Keeping the Pretty

October 31, 2012 § 5 Comments

As I prepare myself to get back into the pool for another round of winter swim camp, I am reminded how important it is to take care of my hair and skin. I am fortunate that SBR Sports is sponsoring the Rev3 team this year, so I have the benefit of the swim shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion all at my disposal. Every time I go to get my hair cut I warn them I do a lot of swimming so not to expect perfectly conditioned hair. And you know what? Every time they remark that they would have never known! That stuff works! So, my hair and my skin is taken care of. But what about the rest of the time? I know every girl has her own way of “keeping the pretty” in sport, so I thought I’d list a few other things I do or have thought of….

-Getting my nails done! I don’t have time to do it as much as I like, but there really is nothing like mani/pedi time. And trust me – I have brought in feet that have been missing toenails, had huge blisters and scratches from trail running, bruises, the whole nine yards…..never shy away from a pedicure because you think your feet are in bad shape. I assure you, they have seen it all. And now that gel nail polish is around, the nails can last way longer. Bonus point if you can match your helmet!

I don’t know why my feet look like they belong to an 80 year old and are wrinkly looking….

-Cute workout clothes! I am fast to admit that this is one of my downfall. You expect me to look cute when I’m on my way to the pool at 5am? Heck no. Huge frumpy sweats and a hoodie…non-negotiable! But….there are many other hours of the day (and workouts to do) when I can look cute. I was recently re-inspired to take another crack at this by another one of Hillary’s athletes, Julie. I certainly have plenty of cute Oiselle items to wear, so I have no excuse! My main inspiration from Julie though came in riding clothes. So then I got to looking….I had never considered something like this from Pearl Izumi before, just because I hadn’t ever ridden in anything other than a nonform-fitting, made for men, jersey. But why not?! Super cute, get’s ride of farmer’s tan lines, and it still has huge pockets in the back. Perfect! And I’d be remiss not to mention coachie’s new endeavor – making some super cute, functional, and comfortable clothes over at Smashfest Queen. Check ’em out!

-The bling! About 6 months ago, I had to stop wearing my signature necklace that I think I wore everyday since my parents gave it to me when I graduated from UVA. After swimming with it in my poorly maintained gym pool, the silver had been corroding and it was irreversible. Since then I had been looking for a replacement, but I wanted to make sure it symbolized something for me, or had some kind of representation. That’s when I found tri-bling! Susan created this jewelry line just for triathletes. Each piece has the 3 elements of the triathlon sublty woven into it –

Gliding through the water,ย 
Spinning the gears of the bike; andย 
Pounding the tread of the shoes. ”

I have the tailsman and I love it! I put it on a silver chain and it’s the perfect size to wear with work clothes but also to race in. I have always been a fan of racing with jewelry….and I know I’m not alone here. Kendra throws her hoop earrings in her bag for T2 and puts them in as she runs — I love it! I have always gone with simple pearl earrings, and then as you can see my tri-bling is going to be another staple:

-My final “keep it pretty” suggestion for the day is regular massages! Yes, massages have all sorts of other fitness benefits and help with recovery and blah blah. But at the end of the day, they make me feel good! And when I feel good, I’m way more likely to feel pretty! I stand up straighter. I wear cuter clothes. Definitely a connection there!

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A Look Back and a Step Forward

October 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

College.

When I think back to my college years, I have two distinct sets of memories. One is of the first two years at the Naval Academy. The other is of my time at UVA, which is what I am focusing on here. When I got to UVA as a junior in college it was pretty daunting. By the third year of college, most people are pretty set with their friend groups and social activities – it wasn’t easy to have to make all new friends and break into new social circles as a 21 year old. I am still a little bitter about the fact that no sorority would take me because I was “too old!” In addition to running the gorgeous trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the things that played a huge part in helping me get through this was joining the Triathlon Club. Only having done two triathlons prior to joining, I was super tentative. I avoided going to the pool with the group as much as possible. I rarely went out on the bike with the group. I could probably count the number of running workouts I did with them on one hand as well.

The good news in all of this is that despite my severe anxiety towards group workouts, the tri club was no less accepting of me as a member. I was able to join the team on a couple trips to races, including a trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2008 for collegiate nationals. Some great memories of college came from this trip, and after spending time with everyone there I realized that I truly had missed the boat on something special. Every member of the group was a great person. I got to know Andrew – who is currently a professional triathlete and engineer for Boeing. There was Rudy – he’s now also a professional getting his master’s and training at CU in Boulder. And of course, Annie — who is to this day one of the best athletes with the biggest hearts I have ever known – and taught me how to love the challenging riding of Virginia. Had I taken better advantage of the athletes that were right in front of me prior to the spring of my graduation, I would wager my progression in triathlon could have skipped a few steps.

