Monday, March 23, 2015

Milford Sound

Although I didn't get to do the multiple day Milford Track hike into Milford Sound, I did get to enjoy the beauty of the actual sound. Here are a few of my favorites...









 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Glaciers, Waterfalls and More

It's fun to relive New Zealand as I go through my photos back at work. These were taken hiking near Franz Josef and Fox glaciers.











I loved this place - the stacked rocks were awesome.

Barnaby. My homestay's dog.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Zealand

Post race I wasted no time getting out and seeing the amazing country that is New Zealand. I stayed on the south island the entire time. I hiked a lot.


Ice bath. It was FREEZING!

I love the swinging bridges all over New Zealand.
Blue, blue water!

Tasman Sea



Hard to see - but the forest on the right is awesome.


I have a lot more photos I'll try to post in the next few weeks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Challenge Wanaka Race Report

I have learned that there will always be something that doesn't go right pre-race. Lately my "something" is getting sick. I need to figure out how to fly across the country without picking up a bug. Similar to Challenge Weymouth, I arrived in Wanaka and promptly got a fever/cough for 4 days. Pre-race I wavered between thinking I would get well and being certain there was no way I'd even start the race. By Saturday my fever finally went away and I figured I would give the race a shot.

Race morning was calm (trust me, this is not always the case in Wanaka!) and I was happy to get in a short warm up in my Zoot wetsuit.

Pro swim start.
I managed to find some feet and decided they were a good place to stay. On the second lap the feet I was on lost the feet in front of them and surprisingly I was able to swim around and jump on the next person's feet. I guess my nine years of swimming masters has finally made me a not-so-horrible swimmer! Other than being blinded by the sun near the exit and swimming some zig-zags, then finally asking a kayaker where I needed to swim, I was quite happy to exit the water in 59 minutes.

The Challenge Wanaka bike course is constantly up and down. From the start I didn't feel good and figured I just needed to be patient. At mile 30 I realized it was going to be a long day touring Wanaka by bike, as it felt like I was at mile 70 already. And touring was exactly what I was doing - I was going backwards and "racing" was happening ahead of me. My bad patch on the bike lasted from about mile 2-90. When I completed the first loop it took all my willpower not to pull into transition and call it a day. I felt awful. Probably the only reason I didn't quit was because I had been so very excited about the run course. Pre-race I had only seen a small section of the single-track trails and it looked fun. I figured I didn't fly all the way to New Zealand to not even get to experience the Challenge Wanaka run! I came off the bike in 10th after a long 5:45 (thankfully scenic!) time spent on the bike.

Pretty quickly into the run I felt good. The trails were amazing and I was in my element. If I could only always race hilly trail courses I would. I wish I had photos from the single-track trail that runs through the trees and along the river. It's gorgeous. Somewhere in this section I was sure I was running too fast, but I didn't care. I had just spent a miserable amount of time on my bike and I was in the last paying pro place, so had absolutely nothing to lose. Plus I was having fun running fast.

The marathon seemed to go by quickly and before I knew it I was starting my second loop. I was scared of bonking so at each aid station I stopped for two cups of Coke. I figured it would be sad to run my way back through the field only to implode due to calorie deficit late in the race. I never did run out of energy and thankfully felt strong even in the later stages of the run.

This is the moment in the finish chute when I learned I was in 5th place. I had no idea what place I was in, but hearing I was 5th made me very happy.

I ran a 3:28 to finish 5th in 10:18.

The day ended nothing how I thought it would, in a good way of course. Challenge Wanaka is probably the most scenic ironman distance race I've ever done. It's not a fast course, but it is amazingly beautiful.

A big THANK YOU:
Sue & Chris – You were AMAZING hosts - thank you for great meals and friendship! 
Zoot - fast Alii 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.

Next up is Wildflower.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wanaka

I tend to make "life" lists. Challenge Wanaka has been on mine since I can remember. I am incredibly excited to be in New Zealand, and race Sunday.


Katya & I doing some bike recon...
On the bike course.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mercuryman Triathlon Race Report

The Mercuryman Triathlon is a half ironman distance race on Grand Cayman Island. If you're looking for a small town race in a tropical paradise in January, this is it. The host hotel is the Reef Resort, which makes race day super simple. Wake up, open the front door and there is transition. Walk out the back door to the beach and there's the swim start. No race-day travel chaos.

Pre-race briefing (photo: Jason Lentzke)
Photo: Jason Lentzke
The swim is two loops in beautiful clear water (I tried to focus on swimming and not looking at fish, but at times it was difficult). The water isn't too deep, so you can see the bottom the entire time. There was a minor current, so one direction seemed to fly and the other took a bit longer.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
This is super-swimmer Emily exiting the water. I'm still back between the two buoys in the background. I did come out of the water 2nd!! However, I was a full four minutes behind Emily... My swim time / run to transition was 33.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
The bike is two loops of the east end of the island on nice roads. I set to work trying to make up some time lost in the swim. I drank a lot because it was quite warm, and I am not heat acclimated at this time of year. It's a small island, so there weren't crowds of cheering people, but I did have a few roosters cheer for me, along with some locals who were on their way to church. The bike went by quickly. I was passed by two girls and tried to go with them, but in the end had to remind myself it is January and very early season and I would be smart to race my own race on this day. I rode 2:30.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
The run consists of three out-and-back loops. Aid stations every mile were stocked with ice and drinks and I looked forward to each and every one. My favorite was the mid-loop aid station where a local woman was so incredibly animated every time I went by (yelling "You go girlfriend! You are owning this course!") I actually did momentarily think I was Super Woman. Outside a local restaurant where they were frying up fish a man sat on a bar stool with a hose to spray us down each time we plodded past. Local school kids handed me sponges and yelled to go faster because someone was chasing me! I loved the island.

Run Course Photo: Jason Lentzke
I ran a 1:40 and finished 4th in 4:45. Definitely not a spectacularly speedy time, but I was happy with the effort given that it is January and I have a long season ahead of me. I loved the small race atmosphere and let's be honest - nothing beats racing on an Island in January!

Photo: Jason Lentzke
This is the finish line. And right behind it is the room I stayed in. Talk about easy!

Pro women post-race jump into the ocean!
I've done quite a few races over the years and these are a few of the reasons I would definitely come back and race here again:
  • The race is run by a non-profit organization. All proceeds went to a local school on the island and the Estella-Scott Roberts Foundation, which advocates equality for women and young girls.
  • An island. In January.
  • The race is small and capped at several hundred people - so it has the small town race feel and there is no worry about getting clobbered during the swim start.
  • No stress - it's on an island. And literally transition is in the parking lot out the front door, swim start in the back of the hotel. So. Very. Easy.
  • Diverse - I raced with locals, expats, vacationers from the midwest. And post race we sat around sharing race adventures and enjoying a meal.
  • Attention to detail - Post race I was speaking with some volunteers who told me the day before the race they went around to all the houses on the bike loop and asked the locals to please keep their dogs tied up on race day to keep the course safe.
Emily (winner! and good friend) and I post race.
A huge THANK YOU to Mercuryman for supporting women in sport and helping to host such an amazing event.  And to my sponsors:
Zoot - fast shoes that drain when I dump water on my head nonstop, a great speedsuit, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - a great company.
Profile Design - Thank you for the incredible support!! I love the Aero HC system.
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - awesome local bike shop!
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race, recover and repeat!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around. 

Next up is Challenge Wanaka (full - yikes!) in New Zealand in less than a month.