Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spread that Holiday Cheer!

Nothing like a white Christmas (or Hanukkah!)
Happy 4th day of Hanukkah (5th night starts tonight so we're on the 4th day) and Merry Christmas Eve! I went for a run today at Fox Run Regional Park, a very hilly park a few miles from my house. I've done a lot of training runs here in the past, and it's great for building leg strength!

One loop of the park is about 3 miles with somewhere around 400 feet of gain. Today it felt like I was going up the whole time. But wow- what an amazing day - sun shining, snowy hills, and plenty of fresh air. I definitely appreciate my surroundings!

For the rest of the day I will kick back a bit and cook dinner for my husband and his parents. If you are interested, the menu is cornish game hens with a red currant & raisin sauce, roasted sweet potato spears with bacon vinaigrette, mixed vegetable, and french silk pie for dessert. His mom usually cooks a meal so this year I decided it was my turn!

I hope you all enjoy time with friends and family, and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings no matter where you are.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ironman Arizona - Part 5 - The Run

The run, also known as a marathon, which by itself is an impressive endurance event. So after being in 60 degree water for over 90 minutes and on the bike for over 6 hours, it was time to start the marathon.

I came off the bike and felt OK! I ran through transition to get my run bag.
about to get my  run gear bag
This time when I made it into the changing tent it was more like what I anticipated. A volunteer asked if I wanted help and I said yes. So she dumped it all out and I got what I needed. She filled my UCAN bottle with water (I had already opened the packed into the bottle earlier in the morning.) I used aquaphor on my feet to help prevent blisters and put on my fresh socks, tied my shoes, put a couple more gels in my pockets and was on my way. Sort of. Quick stop for some more sunscreen and then I needed to make a stop at the port-o-potty to take care of female business. Unfortunate timing, but as least I was prepared! I had to wait for one to open, but it wasn't long before I was running.
T2: 7:10

The Run of 26.2 Miles:
Lap 1: As soon as I started running and first priority was to start getting in some electrolytes. The first aid station was just a little ways up so I took a few of my endurolytes with some water. I had 1 packet of chocolate UCAN in my handheld bottle, Hammer Gels in my pockets, and I tried to go slow, which was harder than you might think! Just past the first aid station I found I was running pretty much the same pace as a guy so we started to chat. We both were hoping to start at a 10 min/mile pace or slower, so when our first couple miles were sub-10, we had to focus to back off. It was a challenge to run that slow but we knew we wouldn't be able to maintain that for a full marathon. I believe his name was Mark. We stayed together for most of the first lap. His knee was bothering him (ITB issues) so around Papago Park I showed him a quick stretch that seemed to help. After a while he wanted to stop and stretch and I kept going. I didn't get his race number so I hope he finished OK! I grabbed some pretzels every few aid stations, sipped at my UCAN and aimed to take in a gel about every 45 minutes or so, depending on how I was feeling.

another good race photo from Dad!

Lap 2: Each time I came through the park the family was there and I got to see the Swim - Bike - Run - Cake sign. Made me look forward to each lap. The sun was setting at this point which made the temps really comfortable for running. (Lap one I used water and sponges to help keep cool.)  I believe it was this lap when I chatted with a guy who told me he was diagnosed with leukemia 3 weeks ago. The doctors OK'd him to start chemo after this race. The more I'm involved with TNT, the more reasons I get to stick with it.
When I hit the aid station between miles 10 and 11, I decided to stop a port-o-potty because I had to pee again. I figured it was a good sign of hydration. And geez - it seemed after this I had to pee several more times and opted not to stop for those. (it's an ironman thang, you wouldn't understand. hahaha.) I was feeling pretty good coming back over the Mill Street Bridge. TNT cheerleaders were everywhere! Just before mile 13 I got my special needs bag and refilled a UCAN, took a maalox that I had in there (thought it might help with some of the gas, although I was feeling fine, but still a little gassy...and to note, it's normal for me to get gassy on an empty stomach. My energy levels were good)  I kept up with the pretzels, endurolytes, GenUCAN, and a gel every so often. When the chicken soup came out, I gave that a whirl. Salty goodness! I saw Kelly go by and guessed she was about 3-4 miles ahead of me. I also met up with Ron (@PunkRockRunner). He was hurting, but was hanging in there to rock this thing. Near the top of the hill around Papago Park I caught up to Pam Schuckies, a triathlete I know from Boulder. (She ended up 3rd in her age group!). Sarah and Darby were at the Cops & Robbers aid station and this lap I stopped to give Sarah a hug to thank her for volunteering. Charley (a TNT coach who was one of my coaches for my very first triathlon in 2006) was in the park area near the Mill St bridge and cheering as I was coming around to start my 3rd lap. Great to see him!

form is a bit sloppy here, but I am still smiling!
Lap 3: Things get a little fuzzy...I ran this one on my own, mostly. I think.Chatted around mile 19-20 with a guy from Canada who told me I was doing great. I was happy to be running the entire race and only walking aid stations. My body was definitely starting to hurt and I was slowing down. But I still stuck to the plan of going aid station to aid station and they did come up pretty quickly! I saw Kelly Ping one more time, pretty much in the same spot as before. I ran the Papago Hill with a gal from the LA Tri Club, although she was run/walking. She'd pass me running, and then I'd pass her while she walked. But at least I didn't have to walk up the hill! The downhill hurt a bit, but at this point there were only a few miles left! Once back on the Scottsdale Rd/Rural St. bridge I was soooo close. Team In Training supporters were cheering. The crowds were pretty thick and very encouraging on that last stretch. Charley was still there and I knew I'd see the family at the finish. The I heard someone yell, "Is that Nicole?" and it was Kelley Hess. Nice! I made the left hand turn to head towards the finish line and was greeted by more cheering spectators. A TNT person handed me a LLS/TNT flag to carry down the finishing chute. So now I had something to wave. My arms went up and I waved the flag. I was yelling at and waving my arms at the crowds and getting them to cheer even louder. An epic day requires a very enthusiastic finish!

