2010 Blog Archive

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PATCO Championships in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Pre-race challenges

For the PATCO Championships in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I stayed in an all-inclusive hotel with my friends Amanda and Gwen. Although we were excited to race, I think the majority of our energy went into getting the most out of our all-inclusive package. The first night we tried the casual dining room because we were dressed in running clothes and afraid that that might not be considered semi-formal which was required for the other restaurants. After our first round through the buffet we decided it wasn’t that good so we headed for the French restaurant, in our semi-formal compression socks and running shoes.

The host was Hispanic but gave us that stuck-up French attitude that you always hear about. Looking us up and down he told us we needed reservations. The dining room was packed, with tables. One table had two people at it. Reservations didn’t seem that necessary. We asked if we could make one. He asked when and we said, “Right now?”

His next attempt to deter us was to explain that he would have to check with the Captian, which is apparently the manager. He wasn’t supposed to arrive for 20 minutes. We said we could wait. A stand off ensued with us waiting at the door looking very unpresentable and the waiters glaring at us from across the room. The captain showed up after a couple of minutes.

The captain didn’t speak much English and Amanda didn’t let on that she was fluent in Spanish so in a halting conversation the captain explain that we really couldn’t eat there in ‘beach wear’ and we assured him that we weren’t wearing bathing suits, we were just wearing normal clothes. I guess he was too polite to tell us we didn’t look nice so he seated us. Strangely, he seated us at the first table by the door. If I were the captain I think I would have hidden us in a corner out of the candlelight.

The food wasn’t really worth the fight, it was all we could do not to laugh when our lettuce leaf arrived. Apparently that was French for salad. It was a good thing we had already eaten one meal at the buffet because that just wasn’t going to fill us up.

The Race

The race course was constantly evolving until race morning. This made it difficult to preview the course. The bike course was on the busy main road and was unsafe to ride prior to the race. The day before the race a police car escorted us so we could ride it. But when we got to the race meeting the night before the race they informed us that we might do the course they lead us on but we would be doing it clockwise, not counterclockwise as we had done it. Or we might do a different course that didn’t take us through transition each lap. It would all depend on whether or not the concrete ramps that they were pouring so we didn’t have to jump curbs to get into transition would cure in time.

There was some concern among the athletes over the amount of cobblestone made of big round river rocks that we would have to ride over, not to mention the speed bumps, delineators, u-turns, dirt, pebbles and potholes. In the end the concrete cured, they took out a couple u-turns and they covered most of the cobble with dirt to smooth it out. We were told a few hours before the race what the course would be.

Originally the swim was going to have a pontoon start but do to low tides we had an in water start. I was relieved because the 10-foot drop from the pontoon looked like a good way to lose goggles. We lined up at the edge of the pontoon when they called our names. When everyone was there we jumped in and held on to a rope behind us. The gun went off and we sprinted. I was positioned at the middle of the rope. As we swam the right and left sides headed for the middle for a direct line to the first turn. As they cut in I was able to get on someone’s feet and settle into the draft. I had a good swim, for the first time staying with the lead pack. I was excited to be there and just kept pushing to stay with them.

I swam onto the green Astroturf then stood and sprinted up the steep ramp to the path to transition. Watching my footing on the slippery carpet leading into transition, I felt like Fred Flintstone with his twinkle toes, running in place. I made it into transition without falling.

The start of the bike course curved around park paths, over rough pavement, over a couple of big speed bumps, around a roundabout, over carpet, past a pothole and finally out onto the road. I was in the main pack. There were about eight of us to begin with. We got split up on the technical areas of the course and by the second lap there were three riders out front and the rest of us about 15 seconds back. We worked hard to get back to the leaders and were back together again by the third lap. From there we stayed together and caught the two riders that were alone out front after fast swims. We had two laps left by the time we had all come together in a pack of about 12 riders. The pace slowed after that, we were in the lead and the chase pack wasn’t gaining on us so we were safe. At the end of the last lap I moved to the front and took my shoes off. I entered transition in 5th and left in 4th.

I wanted to run my own race on the run. Coming out of transition that close to the front was a different perspective for me. I am usually trying to catch people, this time I was trying to stay ahead. I kept checking on how I felt. I was feeling better than in Alabama, I was running fast but not pushing the pace too hard. It felt like a pace I could sustain. A couple of people passed me as I had expected. I didn’t back off but I didn’t try to match their pace, knowing they were faster runners and that I needed to conserve a little for the end of the race when it was as hot as it was. In the end I faded some in the heat. I was in better shape than in Alabama, running straight and aware but I was giving it everything I had. A couple of people passed me in the last lap but I didn’t let it frustrate me, I was still really happy with my race. I finished 8th, my highest finish in a championship race.

