Tuesday, April 30, 2013

St. Anthony's Triathlon

Just a few thoughts from the race this weekend.

This was the first race I've done on a 650cc bike after Paulo convinced me that it would fit way better. It's definitely more aerodynamic and I feel more in control and more powerful on it. It took some getting used to. I didn't love it at first.

The swim was really choppy. It definitely spreads the group out and makes things more interesting. I noticed that my heart rate didn't get nearly as high as usual because it was more of a strength swim. With a lot of chop you don't get into much of a normal stroke rate because you are constantly adjusting to the up and down of the waves.

I had a pretty good swim, but there was a group of 5 or 6 women with about a minute lead over me. I focused on keeping a strong and steady pace on the bike. We do weekly time trials up a mountain in training and I tried to get to that level of effort and maintain it.

My plan for the run (as directed by Paulo) was to take the first four miles at a steady pace that I felt like I could maintain and then "empty the tank" the last two miles. This was my longest run since my injury and I was nervous! I felt great the first 3 miles and then it got a little harder to maintain my turn over. Miranda Carfrae and Barbara Riveros passed me right before the half way turn and I couldn't keep up with them. I knew there were some fast runners charging from behind me and honestly I felt like I was just waiting to hear their footfalls. That's probably not the most optimistic way to think. The last mile was very hard, but I made it to the line without getting caught and finished 8th.

My 37:14 run split was faster than I thought I would be able to run and that makes me want to get back to Poway and start running up the hills at Blue Sky with the squad (once the soreness leaves my legs)! I credit Paulo's master plan for getting me back to racing healthy - even though I complained about slow treadmill running and wanting to run 5 more minutes. I've also gotten some great PT/ART from Function Smart here in San Diego that's helped tremendously.

I'm really lucky to have an awesome group of friends and training partners in the squad and so grateful for the guidance and preparation that Paulo provides on a daily basis. It's exciting to see the crew getting some good results early in the season, and I think we're all pretty motivated to keep working f'ing hard.

I had a great visit with my parents in Florida and am now back in "Powadise" for a couple of weeks. Flying into Next up for racing is the Columbia Triathlon in Maryland on May 19 but my bigger focus is on the Dallas Pan Am Cup on June 1.

Monday, April 29, 2013

San Diego Spring Action

I've been on a blogging hiatus since my last update in February after a crazy trip to race in Argentina. 10 days after returning from Argentina, I fractured one of my metatarsals during a run session. I've never had any running-related injuries, and there weren't any warning indicators leading up to the sudden pain I felt during that session. It was baffling.

I spent the next 8 weeks working really hard to improve my biking and swimming, and aqua-running 5X60min a week. At times I would get frustrated that I wasn't able to be out running with the crew, or that the pain in my foot wasn't improving. Paulo would remind me that the running would come back relatively quickly and to use this as an opportunity to be a faster swimmer and stronger biker.

I went into the San Diego WTS race last Friday with 4 weeks of running in my legs. I did all of my running on the treadmill at 8-10% incline, starting with 5 minutes and increasing by 5 more every few days. We wanted to be conservative so that I can be sure to be healthy and fast later in the season. I was excited to see how my swimming and biking would compare with the girls at this level of racing, and planned to just run as fast as I could.

Race recap: The swim was aggressive at first with everyone fighting for position, and then it calmed down after the first buoy. I had a pretty good swim and exited the water with a group of about 10 girls. The first few laps of the bike were fast and hard because my group was trying to catch the pack ahead of us. Once we all formed one group the pace slowed down some. On the 7th lap, my pedal came out of my crank (still in my shoe). After some choice words, I dismounted and screwed the pedal back in. By that point the pack was gone, but I started riding with the hopes of not losing any more time. The pedal came out again a little later, and this time I was out of the saddle trying to get some speed, so yea, you can picture what happened - I went down. The pedal was out of order and I was out of the race. Bummer. I came away with just some road rash that's slowly healing. One of the medical volunteers told me that dog saliva would speed up the healing process, but my dog is in Virginia unfortunately.

