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: