Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rookie No More!

Photo by: Kevin Koresky/Finishline Multisport
Whew, what a year! What a season! What an experience. It is so hard for me to even recap this year because it really has been a dream come true. When I was nearing graduation from college I sat in the student athlete career services office and was asked "what really makes you happy, what fuels you, what do you want to do?" I responded "I just want to workout for 8 hours a day and get paid for it." I'll never forget this moment. It was one I laughed about then. I still laugh about it, but now I do so with a grin. I pictured myself more as the commercial says "NCAA student athlete, 99% of us go pro in something other than sport." Attorney?!?! Ya, I certainly went pro in something other than sport, but... now, I am an athlete that has pushed my limits, and slowly started to believe this dream IS MY REALITY! I own it, and I am so proud to have shared this with so many friends, families, and sponsors. THAT is what makes this dream one worth fighting for.
My final fight of the season was Ironman Arizona. This would be my 12th triathlon of the season (all but 2 being half or full IM's). To say I packed them in might be an understatement. One too many, possibly, but I'm a fighter and don't walk away until I am officially down for the count.
Race morning was perfect. I woke up, had my oatmeal, banana, PB and Chocolate Mix1 as we made our way to the course. IMAz can bring bitter cold temps, but it wasn't too bad. I pulled out the stretch cords to try to get in a quick warm up before hitting the water. Then at waters edge it was time to offer good luck hugs to so many of my friend racing. I wish I had a picture to capture this- because it is what I've enjoyed most about racing professionally. Outside of the race we really are friends! I want the very best for these girls, and just hope on any given day my best ranks right up there with theirs.
TYR SWIM: Amanda Stevens and I were outfitted in the new TYR Freak of Nature suit. This is for real! Granted I didn't hang with Amanda in the water, but then again few guys can even do that. I mentioned having shoulder pain during Austin70.3 and it really hasn't gone away. I've tried to manage it, but was sincerely worried about it when I woke up race morning. It was throbbing! I started the swim way off to the right and instantly started swimming with another guy. Anytime I left his draft I could feel my shoulder go. So that is where I stayed, it wasn't a good swim by any means but I just had to get through it. This is NOT the approach I should have for the swim and is something that will have to change next year. 54mins is very doable for me, and now I know the importance of swimming near the front. I need to be with these girls if I have any chance at hanging on the bike. I exited in 58 minutes, sub par indeed.
QUARQ + GARMIN + FUJI BIKE: The plan for the bike was to absolutely hammer the first two loops. If this resulted in a fly and die, so be it. Let's just say I didn't execute this strategy. I felt cold and half asleep for the first loop of the bike. I just couldn't get the muscles to fire. I threw down a fruit smoothie power bar, but struggled to swallow and chew it since it was frozen solid. The conditions were by no means hellaciously cold. In fact most would say they were perfect. For me, this is not my perfection and next year I will be finding myself a few ovens to ride through. 
Photo by: Jay Presuhn - Thanks buddy for the pic and cheers!
I tried a few new nutrition strategies. One was to eat a bar right off bat. 220calories down the tube. I backed off the calories in my sports drink (straight GU Brew, without as much carbo pro added) and had a bit more water instead. I went through 4 GU's (400cal), and 2pacs of GU Chomps (360cal). I also tried to grab as many bananas as I could as I flew through the aid stations. Nutrition is something I think Chris and I are going to continue to tweek. This time I actually put down too many calories, and in turn my body had to expend too much energy on digestion instead of forward propulsion.
In terms of power and speed I got stronger with each lap. Weird thing is, with each lap the head winds picked up. Yes, lesson learned- I need to go out HARDER! Erin Spitler and I worked together and hammered our way through he strong headwinds to T2.
NEWTON + SPIBELT RUN: Chris was right there as I ran through T2. He reminded me to just do my thing. Within two miles my feet were on fire. I have been working my way into new orthotics, thanks to Tammy Harbison (Elite Feet Orthotics). I met with her while I was in Texas and she has been "all hands on deck" in terms of helping me figure this problem out. We both think it comes down to the orthotics I've been using in my bike shoes, but her master mind sure did come up with an amazing solution for my running shoes. The pain was bearable, and I know we're on our way to pain free!
This run was tough. I was in no mans land. When I saw Kurt after the first lap I just wanted to know how far to my next competitor. 3 minutes. Bugger. I never felt great on the run. I tried hard to have an out of body run experience, but my body was fighting. My legs started seizing up at the end of the second lap. I was hydrated, I had plenty of calories. My legs were just not-so-happy. Come on legs, just turn over. I focused at one mile at a time. NOT how I ever want to run a marathon!
Photo by: Kevin Koresky
This run was about fighting from within. I wasn't comfortable out there and it was not easy. The fact is, my legs and body was a bit fried from a full season of racing. I knew I wasn't going to run my way up to the money spots, and I knew top 10 was unlikely. I did however know I could run my hardest, earn the beer I would consume later that night, and put together a new PR for me. I could not have pulled out that run without the cheers and encouragement from Kurt and Chris. Guys, thank you. I ran by Chris as I headed into the 3rd loop and just said "well, I can still get an ironman PR." He wasn't quite sure if I said "PR" or "ER" but figured both were possible for me. 
With 2 miles to go I had closed the gap on the three girls ahead of me. Kurt let me know the gap, and I just put my head down and fought. I was close to tears, I was so done! But if I'm going to be out there I mis well fight. I made two passes in the final mile and cruised it in. Done and Dusted! A new ironman PR of 9:50, good enough only for the top 20. 
What an amazing field of athletes out there in Arizona. I knew going into this race it would be one to learn from, and I did. Although it was my fastest time of the year I don't believe it was my best performance. I pushed my limit this year and now I know how to play the game a bit more strategically next season. 
After a quick stop here:                                      before being greeted by my well equipped friends:

