Owen even got to take a boat ride, our family business in St. Charles.
I arrived in Hawaii 6 days prior to the race attempting to acclimate to the heat and humidity. It's not such a bad rule to follow when traveling to destination races. I rented a cute house with an ocean view along the bike course. I set up to work remotely for the week, staying on mountain time. I ran into one snag when my bike didn't arrive on time, but luckily a friend loaned me his bike on Tuesday and Wednesday to get some easy spins in. By the time the weekend arrived I was relaxed and ready to go. Owen arrived on Thursday to support me for the weekend, he was able to join me for race prep on the beach.
Just before the swim start the co-ed pro pack was drifting away from shore, the lifeguards moved us back within the start area as the gun went off.
I ended up in a good position and was able to drop most of the ladies right off the bat. I hung onto the lead pack of men's feet for awhile but they started drifting off course, I decided to continue on straight with a few others following on my feet.
Unfortunately the lead guys still made it to the 1st turn buoy before me so I was left pulling the rest of the way. I had a woman on each hip and 2 men trailing behind us. Thanks to my Foggle I had clear vision and could sight each buoy continuing to lead the way. As we rounded the last buoy I picked up the pace going for first out of the water. Maggie obviously wanted it too, we came in together stroke for stroke. As we reached the shore we began sprinting to the line. All of a sudden Maggie disappeared and I realized she face planted in the sand.
I ran into transition slowing after reaching the swim finish line, Maggie came up running next to me only to fall again as we made a sharp turn up the hill. After asking if she was ok, I grabbed my helmet, clipping it on while I ran which enabled me to pass the others back heading out on the bike first.
I stuck to my plan on the bike, holding back for the first few miles. I was passed fairly quickly by some of the uber bikers but my avgerage power was right on target at the first turn around. Heading towards Hawi we had a slight head wind climbing up and down the rollers. I haven't had the opportunity to get my new bike completely dialed in yet so I was shifting around in the saddle and my back began to ache.
I toggled between a few of the other women in places but came up short up the last climb into Hawi. I made the turn in 6th place, as we descended down with a tail wind the others disappeared. I stuck to my target watts and fueling plan to finish off the bike course.
We were unable to see T2 prior to the race, luckily I found my number quickly. While putting on my shoes I had some trouble with fans leaning over the guardrail which inhibited my space. After asking they quickly got out of the way and I slipped my shoes on. I was now ~ 2 minutes behind 5th place.
My first two miles felt sluggish, but then I started to get into a groove. I found a run buddy on course and we began pacing one another. My goal was to catch at least one girl to reach the podium.
As I was warned, the course was technical with many short punchy climbs and sharp corners. I took my coaches advice to charge the climbs and recover on the descents. As we approached the long out and back at mile 9-11 I had closed the gap to 15 seconds. During these two miles I pushed and pushed but just couldn't complete the pass. Karen was putting up a good fight, but I was determined.
As we headed back onto the golf course I turned up the heat and completed the pass by mile 12. The last mile I continued putting time into her. Little did I know I was gaining on 3rd and 4th place as well, but unfortunately my bike split being off took me out of that race.
Overall i'm very pleased with my Hawaii 70.3 performance. I handled the heat and winds well. This was a great indicator of my fitness level coming of my spring training block. I've been working on improving my open water swimming; check and my run speed; getting there, but it seems I need a bike training block in preparation for my Ironman's planned for August and November.
Owen and I were able to enjoy our 2 days post race enjoying Hawaii to the fullest. We went out on a chartered snorkel boat, cliff jumping and hiked the Z trail in Waipio which turned out to be the best hike we've ever been on.
I decided to take a longer break from racing this year after ending my season in 2013 with an Ironman in November and getting hitched two weeks later. This enabled me to enjoy off season more than in year's past (2013 racing IM Cabo in March). I rarely felt guilty heading to the mountains to ski or taking an entire two weeks off from all exercise for our honeymoon to Bora Bora this winter. I got in some solid months of training with no races interfering. This proved to be harder than I thought, not realizing how much rest those races awarded me in between tough training blocks. The week leading into Grand Junction I found myself in a hole, overtrained and fatigued.
My race plan for 2014 starts in Hawaii on March 31st for Honu 70.3 but I require a warm-up race to shake the winter cob webs out. After racing HITS last year my husband Owen suggested I join him, therefore we headed out to Grand Junction for our summer opener. I backed off heavy training for only a few days leading up to the race.
