Friday, December 5, 2014

Double the Fun in 2015

2014 was a better year than I ever would have expected.  I started working with a coach, I raced/trained with the DC Tri/Snapple Elite team, started working at a new clinic (Rose Physical Therapy Group), raced my 2nd Ironman, qualified for 70.3 World Championships and…set a new PR in every distance I raced.  The start to 2014 wasn’t really all that glamorous and had its fair share of tears, frustration and 2nd thoughts.  All in all 2014 was a great year and you can read all the race reports here.  How could I have even more fun lined up in 2015 you ask?

To start MR. is getting a bit of a makeover.  A new cockpit and a new crank – Quarq Power Meter – will be ready to go when I’m ready to kick off my 2015 training.  I’ve gone back and forth on the decision to put money in to MR. or sell the bike and put all the money into a new bike.  I love this bike and right now the biggest improvements will come from improving the engine not the machine.  MR. and I are together for another year!

The 2015 race schedule will look a bit different than previous years.  Much less racing, more focus on A races, and minimal short course racing.  Racing is fun and I think a couple of years ago it was good for me to go out and race (almost every weekend) just having fun and landing a spot on the podium at local races.  I currently don’t have a single local race on my schedule for 2015.  2015 will be my first double Ironman year.  I’ll race my first foreign race at the 70.3 World Championships in Zell Am See, Austria.  It will also mark a complete year working with my coach – which means she’s seeing me through my off season and the beginning of my 2015 training (unlike last year where I got some crazy rides/runs out of my system in January before beginning with her). 

The 2015 races involve flying…with my bike!  I’ve flown to triathlons before, but I’ve always lucked out in that MR. has been privileged enough to get a ride in one piece.  I’ll be getting a bike case, learning some more about MR. and practicing packing him up and getting him back together – race ready part.  I know this is doable, as I have many friends who have done this successfully, multiple times, but it still makes me nervous.

Zell Am See 
In 2015 I’ll be racing on the Snapple/DC Tri Elite team (yes, I did this in 2014)…alongside Adam!  I’m pretty excited about some training weekends, race weekends and team events in 2015.  This will also be the first year where I won't be transitioning from school to work or old job to new job.  I'm looking forward to some consistency (even if it means I won't have a random couple weeks off during peak training).

2015 will be the first year that I start a training cycle after taking a couple complete weeks off of training.  I honestly don’t know the last time I had  ‘real’ off-season.  In college I always used the off-season to improve my fitness.  Past years in triathlon I’ve gotten caught up in the USAT National Club Challenge competition and in 2012 probably logged some of my biggest months in the ‘off-season’.  I’m all for off-season fun but some people take that thing way to seriously – it doesn’t do any good to be a January champion.

For now, I’ll keep enjoying my time off and working on some non-triathlon related projects.  Here’s a peak at what the 2015 race schedule is lining up to look like.

4/18/15 – TryCharleston ½ Iron Race
7/19/15 – New Jersey State Triathlon (Regional Club Championships)
8/30/15 – 70.3 IM World Championships – Zell Am See, Austria

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 Annapolis 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Every year I tell myself I'll run a flat-ish 1/2 marathon course and really see what I can do...and somehow every time I end up running up and down hills!  I signed up for Annapolis without knowing much about it except it was cheaper than Philly, closer than Philly, and our good friend Mark lives less than a mile from the race start.  When I registered I was pretty sure it would be flat, being a coastal town and all.  After reading some race reports and hearing stories of this race from friends I knew I'd be in for some hills.  At least the hills have a way of keeping it interesting.

Some race reports and stories that I'd heard didn't have much good things to say about the course.  Long, hilly, windy, never running this race again, etc.  I decided I needed to check it out for myself.  I started the 2014 season off with a 1/2 marathon at Rock n'Roll DC (also not really flat) and wanted to close it out with one as well.  All in all this race wasn't bad.

Adam and I headed up to our friend, Mark's house on Friday afternoon.  I made a quick stop for some homeopathic cold remedies as I'd felt a tickle in my throat all day at work.  Zicam, Airborne, sore throat lozenges, etc...I was avoiding the 'good' stuff until post race as to not wreck havoc on my heart rate.  I'm pretty good at rating my RPE, but heart rate really keeps me honest during a race, especially from going out too fast, so wanted my HR to be as reliable as possible for the race.  I probably had the most expensive urine at the race on Saturday morning from the pure amount of vitamin C I took in on Friday.

After hanging out a bit with Mark, Donner, and Heather we all went out to meet up with more DC folk for dinner.  Mark lives close to just about everything, so we walked the 2 blocks to dinner...and it was super cold out.  I started my night with some hot tea to clear the sinuses and keep warm.  I knew the forecasted low of 37 for race morning was likely too good to be true.  Dinner was great and of course entertaining with the crew that accompanied us.  Adam and I headed back to the house after dinner so I could attempt to sleep some this cold bug off.

Race Morning
With a 7am race start I woke up about 2 hours before to get in a decent breakfast and slam some more immune system boosters!  I checked the weather hoping that it would be mid-30's (or warmer! ha) and found 27 degrees.  Oi, not ideal, but at least I'd been running in some colder weather to figure out if my lungs would cooperate and not go into full bronchospasm/exercise-induced asthma mode.  We were able to leave the house at 6:30 and do our warm up jog to race start, check our jackets/extra clothes, and jump in the start corral leaving us with only 3 (actually 7) minutes to wait for the starting gun.  I lined up with Mindy, said a quick hello & good luck to Katie T, and sent Adam off to the front with a good luck kiss before the starting gun.

Float Phase! Thanks for a great pic, Lee!

