Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kona Memories

When I qualified for Kona at Ironman Florida in 2009, I never knew how lucky I was. I did know that if I didn’t take that Kona slot that I would lose my honorary triathlete badge, so I signed up for the 2010 World Championship Ironman. At that time people would ask me if I was excited about going to Kona and my response was always, “Not really.” I lived in Florida, so how different could Hawaii be?!? How very wrong I was. There is nothing like Kona, especially being there the week of the Ironman.
We stayed at the King K host hotel. We were smack dab in the middle of the action. A triathlete’s paradise, there were tons of vendors giving away lots of gear. Alii Drive had tables up and down the street with even more free stuff. Even on the swim course there was freebies. It was pretty cool swimming out to the Coffee boat to get a cup of coffee and a chance to win BlueSeventy goggles. I’ll never forget that wonderful Lava Java coffee! I was one of the first people in line early in the morning to get my delicious cup of java. While my husband and I would sip on our coffee in front of Lava Java, we’d marvel at all of the super fit triathletes running very fast down the street.
The Lifesport Kona Camp was a blast and so informative. The last day of camp was the very same day that I married my training partner and best friend, Mike. A lot of my new camp friends were there during the ceremony. An awesome day!
There was always something going on, like the Parade of Nations, a kid’s mini triathlon (Pro’s children racing each other,) the Underwear Run (fun and crazy,) and lots of parties, like the Slowtwitch Party (a mansion on the water,) and the PowerBar breakfast (my daughter and I had our backpacks busting at the seams with PowerBar gear and nutrition freebies.)
So, just like Phil, I am reading all that I can on what’s going on this week in Kona, my heart aching to be there. I cheer for my amazing Snapple teammates that are competing in the Ironman this weekend and hope they cherish every moment while they are there. Once you go to the World Championship Ironman in Kona, whether you are competing or not, you never are the same again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for World Championship Ironman 70.3

Winnersville Olympic Triathlon 2011

Winnersville Triathlon has always been a fun, laid back, out in the country triathlon. My goal this year was to race it, but not all out. Last year at this race, both my Achilles seized up during the last part of the 10k. I was out of commission for weeks. Since my 70.3 race is only a few weeks away, I had to be very careful how I raced.

The swim was in a nice lake, but super warm water, due to the high temperatures. The first buoy (which was yellow,) was to my right. It was also right where the sun was coming up. All I could see was sun! No buoys, trees, or landmarks. I kept swimming towards the light, until I swam smack dab into the buoy. Talk about swimming right on course! BTW, that is very unusual for me, because I am the swimmer that is zig zaging all along the swim course. Once I got done with the swim, I knew I had some time to make up. Last year, there was a competitor that was about 5 minutes ahead of me out of the water. This year, the same girl was only 3 minutes. Yahoo!

The bike is a two loop, 27 mile bike course out in the country. It wasn't until the 2nd loop that I took the lead. When I came into T2, I found out that not only was I the first female going into the run, but I was the first overall everyone! At that point, that changed my goal for the race. I knew that I was a faster runner than the girls behind me, but there's usually a fast male runner that would fly by me at some point. It never did happen. My plan was to run with effort the first 3 miles, then see where I was in the race. Not a soul behind me, so I slowed my run pace down to a tempo run. I crossed the line feeling great and ended up finishing faster than last year's time. Very happy with my 2:12 overall time and so glad to have found my confidence again. Watch out Las Vegas! Here I come.

Family Fun on 4th of July!

Freedom Springs Triathlon

Luke, my oldest child and a Snapple Club Team member, decided to try his first adult sprint triathlon. That made me very nervous. The race is held in Blue Springs, Marianna, so the swim is in a clear, but chilly spring. Not only is the water cold, but there are weeds in the springs that go up to the surface of the water. Even for experienced triathletes, this could cause swimmers to panic and this is why I was nervous for my inexperienced 15 year old. Also, Luke had never done a mass swim start before, and being a worried mom that I am, I decided to forgo my race to stay right by Luke’s side. Needless to say, I worried for nothing! I wore my wonderful Xterra wetsuit, Luke had only his trisuit. He got through the swim with no problems at all. Silly me!

We got on the bike and because it wasn’t a USAT sanctioned race, I was able to ride beside him some giving him guidance on the rules while racing. Luke rode well for never riding 10 miles ever.

Onto the run! The run was on a dirt road that went further into the country. Very hilly, so thank goodness it was only a 5k. We kept a pace that was comfortable for Luke, passing some people, but keeping it consistent and steady. The finish was on a long downhill, where Luke found his second wind and out sprint me to the finish line. That stinker!

I was so proud of Luke finishing his first adult sprint triathlon, along with the rest of my family. Luke came in 2nd in his age group, Mike (my husband and Snapple Club Member) came in 3rd Overall, Joshua (12 year old) came in 3rd Overall in the kid’s race, Juliet (10 year old) came in 1st in her age group in the kid’s race. Success!

