Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Doing The Double

This weekend I'll be racing here:

Then I will fly from North Carolina to Maryland and race here the following weekend:

I've never attempted such a double.  And I have NO idea how it's going to go.  You don't know until you try right?  I'm just super excited to spend back to back weekends doing what I absolutely love - RACING!

One thing I do know is, there's no need to pack my coat!  The temps in Raleigh should be nice and toasty (forecasted in the high 80s/low 90s with plenty of southern humidity).  And although it's too far out to tell about Eagleman, ANYONE who has done that race in the past knows this: it WILL be super hot, it WILL be super humid and the snow cones they serve out on the run course at the turnaround WILL make you temporarily forget that you are dying a slow and painful death.  :)  Gotta love Eagleman! 

I'm also super excited about this double because I will get to see (and stay with!) my family at both -- my sister and brother in law live very near Raleigh and my parents are making the drive up from South Carolina.  And then my in-laws live near Baltimore and will be hosting me until Oscar picks me up to make the rest of the trek out to the eastern shore of MD for Eagleman!  

I've been looking forward to these 2 weekends ever since I hatched the idea to try this double.  Finally time to GIDDY UP!  :)  Now the only thing standing in my way is - you guessed it - PACKING.  UGH!  11 days away, 2 races, lots of wheels (SO. MANY. WHEELS!), and a whole lot of PowerGels.  However will this all weigh less than 50 lbs?!?!

Best of luck to all those racing these next weekends!  Hope to see you out there! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Addition To The Family

Nope, not pregnant!  But please do welcome to the family, Zippy (Zip for short), my new bike!

Took a pit stop on our ride today for pictures and snacks.  :)
I didn't really get this bike on purpose.  In fact I had no designs on getting a new bike since I just got a new frame around this time last year.  But about 3 or 4 weeks ago I found a crack in my old frame.  Yes, I have a remarkable ability to crack frames.  Seriously, I have no idea how this keeps happening.  I treat my bikes with the utmost care and pack them like I'm transporting my only child!

Yet still, I had some cracks near the seat post and Cervelo, being the awesome company that they are, sent me a replacement frame.  I'm not sponsored by Cervelo and they don't know me from the next person on the street, but they've always taken very good care of me.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  Oh, and they make awesome bikes too!

Anyway, the replacement frame just happened to be the upgraded P3, which is more like a dressed down P5 then a dressed up P3.  In short, it's awesome.  And because Big Bang Bikes is such an awesome shop (and you should definitely go there if you are in Pittsburgh!!), they got me set up with the new Shimano Dura Ace Di2 group set so I'm also now electronic!  AND, I also got a frame size smaller (from a 54 to a 51) and got refit to make sure my position is maximized.

Today I rode Zippy for the first time outside.  And let me tell you -- he ZIPS like none other!!  I absolutely love the electronic shifting (how did we ever live without it?) but most of all, the smaller frame size is so key. At first I couldn't help but feel VERY low to the ground but once I got over that, I feel like the bike fit me like a glove.  A smaller frame size makes for much easier handling.  It was love at first pedal-push.

So yeah, now I just have to deal with the fact that my Zipp disc has a 10 speed hub and I need an 11 speed hub instead.  Which means I need a new disc wheel.  Like yesterday.  #ouch  (oh, and I also have to remember to bring yet ANOTHER charger to races with me -- the charger for my bike battery!  :)

Happy riding!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Busy Getting Busy

Signs that training has picked up again:

1) The drying rack is totally over-run with swimsuits, cycling jerseys, running shorts, etc...  Each load of laundry fills the thing up to capacity such that I find myself hanging things up in random places in our basement instead.  Good thing I don't really wear regular clothes that would also need space on the drying rack!

2) The last few days I've woken up with the oddly comforting feeling that is a combo of "I'm so sore and tired I'm not sure I can get out of bed let alone do my scheduled training" and "ah yes, this is the awesome feeling of getting fitter and faster!"

3) There is no food in our house.  Like seriously, where did it all go?  Bagels, bananas, spinach (actually fruit and vegetables in general), milk (of chocolate and white varieties both), yogurt...all of it...GONE!  Needless to say I need to go grocery shopping today.

So yes, I've been busy getting busy.  With training and recovery and all the life that happens in between.  After binging on races in the early spring, I do have to admit that this nice little 3-4 week block of real training has been nice thus far.  Working hard does bring a deep satisfaction to my soul.  And our weather has been great for it. I was even treated to an Eagleman-esque (ie: hot, humid and windy) day on Wednesday afternoon for my track session.  It put me in a serious place of hurt but I was glad to have gotten the chance to get a little more acclimated to those conditions!

I went to watch O's athletes compete in the district track championships yesterday afternoon.  They have a host of kids headed to the state meet now including some girl distance runners in the 800 (2:15), 1600 (4:55) and 3200 (11:08). Can't believe I last ran in this meet FIFTEEN years ago!  #oldtimer
Cracked my helmet (not on the pavement with my head in it but rather during airplane travel) so Rudy Project was kind enough to send me a replacement AND a case so it doesn't happen again.  :)
You have to try these out!  SO good, made with good ingredients and very easy to travel with.  :)
New SOAS kits arrived just in time for me to look good while riding my bike all day, every day! 

Happy training to all and to those racing this weekend: BE GREAT!  :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

St. George 70.3/US Pro Championships Race Report

The St. George adventure began about 8 days prior to the race when my parents came to visit Pittsburgh from South Carolina.  My father flew home after a few days but my mom stayed on in Pittsburgh so that she could accompany me to St. George as race sherpa extraordinaire.  We had fun prior to leaving for Utah.  We played Scrabble, watched movies and of course, prepared for the race.

