Friday, December 30, 2011

Trainer Nights at George's Cycles Fairview Store

Now that the holidays are behind us it is the time to get ready next season. Contrary to what some might think, you won’t be ready in time for the 2012 cycling and triathlon seasons if you wait until it’s nice outside to begin your bike training. One of the hardest things about indoor cycling is the solidarity and that’s why I have teamed up with George’s Cycles for the 4th consecutive year to offer FREE indoor cycling at their Fairview store on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm-8pm.

We started riding the beginning of December and will continue until it warms enough to ride outside; which has typically been until the end of March. I will have a structured workout for each night that will help guide you through the base building phases of cycling fitness as well as pedal stroke efficiency so when spring finally comes you hit the road better prepared for the race season than ever before. If you have your own workouts and are just looking for people to ride with, you are more than welcome to join in the camaraderie.  If you haven’t been able to join us for the month of December, don’t worry, you’re not too late. Grab your bike, water bottle, towel and your trainer and kick off the New Year with a fun filled environment that makes indoor cycling less mundane.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or the George’s Cycling store on Fairview at 208.884.3115

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift Ideas for Your Triathlete

Are you still looking for a last minute Holiday gift for that elusive Triathlete in your life? After years of racing I've accumulated a large collection of training and racing gear but I've also figured out what works and what doesn't. I've logged thousands of hours in the field and have put a lot of gear through its paces and for this Holiday season I've compiled a list of gear that no Triathlete should be without.
1.       Swim
a.       Wetsuit: racing in the waters of the Pacific Northwest is guaranteed to send chills straight to the bone. A good wetsuit not only adds some protection against the cold but also adds some buoyancy. TYR just launched the sickest wetsuit on the market this year called the Hurricane Freak of Nature. It’s state-of-the-art design and unparalleled materials carry a cool $1,200 price tag that is guaranteed to at least make you feel faster. Keep in mind that the swim is the first discipline of every triathlon and it can set the mood for the rest of the race. Like I always say, “You get what you pay for” and who wouldn’t want to pimp this wicked suit at Oceanside to kick off the season. For those who are a little more financial savvy, TYR still offers their entire Hurricane series of wetsuits. I’ve raced in the 5-series last 2 seasons and can attest to their durability, performance and comfort. Outside the cycling realm, TYR continues to be the most innovative company in the Triathlon industry. See the Freak here or learn more about the Hurricane series suits at

b.      Swim cap: ever wish you had a thermal cap for that early season race but you only think about it on race morning? Once again TYR has an innovative solution. The Warmwear swim cap is silicone coated Lycra that I have used at many races over the last couple of seasons. Their design doesn’t have that irritating chin strap that chokes you while you swim. Avoid the brain freeze, order now before you realize you need it and it’s too late

c.       Goggles: once again TYR jumps to the top of the list with their Orion swim goggles. The fit is so comfortable even for racers like me who have a small face and it’s amazing how much peripheral vision it enables. Once you swim with these you’ll feel like everything else is like wearing horse blinders. As a note, I like the mirror for swimming outdoors and the amber for indoors but test it out for yourself because everyone will be a little different. All goggles including the Orion can be seen at

2.       Bike
a.       Bike: with innovative and more aerodynamic bike frames launching each year, like cell phones, you almost feel like your bike is outdated as soon as you walk it out the doors of the bike shop for the first time. Not so with Trek’s Speed Concept. Launched in 2010 it left competitors scrambling to match this feat of engineering awesomeness. If looking for a new ride for next season you would be cheating only yourself if you didn’t at least take a 9-series for a test spin…but be careful, once you ride one, you’ll want one of your own and you’ll have to readjust your bike split goals. The ride of their OLVC red carbon is so smooth and when combined with SRAM Red components you have a force that is unequaled regardless of whether you’re grinding out the hills in Vegas or sailing the flats in Florida. Read more about the Speed Concept at

b.      Race Wheels: Trek / Bontrager recently debuted a new line of Aeolus race wheels with a new rim shape called the D3 (Dual Directional Design). The rim profile reduces drag in both the front, tire-leading side and the rear, rim-leading side allowing for better handling wheels with less aerodynamic drag than wheels with deeper rim profiles. Bontrager tested them against the leading competitors deeper dish wheels and beat them at almost every yaw angle disproving the theory that a deeper rim is innately more aerodynamic. Watch the video at

c.       Hydration: as unique as nutrition is to each triathlete, hydration systems are often just a unique. I’ve tried numerous different set ups on my bike and it often bugs my husband that I change every season. Something I’m excited about is the new Speedfil A2 system. It can be attached to any standard water bottle and specifically designed to be used with aerobars. The coolest thing is that its design allows for rapid refilling and virtually eliminates any splashing which means my bike doesn’t look like I gave it a Gatorade shower after each ride. One thing that may make it difficult is that each aerobar style varies slightly so they do not include any mounting hardware at this time so you may need to customize it for you set up. If  you want to see more visit

3.       Run
a.       Shoes: I’m a huge fan of K-Swiss because they fit my feet and allow me to use an arch support without making it feel like I’m running in heels. I tried my first pair last year after racing at IM St. George and was instantly hooked. I currently use their Kwicky Blade-Lite and have been happy with K-Swiss because each year’s new shoe version fits similar to previous versions. I used to get so frustrated with other brands that the fit changed from year-to-year and sent me hunting for a new shoe if I didn’t buy 4-5 pairs at a time. See their entire selection at

4.       Recovery:
a.       Compression: I’ve been a long-time believer of the benefits of compression for racing, training and recovery. I list recovery in this category but it just as easily fits in the Bike & Run sections. The leader in compression, CEP, brings 60 years of expertise and a product portfolio that includes everything from calf sleeves, socks, running & cycling shorts and recovery compression tights. With this broad selection you’ll find something for every athlete. See more at

b.      Therapy: a critical part of all post-race and post-training recovery is therapy. Trigger Point makes a variety of products for self therapy, physical therapy that is. Those of you in need of mental therapy will need to keep searching. TP offers a starter kit that is ideal for managing minor aches and pains. They also offer videos that show you how to use each of the products. Learn more at