The Race
My hands were freezing during the first 2 miles, but as the sun came up and my body warmed up I felt great by mile 3.  The course started out fairly flat and I was able to work into my race effort.  I was really also really appreciating the ability to take a full deep breath while I was running -- in the cold!  I'm not sure this is something I've ever been able to do, until recently.  If you missed my post 'The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway' check it out.  The course does have a very interesting intersection during mile 5 in which runner's cross over each other's paths as the volunteer's jump to the side and say 'find a way through, you can do it'!  Very interesting, it really only take a simple change of direction for the out and back/loop runners to mitigate this course issue (maybe other issues then arise).  Seems like something you'd figure out as you design the course and get athlete feed back year after year.  Once past that small obstacle we headed for the Naval Academy Bridge and the land of hills that exists beyond it.  I will say it was more hilly over there than I ever would have expected.  Once we came back across the bridge it flattened out for the last 1.5 miles back to the stadium.  Thank goodness Lee was at mile 11/12...he was probably singing Eric Church songs but I didn't stick around long enough to listen.  I felt great pretty much the entire time (yes, in spite of this illness I'm trying to kick!).  My legs were feeling it by the end, but being able to breathe makes a huge difference.  I decided to carry a small handheld bottle with me and I'm glad I did.  The aid stations had cups full of ice water and iced Gatorade, all the while ice was forming on the roads where water was spilt!  I wanted nothing cold, so my room temperature Osmo Active was perfect.  The finish is a bit anti-climactic as you run through a large parking lot for about a quarter mile before you come around to the side of the finish line and cheering fans.  I chased our friend Caroline into the finisher's chute and was happy to see I'd be finishing with a 4 minute 1/2 marathon PR.  Not too shabby for 27 degrees and sick.  I didn't look at my pace or time once during the race.  I used HR and RPE to guide my effort level, which all and all worked out pretty well.

Disregard the first 2 spikes! Static electricity!

The multiple out and back designs offered ample chances to cheer for friends, which was great.  The race course itself was gorgeous, we got to run through the quaint downtown of Annapolis, around the hills of Annapolis and into the sunshine as it came up over the water.  The course was almost spot on distance wise - maybe a tad long, but nothing like the years before where it was 13.4 miles.  I didn't love the hills while I was running up them, but they really weren't that bad.
Myself, Mindy and Caroline post race

This race is somewhat known for its post race festivities.  Finishers all get a nice half-zip (complete with thumb holes!).  There is hot tomato bisque soup, all you can eat oysters, and all you can drink beer,  along with some staples like bananas and bagels.  There was a great folk band playing, Dublin Five, and the tent was heated!  We hung out for a little while as all of our friends met up and enjoyed the band for a bit before heading back to the house to get cleaned up for a day on the town.  Annapolis was great because there are plenty of local brunch/lunch places and once the sun was shining it was pretty nice to walk around outside during our brief tour of The Academy a la Mark.

DC Tri Crew and Friends!

So...would I do this race again?  Yes, it's convenient, cheaper than most 1/2's and Annapolis is a great town to spend the day in (probably better when you're not sick).  The drive from DC on race day also isn't bad at all, so it doesn't require an overnight stay.

First off thank you to Mark and Donner for being awesome hosts.  Thank you to the DC Tri group and friends (Caroline, Andy, Heather) who made the weekend even better.  Thank you to sponsors Snapple/DC Tri, Osmo Nutrition, RosePT and Louis Garneau that kept me moving instead of freezing! Thank you and congrats to Adam for always being supportive and super fast!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway...

I wish I could say this were true, but by the time I was a senior in high school I knew I needed to head south.  After many cold and snowy soccer games in Michigan I had no desire to stick around for 4 more years.  I was stubborn and rarely wore long sleeves under my jersey, never wore tights, and would only occasionally wear gloves.  In August of 2005 I was leaving a beautiful Michigan summer for the hot and humid shores of Beautiful Eagle Creek in Statesboro, Georgia.

Practice Fields on Eagle Creek
I quickly adjusted to the heat and humidity.  I wore jeans to the first day of class as a freshman -- I was sweating before I got halfway to class -- I don't think I wore jeans to class for the next four years.  What used to seem warm for a winter game or practice would soon become what I thought was 'freezing'.  I was hopeful there would be no more training sessions with snowmen as spectators.

It didn't snow once while I was in Statesboro.  The temperatures were mild in the winter and the coldest days we had to deal with while in season were during our away games in Boone, North Carolina.  I never once needed long sleeves, gloves or a headband during game day.  The only white stuff on your uniform after a game was the salt that you had sweated out on it.  Most days were sunny and gorgeous.  

The truth was...I hated the cold.  I'm not sure I really knew it at the time, I just knew I performed better when it wasn't cold.  Any training session we had in the cold I'd cough and have trouble breathing - but since this only happened a few times per year, if that, I just blamed it on coming down with a cold.  Since leaving Statesboro for Washington DC, I've had my fair share of snowdays and cold weather.   I've also had the opportunity to use a treadmill or indoor bike trainer in any instance when I don't want to brave the cold or snow.  There were plenty of times when DC was snow covered and the sun was shining that I put on my running shoes and took in the sights.  I didn't pay attention to heart rate, pace, or any piece of data for that matter.  I simply enjoyed the run and took photo ops when I wanted to.


