My Triathlon Training and Racing Blog

Thursday, September 25, 2014


This is how gorgeous it COULD have been... 

I wake up at 3:30 and I smell smoke
Inside the house through closed windows. 
No need to even take a peek through the blinds. 

I knew there was a good chance this would happen after seeing the smoke roll back in the night before but I was hoping for the best... only to wake up to the worst. 

Thursday, when we rolled into town, the air was terrible. 
Like the-minute-I-got-out-of-my-car-I-got-a-headache terrible. But there was hope because, hey, winds change and firefighters are hard at work and there were more than two days left before the race! 

This is what Thursday evening looked like down by the lake: 

I didn't do much that night. Just a a very easy little jog along the beach to shake out the legs after a day of driving. And super short swim because I couldn't wait any longer to swim in that beautiful lake!!! But then, of course, I got wimpy again swimming all by myself in that big lake and talked some poor guy, who had already finished his swim, into going back out for another little loop with me. Many thanks to you, stranger! 

Friday was definitely much better. 
Smokey but not bad. Winds had shifted and we all got our hopes up again! 

Northstar pool on Friday was lovely! 

At the pro meeting there wasn't a lot of talk about a possible cancellation of the race because predictions for Sunday were looking good! So smiling faces by us Coeur girls all around! 

Love my Coeur teammates! 

Saturday was even better! 
So I took my lovely Fuji bike for a nice little ride before checking it in. 

All good to go! 
Huge thanks to my personal bike mechanic, Karl Jarvis, for taking excellent care of my bike! 

And then Sunday, race day, the air was at its WORST and looked like this at the finish and most of the course: 

Squaw Valley

The swim start was one of the few places where the air was relatively good: 

Picture by Sherry Daerr

Depending on in which direction you were looking, it was a quite beautiful morning: 

Picture by Sherry Daerr

 But you can see the smoke looming in the background and to the west: 

So while eating breakfast 
(white rice with 1/2 banana, almond milk and small greek yogurt with 1/2 banana) 
I knew there was a good chance WTC would cancel the race. 

I mean, what choice did they have? 

But since I hadn't heard anything and knew they wouldn't make an announcement until 5:30-6 when most athletes were in transition, we drove down to the start and I went through the usual pre-race routine. At least physically. Mentally I wasn't about to get myself psyched up for something that might not be happening after all. It rained on us for a bit and we hoped by some miracle that would help with the smoke. Not a fan of rain but in this case I was hoping for a major downpour! 

When dropping off my special needs bags, I asked: 

"So we are dropping these off pretending like the race is going to go off without a hitch?" 

The answer was: "Yes." 

Ok then. On we go. 

I was a bit worried about my precious special needs bags. Because, heck, these days you don't get them back! So I wasn't going to put anything of value in there. And, yes, a nice bike bottle is 'of value' at our house. 

At 6:15 there still hadn't been an announcement of any sort, so we put on our wetsuits, headed to the water, and warmed up. 

Picture by Sherry Daerr

Apparently I was so relaxed that I was doing arm circles and talking to a couple other girls with my eyes closed! Although at this point I was convinced the race was actually going to happen. Otherwise they would've told us already, right? 

We headed to the starting area and lined up behind the male pros and then at 6:28 - 2 minutes before the start - the announcement came. 

"Race is canceled due to terrible air. 
You have until 10 to check out your bike and until 12 to head over to the finish to pick up run gear and special needs bags."

WTC made the right call
No doubt about it. 
The air was dangerous to everybody's health. 
There are numbers to prove it but I didn't need numbers. 
I had seen and smelled the air and it was obvious. 

But I am a bit frustrated regarding the timing and deliverance of the cancellation. 

From a few things that were said, it was clear that WTC knew very well that they would cancel the race by 6:00 the latest. So why wait until 2 minutes before the start to announce it?!? Why pretend while we are pumping up tires, putting nutrition on our bikes, filling water bottles, eating one last snack, putting T1 bag in place, and squeeze ourselves into the wetsuit? I would really like to know. 

And how about putting some heart and feeling into the announcement? Just enough to let us know that you care about us and feel very sorry about the situation. That would've been nice. 

Heading out to swim. 

The first thing any of us pro girls said after the announcement was: 

"Let's go swim the course anyway!" 

The air was still fine and buoys set up, so we asked an official and he gave us the ok. 
We walked into the deeper part and off we went. 
It was just what most of us needed to deal with the situation. 
I am sure most of us deal with crap by exercising. 
So that's what we did. 

A few of the guys joined us as well. After one loop, we had a quick chat, and some of us went for a second loop to swim the official 2.4 miles. The water was fantastic but I felt average. I even had moments where I thought: Man, I am glad this is not a race or I might be dead last pro out of the water. Ha! Clearly I would've happily taken that scenario over the present one. 

Then we grabbed all of our crap and packed it back up and all went our ways. 

