07:30
:14

Racin’ (e)

Posted in Racing by
Racine and I have a love - hate thing going on. Back in 2009, I set my Half IM PR on this course, 4:03. Since then, I can't even seem to come close on the same course.  This year, I had my sites on sub 4:10, but historically I'm usually a little overtrained in July and never race that well. The biggest battle of the day was going to be the Vermeersch-Lavery rematch, after my victory at the Bozeman Tritons last year. The last head to head battle at Racine ended up with a Vermeersch victory by about 15 seconds, and me pouting like a little girl. This race has gotten so big since it was The Spirit of Racine. The transition is the size of a normal full Ironman. With a relatively flat course, prone to congestion, I was a little bummed to be starting in wave 22. On the other hand, Ludacris says "...I can't lose with twenty-twos, that's what's up!" so I guess there was a glimmer of hope. [caption id="attachment_13265" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Wave 22, the thuggest of all swim waves Wave 22, the thuggest of all swim waves[/caption] The swim was a cold 60 deg, which is always a little shock to the system. With a shallow start, I was able to throw down a number of speedy dolphin dives and come to the first buoy right on the back of the lead swimmers. Coming down from altitude, I find that I need to be careful not to start too hard and risk overworking my muscles with all the extra oxygen. The cold water apparently froze the "caution" section of my brain,  as I experienced a total arm and shoulder melt down about 400 yards into the swim. I splashed around until about the half way point, and then was able to get things together and onto the feet of another swimmer in my wave, for a  pathetic 32′ finish. Mark was a few minutes ahead, but not as bad as I expected. [caption id="attachment_13266" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Racine swim venue Racine swim venue[/caption] Out onto the bike, the opening miles were actually pretty clean, which was a nice surprise. After a few year hiatus, I had (inexplicably)  forgotten how bad the roads are. The pavement is a bone jarring combination of non-stop expansion cracks, potholes, and broken cement. My tailbone is actually sore from the ride, and I doubt I’ll be able to sit on a saddle for a few days. The legs felt good, and I thought a sub 2:10 bike split could be in the books, but after a number of narrow, congested sections, that plan went out the window.  The bike is my favorite portion of the race, but as these races get bigger and bigger, the less and less I enjoy it.  Somewhere around 5 miles, I had a rider, on the inside of me, go straight when the course turned right. We narrowly avoided a collision, and miraculously neither one of us went down. After that, I was on high alert the rest of the ride. I caught Mark right past the 30 mile sign on the bike. We rode together for a little bit, but by the 40 miles I had a bit of a lead. This is when things got more interesting. I noticed the back of my right leg was all wet and covered in white liquid. Hmmm. Not having ridden through any pools of milk,  it had to be sealant spraying out from a puncture in my rear wheel. Fortunately, it sealed the leak, but I lost about half of my air pressure.....and pretty much all control in the corners. After seeing how flat the tire was after the race, I really should have stopped to refill. Not wanting to waste time, I decided to ride it out to the finish, but it probably ended up costing me in the end.  Bike split was 2:15, which I think is my slowest at Racine. racine run   In T2 I did 100 squats and then posted the picture to instagram, for instant respect from the ladies, and 43 other people. I felt just OK heading out onto the run, but decided to take it out aggressively, as I already had a flat tire, and not much to lose. First mile was 5:56 and felt pretty good.  I was holding 6:05-6:10s through the first 5 miles, and still had about 3 minutes on M.V. at the turn around.  The second lap felt a bit hotter, and my pace slowed into the 6:30s and 6:40s.  I need to work on my back half speed (and my lousy swim) before 70.3 worlds in 6 weeks time. I ended up running 1:25, which seems to be my go-to run split this year regardless of how I feel. I finished in 4:17, 2nd M25-29, and held onto the Mike - Mark title for another year after Mark suffered some cramps on the run. Overall, it was just an OK race, with a couple mishaps and mediocre feelings throughout the day. Time to freshen up and take it to the next level for Mt. Tremblant in September. -Mike
07:28
:14

Racine 70.3

Posted in Racing by
Believe it or not this is my first time racing in Racine, WI. Owen and I missed a visit to Chicago last month due to my work schedule, we rescheduled for this weekend allowing us to race in Racine and visit my family all in one shot. We arrived in Chicago late Thursday night, after a few short tune up workouts we headed north towards Racine. We stopped for a visit with my best friend, Jill in Barrington. We were treated to a boat ride up the Fox river, our mode of transportation to lunch. jill We arrived in Racine to our homestay, and what a homestay it turned out to be. We were lucky enough to stay with Mike and Susan Arts, the caretakers of the historical lighthouse landmark. Their home is over 100 years old (I love old houses), complete with a private tour up the lighthouse tower.

