Monday, August 25, 2014

Priest Lake Triathlon

When I found out about the Priest Lake Triathlon, I was bummed because it fell on the same date as the Seawheeze half marathon I was planning on doing.  However, after Ironman my heart was just not into the half, or spending the money to travel away for the weekend when I was already "away" from home.  As soon as I made the final decision to back out of the half, I instantly was "in" for the Priest Lake Tri. It was the last race in the area and wrapped up a solid month of racing for me with back to back weekends, something I've never done.

The only dilemma was I couldn't find a reservation at the "resort" where the race took place the night before so we were up at 4 am and on the road before 5. We've been spoiled here not having to do those 4am wakeup calls so it was a nice little reminder :)

My friend from HS planned on joining us Saturday for some camping style fun and celebration so we rented a little cabin for the night after the race.

What a fantastic event.  Everything was casual, well organized and the scenery was unbeatable.  The best part about the race was the swim start.  It was a self seeded rolling swim start for everyone.  I got to start right up front and had the BEST swim I've ever had in any distance race.  I went out hard, but controlled and found my rhythm and my pack. The water was so crystal clear you could see the bodies around you and barely had to sight. This is something I've yet to experience in any race. I knew I was with the front pack and raced hard and smart to hang on to the back of the pack, which I've never been able to do before.  I came out with about 8 other swimmers in 11th place including the men!

This picture isn't of the race venue but somewhere else we drove to on the lake - you can see how crystal clear the water is!

The bike was just as breathtaking and I actually had to remind myself that I was racing not sightseeing. I rode strong, but did have to back down a bit because my left glute/hip was locking up a bit.  I knew there were some really strong girls behind me so I was happy to hold them off until we rolled into T-2.

The run was again just as beautiful, which made up for the fact that it was out of my comfort zone all on dirt forest roads without a flat section on it!  This was definitely the most challenging 10k I've done but I was just so happy to be out there, and thankful I didn't have my Garmin on!

I was passed by one girl and she was FLYING, but not in my age group.  Then, in the last quarter mile I heard heavy breathing from what sounded like a girl.  I didn't turn around to look, but I was damn sure not going to give up and get passed (which I usually expect in a short course race) in that final stretch. I dug deep and pulled away, crossing the line just seconds in front of her, and happy I did because she did turn out to be in my age group!

In the end I ended up 2nd, which must have been due to the rolling start because there was no one else in front of me (in AG - just elite category) but someone did have a faster time by THREE seconds :)

All in all it was my favorite racing day so far and I would go back and do it in a heartbeat!

Shane race in his first Mtn Bike tri and got 1st in his AG. He's hooked! Solid day for both of us, and a fantastic time with friends after the event just hanging out on the beach and later by the campfire.

It has been so MUCH FUN doing these new (to me) events, such a nice change from the same old Tempe Town Lake venue with exceptional race directors and really, really nice athletes.  In fact, at the start of the race as we were lined up for the swim - it seems everyone knows everyone and they all introduced themselves to me, wished me good luck then cheered for me out on the course.  Amazing sportsmanship and a reminder of how much I love this sport and community.

One more fun weekend adventure coming up in Montana doing real camping with my dad (wish me luck - it's been years since I've done this!) then back to Ironman training next week!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Racing Coeur d'Alene

Since this is the first time I've ever raced 2 Ironman in a year, I wasn't sure what to expect between the two. I was curious how my body would recover and how my mind would handle jumping right back into training. Well, my body surprised me a bit with feeling pretty great after about 10 days, but instead of hopping back into long steady ironman stuff, it's been quite the opposite.

After talking with Michelle about how the next 6 weeks were going to be - finding some threshold and switching it up to get my muscles out of that Ironman pacing, I quickly jumped into finding race mode!

Let me just say that the past few weeks of training have had me more trashed, more sore and more in shock then a peak month of Ironman training. My muscles have been so confused with what I've been trying to do to them.  Sometimes they respond, sometimes they fight and sometimes they leave me so sore I can hardly move. All good feedback that we're doing the right thing here.

So 2 weeks ago was a race that I've looked at for the past 5 years. Actually, I did participate in it back in 2009 when we were here for 2 months, but as a relay.  I swam, Shane biked and friend from high school ran. We had a blast, but in the back of my mind I thought I have to do this someday....

The race overlapped with a weekend that my uncle was coming over from Seattle, and in an effort to not take it too seriously I was on my feet too much, drank too much and stayed up too late the night before. Priorities of spending time with family that doesn't happen very often or maybe save a couple minutes on a race?

