Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SMASHED!

I couldn't be happier with my decision to transplant myself to Boulder for the summer. In San Diego I'm use to being surrounded by the "who's who" of triathlon, but Boulder is just another little bubble....something different, something out of my ordinary, something to challenge me, and something to motivate me. This has a lot to do with triathlon, but even more to do with life outside of triathlon. I fully believe we can only achieve the extraordinary when all the pieces of our lives are aligned and ready to propel us towards our dreams. As much as I am uncomfortable with change, change is exactly what I needed.
Here are some things I've learned about adjusting to altitude:
1. 8yr old girls are completely capable of smashing me in the pool while I suck for air and try to push even a sub-par swim pace.
2. Every 1,000 feet I climb over 6,000 hurts exponentially more! For the first 2 weeks, every time I went above 7,000ft and tried to produce any power on the bike I felt like I was going to yack. I pushed hard anyways-AND kept my breakfast down.
3. It's totally normal to feel like you might throw up AND have a heart attack at the same time. I just prayed I'd throw up prior to the heart attack so I wouldn't choke and die.
4. It is really dry here, so at times you might want/need to guzzle water. But you can't breath while drinking -which means drinking water may increase the heart attack feeling. Sip, breath, sip, breath, sip...is a better tactic.
5. Recovery and sleep are not easy when you're both adjusting to altitude, as well as temps over 100degrees.
6. Altitude means you are way closer to the sun- so I often feel like I'm baking under a broiler. I've never used THIS much sunscreen in my life.
7. I am fully capable of running 9:30miles! OUCH! But it sure did feel amazing when mr. elephant departed my back and left me to run alone and feel my natural fluid stride once again.
8. It is BEAUTIFUL here. Yes, I miss the ocean, but the mountains are providing ample eye candy for the time being.
The #1 best thing I've found here in Boulder is a HUGE smile that has emerged while...wait for it... riding my bike. I don't think I've ever really smiled like this while riding. Things are coming together and I am finally feeling like the bike doesn't have to be my enemy.  I'm pretty confident this week marks the first time I've ever really surprised Chris with one of my ride files. From day one here I've been hammering away, and finally the Quarq numbers are there to prove it! One of my many smashing rides involved a steady effort to this climb, 3 long/painful intervals up this beautiful monster,
 and then a solid tt effort home (at which point I clnd't see straight and my mind was in a complete blur. Result- 120 miles with a higher power output than I shelled out in CDA- once again...SMILE!)
I leave you with one last image. It pretty much sums up my time here- because more often than not, this is how I've felt at the end of each training day. Deposit in the bank, smashed, but ready to work again tomorrow!!
I am reminded of how I felt when I got into this sport- I go to bed so excited for my next workout that I can hardly sleep. Speaking of tomorrows, I requested mile repeats and/or a track workout for this week (I haven't done either in ages). Chris didn't disappoint, and by weeks end he might have me "watching what I wish for."
11 days until my next race-Boulder70.3, and my first back-to-back 70.3 racing attempt. Steelhead70.3 will be second up, on August 14th.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week One in the MILE HIGH City

My first week here in Boulder has been pretty spectacular. This whole venture materialized largely because of a friendly tug from my friend, and fellow UoM athlete/grad Kay. Months and months ago when we talked about me whether I should come to Boulder she instantly invited me to stay with her family. The Martin's have been beyond amazing in opening their house and their lives to me! Last night Kay and I sat on the couch reminising back to our days as athletes at UofM.  Many of my Cali friends make fun of how crazy I am for the Maize and Blue, but it's connections and friendships like this that remind me how fortunate I am to be part of this amazing alumni network.
I totally found her varsity letter jacket in the closet! 
Yup, we're dorks...and "Proud TO BE a Michigan Wolverine"
I couldn't wait to hit the mountains the first day I was here. My workout called for 40minute hill intervals- a workout that is much more challenging back in SD. Here, I bike 30mins and I have myself a nice 22mile mountain to play on until my hearts content (or flat lined...). I thought maybe I'd ease into things a bit more, but Chris started chiseling away on his plan the second I arrived. I have a renewed sense of focus, and it's been crazy fun! Lots of smiling, laughing, AND... gasping for air. 
When I set out for my day 2 bike interval session I found my bike in a pristine, sparkly condition! God bless those who love maintaining bikes, because as the boys at Nytro know, it's NOT my forte. The Martin basement is a well equipped bike shop, and Bill totally spoiled me with an awesome post Ironman cleaning! (can you count the # of bikes in the background- and that's only the basement bikes! There are more in the garage)
 
