Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Podium Shot

Amongst some rain and mud I found my way to the podium on Sunday! I won't do race reports each week........that would get old, but a podium finish is fun and walking away with cash even cooler. I managed to keep the wheels on the ground when there were lots sliding out in the mud (if you only knew how much I was on the ground last year!). I was getting oh so close to 2nd but got too cautious the last lap!

Next up Campton Cross! My home course......come out and watch the craziness on Halloween day...yes there will be costumes!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back on the Mainland....

.....life is moving on at a really fast pace. I luckily returned to really nice fall weather and warm temps which makes facing reality easier . Returning from a week away at "paradise island" and we are half way through October, the leaves have turned more and are falling, and I am searching for gloves in the morning when walking Jack to school. When away in Hawaii, you are in another world so far away from real life and even though it was only a week...the dogs racked up a huge bill at the kennel, Jack got bigger, and I fell to number 22 in the CCC standings!!! Ouch, a mechanical in race 1, missing a race being kona bound and others cat ing up with some points left me in 22nd on the Sunday flying home from Kona :( That does not make a competitive girl happy. Luckily I had a double cross weekend to try an score some points and do some catching up.

Saturday's race was way up North in Wauconda at Psycho cross (how cool is that name). The course was very flat with long straight sections. It was a crit or road racers dream/ not very technical. The trickiest section was some dirt/ gravel transitioning to a grassy dip. There was also a flyover in the middle of this course, but I have grown to love these and use them as a chance to pass people running my bike up the stairs.

I had a good start at this race (finally) and stayed with the lead pack until the soft gravel section going into grass where I lost contact with them. When you start a race like this you are redline from the go, I feel like I am dying and how can I possibly make it 45 min. Somewhere though in that first lap I found my groove and road strong catching a couple girls. As the laps went by I could myself gaining on 2 of the girls ahead of me. I kept ...getting...so ...close ....and by this time...I was feeling good and wanted 1 more lap. I have to say I love the 45 min of cat 1,2 3! I finished in 8th amongst the field.

Sunday's race was in Carpentersville. This was my first race ever last year, and I was remembering how clueless I was when I showed up to the start last year. They had the course set differently and I got there early enough to check it out and warm up the legs. (its hard to believe you can get sore from 45 min of work!) This course was more technical with off camber steep downhills, tight, narrow turns and a bmx style pump section coming out of a hard left turn into soft dirt. I had a good start (getting better) and again was with the leaders until a tricky tight uphill section when 1 of the girls went down right in front of me causing me to have to clip out and go around her on an uphill!!! Damn again off the lead girls. BUT, this course was trickier and had enough power sections that I tried to hammer and attack on. At the tricky dirty pump and bump section I managed to get through quite quick and would go ahead of girls here (go figure did I miss my calling as a bmx'er?)

Again, as the laps wore down I found myself catching girls and feeling stronger. I found myself cat and mousing with a couple girls. I tried to pass on the hard sections and never let up. I raced so hard and again the 45 min did me good. I could have used another lap because I was getting oh so close to catching 1 more. I finished 7th and really had raced to the point of my lungs and legs almost exploding, yet with a huge smile on my face because that was fun.

So with 2 more decent races under my belt in 1 weekend, I moved to 11th. This is more tolerable but I want to move up higher than that. The fun part about racing in a series is to see how far you can go. Its not about getting a time or distance on 1 event, its about racing week after week and scoring points.

I am truly having a blast doing these races, I had set my whole triathlon season up around doing as much of the series as I could and I don't regret saying no to going after other options 1 bit. I passed up on some races and travel and other triathlon stuff to help afford a new cross bike.......and it is all worth it because my Cannondale Super X is like a dream :)

Ride on!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Kona Adventure

Stepping off the plane at the Kona airport in the nearly pitch black is a feeling I always look forward too. It is warm humid and often smells really good like flowers. This was the 4th time I've stepped off the plane there. On this trip I was looking forward to hooking up with my friend Jenny Marine who is now a local resident of almost 2 years and taking off on many island adventures, as well as do some training and of course support Adam and our other MSM friends racing.

