Friday, August 24, 2012

Hammer Time..or Not

If you've ever raced with me, or watched me race, you probably know that more often than not I like go out hard and see how long I can hold on.  In sprint and Oly tri's I've even used the term dropping the hammer as my motivation to myself on the bike.  I've got 2 years (plus this season so far under my belt) and should know better than that.  Really the results should speak for themselves.  My best running races are the ones that I've determined my pace, had a written pace sheet, and nailed it - allowing me to actually finish a bit better than my goal times.  My best tri's have been those that I tend to pace myself at as well - take for example Nation's 2011 and Augusta 2011.  I paced myself on the bike at Nation's and PR'd the run.  At Augusta I rode hard for the entire 56 miles, didn't follow a nutrition plan, and bonked hard on the run.  Have I learned my lesson - well cognitively yes, but have I truly put it into action this year?  Yes and no.  At the beginning of the season I paced and PR'd my HIM time by more than 19 minutes.  I paced pretty well at Collegiate's, and well I blew up at General Smallwood in an effort the "win" the bike race - no one else there was in a bike race, what was I doing,  I don't know, being an idiot really.

I'm a little bit competitive and to be honest this isn't good for pacing.  It leaves me wanting to drop people from the start and I usually pay for it by the end of the run.  That's exactly what will not happen in Louisville.  As competitive as I want to be I have to race my race at my pace.  Whether that leaves me in first or last in my age group, Sunday will be my race.  My body is feeling strong, rested, and ready to go so I'm confident it won't be last, but I have no control over the training and tapering of the other 80+ women in my age group.

Knowing myself and my body will be incredibly important for success on Sunday.  When to hold back, when to push, and when to keep calm and keep moving forward.  I'll listen to my body on the bike, following a nutrition plan I know works, to set myself up for a successful run, where I'll keep a steady and strong pace.  IM is a long day and at some point Plan A might not work out, so I'll go to Plan B, and if Plan B doesn't work I'll keep moving forward.  So often energy for racing and pacing is related to matches or bank accounts.  I've made all the deposits and I've got a box full of matches, the key is not to spend it all at once or light them all at once, but use it steadily throughout the day.

"Pace is essential in running and in life.  We have to know when to pick it up and when to conserve.  It is the most strategic component of running a good race, and as such it requires the greatest amount of maturity.  It is a worthwhile study and one that never ends, because our abilities and our goals are always in a state of flux.  But if you know your ideal pace, you know yourself..." - Mile Markers by Kristin Armstong.

Follow Me to Louisville

I've made it Louisville and so have over 2000 other future Ironmen!  The flight itself was not that exciting, though actually getting on the plane seemed to take forever.  Something about they had to install a new toilet, so we left almost an hour late.  I would be lying if I said this didn't make me nervous.  They didn't tell us what was going on or why we were just standing in line to board but not actually boarding.  I actually began to look up other flights on my phone that would get me here on Thursday night still.  All worked out well and I even got to sit next to a gem of a couple who had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Today will be pretty busy with IM business.  Starting the morning with a short ride/run, followed by athlete check-in and all that goes with that.  I'll try to sneak a pre or post lunch nap into the mix before the afternoon activities start including the banquet, athlete briefing and of course sorting out 2 special needs bags and 2 transition bags.  The weather here seems great so far, granted I haven't been here in the middle of the day yet, but from what I hear it could be much worse.

To track me on Sunday (race day!) you can visit ( for free text updates and 4 live streaming cameras.  The link to track an athlete will show up on Saturday.  I'm bib #75.  More updates and pics to come from Ironman Village, DC Tri Crew, PTS Sports crew, and of course My Crew arriving tonight :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad

2 years ago today, I started my blog, on my dad's birthday, for no particular reason.  Here's a look back through the blog, in pictures :) Enjoy.  Life is short, but sweet for certain. -DMB

East Tawas 2010 with CharlieJo
Old Rag with PT friends
1st Oly Tri 2010

Michigan Winter
Bringing home hardware at Tri Latta '11
Hardware at USAT Regional Club Champs. '11
Remember and missing a great man.
His last race, 4th in AG :)
Test riding my soon to be New Bike.
Hardware at Nation's Tri 2011

1st Half-Ironman 2011
1st Marathon 2011
Me best friends wedding :)

Your Heart's Home - Sedona, A

New Wheels!
1st Hardware of 2012

Collegiate National Championships 2012

Kinetic 70.3 2012
1st Hardware in a 70.3 :)

Long IM training ride with a great crew 
IM training - Day by day

Lookout Mountain, Colorado - July 2012

Happy birthday to the man who put me on 2 wheels. My first love. My biggest fan. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


After weeks of pestering and months of advice to take a vacation before starting work I set foot in Colorado for 10 days of laughter, adventures, sweat, work and fun.  Kim and I headed to Colorado on a Tuesday and were greeted wonderfully by her old friend, Kirk, at the Denver Airport.  We spent a few days and nights exploring Denver before the rest of the DC Tri crew landed at 5280.