5.       Gear:
a.       Transition Bag: everyone needs a way to get all your gear from race-to-race but how about take it to the next level and keep it organized and haul it to the transition area in one bag without looking like gold panner headed to the hills. Once again TYR has the most innovative design on the market with their Convoy Transition Backpack that is essentially a full frame mountaineering backpack designed for the serious Triathlete. Smart compartments keep your run gear separate from your swim gear and there’s enough room to store your aero helmet safely. Is there any wonder why Chrissie Wellington signed a life contact with TYR? Go here to order your own

b.      Cold Weather: Bontrager introduced a new Thermal Windblock Jacket that is the smartest cycling-specific design and warmest materials I’ve found. This jacket is perfect for cold weather riding without adding bulk. See this jacket at or you can go to George’s Cycles on Fairview to try one on and take it home the same day.

c.       Race kit: there’s nothing out there that compares to TYR’s Carbon and Competitor Collections. This tops and bottoms are a testament to “You get what you pay for” because they are worth every penny. The pad in the shorts are my favorite of all cycling shorts I’ve worn over the last decade. If you have a favorite color that you like to wear on race day, forget about it. There aren’t dozens of color schemes to choose from but then, are you there to look pretty on race day or kick some butt and be comfortable the entire race? Pick your colors here and then brag about your race results here

6.       Nutrition: this is a difficult Christmas gift to pick out if you don’t already know what you’re athlete uses. Nutrition is unique to each individual and all products do not work for everyone. After years of struggling to find something I could use and not have GI issues I finally found VESPA. I prefer to use the concentrate so I can mix it for each race or long workout. There is too much with this product to capture all of it in this small space but if you would like to know more please feel free to contact me to visit

7.       Stocking Stuffers:
a.       Sunscreen
b.      Lip balm
c.       Body glide
d.      Ear plugs
e.      Shot  Bloks
f.        Cytomax
g.       Massage gift certificates
h.      Cash to help cover race entry fees or travel expenses
i.         Endless Pool – Ha! Not really a stocking stuffer but I’d love for Santa to leave one in mine. I just wanted to see how many people would read the entire post.
I have a million other ideas but time and space is limited but feel free to contact me if you need any other ideas.
Happy Holidays. See you on the course!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ITU Long Distance World Championship

Thank goodness I took that mulligan at IM 70.3 Worlds because it came in handy this weekend at the ITU Long Distance World Championships. For those of you that have not read the IM 70.3 Worlds race report, I opted for a "mental" mulligan for that race because I broke my derailer on my Speed Concept only 30 seconds into the bike leg resulting in only 6 gears to ride with and a mentally defeating day.
Luckily, ITU Worlds was going to be on the same course as IM 70.3 Worlds with some added distance and some tweaks to the last 10 miles of the bike course. I was ready for this race both physically and mentally. My swim had come together, I knew I could hold my own on the bike and I had hit my goal time a couple of weeks earlier during an 18 mile training run. I had made the decision not to travel down Vegas early for extra training on the course and in the environment because I felt the temperatures were not going to be a factor like IM Worlds and I had really good cycling & running training courses here in Boise. All I had to do was make it through my taper without wearing out my welcome at home.
As luck would have it, the night before race morning a cold front moved in bringing high winds and heavy rains. Consequently, race morning was ushered in with air temps at a bone chilling 39 degrees with winds 15-20 mph making it feel like I was about to participate in a Polar Bear plunge. I was looking forward to this swim because I felt I had made a lot of gains on my swim since IM Worlds and was eager to test myself in race conditions.
Unfortunately, because of the conditions, the combined air and water temperatures posed a high risk for hypothermia so the 4k swim was cancelled for everyone. The race would be changed to TT start by race bib # at 5 second intervals. This changed everything! I was prepared to race in the current conditions, like many others, and I even thought I might have a slight advantage because these were similar weather conditions I had been training in for the last 2 weeks in Boise. As a matter of fact, I know I’ve raced IM CDA, St. George and Boise at least a couple of times with similar conditions. No matter how much you prepare or train for it, it was still very cold and I know that there were others that were not very well prepared. The Saint had been watching the long-term forecast pretty closely so I was prepared for the conditions and was in much better shape than others. I felt bad as I saw some athletes starting the bike wearing plastic garbage bags to fend off the wind & cold. Cancelling the swim and pushing my TT start time out to 9am also added a whole new list of issues to deal with like what gear to wear on the bike to stay warm, nutrition, staying warm, race strategy changes and staying warm. 
To make the best of the 3.5 hours I had to wait for my start time I first needed to get more to eat then decided to dry my wet cycling gear I had loaded into my transition bag the night before and were outside when it rained. An important note to pass along here...the plastic cover on an aero helmet melts if left too close to a heat source for a long time. Yep, who would have thought? I felt better when I later learned that there were a couple of other ladies that did the same thing when I stepped away. It wasn’t melted enough that it made it unsafe for use but I guess I’ll be looking for a new aero helmet for next season. Staying warm before the race was priority and I was really glad I had my new Bontrager Thermal Windblock jacket that I got for my birthday just a week earlier. I’ll use it for winter riding during the preseason but I was glad I decided to pack it, just in case. If you need a winter weight cycling jacket I highly recommend taking a look at these, they are awesome!
At the start of the 120k bike the sun had made its way over the mountains and started to warm the unseasonably frigid temperatures, but only slightly. I still got the chills as I stood in line in the now 41 deg temps and waited for my turn. I tried to put on right combination of cycling gear where I would be warm, not hot, and would not create unnecessary wind drag. My TYR arm warmers were a must since stopping to shed excess layers would not be an option. I shivered and my teeth chattered  like fire crackers while I anxiously waited in line. I flashed back 2 months ago where I was in the same place but that race strategy was to stay as cool as possible and keep from overheating.  I welcomed the warmth my body would generate as I ground up 3,600ft of elevation on the bike course on my Trek Speed Concept which makes the bike my favorite part of the race. I absolutely love that bike and get in trouble with my husband when I try to tuck it in on his side of the bed at night. Only other Speed Concept owners understand how awesome these bikes are. Nothing else compares to the ride and handling of this bike and I recommend everyone take one for a test ride, whether you are shopping for a new bike or not, because it will be love at first ride.The TT start made it difficult to tell how well I was doing because there were other strong women that started after me. The Saint keeps telling me that my competitiveness and focus on winning can be a drawback to my racing because I may spend too much time focusing on what others are doing which can take my attention and energy away from my own performance. As much as I want to understand that my overall success is something I have no control over because I can’t control who I race against and how well they race, I just can’t keep myself from being a calf watcher. There is a fine balance I have to find when trying to achieve my own goals regardless of how others are doing. This still doesn't stop me from yelling at him for race updates as I go by too fast to hear his response. We somehow need to work out hand signals that he can do while he's wrangling the kids and taking pictures or I need to get him a scooter so he can cruise up & down the course to let me know if I need to make adjustments.