Karl and I went back to the car. I changed out of my wet and cold Coeur kit on the side of the road and proclaimed to Karl after he gave me the look: 

The last thing I care about right now is public nudity

Because that was the truth. 

In the car I ate a whole bunch of Thai Lime & Chili cashews. I don't even like those! But what else was there to do?!? Then I took a long, hot shower. Long and hot showers solve a lot things. But I am not so sure about this one. 

By now it was only 8:30 in the morning. 
What to do?!? 
I decided to do what was going to make me (somewhat) happy
And that is swim-bike-running! Surprise. 

So I rode my bike for 6.5 hours, 
swam another 30 minutes.
and ran for an hour on the treadmill. 

Don't ask me for miles or meters. It wasn't about numbers today.

And in case you are worried about my health

I escaped the smoke for a while by biking on the east side of the lake and then climbing a very long, steep hill. I took a selfie and sent it to my friends back home who had sent me a picture of them riding  the Wupatki loop in glorious sunshine. Well, this wasn't Wupatki or glorious sunshine and I was all alone but I was going to make the best of it! 

Look who I ran into at the top of the mountain and rode with for a while? Mackenzie Madison. 
Fellow pro girl and fun riding buddy! 

I certainly wasn't the only athlete out riding my bike which was nice! But by now smoke was everywhere and there was no getting away from it. So when Mackenzie turned off, so gave me one of her masks she had brought so I could avoid the worst. 

You know it's BAD when I am willing to ride around like this for hours:

Karl says I handled it really well. And I agree. 

 But it still sucks. Big time. 

Yes, there are many worse things in life. No, it's not the end of the world. But it's the end of a dream for many of us. Are there other races we can do? Certainly. Does that mean it's no big deal? NO! This is a big deal to most of the people that lined up on Sunday morning to accomplish a huge goal. I am fortunate that I decided to race professionally this year. Had I decided otherwise, I would be in the same boat as many of the age groupers who have saved up for this race and this trip for many months, made incredible sacrifices, and had their dream crushed minutes before the start. I truly feel for them and my heart goes out to them and their families. It's no one's fault (except the person that purposefully started the fire) but it's an incredible disappointment nonetheless. 

I think it's ok to be frustrated, sad, angry, depressed, and crushed. For a while. 
I thought I was just fine until we got home and the kids left for school this morning and Karl went to work, and I realized that I am not fine. Yet. And I can live with that. I don't have to pretend that it's no big deal. Even of others think so. Which is why I didn't leave the house. Because I am tired of hearing things like: 

"Oh, your race got cancelled? Well, at least you are signed up for Ironman Arizona as well." 
"You didn't get to race? Well, at least you and Karl got to go on a trip." 
"Such a bummer. But at least you didn't have to pay for a hotel." 

Have some of these same thoughts? You are right. It's all true statements. And, obviously, I know that! But it's just NOT helpful. 

Karl shared this little clip with me the other night and it fits this situation perfectly. If you know me, you know that I am not the best at showing empathy. Which is exactly why Karl showed it to me. So I am going to watch this clip every now and then. To remind myself to be more like the bear and less like the deer. And because I love Brene Brown! You should watch it. It's rather eye-opening. 

So now what

I had signed up for Silverman 70.3, Soma Half, and Ironman Arizona at the beginning of the year thinking I could pull off two Ironman and two Halfs in 7 weeks. Then I changed my mind about Silverman but never notified WTC. And now I have decided that I will go and race in Vegas next weekend after all! Because I LOVE that course. And because it's my birthday! And who cares that I have no speed in my legs! And who knows what will happen next year. I am not a fan of putting all of my eggs into one basket, so I'd rather have a bunch of B races then one super important A race which might get cancelled or shortened or I get two flats or get sick... Speaking of being sick, I am currently not feeling well and my body seems to have finally succumbed to the illness Karl has had for over a week now. So we will see how these next few days go. 

A huge Thank You to my fantastic sponsors:

And also to Karl for his patience and support!

And to Naomi who graciously offered her wonderful home to us, made us feel very welcome, and helped us out in many ways! 

(Separate blog post about our 10-year anniversary trip to and from Lake Tahoe to follow. Boy, do I have some good stories!) 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Race Report: 70.3 ST. GEORGE 2014

T3 Women's Team at Sand Hollow Reservoir. I am the one with the Coeur hat

This was a big one! Definitely the first highlight of the season! Not only was the St. George 70.3 the US Pro Championships with an absolutely stacked field but it was also my first race as a Professional*. Some might wonder why I chose this race for my Pro debut**. One of hardest courses out there with one of the deepest fields. Well, let me tell you: I love this race. St. George is in one of my favorite places on earth. It's like a hometown race! I lived and raced in Utah for over 10 years before moving to Flagstaff and I know a ridiculous amount of people at this race. And to top it off: The harder the course and/or the conditions, the better! I love a good challenge

There was simply no way I wasn't going to line up at this race! 