The first 3 days were spent in and around Denver with Kim and Kirk.  On Wednesday we woke up to fresh fruit for breakfast before heading out to Red Rocks.  Our plan was to run the "steps" at Red Rocks.  I assumed this would be similar to running stadiums in college - oh was I wrong.  Running the steps at Red Rocks is more like running the aisles.  You run across each row, go down a step, and run back.  We ran slow, with our camel backs, and kept a steady pace. After completing 1 round, which took about 20 minutes we took a break, ran up the stairs on the outside, and back down.  After resting for a few moments we ran up the aisles.  Running Red Rocks was great, we had free entertainment while a young girl rocked out for us, testing out her vocal cords.  She did a little operetta before nail Carly Rae Jaspen per our request.  The scenery that surrounds you is gorgeous and there is not shortage of other athletes around.

While running I didn't notice the O2 deficit much, but after lunch and once back home I passed out for a nice nap.  After I waking we headed to the outdoor 50m pool just down the road, Congress Pool.  The air was crisp, the water clean and I felt great.  My swim at Congress Pool was one of my best swim workouts I've had.  I hope I get into the dirty warm Ohio River next week and feel just as great :)  Kirk was nice enough to drop us off and pick us up, before heading to dinner.

One of our keys for acclimation was hydration, and hydrate we did!  I was constantly heading to the bathroom and Wednesday night I probably set a record for myself waking up about 4 times to use the restroom.  Thursday was a tough day, Kirk went to work and left Kim and I to navigate Denver public transportation on our own.  We walked out to the bus stop, watched 4 buses come and go, and finally boarded or bus to Applewood.  We were heading to Wheat Ridge Cyclery to pick up my rental bike and go out for a warm up ride.  The bus ride was rough, it took about 45 minutes and we saw quite the cast of characters.  We disembarked and walked the last mile to the shop feeling motion sick.  Once in the store I just needed a time out in the AC before taking care of anything.  The shop was awesome, and highly recommended.  I got my bike all set up and Kim and I set up to ride up Lookout Mountain.  We thought this would be a warm up ride.  We went through a rolling 12 miles past the Coors Brewery and through the town of Golden on our way to Lookout Mountain.  The School of Mines, not to be confused with The School of Mimes, is also in Golden.  I couldn't figure out why we didn't see anyone walking around in black and white talking with their hands, and then I realized.  Whoopsie dasiy.  The climb to Lookout Mountain was legit - switchbacks, up, up, and up.  So much for a warm up ride!  Once at the top the view and Gatorade was amazing.  The descent made every pain staking effort to climb to the summit worth it.  Once back at Wheat Ridge Cyclery we left our bikes for transport to Copper Mtn.  and walked over to Safeway for snacks, hydration, and fingers crossed a ride home.
Top of Lookout Mountain

Thursday night we spent downtown at the 16th St. Promenade before the arrival of the rest of the crew.  Denver was a pretty cool city and Kirk's generosity was amazing.  The break from the day to day of training in DC was much needed and the company couldn't have been better.  I'm glad I gave in to peer pressure and decided to head west for 10 days.  We were so lucky to have the opportunity to take advantage of funemployment playing and working out in Denver.  Friday morning brought a whole new set of adventures with more friends, more elevation, big vans, and big mountains outside of Denver.
Thanks for showing us a great time Kirk.

Friday, August 17, 2012

General Smallwood Race Report

This race report is long overdue.  I've been neglecting it...because this was not a good race.  I wasn't proud of it and I didn't even want to think about it for awhile.  As I started to think more about the race, my training, my goals for this year, and the overall result I realized it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be.  A wise Buddha once said that “the arrow that hits the bull’s-eye is the result of 100 misses”. So next time you have a bad race, wallow, cry, stomp, learn and bank the lessons and then try to move on. Yes, the race result is important. You have invested a huge amount of time and energy in achieving your goal – as have those around you – but ultimately it is about the journey to that start line, enjoying each and every moment and never letting that race day performance – good or bad – totally define you.

