Tuesday, September 28, 2010


There is a lot of preparing going on around our house. The reality of heading across the Pacific to Kona is staring us right in the face. The time is finally here after months of preparation. Yes for Adam the prep has been much different than mine !!
The packing has started, my lists of things that need done and taken care of before leaving have started. Never fails....I tried to be so organized to get it all covered and I am still scrambling at the last minute. Thankfully I have awesome parents who are coming from Oregon to stay at the house and keep a 7 yr old on track with school and soccer along with keeping 2 crazy yellow dogs in line.

As an athlete I know the hard work, and dedication it takes to get into peak shape for the biggest race of the year...whatever it may be, and to finally get to the starting line after so much hard work and sacrifice. It is a feeling that can't be described. I've been there and it is worth it all when you have the race you've dreamt about for months. It makes all the pain and suffering through hard workouts worth it when you toe the line at the big event. Standing there at the start against the big competition with chills down your spine, butterflies in your tummy and a lump in your throat ....you are ready. All those workouts the ones you rocked and took it to a new level to the ones that were a struggle leaving you questioning yourself have prepared you to race and be your best. Truly though you are just ready to race. Enough preparation. Lets do this thing!

As a wife and IM supporter, I have seen all the hard work and dedication made towards getting ready for the biggest race of the year, felt the super soaked sweaty clothes, piles of sticky water bottles, and witnessed the hours of swimming biking and running logged in while gone training. As a super fan and supporter I am ready to do this thing too. I am ready to watch and cheer my a$% off. Adam has been so focused and worked so hard. He is ready and I can't wait to watch it unfold.

I am now a cat 3 cyclocross rider. I took the leap and upgraded. Yikes this means racing with the big girls for 45 min. Trust me, on lap 3 45 min will seem long compared to the 30 min I was doing. Its definitely not Ironman training but I have been hitting it HARD on the bike and even on some runs. I also started heading back to the killer trainer....for some of what looks a lot like this:

....except I'm not quite as graceful as Lindsey Vonn.

I've been preparing to get myself in the best shape I can to toe the line with these fast girls. Sure I'm nervous, but its pushing me to work harder.
Sunday will be the first race in the new category about 24 hrs before I leave for Kona. And on Saturday there is soccer. Jack has been practicing and preparing with his team the Monsters.

Good Luck to everyone who is stepping up to the start line soon in their big race

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And the fun begins!

Jackson Park was the first Cross race of the season. I was so rev ed up to race, and was even a little nervous mostly because I knew it would hurt, and my fitness for this type of racing has been feeling great, but would the technical skills be there and I wanted a top 3 finish! I had been coming on strong last season with a 4th and a 2nd crawling my way towards the top 10 overall due to getting a late start on points from missing the first 3 races. I was out having fun in Kona!

The course was all flat, some tight turns but nothing really crazy. The key would be getting a good start. Since this was the first race there were no top 10 places in the series for call ups so they randomly pulled names from a hat to start on the front, then all 50+ of us lined up behind them. Think mass swim start but on a bike, a few elbow nudging here and there to get up front. I held my own and had great spot right behind the front girls who got the lucky call.

When the whistle finally blew, I took off along with a mass of women. I had a great start and quickly moved up to a front group of about 5. I was feeling great and was hammering hard through the few straight sections, and somewhere just past the first set of barriers moved ahead into 3rd place and was going strong.

After the first lap the bike started feeling squirrely going around turns and I was sliding out a bit, and just thought I was rusty with the tight turns and cornering...I real possibility. It kept getting worse though and when I would go to hammer the straights and I wasn't going anywhere I finally looked down and saw a squishy front tire. I thought I would ride it out, but it kept getting flatter to completely flat and I simply couldn't corner those tight turns in the dirt without completely sliding out. Plus I was on a set of borrowed race wheels and bike. Bad karma I guess borrowing a bike and a set of race wheels. I have a new cross bike on order..... and have been waiting and waiting and waiting for it.

I also should have used the wheel pit. In bike racing you can stash a set of wheels or even a bike to replace if you have a mechanical. I just didn't take advantage of this luxury! You can bet I will next time! Lesson learned.

Despite the mechanical I had a great time as always, am sporting at least3 lovely bruises, and am excited that my fitness and technical skills are leaps and bounds better at the start of this season compared to last when I started rather clueless!

Next up Hopkins Park in 2 weeks.....1 day before I leave for Kona!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Finish Line!