Doesn't every mom love packing bikes?
My mom and I got into St. George mid afternoon on Wednesday.  That day there were 30 mph winds and I was scared.  Mostly I feared getting attacked by tumbleweed.

Big tumbleweed on the side of the road.  I seriously didn't know this stuff really existed - I thought it was just in the movies!
Luckily as race day approached, the winds calmed down significantly and while it did also warm up quite a bit, I think St. George gave us it's best conditions possible on Saturday.  Thank you St. George!

Onto the race!

Swim: 29:52

The quest for making the swim pack continues!  I feel like a broken record but my swim played out pretty much as it has been thus far this year - I miss big swim pack/I swim by myself/I pull other swimmers around the water/I swim 30 minutes.  Ah well - what can you do but keep trying each race to finally attach to faster feet?  I will say that despite not swimming anything in the realm of impressive, I am swimming much better than I did all of last year.  Patience young grasshopper!  

I will also say that swimming in Sand Hallow Reservoir was truly awesome.  Clean, clear beautiful water in a breathtaking backdrop!  I would do this race again just for the chance to swim in that fantastic body of water! 

The swim course took us around that little island out there.  Look how purty the water is!
Chad and I pre race.  Xterra buddies!
My mom got a good view of the swim course.

Bike: 2:33:27

I exited the water with a nice little group of girls and because the women's pro field was quite large (bigger than usual anyway!) there were also several targets up the road that I could see.  Unfortunately when I started riding my legs didn't seem to want to participate in the fun.  I didn't panic, knowing that they could most definitely come around.  Which they did a little, but still, I spent most of the ride feeling flat and like I was lacking my usual power and punch.  This is bound to happen if you race often enough.  Some days your legs just don't have it.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't call it a terrible ride by any means, but rather just "so-so".  I moved through the field some and finally caught sight of the pack of girls that I wanted to be riding with (because I wanted to run with them).  But catching sight of them is all the further I got because try as I might, I could not will my legs to push hard enough to actually catch them.  I was terribly frustrated at one point but finally resolved to just keep chasing as hard as I could because that would at least keep me focused.

Oh, and by the way, the course was not only the most beautiful bike course I've ever raced on, but the toughest too!  The 2.5 hours on the bike went by incredibly fast because we were either going up, down, around or being treated to breathtaking views.  Really, you MUST do this race if you get a chance.  You won't be disappointed.

My pictures don't even begin to do it justice.

I definitely ran out of gears in both directions.  3244 feet of climbing per my Garmin.

Run: 1:34:29

If the bike was one of the harder courses I've ever raced on, the run was THE hardest 70.3 run I've ever encountered.  Out of transition we climbed for 4 miles and some of the climbing was pretty brutal!  This terrain definitely discouraged going out too fast which was good for me.  When I left T2, I just set my sights on the next girl up the road and slowly tried to reel people in.

As "blah" as I felt on the bike, my run legs were feeling a little peppier than usual!  Not that I was moving fast by any means but I did actually pass people on the run vs my usual just getting passed by others!  I was most pleased with my "fight" on the run.  St. George isn't a PR course so success has to be measured in other ways.  I definitely felt like I had a much improved run over New Orleans just 2 weeks prior.

1168 feet of climbing on the run course is no joke!

Charisa and I at the finish line with the INCREDIBLE Sue Hutter!  :)

Overall:  20th female/4:41:14

I'm proud of this race.  It wasn't an amazing or breakthrough performance by any means, but I fought hard and stayed in it on the run.  I'm also very glad I did this race -- not really an obvious choice of venues for me as there was no real chance of getting a paycheck or a boatload of points for Vegas in this stellar field.  HOWEVER, the way I see it is, there isn't really any better way to learn how to race like the best other than racing against the best!  I like putting myself in situations where I can see how I truly stack up and where I can really learn and that's exactly what happened yesterday.  I'm smarter and much fitter for having done the US Pro Champs.  And also super hungry to keep chipping away at those long term goals.  I had a great first pro year last year where I truly surprised myself in many ways.  But this year is about raising the bar and St. George was an important step in doing just that.

Thus ends my "3 70.3s in 5 weeks extravaganza"!  And now I don't race again for 4 weeks.  Uh-oh, I think that means I have to do some "real" training now!  No better time to get after it though - Pittsburgh appears to have finally emerged from it's deep freeze and summer feels right around the corner!  YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

As always I owe a big thanks to so many.  My Mom, first and foremost for coming out with me and doing all things triathlon for 4 days!  Nothing like waking up at 3:30 am and carrying around heavy bags all day!  ;)  Also big thanks to a wonderful group of sponsors who make this possible.  To an amazing husband who REALLY makes this possible.  ;)  And to an awesome coach who keeps me believing.  Our conversation after the race yesterday has me quite excited for what lies ahead.  Thanks for all the twitter/FB/texts cheers and encouragement - it means more than you could know!  

And finally, some more pictures.  To end what was already an awesome day, Chad came up with the idea to visit Zion National Park.  So Cary (good friend from my MAO days), Chad, Mom and I piled into the car and made the 30 minute drive and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!!!!!!!!!  Being among such grandeur has an awesome way of making me feel so small and insignificant.  God sure has created some fantastic beauty in our world.

Mom and I in Zion National Park.  Very good memories created!

So big and beautiful and like nothing I've ever seen before.

Chad made us climb up this (just kidding...but I think he was considering it...).

Cary, Chad and I!  :)