Even with there being a legitimate chance that I would be dead last Pro. 

*This still sounds weird and in some ways wrong. I prefer saying "I race as a Professional" rather than "I am a Professional". For various reasons which shall be explored in another blog post soon. And I realize that I don't need to capitalize "Professional" but this is my blog and I can capitalize whatever I want. 

**Pro debut? Seriously? Who came up with that expression? I think it should be reserved for famous amateurs who have several world titles. Like this girl. But everyone's using it these days. So I am too. 

Finally someplace warm! 

These are the goals I had for this race: 

1. Have fun!
2. Get the very best out of myself. 
3. Beat my time from last year. 

The secret goal was to be Top 20. Everyone has a secret goal that they only tell a few select people. Right? 

Was I nervous for this race? Yes. 

Was I excited for this race? Yes!

I knew racing as a Professional would be different in many ways and yet the same as always. So in this blog post I am going to tell you what was new and exciting and what was business as usual.  And I hope at the end (if you make it that far) you are going to have a pretty good idea of how racing as a Professional compares to racing as an Age Grouper. From my perspective, at least. 

Travel and Accommodations

Lovely view from our condo. 


Let's face it. I am a nobody in this sport. Not sure how it works for the World Champs and Oympic Gold Medalists that showed up to this race. I am assuming they are getting appearance fees and the race pays for their hotel and travel expenses. At least that's what I am hoping! Our little family always faces the same dilemma: Do I travel solo and stay with a friend to minimize cost? Or do we all go and splurge on a hotel? Sometimes we camp for a race but I can only handle that about once a year. Usually I end up going by myself. And I only go to races that are within driving distance. Anything that requires a plane to get there is out of the question. 

This time around, the boys all really wanted to come. Ok, truth be told, the kids didn't care. As a matter of fact, they were very upset (to the point of tears) that they would be missing school. Whose kids are they?!? But Karl wanted to be there and I kind of wanted him there, too. I figured: The more support, the better. And he is my bike mechanic after all! Our tax return turned out better than expected and so we went for it and booked a small 1-bedroom condo through VRBO. This is totally the way to go! It had a full kitchen and was definitely bigger than a hotel room for the same price. Plus two very nice pools to choose from. For us it was heaven


I insisted on getting into town by Wednesday night the latest. This was not up for discussion. I didn't care as much in the past (and still don't with most races) but this time I wanted to give myself the best shot at having a (for me) successful race. That means no sitting in the car for hours the day before the race and having enough time to acclimate to lower elevation. I have been paying attention lately and it really seems like I feel better after three nights at low altitude than just one or two. And, heck, training and living up here is plenty hard and I might as well reap the benefits that I get from it! 


8am. Ready to swim!


Kids will be kids. We got into town late Wednesday night and Max was ready to hit the pool on Thursday morning at 8am. While Karl was out for a trail run. So off we went to the pool. Bright and early and, fortunately, plenty warm! Needless to say we had the whole pool to ourselves. It was delightful. I have to admit that Noah and I just hung out, dipped our toes in the water, and watched Max's pool shenanigans. But still... 

I could live in my swim suit on an outdoor pool deck. Or by a nice lake*. Or the ocean. It means happiness. And this morning it was good for the soul. 

*I had to add nice here. Because not every lake will do. Lake Mary near Flagstaff, for example, won't. 

A pre-race swim with Coachie is always a highlight! This might be the only race this year that we will both be at, so it was especially nice to try and draft behind him and get some invaluable advice! That guy knows his swimming! Plus, he is a total goofball which makes him even more fun to be around! Unfortunately, this year we didn't stay at the same place, so I didn't get to hang out with him as much as I would've liked. Can't wait to spend a few weeks in Utah this summer! Oh, and thanks for coming to the rescue when my bike mechanic goofed up! I mean, who doesn't have a pair of extra brake pads in their pocket and is able to put them on with just their fingers? Love you, Coachie! 

Having fun yet? 

The boys are generally good sports. They mostly do their own thing with Karl on these trips to make sure everyone is having fun and we aren't just dragging them along. There is and always will be some complaining and grumpy faces though. I mean: How can we possibly expect them to enjoy going to a beautiful lake, playing in the red sand and water, and climbing on rocks while I am swimming? Fortunately, they did change their attitude some and were having fun after all. 

