Monday, April 28, 2014

San Juan 70.3 Race Report, "A Race of Many Firsts..." April 13th, 2014



Mandy and I flew to San Juan early Friday before the race. As excited as I was for this race, I was just as nervous. Mostly because I  have never had to take my bike apart, let alone try to put it back together. I can manage to take the wheels off and put them back on. That's about my extent. I was nervous to fly with my bike. When I handed my bike bag to TSA I found myself praying that it would a.) make it to San Juan and b.) make it there in one piece. I have also never raced a 70.3 this early. Training through a terrible winter I knew I didn't get many quality outdoor bike miles. Now, add in the heat of the island, I honestly had no idea how my body would react. I have never raced well in head. So let’s just say that I had a lot going through my mind that travel day.

After we checked into the hotel and were situated, we went to the expo to pick up our race bags. The expo was disappointing! Very small. Limited vendors. We went back to the room and put our bikes together. I surprised myself, I was able to put Trekie back together!

My coach scheduled me to do a 30 minute run that day and I am so glad that he did. By the time I got around to running, it was probably 4pm. It was hot and windy. I was able to scope out the area. Mandy was on her bike showing me around. I ran over to the swim start, ran by the transition area and ran part of the run course. It. was. hot! When I was done, I was drenched in sweat. But like I said, I was glad I had to run, I knew what to anticipate come race day.

Friday night we walked to Old San Juan for dinner. The walk was on the run course. I was able to sneak a peek at the first "dreaded" hill on the course. I remember looking at it and thinking, "oh crap!" I immediately began to picture myself powering up that hill and I no longer gave it one more negative thought.

Saturday seemed to come and go. I did an easy swim in the lagoon to get used to the salt water and took Trekie for a spin to make sure she was tuned up and ready to rock. All was good.


We woke up at 4am and made our way to the Starbuck's at our hotel, took breakfast and coffee back to the room and just relaxed. I loved being this close to the swim start and transition area. I never once felt rushed on race morning.

After breakfast we made our way to transition to set up our areas. I forgot how much I love the pre-race whirl. I really think that was the point where I acknowledged that I was actually racing. I made a mental note of where my bike was on the rack and then started scoping out the other gals in my age group. One girl really stood out. She was short, jacked and was decked out in Brooks gear. She just screamed, "FAST." I knew I would be seeing her out there on the course.


I went over and over my race plan in my head. Stay relaxed. Stay positive. Race your own race. Stick to your hydration/nutrition plan. Most of all, have fun! I was so excited for this swim. For the first time since racing triathlons, I was in the first swim wave. I started ten minutes behind the pros. This meant that I would have ZERO traffic to swim over or around. I couldn't wait. My wave had females 29 and under and also an older female age group, I think 50+. My plan was to line up in the front as I always do, take off fast to get ahead and then settle into a strong, yet comfortable pace. I knew I had a long day ahead of me. I knew I would be dealing with conditions that I wasn't used to. The last thing I wanted to do was to come out of the swim tired.

The countdown began from :30.... :15....:10.... and we were off! I executed my swim plan the way I wanted. There were two or three other girls who took off with me. Once I felt like I was in the front of the pack, I settled into that strong/comfortable pace. I worked on staying long and strong. Sighting wasn't an issue because the water was mostly clear and the buoys were visible. I worked on staying close to the buoys since in the past I have had a tendency to swim off course. I couldn't feel a current pushing me one way or the other. I felt great!

The coolest part about this swim was swimming under a bridge! The bridge was lined with cheering spectators. I knew they were there, however, when I was swimming I can't say I remember seeing or hearing anyone. I was just that focused. Going under the bridge the water was a little choppy but it wasn’t concerning to me. As I passed under, I was sighting quite a bit. It was darker and choppier. I could see a swimmer from my wave just ahead of me. I knew I was somewhere near the front and would be one of the first few to come out. In the past, I would have used up energy trying to catch her, but not this race. I was determined to stick to my plan.

The swim exit was a steep ramp with a rubber mat on it. The ramp was lined with five or more volunteers to help pull the athletes out of the water and up the ramp. The other side of the ramp was wooden steps! My legs were a little loosey goosey so I took my time going down those steps. This was when I glanced at my watch for the first time. Ugh, not a fast swim split and not one that I was expecting. Not as fast as I wanted to go. I quickly evaluated how I felt, knew I wasn't taxed, so I found comfort in knowing that I stuck to my plan. Only option I had was to carry on...