lighthouse

Mike and Susan were more than accommodating to Owen, Tamara (ex-Timex teammate) and I. They cooked delicious food, offered any assistance we needed and Mike even rode us down to the race start Sunday morning. Saturday morning was another treat, Mike; ex-Navy nuclear engineer, took us up flying in a two seater plane! We got the bird's eye view of Racince harbor and race course.

plane

In addition to all the tourist activities we got our meetings and race preparation workouts in with plenty of time to relax before the big day.

swim warm up

Sunday's weather turned out to be perfect. We rode in comfortable temperatures to the race venue. (after re-tightening my base bars knocked loose by the bumpy roads of the Midwest.) After a long walk to the swim start we were nearing start time. After watching the men, I realized the lake stayed shallow through the start and a smart strategy was to walk/dolphin dive rather than swim. I followed this strategy but not for long enough. As the women's wave began I quickly lost the feet of Helle and Malaika. I was swimming even with the chase pack which slowly diminished to three; me and Valentina swimming side by side and Melissa on our feet. As hard as I tried I couldn't shake them, so I settled in and swam my race. Unfortunately Valentina wasn't giving up either, she swam in my space attempting to push me off course. As we approached the swim exit we both picked up the pace and ran out together. I outran Valentina up the long trip to transition but Melissa passed us both.

SWIM EXIT

I struggled with my new wetsuit around my ankles for a few seconds allowing Valentina to mount her bike first. We all settled into our paces (Melissa much faster than the rest). I kept Valentina in sight but didn't push above my target watts to catch her too early. We rode along the torn up roads, I found it hard to get into a rhythm and keep my watts up between the numerous turns, potholes and gaps jostling me around. At times it was so bad I feared my bike would fall apart!

BIKE

Around the halfway point Lauren passed me. I watched as Valentina grabbed her wheel and tried to ride at Lauren's faster pace for some time. Shortly after this Valentina began to slow and drop back. She had now caught and passed Malaika. I was waiting for the perfect time to make my pass. Valentina was riding towards the center line which made it more difficult but I completed the pass by both of them with an official riding by our side. This earned Valentina a yellow card for blocking.

BIKE 2

I continued on with my target watts separating myself from the women behind me. I was riding completely alone, no one to be seen either way, at times I worried I'd ridden off course. By the end of the bike I was really worried I'd passed my turn into transition, seeing the lake on my left. But fans kept cheering me on so I figured it must still be ahead. I finally rounded the last turn and hopped off my bike. Happy hitting my highest average watts for a half to date.

Bike 4

As always I took a few extra seconds slipping the left shoe over my bad foot but I was out on the run fast enough. I settled into a quick pace, remembering I took too long in Hawaii 70.3 waiting to feel good. As I saw some pro men, friends informed me I was in 4th or 5th place. As I approached the turn around I was able to spot the competition; those women ahead of me where fairly spread out. The closest being over two minutes ahead. Valentina was only a minute or so back with Tamara on her heels. Knowing both these girls are runners put an extra pep in my step. I concentrated on my form and cadence.

RUN

As I headed back to town I was being chased down by the lead pro men. Starkowitz passed me followed by Sanders and I got to witness Sanders complete the pass for the win as they lapped me. I rounded the lollipop cheered on by former teammates of Well-Fit my old training group from Chicago. I climbed up the only two hills on course, continuing to push the pace. Now the course was crowded with amateurs but I had no problem getting through.

Run Begin

Spotting my competition again; now first through third had put time into me and I'd stayed equidistant from fourth. As I rounded the last turn around I noticed that i'd put time into Valentina and Tamara. This boosted my confidence knowing I could hold onto fifth place.

Run finish

As I hit the final mile I pushed with everything I had left really leaving it all on the course. I was happy with my run split, my fastest post foot injury.

Finish

Overall this was a great race for me and i'm feeling confident in my fitness leading into Ironman Boulder.

owen awardpro women podium

On our way home I got to visit with Paula and Jeanie some of my dear friends from Chicago. Owen and I spent the next three days visiting with my family in St. Charles while recovering in preparation for Ironman in two weeks.

boat ride

Owen even got to take a boat ride, our family business in St. Charles.


