Pictures for Mom

June 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Things I know to be true after IM Coeur d’Alene

June 27, 2012 § 19 Comments

I have been staring at the screen wondering how to write this race report. With this race being my fourth event in 8 weeks, there are only so many ways I can spin the story of “I swam, biked, then ran…” So, I am not going to. If you are interested in details of the course or logistics of the race or anything, feel free to e-mail me with any direct questions that I don’t touch on here. But, my hunch is that if you’re into that sort of thing, you don’t come to my blog looking for it anyway. Instead of a traditional race report, I came up with a few things that I am sure of after this weekend. Here they are, in no particular order:

Beginners luck is a real thing. I learned to play Yahtzee and promptly beat all the boys in my first game. It was awesome. It also never happened again.

Learning to spell Coeur d’Alene gave me the same level of satisfaction that winning Yahtzee that first game did. Definitely worth it!

A beach start in an Ironman is much more intense than a mass in-water start. I have now made it through 2 time trial starts (easy peasy), 2 mass starts, and this beach start. While I always felt crowded and rushed in the mass starts, I never ever questioned my ability to make it through. I thought I’m tough, I can handle anything!

This was another story! The gun went off and it was like the freaking running of the bulls in Spain. I had always started right in the thick of things for the mass starts, and I figured this would be no different. Boy was I wrong! As I was being pulled along by the masses I had two thoughts. One, was that this is what it must have felt like when the Titanic was going down and everyone was jumping into the ocean. And two, I noticed a distinct smell of poop and could only think “oh my god this is so scary someone literally shit themselves.” Not exactly the most deep and thought provoking thoughts!

-I swam a PR for the distance. Not by a lot, but my slowing on the second loop was on par with everyone’s due to the deteriorating conditions out on the lake. I swam strong, and came out feeling like I had only been out there a few minutes. Definitely looking forward to more minutes coming off that time!

-Trying to shove numb toes into bike shoes is pretty funny. I didn’t regain feeling in them until mile 10 of the run.

-There was a headwind for a large portion of the bike. That, in addition to the cold and light rain for a while, meant staying mentally tough was the name of the game. When I checked my watch around mile 40 I realized I was in for a long day in the saddle.

-All of that said, this bike course was a fun one. I could have done without the tractor trailers zooming down the interstate towards me in the next lane over as I was climbing, but the views at the top were breathtaking. Good thing we drove the course the day before so I actually had a chance to look at them 🙂

-I received my first ever penalty in a race, for drafting on the bike. Heading out into the wind I was overtaken by a handful of men riding by. A low point for me, I decided to use their momentum to get me going again and put my head down to hammer and keep pace with them. Unfortunately I didn’t leave enough room behind the last dude and the ref pulled up only a few moments later. I found it funny that he was apologizing to me as I was stopped in the penalty tent (4 minutes)! But, I assured him that it was his job, and I would just take a few minutes to eat, drink and get in a bathroom break. No use beating myself up over it, but let’s just say I hope I can avoid future penalties! Seeing the competition whiz by is never fun.

-Sometimes I do weird things to channel some inspiration. But they work. All day Saturday I stayed busy by watching the updates over at the Western States 100 mile. It became clear that the picture perfect conditions favorable running conditions they encountered after the cold/rain/hail of the first 40 miles, were making it a record-breaking sort of day. The men’s, women’s, and men’s masters course records were all broken this past weekend. What many of you may not realize is just how huge this was, especially (in my opinion) on the women’s side. Anne Trason held the course record for many years, and most people thought it would never be touched. I could go on forever about the caliber of athlete that Anne is, and it is truly worth the time to do some research and learn about her. As a pioneer of ultrarunning, she worked hard and set the bar very, very high. Ellie Greenwood shattered the record this weekend, running easily under 17 hours. Words can’t even describe what that means for the sport, and how exciting it is to be watching such great competition be surfacing. I have witnessed first hand the harsh environment of the WS course, first as a competitor, then also as a pacer. I was getting goosebumps as I was able to follow along with Ellie’s progress as she inched closer and closer to breaking that record. I was unable to stay up to find out on Saturday night if she broke the record, but I made a decision that if she did, I would wear my visor backwards during the run as a tribute to what she accomplished (throughout the day the pictures that were being broadcasted of her showed her running with a backwards hat, which I think is awesome.) I woke up Sunday morning and got the news that she did, in fact, crush the record. So, while maybe only a handful of people out there on Sunday knew what it meant, I rocked a backwards visor during the run. And you know what? It worked. In an Ironman you have to find your inspiration where ever you can. And during the times on the run where my legs were getting heavy and I just wanted to let up, I thought back to my own race at WS in 2009. I thought back to the canyons, to Devil’s Thumb, and the climb up to Green Gate. Having that visor on backwards was a constant reminder to me of how hard Ellie had to have been working to push strong all day and get that record. Suddenly 26 miles on the rolling roads of Idaho didn’t seem as tough 🙂

