Monday, August 31, 2009

Chicago Tri

I should have known the day before doing Chicago I was in new territory. At the pre-race expo, you have to walk through a long hallway to get from 1 section of the sprawling expo of every known triathlon gadget, gear, food type you could imagine, to the other. This expo is so big, you must use a long hallway to get from gigantic room full of tri stuff to another. Through this hallway they have hung poster boards from "covers" of prior Aug. issues of ChicagoAA and Windy City sports. Some of these "covers" go waaaaaay back. I won't even say how far back. But as I walked through there, I can remember doing this race back in the day when these issues were on the news stand!!! Yikes. I don't know how many times I've done Chicago Tri, but I have done it when the swim was at Ohio St. Beach, and Navy Pier was the transition area.!!!!! Also, when it was a Hawaii qualifier!

This was my big race of the year. It was big alright. Thousands showed up! Including a competitive field as tough as Nationals. I had no plans this year for anything huge. I just wanted to get fast and have fun along the way. I did accomplish both of these goals, but just wasn't able to put the fastness that I achieved this year out on the Chicago course. I'm not sure why, still can't fully pinpoint what was off, but I was just average on Sunday . That isn't going to cut it in a field that was stacked. There were girls racing I've never heard of who were probably infants in diapers when I was doing this race Ohio St. beach.

We stayed in the city Fri and Sat night before the race. Thanks to Adam's AUS client who is "down under" we had access to a condo that was directly across the street from where I lived my first year of PT school at Northwestern. It brought back a lot of memories of grad school, and my VERY early days of triathlon. Running and biking on the lakefront, living 1 block off Michigan Ave, completely broke and going to school. With us was Thomo! and his girlfriend Kel. Thomo was in town to race, but opted not to race due to a back strain he suffered at Timberman. It was fun having the Aussie pro's around to hang out and train with.

Race morning came and I rode my bike to the transtion in the dark passing all the party goers stumbling home. It was freezing cold, even with all my layers on. It was also pitch dark. I found my spot with wave 20 and got ready to start my day with 9000other triathletes. One reason I signed up for the elite wave was to go off in the front of all the thousands, also.....I'd also rather put myself up against the fastest and finish in the middle of the elite amateur div. vs. first of 40 yr olds! I was wave 20, I think there were something like 50 waves this year!

My swim: after a rough start of getting pummeled and punched like in an Ironman, I felt pretty good after the first turn. I got a good rhythm going and swam decent for me and my 1 -2 x a week of swim fitness. I could see Adam, Joe and Thomo on the side trying to get me to catch the feet in front of me! I did bridge a couple gaps to hang on to some feet for part of the way. I peeled off my wetsuit and sprinted fast to transition. It was really chilly, so I went faster to warm up After several minues of sprinting I finally get to my bike make a quick transition and was on my way. There were a lot of bikes already gone so I knew I had a lot of work to do.

The bike started off right into the wind blowing strong out of the north. It was cold and I tried to be patient to let my legs warm up, but between cold and wind I felt the burn. I don't' mind the wind. As a strong rider, I usually can use it to my advantage. I was riding strong and but couldn't wait to make that turn and have that tailwind. I saw a guy wipe out hard right in front of me. His front tire caught 1 of those seems and it flipped him. I almost stopped, but I saw him get up and go running after his bike across traffic so I knew he was at least alive! Once I made the turn I really tried to get it going. I knew I would start to feel better. I was riding strong at this point but only caught like 2 girls. This is the beauty of the depth of this field. I kept trying to take it to the next level but I couldn't really get it there. No one passed me on the bike, I was pretty much stuck right in the middle making very little headway.

The run; I came into T2 and took off running. My legs felt good, breathing good, and had a great start. I felt decent. Just passed mile 1 I felt a rock in my shoe. It became annoying, so I opted to stop and get it out, because I thought I'd run better with it out of there. I felt good and was running steady, but didn't feel the snap that I've had in some of my training runs. I kept trying to surge, but couldn't find that higher gear again. 1 girl passed me on the run, but after turning back north into the strong wind, I caught her again. It was very windy the last 2 miles, I felt strong not but had no zip.

