Tuesday, December 31, 2013

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

“Everything you can imagine is real.” 
 Pablo Picasso

One of my favorite things about keeping a blog and the fact I've had it for as long as I've been doing Ironman is that I get to go back and see myself over the years.  I giggle when I look back at my posts from 2007, while training for my first big race.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
 Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh how that quote could not be any more perfect.  This year I chose to push harder, dream bigger and have no regrets.  It paid off in so many ways, not just in results but in where I see myself going and what I see myself doing.

Last year, I looked back at my two New Years posts.  The first one, I shared how my year that started out in tragedy pushed me to go after new goals, to reach for the stars.   Boy did I continue to reach for the stars this year.  I put my head down, I did the work, I held nothing back.  This is something that it has taken me years of practicing and getting the confidence to do.  I feel like it made me such a stronger person and athlete being about to put it out there and go for it....

My second post was a few weeks into the New Year.  I was unemployed, bored and confused on what to do with myself.  Thankfully the stars aligned and I found myself with a good job, and still the flexibility of working from home!  But what hits home the most about this post (which I didn't even remember writing!) is the last section.....teaser***

2014 is going to be the most exciting one yet.  I have big dreams, big goals of my own, but the most exciting part is that I hope to be able to help others find, build and reach their's as well.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

birthday cheer

Having your birthday on a holiday where basically everyone you know is busy celebrating with their family, isn't always fun.  But, what can you do, just like many things we can't choose, we most certainly didn't choose the day we were born.

Thankfully I have some pretty awesome friends to join me on (some) of my crazy adventures, so the celebration started early with a birthday swim of 36x100.  This is the biggest group I've had join me for my bday swim, and we had a blast!

I have to say, as much as some of us make fun of Facebook, it sure does make having a birthday pretty awesome.  Who doesn't like getting ~100 Happy Birthday wishes!?  Two of my favorite little notes came from my sister and my mom's best friend.

"Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Sister, Happy Birthday to you! 

I am so happy you were born & I hope your day is filled with all the finest of Mexico, Hornitos, Jell-O shots, mas cervesas, dolphins, sunshine, doggy kisses, laughter & great memories! Happy Birthday!"

"HAPPY Birthday Krista! I so remember the day you were born and your mom and dad bringing you home in a Christmas Stocking. Enjoy your day."

My sister clearly knows what my day would be filled with, but the note from my mom's BFF made me smile.  I had actually never heard that story before...

Anyway, since we bought our house in Mexico about 10 years ago, we've pretty much spent every holiday (and birthday) here.  We've made it our own little tradition and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

We were blessed this year with stunning weather (so far) and while the nights get chilly, the days have been sunny and warm.  Yesterday for my birthday, I wanted to start the day off right so I added on to last year's birthday run with one more interval.  I have to say I was a bit intimidated by the thought of a ~10mile run doing 36 hard 1 minute intervals, since I haven't been running much, but it was a nice little kick in the pants and got me excited to start training again!  Shane was a good rabbit for me to chase, and kept me working hard to not get dropped!

The rest of my afternoon was spent just like this.... enjoying the perfect weather, view and a little gossip!

We headed into town pretty early to buy our shrimp and clams for Christmas Day Dinner, and had a couple of cervesas.  As we were listening to one of the Mariachi groups serenade a small group of people, they ended with a "happy birthday tune."  I couldn't help but laugh, that what were the odds?  There were 3 groups of people in this little bar overlooking the sea, and there were 2 Christmas babies. I asked Shane to sneak downstairs and buy the birthday girl a drink... 5 minutes later the gesture was returned and I was saying cheers with a nice little birthday shot.  The third group in the bar/restaurant was a woman with two adorable children.  After they finished their food, both littles came over to wish me a happy birthday.  It was so cute!

The birthday celebrations ended having dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  As much as I would love to order the yummy meal below, I'm afraid all the cream and cheese would throw me over the edge, but I did get a little taste of Shane's favorite, molcajete de camarones.  I got my usual, burn your insides, but tastes oh so good, camarones ala diabla (devil shrimp).

It was a perfect day, and perfect ending to my 35th year... ready for bigger, brighter and new adventures in the year to come!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sole Hope

It's amazing the amount of time I can waste when I'm not training 20 hrs a week.  So after the Ironman fog lifted, I had way way way too much time on my hands.  I was determined to take it really easy for 3 weeks, just light activity, one workout a day.  Let me my body fully heal and recover.  My bank account took the biggest hit, when it just happened to be black Friday MONTH and I had some fun spending some money on a few other things than swim, bike, run, race, eat.....