-Flying in this plane was really cool.

Who would have known so many celebs have summer homes on the lake?! The pilot was able to point them all out from the sky, from John Elway to Wayne Gretsky. Totally worth it!

-I’m a very lucky girl. If you had asked me 2 years ago, as I sat on the side of State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, head between my legs, during my second Ironman, if I would ever be able to learn to compete at a high level in this sport, I wouldn’t have said yes. Two years ago I would have never dreamed of producing the fastest run split in my age group at an Ironman….twice. But now here I am, having landed in a Kona-qualifying position in the past 2 Ironmans that I have done.  And no, I don’t think that’s the lucky part – the long hours of training, the sacrifices, and the hard work certainly doesn’t get past me. The lucky part is that I have a coach who took me onto her roster and is 100% committed to my goals as much as I am. I have a boyfriend, friends and family who accept my way of life, as hectic, training-focused, and “lame” as it may be sometimes. I am lucky that there are people out there like Laura’s (another athlete Hillary coaches) brother who ran to catch me on the run and was giving me data on the race and the encouragement I needed to step it up and go for it. Oh, and he did this while also helping support Laura who was out on the course rocking her first Ironman! Her mother was also one of the first faces I saw after the finish with a congratulations and asking me if I need anything. There was also Scott, who didn’t even question it when he had the duties of Ironman Sherpa thrown upon him for 3 people instead of just his one friend he came out to support.

To go far in this sport I am going to have to work harder than I ever imagined. Days like this past Sunday make it all worth it though, and I know that for now I’ll keep racing hard and dreaming big.

5 Questions With Meredith Kessler!

June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am a very lucky girl to be able to write this post and I’m so excited to share it with you. Remember this moment?

After meeting Meredith Kessler at Eagleman, it confirmed what  I already knew – that she not only had great fashion sense, but she has a heart of gold! Along with Hillary, Meredith is definitely one of the girls in this sport that I look up to. Seeing that we are both racing IM CDA I thought it was a great opportunity to get to know her better. So I came up with five questions that I figured everyone would be dying to know. Or, five questions that I was at least dying to know 🙂 So, here it is folks. From boy bands, to pets, to beverages, here are my five questions with MBK!

1. Cats or Dogs?
Dogs–I dream of a day where I can have a BOXER named Turley–which is the name of our favorite wine! We just want to be out of ‘city’ life first where they aren’t cooped up all day in an apartment and can run and play freely!
2. Read the Slowtwitch forums? Or stay far far away?
Slowtwitch is an obviously a great platform for our sport and we are lucky to have them writing and reporting in on many things triathlon. While I do read the articles they write about races, I tend to steer clear of any forums particularly ones where people are bantering back and forth about issues within the triathlon community.  Less is more for me in that capacity.
3. Vacation at the beach or in the mountains?
Could we do wine country in the mountains with a LAKE? This is precisely why we like Penticton, BC where Ironman Canada is because it is like Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley all wrapped into one! This situation is like a HAVEN for us since with love both of those places so much –which is why we love living in the Bay Area since we have easy access to both. I do love the beach of course but I also love my husband far more and he is a mountain man! 
4. Favorite summer post workout beverage?
Non-Alcoholic: Chocolate Milk+ Ice blended with some coffee flavored recovery powder.
Alcoholic (and way more fun + festive): 
To start: Champagne topped with Elderflower Liqueur—the best!
Then: Splitting a bottle of Turley Hayne Zinfandel with my husband + pairing it with a delicious meal.
5. 98 Degrees or New Kids on the Block?
NKOTB = no doubt about it. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m fairly certain my gal pals + I in middle school all had black leather NKOTB jackets.  Indeed, it was a sight for sore eyes! We pranced around in those suckers like we were their real entourage–we were not afraid!  Glory days 🙂
I think I speak for all of her fans when I say if there are pictures of MBK in a NKOTB leather jacket, she needs to get that into a blog post for us asap!
THANK YOU, Mere!!!!!
More from CDA to come, stay tuned!!

