I’m on my way to Kona!

Spectacular…no, that’s not the right word…

Brutal…that’s not it either…

Psychotic…okay, maybe a little…

Brilliant…only after crossing the finish line…

It’s hard to find the right word to sum up my first Ironman race, probably because I felt a multitude of different emotions throughout the 11-hour day. When people tell you it’s a journey, they aren’t kidding. You feel like the star in one of those terrible box-office drama hits where you are dragged through the gamut of emotions from happiness to frustration to anger to depression and back up to happiness all in the span of 2 hours. It is exhausting! Stretch that out to 11 hours and compound that with the fact that you are actually doing rigorous physical activity the entire time – it is a surreal feeling. And then we all cross the finish line, cheering and hugging everyone around us elated because it is over, triumphant because we conquered it, and slightly neurotic because we forget the truly raw and tumultuous struggle we just endured over the last 140.6 miles.

An Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and then a 26.2 mile run where each leg is an entire journey all by itself.

A lot of people talk about the nervous jitters they get in the week leading up to their Ironman race, those of uncertainty when it is your first time or those of anxiety for what is about to come and wondering why you are doing this again. Peter and I had so much going on that I forgot the race was even happening. I even had to rush order a new pair of goggles off Amazon because I didn’t realize it was already race week. I never even looked up the course online. Peter and I did ride part of the bike course a few weekends before but other than that, I tried to count the number of buoys in the swim on race morning and had no idea what to expect from the run. And there was absolutely no nervousness. Not even at the swim start while standing in line waiting for the gun to go off. But don’t get me wrong, there were many stressful tears in the weeks leading up to this race. If you are ever thinking about quitting your job and starting as business at the same time your husband quits his job, selling your house, moving to another state, and training for an Ironman all at the same time – I kind of don’t recommend it.

3am arrived on Sunday morning and I ate my cold leftover pancakes with a banana and bowl of oatmeal as we drove about an hour up to Boulder. Everything went very smoothly that morning, no rushing around. We took the shuttle over to the swim start, put our water bottles on our bikes, put on our wetsuits, swam a few warm-up laps, and then got in line at the swim start. It was really that simple.

This is a long race so nobody was pushing their way up to the front or getting ready to sprint as the gun went off, it was the most casual race start I have ever experienced. With a rolling start everyone slowly entered the water whenever they felt ready to get the day started. I was at the front because I wanted to try to latch onto someone’s feet in the fast group. It was a little bit of a struggle at first as I searched for someone I could stick on. But once I found him, it was pretty enjoyable. He led me on a really straight line, right next to each of the buoys and for the first time in my life, I can actually say the swim was the absolute best part of the race. I exited the water in 1:03:53, the 3rd fastest in my age group and 22nd overall female (excuse me, what?!?!).

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Thanks for the fantastic picture Mile High Multisport!

I was ecstatic as I ran into the transition area to get on my bike, I cannot tell you how fantastic it feels to be one of the first out of the water after enduring so many races of being way behind. The bike was pretty hilly with about 4,000 feet of climbing which proved to be pretty tough towards the end. I mostly kept working on eating, drinking, and not going out too hard. It can be challenging because you get out of the water with a bunch of adrenaline and jump on the bike feeling like a million bucks. But, I kept reminding myself of the advice from my coaches – don’t go out too hard because you will start to die at mile 80 and then dearly pay for it on the run. The bike is where the happy-everything-is-amazing part of the movie starts to introduce a little drama. Around mile 50 you start realizing you are only half-way there. The hills are making your legs a little tired, your liquid calories are starting to taste yucky, and your butt really doesn’t want to sit on the bike seat anymore. I was also dealing with a bloody nose, which just gets irritating after a while. And then amnesia kicks in and you stop taking in your calories like you should – this catapults you to a strange level of hangry depression. Like those Snickers commercials with Betty White on the football field. Then you turn a corner and there is Sonja Wieck cheering you on, kindly reminding you to eat and drink. Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I downed some calories and a few minutes later I regained consciousness. (Thank you Sonja!)

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I found that this battle continued for pretty much the rest of the ride. Until towards the end, when we had a nice long downhill stretch and I decided I would rest my legs…and then my eyes…and then I happened to open them and glance at my garmin…38mph! I think I had a mini-heart attack, which pumped enough adrenaline into my system to remain coherent for the rest of the bike. Okay, that was dumb and dangerous, serious lesson learned.

The bike was finally over and the only thing I could think about was getting off that seat. NO MORE BIKE SEAT PLEASE!! There are only so many ways you can shift around on a tiny little bike seat! But I do have to say that my new Ride Blue bike is pretty amazing and I find myself overflowing with thankfulness the more I get to ride it. I finished in 5:33:05, which was a little slower than I wanted but still pretty good and now I was now 2nd in my age group and 17th female overall.

I got off my bike and stayed in my bike shoes because they made you run almost a mile (seriously), barefoot, part of it on a black rubber track, to get your running shoes. It was definitely uncomfortable but not as bad as burning your feet, which I heard a lot of people did. Once again, the drama movie transitioned back to a happy scene with a positive outlook on life. The start of the run was lined with thousands of people, cheering so loudly I felt like a super star. Amazing. Nothing better.

I started off trying to hit my goal mile pace and then a slow and steady uphill came – and continued – on – and on – and on. It felt like being hit by a car, and at this point my survival mode kicked in. I stopped checking my watch for a pace in fear it would destroy me mentally. All of my focus went towards running within a semi-level of comfort, and taking in calories every three miles. I believe it was at mile 4 they were handing out ice-cold towels. This was the most amazing towel…like my Wilson volleyball. I wrapped that towel around my neck and ran the rest of the race with it. It kept me cool, I wiped by face with it, wiped away my third bloody nose with it, and at very aid station I dumped more ice water on it getting a rejuvenating burst of cool.

Oh Wilson!

Oh Wilson!

The other thing that kept me going was dividing the race into 3-mile chunks. I fueled with EFS gel every 3 miles and never looked ahead farther than that. My only goal was to make it to my next feeding. The support on the race course was absolutely phenomenal. The calming and motivating words from Molly Smith, Katy Blakemore, James Sharpe, Max Bierman and many, many more (you guys were all awesome!!) helped jolt me out of the deepest and darkest parts of the dramatic movie and keep me going forward.

Am I even running anymore?

Am I even running anymore?

Then all of a sudden, I had finished my last feeding and I had 2 miles to go! And the culmination of the race lies here, at the end of this marathon, that you started in a state of pure exhaustion and end with a totally depleted out-of-body experience. At mile 26 I saw Peter who was cheering for me / yelling at me (having already finished an hour earlier) and I knew I had made it. Of course the movie is a happy ending where you some how muster up all of this hidden energy, that you couldn’t for the life of you find earlier, and sprint down the chute to the finish.