07:26
:14

Racine Racin’

Posted in Racing by
Here we go again! Yes, I know its only been 3 weeks since my last installment BUT I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF…I absolutely love to race! I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I was able to recover from Ironman Coeur D’Alene. I was not thrilled with my performance on June 29th so another race was a welcome relief. I am of the mindset that a single day’s drive is not to far to make it to a race. I jumped in the car early on Saturday morning and began my 9 hour journey to Racine, WI. I left Nashville around 5:00 am in the middle of a rainstorm. I made it as far as Indianapolis before finding a YMCA to get a short workout it. Feeling refreshed, I resumed my trip and finally arrived in time for athlete check-in. The scene was unlike anything I had ever experienced at a race site before. The line to registration was a mile long and I was nervous that I might not make it in time. I saw Christine and Owen and they reminded me of the Ironman All-World Athlete perk…a separate check in line. I nonchalantly made my way to that area and in no time, I was checked in! Thank goodness for my friends, Christine you saved the day for me! After check in, I took my bike down to transition where I ran into Mark V., and Mike Lavery. I had no idea how big this race was until I saw the transition area! There must have been over 3,000 bikes… Racine is fairly remote and there were not a lot of hotels in the immediate vicinity. Most of my teammates were staying up around Milwaukee, Jennifer Pinto, Daniel Drescher, Susanne Davis. Tristan made it in from Long Island and Dave Orlowski was around as well. Overall, Team Timex was very well represented. The only hotel I could find was 20 miles south of Racine in Kenosha. After spending all day in the car, I was ready to eat dinner and hit the sack. I found a small italian restaurant not far from the hotel and ate a great dinner. I must have been asleep by 8:00! Surprisingly, I slept like a rock, which almost never happens the night before a race. The alarm buzzed at 4:30 and I was out the door by 5:00. I made the drive back up to Racine and found a great parking spot not far from transition. I made my way to my bike with plenty of time and even managed to grab a photo with Blueseventy rep Ryan Vanderloop. I was not at all prepared for what I heard next. As I was about to leave transition for the mile walk down to swim start, the announcer came on: “and the water temperature is now 60 degrees…” What the heck? How could I not have been expecting this? 3 weeks prior in Coeur D’Alene all I heard was how cold the water was. I didn’t even think about Racine (Lake Michigan) being cold. Luckily, Ryan had booties that he was not planning on wearing so he was gracious enough to give them to me ahead of our swim start. I grabbed an extra swim cap as well as I cannot afford to mess around with cold water! We ran into Craig Lanza on the way to swim start and he introduced us to his identical twin, Larry. I knew Craig was a stud, but after this race I now know that he is a legend in these parts! My swim wave started next to last so I had more than enough time to warm up in the freezing cold water! After what felt like an eternity, my age group was lined up in the chute and being called into the water. My plan was the same as it had been for my last 4 races…swim as hard as I possibly can to the first buoy and hope that enough separation would be created. The gun blasted and I was off. I swam hard and breathed deeply. The water was frigid but I just focused on that first buoy. I made it and turned the corner to begin the long point to point swim. I was swimming well and the water was cold but manageable. About halfway, I lost feeling in my hands as they hit the water. It felt as if I was swimming with closed fists. I kept swimming and found myself alone for most of the course. It wasn’t until I reached the swim exit that my disappointment set it. I looked at my watch and noticed 34 minutes…what the heck? My swim felt so good, how could I have been so slow. I was mad but started the extra long beach run back to transition. I stripped off my Blueseventy Helix along with Ryan’s booties and reached for my Trek Speed Concept to exit transition. Thank goodness for my Di2 as the first 100 yards leaving transition were straight uphill. My bike maneuvered beautifully and I made my way up in no time. Out on the bike, I quickly noticed that the pavement was rough. There were bumps and cracks everywhere, which prevented me from finding a groove. I was so busy concentrating on the road that I forgot to take in any nutrition for the first 15 miles. The bike course was killing me, my concentration was off and I was growing more and more into a funk. Around mile 40, I had some mechanical issues but managed to take care of it pretty quickly. By mile 50, I was SO ready to run. Those last 6 miles coming back into transition just wouldn't end. I finally saw the light and my feet were out of my shoes on top of the pedals in no time. I dismounted and headed for my spot in transition. After a super slow transition experience in Coeur D'Alene, I zipped through this one. I was out on the run in less than a minute and the sun met me high in the sky. Within the first mile there were 2 fairly steep inclines which made things all that more interesting. I saw Tristan and Dave at mile 1 which lifted my spirits and then Jennifer, Susanne, and Craig. Dan the Man had already finished and was yelling from the crowds. This picked me up as I continued through the first loop. I was a bit drained due to my lack of bike nutrition so I started on the coke early. The volunteers at the aid stations were great and I took exactly what I needed. A few sips of coke in my mouth and a cup of ice on my head. The first loop was tough but my pace was within range. As I started the second loop, I suddenly felt better and felt myself speeding up. The cheers were louder this time around and it was easier to smile this time around. The effort felt much better despite the heat. At mile 12, I got one more high-five from Tristan, Dave and Dan and set my sights on the finish line. No matter how many races I have done over the years, THE FINISH LINE NEVER GETS OLD! The last half mile felt awesome as I sprinted towards the finish. I crossed and looked down to my watch to view a 1:28 run split. With an overall time of 4:43, I wasn't super-excited but at least my run left me with a sense of accomplishment. I waited in the finish chute for Mark V. to come in and then he and I along with Mike, Jennifer, Susanne and Christine got a group shot at the finish. The rest of the day was a ball. The crowd was cheering, the sun was out and the day was picturesque. We found Craig and Daniel and hung out in the finisher's tent until transition opened and we could retrieve our bikes. That night, Tristan was gracious enough to host us for a cookout at Team Sports in Milwaukee. We grilled some food and caught up on the season until late that night. I was exhausted but it felt great. I was surrounded by great friends after a long day of racing in the hot sun. Triathlon rocks in so many ways and today reminded me of how lucky I am to be a part of the Timex family.
07:22
:14