I am always happy and thrilled to be racing! I am a creature of habit and really enjoy the daily training but it's nice to change things up a bit! Taper, race, recover! Wait. Did I just say I enjoy tapering?!? Ok. Not really. But I have learned to (somewhat) embrace it as part of the 'triathlon package' and, although it's still a work in progress, I am figuring out more and more what works for me. I need to keep the engine running and stick to my daily routine as much as possible. Of course all of the workouts are much shorter and less intense. Just some pick-ups here and there. Friday, for example, I went for a 20 minute run with 10 little surges before breakfast. Late morning I rode my bike for a little over an hour and mid-afternoon I swam in the lake for 20 minutes. Wednesday and Thursday were much the same. Nothing crazy. But I felt like I was still doing SOMETHING. And I kept my sanity. And I didn't feel like I gained 5 lbs in 3 days of tapering. Because, honestly, my biggest struggle with tapering is that I need to taper my food intake as well and that is a difficult thing to do if you are used to consuming something like 5,000 calories a day. If I sit on my butt ALL DAY, I can guarantee you that I am going to eat ALL DAY. And that, my friends, is not really an option. 

I said I was nervous. But I am not sure that is the right word. I thought I was pretty calm, actually. And definitely really excited! And a bit worried. I try to be on top of everything that is within my control (which is quite a lot in this sport) and let the rest go. I felt some pressure but not much more than last year. Like I said: I am a nobody. It's not like anyone (who knows ANYTHING about triathlon) was expecting me to win this race. Or even place Top 10. When it comes down to it, I was planning to race the way I always race: As hard as I possibly can. That's it. Pretty simple. Nothing to be nervous about. Like Karen said in a text before the race: Bring it! And let the chips fall where they may! 


I got to work in a booth at the expo for the first time! And not just any booth but the Coeur booth! Not that only professional triathletes get to do that but I just never had the chance before. It was definitely worth the time on my feet and I loved meeting some of the other Coeur girls! It's fun to talk to people about stuff that I really stand behind, use daily, and believe in. I hope I get the chance to do this again soon! 

The Pro meeting. Now THAT was different. I showed up early just for fun and because I didn't want to miss ANYTHING! I wasn't nervous, in case you are wondering. I was just CURIOUS. I mean, heck, it's a MEETING. I just sit there and listen. How hard can that be? Actually, it was quite challenging because I was so busy staring at ANYONE and EVERYONE. I have been in this sport long enough and read enough blogs to know pretty much all of these people. I feel like we are old friends because I know SO MUCH about them. I had to keep reminding myself that I don't ACTUALLY know them and that they have NO CLUE who the heck I am. It was quite entertaining. 

Not to mention the German brigade behind me. Sebastian Kienle, reigning World Champ, happened to sit down right behind me all alone when it was still early and empty. So I talked to him. Like it was no big deal. Because it wasn't. He even knew who I was. Ha! When I visit my family in Germany this summer, I am going to be living about 15 minutes from where he lives. So it's like we are BEST FRIENDS. Almost. The other four Germans in this race joined Kienle behind me and I was very much tempted to eavesdrop on their private little German conversation. Which went on throughout the ENTIRE meeting. I guess as World Champs, Ironman Champs, and Olympic Gold Medalists you already know everything the race organizers could POSSIBLY try to tell you. 

I was the dead last person out of that meeting. I had a little chat with 1997 Kona Champ Heather Fuhr  just for fun and one with Ironman Head Referee Jimmy Ricitello to ensure that I had all of the rules right. Don't ask how I mustered up the courage to talk to all of these super stars and then some. I just figured it can't hurt to introduce myself. Which is TOTALLY UNLIKE ME. And don't worry. It's not like I think I am suddenly one of them! I just realized that they aren't all that different from us mere mortals. Who knew?!?

There was definitely quite a bit more going on than I am used to before a race, especially with the whole family in tow. My in-laws joined us as well Friday night and brought one of the cousins with them. My kids were in heaven! It was great fun and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat but I it meant that I was still getting gear ready at 11pm Friday night. Wake-up call was at 3:30am. Talk about a short night! But, fortunately, I know from experience that the night before the race really doesn't matter much. It's the nights earlier in the week that are most important. 

Race Morning

It was going to be a beautiful day! 


A nice shuttle ride over to the reservoir in a yellow school bus

A good little warm up a bit away from everyone. 

That's about it. 


No body marking. We got fancy race day tattoos that Karl applied Friday night. 

A nice little separate area right by the exit. With lots of space. And our very own port potties right there with no lines! Triathlon legends Heather Fuhr and Paula Newby Fraser were hanging out and helping with whatever was needed. Right next to my bike! I would've preferred to forget about my preparations and have a chit chat with them about their amazing careers but maybe some other time... Instead they promised me they would make sure that 'our' bike mechanic was going to blow up my tires while I was busy doing other stuff. You mean we have our own bike mechanic in transition? Awesomeness! I felt very well taken care of. No matter the mishap I was pretty sure that these two ladies would find a solution. Like when Julie Dibens came over and told them she had forgotten all of her bike bottles at the hotel. See? Even World Champs make rookie mistakes. I felt at ease. And JD ended up riding with one of my extra T3 Triathlon water bottles. Yes! 

The reason I like to get to T1 early on race morning is so I can chat and hang out with my friends! Except that I didn't have any friends in our little 'Pro zone' and no one was particularly chatty. So I got a bit bored and took off in search of some friendly faces. And I found plenty! On the other side of the fence it was party as usual and I hung out until it was time to pop into my new Zoot Prophet and head down to the water! 