The best part of the day was sharing it with those who have been part of this entire journey. A quick shower in the parking lot and I was off to celebrate. This might be my best accomplishment of the day: a full meal, cheesecake and 2 huge beers. Yes, this did lead to bad muscle spasms later that night, but it was worth it! I've come a long way this year and am beyond grateful God pushed me through this door. It wasn't easy, and came at a price. But I know I will always look back at this as an experience I wouldn't give it up for anything!
 Thanks is never enough. But to my sponsors: TYR, Garmin, Newton, Fuji, Quarq, Nytro, GU, TrainingPeaks. You all allow me to compete at this level. You've believed in me from the beginning and I am so thankful for every ounce of encouragement you've provided along the way. Your support is what fuels me to want more from myself. 
AIMP Coaching- It is Chris that reminds me where I've come from and where WE will go from here. Thanks for never saying no when I asked to race more... and more ;-) and for helping me learn from each and every one of these experiences. To be part of your group of athletes is an honor.  Many athletes search for years to find a coach that is the perfect match for them, I've found him in year one. Here's to 2012! (and a little R&R before then?!?!?!)
Kurt: A huge and special thanks to you for pushing me to give the pro thing a try. You've been an unbelievable support for me since the beginning and it was great having you out there in Arizona! Sherpa of the year for sure. Huge gratitude  ...even if you did take my bike away from me after ;-) 
Sim:  Oh Simone, where do I start. You are a true gem! The best!! Thank you for all your massage work, and your friendship. Thank you for every story you've shared of your time as an athlete and for encouraging me to believe I belong doing just this.  Mateeeee, you've become an amazing friend and I feel so fortunate to have shared this year with you!
Everyone who followed and commented on FB, Twitter and blog world. I don't take a single word of encouragement or congratulations for granted. We can't always be together for every race, but I feel your presence as I tick off the miles on race day. 

I'd like to say that I'll do a great job with blog updating over the coming month, but honestly it might be easier to catch me on twitter: ckgregory. Quick, to the point and full of pics.
Happy Holidays and thank you for being part of my journey as a professional athlete!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Real Podium