Race weekend was warm but in keeping with May race tradition the water was frigid. HITS measured the reservoir at 62 but I felt it was no warmer than 59. Teammate Tim Hola joined Owen and I in the “fun” of acclimating to the water pre-race.
After only a few minutes my body was used to the water and I was ready to race. Shortly after the start gun shot, from waist deep water I pushed hard off the ground into a dolphin dive. After sitting in the cold water my muscles contracted and caused my calf to seize with a huge charlie horse. I slowed to what felt like a snails pace. My foot flexed and I bit my lower lip (a trick an age group swim coach taught me which is really just taking your mind off the cramp).
Eventually my calf loosened, now I was mid-pack so I had to pick up the pace to catch the leaders. I climbed my way from one swimmer to the next until I could recognize Tim out front. I grabbed the feet of the swimmer drafting off Tim and there I sat through the first 2 buoys. I didn't know this guy between Tim and I, he kept veering off Tim's feet. I tried numerous times to get around him with no success. Finally we reached the first large turn buoy. Tim and trailer slowed to each take a breaststroke pull allowing to navigate where the next buoy was. I took this opportunity to bury my head, nailed a few hard strokes and took Tim's feet. I trusted Tim to sight completely, I followed his bubbles sighting only half what I usually would. We coasted around the remaining turns of the course.
Exiting the water proved more difficult than expected, as I first stood I realized my legs were completely numb. Thank goodness for muscle memory allowing me to run out of the water because I felt I could face plant at any time.
I chased Tim into a long run into transition. The one benefit of numb feet is I had no problem running barefoot up the beach and through the grass. Finally arriving in T1 I grabbed my bike and headed out leaving Tim still fumbling with his helmet (his fingers were too numb to clip it).
I hopped on my bike following the lead motorcycle embracing the cheers from spectators surprised to have a woman leading the race. At the 2nd turn I noticed the HITS sign pointing left but the motorcycle headed straight, I followed him, knowing right away it was wrong. I turned my head saw Tim approach and flagged him to make the turn I missed. From here he slowly pulled away from me. After 5 miles or so the lead moto found me and began leading again. He was unaware that Tim was now in front. Miles down the road Brian passed me very confused that I wasn't Tim and still had the moto. When we made the first turn around the moto saw and caught up with Tim to provide his lead. Even further down the road Owen caught me, we rode side by side chatting for awhile before I urged him to keep going to catch the leaders.
At the last turn around I noticed a blond pony tail only a few minutes back. This came as a surprise, I put my head down and hammered the remainder of the bike not knowing if she was bridging the gap. I later found out she was an ex-pro racing the aqua-bike.
Temperatures were rising as I approached T2. I made my change a little slower than normal before heading out on the run.
The course began with some steep punchy climbs which got my heart rate right up. It was a straight out and back down unshaded dirt roads. On my way back every racer cheered me on. I made sure to respond each time with similar encouraging words. I soaked in the cheers as I crossed the finish line. I absolutely love the feel of local races, this is how I got into the sport and fell in love with triathlon. I recommend HITS Grand Junction to anyone, it offers a single loop for each segment with a challenging run course to test your fitness in a May race.
Timex camp had a change of location this year. We headed South for some warm weather in Sarasota, FL to the IMG performance center. I never knew such a place existed, a “boarding school” for gifted young athletes. IMG is enormous complete with countless fields and state of the art equipment preparing young athletes for Division I schools and professional careers in tennis, golf, football, lacrosse, track, soccer and basketball.
I headed out a couple days early to meet up with Jackie in Fort Myers for some warm weather training and bonding. Jackie's grandma was generous enough to host us for two nights in Fort Myers. We headed from the airport straight to yoga, which was nice to get a good stretch after the long flight from Colorado.
Wednesday morning our plan was to assemble our bikes, head for a swim followed by a long ride. Jackie has her new Trek Speed Concept but hasn't mastered it's assembly yet so this took longer than expected. We arrived at the pool only to find it was closed for the next hour for water aerobics aka dancing ladies; Fail! We were back to grandma's and on our bikes quickly. Unfortunately we forgot to eat breakfast through all the changed plans. We managed to find a decent route and got in a solid 4 hour hungry ride including lots of gossip time.
We headed back to the pool for our swim, which had now been heated by the sun all day, nice and toasty! Jackie and I were somewhat of a spectacle doing a set Curt wrote for me. We were asked several times if we were famous and some lap swimmers told us we were their inspiration. How sweet! We finished our day with dinner and wine with grandma.
