My Triathlon Training and Racing Blog

My Triathlon Training and Racing Blog

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Riding the Hog

Sand Hollow, Utah

It's that time of year. 
Time to ride the bike. 
A lot. 

Riding bikes happens to be my favorite pastime, so I am one happy camper over here! 
Especially on days when I am not just holding on for dear life because of ridiculous winds. 
Those days are few and far between during spring up here in Flagstaff, so they are very much appreciated. 

But after a while the wind and cold gets to me and then it's time for a little escape to a warmer place! 

early morning in front of Steve's house

I have loved visiting Steve, Fuji rep extraordinaire, and his wife Nancy in Fountain Hills (down by Phoenix) a couple of times for some excellent riding. Unfortunately, my first race of the season got rained out and canceled during my second visit but that didn't keep me from riding my bike all day. Such great weather down there! 

top of Snow Canyon

In January I went up to St. George to pick up my new bike and to ride with friends and I was lucky to be able to go back with the family over spring break and get in a whole bunch of more miles now that the bike is all dialed in. I am having so much fun on that thing! I knew it would be fun to ride a new bike but I didn't know just HOW MUCH fun! I am loving it. 

photo by Amy Perez

Over spring break I rode by Gunlock reservoir many times. Three out of five times I saw wild donkeys on and by the road. Lots of them. Just hanging out. I am not a fan of cows on my road but I will take donkeys. Really, I will take (almost) any distraction after riding on my own for hundreds of miles in one week. 

 After another windy and chilly couple of weeks, I can't wait to pack my bags and head to Tucson for 3 days next week. With KH in her VW bus. Oh yeah. A mini training camp where we will ACTUALLY be camping. Mt. Lemmon is calling my name! We are in for a treat! 

The view from my bed. Oh the joys of apartment living. But I don't mind having the Fuji on one side and the husband on the other. I like 'em both. 

In other news: 

I crashed on today's group ride. It was 100% my fault and luckily I was the only one going down. Totally lame and quite embarrassing*. I will spare you the details. I got some nasty road rash but nothing that won't heal rather quickly. Or so I hope. The status of the knee is to be determined but considering I rode another 50 miles after the crash and ran an hour when I got home and the knee is not in terrible shape, I am hoping for the best.

The bike seems to be in good shape. PHEW! 

Racing season has started for many, so a big shout out to everyone competing! 
I love following races and reading race reports. I am a nerd that way. 

*Yes. I rode a TT bike on a group ride. No. The reason I crashed is not because I was in aero position while drafting. Duh! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SP Crater Trail Half Marathon and Then Some

photo by Ian Torrence

So. It's been a while. Definitely too long. But I have a pretty good excuse: The husband has been out of town for a loooooong time! In case you don't remember: He is a PhD student here at NAU and decided he needed to camp out in the field for six weeks to catch some desert kangaroo rats and get a sample of their genes. Or something like that. If you want details, go ask him. Or the kids. I am basically the only non-scientist in this house. Which reminds me of our dinner conversation tonight: 

Max (5) to Noah (8): Are scorpions arachnids? 
Noah: Yes. D'uh! 
Me: How do you know? 
Boys (in unison): Because they have eight legs! 
Me: Scorpions have eight legs? Arachnids have eight legs? Are you sure? 
Boys roll their eyes... 

Ha! What do you know. I am a linguist have a degree in linguistics. Science has never been my strong point. Glad they are smarter than me already! 

While Karl is gone, there is no time for anything extra. I try to simplify. And by the time I have taken care of the kids and the basics, I have used up all of my energy and time for the day. So to bed I go. Which means I have lots and lots of stories and experiences in my head that I would love to share with you and three drafts for posts that I never finished. Let's hope that doesn't happen to this one! In hopes that I will finish said drafts, I am just going to jump ahead to this weekend. 

Karl came home (for a short two days) from the field at 3:50 and I went out the door at 3:51 (this is not recommended but sometimes necessary) to meet Bret Sarnquist, a friend and soon-to-be registered dietitian who was in town for the race and offered to work with me on training and racing nutrition. I am stoked about this and will tell you more soon! 

Friday night was family night. Good times. 