Work had been pretty slow, year end stuff, not a whole lot of marketing campaigns starting around the holidays for a pharmaceutical company. Again, too much time and an endless supply of internet (although sometimes I could swear that I've reached the end of it)...

Then something caught my eye on Facebook.  Someone had posted a link about shoes.  Most everyone who knows me, knows I LOVE shoes!  Red ones, sparkly ones, HIGH ones.... And while they rarely come out to play these days (except a good 2 weeks of holiday festivities) I still love them!  Well, this link wasn't about your typical Steve Madden, Donald Pliner, Cole Hahn... It was something totally different, totally BETTER.

The link was a blog post about getting together with friends, family, whichever you choose and building shoe kits for littles in Uganda who have a something called Jiggers on their feet.

wikipedia excerpt: "The chigoe flea or jigger is a parasitic arthropod found in most tropical and sub-tropical climates, not to be confused with the larval form of Trombiculidae found in more temperate climates"

While the link I found was a personal blog story about putting on a "shoe party" building patters that will be sent off to fair wage workers to actually sew the shoes together, the organization behind the idea is Sole Hope.  You can read their mission and story here.

To be honest I didn't really read a whole lot about this idea, I just sent a quick note out to some girlfriends wanting to know if anyone would be up for a little party where we make shoes for kids in Africa.  Basically a book wine club evening with friends, only actually doing something good, something productive.

The response was amazing, and within a couple of hours we had a group of 10 girls asking what they could bring, do and even someone to host it at their home!

Of course somehow, the least artsy/crafty person chose to plan this event (ME!), but I have to say.. in the end, everything turned out beautifully.

It was an absolutely wonderful night, with these ladies.  Great food, great conversation, laughs, and wine of course.  Melisa's house was the perfect location for this, and I even got to catch up with her not so littles that I haven't seen in WAY too long.

After several hours, several bottles of wine - we had traced, cut and safety pinned together 25 patterns for shoes.

What we did in the above picture, will end up looking something like this...

This was one of the absolute coolest things I've ever done, especially around the holidays.  Thursday morning I was able to pack and stuff our shoe patterns, donated medical supplies and a check for $100 to the organization that will help pay for the shoes to be sewn together.  Thank you to all the wonderful ladies who took part in this!  I hope we can find another fun and great cause to help out next year!  


Thursday, December 19, 2013


This year has been my most enjoyable, hard earned and successful racing season yet.  There are so many things and people that have contributed to every PR, podium and even training success.

First and foremost my coach, Michelle.  This was our third year of working together, and she has continued to push, motivate and find the best in me.  I think one of the reasons I've always respected her as a friend and my coach is that I can relate to her.  Michelle works her ass off for all of her achievements, and while she may not have won the genetic lottery, she puts so much into her training, racing as well as her athletes.  I'm super excited (and always a little bit scared) to see what she has in store for me starting back in January!

Second, my mindset.  This was probably the hardest thing for me to build, grow and change.  I think this is probably one of the hardest thing for a (not naturally talented) athlete to perfect.  Having the confidence in your abilities to show up when it counts, to push your limits and to flip the switch when the going gets tough (and it ALWAYS does).  Instead of looking at my training schedule and completely freaking out, I started to take it day by day, workout by workout.  I shut my brain off, and just did the work.  This paid off ten fold during my Ironman and instead of having doubts and listening to the pain, I trusted my body and all the hard work I had done and just kept moving, all with a smile on my face.

This post wasn't meant to talk about my amazing coach or my hard work, but more to point out that what I did differently in the past couple of years wasn't just the type of training, it was the SMART training.  The consistent training.  I know that we all work differently, but one thing that I have found is my body needs to do things over and over and without long breaks.

Each year I keep a training log, and look at my year end totals.  Sometimes I get excited when I see new peaks of total miles, but this year I was actually surprised to see that some of my total numbers were actually lower, particularly on the bike.  But what was different is I biked often, and I biked with purpose.  I biked through my marathon training (not very willingly, but I did it!), and then increased my bike days after the race.  I never had more than 4-5 days off of the bike at a time (exception of travel).  And, while my tri bike is still sitting with the (flat) race wheels, race stickers and even a (gross) water bottle still on the frame..... I was back on my road bike after a week of rest from Ironman.


The same goes for my swim and my run.  The first time I ran after Ironman my legs were SORE.  It had been 12 days since the race and a slow 5k run hurt me.  I've done several shorter runs and finally started putting in a bit more mileage over the past couple of weeks, and my legs feel better and no more soreness.  What has really surprised me is my speed and effort isn't far off from where it was before the race.  I've had a steady year of running, again without any long breaks, and it pays off!