CDA Picturefest!

June 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

I can assure any of you that if you ever want an adventure while traveling for a race, just invite me along. Somehow I have a way of planning things well on paper, then when it’s time to execute them there are always a few speed bumps! Things started off interestingly for my friend David who was the first to arrive from our crew. He showed up to the address for the house I told him I had rented, only to find another family already there. After a few minutes of “hey, I’m here to rent the house” vs. “no, we’re here to rent the house” they finally discovered that I had been given the wrong address! Meanwhile, I was no help because I was somewhere in the sky over Colorado. David was given address #2, which also proved to be a dead end seeing as that one didn’t even exist! After that snafu, the rental woman basically just described the house to David and told him to go look for it….”no one really uses addresses around here anyway” according to her! Little does she know, where we come from if you walk into the wrong house you might get shot!

Alls well that ends well though, David found the house and got me the address which made my 12:30 am arrival fairly pain free. Renting a house here is definitely the way to go if you can – a kitchen to cook in and away from all the chaos, I couldn’t ask for too much more. The family renting out the home also left several kind notes around the house for us:

It was evident the family has a teenage girl in the house too, so her loft became my room for the weekend and I love it! I have named it the “princess loft:”

Yesterday was a day off of the legs but I did scoot down into town to check in the lake while I picked up my packet. Yes, it’s cold! Hopefully that will just make me swim faster 🙂 It is truly gorgeous out here though, and I’m loving the scenery. Plans for Monday are already including a jet ski tour of the lake!

I am definitely missing my Rev3 family here but hoping to meet up with a few of them who are out here racing as well. In the meantime, I have been running into some other friends. MBK and I caught up yet again (don’t ask why my head looks so big compared to hers in this picture…one of life’s mysteries….):

And then I ran into another HB athlete, Laura, who is here for her first IM and ready to rock it no doubt!!

As you can see I’ve been sporting my Oiselle “Dream Big” tee and loving it! Definitely one of my fav designs and you can find it here. And now one last picture before I go. I found this in the fridge at the rental house and thought it had to have been planted by Hillary who is I’m sure subliminally sending me messages to make sure I keep eating properly before the race! Seriously, what is this stuff?!

Good luck to all those racing this weekend! Here we go again…. 🙂

But here’s my number…..

June 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

So track me, maybe!


That will be my bib number for IM CDA this Sunday!

As I was pulling through a relaxing swim set this evening (well, as relaxing as swimming in bath water can be when there is a heat wave!) I got to thinking about what my mantra for the race would be. I find it very helpful to have a catch phrase of sorts for long training blocks, and then on race day I draw on that. This training block was a little different. Leading up to this weekend there were no time goals written on my bathroom mirror. No quote about how much you can learn when you’ve broken yourself down. I think one of the biggest reasons for that was, unlike the past 2 IM races I’ve completed within a year, I was prepping for this one alone. And no – by no means was I an island of one for all my workouts – but, I didn’t have Ryan or any of my other triathlon friends in Baltimore with this race on their calendar. That changes things. I am lucky that I still had company fairly often. But, I was left to do a lot of the long hours on my own.

To get through a lot of those hours I had to take my eyes off of the long term goal of the race itself. I didn’t worry about what my time goals were. I didn’t worry about the fact that for a month straight I would be falling asleep before 9, constantly hungry, and unable to comprehend anything other than tasks at work or those that had “swim,” “bike,” or “run” and some kind of pace suggestion.  Instead, I just focused on each day, one at a time. Sometimes one workout at a time. Sometimes one stroke at a time.