FSC United U8 - Noah is behind the kid in sunglasses

Saturday morning at 6am Karl dropped me off at the pool and brought Noah to friends who took him with them to (the third) soccer tournament (in a row) in Phoenix. The kid can't get enough! 

The swim was a great warm up for a fun day of training. Karen and the girls pulled up in front of the pool at 7:45 sharp and I hopped into her VW van. When I grow up, I want one of those! Perfect training and racing base. 

not sure what happened to this picture... 

The race was basically in the middle of nowhere. 30 minutes north of Flagstaff. Here is a taste of the Wild West. Just like what I used to see on the German movie screen in Marlboro commercials when I was a kid. Can't believe that I get to live here now!  

(the following five pictures are courtesy of Ian Torrence) 

Unlike most Flagstaffians, I do not think that this is the ultimate and most beautiful place on earth to live. But it is pretty dang awesome!!!

To the race. It was chilly and windy and nobody wanted to get out of the car. Whose idea was this anyway? 

I was looking forward to a great training run. Local running races are always fun! With this being the inaugural event and four distances to choose from, there were only about 50 people competing in the Half Marathon. We live in a running mecca, so you never know if an Olympian or National Champion is going to show up to race or volunteer! Whether I was going to be able to run with people or not didn't really matter. As long as it is called a race, I will try to go as fast as I can. 

It was all fun and games until the press lady shows up to ask me some questions because, apparently, I am the girl to beat. Huh? Really? Oh boy. While this is flattering of course, suddenly I felt pressure to win the thing. Here goes nothing! 

Course goes something like this: 

6 miles gradual uphill
half a mile ridiculously steep uphill
half a mile ridiculously steep downhill 
6 miles gradual downhill

Actual race goes like this: 

Chat with Katie for the first 5 miles
Finally drop Katie
Gain some ground on the steep uphill
Creep down the steep hill slower than I went up
Katie comes storming by toward the end of the hill
Drop Katie again at the next aid station
Check behind me 3 miles later
Katie is still pretty close
Try to push a little harder
Race with a couple of cows 

I was certain the cows would cross the road right in front of me eventually. Which they did. I was also certain that they would stop in the middle of the dirt path and just stand there and stare at me. Which they didn't. Phew. Not a fan of cows in my way. 

I am also not a fan of terrible washboard on our dirt road. Or aid stations at exactly mile 13.1 which from far away look like the finish line and should be the finish line. But, hey, nothing like pushing hard to what you think is the end of the race and then having to find it in you to keep up the pace for another 1.4 miles. It really was the perfect hard training run!

What I am a fan of is local, affordable, fun, and beautiful races where we all come together to celebrate running! This was certainly one of those. And having ultra running legend Ian Torrence and  the newly minted 50k national road champion Emily Harrison volunteer their time and energy at this race was certainly a special treat! 

As was getting to hang out with some of my favorite people in Flagstaff! 

But we didn't hang out for long. Not only was it super windy and not warm but we had places to go and miles to ride! So we headed over to Wupatki. None of us were too thrilled to be in the wind for another 4 hours but a plan is a plan and we weren't going to back out. So off we went and had a good time chatting and climbing until we reached the highway. What is normally a super fun descent turned into holding on for dear life and pretending that we were still having fun. 

So grateful for awesome training partners! KH and I spend many hours a week training together and it's always a good time when PLB comes along and shares his stories!

me, KH, PLB

We rode 48 miles. My plan, however, said I needed to ride 60 miles. So when we got back to the car and I had stuffed my mouth and pockets full of any remaining food, I turned around and rode back up the highway and into Flagstaff. The wind was now in my back and it wasn't as bad as expected. I was actually having fun the whole time! Well, until that last climb up to my house. That one about did me in. But I'd rather ride an extra 20 miles than fall 12 miles short any day. 

As PLB sat down in the trunk of his car, glad this day of training was over, he says with a smile on his face: 

"I wish I had never met Sarah Jarvis." 

I take this as a compliment! It's not every day that this tough guy will let you wear him out. 

How awesome is PLB's little car with bike on top? 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Is Definitely About The Bike

In case you haven't heard yet: I GOT A NEW BIKE!!!

Not just any new bike. A Fuji Norcom Straight 1.3

Have I mentioned that I am OVER-THE-MOON EXCITED about my new bike? 