Post-race refocus

After the race we went back to our eating focus. We also expanded our efforts to the activities included in our all-inclusive package. We tried windsurfing and kayaking. We also went on a long swim in the ocean. The water was too murky to see any wildlife. Gwen did spot one little bright yellow fish with black stripes. She showed us and then he swam off and we did too. After a minute I looked up and he was swimming ahead of me, about an inch in front of my nose! He looked like he was moving his little tail as fast as he possibly could to stay ahead. I don’t know if he was leading the way or if he thought I was a shark about to eat him. When I turned to breath I was careful not to open my mouth too soon and inhale him. If I stopped swimming he would wait under my stomach and then get in front of my face again when I returned to swimming.

The trip was fun and the race was a great way to end the season. It leaves me wanting to train hard and see what I can accomplish next season.

Thanks to everyone who has supported we, helping me with travel costs, products and mechanical support. I couldn’t have done it without the mechanical support and bike gear from Fitness Fanatics, the swimming and racing products of Blueseventy, the nutritional products of Genesis Pure and the health knowledge and testing of the Metabolic Institute. My friends and family who encouraged me during injury kept me going when I was wondering if I would get to race again this season.

Even though it was a short racing season I think I learned more about myself than in any other season. Most importantly, I realized that I love to race and want to keep doing it.

All right, enough typing, the sun is finally out and I’m going for a ride.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scott Tinley’s Adventures Triathlon

At the last minute the swim at Tinley’s Triathlon this weekend was changed to a non-wetsuit swim. Athletes where scrambling around to figure out what to wear since many had two-piece racing suits that weren’t very good for swimming, luckily my Blueseventy one-piece racing suit is and I was glad not to have to worry about getting out of my wetsuit. Later the one-piece suit would become less advantageous but at the time it was perfect.

The male and female pros started together with the same color caps so it was hard to differentiate between the two groups. As we approached the first buoy and the swim settled down I got on a pair of feet and enjoyed the draft. The pace didn’t seem too hard but I wasn’t sure I could go much faster without expending a lot more energy if I was leading. I worried a little that there might be a woman getting away since I couldn’t tell who was who. The gap up to the next pack was too big to catch anyway so I didn’t think there was much I could do if one of my competitors was up there. At a clinic last week after Nationals I was given some tips on my swimming technique and I tried to focus on those while staying on the feet ahead of me. They seemed to help; I was feeling strong and powerful in the water.

After the third lap of the swim we turned left around the last buoy and headed toward the boat ramp. Right then I heard a gun go off and another wave of swimmers ran into the water. A couple of swimmers came running at me. I had to swim with my head out the last few meters so I wouldn’t have a head on collision.

I made it out of the water and ran up the boat ramp. I saw that Michael Raelert was the person I’d been following. At the same time I heard the announcer say I was the first woman out of the water. My decision to draft and not try to catch the next pack was a good one. I was a minute faster than last year and without a wetsuit this time so I think the new techniques helped.

I had a quick transition and took off up the steep hill out of transition. Raelert swam without a tri top on so he must have struggled to get it on his wet body in transition. After 4 minutes on the bike he flew past me. But for 4 great minutes I was leading the 70.3 World Champion. Ahh, it’s the little thing.

This was my first non-drafting race since Wildflower so I hadn’t trained on my tri bike since May. I rode my road bike for the race since I’ve been riding it all season. The course had a couple of good climbs and rolling hills for the majority of the course so I thought I might do better on a road bike anyway. I hit the hills hard in hopes of gaining time on the climbs since I was on a good climbing bike. At the first turn-around I was ahead of the next female by about 2 minutes, a safe amount but not enough to put me at ease. After that I pushed hard, not wanting to let up or lose focus for a minute for fear that the rider behind me might cut into my lead. I stayed ahead the rest of the time and finished the bike in 2 hours 20 minutes, 8 minutes faster than last year.

It heated up quite a bit by the time I started my run but at least it wasn’t humid like in Alabama. I felt pretty strong as I took off thru the parking lot and onto the campground roads that undulated through the shade of the oak trees. I wore my Garmin to watch my pace so I wouldn’t go out too hard. When I was running 5:45’s at the start I slowed myself down even though it seemed comfortable. I knew it wouldn’t be comfortable for 9 miles.