With swimming, which I love, I have to be swimming consistently 3 days per week, and not just easy flop swims to keep strong.  I've been back to my masters group for 3 weeks now,  and it's taken 3 weeks of swimming 3k+ to feel good again after 2 weeks off.  Swimming once or even twice a week just doesn't cut it for me, and as much as I know this is everyone's first thing to drop off when they don't have a race goal.... it can be the hardest thing to get back.

So, I challenge you to give it a try.  Start logging your time and track what happens when you keep plugging away and don't lose your goggles, or let your bike tires go flat.

Keep moving, stay consistent!  Then, enjoy the benefits of your hard work!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ironman Recovery and Nostalgia

A few months before Ironman, while trying to figure out plans for next year, Michelle mentioned something about me being cut off, or needing some complete time off after the race.  At first the thought stressed me out.  I hate resting.  While I listen to my body 95% of the time, and shut down when needed, I've had such consistent training and am like an aerobic engine I recover really quickly.

My tune quickly changed after I had my near perfect day on November 17th.  I think about that Sunday all the time.  The pure joy I felt for 10.5 hours is still so fresh in my mind.  It almost scares me to think about trying to top it.  

I left it all out there with no regrets and for the first time in a long time I allowed my body to completely rest and unwind.  The first couple days I didn't sleep a wink.  My brain was fried, and my body ached.  I lost my appetite until day 3, which just happened to be when we were in Mexico with fresh seafood, spicy salsa and fresh (fried) tortilla chips loaded in salt.  

On Wednesday I took my beach chair, the dogs and a cocktail down to the beach and decided to take the dogs for a walk.  It felt good to move my legs about, but about 15mins into our walk I started to just feel tired, so we turned around and I plopped myself back on the chair and didn't move for another 2 hours.

The rest of the extended week(end) was pretty similar, sitting with my feet up staring at the water. 

Then ending the day staring at gorgeous sunsets like this....

I spent a complete week recovering, doing absolutely no training.  After about 10 days my body started to ache to move, so I did starting with swimming then easy spinning.  I did do a 3 mile post turkey day run within 2 weeks, but other than that no running for about 15 days.

Finally, by this weekend after almost 3 weeks of staying up late, happy hours, sleeping in and eating way too much chocolate, I feel ready to be back at it.  I'm taking the rest of the month/year to just train as I feel, no obligations.  While I'm still on cloud 9, my mind can't help but be excited for next year.

I'm in my 13th year of triathlon, and 8th year racing Ironman.  I've worked for every single minute of progress, and knowledge I've gained over the years, and can't help but be a bit nostalgic thinking about where I started, where I am now and where I'm going.  Some people are born natural athletes.  Some people grew up dedicated to a sport and will forever be an athlete.  I wouldn't call myself either of those, but I am damn proud of the athlete I am now.

When I started working with my coach, Michelle 3 years ago I had no idea what was in store for me.  I have fallen completely in love with endurance racing and the sport or Ironman.  I've learned so much from her and believe not only in what she teaches me, but what I am capeable of.  2014 is going to be one of the most fun, exciting and adventurous years and I can't wait to share it with you all..

Thanks for reading!

Here's my history of with Ironman.  Dream big, reach for the stars.

Ironman CDA 2007

Ironman CDA 2008

Ironman Canada 2010

Ironman CDA 2011

Ironman Canada 2012

Ironman Arizona 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ironman Arizona

Having (nearly) the race of your dreams actually happen is almost unbelievable!  As I look at pictures from the day, I'm so happy to see that the pure joy I felt out there all day long came across.  The shock as I turned the corner on Rio Salado and saw the time on the clock - all I could do was hold back tears and hold my mouth open in awe.  That's what happens when you leave your garmin on your bike and try to do math while in the 10th hour of racing.... it does not work out so well!

This was my 6th Ironman and first time doing the local race.  My first one was in my "home" of Coeur d'alene and while I've yet to nail that race, I'm still partial to it.  So much so I'm going back next year for my 4th time on the starting line.  I've also raced in Canada twice, having an epic day last year.  So, this year was all new to me having home court advantage as well as having the most amazing race day support and cheers.  I had no idea how incredible both could be, and am still in awe of the amazing spectators and the uplift they gave me each time I heard my name and got a high 5.