Yes. This is a big deal. If you know me, you know just how big of a deal! I will tell you why. But first I am going to back up a bit. Or a lot.

I did my first triathlon in 1996. Almost 18 years ago. Some of you may still have been in diapers then. Which means it was a LONG time ago. My German triathlon club, TRT Remchingen - together with Cycle Sport - helped me get on my first TT (and road) bike. A Cube bike. Haven't heard of them? Well, let me show you what it looked like. Aluminum with 650c wheels and all. It was hot stuff then. And, apparently, I thought I was hot stuff then too. What a crack up! 

in front of my parents' house in Germany, age 17

It served me well for many years. 7 years to be exact. I brought it with me to the States during my exchange year in high school and again when I went to BYU. We had a lot of fun together, survived several crashes, and saw many beautiful places. Here it is not too long before retiring in my parents' garage:

racing in Utah, age 20

In 2003 it was time for a new ride! I basically went to the local Provo bike shop, saw the Giant TCR 1 and said: That's the bike I want. Rode it around the parking lot for a few minutes, paid for it with the help of my parents, and raced on it for the next 6 years. No bike fit of any sort. I adjusted the seat and off I went. As you can see in the picture below, I would've greatly benefitted from some bike fitting:

Challenge Roth 2007 - First 140.6

I still ride the bike quite a lot. Especially during the winter months. Karl turned it into a road bike and I love it! It fits much better now and is still in decent shape. Even same saddle, same wheels. 

At the end of 2008, after several years of having been made fun of for my ancient and low-end bike, it was time for un upgrade with the help of my sponsor, Salt Lake Running Company. I really didn't have a choice or say in this. If I wanted their help, which I needed, it was going to be a Guru. And still I could only afford an aluminum frame. So the Guru Ventus it was. 

in 2010

in 2012

Still not nearly as fancy as what most of my competitors were riding but it worked for me. And because it was a custom frame, it fit much better than either of the other TT bikes. I rode the Ventus in many races, including three 70.3 World Championships where I placed Top 5 in my AG each time. Sometimes it even got dressed up with some fancy racing wheels that I borrowed:

at Oceanside 70.3 in 2012

At the end of 2012, I noticed a crack in the frame. This was bad news and I didn't really want to deal with it. So I kept riding the bike until June 2013 but I was getting increasingly worried about it. At the St. George 70.3 I wasn't sure the bike was going to make it through the race in one piece. I contacted Guru hoping they would replace the frame or at least let me upgrade to a carbon frame that we could afford. That was not the case. We had to pay to ship it there, they fixed my old aluminum frame, and sent it back. The whole thing took a couple of months and I was stressed! I had a few important races coming up and who likes to go a whole summer without a proper bike? Not me! 

Sean Warren and his Fezzari T5 to the rescue! Being the super stud that he is, he loaned me his bike not just for a couple of weeks but 6 months!* I raced 3 Halfs and 1 Full on this bike and loved it! But he kinda wanted it back and I had the Guru frame sitting in a box next to my bed, so I brought it back up to Utah at Christmas time and said Good-bye to a good friend:

*It may sounds like this was easy or simple but it was neither. We went through at least 3 other bikes that Coach was willing to let me borrow. Karl spent countless hours adjusting and re-adjusting bike after bike but I wasn't happy. I may not know much about bikes and I am really not that picky but I do know whether or not a bike is going to fit.

I really didn't have high hopes of getting a new bike anytime soon. Or at least not while Karl is still in school and I am still refusing to get a real job. But what's the point of getting a job to be able to afford a new bike if then I don't have time to actually ride the bike? That doesn't make any sense. To me at least. Karl was ready and willing to put the Guru back together but I wouldn't let him. Because what if - somehow - someone - was willing to help me get on a decent bike? 

Norcom Fuji Straight 1.3

Enter T3 Triathlon. Amy and Shaun are taking such good care of me, I am one blessed and happy girl! I have dreamed of having a carbon bike but never thought I would have electronic shifting. Ever. And now I have both! Plus some sweet racing wheels. I am absolutely stoked! And so grateful!!! Not only do I get to work with and represent T3 Triathlon but now I am also part of the Fuji family and I am loving it! And by family I mean: The local Fuji rep has invited me to stay with him down in Scottsdale here and there and ride in the warm weather on dry roads! I am definitely taking him up on that offer! 

girl bike power!