Day two we got started at sunrise for our long ride, taking a similar route to the previous day. Jackie was pretty fatigued coming straight from Cliff English's camp in Tucson so she hung on my wheel while I busted out some 45 minute intervals. We ran on a lovely wooded path around grandma's gated neighborhood for our tempo run where Jackie dropped me like a bad habit each time. Some day I hope to hang with her on my feet. After showering and a quick bite we loaded up the car in order to make it to the ING performance center by 4pm. Somehow we managed to fit 2 bikes, my bike box and all our gear into grandma's car.
Upon arrival we were greeted by many team members, some of which we only get to see at camp each year which makes this weekend so special. We got a tour of the ING facility, then enjoyed a cocktail hour meet and greet. We shared stories, laughs and received some fun swag.
Jackie and I shared our condo with Sam Mazar and rookie teammate Kathryn Taylor. The accommodations this year were unique; we were bunked in dorm-like rooms with twin beds. Jackie's had a plastic cover, once she took it off we were informed it may have been a bed bug shield, Yikes! Either way she left it off for the weekend.
Arriving the week of daylight savings combined with the two hour time difference created Friday's wake up call to feel quite early. We were awoken by our bus beeping outside the window; no need for alarms :) We enjoyed a refreshing swim in an outdoor fifty meter pool. I got to swim with the boys, our lane was lead by Bama collegiate swimmer Bruce Gennari. It's always fun to get some training time together.
After breakfast we attended some clinics sharing our experience and opinions on Timex and competitor's products as well as social media, clinic and ambassador training. We fit in a Florida Tourist themed 5K fun run.
The day was finished off by receiving more swag which included all our new Castelli clothing. This is by far the best clothing sponsor we've had in the 6 years i've been on the team. Jackie and I headed out for a quick ride, we had to test out our new kits! Unfortunately we didn't have adequate time for this ride so it made us a little late for the bus to the awards dinner. The whole team ended up waiting on us to run across campus, sorry guys but we had to get some saddle time in the sun. Now you know what we were up to :)
The awards dinner was held at a local country club and included inspirational speeches by team members Bo Parrish and Dave Orlowski. The highlight of the evening was Dave Erickson presenting pro athlete of the year award to Matt Russell by mimicking his American Flag run shorts.
Saturday morning we had a similar bus beep wakeup call outside our window. With a pact of punctuality Jackie and I were some of the first on the bus. We enjoyed another refreshing morning swim.
After breakfast we headed back over to the track for some ambassador meetings to complete our day. We learned the latest about Trek, Shimano, Skins, and Blue Seventy. We are blessed with such amazing sponsors who ensure we're taken care of. We did get some time for a run in the sunshine during a break and finished our day earlier than planned.
It happened to be Adrianna from Timex's birthday so we celebrated with some wine by the pool.
Jennifer was kind enough to not only make a reservation for us at a local bar which included Bags set up for us to play while drinking. She also chauffeured us all to a from the bar (cabs had a 2 hour wait due to St. Patrick's day weekend). Ryan and I ended up in the back heading from the pool
Following the tradition of Timex camp we celebrated our last night and Adrianna's birthday with too many cocktails and shots which made for a fun but late night.
Sunday we finished off camp with our head shots and team photos, looking fabulous as always after a night of drinking.
Heading into Ironman Florida I had low expectations. I’m not going for 2014 KPR so my goal was to prove I could run fast off a decent bike, which I haven’t done to my ability this season yet. I also thought it may be cool to say I raced 5 IM’s in one season (by far a 1st for me). So we headed down to Panama City Beach for one last go at the IM distance before our wedding on November 16th. It turned out great, Owen got in the amateur race just two weeks prior. I also had many friends and teammates racing; more familiar faces on course always make for an enjoyable race.
We were set up with another awesome homestay; Bruce and Gary who live along the bike course. They generously opened their home to us for the long weekend. The windy weather on Thursday and Friday had everyone’s nerves on edge; seven foot waves were reported on Friday morning! Luckily the wind calmed and rain cleared to perfect conditions for race day on Saturday.
Our Beach start was captured by teammate Dave Erickson. I entered the water cleanly diving under each wave trying to swim faster than the others dolphin diving. But soon enough, my face was in the sand, I was forced to stand to dolphin dive again.