A full recap of the race can be found here:

Yesterday for my champagne birthday (24 on the 24th) I decided to treat myself to some super sprint triathlon action. This was a great opportunity to work on some fast transitioning and racing racing with a stacked field of women right in San Diego. The race was a swim-bike-run x 2 and the whole thing took place in a parking lot (lots of laps) and I came 8th. Running back into the water after the first time through reminded me of my lifeguard beach olympics days! I made a bone-head move on the second bike portion and went out for another loop not realizing we had already done the full five, so that cost me a little bit of time, but other than that I loved the format and am excited that USAT will be putting on two more later this season - one in Las Vegas and another back in San Diego.

Now I'm on a plane to Orlando where I will visit with my folks for the weekend (after not seeing them since October!) and race the St. Anthony's Triathlon on Sunday. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

La Paz - "La Ciudad de Triatlon"

 La Paz is a small town in the Entre Rios province of Argentina - about a 7 hour bus ride northeast from Buenos Aires. The town is full of natural beauty and culture. They host this race every year, with age group and youth races Saturday and the elite race on Sunday, and many of the locals told me it is the highlight of the year for the town. Everyone comes out to watch, drink, and cheer, and if they can't, it's live broadcasted on the television.

I was nervous to travel alone to South America, but clearly I've lived to tell the tale.  I was on an overnight flight from the US to Buenos Aires and then got on a neon "Rapido Tata" bus for the long haul to La Paz (picture included).  Side note - I learned the hard way that on buses and in many public restrooms you are supposed to bring your own toilet paper. 

So I finally made it to La Paz and was driven to my hotel which was super nice.  They even gave me an extra extension cord for all my American plugs.  There was a restaurant in the hotel with great food, including fresh caught fish from the river - my favorite.

It is the middle of the summer in Argentina, so it was very warm. The day before the race, I rode around trying to "get the lay of the land" and preview the courses.  I was also looking for a pool to swim in, and by the time I finally found it I was too hot to care that it was green.  The race briefing was later that night in a local church.  I had some trouble following all of what was going on during the meeting because everyone spoke really fast and the dialect is a little hard to understand at times.  The gist of the meeting was that some rules would be enforced, some wouldn't, but under no circumstances could anyone have a bare torso!!

My race was scheduled for 2pm.  I got to transition early and got in a little warm up swim with some of the girls.  Then we waited...and waited...and finally around 2 we did the whole athlete call-down and lined up for all the spectators. 

The river we swam in has a really strong current, so instead of doing a loop, they took us by boat some unknown distance upriver and then it was just a straight shot to T1 swimming with the current. The swim was weird. I took off and created a gap on the field right away.  There were no sight buoys, so I was just literally going with the flow.  Every now and then a whole boat-full would start wildly waving their arms - telling my to go in some indecipherable direction - so I ended up zigzagging all over the place! By the time I got into T1, there were 2 of the Argentinian girls coming out of the water and we grouped up early out on the bike course.

The bike course was 9 laps (to equal 40k) through the town with a short hill, a longer gradual hill, a few sharp corners, a 180, and a few speed bumps each lap. The three of us took turns at the front, putting more time onto the field. I was being pretty conservative on the bike, more so than I ever have, to be on the safe side since it was very hot and I wanted to get all my hydration in for the run. The two Argentinians worked together a few times (each at the same spot) to try to drop me, but I just sat close and it was no big deal. I was feeling confident going into the run that they had been expending much more energy than me on the bike.

