Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Weymouth Race Report

Weymouth is located in Dorcester County on the coast in the southwest of England. The course is both beautiful and challenging. I trained hard for this Ironman and was excited to race with some fast girls. A few days before the race I got sick with a fever, sore throat, congestion, blah blah - nothing good a few days before my big "A-race" of the year. I figured who knows, stay positive and anything is possible, maybe a bit of "race-day-magic" would come through and I could still do well.

The sea had been calm leading into race day. On race morning the winds were whipping, there was a strong current, and waves were breaking. Race organizers quickly changed the course (so waves wouldn't be breaking on top of athletes during the entire swim) and shortened the course for the full.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
The swim was a bit crazy, but so is Ironman and I rather enjoyed it. Swim out through multiple breakers, swim across to another yellow buoy (once you could actually locate it between waves), swim into shore, run across the beach back to the start and repeat. I came out of the water 4th female after 36 minutes.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
Onto the bike I was happy to be right in the mix of the girls, only to find very quickly I could not go with any of them. I hoped perhaps my legs just needed a few minutes to warm up.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
This photo isn't me - but it shows the climb about 10 miles into the ride where I discovered I was in for a very, very, VERY long day of racing. It was about this point in the race where I knew my sickness was not gone, and it was in fact making me feel absolutely horrible.

My Godson Alex - cheering for me. Or playing with a leaf.
I passed my small crew of supporters (thank you ADC, Alex, Rosa & Marena!!) around mile 30 while contemplating if I should just pull out after the first lap of the bike. Except I'm stubborn and I didn't think I was making myself more sick because I was riding so slowly, so I did another loop. 

On the bike the single thing that kept me going several times were my host's neighbors - they knew nothing about triathlon until a random girl from America showed up next door. During my very long 5 hours and 38 minutes out on the bike course, I must have seen these neighbors 15 times. They were in their car cheering for me, I would come around a corner and there they were, smiling, cheering, asking how I felt. It was quite possibly one of the nicest and most fun parts of the ride for me.

I tried to wrap my head around running a marathon and couldn't, so I convinced myself to run a single loop - just to "experience" the course. I'll be honest - I had multiple thoughts of pulling out completely so I could save my legs for another race. But Weymouth was the race I was most excited about this season, and I wanted to finish what I started - even if at this point I was more of a "participant" than a competitor who was in the mix of the pro race.

Photo: Gordon Spencer
I ran one loop. I drank a lot of Coke. I high-fived the little kids. And then I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I cried part way through the third loop because I really didn't want to be "yogging" and I was mad about my untimeliness of getting sick. But then I told myself to get over it because as Jesse V told me during IM Wisconsin on a day when I had a fantastic race and he didn't, "It is a lovely day for a run." And it was.

Photo: Rosa Goddard
I did in fact finish the day after running for 3:25 (the course was a bit short) and 9:46 after it all began, 6th place pro female. I was happy I could finish, and even happier to be greeted by friends when done.

Next up I'm finishing the season with back-to-back halves, Superfrog Sept 28 and Challenge Rancho Cordova Oct 5.

Rosa & David – You were AMAZING hosts - thank you for great company, meals and friendship. 
Zoot - fast shoes, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - my other great job.
Profile Design - fast TwentyFour wheels, aero bars and hydration. I love the Aero HC system.
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - my local (but they sell all over the world!) bike shop with all things racing/training.
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race, recover and repeat!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.
Kenda Tires - great tires for fast racing and less punctures.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why do we Race?

The answer to this question has changed over the years for me. In the beginning I wanted to see how fast I could go. I wanted to prove I belonged in the pro ranks, and I wanted (maybe needed at times) to believe I was good enough. At anything - sport, life, gritty downright hard work.

I honestly feel I have grown up in the sport of triathlon. I learned to believe in myself. I survived getting divorced and feeling simultaneously completely alone and surrounded by some of the most amazing friends that I made through sport. During some tough times I raced because it was the only thing I felt I was good at. Riding my bike or running was the only thing that made me smile for a while.

Through racing I've learned we are all WAY stronger than we think. Today I race for different reasons that I did five years ago when I first turned pro. I race because I love the thrill of putting myself on the edge, at the limit, and seeing how long I can hold it there before the wheels fall off. I want to win. But I also know racing is about way more than winning. It's about the people we meet along the way, the long days spent with friends on the bike as we solve the world's problems, and being satisfied at the end of the day that we gave our best effort. Racing brings a lot of crazy and wonderful people together and I love that about triathlon. Whether I'm racing in my back yard or halfway around the world, without fail post-race I will be able to find someone to laugh with me about our own personal race day spots-of-bother stories.

Sunday will be my 18th Ironman. I am racing to win. But I'm also racing to enjoy an entire day that celebrates the culmination of a ton of hard training. I know I will want the pain to subside and the day to go quickly, but at the same time I want to savor every minute of it - because it is not every day I get the opportunity to race in a foreign country.

My family will be celebrating my grandma's 100th birthday in the states while I race around Weymouth - this one's for you Grandma! Thank you for showing me that being stubborn and incredibly independent isn't always a bad thing. You inspire me more than you will probably ever realize.
Happy 100th Grandma!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Weymouth is a quaint, old town on the sea where I will race in Sunday's Challenge Weymouth. I love how old the buildings are. All of these photos were taken on the run course.

The really huge, old boat is my favorite.
Coffee #1 makes a fantastic flat white. And Welsh Cakes!