Remember the girl who I said looked fast in transition? She blew by me running into T1. She came out of the water right behind me, but that didn't matter, the chick could run. I could feel myself getting anxious and almost trying to match her steps. I knew I didn’t want to plow through the transition run so I talked myself out of it and just kept moving. The transition run was longer than I would have liked but before I knew it I was in front of Trekie.


One thing I didn't prepare myself for was the fact that I would be alone on the bike course for awhile since I was one of the first few out of the water. I was a bit nervous when I realized I had to actually follow the arrows on the road instead of other racers. Lucky for me, I wasn't solo for long as a 50 year old male blew by me about two miles into the bike. I was definitely feeling good. The course was flat but the roads were rough. There was a bit of a tailwind, so I was cruising along with little effort.

Then at about 6 miles I was passed by a girl in my age group. She stood out to me because she was decked out in everything USA. From now on, I will refer to her as such, "USA.” As she passed me I thought, "here we go, here comes the cyclists in my age group." But just as soon as I thought that, USA slowed up in front of me and I was gaining on her. As with my swim plan, my bike plan was the same. I didn't want to waste valuable energy trying to catch up to someone who just passed me. However, catching up to her required little effort and because of the drafting rules, I had to pass her. This became the theme of the bike leg. USA passed me then slowed, I passed USA. USA found more energy and passed again. I swear we went back and forth more than 6 times.

As I said earlier, the bike course was flat. I worked on staying strong yet relaxed. I stuck to my hydration and nutrition plan as I have practiced time and time again. I was paying close attention to how my body felt. Surprisingly, I didn't feel overheated but knew that I was sweating a great deal. I had salt tabs with me, even thoughI have never experimented with them. I figured just in case something went drastically wrong I would have them. The course had two aid stations that you rode through twice. I grabbed a bottle of water each time. I dumped a little water on me, drank a little, dumped some more, etc.

At the first turn around on the first loop I realized I would have a not so nice headwind on the way back. I'm not sure if I was trying to push harder or what, but shortly after going into the wind I started to get pain in my hips. I have never had this pain before. Was I cramping? I didn't think so. Was something out of whack on my bike? Didn't feel like it. Yet every time I was in aero the pain came right back. The only way I could ease the pain was to sit up, move around a bit in the saddle and then go back to aero. Sometimes I found myself sitting up longer than other times. I'm know this cost me a considerable amount of time but I had to do what I could to ease the discomfort. I was too afraid to push harder not knowing what I was dealing with. My goal quickly became to survive those last remaining miles of the bike, try to recover my legs the best I could and set myself up for a good run. I remember thinking that I may not be able to even run once I got off the bike. It hurt that bad.

During this hip pain battle, Mandy came up behind me and tapped my butt. I found such comfort knowing that she was out there with me. I really look up to her. She rode by my side for a few seconds and asked why I was sitting up. I tried to explain the issue to her. However, she had a race on her hands and was cranking that bike out! She yelled back to me to drink, I tried to yell back to her that I was. I realized I couldn't dwell on the discomfort anymore, I had to keep on keeping on. So I started to think about something else, something positive. So where were those fast biker chicks in my age group? I realized that besides USA, I had yet to be passed by anyone in my age group.

As I approached mile 50, USA finally made her move and passed me for the last time. She took off and I never saw her again. At this mile my hips were still screaming, but I told myself to just spin myself home, keep the legs loose, I wasn't breaking any records today.

Little did I know, I was sitting in 3rd coming into T2. At the start of the bike I was 4th. Somehow, in my pain cave, I managed to pass someone and hold off the rest of those girls in my age group.


My dismount was a little shaky. I got off my bike and thought, "wow my legs don't feel great. My hips feel tight." I proceeded through T2 as I normally would and started to feel excited to take on a run course known for its brutality. Bring it on. Let the game begin!


The run course starts with an incline. I was actually thankful for this because I think it helped me to get my running legs in check. I also realized that I no longer had any hip pain. Jackpot! As I crested the 2nd little incline within the first mile, someone on the course yelled to me, " 3rd place female." I thought," was he yelling at me? No way." Whether he was yelling to me or not, at that point it became all business. I was on the hunt and I refused to be the hunted.