One week in, and I now know why people rave about the riding here. Yesterday I went out for a 5 hour ride, and was home in 5hrs and 7mins! 6000+ ft of climbing. NO slouching! The biggest difference in acclimating is a ridiculously elevated HR.  During my hill interval efforts I wasn't sure if I was going to puke or have a heart attack.  My legs felt good and I was nailing my prescribed Quarq power goals, but it HURT! I could hear Chris's voice in my ear urging me on, and reminding me of the goals we've set for ourselves.  Taking in the views helped dissipate some of the pain.
Swimming has been challenging due to the breath control aspect of the sport, so I have yet to really push the pace much. Thursday I joined the open water swim down at the Boulder Res. The water isn't clear, but it IS shark free. Swims there will be crucial for my open water swimming challenged self.
Running has by far been the hardest for me! Hills, O.U.C.H!! Although I've brought my trusty Garmin310 along for the ride, I've been going 100% by feel. Let me tell you, it has yet to feel spectacular! Today I ran 60mins off the bike and finally felt like I'm making progress and seeing paces that somewhat resemble the fact that I can actually run.

Each day I'm noticing improvement both in my training and ability to sleep up here in the beautiful mile high city. I can't wait to see what Coach has in store for me this week... but before we get to that I must congratulate him on another killer race! 2nd overall amateur at Vineman today- and the only person to beat him was 24yrs old. Chris only has a few years on him ;-) but continues to be an unbelievable inspiration to me and the whole AIMP crew.
So, many deposits in the bank this week! Goodnight from BEAUTIFUL Boulder!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Time for Another Adventure

For months I've considered spending significant time away from San Diego- try something new, seeing what comes from it, and just believe God will guide the way. I've had some significant road blocks over the past year+, so when everything started coming together for me to escape to Boulder the decision became easy. I don't think most of my BoCo friends really thought I'd make the trip (hmmmm, maybe bc I've been telling them I'd come for years!), but I proved them wrong-and arrived to several "are you really here?" comments.  Last week I packed the car, said goodbye to my little paradise and headed east.
When this is the view from your back yard it isn't easy to say goodbye.
Chris may have picked up on my wishy washy ways, so requested TriBike Transport send my bike from CDA to Boulder. Thank you TBT for once again proving that you're THE greatest! Saturday I hit the road to start my journey towards Co. First stop, Whole Foods in Vegas for breakfast. Second stop, St. George for a swim and swing by my favorite Fro Yo joint-Krave of course! Then I was off to Park City. 12 hours later I was finally done driving for the day.
I spent two days exploring Park City with Soup- I mean Matt- Molly, and their adorable boys. I thought I'd arrive and crawl right into bed, but Soup had other plans. Off we went to take in the Main Street night life. I practically fell asleep in the bar before the boys agreed it was time to shut things down for the day. 
I wasn't sure I'd wake up in time for 8a.m. masters, but I couldn't resist spending a little time with the energetic Campbell kids. GU Chomps should help help them sustain their energy levels, right?!!?!  A quick Chomps breakfast and it was off to the pool. 
Does everyone in Park City have a ski lift in their house?!?!?! ;-)
Park City is beyond spectacular. Although I was gasping for air the entire swim workout, I loved every minute of it. At 7,000+ft altitude adaptation was in full effect. Soup, I hope you enjoyed spanking my butt this time around! If I swing through again after my Boulder excursion we're having a re-do!!
After the swim we gathered the troops and took off for a point to point run through Park City's ski resorts. Running at 8,500ft was going to be a treat. Oxygen, who needs it?!?!?! The first 10 minutes were killer! I couldn't breath, let alone return smack talk comments back to the guys as they asked if this is the typical pace for a pro triathlete.
 
Half way through the run I decided to take a quick video to take in the views. Ok, fine, I was actually feeling dizzy and this was my excuse to try to catch my breath for 10seconds.
video
The rest of the day was spent pool side at the country club, and catching up with the previous 5 stages of the TDF. Monday morning it was time for me to get back on the road and get out to Boulder. Matt and Molly, thank you for showing me around your hood! I loved it! Tell the boys Captain Crunch misses them =D
My first few days in Boulder have been amazing. Time to get to bed so I can hit up the 6a.m. open water swim at the Res. Goodnight from (stormy) Boulder. 