Things were going well until about 3 miles. I thought three miles would feel good because it was a third of the way. I love a good fraction to get me through a run. My legs did feel good but my stomach started to rumble. I told myself it would go away. Then I told myself I could hold it. Then I didn’t have time to tell myself anything and I ran for the bushes. I made a quick stop and had my suit pulled most of the way back up when I burst out of the bushes and back onto the trail. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my suit straight; my number strap was wrapped around the strap of my suit in the back so I couldn’t pull my suit completely up. I couldn’t get the two untangled. I was running hunched over with my hands behind my back, trying desperately to unwind. Thankfully, the course was mostly deserted at that point, but not completely. One guy ran toward me but hardly noticed him in my struggles. Then another. I didn’t really notice him either. But I heard what he said, “Put your boob back in your suit.” Oh, oops. I didn’t realize it wasn’t only the back of my suit that was a little out of alignment. It’s moments like those that you wish your name wasn’t printed on your suit.

I fixed that quickly then managed to get the back of my suit straight too. I couldn’t really get back to my earlier pace after that. After another couple of miles my stomach took revenge again and I pulled over but with much better results since I remembered to move the number tag. After that I think I was pretty dehydrated and just kept moving enough to keep my lead. I crossed the line in first place, my run time was a little slower than last year but not by much, without the stops I think it would have been faster.

Afterwards the first guy I passed while struggling with my suit told me he thought I was a mountain lion rustling in the bushes and that he thought he was going to get eaten. Luckily, I didn’t see the second guy. Maybe I would have thanked him for the warning but he had actually sounded kind of mad when he said it like he thought I was doing it on purpose to distract him or something. Either way, I’m just glad I didn’t have to see him again.

I arrived home yesterday, glad to be done planning trips and traveling for a while but kind of wishing I had another race. I checked my email to find out that I had been added to the start list for the PATCO Championship in Puerto Vallarta in two weeks. So now I’m hurrying to plan a trip to Mexico on short notice and it looks like I’ll be flying again much sooner than I expected. On the flip side, I get to race again!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Elite Nationals, Tuscaloosa

The Elite Women’s race at Nationals went off at 12:00 on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, AL. ‘Take your marks,’ was barely out of the mouth of the starter before the gun went off. I took one step and dove in, no time to step forward and get set. The water was a muddy, warm 83-degrees. It was the coolest part of the race.

I streamlined, dolphin kicked and broke out into a fast stroke. There were a couple faster swimmers on either end of the 30-person line of swimmers. They began to move towards the middle as we headed for the first buoy. I was able to get on the feet of a few people that were swimming for the midline. I kept pushing hard, glad to be in the pack. A few swimmers pulled ahead but I stayed with a pack until the end. My swim was faster than it’s been in a while, 19:13 without a wetsuit.

As I sprinted out of the water, I could see a line of women running up into transition. I sprinted and passed a couple before climbing the stairs going into transition. I was excited, there were a lot of people in transition and it looked like I would be in the race! I grabbed my bike and headed for the mount line. As I jumped onto my bike the rubber band on my left shoe broke and my shoe flipped around so that my foot went right into my shoe when I stepped down on the pedal. That never happens, I was off to a good start. There was a left turn and then a short hill out of transition so there wasn’t a lot of time to get shoes on before the hill. I had one on so that helped. I climbed the hill, passing a few riders, made the u-turn then headed down hill, around the corner and onto the main road. Then I got my other shoe on.

We were strung out on the bike. I caught a couple of people going into the hill that we would climb on each of the eight laps. When we got to the top of the hill I realized the rest of the pack was quite a ways back. I didn’t want to slow down and wait so I kept riding hard, hoping I could catch another pack. The same thing happened on the next lap. On the straight stretch I could see that the next rider was a long way ahead. It wasn’t smart to ride alone the whole race but the pack behind me was a long ways back. I decided I’d ride one more lap alone trying to catch the person ahead of me and if that didn’t work I’d see how far back the pack was and decide whether or not to back off until they caught me. In the next lap the single rider ahead of me caught two riders ahead of her, they were working together and increasing the gap between us. The smaller packs that I had passed had gotten together and were starting to gain on me. Just before the hill on the fourth lap they caught me. Again, I was ahead of them at the top of the hill but knew I couldn’t stay ahead of the pack so I backed off a little.

We never really could get into a good pace with everyone working together. The paces within the pack varied too much and the hill always disrupted the flow of the pack. On the final lap I broke away with two other riders. We had a 50 second gap on the rest of the pack going into the run.

