A Road Trip Started by a Tweet

Sometimes that cliché’ saying “Everything happens for a reason” smacks you in the face. It happened to me the other day, it all started with a tweet.

My friend Kristin tossed a link to a triathlon at me and a couple of other local triathlete buddies. Kristin lives in Oklahoma, so my initial reaction was “pffffft I don’t travel for races”

After thirty minutes of banter back and forth, we all decided that actually yes, this is doable, let’s do it! Holy crap–ROAD TRIP!!

The triathlon is called Redman triathlon, located in Oklahoma City, on September 26th. My tri-besties and I signed up for the 70.3 distance. What makes this especially crazy to me is that I already have this time requested off of work for a marathon–that was canceled. I was planning on rescinding that time-off request from work the day after this Redman triathlon conversation happened. How crazy, weird, awesome is that!

The other crazy part is when the conversation started I was really worried about money. I’m stressing over how to pay for Ironman Wisconsin 2016. When John got home from work I told him about the conversation and his first reaction was “DO IT” no questions asked. The registration fee went onto a credit card. I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband that encourages adventure!

The Redman course is crazy flat, giving me crazy hope of breaking six hours there. My PR is 6:15, those 15 minutes can reasonably be slashed on the bike and maaaaaaaybe run. All I know is that I have all of August to work on my speed and I want it baaad. My only fear is that the travel time there in a van full of giggly girls will exhaust me and I won’t have any race energy. That would be okay though, good times all around!

What ever happens, I’ll know it was for a reason!

 

Taper Thoughts

Tapering. I’m doing that, again. All this extra time to think and ponder.

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Right now thoughts that are weighing heavily on me is Ironman Wisconsin 2016. Do I really want to sign up? How am I going to pay for it? Am I going to regret making that commitment? Will I get my shit together and train smart to finish a little faster?

Money is a huge consideration this year because John expressed desire to sign up as well. Two seven hundred dollar registrations, yikes. I didn’t start an Ironman savings account this year, so it’ll be a big dent on the credit card. I get a mid-year bonus from work, but I really want to blow it on a Standing Paddle Board instead. See? Commitment, I want to blow money on fun things. Ironman is fun things too. Argh.

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been enjoying a relaxing Summer with just 90 minute bike rides and runs on the weekend. I haven’t felt stressed or pressured to get long training miles in. Though on Sunday morning it was a perfect melty hot Summer day and I felt like I wanted to ride for a lot longer than 90 minutes, part of me even thought “What a great day for a four hour ride!

This Ironman thing is a sickness, isn’t it?

I still have a good month and a half to make my decision, but I predict it’ll be like the time I went to just “look” at puppies and came home with Dexter. Seriously, who goes to just look at puppies? Of course you come home with one!

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Volunteering and spectating at Ironman WI this year will make me absolutely sure I want to go for it again. John too, he was bitten hard by the triathlon bug. Actually, I blame him entirely for this taper right now, he was the one who persuaded me into an IM 70.3 Racine registration!

Oh taper.

So many triathlons, so little time

When I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Racine I wasn’t thinking training logistics, I was just thinking ALL THE TRIATHLONS!! Well, and John really wanted to squeeze another half iron distance in this year, so we signed up! Then when I took a closer look at the calendar I realized how little time I had between Toughman 70.3 and Racine, just one little month. In that month I had to recover from Toughman since it was my A-race, and went on a little vacation where I couldn’t bring my bike, and somehow get some quality miles in before a short one week taper.

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It was tough, but at the moment I’m pleased with how things panned out. I PR’ed my A-race, got THISclose to age grouping at a sprint triathlon the weekend after, enjoyed my vacation, and am in the middle of a good week of quality training. Just a few more good workouts before I taper for Racine.

Yesterday during a slow, easy seven mile run I was thinking about what I expect out of Racine. It’s hard to predict considering I had a busy June training and racing schedule, but I’m thinking I’m going to leave it all on the course. It’s my last long distance triathlon this year. It’s flat, I’m feeling fairly confident, maybe I can snag another PR?