The bike course is very hilly, a perfect course for a World Championship…you are either going up or going down which suits my riding style just fine. I love hilly courses and I love them even more when I have all my gears. I replaced my deralier after the mis-hap at IM 70.3 Worlds and appreciated the smooth shifting of my SRAM Red. This course starts with warm-up a 2.5 mile loop around the western portion of Lake Las Vegas resort and then good 1 mile 5% climb out of the resort and onto the highway. There are a couple of 10%+ climbs at miles 11, 19, 26, 32, a killer 12% at mile 54 and then one more 10% at mile 56 but they are all short with none of them being more than 0.25 mile. The winds were pretty wicked in some sections of the bike because you are totally exposed to the elements. Had this been any other race I would have thought some of the guys I passed that were waving all over the road had come directly from the craps tables on the strip. Total elevation gain for the race was over 3,600 feet. I stuck to my race plan of pass everyone in front of you but don't get passed and finished the 75 miles in 3:52:28 for the 11th fastest amateur time. Looking back on the race I could have and should have gone harder. I was too conservative partially because I didn't have reliable results from September to make sound adjustments and because stonger riders started behind me and I didn't have anything to tell me that I would have been passed had we exited the swim together.

I came out of T2 feeling a little winded but confident that if I hit my run pace that it should be good enough for a podium finish. The 30k run was on the same course as IM 70.3 Worlds but added another loop to make it a 4-lo0p course with each lap being ~4.5 miles. The wind and the cold temps of the day were not playing nicely with my asthma and my chest was tight as I ran downhill towards mile 1. I fought hard to keep the pace through miles 2 & 3 but couldn’t quite shake the feeling of having an elephant sitting on my chest. I backed off my pace a little bit but kept thinking how it felt so unfair with the wind blowing in your face as you ran uphill.  Knowing this was going to be my last race of the season, I had to push through the pain. A multi-loop course is kind of nice to help you recognize milestones on each lap but then gets confusing by the second lap with so many people on the course and not knowing whether you are actually passing people because they were in front of you and are falling behind or if they were already behind you and were now just being lapped. My 18.6 mile run ended up about 10 minutes off pace with a 2:24:05 for a total time of 6:18:48 and good enough for a nebulizer treatment in the medical tent, 1st in my AG by almost 4 minutes, foot cramps that wouldn't let me walk, 9th OA and 5th American female. It was also a good day for Team USA as we took home 17 world titles and 36 overall medals including Jordan Rapp winning the men’s elite title and Meredith Kessler claiming 3rd in the women’s elite race.
This was the end of my 2011 season so I’ll take a week off before starting my 2012 preseason training. Next year is another iron distance year so I’ll be looking to claim another ticket to Kona; I have some unfinished business from last year. I still need to sit down and look at races for next year to decide what new venues I want to try out, maybe Lake Placid or something in the mid-west. This was my first ITU race and my overall impression of this racing organization was not a blow my mind, make me want to come back again type of experience. It was a fun experience but of the large international triathlon race companies, Rev 3 still takes the cake when it comes to meeting my expectations as a racer. The others leave me walking away wondering where my $600 entry fee went. For 2012 I’m certainly going to try to race more Rev 3 races. After racing at Portland I kept trying to figure out how to go to more of their races; I just wish there were more in the western states. Next year’s ITU Long Distance Worlds is in Spain and despite my Spanish heritage I have no plans of trying to qualify .
This whole season was possible because of the great support I get from my family and sponsors. I want to personally thank Nick at Trek for all of his support this season. Trek’s Speed Concept is the bike of dreams and I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have to race for Trek. A hug and a thank you to Ryan at TYR for working with me again this year and making me part of the TYR family. TYR has brought itself to the front with their innovative and state-of-the-art gear from goggles, to carbon race gear to their line of Hurricane wetsuits including their new Freak of Nature [I sometimes wonder if they named that wetsuit after me]. Michael at CEP Compression for their pioneering lines of compression gear that make racing and recovery so much easier. K-Swiss and their running shoes that keep me going and to the local guys who see me every week…John & Crew at George’s Cycles on Fairview to keeping my Trek Speed Concept in optimal condition, Dr. Jim at Boise Valley Chiropractic for keeping me aligned, Dr. Dave at Physio Therapy for putting me back together after each race and last but not least, Peter at VESPA who has helped me get a handle on my nutrition this season.

I want to give a special shout out to Adam Ster from masterbodyworker and his Fascial Stretch Therapy [FST]. FST is a unique stretching technique that focuses on lengthening the fascia or connective tissues that surrounds all structures of the body. By involving the body as whole unit instead of individualized muscles it helps improve muscle strength and flexibility and decreases injuries. He came as part of the support staff for Team USA and worked my into his busy schedule on Thursday, Friday and then after the race on Saturday. If you ever have a chance to work with a certified FST therapist it is worth the time and money.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CEP Clone Review

I was originally going to post a product review of my CEP Clone when I first received them but later decided it would be better served to wait a little bit to see how they perform over time. Before I go too far, first let me summarize what the CEP Clone is.