This year has been my first year of training while consistently using my heart rate monitor and Garmin.  I've watched myself become a faster more efficient runner.  I've learned about heart training methods and the purpose behind them.  I recently had a couple great training cycles and races at Ironman Lake Placid and IM 70.3 Augusta, but when it came time to start a short training cycle to wrap the season up with a 1/2 marathon it appeared everything was gone.  I could barely make it a mile without wheezing and coughing.  My pace across all my zones dropped...and it would continuously drop as I brought my heart rate up throughout a run.  I gave myself a couple weeks, looked at everything I was doing outside of training and couldn't pinpoint a thing...other than cold weather.  I'd have a couple great midweek runs when I ran after work - while the sun was shining and the temps were hitting the 50s and 60s, but anything early in the morning or in the cold and windy weather was brutal.  I quickly enlisted the help of my doctor, ruled out some more serious possibilities, and moved forward with the most likely explanation -- exercise induced asthma (exacerbated by cold air)'ve got to be kidding me...

As nice as it would be to pick up and head to sunny Florida or Arizona, I'm loving life in DC.  So I'm figuring out why my body freaks out in the cold.  I've got some solutions and ideas that I've tried out this past week and I'm actually now looking forward the TCS Annapolis 1/2 Marathon next Saturday.   In some ways running with lungs that were shutting down in the cold was kind of like training at altitude.  The thought of running horribly slow, while coughing and wheezing my way through 13.1 miles had me considering sherpa duties for a few days (and hoping I wouldn't be confined to the treadmill for the majority of my first training block in 2015).

Here's to one more 2015 race and the fast approaching off-season!

The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and
humor and style and generosity and kindness. - Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Augusta 70.3 2014 Race Report

If you've been following my blog for awhile then you probably know I've raced Augusta before.  Every year since 2011 to be exact.  You can read my race reports from 2011, 2012,  and 2013.  Last year Adam and I made the trip and both raced -- I think he loved Augusta as much or maybe even more than I do.  There wasn't much hesitation or discussion when registration opened for 2014 - we signed up and convinced some friends to join us for a fun and fast weekend.  If you're planning on going to Augusta read this whole report -- if you want just the race details scroll down to the actual race report.

PRE-RACE: Friday and Saturday

We hit the road very early on Friday morning.  The drive was mostly non-eventful and we made pretty good time.  We drove straight to the Queen Anne Inn so we could unload our gear and bikes, catch up with some friends who were a bit ahead of us, and check out our home base for the weekend.  After 3 attempts of finding good lodging in Augusta when I found the Queen Anne Inn (located at mile 1 of the run course) I quickly reserved the 3rd floor for our group.  The Inn was about 1 mile from transition and 1 mile from race check-in.  Val, one of the owner's of the Bed and Breakfast, was amazing and
Awesome Good Luck Graphic from RosePT!
very sweet.  Our bikes were welcomed right into the living room, breakfast was perfect (even on race day morning!) and the location couldn't be beat.  After checking out the B&B we headed over to race check-in.  It was more-or-less non eventful.  We heard the water temp was about 68* and we were looking at an almost definite wetsuit legal swim.  We headed outside to the riverwalk to take a look at the swift current we'd be swimming with on Sunday.  Not so fast - the river was standing still!  We left with faith that the current would pick up by Sunday morning.  After some rest and getting our bikes ready back at the B&B we headed to Farmhaus on Broad St. for dinner.  If you're headed to Augusta and you're looking for a great burger/sandwich definitely try Farmhaus.

Saturday morning was nice and relaxed with a good homemade breakfast and no rush to get anywhere.  Once everyone was up and fed we headed over to the swim start to take the river for a ride (we hoped).  Yes, indeed the current was kicking and we were swimming much faster than normal, about 20-30s/100m faster.   We swam to the boat launch near the 2nd bridge and had such a good time that we walked back to the swim start to go for round 2.  This time we decided to attempt swimming to the first buoy and then turning around and swimming against the current back to the floating dock.  Once we made it back up river we headed back to go for a short bike and run.  Mr. felt great on a short 20 minute spin and my legs felt ready to race during my shake out run.  A much different feeling than the sluggish taper legs I had during Thursday's workouts.

Saturday afternoon involved resting prepping bikes and rolling them down to transition for bike racking.  This was the first year Ironman had separate racks for AWA athletes.  I got to rack just 6 spaces down from Adam, which was cool and convenient, but it also meant I wouldn't know where I stood within my age group during coming out of the water and coming off the bike.  Obviously not a huge deal since the focus of this race was nailing the plan, and the plan had nothing to do with where anyone else was on the course.

We took in a taste of the local restaurant scene for dinner.  A few blocks form Queen Anne Inn is Luigi's Italian Restaurant.  We walked over and had no wait (around 5:30) for a table of 9!  We were happy athletes.  Service was good, food was good and people watching was excellent.  We encountered a group of Irish Travelers from just outside of Aiken, SC that apparently eat at Luigi's every Saturday night.  If you are not familiar with the Irish Travelers Google Image search them and then read the Wikipedia page.


Earl AM at the B&B
We had an early start to the day on Sunday morning.  Breakfast was my usual pre-race meal of chex, granola, banana and lactose free milk along with apple sauce and toast+nutella.  I actually saved the toast+nutella to eat after going to transition while I was waiting the 2+ hours before my wave would
actually start.  We walked over to transition and had plenty of time to set up before taking the shuttle back up to swim start.

They do an excellent job with the National Anthem every year at this race.  The past couple years it has involved a paratrooper target demo team jumping out of an airplane - the last one with a very large flag.  It's a pretty cool site to see standing atop the levy near the Savannah River.   Soon after the pro's were off and age group waves were lining up an filing down the ramp to the starting dock.  I camped out on the curb since I still had more than an hour before I even needed to think about getting my wetsuit on.  Once some of our friends started to head off for race start time seemed to fly by.  In no time at all it seemed like the youngest of us were getting our wetsuits zipped up so we could start our race.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 28:14
I've been working on my swim and I've been practicing executing a race plan that involved drafting and swimming straight.  For the most part it came together in Augusta!  I was able to execute my start plan, find feet and maintain those feet for a better portion of the swim.  We were catching people from the wave before us before we hit the first buoy.   I was able to sight regularly and maintain a mostly straight
path to the finish.  The swim was relatively contact free.  As we got near the last 400-500 meters or so we were hitting a lot of slower swimmers that were just treading water.  Navigating through some of the crowds from the waves before was a little tricky but soon the final buoy was right in front of my and I was headed to the boat ramp.