Alan is the Challenge Weymouth race director. He took me out for a swim yesterday and promised the water was warm and I didn't need a wetsuit for our short 30 minute jaunt. My advice: If you're from California the water is (not!) warm for 5 minutes (but it is bearable), then it's freezing and you will spend the next hour shivering! Alan is also used to cold water - he's attempted the English Channel crossing (open water swim rules won't allow use of a wetsuit!) and made it within four miles of France. He's attempting it again next summer. I think this is awesome. I will be cheering Alan from the warmth of my hooded sweatshirt on dry land!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Innsbruck Austria

While I was in Austria my Dad and I visited Innsbruck one afternoon. He had traveled there in college to ski what at the time he thought was an incredibly steep mountain. He wanted to return and see if it really was as steep as he remembered. It was.

Cograil we took up mountain.

Lots of mountain biking trails.
Amazing views from the top!
It was steep.
On the top.
This is where my dad skied.
It was a great day on top of a mountain with my Dad.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Challenge Walchsee Race Report

Walchsee is an amazing race location - nestled between some steep mountains in a lush green valley scattered with cows wearing large bells around their neck.

Race morning dawned cloudy with threatening rain. I was really hoping the rain might hold off until I got off the bike.

Photo: Triathlete Europe
I had a great swim, as I came out of the water 4th pro female (27:47) with Yvonne Van Vlerken on my heels. She later thanked me for helping her win, as I pulled her around the swim and kept her within two minutes of the leaders. I momentarily thought about donning arm warmers, but honestly I wasn't cold and wanted to get on with the race.

I got onto the bike right behind Yvonne and began my chase. I made it through about 3/4 of the first loop of the bike before the skies unleashed a massive downpour. Inches of rain were instantly on the ground everywhere - not just in puddles - it was as if we were riding through a lake.

Sorry for the hijacked photo - but I have no others that show the awesome down-pouring rain. My race fairly quickly turned from all-out racing, to more of a survival of trying to stay both upright and warm as the temperature fell. I was excited for each climb as I could work extra hard and try to get my body to stop shivering. I came off the bike in 6th (2:42).

Photo: Triathlete Europe
The run was a mix of feeling good in the middle of the four loops around the lake, and feeling as if my legs hated me. It was probably a combination of being cold on the bike, and some of my Ironman training that was still fairly big up until six days prior to race day. Whatever the case, I did not have a spectacular run. On the final lap I was passed by another pro girl and I had absolutely nothing to try to fight and go with her. I ran a 1:29 and finished 7th pro female in 4:42.

I would definitely classify Challenge Walchsee as one of the most scenic races I have ever raced. The area is spectacular.

Dad – what a fun trip! Thank you for coming to Austria with me and running all over the course to give me splits and cheer.
Zoot - fast shoes, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - my other great job.
Profile Design - fast TwentyFour wheels, aero bars and hydration. I love the Aero HC system, especially when it's pouring rain!
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - my local (but they sell all over the world!) bike shop with all things racing/training.
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race, recover and repeat!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.
Kenda Tires - great tires for fast racing and less punctures.

I am now in the UK training a bit before Challenge Weymouth.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walchsee Austria

When I race Internationally I really like setting up a 1/2 two weeks out from a full Ironman - better chance to pay for the trip, see more of the world, and set myself up for a great full distance race. I had never been to Austria before this week, and I've always wanted to race here. Enter Challenge Walchsee...

I think I fell into a storybook picturesque setting. The town is small, quaint and everything is beautiful, peaceful and quiet. I brought my Dad along for the Austria portion of my trip, as he assured me he is an expert at finding the best baked goods, and I just might need someone along to help me in this area. (We have had amazing apple strudel several times already.)

On the bike course.

More of the bike course.

Seriously - this makes you want to ride your bike, right?!?
Someone who is Austrian help me out here - what are the tall poles with ribbons hanging off them found in each town?

Three years ago I flew into Ireland and raced 3 days later. It worked then, so I am hoping for a great race tomorrow. If for some reason it doesn't go well, at least I have a ton of awesome Austrian scenery to look at all day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Race That Changed It All

Want to win a free entry to this year's Ironman Arizona? Check out Boa's contest here to enter!

Here's my story about the race that changed it all for me, and was probably the beginning of a journey that led to racing 5+ years as a professional triathlete.

My Dad got me into triathlon, and specifically Ironman distance racing. In 2006 we raced my first Ironman together in C'oeur d'Alene. I had a mediocre race and probably would have been happy to have been 1-and-done, but my Dad didn't have a good day and wanted to come back in 2007. Training together had been fun, so we signed up again.

My Dad and I were probably the only two people who had no clue Lake Coeur d'Alene is COLD in the summer and they actually make wetsuits with sleeves on them.

Race day was crazy windy and choppy. I started the swim and made it to the buoy in this picture, where I then held on for a solid 3 minutes and choked up half the lake. I eventually decided there was no future on the buoy and might as well get the stupid swim over with.

I biked for a long time, and spent much of the bike being happy I had actually survived the swim and happy I would not have to swim again for a very long time.

And then I ran a fairly solid marathon for me at that time.

And somehow I earned myself a slot to Kona. I knew enough to realize this was a big deal and I took that slot. And then I was a bit overwhelmed because I realized I had to train for another Ironman in a few months.

Post-race flight home with my parents.

I went to Kona and got hooked, eager to find out just how fast I could get if I worked hard at the sport. I honestly think if I had not earned that Kona slot on a windy June day in 2007 with my Dad, I probably would have moved on from triathlon to another sport and definitely would not have turned pro. It's been an amazing adventure, and very fun sharing it with my Dad.

Share your story about the Race that Changed it All for you and you could win a free entry to Ironman Arizona this fall!