CEP is not another name brand company jumping into the latest fad and flooding the market with low quality replicas. They have been successfully manufacturing compression for over 60 years. They are known as MediUSA in the medical world and CEP in the sport world. Most people don’t know this, but CEP actually used to make the compression gear for some of their competition. They manufacture their garments on a circular loom by graduating the medical grade compression so it is tightest at the ankle and less tight as it moves towards the heart. The result is maximum compression where it needs to be, furthest from the heart.

CEP recently unveiled the Clone compression program this Spring with the allure of recovery compression that is custom-made to your exact body measurements. Whether you have long skinny legs, short squatty legs or somewhere in-between, there are no Small, Medium and Large sizing charts that you have to refer to and hope that all of your measurements fit into one of the sizes. The CEP Clone is the ultimate in recovery compression that is essentially a lower body double generated from 41 exact measurements taken by a CEP Rep or specifically trained individual; you don’t take your own measurements and send them in. This is to guarantee that the applied compression is the precise amount up and down the entire leg, they aren’t too long or too short and no gapping in certain spots because your quads, knees and calves don’t all align within other brand’s sizing chart. The $290 price tag might be considered a little spendy but keep in mind that this includes 2 pairs that you can choose to receive at once or one at a time. They also are shipped with a wash bag, detergent, gloves to help put them on and skin care samples. For $50 less you can opt for the thigh-high version that come with either beaded silicone or lace. Yep, lace! Nothing like trying to sexify compression thigh-highs. If you opt for the waist-high suit, they are gender specific so you guys can include that coveted “man pocket”.

I have tons of people ask me every year, why compression? Compression isn’t only for recovery but can be used while training or racing as well. I don't profess to be a PhD but from what I have read, compression works because your arterial walls are sensitive to pressure. When pressure is applied by squeezing the arterial walls, it relaxes and allows more blood to flow through. The result is up to 40% more blood flowing through your muscles which will then receive more oxygen and according to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning this can cut the lactic acid build-up by up to 30%. Some studies suggest that runners ran 5% faster while using 6% less energy; for a 4 hour marathon this could save you 12 minutes. Along the lines of recovery, the same principles apply. Increased blood to the muscles reduces your lactic acid levels faster and by increasing the oxygen it will help promote healing. Would you believe that 80% of individuals who experience blood clots while traveling are endurance athletes. Why? Because their heart rate is lower. Sitting for long periods of time while you travel with a lower heart rate can lead to clotting because your blood is moving slower through your veins. If you sleep while your spouse drives you home after a race like I do, your heart rate is even lower and could be problematic.

I have used compression for post-race and post-training therapy for years and am a firm believer in the benefits. Over the years I have tried a number of different brands of compression for recovery and have never been completely satisfied because the fit isn’t quite right or they lose their compressive features over a short period (if they had any to start with). All compression gear will eventually loosen which is why CEP sends you 2 pair to get you through an entire year. I started using the CEP compression calf sleeves during the 2010 race season to help minimize muscle fatigue during training and racing and immediately started to notice a direct correlation to performance. I was, however, still using a different compression brand for recovery. I read about the Clone earlier this year and CEP had a booth set up in the expo at Wildflower and the Reps at the expo were not able to collect the measurements for the Clone at the race venue. They instead put me in contact with the local CEP Compression Sales Rep who immediately scheduled a time for us to meet at the George’s Cycles store on Fairview. After about 20 minutes, the measurements were complete and I was told that within 2 weeks I should have them delivered to my door. I actually contacted Jon before he sent in the measurements and asked him to hold off because I was worried that the measurements were not truly representative at that time because my legs were still very swollen from racing two days in a row. We were able to align schedules later and got more accurate measurements to order off of.

I went with the waist-high suit, not the thigh-highs, and have to say that they are TIGHT! Tight like compressive tight, but also tight like sick. These are medical grade but intended for athletic or non-medical use. I loved them from the moment I put them on, which took a couple of minutes and caused a bead of sweat on my forehead. The compression was exactly where it should be and not too much at the knees or ankles like other brands I’ve used that cause them to be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. I wear mine all the time when I’m not training. I sleep in them, wear them under my jeans and even have been known to wear them to church. I know, my husband is a lucky man. My Clone is much more compressive today, 3 months later, than other products out of the box even after wearing my Clone literally everyday.

If you are serious about training and racing you need to be serious about compression. If you are serious about compression then the CEP Clone is a must-have item in your gear bag. Recovery is so important to being able to continuously get out and train and race throughout the season. I would not be in the condition I am today without my Clone.

Additional CEP compression gear that I use during racing and training and are also worth the time to look at are:

  • Running Compression Shorts - I tried these on a whim and am now hooked, my fastest track workouts have been in these.
  • Cycling Compression Shorts - these are a little longer than the traditional cycling shorts so they provide that extra compression on more of the quad.
  • All Sports Compression Sleeves - I never leave home without them and wear them for every workout, honest. You'll want to get at least 2-3 pair so you always have clean ones to wear. There are a multitude of colors but I highly recommend the green. :)
  • Wintersports Compression Socks - intended more for skiing but I've found that these work great for cold weather cycling. There is also a cycling compression sock but I only wear socks when I cycle during the winter months but wear the calf sleeves the rest of the time.
Visit their website at to see all of their great products.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman 70.3 World Championships

There aren’t enough words to describe the emotions and excitement I felt leading up to the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I had a good season and was confident that I had a legitimate shot at  a poduim place for the Overall Amateur title. However, there is only one word that can describe the outcome…mulligan. I'm not a golfer but people I know that golf say that when you have a bad first tee shot you can call a mulligan to do it over again and that you are allowed one per round. Since this was the first Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, I would like to take my "do-over", please. As I type up this race report I still reflect back on how such a perceived insignificant turn of events can literally “derail” a year’s worth of meticulous training and preparing for one event.  Regardless, there is a story to be told and some lessons learned that can be applied to future races.

