06:09
:16

Ironman Texas

Posted in Racing by

I headed into Ironman Texas with relatively low expectations. Leading into the race my training had gone well. My run splits were faster than I’ve ever run, but I still wasn’t sure how my body would react to racing an Ironman, specifically since I was still nursing my 9 month son Anders.

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We started the race a little earlier than usual at 6:30am. I lined myself up accordingly in the front row, noticing many were positioning themselves directly behind me. I knew there were some fast swimmers in the field so this surprised me. As the gun went off, I shot in front to some clean water. I noticed some other women to my right out-swimming me as they began to create a gap. I continued on with my pace, feeling the hand taps on my feet of the girls behind me. I was now leading the chase pack, I pushed through several surges in an effort to catch the front swimmers unsuccessfully. After we rounded a few more buoys a girl came around and passed me, I tried to stick with her, but after a few minutes I was unable to hold her pace. This was a new experience for me, typically if there are feet in my field of vision I can easily catch up to latch on. I surged several more times remaining the same distance back before we hit the halfway mark. I decided to settle into my own pace, forgoing the surges. This proved successful as I stayed equidistant from the ladies ahead and I even caught 1 towards the end of the swim rounding the last buoy. Turns out I still swam my standard 55.0 minute IM swim which I saw as I exited the water. As I ran through transition I heard the announcement that Lauren Brandon had the fastest swim even compared to the men, she was already 6 minutes up the road. Now this clicked of why everyone was swimming so hard trying to catch her and potentially burning too much fuel during the first discipline.

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…Meanwhile Anders and Owen played in the nearby park

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I hopped on my bike and immediately settled into my pace, per my coach’s instructions I maintain lower average watts during the first hour of an Ironman. This prevents an upset tummy on the run and burning my legs too early. After the first hour I started picking up the pace slowly raising my overall average watts by about 1 watt per hour. The course was flat, but oh the turns. There were over 90 turns throughout the 95 miles, we weaved under highways and along country roads, it seemed we zigzagged all over theWoodlands as the heat began to rise. Per usual, the faster amateur men began catching me at the halfway mark. I was very careful to ease up, stop pedaling and even brake in some cases as they passed following the rules to a T. I was setting myself up for a solid race and was unwilling to jeopardize it due to different draft rules between pros and amateurs. There were several position changes throughout the bike, I caught a few ladies along the way. Although not as many as expected, most of the big names were still behind me, I had a feeling some were over-biking up front.

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This was a PR for IM watt average for me, although after reviewing the file my coach thinks I could have gone about 5 minutes faster because my watts continued to increase even at the end. Something to shoot for next go-around. I was also being cautious due to the heat, it was close to 100° as I entered transition 2 in 9th place.

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I quickly changed with help from the wonderful volunteers in the change tent. I began my run seeing some familiar faces from Boulder cheering me on. My first of three loops went well. I was holding under my goal pace of 7 min/miles and caught a few more of the girls in front. I rounded the first loop in 6th place feeling good, it was super hot but I was managing well with help from the fully prepared aid stations with cold water, sponges and ice. (the 1st loop is always the best with few out on the course)

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At the first out-and-back during loop 2 I saw the fast little runner girls coming up behind me; Robertson, Roberts (my teammate!) and Williamson. They came up on me pretty quick and as much as I tried, their pace was simply much faster than mine, so I watched them go by. This was discouraging dropping back to 9th again but I pressed on.Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.21.13 PM

The final loop I was reminded of the IM pain, it was hot, my legs were tired, aid stations were packed and we still had 8 miles to go. My pace slowed, as expected, but my goal was to slow less than others. To my surprise I continued to catch more of the pro women who were struggling more than me. I tried during the last several miles to close the gap on Alicia Kaye who was just several minutes up on me, I was making up time but simply ran out of course. I finished off in 6th place in a competitive field which I’m proud of, it was the North American Championships after all. But not before making a fool of myself. During the last mile we wind around the downtown area and as I made the final turn I saw a finishers arch and sprinted towards it, thinking it arose quicker than expected. After passing under I stopped, leaned against the barrier, satisfied with my race. After about 30 seconds I looked up to see my husband on the sidelines yelling at me to keep going. I still had another 100 yards or so to the finish line around the corner. I quickly ran again to the real finish line where I met up with my family and celebrated my first Ironman post-birth.

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On days like this it pays to be towards the front of the race. While the temperatures exceeded triple digits during my run, about an hour after I finished one of the nastiest storms rolled in. We were in the Pro finish line tent when it began down pouring, hailing, thundering, and lightning with crazy gusts of wind. We ended up making a run for it to our hotel soaked to the bone and shivering.

