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.
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
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.
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.
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???
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.
I couldn’t very well race full, looking like this…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Here is my race review video prepared for the Challenge family races;
I’ve been quiet on the triathlon scene this year, focusing on trail running instead. Why trail running you ask? Its new, its challenging, and, possibly the best part, I don’t need to travel far to race some of the best trail runners in the country. The Montana trail running scene is blowing up, and even at the most “local” of races, you’ll find olympians, world class runners, and fast-as-hell weekend warriors. Did I mention its challenging?
The Bridger Ridge run is the world championships of trail running in southwest Montana. It was also named by Outside Magazine as one of the top 10 bucket list trail runs in the world.
The Bridger mountains form a steep, rocky north-south ridge line just outside of town. The race is 19.7 miles, with 6800ft of elevation gain, and 9500ft of elevation loss. The course is not marked, nor is there an official maintained trail for much of the race. Basically, stay up on the ridge; keep running south; don’t die.
The race starts at Fairy Lake Campground at 7:00am GMT, not a second later. I was in the first of 5 waves, along with a few former winners, and at least 10 other guys with serious running chops. I wanted to be in the top 10, and in the race, not behind it.
The first 2.25 miles climb 1800 ft to the summit of Sacagawea Peak, on a well worn trail. The opening pace was quick, but comfortable. Approaching the peak, I found myself in third, close behind Ted and Eric in front of me, and 30-45″ ahead of four big hitters. I’m not the best descender, so I needed a little cushion at this point.
The first step from the summit of Sacagawea takes the race onto a ‘trail’ more traveled by mountain goats than humans, traversing loose shale south across the summit. In the heat of the race, my ankle rolled so severely that my ankle bone touched the ground. I thought my ankle was broken, and race was over, only 30 minutes in. [Another runner broke his ankle in almost the same spot, and had to be airlifted out.]
Rolled ankles often hurt like hell for a few minutes, and then feel OK. Add in the adrenaline of the race, and I decided to keep going. The race is a lottery entry, so if I quit now, I can’t just come back next year.
The descent off of Sacagawea peak is incredibly steep, through a series of tight switchbacks, littered with loose rock, large boulders, and goat poop. “Technical” would be an understatement. I bridged up to Eric in front of me, but soon the group behind, containing last years winner, Peder, and 2nd place, Derek, joined. The pace they descended off the peak blows my mind. I managed to keep pace until we reached the Bridger foothills trail, which, by comparison, might as well be paved.
For the next 3.5 miles on the Bridger foothills trail, our group of 6 hauled ass like an donkey rancher. The course here trends downhill, with a few small climbs. Dare I call it the “easy” section. My ankle was sore, but the race had my mind focused elsewhere.
At mile 7.5 the course enters a large meadow, called Ross Pass, with the first aid station of the day. Two runners had gone in pursuit of lone leader Ted, reducing our group to four. Unfortunately, at this point, the trail splits 3 ways, and the aid station had been set up on the wrong branch. Our group quickly realized the mistake, and chose to bushwhack for about 5 minutes to get back on track.
After Ross pass comes the second large climb, approximately 1300 ft up in 0.8 miles – far too steep to run. Our group of four split in two, with David and TJ moving clear, while I chose to stay conservative and hang back with last years winner Peder. With the slower climbing pace, the adrenaline started to wear off, and I could feel, and see, my ankle swelling rapidly as pain started to set in.
Peder and I ran/hiked close together for the next 3.1 miles to Bridger Bowl Aid station, which is 10.6 miles into the race. With my sore and unstable ankle, I totally sucked on downhills, but I would quickly close the gap once the course started climbing again. Through the aid station, we heard news that the lead 3 had gone off course at Ross Pass, putting me in 4th.
The next 2 miles past Bridger Bowl are extremely loose and technical – bad news for me – culminating with another very steep 700ft climb to the summit of Saddle Peak. At this point, my ankle was costing me serious time. Peder opened up about a 2 minute gap on me, and as I crested Saddle Peak, two runners came into view, in striking range behind me. My 4th place still seemed pretty safe, but I had to keep moving.
The descent from Saddle peak is short, but requires some jumping off of stuff, which again was bad for my cause. After that, its 3 miles to the summit of Mt. Baldy, with Bridger Peak on the way. The climbs and descents in this section are short, and much of the trail is packed and runable. I ran pretty strong here, closed a little on Peder in front of me, and also defended my position from the rear.
From the summit of Mt. Baldy, its 4.1 miles and 3000ft down to the finish line. The theme of steep, loose, and extremely rocky continues – the last thing you want to see after 3+ hours of running with a bad ankle. I had no hopes of catching Peder, I just needed to focus on staying on my feet.
Half a mile off the summit, I tripped in the loose gravel and hit the deck. Some minor cuts and bruises, but in a few seconds I was back in motion. A few minutes later, I rolled my ankle, again. I laid on the ground in absolute agony, screaming four letter words and thinking my sock had to be the only thing holding my foot to my leg. Back on my feet, I started at a limp, then a walk, then a jog, and finally back to running. I had two more miles of steep technical descending in front of me. Forget the race, forget 4th place, just get to the finish line in one piece.
The last “emergency” aid station is about 15′ from the finish, fully stocked with gummy bears for those suffering of severe bonk-o-titis. The volunteers cheered me through, and then I listened. Thirty seconds later, more cheering, it was going to be close. The competitor within me couldn’t be contained, and I started to take a few risks down the last 1000 vertical feet to the finish. I made a valiant effort, but two minutes out, the catch was imminent, and I wasn’t going to fight it. Fourth was gone, but fifth place was secure, and I crossed the finish in 3 hours, 44 minutes, 53 seconds behind Peder, and 42 seconds behind 4th place.
What an experience! I hated and loved every minute of it at the same time. I’m extremely happy with my top 5, but can’t help thinking what could I have done with a good ankle. Hopefully next year.
Post race, we visited urgent care for some X-rays. No broken bones, just massive swelling and bruising. I’m on crutches, painkillers and the couch for the time being, hopeful on still running my first trail 50k in 3 weeks.
Full results posted here
Thanks for reading