Saturday, February 19, 2022

Florida 70.3 - Haines City 12/13/20 err 4/18/21

Florida 70.3 in Haines City had originally been scheduled for April of 2020...and well we all know how 2020 went by now, so it got rescheduled for December of 2020.  Perfect, almost in my (new) backyard and another way to have an opportunity to compete in the pro field (and practice believing I belong).  I wasn't working yet since we had recently arrived in Florida.  I was all in on my training and recovery, managing hip and groin issues with an hour + of work every day and nailing workouts, recovery and sleep. 

Spoiler alert...on 11/23/20 the email arrived, Ironman Florida 70.3 Cancelled.  My mom and I had just driven the bike course a couple days before and I was putting in some big workouts to be ready for this when the email came in.  I had known there was a likely chance of this race getting cancelled so I let myself be bummed for a day and then made a plan.  I did my own little TT effort that same weekend - 2125yd swim on Saturday and Zwift 56mile TT and outdoor 13.1 mile run on Sunday.  It was fun to push myself and see some strong numbers on those efforts.  It was a great way to go into the holidays with a little bit of decease in training volume for a couple weeks and then transition into a New Year (hello 2021!) and our new puppy!  And it gave me hope that maybe my hip and groin issues were behind us or well on their way to being behind us!

Florida 70.3 was back on the schedule for 4/18/21 and was open to both male and female pros.  This was a great 'local' tune up for IM Texas and yet another chance to line up and have another experience in the pro field.  I put in some great training going into this race, I had some of my best bike/run training combos in the heat and humidity of central Florida just weeks before.

Friday - Pre Race

I headed out Friday afternoon to packet pickup and to scope out the lay of transition and the finish line.  I had bike the course a few times and done a brick on the run course as I was familiar with what was coming my way.  It was nice to feel the energy of an Ironman event again (it had been since Kona 2019!) and there were pros and amateurs alike getting in final shakeout and tune up runs and bikes.  I completed the check in process and got back on the road to head home as we had some friends in town for the weekend.


Andrew spent a good amount of time the week leading up to the race making sure my Felt was ready to go for race day.  After some final workouts we loaded up the bike and headed over to the race site for bike check in.  Nothing super exciting here.  I did get to see my friend and fellow pro - Sarah Karpinski which was super nice.  Her and I did our very first Ironman together (Louisville 2012 - what a doozy!) and after 2 moves on my part and 10 triathlon seasons here we were racing in the pro field together.  After saying hi and visiting for a few minutes Andrew and I got out of the heat and headed back home. 

Sunday - Race Day

How wonderful it was to sleep in my own bed.  We were up early to get breakfast in before driving over to the race site.  Andrew dropped me so I had a short walk into transition before finding a parking spot for the car.  I got transition set up and looked over my stuff no less than 1000x.  There was a hustle and bustle in the air with decent sized male and female pro fields and a large age group race.  Andrew found a great spot to hang out right outside of transition and near the swim exit.  With about 20 minutes to go before race start the race officials escorted the pros down to the swim start.

The Swim

This got more confusing as we were standing on the beach.  I believe this swim course has the most turns
of any North American 70.3.  It was still pretty dark and we could barely see the buoys as we were trying to discuss where we needed to go.   Heather Jackson was there and seemed to understand and seemed calm about so I figured, well no way I'll be near the front so as long as they know where to go we'll be good.  Also, it's a central Florida...Alligators live there.  I did not want to end up alone during this swim.

I felt great when the start cannon went off.  I swam out hard and hung on for the first couple of buoys.  As we made it to the first turn buoy I turned hard and got on my way to what I thought was the next turn buoy.  I lifted my head to site...crap I didn't see anyone in front of me...and then a kayak coming straight toward me...and the dreaded words "you missed a buoy - you have to go that way".  Oi, thankfully I hadn't made it too far off course, but when you're not a strong swimming losing the group and going off course at all seems to exponentially slow you down.  I got back on course and got back to work, just telling myself to stay in it and keep doing what I could do.   

The final leg back into the beach seemed like it took forever and I was so ready to get out of the water.  This was a bad swim for me and not a great way to start my day, but on with it!

