Saturday, November 30, 2019

2019 Lessons and Musings and a 2020 Sneak Peak

Taking the tape and $$ at MiTi 140.6 '18
I was fortunate enough to go into the 2019 season with my Kona slot already secured (IM Chattanooga 2018).  I was in a calm and confident spot going into 2019.  I had figured some things out nutritionally in 2018 that seemed to be an overall win for everyday life and performance.  I had a
fun, competitive and successful season in 2018.  I had raced with my best friends, I raced with my love, I raced surrounded by family, and I raced on my favorite Ironman course on the North American circuit, and I had fun getting dirty in the Cat3 and Elite Cat 1,2,3 field to close out the year in cyclocross.   When I started my training in 2019 I set some goals and I was completely content being patient to achieve those goals - letting the fitness come back, not forcing anything, and enjoying my last months in DC.

I was in a place where I was finding true joy in the process.  I was all in and loving my training.  The rides with friends around Mt. Weather, the rides up to Poolesville and beyond, and my time on the trainer or endless loops at Hains Point.  One of my challenges for myself in 2019 was racing 2 70.3 races just 6 days apart (Sunday, Saturday) at IM VA 70.3 and Kinetic 70.3.  These races were both less than a 2 hour drive from home which made it logistically easy and low stress.  Yes that 2nd race at Kinetic was a big ask for my body - but we made it work - and I walked away a stronger athlete than I was before.  I think the biggest thing I took away from that was learning to run/race on fatigued  legs.  I was in a place where I expected the cumulative fatigue to play a role and I was able to mentally work through that and prove to myself that I can continue to run hard on tired legs.  It honestly felt like a new level was unlocked in terms of leg durability after this double down on 70.3s.  With realistic goals and expectations, as well as a good amount of racing experience I do believe the double 70.3 can be a helpful training tool for Ironman - and fun if you're stoked about both of the races!  The downside of this - recovery is tough.  The days between the races are all about bringing the body and legs around as much as you can.  I had had a few big weeks in a row - Team Camp, 70.3 #1, 70.3 #2 and then back into Ironman training with a long ride at Mt. Weather the weekend after.   I ended up with a full blown sinus infection and prescription for antibiotics.

My crew cooling off in a beer cave.  So thankful for them!
Another lesson learned - when you're on antibiotics and recovering from illness (2 days off work and no workouts) don't try to be a hero on your bike, honestly don't expect much from yourself on your bike.  I had had plans, for a few weeks, with a group of friends to ride SkyMass in prep for Ironman Ireland.  I wanted this ride so bad.  I showed up, optimistic of the beautiful day ahead of us.  At 15 minutes into the ride and just a short way into the first climb on Skyline Dr.  my brain felt like it had a heart beat and wanted to beat out of my skull.  My heart rate was skyhigh and I was pedaling as hard as I could and the watts just weren't there.  We made a quick stop at the top of the first climb for the bathroom for a few riders and I thought about calling it a day, then and coasting back to my car.  I chose to eat a Honey Stinger Waffle, drink some Osmo and continue on my way.  Heck my favorite part of the ride is the last 40 miles, not the first! I might as well get to my favorite part!  We made it to the Wayside and I put down some chips and a coke - hello energy! Too bad it only lasted about 20 minutes.  I made it into the valley and through Luray and to the base of Massanutten. Oh I made it up Massanutten, with my 2nd slowest time ever, and multiple times that I felt that my bike was just going to tip over.  I was so spent by the time I made it to the top I couldn't think straight, I could barely stand over my bike without falling over.  Thank goodness for good friends - we descended and they pulled this hot mess through the valley and back to our cars in Front Royal.  There were times where sitting on their wheels should have been easy and I just couldn't do it.  It was fun being with my friends, it wasn't fun suffering like that and being scared at times that I didn't know if I'd actually make it back.  Lesson learned  - let the body rest and recover and antibiotics can really deplete your system! One week later I set out on the same ride with Erin and we crushed it.  I felt like a completely different human - I needed that.  As much as I should have known it was the sickness + antibiotic, it doesn't stop doubt from creeping into your mind.

Indeed it is. My dad's last words to me.
I also realized in the spring at some point that I was racing in 2 Ironman events with a women's pro field.  Qualifying to race as a pro was never anything that was in the forefront of my thoughts and goals.  After some Top 3 amateur finishes a couple times in 2018 (at races that didn't have pro fields)
I let it cross my mind, but I was most definitely not going to pick my race schedule in 2019 based on trying to qualify to go pro.  It was complete luck that both inaugural races I was registered for had women's pro fields.  After the flat and 27+ minutes on the side of the road at Ironman Ireland I finished 7th amateur, had I been 20 minutes faster I would have been in the race for Top 3 amateur.   I surprised myself with that one.  I kept my focus on the goals I had set at the beginning of the season without much more thought about it.