I met up with Amy and Shaun and a bunch of other T3 girls in St. George to pick up the Fuji. What better place to try out a brand new bike?!? Although it's always difficult to adjust to a new bike and figure out all the little details, I had a blast! 

Now the question is: What am I going to name this new family member? So far I have had two bikes named Indurain and one named Virenque. After the cycling heroes of my youth*. 

*Yes. I have hundreds of Tour de France articles that I cut out of German and French newspapers neatly organized in many folders at my parents' house. For years, I watched every single stage with my dad. And every weekend on family rides I was Indurain, my dad was Rominger, my sister Chiappucci, and my mom the water boy. Haha. Good times! 

Not sure yet. But it's definitely a boy. Suggestions are welcome. 

Happy Riding! 
Whether inside or outdoors. 
It's never a bad day to ride! 

Friday, January 31, 2014

On Dreams and Sportsmanship

Max came home from Kindergarten with this wonderful piece of art the other day:

I certainly can't keep all my kids' art projects and was about to throw this one in the trash, when I folded the bottom out and read this: 

When I am 100 years old I will... 

... be a professional at any sport

It made me smile. And laugh. And melted my heart. 

He is such a cutie and SUCH a stinker. 

Of course his older brother just busted up laughing when he got home. Because, d'uh, do you know of any 100-year-old that is a professional at any sport? Karl and I were silently laughing as well. 

I love Max's confidence. Obviously he has no idea how long 100 years are. He gets weeks and months and years mixed up and tomorrow seems an eternity away. But he has a strong personality and, although exhausting most days, will come in handy many times throughout his life, I am sure! If there is one thing I hope I can teach my kids besides kindness (which I am struggling with because, let's face it, I have a lot to learn in that department) it would be: dream big, work hard, reach for the stars, fail and try again. You can be anything you want to be! Now I just need to remember that myself... 

This is now the second kid whose teacher has taken time to let us know that we need to work on good sportsmanship. Not in a bad way necessarily. They are good kids. But they are competitive and fierce and, apparently, think they are the best in the world at anything involving sports. Yikes! 

But Noah has learned over time and Max will, too. We talk a lot about what it means to be a good sport. How fun is it to be the best soccer player but to play mean and unfair? No matter how good you are, if you can't play nice, no one wants you on their team. So now the best Kindergarten teacher in the world decided to let Max stay out after his recess and help ref some of the games of the older kids. Needless to say: He LOVES it. And it sounds like he is learning a thing or two. 

It's a process but we are all learning together and enjoying the journey

What do you wanna be when you are 100 years old? 

I want to be healthy and sane and able to enjoy my grandchildren and great-grandchildren! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Utah Training and Racing Fun

Summer is long gone but I have so many great memories from training and racing in Utah this summer that I wanted to put them on here. 

ready to climb!

First up was the Wonder Woman Hill Climb put on by Coach Mahogani. It's always a treat to race with a whole bunch of awesome girls! Even better when many of them are friends you haven't seen in a while. Can't think of a better way to spend the evening of July 3rd. Thank you, ladies! 

The next morning, July 4th,  Karl and I ran down a block from his parents' house to participate in the popular Provo Freedom Run 10k. 10k's aren't my favorite because they hurt! A lot. But running along the parade route with tons of spectators is worth it! Karl was way ahead of me and not willing to pace me (He knows better than to do that!), so I was left to my own devices to break 40:00 on this course. I was right on track... until the last mile which is slightly uphill and provides hundreds of obstacles in the form of 5k runners, some with kids and strollers in tow. Missed my goal by a few seconds. Well, shoulda planned better and run harder!

nothing like an HT smashfest on the track

But, don't you worry, I found myself another 10k, the Speedy Spaniard,  a couple of weeks later and crushed 40:00. Maybe thanks to some great speed work on the track under Coaches Heath and Mahogani. The 3 of us girls got to chase the guys (Coach Heath and husband Karl) around the track which was fun painful! 