Amazing, it was absolutely amazing. I completed the marathon in 4:10:25, which was much slower than I had planned, but left me finishing 2nd in my age group and 17th female overall with a time of 10:56:18. I was so happy to finish and I definitively expressed that I never wanted to do that ever again, ever. So, naturally, when I found out I qualified for Kona, I decided to take the slot and race at the Ironman World Championships on October 11th…yes that is only 10 weeks away! So now you know the movie will have a sequel, but it will come full circle back to where all of the craziness started – Hawaii. This is an honor and the chance of a lifetime to qualify for this race; I just could not pass that up.

Sit still Tucker!

Sit still Tucker!

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Until then I will be working to develop my business, striving to keep the house immaculately staged as we try to sell it, packing up my life and heading to California, and somehow continuing to train like crazy. I feel like I just recommended not doing all of these things at once…oh well.

You guys go ahead and do all that...I'll be here if you need me

You guys go ahead and do all that…I’ll be here if you need me

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Big Ideas: Part 2

As promised, here is part 2 of my Big Ideas blog. The business is up and running and let me tell you, it is a lot of work! There is something slightly unsettling about working long hours 7-days a week without a paycheck, but that is the risk you take when starting up a business. For those of you that are interested, the company name is Modern Approach and we are boutique customer company that uses data science and advanced analytics to help companies create an awesome customer experience…if you want, you can check us out at www.modernapproach.com !

Okay, so with all of the craziness that comes with plugging your nose and plunging into entrepreneurship, Peter and I thought that we might as well pile on a bunch of other life changes all at once, I mean why not? And that brings me to big change number 2 – Peter’s Voluntary Separation Program application was approved and he will be separating from the military on September 29th of this year! This is a huge answer to a long-time prayer and we are so very thankful to be moving on from our military past. We have had some amazing experiences and opportunities but we are both whole-heartedly ready to experience the normalcy of a more settled life outside of the constant moving and change in the military. I am thankful for the sacrifice and service Peter gave to our country, flying all over the world in the C-17. But now it is his chance to get out there and try something new and we are ready for the adventure!

But, it wouldn’t really be an adventure if we didn’t take advantage of the fact that the military is no longer in charge of where we live. Keeping true to our constant itch for adventure, we both have not only quit our jobs but we are selling our house and moving out to the land of opportunity…California. Okay, hold on all you non-californians who are going to get totally offended here. The Silicon Valley is the center of high-tech development and innovation. So, although we realize it is expensive and that there are lots of other nice inexpensive places to live in the US, there are not many places outside of San Francisco that are more intriguing for a business owner in the advanced analytics industry (me) and a program manager interested in software development (Peter). And, now we have the amazing opportunity to be close to family, something that was never possible before! Oh, and the ocean…and the mountains…and the sunshine…and a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from Hawaii. Colorado, I will not miss your frigid winters and your summers of daily thunderstorms. Peter and I recently took a trip out to Lake Tahoe in Northern California to visit my parents and it was exactly the rejuvenating training experience I needed. Long bike rides in the warm sunshine are the cure to any ailment and with the beautiful weather and long undulating roads, I re-kindled my passion for biking. Our 90-mile excursion around Lake Tahoe made into my top-10 all time bike-rides list.

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

And the roads around San Francisco are amazing too: up and down the coast, through Napa Valley, the hills of Santa Cruz…I seriously can’t wait.

With all of the crazy life changes we have going on at the moment, training has remained a constant yet challenging force in my daily life. I am somehow still getting in around 20 hours of training per week chasing after this passion for triathlon.

please don't take me on another run...you run too much!

please don’t take me on another run…you run too much!

Ironman 70.3 Boulder was back in June and since it was a local race for me, it definitely made the experience much less hectic and not so much of a production. That was a nice change. And I made a HUGE breakthrough at this race! I am still in shock, but I swam the 1.2 miles in 30:39…I was 2nd out of the water in my age group and the 21st overall female out of the water! To give you some perspective…last year I was usually around 20th out of the water in my age group and somewhere around 100th overall female. I can’t believe I actually learned how to swim! I was able to keep on the feet of the same girl the entire swim and I am definitely sure that staying in her draft helped me get such a great time. So, thank you whoever you are!! And, my level of fitness out of the water has drastically improved so I did not feel nearly as tired when I got on the bike. I was happy with my strong bike effort, but I did try to hold back a little bit so that I would not blow up on the run like I did in Texas. I completed the 56 miles in 2:31:16, which is good, not great. But then I was still unable to perform on the run. I was pretty disappointed with my 13.1 mile split of 1:38…it seems where I have made gains in my swim I have made losses in my run. IMG_1746 Although, a lot of the run was on a gravely-dirt path and that was NO FUN, making it more difficult to keep a fast pace. If I wanted to run in off-road races, I would sign up for them! But I guess that is part of the challenge…as if the race itself isn’t a challenge enough. The absolute best part of the race though was having my Tribella teammates there cheering me on! It is so fun to race when the people there know you and are supporting you! And when you get to race with your teammates, it is definitely more rewarding. There is comfort in knowing they are out there with you, experiencing the same thing. In the end, I won my age group and was 5th overall amateur female. My first age group win ever!!! IMG_1569

Recovery fuel

..and recovery fuel

Even though I claim to hate biking in Colorado, I have to say that this past month has been quite amazing. This is partly due to my incredible new Ride Blue Triad SL di2 bike. I honestly cannot thank Tribella enough for helping me to get this crazy awesome bike that I hardly feel like I deserve. No really, I am actually quite embarrassed to say that my bike has electronic shifting…but then all of that embarrassment goes away quite quickly once I get on it!! This bike is a lot smaller than my previous one and it fits me much better. And, after getting a professional fit from the Denver Fit Loft, I am finally riding in the correct position on a bike for the first time in my life. The difference is quite amazing. And it could not have been more perfect timing as I am preparing for the full Ironman in Boulder that is now only a week away.

Peter, my fearless photographer

Peter, my fearless photographer

I am actually thinking the 112 miles will not be bad, that is how comfortable this bike is! This race is going to be a wild experience, but I have been training for it for about a year now and I think I am ready to do some damage. I can’t wait to finish up an easy 2.4 miles of swimming, a casual 112 miles of biking and then slip on my running shoes to go and run a marathon, it’s going to be epic!

Big Ideas!

Lots of racing, training, and life changes lately! I figure I will split this post into two parts so that it does not get too long.

I’ll pick up where I left off – Ironman 70.3 Galveston back in April. I can’t even believe it has been that long already!! The best part of that race was seeing my wonderful friend Brittany, spending some time with her, and finally meeting her uber cute little boy. Peter and I were so thankful her and her hubby invited us into their home to stay.