I spent about 3 weeks prior to the race visualizing a good day.  Most of it was the swim, because while I have worked my ass off in the pool, I've yet to have that show in my results for races in Tempe Town Lake.  My PR IM swim is 1:04 in Canada and I'm far more fit in the water now.  I spent time every day just convincing myself I would have a great swim to start off my day, coming out of the water , 1:05..... but I was also mentally prepared for anything.

Overall my entire year of training went nearly flawless.  Once I recovered from my marathon I started to work a lot on the bike.  It took a while to gain my strength back but sure enough it came around.  My run fitness remained and I focussed on staying healthy and consistent.  In June and July we had a huge swim block to prep for our 10k swim at Kona camp, and once back from that I was ready to put the last few months of really hard work in.

Michelle pushed me.  I nailed nearly all my workouts and just kept on moving.  I took notes on how I was feeling, and did what I needed to make each set count.  Starting a new job in March and working east coast hours took a bit of getting used to, but eventually as I got the hang of my day to day tasks and I was able to find some flexibility and work in my training.

When I signed up for this race a year ago and looked at the results of a near perfect day, I also examined my age group.  I had just come off an 11:02 race finish at IM Canada, a much more difficult course and wondered what COULD I do on this course?  I came up with the idea of getting on the podium, something that for years of doing this I never even thought possible.  Crazy what can happen when you actually start to believe...

Looking at the results over the past few years I decided if I could race a 10:40-1:45, the podium was within reach.  Top 3 (and Kona contention) would require a 10-10:15, and I wasn't crazy enough to dream that BIG!   So there you had it, my goal sent to coach.  I wanted to be on that podium.

Funny, we never actually talked about times, or what it would take after I sent that email.  Each week I looked at my schedule, sometimes in shock, others in excitement.  I did the work, I took care of myself and I just kept plugging away.....

I base what I can do on race day on actual training.  Not on what I WANT or what I believe could possibly happen.  I came up with a very conservative swim split so that I wouldn't get disappointed.  I based my bike split on a couple of training rides on the actual course (1hr up, :50 back).  My run was based on my 20 milers, and even then it was conservative... but I was putting in some time for aid stations and well Ironman fatigue!  This is what I came up with:
I printed that out and put it on the wall in my office.  I looked at it with excitement (and some fear) every single day.  As race day approached I got confident.  I didn't make those numbers up.  I would say the most questionable split was my bike.  My Ironmans have always been hilly and my best bike split was 5:48 at Canada.  Wind is also a huge factor on this course so you just never know what the day can bring.  

All in all I knew the only thing that could mess up my day would be ME.  I was in control of my attitude, my pacing, my nutrition and I was determined to do it all RIGHT.  The days leading up to the race I was confident.  When asked if I was ready, I smiled and said YES.  There was no doubt, no second guessing.  It was something I've never felt before and if anything... that scared me.

I remained calm all week, and didn't have nerves until I dropped off my bike and found a thorn in my tire.  I borrowed a set of race tubulars and well, there is not a quick fix there.  I kept my composure, went to the bike techs where they used a razor blade to dig it out and said I wasn't losing air.  Rather than freak out, I got a backup plan and as soon as I was home I prepped my own race wheels and repair kit and put them in the truck.  If my tire was flat when I got to transition I would simply change out the wheels.

Next up my stove broke while trying to make dinner.  The easy solution would be to get takeout, but I've been gluten free (mostly) since June and it's really helped my allergies and asthma symptoms so I wasn't about to mess with that the day before a race.  We managed to cook two types of pasta, sautee mushrooms, marinara sauce and grilled chicken all on our grill.

Adjust and move on.

Thanks to a glass of wine and an Ambien I had a solid 6 hours of sleep and woke up ready to roll.  Oddly, I woke up SORE.  My neck hurt really bad and my quads were sore.  I took this as a sign I was ready to USE them.

Before heading into the water I took some time and stared at the water.  Envisioned my day.  While my swim didn't turned out as planned, It took me absolutely NO time to move past it and continue on what would be an EPIC day.

My swim time was a bit disappointing.  I got my ass handed to me the first half, then swam wide the second half without much of a draft and slowing me down.  Rather than completely beat myself up about it, I'm choosing to, like in the race, move passed it.  I will eventually have to get aggressive in the water and get way out of my comfort zone if I want to be competitive in this water.  The fitness is there, I just need to make it happen.  Swim time 1:10

I had the time of my life on the bike.  I rode steady and controlled.  I took it WAY easy on the first loop, but was almost scared at how fast it was.  The first loop was completely crowded and I saw something I've never witnessed before which was the drafting.  It was insane.  I'd heard the rumors, but thought how could that really happen without people getting in trouble.  I guess my only thought here is how could they bust EVERYONE?  I did my best to ride legally and when I couldn't get out of the back, I worked a little harder to get passed them or sat up out of aero and fell back, focussed on getting in calories.  Loops 2 and 3 thinned out and at times I was by myself just cruising along.