All Systems Go

Posted in Racing, Training by
I read a quote the other day about Wisdom. It said "Wisdom does not come from age, it comes from education and learning". I like this for several reasons, but particularly because I don't feel like I'm old =) This really resonated with me as I have been reflecting back over my years of learning. First, being a young runner instructed by my Father. Next pursuing a degree in Sports Medicine from Brigham Young University, then working for Performance Physical Therapy, next initiating my own competitive spirit back into competition, then finally assisting well over 100 athletes in their athletic endeavors. Actually, it doesn't end there. Beyond that, I have been able to work under World Renowned Coaches ie. Brett Sutton and gain additional insight and expand my methodologies. And there is yet another new coaching philosophy, I just ordered the book on Amazon. Any ideas on what book will drop into my mail box later this week? Looking more locally, Team Timex prides itself in not only having incredible athletes, but top coaches and professionals in the field. Not only have I advised many teammates, I have seeked advice from others as well. It is an incredible resource for me. As I continue to still compete, I am a coach that feels it is of great importance to physically take my body where I ask my athletes to take theirs.  Each one of my athletes know that. For example, I may not compete in Ironman, but I have done every single workout I prescribe to them. That moves me into the discussion of athlete development. One of my favorite discussions I have with my clients!!  But for now, we are going to discuss me. Before I entered Multisport, I was a runner, then a Mountain Biker. Both in which I raced a fair amount in. I am now in my 11th season as a Triathlete. My! Where does the time go?? There has been so much learning, change and adaptation over the last decade. (Which in my book, equates to Wisdom) Regarding injury, I have learned by trial and error where those boundaries are. I am much smarter now when my body talks to me, I listen to avoid setbacks and injury, to change my training to provide appropriate stimulus. My nutrition and fueling have changed. I learned quickly what foods makes me feel better with multiple sessions in a day or after a big quality brick. I have had many years for trial and error and over time have dialed into this. My eating and what I cook for my family has changed immensely over the decade. Not because of fads, trends or textbooks; but because of how I feel and recover. This year I have implemented a few new things. Some have worked, others not so well. The first was a goal weight of 114. Nope! That didn't work. I brought a whole new meaning to the term "couch potato". 117 still continues to be my ideal race weight. Solid bike power, light enough to run fast and a tank full of energy. Next was making a shift in my carbs to protein ratio. Nope! That didn't work either. As I have entered my early 40's, I have had to make some slight modifications to my diet to maintain a good weight for me, but too much protein and I felt heavy and lethargic in training. Now, I knew this was a very strong possibility.. But, I know first hand now =) Another was an emphasis on strength. Can there be too much of a good thing? ABSOLUTELY! Strength played an integral roll in my base and initial builds at the beginning of the season. My running legs were rediscovered from 2009 pre injury. WAHOO! BUT! Staying on that same trajectory hasn't served me well at this point in the season. With the intensity continuing to build in my quality workouts; strength at that level pretty much brought all systems to a hault. I stopped hitting run paces, recovery continued to slow down, general fatigue increased to significant levels, weight was climbing to levels I hadn't seen in over a year and I was not recovered for key workouts. I do appreciate the few watchful eyes that were seeing red flags sooner than I was able to admit and see myself. I can not emphasize how important it is to encircle yourself with people who are invested in you on a daily basis and are aware of your well being as an athlete. I, as a coach, am invested in each one of my lads and lasses. The outside perspective is huge and one that I can never have for myself ;) Two weeks ago today, I physically, emotionally and mentally was in a place I have never been. I pulled the plug early on the last 5 days of my build and went into recovery. Recovery was not in any hurry to find me!! I would take about every other day off and do something very light and short between. Having to rest every 200 meters at the lake while swimming turtle pace scared me, honestly. Having to be picked up after 34 min on the bike, scared me too. Running a 9:30 pace and having my HR close to max, of course made me walk and take a good look at reality, especially with my A race (Age Group Nationals) 5 weeks away. The question of the day... Everyday; am I over reached or over trained. Only time would tell. Last Friday, I was still struggling with high heart rates. I took another very restful weekend. Yesterday, I managed an easy slow run and HR is stabilizing. Strength was a very quick session, functional and dynamic and then I hit the lake in the evening. YES! By the end of the swim, I was feeling like my groove is back and I was swimming better paces! To answer my question above, I overreached. I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and getting my body back on track. Weight has continued to drop back to normal as my body heals. It feels so good to have it back and happy. Today feels like a day in a normal recovery week instead of a big dark hole. Will I be race ready for August 10th? I really have no idea. I will be able to race, I just don't know what all this down time is going to do to my speed. I will know come race day and guess what?! I'll be that much wiser. I am hoping by the weekend I'll be ready for some intensity; that will be 3 weeks since I pulled the plug. I am grateful I am getting there and all systems will be go!
07:14
:14