I am fairly confident this state has more flying state flags than any other-
ok yes, it's a big state...but seriously, they love being Texans!
I have never been to Austin and really wanted to come experience the city. Also, my amazing friend, Sierra, moved to Austin earlier this year. Last year I got to share the Kona finish line with her:
She has a sparkling new addition to her family, who I also couldn't wait to embrace. Meet Kaleb:
My lead up to the race was as stress free as can be. How can you stress about a stinking triathlon when you are amidst a beautiful baby who demands much larger concerns and won't let you sweat the small stuff! But race morning I got down to business and was ready to throw down a good solid effort.
TYR Swim: Bam, gun goes off and again I was nailed by a good friend. I think I'm done lining up next to my closest friends ;-) Nah, it wasn't that bad, just an elbow to the mouth and another fist to the eye, but nothing that would slow me down. I got out with the lead group and held with them for about 300yds. One girl picked it up and dropped us all (as we knew she would). Jessica Meyers was right on my feet and I knew we could work together. After 1000yds my shoulder had a different idea. I haven't talked much about it, as I thought maybe that would make it go away, but I've been nursing a pretty bummed up shoulder. It is awesome for 2 days after body work, but then goes back to a useless painful state. It went to this place, and after only 5 mins my left arm strength was zapped. Jessica wisely came around me and took the lead. I held on for maybe a minute, but simply couldn't pull. I was then caught by the next group back and tried to jump on Terra's feet. That lasted until the turn around buoy and then they dropped me. I couldn't do much about it other than pull as hard as I could with my right arm and kick more than I ever have before. Finally in the last 4-5mins my shoulder relaxed and I was able to swim again. I hit the shore frustrated, but my short term memory kicked in and it was onto the bike.
Bike: The bike course was one loop, covering some of the worst roads I've ever raced on. Definitely the worst of the six 70.3 events I've done this season! Unacceptable in my book. Letter to the powers that be is in the works.
I exited transition with Terra. I felt fine on the bike and my power was right where it needed to be. I opted to put my head down, stop looking at my computer and just think about finding that leg burn I hate so dearly. Terra was crushing it and I was just happy to have company.
I loved the new Speedfil A2! Didn't bounce around or splash, and SO easy to refill!
There was a long patch of dirt/gravvel/rocks at mile 18. I don't understand why this wasn't covered! Sure enough one of the small rocks sliced my tire. I didn't realize it was going flat for another 10 miles but eventually dismounted and threw a pit stop in it to see if it would seal and be ok.
Back to work.Now I was playing the solo party catch up game and well, I failed! Not much more to say about that. It it comes down to one thing: I don't go to that dark place where pain is a welcomed into the body and nothing will stand in my way! It isn't an issue of capability, it is one of desire. I just don't dig deep enough on the bike. Yes, I am amidst ironman training (clear by the fact that I was back to riding and running long immediately after the race), but that is no excuse. I need to ride harder, I need to push deeper, and I need to simply find the desire within to HURT!
I don't want to give any more attention to the flat situation, but I did end up riding the last 16miles on a very low tire. I am not sure if that was the wiser decision (versus changing it), but I didn't know how flat it was and I didn't want to get off to check. It was obvious when I turned going into T2 that little air was left in that baby. Doesn't matter, flats or not I didn't ride hard enough.
Run: I exited T2 with my head down. I almost didn't care how far up it was to the next girl. I just had to pull something out of the day. The course was changed to 3 loops. It was rolling hills with a few substantial dips. The sun was out and things started heating up, but overall the conditions weren't anything extreme. I caught 3 girls in the first loop and was comfortably holding around 6:30. My mental game switched from pace to passing. Tick them off one at a time and see how far this can get me. Every up hill had a downhill so I tried to power up the hills and use the downhills to close the gaps. Free speed! 
Garmin let me know my pace tailored off to 6:35's for the second loop- think I only made one more pass. I saw Sierra, John and Kaleb as I started the 3rd loop. They told me I had 3 girls within 90 seconds and this got my legs firing again. It was time to drop the hammer. My goal was to build each loop.I immediately passed one and believed I was now in 6th (aka-one out of the $$$). It was hard to get anything from the aid stations because the course was so packed. I took coke, water and my carbo pro/gu flask concoction wherever I could get it.. 3 miles to go and I cruised by Hailey. Hailey and I raced CDA together and although I closed the gap on her during the run I never caught her. We both encouraged each other, but she didn't have it in the legs to come with me (she flatted too- grrr). I thought I was comfy in 4th or 5th and that's where I'd finish. 3 miles to go I saw one more yellow bib ahead of me and worked on closing that gap. My feet were on fire, but my turnover was still there (recall this was sucked dry during my time in Boulder and led to awful runs at IMWI and Branson!). When you're passing someone every mile it is a lot easier to hold your pace up and keep fighting/believing. My Newtons reminded me to keep my forward lean, high turnover and fast feet! With 2 miles to go I passed Lesley. She was the only person I passed that hung on for a bit before dropping back. I wondered if I should have delayed that pass, but there was too much ground left and I was fine with my pace. I just had to push harder. I didn't know if I would catch anyone else (I knew Jessica was too far ahead), so I thought maybe the fastest run split was a good goal to run for.
When I crossed the line I wasn't sure what place I was in. Honestly, I couldn't keep track. I approached the finish and was welcomed at the 3rd female. I was ecstatic! My first REAL podium finish. And this came after 2 weeks of no running.  After my week in Kona we were worried I might have a stress fracture so I took some (painful) time off the feet. Chris's first text to me post race was: see I told you fast was still possible for you after minimal running. Cheers to that!!  After a strong run at IM CDA my running hasn't been anything to write home about. I've had great training runs, but during races my legs haven't been there. It wasn't a fatigue thing, but simply an effect from training at altitude. Let's just say I am HAPPY to welcome my running legs back. All the top girls agreed something was up with our run splits. My watch had me at least 2 mins faster (and i stopped it late)- took them FOREVER (once again) to update our times/splits/results. So who knows. Maybe one day they'll throw some $$ into their timing system and get it right so tracking athletes online isn't so tough for those who want to follow our sport.

"The podium" can be defined as however deep the money goes for any particular race, but traditionally it was reserved for the top 3. So, this was my first time on the real podium, and I am so happy to share this with the sponsors who have toed the line with me all year long! Once again Chris prepared me for everything.It wasn't always pretty, but I was happy with my delivery. He likes to remind me there are a million ways to get to the finish line after 70.3 or 140.6 miles.  Every mile presents opportunity. Just hold it together and never stop fighting! I did just that.
Congratulations to my friend Jessica Meyers on another 70.3 win. She is a rock star of inspiration! Things didn't go completely according to plan for her either, but in the end she finished a champion. Well deserved my friend! It was great to race with Hailey, Erin, Terra and Morgan again. Equally awesome to race and meet other pro women I hadn't raced before.
A HUGE special thanks to Simone for all of her massage work with me! I returned from Boulder with some "issues" and she is a big reason I was able to put together the fastest run split on the day. Simone, I love you and treasure your friendship beyond words! Chris, it's been a very fun road this season and I certainly share the podium with you. Thank you for believing in me and continuing to teach me so much about this sport- more to come from this team!!! Next up for us: Ironman Arizona...

Saturday, October 22, 2011


We all know what was going on 2 weeks ago over in Hawaii. The sport of triathlon once again took over the Big Island and lit up the lava fields! I knew I didn't want to race there this year. I feel blessed beyond words to have raced there the past 3 years. I look back to when Kona was just a dream...and now 3 years later all that hard work payed off and allowed for new opportunities. This year was all about experience...soak it all in and love every minute of it.
BY FAR the best part of the year has been the people I've met and become great friends with. Many headed to Hawaii to live out their dream. I couldn't sit in San Diego- I had to be part of the action. So off I went to the Big Island. My week was jam packed of training (my season seems far from over), helping as many of my sponsors as I could, and doing anything/everything for my friends who were racing.
Although I could hardly walk by weeks end, I loved every second of it. It felt amazing to give back to this sport that I love so much. Being a competitor can be so selfish! So here you have it- my week in Kona:

THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE STOOD BEHIND AND SUPPORTED ME THROUGH MY ROOKIE PRO SEASON: It's not just about the brands/products- the people behind these brands have become great friends and an amazing family of support!
 Tyler from GU. Dude, I better see you again before Kona next year!
 Talia- it was awesome to FINALLY meet you in person. Mahalo!
 She isn't just part of Quarq- SHE IS Quarq. Ki...thank you for believing in me. 
I wouldn't of made the improvements in cycling I have without my Quarq!
 Brian and Jen- part of the TYR Family. TYR isn't just about swimming
any longer. They have arrived and made an amazing impact within the sport of triathlon!
Two of my dear friends at Newton- Tim and Tory! I am showing off the new MV2, 
but the shoe was cut out of the shot- so not it looks like I'm just hugging Tim with my leg. Hmmm

I threw down a solid week of training! Never looked far for awesome training partners (at least for the first and last hours anyway. The middle was usually solo as those racing weren't about to go the distance with me that week).
 Many hours training on the Queen K taught me it is way easier to race out there than to train there. 
Hydration and food along the way, and ample opportunities to drench yourself with water. 
The winds were wicked that week- racers, you lucked out!!
 I ventured south as well to get out of the wind and hit the hills.
 Pre race spin for Rinny. Who didn't enjoy watching her throw down another amazing run! 
Congrats girl!!!
 Heather and Linsey brought me home after a solid interval session. 
To say these girls are studs on 2 wheels is an understatement!
One of the highlights of my summer was training with Jo Lawn. Not only an amazing athlete, but an unbelievable person and ambassador for our sport! I'll miss her and her hubby Armando!
Donna and I got in some training, relaxation and recovery (thanks Normatec!). 
Recovery boots + Lava Java = heaven!

And then there was race day! WHEW way easier to race than watch!
 Can you spot coach? Right behind the top paddler. (Yi Hsueh, AIMP athlete extraordinaire got some solid pics!)
 Team TYR outside the TYR house waiting for the runners to come by. 
It was great to see all of you!!! 
Many hugs of gratitude for all you do for us, and our sport!
 Speaking of TYR- Here are your TYR reps-Ryan and Sarah. Great job out there guys! 
Ryan's first IM- Impressive performance my friend! (He is yet to admit how much fun he had out there ;-))
Rich Blanco on his way to the finish (Pic by Yi Hsueh). HUGE thanks to Rich and Jordan for letting me crash with them all week. It was a great week in Kona, and I really enjoyed spending time with you guys. Love those AIMP athletes!
 And...here he comes! Great to watch Coach Chris and support him for once. He didn't have the day he dreamed of, but dang the 40-45yr old men are wicked fast! You can read his race report here
  (pic by Yi Hsueh)

There were a lot more dinner dates and drink outings this time around. Like I said, it isn't easy being a spectator in Kona ;-) I snapped a few at the after party- but am pretty bummed D'Anza (TriBike Transport) and I didn't get any pics- but I love you too D!
The happy Potts couple. Good job out there Andy!
Ohhh, there he is. Mr. Dave Scott. I do miss our swim sessions. He made me WORK (and laugh-a lot)! Cheers Mate!
And that's a wrap: train, sherpa, expo, dinner/drinks...a successful week in Kona. Thanks to everyone who shared their Kona dreams with me. It was an honor to sit on the side line for this one. Only 29pro women toed the line- and to each of them, I am in awe!
As for me, Austin70.3 has my name written all over it. Time to get back to racing-it's been 4 weeks after all. This will be half IM number 7 for me this year. Whooop Whooop! Love racing!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Come Back Fight

LONG overdo, but it's been a whirwind couple weeks. Nevermind the 3half IM's and most of an IM in 6 weeks. The drive back from Co to CA + working a 3 day expo and trying to sleep/recover/catch up knocked me out! Anyways...with no further ado, Branson70.3! (sorry for the lack of pics)

The evening of Sept 11 was a bit emotional and tough. I was quite discouraged with how my day unfolded in Wisconsin, and really started questioning myself. It was my first ever DNF, how could I not. Thankfully Chris would have none of that. He didn't wait long before asking me: "what's next?" I didn't know how I could get things together, be ok with what went down after giving SO much, and return to battle again. I just didn't know that I even wanted to train and get ready for another ironman. I did EVERYTHING I could for IMWI. I put aside financial stresses, left San Diego and trained my butty off in Boulder. I was fit, I was ready! but...I didn't deliver. My body just said no. To think of gearing up for another ironman seemed emotionally daunting. But what Chris meant was: what is next, as in immediately! Options: Branson or Augusta? I talked to Branson's race director, Ryan Robinson and he put on a solid sell. I had to jump through  few hoops, but 1 week after WI I found myself toeing the line again.

Swim: We were worried we'd have another canceled swim on our hands. The storms leading up to the race where horrendous. Thankfully the thunder subsided around 5am and we were cleared for the swim. Phew! The gun went off and I could see Jaz was off. She even left power house swimmer Nina Craft in her dust. We rounded the far buoy and I joined 2 swimmers I had previously swam away from. I let Morgan do some pulling and Jessica stuck right to my feet. I felt like I was swimming well, but had wished I was further out front. I exited the water and crossed the mat in 3rd. Once in transition I took time to put on arm warmers and a vest- both weren't necessary, but had it started to rain I would of been thankful. A broken zipper cost me 1-2mins, but getting cold would take me out of the race completely.