Coming back into town was amazing.  The cheers were unforgettable.  My coach was there giving me splits, but truth be told I new where I was because of the out and backs.  I was ahead of schedule and having an amazing bike ride.  Flip flopping on the second and third loop with girls in my age group, I was smart.  I didn't burn any matches and rode completely within myself.  My number one goal was to get my calories in and be ready to run.  Thankfully I had out biked my expectations and had plenty of time to not "race" the bike.  Bike time 5:18

It took all of a half a mile to get my legs under me.  My plan was to run 8:45's and average 8:55s with aid station times.  My training justified it.  My fitness was there.  Unfortunately (or not) I left my garmin on my bike so I was going to have to do this by feel.  Coming out of transition it's amazing hearing cheers and your adrenaline is just going crazy.  I could tell I was running too fast and I spent the first two miles trying to slow myself down.  I had some competition in front of me and I just had to remember to race MY plan, and that did not involve starting out at an 8:20 pace.  I settled into my rhythm and perceived effort and by mile 4 going past my club tent feeling like a rock star I was told I was in 6th or 7th place.  By mile 6 I had passed 2 girls in my age group putting me in 4th or 5th.  Somewhere else I was told I was in 3rd.  I've never experienced anything like this?  Racing an ironman marathon in 3rd place???  That was the first time KONA entered my mind.  The first time EVER.  It was surreal.

Every time I saw my coach she made feel like the most amazing person in the world.  I could feel and see her joy and how proud she was and it was everything I needed to keep pushing.  My friends jumping up and down every time I saw them fueled my smile, my strength and my energy.

I got passed at about mile 16.5 by someone in my age group.  I tried to stay with her, but I just couldn't hold the pace.  She kept getting further and further away, and eventually I just forgot about her.  I started to focus on math and my finish time, which in my head was going to be like 10:35-10:36.  Clearly... I wasn't calculating right..

Every time I saw a kid's hand out I high fived it.  Every time someone said my name I thanked them, I smiled.  Miles 17-21 were hard.  Really REALLY hard.  I allowed myself to walk every aid station and get in anything I could.  My stomach was bloated and not happy, but my legs were still fine.

At mile 21 a friend came running out to me with her phone telling me I was in 5th place and to GO.  I grabbed some coke and took off.

Just before the last climb up Curry Hill, maybe mile 22 I saw two good friends going CRAZY for me.  They were clearly having a fun day and they made me laugh and think back to all the times I was out there cheering for my friends.  I fed off them.  It was exactly what I needed.

Up the hill, down the hill get to mile 23. That's all I kept repeating in my head.  I can do 2 miles in my sleep.  Somehow, I managed to pick the pace up for the last time miles.  My split was 8:50 from mile 24.5-26.2 including walking the last 2 aid stations.  I was fueled by adrenaline.  FINALLY my legs started hurting (it's amazing was solid base fitness can do for you!), and it was all heart.  About 200 yards before the finish the most incredible cheering squad EVER awaited me.  I felt like I was flying.  My coach was crying and screaming and right then I knew what I had accomplished (well almost).

One quick (painful) turn and the finish line was there... and the shock of seeing the clock minutes ahead of what I thought will last forever.  The pure joy and happiness I felt is unexplainable... Run time 3:56

Shane was waiting for me at the finish line.  He two had an epic day, and managed an hour plus PR even with some training hurdles the past few months.  Household PRs!

It wasn't until about 30 minutes after the race I finally asked a friend to look up my results.....

Setting a goal, doing the work and accomplishing it, it really doesn't get much better than that!  PR and Podium check.... can't wait to set some new goals next year.

I hope each and every one of my friends out there last Sunday and online sending me wishes know how much it all meant to me.  And to my coach who has taught me so much about myself and the sport - I can't wait for our exciting adventures next year!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Soma half IM, round 4!

I can't believe I debated this race.  After racing Tempe Tri 4 weeks before and having a "good" race, I just wasn't sure I wanted to go do loop after loop around that lake again.  The bike makes me so nervous, I never swim well and it's usually freaking hot.

Then, about 2 weeks before the race when the last price increase was about to happened I decided, oh why the hell not.  I've been training my ass off, why not go see what can happen out there, so I finally registered.