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I later found out they “paused” the race, which was a wise decision because we saw many barriers (including the finish line turns I almost missed) all blown in disarray. Soon enough the storm let up and per tradition we came back to watch the final finishers as a family.

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Anders enjoyed his 2nd podium with mom

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Sidenote for nursing mom’s out there;  I was particularly happy how my body adapted throughout the day. I missed 3 feedings in a row which would usually leave me over-full. Fortunately during an Ironman my body shuts down enough that I must have stopped producing milk somewhere along the run. I had no issues with pain during the race or production post race. The human body is quite amazing!

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02:21
:16

Half FAST Half Marathon!

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February is always a magic month for me since it generally involves the beginning of heavier training.  This year, at 41, I have been feeling better than ever.  I was up in Minneapolis this weekend celebrating my mom’s 70’th and found a local 1/2 marathon right by their house so as usual wanted to put things to the test.  My last race was the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 13 and my legs took quite a beating, but still managed to qualify for Boston 2017.  I felt good going into the 1/2 and was ready to see what I could do!

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It was a smaller race, but the weather was stellar for Minnesota in the middle of the winter.  It was myself and 3 other guys at the front until the 1/2 way mark.  At the turnaround, we began to split up but I managed to hold on for 2nd place and finished in 1:21.  A solid time for me this time of year.

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I used my fantastic Sleek 150 (new for Spring 2016) and it worked great.  Thanks as usual to Timex, and all of our sponsors this year for all the support!

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Next up Ironman Texas 70.3 Galveston with my dad on April 10!!

Train safe,

Tim

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01:25
:16

Polar Plunge

Posted in Fun by

It was a warm sunny 50 degree Colorado Winter Day. Great weather to Plunge into 38 degree Horsetooth Rez.

I road to the venue and was freezing already when I arrived

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I won my age group at the 5k

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I was one of 300 people that spent 20 seconds in the cold water.

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Ah, looking forward to summer time fun!

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12:31
:15

Happy 2016 New Year

Posted in Fun by

My friend Kirsten and I started a Christmas Eve tradition in 2012 to swim 100X100, I swim them on the 1:30.

We also started a New Year Eve tradition.  In 2012, we swam 13000, in 2013, we swam 14000, in 2014, we swam 15000 and this year for New Year Eve 2015 we swam 16000 to ring in the 2016 New Year.

This year was the least amount of swimming I have trained and was very impressed with my accomplishments. Christmas Eve I did not use any toys, buoys or fins, like I have in the past the last 20X100. Plus I swam the last 10x 100 under 1:20.

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New Year Eve I broke up the 16000 as follows

  • 6000 continous swim in 1:27. 1 minute break to drink=1:28
  • 4000 swim, including some backstroke in 1 hour, then a 1 minute break to eat some dates and almonds=1:01
  • 1000 kick and swim with fins in 16:30 = 2:45:30
  • then 2000 swim with fins, 28:30 then :30 break- 3:14/30
  • 1000 with paddles, 15:00 3:29:30 plus :30 break
  • Then 1000 again with fins 14:50, :10 break 3:45
  • Then my final 1000 swim, no toys in 14:05
  • Total 4:59ish minus the 3 minute total break time 4:56ish
  • We had about 7 other friends join us for part of the morning

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My Blue Seventy goggles did not even fog or hurt my face for 4 hours

 

Best wishes for health, a strong body and personal best performance for 2016 and beyond.

 

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12:30
:15

Challenge Ixtapa- 1st race back

Posted in Racing by

I went into the Challenge half distance race with little to no expectations. Training post-birth went far better than expected although after the recovery from my emergency C-section I was left with only about 2 months to train. My coach, Curt Chesney, was apprehensive about beginning hard training under his guidance only 4 weeks post surgery. Typically mothers are to avoid any physical activity until at least 6 weeks have passed. I discussed training with my doctor and with a little persuasion, I was cleared to run and swim only 2 weeks after birth and at this point I had already resumed biking. I attribute my speedy recovery to my health entering into pregnancy and my ability to maintain exercise throughout. Even still, I was nervous I would embarrass myself in the race. Although I was comforted that I had a great excuse for coming in last should my race fitness not be up to par.

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Traveling to Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo was logistically challenging. Anders needed a passport and our itinerary included 2 flights with an overnight layover in LA. This was Ander’s first time flying, so we were apprehensive, but he ended up loving the flights and behaving well. The most disappointing part of our trip was having my diaper bag pick=pocketed during our flight losing some cash and credit cards. Who does that???

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Once arrived we were greeted by the race director Fabian and his wife Angie at the airport. We immediately bonded as they were expecting their first child. We were treated with class all the way; they picked us up from the airport, took us on a tour of the bike course and even ran an errand to the grocery store for me. We were also put up in an all inclusive resort near the finish line and right on the ocean.

