Sunday, June 30, 2013


This year I tried to give up Ironman.  After 2 (somewhat) frustrating attempts at the distance last year, I wanted to take a year off.  Or I thought *maybe* one this fall.  But I wanted to focus on 70.3s for the most part and be done with that long training stuff for a bit.  I wanted to race a ton and get good experience going "fast".

But Ironman is tricky.  It pulls you back in no matter how hard you resist.  You can try to hide, but Ironman will find you.

It all started with IM Texas (in May) this year.  I started to get that little itch to give Ironman another shot after watching Texas online.  The feeling kept growing and growing and I started wondering how quickly I might be able to get ready to race one.  What can I say, I've clearly forgotten the pain of training for and (especially) of racing 140.6 miles!

One small problem though, was my goal of qualifying for and racing the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas.  If I did qualify for Vegas, Ironman would definitely have to be put on hold until the late fall.  So I let Ironman go for a little bit.

Then I changed coaches and a whole lot of things changed.  I (we) decided that when Ironman calls, one should answer.  And so, that's what I'm going to do.  Even if (and that's a big IF) I should qualify for Vegas, I've decided that I would turn the slot down because my new schedule includes IRONMAN WISCONSIN (which is on the same day as Vegas)!  There are a lot of reasons for that decision, which I won't bore you with, but suffice it to say, I'm REALLY excited to visit the land of cheese!  Yes that's right, I'm excited about Ironman!  :)

And so the training has begun.  So far so good.  I've had just two weeks of long(ish) stuff and I've really enjoyed both of them.  I'm learning a ton from QT2 and Tim and I feel all new and young and fresh in the sport.  Change is hard, but it is also turning out to be very, very good for me.

Now just remind me of these happy Ironman sentiments in a few weeks when I'm in the midst of all those BIG IM miles.  I may be cursing myself very soon...  ;)

remaining 2013 schedule:

Muncie 70.3
Steelhead 70.3
Ironman Wisconsin
Towpath Half Marathon
Ironman Arizona

Second half of the season calls for a new kit!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Typically, change isn't my thing.  I like routine and I like things the way they are.  Change makes my head hurt.

But every once in a while, change is needed and change is good.  And although I fought it for a while, I recently made a change that both broke my heart and, at the same time, invigorated my soul.

I recently changed coaches.

Dirk and I had a great run I truly appreciate all that he has done for me.  He took me from being a 4:50/11 hour type 70.3/IM athlete to being a 4:30/9:55 athlete.  He helped me get to the point where I could think about turning pro and then he successfully guided me through that tough first year of racing professionally.  And he kept me healthy and happy through it all which is truly amazing!  There is no doubt that Dirk knows his stuff and I would highly recommend his training as it obviously works and works well.  But in a joint decision, we came to the conclusion this spring that we would both move on in divergent directions.  It really broke my heart because, well, Dirk is awesome and change is hard.  But change is also good and I tried to keep that in mind.

Looking for a new coach isn't easy.  I spoke with many different people.  And it was definitely a decision I didn't take lightly.  In many ways, my coach really dictates how my life runs day to day!  I wanted someone who knows their stuff and has proven results.  I wanted someone with experience coaching other pros and keeping their athletes healthy.  And most of all, I wanted someone who pays attention to all the details that encompass being a good athlete.  I wanted someone who leaves no stone un-turned - a person that looks at stress as a whole, sleep, nutrition, all the little pieces beyond just swim/bike/run.  And in looking for that "someone" I found QT2 Systems.

So far I'm overwhelmed (in a GOOD way)!  My brain is swimming with all sorts of details and things to think about - new ways of looking at things, new workouts to tackle; new details to take care of that I never even considered before.  I've been doing triathlon for 7 years now so I wouldn't consider myself new to the sport but in the past couple weeks I've learned a ton!  Just today as Tim (my QT2 coach) went over my season plan with me, I had all these "oh, so THAT'S how that works" or "oh, so THAT'S why we do it that way" moments.

So while change is hard, change is also turning out to be exciting and invigorating.  And I think my body will respond nicely to some different physical challenges.  Can't wait to find out!