Could things get any worse?!?

Gulf Coast Triathlon

After a good half ironman in New Orleans about three weeks ago and a great camp last weekend to prepare me for Gulf Coast Triathlon, I was confident that I would do well in my upcoming race. Sometimes you can be too confident.

After getting to Panama City Beach, I was gathering all that I would need for my race the next morning. See, instead of having it all in one bag, I had clothes, gear, etc., in 3 bags. Bad idea! I realized that I forgot my Snapple Triathlon Team tri shorts. Boo! Fortunately, I had an old pair of black tri shorts as a back-up that I could use, but they’re not nearly as comfortable as my Snapple shorts.

Race morning, I woke up with my stomach bloated and uncomfortable. I looked like I was 5 months pregnant. Great! People will be whispering and wondering how a pregnant lady was able to race a half ironman. So, as I waddled to the swim start, I knew I would at least float. Even with my big belly, I had a P.R. in my swim, knocking off 5 minutes off of last year’s time.

Because I race by heart rate, I had my Garmin on my bike ready to go. I started the bike portion, knowing that my heart rate always spikes at the beginning of the bike. Looking at my heart rate, it was lower than my resting heart rate. Uh oh. What does this mean?!? I rode a little bit farther and checked my heart rate again. Still way too low. So, now what? I didn’t have a back up plan. Just the weekend before at the camp, Coach Dan told us to always have a back up plan if things did not go the way you plan. Way to listen to the coach, huh?!? So, I tried my best to keep my bike pace similar to what I rode in my half ironman in New Orleans. The course was flat as a pancake, so it was easy to keep the pace consistent. My stomach still felt big and full, so I did not take in the nutrition as planned. Another no no.

Going out on the run, I was hoping to feel as good as I did my last race. Of course, it always hurts the first mile or two, but then I would get into a groove. I decided not to go by my heart rate on the run, since it was so off on the bike. I tried to just go by feel and occasionally glance to see what my run pace was. I never did feel like I could get into a good steady pace. The weather conditions were almost perfect, so that wasn’t the problem. My run pace kept getting slower and slower with every mile. All I kept telling myself is to keep moving forward. The finish was in sight and I couldn’t have been happier to see it. I was happy I didn’t drop out when I felt so bad. It was also a good lesson for me to always make a checklist of items you need for your race and always have a back up plans if things don’t happen the way you plan.

In the end, I was lucky to win my age group, 7th female overall, and my finishing time wasn’t as bad as I was sure it was going to be. Even better, some of my very good friends had fantastic races and I was so proud and happy to see them finish.

First triathlon of the year is always a scary one!

Ochsner NOLA 70.3 Ironman

My husband and I got to New Orleans the day before race day. Boy, New Orleans is one of a kind! We stayed in a very unique B & B in the French Quarter. The B & B used to be slave quarters and I don’t think they updated it much.

The Ochsner NOLA 70.3 is an interesting course. You start at one place, then finish miles away in the middle of the French Quarter.

Race morning, there were gusts of wind. Just doing my run warm-up in the head wind was a challenge. No surprise that the race officials cancelled the swim and turned the triathlon into a duathlon. They couldn’t get the safety boats out where they needed to be, because of the large waves. We had a time trial start, starting with the bike portion. Within our age group, we’d take off two at a time, every 3 seconds. It didn’t spread us out too much, but the race directors did as much as they could with how many participants there were.

The bike was difficult, due to the strong wind. We had head wind going out, but had some great tailwind coming back in. My Smith sunglasses were a big help, protecting my eyes from any flying debris. The roads were quite bumpy and uneven. I saw a few bike wrecks, not sure if it was from the gusts of wind or the bad roads. My coach has taught me to go by heart rate, rather than speed, so I never knew my speed. I felt pretty good, though.

Starting the run, I didn’t feel that this was going to be a great race for me. My husband, who was watching along the run course had informed me that there were at least 5 girls ahead of me. I just did not know what to expect from my legs. As I was running, I found I was picking them off one by one and I was feeling overall better. My Spira Stingers came through for me once again. Those shoes are awesome!

The finish line was in the middle of the French Quarter. There were lots of people cheering and that has always been a big motivator to finish strong. Once I crossed the finish line, I was in 2nd place. Unfortunately, with a time trial start, you can’t be too confident that you are going to hold onto that spot. There could easily be another that started a couple minutes behind you, but ended up with a finishing time that is faster than yours.

Oh, happy day! I did in fact hold onto that 2nd place spot, with the fastest run in my category. Not only that, I was fortunate enough to qualify for the World Championship 70.3 Ironman in Las Vegas this fall.

