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:
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!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let's get 'er DONE! FUJI style...

I've been training really hard here in Boulder, and am not taking this opportunity for granted! It is hot hot hot here. Everyone keeps saying "yeah, but it's dry." Hmmm, not so sure, I come home from almost every workout covered with sweat. Love it!
The mountains here are no joke. Last weekends 6 hour ride was a solo, go from the get-go, venture. Again, total time was only 12 minutes longer than my rolling time, something that just isn't possible in San Diego. Climb for 22 miles and this is your reward:
Another 6 miles up hill and the eye candy continues:
However, the best eye candy of all arrived mid-week. Is there better eye candy for a triathlete than a new bike?!?!?!? Thanks to Colorado Multisport for building my baby and getting me perfectly fit on him. It will be a very smooth transition onto my Fuji D-6
Ryan Ignatz is THE master of Retul bike fitting. If you're ever in Boulder this is the place to go for everything triathlon or bike related!  My fuji seriously fits like a glove, and today I got to take him for his first spin...
HUGE HUGE thanks to Kurt for very graciously hooking me up with Nytro and Fuji! I hope to make all involved VERY proud when I display all this hard work I've been putting in.  The next two weeks will be my first attempt at a fun filled back to back 70.3 attempt. It will no doubt be awesome training and fitness building for Ironman Wisconsin in September. First up: ohhhh, just a little show down with the Boulderites at Boulder70.3. I can't wait to race against several of the best women in this sport!