Friday, July 10, 2015

Challenge St. Andrews Race Report

Last year I raced in St. Andrews and loved it, so I decided to return as this race matched up well a few weeks after Mt. Tremblant 70.3. I have an amazing homestay (Thank you Peggy & Bob!) and settled right into the quaint waterfront town. If you've never visited the Maritimes I highly recommend this area of Canada.

Race morning dawned clear and calm - perfect weather for racing.


I swam solo around the lake (this seems to be usual for me when the field isn't huge) and came out of the water last pro female in 29:06. Time to get to work!

This is me heading out on the bike. I wasn't going to post this since it's blurry, but then I thought it actually was kind of artsy and figured why not - since it's the only photo I have of me on the bike. Immediately onto the bike and my legs felt awful, as if I was pedaling squares. They felt heavy, as if they had been filled with sludge the previous evening. I told myself to just keep pushing, and they would come around. Sometimes it can take an hour for my legs to feel better.

I passed one girl and hoped I might be gaining on the others. As I reached the hour mark I came to terms with the fact that my legs were NOT feeling better at all. At this point I think my mindset changed completely to "well just race faster so it will be over sooner and everything will stop hurting!!"  I rode a 2:37.


Onto the run and I still held out hope my legs would start to feel better. I got into a nice rhythm, but the legs did not improve. I ate, drank, tried to enjoy the scenery and mostly tried to HTFU and finish so my legs would stop killing me. Yeah, it was just one of those days. Some days you have it and others you don't. I ended up running 1:32 and finished 4th in 4:44. It would be easy to be sad about this, especially after finishing 2nd here last year and having a great race, but honestly I wasn't overly sad. I've raced in this sport long enough to know when I am fit and when I fought as hard as I could (I am and I did). There are just some days when the legs don't have fight in them, and there is no point beating myself up about it.

Great scenery!
A big thank you to Peggy, Bob, Vicky and David for being out on the course cheering me on - it was so nice to see friendly faces out there!

Next up is Ironman Sweden!

THANK YOU:
Zoot - fast TT 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 recover quick to race again!

Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mt. Tremblant Training

When I race far from home I typically try to race at least twice - better chance I'll make money, have an adventure and I also just like to race - so in my mind more racing = more fun. This strategy usually leaves about a week between places where I need to set up a home base for training. Before deciding on my Mt. Tremblant 70.3 / Challenge St. Andrews combo I did my research. I asked everyone I knew if Mt. Tremblant would be a good place to spend a week post-race training. I was confident when I came to Mt. Tremblant that I would get some solid training in - but to be honest, I've been blown away by how amazing it has been. If you're looking for a great training destination - I would highly recommend Mt. Tremblant, and here is why...


Miles of roads that are well paved, have good shoulders and aren't packed with cars. Oh yes, and the scenery isn't half bad either! Definitely do a ride into the Mont Tremblant National Park. And bring bug spray, especially if you plan to stop riding at any point.


Trails - a lot of trails - hilly ones, and a very very long flat one that goes all the way to Montreal. They are all beautiful. On runs this past week I have seen many deer, some fox, chipmunks and several groundhogs (which I originally thought were beavers, but I may have been confused).



Beautiful lakes - many of them. I've swum in 3 so far. My favorite is Lac Mercier, which has a rock exactly 1k from shore. Mont-Tremblant is in the process of building a brand new swim complex that will be completed in August. I didn't mind not having a pool, as open water swimming is perfect for my training.


 
We had just finished trying to photograph ourselves jumping off a (1-foot-high) rock here. It didn't quite turn out to be the amazing photo we were looking for. But it was funny.

 
Recovery - Kiet and I treated ourselves mid-week to a massage at the Scandanave Spa - the hot and cold tubs would be enough to get me to go back. Add to that the Eucalyptus steam room, the Sauna and the ability to dip into the river or relax in a hammock or in Adirondack chairs by a fire and it was fabulous.


The exchange rate - if you're from the states, Canada's exchange rate is nice!


Great food. We made meals at home most days, but the few times we ate out it was awesome. We had crepes (seems wrong to me to visit French Canada and not have crepes!!) and I really loved Ristorante Ital Delli in the old village (on the run course).


The people - French Quebec people are very nice. One day we went to the lake and Kiet forgot his goggles. Not only did a local lady let him borrow hers, but she also gave us info about the lake and informed us that the rock was 1k from the shore. Later in Montreal, we got semi-lost on a run through Mont Royal park. When we asked a local for directions she offered to drive us home. We had many experiences of friendly, helpful locals.


No crowds - coming from California I suppose I'm used to beautiful mountain areas being crowded. If you go to Lake Tahoe in the summer, it's crowded. Mt. Tremblant is not crowded. I felt like we were in a relaxing, beautiful location all to ourselves all week long. This is especially nice when riding bikes.