Ready to roll! 

No waiting around. No lining up behind the sign with your age group. No urgent need to pee in my wetsuit on dry land. Just a little pep talk from Coachie and plenty of time for a little warm up swim. There was definitely a lot of media and it was fun to see some of the more famous Pros vying for their attention. I guess in all of my years of racing I had never really wondered how it all goes down for the Pros. Nor had I ever wished or thought I would be one of them. I was just super happy to be racing as an Amateur. But now that I was in the midst of it, I was excited to take it all in and loved every minute of it! 

The Swim 29:48 (1:32/100m) - Zoot - T3 Triathlon 


Same amount of nervousness and excitement as last year. Honestly. I surprised myself with how calm I was. Curious as to how it would all play out but calm. At this point it became a race like every other. Me against myself. I am not about to pretend that I can race AGAINST most these girls. It's more like I am racing BEHIND most of them. And I promised myself that I would race WITH them as much as possible. Use them to make me go harder and dig deeper than I ever have. THAT is what I was looking forward to. 

Pro women start - I am in there somewhere!

The goal, as always, was to NOT swim by myself. That actually lasted longer than I thought it would! About to the half-way point. The start wasn't all that different and, while a big group of fast swimmers pulled away very quickly, there were still plenty of other girls around. Phew! 

Well, whaddya know, I didn't suddenly and overnight turn into a faster swimmer! Bummer. I didn't quite meet Coach's goal but at least I snuck in under 30. Barely. Same old story! Apparently I need to actually swim faster in training to swim faster in a race. Go figure! I've known that for a while and it's about time I make it happen! But I was enjoying myself and having fun! And that was important to me.


Turns out: Not much. It was just super nice not to have to swim through a whole bunch of age groupers that started in earlier waves. Nice, calm, and clear water for most of the way! And after 6 years, I finally got a new wetsuit! Huge thanks to T3 Triathlon for hooking me up with the Zoot Prophet!

Loved my Zoot Prophet!

T1 2:06

Good news is that while my bike wasn't hard to find, it also was NOT the last one in there! Success! I've had better transitions but having a whole bunch of people standing along the fence and watching made me fumble a bit more than usual. Should be 10-20 seconds faster. Cold hands and feet didn't help but everyone has to deal with the same conditions so that's no excuse

The Bike 2:37:32 (21.3 mph) - Fuji - T3 Triathlon


Same time and average speed compared to last year. Unfortunately. Less than one minute faster. What the heck? I must've actually been WEAKER than last year because I figured my awesome new Fuji itself would buy me 3-4 minutes. I mean: I KNOW it's not about the bike but carbon, electronic shifting, and race wheels must be good for SOMETHING, right? It's a good thing I was having major issues with my Garmin for the first 4 miles, so I wasn't really sure of my time. If I had known, it would've been a bit demoralizing. Ignorance is bliss! 

Same course as last year. So don't ask WHY I took a wrong turn at one point. It was a bit of a confusing intersection to get us under the road and onto the other side which I hadn't looked at in person (my fault!) and both volunteers were busy doing other stuff. Not sure WHAT stuff but either way they weren't pointing me where I was supposed to be going. No biggie. It threw me off for a couple of minutes and then I was able to let it go. 

Again struggling up Snow Canyon. I love that climb and have ridden it countless times and yet it still gets me on race day. I pretty much own that thing - except for when it really counts. Lame. This time around the climb was lonely which didn't help matters. I didn't see another rider the entire 7 miles of climbing. Wah. Wah. Wah. 


The bike itself. D'uh. And so what if I didn't ride a whole lot faster? I have so much more fun on my Fuji than I've ever had on any bike!

Riding back and forth with Sonja Wieck and some other top 30-34 gals here last year was a total blast! I knew it would be very different this time around. I was ready for a lonely ride. And it was. I was passed by 2 girls and I passed 2 myself. That's it. Started the bike in 19th and finished in 19th. How is that for an exciting race?!? There was also a handful of male age groupers whizzing by and their backside kept me entertained until it was out of sight. I felt like I was able to keep my head in the game but I am wondering if that is the main reason I didn't bike faster. Next time I am just going to have to try even harder to stay with the gals that pass me to avoid no man's land. 

No issues with drafting! My main worry before the race was slightly different rules. I was determined to stay legal at all times but I was concerned I would misjudge 12 meters. Not to mention male age groupers who can be a pain in the butt to deal with. But I had no problems with either! I know this isn't always the case but the very hilly bike course makes for a fair race.

How is this for a graceful dismount? 

T2 1:36 

 Nailed this one! Just about as fast as all of the super speedy ladies! Karl, the kids, his parents, and my nephew were all there cheering for me. First time I had seen them all morning and it made my day! 