I think this photo just about says it all.
Run Time: 5:00:49
run data
don't believe the HR for the first lap!
And the official finisher photo...

Link to official finish video and race photos
So I did it! I completed an Ironman in 13:09:59! I stuck to my plan as best I could, felt pretty good the whole time. Never did I question that I wasn't going to get this thing done. The weather cooperated, I had an awesome support crew there, I trusted the preparation I had done (thanks Coach Matt!) and really was out there to enjoy the day. I danced to the music at the aid stations, thanked the volunteers and probably felt as good as I can expect to out there! Huge, huge, HUGE thanks to everyone who helped me get here!

Ironman Arizona - Part 4 - The Bike

white saddle, #374
As I made my was along the side walk to get my gear bag everything went as I expected. Volunteers yelled out your race number and grabbed your bike gear bag for you. I took it into the changing tent and...whoa. It was packed! People everywhere! I found a small space and did my best to get into a dry sports bra and top. Not the easiest thing when wet. Note: pack a small towel next time. I had some other athletes help me out, but this "glitch" in T1 made it a little longer than I wanted. I was thinking 7 minutes, it was 13:24, so almost twice as long. Once I ran out of the tent, I stopped at the sunscreen station to get covered and then headed towards my bike. The volunteers grabbed my bike and handed it to me. I ran to the mount line and was off!
T1: 13:24

Now to my favorite part...the bike! There were several other people getting on their bikes at the same time so I took it easy to get on the road. No need to break any records before you are really on the course. At least for me. So I cruised and let my legs and the rest of me warm up. I had my garmin on my wrist and watched the power numbers. I started drinking and eating within the first 15 minutes. I had some catch up to do since I am sure I burned a lot of calories so just staying consistent was my plan. I had a couple bites of a clif bar on the half and full hour, and on the quarter and full hour I took a few swallows of my Generation UCAN bottles. I had two bottles of those with me, each with two packets - a protein (chocolate or vanilla) and a non-protein (cran-razz). The rest of my fluids were coming from my aerodrink, which I would refill with water from the aid stations and drop in a Nuun or Nathan Catalyst electrolyte tab.

Lap 1: Skies were blue with some clouds, but the sun was out. Great day for riding! I was in the small chain ring for most of this keeping my watts in check. Legs and all felt good. I was eating and drinking to plan. Once I hit the turn around, I flew! Legs felt a bit sore, probably still warming up so I pushed a big ring for speed and allowed the slight downhill to propel me forwards. Then I had to pee. I decided not to do it on the bike so I stopped at a support station and had to wait a minute for a port-o-potty to open. I didn't mind the short break, and there was a lot there! Guess I was hydrating! I continued on my way and was back at the zig-zag part of the course. I decided it was time for more electrolytes in my aerodrink and when I grabbed them out of my little box I dropped the whole thing. Ooops. And remember those extra electrolytes I had with my bike pump. Yeah, they should have gone into special needs as a back up. At least the clif bar and UCAN contains some electrolytes so I wasn't completely in the negative. When I hit the turn-around, there was the family cheering for me! And I did the first lap in 2:04, so right on my expected pace.
heading out again
coming in for one more lap
Lap 2: More of the same, but this time it felt a little easier climbing the last little bit up the beeline. I was a bit gassy and had a bit of a side stitch in my right side, but nothing major. All manageable and not unexpected. I stopped at the turn around aid station to pee, which made me feel better..ahhh!) and was assessing my lack of electrolyte consumption. No issues yet, but my calves were getting tight and there was a pain in my glute. All I could think of was my PT Gloria sticking those dry needles in that glute! Hahaha. Special needs was on this lap so I stopped and got a fresh bottle of UCAN, put a honey stinger waffle in my pocket and kept going. Quite the wind on this lap, but not worse than what I've ridden in on training rides! Around mile 75 I caught up to Shannon, one of my athletes. She was doing well and smiling! So great to see! Before I knew it I was back at the turn around. This lap was also around 2:04. And the family was there cheering!

Dad snapped this good one!
Lap 3: Last lap! I finished off my smaller UCAN bottle and tossed it at an aid station so I could put a bottle of Ironman Perform in my cage in case I needed it. I also tried to get a banana but missed at this early aid station. Calves were still a bit tight, glute was better and legs felt ok. I was able to get a half a banana at one of the last aid stations but didn't tap into the perform. Stopped to pee one more time at the turn around. Much less windy on this lap but still a bit of a headwind at times. When I passed the 100 mile marker I looked at the total time and it was 5:30. My fastest century ride! I rode with Dan from the Tri Club for a few minutes before I think he dropped back a little. I did pass a lot of people on the bike. I backed off a bit for the last couple miles to get them ready to run. As I turned into transition I heard my sister-in-law Traci yell and the family was there. Nice! This lap was around 2:03. Very consistent pacing for each lap!