Race morning I pumped as much milk as possible in our room while eating breakfast. I was able to pump enough milk in Mexico leading up to the race for Owen to feed Anders while I raced. After setting up my transition I pumped a little more just to ensure I was starting as empty as possible.

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I couldn’t very well race full, looking like this…

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I began the swim with little pressure on myself, I just wanted to execute my ocean swim with no panic and stay with the pack. My swim training leading up to this race included lower volume than usual. I was swimming only 3 days per week compared to my usual 5. This was recommended by my coach to focus more on my weaknesses and to spend more time with Anders.

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I had a decent start; I lead the girls on the left while Carrie took off on the right. Carrie and Robin bridged a small gap on me which I closed before the first turn buoy. I was now swimming easy drafting off these two.

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Unfortunately the women did not have a lead paddle boarder and the high waves created difficulty sighting the buoys. We started drifting off course. I saw a lifeguard pointing us back. Even though Carrie and Robin continued ahead, I made the conscious decision to follow the guard’s direction. I dropped from their feet knowing this was my chance to get ahead without them drafting. Unfortunately my plan backfired as the girls still reached the next turn buoy before me. While I could still see them I could no longer bridge the gap and now I was swimming alone with little view of where to go. I was lost in the ocean! I used the hotels to sight from but still found myself stopping to take a breaststroke stroke here and there to gain my bearings. I finally came out of the water about a minute behind, certainly not swimming to my potential but onto the bike.

Having not raced in a triathlon for over a year I was out of practice. I slid through transition (literally) taking a fall when arriving at my bike after the long run up the beach. I grabbed my bike only to realize my swimskin was still halfway on. I stopped, leaning my bike up against a fence to tear off my swinskin and continued on. I felt strong beginning the first of the 3 loop super hilly course. I immediately felt the heat and humidity and adjusted my salt and nutrition plan. I had already increased my caloric intake to account for my milk-making by about 80 calories/hour. I grabbed an extra water bottle at the first aid station to dump over my body, I soon realized it was gatorade rather than water. So much for staying clean on the bike.

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I closely watched my watts on the ascents and maintained my targeted average power which was slightly lower than pre-birth but accounting for the hilly course my average was right on. It was difficult to stay on my power track since Carrie and Robin were putting time in on me and Brooke was slowly catching me. I knew this would turn into a race of attrition due to the severe heat and humidity. While riding on my base bars up hill my hands were slipping from all the moisture and sweat, and I’m a low sweater. So I knew the other girls must be suffering. On the first loop I took some of the descents too cautiously since they had speed bumps. This improved on the 2nd and 3rd loops, but the time was already lost. On one of the 9 180° turn arounds an amateur racer crashed in front of me (he was fine), I didn’t have to wait long for him to clear the course but I was forced to unclip and maneuver around him.

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Overall my bike leg was decent for me. I’m a terrible climber so I held my own for my ability, but Brooke did catch me on the 3rd loop. Riding into transition in 4th place my confidence was shot, I remember thinking; “well, maybe I did need more than 2 training months to prepare”.

I popped into transition grabbing my run gear much more gracefully than T1. Heading out on the 1st loop of the 3 loop course I felt super strong and really went for it pushing beyond my comfort level. I quickly passed Brook and Robin. They were both suffering in the heat, therefore they didn’t react to my pass. I was on a mission but Carrie was still 7 minutes up the road. Although I was told I looked the strongest out there, the gap was just too large to close.

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After the first loop I mentally pulled back to a comfortable pace. I knew I had locked in 2nd place and didn’t want to blow up in the heat. If I started walking I was sure to get caught. This was a safe strategy and I was definitely tired during the final miles but had I pushed my limits on the run Carrie and I could have had a battle for the win. I finished with the fastest run split of the day, but had I pushed her Carrie may have had more in her as well. I guess we’ll never know.

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This was by far the hottest race I’ve ever done and I’ve raced IM Kona, Boulder, Florida, and Texas. Everyone was sweltering in the heat. Times for the day reflected the difficult course. The best part was seeing Owen and Anders on course cheering and greeting me at the finish line.

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I’m proud to place 2nd in my first race back as a professional and hope I’ve motivated other women to give it a go. Most of all I was able to prove to myself that I’m still the competitive athlete I once was. I wasn’t able to control everything through pregnancy and birth. Racing allowed me to gain back some control and restore confidence in myself plus some pretty awesome bragging rights. Anders was able to join me to our first podium.

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Post-race we stayed an additional 4 days for a family vacation. We had an amazing time exploring Zihautanejo. Anders learned to enjoy swimming, swam in the ocean for the 1st time and even swam with the dolphins (compliments of the race).

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Here is my race review video prepared for the Challenge family races;

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