While that all sounded good at the time, at mile 3 of the bike as I was trying to find as much power in my legs as possible to hammer on the flat sections, it certainly didn't seem like my best idea. My quads were SCREAMING with every pedal stroke and the sensation of a possible cramp gave me no choice but to ease up and listen to my body.

At least I felt strong on the swim?  The water was typical race day choppy, but I absolutely loved it!  I bolted out in front of my wave (all women under 45) and while a few dropped me I held my ground and came out of the water in 5th.  The time meant nothing as it was obviously a slow swim (27mins!!), but looking at the results and seeing I was #5 made me happy.  I'm FINALLY learning to race in the water!

another great example of swim time not equivalent to actual swim pace.  in 2009 I swam this course in  under 22mins ...

Anyway, back to the bike. The bulk of the 1300 ft of climbing is in a 2.5 mile section that takes you from the lake view section of the bike (and run) course of IMCDA up into these gorgeous hills. I've been riding the course weekly (but easy effort) because the views are just unbeatable. You basically do 10miles of flat, then climb straight up 2.5 miles.  Then have a couple more fast and flat miles before another section of climbing.  Then after 18 miles you basically descend all 1300 ft of climbing in ~2 miles before a 5 mile FLAT section back to transition.  It's fun, it's hard and it's certainly not a fast course.

What looks like a little bump around mile 5 - that's the hill we do on the run course.  It just looks small in comparison to the next giant hill! I actually did repeats on that big hill last weekend and put a screen with grade on it. It ranges from 6%-14% at the steepest section (the very top).

I couldn't believe I hit my goal time based on how my legs felt and came in around 1:14, in 5th place OA.  I had passed a couple of girls, and I also got passed by a couple more.

Then the run happened. I got off the bike and as soon as I started running my legs felt like bricks. They felt worse than they did after 112 miles on Ironman day.  Between the hard efforts earlier in the week to not resting enough it was going to be a very long 6 miles. I couldn't get my pace for mile 1 under 8min for anything.  FINALLY somewhere around mile 3 the legs started to loosen up and I was running about 7:45's, but had nothing more to give.  I got passed by 2 more girls, 1 in my age group and just tried to hang on!  I finished with a barely sub 49min 10k and felt every muscle in my legs.

That race hurt like nothing I've felt in a long time.  Just a reminder how important resting and taking care of your body is, but that said, I have no regrets ;)

The post race celebration was awesome.  They had a beer garden serving a delicious huckleberry ale and everyone in our group got an award.  Shane's relay team won 1st place and I got 3rd AG and 7th OA.  Super fun day with friends, then the rest of the afternoon was spent cruising around town with Shane & my uncle.  A perfect summer weekend...

Note to self - wearing a dress and flip flops on a road bike with speedplay pedals, not the most comfortable option :)

Next up was the CDA crossing! When we were doing a practice swim for Ironman a man promoting the race came up to us and gave us swim caps. I was online a couple days later finding out the details and we were a shoe in! Very unlikely for me. We have how many splash and dash and OWS events in AZ and I never participate.  But,  this was different.  It was in MY lake and you get to swim across it?  How cool is that?

It was a very low key but awesome morning.  We walked onto one of the resort cruise boats and were shuttled to the other side of the lake. Got off the boat, and 10minutes later we were off on the adventure. My instructions were something like swim your face off and if it doesn't hurt you aren't doing it right. And, the result should leave me curled up in a ball on the couch the rest of the day.

Mission accomplished. I swam and swam and swam until my arms actually failed to come out of the water a couple of times. And while my time wasn't exactly what the goal was, after computing the ACTUAL distance into pace it was right on and made me happy. Instead of a 2.4mile swim it was about 2.6 and my 1:07 pace makes a 1:01 pace for 2.4.  YES.  Stings a little to not have that official, but oh well - I did what I set out to do, and I beat my husband out of the water by 5mins.  I've spent 8 months trying to pay him back for smoking my shitty swim time at IMAZ.

The swim ended at the Hagadon Center (or the floating green golf course) where they provided food and had a ton of raffles.  A top notch event with the proceeds going to 3 local charities.

Oh yah, did I mention the 10-13 year olds that did this and many swam under 1hr.... or the 70plus year olds that did it. Super inspiring and cool to see!