General comments on the bike course: Superb volunteer support. And wearing a TNT kit gets you sooooo many extra cheers! Tons of TNT supporters from the Georgia IronTeam chapter out and about. They ROCK. My friends Sarah Hunke and Darby Remly were helping out and it was great to see them. The banana and penguin were especially loud and enthusiastic. And of course there was tons of cowbell! Can't have a race without cowbell!

I hopped off my bike at the dismount line and headed down the grass hill to get my run bag. And into the changing tent I went...

Bike time: 6:11:59
link to datafile

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ironman Arizona - Part 3 - Pre-race and Swim

How many race reports start with "my alarm went off at 4am"? This one is no different. I slept pretty well, or as well as I could expect, waking up a few times of course. I had done a good job of staying hydrated. Although I didn't mention this in my previous reports, I did have a bit of a sinus headache on Saturday so I did hope it would stay away on Sunday. It did. I woke up and started to get ready. Get dressed, eat breakfast, prepare bottles, and load up the car. The nerves were engaged, but manageable. I wanted to leave for the race site just before 5am and I was mostly on schedule. (I stress when I am late.) I figured if I got to transition at 5:30 I would have enough time to take care of everything before the start.

Once I parked in the garage across from the race site, I was a person on a mission. I carried my load of stuff down to transition I made several stops.

1) First stop was transition to put my nutrition and bottles on bike, as that would take a lot of weight away from what I was carrying. I had UCAN in two bottles in the cages and water with an electrolyte tab in the aerodrink. Then I pumped up the tires and loaded up my clif bars that I had already broken into pieces in plastic baggies. One of my athletes, Carley, was racked a few bikes from me and she showed up. She was excited and ready to get this ironman underway! I also found Kelley Hess and said good morning.
2) Next was a  quick stop at the port-o-potty since the line was short. Good idea.
3) Headed over to the gear bag section to make some tweaks.
4) Then was the short hike to drop off my special needs bags.
5) Stand in line for the port-o-potty one more time before putting on my wetsuit. By now it was just after 6am and I had planned to put my wetsuit on around 6:20. The line didn't move as fast as I would have liked, but it worked out just fine. And it was a good idea to stop.
6) I put my wetsuit on (I went with the long sleeved), packed everything I had except my bike pump and some extra electrolytes into my morning clothes bag and dropped it off with the volunteers.

Now I was in line for the swim start! Carley found me again and we were ready to do this thing. We slowly made our way towards the start and chatted with a few other ladies around us. Carley wanted to be a bit further back, so I went ahead. I dropped my bottle I had been sipping with cran-razz UCAN, got on the dock and jumped in!
Jumping into the "lake" from the dock with spectators on the bridge above.
My half ironman swims are ~45 minutes so 90 minutes would be a good swim for double that distance. After I jumped in the water, I was ready to go. Time to make my way to the start, which was past the bridge. I worked forwards and found an open spot under the bridge. And then the gun went off!
Although a bit behind the line to start, I avoided the mass "washing machine" and fight for position. I also probably lost a couple minutes, but I wasn't concerned. I was here to enjoy the event and so I did. I swam along, bumping into a few people here and there, but I managed to stay really close to the buoy line. I had to stop once to let a small motor boat through (I believe he was race support) and yelled at a guy to stop for the boat. He asked if I was ok and once I pointed to the boat, he got it. Then we started swimming again and he clocked me in the back of the head. It wasn't hard and he apologized. I just kept swimming. Buoy to buoy.
A nice sunrise for the specatators

Swim start
I was a little cold and glad I had the long sleeves on. On to the next bridge and then a bit past it for the turn and then back. My left hip flexor felt a bit funky, like it wanted to cramp, so every so often I would do a bicycle kick to keep it loose. At one point I thought my calf wanted to cramp as well, but it didn't.
I really mostly thought, keep swimming and wow - you're doing an ironman swim! I was really comfortable the whole time and despite a few bumps into some people here and there, it was a good swim. I even got on someone's feet for a bit a few times.

View from the bridge at the turn around. We have to swim back under that other bridge in the distance.
Once I made the last turn I was pretty happy. Just a short swim back across the lake to the swim exit.

We had to climb these steps to get out of the lake. Volunteers were helping pull us out.
I was pretty darn happy to be done with my first ironman swim and feeling good. It was the longest swim I've ever done and I was glad that I was about to get on the bike. The wetsuit strippers did there thing (almost pulling a Justin Timberlake to Janet Jackson with my sports bra, but we got that fixed before I flashed the world!) I didn't bother with a space blanket and just walked/jogged with my cold, stiff legs to get my bike gear bag and get into the changing tent.
Total swim time: 1:36:37. Pretty close to target considering I was "behind the line" when the gun went off.