Max loves Noah, Noah loves soccer

The Run 1:29:34 (6:50/mi) - Coeur - T3 Triathlon 

It was hard. It always is. Especially the first couple of miles. ESPECIALLY if the first 4 miles are all uphill. I was ready for it but it still hurt and some doubts started to creep in. What if I just couldn't push through the pain and discomfort for another 1.5 hours? Luckily I had already made a deal with myself: Run as hard as I possibly can. One foot in front of the other. Even if, for some reason, I have to slowly walk my way to the finish line.  Finish no matter what. There was NO WAY I was going to DNF my first race ever on this day. With a deal like that you might as well get to that finish line asap! 

I saw Coach Mahogani not even a mile into the race. She took one hard look at me and asked: Are you ok? I can't remember what I replied but in my head I am thinking: What kind of a question IS this? Do I look THAT terrible? How do you EXPECT me to feel? Poor girl. She is an amazing coach and I love her but I certainly don't show that while I am racing! So I trudge on. Uphill. 

I had no idea what place I was in and, honestly, I didn't care. I knew I was not dead last and that's all that mattered. IF I had had a great race and STILL been last Pro girl, I would've (hopefully) been ok with that as well but it was comforting to know that I wasn't. Instead, I was just waiting for some speedy runners to fly by me. But until that happened, I was going to focus on what was IN FRONT of me. Surely there must be SOMEONE not too far up the road. But, obviously, all of these girls know how to run so even a 30 second gap seems like an ETERNITY! 

Fast age group men to the rescue! As much as I don't like them on the bike, I love them on the run! Especially if they sing to me as they run by. Yes. This did happen. Goofball Folts had enough energy to fly by me WHILE singing 'She's a Maneater' going UPHILL. Which didn't even make any sense because HE was the one chewing up ME. Oh well. I'll take it. It was good entertainment. 

Me and Orange Boy

The next guy wasn't gonna get off the hook that easily. I stuck with Orange Boy to the top of the hill. Then I FINALLY saw another girl in the distance and I told him: Hey. Could you run me up to that girl? So he did. But first I got a nice gap on him going downhill. Which is when I realized that maybe today - on a course with NO FLAT sections - would be a good day to nail those descents and turn myself into a fast downhiller. Miracles do happen on race day! Eventually I had to let Orange Boy and his nice backside pull away but I was that much closer to the NEXT girl.  

This was about to get to fun! I was feeling much better, loving the heat, still hadn't been passed by any girls, and realized I was moving quite well. Suddenly I quite enjoyed being in the pain cave! Which is about the best thing that can happen to you on race day. 

There was just one thing missing. 

The husband. Where was my supportive dude? I was now at mile 7 and still hadn't seen him. I thought the plan was for him to jump on his bike and leap frog me?!? His parents were taking care of the kids, so I figured he had no excuse and I was starting to get annoyed. Two minutes later he showed up and I gave him the: Where the heck have you been? Hence the random hand gesture in the above photo. It was great to have him cheer and give me splits in several different spots the remaining miles. Thanks, Karl! 

Thanks for the cheers, everyone! 

By far the BEST part of the run was all of the support I had out there. It was massive. It was like a hometown race. I had friends cheering from the sidelines and friends cheering on the course. And I tried to cheer others on as much as I could. That's why I love racing! We get to be competitors and friends at the same time. Push each other and help each other. Good times! Unless there are LOTS of friends and your coach all standing on the SAME corner yelling SO LOUD and being SO EXCITED for you that you start to lose it 2 miles before the finish line. Yep, I almost had a cryfest at mile 11. Apparently I was an emotional mess already. Luckily I pulled myself together because, hey, it's not over until it's over and 2 miles is a long way to go still. Especially on Diagonal. I HATE that street. It was never-ending pain and agony all the way down to the roundabout. 

I had passed 4 girls on the run and crossed the finish line in 4:40:37 in 15th place. I was thrilled! 9 minutes faster than last year! And I broke 1:30 on this tough run course! My secret goal was to make it into the Top 20. To make it into the Top 15 in the US Pro Championships was FANTASTIC and I was very, very happy. And not emotional at all anymore. Ha. Go figure. 

Then it was time to hang out with friends!

I have to mention one more difference
Instead of the usual pizza and chips, I was able to have a real lunch in the little VIP area right next to the finish. Fruit salad and super yummy sandwiches! But don't worry, Andy Potts later told me that this is the ONLY race that treats the Professionals this well. Which means a HUGE Thank You is on order to Paul from A to Zion for spoiling us! 

Coeur and T3 teammates - Kristi and I 

The afternoon was spent at the pool with family and friends! 

And to top off an already perfect day, I got to go out to dinner with the T3 Triathlon crew and Andy Potts! Lucky me!!!

What a fabulous weekend!!!

Thank you to everyone who was a part of it!!!