We were exceptionally excited to come down to Texas for a weekend full of sunshine and to take a break from the freezing cold Colorado weather. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out and it ended up raining the entire time – so I felt like I was at home, shivering on the bike and battling pelting rain. I guess I was well prepared for the race!

I also met an amazing friend on this trip. It was our first time working with Wes who owns Pro Bike Express. He has this really cool setup in a custom trailer he built to transport bikes from Colorado to races all over the country. His saying “mi casa es tu casa” is very true, I can’t tell you how nice it was to have him there helping us with our bikes and all of our gear. Anything we needed, he was there for us and more. And, he was even out on the course cheering for! I must say that I felt like first class rolling my bike out of the trailer right before the race and then rolling it back on right afterwards. No hassle and no worries – it was awesome.

I only had one pretty simple strategy for this race – go balls to the wall on the bike (as Peter would put it). I have always heard other athletes warn against putting in too hard of an effort on the bike portion because it can be detrimental for your run. You know, kill your legs for 56 miles and then try and run a short 13 miles right after – it feels like death. I had never experienced this first hand and, although it may seem a little twisted, I really wanted to know how it felt. Sometimes I think it is good to understand your limits.

not a race pic but I had to show off the new race kit!

not a race pic but I had to show off the new race kit!

Well, I definitely accomplished that mission. I finished the bike in 2 hours 21 minutes.   Don’t get me wrong; this was an extremely flat course. But with the rain and crazy wind I was still very excited about my time. And, I am fully aware that you don’t win with just a fast bike time, but I would like the tiniest moment to boast that my bike time was faster than 12 of the 16 female pros that were racing. Okay, selfish boasting segment over, sometimes you need something to feel proud of. But all in all, I feel like I am making awesome gains in this aspect of my training and I am at least heading in the right direction.

And, there is a reason why the pros are pros…I ended up paying for my kick-ass bike on my run, posting the slowest run time I have ever had in a 70.3 race. And it wasn’t just my slowest run, it was by far my most painful! When your legs are so numb that the sensation starts to trickle up to your face, you know you have a problem of some sort. Sorry folks, there is no positive mental talk that will dig you out of that hole…maybe if I had just sat down and forced myself to suck down 5 of those nasty gu packets.

At the end of April, Peter and I decided to tag along on a group training trip out to Moab, Utah. We brought Tucker along with us and packed our tent to save some money in hotel costs, and get in some family camping time. The first morning Peter and I got up early and met up with Liz, our awesome supporter from Tribella, and our new friend Wes. We were excited for a peaceful morning biking through and exploring Arches National park. And it was exactly what I had hoped for – beautiful weather, early morning sun shining on the magnificent red arches, and wonderful company to bike with. I had been yearning for a ride like this for a long time.

Beautiful morning

Beautiful morning

Liz and I...great company

Liz and I in Arches National Park…great company!

After a nice afternoon nap in the tent, Peter and I met up with Liz and James for some Mexican food and Margaritas at a small local joint. As many of you know, Liz and James own Tribella and have graciously agreed to sponsor me and let me race for their 2014 team. Honestly, I mostly wander around wishing there was something I could do to repay them for how amazing they are. I am honored to wear their race kit because it is very meaningful to me. To Peter and I, they are more than just a bike shop that we have the amazing opportunity to work with. They are an awesome couple that knows there is more to life than just bikes, triathlon, and training…they are passionate about people and building meaningful relationships. They understand that there needs to be healthy balance or else you will go crazy! And, even though they are instrumental in my ability to race and train today, I am so thankful for the advice and help I have been able to get from on other aspects of my future life.

Okay, so take a pause from the Mexican and Margs and let me quickly take you back a few weeks. I had mentioned in my previous blog that Peter and I had big ideas and I would share them soon…well Big Idea #1 was for me to quit my job and start my own business. For Big Idea #2, you will have to read part 2 of this blog!

Now, fast forward back to Margs and Mexican. Might I remind you that James and Liz are small business owners who quit their own jobs to pursue a dream. So, as I am at the dinner table expressing my inner turmoil of quitting my job and pursing my own business dream, I couldn’t help but feel like I was meant to have that conversation with them right in that moment.

If I have kept any of you on the edge of the seat (or if you are falling asleep wishing for this to be over) the moral of the story is that 1-week later I quit my job. After thoughtful consideration and amazing support from my family and friends I made the decision to jump head first into starting my own business.

To prevent myself from boring you with a novel, and to maybe entice you to ready my next blog, I will save our Big Idea #2, details of my business, my Ironman 70.3 Boulder race, and some other fun details like my new bike!

Cheers!

Ironman 70.3 World Championships

It has been over a week since the race and I finally got back on my bike today.  I accidentally left my running shoes in Vegas so that has been my excuse for not going on a run.  After the race I decided that I needed to take some time off.  My body wasn’t the only part of me begging for rest.  I have been pushing long hours of work and training for the past few months and I need to recharge mentally and emotionally.  This race culminated my first season racing the 70.3 Ironman distance and I think now is the perfect time to take a break and reflect before I start my off-season training.

I faced a few challenges going into this race, some were self-imposed and others were out of the ordinary.  Come to find out, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself (I can hear my Mom reading this right now and saying…”duh”) and I am really not a very patient person.  I want to see results and I want to see them now.  You can probably see where this is going.  I committed the typical amateur athlete mistake and set goals that, although may be achievable in the long run, are not realistic for my third race ever…against the high-caliber competition at the world championships.  Other challenges included battling fatigue and sickness in the week before the race.  I can say that I started the race feeling tired, not at my prime like I had expected and hoped for.  But, staying positive, I did achieve spectacular results considering where I have come from.  I learned a ton about training, my body, and balancing life this past season and now that I have a long off-season to continue working and applying what I learned.

We started the weekend off in typical Shenk style packing the car with all of our gear and driving out to Vegas.  It was a beautiful drive through the western part of Colorado.

We had awesome Sherpas for the race. Peter’s parents drove the whole way with us and thankfully we took their SUV because we could fit our bikes and all four of us.  We made it to Vegas early Friday afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to prepare everything for the race on Sunday.  When we arrived, Las Vegas was blazing in all its glory, and I mean blazing in heat!  I was mentally prepared for an extremely hot race so when I woke up Sunday morning to pouring rain, I was a little thrown off.

The race started with the new wave format and there were 15 different swim waves.  My wave was the last female wave and the 13th wave to go so I started 1 hour and 15 minutes after the race officially started.  Fortunately, Peter’s parent’s had an awesome hotel room that overlooked the swim start and bike transition area so we were able to go up there and hide out from the rain while we waited.