This weekend will end my summer of racing with the one that has a little more nastalgia for me.  It takes place about 2hours north of here at the gorgeous Priest Lake where I grew up camping with my family every summer.  I can't wait to SWIM here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Race the River Sprint Tri

What happens when you put someone who has been training for Ironman distance into a Sprint Triathlon on a whim? Well, I'll tell you. You can go maybe a TAD bit faster than normal, and finish ready for the next workout :)

July so far has been about all these fun new challenging workouts. Short, hard, max effort, hammer up the hill, squat, lunge, then run or ride on those squat and lunged legs, repeat. No 5hour rides (although the swim distance is still there, so are the 100's repeat!), no long slow HR caps.

I'm loving the mixup of training, and based on what my Garmin is showing, it's MUCH needed. My legs poop out on the max effort 1min hill repeats with a HR BARELY hitting 170. I can run at 145-150 all day long but that 170 on the bike I literally almost fell over at the top of the hill only to dart down it and do it all over again.

I guess I got off topic here. Shane & I were out on this gorgeous ride on the old IM Course by Hayden Lake. It was a Friday afternoon and I took a long lunch. It was perfect weather, perfect scenery and I was happy as a clam. I have absolutely no idea how the idea popped into my head, but I said to Shane, "what do you think would happen if I raced a Sprint tri on Sunday." He replied, "Well, you probably won't win."

Challenge Accepted. Kidding. But, of course I got home and send Michelle and email saying something about Good idea? Or, Bad idea, trashed slow ironman legs? I honestly wasn't sure what she would say, but I figured if the idea is to get me out of my comfort zone and try to find some top end, or at least get me out of Ironman speed then a sprint race would certainly give me that opportunity.

Michelle thought it was a great idea but she instilled a PANIC REST taking my long hill repeat ride off for Saturday in lieu of an easy flush ride trying to give my legs a little last minute pop. So, Saturday I soft peddled for about an hour and rode over to the race registration. The race would take place just down the path from our rental so I could just wake up and ride my bike there in the am. Perfect!

The quick recap (how much detail can there be for a race that is just barely over an hour!?) is I had a blast. It was very well organized, a good mix of local pro and elites all the way to beginners. I was in a swim wave with all women 30-39 and I did just exactly what I've been trying to do for YEARS in the water. I started out in the front hard and didn't let up when I wanted to. I swam with one other girl who started to pull away so I got behind her until she was veering too wide from the buoy line so I pulled away and swam straight . We exited the water together as the first two in the group and I hauled ass up the 1/4 mile stretch from the river.

From there on out I stayed out in front passing the youngsters that started behind me on the bike.  The bike had lots of turns and 2 loops for just 11.5 miles. Thankfully I'm well experienced with that since all of our races in Tempe do the exact same thing. My legs and lungs burned from the get go but I just tried not to let up. I didn't get passed once and was out onto the run with a quick ~:30 transition.

The run was an out and back with a 1 mile jaunt off to the side (.5mile uphill/.5mile downhill). I had ONE speed.  I didn't wear a Garmin but I checked my watch at every mile marker and mile one was only my half ironman pace :)  Thankfully, each mile mile my legs loosened up and I could get a faster turnover.  Who negative splits a 5k by ~1minute?  Clearly someone who is in Ironman shape....

I was passed only once on the run by someone who started in the wave 5minutes behind me so I was super happy to finish a race for the first time ever NEVER being (race wise) passed.

I checked the results later and while my splits are nothing to be very impressed with, my attitude to go out there and go hard and not give up (YAY, I'm finally learning how to race a swim!!!) = mission completed!

I ended up winning my age group by ~ 6 minutes and coming in as the first age grouper (non pro or Elite) for the day so couldn't ask for anything more (the results show one girl ahead of me that started in my wave but pretty sure it's a mix up since no one was ahead of me or passed me).

This is my second local race here and I have 3 more - I'm very impressed with how organized and well everything runs so I hope the next races are the same!  Loving the different venues, different competition and overall experiences of this summer.