Annie and Me after nationals!

A few months ago I had lunch with Brian (RD for the Half Full *and* a UVA alum) and he mentioned that the UVA tri team was looking for a coach. I immediately perked up when I heard this, and made an effort to get in touch with them to see if I could help. It turns out – I can. After chatting with the team it became obviously that the remote coaching which I could provide is exactly what they could use. It would mean a lot of responsibility still falls on them to execute the workouts, but for those who follow the plan and give feedback I will be available as much as my schedule can allow.

Some post race fun ๐Ÿ™‚

I will always look back on my time at UVA and say that I wish I had taken advantage of the triathlon opportunities that were there. But, I am hoping that through coaching this squad I may be able to prevent someone else from having to say the same in a few years. In the past couple months of getting to know this group I have already been inspired by their attitudes and determination. And the icing on the cake is that Collegiate Nationals will be in Tempe, AZ in April – and as we all know Tempe holds a special place in my heart. All of this is just another reason to be excited for 2013!

Annie, Alex, me Rudy

Racing in Paradise: 2012 Kona Race Report

October 18, 2012 § 10 Comments

Well, since my jetlag is in full effect, I figure I’ll take advantage and eek out a race report here! More to come on the festivities in Hawaii later….

Race morning came and since I was still quasi on east coast time, the early wake up at 4 for breakfast was easy enough. I had everything all set to go so I walked down to town and met Julie. It was such a blessing to have her show me the ropes throughout the week, especially on race morning when my nerves were getting pretty serious. We got body-marked, weighed in, and tried to stay close behind Caroline Steffen as she did everything as well since we realized that may be the only time we get on the TV coverage ๐Ÿ™‚ Then we said our goodbyes and good lucks and I went my own way to get my bike all set. Happy to find nothing out of the ordinary, I pumped up my tires, then went and sat to soak in all the pre-race vibes. The energy is there, but it is eerily quiet for before a race in transition as well. I also found Meredith Kessler and got a pre-race hug which was super awesome and helped me stay calm and ready.

The sun came up, the pros were sent off, and I was in the water before I knew it. As Dawn and I stepped in, the waves and pull of the ocean felt stronger than it had the whole week. Between that, and seeing the flags all over blowing around, I knew I was going to be in for quite a day. I swam out to the front left of the pack and tried to position myself around as many pink caps as I could. In my pre-race prep with Hillary and others, I had retained some of the lessons they shared: this was known to be a slow swim, start on the left, and be prepared to have that “washing machine”crazy start experience for the entire swim. They were right! Usually in an IM I am able to find some space after about 300 meters and settle into a rhythm. But since most everyone who qualified to come to Kona probably swam about an hour, that meant I was swimming in a huge crazy pack the entire time! It was exhausting, and I was actually really happy to see a 1:08 on my watch as I was getting out of the water – that was much faster than I was expecting given the circumstances. I think that was a very strong time for me with no wetsuit and a tough ocean swim!

T1 was INSANE. It was so busy at the point I got out of the water, I ended up grabbing my bag and getting everything done myself in the corner of the tent. Since I really only had to throw bike shoes on though that wasn’t a problem. Out the door and onto the bike where it was another crazy cluster of people mounting. So much energy! For the first leg of the bike out through town and then even out on the Queen K I was feeling awesome. I saw Hillary at the start of the climb to Hawi and she yelled some encouragement. However, as she yelled, she also looked like at any second she was going to blow away. The winds – which usually don’t get too bad before the climb – were already strong out on the highway. That was definitely a precursor to what was to come. As we climbed, the winds got stronger and stronger. At one point a man passed me, then promptly sat up and took a drink, slowing down. As I closed in on him and prepared to pass him back, a referee pulled up and handed me a drafting penalty red card. Was I furious? Absolutely. But, I also understand that arguing my point would waste some precious energy, so I grit my teeth and pedaled on. At the top of the climb it literally felt like I was in the tornado scene of the Wizard of Oz. It may sound dramatic, but we do not have winds like that in Baltimore. I made the turn and then penalty tent was right there, so I opted to stop and get it over with. I did feel like I lost some momentum here, but that’s all part of the game and ultimately it is up to me to do better here. But, I’ll let you form your own opinion on drafting with this picture.