The only little hitch in the plan was we were finally getting back to Mexico for some much needed R&R.  With a busy summer season starting early, our last trip was the first weekend in June.  I always forget how much I love this place, but am quickly reminded when we reach the guard gate of our neighborhood and I feel like 20 lbs just lifts off my shoulders.  I look to the right see the gorgeous water, open a Sol and breath the fresh sea air.  It makes me HAPPY.  Thankfully, I had company for some good training so the first morning started out with a quality run inserting some mile repeats and slightly faster than half IM pace.  I felt fantastic!  The rest of the weekend included lots of beach time, some open water swims and while I tried to be good, probably too many cervesas.  All I can say is I have NO regrets!

I was a bit stiff, stuff and bloated from Wed-Friday, as per usual after a long weekend in Mexico, but my legs started to get some pep and my head was in the right place.  I was crazy calm and just felt ready come Saturday evening, absolutely no nerves.  I knew I was fit, and healthy and after some conversation with Michelle, I was just going to go for it and blast through the race.  I had nothing to lose, the race didn't really "matter."

Truth be told I needed some bike confidence.  After last year's poor bike split at this race, I actually don't really feel like I've had a bike split that has reflected all the hard work I've put into it this year.

The short and sweet race recap goes as follows:  I BLASTED through the swim.  I went after it from the get go staying with 2 other girls from my wave.  I felt super but was working really hard.  I thought to myself, FINALLY maybe I'll actually have a good split.  Then about 3/4 of the way through it on the way back to transition we hit the wall of other waves. The two girls I was with veered to the left going towards the inside of the buoy and I went outside the chaos (probably too wide), and tried to bring my kick in to pick up speed.  I managed to not lose too much time from those girls as I saw them getting out and up the stairs, but when I looked at my watch and saw just under 35 minutes I realized, yup... another shitty swim.

Thankfully I didn't let it get to me.  I hopped on my bike and started to hammer.  My goal was SUB 2:40 which I have never done.  2 years ago I biked 2:40 last year (with some mechanicals) I biked 2:44.   I had the time of my life on the bike on Sunday.  I got stronger on the second loop, and after a teammate (who I'd been waiting to come by) passed me on the 3rd loop, I actually gained more confidence as I was able to stay (legally) with her and actually drop my effort a bit to get some calories in.

On the bike I realized a couple of things.  While I've thought I've been racing hard, I haven't.  I don't remember working THAT hard (at least for the first 2 loops) in a very long time.  It was good to remind myself what it felt like.  I did struggle to get my normal solid foods down and had to really bulk up in the last loop.  If there is one thing I'm good at, it's nailing my nutrition and I know the consequences on the run if I don't.

I hit the dismount line in about 2:36:30.  HUGE bike PR.

As I headed out of T2 I had teammates screaming to relax and find my groove and make the mistake of telling me I was in 3rd place.  I was all worked up and tense and just tried to chill.  Phew, it worked.  I quickly realized that my legs were fine, even after the hard bike effort and the rest was up to me.  Within a couple of minutes my teammate that had passed me on the bike caught up.  PERFECT.  Just what I was hoping for.  I figured we could help each other on the run!  This is exactly what we did.  For about 7 miles we took ~2 min "pulls" trying to keep as close to an 8 min pace as possible.  I notice my energy levels a bit lower than normal, but as soon as I would get some gel or cola in me it was like a huge boost!  I actually stopped and walked through 2 aid stations to drink FULL cups of cola.  I missed about 100 calories on the bike and the harder effort was definitely showing energy wise so I just needed sugar and caffeine.

In the last 2 miles I was tired, but my body felt FINE.  I was told the person I was worried might come pass me was 4 minutes behind.  I dug.  I gave it what I had and I finished the race with an 8 minute distance and course PR finishing in 5:01:48.

For a bit I thought I had landed 3rd OA, but there were 2 gals pretty far ahead that no one saw.  1st overall finished in 4:36 blasting everyone else!  She was in my AG, so I was moved up to 1st place AG, 5th OA.

I couldn't be more happy with how the day went.  I've spent the last 2 days focusing on my recovery to get my body back for one last super long weekend of training!

I can't believe after all this hard work, the big show is in 3.5 weeks.  I can't WAIT.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kona #BSC camp 2013

Last year Michelle decided to start a training camp in the mecca of triathlon land, Kona!  Unfortunately, it was just a week or so before IMCA so I wasn't able to participate... but this year, I was NOT missing out.   And, regardless of the fact that this camp started out as girls only, Shane didn't care - he wasn't missing out either!