Ironman Arizona - Part 2 - The Day Before

Saturday, November 19th
I woke up again on Saturday early and hungry (even though I ate a huge dinner the night before). Banana and Justin's Nut Butter were my morning snack to keep the growling stomach at bay. Then I took in a chocolate UCAN as I had my pre-race workout to do. They had Tempe Town Lake open with swim support (it is not usually a swimming lake, just boating) so we could check out the waters. I swam in my old long sleeved wetsuit since the temp was in the low 60s and I haven't worn this one in a few years. The water was cold when I got in and it did take my breath away slightly. My hands, feet, and face were cold at first, but after a few minutes it didn't feel so bad. It helped that the air temperature was warm. I was glad I got in the water so Sunday morning wouldn't be a complete shock to the system! I was also waffling between wetsuits. My long sleeved is old and takes on water, but it has long sleeves. My new XTERRA wetsuit is sleeveless but fits better. I was debating and talked to a few folks about it to get more input before making my final decision.

I met up with Kelly Ping again and we went on a short bike and run after the swim. And big thanks to her dad for keeping an eye on our stuff. Legs were feeling good! The line to drop off the bikes had diminished significantly so we checked in our bikes. Odd that they took a photo of the bike for "security reasons" but they do have a nice photo inventory of all the bikes!

Tachyon is racked.
Tandem bike for a blind athlete.
The transition area a little later...a sea of wheels.
Kelly, her dad and I had lunch at Ncounter and then I headed back to the hotel to shower up and then pack up my gear bags and get them back to the race site. I also started to get my food around for the special needs bags. Once my gear bags were packed up I went back to the race site.
Figuring out special needs
Gear bags are packed!
Gear bags for all the athletes!
I ran into a few folks I knew (Steve and Michelle Vaughan, and Warren and Pam Schuckies.) Race excitement was here. I always get more nervous the day before a race, and setting out those gear bags were a definite indication that I was going to do this thing! I then headed back to the hotel one more time to get off my feet and make sure I was there when Tim arrived. Time to go over my race plan one more time and make sure my lists were together. Tim showed up around 4:30 and we hung out until it was time to head to my pre-race dinner at P.F. Chang's. We met up with the rest of my family there. This was a popular place, because Shannon and her support crew were there, and Kelly was there with her dad.
my tried and true pre-race meal. salmon and brown rice. (lettuce wraps not shown)
This was in the mall so Tim took a photo of the Odell clan!
After dinner it was time for the final prep. Special needs bags and gear all set out so it was easy to access at 4 in the morning and so that I wouldn't forget anything. We turned on the Virginia-Florida State football game (what the heck, FSU?!?!) as I went through my lists and race plan one last time. I also had to pack up my things so Tim could change hotels. After the disappointing FSU loss, Tim headed down to the bar to use the free drink coupon we got and by 9:30 I was in bed...

Ironman Arizona - Part 1 - The Days Before

Yes! I finally get to write an Ironman race report! But before that, let's talk about the days before the race, as they are part of the experience as well.
Wednesday, Nov 16th. Went for an easy 30 minute swim and did some stretching in the hot tub before packing and embarking on the journey. I loaded up my car and then picked up Kelly Ping. (Kelly is the sports dietitian who helped me get some good data on my metabolic efficiency study.)
my stuff (and we did get another bike and more bags in there)!
Kelly and I had driven to Arizona last year to be spectators, so it was great to be going down together as athletes! We wanted to stop in Las Vegas, but I got impatient when the Subway was farther off the interstate than anticipated. Unfortunately that was pretty much the last stop before Santa Fe. So just imagine two females, hungry, trying to stay hydrated with no bathrooms to be found. Yikes! Then we found a gas station and encountered a sign on the bathroom doors - all bathrooms out of order! Eeeeek! Fortunately we made it to a decent travel stop a few miles down the road with clean bathrooms and a Wendy's and gas station. We emptied one tank, filled up a couple others and continued on to Gallup, NM before calling it a night.

Thursday, Nov 17th. After chowing down on the free continental breakfast (yay for hard boiled eggs!) we were on the road just after 7am. The ride was another nice one and we found a Subway just outside of Phoenix for lunch. (There was an In-N-Out burger, but because we had a bike/run to do, we opted against that!) I checked into the Holiday Inn near the Phoenix Airport, we changed into our bike gear and headed to the race site. We checked in and got our race packets today to miss the lines that would likely be there on Friday. We also had about an hour to ride and 30 minutes to run so we checked out part of the bike course (yay flat course!) and some of the run (yay flat course!). And we felt pretty good with all the oxygen at 1500ft. After the ride we cleaned up at the hotel and then met Shannon and Cade at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant for some good chow.
Shannon is ready to rock her 2nd Ironman!
mmmmmm....gyro platter. An award winning one at that!
Friday, Nov 18th: Sleeeeeep was on the menu so we slept in. Although I was waking up at 5am feeling rested and hungry! Once we got up and ready, we stopped at the Essence Bakery Cafe and got some hearty food. With a Sunday race, Friday is the day to make sure to get in the calories, and for some reason I was starving and waking up with a growling stomach.
French scrambled eggs and toast. (side of fruit not shown)
Then we hit up the expo briefly and met up with Ron on his way to check in.
Punk Rock Racing ready to rock this thang!
Then Kelly and I chilled out on Mill St before our noon massages and then grabbed some lunch at Gordon Biersch. Don't have a photo of that. Back to the hotel for more relaxing and starting to get stuff around. Kelly met up with her Dad and I opted to meet Khem and Tod for some appetizers before heading to the athlete meeting. We caught the end of the dinner and I met Lori (@LJ3000 on twitter) who was there to support her husband. I also met up with Kelley Hess (@KHesser) and Girls Heart Rockets teammate. She was going to dinner with her family and I became famished. Although tired and it was late, I decided to tag along. We got a really great and filling meal at Frank & Lupe's in Scottsdale. Kelley pounded 3 sopapilla's! Back to the hotel it was time for more sleeeeep!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

T-10 days!

