Friday, December 6, 2013

Army 10 Miler Race Report

I had no intentions of running this race...really.  I'd let Adam run it and I'd cheer for him and enjoy some time off.  Long story, short - a good friend wrecked his bike and I raced with bib #2041 ;)

My original race plan - run a decent pace, enjoy it, hold 7:50 - 8:00 miles and don't put too much pressure on myself to PR.  PRing my 10 mile once already this year (Cherry Blossom) was good for me, no reason to push it too hard.  I'd enjoy the day, the atmosphere and the nice DC course, one that I'd never run before.

The REAL Race Plan -

I put myself in the front-middle section of my corral.  The 1st corral behind seeded runners I believe - so 2nd corral.  I told myself to keep the first 3 miles feeling easy and try to hold that pace for the entire 10 miles or better yet pick it up for the last 2 or 3 miles if all went well.  I have become well aware that I have a tendency to start off way to fast (6:22 for lap 1 of a 5 miler cuz it felt easy...whoops) so I started off running what felt really easy -- I thought I'd be around 8:10 for the first mile.  I looked down and it was 7:14, so I slowed myself down.  I slowed down to the point where it felt nice and easy - lap 1 7:38.  Oh dear, I thought I was digging myself into a hole.  Mile 2 I kept the same effort level and hit a 7:35....and I still felt good.  This was great!  The weather was perfect as well.  I had worn arm warmers with shorts and a tee, but ended up tucking the armwarmers away before the starting gun went off.   Miles 3, 4, and 5 went by without a problem.  Right as I was beginning to feel like I had to work I saw a friend out for a run.  It was nice to have someone to keep my spirits up and push me along through mile 6 and part of 7. Thanks J. Brez!

After parting ways with Brez I decided I'd stop looking at my watch and do what I could to get to the finish.  The 14th St. Bridge was still waiting for me and that bridge seems to always be an unexpected heart breaker for me.  It was tough, I told myself to stay behind a girl I'd been running near almost the entire time.  Before I knew it I was headed back toward the Pentagon and looking for a good place to kick it in to the finish.  I hadn't been watching my splits for the past couple miles so I really had no clue what my time was.  If I ever wondered what perfect running weather is, I now know.  It's the weather we had on October 20, 2013.  I never felt hot, I never felt cold, I was sweating a bit, and the sun was shining. I never would have thought I'd be able to run like I did for 10 miles that day.  So thank you, Kenn for the opportunity and thank you, Brez for pulling me along when it started getting hard.

Finish Time - 1:16:26
Average Pace - 7:36

Now it's time to figure out when I can do in the 1/2 marathon.  I've never had a good 1/2 marathon.  Maybe it's the fact that I only have run a 1/2 the past 3 years in March, or maybe it's that I never seem to train properly for them or pay attention to pace at all during training.  Hopefully with a bit of rest, a bit more work, and being more familiar with my Garmin (as compared to last year) I can crush Rock 'n Roll USA.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Augusta 70.3 2013 Race Report

It has been over a month now since the race and registration opens for 2014 in just a few it's about time I got this race report up!  I've said it before and I'll say it again...this is my favorite race.  It's an awesome race to close out the season with.  This year was just a quick trip down for the race but a great one at that.  Adam and I hit the road Friday around 11:00 am for the 8 hour drive to Augusta, GA.  The drive was smooth sailing and we arrived in Augusta early enough to enjoy a local dinner with our gracious hosts.  Huge thanks to Laura and Ryan for hosting Adam and I for the weekend.


One of the reasons Augusta if my favorite race is because of the downriver swim.  I was quite excited to share this wonderful swimming experience with Adam.  We headed to swim start, got into our wetsuits, and walked out onto the start dock.  There was a good number of fellow athletes getting a feel for the fast water.  I jumped in and was pleased with the refreshing water...perfect for my first race in my full sleeve wetsuit.  Adam and I set our sights just past the 2nd bridge for a meet up and exit point.  We made it there in 6 minutes and change...a 1:18/100yd pace.  Wow, I never even see that in the pool.   After bit of confusion and a local house boat owner unlocking the gate for us we were able to get back to the main river walk and
Mr had his dancing shoes on!
head to the starting point for round 2.  After round 2 I was feeling confident about the next day's swim and was ready to move on to packet pick pick-up.

We got to packet pick-up about 90 min after it had opened...perfect timing.  All the super type-A's had gotten in when it first opened and the people driving into town from the Atlanta area mostly weren't there yet.  We didn't have to wait in much of a line at all (a couple hours later the line was out the door of the convention center).  We got our packets and picked up some new 650 tires for a steal and a couple other things before listening to a race course talk for a few minutes.

Once all that business was taken care of we were able to enjoy a lunch with a couple other DC Tri Club members who made it down for the race.  The weather was perfect to enjoy our meal outdoors.  After lunch we headed back to the car to take our bikes over to transition for bike checkin.  Albeit a small mishap we got a short ride in before checking our bikes and heading back in for the evening.  The transition area gets bigger every year, they had more land flattened to increase the size this year.  Crazy huge race.


Adam and I woke early ate a good breakfast and packed a couple sandwiches.  We both had at least a 90min wait from the time the pros started to the time our waves started.  The drive over was short and easy
and parking was a since near the old train station.  Once parked we walked down to transition to set up and then caught the shuttle back to swim start/the car to put some last minute belongings away.

Before the race start paratroopers jumped in unison with the National Anthem and parachuted down with a big ol U.S. of A. flag.  It was pretty awesome.

Adam and I chilled on the sidewalk after watching the pro men and pro women zoom by on the swim.  Bathrooms were plentiful and the weather wasn't too chilly.  Before we knew it Adam was getting into his wetsuit and not long after I into mine.

THE SWIM: 1.2 miles - 28:21 - 41/102 AG

With a strong current and a pretty large wave of women starting with me I wanted to focus on technique and breathing for the first part of the swim.  I felt strong and I was swimming straight, unlike last year when I kept veering toward the shore.  At the half-way point of the swim the buoys changed color and I was feeling strong.  I was catching men from 1 and 2 waves before me!  Confidence boost, yes!  Though the water isn't very clear the straight swim and the current make this one of the most enjoyable open water swims I've ever done.  I was please to come out of the water and see a sub 28:30 on my watch!  Almost 90s improvement on last years swim time!  Good start to the day.

T1: 3:31

I felt good and the wetsuit strippers are just another added benefit in Augusta. Bike was easy to get to and the transition area was not crowded (2nd to last start wave).

THE BIKE: 56 miles - 2:37:04 - 5/102 AG

For some reason I always remember this bike course as being flattish-rollingish and fast!  Well apparently it was fast when all I was hoping for was a sub 3 hour bike in 2011 and I went sub 2:50.  Turns out when you're pushing it and trying to hit sub 2:35 it's a bit more difficult.  The course is great and I really enjoyed it
but I forgot about some of the hills...whoops!  Looking back I should have been smarter about where I spent my energy but I think that was a good lesson before hitting it for the 2014 season.  Nutrition and hydration when well.  Some water bottle handoffs were a bit crowded and dodgey, I saw some people dismount to be safe to get water.

T2: 2:51

Nothing special here.  Flying dismount, ran Mr. in and slipped on my run shoes and my grabbed my race belt and nutrition.

THE RUN: 13.1 miles - 1:55:06 - 8/102 AG

I was looking forward to this run leading up to this race.  Flat course, good temps, and some great training runs leading up to this I thought I was set for a PR run.  Not quite...remember that bike I went too hard came back to get me.  I felt great for the first 7-8 miles holding a 8:24ish pace, taking in my nutrition and hydration and enjoying the day.  And then the wheels slowly fell off.  Stomach was done with my antics, quads were shot and the sun was heating up the ashphalt.  I willed myself on knowing I was in podium contention coming off the bike but not sure where I stood 8 miles into the run.  I few girls passed me and I passed only a couple in my age group on the run.  Losing 3 positions on the run.  This run was difficult, more difficult then I'd remembered and more difficult the Eagleman this year.  I look forward to nailing this run at Augusta 2014!

OVERALL FINISH: 5:06:53 - 8/102 AG

Adam also had an awesome race with a 6th place AG finish!  We had some food and stuck around for awards and roll down.  Long story short we both ended up missing roll down by 2 slots.  We went into this thinking there was an outside chance and we might need a little luck.  Things didn't play out the way we wished but it was quite the exciting afternoon.  I'm already looking forward to 2014!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Closing out the Season: Waterman's Sprint Tri Race Report

I had been planning on closing out my season with Augusta 70.3, but after a 4 day vacay to Playa Del Carmen and lots of rest I was reinvigorated to sign up for one more local sprint.  The weather for race day was looking promising a week before the race, a DC Tri discount would help with the cost, the race start time was 10am and the race site was a 50 min drive from DC - I couldn't say no.