It’s so great to get one underneath your belt and it went better than expected. My wonderful Snapple Champion System gear kept me comfortable and cool in the heat. Speaking of hot, my next stop, Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A slice of humble pie.

Boy, you think you know everything there is to know about your sport with training and racing, but then you get a slice of humble pie. I got served mine this past weekend at the Tallahassee Half Marathon. A few months ago, I started running a lot. In fact, it started when my Snapple Triathlon Team put on a running challenge. Oh, how I love a challenge! Whoever got in the most miles for the month wins a prize. Anything with a prize, I'm in! I ended up logging in over 200 miles for the month, which really helped my running speed. I did not win the competition, since there are super studly athletes on my team. I got away from my serious run training the past few weeks while focusing on swim training, but still was hopeful that I would run my goal time.
Race morning:
It was cold! Really, really, cold. I live in freaking FL! It shouldn't be 30 degrees in FL, right?!? So, I lined up at the starting line, with as little layers as I could stand, which was still 5 layers of clothes (the top 3 layers were my awesome new Snapple Triathlon Team gear.)
As I started running, I thought I would hold back for the first half of the race. Approaching other runners, I'd ask them what pace they were trying to hold. Too slow or too fast, moving on. Little did I know that the people that I thought would be too slow would end up passing me right by at the halfway point.
Since I am a slave to my Garmin, I would keep checking the pace. Hmmm? Why am I getting slower with every mile??? And why do my legs feel like I had 20 pound weights on them?!?
At the 7 mile point, I had decided that today was not my day to have a good race, so if I was going to suffer, I'd wait for my good friend, Brook, and we could suffer together. Suffer we did. Brook did amazing, finishing with a P.R. by 3 minutes.
I learned a lot from my horrible race. I learned that you need to put in the work to get the results that you want. I learned that your nutrition during the race and leading up to the race can make a huge difference in your performance. Also, you never know what your body will do day to day. You just show up race morning and hope for the best.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A week in Paradise!

What a journey! When you do an ironman, there’s such a build-up, it makes you sad when it’s over with. Let me first start by thanking many people who has been there for me in training, rehab, financially, and emotionally. Snapple Triathlon Team has been a huge support to me, giving me all the cool gear to help me go fast. Spira shoes is so giving to their athletes and was why I felt so darn good during my marathon. Coach Dan helped me have yet another fantastic ironman. I love Lifesports! My parents, brother, and sister-in-law helped me feel not so guilty about the long training days, but doing fun stuff with my wonderful children. Not only that, they were there to cheer me on during the race. John and Karen McBroom, I couldn’t of gotten to Kona and stay in Kona without your financial support. I am eternally grateful. Robin Gibson, you are one of the most selfless people I know. Willing to help anyone that is injured. All my wonderful friends that did some of my long training days, even though you weren’t doing an ironman. I love you guys! My awesome kids for putting up with me training morning, noon, and night. I feel so lucky to have such great kids! My wonderful new husband, did all the training with me. I couldn’t of married a better guy. Thank you to all my friends that supported me, encouraged me, gave me great advice, and congratulated me. You all inspired me!!!!

Ok, so now the race report. A week in Kona was paradise and a lot of fun! I started my trip by doing the Kona Lifesport Camp. We got to train on parts of the course, which was great. Got many helpful tips that I used during the race.

Got married! Yep, at our hotel, King K, Mike and I got married right on the water with my family, my awesome coach, and all the new wonderful camp friends watching. We had a traditional Hawaiian wedding. It couldn’t of been more perfect.

Woo Hoo! The Underpants Run! My kids, Mike, and I wore our Splish “Just Married” bathing suits. Too much fun!

Expo, Slowtwitch Party, cool Yurbuds photo shoot, snorkeling boat trip were some of the neat things I did before my Ironman.

Race Morning:

The swim was great! Felt like I was swimming in a tropical fish tank. It was hard to take the swim seriously. My swim time was what I expected. S-L-O-W. Oh well, at least I enjoyed it.

The bike was challenging, due to the gusts of crosswinds. My race strategy was go by heart rate and nothing else. I never knew how fast I was going and it was hard at times letting people pass me, knowing how much faster I could go, but I wanted to feel good during the marathon.

The run was awesome! I felt great the whole time! My plan worked and I would do it no other way. I got faster as I ran, again by heart rate. Never knew my pace. I was always comfortable in my snazzy Champion Systems gear and my Spira running flats. I finished with a much better time than expected and most importantly, feeling wonderful! It was worth holding back on the bike to have a fantastic run and feeling so good.

What a great experience! I was sad that my ironman experience had ended and so sad about not getting my Lava Java Kona Coffee every morning. This race has made me want to do more, because it was so great. Maybe in 2 years I will be back on the Ironman circuit. In the meantime, I will be focusing on the half Ironman and shorter distances.

Thank you again everyone for supporting me on this wonderful journey!