I was once 4th OA at this race with a 2:22 That wasn't that long ago. This year I was like 25th with a 2:26! I guess triathlon has come a long way in just a couple years. Sometimes I wonder if I am foolish for being out there still. Adam so lovingly pointed out that I was like 15-20 yrs older than some of the field. But I don't FEEL that old (most of the time!)which is why I am still going at it, and I am still having fun so thats what counts. My only disappointment was that I wasn't able to put down the effort and ability in this race that I achieved this year for whatever reason. I had no time to dwell on it because I came home to an awesome first grader. He had homework. It involved writing and filling out questions all about him for his new classroom scrapbook. My day as a triathlete done. But, I wouldn't trade this for anything, not even for 1st or 4th OA at Chicago Tri.

And we achieved a milestone. Jack has his first loose tooth which is "the bomb" when you are 6!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Leaving Nationals Last Year....
This was the best part

With the end of summer, school starting, my race season coming to an end, my world seems like 1 big , fast transition.

Transitions in a race are part of the game. I have won races or beat out fellow competitors just by a few seconds, and the difference was...transitions. They are fast, and quick and part of the big picture. Every second counts. Sometimes you feel prepared for them and they go smoothly, other times, like early in the season you feel uncoordinated sloppy and spastic.

Last year I was injured, burnt out and couldn't wait for the season to end. I needed a break, and thought I wouldn't race triathlons this year. I was done in so many ways. Ha. Well fast forward 1 year and I have had so much fun training and racing, that now my last race is just over a week away and I am not burnt out, and am actually thinking and planning of some fun fall events to do before the arctic freeze sets in. I'll hang up (lovingly) my Scott Plasma tri bike(LOVE LOVE LOVE it!) for the fall, and winter and ride my BMC road frame, and my cyclocross bike. I'll keep running probably on trails more, and I probably swim even less than I am now (tsk tsk). I'll find the fun 5ks and 10ks, and maybe even attempt some cyclocross races. I'll have a little more down time to pay attention to all that stuff that gets left behind during the summer, that stuff that gets shoved in the closet, and pushed to the back burner.

This season itself was a transition for me. I wasn't gunning for any big Nationals Worlds, IM or 70.3. I was getting used to the idea of being ok with just doing some local races, and having the big goal just be....see how fast you can go. See how well you can do at these races. Its been enough to keep me motivated, in shape and having fun.

With the start of the school year, Jack begins first grade. Real School. I almost cried taking him to his summer camp at Kensington this week where he has gone for 3 years knowing he is almost done there, and will move on to the real deal next week. It will feel a little more stuck to a traditionals school schedule. With that comes a new schedule for me. Shorter days at work, but going in 4 x instead of 3, so I'll be able to be home when he is done with school. This also means no more day care cost (hooooray) and the ability to take him to whatever practice he is in, help with homework and me more time to be a better IRONMAIDEN.

For my athletes, many of their seasons are also coming to an end or, already have finished up there big races. I have such a great athletes, and they have done so great this year. Many have faced numerous challenges as we all do just to get to the starting line..... and cross it. Several athletes have finished first tri's ever, first 1/2 IM's ever, completed their first IM. Its been fun seeing so many of my athletes do great this year and overcome many ups and downs. But as I write their schedules, I am getting more and more athletes to start thinking about goals for next year as this season winds down, and they transition into a different phase of training.

Good Luck to all racing! upcoming.....Colin at Nationals and Steve at IM Canada. woop woop....go fast!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That time of here

My post workout Ice Bath

Last year at this time I was injured......and trying to "train through" just so I could race at Nationals. The Steelhead "Duathlon" was the breaker on a leg that been nagging for awhile, but I turned a blind eye. And, I am someone who knows better. It is my profession to rehab and promote injury prevention. The result, a very bad day at a very big race :(

The Chicago Marathoners are into some big miles, the Madison, Kona, and frankly most Ironman athlets are into mega volume and its late in the season. Many have been training since January, and some never stopped after last season. They are starting pop up here and there, the injured athlete.... truly hurt on or edge. They are trickling into the clinic, I see them at workouts, and they find their way into my email, asking for help. "Please, I'll promise to stretch now, just make it go away!" They want to know what the magic shoe, recovery pill/ powder, number of days to just rest it....will fix the aching foot, knee hip shoulder etc.