I would glance at my watch from time to time but I was not a slave to it. I knew I was running a great pace, and was running at a pace I knew I could maintain. As I went through the aid stations I made sure to slow enough to go right down the line of volunteers. I grabbed everything. Fluids, fluids and more fluids! I also grabbed orange slices which came in handy as I ran the hills. I held that orange slice as if my life depended on it. As I made the turn for the first hill (it seriously looked like it went straight up, no joke) I buried my head and refused to look for the top. I took a nibble of the orange slice. Yum, did that orange juice taste great! It took my mind off of the incline and I swear it helped me grind my gears to the top. This became the order of events for the run leg. Aid station: grab EVERYTHING. Big hill: eat, head down, grind! Recover legs at the top. Let legs go for the downhill. Repeat 4 times.

The course takes runners out and back along a path that on one side is surrounded by ocean and the other side by a fort wall. My coach warned  me about this part of the course. He told me that this portion of the course would be hot and to make sure I had some fluids with me to keep me cool. I grabbed 3 bags of ice at the last aid station before the wall.  I put one bag in my tri top and one in my tri shorts. The 3rd one I held in my hand. It's amazing how great the ice made me feel. I trucked on.

As I turned around on the path, I couldn't help but stare down all the runners coming at me from the opposite direction. So many people looked like they were suffering. I heard grunts and moans, heavy breathing, saw a lot of walking and even some tears. It was complete chaos. Carnage. Yet, I was holding strong. I kept repeating a part of a poem in my head over and over whenever I saw someone suffering. I knew I couldn’t let myself get caught up in someone else’s suffer-fest. "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs..."

As my first lap was coming to an end, I  was looking for girls who looked like they were in my age group, girls who could possibly sneak up on my tail. I didn't see any, but kept running as if that phantom age grouper was on my heels. From time to time I found myself smiling and acknowledging that I was doing what I set out to do. I only had one more loop to run. I only had to run those dreaded hills one more time!!

At mile 10 and couldn't believe I already had 10 miles under my belt or that I only had a 5k left. Still no one was coming in the other direction that looked like they were in my age group. I knew I only had one more hill to climb and it was practically downhill and flat to the finish. I refused to let up and kept chugging along. Anyone who has raced triathlons knows the anticipation of the "phantom runner." And believe me, I still had that anticipation. Whether I was truly sitting in 3rd place or not, I made sure that I ran like I was.

As I made the final short climb for the last time, I could see the finish line. I made the turn for home and could see the overall time on the clock. 5:43. Ok  subtract 10 minutes for my starting wave. I mustered whatever energy I could to try to sprint across the line. 5:33! A new PR!

2014 San Juan 70.3
Swim0:31:541:31/100 yds
Bike2:59:0518.76 mph

After finding Mandy at the finish, we used whatever energy we had left to get our phones to check our results. Neither one of us truly knew how our races played out. We both tried to bring up the results on our phones and go figure the site wouldn't load. UGH! The anticipation was killing us. I checked some of my facebook notifications and text messages but none of them gave me my finishing results. So, Mandy called her husband. Her husband confirmed that I indeed finished 3rd! A podium finish! I cried instantly. Mandy also finished 3rd in her's as well!!!! We both were in tears. What a sense of accomplishment for us both.

I can’t thank Mandy enough for asking me to race in Puerto Rico with her. We had the perfect weekend. She is someone that I truly admire and I learn so much from her. Thank you!!

I chose this race because I felt it gave me a good opportunity to seal a spot for Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I knew going into this race that I would have to finish as high as I could within my age group to give me that opportunity. I knew that my 3rd place finish would give me a chance. However, at the finish we found out that my age group had one spot. I could only hope that the 1st and 2nd place girls either had a spot or didn’t want that spot. The anticipation was killing me.

Before the awards ceremony I found out that the first place girl (who was the fastie I saw in transition, the one who sprinted through T1, the one who I never saw again after that, was from France, went under 5 hours on this course) claimed the spot. UGH! I was jealous.

Not getting a spot stung certainly stung and at the awards ceremony, I wasn't even excited to make the podium. I was just so caught up in not getting a spot. I based my entire performance around the fact that I didn't get one.