I knew the biggest challenge on the road would be surviving the heat. It was over 90 and humid. I drank both water bottles on the bike but still felt pretty dehydrated. I left transition in 8th place with a couple runners in view ahead of me. I started off at a pace I thought I could hold for the 10k run. I drank water and dumped ice down my suit at each water stop. My legs felt okay but I was having trouble focusing as I got hotter and hotter. I passed a couple of people and a couple of people passed me. I remember trying to stay positive on the last lap, telling myself, ‘Only 5 minutes, you can do anything for five minutes’. Then my encouragement became, ‘Just put one foot in front of the other’, and finally, ‘no, STRAIGHT in front of the other.’ I seemed to be swerving but I couldn’t do anything about it. I wondered if someone would pull me out if I were swerving too much. I guess they didn’t. I finished but a couple people passed me in the last minute or two, which I don’t remember.

As I lay in the med tent I couldn’t remember the end at all. Finally I asked the doctor if I had finished and he said that I had and that I brought myself into the med tent. I guess that was good. I asked what state I was in and he told me Alabama, which explained why I was so hot. It was a strange feeling; I couldn’t remember much of the race. I had a couple of IV’s but for some reason all I wanted was peanut butter. I kept asking for peanut butter but they just looked at me like I was crazy. I was having trouble breathing, so a bunch of peanut butter in my throat probably wouldn’t have helped. The IV’s made me really cold so they put a space blanket on me and kept joking that I was like a baked potato, all they needed was sour cream and butter. I heard butter and thought they had said peanut butter. But no. After quite a while I felt better and was able to leave. I finished in 12th. A third of the field didn’t finish, so on that day I guess finishing was an accomplishment in itself. I didn’t finish as well as I wanted but I had a good swim, was smart and strong on the bike and did everything I could on the run. I never did get any peanut butter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Memory of Our Dads Who Lost Their Battle With Cancer

When Pete and I were in Kelowna we got together with a friend, Liz Herbal and her boyfriend, Andrew Howlett for dinner. Her parents live in Kelowna so they were up there to visit them. During dinner we realized that Andrew was the surgeon that had operated on my dad when he broke his hip during chemotherapy.

When we found out my dad had a broken hip we where devastated. We thought he would be in a wheel chair. If you knew my dad, you know that he didn’t sit still. Occasionally he would sit down in his recliner but we joked that it was only as a way to launch himself back up into his next activity. Andrew did an amazing job repairing the hip. Because the hip was riddled with cancer, there were not a lot of options for reinforcing the bone. He put 14 screws in to hold it together. My dad was walking again in a few days and really proud of the X-ray of his hip and screws. He carried it around and showed everyone. Thanks to Andrew my dad could walk again and we had another 6 months with him. We started doing water aerobics together and he got to golf a few more times. None of this would have been possible if he’d been in a wheel chair.

We commented that meeting Andrew was a strange coincidence but didn’t think much more about it. When I returned home I had an email from Andrew saying that his dad John had passed away from prostate cancer in 2005 so he knew what I had been through and that he is motivated to do his job, although it can be tough, because it makes a difference to people like our dads and our families. He said that he and Liz wanted to sponsor my trip to Nationals in Alabama in honor of our dads.

This has been a great help as it is an expensive trip. Each day as I’ve trained for this race I’ve pushed a little harder when I’ve thought of what Andrew and Liz have done for me and remembered that our dads would love to be out on their bikes or running or just out enjoying a sunny day.

This race is in honor of John Howlett and Kim Warner two supporting, caring fathers who would be here with their families if they could.

A big thanks to Andrew Howlett and Liz Herbal for making this race possible!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Triathlon at Pacific Grove

I stood on the beach awaiting the start of The Triathlon at Pacific Grove feeling relaxed, confident and excited to race. In the past I’d been concerned with the kelp, the cold water and the wind on the bike. I’d raced the course enough that I knew I could pull through the kelp, survive water in the 50’s and put my head down into the wind and push hard.

Starting to the far left, I hoped I had picked the clearest path through the kelp. The men went first followed by the women ten minutes back. The men were just completing their first lap when the countdown to our start began. It was a little like Frogger, as we dove in, with the first pack of men having just cut across our path to start their second lap and the chase pack coming at us fast.

The swim went pretty well. We hit kelp halfway to the first buoy. As we pulled through it and continued swimming I looked over and realized I was pulling past the pack. This doesn’t usually happen. I looked again and, yes; I really was swimming faster than them. This was pretty exciting. I figured while I was on a roll I’d try to catch the person ahead of me. As we rounded the first buoy I moved into second. From there we slogged though some more kelp, ran into a couple of off course swimmers from the men’s race but other than that, just kept swimming. I stayed in second until we rounded the last buoy on the second lap to go to the beach. Then I beached myself on a bed of kelp. Now I know what a beached whale feels like. I could kind of pivot on my stomach but I couldn’t move forward. I turned to the left, parallel to the beach and scooted off. Luckily, I hadn’t lost too much time. I was in third place and I sprinted, trying to get my position back. Running up the beach I was 5 seconds behind second place so I had made up a little time since being beached.