Triterium Sprint Triathlon

I raced(?)/participated in my fourth triathlon this month on Saturday morning. With it being just one week after a 70.3 that I did race and PR at, and then take a full week off of workouts, I had no goals going into it. Just show up, enjoy the triathlon fun!

The triathlon was Triterium Triathlon in Verona, WI. I did the Olympic distance in 2013, and I remember it being very difficult two years ago. Two years ago I was a much weaker cyclist, and it poured crazy, bad rain. On Saturday it was a perfect 70 degree day with little wind, little humidity, and I like seeing the sun!

It felt weird to not overthink packing my gear and setting up transition. That’s what happens when this triathlon thing becomes routine I guess. My transition was set up promptly, and I spent the rest of my pre-race morning chatting with my triathlon buddies.

Thankfully the swim was an in-water start. I placed myself next to the buoy line and behind one girl. The gun went off and I took off like I normally do, except I didn’t feel like I was ahead of the white swim caps. There were quite a few people passing me. It felt off, I probably shouldn’t have worn a wetsuit!

T1 was the usual, fight with the wetsuit, and go! The bike course is tough. John asked me to compare it to Capitol View Triathlon, but it’s apples to oranges. The thing that makes Capitol View Triathlon’s bike course tough is that you can’t take your downhills at full speed, because there’s a sharp turn at the bottom of that hill, and then go straight up another hill. That’s really hard! At Triterium you get non-stop hills, but you get to ride those downhills. Within the first ten minutes of my ride I realized that my legs were still fatigued from the 70.3 last weekend, so I took it easy. No sense in fighting fatigue.

T2 was quick, just socks, shoes, running belt, and GO!! The run course was immediately confusing. There was three-way traffic. What the heck. It was so weird, and I wondered where this three-way traffic was leading. I was running comfortably strong, passing several people. I tried to be encouraging as I passed, but I just don’t have a cheerful voice when I’m running. It probably comes off the wrong way. I’m probably overthinking that.

When I got to the end of the road there was a turn around, or a turn to the left. I did the turn around, which was the right choice. If you guessed left, you cheated yourself and only ran approximately 2 miles. I know this because I have a friend that accidentally went left. Why wasn’t there a volunteer here giving directions to disoriented runners? It’s completely frustrating looking at the results and seeing people with 20 minute run times, but slower swim and bike times. There’s a chance they are super gifted at running, but it’s more likely they didn’t do the full 3.1 miles.

I did my full 3.1 miles, and finished feeling pretty good about my results. The timing receipt read that I was 5th in my age group! A huge goal of mine is to win an age group award, so I was pleased to see how close I came while still recovering from a 70.3.

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Speaking of my goal of age group placing, I only have one sprint distance race left this year to compete for that, in my current age group. I’ll enter a new age group in 2016! I peeked at the next age group division results to see how I would have done in that division…Outlook not so good. I’m going to really have to work a lot harder next year to get there. Let’s not worry about that right now though, let’s celebrate this finish!

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Toughman 70.3

It took me three years to shave 14 minutes off of my best 70.3 finish time. Either I’m super lazy, or this sport is tough! Let’s go with it’s tough. All the variables with three disciplines, not to mention how to fuel, how to taper, how to peak, practicing those transitions, etc, etc..

So Toughman 70.3 was my A race this season, I wanted to PR. My goal was as close to 6 hours as possible, but at least finish in 6:15. I nailed 6:15 on the head with six seconds to spare. Hooray! The race is held at High Cliff State Park, it’s formerly known as High Cliff 70.3. For whatever reason they changed the name to Toughman WI. I’ll have a whole other blog post on my feelings about the race organization later. For now, I’m recapping my day.

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Saturday morning I woke up to a chilly 50 degrees in a tent. We camped at the park over night. Brrr. It messes with my head waking up to that cold of a morning! “Do I need my shrug? Arm warmers? A jacket on the bike?”  I really don’t need any of those things, but my entire body is so uncomfortably cold while trying to get ready for the race that I can’t think rationally. When we arrived to the race site, I got my head on right. I set up my transition area, chatted with other nervous triathletes, got my wetsuit on, kissed John good-bye before he started in his wave, and I was up next.