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Lake Las Vegas is not your typical lake swim.  Or maybe it is, but I have been spoiled by the clear water of the open ocean.  The muddy water of Lake Las Vegas was so thick that you could not see your hand in front of you.  I was pretty anxious about this before the race started.  I already find it difficult to stay in the draft of the swimmer in front of me when the water is clear.  Also, after swimming in the lake the day before, it was very difficult for me to swim in a straight line.  I was forced to stick my head up and sight much more often which causes me to slow way down.  The swim started in the water and so you can imagine how pushy some of the girls started to get as we treaded water waiting for the gun to go off.  Every girl was trying to get up to the front and then when the gun went off, I felt like I was stuck in the middle of a mob.

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Fighting to swim in water with no visibility does make your heart beat a little faster.  You can’t see the girl next to you before she punches you in the face with her elbow.  Not even 5 minutes into the race my goggles were knocked off my face.  I found myself thrashing around in a sea of swimmers trying to tread water, not get run over, and get my dang goggles back on.  Pure frustration was flowing through my veins.  This was not the world championship swim I was hoping for.  At one point I somehow got my pinky finger stuck up another girl’s nose.  I am pretty sure she did not appreciate that but I didn’t mean too!  At this point it didn’t matter that the water was murky because my goggles were filled with water and I couldn’t see anything anyways.

I finally made it to the end of the swim.  I saw my time and my heart sank.  I was 50th out of the water in my age group and even though I did not know I was that far back at the time, I already knew my race was over.  There is no way to make up that much time.  I ran to grab my bike and battle the pouring rain.

Aside from the hilly course, I don’t feel like I have much to say about the bike.  I felt tired, my legs did not want to go, and I really did give it everything I had.  Going into the race I was excited for all of the climbing that is on this course because I have been climbing a lot in Colorado.  But, when it came time to go, I didn’t have it.  I was, and still am, thoroughly disappointed with my bike but I am most proud of how I handled this disappointment during the race.  I made a realization after the swim and struggle on the bike that even though I was not where I wanted to be, there was no reason to overwhelm myself with negativity, have a mental and emotional breakdown, and ruin my first world championship experience.

What I did not realize at the time was that I got off the bike in 16th place.  I had passed 34 girls in my age group and made up a lot of lost ground.  But that is the difficult part of racing in waves, you never know what place you are in because you are mixed in with a bunch of people who all started at different times.  And, in the pouring rain, it is hard to tell if you are passing someone in your age group.

By the time I started the run, the rain had stopped, the sun was beaming, and steam was rising from the hot pavement.  But, it was nowhere near as hot as it could have been and so I was very thankful.  The best part about the run was my positive mental state.  I enjoyed the run, watching all of the athletes running around me, smiling at the spectators cheering, and best of all not tearing myself apart for 13 miles. There were so many amazing people at this race.  I passed a 72-year-old man, there were nine women in the 65-69 age group, one man did the entire 56 mile bike and 13 mile run course in a racing wheel chair, and I had the honor of running alongside one woman running with a prosthetic leg.  I was reminded of why I find so much inspiration in this sport.

I was also excited about the numerous shout-outs I got for Tribella.  Some people seemed to know about Tribella and others seemed to just like my race kit.  I had a lot of compliments, and I have to agree, it is a pretty awesome looking kit.  Thanks so much Tribella!!  The run was hilly, and I mean actually you were either running up a hill or down one, there were no flat parts.  No, it was not my fastest run ever but I was pretty happy about my pace considering the hills.  I think my biggest accomplishment was the time I made up on the run, I ran myself into a tie for 8th place.

I tied with Lectie, a friend I made back when I was in Hawaii.  An amazing swimmer, she was out of the water first in our age group.

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I am so honored and thankful I had the chance to race at such a high level against the best athletes from all over the world.  It opened my eyes to the amazing talent that is out there and, even though I need a little time off for now, it has refueled my desire to train harder in the off-season and come back even better next year.  Thank you everyone for all of your support and words of encouragement.  I think every one of us has a crazy passion we want to pursue, but when you have a support system of people believing in you, your passion seems less crazy and you find that beautiful things can come out of it.

Ironman 70.3 Racine

My race this past weekend in Racine, Wisconsin seems like a blur.  After driving 30 hours over the course of two and a half days, I can’t believe I actually raced a half-ironman somewhere in between.  And, I am so thankful for everything Peter did for me this weekend. He made everything go smoothly so that I never felt stressed and I could just concentrate on the race.

Right after I got home from work early Friday afternoon, we packed up the car and started the long drive.  I drove the first leg while Peter slept in the super comfortable bed we made in the back of the car.  It had a thick memory foam mattress pad with a warm down comforter over top.  This meant that the person driving was freezing because the air conditioning was blasting on high so that the person sleeping could snuggle in and sleep better.  Peter wanted to make sure I kept a normal sleep schedule so around 10pm, we switched and I laid down. I slept restlessly at first, but was finally able to relax and get a few hours of quality sleep.

We arrived at the Marriott in Racine at 5am on Saturday morning.  How Peter managed to stay awake through the night is beyond me.  I deliriously helped to grab my gear and our bikes and we dragged everything up to our hotel room.  I immediately fell into the comfortable Marriott bed but as Peter fumbled for the light on his bed stand, he put his hand in a puddle of water.  Of course, this is not something you expect especially when you are exhausted from driving through the night and all you want to do is go to sleep.  He finally got the light on to find the night stand full of water, the floor around the bed soaked, and steady drops of water falling from the ceiling.  We were too tired to deal with it so we decided to sleep a few hours and then figure it out.  Come to find out, even when you are completely fatigued and desperate for sleep, the sound of water drops hitting a night stand will still keep you awake.  Move the night stand out of the way, and drops hitting the already saturated carpet will still make a loud noise.  At this point I felt really bad for Peter because I knew he was frustrated and all he wanted to do was sleep.  We took the towels from the bathroom and managed to smother some of the water drop noise by balling them up and placing them underneath the leak.

We slept until 9:30am which gave us enough time to deal with the leaky ceiling issue before heading out to the race site.  They moved us to a different room and gave us that night for free.  I guess it all worked out for us in the end!  I ate my oat bran with blueberries, strawberries, and almond milk in our new room and I realized how awesome it is to drive yourself to a race.  You get to transport your own bike, which is a huge cost savings, and you get to bring a cooler packed with all of the food you want to eat.  I think one of the hardest parts about traveling to a race is the logistics of getting the right food.  You want to eat things that your body is used to and that you have been eating throughout your training.  The last thing you want is an upset stomach before or during the race.  It is also hard to fit a grocery store run in, especially when you are busy with race prep on a tight schedule.  I had made a large batch of veggie lasagna (sans cheese) before we left and then we had fruit, veggies, yogurt, pretzels, oatmeal, and a few other things packed into our cooler.  All of our meals were taken care of for the entire weekend.