Next up - ch-ch-changes to my race schedule.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Weekend Away Sans Bike

Today ends a week of awesome recovery for me.  I worked out about 6-7 hours and never got my HR above 145.  I did swim workouts so short it's questionable whether or not it was worth getting wet!  It was amazing and very much needed.

In addition to sleeping a lot, I took the first part of the week to get my life organized.  I had only been away for about 2 weeks but it seemed like 2 months.  Once that was accomplished, O and I took the second part of the week to get away for a short trip to Florida.  Kind of a last minute idea, the trip was to celebrate O's birthday and our upcoming 11th anniversary - a trip for O to enjoy the things HE likes, none of which had anything to do with triathlon (not that he doesn't like triathlon but...)!  I took neither my bike NOR my computer.  Seriously.  It was my most favorite packing experience ever.

So when presented with the option to go ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING he wanted for a long weekend, what did O choose?  He picked Florida and LOTS of baseball watching of course!  It was tons of fun and just what the doctor ordered.  We are rested and recharged and ready to take summer on in full force!  (which I believe means lots of training for me :)

The first night we went to a Tampa Bay Rays game, one of O's favorites.  They play in a dome that doesn't have a retractable roof.  Inside baseball is a little weird but I wasn't complaining that we weren't sitting in 90+ degree heat!
Can you spot the photo bomb?  :)  (I was trying to take a picture of our new TB hats)
The ballpark also has a tank full of live stingrays that you can TOUCH!  I pet a stingray!  It was wet and slippery.
It's not a game without ballpark food (ie: neon cheese!). That's O's hand with a beignet.  I told him beignets aren't ballpark food but he didn't seem to care.
The next morning we ran along the bay front and saw this awesome tree. 
Don't see these guys too often in Pittsburgh!
There was also mini-golf...

Turns out I better stick to triathlon.
...and the driving range...
...and the batting cages.  (I definitely just served as cheerleader for this)
We also visited Clearwater beach (you might recognize this view if you ever did the 70.3 in Clearwater).
And finished the weekend off with more baseball, a minor league game (O's favorite) in Dunedin.
Gotta love minor league baseball.  They have mascot races!  :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report: Part #2 Of The Dubious Double

Eagleman is one of my favorite races.  I have no idea why.  It's hot and humid and flat as flat can be (which doesn't really play to my strengths).  The swim is hard and slow and the course itself, while absolutely beautiful in many ways, is actually a little boring too.  But, Eagleman and I have some history.  As an AGer, I qualified for Kona twice there.  It was where I had my first overall amateur win.  Eagleman has humbled me in many ways but I think that's what I like most about it.  So after taking a year off last year, this year I returned to Eagleman to finish off my "dirty double" of racing two 70.3s back to back.


Ugh.  Do we even have to talk about this?  Since pictures tell a better story than words...

Click on the picture to make it bigger so you can read about my misery.
So yeah, I might have gone a weeeeee bit off course.  And taken some people with me.  If that was you, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.  Safe to say, after 2 straight weeks of going off course in 2 different races, following me is never a good idea.


As I mounted my bike I was convinced that my super awful swim had me so far back in the field that it was going to be a loooooong, lonely bike ride.  But what I was quickly reminded of is that the swim at Eagleman is always slow (which I really don't understand because it seems like it should be fast...right?...right??).  Thankfully, my swim really hadn't ruined my race as much as I thought.  I immediately saw 3 girls right ahead of me and focused on catching them.  Sarah P passed me soon after (and promptly rode away) and then it was lonely for a while.  But THANKFULLY the next person to pass me was my friend Kristin, about 1 hour into the ride.  This is always so good because (1) Kristin is super awesome and very encouraging and (2) she also happens to be a stellar and very steady rider.  I was feeling very happy to have her in my sights because she gave me something to focus on.  At New Orleans earlier this year this very same scenario played out but with about 10 miles to go on the bike Kristin had really gapped me.  This time I was determined to keep her in sight and luckily I was able to do so while still keeping my watts and HR where they were supposed to be.  We essentially rode into transition together which was fun because then we could enjoy the mud/mosh pit that was transition at the very same time!

This photo doesn't even do it justice.  Let's just say I had to hose my bike off after the race it was so caked with mud!