Day 1 Jenny and I headed to the beach and just chilled. We swam along a reef and saw amazing fish and an eel. We hung out and chatted. I don't talk to Jenny much throughout the year but it is becoming a tradition seeing her once a year on the big island and its like I saw her yesterday. It is interesting to hear what her life is like on the island, especially when Ironman is not in town. Kona is a much different place.

This day was also was the first my arms have swum a stroke since the Chicago Tri! What a great way to get back into it. I also saw a Honu and was on such a roll with swimming I went again later with Adam and some friends at the Kona Athletic Center. Who can beat swimming outdoors in a beautiful huge pool. I certainly wasn't swimming too fast, but the cool thing is that it didn't feel completely foreign to me.

As each day gets closer to the IM, Alii drive becomes more crowded with triathletes, more structures start going up that comprise of the actual finish line and long stretch you see athletes running down at the end of their day. Also as each day goes by you see that serious, focused look become more intense. The same holds true for Adam, but I must say it was the most relaxed I have seen him going into this race. I knew and he knew he would have a spectacular day.

I had dinner 1 night with my client Sarah Arnold and her husband Jim out at the Four Seasons. What and amazing place and beautiful place. They are a very fun couple and Sarah was getting in some solid training for Clearwater.

Because I was without a bike to train on, I was doing a lot of running. 1 day I had hill repeats on Palani. Um, this is a long tough hill. I got up early and ran the 2 miles down to the hill and proceeded to do the hill repeats. Of course some must of thought I was nuts, but it was a good hard workout. The 2 mile run back home I was hurting pretty good. And what better way to recover than going stand up paddling later in the day! Adam's coach Jim and I rented stand up boards and paddled out into the ocean. Trust me this isn't a super easy thing. Think wall squat on a bosu ball while paddling, and with Palani hills in my quads, my legs were shaking the whole time.

Later in the week I had a longish run to do and was really getting bored with Alii Drive and all the compression socks, M dots, and logos. Jenny had told me of a trail up the hill and away. To get there you had to run up the mountain a good 3 miles, once on the trail it is a long gradual uphill along the side of the mountain with spectacular view of the ocean. When you see the ocean and coast line from up there you really see that you are truly on a rock in the middle of the Pacific.

The night before the race I cooked Adam's traditional pre-race pasta. Nothing special or fancy, and left him to chill,and finish packing his stuff. I headed out with Jim,Yuri, Joe, Trevor and others to a party called TGINR.........thank god I'm not racing!!! LOL It was hosted by Competitor Magazine and attended by many supporters, pros, elites etc not racing. They had open bar, buffet, right on the edge of the beach. They even had baseball caps made up with TGINR on it. They also had good mai tai's!

But we didn't stay out late because as anyone who cheers and spectates knows it is a very long day and in Kona.........it is hot, tiring, you don't get to see as much as other Ironman. Race morning I was nervous, I had butterflies like I was doing the race. When the one you love puts so much into an event you just want everything to go right and have it pay off. We found a good spot to watch the swim. There is so much energy at the start. The athletes are nervous, they have to tread water for quit a while before the gun goes off and you are just waiting anxiously. The Hawaiian drums and chants start it gets pretty intense waiting for the cannon. You can't see much at the start but it is always worth it to me to get down there and feel that energy. The cannon goes off, and they are on their way.