T1 - 3:03
The run up from the boat ramp to the wetsuit strippers and transition area is a decent length which gave me plenty of time to get out of the top half of my wetsuit and wiggle it down to my hips as I ran.  The wetsuit strippers were fantastic and I continued on into transition.  Bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on and then I was off with Mr.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:39:00
I started off on the bike with a high cadence and tried to stay relaxed to let my HR come down.  I was passed soon after by a girl in my age group literally standing up and hammering.  I just stuck to my plan, knowing I'd most likely see her again.  Just a few miles into the bike course I saw the lead male pro on his way back in.  No one else was within sight of him.  Less than 5 miles into the course is the first steady, gradual climb on your way to South Carolina, here is where I saw the girl who went blowing by me just a few miles earlier.  She was standing up and hammering again, and once I passed her she really hammered until she passed me again.  For a brief I got slightly worried that she was probably an uber bike and even better runner.  I reminded myself to stick to my plan and let the cards fall where they will.  I couldn't control anything else about the race other than what I was doing and my execution.  After the first 20 minutes or so I made some adjustments to the plan to account for the humidity that was present and I started in on my nutrition and hydration.  I ended up going through 4
bottles of Osmo Active Hydration which was one more than I would have thought I'd need but I pee'd don schedule and felt strong the entire time.  The aid stations on the bike course were excellent adn all handoffs went off without a hitch.  Since I started in the 2nd to last wave there were a lot of people who seemed to be riding to the left and got good practice with "on your left" - it may have come out a little stern a few times.  The first half of this bike course was more windy than it's ever been over the past few years.  Luckily, it didn't slow me down too much compared to last year.  I really love this bike course and have enjoyed it every time I've raced on it.  Rolling back in to Augusta I was feeling strong and ready to run.  I even got some applause from folks at the dismount line for my flying dismount sans shoes.

T2 - 2:45
A quick run in and helmet off, sunglasses off along with socks and shoes off and we were good to go.  I grabbed my race belt and visor before heading to Run Out.  As I was running down the chute toward the timing mat I noticed a girl in my age group that I hadn't seen yet.

THE RUN - 13.1 Miles - 1:48:32
As I exited T2 with the fellow age grouper, I thought to myself 'I wonder if she's part of a relay because her hair looks too great to have just been sweating under a bike helmet for 2.5+ hours.  I stayed controlled and settled in for the first few miles.  At about mile 2 the fellow age grouper fell behind never to be seen again.  I was feeling great, and thanks to the late start wave I was passing way more people than were passing me.  My run time wasn't blazing fast, but it was the most well executed, as well as fastest run I've had in a HIM to date.  I ran with a small fuel belt hand held bottle and started with Osmo Active Hydration in it.  Once I had finished that I refilled with cold water at a few aid
stations.  The weather was pretty nice, only slightly warm, but there were cold sponges and cups of ice at most of the aid stations which helped to keep me cool.  Around mile 8 I had to really focus and enter a little bit of the pain cave to keep bringing my HR up dropping the pace.  I kept asking myself if I could give 1% more to keep myself going and to keep pushing.  With the help of some caffeinated Gu I was able to nail my run plan.  As I was nearing the finish line I knew I'd be close to breaking 5 hours and close to the front of my wave, especially since I hadn't seen anyone else in my age group (or the younger age group) since mile 2.  Adam was able to get to the finish line area and even capture some video as I mustered what energy I could in an attempt to raise my arms in celebration.

I connected with Adam and some of our friends in the athlete celebration area.  Adam was signed up for a massage and very kindly let me swoop in and take it!  It was great to have an almost immediate post race massage.  Right before the massage we checked the results, my finish result wasn't updated yet, but we did find out that I'd come off the bike in 2nd place.  While I was on the massage table Adam got the final results and had our friend/Snapple teammate, AJ, tell me how I finished!  It was an utter surprise and something I did not expect at all.  One of the best parts was that seconds after finding out that I'd won my age group, they told me Adam had also won his! Decision time...

Adam and I had been discussing whether or not to take a slot to 70.3 World Championships if we each earned one.  We were thinking more likely in the case of a roll down, which would have been a long shot with the limited # of slots this year, but not out of the realm of possibility.  Since we both won our age groups we a couple hours to decide if we'd be going - and because we had the opportunity to travel to Austria and compete together we couldn't turn it down.  It'll make for a crazy and busy 2015 race schedule, but a fun and challenging one fore sure!
Signed, sealed, delivered...Going to Austria!

Finish Time: 5:01:22 (25/987 Females include pros, 1/96 age group)

Top 4 Women 25-29
For anyone who is looking for a first 70.3 I highly recommend this race, it was my first in 2011, and it has been over the year's a number of friends as well.  For anyone else who if possibly considering racing at Augusta, do it.  It's awesome and the atmosphere is really great.  You'll have a fast swim, great bike, and almost fully crowd supported run course.  Unfortunately I won't be racing Augusta in 2015, but instead start my day off with a 2.4 mile swim the Tennessee River and rolling 112 miles through mostly North Georgia.