Kristin also happens to be a super runner so I told myself to just "keep her in your sight" as we started the run together.  Of course I've told myself this before and it hasn't worked out so well.  But on Sunday I was doing a relatively good job of it.  And despite being really unsure of how I was going to feel on this run (given my racing exploits the week before), I was actually feeling somewhat decent!

Of course at some point the run always gets really hard.  But another reason why I like Eagleman is because there is awesome support at the race and MANY people from Pittsburgh do it!  Every time my spirits started to sink, I got some encouragement which I was so thankful for.  Oscar was there cheering me on (so, so awesome), my homestay family was manning an aid station and not only did they cheer for me super loud but they got the whole aid station to cheer!  Beyond FUN!

Kristin and I started the run together in 10th and 11th place.  At one point I moved up to 8th but was passed with about 1.5 miles to go, finishing 9th in the end.  I ran 1:29 which is about 5 minutes faster than I've ever run at Eagleman.  I'll definitely say the run was the highlight of my race.  When it was all said and done I had about an 8-9 minute course PR and finished in 4:30.

What a fun weekend!  I'd say I really liked doing the double and actually felt pretty good for the 2nd race!  I didn't do anything super special in between the races to recover - just my usual ice bath, a massage, lots of sleep and some easy workouts.  I'd definitely do it again if I get the chance.  But not any time soon.  :)

As per the usual I have SO many people to thank.  A great group of sponsors that I'm so lucky and thankful to have.  An awesome husband who truly helps me live my dream.  Wonderful friends and family that support and encourage me no matter how many times I get lost in the race... (hehehehe).  A beautiful homestay family in Dale, Mike and Glen - their generosity was amazing.  I am one lucky gal!

And so now I rest.  5 x 70.3 races in a 10 week span takes a little recovery!  :)  I am super excited about what's to come though.  And while I'm not entirely sure what the 2nd half of the season will hold, it will be very fun to find out!  Stay tuned!

Lunch out the day before the race with friend Ben and family.

Once again wishing I wasn't wearing a wetsuit but at the water did feel much cooler than at Raleigh!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Raleigh 70.3: Part #1 Of The Dubious Double

First, I'd like to start by saying that this race is awesome.  I predict that it will be one of the most liked courses on the 70.3 circuit and will be a perpetual seller-outer.  AWESOME course, AWESOME spectator and volunteer support, AWESOME race organization (especially considering it was a first year race), and AWESOME city in general.

Want to know what's not so awesome?  Swimming hard in a wetsuit for 1.2 miles when the water temp is 76 degrees.  I seriously thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head.  Holy overheating batman!  This is my only complaint of the entire weekend.  WTC - PLEASE change the wetsuit temperature rule.  I understand it's my choice to wear one or not but let's be real here, if all the other pros are wearing one am I, an already weak swimmer, not going to partake also?  That's kind of like riding with a flat tire...

Swim: 30:57

As previously stated, I was really hot.  Like REALLY, REALLY hot.  Like my HR was in the high 180s when I got out of the water hot.  But what can you do?  It is what it is.  The swim venue was absolutely gorgeous and overall, other than being hot it was a pretty standard swim for me.  Laura Bennett swam a 24 which was faster than ALL THE MALE PROS (my mom said she got out of the water in 3rd overall despite the fact that we started 3 minutes behind the pro men), there were 3 women that swam in the 26s and then I swam the whole swim by myself and was out of the water in 5th place.  I have never been so happy to get out of a wetsuit in my entire life!

Pre race banana.  HUGE thanks to my mom who rode the shuttle out to the lake to hang out with me and snap some shots!
Apparently contemplating life.  Or perhaps just really wishing the water was about 10 degrees cooler.  :)
Bike: 2:25:45

The first 10 minutes of the bike I felt awful.  But I just needed to give my body time to cool down and my HR to get back to normal and once both happened, I started to feel GOOD!

I had a couple goals for the bike.  One - drink more water than I ever have before.  Drink like it's your job.  Drink, drink, drink!  (can you tell that the southern heat and humidity scared me a little?).  Two - enjoy the beautiful scenery and course.

