100 Things About Me

100 things about me

I enjoyed reading Erin’s list so much that I thought I would create my own.

Here goes:

1. I’m the middle child in my family.

2. I helped raise my younger sister and we are really close.

3. My younger sister has always emulated me and went to University of Michigan like I did and followed me into the practice of law even though I tried to get her to become a doctor.

4. I went to law school because my dad (who was a lawyer) told me not to.

5. I went to law school because I wanted to impress my future in-laws.

6. I was raised Jewish but did not go to Hebrew school or have a Bat Mitzvah because my parents thought it was a waste of time.

7. I am raising my kids Christian.

8. I have been with my husband since I was 19 and had only one serious relationship prior to meeting him.

9. We got engaged at the base of Aspen Mountain when I was 22.

10. I have been married for almost 20 years.

11. The day we moved to Colorado was probably the happiest day of my life.

12. I used to have a prestigious legal career but now practice law from my dining room table which I have many conflicted feelings about.

13. I want to be a writer.

14. Sometimes I wish I was a doctor and I actually dole out quite a bit of medical advice to friends.

15. Twins don’t run in my family.

16. Motherhood does not always come easily to me.

17. If I do one thing right in my life, I hope to be a good mother.

18. I always think the grass is greener and I transferred high schools (just for one semester), colleges, and law schools.

19. I started college at DePauw University in Indiana.

20. I met my husband on a 40-foot racing sailboat in a resort town in Northern Michigan.

21. I wanted to be a WASP growing up.

22. My husband is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is a WASP enclave.

23. I often feel out of place there.

24. I feel most “myself” in the Vail Valley.

25. Going to camp in the summers as a kid was the highlight of my childhood.

26. My first real job was working as a camp counselor.

25. I also worked as a waitress during college and law school.

27. I worked in retail between undergrad and law school at Ann Taylor.

28. My grandma passed away in 2009 at the age of 95 and I think about her almost every day.

29. My parents were both only children so I have no aunts, uncles or first cousins.

30. Neither of my sisters has ever been married.

31. We were one of the only families in my hometown that had an in-ground swimming pool.

32. Despite that, I am a terrible swimmer and don’t enjoy getting wet.

33. I dream about buying the house I grew up in.

34. When people ask me where I grew up, I tell them St. Charles (Illinois) which is a nice town that a lot of people have heard of, but we actually lived in Elgin until I was 15.

35. I went to a small, private high school from 6th through 12th grade.

36. My big sport in high school was tennis.

37. I was also a cheerleader despite not knowing how to do any gymnastics.

38. I briefly played the violin in elementary school, but wasn’t very good.

39. I have never eaten a banana.

40. Or cottage cheese.

41. I feel like I haven’t achieved my full potential athletically or professionally.

42. I am very hard on myself.

43. I hate cooking.

44. I’ve never watched a full episode of a soap opera.

45. “Venus & Serena” is my favorite documentary.

46. I am terrible with numbers and math and can’t remember how much I paid for something 10 minutes after leaving the store.

47. I attribute my inability to do math to a serious seizure I had in 4th grade, although I have no idea if there is any connection.

48. My greatest fear in life is that something will happen to one of my kids.

49. I dream of living in a warm climate.

50. I finally started to feel like an adult when my husband began to plan his retirement.

51. He will never retire because he likes working too much.

52. My husband is an emergency physician.

53. We can do a lot of things together because of his schedule, but I am frequently on my own on nights, weekends, and holidays.

54. I spend too much time on the Internet.

55. I worry I have undiagnosed attention deficit disorder.

56. I wasn’t the “smart one” in our family.

57. I was “social” and “athletic.”

58. I went to prom in Colorado my sophomore year with a kid I met on Spring Break in the Bahamas.

59. His last name was “Coors.”

60. It sounds scandalous, but he didn’t even try to kiss me.

61. I am both proud and humiliated by my splits at Kona last year.

62. I want to race Kona again.

63. I’m not sure I would keep doing Ironman if I didn’t have the carrot of trying to qualify for Kona.

64. I am very sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily.

65. Because of #64, litigation was probably a bad choice for me.

66. I pretend to like a lot of things to set a good example for my kids.

67. Examples of things I pretend to like include downhill skiing and camping.

68. My son can beat me at checkers.

69. He would also beat me at chess but I don’t know how to play.

70. I read the Wall Street Journal every day.

71. I don’t feel guilty when I don’t work out, but I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

72. I’m a night owl.

73. I hate being a night owl because it seems like all of the go getters in society are morning people.

74. I am easily awed by other people’s accomplishments but tend to downplay my own accomplishments.

75. I pride myself on being upfront and honest with people.

76. I love playing Scrabble.

77. My mom was on Jeopardy when I was young, but it was before VHS, so we don’t have a copy of her shows.

78. She won several days in a row and came home with Turtle Wax and Rice a Roni.

79. I am the IT person in our household.

80. My husband just asked what I was working on and I wouldn’t tell him.

81. He has never read my blog.

82. My ideal day in Colorado would be to run around the neighborhood with my dog, take my kids for a hike, and spend the evening at Glenwood Springs in the hot springs.