After today the countdown to Ironman Arizona is in the single digits. And only one more weekend before race weekend. It is starting to seem more real! I'm full on mid-taper as although I'm eating well and getting a decent amount of sleep, I'm still feeling a that tired feeling during the day. But all that is normal as my body adapts to all the training I put it through!
Today started with a 7am PT appointment for more dry needling. It's actually really helped my range of motion in my shoulders as my pecs and traps have been released. And it's great on the glutes and hamstrings, although leaves my calf feeling like it was hit with a baseball bat. I think in the near future I'll write a more specific post on my experience with the dry needling. Then I had a full day of work...
I left work at 5pm and made it home around 5:40. My goal was to be on the bike at 6, and I was close. I got my bike (Tachyon) set up on the trainer, filled my bottles, grabbed a gel and my mp3 player. My bike workout was as follows:
15 minute warm-up
3x10min Over-Under (4min Steady State / 2 min Climbing Repeat / 4min Steady State)*
with 10min recoveries.
10min cool down
*SS is just under lactate threshold, CR is just above
then I had a 30minute run, so I bundled up a bit and hit my standard neighborhood route.
I was really glad my legs were able to hit my power zones during the intervals and actually felt good! And my legs really flew along the sidewalk during the run! It was chilly and breezy, but I felt amazing. During my run, I got to reflect on a few things.
1) I just did a taper brick workout that took me the same amount of time as my first triathlon in 2006 (1:52).
2) I was running an "endurance run" at a pace faster than my first sprint tri where I was maxed out.
3) I was thinking how I want to enjoy my experience at Ironman Arizona, and I might go through ups and downs on race day, I've really enjoyed the training for it.

So while I might go through mini-"freakouts" (don't we all before we do something new?) I'm excited for the experience and journey! Stay tuned as we get closer!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ironman Is Approaching!

There are twelve days until I toe the line for what I've been preparing for over the past year. A challenge that is surmountable, but it hasn't been an easy journey. I've blogged occasionally throughout my triathlon season with race reports. I'm in my taper now, and feeling the mix between rest and that odd taper fatigue. Here's a random recap of my season and some thoughts going forward.

  • I started 2011 with some running races, including a very challenging 25k at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
  • I've competed in 5 triathlons so far this season, with the first being in June. Ironman Arizona will be my 6th.
  • I raced my first criterium (and won!)
  • I continued to coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training Program. Check out my Challenge for all you who live in the Pikes Peak Region!
  • According to my TrainingPeaks logs, since January 1st, I've spent 200 hours on my bike logging 3115 miles, 108 hours have been spend running 568 miles, and 293451 yards were swum over 125 hours.
  • I've been a pin cushion for the last couple months while getting some dry needling therapy to help release some chronic trigger points.
I can honestly say I've enjoyed my training and the challenge that it brings. I'm surprised I haven't been more fatigued while working full time, being a wife, coaching athletes, and training 15-20 hours per week. I've been getting 6.5-8 hours of sleep a night (would of course like more!) I think a lot has to do with my improved diet as I worked to be more metabolically efficient. Honestly, it freaks me out a little when I read ironman race reports and they all end in GI distress...let's hope my nutrition plan works!

I'll post more over then next 12 days, but right now I need to get ready for bed, because I have to swim in the morning...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turtle Challenge and Ride to Save a Suicide

Ironman Training = a lot of time on the bike. Any break from the ordinary training ride is welcome, especially if it can help a great cause. Sunday's event was the Turtle Challenge and Ride to Save a Suicide, a fundraiser for the Suicide Prevention Partnership of the Pikes Peak Region. 155 people died from suicide in El Paso County, CO in the past year. 155 too many.

Since I need miles, miles, miles, I opted for the Challenge, a timed 40 mile race (although my Garmin only showed 35 miles?) I got up, had my usual Generation UCAN smoothie with banana and peanut butter. I got my bottles around, got dressed (bundling up with temps in the 30s!), put the Red Machine in the car and headed down south to the El Pomar Youth Sports Park. The skies were clear up north with the sun rising, but a cloud loomed over Cheyenne Mountain. Sure enough it was a bit cloudy there but thankfully no wind! I had about 20 minutes to get my bike ready with my race number, get the warm ride gear on. Rocked the pink Punk Rock Racing jersey (under a jacket for the start). The race went off at 8:00, with different age groups every couple minutes. The women was combined to a 19+ category and we started with the juniors. The Juniors,whom I'd seen before racing at the velodrome, took off pretty quickly and Brin, another female kept up with them. I was a little slower to start and my legs were feeling it! Pretty soon Stacey, the third female in our group, caught up to me. She was big ringing it on the dirt trail. Me, I just had to go my pace, spinning as we rode up the trail. I tried to keep her in sight, but I'm sure any chance of catching her fell by the wayside when I stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station. Let's just say, although I wasn't just cruisin' along, I wasn't going very fast on that first lap. It just felt hard.

