Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Southern Style.....NOLA 70.3

Early season BIG races aren’t usually something I enjoy getting involved in mostly because of the environment we have to train in from Jan to spring. A change in venue for the 70.3 World Champs, some huge motivation that came from taking about 4 yrs very low key in triathlon and caving to some peer pressure from friends, i.e. Joe Lotus!!!!, convinced me to sign up for an April half Ironman! So I trained in the cold, and wind, and did the killer workouts, to get myself as fit as possible for a Chicagoan in April and headed south to the Big Easy to do the first triathlon I actually cared about in a long time. My goals were to qualify for Vegas. I hooked up with Joe and his gang, including several other TBC athletes for a race weekend southern style!!!! This included country music, a cab driver who didn’t seem to understand numerical order, and a new nick name for me……Quiet Riot.

When explaining to my patients at work who have been to NOLA that I was heading south, I got many tips and advice on where to eat like Emeril’s, where to go, and what types of drinks to order! Drinks with names like Monsoon, Hurricane, Hand Grenade….not Gatorade!.... I was really psyched to head somewhere totally new and different, and of course warm, to race. I laughed at my patients and told them Cajun jambalaya, crawfish, and Hurricanes probably wasn’t the best pre race nutrition. They also couldn’t believe we were swimming in Lake Ponchatrain!!

I did my pre race brick out at the lake and swam in the worst chop and white caps I can recall. I shook it off and assumed it would be calm in the morning, and figured if anything it would just be a rough swim. I felt amazing on my pre race bike and run. Adam let me use the Bontrager disc and front set up he had in Cali, and I of course was hoping for some of that 2:18 bike magic to come my way! LOL. I was a little concerned about the cross winds with the disc, and that I might be blown into the lake. I was also wondering why I felt so good on my pre race brick. Scary, because normally I feel lousy during a taper, and my motto had always been feeling lousy in taper workouts = a good race. So I didn’t know quite what to expect. I also mentally had the most confidence going into a race than I had in a very long time.

Race morning I woke up excited and psyched to race….no feeling of dread or ugh or what the heck am I doing! On the drive out to the lake, Joe got a text from someone already out there that the swim was canceled. I didn’t believe him, and neither did anyone in the truck! I actually didn’t believe it until I heard the race announcer saying it while I was getting body marked. I was bummed there was no swim even though its my weakest of the 3, wondered why they didn’t just shorten the swim, and disappointed they didn’t do some sort of 2 mile run first to break up the field and make the race harder. The wind was crazy, and someone most likely would have drowned, so I guess it was a safe call. But you can’t stress or be pissed about things like this. You take what the race gives you and that is the race, so race it. Of course it changed the dynamics of the race, but on that day the race was a bike/run so saddle up and race.

We stood around for an extra 30-45 min before the TT style race started. It was chilly, I wished I had a few more layers, but hanging out with this crew kept me laughing and entertained until it was my time to go.

The bike was windy and flat, it seemed we went for ever into a big killer straight flat headwind. There were 3, 180 degree turns, and 1 section into the bayou, 2 bridges over the Mississippi out and back. I don’t love flat courses, but this was fun! I felt strong and passed a lot of girls in the AG, but kept riding as strong as I could because with the TT start I didn’t know who was ahead or behind or doing what. We had the tailwind behind us coming home and I felt like I was sailing, almost wiped out on a downhill right turn I was going so fast before entering T2. My legs felt almost perfect right away running my bike through the grassy transition. I tried not to get too excited, put on my running shoes and Garmin and heading out for 13.1 miles from Lake Ponchatrain to the French Quarter. I felt great from the start and tried to follow the plan of starting the first 3 miles controlled before hitting race pace I have to say I loved this run course. It goes along the lake, then into a park. There are 4 maybe 5 out and back sections but through a park with tree lined streets, great crowds. After the first 3 miles I picked it up, took some risks and just ran. I caught several more in the AG including 1 who I know from racing over the years as a cyclist phenom. The last 3 miles were into more of the headwind and along a rough surfaced road as we got closer to downtown. A right turn and a long straight finish into the heart of the French Quarter and I was running with a huge smile because I had it a 1/2 IM run PR. Half Ironmans have not been good to me. For so long I focused on Olympic distance or Ironman throwing in a few halves here and there which never seemed to completely click until then.

In the end I finished 2nd in the AG, with a spot to Vegas!

The AG winner kicked our tails pretty good, so I don't think having a swim would have changed the results in the top 3 at least. All the TBC athletes had great early season races!!!! Sure I was disappointed in no swim and what could have been my best ½ IM ever…at the lovely age of 40 something! We all celebrated by heading to Port of Call in the French Quarter for burgers and Monsoons in honor of the Monsoon like weather we were treated with race weekend. I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. Would I go back to NOLA to race, definitely it is a very cool venue and a very fun destiation race to excape Chicago.

Thanks to my coach Scott Iott, who had me so prepared that I actually felt confident and like I could take risks and race for the first time in a long time, and to Joe Lotus for convincing me to sign up for the race and come to Tuscon and train, and to Adam for sharing his bike goodies and balancing kid duty when he is IM training. He actually started his long run on the TM on one of the nicest weather days, so I could go run the Dewey Dash 5k!

Next up. Recovery! Then re-group. The great part about all the winter hard work is getting to just train, and do whatever races sound good through the summer to prepare for Vegas.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Cleaning.......

I recently had a serious need for a detox diet from the self indulgences and over connection of triathlon life, which prompted a trip home to Oregon to the foothills of Mt. Hood to clean the mind, brain, lungs, muscles fibers, and even my TT bike Scotty P got a daily cleaning as every time I saddled up to ride. Every ride I did, though, I was covered in rain, mud, road slime, and pine needles requiring a serious clean job after each ride. I try to take good care of Scotty P.

Even though seriously drenched I loved riding through the hills and green forests. Riding from my parents puts you in Mt. Hood National Forest along the Clackamas River within about 3 miles.

I was in heaven... even completely soaked or being pelted by hail. Running under these conditions was a bit easier, and luckily the skies cleared for goal mile day and I nailed my best goal mile track workout ever leaving me pretty excited for things to come. And thanks to the North Clackamas Aquatic Park for such an awesome pool. They have entire 8 lane regulation size pool designated just for lap swimming with extremely convenient times and, wow, it coast 2.00 each time I went.! Imagine that, no kids with floaties or water aerobics classes to fight with! There is a separate pool for that. Why is it other cities seem to get the pool/ aquatic centers right? And Chicago and vicinity seems to just not get it?

Yes, I trained, but then totally tuned out. I read a lot and 1 book I read was Apollo Ohono’s, NO REGRETS. This was an incredibly inspiring book. Did you know he could leg press like 2000 lb!, and I loved hearing about the ways he challenged him self to deal with discomfort, even in daily life situations like standing in a long line at the store, or …this is my favorite: ...he would buy his favorite candy which I think was Nestle Crunch, and put in out in a bowl to tempt him as he walked by, but he would teach himself to deal with the discomfort and not indulge! How about that for discipline and focus. For me it would have to be chips and salsa sitting out.  I had a new appreciation for focus and discipline after reading this!

Race season is upon us. Many have toed the line and crossed the finish line already testing themselves in their early season form. This is a good chance to re-evaluate, re-assess and then move forward with the rest of the season. Following an early season race you still have time to do some “spring cleaning” on the entire training plan. What needs tweaked, added, cut out? Do I need more strength, less sugar or fat, more power, less brain clutter, more speed, less poopy pants ( remember I’m a mom), more focus etc. You get the idea. If you wait until mid summer to test the waters, even in training, then that leaves little room for changes and more work to be done.

My first race is less than 2 weeks away now, it is early! Ouch. And, yes I want to do well my first race of the season. I’ve been working hard trying to be prepared to race and see where I am. Maybe I should have read Apollo's book in Jan. though!

Spring is in the air; my landscapers have shown up to make our yard pretty since we can’t. Races are approaching. Are you in need of some spring cleaning? Are you even aware that some spring cleaning in your training plan might be needed. Can you show up to race with “No Regrets?”

Open the windows, shake out the rugs, spring is here. Time to race!