83. My favorite season is summer.

84. I can barely make it through winter.

85. We live above 7000 feet.

86. I want to visit the Himalayas someday.

87. We rarely take a vacation that isn’t triathlon-related or to visit our families.

88. I always hated running trails until I got a dog.

89. Now I sometimes run trails so she can run off leash and engage in her favorite activity, which is chasing wildlife.

90. Popcorn is my favorite food.

91. I wish I spoke Spanish.

92. I do 90% of my training by myself, but I am trying to change that.

93. Because of my son, I am finally learning the rules of football.

94. I have asthma and didn’t run growing up because I would get asthma attacks.

95. I drink too much coffee.

96. I love shopping at consignment stores.

97. I almost never wear make-up.

98. I tried Botox a few years ago and hated it.

99. I never “reply all” unless it is absolutely necessary.

100. I typed this list in under one hour.

Coming back

As soon as the calendar flips over into January, I am ready to pack Christmas back into a box and move forward into all of the promise that the new year holds. Some of the crazy thoughts I was having before the holidays (like how I was going to return to the practice of law full time and quit doing triathlon), have subsided a bit and I feel more like myself.  Like most people, I have thought of ways to be a new and improved version of myself in 2015.

Athletically, I am finally trying to address my two greatest weaknesses: the fact I can barely swim, and my lack of strength. On the swimming front, I enlisted the help of tri coach and Olympian, Susan Williams, to film my stroke and give me some feedback. She invited me to join her masters group one day and it was such a good workout that I actually returned! Between the time Susan analyzed my stroke (early December) and my second swim practice (yesterday), I had not gotten in the pool a single time, which is not how it is supposed to work. Ideally, if you are going to take the time and pay to have someone film you, you would spend some time working on the stroke flaws identified and hopefully come back a little bit better. I still need to work on that part, but I am committed to trying something a little different – attending masters with someone on deck who is looking at my stroke. An added benefit is that I have met a new group of women triathletes and maybe gained a new training partner or two.

On the strength front, it was clear to me that I lacked the discipline to go to the weight room on my own and lift more regularly than once or twice per year. Instead, I decided to try out Cross Fit, which I realize is a favorite target of scorn for triathletes, myself included. My main reason for going to All Pro Cross Fit is that is it co-owned by my longtime friend and triathlete Kathy Waite, who is the type of person I will endure some silliness to be around because she is so energetic and positive. Kathy did not care at all that I lifted the baby “triathlete weights” while all of the meat heads were grunting and groaning. For some reason, Cross Fit involves lifting weights fast, while timing yourself, but I ignored this part of it. Instead I just tried to learn some of the moves and, ideally, not injure myself in the process.

The only downside to starting a strength program is that I am incredibly sore after each session and rather than feeling like I am getting stronger, I feel like someone has beat me with a baseball bat, which is a disincentive to returning. I don’t have much interest in replacing triathlon with Cross Fit, but it’s been a fun way for me to lift a few weights and maybe strengthen a few areas.

Almost like a switch was flipped, when the kids returned to school this week, I started to think about training again. I haven’t done anything crazy, like put my bike on the trainer or strap on my heart rate monitor, but I felt like after all of the soul-seaching I had done this fall about me, my place in the sport and whether I still wanted or needed Ironman, I decided that I was ready to move forward with some athletic goals.

You know how sometimes someone asks you about a goal and you have never thought about it before or said it out loud, but then something comes out of your mouth and you realize it was there all along? That happened this week. I told a room full of strangers that I was hoping to PR in the Ironman at Louisville this year. And just like that, I realized I was ready.

Some introspection and a look ahead to 2015

After stringing together five triathlon racing seasons without much break in between, I decided to take a BIG break after Kona. The kind of break I had been dreaming about for a while. I took such a long break (I am actually still taking it), that I wasn’t sure I would ever do another workout again. It felt so good to do what I wanted, when I wanted and let go of the things that had become a mental drain – like riding the trainer or swimming. Instead, I’ve been running (or walking) around the neighborhood with the dog sans watch or heart rate monitor. That’s about it. Part of me feels like I have gotten accustomed to being “lazy,” but part of me also realizes that this break was necessary if I want to push myself hard again next season.

I sometimes joke that I don’t know why I do triathlon because I don’t really like to swim or bike. The truth is, while I don’t like some aspects of the individual sports, I love racing Ironman and trying to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle of swim/bike/run on race day. But once you have raced 140.6 once, twice, nine times, you have to ask yourself, “what keeps me coming back to this?” Something keeps me signing up for race after race after race, but what is it? Why do I feel like I have to keep doing it?

I thought about that question a lot this fall. It didn’t take an advanced degree in psychology for me to figure out part of the reason I kept training for Ironman after Ironman. Ironman training takes quite a bit of mental and physical energy. So much energy that I didn’t have time to think about many other things in my life. And that was the point. When I was exhausted from training or planning the next season, I didn’t have time to focus on the things I preferred not to focus on. These were smallish things (“my storeroom and closet are a mess”) and big things (“I’m worried about my kids”). I knew after my big race was over that I would have time to think about the other, non-triathlon things in my life, and I wasn’t looking forward to that. But this time around, it felt like it was time to face some of these things. It was, literally and figuratively, time to get my house in order. While I was out training for nine Ironmans, a few things fell by the wayside and slipped through the cracks. It was time to address them, or at least let them into my head and try to process some of those thoughts.