The Bike

I was as quick as I could be in T1 and looking forward to heading out onto a bike course I knew pretty well.  I was feeling good and strong the first 20 miles or so and looked forward to feeling stronger as I continued on.  Around mile 28 my legs just felt like they were stuck in mud, my cranks didn't want to turn and I was destroying my legs to hold any type of consistent power.  I was somehow still managing to catch
some of the women's pro field and thought well maybe I'll be able to have the run of my life off this bike since my power isn't where it should be.  It had started getting hot during the bike and central Florida was serving up a classic day for us.

As I made may through the final 10 miles or so of the bike course I was battling headwinds, a negative voice in my head that wanted to analyze how poorly things were going and legs that felt like they were completely thrashed.  There was no power coming from my glutes and my hips were aching.


As I rolled into T2 Andrew was right at the dismount line...I jumped off my bike and tried to stand up.  I took one look at Andrew and uttered the words "my hips hurt".  I couldn't stand up straight.  I wanted to cry, I had strung together much longer and harder rides with fantastic runs just a few weeks before.  Why now hips?  Why?  As I made my way out of T2 toward the run course Andrew was right there encouraging me to take it one mile at a time.

The Run

As I made my way through mile 1 things seemed like they were loosening up and feeling better.  I wasn't quite hitting goal pace but it wasn't a complete disaster.  The run course was fun, a good amount of
elevation change, some through residential areas with lots of spectator support and 2 loops so back through the park where transition was and the bulk of spectator support.   By mile 5 my glutes had locked up, I was running with all quad and I knew it.  It didn't feel good, but at this point I wasn't stopping.  I managed the heat and ran an ok 13.1.  Not close to my best and not near what I was capable of fitness wise, but my body that day said otherwise.

When I crossed the finish line my hips ached.  Deep down I knew this was likely more than I could PT myself out of, heck I had been doing great just a couple weeks before and then straight back to painful and dysfunctional on race day despite my best efforts.  Back to the drawing board and trying to overcome the hips as I had my hopes set on IMCDA with some great friends. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Great Floridian 1/3 PTO Race - 10/24/20

 We moved out of Kailua home on September 9th and moved into a hotel in Honolulu for 10 days.  We kept the bikes with us and brought the Kickr along as well so I could keep working on the come back.  I was figuring out how to run again decently well.  It involved a lot of stretching and rolling.   We left for the mainland on September 19th, spent a few days visiting with family in LA and then started our road trip to Florida.  Needless to say there were a few weeks in there with very spotty and low volume training.  I was enjoying running around downtown and had worked my way back up to about 8 miles reportedly "continuing to feel better and better".

Once we were kind of settled in FL - read we had our suitcases, bikes and the Kickr (none of our actual
household goods yet) - I resumed training with the goal of seeing if I could be ready to give things a go at the PTO sponsored pro race at The Great Floridian in Clermont.   I strung together 2.5 weeks of consistent training, I did some hill reps and my legs "felt great".  The race was free for pros and just an hours drive from home so we said why not, the only way to get experience racing in the pro field is to go and do it.

Race Morning I was more nervous than I think I've ever been.  Maybe I was possibly more nervous for my first ever tri or my first ever Ironman, but I was literally shaking and I could feel my HR creeping up.  Andrew was with me the entire time and I saw a good friend near the start line that asked if she could give me a hug.  Yes, absolutely yes, anything right now to attempt to calm down.  I swam briefly in the lake the day before the race, it was my 1st time in a central Florida lake and I was nervous.  The water was murky (this was def not Hawaii!) and the were grasses/weeds off to the side of the swim area...seemed like perfect gator territory.  It probably only made me more nervous for the race day swim!

I lined up with the ladies in ankle deep water and waited for the starting gun.  With this being a 1/3 distance race there were a # of pros from different backgrounds - short course all starts, long course phenoms ready to battle at this unique distance.  The swim went out fast and I help on for the first couple
of buoys.  I stayed with another pro or 2 for the 1st 1/2 of the swim and then lost touch.  The thought of gators kept me swimming hard!  I came out a couple minutes after the next pro, but hey I was content with that. She was leaving T1 as I was getting to my bike.  