The drive out to the race site was a breeze.  As soon as I got out of the city it started raining again.  5 minutes later it stopped.  This continued for the entire drive.  Rain, pouring rain, nothing, and so on.  Well obviously this rain situation was out of my control and I figured if anything it would play to my favor since I'm not as timid on the bike in the rain as some others.  I arrived at the race site with a plenty of time for packet pickup and bike racking.  I was a bit surprised to see 2 other pink Rudy Project Wingspan helmets in my vicinity while bike racking.  It seemed some people decided not to show race morning which left us with a bit of extra room to rack bikes and set up our transition area.  I wasn't sure how the rain situation would play out so I decided to cover my run stuff with a plastic bag, leave my bike shoes and helmet our and take my backpack back to the car with me (about 500 ft away from transition).  As soon as I got back to my car to keep warm and chill out before race start it started raining again...oi...well at least I was going to be soaking wet when I got out of the water anyways.  The rain stopped after only a couple minutes and held off pretty much the rest of the morning.  After resting and snacking in the car I got into my wetsuit and headed over to swim start.  After speaking with a friend who had raced the 1/2 Iron the day before at the same location I figured it would be best to get a swim warm up in to get used to the cold water.  The water closest to shore was very cold.  I looked at the people standing on the dock in only swim suits and swim caps and worried for them.  After swimming out away from shore about 150 meters it seemed to be a bit warmer, which was nice.  I was definitely glad I jump in to swim for 7-8 minutes before race start.  It helped me acclimate to the water temp and the chop.  For a small inland creek area the water was very choppy.

THE SWIM - 750m - 17:09 - 28th/104

The swim start was a bit crazy as it was all women 44 and under - pretty big group of women.  I felt strong in the swim and was passing people from the wave that started four minutes in front of my before I hit the first turn buoy.  The first leg seemed to be directly into the current which slowed everyone down a bit, after making the left hand turning and heading into the middle of the lake area the chop became worse and worse.  I got a couple mouthfuls of water but was able to find my own space and a few feet to draft off of during the 2nd leg.  The 3rd leg was the longest and the most difficult to site as you could also see the buoys from the 1st leg of the swim.  I continued passing people until the final turn buoy - where I was passed by a few fast guys from the wave that started behind mine.  I figured this was ok - to only be 4 minutes or so behind some of the fastest men was better than usual for me.  The swim exit was up a boot ramp - it was a bit slick and and some sharp edges.  I felt one on my foot as I ran out and hoped for the best and that it wouldn't bother me during the run.  As I checked my watch on my way out I was a bit disappointed with my swim time, but knew it was probably rough for everyone.  Now, checking the results I was close to the 25% of women on the swim, that never happens.  So, I'll draw the conclusion that my swim is getting better!

T1 - 2:59 - 6th/104

I remembered this transition from General Smallwood Oly last year - it's about 1/4 mile run on pavement up to the transition area.  I peeled down my wetsuit as I ran into transition.  I was happy to see my bike shoes and helmet were not soaked.  I got my wetsuit off and slipped into my shoes as I donned helmet and sunglasses.  Mr and I were off!

THE BIKE - 16 miles - 47:24 - 1st/104

The roads were wet but the rain was gone.  The course started out with a gentle climb out of the park before turning onto the main road for some rollers.  The bike course was rolling and mostly car free.  The pavement was smooth and mostly free of debris despite the rain storm that had lasted all week.  I knew the best swimmer in my wave, or one of the top swimmers, was going to be bib #217, so I was on a mission to catch her.  At mile 6.5 I was all by myself on a mostly flat part of the course so I decided it would be a good time to take my gel.  As I was resting in my aerobars and snacking I hit a pothole, right elbow off the elbow pad, left arm grabbing at bars to steady myself...somehow I stayed upright on 2 wheels without losing much momentum.  I took notice to keep my eyes on the road for the rest of the ride in fear of another pothole incident.  I continued to pass people throughout the entire ride.  As I came to the last couple miles of the ride I could see a female in front of me maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile.  Misson...catch her...maybe it's #217.  Well I caught her and it wasn't #217, we rode in to the dismount line together as the announcer let everyone know the "2nd and 3rd female were coming in 'neck and neck' 1 minute behind the race leader".  Score for a flying dismount, I left the other girl in my dust as she stopped to dismount with her shoes still on.  I took note that she looked like a runner and that I'd need as much time on her coming out of transition as I could get.

T2 - 0:49 - 4th/104

Run shoes on race belt in hand and one gel in pocket and I as on my way. Nothing too exciting here, I was in a rush to close the 1 minute gap on the leader.

THE RUN - 5k - 23:01 - 8th/104

I started out knowing I'd need to control myself as there were definitely hills to be had on this run course.  Since I never saw #217 on the bike I knew she was probably the leader with a 1 minute gap.  No problem, I can close that.  I attempted to use my Garmin for my splits - no luck there - more on that later.  I kept a steady pace on the flats, controlled my heart rate on the uphills and let it fly on the back half of each loop (downhill through a campground area, much like Kinetic).  About 3/4 of a mile into the run I had the race leader in my sights.  She wasn't too far ahead and I was closing the gap.  I matched her pace up the first hill and passed her just after, knowing she'd probably turn it up, or attempt to, once she was passed.  Just as I was following her up the hill, the eventual race winner passed us both - at a great pace, a pace I knew I couldn't match.  So all within 1 minute the order of female leaders completely switched.  1st to 3rd, 3rd to 1st, and I guess I was pretty much in 2nd the entire time.  I held my pace for the 2nd loop and felt great.  I was able to pick it up a tad for the finish.  Had I known my run split I would  have picked it up even more to go sub-23, alas that's what happens when you record your entire race without  hitting lap.  I have a 20.3 mile open water swim recorded!

OVERALL FINISH: 1:31:19, 3rd/104


We were wet, the sun was not out and it was a tad chilly.  I grabbed some clean, dry clothes from the car - yay warmth!  I was able to collect everything from transition and get the car loadad while the race was still going on.  I finished at around 11:35am - took care of my transition area, grabbed some food and visited with friends in hopes awards would start at a decent time.  Awards eventually started at 1:15 and were pretty efficient.  Even though I crossed the line as the 2nd female, I ended up 3rd overall.  Ya know, the whole wave start thing can get ya sometimes!  It was great closing out the season on the overall podium!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Augusta 70.3 Bound

This Sunday will be my 3rd time racing at Augusta 70.3.  It will also be the biggest field for a 1/2 Ironman, ever.  I've had my eye on this race since the beginning of the season.  I'm definitely looking forward to a smooth downriver swim.  This course is a PR type of course, but it can be a long day out there for anyone if things don't fall into place.

I'm in full taper mode now - sleep if more important than miles, making sure my muscles feel good with some massage and dry needling, and keeping the engine running with some good eats.  Based on my previous 1/2 iron performances this year and prior results at Augusta I've set the bar high for this race.  I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous, but I really am more excited to see what I can do and most likely end the season with a great race and great weekend in Augusta (potentially a sprint in October)! 
Favorite swim start!

The week leading up to the race has been a bit hectic - I moved across town, I'm working a long day on Thursday so I can work 7-11 on Friday and then spend the better of the day in the car.  At least I'll have good company and good tunes and a great race to look forward to. 

Feel free to follow me at, bib #3157, race start time of 9:12am.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Nation's Triathlon 2013 Race Report

I may be a bit biased towards this race as it practically takes place in my backyard, it was my first Olympic distance race and there's never a shortage of friends or family around for race weekend.  This was my 4th year in a row racing at Nation's.  Quick recap: 2010 - first Olympic distance race and happy to finish sub-3. 2011 - I had my eyes on the prize, this was the first race my dad was going to come watch me at, I took 2nd in my AG.  2012 - I couldn't fathom not doing this race, so I raced just 2 weeks after my first hurt.  

The week leading up to the 2013 race was a 4-day work week thanks to Labor Day but it seemed to drag on as I was ready to get the party started.  Early in the week you can see the makings of the swim start dock being set up and light and fencing brought in for transition.  I always start to get a little more excited once I see this happening.  I continued to train with a quasi-taper for Nation's as my main goal is Augusta 70.3 this year.  Friday night got festivities kicked off with a visit to the expo, picking up my packet, and stopping by the DCTC tent.  Saturday was laid back for the most part - a short ride and run, racked the bike and made a pasta dinner.  The main topic that everyone was talking about on Saturday was how they were going to get to the race on Sunday morning.  In all of the past 3 years I've never found this to be a difficult task - walk, ride a different bike, bike share, cab.  Personally, as long as it's nice out bike share is great.  There are 3 docking stations within a mile of transition (2 < .5 mile) and so many people seem to be from out of town I've never had a problem docking at a race start.