I launched myself onto my bike and looked to see where the competition was. Amanda Felder had a ten second lead on my. I couldn’t see Kristin Peterson but the announcer said she was leading by a minute. If I could catch Amanda we could work together to catch Kristin. The four-lap course followed the coast to Pebble Beach, rolling up and down along the dunes. The course doesn’t seem like it should be that hard but with the wind off the ocean the hills feel like mountains. I caught Amanda at the end of the first lap and we caught Kristin at the end of the second lap. The three of us worked well together to put a little lead on the rest of the riders.

We came into transition together. I left transition in first, listening for footsteps behind me. Rounding the corner from transition and heading out on the trail along the ocean I heard footsteps behind me and thought it was Amanda. I ran a little faster. Then I got passed. But it was a guy! He was on his last lap. Whew, still in the lead. At each turn I could see that I had built a little lead on the other women. By the end I could see I had about a minute on second place. I kept pushing; I felt strong and wanted to see what I could split for the 10k.

I spent the last few blocks wondering what I should do as I crossed the finish line. Raise my arms? Raise the ribbon? Cartwheel? No I haven’t done that since third grade. That was definitely out. In the end I took my sunglasses off and broke the finish line tape with my arms raised and a big smile on my face. My first win as a pro!

Winning was really exciting but it was even better when I saw my run split, 36:26. This was 2 minutes faster than I’d run in a triathlon before. To know I’d come back from a hip injury to run faster than ever before was such a relief and gave me a lot of confidence.

I went to Apex Physical Therapy the week before the race in my never-ending effort to fix my hip. The Physical Therapist said I was a mess; everything was so tight that opposing muscles where pulling on each other and all of it was working together to make my hip hurt. She did a treatment called Primal Reflex Release Technique, which involved some karate chopping and mild pressing on sore muscles. The results were immediate. When I swam later that day I was taking two strokes fewer per length because I could roll again. When I ran my hip still hurt but the rest of my body felt great. No aches or pains, I ran more smoothly than before. I think this had a lot to do with my run at Pacific Grove. I never knew how tight I was until I was loose.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this race. My friend Leia was a fun travel partner. Anne, Jim and Brigid Hall were great hosts. Thanks to Fitness Fanatics, my bike was riding smoothly and silently. The cold water wasn’t a problem in my Blueseventy wetsuit. I was well hydrated with my Hydration by Ascential Bioscience.

Next up is Elite Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Coming off a good race at Pacific Grove and feeling good running, I’m really excited to race again.

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Read article: The Lyric Beauty of Pacific Grove

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Off to the Races

Pete and I headed up to Kelowna on Friday for my first race since Wildflower in May. I was excited to race it had been so long. The summer had gone quickly, even without traveling to races. Pete was busy training for Ironman when he wasn’t working long hours so we hadn’t seen much of each other. We planned to camp in Kelowna for the week between my race and Ironman in Penticton. It would be fun to spend a week together without much to do besides train, rest and find the best peaches in the Okanogan.

Canadian Nationals

It was hot in Kelowna leading up to the race, in the 30’s. I didn’t know what that meant and that was probably for the best since it was hot. On race morning it was cool and overcast. The water was really choppy with whitecaps when I got in to warm-up. Luckily the white caps died down just before the race. That didn’t make it a smooth swim though.

There were 35 professional women on the start line for Canadian Nationals this year, about 15 more than usual. We dove in and right away someone grabbed the strap of my suit and pulled herself over me. I just kept going, trying to stay with the pack, hoping it would spread out soon. It was a fight until the first buoy where it only got worse.

Get me outta here!

Someone grabbed the back of my suit and held me under. I thrashed around and broke loose, gasped for air and got water instead. One stroke and someone had hold of my suit again. Thrashing just lead to a tighter grasp and I swallowed more water. I couldn’t get away. In a panic I turned and kicked at the person and got loose. My suit must have made the perfect handle because it happened two more times. Each time I got a more frustrated and kicked harder at the person that was holding me back. For a second I wished that one of the boats would think I was drowning and just pull me out. I didn’t want to be in that fight. Then I remembered how much I’d trained and how much I wanted to be in the race. I made one more attempt at getting air and took off. I had lost the front of the pack but I was still hanging on at the end.

I’m not sure what the purpose of holding me under was. Neither of us made any forward progress when we could have just been swimming. After the race I talked to a few athletes who had been punched in the face at the first buoy. I guess someone was in the race for the thrill of the battle not the victory. We’re still wondering who it was and hoping she isn’t at our next race.