After sign-in and attending the athlete briefing, Peter and I headed out on the bike course to get an easy ride in, make sure my bike was shifting correctly, and get a feel for the course.

By the way, take note of those cracks in the road...

By the way, take note of those cracks in the road…

I then took my bike over to the transition area and racked it among the thousands of other bikes already there.  This is always the most intimidating part of the race for me because you get to see all of the gear that other people have.  There were so many super nice and expensive bikes it was amazing.  It makes you feel like what you have is not adequate and everyone else must be so good to have such nice bikes.  But, speed doesn’t come from a bike alone, it also depends on the person operating it so you just have to try not to psyche yourself out before the race actually starts.

We then headed over to the swim start so that I could get a feel for the water with my wetsuit on.  Lake Michigan is cold! I was so happy to have a wetsuit on, it kept me nice and warm.  It was very strange to swim in this lake because it is very wavy with a strong current, just like swimming in the ocean but, it is fresh water.  Getting smacked in the face by a wave was a much more pleasant experience.  A mouthful a freshwater does not make you gag like getting saltwater up your nose does.

As I rested back at the hotel room and watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith for a little pre-race motivation, Peter had to go back out and do his 2 hour training ride.  It was already 5pm and he was hungry and tired from the long day after getting little sleep.  But, just because I was racing this weekend didn’t mean Peter’s training stopped and once again I felt bad for the sacrifices he had made all day for me.

4:45am came faster than I had hoped.  After I shook off the initial haze of confusion from why my alarm was going off so early, I remembered it was race day and my excitement kicked in.  I felt surprisingly calm and relaxed all morning.  I didn’t have the nervous or anxious feelings like I had at my first race, I just felt ready.  I felt prepared.  I managed to get down my pre-race bowl of oat bran before we headed out the door to the race site.  The transition area was already buzzing with nervous athletes prepping their bikes and organizing their running gear.

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I laid out my towel on the ground behind my bike, positioned my bike shoes and running gear, pumped up my tires, filled my bottles with nutrition, and placed my helmet and sunglasses over my handle bars.  Now it was time to get my wetsuit on and head to the swim start.

I jumped in the water for a short warm-up swim and to prepare my body for the shock of the cold.  The water was surprisingly rough this morning, much like a stormy and wavy day in the ocean.

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The conditions did not bother me because I have swam in rough water like this before. A lot of people out there seemed pretty nervous about it.  The starting waves for this race were much different than usual because they sent us off in waves according to our age group and gender.  They had close to 20 different waves with the women’s waves starting first.  I enjoyed the broken-up start times because my swim was much more peaceful and more of swim, less of a fight against other swimmers.  I also appreciated starting before the men because I swam with women the entire time and never had to deal with the aggressive men.

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I'm in there somewhere!

I’m in there somewhere!

I felt amazingly buoyant and fluid the whole swim, which I know was due in part to the wetsuit, but I felt like maybe some of it was from the hours I have put in at the pool lately.  I did, however, struggle with my line and I spent a lot of the race trying to figure out why I was so far out from the buoys.  It almost seemed like I was always trying to swim back in to shore and get back to the pack.  There are a lot of benefits to staying in the pack, one being the speed you can gain from drafting, but the other is that you do not have to worry about sighting as much.  I spent most of the swim out in left field by myself so I gained none of these benefits.  But, I came out of the water 2 minutes faster than last time so I was happy about that, even if it was all because of the wetsuit.

Since this was my first race wearing a wetsuit, I was a little nervous about getting the thing off.  I had sprayed a bunch of tri-slide (which is essentially an oily spray) all over my ankles, calves, and forearms so that it would slip off easier.  As I was running up the ramp towards the transition area, I found out that volunteers lined the side of the path waiting to help with your wetsuit.  It was awesome!  I had already gotten the suit halfway off down to my hips and so I just laid down on the ground, stuck my legs up in the air, and swoop, the volunteer pulled the wetsuit right off!!

This is where the race really started for me.  I was 24th in my age group out of the water and 94th out of the women so once again, I had a lot of work to do.  I was excited to get on my bike and start doing some damage.

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I felt great right from the start and I immediately fell into a rhythm.  I worked hard to focus on maintaining the power wattage that my coach had planned for me.  The bike course in Racine was beautiful.  It traveled through the countryside with amazingly green fields, barns, farm houses, and big trees.  It was much nicer to look at than the never-ending lava fields of the Big Island.  The only downfall, which turned out to be a huge mental hurdle for me, was the condition of the roads.  The roads had these cracks going through them and not just little cracks, I mean deep crevices that span the entire width of the road.  I was not prepared to hit these cracks every 10ft…for the entire race.  Every crack was a jolt, spilling water out of my front bottle, ramming me into the seat.  I kept trying to imagine myself gliding, trying to think of just smoothly whisking over the road.  Then “clunk”…”clunk”…it really wore on my nerves after a while.  Of the entire 56 mile course, approximately 50 of the miles were full of these cracks.  But when I reached that smooth and newly paved stretch of road without them, I felt like I was on butter.  Best feeling of my life.

I was so thankful to have my power meter.  Despite the jolting bumps every few seconds, I had a way to keep focused and not let the road win.  I strayed true and constant and continued to pick people off all while singing a stupid song Peter had made up and I couldn’t get out of my head: “Eat ’em up, eat ’em up, Alligator, Alligator”…”Eat ’em up, eat ’em up, Alligator, Alligator”.  It’s not even a song really. More like an annoying chant.  But it helped me focus on catching the next person in front of me.  We had also listened to a bunch of Queen on the way to the race so another theme song I couldn’t stop singing was “Another one bites the dust, another one bites the dust…And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust”.  Now looking back, considering I actually sang those two songs over and over for two and a half hours, seems slightly mental.

By the way, between taking my first bike picture and this one, Peter did a 13 mile training run.  He was all over the place but always there for me!

By the way, between taking my first bike picture and this one, Peter did a 13 mile training run. He was all over the place but always there for me!

I think another key for this race was my fueling.  I fueled much better than I did last time and the difference was incredible.  I felt energized, strong, and I had a lot of positive self-talk going on…in between the singing of course.

I was convinced that by the time I got off the bike, I would be waddling from the abrasive jolts I had endured on my very unforgiving bike seat.  But, I quickly transitioned into running mode and forgot about that pain.  I made up a lot of time on the bike so I started the run positioned 4th in my age group and 22nd out of all the women.