Thank you to an awesome coach, Kim, from Fuel Your Passion, for setting me up with a great season of training and racing as well as controlling my habit of over training.  Thank you to my sponsors Snapple Triathlon, DC Tri Club, Osmo Hydration, Louis Garneau, Rudy Project Helmets, TrainingPeaks,  and Rose Physical Therapy Group.  Thank you to a wonderful group of friends to share this experience with Angela, Kenn, Ryan, Jess, Lee, Angela, Kevin, AJ and of course to the most supportive boyfriend and family I could ask for.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid 2014 Race Report

I had signed up for IMLP while I was onsite in 2013.  I had a year to plan, prepare, think, make changes etc.  I had an okay day at IM Louisville in 2012 - I went about all my training on my own, hitting a couple 30+ hour training weeks (because that's what you do when you've just finished grad school and haven't started working yet).  I trained, trained some more and over trained in 2012.  I was young and rest was not in my vocabulary.

Fall of 2013 I started looking for a coach to help get me through Ironman #2 faster, as well as reach some other goals throughout the season.  I nailed down an awesome coach, took a little time to get used to the plan and how we were going about this, and eventually bought into 'the plan'.  Fast forward to July 2014 and I was feeling fit, strong, and ready to get to Lake Placid!

The Olympic Speed Skating Oval 

Adam, my brother and I left DC very early Thursday morning and had a great drive up to Placid.  Arriving with enough time to get my packet and a little run/swim action in before hitting the Lake Placid Pub/Brewery for dinner.  Mom arrived Friday and we all enjoyed some Ironman festivities and grilling out at our condo leading up to race day.  Saturday was  the usual pre-IM dance: finalize gear bags, check bike, pack special needs bags, etc.


The alarm went off early and the race plan execution was under way. I started the morning off by trying to get in a nice big breakfast (and succeeding!).  The sherpa team was up and getting their coffee made.  The air outside was cool, but no rain, and the dark early morning sky didn't look threatening.  We made the 1/2 mile walk to transition with hundreds of other athletes and spectators that figured our road would be a good place to park.  As we arrived at transition you couldn't help but feel the energy and Ironman buzz in the air.  I went over to Mr. loaded him up with Osmo hydration and my nutrition for the longest part of the day to come.  I topped off the tires with air and checked the brakes before regrouping with the sherpa team to head towards Mirror Lake.  We were able to have a home base under the DC Tri Club tent on Mirror Lake Drive.  It was great having a place to sit, see other DCTCers pre race and even run into my coach (2nd Place Pro!) while getting my game face on.
Things got serious....I guess...
DCTC ready to race!

THE SWIM - 2.4 Miles - 1:17:16 (1.2 Miles - 37:10)

I lined up mid pack of 1:10-1:20 thinking this would put me near 1:15.  First loop went well, a little physical initially, but I found some clear water and nice feet along cable line and was at the T1 bouy before I knew it!  I felt like I was passing a lot of people during the first part of this loop, unusual for me. I  came out just over 37 minutes to start loop 2. Loop 2 started out well, I found good feet and was swimming in clear water along the cable for a good amount of it.  Had to get through some slower packs a couple of times.  After T2 bouy things changed, took an elbow to the goggle - I was fine just had to dump water out. Guy who had elbowed me then was trying to take the feet I was following and gave me a nice 2 handed shove.  He then proceeded to stop and start yelling something, I kept on plugging away.  The rain started coming down when I was near the T2 bouy.  Luckily, with the cable line in Mirror Lake the rain didn't mess up my sighting.  The general flow seems that everybody's 2nd loop was 2-3 minutes slower due to more congestion of the swim course and the rain.  I'll keep working in the pool, but an 11 minute improvement since the 'fast' swim course in Louisville...I'll take it!

T1 - 5:51
It's quite the run from swim exit to T1.  I done some race recon and learned that the wetsuit strippers are pretty closer to swim exit.  I decided to make a game time decision based on how far I had my wetsuit down by the time I was passing the wetsuit strippers as to if I'd utilize them or not.  well I still had 1 arm in my wetsuit and I wasn't about to stop to take that out to let the strippers take my wetsuit.  I continued to run and wiggle down my wetsuit as far as I could while moving along.  It was raining pretty hard, I didn't seem to notice or really care.  I grabbed my Bike Gear Bag and headed into the change tent.  A quick helmet and shoe job and I was off.  As a volunteer kindly handed me my bike she said 'be careful out there sweetie' and that's when I realized...there was a huge thunder storm...and I was about to bike through it.

THE BIKE - 112 Miles - 5:56:13

Descend in aero...yes please!
As I rolled out of T1 and down the first hills of Placid I realized that this ride was going to be about being safe and smart and coming back to T2 in one piece.  I saw my brother and Adam as I rolled out.  I was happy and ready to execute.  It was raining, the skies were dark and there were huge lightning bolts and monstrous thunder up ahead - but the conditions were the same for everyone.  I made a decision very early on to let the weather be to my benefit - maybe others would slow down, DNF, etc because of the weather but it wasn't bothering me and I wasn't going to let it get me down.  I passed quite a few people during the first climb out of Placid.  By the time I got to the descent it wasn't too crowded and mostly everyone else on the descent was riding their brakes.  This was my 7th time down the descent in about the past year - and it had recently been re-surfaced!  I took it in aero and had a blast!  The rain felt like tiny rocks and it was sort of painful, so the quicker it was over the better. Once I got to the flat-ish section that takes you out toward Jay the rain was slowing and the sun was trying to come out.  I had been sticking to my nutrition and hydration plan and basically started peeiing 90 minutes into the bike and about every hour after that.  Hydration was not going to hold me back.  The first out and back gave me a chance to see where I was in relation to some of the pro's and fast age groupers.  I was feeling strong and ready to tackle the hills starting in Wilmington.  I took it easy and spun on up, I also got to see Octavio having an awesome race!  Once to the 3 bears I put my climbing legs on and went after it, it's amazing how many triathletes can't climb well.  I saw my sherpa team along Mirror Lake Drive
Rolling through to finish loop 1.
before making a quick stop at Special Needs to restock my Osmo hydration and nutrition needs.  The sun was out for the 2nd loop and as the water lifted off the road the humidity came out to play.  The course was a little lonely during the 2nd loop.  I saw my friend, Mary, as we made the initial ascent out of Placid.  The descent to Keene was a even more fun with less people and better visibility!  I felt great  until about mile 84 - which is when I started to wonder if 'the plan' was too hard.  I reminded my legs to shut up and get to work.  There was a nice headwind once we made the turn to head towards the 3 bears.  That part of the course always always gets me on the 2nd loop.  I watched my numbers and carried on.  I was still passing people, still peeing and generally feeling ok.  Once at the 3 bears I was energized and ready to get to T2.