All in all - we will definitely be back Mt. Tremblant!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mt. Tremblant 70.3 Triathlon Race Report

Kiet and I arrived in Montreal Thursday evening and discovered my bike had not made it on the plane. We were assured it would be delivered to Mont Tremblant the next day and were told it had been re-routed through Houston. Friday evening after multiple calls (all of which Air Canada outsources to India and were frustrating) we were told the bike was in customs at the airport. Rather than sit and wait for it to clear customs, we drove back 1.5 hrs to the airport to retrieve my bike. It wasn't there. We drove 1.5 hours back to Mt. Tremblant at midnight. I almost cried, mostly because I was tired. Saturday I got on Facebook and Twitter asking for help in finding a loaner bike to race on, as Air Canada didn't know where mine was. I must say the triathlon community is amazing and I was completely overwhelmed by how many people reached out to help me find a bike so I could race. THANK YOU.

A big thank you to Eric Laurence for putting me in touch with Bicycles Quilicot, who fit me on a brand new Specialized Transition (it's for sale - $1500CAN with training wheels - if you live in Montreal go get it, it's a great deal!)

Borrowed bike test ride the afternoon before the race.

Needless to say, pre-race was stressful. To add to the craziness of the story, race morning at 5:30am my bike was delivered. I built the bike in record speed, tested it by riding it once up and down the driveway, and we rushed off to transition. My training for this race had been solid and I was excited to race, but once the bike debacle ensued, I figured my race was non-existent to sub-par. I knew I would do the best with what I had, but I am also realistic. Nothing like getting that confidence back on race morning!

Pro women - I'm second from right. (Photo: Triathlete.com / Julien Heon)

I swam solo around the lake - 29:48, the water was nice, not much to talk about here...I came out of the water 8th (but thought I was 9th). I rather enjoyed the swim - until the end when I was just sick of swimming and excited to get on my bike.

Yay I'm on my bike! (Photo: Kiet)
And then I got on the bike - my bike - and I was just really happy to be riding hard on a bike that I have spent so many hours training on. I chased solo until I caught and passed several girls around mile 20. And then I rode the rest of the ride alone. It rained. The rolling hills were fun. The steeper hills at the end were not. My legs hurt, but the good hurt. I rode 2:35. I came off the bike in 5th.

Running along the lake. (Photo: Kiet)

Mt. Tremblant is gorgeous! (Photo: Kiet)

Chasing 4th... (Photo: Kiet)
The run was a mix of chasing 4th and making sure I didn't get caught by 6th. I really wanted 5th or better, and I did my best to fight for it.

Hills! I love hills. But I'm hurting here. (Photo: Kiet)

When I started the bike these two spectators were on the side of the road cheering for me with shorts on. As I got closer they dropped their shorts to reveal green sock / thongs. I laughed so hard. They made me laugh on the run as well. They are the type of spectators you find at Wildflower and I loved it.


I ran a 1:30 to finish 5th in 4:40. On a day that I didn't think would happen because of a lost bike, I was super stoked with this race.

Next up is some fun training in Mt. Tremblant followed by Challenge St. Andrews in two weeks.

THANK YOU:
Zoot - fast TT 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 recover quick to race again in 2 weeks!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around. 

Kiet - best race sherpa ever - thank you for laughing with me at all the craziness!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wildflower Triathlon Race Report (How not to dismount into T2)

I first raced Wildflower 13 years ago as a poor grad student. I wore this awesome ensemble, and rode my Dad's old Softride bike. (No, it did not fit me). I had no idea what I was doing, but somewhere on the back side of the run course when I ran through the naked aid station I decided triathlon was fun.


I have countless memories from Wildflower. Camping with friends. A breakthrough race as a pro. Loving running into the Pit. Hating the pit. Then loving it for the carnage it caused and providing me the ability to catch some more girls ahead of me.

I have finished 5th twice as a pro at Wildflower and to tell you I wanted anything less than a higher placing would be a lie. It didn't happen and I'll save you the excuses, because honestly it's been a few weeks and nobody cares anymore - at least I know I have moved on and am focusing on future races. Instead, I'm going to share my mistakes and tell you the reasons why I love Wildflower triathlon and urge you to race it if you never have.

Dismounting: How to dismount gracefully with added flair (flips!)

video

A big thanks to Drew at Quixotic Racing for capturing my "I-have-no-idea-what-just-happened" dismount coming into T2. I've been racing a long time and quite honestly I'm still not sure what I did here. And no, I did not need medical. My di2 shifter did however.


Camping: Wildflower is an awesome venue. Post race I hung out with friends laying in the shade of a big old oak tree listening to part of the band Sugarland. (Yes - part of their band actually raced Wildflower and then played awesome music for us!) I can't think of many other races where this happens.

The Volunteers: Cal Poly students run most of the aid stations on the run course. I don't know about you, but I can't help but smile, even while racing uncomfortably fast, when a bunch of kids in huge sombreros grab a giant cardboard penis and start cheering like crazy for me.

Pros Cheering for the Kids Race
An Honest Course: Triathletes tend to love courses where they can set a PR. Wildflower is not this course. It is however an awesome, rugged, tough course that will bring out the best in athletes. It's a great course to find out what you're made of.

If you're one of those people who loves numbers and stats - I finished lucky #13th just 13 years after racing my first half here. I was sad about it for a bit and then decided life's too short and I've got a million other great things to be happy about. Onward!

THANK YOU:
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 keeping me healthy and strong!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.


Next up is Mont Tremblant 70.3!

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.