The swim start coral is dumb. It’s this tiny fenced in area, where they squeeze 50 people in, and it’s a narrow opening to get in and out of it. I much prefer an in-water swim start to this. Once the gun went off, all 50 people run about 200 yards into the water before actually swimming. My swim went fine, with the exception of goggle problems. My goggles fogged up and I refused to stop and clear them, so I swam pretty blindly. I got punched in the head at the last buoy, right after a moment of thinking “This is boring, when will it end?”

When I got to the shore I was happy to see wetsuit strippers, and flopped down to let them do the work for me. Then trotted conservatively up the hill to T1. Right here I want to note that the timing mat is not on the shore where it should be, it’s up a hill at the T1 entrance. My swim time includes wetsuit stripping and a lazy trot up a hill.

My bike ride didn’t start off as strong as I thought it would. I was conservative with energy. A big concern I had with this course is how flat it is compared to what I train on in the Verona, Cross Plains and Mt Horeb area. A flat course means more pedaling than I’m used to. When I got to mile 25 I kicked it in and started to push myself. The tail wind was amazing. I watched my mph average on my Garmin keep going up, up, up! As joyous as the tail wind was, it was not as ideal for the head wind. The last 3 miles were into brutal 15 mph wind that rattled my bike. I still managed to end my ride with 17.7 mph!

I had heard the run course changed this year, but I’m not good with maps, especially maps of trails that I’m not completely familiar with. The first half mile of the run course is a 500 ft climb up a path that leads to an observation tower. It was not run-able, to me. Had to walk it. When I finally got to the top of the bluff, it was a three loop course. On the first loop I took it easy, trying to get my legs to work after the bike. I thought my second loop would be mentally challenging, but it was my strongest. I was running efficiently, passing people, everything felt great.

On the third loop I felt myself slowing down, things beginning to get harder. I knew my PR was possible as long as I kept moving forward, so that’s what I did. My run goal was 2:15, but by mile 8 my Garmin stats were discouraging. It was mile 11 that zapped me. There’s a grassy, slightly uphill section that just messes with my head. I walked it! But seeing that sweet mile 12 marker and doing Garmin math got me moving more quickly again. The last mile is all downhill. I let gravity take me to the finish.

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I used black electrical tape to cover the sponsor and add 70.3 on the top. I can’t stand that the medal doesn’t say anything about it being a triathlon.

With lots of hard work, I earned my PR!

(There’s a lack of race photos because my dear husband did the 70.3 too. He kicked ass!)

My 2014 High Cliff 70.3 Recap

Capitol View Sprint Triathlon

Capitol View Triathlon.. where do I start? There are a few different ways I want to recap this race because it’s a special one to me. It was my first ever triathlon back in 2011 after coming back from severe runner’s knee. I was a complete noob, I hardly got on my bike before the race, and assured John “No big deal, it’s going to be soooo easy!”  It wasn’t easy, I got some humble pie, and then began my addiction of triathlon. Looking back, from then until now, I’m in awe of how far I’ve come. (2011 race recap here)

For this year, I had only signed up for the race a week beforehand. What in the world was I thinking? Did I really think I would not do this race? Of course I would. So it wasn’t penciled in on my training plan for my A-race next weekend, Toughman WI 70.3. With taper on the brain, my intentions were to take Capitol View easy, practice transitions, and just enjoy being surrounded by triathletes.

When I arrived at the race site on Sunday morning I was pleased to see glass calm lake Mendota, waiting for triathletes to make waves! In my wave I tried to get as close to the front as possible, and when the “gun” went off, I took off like a wild woman. With how smooth the lake was, I pulled away from my wave with ease. Around the first buoy I turned and saw a blur of purple swim caps behind me. Right next to me was a girl doing the breast stroke at the same speed as my freestyle swim. What the heck? I was having a hell of a time trying to pass her, but on the next buoy turn I lost her, I think. Who knows. All I know is that I was 2nd of my AG out of the water and that makes me giddy!