In that way, this off-season has been hard not just from the standpoint of the “post race blues,” but the letting of things back into my head that I have shoved deep down for several years. It was time to face issues about whether I should be doing more with my career (yes), and think long and hard about whether I am doing the best job I can parenting my kids (probably not). I tried to expand my shrunken circle a bit and make time to see friends and do some non-training related activities with Mark (still working on that one as Mark doesn’t believe in an off-season). I cleaned out the closet, the storeroom, the kids’ rooms, and most of the drawers and cabinets in the house. I got rid of all of the junk.

I thought about whether there are more dreams to achieve in triathlon and whether I should l find something new to do with my time. I decided the answers to those questions were “yes” and “maybe.”

So, I head into 2015 with a slightly different perspective on things. Without the Kona qualifying goal, I can focus on what I really want from the sport and what fits into my life and our family. The old pressure has been lifted (I think), but new goals have been set, both inside and outside of sport.

Another development for 2015 that I’m excited to announce is that I will be racing on Team Coeur as an ambassador for Coeur Sports! I couldn’t be more excited to join this talented and inspiring group of women. When I thought about what I was missing in my tri life, I decided it was the camaraderie and support of other active women. In my day-to-day life, I don’t have too many friends who are involved in triathlon, although more are giving it a go, which is fun to see. I also train by myself about 90% of the time. Those factors make life kind of lonely sometimes, and I decided that this year, I wanted to be part of a community. I had a pretty good idea I would find this family as a member of Team Coeur, a company that seems to be much more interested in growing the sport and encouraging women’s participation in sport than just making stylish clothes. When I read Coeur’s blog, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what they had to say about the hot issues in the tri world right now, and I loved the way the team members all supported each other’s racing. I’m also impressed by the quality of the clothes, which are all designed and made in the USA.

logo

I am also back for another season as a Nuun Ambassador, which is lucky because I drink so.much.Nuun.

Many thanks to Kompetitive Edge for seeing me through three seasons and helping me develop from a newbie to a more seasoned racer. I’ll always be grateful for the support I received from Jared, Ryan, Brandon, Drew and Rich. Always support your local tri shop, folks!

I hope everyone who is taking an off-season enjoys it as much as I have and arrives in 2015 fully recharged and ready to rock. That is what I am hoping for myself. Have a great holiday season!

Ironman World Championship Race Report

There are two types of athletes in Kona: those going for a certain time or age group placement and…everyone else. I’m in the second group. Because I know that I can’t be competitive at the World Championship, I came up with some different goals for the day. I wanted to beat my splits from 2011, which, when I qualified for this event back in August seemed like a given. I also wanted to finish in the daylight, which would have required an 11:06 finish. More than those goals, what I wanted most was to take in the experience and treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime event in case I never found my way back. I wanted to enjoy the views on the bike course, stop and take a picture with my family on the run course, and go back to the finish line for the midnight finish. Some of those goals were accomplished and some weren’t.

While I would like to just talk about the run, since it’s the only part of the day I really excelled at and it contains my happiest memories, triathlon is comprised of three sports, and the run was preceded by a swim and a very long bike.

The Swim 

Once everything was situated, I headed over to the start right near the arch to wait for the age group men to start their race. I saw friend and occasional training partner Michelle Yost a few times that morning and we found ourselves together again waiting to enter to water. We reminded ourselves that even though it was going to be hard, the hard conditions affect everyone, and lots of people would love have the chance to experience what we knew was going to be a hard day in Kona. You know how on tv when they show the athletes before the start and everyone looks very somber? It’s like that in real life. There isn’t much joking around before the Kona swim.

Waiting to enter the water is the worst part for me, but once we entered, I was calm. I swam over the the left side (which is the outside), near the TYR floaty thing and a few rows back. The gun went off and we got moving. Although I had people all around, we seemed to all be swimming around the same pace and I was pretty comfortable right from the beginning. One of the things I usually dislike about open water swimming is that I feel like I have to interrupt my stroke to sight a lot, but in Kona, the water is so clear that it’s much easier to see feet, so I only sighted a few times throughout the swim and that was mostly just to see how far away I was from the turn and the finish.

The water was a little choppy, but it didn’t feel harder than when I raced in 2011, and I actually thought I was having a really strong swim. I was on feet the entire time and even managed to get around people and find new, faster feet on several occassions. After the turn, I started passing some of the slower men who had started 10 minutes before the women. The swim seemed to take forever, but that’s always the case for me. Eventually I reached the stairs and saw the clock at the exit. It was close to 1:30, and I was shocked. In 2011 I had swam 1:26 and I never dreamed I would be slower than that this year since I have so much more experience and am a much better swimmer now.

Obligatory swim exit pic

Obligatory swim exit pic

I got my bag and ran into the change tent where my awesome volunteer assured me the swim was slow this year and “everyone is unhappy with their time.” That made me feel better and I decided to try to let it go, although I spent some mental energy on the bike wondering if the clock at the finish was still set to the pro time and I had actually swam really well. It wasn’t and I didn’t.