Dancing on the pedals

The rest of the swim was uneventful in comparison, which was fine with me. I exited the water with the chase pack and was a minute faster than last year and I felt a lot stronger. I left transition a few seconds behind two athletes from my swim pack. I put my head down and told myself I would catch them by the first hill, which was about a half mile away. Right before the hill I was gaining on them. I got out of the saddle and sprinted up the hill. By the top I was right on their wheels. In the past I remembered the hill hurting really badly but I felt like I sprinted up it pretty easily. I stayed with the pack the rest of the lap. The next time we climbed the hill I was surprised when I got to the top and the pack was only halfway up. I set my sights on the next pack and was able to catch them the next time we went up the hill. I stayed with that pack for the final three laps. We entered transition just as the rain started.

A lovely day for a run

I was happy to find that my hip didn’t hurt as I started my run! The rest of my body was in pain but that was to be expected. I had a good run, a couple minutes faster than last year. It was raining sideways for the last two laps. I had to hold my hat on as I ran along the water because it was so windy. I made sure to smile at Pete and my friends Liz and Andrew who were cheering. I thought I better make sure they knew I was enjoying myself and that I appreciated their support because I was pretty sure they were miserable in the rain. I placed 11th, the same as last year but here were more competitors this year and my time was a little faster.

Eye on Penticton

I think I had the better end of the deal on our trip because I raced the first weekend and then got to hang out while Pete prepared for his race. We camped in an orchard with peaches that bagged to be eaten. There were miles of quite country roads for running and a great beach for open water swimming. We rested and recovered and then headed to Penticton on Wednesday.

Where’s housekeeping when you need ‘em?

We rented a house with our friend Laura who was also racing on Sunday. The house wasn’t quite what we had pictured. A nice location but I guess it didn’t occur to the owner to clean it for her guests. The first thing Laura did when we arrived was clean the refrigerator because we were scared to put our food in it. Who needs a refrigerator-born illness the week of Ironman? We used our camping pots, pans and plates so we didn’t have to touch any of hers. In the end it worked out well, we just had to mess things up a little before leaving in order to leave it the way we found it.

Ironman Canada

It was exhausting being a spectator but I did manage to see Pete and Laura most of the times that they passed through the downtown area. Pete was 15 minutes faster than he expected on the swim and Laura 12 minutes so I could hardly be blamed for missing that transition. I did see the rest. They both had great bike splits despite tough conditions. Laura had a really good race and I think she surprised herself a little with her great finishing time of 11:48. Pete struggled on the run because of stomach cramps. He finished in 13:06, slower than he had hoped but it was a great effort.

The next morning I went down to the beach for a final lake swim before we headed home. I set my stuff on the beach like every other morning. Someone came and picked up all the old wet shoes that had been discarded before the race the previous morning. She took my dry, neatly stacked flip-flops, towel and keys too. A wild goose chase ensued which left me back at the house with blisters on my feet, still clad in wetsuit and worst of all, keyless. Luckily we had another key underneath the truck and we were able to get home, without my favorite flip-flops. Overall, it was a great trip but it’s really nice to back in our own bed.

I’ll be home this weekend for the first time in eight weeks. Then it’s off to Calafornia for The Triathlon at Pacific Grove.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Fat Salmon

My friend Susanne had an entry in to the Fat Salmon 3.2 Mile Open Water swim in Lake Washington that she wasn’t going to use. I started thinking a trip to Seattle to visit relatives would be fun and a chance to swim in a sold out event was something I couldn’t pass up. So I hurried and changed the registration to my name, made plans to stay with my brother and then started packing. Then I realized I had to swim 3.2 miles open water! That’s longer than I have swam in open water in about 10 years and I wasn’t sure I was ready. I hadn’t even tried on my new wetsuit, let along trained in it and I my race goggles hadn’t surfaced again from my last race. But I had the coveted spot in the race so I was committed.

I got to my brother Chris’ house in the afternoon on Friday. His girlfriend Carolyn and I went to watch him play with a band on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, they actually started on time so we were eating dinner down the street for most of the 30 minute show. We did catch the last few songs but couldn’t see Chris since a giant speaker was blocking our view of him.

I started off a great race by almost missing the start due to long bathroom lines. Two bathrooms for a 300 person swim doesn’t seem like a good ratio, and it wasn’t. I was three people away from my turn when I had to race to the starting line. The start was uneventful, not too much grabbing, kicking or clawing. I was out with the lead pack and swimming comfortable, for 11 minutes. It was the next 67 minutes that were uncomfortable.

