Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lucky girl

I am a lucky girl.

I have had an amazing last couple of days.

But really I have had a great season.

No, wait. I have had a great year.

Come to think about it, I have had a couple of great years.

You know what? My life ain’t that bad.

My coach gave me a little down time after Augusta so last week represented my first full week back to the grind. Sunday I planned to head out to Raleigh with about 10 other athletes from Charlotte to attend the Inside Out NCTS banquet. I got up early to hit a long run at McMullen greenway prior to my bike ride. During the drive I thought about the athletes having just finished the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and my friends getting ready to race Rev3 Anderson. Watching the sun rise in the distance, I cruised down the interstate and I thought about how much I enjoy my life. I recognize it isn't for everyone but I have a great job, I have the most wonderful and talented friends, and every day I wake up to train for a sport I love. Do I make sacrifices? Absolutely. Do I question my dedication and motivation? Probably more often than I would like to admit. Is it worth it? I simply would not have it any other way.

Sunrise through the window of a dirty car
I was talking to a friend the other day about food (really, are you surprised?). As some of you may know I don’t eat meat and tomatoes so when my friend told me he would try anything twice I was a little puzzled; most people say they will try anything once. When I questioned him on the reasoning behind trying everything twice I really liked his answer. He told me you can’t guarantee that first taste fully represents the experience. I understood exactly where he was coming from seeing how I applied a very similar thought process to the NCTS. Last year I ended up winning the 2 highest scored races and ultimately the entire NCTS because of another competitor’s DNF and a drafting penalty. Many people told me they were legitimate wins but I was a little uneasy with the designation.  I made it a goal this year to try to win the series to prove to myself the 2011 results were not a fluke. If I raced well and smart I knew I had a good chance at the series. I ended up squeaking out wins at the 5 races I competed in with one just seconds over a super talented and super fast 15 year old, Malia Ellington. The girl is going to be tough to beat next year! 

Just a handful of the best athletes in NC
Once again I ended the season by cashing a big check and eagerly anticipating a custom made jacket courtesy of Set Up Events. Once again Set Up Events out did themselves as probably the best race production team in the nation. Set Up is always looking to provide its racers with the very best race experience. Their efforts do not go unnoticed and I appreciate all the hard work they put in to their events. 

Ok ok, my season did not end but it is getting close. So close I can almost feel the sun on my skin and white sand between my toes . . . 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The truth be told I am a creeper magnet. I have many stories about creepers and they get really creepy. Ask me to tell you one sometime, I have many to choose from. I think I am a rather normal girl but if there is a creeper in the room he will find me and talk to me. I guarantee it.

One night last week I ended a full day’s work to pick up Marvin from Inside Out so I could go for an hour’s spin on the booty loop. I was having an enjoyable ride from the shop, through town and down East Boulevard (who doesn't love East Boulevard?). I waited for the light at Queens Road West and after it turned green I cruised onto the loop. Those of you familiar with this intersection know I was going at a significantly slower speed than the cyclists already on the loop who get to careen at a high rate of speed through the right turn thanks to a lengthy and uninterrupted downhill. So it was not surprising when two dudes passed me somewhere between that intersection and the turn on to Hopedale. The guy leading the pair turned to me with a smile and a hello but continued on his way . . . or so I thought. He was rather nondescript except for a little extra in the middle and his obnoxiously bright yellow Mavic cycling shoes. I do not know if he slowed down or if his companion decided he did not need his draft anymore but the next thing I know the one guy is off the front and Mr.Mavic has made his way behind me. This sequence of events is not unusual so I continued to enjoy my ride at a steady but easy pace. I figure he will ride behind me through the flats and then pass me in a turn or on the first hill like most dudes do. There are two types on guys on the booty loop – those schmucks who go over their ability to pass a girl just because she is a girl only to fizzle out a quarter of a mile later and the guy who turns to me on every hill asking why I am pedaling so hard and demanding to know my 3 sec watts (he has a blog and it is here). Anyhoots, so Mr. Mavic pulls in behind me and never leaves. I go fast, I go slow, I accelerate through the turns, I inch through the turns, I pass people, people pass me, no matter what I do the Mr. Mavic just hangs back there. At times he is just coasting and I can hear is rear wheel free spin. I can practically hear him breathing in my ear. I eventually caught up to Mr. Mavic’s original companion hoping the reunion would remove the growth from my back wheel but it didn’t work. Finally I pulled into the parking lot when there were a large number of people getting off their bikes. Mr. Mavic also pulled into the parking lot. I stopped, pretended I knew someone, and watched as Mr. Mavic circled the lot and headed out. I gave him a good head start before I headed back to the store. That is creepy right? Freakin creepers. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ending on a High Note