A huge Thank You to my fantastic sponsors:

Next up: 

Challenge Kraichgau on June 15
Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg on June 21

The kids and I are headed to see my family in Germany for 5 weeks while Karl will be working hard to finish his PhD next spring! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

TUCSON TALES - Ups and Downs

It doesn't get much better than this... 

Finally! A little 3-day stint with our best friend: Karen's VW van! We had been talking about it for a while and at the beginning of April we actually made it happen! 3 days, 2 nights, road trip to Tucson, campgrounds, showers at the pool, no internet, waking up and going to bed with the sun. How is that for putting the camping back into "training camp"? It was awesome! 

Everything we need right here:

I will take that over staying in a hotel ANY day! The only downside is that it's a bit hard to stretch and foam roll and such. But still. It's just ridiculously convenient and beautiful! 

And no, the reason I am so excited about this whole Westy and camping thing is not that I haven't camped much in my life. It's that I have camped ALL of my life. Growing up we camped in tents every single trip we went on. I am pretty sure the first time I ever stayed in a hotel was at the age of 16. No kidding. 

(In case you are wondering: Tent camping and training doesn't mesh so well. I have tried it. It's fun and all but a bit of a hassle.)

Our spot at Gilbert Ray Campground in Saguaro NP

So you know how sometimes, during difficult training sessions, it's helpful to do this: 

Well, I've got news. It's also highly recommended to turn your brain back on afterwards. Or at least not too far down the road. Here is why:

We pulled up to Gilbert Ray Campground after a nice little outdoor swim on our way into town. We couldn't wait to get on our bikes... Oh wait. Actually, we went for a little run first. Maybe to make sure we really were surrounded by nothing but desert. Can't remember. Anywho... By the time we are  ready to jump on our hogs, I remember to attach my seat pack and... 

...realize that I forgot something very, very, VERY important at home. 

Any guesses?

You know how my super fancy new Fuji bike has electronic shifting? I am not sure how it all works, or how much of a difference it makes, or how much it costs. But I do know one thing (from, ahem, previous personal experience): IT DOESN'T WORK WITHOUT A BATTERY. Meaning: If you have no battery, you can't shift. At all. 

And that is how I turned my beautiful Norcom Straight into a single speed

I guess I won't have to mention how EXTREMELY frustrated and pissed I was. You can imagine that part. Especially after I had just crashed on my bike three days earlier. But I also had to take a hard look at myself, laugh, and say: REALLY? You spoiled little triathlete who tends to thinks everything has to revolve around you and your training. There certainly aren't a whole lot of problems that are tinier and less insignificant than this one. So, suck it up! Plus, this whole mess is your fault in the first place, time get on with it! 

So we did. Up and over Gates Pass. It wasn't pretty but we managed. Whenever I couldn't handle the gear I was in any longer, we would pull over and shift manually. As in: I would hold up the bike and move the pedals with my hand while Karen was trying to manipulate the rear derailleur in a way that would get the chain to move where we wanted it. Sometimes more, sometimes less successful. And yes, this looked about as lame and ridiculous as it sounds. 

Karen, of course, being the stud that she is, handled the situation like a champ. So lucky to have her as my partner in crime. 

At least it was nice and warm. Windy but warm. Everything is easier to handle when it's warm and sunny as far as I am concerned. And the desert is my favorite place for training. 

Either way I love my Norcom! 

Riding up Gates Pass, Karen and I were talking about Super Star, World Champ, and Smashfest Queen Hillary Biscay. And how she lives somewhere near Gates Pass. To make a long story short: A miracle happened. We run into Hillary, have a quick chat, she lets me borrow her very own Di2 battery for the rest of the day AND the next day, and I am now in love with that girl! I mean I knew she was super cool to start with but this was so incredibly nice I am still shaking my head at how lucky and fortunate we were! You are and always will be my one of my heroes, Hillary! 

Oh happy day after all! 

We basically rode our bikes around Saguaro National Park and surroundings until it got dark. Good times! I ended up having a few more mechanical issues and it was getting a bit ridiculous. At one point I remember yelling: Bring it, universe! I am ready! I am mostly blaming the crappy roads but I am glad all of this is happening now and not in a race! 

This girl knows how to ride her bike! 

(I don't have a smart phone and never carry my camera with me but this day I did and so we goofed around a bit.)

The next day, inspired by many posts from Hillary Biscay on this ride, we set out to ride to Arivaca and back. A nice 140-mile loop! We were psyched! 

It was very windy but warm and we kept saying how at least we only have one thing working against us: the wind. Usually it's more like three: the wind, the cold, and the altitude. So we were happy campers! 

The first 100 miles of this ride we had maybe a handful of cars pass us. No stops signs. No lights. Nothing! Just us and the lonesome desert! And the border patrol. We were quite close to Mexico, I guess. So I did what I always do when I am worried I get a thorn stuck in my tire. I pee right then and there on the road while holding my bike in a safe place. Doesn't everybody do that? Good thing Karen's phone camera is rather crappy:

We were having a blast. And loving life! And I was so grateful I could shift whenever I wanted to! This would've been a loooooong 140 miles without that Di2 battery! 