Bike: I felt strong from the second I started riding. I didn't feel as uncomfortable and "out of it" as I had in Wisconsin. My legs were powering up the hills, and I felt I had an extra gear when I wanted it. The plan was for me to not look at my power readings. I didn't care what they had to say- I just had to GO for it! I rode my way into 3rd but was later passed by Jasmine and Mackenzie. I still knew I was in this, but unlike WI I didn't get obsessed with where I was in comparison to my competition. Yes, that is what I thrive for and the largest reason I took this pro journey, to RACE, but I needed to race myself again. I needed to dig and never give up. I needed to bounce back from the previous weekend and know I was just fine. My legs were burning, but I knew I was laying it out there. Turns out when I looked at the power file after the race I did just that. I took a risk and held my power from beginning to end. 4500ft of climbing and VERY wet roads led to slower bike splits, but finally I was right there with the other girls. I was in the mix on the bike, like I knew I could be. Mission accomplished. Now time to put together a solid run.

Run: I jumped off the bike and my leg turnover was no where to be found. This was how I felt in WI. My legs usually roll over so fast I have to pull in the reigns. Training at altitude sucked my turnover out of my legs. I never felt great running at altitude. I had some awesome workouts and was running plenty fast up there, but my turnover faded. I just never felt good on the run. I stayed with it mentally and got through the day. I didn't realize I was closing in on Jasmine or I might of charged a little earlier. I put the throttle down with 2 miles to go but ended up 30secs behind her to finish in 5th. 

The goals for the day were: erase IMWi from my memory. Mission accomplished! Be happy I decided to race immediately: mission accomplished! Realize my fitness is there and another ironman is definitely in my near future: mission accomplished! So all in all I was very happy with my race. My swim was where it should of been, the bike (on a very tough course) felt powerful and was very solid coming off a tough 112mile ride the weekend before, and my run will be fine. In fact, the advantage of waiting so long to write this- my run is already returning. 2.5 weeks down from altitude and I'm already running faster than I have all year (awesome considering my legs still haven't recovered from the recent spat of racing + travel). My turnover and form is BACK!

Long ago I learned it's not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up that really matters and shows your character as an athletes. I'm back up and ready to keep the fight alive! GAME ON!

BIG Thanks to Ryan Robinson, Tom Ziebart and the entire race support team! The weather conditions required them to work over time and come up with plan a) swim bike run, b) bike run, and c) swim run plans. The bike course in Branson is hands down the best bike course I've ever done. I wish the run course had less paths and winding turns, but the swim and bike course makes up for that. Thank you Chris for believing in me, and for being an amazing coach and friend and not letting me rest when I was down. To the Martin family, thank you for pushing me to another start line. Having your support this summer meant the world to me- one can never have too large a family. MISS you guys! TYR, I am one lucky girl to have your support. If you've read my blog once you know how committed I am to this brand- for one reason alone...it is THE BEST! Fuji, I'm loving my new ride and finally we're rocking together. Only up from here! Newton, thank you for helping me work out a few niggles and a special thank you to Danny Abshire for tweaking my run form and refitting my orthodics. Newton shoes + Active Imprints insoles = fast pain free running for me. TriBike Transport allowed me to hunt down their truck to get my bike back in time to leave again for Branson. Talk about customer service!!!!! THANK YOU. Garmin and GU you make this all possible by keeping me fueled and focused on moving forward.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moooooooo Booooooo

My visit to Madison was spectacular...well, except for one glowing disappointment- the race! As in the reason for traveling there and the reason for almost everything I've done over the last 3 months.However, before I get to that I have to say that Katya and I were blessed to stay with homestay extraordinaire Joann.  Seriously, she WAY over did herself!!!
She took Katya and I to a little Oasis to get our nails race ready, made sure we were properly fed every night, ensured I had any and every kind of coffee (AND splenda!) I wanted, drove us to drop off all of our gear on Sat, returned to the house when she learned I forgot to put something in my transition bag, ran to the hardware store to get the right screws for my beaker concept Blaze hydration system, AND got ice for both of us to do ice baths after the race! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G thanks to Joann for adopting 2 more daughters for the week. This makes 4 for her, no wonder she's so loving.
I know a lot of people are wondering what happened, where it went wrong and why/when I called it quits. Thank you for all the awesome messages of love and support! I'm lucky to feel your support when things go well, but to feel it when things don't go according to plan is simply heart warming.
Swim: I felt very relaxed and ready for the day to get under way. I put a lot of expectations on myself, but was ready to get to it...first challenge-the swim. The cannon went off and 5 strokes later, BAM! AUGH! I took a substantial blow to the stomach. I felt like my insides were jolted and I couldn't breath. I (literally) had the wind knocked out of me. I tried to move, but couldn't. A few minutes later I was able to swim a bit of backstroke. I could kinda breath, but not enough to submerge my head underwater for a 2second. Never had this happen before, first for everything. Once my breath returned it was time to get to work. I was catching those ahead, and flying by them. At the end of the first lap I caught people that typically swim around 1:05. More work to do! I was swimming well, but had to fight for every inch of water until the swim exit.
 Bike: Here we go. The plan: hammer! Take risks! and believe! I took off from T1 determined to make up for lost ground. I was a girl on a mission. The first 60 miles I was laying it down and everything was going well. My power was right where I dreamed it would be. The rolling hills were unrelenting. I absorbed the pain they deleverd and battled on. 65miles in I hadn't caught anyone and now was getting caught by those behind me. Jessica came by and I didn't hang with her at all. Then Lauren caught me and we worked together for a bit. I felt great again, but she took off on one of the downhill segments. Just then an age group guy pulled between us and stopped peddling- as if to say "look at me, look at me, I passed a pro, my day is now complete." I immediately passed him and was given a yellow card for not dropping out of his draft before repassing. Lauren was now a bit down the road and I never caught back up. Later I got a second penalty for going over the imaginary (there wasn't a line in the road) center line because a car decided to totally block the road. I was the second pro to swerve around the car but the the only one to get a penalty for it. Oh well, just saying...it wasn't my day and luck was not on my side. Looking back, this all came into play in terms of the mental component of the day. 
Ultimately my ride went spectacularly well for 3.5 hours, thereafter (as coach said) I was not a happy camper and it showed in my performance.  After 4 hours my legs just said NO MORE! I tried to stop looking at my power, but my heart rate wasn't much better. I tried to focus on nutrition and keeping my fight alive, but I just felt dead. I rolled into transition and fell dismounting my bike. Luck, come on...start now...because it's finally time to RUN!