Unfortunately there is no magic. It takes work just like the work to do the training and working out that gets your body into the state its in. It takes some work and dedication to unwind all the tightening and kinks from daily swimming biking and running. And a little rest every now and then helps. It takes a combination of strength and flexibility to keep the bod in check. Yesterday I helped at a track workout for the MSM kids who have qualified for Worlds. Unfortunately 1 athlete is hurt and had to spin on the trainer and do some core/strength work while the others ran. It is hard when all you've worked for and the race you're gunning for gets interrupted by an injury. The body isn't invincible, even at age 14, or 32, or 41.

The key is doing the work "BEFORE" the injury creeps up. Its easy to slack on the stretching, and core work, when all is well and things a clicking great. You're cranking out workouts, racking up miles and all is good. Until.... you feel that knee lock up in the middle of a run. Or, that pain in the foot when you step out of bed in the morning. Then it takes twice as long to get over, and you miss out on training.

This year I hired a personal trainer to help keep me honest with doing strength, (and to help get an old lady moving fast). It is old school in a basement, and super hard but has been effective. After last year and having my big race go in the pipes because of an ijury, I have doing more to prevent injury and stay strong. Plus I don't want to look like one of those bent over, slouching runners crossing the finish line because their core is so weak.

Be strong, and stay loose !

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Work in Progress

MSM Tri girls/wedding style
All dressed up

Recently we went to my client, our friend and MSM club member Megan's wedding. It was fun to get dressed up like a girl, dry my hair and not be that sweaty chick with a pony tail and workout clothes. My husband wore a tie, and I wore spiky heels and a dress (not great for the calves and the run the next day), but still fun.

It was fun to have a night not thinking about swimming biking and running for just a night and dance to Thriller, Dancing Queen and even the Chicken Dance.

There's nothing like a good wedding to make you think about where you are, where you've been and where you're going (not to mention a few drinks, some crazy dancing, and good looking tri guys in suits). Marriage is a work in progress, just like triathlon. There are a lot of similarities if you look closely.

*You have to do the work and training to get the desired results.

*Skipping workouts and skipping out on something your spouse planned will have a negative outcome

*Devoting oneself to a training plan is similar to devotion to your one and only

*Both can bring happiness and fulfilment

*There is a give and take needed for balance in each relationship. Taking only will leave you injured/ burnt out or .....lonely.

*You can't expect immediate perfection, it takes time and work. For some several years to achieve their triathlon dreams, and a lifetime of work on a marriage.

*Both require dedication for better or worse

Achieving what you want doesn't come easy. It is a work in progress. I started triathlon when it was unheard of to have a coach, and no Internet. I used to wait (this is embarrassing) for Triathlete mag. to come out to figure out how to workout! I worked was very hard and dedicated each season and got a little faster each year. I wasn't a swimmer growing up and had to really work at it to get faster, and I did. It took several years to turn my volleyball self/ team sportster into a triathlete. Even then it took a few more years to get to Worlds, finish Ironman, and finish at the top at races.

For some athletes progress may come a little easier than others, those are the ones with some natural talent. Others are given tremendous work ethic, and dedication. But for both it still requires work to get to the end result and reach full potential. Part of the fun should be the work getting to there. (except maybe for my ride yesterday/ 3 hrs in the cold rain :( It gets challenging in the PT clinic or with athletes when they want to see immediate results. It takes time and work. Post op patients want to be all better and back to normal....1 week later without doing any of the "work". Athletes want to be fast without doing the hard intervals or challenging workouts, or strength workouts.

I am still a work in progress. Even though I have achieved a lot of what I have wanted in triathlon, I still challenge myself to see how fast I can go and do the best I can in the events that I've decided to do this year. Its been a work in progress molding my triathlete self, into a Mom, PT, wife of Ironman, physcial therapist etc. (can you tell I've been working with my Life Coach, Thomo? ha ha.) BTW he got second at Vineman recently.

This year the work has been challenging and fun. The work of getting faster and more fit has been fun along the way.