Friday, June 22, 2012

This is dedication....

I started a blog a few years ago to share my stories and lessons learned on training, racing, being a mom, physical therapist and wife of an elite level Ironman. Being all of those things provides many break troughs’ as well as lots of screw ups to write about! The intention has always been to motivate athletes and whoever else would sit still long enough to read it, with my crazy adventures of what works, what doesn’t and how I manage it all. (still not sure on how I manage it and if I really do.)

I am so excited to share this story about my athlete Sara who was out on a training run the week of Leon’s, our big local competitive race. She twisted her ankle and suffered and avulsion fx, and found herself on the sidelines in a walking boot, no running, no weight bearing for several weeks. She is training for her first Ironman this fall, and done some fabulous work getting into early season shape. She was swimming biking and running better than ever, so to have this happen right before race season is getting under way was a shock and disappointment. You never know when your foot might find its way into a pot hole!

Sara and I in Kona to cheer on athletes....

The reason I am sharing this story is that Sara’s work ethic and attitude in dealing with this bump in the road is outstanding. Instead of tossing in the towel thinking the season was over, giving up on the Ironman this year, or skipping workouts and sleeping in, she asked me if she could double swim some days (gasp!), deep water run, and continue to bike. She didn’t even take down time, that week of the injury. We loaded her up with extra swimming, biking, strength and core/ along with some deep water running.

As her coach I am thinking this is almost a blessing in disguise as she has done some mega swimming and biking volume and may actually come out of this ahead in the long run. I know some of the pros take chunks of time and carve out some just biking focused weeks. Why wouldn’t a top age grouper benefit from a phase of this as well? Plus a great deal of what makes a great IM marathon is coming off the bike as fresh as possible.

And….. as of today she was released from the boot and given the ok to slowly return to running. One of my favorite things to do is bring an athlete back from an injury. I have no doubt Sara will make it accross the finish line of her first Ironman. And with this attitude and work ethic we might even see her on the start line in Kona some day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kansas 2012.....Mission Accomplished

My race trip through America’s Heartland included too many truck stops , 2 pre race meals at IHOP, heat, wind, miles of cornfields that look exactly the same for miles, and a spot to the Vegas 70.3 World Champs.! Yea eggs at IHOP for dinner Friday night on the road because Olive Garden in the middle of Iowa had a 45 min wait (seriously?) It was my 3rd trip to KS to race, but this time I had a little extra pressure because was on a mission to qualify.

My travel partners were AZ and my coach Scott. They road trip like they race. No messing around. They called numerous blocking penalties to the slow drivers in the left lane and moved as fast as possible through Iowa to Kansas City Friday night. I didn’t start my hydration for the race or this would have slowed down the trip, but for the record I had to use the facilities the least!

We did our pre race brick Sat morning away from the race site, ate more eggs at IHOP then headed to Clinton Lake to check in. The double transition and long walk from where they make you park always makes this pre race check in logistically challenging, but worth it as the race itself is a blast.

Scott Plasma=fast bike thanks Bike Shop GE!

I say thumbs down to packet pick up and bike check in days, it’s never a fun process and always takes longer than you want, but the volunteers there are great and for the past 2 years I haven’t had to wait in line to get my packet! Bonus!

fast gear!the KSWISS K-RUUZ are so sweet

My race summary: looking back I am happy and satisfied. It was a day with very tough conditions. Heat, hills wind, no wetsuits huge chop on the swim made for my kind of race. I typically do better when it gets tough…., hills wind, heat. I’ll take it. Pre race I was almost hoping for the horrible wind (just on the bike and run though!) This was a true race. You had to stay strong the whole way.

Swim: um this was horrible. No wetsuits. I don’t care about that. But it was darn near the worst chop and conditions I have ever swum in. I have done some bad choppy Chicago Tri swims, some big ocean swelly swims, windy Lake Geneva’s, but I can’t think of anything that compared to this. To top it off I got a severe charley horse in my calf about ½ way through. It was big enough that I had to go vertical to massage it out. ICK. I almost called for the HOT Baywatch lifeguard guy to come rescue me because I couldn’t get it to let go. Ick. So not a good way to start a race you are trying to qualify at. When it finally let go, I put my pissed off face in the water and swam my sorry A*% to the finish that seemed forever away. I was never so happy to see Scotty P waiting in transition for me.

Bike: I sort of cruised the big rollers going out of the park then started riding aggressively fairly soon. It was windy and there was a lot of cross wind. I tried staying aero as much as possible and just relax. This wind was significant but nothing different than we train in every day at home. This is why I head out the door, ride solo most of the time don’t draft so I can get used to riding in that. Because guess what… its .not like the wind decides to be nice and not show up on race day. The uphill sections into the wind felt awful, maybe because I was trying to ride hard, but it felt so slow.

I caught a lot of girls on the bike. (trust me there were a lot to catch with such a pathetic swim). Coming home the last 10 miles we finally had some fast tail/cross wind. I literally got blown from the right white line to across the yellow before I knew it. The guy behind me came by saying “killer save!”. I finished the bike strong, but had no idea where I was in the AG.