Both goals accomplished!  I absolutely LOVED the bike course.  Probably one of my favorites of all the 70.3s I've raced.  It was a relatively fast course but I certainly wouldn't call it flat - mostly rolling, with beautiful roads and awesome countryside views!  And the fan support was AMAZING!  When I drove the course on Friday I thought it would end up being a pretty desolate ride given that the roads were relatively rural.  Much to my surprise however, there were tons of people out cheering - on the sides of the roads, on their boats from the water (I kid you not!), from bridge overpasses.  It was really cool.

And I'm really glad to have had all those people cheering, because I certainly didn't see any other women in the race for the entire ride!  Unfortunately I had a feeling that this might happen.  Other than "passing" Anna Clever who was on the side of the road and not riding, I knew the other fast swimmers up ahead were either riding just as fast or faster so it would be a tough time to catch them.  Nevertheless, I feel like I kept pretty good focus and kept the pressure on to continue to ride hard despite being solo and at times feeling like I was out on a training ride.

And the drinking?  Oh man did I drink like a champ!  4 bottles total which of course meant I REALLY had to pee.  But I was hydrated for that run!  :)

Photo courtesy of Denise Worden
Photo courtesy of Bob Hennessy

Run: 1:32:45

I started the run in 4th place and in no-man's land.  Luckily there were a fair amount of people out on the course cheering including my awesome family -- my father, my sister and my brother-in-law (and eventually my mom once she got back from the lake!).  I was really looking forward to seeing them!  I was also looking forward to seeing my friend Kari out on the course as she had told me where she was going to be stationed. She did not disappoint.  She had many fun signs to read!

The run went as runs usually go.  I started off feeling pretty good and I made it my mission to drink at every aid station.  Although the heat wasn't any where near as bad as I had built up in my head (keeping in mind we were obviously an early wave and those in later waves had it much worse I'm sure), it was getting toasty out there!

My stomach was good and I was really working on my positive mental "I'm a good runner" attitude.  Of course I knew Jess Jacobs (she of very fast running) was lurking behind me but I was actually thinking forward instead, telling myself that, especially on a hot day, anything can happen up ahead.

I thought the run course was relatively tough.  You climbed for the first several miles (gradual, but a climb nonetheless) and then you got onto a bike path that was NOT flat.  It was on this very bike path that I, in my own little world, decided 13.1 miles was not long enough and therefore took a wrong turn to add on some distance.  DOH!!  Totally my fault because when I did get corrected (a VERY nice lady on a bike thankfully chased me down), I did see the arrow that very clearly marked the proper way to go.  DOUBLE DOH!

I was SO mad at myself.  Like really mad at myself.  I had gone about 2 minutes out of my way which isn't totally insignificant.  Fortunately, in the end, it didn't really matter because Jess would have caught me anyway but nonetheless, it most certainly took a little wind out of my sails.  I kept telling myself to "just let it go" but it was a few miles before I could do so.

So yes, Jess did finally catch me, as she went onto record the fastest run of the day.  Although I never saw her pass me because it happened when I was on my detour.  I will say I held her off until about mile 8 which is longer than I managed at Steelhead last year when she passed me around mile 5.  Progress!  :)

The finish itself is pretty awesome.  You make a turn and run down a long stretch with tons of people cheering on each side.  It reminded me of the finish at IMCdA.  I am glad though that my sister told me when I turned I still had a half mile to go because I was expecting the finish line to be a lot closer!

Overall a good day for me.  I was happy to be on my first "podium" (I know 5th place isn't really a podium but awards went 5 deep) of the year with a pretty select crowd and also happy to have felt relatively good throughout the day.  Mostly though, it was just really awesome to have my family there and to be able to see them at the finish line.  I am eternally grateful to my family for their awesome support and encouragement.  I wouldn't be where I am otherwise.

Look - I'm in 3rd!  No wait, 3rd and 4th just forgot to come.  :)  Also, I feel short.
And now, 2 days later I'm still in North Carolina.  I've had a great time with my sister and brother in law and I'll be sad to leave tomorrow!  But another race awaits!  So far the recovery is going well from part #1 of this double.  Time to tackle part #2!!