Monday, July 4, 2011

Ironman CDA Race Report

Leading up to the race I was a bit anxious about the weather and water temps. I knew there was nothing I could do about it other than be prepared. Then...Saturday night all weather worries were side lined. The monthly female gift arrived and I was sent into panic mode. Whenever it hits I am completely USELESS for the first few days. No Bueno, but back to controlling what I could control.
Ok, race morning…After Chris dropped me off it was a race to get my bike ready, special needs bags checked and get into the rubber insulated suit (aka: TYR Hurricane).  My pre-race warm up received as much attention as the swim/bike/run portion of the day. Name of the game: get as warm as I could before jumping into the frigid water.  I received one last TYR delivery to complete my ensemble -TYR's cold water cap.   
I was dressed and insulated from head to ankle for my stretch cord warm up. Once warm I made it to the water, smiling the whole way, hugging friends and SO excited to get the day underway.
A quick prayer for safe keepings and many thanks for this opportunity!
Swim: The plan for the swim was simple: find fast feet and swim hard. Well, you know that gasping for breath feeling you get when you initially jump in freezing water??? Yup, that is how I felt for the entire swim!  I was in survival mode, gasping for air! I definitely had my kick going because if I stopped for a second I wondered if my feet might snap off.  It was simply awful! 500m in I was pulling a group of 5 people, and continued to do so until half way through the first lap before when I relinquished the lead to one of the guys.  I needed his feet to keep me going. I tried so hard to think of something, anything positive. I couldn’t muster a single thought. I literally felt like I was in survival mode. Breath each stroke , move forward, and get through the first lap in under 30mins to avoid being swept up by the age group mass start. I stayed on his feet until we exited the water for good. I ran down the beach thinking “how am I running without feet and ankles? Are my feet still attached?”
Transition 1: THANK YOU THANK YOU to the wonderful ladies who dressed me! I was shaking violently and couldn’t do anything for myself. Vest on and zipped, arm warmers on, gloves on. Run, get to your bike, breath-keep breathing. Ugh, the 51 degree air temps weren't helping!
Sue Hutter was everywhere on the course! From beginning to end. offering hugs, cheering like mad, 
and snapping great pics. Thanks for capturing the moments Sue!
Bike: The first 5 miles I tried to get my cadence up in an effort to find my legs…literally, because I surely couldn’t feel them. Desiree came by me around mile 5 and I settled legally behind her. The cameras were all over her, meanwhile wondering who the heck this chic was on her tail. It’s cool, first pro race…I’m a no name, and I didn’t mind a bit. I loved watching them record her pedal stroke. It reminded me how excited I was to be racing with these girls.
I remained with Ficker through mile 30. The pace was completely doable. Everything was going to plan. I knew it was only a matter of time before Hailey worked her way up to us, and sure enough she did. Alright, let the game begin! 
 I can’t go any further with my race report before commenting on my mental preparation going into this race. Chris prepared me 100%! Mentally, the pro race is a different beast. We worked out every scenario. There was never reason for me to panic, because I was prepared for everything. So far plan A was going to plan. Get out of the water around the middle of the pack, use the first portion of the bike to warm up and find my legs, and then stay right with them.  However, around mile 40 the alien in my stomach reared his ugly head!  I wanted to pull over, crawl into a ball and sleep.  While gritting my teeth I tried to stay in the game.  Sadly, plan A soon went out the window and they rode off.
Plan B- let the Quarq power be my guide. That was out the window too, I couldn’t even look at the thing! I found myself curling up in the aero position as if to pretend I was still lying in a ball on the side of the road. In a state of despair I rolled up and over a roller and started closing fast on someone. I realized it was mighty Meredith. Something had to be wrong, because she came out of the water with a commanding lead. I passed and willed her on with a quick “come on girl.” It gave me a little encouragement to know I gained back a place. At the next out and back I knew I was still losing ground and needed to get things together. It wasn’t until mile 90 when my cramps FINALLY subsided enough that I could take in something other than my GU Brew.  At the next aid station I slowed enough to grab one of everything, and as many bananas as I could grab.
22 miles to go! I tried to tell myself it wasn’t too late. Head down, get back on top of the pedals, and get to T2 fast. Eat, drink and get ready to run like it’s my job ;-) I seriously wondered if a 3:05 marathon was doable. (The new run course added a whole new dimension of hills that made for much slower run splits). I wanted so bad to salvage my race and make something of it. Ironman is a LONG day, and most lows don’t last forever. My forever was over and I could finally work again. Go Go Go. I flew into T2 and THREW my bike. I have never leaped off my bike so fast in my life. I prayed the cramps would stay away for 3+ hours. 
 Run: My bright pink Newton racers made me feel somewhat at home again.  I knew the gap was immense, but I also knew we had 26.2 miles left to cover. I settled into a solid pace through mile 3. Then my feet decided to join with the cramp fest. Pain Pain Pain. I reached in my back pocked for more advil only to find it had become a powered mess. I didn’t hesitate to lick every drop off the saran wrap! Who knows how many I digested, I didn’t care.  Hillary and Linsey were out on the course cheering like animals. Their smiles and exuberance of passion gave me hope and inspired me to keep with it.