With all my years of racing, I have crossed a lot of finish lines, mostly all triathlons, a good number of running finish lines, and lately some cycling finishes. Too many finish lines to count and they have been all over the world. It is a great feeling working so hard towards a goal, sacrificing, working hard, putting yourself through painful workouts, getting up early and to finally cross the finish line in that big race is a true victory. I was at Geneva Running Outfitters the other day, a cool new local running store and a new employee there asked me what my favorite race was. I had to think because I've had lots of favorites. Of course Worlds in New Zealand was the top of my list because I loved the course, the day was perfect, and it was one of those races where it all came together. Crossing the finish line at my first ever Ironman (Florida) was of course another favorite. It seemed surreal at the time. Back then I had no coach, didn't have a clue about Ironman racing and just trained with my friends and had a great day. I felt like I was in a different world crossing the finish line.

This past weekend I had 2 athletes cross the finish line in their very first Ironman. For both it took a lot of hard work and sacrifice to make it there. I have to say I was so excited for both of them to see their dream come true.
Diana is a breast cancer survivor, and has worked her way back from chemo and radiation 2 years ago to an Ironman finisher this year in 13:35! She put so much hard work into her training, planning and preparation. She followed the workouts, followed the plan and executed the perfect race. She had an awesome day. Courtney is a new triathlete and has the personality that will take on anything. She is so positive and that energy is fun to work with. She worked so hard on learning how to swim and bike like and Ironman while balancing work, at Lululemmon, and a teaching career. She too is an Ironman.

For many athletes this is the end of the season. I had so many athletes have great finishes this year. John qualified for Boston, Carmen finished the Big Sur 20 miler, Tonya raced in Budapest at Worlds. Andy completed a 12 hour cycling road ride (yes nonstop), Paula finished her first 1/2 IM. All fabulous performances with lots of hard work along the way to get them there. The greatest part about these performances is the work and sacrifices they made to reach their goal, regular people with big time jobs and families.

For some athletes the big finish line is still out there. It is getting closer. You can see it in the distance now. Hard work, sacrifice and discipline will get you there and it will be worth it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

XXX Cross!

Bring on the CCC! (Chicago Cross Cup) Its 2 weeks out from the first race and I am getting ready for the kick off race.

Last year I was nervous and clueless going into my first cross race ever, but this year I know more what I am getting into and am psyched to race these crazy things again!

I have been getting a lot of questions about cross: mostly why? or what is it!

A few years ago I watched Adam and friends from group ride do the cross race in St. Charles and always thought, that it looked so fun and wanted to try it, but by the end of tri season was always ready to hang up the bike, or was always focused on just running in the fall. Last year I finally gave it a shot and loved it. I didn't know you could hurt that bad, and have that blood/mental taste in your mouth from just 30 min on the bike. It hurt so bad but was so fun at the same time.

The courses are always different but include barriers, mud and or sand, a few hills or whatever they else the race organizers can find to make it challenging such as a toilet bowl....(a continuous turn that goes around and around itself getting smaller, with a 180 going in the opposite direction to go around and around to come out of it), or BMX jumps! The courses are usually 1 mile or less, and you go around it as hard as you can as many times as you can for the duration of the race. Women's cat 4 is 30 min.

Some skills you need for cyclocross:

>Starts: a fast sprint to find a good position in the front. Sometimes the courses get narrow quickly making it difficult to pass or get around people and yes sometimes there is some bumping going on

>Barriers: dismounting, lifting your bike and running over a barrier and getting back on quickly...they are about 16-18 inches high

>Run ups: sometimes there is a hill so steep or muddy it is easier and faster to get off and run your bike up it then get back on. I always like it when there are some of these on the course because I think my tri fitness gives me a boost.

>Riding through sand: (i'm still learning this one!)and the question is always can I run through it better than riding through!

>Cornering tight: keeping your speed up while going through sharp turns; ie. not braking!

I'm sure there are more, and I am still learning.

You also need: some guts, leave fear and your ego at home crazy stuff can happen like some silly wipe outs and there are hecklers on the sidelines ready to heckle or pass out hand ups of $$, or food. You also need some lungs because you'll be breathing hard

(a little winded!)

I got hooked on it last year because it is a super hard workout, but fun and different. I loved going out and riding off road through dirt and mud to train. Its also great for bike handling skills. The races are a blast; and you start to see and race the same people each week. The atmosphere is fun, laid back, and a little crazy but still competitive..a welcome change from the super focused, serious triathlon world. The Chicago Cross Cup is a series, that you score points in each week. You can keep accumulating points each week and the series itself becomes a race and new type of challenge to accumulate a lot of points.

I'm still going to run some, and do some 5ks, with very little swimming on the schedule. I'll head back to the pool when the time is right and I have my sights on next year. For now, season number 2 is about to begin!