Woke up early - had some cereal, almond milk, and banana and got ready to roll out.  Nothing to eventful happened.  Adam and I headed over to the nearest bike share station grabbed a couple bikes and rocked some aero-helmets on the CaBi's.  We rolled up to the docking station just south of the Lincoln Memorial (which had about 20 open docks at 5:50 AM).   It was <.25 mile walk to get into transition.  On our commute we saw 4-5 people walking from near the Iwo Jima - that would not be my choice if I was coming from across the river, but to each their own.


I easily got to Mr and re-racked him - I had to rack him by the handlebars on Saturday because he was too short to rest on the ground while hanging from the seat on the bike rack.  I didn't want to risk him falling over night or getting rowdy so I racked him by the handlebars and gave him the flip-er-roo on race morning.  Transition set-up was simple, probably due to the fact I've raced quite a few times this year, set up my bike gear, run gear, and made sure my nutrition was set, before topping of the air in my tires.  I nicely hung my new (to me) CAT 5 wetsuit over my bike as I shook out some nerves and reviewed my race plan in my head.  As I began to look around I noticed there were no other wetsuits around or on anyone.  Time to go check, on Saturday they announced 77 degree water and with the cool evening most had assumed it would be wetsuit legal.  I quickly found out that was not the case.  I packed the wetsuit up and put it off to the side.  I was really hoping for a wetsuit legal race to help me get my 2nd sub-30 swim time.

THE SWIM - 1500m - 32:18

I made a decision about 1 week prior to the race to move up to the elite division.  My finish time from Rock Hall qualified me and after the announcement of the new bike course for 2013 I was convinced to move up.  The elite division are the 1st and 2nd wave to start (males, females) so I was lucky enough to start only 4 minutes into the running race clock.  Another advantage ( I thought) was that the elite waves start with a wave start and not a time trial start like the age group waves.  I knew going into the swim I'd be near the back of the pack in the elite wave.  Oh boy, was I right.  I started strong, feeling great as I passed the 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, and 600m bouys.  Then I started feeling slow and struggling and alone in the water.  I hate feeling alone in the water.  I caught myself veering right after making the turn around and got myself back on course.  Men from the first age group wave started passing me - only a few, thankfully.  I tried to focus on technique and eventually I was hitting the 1300m and 1400m bouys before heading to the exit ramp.  I was disappointed that I didn't hit a sub-30 swim, but I have to be happy as this was my best swim at Nation's to date.  I felt strong exiting the water, unlike how I used to feel exhausted and barely being able to run.  I passed a few men as I ran up the swim ramp and was feeling good for the bike!

T1: 2:04

My bike was racked near bike out so I had quite a ways to run through transition before getting to Mr.  Simple transition - shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on, and roll out.  

THE BIKE: 1:07:49

Oh my goodness, I'm going to start lobbying for USAT to initate a penalty for improper bike mounting.  Some dude in front of my tried to pull off a flying mounth - big fail.  His shoes hit the ground and fell off and he fell to the side.  Somehow I avoided his shoes and him -said something mean under my breath and continued on. The course started out wide, smooth and flat and I found my rhythm quickly - head down, cadence up. This was great until I apparently was in a no pass zone. There was one male in front of me riding
in the left of the no pass zone, so I, unaware we were in a no pass zone kept yelling on your left. He moved just in time to avoid a collision and yelled back that we were in a no pass zone. I was more aware the next time through and was able to hammer before entering and find clear road (partly thanks to starting the bike before most racers were even in the water). My suggestions would be a) try to eliminate no pass zones as much as possible or b) signs 1/2 or 1 mile out from the no pass zone to give better forewarning so athletes can make passes where it's safe.

The last hairy area on the course was the early signage for 2nd lap and finish. 'Finish Keep Right" signs seemed to start about 1 mile away from the finish. I was torn between keeping right and passing slower athletes on the left. It created a strange debacle of "well they're slower and they're riding on my left but I've also got a slow person in front of me - now do I pass on the right of the first person and left of the 2nd? But I think passing on the right is illegal....etc, etc. Here, I'd actually say to not have the signage so far out into the course, or begin coning off the course into two distinct lanes where the signage begins.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my bike time.  My original goal time was a couple of minutes faster, but with the course change involving tight U-turns and no pass zones I was happy to have a bike split faster than last years.  I let up the last mile or 2 of the bike and spun my legs out as I got ready to dismount.  Moving dismount executed perfectly (winning me some compliments from race volunteers and spectators).

T2:  1:29

Running back through transition with Mr. as people were still heading in from the swim and running out with their bikes was a bit hectic.  I had to stop for a second as a bunch of people were clogging up the lane near my row.  Not happy about that.  Re-racked Mr slipped on my run shoes, stuffed gels down shirt, grabbed my race belt with visor attached and headed out.  

THE RUN: 10k - 47:11

As for spectators on the run course - well they're non-existent if you're starting the run when the majority of athletes are about 1/2 way through the bike course or just starting the bike.  I was able to find a good rhythm early, focused in on what I had to do here.  I told myself I was going to use my Garmin and actually watch my splits to keep me in check.  Mile 1 went by quickly and soon after I saw a fellow DCTC member cheering as I rounded the Tidal Basin.  On to Hains Point, I love this part of the run, I know exactly what to expect and where to expect it.  Mile 2 ticked off  - a saw another DCTC member offering encouragement as he sailed passed me in a gator.  At about mile 2.3 my secret weapon (GU Brew container with salt pills) fell to the ground.  I had to stop run back about 10 feet and grab it before continuing on.  I was bummed this happened because this was right around the time I was closing the gap on a girl in front of me.  I was excited to hit mile 3 as this is where the main DCTC water stop and cheering station would be.  It was awesome - they had a head's up that I was coming and since there weren't many people on the course yet they were all screaming my name.  I need this energy at mile 4.5 or 5 as well.  It was awesome.  I was through mile 3 and onto mile 4...then things got hard.  I decided not to take my planned gel at mile 4 and my pace started slipping.  I was still chasing down the girl in front of my but that gap was opening up again instead of getting smaller.  At this point I knew I couldn't do much except focus on my form, foot strike and breathing.  I didn't know how close I was to going sub-2:30 and perhaps if I hadn't dropped the salt, or I had taken the gel, or I had just looked at my watch during the last mile I may have been able to pull it out.  All in all, I'm happy with this run.  Technically this is a 10k PR for me, as my other PR (45:35) was on a 6.06 mile course.  This is about 3 minutes faster than any other 10k I've done this year.

FINISH TIME: 2:30:48

Overall this was a great race.  I tried some new things - like a braided pony tail and it was awesome.  I almost nailed my run - but still had a great run and I learned some more about my swim and my confidence going into the swim.   I had a minor freak out of feeling inadequate and undeserving of the wave I was starting in shortly before race start.  Lucky for me I had friends at swim start and in the wave before me to help calm the nerves.  I would and will definitely race in the elite wave at this race again.  It was a great experience and made for a wide open bike course.  I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in Augusta in just a couple weeks and keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to go sub-2:30 before the end of the year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Luray Triathlon Race Report

The Luray Double (sprint + international distance races in the same weekend) quickly became a favorite of mine after my experience and success in the 2011 races.  With Ironman on the schedule I had to forego Luray in 2012, but I knew it would make the race schedule in 2013.  The Luray Double consists of completing the International distance race on Saturday morning followed by the Sprint distance race on Sunday morning.

I was lucky enough to be able to adjust my work schedule to be done by 3:00 on Friday.  After couple snafu's and a crazy metro trip I met up with Adam and we battled some traffic on our way to Luray.  I've become quite stubborn about my pre-race meal and if I have the means to have my usual, then I'll make sure I get it.  Thursday evening I prepared pasta and veggies and packed it up in some Tupperware to take along on our trip.  As we rolled into town we went straight to packet pick-up and the grocery store to get some small necessities ( a pot to heat our pasta on our camp stove).  Once at Lake Arrowhead park we scoured the camping area, apparently since the 2011 races camping has become much more popular!  We were able to find some lakefront property, with no one else near us (quiet!).  The tent went up, air mattress inflated, and we soon started heating up our pasta.  Best idea ever, dinner was easy, peaceful, tasty, and we got to watch the sunset over Lake Arrowhead as we ate.  Great pre-race night.  After dinner I got my #'s on my bike/helmet/race belt, sorted out my nutrition, and got ready for bed.  Camping this year was a bit more sophisticated with a queen sized air mattress, blankets, pillows, etc.