Free Bird!!!

Posted in Racing by
Free Bird! No matter what live musical concert you’ve attended from the 70s until today there will be several in the crowd that scream "Free Bird!".  It used to be signified with lighters overhead and is now replaced with cell phones while screaming to the band on stage. It's a nod to the popular 70 band Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was and is and epic rock classic. The screaming of "Free Bird" today has the same meaning it did 40 years ago.....play your best song and let's rock the house. (Check out You Tube if you don't know music from the 70's!)  After a year like last year, 8 races and 8 wins, I have to look inside myself when the cell phones are on and I hear "Free Bird" in my head. I just played it!!!  2013 was the season of all seasons. I overcame multiply challenges, saw doors close and God open even more.  I stood on the precipice of calling it a career and the edge of staring obstacles in the face and saying, "so what, now what?" As endurance athletes we are preprogrammed to suffer and ignore pain and challenges whether they be emotional or physical.  However, as we get older we are forced to listen to the ongoing signs that we are aging. Sore muscles, longer recoveries and a slightly slower pace on our tempo runs remind us that father time's clock is ticking. We need to find something extraordinary special every year to keep us coming back. This year my something special is balance. I've found the perfect balance in my life between God, family, friends, training and work. Great triathletes however were never made on balance. They come from a place of myopic focus. I’ll train with my selfless partners Mandy and Stacy who will provide me much more than a pace on a run. They are there to support me, cheer for me and laugh with me while solving life's problems along hundreds of miles. I’ll show up in Kona fit, confident and ready to dig as deep as ever.  It's been a great run, but I'm not done. I'm going to throw it down one more time (at least).  You don't get to the starting line of the Ironman World Championships without bringing your whole life with it. I'll tap into my strength from my life's tragedies, my incredible village of supporters and training partners. I’ll have the confidence in knowing that no matter what the race brings me it is nothing like life has brought me in the last year. Last year I broke my own American Record for the Fastest American Amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman finishing in 9:41.  Will I break it again?  I have no idea.  I will guarantee however, at the end of the day I will have left it all on the lava fields. "Free Bird!!!!!". It's our Kona, our best and our favorite. Turn down the house lights and raise your cell phones. We're going to play it one more time. [caption id="attachment_435" align="alignnone" width="300"]IMG_1700 Stacy, Me & Mandy[/caption] [caption id="attachment_299" align="alignnone" width="300"]tf_DSC_9279 My family supporting me every step of the way. Brooke 6, Me, Matthew 10 and my husband Scott[/caption] [caption id="attachment_319" align="alignleft" width="200"] Master's Ironman World Champion 2013[/caption]

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