The three of us ran out of T2 with the rest of the field was at least 3 min back at the point. The run course was 4 loops and a bit longer than usual. My first few steps running, I knew I was not normal. There was cramping in my diaphragm and stomach making it painful and hard to breathe for a little bit. This has happened once before, and I know to just back off a little, try to get control of breathing, and try to get down some water at the water stations. The two Argentinians had a sizeable gap on me after the first lap, when I started to feel a little better. I just ran as hard as my body would let me and when a cramp would start to come on, just back off a little until it passed. It made for a pretty disheartening run, it's never fun to feel like you can't control your body! The crowd was in my face the whole time "vale vale! " "la tenia!"which was cool but also felt very far away from my brain at the time.

Some of the local kids hanging out outside of my hotel.

I had really wanted to win, so I was a little bit disappointed after the race. However, I think that I did everything I could have done in order to have a good race. And getting on the podium and celebrating after the race was a really fun time.  The town of La Paz knows how to throw down!

Monday, September 17, 2012

USAT Elite National Championships (Buffalo)

Race Recap:

With a 12pm race start, my race morning went: wake up, eat a snack, short jog with some strides, shower, big breakfast, chill time, ride down to race start (Buffalo, NY in Lake Eerie), get all equipment and uniform checked, and swim warm up.  The water temp was 72F (no wetsuit for elites), but I did my swim warm up with my wetsuit on because I wanted to stay as warm as possible for as long as possible.  I was able to keep  warm all the way up until the start of the race, which allowed me to have a faster swim start.

The first 350m of the swim was aggressive and I just tried to keep my head down and go hard to the first turn buoy, when the group would hopefully string out some.  It was a two-lap swim, with a run out in between laps.  I came out on the first lap with 4-5 other girls, and saw that Haskins and Duffy had a pretty big gap on us.  I stayed with the group I was in on the second lap, trying to get as much of a draft as possible.  The wind had picked up and there were waves blowing in on the second lap which caused  some person-to-person contact and some water-swallowing!

I had a good T1 and got out on the bike with 4-5 other girls that I'd just been swimming with.  We caught up with two girls just a little up ahead, and then caught one more during the second (of eight) laps.  So we had a group of 8 working together for the next few laps.  The pace was punchy..some people taking really strong pulls, and then a lull in the pace.  This bike portion harder than the bike was in Kelowna a few weeks ago, where the pace was pretty chill.  Coming out of a 180 on the 5th lap, two girls on the front surged, and I got gapped in the back, which meant I had to go really hard for most of that lap to get back on to the group.  I remember thinking "dang, this hurts", but it had to be done.  
Here is a video of one of the 180s on the bike.  Those are my folks cheering in the background :)

I had a slow T2 putting my shoes on, which cost me some time and meant that the first few girls ran off together and I was a little bit behind.  This is something I can't afford to let happen anymore, it's the small stuff like this that can make a big difference in these races.  I caught a few girls out on the run, to end up the 3rd american, 2nd u23, and 5th overall (a few different categories since this was a national championship).  I'm still learning each time I race these ITU - draft legal races and I have things to work on as I prepare for my next race in Cancun.  It's starting to feel like fall here in Virginia, which is great for training!  I'm feeling extremely motivated to end the 2012 racing season strong and excited for the next few years. 

As always, I am so thankful for my parent's support.  They came to the race to cheer me on and it was awesome.  I am grateful for the prep and support from my coach, Paulo, and my teammates on The Triathlon Squad.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hy-Vee 5150 Elite Championship

This past weekend I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa for the Hy-Vee 5150 Elite Championship.  This race attracts many of the top pros in the world because of the large prize purse.  It's the biggest prize purse for any triathlon or marathon in the US, with the winner taking home $151,000 and the last place finisher (30th) still taking home $3000.  Who would have thought that a grocery store in Iowa puts up the most cash in the US for a race?  Anyway, Hy-Vee and 5150 put on an incredible weekend - putting us up in the Embassy Suites which was right on the race course, giving us great swag/goodies, all the race logistics, and promoting the event throughout the city.

In the days leading up to the race, I tried to keep to my pre-race routine as much as possible and to get some rest as I'd been traveling more than usual in the week before.  Paulo (coach) said to just take it like any other race and do what I needed to do in order to perform at my best, which is a good reminder when I'm getting too interested in who my competition is and what they are up to.  

