08:08
:14

Ironman Frankfurt

Posted in Racing by
I had been looking forward to Ironman Frankfurt for a while -- after doing two smaller Iron-distance races, I would finally get my chance to be an "official" Ironman. Before we moved away two months ago, I made sure to ride and drive the bike course, plus I did a couple runs on the course as well. So once I got into town on Thursday night, I was able to relax and minimize stress before race day. Fellow Timex teammate Tim Stuzter was so nice to offer to host me and my husband as well as help with crucial last minute bike maintenance.   SWIM The swim venue is a filled in quarry and the two separate loops take up most of the lake. In between the loops is an Australian exit, where the spectators wade into the water and get within arms reach of the swimmers. IMG_0440 I thought I was lining up towards the right edge of the start line, but the kayakers were allowing people extend the start line farther out into the lake -- meaning that I was now in the middle, which is what exactly I wanted to avoid. Since this was my first mass start race, I wasn't quite sure what was about to happen.   After the gun went off, I had a few seconds of zen swimming before the melee hit. For the first 20 minutes, I endured the punches, kicks, and dunking. On more than one occasion, I thought to myself "why am I doing this?"   I found sighting to be almost impossible. Since the lake is essentially in a sinkhole in the middle of the forest, there aren't really any good landmarks to sight on. We were wearing yellow caps, which perfectly matched the yellow guide buoys. The one helpful element was the giant, inflatable PowerBar bottle that was placed directly in line with the first turn buoy that was visible for the whole first kilometer. After that, my strategy became "follow everyone else."   I did see Tim and Eric cheering at the Australian exit, so that was neat. Since the lake is pretty shallow, there was a lot of wading through shin-deep water. IMG_1592 The second loop wasn't as rough, so I was able to really focus on my form. In all my training sessions, I have worked on being mindful of my body position and hand placement. The added bonus of the blueseventy Helix made the this much easier and the second part flew by.   Finally, it was time to wade through the water again and into T1. When I did my pre-race walk through, I saw that the route was very obvious, so I didn't bother to walk through it. Once I was actually out of the water, I then discovered that there was a short, but very steep climb, covered in deep sand that was now wet. I wondered why everybody was walking. Since I ran up the hill, I was rewarded with some serious leg cramps. IMG_3430 BIKE After clumsily knocking over a bench in the change tent, I made it onto my bike without further mishap. The course travels about 10 kilometers into the city, where it then starts on two loops that travel into several small villages out in the country. Some of the things I noticed:   - It is so fun to be able to blast down a road on a closed race course. Especially when you consider that most of the time I have spent on the roads in Frankfurt has been in traffic.   - I noticed people already sitting at the bars enjoying a beer at the beginning of my first loop. Based on the start time, plus my swim, plus the time to ride there, I'd estimate it was about 8:30am when I passed them. IMG_0535 - One of the early highlights is a half-mile section of cobbles known as "The Hell." It begins right after a 90 degree turn, so you can't see it coming. The first bit is flat, but it quickly rises into a decent grade for the next 90 seconds. It seemed like everybody in unison hit their brakes and sat up once we made it to the cobbles...except for me. I chose to attack, rather than get caught up in the melee. On both loops, I was riding so close to the left barrier, I was a bit concerned I would clip it or a spectator. But I managed to successfully pass the giant group and avoid any incidents.   - The crowd support in the villages was amazing! My theory is that Germans will use any excuse for a fest, much like Americans look for chances for a tailgate. One town even had their town's volksfest along the bike course, so there were a bunch of rides and food and drink stands. And the cheering was not confined to the city limits:  there was a crowd out spectating at some random intersection where they were blocking the road with a tractor.   - Probably the most fun was "Heartbreak Hill," a 2.5km climb towards the end of the loop. In the pre-race literature, they pointed out that this was one of the Party Zones on the course, and they were not kidding. They had the music blasting and people lined up 5 deep on either side of the road. Oddly, I heard the same song on both loops, but I was having so much fun singing along and cranking away that I definitely busted my HR limit.   - The downside of the bike was the overcrowding and huge packs that formed up. I was having a hard time riding my own race and had a few near misses with people who must have not heard the discussion about blocking.   Despite a hillier profile, I rode almost exactly the same time as in my previous race, which was completely flat. I was pleased to see the time on my CycleTrainer, but I was slightly concerned going into the run, since it was starting to get really warm and my HR was too high for a good portion of the ride.   RUN   As I headed out of T2, I was surprised to see and hear my friend Sarah yelling my name and jumping madly in the giant crowd of people lining the course. This was a good shot of motivation, and the rest of the first lap was filled with other surprise spectators: people from my old tri club in Mainz, folks from Tim's club that I've met and trained with, and even one of the other racers from Ironcat. It was like that old game show "This is Your Life." That was really cool and definitely one of the highlights. IMG_0545 The run course is four laps that go up and down the Main River. I had run on the course several times in the months before race day, so I had a mental game plan in place. But I had not anticipated how much the heat was going to sap my energy and because it rained the day before, it was also quite humid. Every lap just became more and more torturous.   However, the crowd support on the run course was wonderful - it felt like there were people everywhere!   By the last lap, I could tell from my pace and time that I was behind where I wanted to be. But instead of getting upset and frustrated, I refocused myself on a new goal: leave everything out on the course. I slogged through the last last 10km, mentally chanting my mantra, "give yourself completely."   After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made the right turn to exit to the finish line, which is in the historic Roemerplatz, right in the center of old town. It has all these really neat buildings and the grandstands are constructed right in the middle. But the only thing that mattered to me was that sign that said "FINISH." I was out of juice. IMG_1595 The final tally - 10:32:43 and 5th in my AG. POST RACE All the finish line volunteers were super friendly and helpful, and one even delivered my post-race bag to me. I immediately changed into my flip flops and then shuffled out to find Eric. I found the nearest elevated surface and sat down. IMG_1596 The next day, I went to the awards ceremony hoping for a Kona roll-down slot, but it didn't happen. But it was really cool to see the exuberance of the people who did. I thought one lady who was seated near us was going to have a heart attack! I can't believe someone who did an Ironman the day prior could run up to the stage that quickly.   Overall, while I'm disappointed in not qualifying for Kona, I am happy with my performance in tough conditions and against a tough field. This was the Ironman European Championships, so I knew there would be some fast competition.   A big thank you goes out to the always inspiring Timex Multisport Team and our awesome sponsors; it is an honor to be able to wear/ride/use your products and represent you! My coach Rich Laidlow prepared me for an Ironman eight weeks after my last one. And of course, a huge thanks to überhost, Tim Stutzer, and my husband (and sherpa, cheerleader, and sounding board), Eric. I appreciate everything you all do for me!
08:06
:14