I woke up to the alarm at 6am and headed over to the car to get my breakfast ready.  Honeynut Chex with sliced banana (I know crazy, but I think Special K Red Berries was causing a stomach issue...).  Camping at the race site is pretty much the best, I walked over racked my bike and set up transition with no problem.  Returned my bag and extra stuff to our car and used the restroom before collecting my timing chip and getting into my wetsuit.


The Swim - 1500m - 31:36 (14th AG)
I was appreciative of the fact that I was in the 2nd wave - starting at 8:04 am.  It's so nice to have a few races every season where I'm not starting 2 hours after the 1st wave (M-dot).  I tried a bit of a new tactic once in the water before our wave went off.  I usually line myself up front and center - why do I do this?  Because I'm not a great swimmer and I need to start as close to the front as possible to get the time benefit.  WRONG.  I've become a better swimmer, but I'm still no where close to the best in my wave, so I started in the 2nd row of athletes = AMAZING.  I didn't get swam over once.  I was able to draft almost immediately and sight a little less.  I don't think this hurt my time at all.  My wave was not very physical, especially for the size of it.  The Luray swim course is odd, kind of like and M (but with a flat top added), but I love it.  The next buoy is never super far away and there's pretty much always other athletes near you.  As I made the last turn toward the beach I was passing a guy who had started in the wave ahead of me.  As I passed him he stroked and pushed my head down into the water - I have no doubt this was intentional.  Most times when when you take a stroke and you hit someone you move your arm, shorten your stroke, find space, etc.  This man did this not once, but twice - palmed my head and dunked me, awesome (but I'm still kicking your butt dude and now I'll just pass you faster! Thanks for the motivation.)  I felt strong the entire swim.  My Garmin Data actually comes out to 1.01 miles, so I swam a bit far.  Overall, I'm happy with my swim - at least I'm consistently in the 29-31 minute ranger.  Now to get to the 27-28 minute range....

T1 - 1:56 (1st AG)
Yes, I enjoy the fact that I'm fast in transition.  I know I lack speed in the swim so I can't let the swimmers put anymore time into me during transition.  It was quite simple - run across the beach, up the stairs, through transition, get into bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, grab bike, and roll out!

The Bike - 41k - 1:17:44 (2nd AG)
It was a gorgeous day.  Sun was shining, roads were dry, and I was on my bike!  I didn't feel as great as I usually do.  I felt lethargic and slow.  I spun my legs up and settled in.  The very first part of the course is uphill.  I was able to pass some fellow athletes in transition and in the first couple miles of the bike.  I've been working on hills - a lot this year - and I've been getting better at them.  I've also become well acquainted with my small ring and the benefits it offers.  I rode the 1st loop of this 2 loop course almost entirely in the small
ring.  Once starting the 2nd loop I dropped into the big ring and pushed it.  My 2nd loop was super crowded compared to the 1st where I felt like I was basically alone.  I passed some friend and fellow athletes as I grinded through the wonderful false flats.  I was soon headed straight through and back toward the park while almost everyone else seemed to be starting there 2nd loop.  It was a somewhat lonely ride toward the one big climb.  Once I started climbing I saw Adam and he promptly ran up the hill alongside me.  It felt good to be rolling into transition.  As I made the turn into the park I took my feet out of my shoes and did a moving dismount as I headed into T2.

T2 - 0:58(2nd AG)
Ok, somone got me by a few seconds, bummer, but I'm happy with my time.  Helmet off, run shoes on, Gu's stuffed in shorts, and race belt with visor in hand.  I headed out of transition and onto the run!

The Run - 10k - 48:49 (5th AG)
The 1st mile of this run is downhill.  It's easy to get carried away and run a bit fast.  The 2nd mile is slightly rolling and the 3rd mile is all uphill (it's a double out and back 10k course).  It was great to see so many familiar faces both racing and cheering.  Ignite, Kgo, and Adam, and fellow DCTCers were everywhere.  I have a bad habit of not looking at my Garmin during races.  I will start using it during the run.  It helps me a
lot during my training runs - therefore I should let it help me in races.  The 3rd and 6th mile on this course were tough.  When I got off the bike I was running in 2nd in my age group.  I was passed around mile 4.5 by the eventual 2nd place finisher and passed just after mile 5 by the eventual 3rd place finisher.  I'm most disappointed in this, though my run was the best I've had all season at this distance so I'll celebrate that.  On a tough course nonetheless!

Overall Result: 2:41:00 - 4th AG, 14th Female

I got a bit of food in me and got out of my running shoes.  The weather was great there were plenty of DC Tri and other people to cheer in and hang out with.  We got to see a ton of friends stand atop the podium and collect their hardware.  It was every bit as great as I remember it from 2011.  I look forward to being back in 2014 (though maybe not for the double...I have quite a big race in July ;) )

We originally had big ideas of going to The Caverns, tubing the Shenendoah, hiking, etc.  Honestly we didn't do too much.  We went for an awesome swim in Lake Arrowhead, got cleaned up and headed into town for a bit.  We picked up my race packet for Sunday's race (it'll be nice when they figure out how the combine the 2 - so double participants don't have to get 2 sets of #'s and bags and everything else).  We also got some chicken to add to our pasta and some dessert form a local bake sale.  We headed back to our campsite and had a very similar evening to the one before.  Since we were eating dinner a bit earlier we sat near the bonfire area and chowed down - once again delicious!  We relaxed on the our blanket as the sun went down over the lake before preparing my #'s for Sunday and heading too bed.

I didn't wake up to the 6am alarm - I had been up, tossing and turning most of the night.  Very unusual for me, as the past few times Adam and I have camped I've slept like a baby.  Not this time.  I was excited to race, but  man my energy was just not there.  I had the same breakfast, went through almost the same routine at the previous day got my myself situated.  I thought I was just exhausted from the Saturday's race and the camping so I didn't say anything.  Admitting I was tired and exhausted would make it real.  It was overcast and rainy, and a great day for a Sprint Triathlon!


The Swim - 750m - 16:03 (9th AG)
This swim was a bit more physical than the day before but still managable.  I wasn't able to find feet early and the feet  I found towards the end led me a bit astray!  Garmin record .54 miles of swimming...whoops...about a 10th of a mile too far.  Lesson my own sighting.  Swim straight and my swim times will get better, faster!

T1 - 2:01 (1st AG)
I didn't get a bike rack toward the middle aisle of the transition area so it took me a couple seconds longer to get to and from my stuff.  Same routine as the day before.  Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, grab bike and roll out!

The Bike - 17 miles - 53:03 (1st AG)
Unlike Saturday the sun was long gone and the roads were soaked from the overnight and current rain.  It rained all morning on Sunday - with little reprieve.  Just like on Saturday I felt tired and it took me a while to feel good on the bike.  Oi, I didn't know what was wrong with me.  Spin the legs, get comfortable, and then push it.  I was able to do that and eventually pass most of my competitor's in my AG.  When I got to the big
climb back toward the park I expected to see Adam again, he hadn't made it out there, but our friend Joe was out there with his camera being an awesome fiance, sherpa, and fan!  Usually I love the bike, but I was actually loving the fact that I was about to be off the bike in the rain.

T2 - 0:57 (1st AG)
Simple, helmet off, run shoes on, gels in shorts, and race belt in hand.  Head out to the run course!

The Run - 5k - 24:43 (6th AG)
I should have run better.  I came off the bike running in 2nd in my AG, but I knew Jenny would not be far behind and that she'd probably close the gap quickly.  Close the gap she did, at mile 1 - and then she opened it back up.  One day, I'll run like her.  For now, I'll just chase her up and down hills.  This was 1 out and back of the run course from the day before.  I should have been able to run this faster, I know I am capable of faster, but it was tough, and I was still feeling exhausted.  I held on for the last couple miles and finish strong.

Overall - 1:36:45 - 3rd AG, 9th Female

Tuesday morning, I arrive at work.  I had noticed the night before a cut on my elbow that I got in a bike crash the weekend before wasn't looking to good. I had also noticed lump developing my right arm (same arm as wound) on Saturday evening. By Sunday night and Monday said lump was so painful I could not sleep and had trouble doing much manual therapy on my patients at work.   As I changed into my work clothes on Tuesday I noticed red swollen bumps down both legs, around my elbow wound, and on my side.  Oi, I'd seen these before! A few days after IM Louisville in 2012 I had the same symptoms.  This time I knew not to wait, I promptly got in to my doctor's office and relayed the story - fall, triathlons, camping, dirty elbow pads on bike, sweat, and tegaderm falling off.  Shortly after I was sent on my way with some new antibiotics and advice to take it easy for a day or two.  In short Staph Infections - 2, Holli - 0.