My race went off at 1:30, so I got up at my usual time, had a small breakfast , went for a warm up jog, then had a bigger breakfast.  I had some orange juice because I figured that would give me some electrolytes to store for the warm day ahead (water temp near 80F, air temp 87F).  I snacked up until 2 hrs before the race, and then just had water during that window.  Even as I was doing my swim warm up, I kept telling myself to be more pumped up because I just still didn't feel it yet.  That extra race fierceness can make a huge difference in how I race, so I was doing everything I could to conjure it up.  As we were lining up on the platform, I finally got the excitement and was ready to swim fast.  I was one of the last women to be called down to line up, but there was a spot right in the middle with a direct line to the first turn buoy, so I took it.  It was a two-lap swim and I came out of the first lap in the first pack and right behind Becky Lavelle, so I dove in right behind her for the 2nd lap and stayed on her feet. I just wore my Kiwami Amphibian race suit (without a speed suit over it for the swim) because the extra layer may have done more harm than good in the warm water, and I feel like the Amphibian is fast anyway :)  I also saved the time in T1 by not having to take it off!  So I exited T1 on my bike in 8th position. 
 The bike course was 4 loops with a bunch of 90deg turns each loop right through downtown Des Moines.  I went hard on the first lap, trying to stay with the girls ahead of me.  I stayed with the girls ahead of me, and then Lisa Norden blew by me, followed by Alicia Kaye and Lisa Marangon a little bit later.  It was hard to stay out of the drafting zone with all of the corners, but I was extra cautious because I did not want to get a penalty for that.  I had two Gu gels out on the bike and 20 oz of water/gatorade.  

I exited T2 in 15th place, and took the first lap of the run conservatively, drinking a LOT of water at the aid stations as I was missing a whole bottle of water on the bike and did not want to cramp up in the heat.  After that first lap, I was feeling much better and tried to increase my speed and chase down some women up ahead of me.  I was able to catch 5 girls during the run (and get passed my kelly williamson) to end up 11th. I am happy with how I raced and how I finished.  Here is a link to full results: http://edge.raceresults360.com/hyvee/EMI7e/results#/results::1346939079650

If you are ever in Des Moines, Taste of Thai and Open Sesame (Lebanese) have super good food.  And I must also thank Rasmussen Bicycles in Des Moines for helping me with last minute bike details and giving me directions!!  And thanks to my family, coach, team mates, and friends for supporting and cheering me on.

2 X 2nd Place

Here are a few photos from my previous two races, where I placed 2nd.

On August 20, I raced in Kelowna, BC.  This was my first trip to Canada and I LOVED it.  I don't even know how many times I said that I wanted to move there.

My friend  Joe and I got to stay with our team mate, Heather Wurtele's parents.  They were amazing hosts and we both felt so lucky the whole weekend.  Thank you, Danforths!!

At the end of July, I raced in Columbus, OH at the Giant Eagle 5150 Triathlon:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NYC Triathlon

This past weekend I raced in the New York City Triathlon.  It was my first trip to the big city and I'll admit I am quite proud of my navigational skills!  The alarm went off at 3am for the 5:52am pro women race start.  It was pretty comical watching the jet skis, boats, and paddle boarders (which were the most hilarious) try to go against the current of the Hudson.  The paddle boarder was going backwards!  We knew this would be a quick swim down river(~13 min).  It was a dive start off of the dock and then I worked to get over to the first pack of swimmers.  I came out of the water 6th, then pretty much maintained that position on the bike, and then ran to finish 5th!  Each race, I become a bit more confident and more competitive.  I'm learning not to become complacent at any points during a race, because you lose valuable time that way.  I'm excited for my next races and the training ahead.  Working with my coach, Paulo Sousa, has made a huge impact on my season and I look forward to being back with the squad soon.