Respect the Distance; Ironman Boulder

Posted in Racing by
I came into this race the fittest I've ever been. I posted my highest watts and fastest run in Racine 70.3 two weeks leading up to the Boulder Ironman. The week before the race I was able to get my heart rate up proving I was fully recovered from the half. I got my weight down to my ideal race weight just days before and I took two months off drinking in preparation. I was pumped to have a break through day in my home town. After racing 5 Ironman's last year I felt I had the distance dialed in and came into Boulder over confident. I didn't have expectations to win, my goal was to place top 3. My confidence was in the hydration, nutrition and pacing aspect. I got lazy and did not properly hydrate or load my glycogen stores the days leading up to the race. My day started with a relaxed wait for the swim start. The majority of the field were local friends so we chatted until the start gun shot.

pre-swim

As we started I broke free of the field on the left and Laura on the right.

swim start PMswim 2

We met together and I quickly hopped on her feet and Kerri on mine. Laura led us off course inside the 2nd buoy, I followed hoping I could stay with her. Soon enough she surged and dropped us. I was now in charge of pulling Kerri, which I did around the entire reservoir. I maintained a consistent pace without wasting too much energy. We passed 3 pro men who began 3 minutes ahead. As we exited, Kerri tried to surge around me to exit first and we ended up running out together. I wasn't too worried and ran through transition in control knowing we had a long day ahead. She made a few small mistakes and I wound up leaving transition slightly in front but 1 minute behind Laura. I swam my standard 55 minute IM time, but posting this time at altitude and pulling the whole way was an improvement for me.

swim exit

swim exit 2photo 4

Kerri caught and passed as we exited the reservoir entrance. I settled into my pace, sticking to my race plan. As I did I noticed my target watts weren't coming to me as easily as usual. Typically I have to hold way back the first hour of the ride to keep from over biking. My glutes felt stiff; they weren't firing. I've never felt this bad so early on in any Ironman. I feared this could be a very long day but I pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on riding smooth and steady. At the St. Vrain turn around just 10 miles in I was able to spot the field. Kerri had already caught and passed Laura, both were putting time on me. I rode on slow and steady by myself for miles and miles, still unable to hit my watts. I finally decided to stop checking my average and go by feel, to work with what I had on the day.

bike tri juice

Around 50 miles in my coach, Curt came by. I shared how I was feeling and wished him well on his day. At special needs I had to slow way down as a volunteer happily ran after me with my bag. A few more familiar local amateur men came by offering words of encouragement. It was great to see so many friends having awesome days. I didn't feel terrible the entire ride I had highs and lows but mostly just felt flat.

photo 1

horse bigger

Mile 70 came as Uli and Daniel rode up to me with two amateur men and the head race official. I was jealous to see they'd been working together legally and latched on. I rode with them for about 15 minutes as we all changed positions numerous times. The men were dropping into the legal draft zones which made me nervous of penalties. I was struggling to hold their pace so eventually they pulled away and I was left riding alone again.