The race route started on the Santa Fe trail (about 2/3rd dirt). The course was well-marked with bright green arrows spray painted along the way. One section that was weather destroyed asphalt had "Springs-Roubaix" painted in front of it. And they weren't kidding. Holy bumpiness! And with the chill in the air and body still a little stiff, that was one heck of a jarring ride - maybe 0.2mile but it felt like forever. Pedaled up through downtown and then we hit the Sinton Trail that took us west. I had flashbacks of marathon training in 2009, as that was the last time I'd been on that section of trail. One "creepy" section where we had to go through a narrow tunnel (focus on the light - focus on the light at the end of the tunnel !). Then the course followed the trail up through the outskirts of Garden of the Gods park. This is where we started going downhill and I picked up some speed. Then we were back on dirt by Rockledge Ranch for a half a mile or so. Picked up 30th and made a left onto Pikes Peak, then onto the Midland trail that hooks back up to the Santa Fe near America the Beautiful Park. This point was where we either went north or south - north for a second loop or south to go back to the start/finish. I headed north and started on my second lap.

Legs were MUCH happier on this lap so I pushed the pace where I could. I made a quick stop at an aid station to try a double espresso clif shot (not bad!) and top off my water bottle. I made it up the last hill and was on the home stretch. I caught up to the Team Lawrence, a family of 5 on a tandem. I passed them but then they caught back up to me when I missed the turn to the trail and ended up on a dirt road. oops. I got on the right path and then tried to drop them. :) Stoplights weren't necessarily in my favor and they were trying to catch me. We were almost side by side on the downhill stretch of Springs-Roubaix (still just as rough, maybe more going faster downhill) but then I broke free (I think one of them dropped a water bottle). Made it back in about 2:21.

We waited for both ride and racers to finish up, enjoyed an awesome barbecue, chatted with fellow cyclists and then we remembered those who have given up their lives to suicide by reading names and a balloon release. A simple, yet very touching ceremony.
Photo Gallery
Photo from Tim Bergsten of Pikes Peak Sports
...Then I went home and rode my trainer for another 90 minutes. Yeah - ironman training!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

LB Sprint Tri Race Report - Part II

not a bad setting for a race!
Last Sunday was another long training day, but this time I start it off with a local sprint triathlon. Nothing like some top-end work before a big endurance ride. This race, the Lindsay Brown Sprint Tri, is held on the Air Force Academy and put on by their triathlon team. Lindsay was a cadet who lost her life in 2007. This race has been held for several years and raises money for a fund that helps cadets in times of emergency. Even though the cadets might be new to triathlon, and some having no experience whatsoever, if you want great volunteers, get some cadets! More on that later.

As the AFA is only a few miles from my home and I need to be logging in lots of miles on my bike, it made sense to just ride there. So I got up at 6am (yes! finally a race that isn't a 4am wake-up call!) and finished up my race morning preparations. A breakfast smoothie of plain Generation UCAN, 16oz water, 1/2 scoop whey protein, cocoa, a banana, and some peanut butter - all that blended up gave me plenty of energy for the race. I double checked my bags, put on my jacket, strapped on my transition backpack and headed out. I left the house around 7:00 and was at the race site by 7:30. Riding there also allowed me to preview some of the hills that I would experience on the course.

I got my packet, set up my bike, and headed inside the natatorium. It was a pool swim in their newly remodeled facility. The first wave was to go off at 8:30 and it was going to be the women and relays. They had 16 25yd lanes with two per lane. Before the start I was just chilling by the pool side, feeling a bit tired from my last week of training and the 12ish miles I ran Friday night. But they called us up and I hopped in the pool. My lane-mate was Colleen, and I would see her later.

SWIM: 18:20
When the horn went off, I had resigned to not push too hard, but rather to keep my form as solid as possible. Colleen got a bit ahead of me, and ended up about a lap and a half ahead. But I felt good with my swim (no real warm-up) and after the first 500 yards (haha) I was settled into a comfortable pace. It was 825yd (750m) swim, so 16.5 laps of the pool. The race had lap counters (but I counted myself as well) and when I did expect it, the kickboard was in the pool, indicating I just had 25yds to go. So I pushed to the other end of the poll and climbed out as best I could. I had left my flip-flops, a small towel and my jacket on the side of the pool, grabbed them and dried off a little with the towel.

T1: 1:24 I walked quickly to transition and got ready to hop on my bike. It was a windy, windy day, but warm enough to not need a jacket. So all I really did was put on my helmet, shoes, and head out.
glad I used this bike!
BIKE: 47:22
Winds coming out of the west, and it seemed all the uphills were west. Here's my bike GPS data. Yeah, about 1300ft of gain in 12 miles. It started with a nice little climb before we screamed downhill. Then some more climbs. As I passed a couple people heading out onto the course, I noticed a girl in her big chain ring. This race does get a few cadets doing their first race, and I felt bad if she was going to grind the whole way, so I suggested she shift into a smaller one. She thanked me as I passed her by (I do hope she knew how to shift!) I am certainly glad I used my road bike with compact gearing, as the TT bike would have been a bit useless going 7mph up a hill. Half-way through the first lap I eyed a guy ahead of me in an Army kit and I wasn't too far behind. My plan was to catch him, and I did just as we started the second lap. I screamed down the hill a second time and started the climb back up. A couple guys passed me at this point, but I think those were the only people to pass me on the bike. On the second lap I passed a lot more people out there, but they were most likely on their first lap. A couple folks were walking up the steep hills, and I offered them words of encouragement, and always as I passed folks.  The cadet volunteers were at every turn clearly indicating which way to go and giving positive words. When I came to the turn to head back to transition, I was glad to be done with the bike, but I knew the run wouldn't be easy, either. I misjudged the distance back to transition and slowed down to take my feet out of my pedals way too soon. So the Army Guy caught back up to me. Phooey! :)