Next up is a very HARD and hilly race that starts in the same place as IMCDA.  It's a very competitive race that has been going on for over 30 years.  I competed as a relay a few years ago (swimming), but I'm up for the challenge of that nasty (yet gorgeous) bike ride!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I still can't believe how lucky I am right now to be in this gorgeous place while my friends are just melting at home in 115degrees. It's not even the cooler temperatures that are making everything so much better.  It's the small town summer life.  It's the getting out and doing things and enjoying as much as we can. Sure we are incredibly blessed to be able to do this, but I do believe that we all get to choose (mostly) how we live our lives, and what we choose to do with our time, money and careers. Shane and I have been fortunate with jobs (some self made) that allow us to work from where ever we want.  While my day job might not be a dream job, it's a great company with benefits and daily challenges and most importantly they hired me remotely. And when remote can mean sitting outside in July with this view, well then I'll take just about any job :)

We try to spend as much time outside as possible! Honestly that's what I love most about it here. You can actually BE outside in the summer.  It helps that the 2 of us plus the dogs spend all day on computers in the < 1000 square ft cottage, getting outside after work is exactly what we need and want.  My office is a tiny little breakfast nook, Shane moves from the couch to the spare bed to the coffee shop and aside from some lunch time noise in the kitchen while I'm on a conference call and Shane very unhappy about no dishwasher we're making it all work! The alternative, 115 degrees or spending far too much money on a fancy modern home.

The first month here was all about focusing on the final prep for Ironman. Life wasn't much different than in Phoenix.  Double workouts, healthy eating, early to bed and focusing on recovery. Then July came! I wanted to get and and do things I wasn't doing all of June.  Riding wherever and whenever just because it sounded good. I have a new absolute favorite ride. It's hard. It's basically the first out and back of the Ironman course, then on the way back into town you head east up into these hills with breathtaking views of the lake. It's hard, but the scenery is worth it. Each time I've gone up there I've seen the same deer, in the same exact place. I stop, get off my bike and just stare. She's so pretty! In fact she even seemed more used to me last time. She just paused and watched me too, with out running away at the noise as I unclipped form my pedal.

This ride happens to be the course of a race I'm going to do next month.  It's a long standing local race called the CDA Scenic Challenge. It lives up to it's name. Check out the ~ profile below..

It will be my first Olympic race outside of circling Tempe Town lake in about 5 years.  I'm very much looking forward to it :)

Ok, back to more adventures in July! Wednesdays are my absolute favorite day of the week, famers market! We ride our cruisers up to Sherman, walk around and usually end up somewhere for wine.  Smart local businesses have great specials to bring in all the shoppers. Half price wine, yup I'm there!  A couple weeks ago Shane had a PM workout so I rode my cruiser up there and he headed out for hill repeats. I made the purchases at the market then settled into a patio seat outside with a bottle of wine waiting for him to rehydrate after his run. The place I picked turned out to not be awesome, so we headed back up the street to get a pizza from a vendor at the market and wondered into an art studio and wine bar next door while waited.  

You know how those random things that happen and then just turn into being awesome? This was exactly one of those days. We had the most amazing wine, chatted with the woman pouring and next thing we knew we were signing up for their wine club and buying tickets to go to a tasting event the following week. My second time putting makeup on, and first time all summer wearing one of my cute outfits and I admit.. a non sports bra.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my cruiser bike?!? It was a little tricky riding with a short dress and heels on, but really when you are going like 3mph it's not so bad.

Last weekend Shane headed up north to camp with some friends and do a race.  I was left carless, but again.. my cruiser on the path takes me wherever I need to go.  Some bungie cords and a backpack and I could even carry ALL MY CRAP to and from the gym to swim.

Shane had a great race, first since Ironman AZ and picked up a 1st AG award for Baxter....Actually, his award was a handmade mug, but Baxter still needs a medal to pose for.

A good friend from High School came out to visit with me for the day. I love those relationships that no matter how long it's been or how many years we've lived apart, things just pick up right where we left off. Leading different lives and following different paths, it doesn't matter.  She's also my #1 fan who has not missed one of my races here (pic circa 07').  

Some of my HS friends have since moved away, but there is still time and I'll be planning visits with others :) One just might be a reunion at Priest Lake (another race I'm doing) where we all grew up camping together with my family...

Even though I grew up here (Spokane) I forgot about the random summer weather. It can go from 100 in week or even a day to 65 the next... Yesterday a freak storm came through the area. Spokane was hit way worse than CDA and the aftermath looks pretty bad. The neighborhood I grew up in was without power for ~12hours and others longer. Huge ever green trees down and blocking roads, cars smashed.  It was so strange. The morning was perfectly a perfectly blue cloudless sky and 90 degrees in the afternoon as we headed into the gym for a swim. When we came out it was pouring rain and windy as all get out.

I took a chance and headed up to the farmers market on the way home. Glad we did! Although the storm blew through the market drenching the vendors, most of them were still there and we came home with fresh produce to die for. The peaches are just coming off the trees and taste like candy!!