A few days after our Emerald Lake Triathlon extravaganza, I was signed up for the Timpanogos Half Marathon which is a super fun race and very fast course. I was all set to run a new half marathon PR except that my right foot was really bothering me from all that downhill running on Mount Timp. While the husband is like a Gazelle in the mountains, I am - apparently - not. Coach had warned me but I figured I knew better and, to be honest, it was still worth it! The foot hurt and slowed me down quite a bit but I was still having a blast! Best part of that race was running next to a girl at mile 10 who looked amazing. We chatted a bit and what did I find out? She just had her 5th baby 7 weeks ago. What?!? Only in Utah, I tell ya... And it's not like I was dilly dallying around. I ran a 1:27, so that girl was already back in whopping shape! Very inspiring... 

Next up was the Echo Triathlon. One of my favorites! Fast swim, deceivingly hard bike course, flat trail run. 

Had a great time going 1-2 with my training buddy and friend, Amber! And I came home with a bunch of swag. Love racing in Utah! In case you can't tell... 

some of HT Training with Coach M

The day wasn't quite over yet. I met up with a few HT Training friends and we accompanied Colleen on her last long run (She had already biked a long ways without the boys earlier that day) before Vineman Full. It was a good run up the canyon from Coach's house. Nothing crazy, just a solid run with great company. It was a hot July afternoon and we were all getting tired. We barely made it out of the canyon and to the first gas station where we begged for Coke and they saved us! 

great views, great group, great times

As much I like racing, I love long epic training days even more! Very early one morning, in the dark, a bunch of T3 Triathlon girls headed out to tackle 4 of the Mountains around us: Squaw Peak, South Fork, Alpine Loop, Suncrest. Let me know if you are ever in Utah Valley and I will take you on that tour! It makes for an awesome day of riding and climbing fun! 

The rest of the time, which - luckily - was still many hours a day, I got to hang out with these two wild ones. Nothing like hanging out at the pool on a hot summer day! My favorite. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


riding in St. George

So I got a new bike. And then I rode it a whole lot while I was in St. George for the long weekend. I ran and swam some also and was loving it. All I needed to take care of was myself. It was a nice break.

Karl and the kids stayed home. Without a car. Because we are a one-car-family. They rode their bikes the places they wanted to go. For four days. And had a great time with friends who came to visit on Monday. My boys are studs.

having fun with their friend, Nate

I rolled off of my inflatable mattress at the Hotel De Rue (best hosts and friends ever!) very early on Tuesday morning. Sore throat and tired body. Tempted to stay on the freeway and keep going, I forced myself to take the exit to the pool to get in a swim before the 5-hour drive home. Decent swim, good decision.

Made it home just in time to throw the bags and new bike into the house and head to school. Time to volunteer in Max's class. I wasn't going to ditch out on this. 100 days of Kindergarten! Except when I arrived - tired and hungry - the classroom was empty. Turns out I was a day early. The party was Wednesday! Craptastic. I gave up two hours of precious sleep for nothing! Oh well. I was too tired to get upset. I found Max and gave him a big hug instead. He was thrilled. About my hug and about the 100 nails he brought to school that day.

who wouldn't miss these cuties? 

Went back home. Attempted to unpack my stuff which ended up with me lying on the floor for 20 minutes and then heading back to school. Snacks in the car. Soccer practice on the other side of town. Home to a super messy house and empty kitchen. About to lose it. I don't think I can do this. But it's my job and I want this apartment to feel like a home. Stained carpets and bikes in living room and all.

Caffeine and Sharpies to the rescue.

Now, I don't drink coffee. Or anything else containing caffeine. I don't want to need caffeine. Not a fan. But this was an EMERGENCY. Basically. And I knew exactly what was going to get me off my chair and to work:

Against all of my rules, I ate a gel at home, not about to train, containing 100mg of caffeine. Yikes! Those things should be illegal except during Ironman racing. Me thinks Karl should hide the rest of these until racing season starts!

Then I remembered the gold and silver Sharpies I had bought a while ago. Plus black paper. Max was entertained.

I cleaned, cooked, unpacked, had dinner with the kids while Karl was running with Ryan Hall*, read this awesome book

if you speak German, get this book. 

to the boys before bed, vacuumed, and felt like super woman. Except that I cheated. And I realized how easy it would be to make this a habit. I mean: Who doesn't like to have a lot of energy between the hours of 4 and 9pm? Which is usually when I am in some sort of slump desperately trying to pull myself out of it and being the mom and wife I want to be. I do realize there is absolutely nothing wrong with having some caffeine every afternoon but it's not for me. I want to know exactly how I naturally feel and figure out a way to deal with it.