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I think it is very interesting that when you have made something up in your mind, your body will usually surrender to it, despite your actual physical state.  When I first started the run, I was running an okay pace, but I had convinced myself that I could not go any faster.  I was kind of battling it out with one girl for a while.  She would speed up and take the lead, and then I would speed up and get back in front of her.  It just felt too hard and mentally taxing.  I did not think I could keep it up.  The great thing about this run course was the double out-and-back route.  You ran out 3.3 miles, came back 3.3 miles, and then did that lap again.  It really helped to mentally split the run up into more manageable sections and you could get a good visual for your competition ahead of you.  After about a mile or so into the run, I started to see the pro women heading back towards us.  The pace that some of these girls were holding was incredible.  I immediately thought about how if I ever wanted to try to be that good, I needed to learn to suck it up even if it was painful and not just cruise.  Somehow, I made a mental switch and I picked up my pace substantially.  I definitely stressed out the girl who I had been battling with.  She tried to hold the pace for a minute or so and then I dropped her.  Best. Feeling. Ever.

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I managed to keep this pace for the entire run except for a small patch in the middle where I got a side ache.  It was bad timing for me but it was a good learning experience to fight through the pain and not let it over take you.  And, of course, for some reason I was in a singing mood because Mandisa’s “You’re an overcomer, stay in the fight ’til the final round” was on replay.

Because of the out-and-back format, I was able to see Peter twice on the run which was extremely helpful.  He kept me updated on how far back I was from the other girls and also yelled words of harsh, yet encouraging motivation.  On my last leg as I sprinted to the finish, all I could hear was him screaming at me to pump my arms.  I guess Peter overheard one woman turn to her friend and say “That must be her husband” and the friend replied “Shouldn’t he add ‘I love you’ to that?” Hilarious.

Final sprint!

Final sprint!

I crossed the finish line and crushed my goal of getting a sub-5 hour time.  I came in at 4:47:23 which put me 3rd in my age group, 4th amateur overall, and 20th female overall.  20 pro women raced that day, so you do the math.  Because of the caliber of the race, had I been top 3 amateur overall, I would have qualified for a pro-card.  Missed it by a little over a minute.  At this point though, I do not think I am ready for that considering the level of my swimming ability.  I would not want to move up to the professional level and then get embarrassed by the extremely high-caliber female professional triathletes that are out there.  I did have the 2nd fastest female amateur bike split and I was right behind, if not faster than, many of the pro women. I am confident that one day I will be able to compete at this level, and this is a distant goal of mine, but for now I need to focus on my swim and learn a little more about racing.  This was only my second race ever so I have a lot of time to grow and continue improving.  I am just so thankful for the opportunity I have had and for the amazing support I have received from so many people.  I am humbled to chase after a talent that I truly believe God has given me.  What I will use it for, I am not sure, so I will continue to remain inspired by the sport and everything it is has opened up to me.

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Just in case you are wondering, the ride back home consisted of two tired athletes desperately trying to stay awake as we took shifts driving through the night.  I drove the last leg from 4am to 6:30am, we arrived home, I took a nap until 8am, and then went straight to work.  Miserable, yes, but worth it!!

My first Ironman – Honu 70.3

I can finally say I have raced an Ironman and it was the perfect way to end the amazing time I had here in Hawaii the past three years. Although I should be left with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, I am already fidgety to start training for the next one. I am happy with how I performed considering this was my first time, but I am too competitive which makes me anxious to train harder and get better. I placed 18th overall female out of the 602 women that raced (including 7 female professional triathletes). This has fueled my fire to see how good I can get and how far I can go. But I have a lot to learn and a lot of areas I need to improve in.

The trip over to Kona for the race was stressful and this didn’t just start at the airport. In the days leading up to our trip we shipped our cars, moved everything out of our house, I separated from the military and transferred everything over as Peter’s dependent, packed bikes and race gear, and prepared everything for our move to Colorado on June 5th. Once the time finally came for us to go to the airport on Thursday before the race, our easy 40 minute flight (scheduled to arrive at noon into Kona) turned into a 12 hour ordeal. The tiny airline Go!, which only has a handful of planes and only flies inter-island is not the most reliable.

A lot of unhappy people in the airport!

A lot of unhappy people in the airport!


Irritatingly enough, we could not find any other flights out that day on any airline. Everything was booked. Our original plan was to arrive Thursday afternoon, check-in for the race, pick up our bikes, ride part of the race course, and prepare as much as we could so that we could relax on Friday the day before the race. Now we would have to get everything done on Friday making it a long and tiring day leading up to the race. We sat in the airport for 6 hours and after the flight time continued to delay later and later, we finally found a couple of seats that opened up on a few different Hawaiian Airlines flights all headed to Kona. What a blessing! We booked what we could on separate flights and Peter, my parents and I all finally made it into Kona around 9:30pm.
Teamwork searching for flights!

Teamwork searching for flights!


Friday morning we woke up early to swim the race course at Hapuna Beach with my coach and a group of her athletes. The water was crystal clear and so calm, you could see straight to the bottom. And even though I am not a huge fan of swimming in the ocean, my coach started to rub off on me a little bit and I found myself loving it!
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Friday was a very busy and long day with registration, bike and run gear check-in, and the athlete meeting. Finally we made it back to the beautiful private ocean-front condo we were staying at with my parents and while my Mom made us dinner (thanks Mom!), Peter and I sat out on the peaceful lanai listening to the waves and visualizing for our race the next morning.
The view from our condo

The view from our condo


Race morning we woke up at a painful 3:30am. I slept in the car while my Dad drove us to the race site. The calm and peaceful weather from the day before had morphed into lots of wind with strong gusts. This would make for an interesting bike ride. I pumped air into my bike tires, double-checked all of my bike equipment, and nervously headed down to the beach for a warm-up swim.
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Nervous pre-race smiles

Nervous pre-race smiles


Swim start at Hapuna Beach

Swim start at Hapuna Beach


As we waited for the cannon to fire and signal the start of the pro wave, this was the first time I really gave thought to the long day I would endure. Up until now I had put on a good front feigning confidence like I had everything under control, but in all reality I had no idea how my body would react in a race of this distance. A lot of stuff can happen over the course of five hours. The pros took off and then three minutes later the men’s wave started. The women started to get in the water for our start 7 minutes later. Okay, I know the water was warm and this is most likely the warmest water I will race in, but I started shivering while treading water for those 7 minutes. I think it was my nerves. And thank goodness for an in-the-water start because I think I peed like five times before the gun went off.
Women's wave getting in the water

Women’s wave getting in the water


And we are off!

And we are off!