T2 - 2:28
I was ready to get off my bike and see what the legs could do on the marathon ahead.  I was fairly certain I was doing decently well as there was no one else in the women's change tent when I got there.  I had 3 volunteers to myself.  One dumped my bag adn put my race on me while 2 others put my socks and shoes on.  Nice!  I got in some water and ice as I leff the change tent and headed out of the oval.

THE RUN - 26.2 Miles - 4:36:01
I'd run this course before and I knew the first few miles could be deceptively fast due to the downhill.  I focused on my hydration, nutrition and heart rate.  My legs were feeling good
and my heart rate was right where I wanted it. Down and out of Placid before making the left turn for the long out and back along River Rd.  I got to see many pro's finishing heading back on their first loop as I was heading out.  I also got to see Kendra, who I hadn't seen all day.  It's the small things that can make you smile during the Ironman marathon.  I took in Osmo, water, ice, gels, orange slices, etc.  I felt great my entire first loop, even coming back up the hills into town.  Just about at special need's my HR started dropping.  I wanted to run faster and bring it up but my legs weren't willing to go.  The out and back seemed even longer on the 2nd time through.  I was excited to see Kim running in 2nd and closing in on the finish, Katie running in 6th and a bunch more DCTC people out on the run course.  My stomach was ok but I couldn't stand the thought of gels anymore so I switched over to orange slices and coke in
addition to my Osmo.  I was fighting to keep my heart rate from dropping anymore. Adam ran with me a bit - saying he thought I was 7th off the bike - at this point I thought about 15 people in my age group had passed me so I figure I was now somewhere between 15th and 25th.  Really, I had no clue.  All I knew is that this was hard, and if you'd asked me at mile 18 if I'd ever sign up for another I would of said, "hell no!".  (Well that changed rather quickly).  I fought up the hills once last time and knew I could push it for the short out and back on Mirror Lake Drive before heading into the oval.  One of the last aid stations was playing happy and it definitely helped bring a smile back to my face for the last few miles.  

Final turn before the finish line!

Happy to finish strong and thanking my Dad!
If you have followed my blog, you know this race fell on the 3rd anniversary of my dad's death.  I raced my first Ironman (Louisville) in 2012 just over a year after his accident.  The training was therapeutic, the challenge was new and  I was out there as part of my journey.  When I noticed IMLP was on the 3rd anniversary of the accident I had to sign up.  The setting, the race, the date - everything about it was perfect.  I trained and I raced for dad.  Everything else was just icing on the cake.  My dad will always be an inspiration and motivating force on this Ironman journey, but the next's for me and he'd love that.

We found out a bit after I finished that I actually finished 6th in my age group!  With how my run went I didn't think I'd cracked the top 10.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Excited to see if maybe a Kona slot would roll down and excited that I was only a few minutes off the podium.  Then it a hit me...a few minutes over the course of 11+ hours isn't that much. I was slightly dissappointed I didn't know where I was in the race during course of the run (had I come off the bike in 4th or 7th?) it's not entirely clear on the Ironman Tracker.  Had I known, I'm not sure I could have done anything differently.  It was truly a great day with a superb sherpa team!  I'm sticking to 'the plan' and going to see where we can go from here!  

Thank you to my sponsors - Snapple, DC Tri Club, Osmo Nutrition, Rudy Project, Normatec Recovery, and Rose Physical Therapy Group for help me get to the start line race ready and helping me have a great day getting to the finish line!  Thank you to my awesome sherpa team - Adam, Mom, and Rory!  They were great all week long and put up with me all the months leading up to the race.  Thank you, Kara for your virtual cheers and support (she was the first to know how I placed!).

Adam, Rory, and Mom near the Flume.  Natural ice bath!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gearing up for Ironman Lake Placid -- In Pictures

Two of my great supporters and I loaded down the cavalier and headed out of DC pre-dawn Thursday morning.  The roadtrip went by quite smoothly from Washington DC to Lake Placid NY.  Thanks to RosePT we stayed mobile and healthy with a stretch out strap and lacrosse balls during the drive!

During the drive we took some time to review the race plan. Simply put it says...Swim fast, bike fast, run fast...with some other minor details.

Upon arriving in Lake Placid we stopped at check in, signed my life away, took a peak at the Olympic Oval, and took some obligatory Lake Placid snow pictures.

We had a great dinner at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery and took some sunset selfie's by Mirror Lake!
I sat down after a quick swim, bike, run to prepare gear and special needs bags.  IMHO this is one of the most stressful parts of the preparation process.  Is it in there, do I need it before then, will I remember to drop it off on race morning if I don't put it in the bag now....