I began my journey to the legendary Las Vegas the beginning of September to spend a couple of weeks training in the elements and on the actual race course. I was excited for the course because I love to ride and run on hilly courses. This year with the venue change from the flatlands of Florida to the desert hills of Nevada, I was going to be in my element. Heat had been my achilles heel last year and I had spent this season focusing on my nutrition since it had been my demise at more than one race last season costing me the coveted overall title. This year  Boise had been hot, mid to upper 90’s, for most of August but I was still a little concerned because I really hadn’t tested myself in the heat at any of my races since Kona last year. I had done my share of race day simulation training during the heat of the day focusing specifically on my nutrition and I felt comfortable with my plan.

Arriving in Las Vegas I was greeted with the desert heat and essentially nothing else, because there really isn’t anything else there. This is the ideal place for the true test of an Ironman World championship. People that live there are like vampires, only coming out before the sun rises and then only reappearing once the sun has set. I quickly learned that only the slightly insane ventured out during the day and I even had a police car stop along side of me at a stop light while I was riding my bike one blistering afternoon and asked if I was ok. Not the kind of “ok” like, are you lost? Do you feel safe? But more of the are you ok like, are you insane? It's a 108 degrees out here! Had I been carrying a camera they would have thought I was a crazy tourist but being on my bike they almost certainly surmised I was from Phoenix, which would have instinctively answered the insanity question. They even offered me a ride or a bottle of water from the cooler they carry with them. Had I any idea the type of neighborhood I was about to ride through, I would have taken them up on their offer. Everyone was so nice and some of the racers from the local  Las VegasTriathlon Club even let me crash some of their early morning workouts. Bill, Eric & Jill, you guys rock! I think they were just happy to prove to their spouses that there really are other endorphin-starved junkies out there and they don't need counseling.

Race morning came faster than I had anticipated. After the 4:00am alarm, the culmination of hours in the saddle, nearly a dozen pairs of running shoes and countless bottles of Ultragen were about to be realized.  My swim wave didn’t leave until 7:00am but I was becoming visibly stressed because Jeremy was stressed about getting me there in time. He's so organized and manages his time so wisely it always makes me more relaxed when he's at the race to make sure things are in order. Walking into T1 I felt a sudden adrenaline rush that sent chills up the back of my neck. I’m at Worlds and these…these are my peeps. People who understand what it means when I say I’m doing a BRIC on Saturday. People who don’t look at me weird when I wear my CEP Clone under my dress at church because I raced the day before. These are the World’s most elite triathletes that are all here for one purpose, conquer the hills and desert heat of Las Vegas.

 I dropped off my nutrition on my bike, donned my TYR Torque swim skin and headed for the swim entrance chute. I had all of my cycling gear set up from the night before, shoes and helmet were already on my Speed Concept, I was ready to roll. I made my way to the staging area and waited the 45 minutes before my wave was to start. As I jumped in the water, the smell of stagnant 80 degree water filled my nostrils and almost made me gage. I had swam in this lake water the day before and swam in similar water a couple of times up at Lake Mead with the local Tri junkies but I still hadn’t got accustomed to the smell. The 73 degree morning was calm and cool with thousands of spectators and racers anxiously awaiting the start of each wave. Swim waves were scheduled about 5 minutes apart and as each one would start they would move the next wave into the water. Except, they were a little overzealous and the swim coordinators were moving each wave in too early. Even with 5 minutes between waves they were moving the waves in so that you would tread water for 5 minutes while you waited for the wave in front of you to start and then tread water for another 5 minutes while you waited for your wave to start. After about 8 minutes of treading water and out of total excitement, I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. I was getting too excited and needed to slow down my heart rate before I blew an artery. I rolled over on my back, just floated and tried to relax until I heard the announcer say “1 minute”. Next thing I knew the air horn went off and I was left wondering where the 30 second marker was and the countdown from 10 seconds.

There were about 100 girls in my swim wave and there was plenty of room to swim with only minor modifications to accommodate for drift [I call it drift because I’m confident I swim in a straight line]. As I approached the halfway turn buoy I was with the lead pack and feeling good, then all of the sudden I felt the girl next to me hit my left arm and then felt the sickening sensation of the weight of my Garmin shift, like it was falling off. Aaahhh! That’s a $300 critical piece of equipment that I couldn’t afford to lose because I would not be able to see my heart rate, cadence or watts on my bike or run. I reached up and felt for it right as it fell into my hand. Somehow she had hit it just right, with enough force, to knock the pins out of the wristband. Luckily I was able to catch it before it sunk into the slimy green abyss below. As I sat there wondering how that happened and how to hook it back on I came to the realization that I’m in the middle of a race, throw it down your front “pocket” and move! I was now on my own without the benefit of the lead pack to swim with which meant I had to do more of my own sighting and would need to work harder to hit that 30-32 minute swim time. As I swam I started seeing red swim caps from the swim wave in front of me which made me feel good about how I was doing but then I also started seeing green swim caps. Where are these green caps coming from? Is that the wave behind me? Am I doing that bad? Yep, I later found out that those green caps were from the male swim wave that started 10 minutes behind me and I sucked it up with a 35:06 swim. I had been beating myself up all year over my swim time and kept trying to cut that down but then I couldn’t help but think of some of the elite women like Natasha Badmann and Lori Bowden who won a number of Ironman World titles and  rarely, if ever, exited the water in the lead. If I can crush the bike and follow it up with a killer run, I just need to come out towards the front of the pack, right? Still to be debated.

