Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This past Sunday I raced in my first Cylcocross race. This wild race could be summed up as a criterium bike race that is off road, add a little steeplechase add some fun surprises and that is cyclocross. The atmosphere is also so different than triathlon. Its is so laid back and has a little taste of tailgating at a football game with groups grilling brats, and par-taking in Octoberfest beverages.

Its been fun riding the trails and off road since my tri-season has ended. Typically I hang up the bike all fall and early winter, but this has been a fun change and a new challenge. I have been riding around Leroy Oaks through shrubs and tall grass, jumping on and off the bike and come home with mud, grease, sweat and even blood on me. Fun!

So, Sunday we headed to Carpentersville for my first race. An Octoberfest was going on which is always great for the kids and Adam was awesome keeping them occupied and cheering while I was trying to figure out what I was doing! My race didn't start until 12:30,which is awesome for warmer temps and managing kids. We got there early enough to watch some of the men and scope out the course. Trust me, this is an event you want to know what you are in for and where. It is basically guts out for round and round a course for 30 min. This race had a sand pit, many sharp turns, some barriers, a creek and special for this year and my first race a section called "the pump!" sort of like moguls on a ski hill, BMX style. Adam caught this pic of me looking a little out of control (probably going too fast for my own good) but yet even though it looks like it...this is not where I wiped out! I found myself down in turn 1, and the sand pit! :)

The leaders in the series get to start on the line first then everyone else behind. I've missed the first races in the series due to being in Kona, so I tried to start as close to the front as I could. Think mass start in swimming for a competitive sprint tri, but you're on a bike. Its a mad sprint on a straight away until you head off onto the trails. I had a good start but started to lose it on the first sharp turn and end up 1/2 on 1/2 off my bike......suddenly I have in 10th or 11th place that fast! After the first lap, I had a good feel for the course and really started to go hard. I was getting better and the turns and was figuring out how to move my way up. The challenge is keeping as much speed going through sharp turns and sand and over barriers. I definitely need to keep working this. My fitness felt good, as I felt strong and was gaining on some of the girls in the front. In fact, I wish I could have gone the 45 min. (This is basically my first ever bike race, so I am cat have to prove yourself worthy to move up! and the Cat 1,2 ,3 girls race for 45 min.)

I finished in 1 piece breathing hard and smiling. I will be back for more!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Island Adventure

Local Kona girl
Worth the hike
Not a bad view

I thought I would give more updates, from Kona but was really having too much fun, plus the condo we were staying decided to be stingy with Internet access.

This was my 4th time going to Kona to spectate. I've done the tri-geek week 3 other times, so was really wanting to experience more that Hawaii had to offer this time. I swear the next time we go must include a trip to 1 of the other islands on the chain.

We arrived late on Sunday and my good friend Jenny Marine met us at the airport and helped us haul our stuff to the condo. I got a quick tour of her home/ yes she is a kona resident, complete with a post flight mai tai made from scratch! Luckily enough her home was less than 1/2 mile from our condo on Alii drive! She teaches at the local high school and had the week off of school for fall break! This meant I had a beach partner..someone not concerned about how much time in the sun during the days leading up to the race.

I did do a a little training while there, but found myself busy cross training and enjoying lots of other fun things besides swimming biking and running. The running I did was HOT, stifling actually. I reminded myself to enjoy because I know whats coming here at home and I despise it more and more every year. I decided that the hotter the better for now. A few times I ran at mid day...and once at 6 a.m. Significant difference in out it felt, but by day 4 of running, I actually thought I was getting used to the oppressiveness.

Day 1 Jenny and I headed to a beach that is definitely off the beaten path. It involved a 20 min drive over lava probably best suited for a H1 Hummer, park, and then hike 30 min over more lava. Once you're there........a beautiful white fluffy sand beach with hardly any one there. Apparently Jenny has done this before because she had beach chairs with straps that you can put on your back like a back pack!!! I was so loving this!!!!! Sitting on this beach you really feel like you're at the edge of the earth, and can see that the Big Island is truly just a big rock in the middle of the Pacific (a beautiful lava rock)

Day 2 I talked Jenny into stop grading papers and go stand up paddling. She had done it once before, me...never. The toughest part was carrying the boards across the street and lava rocks to the water. The boards are actually a lot bigger than I thought, but this was a complete blast. Its a tough workout too. Balancing on a board that keeps getting tipped by the water, then paddling like a canoe. I'd paddle paddle then stop and float. By the end of 2 hrs I felt like trying to ride the waves....but my cockiness got the better of me and wiped out more than once! I wish I had pictures of this, but certainly didn't trust my ability to take a camera out to sea. After we turned in the boards, we pseudo snorkeled around with our goggles in this little bay with a million beautiful fish. I felt like I was inside an aquarium.