All of that fresh organic produce cost less than $20. The raspberries being the most expensive (and the quickest to devour). For dinner I made a fresh green salad, broccoli and a staple and splurge every single week here, FRESH King Salmon. Shane swears it's better than any salmon he's every had and yesterday being the 4th time we've made it, it's never disappointed.  

We still have some time here in this beautiful town and I intend on making the most of it. Tonight one of my favorite uncles is in town so we're heading up to a new taphouse on Sherman to meet him for dinner.  his weekend will be pretty quiet, then next weekend my other favorite uncle is heading over from Seattle to join us in some shenanigans. After that, August is race month! I have 2 Olympics and a swim across the lake race to participate in. I haven't raced that much in a long time and I'm looking forward to the change of pace.  

Don't worry, in between cruiser bike rides, wine events, pub crawls and chilling by the lake I'm getting in plenty of fun and HARD training. I've even been spending time back in the boots ;) I love new challenges and everything being thrown my way has been just that! Love the post recovery boot lines.

Work hard, play hard and do things that make you happy! Why wouldn't you?

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, July 14, 2014

Life After Ironman

Michelle always says, "the fittest athletes recovery the best." I know that 3.5 years ago when we first started working together I took much longer to recovery than I do now. I would be sore and trashed for days after even an Olympic race. With my consistent and SMART training, focus on active recovery, nutrition and generally taking care of myself my recovery time almost shocks me these days.

After Boston I needed about a week and I felt completely back to normal, ready to get back to the heart of Ironman training. After I raced a half Ironman on no sleep and uprooting to CDA, I needed 2 days of active recovery and sleep catch up.

After Ironman, it's been 2 weeks and I feel fantastic. I spent the first week doing something light and easy almost every day, including walking probably 4 miles back and forth from the finish line to our house 3 times that evening. I swam some, floated around in the pool & the lake. I rode my cruiser almost daily and did a couple of spins on my road bike. Nothing more than 45-60mins and NO running for 10 days. My muscles were slowly healing and my mind was inspired.

Honestly the hardest thing about those 2 weeks was watching my husband head out for his training, knowing I couldn't go. We're in this awesome training playground and I wanted to PLAY too. So, to keep myself occupied I did some sitting on the beach just staring at the water. I go ahead on my athlete's training plans, and I of course, drank beer and ate pizza and cheese and all the things that I shouldn't be doing (not because I think they are BAD - in fact I think everything is fine in moderation, but because of my food sensitivities they do make ME feel like crap). I enjoyed them all, but I can definitely say 2 weeks of that was enough!

Today starts a new chapter! It's also a good example of even when you are a coach yourself, there is a reason we too have coaches. My training peaks schedule is loaded with all sorts of fun stuff to keep me out of trouble, and certainly not in a way I would probably have set it up for myself 2 weeks after and Ironman. But, I opened it up last week, saw what was coming and started mentally (and time management wise) figuring out how to fit it all in.

You know, it's funny. Every time I'm prepping for a big race with others around me I notice a pattern of people lining up their activities and mentally ready to be done with Ironman and have a normal life. Sometimes I question my own sanity, because aside from just wanting a week or so of rest, beer, sundayfunday and exercising as I feel, I know that after so many days of that I still want to get back to the training because, I love it. I love being outside and seeing things on my bike. I love feeling exhausted and sleeping well and having my muscles burn.

Last November when I had already signed up to do IMCDA, Shane was heading down to Ironman registration before our race to register for this year. I was torn. I didn't know if I was even going to like the race, and how would I know if I wanted to do it again.  Not just do that race again, but do 2 Ironman in one year. I had never done it before, and I didn't know what would happen at CDA or even how I would feel after. I took a leap of faith and brought my checkbook with me. It really was an in the moment decision that I went back and forth on in the tent as I filled out the form.

But, as I was on loop 2 of the bike out on the 95 with that head wind just hammering me, I had a feeling that the race might end with me feeling more hungry, with more fuel in the fire and I thought back to that decision in November happy with it! I have to say it was a weird feeling to run a PR marathon (IM) cross the finish line already having my brain mentally prepared to do it all again in a few months.

Before it was a (very expensive) backup plan, now it's on the calendar and on my goal list to end the year! So happy I have this gorgeous place to train in, my training partner to push me (and vice versa) and my body healthy and ready for the challenge.

As for next year, that's still up in the air!  The LaPan's have some decisions to make ;)