T2: 1:20
The grass was still soggy as I ran barefoot back to my transition spot. I had to wipe my feet off before putting on my socks and shoes. I grabbed my garmin wrist strap, pulled the unit off my bike (thank goodness for quick release), hat, race belt, was a bit of a juggling act making my way out and I almost went the wrong way (but the volunteers were there to get me in the right direction!)

RUN: 26:33
GPS data. Another hilly course. As I started on the run, I saw a woman a bit in front of me. She looked familiar and it turned out to be Colleen, the woman I shared a lane with for the swim. She was in my sights and my plan was to just slowly reel her in. I made ground and by the 2nd aid station around mile 2, she was closer. But she realized I was chasing her down so she pushed the pace a bit. My strategy here was a little off...I should have tried to catch her sooner and not at the end. When we hit the track, the last time I did this race we had a lap of the track and then the straight-away to finish. This time the finish was just the I didn't turn it on until it was too late. 17s was all that she was ahead. I should have tried to catch her by mile 2 and then pushed to stay ahead and gain a lead. Oh well -next time!
Finish line on the blue track
Total: 1:34:57 and 3rd place overall female.
Full Race Results
My Photo Gallery

The competitors and volunteers were awesome for this race. It was well executed (although you'd expect that from the Air Force Academy!) and the cadet volunteers were extremely supportive and  friendly. The competitors offered words of encouragement to others. The one that stood out the most was a young competitor who was about 15. As I was running down one of the hills, he was riding up it, and he smiled and  cheered for me. These moments are awesome - everyone is out doing their own race, but supporting everyone else. After the race I chatted with other competitors, hung out for the awards and then rode home.
I was pretty exhausted, but still had an endurance ride to do. So I changed, ate a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, and headed out on the TT bike for 3 hours...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

LB Sprint Tri Race Report & 24Hrs of COS - Part I

Before I jump into the race, I'll write briefly about the weekend. Saturday was a recovery day for me (a 45 minute recovery ride) and since Sunday was going to be another big training day. But a really cool thing going on in Colorado Springs this weekend was the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs, which also happened to be the US National Championships for 24 hour mountain bike racing. I'd be a fool not to check it out. And for all you mountain bikers, I hear it'll be back next year! The weekend weather was phenomenal for October - highs in the 70s-low 80s and lows near 50. Anyway, I headed down to Palmer Park (an oasis of trails smack in the middle of the city), walked around, took a few pictures (see the gallery) and watched the start, which was a Le Mans-style start to help spread out the field. Here are some photos and a couple videos of the actual start:

racers lined up (and I'm pretty sure the gal in the trucker hat is Rebecca Rusch - an endurance mtn bike superstar!
Rebecca Rusch, aka @thequeenofpain had a kick a$$ 4-person women's team. They won.

even a duck showed up to race!
Very, very cool race. Plus I ran into Tim Bergsten of, who was trying to cover as many of the events in town as possible (busy weekend here in the Springs!) And I met up with Senor David Pico, editor of The Peak Region Cyclist (for which I write a monthly column) and got to pick up a box of vanilla honey stinger waffles that I had won from a give-away they had. Sweeeet!

After I left I finished up some errands, got in my recovery ride, and then chilled on the couch watching college football for the rest of the evening. Oh, and I also packed up my transition bag and finished up my race plan for Sunday's sprint triathlon.... see part II for that report!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Red Rock Relay Report

It's 2011 and that means Relay #4 with the "not professional" relay team Girls Heart Rockets. This year I joined the rocket loving girls for the Red Rock Relay in Utah and as usual had a blast! Here's a recap (as best I can remember with the lack of sleep) of my adventure.
At the start - I'm in the orange shirt as I didn't have time to find my purple one!
The Red Rock Team
Van 1 (Discovery): Jordan Wirfs-Brock, Stephanie Wuerth, Serena Eley, Henrietta Aiken, Jenn Burke, Stephanie Law
Van 2 (Columbia): Nicole Drummer, Clara Eng, Kelley Hess, Vicky Petryshyn, Kate Kostal, Laura Jakosky

Jordan, Stephanie W, and I road-tripped it out to Utah. We met at the Wooly Mammoth Lot Park-n-Ride near Morrison a bit after 7:00am and got rolling to southwest Utah. About 9 hours later we got to Cedar City, where packet pick-up was getting set up. A little weary from the long drive, but we met up with most of the rest of the team, got our race stuff, and enjoyed the pasta dinner put on for us by the local boy scout troop. Once satisfied, we made our way down I-15 to Hurricane and to our hotel. (note: Hurricane gets very, very windy in the evening.)