Pit stop in Arivaca. Time for something salty! I was loving the salty balls for my main source of fuel but they just aren't quite salty enough! Pringles to the rescue: 

They way back to Tucson was even more fun because the wind was now in our backs and were flying! Until we came to a Border Control and I, the German, didn't have any ID or my Green Card with me. Yikes! Luckily, neither Karen or I look like we just escaped from Mexico and bikes aren't really the best way to get anyone across the border illegally. So they let us through. Phew! 

Long stuff like this is my favorite and I can't wait to do another ride like this! I was surprised just how good I felt even toward the end. I have no doubt that Osmo Nutrition (Pre-load before the ride and Active during the ride) and the salty balls (recipe here) kept me nicely and evenly fueled all day. Even more in love with my Fuji Norcom Straight! I have been riding the Cobb Fifty Five JOF saddle so far this year and I really like it. But, to be honest, it wouldn't be nearly as comfortable without my Coeur shorts. Those rock! Their chamois is seam-free and thus there is no chafing! Best tri shorts ever! This might seem like a plug for some of my sponsors but these things really make training and racing so much more fun and enjoyable that I wanted to share them with you! If, however, you want me to share my favorite training buddy, KH, with you, you are going to have to come visit us in Flagstaff! 

After a little run, returning the bike battery to Hillary, a drive across T-town, and a recovery swim, we  finished off a fantastic day with this view: 

After a night at the Molino Basin Campground located 5 miles up Mt. Lemmon, a beautiful but very chilly morning greeted us. Not ready to get on our bikes quite yet, I decided to warm up by going for a little trail run. It was amazing! I ran to the ridge just to the left of the Westy roof in the picture below. The view from this ridge down the other side was stunning. I love Mt. Lemmon!!!

beautiful but freezing

After breakfast we bundled up and got going on our bikes. We had this great plan for our Mt. Lemmon day but, alas, it wasn't meant to be. No worries, though, I will be back for 100 miles on Mt. Lemmon sometime soon! 

Going up was fun! Super fun! Karen and I love to climb and Lemmon is one of my very favorite climbs! Being back on my Norcom as a single speed wasn't too terrible because we basically put the chain in the easiest gear on the way up and it stayed there for the next 20 miles. It slowed me down a bunch but it was doable. 

I had my camera with me and it kept me entertained nicely while climbing. The views are rather spectacular as well but 20 miles is a long way to go and I needed something to play with. 

One more picture of my favorite toy before we heading back down:

And this is where the misery starts. Complete and utter misery. For a very long 20 miles back to the campground. I was so cold I had to really control myself or else I was going to fall off the bike from shivering. It didn't help that I couldn't really pedal and warm my legs up that way on the flatter parts. More than once did I entertain the thought of sitting down by the side of the road and crying but, well, that wouldn't have helped one bit, so on I went. I HATED it. Every single minute of that descent. Next time there is cold spell in Tucson, I am NOT coming. So please warn me ahead of time! 

Plan B* was to take a break after one lap of Lemmon and sit in the van with our down jackets on and the heater on full blast while driving to the bottom of the mountain. Where it was much warmer already! 

*You know it's bad when I come up with a Plan B. One of our mottos is: There is no Plan B! You just suck it up and do what you set out to do. But not today. Being extremely cold will do that to me. 

The new plan also entailed 8 miles worth of hill repeats. On foot. I wasn't going to let Mt. Lemmon win that easily and I figured this would warm me up nicely. Which it did. 

It also made me very happy:

Karen opted out of this one because her knee was bugging her and took some pictures of me instead. 

By now it was early afternoon and rather toasty at the bottom and I was ready to tackle round #2 on Lemmon. The second descend couldn't possibly be as bad as the first. At least that's what I kept telling myself. 

Well, whaddya know, it was the same thing as round #1. Lovely climb. Absolutely terrible descent. Except that the descent was 5 miles longer this time around and I thought I was going to die. That's all. 

Not sure what has happened to me over the years. I mean, I am the girl who went ice climbing on the morning of her wedding reception and has done a fair amount of mountaineering, including Mt. Shasta and Mt. Rainier. With the same (or even less) amount of body fat. I didn't use to be a wuss when it comes to cold but I certainly am now and I just can't seem to help it. 

By the time we reached the pool for our last swim of this trip, I had thawed out and was ready to have some more fun: 

A huge Thank You to our husbands for taking care of the kiddos for three days, to Hillary for saving my butt big time, to the Westy for being awesome and reliable, and to KH for putting up with me and for being the best training partner I could ask for! 

This trip certainly had its literal and figurative UPS and DOWNS but overall we had a great time and I can't wait to do this (or something very similar) again soon!!!