Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Season Opener

Sunday's race was about 3 things: get the winter cob webs out, collect wattage data, and go hard. It was awesome to sleep in my bed, wake up no earlier than I would to train, and enjoy a March race that didn't involve frigid waters. The water in Coronado flows from Mexico, and was way warmer than I ever remember the water being for Cali70.3. No brain freeze = is a good thing!
The elite wave went off at 8:00. I wish I could report that the swim was uneventful. If that were the case I probably would of held with (or closer to) the lead pack of girls. (unlike long distance racing, these short course girls can swim!) I was out to the first buoy with the lead group. I believe I found Christina Jackson's feet, and was happy to settle in there. Just then a girl decided it would be smart to grab my ankle and YANK me backwards. I've never had this happen! I lost my feet, and then to add poison to the wound she threw an elbow at my head. Unreal, I don't know what she was trying to accomplish. Instead of jumping on my feet or sharing the draft she sent us both backwards while the group swam away. Now that the results are posted, I know who it is. Next time I see her I hope to give her a hug, and shower her with sportsmanship...
That aside, the swim went well. I worked hard (better than my typical settling in). I came out of the water 1minuite down from the leader.
 Thank you Kevin -Finishline Multisport- for the pics!!!
Bike: I honestly don't want to go into this much. I don't know exactly what went wrong out there. My quads were on fire, and I felt like I was pushing hard....while in reality I was going backwards. I 100% should not have lost the kind of time I did. I analyzed the ride to the extent that it will help me moving forward. I also revisited my bike fit yesterday. The goal was to get some wattage numbers, and well we did. Turns out I also learned the first lesson about installing a power meter: you can't change the chain ring after it's been calibrated. This changes the calibration (makes sense now) because different material/stiffness=  different force. So, the numbers we did get were way off from those I was actually producing.  There was, however, a pattern and Chris analyzed what we did get and will use it to shape my training.
Run: The race is put on by a few great friends of mine. Mitch Hall is one of the race directors, and Ben Vaughan handles the race day volunteers. They were both at the exit of T2, and let me know that "my work was cut out for me, [so I best] start running hard and not slow down." The first two miles were on a softer sand trail with a few twists and turns. I couldn't see anyone ahead of me, so I just worked on leg turn over and put the throttle down (why didn't I do this on the bike. ugh!). My first two miles I clocked around 6:35 pace. Considering the soft sand I figured this wasn't so shabby. Mile 3 was on a straight packed trail, and my pace jumped substantially. I checked in with where the girls were ahead of me, and at the turn around knew my only hope was to move up one spot.
 Lesson learned: No matter how wrong a race might be going, it's still an opportunity to make large fitness gains from going "race hard". I kept pushing the pace. My next mile 6:10. It quickly looked like my typical (half and full IM) race strategy of negative splitting my runs was going to be a cinch. The last 3.2 miles were on concrete.This is where I have to thank Christina. I could see her ahead of me, and used her as motivation to keep running fast. It would of been easy to slow up and say it just wasn't my day. Instead I dropped my pace to 5:45 and gave it everything I had. I ran out of real estate, so was unable to catch anyone. I finished with a new PR 10k- 39:40. Considering the terrain, I am happy with that. Something good to take from the race- I haven't been focusing on running at all this winter, but it is still there. Problem is, I have been focusing on cycling, and that wasn't there.
But the analysis has been done, and in the end the race was totally worth it. I had fun, and enjoyed going through the motions before it really counts. Looks like the next race will be New Orleans70.3 in 3 weeks.
Until then, me and the CinQo will be spending a lot of time getting to know each other.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Season in Style

This past weekend was the kick off to my season. Last year my first race was the SuperFrog half ironman on the Navy Seal training base in Coronado. This year they decided to move the half IM to September, but kept the international and sprint as their race series season opener.
Typically the day before a shorter "C" race I get in a quality long ride and go in a bit wrecked. Coach is my voice of reason, and this time I actually rested the day before. That meant I had time to paint the nails- TYR red of course! And time to admire my new bike jewels... something I've dreamed of for a while now.
Awww, yes dreams do come true! So before I get to my race report I have to share this... In my last blog I mentioned that I really wanted to find a coach that would implement power into my training and racing. I've been talking to the founders of Quarq for a few years now. They've put their soul into this company, and I haven't been disappointed with my decision to use their power meter over the other top sellers on the market! Back in 2006 Jim and Mieke Meyer (founders of Quarq) began with a passion, driven by their desire to create a less expensive power meter. They partnered with some of the best designers and testers, and in 2008 their engineering, testing and science was revealed in the CinQo. In 2009 the Cervelo test team was outfitted with the CinQo, and ever since their biggest problem is keeping up with demand.
Long story short, Quarq is an amazing company backed by even more amazing people (I know, I've been on the phone with them nearly every day last week. Customer service= AMAZING!)  I am ecstatic about this partnership, and in turn hope to offer a little insight for others interested in getting on the power bandwagon. 
So, the main motivation for racing yesterday was to obtain data. A huge thanks not only to Quarq, but to Kurt as well! He installed my CinQo and took care of all my pre-race bike prep (and if you read this often, you know this is not my favorite aspect of racing!!!) So it goes without saying that taking apart bottom brackets, cranks, and large chain rings...not my forte! Much gratitude! My new bejeweled machine looked better than ever! Race report to follow...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Camp Continued

Our time in St. George continued with more swim, bike, run...and many many more laughs. Most people in the group are from San Fran, and have been fortunate to have been working with Chris for some time.
Everyone welcomed me into the group with open arms. The weekend was an absolutely perfect introduction into what a killer coach Chris is! I saw first hand how much he cares about each athlete...and it was awesome to watch him out there tearing it up with us. He will no doubt be an inspiration to me along the way!
Day 2 included another ride, and a longer transition run. We rolled down to the lake and said a quick prayer for those racing (that the water would warm up of course).
It was a quick: "look at the pretty lake," and then we were rolling again. I jumped on the wheel of Chris and Rich and let them set a good tempo for the ride home. By the looks of this pic, we must have been moving right along...
While most of the gang scouted out the run course, I headed for the trails. Since I'm not racing St. George, I opted for the more scenic terrain. Plenty of ups and downs, and many epic views. I got completely lost in there, and loved every second of it (Just as I was about to start my run Chris said "feel free to run 90 minutes if you want, it's gorgeous back there." I utilized every minute and took it all in). Almost 12 miles of trail running= pure heaven. It was the mental escape us runners and triathletes crave!
Crave. Did someone say Krave? So, if you're going out for Ironman you have to hit this place up. Last time I was there Katya and I went nuts w/ their Only 8 fro yo. This time I knew to overload on it Sat night because it isn't open on Sundays.
 Sorry for the side bar topic, but I don't want any of you St. George racers to miss out on the KRAVE experience.
We topped off our training on Saturday with a solid swim session, and a quick meal, before heading off to bed. Sunday was a dark and early start (time change). First up, a 2 hour run through another set of miraculous trails. I was blessed with the company of an equally spectacular running partner. After Sat's trail run my legs weren't capable of much. I just wanted to cruise, and laugh- so I called upon Soup to lead the way. I mean, if you're nickname is Soup you have to be funny...right?!?!?!
Thanks for the run Matt!!! I can't wait to watch you crush this course in a few short weeks.
We quickly transitioned to the bike for one last spin through the IM course. If anyone has any questions about the course, I now know just about every detail of it!  Animals and all...
And that's a wrap. The weekend was exactly what I needed! I returned to San Diego with a renewed sense of excitement and love for the sport. Oh, and thanks to Chris I also returned as a tired, but happy, camper.
Keep it real, and whatever you do- KEEP IT FUN!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News...Exciting News