Knowing I could safely assume I was at least a couple of minutes behind the lead women I figured I would just concentrate on catching up and adding distance to them on the bike. TYR swim skin off, a quick rub down of sunscreen and I was off and running through T1 to my Speed Concept. I was pretty lucky on my rack assignment this time, my bike was almost exactly half way through T1 and only a couple of bikes from the inside lane. I practically ripped my ultra light Speed Concept off the rack with anticipation and made my way up the switchback path up the hill to the mount line. I’m not one of those athletes that stops to throw my leg over and then push off to go, I’m like a gunfighter trying to jump on a horse at full gallop. No time to kiss the maiden or smell the roses here, I have rubber to burn on those tires. I had a pretty good head of steam going as I jumped on my bike and put both feet on top of my shoes and start to pedal. There will be time to put my feet in the shoes after I’m moving. I have done this type of mount dozens of times during training and other races but this one was going to be different than any other and throw something I could never prepare for. As I pedaled, I didn’t even get a full revolution before my chain completely seized up and almost caused me to endo my bike. It almost felt like someone had stuck a stick in my spokes as it caused me to lurch forward. I was now in a free-spin and  looked down to see that my chain was hanging. I thought I had simply thrown my chain but as I came to a stop I almost broke into tears when I saw what had happened. As I pedaled and broke the rubber bands that held my shoes in place and kept them from flopping around as I left T1, one of the rubber bands broke and shot back into my rear derailer and then proceeded to entangle itself amongst my SRAM Red components. My mind immediately began to go a million miles an hour trying to figure out how to remedy this situation. I immediately attempted to pry the pieces of rubber band out of my chain with my fingers till I bloodied them trying to get the rubber band free, which proved much more difficult than I make it sound. 5 minutes later, according to my Garmin but I swear it seemed like an eternity, my chain and derailer was free of rubber band parts. A nice gal asked if would like some wetwipes or needed to use her phone. Huh? I'm racing here! Like I have time to clean up or call ahead of carry out, I'm racing here. I let out a sigh of relief and took my first breath…until I jumped back on and tried shifting gears. The bike techs at McGhie’s Bike & Boards in Las Vegas had meticulously dialed in my shifting when reassembling my Speed Concept after the plane ride but now it was jumping around like my kids on Mt. Dew. I hammered through my gears trying to find one that worked which wasn't many. As I started my climb out of Lake Las Vegas I saw Jeremy & the kids; the kids screaming and cheering, Jeremy with a look of bewilderment, like “What took so long?” They were on the road directly across from the swim exit and I knew he had calculated about 3 minutes from swim exit through T1 but now I was pushing almost 9 minutes. Trying to act calm and not break down in tears of disappointment, I told him that my derailer was messed up as I raced by. In reality it was more than messed it, it was completely jacked! I had 56 miles to go and I was only able to find 6 gears to do it in. Nothing like handicapping myself at the start. I began to think about calling it a day. How could I do the nearly 2,600 feet of elevation change in 6 gears? My hopes of an overall amateur win were now a distant dream and I knew I was now mentally defeated. I had never quit a race in my nearly 10 years of racing Tri’s or road racing and the only DNF’s that blemish my race stats today were because race course medics pulled me due to health reasons. I then thought of the PC racers that were on the course missing legs and arms that live every day with handicaps and it doesn’t slow them down. I was physically capable and my bike was still working, for now, so I was going to put it all on the line and see what I could do.  

56 miles and 2:51:30 later I grinded it out on the uphills and free-spun the downhills but I can hold my head high and say I did it on my own, with only 6 gears. I didn’t jump behind anyone to draft on the downhills as men were blazing past me [yes I saw you ladies as you passed me] and I didn’t try to form a pace line [yes I saw you too pro men] to improve on my situation. All-in-all I came in only about 20 minutes behind my goal time and improved my standing in my AG by 12 places. As I came into T2 I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me if there was any chance of even making an AG podium.

The run was a 3-loop, 4 mile course with about 2 miles of uphill and 2 miles of downhill and you’re either going up or you’re going down. The original plan was to negative split each lap. With almost no shade on the course I needed to get off the course before it got too hot. The first mile was almost entirely downhill and I was just slightly off my pace but typically that first mile takes some adjustment after coming off the bike. Mile 2 is a long grind uphill and I almost immediately started to feel the effects of not having additional gears on the bike section. I realized I had pushed too hard. My quads and hip flexors began to scream at me so I thought if I slowed down by :15-:20 each mile then maybe I could keep things from blowing up. As I completed my first lap the course started to get a lot busier with other athletes finishing the bike and I began to notice that I was unable to close on people in front of me. It was getting confusing not knowing whether people were on their 1st, 2nd or final lap and whether I needed to push myself for the pass. By time I started my final lap I was getting frustrated because I was missing all my paces and with the sun beating down, it was starting to get really hot. I just wanted to be done with it and forget about the whole thing and start focusing on the ITU Long Course World Championship. I just wanted off the course. I was taking as much water on that last lap as I could grab at the aid stations and just pouring it on me to keep my core temp down. At this point I was hoping for a little breeze to help cool me off. 

I finally crossed the finish line with an overall time of 5:17:16; about 30 minutes over what I knew I could do on a good day. The run was a lumbering 1:45:40 but felt like I had been running for days. I couldn't help but think that I had let my kids and husband down. They had traveled so far to cheer me on and sacrificed so much "mom" time over this season and now I was walking away with very little to show for it.

This was the most mentally challenging race I have ever had. What keep me going? Sheer will. I feel I let myself and others down if I quit. Sure I was not having the day I had hoped, planned and dreamed of for the last year. You all might be wonding what I did with that broken Garnin for the bike & the run. At the expo I stopped by the "Blazeman" ALS booth to chat with John Blaze's family and offer my support. As some of you may, know I have rolled the line a couple of time for my brother-in-law's father, Jack, who is currenty battling this disease. I was given a "ALS Warrior poet" awareness braclete to wear in John Blaze's honor. I used that to attach the Garmin to my wirst. I kept thinking about people who are disabled or suffering from ALS and how greatful I am to have the body that allows me to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. That kept me going mile after mile. Quit was not an option, I had to keep going.