I also realized (again) how much I love to train all day. With no distractions. Even all by myself. But it's not my reality and I am grateful for that. Because after a few days it gets old for me. And I miss my kids and Karl and I start to feel selfish. And then I get to go home and be a wife, a mom, and a triathlete. And that's a pretty dang good combination if you ask me.

*No. Ryan Hall and Karl aren't best buds. But our running community here in Flagstaff is so awesome that even top level runners come to our Tuesday night track practices. How cool is that?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ALEL Triathlon aka Best Date Ever

Alpine Loop Emerald Lake Triathlon


Karl and I like to go on adventure dates. Not sure if we've ever done a dinner-and-a-movie date. That is way too much sitting for my liking. But because we don't live close to family who will entertain the kids all day while we are playing, this only happens about twice a year. Once in the winter and once in the summer while we are visiting Utah. That's ok with me because Utah is my favorite playground anyway! This adventure goes down as one of my all-time favorites. 

We packed up our stuff and started even before it got light right out the front door of Karl's parents' house in Provo. Love early summer mornings! We headed up to American Fork Canyon on the brand-new Murdoch Canal Path which was great to ride on! Then we climbed and climbed some more up the Alpine Loop and over the top. I have ridden my bike many years in many different places, and the Alpine Loop is at the very top of my list! It's such a gorgeous ride! 

These awesome views make the climb go by in a jiffy!

Karl was being a great sport riding my road bike. There wasn't enough room on the car to bring the kids' bikes, my TT bike, my road bike, and his bike, so he left his bike home. (In case you are wondering why in the heck I had to bring two of my bikes, that is a long story and involves a crack in my TT frame which needed to be sent to Canada...) He is quite a bit taller than I am but we made it work and he (hardly) complained. He is mostly a runner these days anyway, so he was happy to explore by foot during our vacation.

At Aspen Grove on the other side of the mountain, we parked the bikes, changed into our running gear, and headed up the trail toward Mount Timpanogos. The last two years I did the ULTOT with a group of friends and we went to the top of Timp which was awesome! This year I had a bunch of bigger races coming up and didn't want to run for 6+ hours on rocky trails, so we took a different route and my goal was to make it to Emerald Lake. Karl wanted to run to the top and, considering that he is a gazelle and runs about twice as fast as I do, that was fine by me. 

What can I say. It's a gorgeous and we were loving it. Karl was off the front and I was having a party by myself. Not sure if it's acceptable to call this a date when we weren't even together the whole time, but hey, it's my blog and my our marriage, so I can call this whatever I want. Experiencing joy and beauty at the same time in (almost) the same place counts for a lot in my book! And so does independence... 

Eventually I caught up with Karl who was having some issue with his foot (or something like that) and decided that my plan sounded better than his. 

We made it up to Emerald Lake and that's when we decided that this was going to be a triathlon! We were going to swim in the glacial lake! And we called it the Alpine Loop Emerald Lake Triathlon. 

I grew up biking with my family every weekend and we would make sure to go by one or more lakes and always had our swim suits with us. Just in case. And we would always swim. I loved it and still do! If there is water, I need to go in it. Karl is not a swimmer by any means but he doesn't mind a little dip in the great outdoors. We didn't bring swim suits but it was hot enough to jump in and dry off in no-time. In typical fashion, I made Karl get in first. I guess I just like the anticipation to last longer. Or I am a wuss when it comes down to it. Or I need a guinea pig. Who knows. So in he went. 

We each had to take a few strokes out and back to actually be able to call it a swim. It was painful in a good way! 

Here I go: 

It was the best. I felt alive

Trying to get back out of that darn thing as quickly as possible which wasn't all that easy: 

Happy wet kids!

There were two guys on the side of the lake when we got there and they watched the whole thing. At first they thought we were crazy but by the time we left, they were taking a dip themselves. Awesome! You should try it too some time! 

We ran back down. Biked by Sundance and through Provo Canyon. Stopped at Bajio's for lots of yummy food. Got home in the late afternoon to play with the kids collapse on the couch. 

Good times! Great memories! 
Love you, Karl Jarvis!