Sunday, April 22, 2012

movin' on up

I'm clearly pretty behind on the blog updates… Life has taken some incredibly tragic turns and I'm just trying to get by day to day.  As I mentioned in my last post, my mom suddenly passed away at the beginning of March.  Between trying to get through each day, to planning an out of town service; training was most certainly a life saver for me.  Because the service was to be held 5 weeks after my mom's passing, I was doing everything imaginable to keep myself pre-occupied and stay together.

What better opportunity to have a mental break then visiting my favorite place, Rocky Point.  This was my first introduction to the multi-sport life 10 years ago when we headed down south for the RP Tri.  I was too scared to do the race and just did the 10k, but over the past several years I put my big girl pants on and have moved up to facing my my ocean swim fears and racing the Olympic race.  It's one of kind for sure.  You never know what you are going to get with the water chop, hot temperatures, sometimes mis-marked course, insane winds on the bike, hilly hard run course and of course - beach run finish into a slip and slide!

It was Shane's first real race in a year and a half, so pretty exciting day!  We had a full house of friends, including our good friends from Washington joining us on a little spring vacation.
The race is never a huge race, but there are always some talented athletes that show up.  In fact the last time we did this race one of our local AG superstars was there to take the win.  I went into the race feeling pretty good.  Rested and motivated.  As we lined up for the beach start (first time ever having to run into the water) I had my game face on.  As I looked around I only saw one person that would be a real challenge (that I recognized from previous races - in fact she is a 2 time winner at the race beating me by 10minutes on the RUN split alone…)  I knew she could swim, and I've out biked her before but I also knew the girl could run a 40min 10k.  At least I found some one to chase.  I started out hoping to stay on her feet (per coach's instructions swim hard, fast and stay on fast feet!  I clearly took her pretty seriously, but unfortunately my lack of coordination got the best of me as I got stuck in the sand and ate shit just seconds after the start..

I couldn't stop laughing when I found these pictures capturing the moment posted on facebook via Rocky Point photography links….
I almost look stealth like, but I can't claim that - it's me trying to catch my balance….

but losing that battle…. this is just seconds before I landed face first into the sand.


Once I regained my composure (or really just got into the water ASAP to avoid complete humiliation) I started dolphin diving into the water until I could actually swim.  I found one girl that I basically swam with the whole time, but I was not liking her sighting skills as she seemed to be heading outside the buoys a bit too much for my liking.  There were some descent swells and I found it hard to see anything, as well as fighting some sea sickness.  I didn't kill myself swimming hard, but swam solid.  I exited the water at about ~18minutes, over 2 minutes faster than the last time I did this race and ran as much as I could up the steep sandy hill to transition.  Sandy, salty and already HOT, I got out of my wetsuit a little slow, but quick enough to hop on my bike and head out to the bike course without a super long T-1 time.

They made a last minute change to the bike course, which turned out to be AWESOME.  Still 3 loops, but instead of having to make 3x360 degree out and back turns each loop, there was only 1, including a nice brand new paved road.  The way out was SUPER fast with a tail wind, but as soon as you turned around you were hit with a massive headwind and cross wind.  The cool part was I could see all the people in front of me.  It was a bit hard to tell who was sprint vs Oly', but I did know the one girl I was looking for.  I passed a couple of girls right away and was slowly gaining on speedy pants girl that I knew could out run me.  I also saw that Shane was about 4 minutes ahead of me on the first lap, so I had actually caught up with him (he started 4 mins in front of me).  By the second loop I had speedy girl in my sights, but Shane had actually gained more time on me.  I didn't have a garmin, only a watch and per my math I was remaining steady so Shane was definitely getting faster!  At the beginning of the last lap I passed the girl I'd been chasing for an hour and had a feeling I was leading the race!

Insert big shitty grin - this is most definitely a feeling I've NEVER had before!  I did my best to hold my pace, even though the wind was starting to wear me down and my hips were hurting from pushing such a big gear into the wind!

Off the bike and into T-2 I was in and out of there in what felt like seconds!  (after looking at the results I was def speedy!  :59 from the dismount line all the way thru transition.  No socks = success.

I could immediately tell it wasn't going to be a zippy run.  My legs felt the bike push, and it was super windy.  I found a guy that was running a good pace for me and I sat on his shoulder for 2 miles.  I checked my split at the 1 mile mark, and then again as I saw the speedy girl  (it was an out and back).  I realized I was 2 minutes ahead of her with over 5 miles to go.  I decided to start digging.  I was out there leading a race for the first time in my life and I was not going to give up just because, in theory, this girl could out run me.  The last time I raced the tri- here 2 years ago I came off the bike leading my age group, only to run down and bumped into 4th (moved up to 3rd by way of an overall win), I was not ready to let that happen again.