It was absolutely everything I hoped it would be, and more and I don't think there is anyway to capture the experience or properly give justice to the epic 5 days, I'll do my best!

Michelle's theme for camp is simply, "you are stronger AND capable of more than you think."  She is spot on.  For the months leading up to this camp I was terrified.  Not that I couldn't do the distance, or the volume, but of the epic swim adventure Michelle had planned for us.  In fact, this first came up at IMCA over dinner, when she announced that it would be EPIC, and part of the camp.  I'm not gonna lie, I was the only one at the table who was not excited.  And, the crazy part is that I LOVE to swim!  I'm just absolutely terrified of the ocean.  Up until the past week I've had more negative experiences than positive and the thought of swimming over 6 miles in it scared me to death.

I'm happy to say that after 25000 meters of open ocean water swimming, I faced my fears, and while I'm still terrified of it, I was finally able to enjoy it and just swim!  And with that said, here are some more fun details about the epic 5 days!

Day 1:  1 hour Hill repeats in and out of "the pit."  Nothing like starting out a 5 day, 20 hour training camp with run hill repeats, right?  Agh, who cares when the view is unbeatable, it's not 4am and 118 degrees.  It was a great way to loosen up the legs and even chit chat with the other campers.
Shortly after the run we headed to Kona Bike works to pick up our rental bikes.  There were 5 of us that rented, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the bike shop.  They were AWESOME. I was put on a p3, and while it wasn't the perfect fit, Michelle got me to turn off my brain by very matter of factly stating "you will be just fine."

Next up our first adventure to test out the gorgeous Kona waters with a 1 hour swim in Kealakekua Bay.  I had managed to get out of my head and not think about being scared.  That lasted all of 5 minutes when we arrived at the park and one of the locals warned us about the man o war jelly fish that were stinging in the bay...   Thankfully (or not) shortly after I had another problem that helped me forget all about the jellys!  While Michelle was giving us a short brief about our swim, a lava rock fell from a nice big mound straight onto my foot.  It took everything I had not to scream, but it hurt, like BAD hurt.  I had so many thoughts going through my head, wondering if I had really done something bad to it, and just horrified that I might have really messed myself up.  I suppose it was (at that time) a blessing in disguise as I completely forgot about my fear of the jelly fish and hopped right into the ocean.

The swim was nothing short of GORGEOUS.  The water was crystal clear, and calm.  I'm not going to say I wasn't still scared, but I was hopeful that I could get through it all :)

Post swim was where I had the chance to test out my foot with an hour run.  I was quiet.  I started out the run alone, and just slowly moved into my pace.  The first few steps hurt bad, but I was bound and determine to make sure this stupid random rock falling on my foot was NOT going to mess up my camp!  Thankfully, the pain did not get worse and I was eventually able to find my stride.  One thing I noticed was that I think all the crazy bricks and training I've done this summer (so far) have helped me finally acclimate to the heat.

It was hot, and humid and we were running along lava fields, but I wasn't dying!  I was super stoked :)  3 hours later, Day 1 was in the bank!

We were also treated to a evening swim clinic by the legendary Karlyn Pipes.  Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, it was awesome!

Day 2:  10k Ocean swim.  The big daddy.  I was scared from the moment I woke up, until the second I hit the beach.  We were split up into groups of 2-3 with a Kayak escort to help us and provide us with water stops and gels.
We started at Keauhou Bay Departing from the super calm waters behind us in the picture.  I was really quiet and just tried to get out of my head as we walked into the water and started out on our adventure.  The first 30 minutes were honestly the worst for me.  Our kayak was a bit too far away and Shane was hauling ass.  I was working way hard to stay with him and his nerves had him all amped up which was transferring to me.  Finally, after I told him he was going WAY too fast, and we had a a talk with our kayaker, we were able to settle into a rhythm.  The waters were super calm aside from the normal tide rollers, but no chop.  We were given advice last night at the clinic to make sure to stay on top of our nutrition, because you never know what the conditions will end up and you don't want to bonk.  I took this very seriously and kept Shane & I a strict schedule of stopping every 30 minutes  for sips of water and some calories.  

Unfortunately, every time we stopped I started to get a little bit more sea sick and nauseous.  I tried to keep our stops short and sweet, but as the morning went on the water went from gorgeous and calm to some serious chop.  I have to say I'm super happy that my energy levels never really got too low.  Shane eventually slowed dramatically so I would pull away really quickly.  As soon as I wouldn't feel his hands in my draft, I would flip over to check for him, then stop and do some treading.  That too was making me more sick so I started alternating breast strokes.  It actually felt fantastic to stretch out my chest, back and hips so I continued to do that.  