Lucky to be in love with my best friend.
After returning from the trip to Ireland I had a few days in Michigan and then I was off to officially move to Hawaii.  Lessons #3 and #4 - having a super supportive partner is a complete game changer.  Andrew would drive out while I was doing long rides to make sure I had cold water/Osmo when I needed it, especially when I was new to the island.  More importantly he biked with me for almost all
of my long runs during the summer months in the build up to Kona.  To have cold water, more Osmo, caffeinated chews, etc when I wanted it, was priceless.  I am so so lucky.  And the other lesson - not working full time can be boring, but man I was sleeping like a champ and recovering between workouts like it was my job.  Sleep is so important for your body to adapt to the stress you put it through.

Lesson #5 - choosing races you're excited about and feel passionate about doing help bring out the best in you.  I signed up for Traverse City 70.3 because I really really wanted to race in Traverse City.  TC in August is basically the prettiest place you can be in Michigan at that time and it's just hands down one of my favorite places in the world.  Mom got us an awesome condo at the old insane asylum and I had a solid support crew - the only person we were missing was Kara.  After the travel and taking a couple days to shake things out I was feeling pretty good.  When Andrew arrived in TC the day before race day this was the first we spoke about a potential top 3 overall finish.  I wanted to go for the age group win to have the opportunity to take a slot to Taupo anything else was just bonus.  I had told Andrew I only wanted to know my over all position if I was 6th or better.  He delivered
IM TC Run 2019 + Focus Face
with all the information throughout the run and when he asked me to drop the pace by 20s, he did it because he knew I was capable.  He had watched me do it in every long run leading up to race day.  I went into a place the last few miles of that run that I hadn't gone into before during a 70.3 and I am so excited to dig back into that place in 2020.  I left everything on that course and came away with the age group win and 3rd overall amateur.  Kim and I talked on the phone and briefly discussed if I would take the slot to Taupo knowing that taking both the slot to Taupo and the pro card wasn't very realistic (just the way the schedule and timing is - if I wanted to take the pro card in the 365 days that I was eligible I would no longer be able to race as an amateur at Taupo).  I figured I'd keep the focus on having a solid day at Kona and we'd discuss what we wanted to do for 2020 after that.

I recently published my Kona race report - lesson #6 from that experience - you've got to take care of you and keep the stress low going into race day.  There are so many events and things to go to/do/see in Kona that it can be overwhelming.  I wanted to be a part of it all in 2017 and it stressed me out and wore be down.  With our condo within walking distance to the pier and increased awareness to take care of me we had a great lead up to the race and a great race day in 2019.  Some people are built to race on that island, in those conditions, I'm not sure I'm one of them but I pulled the best I could out of my body on the day.

2 week countdown is on!
Lesson #7 - oh my goodness wedding planning can be stressful!  Vendors want money and numbers and timelines, you start realizing you want this little decoration or that little thing and it all adds up.  (Lesson #7.5 doing Whole30 to ensure the dress fits and trying to do hard run/bike efforts is really really hard and depleting!  Our Whole30 is over very soon, we've enjoyed it but we're definitely ready to have a bit
more pep in our step during workouts). Our wedding is in 2 weeks, it's going to be amazing and awesome and our families have been so incredibly helpful and supportive.  We briefly thought about doing a Hawaii wedding right after Kona - to give our guests that wanted to, a chance to spectate Kona.  I'm really glad we didn't do that, my brain may have exploded.  I'll just leave it at that.  Kind of like a race - slowly the stress is being replaced by excitement for the day!

I'm enjoying off season, though mentally it's hard to wrap your head around off-season when it's 80 degrees and sunny.  It's so nice out I feel like I should be outside working out all the time.  I'm getting my plan together for the 2020 season - it's going to be a new challenge and a new journey.  I'll be part of the Team Zoot Ohana and I couldn't be more excited to meet the other amazing and awesome athletes.   It's an interesting cross roads moving away from your team of 6 years, a large part of your support system and also trying to find a team that will support a rookie pro.  I'm excited and thankful to be part of the Ohana.  I've got a plan I'm excited about to keep developing my swim and some really awesome people in my corner helping me make some changes.  I've got what I think the first half of 2020 will look like race wise - and I'm excited about it.  Yes, I'm nervous to toe the line with the best female pro triathletes in the world - but this journey isn't about them, or anyone, but me.  We are all on this journey for different reasons and the way we define success is different for each and every one of us.  2020 will be challenging, I'm excited to see how I step up to the challenge - after all if it doesn't challenge you, then it doesn't change you.   Since I was about 11 years old I've had a small poster on my bedroom door that says "Have you ever dreamed? Have you ever made it come true?".   So there's that :)

Off Season Bachelorette Weekend <3 td="">
Off Season Riding with @girlsridehawaii

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