Run: I started my run feeling pretty down. Even at IMCDA I was happy to be on the run course. After a few miles I felt like small pieces of glass were being shoved into the bottom of my foot. I ran into 6th, but knew I might call it a day pretty soon after. All I wanted was to see my friend and hear that it was ok for it to "not be my day" and the smart decision would be to call it quits. I saw Joann, around mile 8. Like clockwork she let me know where I was and how far ahead 5th place was. I ran another mile and then knew it was time. Time to do something I've never done before. Time to walk off the course, towards the lake, and turn in my timing chip to the officials. 
Honestly, the day just never went my way. I never felt the way I'd hoped to. I never felt like I could pull things together and make a race out of it. My dear friend Jenny started crying and did EVERYTHING to urge me on.  I had to make the call, and believe it was the right one. I was discouraged, frustrated, sad, beaten down, deflated, etc. When things went wrong, I fought and battled on. Ultimately, things weren't clicking and although an ironman is 140.6 miles, and anything can happen- it wasn't my day. Over 16miles to go and I didn't feel I could get things together and pull out a day that I'd be happy or even content with.

I got a ride back to the finish in time to see Jessica and Meredith's spectacular finishes. The day belonged to them, and they tore that course up! Both were kind enough to ask what happened and if I was ok. Tears flowed almost immediately, I just wanted to celebrate for them but was still amidst a bit of a pitty party. While taking in THEIR moment both girls offered up stories of when they experienced the feeling I had. They were beyond gracious, and just made me slap myself to realize this was part of professional racing.We can put everything into a race, but that doesn't mean it will turn out according to plan. We have to deal with what comes our way, push deep, but also be smart. 
Thankfully, Chris is an amazing coach (and friend) both when things go well and when the stars don't align. He reminded me that endurance athletics don't come together (for 99% of us) over night. We have to keep on keeping on! Pitty party lasted a few days, but enough of that. Don't you worry...it WILL fuel my fire within. Chris and I- yeah, we're not going out like that. 

It is easy to stand behind someone when everything is going well, but one's true colors show when things aren't going so well. A HUGE thanks to my sponsors and friends who have picked me up and demanded that I carry on. AIMP Coaching, words can't describe! TYR, I will make it back to the podium and my smile will be even brighter because of your support. Quarq for allowing me to continually track my progress, analyze my training and race results, and develop a strategy for moving forward. Newton for giving me the confidence that my legs can fly on the run even on a less than stealer day.  GU and Mix1 for fueling me day after day. Beaker Concepts, and Speedfil for making sure hydration is never an issue. Garmin, 100% makes the best bike and running computer systems out there. AND endless hugs to my Boulder family- the Martin's have offered the daily support I need to keep believing in (and laughing at) myself. I LOVE you guys and am getting a bit sad that it's about time to head back to the beach :-(

My fight continues- STAY TUNED!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Since returning to Boulder I've been all focus. Honestly, my mind was in a million different places, but with a little help I've returned to where I need to be mentally....and am HUNGRIER than ever.  I couldn't wait to get back to work...and thankfully didn't have to wait long. Wednesday I was back in the pool slogging through a 5,000m high quality workout. The final 50m was the most important of all-a race between the great Dave Scott and myself. It was all business! 50m breaststroke, with paddles of course. The 8 judge panel called it a tie.
Photo by Paul Phillips
Thursday I returned to the bike and powered through a few long hill climbs-1x60mins, and 1x40mins. THAT is what is so awesome about training in Boulder. After a 30min spin you're at the base of the mountains and can climb until your hearts content. Ohhhhh how I missed seeing 9,000+ ft on my Garmin500! Friday Uli and I returned to the peak and banked a solid long ride (someone's returning to Kona! Whoop Whoop!).
Last week I emailed Coach and asked if I was free to add as much time in the pool as I wanted. His response-yes! 3 solid weeks until Ironman and I know I have to take advantage of my swimming background. As an age grouper I could get away with minimal swimming and still be in the mix. NOT the case in the pro ranks. Even with my background in the sport I've been coming out of the water with the middle of the pack. If you've been reading about my time here in BoCo you know I've been focusing on improving my weakness (cycling, duh!)- but this can't come at a cost.  I need to get every ounce out of my strengths. Swimming should be the strongest of the 3 disciplines for me, but it really hasn't been. Failing to come out of the water ahead of the main pack means too much ground to make up on the run. So.... I need to up my game and stop slouching in the swim!
I've been arriving to the pool with a revived sense of focus. I get in early, get out late, and sneak in short swims whenever I can.  Thankfully, my neighbors invited me as their "guest" at the country club 1/4mi away. This leaves me NO excuse.
Photo by Paul Phillips
When my plan calls for a real workout/masters I head to Flatirons. The coaches and my lane mates always keep me honest and make me hurt (as does the altitude)! Between these swims (and when I'm so tired that it wouldn't be safe to drive) I walk down the street, throw myself in the pool and crank out the meters. In a strange way I think many of us find it easier and more natural to focus on our weaker of the 3 disciplines. I've refocused and in my final build am putting everything I can into my swimming and running. I know I need to get my swimming back up to par so I can reach my full potential and be "ALWAYS IN FRONT."
Time to put my head to the grindstone...20days until we party in Mad town!   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The battles we choose, and those we don't!