The way back in to town on the Queen K was slow, but I was feeling pretty good still and even with losing 4 minutes I was happy with the ride being under 5:50. I concentrated on getting as much water as I could down, but as soon as I put the water in my aero bottle it became lukewarm so that wasn’t the most pleasant. I came in to T2, which ended up being much quieter than T1. I had 3 amazing volunteers help me out and I changed into my Oiselle Stride Shorts and Pearl Izumi tank for the run (both ended up being great picks with the heat). After a half mile, something happened and my quads just felt dead. I struggled to even run downhill. Fear rose in me, and I began having thoughts of last year’s Louisville run creep into my mind. It was truly a mental game here and for the next few miles it was mind over matter to run as much as I could. At each aid station I got fluids, calories, ice, sponges – the whole 9 yards. I wasn’t sure where I had gone wrong, so I was going to hit everything to try to turn this around. Slowly, but surely, I began to get my legs back a little bit. As I headed out to the energy lab I was able to relax more and just do my thing to get through the miles. The sun slowly began to go down, the temperature began to drop, and I began to feel like I was going to make it. All of these combined help me put together a perfectly evenly split marathon, and, while it was about 30 minutes slower than what I think I can be running off the bike, I am proud that I fought for it. I kept my head and gutted it out, and on some days that alone is the win.

I was able to make some passes in the final few miles, and before I knew it I was turning onto Ali’i Drive. There I was, running down the finishing chute that I have dreamed about for years. I crossed the line in 11:06, with a wonderful greeting by Mike Reilly. More tired than I have been in awhile after a race, I spent some time in a ball on the grass as I waited for coachie and the other girls.

So….my post race thoughts. I keep coming back to what Julie said to me in the beginning of the trip. She told me to make it about the week, about the whole experience, and not just the race. I made it a point to do this and I’m glad I did. Because, to be honest, I don’t feel like it was the race itself which was the most poignant moment of the trip. It was a dream come true to get to race – don’t get me wrong. But, so much of that dream was invested into the process. My goal was to become a triathlete that qualified for the World Championships, and that happened over the past 18 months – it didn’t happen on October 13th alone. Now my goal is to use the experience of racing the best of the best and take that as a stepping stone towards racing at a higher level. I absolutely want to go back to Kona and take some revenge on the course. But, I do want to say that for everyone out there who is still dreaming of their race in Kona, to enjoy the moment that you’re in right now. Because to be honest, Kona doesn’t change you. I am not a different athlete, let alone a different person, than I was before the race. I am a different athlete, however, than I was before I began the process of getting to Kona. That as a whole has shaped me – not this one race. Don’t be fooled by the allure of the NBC coverage. I have realized that the magic isn’t in Kona. The magic is in the hearts and the energy of the athletes – the same ones training beside you at the pool, and on your roads at home. So whether or not you ever get to Kona to race, it’s okay, just take some time to enjoy that magic that is out there in plenty of other places along your way.

Go Time

October 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

How do you even go about writing a blog post of what it feels like on the night before your first time in Kona? I could write about how my journey here started 6 years ago as an ultrarunner who picked up triathlons and thought that running a 10 minute pace was just fine. And who thought that a 5k was no different than a 100 miler in that carrying a handheld water bottle was a must no matter what. Or maybe my journey started 18 months ago, when I was lucky enough to come under the guidance of Hillary. Or did it begin 11 months ago, when I signed the paper in Arizona to take my spot?

While this is my first trip on the Big Island, Hawaii does hold a special place in my heart already. Hawaii has shown me that “we wouldn’t want it to be easy”, but if you can endure, persevere, and stick with your plan, you come out on top. My adventures in Hawaii have brought me to some great friends who I know will be around for life.

This week hasn’t been all serious and race prep: I danced with dolphins. I learned what a mongoose is (note: NOT anything that resembles a goose….very misleading). I tried acai – and liked it. I ran around Kona in my underwear. I swam with turtles. I attempted to reenact the movie Blue Crush (and failed). I’ve laughed – a lot. I’ve walked in the footsteps of great athletes who have been racing this course for many years and whose inspiration will stay with me well beyond tomorrow.

It is truly an honor to be racing here tomorrow. I can’t say enough thank you’s to everyone who has helped me get to this point. From those who have been a cheerleader for me virtually, to those who have laced up their shoes and done many of my runs with me. From coach Hillary who has pushed me to set the bar higher than I ever dreamed, to my Rev3 family who as I type are all setting up for another great event in SC this weekend.

You will all be in my heart tomorrow on the Queen K and Ali’i Drive. The only thing left to do is go fast and take chances ๐Ÿ™‚

Goodnight!

1978

October 10, 2012 § 5 Comments

Everyday things are getting more real. Yesterday I checked in and received my bib number. I am fairly superstitious about race numbers. I say fairly because I refuse to let a bad number affect my mentality for the race, but if I have a good number, I’ll certainly take the extra boost! I am happy to report that I have officially deemed 1978 as a great number for several reasons:

  • it’s an even number
  • there is no 4 BUT there is an 8 which is a multiple of 4
  • Coachie was born on June 13, 1978!
  • The very first Ironman was in 1978
  • In 1978 the Baltimore Orioles finished the season with a .559 winning percentage!

Today I am off to swim with the dolphins, so more later!

A Perfect Day

October 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

When you are already IN paradise, it probably makes having a perfect day a little easier – but yesterday was surely the closest I have ever come! I got up early and headed into town because Rudy Project was giving away Wingspan helmets to athletes. I was able to snag a yellow/green one – not only does it match my Rev3 kit perfectly, it should help my parents as theyย are trying to spot me out on the course ๐Ÿ™‚

Then it was time for a little pampering, and I just couldn’t resist getting my toenails painted in the same color as the helmet. So cute!!

After the pedicure I was walking home to the condo, and couldn’t resist stopping in for another acai bowl. This time I at least held myself to a small, but I could seriously get used to these on the regular.

I had a long afternoon ride ahead, so I put my feet up at the pool for a bit. Before long though I was heading out to the Mauna Lani with Hillary and Tati for a ride. Having these girls escort me up to Hawi for my first time was awesome. There was no better way to enjoy the gorgeous sunset than on a bike with these two! We had hoped this would give me a sense of the winds up there but no such luck – it was the most calm day ever. I know I can’t count on that for race day!

Capping off my big day was finally getting to try these vega shakes I’ve heard so much about from Hillary. Much to my surprise this is another healthy thing I can add to the ‘good’ list!

Kona!

October 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

I could not have had 2 days that were more different than each other than the last 2 have been! Yesterday ‘s hiccup came on the travel front. My flight was supposed to be from BWI –> Denver, then Denver –> Kona. I should have known it was going to be crazy weird travel day when I was going through security and a stranger asked if he could share my plastic tub that I was using to put my items in for the security check. Despite there being a perfectly good stack of other tubs he could use for his own things, he insisted on putting his dirty flip flops and sweaty hat on top of my stuff. I let him because I almost thought I might be on an episode of MTV’s boiling point or something. Needless to say, I wasn’t – he was just weird.

Well, we got to Denver (where it was 32 degrees and snowy by the way – yuck!) and *almost* made it into the air. Until they realized that our weight wasn’t within proper specs. Kind of ironic that a plan full of fit triathletes would be causing the plane weight to be too heavy! So we sat on the ground and burned fuel….for two hours! Then they finally decided to turn the second engine on to speed the process up – only to find out that the thingy that blows air into the engine during the start up process was broken. That meant just about another 2 hours sitting on the ground while maintenance took a look. Ugh! Needless to say, I thought everyone who had been trapped on the plane was handling it really well. They finally decided we were safe to fly to San Francisco, where we’d switch plans to one with a second engine for the remainder of the flight. Sounds simple right? Except it took another 90 minutes to re-board us once in San Fran, because they literally called us to board one by one. Certainly not the most efficient way! Luckily I had Katie Thomas on my flight and that gave me someone to chat with in the lulls. But alas, we were enroute to Kona, and when all my luggage came out I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was also lucky enough to have the best airport pickup ever: Coachie AND the GCM came to scoop me ๐Ÿ™‚

I was pretty beat by this point after about 17 hours of travel, and happy to see that there were no surprises with the condo I rented – in fact it was picture perfect! I even woke up to an ocean view from my deck!

The village here is getting busy and has become athlete central. It is SO crazy to be seeing all of the sights I have see year after year during the Ironman coverage on TV in person! Julie and I were very luckily to have Hillary escort us through the course. There were no dolphin sightings though Hillary and I did hear them. I began to make my own dolphin noises in hopes of attracting them, but no such luck. After the swim Hillary took the opportunity of introducing us to Acai bowls. I have to admit, I had my doubts! I figured it would be another thing healthy people like but really they taste like wood to the rest of us. I was pleasantly surprised – they taste like candy!!! I will most definitely be getting my fill of these while I’m here.

My day was not yet over though, as Katie and I met up for a ride on the Queen K! My first time out there and it certainly lived up to all the “hot and windy” stories people tell. I have a few more rides to get used to the conditions, so I’m definitely glad to be out here now.

Then it’s been rest and recovery: some quality time with my NormaTec Boots and the Orioles game! More to come tomorrow – and pictures tomorrow as well now that my phone is back in working order!

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