Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Portland getaway: Xterra weekend race recaps

Last weekend was a 3-day adventure to Portland, OR for some Xterra racing....The Portland trip was sort of the "getaway from the getaway" of training camp in Bend, OR. In Bend, it's all chop wood, carry water- getting the work done day in and day out. Lots of consistency and wash-rinse-repeat type of days. So, the Portland weekend was a chance to mix it up, go fast, and sprinkle in some adventure (ok, and a little wine) before returning to Bend for a final training block.

On tap for the weekend: Shack up in a fun hotel in downtown Portland to explore the city, race Xterra Portland on Saturday and close it out with the Xterra Hagg Lake Half Marathon on Sunday.

Thursday we drove the 3-ish hour trip from Bend over the Cascade mountains and ended up at the Ace Hotel. Since we arrived late, decided on dinner just downstairs at Clyde Common....turned out to be a great decision.
Interesting hotel room decor....hipsters...
Friday we drove out to the Xterra venue to pre-ride the course....In Xterra, pre-riding (especially for the mountain-bike challenged like myself) is KEY. I think we did some excellent course recon (mostly fear-facing "i can do it" stuff for me) and felt ready for Saturday's race.
course recon on the Cannondale 29er
In the evening, we did a pro panel at the Athlete's Lounge (an awesome and STOCKED multisport store in Portland) and got to talk with more great people from the city. Loved chatting with some genuine, easygoing, and helpful people all weekend long- Portland- I like your style and your people.

Saturday, the race was ON. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous- the course was much more technical than I had anticipated and my main goal was to get through the bike in one piece.

The race format was 1000m swim, 16 mile mountain bike, 10k trail run. (Oh, and thank you Xterra for the sanity of a 9am start!)

I exited the 2- loop swim as 2nd female and hopped on my bike....

Oh, swim shots are always so GLAM! 
Several miles in, I was passed by one girl who was clearly outclassing me on the mountain bike- girl had skills! (or maybe just a contrast to my lack there-of? Anyway, I was impressed). I just pedaled along and tried to stay upright. "Tried" being the operative word as I definitely had 3 or so full on diggers- only one was a serious time suck as I ended up in some pricker bushes 5 feet off the beaten track and fully stuck under and still clipped into my bike. Sweet!!!! Ok, back on my rig and I finished up the ride with 2 girls who caught up to me and the 3 of us played leap frog for a couple miles back into T2. (PSA: 16 miles on the mountain bike takes A LOT longer than you think it will).

Off the bike, I was sure I was ready for a good run and I ran out of T2 knowing I was in 2nd position but not knowing how far back....I happily found that my legs came to play and cruised out on a mission to see where that first girl was!

lookin serious...Love my Zoot Ultra Tempos even for the trails! 
About 2 miles in, Luke ran by the other direction and told me she was 2 minutes ahead. 2 minutes? That's do-able, right? I knew there was a little prize purse for the winner, so I told myself "would you run as hard as you can for 4 miles for a few hundred dollars?" ummm.. Yes! Why not? (Thank you Matt Lieto for that mind game). Sure enough after the run turnaround I could see a little pink ahead and turned it up a notch. I was able to catch her and finish strong. Solid day at the office with a little adventure mixed in.

Thank you to Jake & Shane, best race directors in the PNW for sure! 

Saturday afternoon, we "recovered" with some wine tasting (gotta try all the Oregon Pinot Noirs) and a food and wine festival - the Bite of Oregon where we continued the wine (and beer and cider) tasting.....
had a few Pinot noir flights...but not too many because....

Sunday was the trail half marathon back at Hagg Lake (. Why not go all in for a "dirty" double training weekend with a bit of race pep? Don't worry, I didn't go TOO big on Saturday night for Sunday's race festivities)
Again, the race morning was chill, fun, good vibes everywhere...Not much to say about a half marathon on rough hilly trails other than that it was hard, fun, and NOT fast! I had a blast and went out fast to get ahead of people on the single track. No other ladies came with me, so I settled in after a mile or 2. After mowing down a couple of "four mile freddies", I found myself in 4th position overall and just kept trucking to the finish, w/ my 2nd win of the weekend. We'd planned a few miles for a cool down, but decided the race had certainly been enough, so hopped back in the car and trucked it back to Bend, OR. 

A weekend well spent and I had such a blast exploring Portland and racing with the Xterra folks... My Cannondale Women's hard tail 29er is super fun and getting back to the roots of why I love to race was resfreshing.....
So, when you have the chance- do something new that scares you- never hurts to mix it up! (well, until the day after ;). 

Thank you to all of my sponsors and supporters who helped me have an amazing Xterra weekend! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

the intersection of work & play (& the KPR beast)

I'm feeling lucky these days that my training is taking me to amazing and lightly trodden places around Bend, OR. I'm loving that moment when you crest a hill high up in the mountains and realize that relatively few people will see that same view (let alone be crazy enough to run up there rather than properly hike). 

skimmin across a snow field near the peak of Broken Top mtn. 

just a minute to enjoy the view....(or catch my breath- air is THIN up there!)

I've also been able to get out and explore the billions of trails on my new Cannondale Women's Tagno 29er.
Going up....

29er time

sights from a mountain bike - Tumalo Falls

All this training has let me spend a little more time doing another fun thing- eating! I've been ripping through the Bonk Breakers with this huge training block.... I'm especially thankful and obsessed with the new mini PB&J Bonk Breakers - 125 calories of yum & perfect to pop a few in a your jersey pocket on any exploration
love my minis! 

post swim pre-ride breakfast #2- Banana Bonk Breaker & Americano 

post-run blender fun - watermelon, mint, ice, honey
So yes- lots of training & eating going on and it all seems to be at the intersection of work & play. I'm working so very hard, but loving every minute of exploring a new (to me) part of the country and everything just feels right.

"What's all this training for?" you may ask... Well, darn... I've been asking myself that same question and it is a host of if...thens... right now.

Here's the scoop. I had planned on trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii (10/12) .. For Kona, they pick the top 35 (of 308) women in a points ranking system to go. I am currently ranked #41. For the qualifying year, I have a 2nd place (Ironman Wisconsin), 5th place (Ironman Cairns), 9th place (Ironman Cozumel), and 11th place (Ironman Cabo). Alas, this is not enough points to get a lady to Kona! The bar is high and without getting too deep into the depths of the beast that is the Kona Points Ranking (KPR), let's just say at this point it will be a gamble to try to make the cutoff. But I'm good for a gamble, you know.

I'd like to do one more race to qualify for Kona 2013 (and that race is Ironman Whistler on 8/25), but there are about 10 other professional women who are trying to do the same thing (race one more Ironman, especially the very high points US Champs Ironman Mont Tremblant)  for the final 8 slots that are picked at the end of August. I think I could do very well at Whistler, and I know I would need that top result in order to squeeze in.

Option 2 is to hold off on Kona one more year, and go all-in for the win at an early season Ironman (and you know I love Ironman Wisconsin!!!!) while others still have their eyes on the Kona prize this year.

In all honesty, I go back and forth on both options daily, and the path may not even come completely clear until very close to Ironman Whistler. But for now, the plan is Whistler and I'm super excited to race the Inaugural race there and compete in my first race in Canada..
So yeah, I'm training...for something.. something good I hope! (but don't worry Mitch, I know that "Hope is not a strategy".
Back to chopping wood.