Last weekend I traveled back to MI to spend time with my parents and get in the second of my back to back 70.3 races. It was pretty awesome to see how many top professionals also decided to add Steelhead to their race schedule. In years past the race has only drawn a handful of professional, however with a large prize purse this year I got to share my beloved homeland with athletes from around the world-including some of my favorite San Diego girls:
One of my favorite places to swim is Lake MI. It's crystal clear fresh water is one of our countries hidden gems! I was pretty excited to return to sea level and hammer out a strong swim, however mother nature had something to say about that. We woke up to weather advisories for strong rip tides. This meant another canceled swim for me this season. I was ready for all water temps, but sadly my  TYR sleeveless, hurricane and swimskin would remain in the car-BUGGER!
The pro's were sent off in a TT format, one every 30 seconds. This assured an honest race by all! I am not sure they even needed to send draft marshals out onto the course.
(Once again) I was determined to put everything I had into the bike! Dig dig dig. With the TT style of racing there were certainly moments where my mind could wander. Thankfully my Quarq kept me honest and pushing from mile 0 to 56! I passed 2 girls pretty early on, and then later was passed by the speedy Mel Rollinson and Heather Jackson.  I stayed focused on my goals for the race and continued to push the power. (Being that I had only ridden it a collective 2.5hrs) I was honestly shocked with how comfortable I felt on my new Fuji D-6! My power transfer was constant and I felt right at home tucked down in the Profile aero-bars! Killer bike, awesome fit, happy girl.
Although I didn't put out one of the fastest bike splits of the day it was a HUGE step for me. Coming off Boulder70.3 and some solid training blocks my legs were a bit fatigued. The ultimate goal will come in 4 weeks, and I just needed an honest test to see where I was at. My average power was about 15watts higher than in Boulder, the highest it's ever been for this distance. and I come away from this race knowing what the best cadence will be for me at the Ironman distance. Overall I returned to T2 very happy with my effort.
Photo by: Wattie Inc. - Rock the W! (Thanks Wattie!!)
The run course is rolling and offers challenges both in terms of the short quick climbs, wind, and a variety of running surfaces.  My Newton shoes wanted to turn over faster than I could almost keep up with. 2 miles in I told myself to settle down and settle in. Although my legs felt pretty fried coming off the bike I could certainly feel the effects of returning to sea level. My heart rate was lower than it typically is for this pace/effort and my breathing wasn't a bit labored. I made one pass early on and then it was a pretty lonely run. Just me and my Garmin battling through the miles. At mile 10 I hit the most substantial hill of the course (again, 2 loop run) and my legs felt like bricks. I still felt great cardiovascular but muscularly I was toast.  I put my head down, even grunted a few times, and tried to push as deep as I could through the finish. A run split of 1:27:30 (4th fastest) was a solid accomplishment for me on this day. OUCH! I was D.O.N.E!
In the end I was 10th, only one second behind 9th and a few more behind 8th. Congratulations to everyone on dealing with the adversity and conditions of the day! Another race with amazing athletes-many of which will be throwing down their 70.3 skills at the World Championships in Vegas in a few weeks time. Good luck Heather, Melissa, Christie, and Kristin.
This race was ultimately about much more than the race itself. The real battle and inspiration came from my mom. She'd kill me for mentioning or drawing any attention to her, but the week before IMCDA I found out my mom had breast cancer. This awful disease runs in our family and she's done EVERYTHING in her powers to avoid falling victim to it. Thankfully this meant it was detected early and the prognosis is as good as it gets! My mom is my rock and to hear this absolutely killed me. Racing at Steelhead meant I could also be with her through a few of her treatments. She's already half way through, and will be done by the time I toe the line in WI (or for opening day of UofM football ;-)). Being with her this past weekend meant more to me than any placement, PR or power ride file ever will.  As she always reminds me "the best memories are made when we share them with those we love!!!" So, to my parents- thank you for sharing this one with me! She certainly didn't choose this battle, but she is fighting through it with dignity, grace and determination....all things I hope to display while I'm out there fighting through my own small battles of life.
Thank you to my sponsors for continuing to believe in me and supporting me on this quest. TYR, Newton, Quarq, Flatout Bread, TrainingPeaks, Nytro, GU, and Garmin. My feet have a special thanks to Sidi for helping me move past some post IMCDA foot pain!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