What I did right. I nailed my nutrition. It got hot on the run course and I still didn’t have any GI issues like in the past. I’ve become a true believer of VESPA and am continually amazed at how I feel when I race and train on it. Even today, a full day after the race I’m not even sore. If you are interested in learning more about VESPA I can help. I’m not pushing this product because I work for them or because I’m paid to endorse it because I don’t. I don’t get paid to endorse any of the products I use. I’ve simply spent the time and money doing my research and truly believe the products I use are the best out there. VESPA works, as odd as the product may sound, it works and I plan to take it with me next year when I race at Kona again…redemption!

As for the course, it was awesome! Race support was top notch and everything was well organized. I can’t wait to race this exact same course in November for the ITU Long Course World Championship. The only difference will be twice as long swim, about 20 more miles along "scenic" Lake Mead on the bike and then 1 more loop on the run. Now I know what modifications I need to make to my training routes to simulate the course.

As for accommodations, I arranged a home stay in Henderson which is the host city and where the race finish is but if I didn’t have that I would still stay in Henderson. Logistically staying in Henderson works better on race morning to drop off nutrition for the run and then head to Lake Las Vegas which is a short drive on wide, multi-lane highways. Not to mention the expo is there at the Rec Center, there are more places to eat and places to stay.

The biggest let down for the day, other than the mechanical issues, was that there wasn’t a finisher’s shirt. I would have thought that for the World Championship that there would have been some kind of finisher’s shirt. You’re starting to get less and less swag at WTC races. For the price you pay to race, I would expect more, but then maybe I was spoiled by Rev 3.

First thing I'll do when I get back to Boise, love on my kids for a little bit before they head off to school and then head in to see Dr. Dave at Physio Therapy and then Dr. Jim at Boise Valley Chiro for some adjustments. Then, no rest for me, I'm back to the focused training to get better prepared for the ITU Long Course World Championship on November 5th.

See you on the race course!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quest for the Capitol

The Quest for the Capitol tri is a race that I wanted to support as an athlete because it’s their inaugural year, the bike course is one of  my favorite courses to train on and because I needed one more good bric at race pace before heading into my taper for Ironman 70.3 Worlds. Being an inaugural race I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised with the race organization, some areas for improvement, but overall a good experience and look forward to racing in it again in the future. I just hope this race captured all the bad mojo and will allow me to have a good race for Worlds…it felt like, if it could go wrong, it did. Continue reading below if you’re looking for a good laugh for the day.

I needed to put in one more hard day at a good pace and there’s nothing better than having a hundred people to train with on a Saturday, especially some of the faster guys to help push me on the course. The only problem was that the bike and the run were not going to be long enough for what I needed to put in for the day so the plan was to bike the 16 miles from my house to the Capitol building as a warm up and then run another 5k and bike home afterwards. T2 was right in front of the steps of the Capitol building so I would drop off my run gear and then ride the 2 miles to the pond to set up T1. Based on my calculations, with the race start at 8am, I could leave my house and get to the Capitol, set up T1 and still have an extra 30 minutes to set up T2.

So I didn’t quite leave the house right when I planned and I forgot to calculate stopping at lights and intersections as I rode through town. Consequently I was a late getting to T1, then when I went to get on my bike to ride to T2 my back tire was flat. No biggie, right? Except when your extra long vale stem is too short for your rear wheel, still I'm ok, I have a vale extender. Expect this type needs a removable core. I have not flatted on the rear tire ALL season and got my wheel with tire and tube already installed directly from TREK, so I was not aware of the removable core, now I'm.  That meant I had to patch the tube road side before I got going. I'm too cheap to buy glueless patches until I use all my old glue up patches so I had to wait for it to dry...time is my temper.  So a 3 min flat turned into 15 minutes. Granted, it’s better to have it now then during the race going up a hill but the timing was not ideal. I’m pretty rehearsed at changing flats, especially after last season where I practically flatted on just about every training ride and each race so it didn’t take long, but certainly had me frazzled. I know the race director so I called ahead to let them know that I flatted and would be screaming in just before the race started. I rode up to T1 as I heard the announcer say, “3 minutes to race start, 3 minutes.” Aaarrrggghhh! 3 minutes? As soon as I rode into the transition area I was literally mobbed by volunteers trying to help me get ready. There were a couple of volunteers body marking while another put on my timing chip and another helped me put on my TYR Torque swim skin and then the “Saint” took my bike to set up what would be my transition area. Getting there late didn’t leave many options since the bike racks they had set up in the Idaho River Sports parking lot were a first-come-first-serve. I had one of the volunteers help zip my Torque swim skin as the announcer said “30 seconds to swim start, I will count you down from 10 seconds.” I grab my swim cap and my now favorite TYR Orion swim goggles and try to run through the parking lot as I put them on.  As I ran past the swim exit to the swim start I hear “10…9…8”. I sprint down the asphalt path and jumped off the dock as I hear…to be continued below.

