Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mile high to Sea Level

Well overdue race reports (Boulder 70.3 to Steelhead 70.3)...

After a month and a half of a training block, I was ready to race the Boulder 70.3.  Initially this race wasn't on my race schedule.  I have never liked racing at altitude so I was planning to avoid it all costs.  As time got closer, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to race in my own backyard.  I had high expectations for Boulder.  Coming off my training block, I felt like I was fit.  Time after time I was surprising myself with pacing and power.  Now it was time to test my fitness in a race.

Race morning went smoothly; can't beat sleeping in a little more and riding to the race sight.  Mentally and physically, I felt great!  After setting up transition and going for a 10min jog, I hoped in the water to finish my warm up.  So far everything has gone according to plan.

The fog horn sounds, the battle begins.  Immediately my heart rate sky rockets and I was doing everything I could to get out of the cluster of women.  Just as I'm getting to the first turn bouy, the field spreads out a bit and I was able to get into a rhythm.  I could no longer see the first pack, so I focused on my sighting and searched for one bouy after the other.  Several thoughts ran through my head, some  of which were, "my stroke doesn't feel good"; "I feel like I'm spinning my wheels."  My positive thoughts of feeling ready quickly turned into, just get me out of the water and onto the bike.  Those negative thoughts were quickly reversed when my coach shouted at me, you're sitting 3rd, as I was coming out of the water.  That was a nice reminder, that I don't always have to feel good to perform well.  In this case, my stroke felt bad but I was but I was swimming well.

T1 went very smoothly, I even managed to do a modified flying mount.  In the past, I have been worried about getting my leg caught up on the back water bottle.  With a little practice, I'm now able to do it in a race...practice makes perfect, right?!  I absolutely loved the bike course; knowing all the in's and outs, really helped.  I knew when to push and when to hold back because I knew what was coming up. I also really enjoyed the bike because it suited me; a combination of rolling hills and flats; not to mention training partners on my tail pushing me.

Nutrition has been an issue the past couple of races, I made my bottles too concentrated so my stomach couldn't tolerate it.  After making a few adjustments during training, I was thrilled to find out that the adjustments were spot on.  Not one stomach issue on the bike and all kinds of energy!  You can't go wrong with First endurance products as long as you stick to their protocol of nothing more than a 8% mixture.  As soon as I diluted my calorie bottles, I was a happy camper.   Boulder was a prime example of this; great energy on the bike and into the run.

T2 didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked.  I struggled to find my bike.  I also started racing with a fuel belt.  My biggest fear was the bottle was going to come out of the holster; it did.  I stopped and grabbed it as I was running out of T2.  Once I was running, I got right into a rhythm, mentally getting myself ready for the climbs to come.  First loop went smooth and right on pace.  As I started the second loop and began the run up the first hill, I could begin to feel the fatigue setting into my legs.  Just two more hills to climb and then on the home stretch; so I thought.  I got to the top of the last climb, asked my legs to go, but there was no go left.  I struggled with getting my turn-over back.  Needless to say, the last 4 miles were rough.  Hindsight tells me I took the first 3 miles out a little too hard, which then showed its ugly head the last 4 miles of the run.

Overall, Boulder 70.3 was ok.  I finally figured out my nutrition, had a good swim and bike.  I also reminded myself that its super important  to hold back the first 3 miles.  Early in the season there was no holding back because I wasn't coming off the bike feeling good.

Recovery week...
Hard week...
Taper week for Steelhead 70.3...

Not enough time to gain more fitness, most things just clicked.  Steelhead 70.3 was a fun race.  It's suited for the athlete that likes a mostly flat bike course with a few rollers and false flats, as well as a fairly flat run course with 1 moderate climb and 2 short steep climbs.  It's a good run course to try and PR on.

My race started out really well with my host family, the Osborn's.  I couldn't have asked for  a better family to stay with!  They were super accommodating, they took me in like one of their own.  The good energy continued into race morning.  Once again, I was close enough to ride to transition.  Temps were cool but supposed to warm up throughout the day, water temps were supposedly chilly; 65 degrees.  I struggled with deciding if I wear my Zoot sleeveless or sleeved wetsuit; I went with the sleeved one.  I wish I would have gone with the sleeveless.  I remember thinking, my legs feel like they are radiating heat as I was swimming.  I have got to mention how well the swim course was set up.  It was a point to point, often times its hard to know where you are at during the swim if it's point to point; not this time. The first half the bouys were yellow, the second half the bouys were orange.  What a great set up.  I was out in front just behind one other female, who was far enough in front to where I could barely see hers.  I was thankful the course was a no brainer.

T1 was flawless.  Second out of the water and first onto the bike.  The bike was fairly boring until a pit bull decided to charge.  He crossed the street in front of me, and shortly there after decided to charge another female, knocking her off her bike and ending her race.  I was afraid that was going to happen to; glad it didn't and glad Ashley was ok.  The majority of the course consists of false flats and some rolling hills towards the back end of the course.  I never really felt great on the bike, but I was riding well.  Again, it proves that you don't have to feel great to perform fairly well.  I was passed on the bike with about 5miles to go; I kept her in my sights.  T2 went as smoothly as T1; in and out.  This time I didn't have any fuel belt mishaps.

I was thrilled with how I felt coming off the bike; good energy and ready to run.  I took advantage of the slight downhill during the first half mile.  Then we hit our first good climb.  I really payed attention to my pacing the first 3 miles; I didn't want another repeat of Boulder, running out the gates too hard.  Before I knew it I was at mile 6, getting ready to go up the second climb (short and steep); still feeling good and sitting in second.  By the time I got to mile 9 and still was holding pace, I knew I was going to be able to finish hard; Just didn't know I was going to have to finish as hard as I did.  At mile 12+, I realized there was someone gaining ground on me.  I picked up my pace, it ended up being a little too early.  With about a 1/2 mile to go, Lindsey Smith came up on me, I tried to go with her but I didn't have the legs to match her pace.  In hindsight, I would have waited to push my pace when she came up on me so I could sit right with her and try to out sprint her at the finish; lesson learned.  Funny thing is, Lindsey is a Zoot Ultra Team teammate; I teased her as she was passing me when I knew I couldn't respond, with "you are killing me!"  I tried to distract her and take advantage; it didn't work :).  In the end, I finished 3rd with a run PR.

Best part is, I had a ton of fun out there.  My sponsors make it so much easier to race and travel all over the country. Thanks to First Endurance, Zoot Sports, Pro Energy Towel, The Right Stuff (Electrolytes); Zico Coconut Water, Colorado Multisport (bike shop)!!!  You all are a huge help and make amazing products


  1. Good report. I like what you wrote about sometimes you don't feel that great about how you are doing but you are doing well. Found that to be true in a sprint I did yesterday. Just never felt like I was "on" but had a PR in the end.

    1. Sometimes if we completely listen to our bodies, we would get no where with training and racing; there are also times when we must listen to them. That's why it is super important to really learn what you might be feeling and why. I wish we could always feel great out there.

      Keep racing hard and having fun with it.


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