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As I made the turn from highway 52 just past 100 miles I got a second wind and pushed up the three short steep climbs which were lined with fans.

Stevens hill climb Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.51.46 AM

As I made the turn onto 75th I saw my brother and niece cheering me on which put a smile on my face. I pushed through the last few miles only to be greeted by my husband Owen who caught me around 110 miles. He tried to chat but I urged him on; scared he would receive a penalty for exceeding the 25 seconds allowed to pass. I followed him the last two miles and entered T2 just after him. The run into T2 was long and the ground was hot, I ran slowly trying to keep my heart rate down. photo 2 I was now in 6th place, Owen came up behind me taking slightly longer in transition. I finally urinated for the first time during the race a clear sign I wasn't taking in enough water and was dehydrated. After some words of encouragement Owen ran away from me. I was so happy he was having such a great day. Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.52.30 AM My legs were feeling stiff and my lower back was tight from the ride but it started to loosen. I waited a few miles hoping to feel better and get into a groove. It was difficult to get my calories down but I choked them in anyhow. 10583064_10203145463250594_2449407579773580453_o The course made a large Y which we covered twice to make up the marathon. The first out and back I was able to spot the competition. I was surprised to see how badly the pro women's field looked. Kerri was in the lead and walking, and everyone else just looked hot and tired. I put my head down and trudged through hearing cheers from so many spectators encouraging me to catch those ahead. As I hit mile four I saw Kerri lying in a ditch with medical attending to her. This is when I knew we were in for a challenging run and a war of attrition.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.53.04 AM

At the 2nd turn around I caught and passed Morgan making my way into 4th place. I was still choking down my calories and struggled to get enough water through aid stations. Heading down the creek path we entered the shady part of the course which was lined with fans at least 10 deep. They were cheering so loudly it felt like a bike race in Europe, I couldn't help but pick up the pace as I ran through so many familiar faces calling out my name. It was a party atmosphere; many tubing down the creek and I desired so badly to join them rather than running the remainder of the race. I was even cheered on by some homeless hippies and it wouldn't be the creek path if it didn't smell like weed. Hammond_Christine_IMBOULDER300 Running in the shade cooled my core temperature down and I began to feel better and pick up the pace (slightly). As I began loop two fans shared that Uli and Laura were beginning to fade, somehow my slow pace was catching them. Uli put up a good fight for miles, spectators and fellow racers continued to tell me she was walking but each time we crossed paths she was head down running. It took me until mile 22 to finally make the pass which gave me a surge of adrenaline as I entered the tunnel of fans. Everyone likes watching the underdog come from behind, so seeing me come through in 3rd got even louder cheers. I now had my friend Shelby as my lead biker pulling me in through the final four miles.

run 2Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.53.39 AM

At mile 20 I had thrown my last bottle away only half consumed, not able to hold anymore down. At mile 24 I felt the missing calories. I had nothing left in the tank. At this point I'd run out of course to catch Laura, Morgan and Uli were too far behind to catch me back so all I had to do was run it in. I ran those last two miles at a snails pace but finally made it there. I collapsed over the line and was so happy to see Owen's smiling face after finally standing up.

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[youtube]http://youtu.be/fvJ5IPSPliQ[/youtube]

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.53.57 AM

Overall I'm happy with placing third, and achieving my goal. It was a tough day out there which was made apparent by so many going down on the run course. I don't believe a single amateur man passed me on the run. Meanwhile I ran the slowest marathon of my career after biking my lowest average watts in over a year (11% lower than races last year). I haven't been able to pin point exactly what I did wrong, my only estimation is hydration and nutrition leading up to the race left me starting depleted rather than loaded. This was a painful reminder to always respect the distance no matter who you are and how much experience you have it's always a difficult and challenging race. Anything can happen out there which is why we all love it and crave the ability to master it. I already have Ironman amnesia because I'm planning my next chance to prove I have a better performance in me. 10550083_10203145463810608_6286400565126010563_o Huge congrats go to Owen, having the race of his life out there taking 2nd overall amateur only behind my coach Curt Chesney killing the field with his sub 9 performance.

owen

  Massive props to Danielle Kehoe and Justin Daerr for taking the wins, they were in a class of their own destroying the men's and women's pro fields. Teammates Richie Cunningham for 2nd pro male, Wendy Mader for 1st amateur female and Luis Alveraz for his 109th Ironman finish. Training partner Amy Becker for taking 2nd amateur female in her 1st Ironman. You are all amazing, enjoy your recovery.

CTC small pro podium small


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.

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