Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

I gotta say, it feels really good to be writing a race report instead of an injury update.  :)

Since the last time I wrote, about 3 weeks ago, my hip and I have had a lot of ups and downs.  Although I wouldn't consider ANY injury "easy", this one has been one of my tougher ones for the mere fact that there is nothing straightforward about it.  My hip and I are essentially playing a game of "let's see what you can take" - me challenging it with training, it challenging me with some pain, some soreness and a good dose of emotional turmoil.  We've had some good days and we've had some very bad days.  Some setbacks and some steps forward.  The hardest part is being in limbo, not really knowing what to expect or hope for.  As my friend Jocelyn (who has had her fair share of injuries x 10,000) says, "being in limbo sucks".  Yes.  Yes it does.

And then before I knew it, race week was upon me.  About 4 or 5 days before the race it was decided that I was indeed going to do the entire race (including the run).  Oh boy.

If you've been reading this blog long enough (or you actually know me in person), you know that race week is my FAVORITE week(s) of the year.  I love, love, love to race.  But this race week had a different feel to it.  Mostly I just felt afraid and worried.  Worried about my fitness (what fitness??).  Afraid my hip was going to be very painful.  Worried I'd have to drop out.  Afraid I'd set myself back even further.  I wondered whose idea racing this "early" was (it was mine) and desperately wanted another couple weeks (for what, I'm not sure).

This has always been one of my favorite quotes.
And then the cannon sounded on Sunday morning at 7:02 am and in a frenzy of arms and legs and gasping for breath, all my fears melted away.  It was like I was "home" and I was reminded that yes, I do really love to race.  And although the last couple months have been pretty rough and I had so many doubts, right here, right now, I was getting to feel the passion I have for this sport.  And that made me really thankful and really happy.

I may have never been so happy to ride my bike hard as I was in Syracuse, up and down all those big hills.  IT FELT SO GOOD.  So, so good.  Somewhere on that ride a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  It was the reassurance I needed that it really is worth the struggle that I've put myself through these past couple months and I'd really rather be no place else.

As for the race itself (seems kind of secondary, but this is a race report!), well, it was kind of a shock to the system!  I've not swam, biked or run that hard in a very long time.  Nor had I run that far since IM Cabo.  But our bodies are stronger than we think and mine held up pretty well.  About 8 miles into the run, my legs had had enough and my lack of run fitness reared it's ugly head.  But in truth, I far exceeded what I thought I would be physically capable of.  I had to start somewhere and I think this was a pretty good start.

And how was/is my hip?  Well after a good pep talk, it held itself together pretty well on race day.  And it doesn't seem much worse for the wear after the fact!  THANK YOU, hip!  Now we have just a bit more work to do...

Other than my hip, I have a ton of thank yous: (bear with me)

Casey at CID.  You make this dream possible for me and I'm so thankful.  I always feel your hometown support out on the course!  We are!

Hailey, Kebby and Reg at Coeur.  Awesome people that run an awesome business that makes awesome gear.  I am so lucky to be a part of your team.

Mac at QR.  You took me on and then I promptly injured myself.  Ooops!  But my first race on my Illicito was a smashing success!  Here's to much more of the same.

All my other sponsors.

Awesome family and friends!  You put up with a lot!

Brad & Brittany.  You go above and beyond in keeping me healthy.  I so appreciate it.  When your PT texts you after your race to see how your hip felt, you know you found a keeper!

My QT2 family.  Best teammates EVAH!!!

Tim.  You need a raise.

And most of all, Oscar.  Nobody knows the ups and downs like you do.  Thanks for always being there no matter what.  12 years, baby!!

And now it's time to get back at it and keep it rolling.  Hang on, hip, we've got some work to do!

Syracuse is a beautiful race.  And it was a BEAUTIFUL day!

I was a hurtin' puppy on that run.  And that large, grassy field we had to run through wasn't any fun.  :)

Podium with some awesome ladies!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy QT2 Anniversary!

At this time last year I was completing my very first QT2 training week from coach Tim Snow.  It was a recovery week as I had just come off back to back 70.3s.  My first QT2 workouts were a recovery swim and a recovery ride, both of which I got disciplined for going too fast (a recurring theme throughout the next several months until I finally caught on).

Becoming a part of QT2 has been a great privilege and one of the best decisions I've made!  I've learned a ton over the past 12 months.  What have I learned?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

1) Recovery means recovery.  Oh Lord have I learned this.  Over and over and over.  Like 50W rides, 9:30 paced runs and swims so slow you don't even keep track.

2) The devil is in the details.  And there are a lot of details!!  I laugh now at just how naive I was about a lot of things, all of which were details I felt like I had a really good handle on!  QT2 has a "protocol" for it all.  And it makes a big difference.  There is a caffeine matrix.  There is a beet juice protocol.  There is a restoration checklist.  There are exact HR averages to hit.  There are mental fitness tools.  The list goes on and on...  And there is no messing around!  If you want to know that you've taken care of EVERY detail when you're standing on the starting line of a race, QT2 is the way to go!

3) In an individual sport like triathlon, being on a team is really awesome.  And I do mean team.  Being at the QT2 pro camp this past winter was one of the best athletic experiences of my life.  But really the QT2 "team environment" goes well beyond camp, even when we are all training by ourselves at home.  It's an amazing group with vast experiences and therefore major resources.  When I graduated from Penn State I remember feeling very sad that I wasn't going to be on a "team" again, in life.  Little did I know what was in store!

Dont' be fooled, everyone is smiling in this picture because Jesse has just announced that our final camp workout was completed!  :)

4) Having a detailed race plan AND fueling plan for each race makes a huge difference!  DUH!  But how many people don't do this?  I know I raced for 6 years, 1.5 of that as a professional, without having either!

5) Improvement takes A LOT of work.  Of course!  I think most everyone understands this concept.  But after working with Tim this past year, I've realized that it's much more work than I originally thought.  Hours and hours and HOURS of hard work for YEARS.  Years.  Probably much more than most people realize.  Certainly more than I realized.

6) Having a great coach is a game changer.  NOT in any way does this suggest that my previous coaches were not good coaches!  On the contrary, I'm very thankful for all the amazing people I've gotten to work with through the years - from my first middle school track coach to my all triathlon coaches!  But one thing is for sure, the QT2 coaches are truly invested in the success and happiness of their athletes and the level of dedication they ask from you is 100% returned in the dedication they give back.  It's pretty amazing.

Mile repeats under the watchful eye of Jesse.  (and that evil little black book of his...)

Here's to many more years of QT2 success!