One day I pedaled down to Magic Sands beach and body surfed. I pretened to act like I knew what I was doing ....(because I've done this before) , but apparently was looking quite novice as some guy who looked local asked if I wanted to try his flippers because it looked like I was struggling! Ha, I was having fun ....getting pummeled by the waves. I almost kissed a sea turtle that was catching waves also, then pedaled home to cook dinner for some Ironmen.

I did swim while in Kona, but had to borrow goggles and a cap, because I wasn't planning on it. I swam at the pier once with the guys, it was fun seeing the fish and considering I hadn't swam since Chicago Tri.....I actually felt smooth cruising and trying to stay on Adam's feet for portions. One day I got talked into swimming at the Kona Pool. I was more in awe that such an awesome pool is free. I've whined about this before. How can we live in such a populated area supposedly with $$, funds etc, and we have to swim in shallow health club pools for at pretty significant price. Not to mention sharing (no offense) with the water aerobics classes. This is a beautiful outdoor pool actually divided into 2 pools. I swam some and then watched to pros swim in the "fast" pool. Unfortunately my biking amounted to the shortride to Magic Sands beach to body surf, and then again on race day sprinting up and down the Queen K cheering and spectating. I turned it in to my own little crazy workout. I had tennis shoes on top of pedals and I would ride hard for a mile then wait and cheer, then on to the next mile or 2. At some points it was hard because the run has a few hills. Well, I was sweating at least! And...for some reason I thought because I wasn't racing I didn't need water or fluid and was parched by the end. And, I didn't steal from the aid stations even though those sponges and gatorade looked awesome. This year I made it back in time to park the bike, lock it up and actually see Adam finish.

Race day was exhausting. Its hot, and long. Somewhere Jim Vance has a picture of us passed out in the King Kam hotel cooling off and catching a couple zzzzzs before heading back out. But I kept reminding myself of what the athletes were doing so it was hard to feel too sorry for yourself. Yet, as an athlete racing it is acceptable to pee yourself and pour water over yourself, or put ice in your shorts if you get too hot. I'm not sure how good this would go over as a spectator.

I wasn't ready to leave; I could have taken Island life a few more days, but I had a special delivery...... a shark's tooth for a pretty cool 6 yr. old with the best welcome home ever:)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Island Bound

Kona Calling

In just over 24 hours I will be heading to Ohare to board a plane that will take across the Pacific to beautiful Hawaii. This will be the 4th I've gone to Hawaii, and the 4th time to Kona as a spectator and supporter. Lets just say I am getting good at this!

If you are a triathlete, being in Kona the week of Ironman is a little like being a small fish in a big pond. The fittest and fastest (Ironman) athletes are on the island walking around, training a little enjoying coffee and preparing to race. When race day arrives it is really quite amazing to see the fittest and the best show up to compete. Kind of like the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics and seeing the athletes compete at the highest level. (although truth be known I'm not too sad Chicago didn't get the Olympics) On this day these athletes will be competeing against the best in the best in the sport (at Ironman). For some, they have done Kona over and over and over again. For others, it will be their first ....experience with it. As the week progresses, it is interesting to watch the tension and faces on the athletes increase. You can usually tell by their face, actions, level of quietness, no Ironman wristband needed.

My goal for this year is to be the best supporter of my Ironman and spectator for the many other athletes we know racing, all while having a great time Hawaiian style. I hope to see a little more of the island and see a little more of the beach this year. I want to go find those dolphins I saw last year, try stand up paddling, take some surfing lessons, go for lots of runs and maybe even a big bike ride. Then come race day I will be out there cheering and spectating like in zone 5 to the best of my ability. I have mastered the art of Ironman cheering and spectating. After the IM WI on 3 hrs of sleep I have rested, regrouped and am re-charged for IM World Champs.