I headed off on the bike confident in my strength and ready to have fun.  The fun was quickly interrupted by the amount of traffic we had to deal with.  Some of the bike course had us crossing 4-6 lane roads with minimal traffic control.  There was one point where we had to make a right turn and athletes were all over the place compared to the cars in the right hand turn lane - some coming up on the left of cars and other on the right of the cars, all while traffic was coming straight through the intersection.  Mind blowing.  At that point I think I went to safety over riding hard.  This was easily the most dangerous bike course I've ever raced on.  At one point going up hill a huge pickup pulling an even larger pontoon decided to start passing the cyclists and giving little to no room.  I guess that's Florida roads.  Once we were in the hills and on the backroads it seemed a bit better traffic wise.  I was having a hard time getting into a rhythm and for one of the few times in my life I could not wait to get off of the bike.  As I made my way back toward T2 I keep downhill through a neighborhood the went into a sweeping left hand turn.  As I looked ahead while making my way into the turn there was a large landscaping truck pulling a large trailer of equipment that was coming into the turn smack dab in the middle of the road.  I didn't even make a conscious decision, it was like my body just decided we were aborting the turn and not getting run over so I hit the curb while slamming on my brakes and flipped over my handlebars. Garmin Fenix 5s+ watchband snapped, handlebars were crooked and my mid back hit the edge of the curb - other than that I was ok.  I got back on my bike and peddled the last couple miles into T2, shook up but ok.

In T2 Andrew and a couple other pro family members were right there as I was getting my run shoes on.  I said something along the lines of holy hell, that was the most dangerous bike course I've ever been on.  They said they were still waiting for a few more female pros to come and to get on my way.  Turns out one got side swiped on the bike course and a couple others rode off-course.  I got myself sorted and out to the run course as quickly as I could.

The run course was nice and on a paved trail with a decent amount of shade.  I set out running not sure
how my hip, pelvis, groin would react.  It felt ok, not great, not bad.  I couldn't really open up my stride but I was running faster than 'easy' and I was holding it together.   The out and back in each direction gave a chance to see other pros (miles ahead of me) and come back through the transition area where most of the support was.  It started to get warm out there but I was able to hold onto my pace and cross the line in 1-piece.  

Overall, I was super glad to get this race under me and have the experience.  It was far from my best day, but it was the best day I could put together at that point.  And given that I couldn't run just a few months earlier I was super happy just to put together a decent run after a bike.  This race gave me hope, hope that

if I kept doing 'the things I needed to and I kept the patience' I would be back.  I obviously flared things up a bit because as I read through my TP notes for my workouts during the week following the race I noted "felt fine" - which means eh, it didn't feel good, but it wasn't bad enough to stop me.  

This race at least gave me the confidence to proceed onward toward the rescheduled Florida 70.3 in Haines City.  I had just about 2 months to get ready for it and I wasn't working yet so I set my sights ahead and vowed to keep up with my hour of stretching/rolling/PT exercises every night to keep my hip manageable. 

Next Up: Spoiler Alert! The reschedule FL 70.3 was cancelled due to COVID...

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Malaekahana TT Race Report + More - June 6, 2020 and June 7/8, 2020

We were lucky enough to still have this individual TT still take place on the island of Oahu amid COVID.  It was originally scheduled as the Hawaii State Championship, but with limited and difficult inter-island travel it lost that designation.  The course was changed in the days leading up to the race, making it a point to point race instead of an out and back - major bonus! Pulling U-turns in any race are a pain, especially a TT.

Andrew and I debated about taking the trainer with us in the AM or warming up at home before driving over toward the race start. We ultimately decided to try and get there early enough to just warm up on the roads.  We only had 1 dumb trainer at the time and with out start times only 2 minutes apart it would have been difficult for both of us to get in a good trainer workout.  Turns out we were running late, took us a bit to find somewhere to park, and our warmups consisted of a few out and backs with pick ups and about a 5 minute spin over to the start line. 

I had a few goals going into this race - go sub 1-hour, catch Andrew (he was starting 2 min before me with only 1 other athlete between our starts), and finish with a power average of at least 230w.  I had been feel off at times going into this race, shortness of breath and clamy/feverish, symptoms weren't very consistent and would come and go.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out if it was allergies or what. Some workouts were cut short, some were skipped but I asked my body for one more big effort for this race and then promised to back off a bit since all other races were postponed and we had a big move looming and lots of island adventures to have before we left.

