)

Race morning
I'm getting good at this! 2 slices gluten free cinnamon raisin bread with almond butter and I meant to grab a banana but I forgot it, so I think I ate some of a bar or something. Ken was "ladies man" and sherpa'd our crew out to Hapuna beach for the swim start. The wind was howling already at 4:30 am and I knew we were in for a day. 

Swim- 27:44 -1.2 mile
I was actually not too nervous for the non-wetsuit swim. I had gained confidence by hanging with "the pack" in my last few races so I knew I could do it again......I had a nice start and settled into the pack for the first 2/3 of a mile. Then I started blowing up. I don't know what was going on, but I was full-on redlining and I knew I needed to back off just a bit. So eventually I watched the gap open from one, two, three body lengths. I kept the girls in sight but was OTB. Tatiana swam up and we kept each other company for the rest of the swim. As I entered T1, the contenders were just all getting out of there...Opportunity just missed, but I'll get there next time ;).

T1 went pretty well and I ran out on the tails of a few girls.
Ready to face Madame Pele! 
Bike- 2:32 - 56 miles
I had major issues slipping into my shoes once on the bike. They flipped over and I couldn't get them right side up. I basically had to stop and get things under control. Once I did, I was on a mission. My legs showed up to party and I passed 3 pro girls within the first 8 miles. The wind was ripping and two girls I passed were riding on their hoods. In moments of uncharacteristic confidence, I stayed in my bars and rode away. I have my friend tati to thank because the night before the race as I freaked about the winds, she told me to just stay in my bars as much as possible because it's more stable. Ok. done. I'm actually kind of amazed that I stayed in the aero bars for 95% of the ride because the crosswinds were the craziest I (or many others who have visited the island far more than me) have seen. The gusts were frightening and it wasn't uncommon to get blown halfway across the lane of the road. Thank goodness for closed roads! I actually felt relatively stable on my Slice and i think I made a good choice with a Zipp 404/808 combo (Thank you Race Day Wheels!). I continued to work my way up the field and found myself riding in 5th place behind Linsey Corbin, Julia Grant, Melanie McQuaid, and Bree Wee. At the turn around, I saw that they weren't THAT far ahead. A few minutes, sure, but I realized that I was actually IN the race. 
For me, I had a really fantastic ride. The top girls rode 2:28s (well, champ Linsey rode 2:25) and my 2:32 (not with the group to pace off) is something I'm proud of at this point in my season. I have been waiting for a bike ride that showed the progress I have made and I couldn't be happier with this...I came off the bike all smiles and ripped through T2.

Looking back, I think some key adjustments to my bike have really helped me ride better...This is my second race on my custom Hi-Mod Women's Cannondale Slice and it is SO light and responsive. I also have a newly tweaked fit from Studeo DNA...We put on a new, longer stem, so I have more reach and I feel more comfortable and powerful. Thank you Nestor for making me FAST! I am so so so happy with my position and how I feel on this bike. I think it's going to be huge. 

nailed it. Zoot Kiawe's & visor on. Grab gel. and RUN! 

Run- 1:27:54 
The run at Honu is a mix of golf cart paths, grass (lots of grass!) , and a few "hells kitchen" out and back asphalt sections where you get to scope the competition. I felt pretty good the whole run energy-wise and my nutrition was right on. I took a gel in the beginning and had a few gu chomps. At the halfway point, I switched to coke, coke, COKE! The magic elixir ;). I tried to stay within myself and just run at a hard but sustainable pace. I always need to remind myself that 13.1 miles is quite a long way, and its best to settle in the first 3-4 miles and then really DO WORK. I came off the bike in 5th and at mile 3 I saw Melanie, Julia and Bree and timed that they were just about 3 minutes ahead of me. Definitely within the realm of hope! Soon, I had closed the gap to 1 minute on Mel and 2 minutes on Bree. Eventually, I was able to pass Melanie (i think she had some tummy issues) and then get Bree within sight. BUT, from miles 7-10, I was closing in on Bree, but so very very slowly. The gap was a minute, then 50 seconds, then 45, then you get the point. Eventually, I was running 15 yards behind her for what seemed like 2 miles but I couldn't make the final push to pass. When I finally was right behind her near mile 11, she cheered me on in true Bree fashion, and I tried to keep it moving. I knew she could possibly come with me as she's a fabulous runner, but she didn't on this day...
Running it in to the finish...
I was able to open up a little gap and run into the finish for 3rd place and a smile. 
4:31 , 3rd place overall
My first podium, my first paycheck, and my first solid swim bike run solid race all put together in one. 

With my lucky charm at the finish....Thanks Lins for believing in me ;)
After the race, the party began! Hawaii has an excellent post-race food and beer situation and from there we moved on to pina coladas and more...I want to get a post up soon about all the fun pre and post race but this one is getting too long....Let's just say...we had some good times!
me & legend Kimmie rouse beachside post-race 

The Podium- top 3 men & women...I'm somewhere way back there on the right
*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 Designs, & Beaker Concepts  for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. 
And last but very much not least, thank you to my family for always believing in me and being there for me. Thank you to all my friends who have shown me how important our "family' is and who have supported me through thick and thin (hopefully more THIN for the Hawaii heat...haha)  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hawaii 70.3

I'm enjoying my last night on the Big Island of Hawaii, so no real race report yet. But, I'm happy to report that I finally put together a solid swim-bike-run all on the same day, imagine that!
My first (long awaited!)  Umeke wooden bowl
I finished 3rd female overall in 4:31:47 (new 70.3 best) with some well-rounded splits and the fastest female run of the day. The conditions of the day were windy and epic and it was a great day to simply finish that race.
And my first Hawaiian podium boy...
I was incredibly honored to share the podium with champion & new course record holder Linsey Corbin (4:26:09) and Julia Grant (4:30:17).

Standing on stage with Lance Armstrong who won the men's race, Greg Bennett (2nd) and Chris Lieto (3rd) was pretty  surreal as well...
I think Lance was as excited about his Umeke bowl as I was! 

I am so thankful for the support of the so many people who are helping me realize and live my dreams more and more each day. This was an incredibly special experience that I will always remember.

The dirty deets of the race and fun times (around the race) will come later this week (back to work Tuesday morning!). So, until then, ALOHA!

P.S. I guess those pre-race sangria's with Rachel weren't such a bad idea after all! 

Race video where I sneak in around 3:03 ....