I had now lost the leaders, I was in the chase pack which had formed a wall of women in front of me. I struggled to get through, so swam far left (inside of the sight buoys) to complete my pass. I did so successfully, caught the back of the lead pack and found myself swimming side by side with close friend Jackie Arendt. I decided to take a breather before my next surge, I smiled and waved at her with each breath towards one another. She did not wave back so I continued on. At the first turn buoy I surged again and to my surprise dropped this chase pack catching Haley Chura. I was pushing to hold her feet, but she was swimming in a prefect straight line through the cross waves so I held on tight. As we approached the break coming into the beach I got separated again, the waves were crashing over my head, I felt like a tumble weed in the wind coming in. As I ran over the beach timing mat to begin my second loop the announcer confirmed it was Haley coming through, they were talking about her swim in Kona. Beach running is a weakness of mine and as we entered the break water Ashley Clifford went by diving through the waves much quicker than I. Haley was now gone and Ashley had built a gap. I was back in the chase pack; I thought about surging again but decided against it for fear of burning too many matches too early. I settled in and was able to swim easy through the 2nd loop. There were 4 of us together, we swam in a horizontal line, each of us tried to take the lead but would then go way off course in the cross waves. As we exited I was not happy with my positioning but we had only just begun.
My transition was consistent with those around me but we were forced to run across the beach, then across the large transition area twice barefoot. This doesn’t feel great on my bad foot so I was happy to finally hop on my bike. I eased into the ride, going easy the first hour is part of my race plan. Because of my position out of the swim I was riding (legally) in a pack of 3 other girls. (Dede, April, and Ashley) I just sat in with them while my hour passed.
At mile 23 to my surprise Tim Hola came whizzing by already. I took the opportunity to go with him in an attempt to separate myself from this pack. And let’s get serious, who better to take a ride from than Super Man! As we took a sharp corner he lost two PowerBars out of his back pocket. How is superman going to maintain his strength now??? After about ten minutes of riding his tail (legally) I decided to let him go, I couldn’t maintain these watts for the whole bike so I needed to back off.
In another twenty minutes my previous pack caught me again. Yvonne flew by with Dede on her tail they seemed to also be pushing too hard for me so I let them go (regretfully). Slowly Simon and I were able to distance ourselves from this chase pack and we rode the majority of the bike together. She took the lead for thirty miles and then I took the lead for the remaining thirty. We rode quite well together, I was just happy we could put some time between us and the others.
Former Timex Team Manager, Keith Meyer was spotting the women’s race, he informed us that we were making up time on the leaders. To my surprise around mile 105 we caught back up to Super Man. There were only a total of five amateur men that caught us. This was odd to me since they only started five minutes behind us, closer than in Whistler, and at that race I was in the middle of the men’s amateur race. It was a pleasant surprise.
I came into transition feeling fresher than usual. My back gave me no issues which was a fear of mine on such a flat course. Spotters informed me I was in fifth place heading out on the run. It takes me 2-3 miles to settle into getting vertical after swim/biking horizontal for so long. During these first few miles I was passed by a couple big names. Even once I turned on MY faster run speed I was still getting passed. This was discouraging, I hadn’t bridged as large of a gap as I’d have liked on the bike. I knew this would happen here but just not this early.
I tried to push the negative thoughts out of my mind and run my own race. I took in my calories and stuck to my steady pace. I still felt better than the last 3 of 4 Ironman’s I’ve raced this year. (not as good as Cabo on the run) The negative thoughts snuck back into my head at the turn around. Miles 15-19 were pretty dark which is normal, I wasn’t feeling great, my pace had slowed, I still had to get another bottle down and then run all the way back to the finish line. Of course I made it through. I even caught a few of the pro women who previously passed me.
At mile twenty I tried to turn it on again. I ran a few miles feeling great, now all my calories were down; I just had to run it in. Good friend and training partner, Whitney was chasing me down and I was determined to stay in front of her. Looking at those last six miles I wasn’t running particularly fast, but I didn’t slow as much as I could have or as others did. I dug deep and left it all on the course. I heard from spectators/fellow racers later that I looked quite determined towards the end, all business. I wanted no regret following my last race of the season. There’s nothing better than knowing you gave it your all, which I can honestly say I did and am proud of.
Ironman Florida was a Personal Record for me but it’s very difficult to compare courses with one another. Panama City is a fast course and we had ideal conditions. I’ll take the PR and fastest time in my household :) but I don’t know that my performance here was better than some of my other races this year. I felt better with a longer recovery heading in but still felt those other four Ironman’s in my legs. I have learned so much about myself, my abilities, and how to race this distance in 2013 I can’t wait to take that knowledge and experience to use on fresh legs in 2014. Happy Off Season!!!