At least, I now have an explanation for the lethargy and crumminess I was feeling.  I don't think it was the camping or racing, it was this infection brewing and getting throughout my entire blood stream as my lymph node in my right armpit fought to keep it at bay and swelled and swelled and swelled!  Had this infection not been present I'm not sure my results would have been any different.  Odd my 2 episodes were 51 weeks apart, here's to hoping I never get another.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away...

I'd pack up my bike and go for the day :) Losing them wouldn't be so hard to take...

Two years ago, today, my life changed as drastically as one's life can change in an instant.  Not to much earlier in the summer I had been talking to my dad about triathlon.  My first 1/2 Ironman was on the horizon at the end of September, my first marathon at the end of October, I was getting ready for a big training weekend with DC Tri up at Deep Creek Lake, and I was considering upgrading to a triathlon bike.  He was
my biggest supporter, my guru if you will, enjoying his retirement and having time to do some bike and racing recon for me.  When I brought up Ironman and the crazy people I'd met that were going to do an Ironman and how I don't think I'd ever do one he patiently hindsight he probably knew all along I'd end up doing one.  A couple weeks later when I started realizing some of the training I was doing was near Ironman distance and I could possibly complete an Ironman he was completely supportive with positive encouragement, even tossing around the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Cozumel, so I could race Ironman Cozumel.

Holli Finneren, You are an Ironman.
As I was out for a long weekday ride of my own in DC my dad cycled home in Lake Orion, MI when a distracted driver struck him from behind.  I missed the training weekend as I spent time at home with family, friends, and loved ones grieving, remembering, painting a ghost bike, and trying to put the pieces together.  2 weeks later I spent a great weekend in Luray, VA with my brother - camping, racing, and getting back on the bike.  After winning my age group for the 1st time in Luray, I bought a tri-bike once back in DC, and signed up for the distance my dad knew I'd do all along...Ironman Louisville.  I spent the next year planning, training, and preparing for Ironman.  I met awesome people in Georgia and DC on the same journey, spending long hours on the bike and run, sharing the ups and downs, the pain and excitement.  Remembering along the way, thanks to Mary, to celebrate life.

I'm now in Lake Placid for my 2nd Ironman experience, this time as a sherpa for Adam.  The energy is awesome, the views and course are absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't think of a better group of people to be surrounded by then DC Tri or a better person to sherpa for.  So thank you, dad, for always believing in me, never having an ounce of doubt, and encouraging me to chase my dreams.  Without you, I wouldn't be here today, enjoying a perfect bike ride through Lake Placid, NY to celebrate life, fun, and crazy dreams.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

This race report is a bit delayed -- for no good reason.  This was my first Eagleman - notoriously hot and humid - but I kept the faith that the weather would be great, despite at the naysayers.  We left for Cambridge on Friday afternoon, in a torrential downpour.  We got to town without much issue and after settling into the rental house we decided to go on over to Packet Pickup and the Race Expo.


After fording a small lake in the parking lot and running through the rain we made it inside.  It was a relatively simple process, similar to any other Ironman branded event.  Once making it through the labyrinth of waivers, swag, and race numbers we grabbed some new speed laces and saw the sign...Mirinda Carfrae appearance 4:30....perfect for us, because it was 4:15.  We hung out and we were lucky enough to meet Rinny, snap a few photos, and wish each other good luck on Sunday.  This was pretty much the highlight of all pre-race festivities :)


Could also be called tri-geek day.  Practice swim, short bike, clean bike, affix all race numbers, pack transition bag, rack bike, walk through transition (mudpit), lay out clothes for morning, review race plan, etc.....The day ended with a great pasta dinner with our housemates and a few friends from the DC area that
were also racing.  We lucked out in that the rain seemed to hold off on Saturday evening while we checked our bikes.  Our house was about a 15 minute walk from race start/finish/transition.  We really lucked out with the rental house.


The biggest annoyance of Ironman 70.3 races is that my age group tends to be last or 2nd to last to start.  We had the honor of bringing up the rear this year at Eagleman.  That means I waited about 2 hours after the pros started.  I saw all my friends start, I had ample time to make multiple bathroom runs, lay down for a bit, and take my time getting the wetsuit on.  If I could have, I would have waited until most athletes started to seek out a port-o-potty.  I set off with a fellow athlete to stand in line, as we approached the ridiculously long lines we remembered seeing a lone potty farther up in the grassy field, as we walked that way we saw a 4 person line for the one potty--sweeeeet! we thought this will be quick - relatively speaking.  As we stood in line an older gentlemen exited and said, "It's pretty bad in there, it may not be suitable for you too"  (we were the only females in line).  A fellow housemate was the next in line he went in, and we soon began asking what had happened in there.  It turns out the port-o-potty had been tipped over and apparently flipped back upright.  You can imagine what it looked like on the inside.  When fellow housemate exited he said, "I would have rather $h!* myself!"   Wow, and with that I took off to stand in line to a decently clean potty.  That thing was gross! Who in the world flipped  it over and deemed it ok the use, oi.  The toilet paper was destroyed and every inch of the inside was covered, with you know what.

After figuring out the bathroom situation I sent off most of my friends and continued to wait another hour.  Luckily I had a couple friends started in the 2 waves before me, so I wasn't by myself in the waiting game.  I started getting my wetsuit on, staying hydrated, and getting some calories in before my race started.

THE SWIM - 47:43 - 1.2 miles

After what seemed like forever, or 2 hours, my wave was entering the water!  This is when it hit me...oh my goodness we are the VERY last people.  That means if I have a REALLY bad swim I'm going to be in last place.  Anxiety built and I was freaking out more than usual at the start of the swim.  I had had some great OWS leading up to this race and was confident in my ability to go right around 39:00 for the swim.  Well, it just wasn't my day or my wave's day in the water.  We working against the strongest tide of the day and I started out not following but "plan".  I had gotten caught up listening to someone talk about the swim the day before and starting out hard and settling in...this is not usually my MOI but I gave it a try...I won't be doing
that again anytime soon.  I drafted the entire swim, at a good pace, and was feeling good about my effort know that I was moving faster following the feet I was on than I would be if I was working this hard on my own.  That being said, as I exited the water I was extremely disappointed with my swim time on my watch.  Did I accidentally start it 10 minutes early?  What happened?  I passed people from 2 waves before me during the swim, how could I have swam so poorly and still passed people that started 10 minutes before me?  For a moment I thought about ending my race before I even got on the bike.

T1 - 2:30

As we ran towards transition there was water table with ice cold water which was much needed after that long swim.  The run into transition wasn't to muddy.  My bike was racked pretty close to swim in, so I quickly finished pulling my wetsuit off and getting into my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses.  Exiting transition wasn't so was a complete mud pit!  I carried Mr.  up about 13 rows and then down the exit isle which appeared to have snagged more than a couple bike shoes off some peoples feet.

THE BIKE - 2:37:20 - 56 miles

I headed out on the bike hoping to make up some time I had lost during the swim.  The bike course starts out with a few turns and then opens up a bit more onto pancake flat roads.  The wind had picked up a bit by the time I was on the bike compared to my counterparts who were on the bike 2 hours earlier than me.  The course didn't seem too crowded and I was passing people constantly, unfortunately the majority of them just slower cyclists from earlier waves.  About 12 miles into the bike I started passing some other athletes from my age group, finally I'm making ups some time and catching people.  I was eating, drinking, taking salt pills, and having a good time.  I saw the aftermath of a wreck (could have been Meredith Kessler and age grouper wreck), a dead snake, some turtles, and a couple bald eagles.  I continued to catch fellow age groupers the entire time on the bike course and I was feeling good about the upcoming run.  This was a 56 mile bike course PR for me, though my goal was about 3 minutes faster than this, I'm happy with the bike split, as the wind was at it's strongest as I was coming back in.  I saw Adam at about mile 8 on the run while I was about 4 miles from bike finish.  Yay, that was exciting, but also a little frustrating.  He was 5 miles from being done, and I wasn't even off the bike yet, let alone running 13.1 miles.

T2 - 1:57

Oi, mud pit again!  I tried to carry Mr. over it but I was tired so Mr. got a little dirty.  Once back at my racking spot I took got my run gear on and headed back out for a fun 13.1.  I put my visor and race belt on as I exited transition.