I gave Andrew a good luck kiss and watched as he put his head down and had a great start (no bike holders due to COVID - this was a foot flat start).   He'd been training hard and well for Hawaii 70.3 and since COVID hit he'd been doing a good amount of riding with me.   I knew I had my work cutout for me if I was going to attempt to catch him.  I waited patiently as the athlete between us took off and then I was on the line.  I knew I had a couple very strong ladies coming up right behind me, so it was important to get out fast and strong and be out of their sight line by the time they started.

I was off and the watts came easily.  I had Osmo in my Torpedo bottle and a few caffeinated gels stashed in my bento box.  I had taken some espresso gel shots right before my start so the engine was caffeinated and ready to work.   I had to dial back the effort as 260w was feeling fine and easy in the early minutes but I knew if I held that effort I'd pay for it near the end.  I backed it down to a more realistic 240ish and stayed as aero as possible.  I began passing other athletes pretty early on.  As I made it passed the half way point and the finish line of the youth race things became a bit more desolate. There were a couple stop lights we would be riding through with spotters and volunteers positioned to help us make it through safely.  I love working hard on my bike, and the chance to do it on the road with legit competition was awesome.  I was in the zone, pushing watts and holding watts that I doubted with the up and downs of the lead up to the race.  

As I neared the 24.9 mile mark (40k) there was no sign of the finish line.  That last bit of digging and pushing to the line (only a 1/4 mile down the road) was mentally tough but Andrew was in my sights at that point and I knew I wouldn't physically pass him - I was running out of course - but I had definitely made up the time and beat him.  This was of utmost importance because he got me by a few seconds at the 12 mile TT earlier in the year.   I crossed the line in 59:12, over 25.1 miles with an average power of 240w and normalized power of 241w.  Biggest goal was going sub 1 hour for 40k, and I had gone sub 58:xx for 40k, I was thrilled and surpassed my own power goal (it was one of those racing out of your mind experiences - my body just did what I trained it to do).  I was 1st OA female and 10th OA finisher including some very fast men. 

As I coasted around after crossing the finish line I was just following Andrew, when he slowed to pull a U-turn he was shocked that I was right there behind him :P Success!  We pulled off by some friends and waited for other friends to finish their TT before heading over to the only resort on that side of the island to refill water.  Once we were all refilled Nick graciously decided to pull us the 25 miles home.  I was more than happy to suck wheel on the way home.  We did eventually fall into a rotating pace line to give him some help.  Just a few miles from the cars I lost by big ring - and was stuck in my small ring.  Loved that bike (the Felt IA FRD) but good gracious we had a lot of mechanical issues together.

Andrew and I loaded up the bikes and headed over to pick up a take-out breakfast order from a place we'd been wanting to try.  We took it easy and napped before heading over to Kailua Beach Park for a little 1 mile open water recovery swim.   My legs and body were tired but I felt good.  Sunday was an off day before getting back to the grind on Monday.  I had a bit over an hour run scheduled for Monday.  I knew going into it that may legs may feel fatigued from the race on Saturday but just listen to the body and do what I can.   I held back the first half of the run, planning to pick it up the 2nd half as long as I felt good.  We let me tell you after the first 30 minutes or so my legs were shutting down.  My notes in TrainingPeaks stated that I felt like I was at the end of an Ironman.  My hamstrings and glutes were not working in any coordinated manner and my adductors were trying to help way too much.  I didn't have pain, running just felt disorganized, physically uncoordinated and like it was taking a ton more effort than it should.  I dodged my way back toward home as I passed the District Park and saw some friends meeting up pre/post run.  I was frustrated, I had tears in my eyes and I just wanted to get home. 

Over the next couple of weeks deep hip and groin pain set in to the point I could barely move without pain.  Standing up after sitting was excruciating and attempting to run was a joke.  I took it easy, we'd try going for walks but even that was painful.  I was diagnosed with athletic pubalgia, and at the time I went with it because that would heal, that would get better and I could get back to where I was just a month before at the fittest and fastest I'd ever been.   I knew deep down it was likely more but I had to give myself the chance to rehab myself out of it.

Up Next: My first pro race at the PTO's 1/3 Distance Race at Great Floridian (after a cross country move and working hard on a return to run program)