I knew some of the GHR-RRR team, others were new. We got everything around as best we could for the morning and went to bed. The alarms went off at 5:45am and it was time to load up the vans, decorate the vans, and partake in the complimentary continental breakfast before making our way to the start at Brian Head Resort (yes, it's both strange to say and type.)

The start line was a party, with good music, a fun race announcer, and many excited teams. Costumes were everywhere. We had Wonder Women, many gals in tutus, and an exposed (fake) rear on team Better than a Colonoscopy. (??!?!?!) We had just enough time for a group photo before Jordan began the relay for us. She hopped on the ski lift and went up to the top to then have to run down back to the resort to then handed off to Stephanie W.

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!
Van 1 left to get their runners on the course, and we, van 2, slowly made our way up to the first major exchange. It was there when the lightening, rain, and hail came. And I got to meet the Banana!

Around 2:00 we figured Stephanie L would be arriving any minute, so Kelley was my umbrellina and Kate and Laura kept me warm while I waited. (thank you Laura for letting me share your poncho!) We're at about 8500 feet so pretty chilly. Once Van 1 arrived, we knew Stephanie was nearby and a few minutes later she was running up the hill to the exchange. I grabbed the baton (slap bracelet) secured it to my wrist and headed off.
Up and up the hill!
Leg #7: Navajo Ninja, 5.8 miles of VERY HARD. The rain and wind had subsided slightly and it was actually a comfortable temperature for running uphill. I started off a little too fast, backed off a tad and then pushed myself up the hill. There was one guy ahead of me that I just couldn't quite catch, but I'm sure having him as a target allowed me to push a little harder up that hill. My first leg done and I changed into some dry clothes and hopped back in the van.
Back in the van, we went from exchange to exchange, enjoying the views and really glad we had Victoria the Geologist on board!

Once our van was done, we handed off to Van 1 back in Cedar City, posed for a group shot and went to find our resting place for a few hours until the next major exchange. I pulled a blanket into the grass (I think it was a church in New Castle.) We altered the rotation here a bit and Kelley took Leg #19 (8.5 miles) and I took #20 (Cap'n Kirk) - a 2.8 mile EASY flat, run as fast as you can at 11pm. So I did:
The profile here is deceiving. If you look at the scale it's only about 50 feet of gain. PANCAKE FLAT! I passed a few folks and really tried to catch one guy, but he heard me coming so he picked up his pace. He thanked me afterwards for the little push. I hand off to Clara and we do our leap to exchanges thing. The next major exchange is at a church and here our driver, Eric, had to leave us after we handed off to Van 1.

So we were on our own to find our resting stop/major exchange. He also took the GPS so we relied on poor cell phone navigation, went the wrong way for a bit, then finally found our stopping point at the Washington City Rec Center. A little bit of heaven! Showers for those who wanted, real bathrooms and places to snooze. It's 3:45am and we're anticipating the runners to arrive around 5:15. The pool deck was open for lounging and snoozing so I got a few minutes of sleep, but as I was once again the first runner for the van, I wanted to make sure I was ready. I'm usually up at 5am, but the sun wasn't. I made sure I was in order, had one more Cran-Razz UCAN (at this point I was pretty hungry but not ready for solid food).

Sure enough just before 5:15 Stephanie came blazing in and I headed out.

Leg #31: 5 miles of HARD. I took the downhill a bit conservatively and then gave what I had left for the rest of the 5 mile leg. I had a rabbit with a red-blinky light that I didn't want to let out of my sight. My quads were burning on the downhill section and a bit heavy on the uphill, but I made it to the gas station exchange and let Clara go on her way!
The sun was now rising, I started to eat some more solid food and was feeling pretty good. A bit tired, but good. Our last set of legs totaled about 35 miles so we had a good stretch of time before reaching the finish. We began to get more rural on the highway and had to climb up to Zion National Park. The views were phenomenal, and the gals still had some speed in their legs. They all hammered their way to the finish. We met the rest of the team at the finish line and when Laura was in sight, we all crossed together. It was 10:50am, just under 25 hours after we started. We were actually the 5th team to cross the line and came in 13th overall (teams started at different times between 6am-noon on Friday.) We indulged in the free snow cones, enjoyed the amazing views, got lunch at a mexican restaurant in Zion and then split up. Some explored the park and others who were too tired (like me) went back to the hotel. But, the group out and about did stop by In-N-Out Burger in St. George and brought back dinner for us all. Yeah I put down the double double animal style and a chocolate milkshake pretty quickly. Great way to wrap up an amazing weekend with amazing people and amazing views.

After a SOLID night's sleep Jordan and I headed back to Colorado and had to join the real world again.

Here's a link to more pictures.

Note on my fueling plan:  I was to have a Cran-Razz Generation UCAN 30-60 minutes prior to each leg and a chocolate afterwards. Relays are tough on your system due to the lack of sleep, running, and deviation from normal eating patterns. My plan was for the UCAN to give me the energy so I could rely less on solid food. I did the UCAN before each leg and a chocolate after the first. I did eat a couple small turkey sandwiches, bananas and Justin's Nut Butters, hard boiled egg, and a few snack foods (brownies) throughout the relay. I ended up only having one chocolate after the first leg. In retrospect I should have stuck to my plan with having one after every leg, but this was by far the best relay I've had in terms of keeping everything in check!