Swim Time: 1:28

The Bike

Here’s the part I wish I could tell differently. I wish I could give some explanation for why I it took me close to 7 hours to ride the bike course in Kona, but the truth is, that’s just how long it took. In all of my thoughts prior to this race, it never occurred to me that I might spend almost 7 hours on the bike. The thought never entered my mind. In 2011, I rode 6:25 and I am a much better rider now. Yes, it was very windy on race day and I am particularly terrible in the wind, but the wind affected everyone and it did not take everyone 7 hours to finish the bike. I am half-expecting to get my bike back from Tribike Transport and find the rear brake rubbing the way it was for Boulder 70.3, but it seems more likely that a challenging day like the one we had on race day cracks open my weakness on the bike much more than a calm day. Lots of room for improvement here, obviously.

Back to the race itself…

Things were pretty much clicking along as planned, but then around the time we passed Waikoloa, the wind turned on as if someone had flipped a switch. All of the sudden, we were riding into the wind much, much earlier than I had planned. Near the left turn to Kawaihae, a woman rode up next to me and we exchanged sympathies about the wind. Then she said, “I hope we make the bike cutoff.” I was immediately alarmed. I didn’t even know what the bike cutoff was, and didn’t think we would miss it even with a 7-hour bike split, but her comment got in my head and threw me off for a while.

0813_051643

Cringe-worthy, but I like the backdrop!

The bike is usually a total blur for me, but one moment that stands out is when I was descending from Hawi (on the bullhorns, of course) and I passed Maria Simone, another one of Vince’s athletes, who was racing her first Kona. I had the pleasure of spending time with Maria and her husband John, who was also racing, at the Slowtwitch party earlier in the week and I felt like we all hit it off. By the time I was headed back from Hawi, the majority of the field was already well on their way to T2 or even out on the run course, so it was a bit desolate. I realized I was primarily riding near the older athletes in the field, which was inspirational to witness, but at the same time made me feel bad that I was so far back. Seeing Maria twice on the bike and exchanging a few words gave me a much-needed lift.

Maria, John and I at the Slowtwitch party

Me, John and Maria at the Slowtwitch party

A final word about Hawi. Even though this part of the course lived up to its legendary reputation for windy conditions on race day, I think it’s the most beautiful part of the bike because of the great ocean views. Even though I was struggling a bit mentally and physically at this point (I had thought about dropping out of the race in Hawi because the bike was so hard for me), I tried to look at the ocean and remember that I was lucky enough to have the chance to race in paradise and, oh yeah, I was supposed to be having fun!

Having fun (sort of)

Having fun (sort of)

Bike Time: 6:57

T2: 

When I finally arrived at T2, I told my bike catcher that it was one of the happiest moments of my life and that is pretty much true. For the first time in 9 Ironmans, I had decided to put a full change of clothes into my T2 bag. While packing my gear, Mark had said “what would you wear if you were running a marathon?” So, rather than face 26.2 miles in my soggy tri kit, I put on a new top, running shorts and I was off and running.

The Run

Although it was not part of the plan to be on the bike for as long as I was, I had planned to bike a little more conservatively in order to set myself up for a fast run. I thought I could run around the same time I had run in Boulder and maybe even a little better. I hit mile 1 in 7:22, but shortly after I settled into a 7:30 pace, which I held all the way up and back on Ali’i.

You have to understand how strange this was for where I was at in the race. No one around me was running this fast and the spectators were cheering me on like crazy. The louder they yelled, the faster I ran, and the more the momentum built. I no longer cared that I had swam almost 1:30 and biked almost 7. I decided I was going to be the first person in the history of Kona to put together a 7-hour bike and a 3:30 run. I have no idea if that is actually true, but it was all I had left to salvage my pride in the race and I was determined to go after it. The miles clicked off and I ran through the aid stations like I was running a stand-alone marathon. The great part about it being late in the day is that it was no longer hot. There was cloud cover and a light rain.

Having actual fun

Having actual fun

I knew my family would be at the 5 mile mark and shortly before the turn, I spotted Mark and Jack on the side of the road. They didn’t know what shape they were going to find me in at that point or what had been going on, so they didn’t say much as they tried to assess how I was doing. Further up the road, I saw my sister with Kendall and I stopped for a moment to say hi and get that picture I had promised myself.

After the race, my sister told me that they debated for a long time what to say when I finally reached the turn around on Ali’i, knowing that I was probably not having my best day. They decided on “You’re doing it!” which became our slogan for the rest of the vacation.

Mile 5 with Kendall

Mile 5 with Kendall

I ran back through town, lifted by the crowds. I charged up Palani and Mark was at the top, having made it just in time to see me again before I headed out on the Queen K. I think he was sort of shocked at how well I was holding it together and, frankly, I was, too. Anything can happen in the Ironman run, but I was feeling good and going for it.

0813_062869

The Energy Lab, hyped so much on TV as being so hard, is one of my favorite parts of the run course. By the time I got there, the sun was setting and a volunteer handed me a glowstick. There was a helicopter hovering overhead shooting the sunset. One of the aid stations had my favorite Ironman run snack, green grapes, and I grabbed a whole bunch and ran along like that, glowstick in one hand (it was annoying around my neck so I just carried it), grapes in the other, enjoying the view. Just before the exit to the Energy Lab, the Newton run screen played the video Kendall and Mark had made for me at the Expo and I laughed and cried at the same time.

Back out on the Queen K, it started to get dark. I had some company for a few miles as a guy and I matched strides for a while until he pulled ahead, the only athlete to pass me on the run. When I look back on this race, one of the images that will stay with me forever is charging up the Queen K in the dark, with no one to chase or run with, not gunning for a slot, or a time or a podium position, but just running hard because it felt like all I really had on the day.