Since it's been over a month since actual race, I'm going to keep this report short and simple.  The worst, the best, and lessons learned.

The Worst
A tie between a couple things here.  The swim that was 400m too long, making it a 1900m Oly Swim (wtf?) or the fact I couldn't get my legs to turn over on the run.  Did I taper for this race?  No, not really.  This was just a race thrown into the mix of Ironman training because it was the Regional Club Championship.  The long swim effectively helped the strong swimmers and hindered those of us not so strong in the water.  My legs just wouldn't go on the run.  Sure there are a lot of excuses I could come up with, but the bottom line is I ran the worst 10k I've ever run in a tri.  

The Best
It was USAT Mid-Atlantic Regional Club Championships - DC Tri was out in full force.  Friends and family were all there to race and cheer and have a good time, winning, of course :)  The bike also went well.  The course was mostly rolling and I was feeling good.  I took 2 full bottle of fluids on the bike and the well ran dry before the end of the ride.  It was hot out.  Despite the swim being long I felt strong in the water and my sighting was on target.

Lessons Learned
This race was on one of the hottest days of the summer.  I should have been smarter with my pre-race and race nutrition plans.  I didn't stay hydrated and I paid for it.  I was sick after crossing the finish line, not sweating, and not keeping fluids down.  I had to sit in the ice bath for a bit, take salt pills, and chill out, literally.  I should have prevented this by preloading with salt pills and drinking more fluids before the start of the swim.  The water was warm for the swim, which only help the dehydration factor more.

Brother and I after crossing the finish line
Nail the bike nutrition, so you can have a good run.  Once you start running, it's too late to make up for missed fluids or calories during the bike.  Just because I played soccer in Georgia doesn't mean I am above the heat, I should have prepared more during the bike with fluids to set myself up for a good run.

The race I was hoping for was not the race I'd been training for.  Since May I've been training for IM Louisville.  I've done some speed and interval work on all 3 sports but the focus of the training has been long distance.   Running long runs at IM pace, riding long rides followed by bricks at IM pace.  Compared to last years training when I was focusing specifically on Oly and Half training I should have known I wouldn't be PR-ing at this race.  Yet I still believed it would be possible.  I'm trained and I'm fit but not the same way I was last year, I'm ready for Louisville next weekend.  After Louisville I'll start training the short fast stuff again for a change of pace.  And to see what I can do before the season is over in an Oly :)

I'm a little competitive and I like to win - Ok, I might be a lot competitive.  I already knew this but this race just highlighted it and made me look at how I deal with failure.  I was letting this performance begin to define me and my future performances, not good.  Keep calm, keep focused, and carry on because the race that matters this year is in Louisville Kentucky on August 26 :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Ironman Taper

After months of training the taper is here and the race is 10 days away!  My total taper was 3 weeks, so I'm about 1/2 way through it.  I can honestly say taper works.   I've tapered for shorter races but I've never noticed such a need for it until Ironman training.  After a couple 30+ hour training weeks and running my legs into the ground during Colorado and Deep Creek Training weekend I was starting fade.  My legs didn't want to push, my turn over on the bike and run was slow, and I felt like I wasn't going anywhere in the pool.

The first week of taper was frustrating.  I felt tired.  No energy and a lack of motivation to do the "short" training I had on the schedule.  I got it done.  I left the pool frustrated a couple times, doubting my ability to complete an Ironman swim.  I struggled through a couple runs that normally feel "easy".  Now, mid-taper, I am starting to feel great.  I don't have anymore long, hard workouts, but I am starting to feel ready with the workouts I am doing.  My past two swims have been good, my legs feel good on the bike, and I nailed a short track workout.  10 more days to let my body rest and get stronger while keeping my sanity.  I've seen this letter my mom sent me posted before on other blogs.  It's by an anonymous author to Ironman Competitors, it rings pretty true.

“Right now you’ve all entered the taper.  Perhaps you’ve been at this a few months, perhaps you’ve been at this a few years.  For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You’ve been following your schedule to the letter.  You’ve been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until November to erase.  Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were proceeded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.
You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you.  Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you’ve already covered so much ground…there’s just one more climb to go.  You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before you…and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest.  While this taper is something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won’t be pretty.
It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss.  It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready.  It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body already does.  Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won’t believe it.  It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident.  It’s the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it.   It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out.  It comes from long, solo runs.  From that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.

It is worth it.  Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it.  The workload becomes less.  The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind.  Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes.
You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong.
You’ll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.
You will tear up in your goggles.  Everyone does.
The helicopters will roar overhead.
The splashing will surround you.

You’ll stop thinking about Ironman, because you’re now racing one.
The swim will be long – it’s long for everyone, but you’ll make it.
You’ll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you’ll hear the end.  You’ll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers.
Three people will get that sucker off before you know what’s happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero’s sendoff.  You won’t wipe the smile off your face for anything.

You’ll settle down to your race.  The crowds will spread out on the road.  You’ll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You’ll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun.  It’s warmer now.  Maybe it’s hot.  Maybe you’re not feeling so good now.You’ll keep riding.  You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep moving.  After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You’ll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours.  You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.By now it’ll be hot.  You’ll be tired.  Doubts will fight for your focus.  Everyone struggles here.  You’ve been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won’t – not here.  Not today.

You’ll grind the false flats to the climb.  You’ll know you’re almost there.  You’ll fight for every inch of road.  The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you.  Let them see your eyes.  Smile when they cheer for you – your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You’ll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come – soon!  You’ll roll back – you’ll see people running out.  You’ll think to yourself, “Wasn’t I just here?”  The noise will grow.  The chalk dust will hang in the air – you’re back, with only 26.2 miles to go.  You’ll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You’ll roll into transition.  100 volunteers will fight for your bike.
You’ll give it up and not look back.  You’ll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you’ll go.  You’ll change.  You’ll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer – the one that counts.

You’ll take that first step of a thousand…and you’ll smile.  You’ll know that the bike won’t let you down now – the race is down to your own two feet.  The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday.

High-five people on the way out.  Smile.  Enjoy it. This is what you’ve worked for all year long.
That first mile will feel great.  So will the second.  By mile 3, you probably won’t feel so good.

That’s okay.  You knew it couldn’t all be that easy.  You’ll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace.  You’ll see the leaders coming back the other way.  Some will look great – some won’t.  You might feel great, you might not.  No matter how you feel, don’t panic – this is the part of the day where whatever you’re feeling, you can be sure it won’t last.

You’ll keep moving.  You’ll keep drinking.  You’ll keep eating.  Maybe you’ll be right on plan – maybe you won’t.  If you’re ahead of schedule, don’t worry – believe.  If you’re behind, don’t panic – roll with it.

Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon.  By remote control.  Blindfolded.
How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day.  Don’t waste energy worrying about things – just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving.  Keep eating.  Keep drinking.  Just don’t sit down – don’t EVER sit down.

You’ll make it to halfway point.  You’ll load up on special needs.  Some of what you packed will look good, some won’t.  Eat what looks good, toss the rest.  Keep moving.  Start looking for people you know.  Cheer for people you don’t.  You’re headed in – they’re not.  They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town.  Share some energy – you’ll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on.  The brilliant sunshine will yawn.  You’ll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup.  TAKE THE SOUP.  Keep moving.

You’ll soon only have a few miles to go.  You’ll start to believe that you’re going to make it.  You’ll start to imagine how good it’s going to feel when you get there.  Let those feelings drive you on.  When your legs just don’t want to move anymore, think about what it’s going to be like when someone catches you…puts a medal over your head…
…all you have to do is get there.

You’ll start to hear town.  People you can’t see in the twilight will cheer for you.  They’ll call out your name.  Smile and thank them.  They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on the run, and now when you’ve come back.

You’ll enter town.  You’ll start to realize that the day is almost over.
You’ll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you’re lucky), but you’ll ask yourself, “Where did the whole day go?”

You’ll be standing on the edge of two feelings – the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.
You’ll hit mile 25.  Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles – just 2KM left in it.

You’ll run.  You’ll find your legs.  You’ll fly.  You won’t know how, but you will run.  The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter.  Soon you’ll be able to hear the music again.  This time, it’ll be for keeps.
Soon they’ll see you.  Soon, everyone will see you.  You’ll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the nightsun made just for you.

They’ll say your name.
You’ll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours – for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.
You’ll break the tape.  The flash will go off.

You’ll stop.  You’ll finally stop.  Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly…be capable of nothing more.
Someone will catch you.
You’ll lean into them.
It will suddenly hit you.

You will be an Ironman.

You are ready.”