THE RUN - 1:53:35 - 13.1 miles

I saw Adam again - right near mile 1 - his mile 12.  Yay, he was doing awesome!  He reminded me to settle down and find a pace I could keep the entire time.  This was good, because I came out a little too fast.  I settled into a rhythm of gel, salt, pills, and water every so often.  I was passing more people than were passing me and fellow racers were full of encouragement.  I was looking forward to a slip and slide and snow-cones on this run course - neither of which were really there.  The slip and slide was definitely not there and the "snow cone" were sugary syrup atop ice cubes at the turn around point.  I took one sip and wanted to vomit.  Oi, not cool!  It was warming up and I saw about 3 or 4 athletes stop in the middle of the round and grab there quads or calves as they were cramping up.  I didn't look at my watch really at all while I was running.  As I neared the last mile I picked up the pace and was delighted to see a good friend snapping pics in the middle of the road!  Even though she yelled at me to smile.  The finish line wasn't as populated as I'm sure it had been 2 hours before hand but it was still lined with a few spectators and I was definitely relieved to be done for the day!

FINISH TIME: 5:23:05 (13th AG)

I had a great time at this race, I'm pretty sure I'll do it again.  It wasn't a PR for me, but that the swim been a bit more in my favor it could have been.  Once I was able to see the results I felt better about my swim, and after reading up on the tides - high tide, low tide, and slack tide - I realized what a difference they could make.  I was 6 minutes behind the winners of my age group in the swim, for me, that's not bad.  It's all about minimizing how far behind I fall in the swim ;)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rockin' At Rock Hall 2013

I made the decision to race the Rock Hall International Triathlon a mere 4 days before the race.  I had been considering it as I was feeling good over Memorial Day Weekend and wanted to get another race in before Eagleman.  I had won a free entry to the Battle of the Potomac Sprint in the fall which unfortunately has been cancelled due to construction.  Luck for me both races are put on by SetUp events and registration was the same amount of $$.  The race director was nice enough to transfer my free entry and got me all registered.


Rock Hall is good 1:45 drive from DC, maybe a little fast at 4:45 in the morning.  I work at 4:15 had some cereal, loaded my bike in the car and took off for Rock Hall.  I didn't have issues making it over the Bay Bridge and was relieved to cruise the entire way.  I arrived at the race site about 20 minutes after transition opened and headed over to pick up my packet and use the Johnny on the Spot.   Once I had my race packet I headed back to my car to get my race #'s on my bike, helmet, and race belt.  Since I had more than enough time I also had myself another small bowl of cereal (yes, I took cereal and milk with me).  As I was getting myself sorted to head over to set up transition I heard the announcement of the water temperature - 79 degrees.  This means it was not wetsuit legal - the complaining and whining began from every direction.  The race director made it clear that those people who wanted to wear a wetsuit still could but they would not be eligible for awards or age group nationals slots.  To me it was somewhat of a relief - yay, I don't have to deal with getting it on and then off in transition!  Whoo hoo!

I finally gathered my stuff, leaving my wetsuit behind, and headed over to rack my bike.  It turned out I had a great transition spot (about 15ft from bike in/out).  I racked my bike (facing bike out) and set up my transition towel and goodies.  I took time to check everything over a few times, swim cap and goggles out, all my bike stuff and nutrition out and ready, my run gear out and ready to rock.  I walked over with a couple other  athletes to the swim exit to check out the "stairs" out of the water.  When I came back I decided to
move my car (fear of getting it towed, though it would have been fine) before grabbing my stuff to take the 10 minute walk to swim start.  When I came back from moving my car a late arrival had showed up and

apparently he decided he wanted to rack his bike right were mine was.  FYI the MTS puts a range of numbers (about 8) on each rack and it's first come first serve from there.  So #327 moves my bike over, moves my transition towel behind my front wheel and under the middle of the rack!  I glared at him, got on my hands on and knees and pulled my gear back out next to my front wheel and made sure he hadn't done anything else stupid.  I tried to let this go as quickly as possible, but all I was thinking was 'you idiot, if I wouldn't have come back I would've had a horrible transition awaiting me during T1!'  Ah, ok no big deal, I fixed it.

THE SWIM - 29:14 (12th AG) - 1500m

The swim was 2 loops of a 750m course.  It was well marked with large sight buoys and turn buoys.  My wave was rather small compared to my last 2 wave starts (maybe 40-50 people) and there weren't too many aggressive swimmers out.  The fasties took off and after hitting the first turn buoy I found some nice feet to hold on to, and hold on I did.  This was especially helpful as we turned directly into the sun and I couldn't see a thing.  The 2nd loop offered a lot more people to draft off of as the other waves were now starting (we were wave #2).  Lap two felt strong and comfortable and I was being helped out of the water in no time by some great volunteers.  The swim exit and entrance are both a bit unusual as they are at marinas.  The entry is a cannonball off the dock and the exit is a weird step thing about a foot under the water to help you back onto the dock.  Lucky for me the volunteers were great at helping to pull you up and out.  You then have to fun about 100m to the end of the dock before hitting the time mat.  I couldn't believe my time, if you read my 2011 and 2012 race reports it was not unusual for 1500m to take me almost 35 minutes.

T1: 1:38 (3rd AG)

This involved another 100m run across the road and into transition.  I quickly got my bike stuff together and shoes/helmet on before heading out toward the mount line.

THE BIKE: 1:08:22 (1st AG) - 25 miles

The mount line was wide and flat, so I cruised right past a couple women having some issues before mounting Mr.  The course started out with a decent tail wind that at times was a crosswind.  Advertised as pancake flat, the course was mostly flat, but definitely not pancake flat and not even as flat as Nation's bike course.  The course was fun and newly paved and dry roads made it even better.  The course was one big loop and as we turned back about 1/2 way through we hit a full on head wind.  Oi, thoughts of Kinetic and flat tire was rushing back to me.  No, I'm still passing people, I'm moving faster than everyone else around me, keep working, the wind will fade.  Unfortunately the wind never faded and I worked my butt off for the last 12 miles or so.  I was disappointed I slightly mess up my nutrition on the bike.  I had two gels, one specifically for early in the bike and one for later in the bike, and I accidentally took the wrong one first.  Once I ripped it off my top tube and realized what I'd done I thought about putting it in my jersey pocket to save for later, but I knew that would just end up a sticky mess and a wasted gel.  So I swapped my gel plan, and hoped for the best.  With less than a 1/4 mile left on the course I passed another girl in my age group.

T2: 0:47 (1st AG)

I racked Mr. and slid on my Kinvara's while grabbing my race belt to hit the run course.  Took a couple gels and stuff them in my jersey as I headed out as well.

THE RUN: 50:28 (2nd AG) - 10k

I was definitely expecting a faster run split than Columbia, even if only by a minute.  I'm disappointed in this run split but honestly it was a tough day out there and my run rank reflects that.  The course was 2 loops of a 5k course and the water stops were at mile 0 (T2 exit) and mile 1.  Whoever planned that didn't think about it.  I essentially exited T2 with the age grouper I passed at the end of the bike course.  She took off once we hit the run course and I told myself to hold my pace and run my race.  It was hot and humid and only getting hotter.  Just before mile one I saw said athlete laying in someone's yard stretching, yelling about cramping up.  As I hit the first short out and back she was nowhere in sight.  Unfortunate for her, but I didn't mind too much.  I took water and took my gels when needed and tried to hold pace, but I slowed down quite a bit as the 2nd loop came around.  It may have had something to do with the lack of water from miles 1-3 (hopefully they sort this out for next year).

FINISH: 2:30:27 (8th OA, 1st AG)
#2 (cramper) must have left early.  On top of the podium for 25-29 F!

Oi, 30 seconds faster and I would have hit a huge milestone.  There is still plenty of time for that this year and I can't be too disappointed with a 7+ minute PR.  With the spread of the wave start and the race directors want to have everyone off the course before awards started I had to wait almost 2 hours before awards.  At least this gave me time to cool off, pack up my car, change, eat, nap in the shade and find a couple friends.  Overall this race was awesome, it wasn't a bad drive for a day race, would be nice to at least spend the afternoon in Rock Hall if I do this race again as it looks like a great town with a cute beach and some waterside restaurants.  I can' complain about much since I raced for free, but I really hope they improve the water stop spacing or add one more at mile 2 for next year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Columbia Triathlon 2013 Race Report

I had heard the descriptions of Columbia, the up and downs (literally), and despite the bad and the lack of good friends that would actually be racing I decided that I would sign up.  I felt I had to, it's practically a local race and it seems everyone else has done it at least once.  A small pro-field heads out for it and tons of age groupers trying to crush some hills.

PRE-RACE: Saturday

One requirement of Columbia is that you pick up your packet and rack your bike on Saturday.  At first I just figured I'd drive up on Saturday then back home and up again on Sunday morning.   When I learned transition closed at 6:30 AM and the drive is more than 1 hour I started leaning towards hoteling it.  Lucky for me Abby was on board.  We headed up Saturday afternoon, picked-up packets, tinsy-tiny arm warmer, race belts, bento boxes (lots of schwag) and racked our bikes.  We headed straight to Macaroni Grill to fuel up for the next days race before checking in to the hotel.  It was definitely nice to not have to worry about waking super early to get to the race site on time - and bonus our room have a mini kitchen so we were able to have our normal pre race meals.