AFter getting MORE coffee, I made my way over to Palani Hill. I like to watch the start of the bike there because they are slow and climbing. I saw Adam and he looked great, focused and climbed it fast, and after that I cheered on the rest of our friends, then had several hours to kill. I had kept getting texts from home with Adam's splits. He was doing so great at each time check and I knew things were coming together for him, and before long I realized he was going to break 5 hrs on the bike! I usually watch the run on an out/back section on Kuakini Hwy. I found my spot and watched the pro's start the run. Before long, though the top age group men starting coming. Adam finished the bike 4th in his AG. I yelled this to him as he started the run. He looked fast. I could see it in his face, and knew that it was his day. After he comes back on this spot it is about mile 10 and he still looked great. This is where I grab a bike sprint up palani and ride out onto the Queen K. I like to do this for selfish reasons too. It gets hard just standing there in the heat. Hopping on the bike and riding out there you can see more athletes, cheer, get off your feet and feel a breeze. At mile 13, Adam was still flying, and he yelled out 1:32! I told him he was only a little more than 2 min down from Tim Hola who is an amazing racer in Kona. I road on to the energy lab. At the entrance you can not go in, only the athletes. So I cheered like crazy as he headed in, then parked myself on a rock. The athletes coming out of there looked horrible. Not many were running, those who were....shuffled. The women pro's were coming out some looking bad. Some of the top guys in front of Adam were looking rough. I told him it was getting ugly in front and to get it going. He told me he was on a mission, was going to dig deep, was fine, and head to the finish line.

I found myself a spot close to the finish, but where there were no barriers in the way. It wasn't until then that I finally looked at the clock to see what time it was and what his time might be. I had to count backwards because I leave my watch set on Chicago time. (I'm a dork I know, its a mom thing wanting to know what time it is at home. I had to do it several times to check myself. When I looked and figured it out it was 9:08 into the race.....and Adam was so close to the finish. Tears started rolling down my face because I knew this was going to be amazing. He high 5'd me hard flying down the finish and Mike Reilly said same very cool stuff,as I sprinted around all the barriers and people to get to the post race area. Is is messy back there and I have usually found him near the medical tent. When I found him he was already eating pizza, looking like no big deal!!!!

All the hard work paid off and I am so proud of him. Watching an event and performance like that leaves you pretty motivated. The next day I said good bye to Jenny and told her we'd most likely be back next year :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

what to do with 4 hrs....

So I am in LAX on a 4 hr layover to kona. When was the last time I had 4 hrs to kill...without needing to squeeze in a workout, go to the grocery store, fold and put away laundry, go to work, write schedules for athletes etc.

I am sitting here and paid the 7.99 to be able to connect to the Internet to surf the Internet and kill some time. I bought a book at home..but it is just so so and not keeping my interest. Partly because I am excited to get to Kona, still not relaxed from getting everything set to leave. I felt so nervous this time leaving. It is hard to be gone for a week, and my parents are the best to come step in and keep it all going. This has become a yearly trek over to the island each October. I said today I don't know if I'd keep going if my parents couldn't come help. So as I sit here trying to figure out what to do with 4 hrs.... and a nice man is serenading us at the gate with some acoustic guitar playing. It is actually nice and not annoying.

I did my first race as a cat 3 yesterday in the women's 1,2 ,3 field. It was very hard and I made myself hurt a lot. I think I will have the sexiest legs on the island...with a few new bruises, and a nice gash on my shin thanks to a tree trunk that flipped me on lap 1. This was a fun course complete with a flyover which consisted of running up a flight of stairs carrying my bike.....mounting at the top (and I tell you there was not a lot of room) then flying down a steep decline.

It reminded me of a jump my brother's used to make to do with their big wheels only adult style! This was scary at first, but then was no big deal. I actually loved the stairs and the 1 hill with barriers. The top girls start Fast. They are powerhouses and I lost contact with the top 4 -5 pretty quick, but held my own throughout the race trying to gain a few spots. There aren't a lot of girls in this field so I was glad when the men that started behind us came through so I could catch a wheel. I was lucky to have friends and family at this race cheering me on while racing against the big girls. Thanks to Kristi coming out on a Sunday and cheering, she took some great pictures, and my parents were there with Jack who rode his bike the entire time and cheered me on from his bike telling me go faster!!!

I finished 9th in the women's 123, 6th in cat 3. I have a lot to learn still, but have always been one to want to put myself in a position to race against the best to make myself faster and a better athlete, even if it means finishing a few places lower in the process.

I am just a few hours away from Kona now where I get to cheer for Adam and my Illinois friends racing at the Ironman World Championships. I plan to do a little running, and biking and maybe I'll put some goggles on and swim a little which I haven't done since Aug!!!! Then I will hike to the beach and cross train with surfing or stand up paddling.