I have to say that all of the women were really nice in the water! It was extremely congested and this was the largest group I have ever swam with, but no one was clawing me or pulling me under or swimming over top of me. We mostly kept to ourselves and I felt like I could actually swim. Then we rounded the second turn buoy and we hit the back of the men’s group. I am a slow swimmer so when I began to pass men who started 7 whole minutes before me, I was caught a little off guard. And I wasn’t just passing a few here and there, it was mayhem. My nice controlled swim turned into a fight with men who clearly did not like being passed by a mass of women. I got elbowed in the mouth so hard that for an instant I thought I broke my front tooth. I could feel my lip swell. I had to remain calm and keep swimming. Then I got stuck between two large men and the guy to my right pushed me so hard with his arm that it lifted me up and over the guy to my left. Fortunately this worked in my favor because I was no longer stuck and could weave my way in front of that pack, but geez this was rough! It was a sheer struggle to just finish the swim and get the heck out of the water. My swim time was much slower than I had hoped for but after what I had just fought through, I decided to let it go and focus on the bike.

I was 392nd out of the water, 90th female out of the water…I had a lot of work to do! The first part of the bike I felt great. I was cruising past masses of people and no one was passing me. But I made a big mistake which was completely my fault because my coach had warned me against it. My original thought was to put all 500 calories of drink in one bottle so that it would be easier for me to get my nutrition down. Then my other bottle would be water only to make it easier to switch out with fresh bottles at the aid stations. Michelle told me that drinking high concentrations of calories might upset my stomach. It would be best to stick with the diluted drinks spread across more bottles since I am used to this. Ever heard of the saying “Don’t try anything new on race day!”? So, I kind of listened and diluted my bottles a little but I still put about 380 calories in my front bottle. After the swim I was really thirsty so I started sucking down the drink since the straw was right there. Before I knew it I had consumed all 380 calories and only been on the bike for 45 minutes! And that is when I felt like throwing up. I knew I needed to drink water to try to dilute it in my stomach like Michelle had said, but the more water I drank the worse I felt. I continued to pass people and make okay time, but I did not feel strong like I normally do and I slowly fell behind my goal pace. The wind was terrible. I think I was so busy battling my stomach in the first half of the bike that I didn’t really care about the wind. At about the 30 mile point which is the turn-around up in Hawi, my stomach felt better and I got back to focusing on my pedal strokes. At this point I had already lost so much time. I knew I would not be able to make it up. All I could do was hope everyone had just as bad of a bike ride as I did.

At the 50 mile point all I wanted to do was get off my bike. I kept thinking how miserable a full Ironman would be and how there was no way I could go 112 miles. Maybe it was the one piece bathing suit I was wearing but I was uncomfortable and wanted off! I was also pissed about my bike time being a whole 20 minutes slower than my goal. This is where the flow of negative thoughts began. I finally got into the transition area and my parents were right next to my run bag, waiting to cheer me on. This was really helpful, it was like a jolt back to reality, which I needed since I had only passed 58 women on the bike. There were still 32 women ahead of me and I only had 13 miles to catch up.

Dropping my bike in the transition area

Dropping my bike in the transition area


Running shoes on!

Running shoes on!


Running out of transition area

Running out of transition area


The run was very difficult with countless small, yet abruptly steep hills. It was on a golf course so the run transitioned back and forth from grass to cart-path to road. In total, we ran approximately six miles on grass. The heat resonated off of the lava rock and pavement and it was blisteringly hot. I drank water, poured it on my head, dumped ice down my bathing suit and squeezed the ice-cold sponges against my face a back at every aid station, every mile. The ice melted within minutes and my shoes were soaked from the water. I couldn’t shut off the negative talk in my head that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was, and the goals I had set for myself were so unrealistic. I wasn’t able to keep anywhere near my goal pace and as the miles droned on my pace got slower and slower.
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At mile 8, after I had already decided this race was over for me, a girl came up from behind me. This was the first girl to try to pass me on the run and it did not make me happy. I decided to pick up my pace a bit but she stayed right on my tail. At almost the same time, I saw a girl up ahead who I knew was in my age group and who I never expected to see let alone pass in this race. I felt rejuvenated and I picked up the pace to catch up to her. I felt bad because she looked really drained but she gave me some words of encouragement and I kept going. I was on a long 2 mile out-and-back portion of the course where the road out is slightly downhill with a tailwind on hot pavement and scorching lava rock all around. This only means that after the turn around point, the road back is uphill with a headwind. And not a nice cool wind but a blow-dryer in your face kind of wind. By the way, that other girl was still on my tail. I tried to pick up the pace into the headwind but I ended up exerting a lot of energy while she drafted off of me. I could tell she was tired by the way she was breathing but every time I tried to drop her she stayed with me.

At mile 12 I started to mentally lose focus. I was getting chills from the heat and this girl would not let up. Clearly, from her labored breathing, she was struggling more than I was but it was destroying me mentally. And every time we hit another sharp uphill, I thought my legs were going to give out. How many more of these dang hills were there?!? This was getting ridiculous! I could finally see the finish in the distance but I could not muster even a drop of adrenaline. At about 100 yards from the finish, there was a group who started cheering for this girl and it gave her enough fuel to kick up the pace. I couldn’t hang on. It felt like slow motion as I watched her take off. I know this was purely mental and it is definitely something to learn from, but I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do. The girl who had used me as a pacer and wind block for the past 5 miles now beat me by 14 seconds in the last 100 yards. And to top it off, she was in my age group.

Made it through the finish!

Made it through the finish!


The volunteers were SOO nice!

The volunteers were SOO nice!


My disgust instantly washed away when she came and gave me a hug and in her Australian accent told me she never would have run that fast of a time without me. This lifted my spirits. But I was still disappointed because my run time of 1:41:05 was 11 minutes slower than I had hoped for. Luckily my coach was right there at the finish to rid me of my negative thoughts, which she had to continue to do the rest of the day! But I passed 14 people on the run to end up 18th overall and 3rd in my age group with a finishing time of 5:16:37. And, after looking at the results later on, my run time was 7 minutes faster than the pro female who place 3rd overall, which means I wasn’t as bad as I told myself I was for all 13 of those miles.

Both Peter and I qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in September of this year (he finished 27th overall male and 2nd in his age group which was so awesome!). I couldn’t be happier to make it to that level of competition so early on in my training and I can’t wait to compete against the high-caliber of athletes that will be out there.
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I am motivated to get back into my training and push even harder (once I get used to the altitude in Colorado!). My swim needs major work, and my performance on the bike was way below sub-par. I need to work on my overall endurance so that I can consistently put up the bike times I am capable of while also bettering my swim time. So my recovery week is almost over and then it’s back to work!

Recovery cupcake...delicious!!

Recovery cupcake…delicious!!