I’m certainly not the first person to discover this secret, but this is the first time where week after week I was focused on the short term rather than the long term. And in doing so, I found that I was really able to be within each workout. I enjoyed the process of training more because I wasn’t constantly stressed out about what was around the corner.

When I thought about this, it brought me back to one moment from last fall. This is a moment I still get goosebumps when I think about, and when I close my eyes I can see still Hillary jumping up and yelling over the metal barrier. She had just learned that I had a flat on the second loop of the bike, and was yelling at me to keep my head in the race.

The words helped take me away from a world of thoughts of the time that I had lost, girls who had gone by, and the hours still to come. It put me right back in the moment that I was in. That is my goal for this weekend – to stay in the moment and keep focused on what I am doing, right then. Moment by moment I will build my race.

And I can’t wait!

(98) Days of Summer

June 17, 2012 § 3 Comments

Before you read any further, please stop and make sure that you read the (real) 98 Days of Summer post by my blog-twin Cathleen. I would say I stole the idea, but she *did* say at the end of her post she encouraged readers to make a list of their own. She may not have specifically said “you can also steal the clever title”….but I figure it all evens out in the end 🙂 
Here are a few things I am looking forward to this summer: 
1. Bike commute. My original goal was to bike commute for 100 of the days remaining of the year. 365 – 169 (today) = 196. Then I realized that I didn’t take weekends into account….that leaves me with 114 more work days of the year. Plus, with my CDA and Hawaii trips alone, I am down to 104. Suddenly 100 days seemed much less doable. BUT, my intent was to be biking about half of the days left. So, I am shooting for 52 days now. Not as cool a number, but that’s okay. I am counting on some picture perfect summer days to knock out as much as I can!
2. Grow a pepper. Back in May, I was gifted a pepper plant. I eat peppers, so it seemed like a great thing at first. Then I realized that growing peppers from said pepper plant actually required some sort of caring for the plant. I thought I could do it – I re-potted it, added some soil, and set it out on the back patio….where I forgot about it for about 3 weeks. I was lucky to have remembered before it completely bit the dust and I am slowly nursing it back to health. So it would be cool if I could get even just one measly pepper from this thing this summer. 
3. Thru hike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. While a thru hike of the AT would be the ultimate dream, that seems a bit lofty and not really feasible at this stage in my life. So I have settled on the LHHT. Seventy miles long and only a few hours away by car, this is a great intro to thru hiking. I am hoping to complete this one in July!
4. Travel without my bike. I can’t remember a weekend away where I haven’t had to pack up the bike and take it along. We have a wedding to attend this July and am planning on heading down to the Outer Banks with Ryan bike-less. Whatever will we do with ourselves?!?!
5. See the Hunger Games. Seriously. How have I STILL not seen this?!
While this list is by no means all inclusive, I do think it was a great idea to sit down and get some short term goals down on paper the internet. And Cathleen’s words that “in the end, perhaps your expectations won’t align with reality, but it’s fun to plan and fun to dream” are so true as well (and also another 500 days reference!). In a sport where patience is one of the most necessary virtues, enjoying the process is a necessity. We all have our big dreams and our lofty goals and our “one day’s”….but until those are a little closer, don’t be afraid to sit down and accomplish some other stuff in the next 98 days of summer 🙂 The big goals will still be there in the fall!

Birthday Fun!

June 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

I  can’t quite decide if I would say it was lucky that my birthday fell at the start of taper time for IM CDA. As much as I need the rest, I couldn’t help but wonder what the smashfest would look like if we didn’t have a big race on the horizon 🙂 But Hillary knows how to get a lot of bang for her buck – especially with swim sets – and I tackled my very tough 100×50 birthday swim set bright and early Wednesday morning!

Later in the day it was on to the ballpark for Ryan and I where the stars aligned for the most perfect night of baseball weather ever!

I have to say, life is good in Baltimore when the Orioles are winning! Let’s go O’s!

Now only 9 more days until I get to race my first race as an actual 27 year old. Here’s to making it count!

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