As I rounded the corner back out onto Palini and down the hill, I chucked my glowstick at the final aid station and started kicking towards the finish. I ran along the right side of the road, high fiving everyone in sight to share and celebrate the moment.

This is actually from midnight finish, but it was the same view for me

This photo is from midnight finish, but it was the same view for me

I turned right on Ali’i and tried to take it in. I heard my family shouting and I peeked behind to make sure no one was right behind me. Then I attempted a finish line jump, which didn’t come out that great, but is still sort of funny.

Run Time: 3:32

Final time: 12:08

Not that it matters, but I feel compelled to mention the time on the clock is from the men's start

As I said on Facebook, I may be back again and I may not, but I have no regrets about the race. O.k. That’s baloney. I actually wish I had biked better, but hindsight is 20/20 and if I had to choose between a 6:30 bike and a 3:30 run, I would take the 3:30 run any day. Although I would like to think I am better than the time on the clock at the finish, that was as good as I was on the day. Sure, I dream of going back and finally getting my daylight finish, but I also realize that there may be other things out there for me, other dreams that need fulfilling.

To the friends back home, the new friends I met in Kona, and the friends who follow online, thank you for your unwavering support and encouragement. Everyone who does this sport is an inspiration to me, whether you are an age group champion or a midnight finisher. Thanks also to my coach, Vince Matteo, for helping me get here to begin with. And last but not least, a huge thanks to my family, for always believing in and supporting me. None of this would be worth it to me if they were not right by my side.

IMG_8855

What I’m Bringing to Kona

I leave for the Big Island in three days and although I haven’t packed yet, I have a good idea of what I’m bringing along. As I get my gear organized (in carry on luggage only!), I thought I would share the essentials on my packing list for the Ironman World Championships and my Hawaiian vacation afterwards:

My bike! I ride a Quintana Roo Illicito with a Zipp 404/808 wheelset with powertap. I don’t have to pack this item because it is already on its way to the Big Island with TriBike Transport. TriBike Transport is a large expense, but it was worth it for this race because I am traveling out a few days ahead of my bike mechanic husband and our travel arrangements are complicated, involving two flights per leg and an overnight in Los Angeles on the way back. When I factored in the bike fees for my separate flights, it wasn’t much more to use TriBike Transport and, best of all, it is hassle free! Huge thanks to my shop, KompetitiveEdge, for getting it tuned and race-ready.

IMG_8102

My road helmet: I am not going for podium spot or placement in Kona. Instead, I am trying to set myself up to run well. After some internal debate, I decided I might improve my odds of making that happen if I can stay cool on the bike. If it is good enough for past world champions (Crowie, Chrissy), it is good enough for me.

(imagine a pic here of an LG road helmet. I’m too lazy to walk down to the garage to grab it and take a pic)

Lots of Nuun: I’m a Nuun Ambassador, but I would drink it even if I wasn’t because I love turning a plain, ol’ glass of water into a tasty serving of electrolytes with no added sugar or calories. I’ll drink a lot of Nuun on my long flight to Hawaii and I’ll drink it daily once I get there to make sure I am fully hydrated and my electrolytes are topped off.

IMG_8713

Race nutrition: I use several products on the bike. Osmo in my bottles and Picky Bars, Honey Stinger chews, and Bonk Breakers to eat. I know it seems like a lot of different products, but I find I can take in more calories if I mix it up a little instead of sticking to one thing. Luckily, Bonk Breakers are also served on the course, so I don’t have to worry about running out of my preferred fuel.

IMG_8710

Loads of electronics: My birthday is about one week after we return from Hawaii, but I received an early birthday present from my family – a new MacBook Air! I love my old 2008 MacBook, but the battery is shot and I can’t use it to watch movies on the plane because the battery dies after about an hour. I am excited to bring my new MacBook Air instead. I am also bringing my nice SLR camera, which I almost never use because it is heavy, but it takes awesome pics, and my Kindle, which I cannot live without.

IMG_8709

Planet Sun sunscreen: I burn easily and have a family history of melanoma. The last time I raced in Kona, I had the outline of my tri kit on my back for the entire winter. Several people turned me on to Planet Sun and I have been using it successfully with no burns for my long training days and races. Since I am packing entirely in carry on luggage, I bought several travel sizes to take with so I don’t have to hunt for Planet Sun once I get to Kona.

Does your sunscreen company send you personalized notes?

Does your sunscreen company send you personalized notes?

Oakley sunnies: aviators for hanging out, Commit for racing, and Miss Conduct when I am feeling sassy.

IMG_8708

Betty Design bikinis: I am not a SoCal surfer girl, but wearing Betty Designs makes me feel like I am! I always get tons of compliments on the skulls.

IMG_8712

My trucker hat collection: yes, I am on the trucker hat bandwagon, although I will probably race in a visor instead. I like to think I look like my tri-crush Bree Wee in a trucker, but in reality, I think I look more like Mike Myers in Wayne’s World. That doesn’t stop me though.

kua 056

mike-meyers-waynes-world-watn-red-carpet-movie-photo-GC

Family cheer shirts: last time I raced in Kona, I made the kids custom shirts, so naturally, they wanted shirts this year, too. I ordered from Custom Ink for the first time and I would not hesitate to use this company again. Very easy to create your design and great customer service. The only glitch was they would not let me print the word “Ironman” on my shirts because of trademark issues. I decided that we all know what “Kona” means in the triathlon world and “Hawaii 140.6 triathlon” sounded too silly.