It seems like forever ago that I was standing on the Big Island deciding whether it was time for me to start working with a coach. The search began the day after Ironman. I met with a few people there, Lava Java of course, and talked to many more after. I wanted to find someone that: understood where I'm at and what I want to accomplish, could help me learn how to integrate power into my training and racing, could help me learn more about my fitness, strength, & weaknesses from doing various fitness testing, and simply someone who believes in me. That said, really, above anything else I was just looking for that indescribable connection that would allow me to completely trust in the their approach. I did pretty well on my own (with immense help from friends-Terry, Brad, KP to name a few!) but knew in my heart that it was time to really commit to a coach.
Well...I'm confident that I've found something very special! and am ecstatic to now be working with Chris Hauth. I don't know where to begin, but let's just say I already trust him 100% and know I'm in amazing hands. It is so obvious that he really cares about his athletes, understands where triathlon stands in my life, and has a pretty amazing athletic resume! He is a former olympic swimmer and ironman champion... but what really sold me?? He too is a former Wolverine (swam at UofM). Hell's ya- team GO BLUE! in the making!!!
When I found this pic online, I couldn't resist ;-)
Last week our journey together started with a little testing & training. I met Chris and his testing guru, Craig Upton, in L.A. for lactate testing.  This was the critical first step to a new focused/meaningful training approach.
From there we set off for St. George, where Chris will be racing in a few short weeks. We had several hours in the car to get to know each other, and by the time we got to St. George I felt like I've known him for years. PS- if anyone ever tells me they can't fit another bike in their car I might have some doubt. 1 car, 2 passengers, 12 bikes!!!
Day 1 of camp included a swim (time for me to actually get into the pool again!!), 92mile bike out on the course, and a quick run preview of the first section of the run course. Last year I spent the week before Ironman St. G training out there. It was freezing, and the winds were insane! This time around it was much more enjoyable, and the sun was shinning every day.
Day one was the start of "training with a purpose." So many of us get so caught up in how many hour we train, and how that compares to other athletes. (I do it too!). For me, this is not the answer for how to get faster on the bike. Chris pulled in the reigns and held me back during the first 2.5 hrs. Thereafter, it was all about quality. I focused on the work I needed to do and in the end felt a greater benefit (both mentally and physically).
A special thanks to GU for sending the group a plethora of nutrition to keep us fueled. We tested the new GU Electrolyte tabs (flavors: orange, lemon-lime & peach tea), and survey says...LOVE 'EM!

Ok, this is quickly becoming a long one, so we'll leave it at that for now. More camp re-cap tomorrow, and I think there might be a little more fun news to share later in the week. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! I am beyond excited to be an AIMP athlete, and I can't wait to share this journey with you... 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stage Race #2 - Callville Bay- Race Reort

Settle in, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy- Here's the recap from last weekends stage race...  (I rarely write blogs this long, but people have been asking about what happened- so here you have it)
I made a last minute decision last week to travel to another bike race. I had been sick most of the week, and my stress levels were through the roof. The thing about bike racing (I learned this quick since I've only done one), is that your mind doesn't wander. You stare at the wheels in front of you, work hard, and play smart! Unlike an ironman, there isn't time to think about anything - you simply live in that moment.
I drove out to Vegas Friday morning, and much to my dismay only arrived with an hour to spare before my TT start time. Yet again, I rolled over to the line feeling rushed, unprepared and anxious. The starter blew the whistle, and just like that I was off...or so I thought. Turns out in the rush to make it to the line I didn't have time for details- you know, which gear I was in. Ooops, this cost me a solid 10-15 seconds (deadly in a 3.5mi tt). The TT wasn't too exciting. I didn't feel great but was happy to see my HR soar. In the end I learned that details are detrimental- pay attention to them or don't show up! (and never rely on people who could care less about getting you there on time for your start).
I started day two, the road race 1 minute back from our Cat 3 leader. My goal for the road race was to hang on with the lead group through mile 30. At that point the long climb would start and it would be my time to attack. It was rainy, freezing and very windy! I figured the group would break apart by then.
Ok...deep breath! This section of the blog is tough to write about....

The race director gave us our "intro" and then sent us on our way. We rolled out without a lead moto (I guess us Cat3/4 girls weren't worthy?!?!) and the only reason we had a follow wheel vehicle was because a girl volunteered her car and a driver at the last minute. We were told our turn around would be marked by 3 American flags followed by 3 cones 100 yards further down the road. Like a scavenger hunt we were sent off to explore...
The rain and wind made for a decently miserable start. I honestly didn't think about that though. All I thought about was the wheel ahead of me, staying in the top 1/3 and keeping my effort low. This meant taking the rooster tail of water from the bike in front of me right in the face. Yummy ;-)  The group broke apart pretty good during the first climb. We hammered up faster than most people's tt speed. I was riding strong, hiding as well as I could from the wind, and staying out of trouble. The pace was much faster than Valley of the Sun, which honestly made me happy...I did come to race after all!
Then things took a turn...
The lead group was down to about 15 girls. I didn't dare look back, but that is what I was told. We approached 3 American flags, and saw 3 large turn around cones ahead. Everyone in the front started questioning whether that was the turn around. We thought it was further, but no one seemed to know. The course was a bit different from previous years, so even those that have raced there in the past were unsure. We slowed and everyone started talking.  It was a rushed and quick conversation as we slowed and rolled past the turn cones. Not wanting to get dropped, I wanted to go whatever way the group went. I looked over my left shoulder to see if anyone behind me was turning. Just then I saw a truck on the other side of the road (over the 2x yellow line!), trying to pass the group. A girl about 4 bike lengths back moved into the middle of the road and started to cross the road to turn around. And yes, you guess it...the truck hit her. HARD! It was the worst noise I have ever heard. The truck tried to take off, so a few girls and another car chased him down.
I turned back to find my friend Shannon. I didn't know what else to do, but I knew she would...she's an E.R. surgeon. She ran to the girls side and took over. Seriously, I can't say enough abut how she handled the situation. She brought so much comfort to the rest of us- we didn't have to wonder what to do..she knew. Girls were crying and well by now, freezing. It was an awful scene. Glass and bikes everywhere and girls wishing/wanting to do something to undo what just happened. As we waited for the officials to come I got a group of girls together and we said a quick prayer. It was all I could think to do...and she needed our prayers NOW!

The official canceled our race for the day, and together we rolled back to the start. A few of us went out and rode the course- with a very heavy heart. I got back to our car and took off for a run. I hammered it. Let's just say a rough weekend just got way worse! But my Newton's provided a bit of security as I ran around the lake. Freezing temps or not, my body was numb.
Honestly, I wanted to leave. The road race was my only chance to move up in the standings, and I have no doubt I would of moved dramatically. And well, a 44 mile race is better for me than a 3.5mi or 30min sprint. But, there was one day of racing left, and I was stuck there anyways, so why not race :) The morning was frigid, but at least it wasn't raining anymore. The mountains were covered in snow, making for spectacular views.
 Our race was 30mins. We nailed it from the line, and kept the pace up from the beginning. I again stayed amongst the front 6girls, and just felt much safer there than trailing in the middle or back. Various girls took turns at the front, and together we kept things moving right along.
With 4 laps (i think) to go people started moving around a bit more. I noticed that whenever one team moved to the front they slowed the pace dramatically. I guess they had a solid sprinter and wanted to keep it under control for her until the finish. They moved up and right when the pace slowed I took the opportunity to jump. I got out ahead and tried my darnedest to stay out. The announcer was commentating that "Caroline from team Nytro" had moved ahead and built a gap on the group. I wasn't sure if I could hold on, but I also knew my chances of winning a sprint out of the final turn were unlikely.  I just didn't look back...but eventually I heard them closing on me.
I was swept up, and back amongst the masses. I didn't feel like I totally killed myself, but I had blown a crap load of power/energy with the attempt. There was little time to recover before everyone was jockeying for position on the final lap.
This was the final turn before the finish. I tried to get out of the middle, and back to the inside of the turn.
The sprinters took over, and little old me rolled in with the group in 10th. I took a risk, and well, it was fun! It may have been a stupid move, but again- it was fun. My 9mile run after the crit also proved that bike racing takes its toll. My legs were t.o.a.s.t!

My feelings on the weekend are a bit clouded! It's hard to really even write about racing knowing that one of our fellow riders is fighting hard to recover from an accident that never should of happened! I ask that you keep her in your prayers and send her all the warm/healthy/healing thoughts you've got. Last I heard she had a broken pelvis, fractured skull, loss of hearing, and various fractures throughout her body. She's lucky to be alive, and we can only hope serious changes will be made to make sure this doesn't happen again. No, we can't control a wacko dead beat driver, but if we had a lead out moto-like every other race- this never would of happened. Just sayin'...
To those that raced with me last weekend- great job chicas. Thanks for teaching me the ropes, and Raegan- nice win girl!! You deserved it.
That was a LONG one- thanks for reading.
And if you've made it this far, stay tuned because I have some super exciting announcements to make very soon!
Keep Smiling :)