We arrived with plenty of time to use the port-o-johns, set up transition, and don our wetsuits -- before watching the pro's take off.  The transition area was huge, but well organized and included personalized stickers with your name and number at your specific racking location.  The downside of large events and
especially those with a pro field is the spread of the wave starts.  I had a good 1:45 minutes to wait for my wave to take off.  Luckily I ran into some friends that I didn't even realize would be there and time flew by.

THE SWIM: 30:35 - 1500m

My wave start was big and aggressive.  With the 20 some waves that were already in (and some out) of the water before us the lake was very choppy which didn't help.  I didn't feel to great the first couple hundred meters - I was fighting too often just to keep swimming my line - my arms were moving way to fast and the chill of the water was taking my breath away.  I knew that I needed to find my own space, my own rhythm and get into it and then find some feet to hang on to.   After the first turn bouy things seemed to open up and I was feeling much better and much more comfortable.  Not too long after that I found some great feet to hold on to and rode those in for the rest of the swim (probably about 2/3 of the swim).

T1: 2:30

Uneventful really - slipped out of my wetsuit, grabbed helmet, sunglasses shoes, and bike and headed for the mount line.  There was a short, steep, grassy (wet/muddy) hill to exit transition so a couple volunteers were helping athletes and bikes up and out of transition.

THE BIKE: 1:16:03 - 25 miles

I was honestly hoping to do better on this bike course - but with the soaked roads from the evenings/morning rain storms and the previous weeks crash at Kinetic I was a bit nervous.  I was breaking on every corner and being a complete nervous nelly.  The humidity was causing my sunglasses to fog up like crazy so I was also kep busy trying to maintain decent vision.  I was passing many people the entire bike and felt strong on
the hills - though nervous descending them with the wet conditions and the fact that the guys behind me slid out about 3.5 miles into the race taking a corner.  I ran out of Gu brew in my aero bottle around mile 20 and was too stubborn to reach back and refill it with the 1/2 bottle I had in my rear cage.  I took my favorite PowerGel with abour 2.5-3 miles left on the bike to set myself up for a good run.  I decided to forgo the flying dismount so I wouldn't be running through the muddy transition area barefoot.


T2 was, like T1, uneventful.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet, slipped into my running shoes while grabbing my race belt and nutrition.

THE RUN: 50:00 - 10k

I started out on the run with a good pace and aimed to match the pace/effort level the entire time.  I planned on taking a gel at mile 2 and 4 and taking water at every aid station.  I was passing people at a consistent pace and feeling really strong on the run.  As the hills started I was feeling great, through a girl in my age group did cruise right past me as we hit the first big hill.  There was nothing I could do to stay with her, so I decided not to worry about her.  The course takes you up and out of the park and then up and down through a neighborhood for a couple of miles before heading back through the park.  It was great seeing so many familiar faces on the run course and being encouraged by fellow DC Tri-ers.  A young female came up behind me and started to pass me the last 1/4 of a mile - I couldn't let it happen and sprinted it out with her.  It was a great finish - even though she was an age group above me!  I was hoping to go in the 48 minute range on this 10k but I really can't be too upset with the result.  I'll keep working on my 10k throughout the season to bring it down to where I really want it.

FINISH TIME: 2:40:34 (7th AG)

I would have loved to go under 2:40:00 in this race but considering the course and the conditions I am was more than pleased with my result.  It was my first time back out at an Oly racing hard since 2011.  I felt like I lost a lot speed last year while training for Louisville and I am enjoying getting back into it.  The biggest drawback of this race is honestly the cost and the logistics - though it does qualify the top 15 finishers for the Hy-Vee US National Championship (decisions, decisions...) which is a bargain at only $99.  I was most happy with my swim and my run on this course.  This was my best 1500m (legit) swim since I've started triathlon.  Last year at collegiate nationals 1500m took me a dissappointing 36:?? minutes.  It's great to see the time and work I've put in to actually learning how to swim make a difference.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Kinetic 1/2 Race Report: I'll Be Back...

I'd been looking forward to this race for a couple months now  - as last year it was a great PR for me and boost in my confidence for my Ironman training.  It has a fast bike course, a challenging 3 loop run course and a somewhat standard swim course.  I really loved the bike course in 2012, but even more so in 2013 as they changed to 1 loop - of fast rolling hills.  Pretty much my favorite.  On Thursday night I wrote out my race plan, packed my bags, and double checked everything insuring I'd be ready to leave Friday afternoon.  I was hopeful of a potential PR if executed almost perfectly - but not every race can go as planned.

PRE-RACE: Saturday AM

Kinetic 1/2 has a 7am start time, which meant a 4:45am wake-up.  This was followed by my usual breakfast loading bikes in/on the car and heading to the race site.  The weather turned out to be pretty great as compared to the thunderstorms that were predicted for Saturday morning all week leading up to race day.  We had a few drops of rain fall while setting up transition, but nothing substantial.  Just enough to make me want to put a garbage bag over my run and bike shoes before heading off to check out the lake, National Anthem, and swim start.

**SetUp events had a snafu or 2 in their timing system so I guesstimated my T1 and T2 based on last years times.  Our 2013 results or posted with T1 included in swim time, and T2 included in the run time**

THE SWIM - 41:55 (AG Rank 11)

Looking at swim rank and not time, this was a much better swim for me than last year.  The course seemed to be a bit long, possibly due to the buoy's drifting as the swim got underway.  As my wave was waiting for the start of the race we were given a 2 minute warning which in past experience would by followed by a possibly a 1 min or 30 sec warning but most definitely and 10 second countdown.  Pink caps got no love this  year, all we got was a random air horn.  Good thing everyone else was just as surprised as I was.  The water was choppy and there was a bit of a breeze coming across the lake.  The swim is a triangular course, but the first leg out seemed to take forever - it may be a bit longer than the other 2 legs.  After making the first turn I felt in my grove and pretty strong, though I seemed to be swimming mostly alone.  The occasional male from the wave behind me would swim past but I didn't see many other pink caps near me.  About 1/2 way I caught up to another pink cap and attempted to pass her but soon realized I was better off just drafting off her. I definitely saved a ton of energy and  probably swam  a bit fast on the 3rd leg thanks to her draft!

T1 - 2:18

As a ran out of the water and ran past the nice girl who pulled me in I thought about thanking her for the pull but decided it'd be better to keep that to myself.  I ran into transition, grabbed my helmet, sun glasses, and pulled on bike shoes before running out with Mr.  I had an awesome transition spot basically right at the corning of bike in/bike out.  No running all the way through transition in bike shoes, yay!

THE BIKE - 2:44:07 (AG rank 3rd)

I left it in an easy gear spun up the nice hill right out of transition.  I kept it relatively easy heading out of the state park to give my legs a chance to warm up.  Just as I turned out of the state park I got a huge tailwind and I was off - only to start be poured on by the rain!  All I could think of was how I didn't leave the
garbage bag over my run shoes/socks and what I would do with soaking wet shoes once I got back.  That thought quickly faded as I was loving the tailwind and basically had "on your left" running on repeat.  The rain was short lived and the sun decided to come out, but not 2 annoying tractor trailers passed way to close and sprayed nasty road/rain water all over me - not once but 2x!  Apparently the drivers decided to pass some bikers (me included) then basically stop for the next ones - which led to us passing them again and getting doused with grossness all over again.  No big deal once the trucks were long gone.  The sun was out, the bike course was awesome, and I was eating, drinking, and having a blast.  I hit mile 10 with about a 21mph average - I was pleasantly surprised considering how easy I took it for the first couple miles heading out of the park, but the tail wind helped me out.  I know the course would only get faster from here on out and was looking forward to a fast bike split.   I was through mile 40 with a near 21.5 bike avg and was estimating I'd be back in T2 around 2:32 - 2:35 depending on the winds and how hard I could push on the last leg back before the park.  Just after mile 40 we seemed to turn into a head wind and my bike just felt slow.  I was trying to look at the brakes to see if something had started rubbing, it sounded like something was rubbing.  Didn't seem to be either brake.  Then I thought my rear tire was flat.  At this point I was pushing really hard and not going very fast, and the group of guys I had just flown past a couple  miles back was now flying past me!  There was no way a head wind was killing me this much.  I didn't know what else to do so I kept riding.  In hindsight, I should have gotten off the bike and checked it out, lesson learned.  I made it to, albeit slower than preferred (about 18.5mph) to mile 46, 47....48......and just where you turn left off of Post Oak, where I knew I could drop the hammer and try to get back in 2:32:??....I turned Left, Mr. slid right and I hit the pavement hard.  Slip 'n Slide on the pavement = no fun.  Since this was at a turn in the course there was a cop and volunteers right there, the cop ran over as he radio'd about a biker down and started asking me if I was ok.  My helmet was the first thing to hit the ground and lucky for me it did it's job perfectly.  I hopped to my feet walked a few steps and despite wanting to cry and check out my road rash I dragged Mr to the side of the road and felt the front tire - completely flat.  Oi, I was in no place to try and change the tube, especially 7-ish miles from T2.  I took out my CO2, said a small prayer, and inflated the flat tire.  Picked up the piece of my helmet that had fallen off (a removable aero cover under the back side) and continued on my
Showing off our battle wounds - a knocked out tooth on the
swim and some road rash that didn't get wrapped up.
way to T2 hoping my tire would hold enough air to get me there.  I wanted to hammer, as I knew this road could be fast (it was last weekend) but I was a nervous nelly and my left side hurt.  I rode steady, took the turns super cautiously, skipped the flying dismount, and rolled into T2 frustrated, upset, and thankful to be feeling well enough to start the run.