IMG_8711

I look forward to getting all of this stuff in my suitcase, getting over to Big Island, and letting the fun begin!

Ironman Boulder Race Report

With a little extra time on my hands this week, I thought I would tell more about how race day unfolded. I find the usual race reports a little dull and prefer to tell stories about things that happened on the course. So, if you came by looking for all of the info such as the details of my pre-race routine – what time we got to the High School, how much I ate, how long the lines were at the porta potties – you are probably going to be a little disappointed. Sorry!

Swim – Time 1:13 (I always scroll down immediately to read someone’s time, so I will save you the trouble)

I don’t have much explanation for how I shaved 3 minutes off my Ironman PR and swam better than anyone expected. I can tell you that I have continued to work in the pool, went to long course masters a few times, and did a practice 2-mile race in the Rez two weeks before the race. Beyond that, I am as mystified and amazed as anyone else.

I was unsure what the swim would be like with the new rolling start procedure. It ended up feeling like a normal day at a 70.3 as far as the congestion in the water, without the added element of swimming over the slower swimmers or getting swum over by the faster people. I’m a fan. I can also tell you that I pretty much stuck to the buoy line, tried to draft when possible, and swam in a full-sleeved wetsuit.

Bike – Time 5:40

Out on the bike, I immediately noticed my heart rate was sky high. Scary high. I ignored it and assumed it would calm down within 20-30 min, but it took a full 90 minutes at least for me to see a heart rate that seemed more normal for me for Ironman. I’m not sure what the story was with the high heart rate other than the adrenaline of the day, and possibly the fact that I may have taken it out a little bit hot. I didn’t know my swim time since I don’t wear a watch in the water, but I realized fairly quickly that it was probably pretty decent (for me) since I was getting passed on the bike by people who I assumed were much better swimmers.

Lots of people went by me in the first half. It felt like the whole race was passing me by – mostly dudes – but quite a few of them came back to me after mile 80 or so.

I had a mental shift from “just doing my thing” to “hey, I might actually do something here today” around mile 60. That’s when I saw Sonja on the side of the road cheering and she told me that I had been 12th out of the water and was making up ground quickly. I felt great at that point, so I got to work riding hard.

Happy to see Sonja at mile 60

Happy to see Sonja at mile 60 – photo courtesy of Sonja Wieck

The rest of the ride was uneventful until I arrived at T2. I knew from watching the awesome pre-race videos from the Race Director that the dismount line was on the east side of the high school, but we were supposed to run with our bikes along the back of the school, across a bridge, and onto the track where the T2 bags were located. Honestly, not the greatest set-up I have seen. I have never tried to master mounting and dismounting with my shoes clipped in, so my only options were to run in my bike shoes, or stop, take them off and run in my socks. I went with option two and ran to the track in my socks with shoes in one hand and bike in the other. I didn’t have issues with burning my feet on the track while getting my T2 bag, but apparently a lot of other people did. I’m confident they will come up with a fix for that next year.

Run – Time 3:41

One of my big goals in Ironman is to run a 3:30 marathon, something I fully believe I am capable of. I thought I had a great shot in Boulder because of the flatter bike and run, but I was only about 5 or 6 miles into the run when I realized a 3:30 was probably not in the cards for me. It was in the mid-80s by that time, and the run course – which is 100% on bike paths – didn’t have many flat spots. Having biked harder than I had planned on, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to hold myself together and was legitimately concerned things might turn south at any given moment. On the other hand, I feel like I don’t have a ton of talents in this world, but running well off the bike, in the heat, is one of them.

My bike nutrition plan is pretty specific, but my run nutrition is much less so. I can run a stand-alone marathon on just 1 gel – but at some point on the first lap, I realized I was going to need some calories and started considering what to eat. Nothing seemed appealing. My stomach felt ok, but it was one of those times when I felt like the slightest wrong move could cause me big problems. I settled on orange slices, water, and an occasional handful of grapes. I tried to hold off on Coke as long as possible because I worried about energy highs and lows, but I was already into the Coke by the halfway point.

Lap 1 is when I realized I had not done a perfect job with my course recon and had failed to preview the biggest hill on the course, an overpass on Pearl Parkway on the northeast side. This was an out-and-back section, so we were treated to that hill 4 times with the fourth time occurring after mile 20. Pro triathlete Tim Don was on the side of the path cheering on this side of the course, and I remember thinking it was funny that Tim Don was cheering for me instead of the other way around. I tried to think of something clever to say to him when we headed back. I ended up yelling something that I am too embarrassed to repeat here, but which made him laugh, so that was a fun moment. Sadly, he was gone by lap 2.

Lap 1 was harder than lap 2. There was still so much running to do and I honestly wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out. I was holding a solid pace, but it was definitely hard and I was having to use all of my mental tricks to make it through. In the run, I try to give myself a lot of positive self-talk, and toward the end of lap 1, when I was feeling hot and struggling a bit, a thought popped into my head – “it was hot like this in Cozumel and you ran well.” Yes! It was true. Cozumel remains my fastest IM run and it was a hot race. That thought sustained me for a while. I knew from Sonja that I was in 8th place out of T2, but at this point in the race, people’s body marking had worn off, and I didn’t know what was what.