Run: I love this run course. It is 2 loops of 3 separate out and backs. Some hills, tons of turns, great crowds and it is always well supported. I felt good right away and found my stride on the first gradual uphill. It was HOT and I slammed Gatorade and water or coke and water at every aid station. I felt good for the first lap, but was definitely feeling the heat. I was steady and strong but didn’t feel fast for sure. I found myself needing water and coke more than usual, and it became challenging navigating the people who suddenly decide they are going to stop and walk going from 7:30 pace to a stop in an instant with you right behind them. They didn’t just slow down, but come to a sudden stop in their tracks. I need to do some research on how to navigate crowded aid stations. By mile 7 I had caught LC who usually starts the run in my AG in 1st place because she is wicked fast on the bike. I got pretty stoked at this point thinking I had to be close to the top. It was starting to hurt, I had to walk an aid station myself to get in enough fluid.

The finish: 5:23, such a slow time, but I finished with a smile, high fived some friends and found out I was 2nd in the AG. I guess I biked myself into 3rd with the 2nd fastest bike of the AG and ran myself into 2nd good enough for a Vegas spot.

The Lesson: in my race summaries I usually try to share a lesson of what I learned good or bad. The theme of this race was… its all relative, and don’t give up. I had pre set paces, and times set for this race that I wanted to hit in order to finish in the top 3, but the conditions didn’t allow for that. As coaches we see it all the time with athletes, giving up, tossing it in when they see their time goals not being met. I was like 15 min slower than last year, but still finished 2nd like last year. My race started horrible. I started the bike so much farther back than I had planned, but didn’t give up. I am not a fast swimmer, but am not the worst ever so I figured everyone else must be having it rough out there too. On the bike I had a time goal set, but with the wind the uphill sections were pretty slow and I was off the plan. I am a strong biker and that is usually what saves me, so I figured everyone else has to be slow too, and I didn’t give up. The run was Hot, I only held my goal pace for about the first lap, and then it became tough and so much work. I stopped looking at the garmin splits and just ran. I could see others walking slowing down. I didn’t like my splits, but I kept going and didn’t give up. So when it seems like it is all falling apart, take a deep breath, let go of the expectations and just race. You never know where it will take you.

feeding frenzy post race before the long ride home

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My date with Leon

Everyone lives for the weekend and where do I jet off to for a Sat night/ Sunday adventure? Non other than lovely Hammond IN. Surely that is at the top of your bucket list of travel destinations! I had a date with Leon. Even though Hammond might not be paradise or at the top of the list for places to travel, it does host an amazing local race drawing some of the fastest age groupers around the Midwest. It is fast, fiercely competitive, close to home and this year the team competition made for an even more exciting race.

My date began with an amazing dinner at the lovely Horseshoe Casino. We were highly out of place and ended up eating sub sandwiches and pizza in the food court because some of our team members are practically children. For the record, in a pinch Uno Pizza works wonders.

My good friend Joe Lotus (he is basically Jerry Mcguire) put his heart into forming male and female “ TBC/ Bike Shop GE” teams. The team aspect of this race made for another dimension of competition. Racing with other team members as fast as you can to score points for an overall team placing was a blast. Even though everyone was out for blood, we kept it fun by wearing crazy goofy glasses on the run. We scored these shades at the Hammond Walmart!. Nothing like spending part of Sat. night at Walmart in Hammond! My selection was pink Barbie rockstar with a splash of glitter on the side.

Anyone who paid any attention has already heard the men’s team took first, with the super fast amazing TBC guys, but whats new! HOWEVER I don’t think many heard that our ladeez team finished a close 2nd in the female division. We only had 5 members (the minimum) which included our alternate , because we lost one with an ankle fracture the week of the race. I think this is frickin awesome! Everyone raced so fast and so well, it was so fun to see everyone step up and do their best. Top performances on our women’s team go to Sara Szeffi and Jenn Howland. They finished 3rd and 5th OA and are so young, barely past puberty I think, but the pieces are all coming together for them which is so exciting to see.

My race went as I expected. I thought I might die at the beginning of the swim as the start was so fast. I considered my start good as my goggles didn’t get kicked off like last year. I finally started feeling smooth after the last turn into the last leg of the swim,…...when everyone was well on the way with their bikes. Once, I was finally rolling with Scotty P, I tried to kick into high gear to chase down as many girls as I could.

Usually this is my weapon, but my legs werent all there. I didn’t feel great on the bike until the 2nd lap. I’m not sure if this was a function of not tapering, being old, or not racing OLY in so long. Maybe all of the above! On the run I just went as hard as I could. It did not feel good either until mile 3, but I was running good splits. I did much of the race in no man’s land with no one to see to chase down. I finished 12th elite which is pretty gross, but I am mostly happy with splits and the effort I could do coming off some good IM Kansas training. I still like putting myself up against the top competition and would rather finish lower in the elite, than top of the AG. Congrats to All the women who raced! So much great competition!

The post race party makes Sunday afternoon in Hammond worthwhile. Leon knows how to throw a good party and this was an awesome way to finish the date. It was so fun seeing fun friends I hadn’t seen for awhile and meeting up with fellow Wattie friend Karin Langer. I still rocked my Wattie kit while racing for team TBC! It’s a killer combo I think.

Up next, a road trip to the land of Oz, Kansas 70.3.