We FINALLY made it to Kona Pier, about 3:45minutes of swim time later.  Longer than I had hoped, but so incredibly happy to have made it.  As soon as we reached the buoys I went faster, as I had started dry heaving and really wanted to get to the beach so I could puke!  Thankfully, as soon as I got vertical and headed away from the crowds to let it all go... I managed to refrain ;)

Garmins said 6.3 miles for the total distance.  I'm guessing somewhere around 6.4-6.5 for Shane & I as we had a lot of back and forth with our kayaker.  Either way it's by far the most crazy swim adventure I have ever been on.  It was awesome and terrifying all at the same time.  The water was stunning and clear, but I'm not sure how often I would want to put myself through that nausea again?  I love challenging myself, but feeling like crap doesn't make for the best experience.  It was absolutely one of the most crazy and epic things I've ever done!!

As soon as I got some calories and a bottle of water down, I jumped on the celebration bandwagon and had a couple of beers at the infamous "dig me beach."
Epic.  Epic.  Epic.

Day 3:  6 hour ride out to Hawi and 40 minute brick

This ride was nothing short of AWESOME.  I think I paced my day perfectly and never had a low or bonky moment.  While my longest ride has been 75 miles in the past year, Michelle assured me of my fitness (trustthecoach) and I just made sure to stay on top of my hydration and fuel.  I ate a TON of calories and just kept piling in the water.  We had a mix of everything.  Clouds, sun and epic winds (at one point almost to Hawi looking down at my Garmin wondering if I was even moving), but Michelle had mentally prepared us for it all so I was ready!

What an awesome way to tour Kona, right?

A 40 minute brick running down on Ali Drive with Shane & my girl and soon to be racing IMWC Kelly, made it a perfect day!

Day 4:  Hill repeats plus brick followed by "social" ride.

Michelle found us a great hill to do some big gear strength hill repeats on.  I think everyone surprised themselves with feeling great, despite a sore booty - and for the run we were treated with a nice cloud cover!  

The afternoon ride went a little less, well chirpy we will say.  I think we all had in our heads "social coffee ride, fluff."  I can't speak for everyone, but I was less than perky.  It wasn't the rain, or the 3500ft of climbing we did, but more my attitude and energy levels.  I didn't do a good job of fueling for it, and didn't bring enough calories figuring I wouldn't need them and definitely paid for it.  After finally arriving at the coffee shop where I was hoping for some sort of high calorie sugar treat to help my energy levels and much needed water, it was closed.... 

We did eventually find another coffee shop, but I think 10/12 of us had officially bonked by that point.  This was definitely the low part of camp for me.  That was until another camper and I found THIS sign on the way back and b-lined in for a sample.  

From that point on I had a smile on my face and eventually made it home to start making dinner for the group!

Day 5.  20 mile run plus 1hr swim.  Our group split into 2, those training for a full Ironman and those for a half.  Logistically, this was a challenge, but Michelle had no trouble figuring it out.  4 of us started an hour before the rest running a 5 mile course down to where we met the others (Kona Pier) for our swim.  We started out stiff and heavy, but by the last mile or so the legs had loosened a bit.  My foot was still really sore, but I was determined to get in the 20 miles.  A quick change and off in the water we headed looking for dolphins.  We didn't find any, but we did see some cool fish and played around a bit under water.  

After a quick rinse off, change of clothes we all headed out Ali Drive for the next 15 mile section of the run.  The sun came out and we had an ice headwind, but it was never too bad.  I again started off nice and easy, trying to find a rhythm and get past the initial pain and soreness in my foot.  As the run progressed I just felt amazing.  I was on the most amazing runners high that never ended.  My last 6 miles were my fastest, and as I got back to Kona Pier I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I was happy, I was tired, I was determined.  I ran past the infamous sign pictured below (post beers and food!) to end at exactly 20 miles and stopped almost in awe at what my body had just done.  

This experience was one I will NEVER forget.  5 days & 20 hours of ~ 40miles running, 15k swimming, 170miles on the bike, with some of the most amazing athletes and friends, lead by the one and only coach #BSC.  

We finished up camp with an e21 sponsored Shane-tini celebration.  Sore, tired, and now nice and buzzed was how we ended camp.  All smiles from there on out.

Michelle you are an awesome inspiration and truly an incredible leader.  I can't wait to hop on my bike tomorrow with this amazing gift and reminder that, indeed, I am stronger than I think.