Last week was marked by some severe up and downs. My training has bumped up in volume in preparation for my last race of the season, Ironman Cozumel. My weekends have ended with me not feeling refreshed but worn out and wondering how I am going to start it all over again Monday morning. The highlight of my weekend last week was two fast runs with 2 of Charlotte’s fastest triathletes, James Haycraft and Scott Woodbury. Unfortunately I paid for it with a set of sore legs which may or may not have had anything to do with getting dropped on the group ride Tuesday night. If it had not been for Kim Eagens and Jonathan Story I am not exactly sure how I would have made it home. In my mind I was replaying Norman Stradler’s famous meltdown in the 2005 Ironman World Championships where he threw down his bike after a 2nd flat tire and wept in his hands. By the time we made it back to West Boulevard I contemplating scratching Augusta and Cozumel from the books and calling it a season. The next morning I was still in a funk even though I was officially starting my taper. It took me awhile to come around but when I went to pick up my race ready bike from Steve at Inside Out Sports I started to feel that pre-race excitement which continued to magnify through to race day. 

Ironman Augusta 70.3

Up and out!
Swim 20:21 (1st AG):
Kicking off the race in wave 23, a full 90 minutes after the race started, I had plenty of time to make my way from transition to the hill overlooking the swim course. I tried to level my rising anxiety by running through the race in my mind but it wasn't until I was heading down to the dock that I was able to quiet my mind to focus on the task at hand. Jumping into the 76 degree water I barely got my head under when my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit popped me back up to the surface. Something about the "pop" lit a little fire in me and I knew without doubts I was ready to give this a go. When the airhorn blew I ducked underwater, took off kicking, and let the wetsuit propel me to the surface. Three strokes in I breathed to the left, no one. I breathed immediately to the right, no one. Alone I aimed toward the buoys and the middle of the river hoping to take full advantage of the current. Before I knew it I was closing in on the exit ramp and the only thought on my mind was, "wow that was a fun!"

Wait, what did you call me?

Bike 2:33:30 (1st AG):
So I made few mistakes with my bike this go around. I am usually much more attentive to detail but some oversights on my part meant I put my wheel cover on wrong so I could not pump up my back tire race day. I had plenty of time to notice and correct this mistake before race day but I just wasn't paying enough attention to notice. Once I realized the mistake I tried not to stress about. The mistake may mean some time lost on the course and maybe even a flat tire but it certainly wasn't going to ruin my race. No race is absolutely perfect. Accepting this would be just a part of my bike ride so I took off on the bike bound to catch any of the remaining 30-34 ladies that started in the wave before me. The bike course was slightly rolling with a hint of wind and misting rain. Passing people from the 22 waves before me was both fun and treacherous. Luckily I did not run into any large groups blocking the road. Most people stayed to the right and as long I clearly announced I was passing on the left I had no significant problems.

Big beautiful smile thanks to Dr. Sarah!

Run 1:37:36 (1st AG):
Coming into T2 was a huge relief. I felt good on my bike and I was actually a little excited to start the run. Most of the people I knew from Charlotte started well before me so I was excited to see them out on the course. My coach (Brian Stover) gave me very detailed instructions on how to handle the run and for the first four miles I kept my pace in check and enjoyed the course. I was still passing people so I felt like I was flying but I also felt fairly comfortable. I was excited to see Sarah and Katie cheering on the side less than a mile in and the closer I got to downtown the more energy and excitement I picked up. About 1/2 way into the run and in a quieter section of the course I ran into Kim Eagens who informed me I had one of the top swims and I was currently the top female. This became a turning point for me as I realized I was in a position to not only finish the run but I actually could race the run. I continued to follow my coach's plan but descending those last 6 miles took pretty much everything I had left in the tank. 

Augusta 70.3 turned into in a breakthrough race. The moment after signing up for this race I regretted it. I always said I would boycott this race because of the swim but the course and timing before IMCZ really made it ideal. Eventually I came to terms with the fact that I could not completely rely on my swim to carry me through this one. I still gave the swim everything I could give it but holding back on the bike a bit I was able to run off the bike and run myself into a 70.3 1/2 marathon PR by at least 5 minutes! There were times I wondered if my performance at Muncie was a bit of a fluke. I mean the swim was shorted a mere 0.2 miles while the run was cut in half. When does a swimmer get that lucky in a triathlon? But turn the tables around and here is Augusta, a wetsuit and current aided swim, which is anything but swimmer biased and I did it again, winning my age group as well as finishing first amateur female! As an added bonus I grabbed my slot to return to Vegas in 2013 for the 70.3 World Championships.

Quick pic between downpours
Almost everyone who came from Charlotte had an unbelievable race. Lots of familiar faces on the course and I have to especially thank Sarah Padolsky, Katie Howard, Justin Andrews, Jip Kongruengkit, James Loberg, MC Armeen, Kelly and Meghan Fillnow, and Kim Eagens for their loud voices and constant encouragement.