Honolulu Triathlon

This weekend marked the 2 week point until the Honu Half-Ironman race on the Big Island! In order to gear up for the big race and work out any final kinks, I raced in the Olympic distance Honolulu Triathlon (which, for my non-triathlete friends is a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run). I didn’t go into this race with any super high expectations because I wanted to use it to gauge where I am physically and mentally. This was my first major race after working and training with my new coach and with that alone there have been a lot of great changes. I have been in the pool twice as much working on my swimming form and working on achieving times that are specific to my progress. This is so much better than just aimlessly getting in the pool and hoping you are getting better. I have also had a lot of high quality running sessions and have done a lot more speed work which I absolutely love. I felt very strong on the bike going into the race, so this part was at the back of my mind. With that said, I am glad this was only a preparation race because I learned a lot about where my focus should be for Honu. This was also my first time racing in a one-piece bathing suit which is what I will be wearing for Honu so I though I should give it a test run. Although it doesn’t sound like a big deal, I wanted to see how bad the chaffing would be. It was super comfortable and I especially enjoyed how un-restrictive it felt on the run.

I hate mid-stride pictures but the rest of this picture captures how beautiful the day was!

I hate mid-stride pictures but the rest of this picture captures how beautiful the day was!


Going into the race my coach warned me that this is a swimmer’s race. The swim is a significantly larger proportion of this kind of race than it is in the half-ironman or even sprint distance triathlon. So for a good swimmer, there is a lot more opportunity to gain a lead on the weaker swimmers (like myself!). Being so good at math, you think I would logically understand the disproportionate ratio and accept the fact that I would have a large time deficit when I got out of the water. But, my athlete-heart over powered this and I never really believed it would be that bad. It is something I have definitely learned from and has fueled a new motivation to get better.
I was planning to race in my age group for this race but a few days prior, Ben Williams (another athlete on the island who just became a pro triathlete – amazing athlete!) contacted me and urged me to race in the elite wave. At first I felt a little intimidated because my swim time is nowhere near the elite girls. But my bike and run times are, so I decided it would be a good opportunity to race with those girls and see how I did. Unfortunately, the elite wave was very small with about 7 men and only 3 girls so I didn’t get the experience I was hoping for.
The elite wave went first with a start time of 5:45am. By the way, I had to wake up at 3:30am for this race, just in case you were curious! The sun was barely starting to rise when the gun went off and as we sprinted into the water my only goal was to stay with the group until we were far enough from shore so that people wouldn’t ask who that really slow girl was and why she was racing with the elite wave. I got dropped after the first 100 meters or so but Peter told me later that no one could tell. This is the first time I have swam in a race completely by myself, not getting kicked and clobbered by a bunch of people. The men’s wave started 3 minutes after us so there was quite a while where I was on my own, just hoping I wasn’t falling too far behind the other girls. Then at the turn around buoy, the first of the men started to catch up with me and the second half of my swim consisted of me getting passed by a bunch of guys. This was also the first swim where I have felt strong and smooth in the water and not out of breath. I attribute this to my higher level of swim fitness but also to my inexperience in how to properly pace myself. Maybe I should have pushed myself more and felt a little more tired after getting out of the water because my swim time was pretty slow. One positive note though, it was a whole 2 minutes faster than last years swim so I have made some improvements!
Then on to the bike with racing glitch number one: my watch stopped working. I learned a good lesson on how overly dependent I am on my Garmin to the point that I have convinced myself I need it in order to do well. For the first few minutes of my bike instead of getting going and RACING (because I was in fact in the middle of a race in case you forgot like I did) I was lolly-gagging, fiddling with my watch trying to get it to work. Well, it never did and I was not in a mentally happy place. the whole ride I had no idea how far I had gone, how long it had taken me, or what my speed was. To top it off, I was in the elite wave so I was pretty much all by myself. There was no one in front of me to catch and I didn’t get to play the game where I pick off as many people as I can like usual. So, I sat out on my bike thinking: “we’ll, this pace seems like I am going pretty fast”.
At what seemed like three-quarters of the way into the ride my coach, Michelle, passed me on the bike. Even though she had started with her age group wave a few minutes after my wave started, she is an amazing swimmer and biker so this should be no surprise to anyone. At first I felt like I had already lost myself to the race and there was no hope and I had obviously not been biking very well. Then, I smacked my self, came-to, and decided to give myself a little more credit. So I pushed harder on the pedals and caught back up to her. My new goal was to not let her out of my sight as she pushed passed the guys up ahead. The pace felt great, and at that point I was so thankful that I had raced in the elite wave that day. If I had stayed back in my age group, I would never have seen Michelle on the bike and I would not have had the rare opportunity to see what race pace should be. She had the fastest women’s bike time that day and, without a watch or any other technology distractions, I got to experience and focus on how that kind of effort feels. She was coaching me to realize my potential and she didn’t even know it. I ended up having the second fastest women’s bike time but it wasn’t enough to make up for my swimming deficit.
Michelle coaching/ encouraging me after the race

Michelle coaching/ encouraging me after the race


You would think I had gotten over the whole watch issue but I decided to revisit it on the run. I got through transition, dumped my bike, went for the sock-less option again (not doing that ever again and now I hope my blisters heal in the next 2 weeks!!) and started running while messing with my watch. Because of my discouraging run earlier in the week, I felt the need to prove to myself that I could hit my goal pace. I was convinced I couldn’t do this without my watch. I ended up turning my watch off and on a few times and finally about a mile into the run it started working and reporting a pace. This was helpful but come to find out I was already running a great pace without the watch. In fact, my pace was much faster than I was expecting to run and I felt great. I pushed out a very fast run and made it across the finish line without ever seeing any of the girls I had started the race with.

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As I mentioned earlier, I am so thankful this was a preparation race because it did just that – prepared me for Honu! I now have a more realistic expectation for my swim time but more importantly, I know I need to put more focus and mental emphasis on the bike. I can’t shove it to the back of my mind like I did for this race and just expect I will perform well. The bike is my strength so I need to get out there and use it to my advantage. I also feel fantastic about my run fitness. Now that the run will double in distance to 13.1 miles while the swim stays pretty much the same distance (1.9K as opposed to 1.5K), I am very confident that I will be able to make up all of the time I lose on my swim in the run. We will see, but I think I may be able to run my goal pace if not faster. And, now that I have already experienced a race malfunction with my watch, I know that if that happens or anything like it I just need to stay calm, forget it, and race my race.

Great friends we have met out here!

Great friends we have met out here!


I ended up finishing 3rd in the elite wave and 5th female overall. It was not the finish I had hoped and dreamed for, but sometimes it’s not about the outcome but the experiences and lessons you learn along the way. Now it’s time to taper and prepare for the big race!!