The pain I felt in my arms was like when you sleep with your arm folded up under you and then try to move it and you can’t or like when you carry a heavy grocery bag for too long and then you can’t lift you arm. It’s one thing when you just try to roll over and go back to sleep or set your groceries down. It’s a whole other kind of pain when you know you have to swim for at least another hour.

Every few strokes I’d change my stroke, incorporating all kinds of bad form to take the pressure off of my inner elbow and bicep. I dropped my elbow, crossed the midline, dropped my shoulder, over rotated and rolled. Nothing really helped and I went slower and slower. The more I grimaced in pain, the more my goggles leaked. Finally after an hour I couldn’t see anything so I had to stop and fix my goggles. But I couldn’t reach my eyes, my arms wouldn’t bend that much! I floated for a bit until I could finally force them to bend then shoved them into place as best I could.

I tried to start swimming again but then my arms wouldn’t straighten! So I kicked breastroke for a while. Finally I got my arms going again. They couldn’t really pull but at least they could go through the motions. I kicked and wind milled my arms as lightly as I could so they wouldn’t hurt as much. Slowly I made it to the finish and wondered across the timing pad. As the volunteer cut my timing chip off she said, “You don’t even seem tired.” I realized I wasn’t, I’d just floated the last mile. The most disappointing part was not that I didn’t win (and bring home a full salmon that I would somehow have to figure out how to gut or debone, or whatever it is you do with fish) but that I didn’t even get a good workout! I had looked forward to exiting the water, exhausted and shaky from a good workout. Instead I left the water with arms that I couldn’t straighten or bend completely but hung like an over muscled body builder. Luckily my friends Pat and Lynn where they are they took my cap, goggles and wetsuit off of me since my arms where useless.

In the end it was a fun day and a good experience. This summer has been a chance to do things I don’t normally get to do like local races, visiting new places and seeing relatives. When I get to travel to a triathlon again I will be excited for the chance to race but for now I will remember to enjoy the fun people, places and events in my own backyard.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goin’ back to My Roots

Since April I’ve been struggling with hip pain. It has taken several months to determine the cause. The last doctor thinks it is caused by the right side of my pelvic bone being out of alignment which causes the nerves on the left side to be pulled against the iliac crest. I have been able to increase my training again in the last month but haven’t raced since Wildflower in the beginning of May.

I’ve started to get anxious to race again which is why I let my guard down when I stopped into fitness Fanatics and let Adrianne and Haley talk me into doing the Valley Girl Triathlon. I volunteered on Saturday at registration and then raced on Sunday.

It was great to be back on the starting line of such a fun local race. In the past I had several aunts, cousins, my mom and my sister on the line with me. Our husbands and boyfriends cheered from the sidelines and helped at the water stations. This year it was a smaller crowd. My aunt Ann and cousin Josie raced and I could hear my uncle Pat yelling for me as he hauled water jugs along the course. My dad was noticeably missing and along with him all the friends and family that he usually recruited for the race. I raced with him in mind, knowing he would be out there cheering for all of us if he were here.

I started in the second wave and picked my way through backstrokers and breastrokers after the first couple of minutes. I realized the nice thing about backstrokers is that they see you coming and just move out of your way. It was a quick swim and I was out of the water in less than 8 minutes.

I started 3 minutes back, in the second wave, so I had people to chase as I got on the bike. I passed a few in the first couple of miles, seeing some friends and cheering for them as I went. I chased my friend Adrianne right until the last mile when I finally caught her but she made me work for it. My time was a little slower than in the past but that was expected since I haven’t been riding much. It was a new course that seemed a little more challenging anyway, so it was hard to compare times.

The run course was similar to past years with a long gradual hill for the last mile. I couldn’t see anyone else on the course, I knew Haley was ahead of me since she started in the first wave, but I didn’t know how far ahead. As I started out on the run I was nervous to see how my hip would feel, it usually hurts the most off of the bike. I didn’t feel it! I pushed the run as much as I thought I could without hurting my hip. It was a hot day and the last hill always seems tough but I felt strong throughout. Maybe I would have pushed harder if I had been racing head to head but then maybe I would have hurt my hip too so it was a good way to race my first race back and it was a great place to get back into racing mode.

I was able to catch up with lots of friends at the end of the race and see lots of Moms in Motion women that I helped coach in the pool finish the race. It was a fun day and it boosted my spirits after several of months of resting, rehabbing and slowly beginning to train again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who knew I had such force?

I headed out on Thursday morning with Laura, Haley and Ann on the long drive to Lake San Antonio for the first race of the season, Wildflower. We had a fun trip down and met up with friends once we got there.