The first 2 miles felt pretty good and I was holding 8's, then the short steep hills started and I was feeling bonky.  I took a gel, and it helped but the hills (up and down) were really slowing me down.  I ended up dropping my little running buddy, but continued keep looking behind me running in fear of being passed.  As I hit about mile 4.5 I could see across the golf course that the one girl I was afraid of had fallen back.  I estimate it to be about 3 or so minutes behind me by now, so from then on back I never looked back.  I wasn't exactly running "fast," but I gave it all I had until the finish.  Once I hit the beach for the quarter mile sandy stretch, I was on cloud 9.  Not being 100% sure I won, but knowing that I never gave up and not one single girl passed me (only a couple of boys).

I jumped on the slip and slide and laid in the cool nasty water for a couple of minutes before rolling over the edge….

It took FOREVER to see the final results, but even after I saw my name up as first female, I was still in shock.  It may not have been the most competitive field, but there certainly were some speedsters, including a 2x overall winner at this race as well as some other local ones.  I won by over 3 minutes.
5th overall swim, 1st overall bike, 3rd overall run.

It was a successful day for all.  Shane got his first Rocky Point award, 3rd AG and Tracy was 5th OA and 1st AG.

My overall win package was insane.  A fancy basket full of margarita mixings and an extra bottle of tequila.  I'll take that over a T-shirt or medal any day!

Of course a celebratory shot back at home was in order, followed by a huge shrimp fest meal for all of our guests.
It was a fantastic weekend, a much needed mental break and the start of a fantastic season of racing!

Lessons learned?  Dream big.  GO BIG, or go home.  Anything is possible!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tri 4 the Cure

A couple of weeks ago, post camp while still on my antibiotics for bronchitis and sinus infection, I decided on a whim to participate in AZ's Tri 4 the Cure event. It's a super sprint race with a majority of first timers as well as some local Elite athletes. Last year I watched in amazement as people zipped through the 4oometer swim in record time as well as scared to death first time swimmers hanging on to the ledge at times. 30lb mountain bikes followed the $5000 TT bikes and disc wheels. 15min mile joggers running their first 2 miles EVER as well as 6min mile speedsters.

Inspirational? Yah, pretty much sums it up.

So, on Wednesday before the Sunday race I registered with the "Elite" crew. I laughed at the thought of it when it was suggested to me, but what did I have to lose? With my mom's sudden passing I have an entirely new outlook on life. No regrets. Live every day to it's fullest, the sky is the limit.. and most importantly…. take care of your own health.

I knew of 4 girls I'd be "racing" and I honestly thought I only had a chance to out swim two girls and out bike another, but I was certain they could all run faster than me (I didn't just make this up, they have posted several 6+min mile races and I had never run a sub 7min mile in my life)… I figured I'd be coming in 5/5 of the girls I knew. I went into the race with no expectations other than to just go go go. I left my Garmin at home and decided to try racing sans socks for the first time (gotta do what ya gotta do when the race is < 1 hr!)

In the pool I passed the girl who started in front of me in the first 100meters. As I got into transition I had caught up with one of our local rising stars who had a shot at actually WINNING. I busted my ass to get out of T-1 as fast as possible, right on her wheel. I stayed a few bike lengths behind her for the first loop, then she slowly disappeared. I had passed one other girl that started in front of me, but she did catch me in the end… I bolted out of T-2 just a few seconds ahead of her.

YEAH for no socks!

I could see the two leaders in front of me and just did everything I could to keep them in sight. I was quickly passed, putting me the 4th girl back, but every one of those girls started in front of me, the closest to me having a :45 head start. I just kept telling myself all I had to do was keep less than :45 between the two of us and I could take top 3!

It's amazing how many thoughts can cross your mind in just 2 miles. But, the number one; bring me to tears thought I had was my mom. It was brought up just days after her passing that she had suspicions of breast cancer herself. While my mom was a nurse for over 30 years, the last person she ever took care of was herself and I suppose internally she knew how sick she was and she refused to go get treated. She had many additional health concerns on top of it, but to know that I was out there racing for a cause that supports finding a cure for a disease my mother may of had.. Well, that's the only motivation I needed.
In a race less than an hour long I went 110% the entire time. I beat all but 1 of the girls I thought were faster and stronger than me. I ran 2 miles at a faster pace than I've ever ran 1 mile in my life….

I finished up there with these speedsters, shocking my self… It was a very proud moment, indeed.

HOWEVER, the highlight of my day was being surprised seeing my dear friend Tonsa, SURVIVOR, running to the finish of her first ever duathlon. 5 years ago Tonsa was diagnosed with breast cancer while training with "us" for Ragnar Relay. We changed our team name to "Running Ragged, Inspired by T and raised ~ $5,000 in less than a month for Komen in her honor. She kicked that cancer's a@@ just like she did today's race. I'm honored to be her friend.