Around mile 16, Sonja was right about where she had been on lap 1 and she gave me the low-down: “Jen, you are in 4th place and 3rd is about 90 seconds up. You are running 30 seconds faster per mile. Go get her!”  She told me who I was looking for, and not long after, I made the pass and knew it would be for good. Now I was in 3rd place(!), but still doing damage-control by walking all of the aid stations and I still had to get up and over the Big Hill two more times. Luckily, that all went pretty well, and by the time I passed back through town again, I was just hoping the race would end soon and I could stop running.

0770_067655

Doing the hard work with my race face on

If you were out there and cheered for me, I apologize if I didn’t acknowledge you. I tried to wave to friends and acknowledge some cheers with a point or a head-nod, but this was hard work for me and I had to to focus exclusively on the task at hand. I wish I was happy-race-face girl, but that’s just not me.

I had seen Mark on all of the out-and-backs. He was ahead, but not by a lot. Back through town the second time, Sonja told me he was just up ahead, and I knew I would catch him. Some people have asked if he was mad or if he cared that I beat him and I want to clarify that the answer to both is NO. Even though I used to think he was sometimes competing with me and used to feel like we were racing each other in workouts, I realized this summer that he doesn’t care if he is ahead of me or not, so I started not caring either. He is 100% supportive of me and understands the goals I have, although it may bug him a tiny bit that I don’t have to work quite as hard at it as he does. I have said many times that if you were to combine Mark’s work ethic with my ability, you would have one kick-ass athlete. My success in Boulder was his success too, and we were thrilled to be at the finish at almost the exact same time to celebrate together. Also, he let me ride our new 404/808 Zipps with power tap, and if that is not a selfless act of love, I’m not sure what is.

That said, no, it did not occur to me to slow down to run in the last 1.5 miles with Mark. I am always trying to run one of the fastest run splits of the day, and I was trying to do that in Boulder. On Pearl Street with the finish line in sight, I considered whether I might pull off an amazing finish line jump, which I don’t usually do, but it looks really good in photos. I couldn’t do it. The best I could do was smile, wave my arms like a lunatic, and high five a few strangers.

Time: 10:43:33 – 3rd AG; 12th OA (PR)

0770_073345

My finish line catcher served her purpose and dragged me away from the line as I kept repeating that I just needed to sit down. The finish area was pretty empty and they let me sit there and wait for Mark. The photo we took at the backdrop in the chute was not cute, but we had Ryan of Kompetitive Edge take this one later.

Mark's shirt was a crowd-pleaser

Mark’s shirt was a crowd-pleaser

I need to say a few more words about Sonja and what she did for me last Sunday. When Sonja first starting coaching in 2011, I was one of her first athletes. When we parted ways in 2012 (I may also be the first person she fired), she told me she would always have my back and support me, even if she wasn’t my coach. True to her word, we have remained friends and occassionally train together. When I have something hard on the schedule that I really want to nail, I know I can call her up and she will try to be there for me if she can. She had five athletes she was supporting in Boulder, so I did not assume she would be focusing on me, but I sort of knew in the back of my head that if I was lucky enough to be “hunting” on the run, she would probably help me out by giving me placement info. It’s possible I might have executed the same race without all of the info Sonja provided, but there is no doubt having her there was a huge help. I am extremely grateful for her support on race day and all of the companionship leading up to it. Hopefully I can repay the favor some day.

A last thanks goes to the littles. At the risk of sounding in my last post like I was some sort of supermom whose kids didn’t even notice her training all summer, please know that my kids spent quite a few hours sitting on the pool deck, entertaining themselves while I rode the trainer, and even accompanying me on some brick runs (after a bit of begging on my part).

Ironman is our lifestyle and it is pretty much all they know, but I am grateful to have the support of the kids in the long months leading up to a big race. I can’t wait to make more memories in Hawaii with these two.

IMG_3824

 

How I got myself back to Kona

I had a post all tee’d up in my head last week that I was going to put up in advance of Ironman Boulder. It was going to be titled “Confessions of a (former) Kona Slot Chaser.” I was going to talk about how I had finally moved on from slot-chasing and in doing so, had actually found more happiness in the sport than I had in years. I assume that most of you reading are friends of mine in real life and know my “story,” but in case anyone is new, I will give you a quick recap:

I started doing tris in 2010 and Ironman Coeur d’Alene that year was the second tri I had ever done. I love the marathon and I knew that my place in tri was in Ironman. After two Ironmans in 2010, I qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona at Ironman Canada in 2011. There were 75 qualifying slots at that race and it was my first year in W40-44. We had 4 slots and an additional slot because Sister Madonna started but DNF’d. Incredibly, the slots rolled to 9th, which was me.

When I arrived in Kona 6 weeks later, I had convinced myself that I didn’t really belong. Back then, you could still pull up the Kona qualifiers in the results, and I think I had the slowest qualifying time from Canada, except for a few 65+ men and women. I spent the week worrying about feeling out of place and not enjoying the excitement because I was scared, intimidated and embarrassed. Not surprisingly, I had a terrible day on the course – maybe my worst performance from a mental standpoint. I started the swim in the back and too far wide (scared), never got it together on the bike course, and started crying to my family at mile 5 of the run that it was too hard and I couldn’t do it. I yelled at my husband late on the run course when he was trying to motivate me to finish in sub-12 . He got frustrated with me at the finish and we left the whole scene in a huff. I spent the rest of the vacation stewing about how terribly I had performed, beating myself up mentally for days.