The swim is a two-loop, mass start, deep water start since there isn’t a good beach area to run out and the swim direction goes counterclockwise. We are swimming in an old gravel pit that sits along the Boise River that is known as Quinn’s Pond but is also referred to as Clockertower Pond because of the condo complex that sits on its banks. I swim here in the spring because it is usually one of the first ponds to warm up in May to get in some outdoor swim sessions before the Boise 70.3 comes to town. I was nervous about the water quality because in the past it is usually too warm to swim in by August but last year the city drained the pond and did some major work on the banks to remove overgrowth, improve accessibility and improve the water flow from the Boise river to keep the water temp cooler longer into the season. The day is unusually cloudy for August with forecasted highs near 100deg. Normally the morning starts without a cloud in the sky and little to no wind since we typically won't get any rain in the month of August. I'm secretly praying for a cloudy day, at least until about noon to keep the temps comfortable. The temp at race start is a comfortable 67 degrees while I sprint down the asphalt path and jump off the dock as I hear “3…2…1”. I jump in and feel the warm 79 degree water and quickly realize that I believe this is the first ever non-wetsuit legal swim in the state of Idaho. The field is only about 100 athletes with the men wearing swim caps that are a beautiful shade of pink and the women in a nice navy blue. I originally wanted to find my friend Briggeta before the swim so I could try to use her for pacing. Briggeta is an awesome swimmer that swam in college and was the first female out of the water two weeks ago at Emmett with a 21 minute swim. I don’t think I can hold her pace for the full distance but I wanted to see how long I could hold on. Jumping in behind the back of the pack as the starting gun went off obviously meant that I was not going to find Brigetta but I still felt I could find a pack I would work with. As I work my way through the pack someone inadvertently hooked the timing chip with their hand and almost took it off. Luckily I was able to grab it before it came all the way off so I stopped, took it off my leg and threw it inside the front of my Torque. I didn’t want to try to put that back on while floating in the water.  The rest of the swim was at a nice comfortable pace and I found a guy that tried to pass but I just couldn’t quite make it around him so we swam together most of the 2nd lap. I forgot to look at my watch or the race clock when I got out of the water so I didn’t know how I did during the swim until the end of the race when I downloaded my data. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch but the official time said it was a 24:14 which is about a 3 minutes faster than two weeks ago at Emmett but still a little off pace of where I need to be.

The bike course is one of my favorite training routes so I could probably ride it with my eyes closed. It’s a popular training course for both cyclists and runners so I was a little nervous how we would be able to work through the numerous packs of non-racers. This is a difficult bike course with lots of hills which will likely keep a lot of athletes away but fit right into the type of courses I love to ride. I was excited when I headed out to see that it was still cloudy, hoping it would stay cool for at least another hour or so. There was good race support on the road and most of the corners had a volunteer there to make sure you turned at the right spot. There were a couple of spots where the traffic was a little hairy but in general it wasn’t too bad. As I climbed I noticed how tight my lungs were so I took my inhailer before it got any worse. It's hard having asthma and racing because some times I don't always know what sets it off. As I rode I passed the girls that exited the swim before me and I kept thinking the lead guys must have been hammering because I couldn’t see them in the distance and I couldn’t figure out how I wasn’t making any ground on them. Not knowing how long it took me to swim, I didn’t have any idea how far ahead of me they could be. As I was going up the first climb I feel something solid hit my leg on my back-pedal and then hear it hit the ground. I turn around and see my Epi pen rolling down the road and then see that the lid on my draft box is open. I must not have got it fully closed when I changed my flat prior to the race. I can’t go on without that or I would have left it. It sucks trying to restart going uphill, in case you were wondering. As I made my way up one of the steeper climbs the motorcycle cop was riding along side of me and told me that I was in 1st place. 1st place...I guess it made sense since I passed all of the women in front of me but what I didn't understand was that he was telling me I was in 1st overall, including the men. Huh? As I came up to an intersection the volunteer had traffic stopped but apparently the driver thought she could go and pulled out while the volunteer is screaming at her to stop. I had to lock up my brakes and skidded my bike sideways, narrowly avoiding what could have been a season ending T-bone crash. I'm praying that I keep it upright and that the pre-race patch job I did on my rear wheel will hold up! As I’m restarting, one of the guys flies past me that I know beat me out of the water. Now I’m totally confused on how I got in front of the guys but I figured I should be able to hang with them for the rest of the ride. Just before I came into T2 a couple of the lead guys caught up to me. Since I still had the timing chip down the front of my race top from the swim, I don’t have an “official” bike split but my watch said 1:08:22. Apparently the two lead guys took a wrong turn and then had to backtrack to get back on course which cost them about 8 minutes. It's a much slower bike time than at Emmett and the bike course is actually 22 miles but it's much harder than any other course in the state with over 1,200ft of ascent over the 22 miles and two 9%+ climbs at mile 16 & again at mile 17. I love this course!

T2 was right in front of the Capitol building’s front staircase and was fairly empty when I pulled in right behind the guys which made it easy to get in and get out. The run is essentially flat that takes you south through town toward the river, loop around and through Julia Davis park and then back to the Capitol building. I was having a lot of problems with my asthma as I came into T2 so I grabbed my inhaler and brought along with me on the run. I don’t know if I was having problems because of stuff floating on/in the water during the swim or the poor air quality in the Valley from the forest fires. It was an Olympic distance race so I didn’t have my Fuelbelt or any pouch to put my inhaler in, other than the one on the back of my jersey but I don’t like it bouncing around while I run, so I put it in my "front pouch” along with my timing chip since it was the easiest. As I was running with the guy now in 3rd
place overall, somehow my inhaler falls out of my "pouch". Are you kidding me? Just in case there weren’t any other things that could happen during the race to cause me to slightly change my pace. I had to stop and pick it up, he took off. Now I didn’t have anyone to run with now so I had to pace myself. Since this was technically part of my training for the day, I kept it at my half IM pace and cruised back to the Capitol with a 43:09. I still had another 5k to go for training, so after a quick refuel I headed back on the course with the overall race winner, Neil Bangs, for a mile, than I ran the course reverse so I could still use the aid stations and cheer on all those that where still out there. I love to support the racers and give a proper thank-you to all those volunteers. I know that without the volunteers we wouldn't have a race.

I ended up 1st overall for the females and 4th overall for the general classification with a 2:19:17. It was a good raceday-effort for training but I could go without all the distractions next time. Other than my asthma I felt good, my legs were still firing well but my lungs were burning. Next time, be better prepared for changing a flat with my deep dish tires then make sure my draft box is completely closed before starting a race and try to be there on time.

Up next...I'm going on a little trip to Vegas with my Speed Concept to test out the 70.3 World's course and check how my nutrition does with the heat. After that, more focused training until November and then back down to Vegas on the same course for the ITU Long Course World Championships with Team USA. I hope to see everyone in Vegas because what happens in Vegas...will determine what I do next doesn't stay in Vegas.