Saturday morning I felt great warming up and I was excited to start the race. It was cold when we left our motel but by the time we were putting our bikes in transition the sun was over the mountains and shining down on us.

We all lined up for the start at the shore of the calm lake. I lined up on the left and when the gun went off I started to cut to the right to stay with the leaders as they headed for the first buoy. I got on the feet of a swimmer in the chase pack. We swam together most of the way, switching leads at half way. I felt really good, the water was cold but not cold enough for my hands to get numb. I came out of the water in 5th.

The bike course winds through the campground until it climbs a big hill to head out on the main roads. I passed a couple people on the big hill and then settled into my pace as we turned onto the main road. A few cyclists passed me in the first 20 miles but not as many as last year and I held them off longer than before. I rode a tri bike for the first time and I noticed a difference in my comfort and aerodynamics. I was doing well as I climbed the biggest hill and even passed a couple people on the hill. That’s when my amazing force came into play to my own detriment. I was out of the saddle, hammering up the hill, pushing about 1000 watts, apparently, because I broke my chain. This is the problem with being so strong, if you’ve seen my quads you might be surprised at the power they can produce. I was too.

There wasn’t anything I could do to fix it so I set my bike down and cheered for the other racers coming up the hill. After the last pros passed, the age grouper men climbed the hill. They grunted it out to beat each other to the top. “Where are the hills?” they asked. Even as they struggled up the long climb they were happy to be out there and even out of breath they thanked me for cheering. It was a fun perspective that I don’t usually get to see. There weren’t many people out cheering on the course at that point so they seemed to appreciate the encouragement. I saw my friends Sam and Troy from Spokane. Usually I don’t get to see their races. I kept watching for my friend Leia. I thought she would be coming early in the women’s race. But a mechanic finally showed up after an hour and I was talking to him so I figured I’d missed her. He was able to put a new link in so that I could make it home but I only had one gear. As I got on my bike to limp back to transition I thought I’d missed Leia. But I turned to the left and she was riding next to me. Perfect timing! I talked to her for a minute and then she took off to finish a great race.

I made it back to transition as the last female pros where finishing. I changed my clothes and headed to the stands to watch everyone finish. The rest of my travel companions had great races and it was fun to see them cross the finish line.

I have a new bike on the way and I’m looking forward to the Boise 70.3. I won’t unleash all of my power so that I can finish the ride in one piece and test my legs on the run.

photos View photos

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Winter of Training and Cooking

Getting Stronger

After a break in November, this winter’s training quickly ramped up. I started a fun and challenging new weight program. I feel a lot more power when swimming and on the bike. The YMCA added a TRX class, where you do resistance training using bands that attach to the ceiling, or for lack of a better place, the climbing wall. I talked my friend Susanne into doing it with me. We do TRX, yoga and then swim. My hope was that if I kept adding workouts in before swimming, I would tire her out enough that I could keep up in the pool. No luck, but I am swimming faster than I had been, so I guess it’s still beneficial.

A New Bike

I got a new bike in January. It hasn’t made riding indoors any less boring, but it does make me even more anxious to get outside. We haven’t had much snow so I have been able to ride outside a few times, but it was right before my new bike came in. Grrr. Soon though. My friends Phil and Adrianne have kept me company on the long weekend rides inside. We’re catching up on movies and a few cooking shows. There are 216 noodles in each can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t spent the day on my bike flipping channels. So there are some advantages.

A New Project: Cookbook

In my spare time, which ended up being less than I thought, I wrote a cookbook. It will be finished today! I’m excited and a little nervous to see the finished product. It is a compilation of my favorite gluten free recipes and recipes that can be adjusted to be gluten free. Hopefully it will show that gluten free eating doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive. If you aren’t gluten free, the recipes are still good everyday meals that anyone can enjoy.


Tomorrow I will be back in race mode (hopefully only for about 35 minutes) for Cross Country Nationals, which will be held here in Spokane. It looks like a fast field with past Olympians racing. I’d like the change to watch the race but it will be fun to be racing against these fast runners too.

At the beginning of March I’ll run the Snake River Half Marathon. It’s a fun out and back race along the Snake River. It’s completely flat but you never know which way the wind will be blowing. The first year I ran it there was a tail wind going out and a terrible head wind on the way back. The following year it was the opposite. Having the head wind on the way out seemed good because I thought I’d have an easy return trip. Unfortunately, I think it was harder since I was more fatigued from the first half. We’ll see what happens this time.

For now I’ll continue with training and trying new recipes, I’m getting tired of testing the same recipes again and again.