I knew how to erase the bad memories from 2011. I would re-qualify (ideally without a rolldown) and I would have one giant do-over in Kona. It would all be different the next time around. I would enjoy the pre-race activities and excitement instead of hiding from them, and I would be a different person in Kailua Bay and out on the Queen K. I would prove to myself that I was a good triathlete, a feeling that had always eluded me. People close to me told me that I should be happy with myself and my accomplishments and I knew they were right, but I never felt it. I decided another Kona slot would change everything for me.

I got down to the business of re-qualifying. I jumped into the field at Ironman St George in 2012 without having trained for that event. Everyone knows how that went (terrible). My next Ironman was IMAZ in 2012 and I had a breakthrough day, achieving a new PR and finishing just off the podium in 6th, my highest placement to date. After that, I set my sights on Whistler. To drum up support for the inaugural race, WTC allocated 100 Kona slots to Whistler. I figured all I had to do was finish 6th and I would be Kona bound. Whistler ended up being much harder than I anticipated and I got out biked by a lot and couldn’t make up the time in the run. I was 10th and devastated. It felt like my last chance at Kona and I had blown it. I talked a lot about quitting the sport and returning to something that I was good at and made me feel good about myself (running), but in the back of my head, I knew I could be better than I had been in Canada and I wanted to give it one more shot.

After Whistler, I started working with a new coach, Vince Matteo, who I met through twitter (@felog). Vince is very data driven and analytical, which I liked because I am not those things. I had been using a power meter since 2011, but I didn’t really understand it and didn’t feel like it had helped my cycling in the way everyone claims it does. Vince was all about the power meter. He also didn’t mind that I wanted to do most of my bike training indoors on the trainer.

I was going to target Arizona, where I had had my best performance. But on the day of registration, I fumbled with my Active login for about 30 seconds and by the time I got onto the registration page, registration was already full. I didn’t have a backup plan. Cabo seemed too early in the year. The swim at CdA still scared me. My ideal criteria was a wetsuit-legal swim, flattish bike, and warm weather. It hit me like an epiphany…Boulder!  Mark was already registered and I had originally resisted signing up because it’s hard when we both do the same race and I had vowed I wouldn’t do any more summer races because it was a challenge to train with the kids out of school. But the more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. I could train on the course and train with other friends who were doing the race. We wouldn’t have to travel. I didn’t think I could be competitive in Boulder, so I set other goals. I wanted to be a better swimmer and biker. I wanted to run a 3:30 marathon. Those were my goals – to just be better.

Winter rolled around and I put in a lot of long hours on the trainer. By spring, I had already done more long runs than I usually did in an entire Ironman build. My mindset had shifted from being completely results oriented (Kona, podium) to just focusing on my performance. Vince and I never talked about Kona. He knew that I dreamed of going back and having one more chance there, but it was never discussed. The closest we came to talking about it was in a phone conversation in late spring. I think I had been missing workouts and moving things around on the schedule like I typically do, and he said something like, “I know what it takes to achieve the goals you have and you are not really doing that work right now.”  He was right. I was not 100% committed and it showed.

Sometimes (a lot of times) I would tell Mark I wasn’t going to do the race. I didn’t feel like I was going to be good and didn’t want to try. Mark always gives it to me straight, and he said it was ridiculous to put in all of the time I had over the winter just to quit in summer when the weather was finally getting nice. He told me that I could be good, I had talent, but I was wasting it by not fully committing. In March, they announced a change in Chicago Marathon registration and I had an automatic qualifying time. My sister and I made plans to do the race. Chicago falls on the same weekend as Kona. I decided that I was moving on and made plans for the fall that did not include Hawaii or triathlon. It was a small thing, but making that plan to do Chicago gave me a lot of peace of mind.

Just at the point in the year when I usually fall apart with the kids out of school and no set schedule, I pulled myself together. Very much a night owl, I forced myself to do some training in the early morning so that it had less of an impact on my family. I asked for help with the kids from sitters and friends so I didn’t miss important workouts. I stopped drinking alcohol almost entirely because I wanted to nail my workouts every single day.

All of those small choices added up, and by last weekend, I was ready. I wanted it to be hot, and it was. I wanted to wear a wetsuit in the swim, and I did (after a scare the week prior). I hoped the bike course wouldn’t be too windy, and it was a very calm day.

I had some time and data goals for Sunday, but my biggest goal was to stay in the moment. I would not allow myself to think about the other girls or how I might finish. I would only focus on the work that needed to be done at that exact moment. Even throughout the entire marathon, I did not allow myself to think about qualifying. I simply wanted to run the best I could and pass as many people as possible.

Here is the result:

IMG_8485

In some ways it was a complete surprise, but in other ways it wasn’t. I had trained to swim around 1:15, bike around 5:45, and run a sub 3:40. Those were almost my exact splits (1:13/5:40/3:41). I focused on myself and my own performance and the results happened, just like some wise people had always told me they would.