Our 3rd member of my Sherpa team arrived...Mom!  We surprised her with dinner on the deck at the Dancing Bears overlooking Mirror Lake.  As this Ironman marks my dad's 3rd "Angelversarry" this restaurant was perfect...Dancing Bear was his nickname!

Today we will do important decide which swim cap to wear in the race.  You can track me at Ironman Live beginning at 6:30 am tomorrow.  I'll be wearing bib #579! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recovering like a PRO

Just one week after Syracuse 70.3 I had my first Olympic distance race of the year.  I knew going in to Syracuse that recovery was going to be key starting the minute I crossed the finish line, if I wanted to have an enjoyable experience in Chicago at the age group ITU race.

Immediately after finishing Syracuse I started rehydrating -water, Osmo, Chocolate Milk.  I refueled a bit with some post race food offerings before heading for a cold dip in the lake, sans wetsuit.  The cold water felt great and refreshing for the entire body.  Once changed and transition area packed up it was time to hit the road for the 6+ hour drive back to DC.  I knew this would be the toughest obstacle in recovering well.  Before getting in the car I was feeling pretty good and I knew 6 hours of sitting was not ideal, but here's
what I did for the car ride and the week leading up to Chicago in order recover, return to IM training and  set a new Olympic Distance PR just one week after Syracuse 70.3.

1.  Take multiple walk/stretch breaks during the drive.  We stopped at least 4 times and got out of the car and walked a bit each time.  Not ideal for a fast and efficient return trip but more importantly helped my muscles stay somewhat loose and active.

2.  Focus on Nutrition and Hydration.  I immediately started focusing on this once I crossed the finish line at Syracuse. Rehydrate and refuel were key priorities.  During the drive home we stopped for a great dinner and loaded up on some protein and veggies/sweet potatoes.  I also take an Omega 3 Klean Athete supplement daily and made sure to not miss one during this key recovery phase.

3.  Rest.  9-10 hours of sleep every night between the 2 races.  Sleep is the time when your body rebuilds and repairs.  This is actually when you become stronger!  I also took a couple days extremely easy (active recovery swims and bikes before getting back to IM type distance work pre Chicago).

4.  ART/Massage.  The therapists at Rose Physical Therapy Group are trained in ART (Active Release Technique) and it saved my hips.  After the return trip home my hips were pretty tight - I was foam rolling stretching, rolling on a lacrosse ball daily, but I really turned the corner after an ART session at RosePT.

5.  Normatec PRO - Daily, and sometimes more than once per day I zipped up the Normatec Boots and settled in for a good little recovery session.  Since it is a completely passive process I was able to read, reply to emails, blog, eat, etc while in the boots.  The boots use graded pulse technology to help increase blood and lymphatic flow to help speed the recovery process.  I feel great after a session in the boots and I know they've helped me stay on track during my Ironman training and racing.  If your're interested in trying the Normatec Boots Rose Physical Therapy Group has a pair available.  Follow the instructions listed below to set up a time to come in and use them!

To sign up for a Normatec Session at RosePT follow these instructions:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “NormaTec Recovery Session”
  3. Select the 30 min time slot that works for you.
  4. Fill out the basic contact information. For the secret code, enter, “rosept”
  5. Click on proceed to payment, and enter the appropriate credit card information. Please keep in mind that while you are paying $20 upfront, you will receive a $5 refund should you choose to post on social media during your appointment
  6. Click Pay. Your appointment is now set, and you should receive an email confirmation of your appointment time.
As always to set up a 1 on 1 hour appointment with a licensed physical therapist at RosePT email

Monday, July 7, 2014

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report: Stepping Stones

As a final tune up and prep for Lake Placid I decided to give Syracuse 70.3 a go this year.  Despite race reports from previous years claiming it was the hardest 70.3 course ever, worst conditions, never do it again, etc I was confident it would be a good day in Syracuse.  Syracuse isn't too far of a drive from DC and logistically it's a whole lot like Placid!

Pre Race: Friday and Saturday

We arrived in time on Friday evening to grab my packet and jump in the lake for a quick shake out swim.  The water felt perfect with a full sleeve wetsuit and the lake looked pretty similar to Mirror Lake in Lake Placid.  There may have been signs saying no swimming on the beach but we just went over to a grassy area between the beach and some private homes and jumped in.  Luckily a few other athletes arrived for a short swim just as I was ready to get in.  After the nice shake out swim we headed north about 15 more minutes to our hotel, grabbed dinner, and hit the sack.  I was exhausted from an early morning workout, 1/2 day of work and long drive!

Saturday was easy going, Mom and I took care of all the necessary bike racking and pre race briefing stuff.  Once out of Jamesville Beach Park we headed to the nearest grocery store to get some race morning food
and then set out to find lunch.  We found a couple cute places near campus, too bad they didn't have weekend hours in the summer!  We ended up playing it safe with Jimmy Johns - which was delicious.  Once back at the hotel I settled into the Normatecs to watch Germany vs Ghana World Cup action and take a nap.

On recommendation from a previous patient we set out to get dinner at Pastabilities around 5:30.  It was a quick 15 minute walk.  It was busy when we arrived but we only ended up waiting 17 minutes for a seat and the service and food was awesome.  It was a hotspot for athletes, by the time we got seated people were being told that it was a 90' wait for a table.  Thank goodness we beat the rush!  After dinner we loaded some stuff into the car and got to bed early.