In the day leading up to the race I felt a strong combination of nervousness and excitement. I was a little nervous about racing at altitude, knowing that I am no where near acclimated. Although this town is raging with the worlds best triathletes several opted out of this race because they say racing at altitude takes too much out of you- and well, they live here year round! So, it just had me a bit on edge. Thing is, this was overshadowed by my excitement to race several of the top women in this sport, so...Game On!
Check out a video of the pro men and women swim start (it focuses in on me just before our start and then out of the water) and then coming out of the water:  http://youtu.be/vwIqF3ywFOY
I knew I had to go out at a controlled pace. I've been swimming a fair amount, and my stroke actually feels better it has in years (hmmmm, maybe that coach of mine and his olympic swimming powers has something to do with it?!?!?!) However, I still haven't been able to put in any real sustained solid efforts in the water since getting here. I knew if I went too hard I'd be unable to catch my breath and the day could start disastrous. As it turns out I settled into a strong pace, focused on my stroke and pull, and was instantly leading a group of girls, with only Kelly ahead of us. I could still see her, and she wasn't gaining any ground. I wanted to GO for her, but 12 strokes hard was all I could put in. Around the first buoy I started getting pummeled. Yup, I've only felt "clobbered" like this once before, and sure enough it was the same culprit. I tried hard to ditch her, but again 12 strokes was all I could muster before relaxing to breath again. The pace felt fairly easy, and I didn't feel it was really necessary to move behind and let her pull. I wasn't struggling and I didn't feel the swim was taking much out of me. Other than overheating I felt great (water was supposedly 75.8. RIGHT?!?! Please WTC change this rule! If I'm hot I can only imagine how the guys felt).  With 200meters to go I decided  "Hell, I don't need to breath for 200m." I threw my kick into the mix and took off. I got out of the water in 2nd, 2mins down from Kelly. Solid!
Thanks to the Training Peaks crew for snapping some shots of me!!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to jump on my killer new Fuji. My long a%# legs require a longer seat tube for the small frame, so his debut might have to wait until Wisconsin :-(
When I hit the road I instantly began gasping, and I mean gasping! I have done a lot of hard riding here in Boulder, and I know racing is different but it still felt wrong. Yesterday was one of the first really dry days here and I typically don't do as well racing in dry climates. So perhaps that played a part, who knows. In the first 5 miles I was passed by Angela and Amanda. I told myself no matter who it was that came up on me I had to go with them. Easier said than done, they ate me up and spit me out. I locked into my power and felt I was holding right where I should be. At mile 30 I was passed by Whitney, Uli and Jessica. My spirits plummeted! I felt I was riding strong and my training has been going really well. I tried to hang with them but it just wasn't happening. I came into the race pretty tired, but had taken 2 days super easy. Ultimately I just think I was struggling with the altitude. Whatever it was, I got my head screwed back on and got back to work. The second loop of the bike was packed with age groupers. It got a bit dicey at times with the open roads, but I remained focused on the task at hand, zeroed in on my powermeter, and tried to say hydrated. My legs were burning and I was ready to hit the run.
My plan was to settle into 7minute pace for the first uphill mile, and see how my stride and turn over felt.  The run is on hard gravel roads and paths with a few rollers. I've done some training out there, so knew it wasn't going to be a fast run. No sub 6:30 pace miles racing up here in the sky! I was running in no mans land. Once to the top of the hill I looked back and didn't see anyone charging at me. I kept this pace and finally at mile 5.5 saw I could catch someone. I passed Marylyn and moved into 7th. I didn't have anyone there giving me info, and the course doesn't really allow the opportunity to scout out the competition. I wondered if I could move up any more, so when I saw Dave Scott around mile 9 I asked how far ahead Jessica was. He didn't seem too confident in his approximation, but guessed 3 minutes. With that I shut it down. I knew I was solid in 7th and started thinking about Steelhead next weekend.  I settled into a comfortable tempo pace and headed for home. Again, I didn't care about my time but simply wanted to secure the best place I possibly could. On this day it was 7th....and amidst my Boulder based competition I was very pleased! I was all smiles heading home.
If you read Kelly's race report she jokes about one of us saying "have fun" right before the gun went off. Kelly sent out a quick "good luck" and I responded with "have fun." We all laughed because at that moment, the battle we're about to embark on doesn't really sound "fun."  However, it is incredibly important for me never to loose site of how fun racing is for me. ESPECIALLY at this level! Painful, YES, but wicked  fun too!
A quick thank you to the CMS crew! Michael and Ryan were in T1 (to tell me I was running out the wrong direction), T2 and at the finish to bring me in. Race day support really means a lot to me, so thank you boys!!! Thanks to Berry Siff for not only putting on a great race, but getting to know even the newbie/out-of-towner and making me feel right at home. Awesome race, amazing volunteers, great course! Those who started these races worked VERY hard to create the best race atmosphere possible.This was a good one. Congratulations Angela, Kelly, Amanda, Whitney, Uli Jessica and Marilyn. It was an honor to share the podium with each of you!
Next weekend I get to enjoy a "hometown" race! I can't wait to get back to MI (for some cooler weather and family fun). I'm especially excited to see a few of my California training partners and friends who will be racing there as well. Another one in the books...and with each one I feel truly blessed to be experiencing this journey!