My mile 10 I saw Tim and Torrey (aka: Team Newton) and asked how far out of 4th I was. Tim responded with “I’m not sure if you really want to know.” I did. I didn’t care how big it was, or how much my feet and stomach hurt, I wasn’t giving up! I have never ever thought about stopping during an ironman. I wondered how my feet would carry me 15+more miles. Just then I reentered the neighborhoods leading back to town and was greeted with cheers and contagious excitement from everyone I passed. I thought “if they can get this excited about me, I have to give them something to be excited about.” The next 4 miles were magical. The cramps in my feet turned to a dull burn and my stomach was fine again. Thanks to the amazing energy from spectators another low had come and gone. As I made the turn around at the half way point I passed my friend Megan. As always, she was smiling from ear to ear...just another moment I didn't take for granted. Giving her a quick high five was a big highlight to my day.  
Around mile 14 I learned that I had cut the gap between me and Desiree in half. The next time I saw Chris I was happy to report that I was “finally feeling good.” His smile and excitement pushed me along. If I could cut the gap in half over 14 miles while I was feeling pretty lousy, then maybe I could reel her in before the finish.
(Thank you for the awesome run pics Tristan!!!)
Turn ‘em over. Tunnel vision locked in. Every person I ran past was cheering for me and willing me on. My bike escort was phenomenal!!!  She cleared a path for me through the age groupers, placed orders at each age station and got the crowd going. I locked my sight on her bike and pictured her pulling me along. For the second loop of the run my aid station order changed from just water, to water and coke. We exchanged a few words, and I told her “WE are going to catch her!” I felt like she was on my team. Maybe it’s that I am not use to the bike escort racing scenario, but it was pretty awesome.  
The new run course toughened us up! More ups, more downs, more pain. While running up the last hill before the turn around I spotted Hailey and Desiree.  I couldn’t believe how much time I made up. I wasn’t sure if I could catch either of them, but I was willing to die trying. I made the turn around, gasped for air and flew up the hill. As I passed the age groupers heading towards me I was encouraged to hear “you’re catching her” “she isn’t far ahead of you” “you look way better than her” “she’s suffering.” Oh My Gosh! I can not tell you how amazing this felt. Even writing about this section of my race gives me chills! I’ve always encouraged and cheered for the pro’s while racing, but never realized how encouraging it was for them. To anyone reading this who said 2 words to me during the last 10k of that race…in the midst of fighting your own battles out there…THANK YOU!
5 miles to go. One last hill. If the women ahead of me were suffering this hill would surely slow them down (or so I told myself). Chris was cruising around on a bike, flying by me urging me on.  “She’s at the top of the hill, GO! You can suffer for 4 miles.” “Your dream was 4th, no go get it.” From here on it was a team effort.  Chris was right there biking back and forth. He never stayed with me for more than a few seconds but words can’t describe how it felt having him there with me. 3 miles to go. The course was so packed that I didn’t see Desiree until I was right on her. She looked back, leaving me no time to contemplate whether to make the pass right then. At the same time Chris yelled “GO!” and with that I WENT! Around the next corner I looked back. Desiree didn’t respond and come with me. I asked Chris if I could enjoy the last few miles. “Yes, I think you’re locked in 4th.” With that I nearly slowed to a halt. I was hurting! Chris laughed and “come on, you have to keep moving at least.” Ugh, ok. I continued to make my way to Sherman Av. Once there I took it ALL IN!  4th in my first Pro Ironman, dreamy indeed.  After the race many commented about how close I was to the 10 hour mark. I could of cared less! I cared about my place, but time- nope, I wanted enjoy this. If you watched the live pictures of me running towards the finish line you’ll see that I did just that.
I rounded out the day with a 3:16 marathon, a new run split PR and a new IM PR for me. We haven't been focusing much on my running, so to pull this out while not feeling so hot has me exited for the rest of the season. And if you recall my last post, I was in quite a hole 2 weeks before this race. To come around and lay down the 2nd fastest marathon (10mins faster than any other woman -other than super star K. Snow of course!) was an accomplishment in itself.
 NOT the correct time, but one day I'll get there!
Not only did I get to share this day with Chris, but SO many of my friends were out there cheering or racing. I've met some pretty remarkable people through this sport! Every cheer and word of encouragement sent my way was appreciated more than you know! Thank you for making my debut so memorable. And at the end, waiting for me to cross the line, was the entire TYR Team.  I was embraced, welcomed to the family and with that reminded of how awesome this company is! They’ve done a TON for this sport, and absolutely make the best training, and race gear! 
I’ve never felt so content and happy after a race. It isn't because I put together a new IM PR, but instead it was the experience and journey of the day. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but now I have the first one under my belt. I learned a ton from this race, and am more motivated than ever! In the words of Coach Chris: “we’ve just begun!” Yes indeed. I'm motivated and hungrier than ever!
Thank you to the amazing sponsors who've believe in me and allowed me to take this leap. TYR, Nytro, GU, Newton, TrainingPeaks, Beaker Concepts, Oakley, Quarq- THANK YOU for playing a huge part in this journey of mine.