Pre Race - I set up transition, inflated my tires, loaded up Mr with Osmo and hung out with my mom until it was time to get into my Xterra wetsuit.  It was a bit chilly race morning but as soon as the sun was shining it started warming up.  It was pretty perfect out. The water was still, the air was cool, and the sun was rising.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 39:32

The lake at Jamesville Beach park was as close as I'll get to Mirror Lake until the end of July.  My wave was fortunate enough to start off the age group wave in the first wave after the pro's.  My swim start was physical but I went out hard and got out with a group for a nice draft.  The simple rectangle swim course made for a fast first half of the swim for me.  I had a rough mid part of the swim, with two 90 degree turns I lost my bearings and my pace slowed drastically as I struggled to keep myself on course.  At which point I made it
to the first turn bouy and noticed the group I had been with was getting away from me.  I was able to regain composure and finish strong.  Initially I was disappointed with this swim, but looking back at the results  and swim data there were some really good take aways from this swim.  I had an awesome start and was able to get out with some fast girls.  I need to work on turns and sighting out of the turn so I can stay with the group.  Last of all, I was able to still finish strong despite a poor mid section of my swim.  My new Xterra wetsuit was awesome in the water.

T1 - 3:34
T1 was 0.32 miles long...good training for Placid.  I slipped my goggles and swim cap into the sleeve of my wetsuit as I ran into transition (never to be seen again).  Shoes on, helmet on, and I was out.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:48:44

Wow, this bike course it interesting.  Coming out of transition you have a couple miles of flats and rollers to get control of your heart rate and settle in.  Then up, up, and up for about 15 miles.  Some tough hills, some steady almost false flats, but just hill after hill after hill.  With such an early swim start, I wasn't 'chicking' any men.  The only men that started before me were the pros.  Mentally this got to be a little tough as mid 30 y.o. men flew past me after the first 12 miles of the bike course.  Usually I start in the last or 2nd to last swim
wave at M-Dot events, and I am the one doing most of the passing.  With the first 15 miles behind me, things started to pick up a bit with some good descents and fast rollers.  I was nailing my bike plan including nutrition and hydration and knew everyone else was on the same difficult course I was on.  As I was nearing my last bottle of hydration I knew it was time to take a bottle hand off and mix in some Osmo.  This was the biggest snafu of the day.  I had changed the top on my torpedo, having never used the quick fill top...first off I could barely get the bottle out once I had dumped the water in, once out the Osmo dump was a big fail.  On the go solution....dump Osmo in mouth, swish with water..done!  It actually tasted pretty good.  The ride finished out pretty fast.  Mr felt a little sluggish and after taking a look post race it looks as though my cadence sensor was rubbing the rear disc a bit, perhaps after hitting a bump.

T2 - 1:34

A quick run into transition change the shoes, leave the helmet and I was off.

THE RUN - 1:56:43

Everyone talks about the hill at the turn-around point of this run - and yes it's big, it get's steep, you have to do it 2x, yada, yada.  What everyone fails to talk about is the weird grassy slanted parking lot first section of the course.  It's not horrible, just something you may not be expecting.  I was running comfortably for the most part, taking in Osmo as needed and dumping cool water over my head at aid stations.  The first loop of the run went by fairly seamlessly.  I was keeping my HR very controlled and staying a bit too comfortable. While being smack dab in the middle of Ironman training I executed this run a bit more like an Ironman marathon run, which is ok.  Not ideal for 'racing' a 1/2 IM but not horrible.  I got to see a few friends while I was out on my 2nd loop of the run, most of them had later start waves and were only just starting their run.  I was thankful to be on my way in to the finish chute as the day was heating up!

FINISH TIME: 5:29:50

This was a tough course, but I'd do it again.  The setting is beautiful, the event is well run, and the course is challenging.  I think if I were to do it again I'd like to focus on it more so than it just being a prep race for IM.  That being said it was definitely needed to work out some snafus before the big day on July 27th.

Thank you DC Triathlon Club, Snapple Triathlon and our sponsors Osmo nutrition, Xterra wetsuits, Rudy Project Helmets, and Rose Physical Therapy Group for their continued support and keeping me in the race and ready to get after the next one.  Also huge thanks to my mom for making the drive with me and being great race support the entire weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A touch of Inspiration and Smelling the Roses

It's been a little while since I've just written a blog post that didn't have to do with a race recap or heart rate zones.

Thank God for awesome volunteers at the IM finish line!
I was honored to be featured on Gabi's blog at Lean Green Island Girl to kick off her Motivation Monday series.  Wow, what an awesome blog, talented and dedicated athlete, and all around great person.  I've gotten to know Gabi, and her husband, Pablo, over the past year through DC Tri Club.  They have since dove headfirst into Ironman training...for Ironman Louisville 2014.  Louisville holds a special place in my heart because it it also where my first Ironman journey culminated.  I'm so excited to follow their journey to the finish line at 4th Street Live this August!

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own training, goals, and racing that we don't really stop and look around for a moment.  Well Gabi and Pablo, pause for a moment in Louisville, look around you, take it all in, and know that you are doing your Ironman.  I've been knee deep in my own Ironman training and haven't spent much time with friends, old training partners, family, etc.  The odd free time I do get has recently been spent volunteering for triathlon related events such as Peasantman and DC Tri Club training tri's.  These events help keep me grounded and help remind me that I GET to participate, I GET to ride my bike all day on Saturday, I GET to push my legs to see how far I can go and not everyone is lucky enough to have those opportunities.  It gives me a chance to reach out to new triathletes, answer questions, provide tips/tricks, and catch up with other DC Tri people setting their sights on their own goal races.

Aside from triathlon I'm amidst a pretty awesome job change.  Next Wednesday, June 4th, I'll start with Rose Physical Therapy Group in Washington, DC.  I can't say enough great things about this company and my future co-workers.  Along with partnerships with local triathlon and running clubs and support and encouragement for my own career related goals it would be an understatement to say I'm a little excited.