T2 - 2:05

It may have actually been a tad slower than this, as I when I got back from the bike I had no idea what my bike split was - my computer crapped out after the fall.  I was convinced I had probably taken >3 hours between the slow riding leading up to the crash, the crash/remedy, and slow riding back into T2.  I questioned whether or not I should even run, slipped my shoes and socks on and grabbed my nutrition, race belt, and visor.

THE RUN: 2:00:54 (Ag rank 8th)

Not a bad run for the way I was feeling - would have liked this to be at least 5 minutes faster.  The first loop was a mental struggle for me.  I was in shock of what had happened on the bike, doubted my ability to run 13.1 hilly miles with my hip, back, and shoulder hurting and didn't have a lot of motivation to try and run fast as I was convinced my bike time was most likely very slow.  After the first loop of the run I started to feel better.  I took 3 Powergels with me to take at mile 3.5, 6.5, and 9.5 -  or so I thought.  Only 2 gels made it into my pockets.  Luckily the water, Heed, and Coke on course seemed to be just fine.  They changed the direction of the loop around the cabins on the run course and oh my for some reason running that hilly circle the other way seemed way harder this year. I'm all for changing it back and dealing a bit with the crossover of athletes.  The one positive about 3 loops on the run is you get to see everyone - multiple times.  I had multiple people run past me and ask me if I had crashed on my bike since they could obviously see my road rash.  By the time the 3rd loop came around I was feeling pretty good on the run but ready to be done with the hills.  As I neared the finish line I was pleasantly surprised that the race clock was still in the 5:30's.

FINISH TIME: 5:31:21 (5th AG, 17th Female OA)

Obviously this race didn't go as planned.  I think I was on track for a great race when I crashed on the bike and though it's frustrating and upsetting that it happened I'm thankful I was still able to finish as I know too many people who haven't been able to walk away or continue racing.  Looking back I would have done a few things differently - one being gotten off my bike and just checked the darn tire for a slow leak - eliminating the crash and two not let it affect my run as much.  The entire first loop of the run I was not into it and it shows in my run time, as I know I am capable of much better than that.  My Pink Rudy Project
Wingspan needs to be replaced - which is a good thing as it means it did its job perfectly!  My head feels great, thanks Rudy!  My bike needs new handlebar tape and a frame inspection and the wheel needs ( a new tube, obviously) to be filed down on the aluminum braking surface, it got scuffed up and has some sharp edges.  Other than that I walked away with some rode rash, soreness, and burnt/blistered fingers (maybe from sliding on the pavement?).  All in all, it was still a pretty decent day partly because the crew I was with had some awesome PR's!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5k Friday Fun

This year was my first year signing up for the Crystal City 5k Fridays...and I was painfully reintroduced to short and fast.  I did 3 of the 4 races (race 2, 3, 4 of the series) due to Cherry Blossom 10-miler being the weekend after the race #1 of the series.

Race #2 April 12, 2013

This was the first race of the series I was registered for.  I had a good group of friends also running including Adam, my brother, Meghan and Chris, and others from DC Tri and DCCRC.  I had no idea really what pace I would try to run, so I planned on running hard and beating my previous 5k time from Tri Mania - which was in fact pretty disappointing.  I got caught up saying hi to Adam and some other fasties with my brother just minutes before the start.  So...naturally I stayed at the front.  This led to not so good things - which may have been exacerbated by the Bonk Breaker bar I ate on the way to the race.  I hit the ground running and of course went out too fast as did almost everyone.  Mile one came quickly but mile 2 seemed to take forever to get to.  Between miles 1.5 and 2 I started having some severe stomach pains (this is what happens apparently when I eat peanut butter, almond butter and such before working out).  Mile 2 finally passed and all I could think to myself was just don't walk you've only got about a mile left.  I was being passed left and right and I knew my pace was falling off considerably.  I was thankful to see Chris and Meghan during an out and back as I was on my way to the finish - it made me smile a bit.  I couldn't have been more happy to be done with this painful race.  I wasn't happy with my result and I was definitely not feeling well.  Not cool Almond butter and honey bonk breaker!  This was a good race to get reacquainted with the 5k and we had an awesome bro/sis and friend's dinner post race in Crystal City.


Race #3 April, 19th, 2013

The sky and the the forecast for this evening weren't great.  Severe storms were expected along with strong wind gusts.  I caught a ride to the race start with Adam.  Since you use the same bib every race it's relatively
easy to just show up and race without having to go through any checkin process.  I purposely put myself
back a bit in the starting field to try and control my pace for the first mile.  My tactic worked  a bit...I still went out too fast, but slower than the week before.  This allowed me to not slow down as much at mile 2 and thanks to better and more conscious food choices I was home free with stomach discomfort.  We started running mile 1 into a bit of a headwind - but this made for a great feeling mile 2 with a tail wind for almost the entire mile and as well as most of mile 3.  As I neared mile 3 the sky was growing darker and the wind was picking up...just as I passed the beginning of the outback they began re-routing runners directly to the finish.  I was happy that I did not get re routed but oi was it frustrating dodging through considerably slower runners for the final kick to the finish.  I felt good finishing this race, I was passing people even up until the end and I felt as though I had pushed myself.  After I finished I found Adam right away and after a brief thought of hanging around to say hi to friends we decided to escape the storm and head straight to the car as we had a big weekend ahead of us (putting on DC Tri Duathlon #2 and racing our first tri of the season on Sunday).  As we headed out of the area a torrential downpour started, I'm glad I didn't run any slower!


Race #4 April 26, 2013

This race was a pretty last minute decision for me. I knew I'd wanted to run it after the big improvement between my 1st and 2nd CC5k but I waited until Thursday night to actually register.  As my friends were on vacation, my brother was out of town, and Adam didn't want to race I was off to this final CC5k on my lonesome.  I was fairly confident I would see some friends there but didn't know who planned on racing.  As it was the last race of the series and super nice out - this race was packed!  I seeded myself a little bit farther back once again in an attempt to slow myself down at the start.  Well all I have to say is epic fail - mile 1 was the fastest timed mile I've run in any recent year (perhaps since college soccer fitness days).  With the significantly larger field of runners at this race I was unaware of my pace and not looking at my Garmin at all during the race.  I was pushing myself but felt it wasn't going as well as the previous week.  I continued to push on - grabbing a water cup at the aid station - and for the first time felt like I may drown, during a running race!  As I tilted the cup up to take a sip someone ran right into my elbow - I inhaled water up the nose, mouth and oi - all I could think was don't slow down, just cough it up! As I neared the last 1/2 mile or so I could tell I was slowing but tried to push as hard as I could.  I was definitely feeling it as I made the final U-turn and was nervous that I may not have improved from the previous weeks time.  I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch.  I took a few moments to settle down and then checked out my time -- it was a good day!  I grabbed a cookie, ran into a couple friends who crushed the course and jumped back on the metro a sweaty, stinky mess - and somewhat sad there would be no more CC5k Friday's.


After the first one I thought I hated the 5k - I thought to myself give me a 10 miler any day, this 5k business just hurts too much.  By the final race I was loving it and was reminded of how much I enjoy shorter, harder, efforts and seeing just how hard I can push.  I also learned that when I pace or at least attempt to pace myself I perform better - though I still didn't get the hang of it and I managed to positive split every race of the series.  Next year I may sign up for the series - even if I sit the first one out for Cherry Blossom it will still be the same cost or I could just run it easy.  I may find some more 5ks and 10ks for the year but I am definitely looking forward to the Oly and Sprint Tri's I have on the schedule this year as well.  The improvements in just the course of 3 weeks seems to be promising and motivating though I feel a bit addicted to running a 5k every Friday now.