My T1 went better than last weekend in Lake Mills, got it done in less than 2 minutes. Tearing the wetsuit off quickly is tough!

On the bike I was happy there was no wind to fight, but I did have the challenge of a hilly course. With knowing I have a 70.3 this coming Saturday I didn’t push it very hard on the bike. Just used it as “easy” speed-work, if there’s such a thing? A gentle reminder to my legs that they can be speedy. It was only 10 miles too. When I got back to T2 I saw that my bike was the third on the rack. “Oh, maybe I’m doing pretty good?” I thought to myself.

That thought kept me moving as quickly as I possibly could, but it was a slow one! It had rained the night before, the run course is on trails, and in some spots the mud was slick like ice. Besides the slippery mud spots, the run course offers some challenging hills too. I was a little mad at my legs considering I’ve been training on that course for the last few weeks!

I’m happy with my finishing numbers with all things considered

Swim 400 yards –  7:27
T1  –  1:49
Bike 10 miles  –  38:10, 15.7 mph
T2  –  1:28
Run 3.1 miles  –  31:13, 10:04 min/mile (urgh)
Total  –  1:20:10
AG  –  6/20

I’m glad I signed up for the race last minute, it’s become a can’t-miss event for me. I can’t say enough good things about the race and its organizers!

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My friend Becca & I excited for the day!

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John placed 3rd in his age group!

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A sprint triathlon that gives an awesome medal! I love medals!

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Happy finisher!

Lake Mills Triathlon

On Sunday I got to break in my triathlon season at Lake Mills Triathlon. It’s a sprint distance, 400 yd swim, 16 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Going into it, my intentions were to race and evaluate my triathlon-fitness while I was still finishing up some peak mileage training for Toughman 70.3 in a couple of weeks. That meant I had a 12 mile long run on Friday, a two hour bike ride on Saturday afternoon, and then the sprint triathlon Sunday morning. I wasn’t sure how race-ready my legs would actually be!

As per usual, Mother Nature threw some challenges at me for race morning. 100% chance of rain and 19 mph wind. Woof. I’m okay with racing in the rain, but I am extremely cautious on my bike in the rain. Last thing I need right now is to crash my bike.

I bitched and moaned, I shivered, I was impatient, but finally my wave started at 7:49 AM. The lake was delightfully calm, and was a perfect temperature. My sighting must need practice because I felt like I was way far away from the buoy line, but it was peaceful out there. No bodies to claw at, no one grabbing my ankles. It was just a swim. I was 6th out of my age group out of the water.

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I got into a fight with my wetsuit in T1, and then headed off on my bike. I knew the wind would be a bother for the first half, so just hunkered down and got into an easy gear to keep the cadence at 85 or higher. All of my tough training rides in the wind last month paid off, because I was cruising! I was passing people on the itty bitty uphills that the course had to offer. When the course went with the wind I was flying at 28 mph! Definitely my strongest work on the bike!

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On the run my legs had the usual whoa, wtf is happening feeling, but it’s just three miles. I absolutely refused to walk any of those miles. My first split surprised me at 9:00, my second was 9:22, and third was 9:19. When it felt hard my mind went to positive pep talk “Just pretend this is Toughman 70.3, you want to PR, you gotta earn it. If you ever want to train to qualify for Kona it’s going to hurt way worse than this

Just the positive mental self talk is a huge success to me. In the past I’ve slipped down a black hole of negativity. I’ve been training hard, the results are showing, and it helps keep my head in a good place.

My official finish times
SWIM 400 yd:  8:25
T1:  3:23
BIKE 16 miles:  54:12, 17.7 mph
T2::  1:46
RUN 3.1 miles:  28:26, 9:10 min/mile
total:  1:36:10, 15/28 in AG

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I’m very happy with all that. After the race, on our drive back to Madison John and I debated whether or not we should last-minute sign up for Capitol View Triathlon this coming weekend. It took all of 2 minutes to decide, duh, yes we should! So we’re in for another weekend of last minute taper miles and a sprint triathlon…it’s the tri-life yo!