I won't lie it has stung for a while. Nearly two weeks after the fact it still stings. But as I sit here and I write this I can say that I have finally come to terms with it. There was absolutely nothing more that I could have done to give myself anymore of an opportunity to seal a spot. I executed my race strategy 100% and placed in the top 3. Sealing a spot simply became a matter of luck and my performance was not and cannot be based around luck. I have worked hard every day for that 3rd place finish.


In a way I am thankful for that sting of not sealing a spot. For that sting has sparked my fire and I've got work to do..

Til next time...


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nations Triathlon, Olympic Distance, September 8th, 2014

Last race of the 2013 triathlon season, done! I decided to do this race after getting injured for the Rock and Roll D.C. Marathon in March. I have been to the DC area a few times and have loved it. So choosing this race was a no brainer! I figured what a great way to end the season in a city that I love, and a shorter distance!

I drove to the race Saturday morning and checked into the host hotel, The Washington Hilton. The expo was right there. For an Olympic distance race this expo was awesome! There were plenty of vendors and free stuff! I scored some free gels, tire levers, a souvenir cup and a pair of running socks!

After the expo I had to get my bike ready to take to transition for overnight. I fixed my race number on my bike and decided to ride it to the transition area since it was at least two miles from the host hotel. Seriously, what a great idea! I rode my bike through DC with running shorts and run shoes on. But the best part was, I got to maneuver myself and Trekie around the National Mall! The day before the race I try to get in a 30 minute easy ride, just to get my legs spinning, and then follow that up with a 10 minute run just to get my legs turning over. So I decided once I dropped my bike off in transition I would do my 10 minute run back towards the hotel.

Trekie got to take in all the sites!

Transition was located next to the Potomac River and by the Lincoln Memorial. The transition area was huge!! I had no idea how many people were doing this race, but come to find out it was close to 5,000 athletes!

During my scenic ride to transition my brakes seemed to be rubbing, so for the first time in my triathlon career I took my bike to the onsite mechanics. It was bothering me, and mentally I knew it would be better if I had someone check it out, that way I didn’t have to worry about it come race day. I have learned this year to make races as stress-free and relaxed as possible. There is no use in wasting valuable energy. So the awesome dudes at the mechanic tent fixed my bike, nothing major was wrong, just a little adjustment needed.

Now I had to find my spot on the transition rack. Where to start? The best part about this transition was that each row was numbered. There were huge numbered flags in the middle of the aisle, there were about 30 rows! I was row 24 and about 3 spots from the end of the rack! I remember smiling and laughing, thinking if I lose my bike in this transition there is something seriously wrong! For once this season, I am not going to lose my bike! Run to row 24 out of the swim, left hand turn down the aisle, run to the end! Check!

As a pre-race ritual, I walked my paths into T1 and out of T1, and then into T2 and out of T2. I knew I had a short run into T1 but a long run out. Short run into T2, long run out.
Race Morning: 5am wake-up and caught the complimentary shuttle by 5:30am. Transition closed at 6:45am, race started 7am. They announced in transition that the water temperature was 80 degrees and therefore it was a non-wetsuit swim. I was stoked! But seriously, who would have thought that in September I would have my first ever non-wetsuit swim!  The only down-side for me was that I was wave 30 at the swim start! So I figured I would have a good wait after the race was officially underway. It was a time trial start which meant that a few athletes were sent every 20-25 seconds. With 5,000 athletes, I was in for a wait. I took my time walking around to stay loose, and ventured down to the water and watched other athletes take off to become familiar with the process. I sat a lot, trying to save my legs. I had so much time at the swim start, I was bored! I swear time stood still. The waves of athletes before me seemed like they were barely moving. People were EVERYWHERE!

Swim: Finally, it was time to move and time flew now! Next I knew I was in the swim chute and out onto the boat launch staring up the Potomac! I realized that all athletes had to SIT on the boat launch and at the sound of the whistle enter the water feet first. I can’t say that I was a fan of this swim start. However, the best part about this course is that it is shaped into the Washington Monument! How appropriate! I knew heading out to the turnaround I would be against the current, but coming back I had the current. This was probably the most well marked course. Huge orange buoys, clearly marked by 100 meters and floated nearly 6-7 feet off the water! If I swam off course, something would definitely be wrong! It was also really neat to swim under the bridge!

I do have to say that being wave 30 made for a lot of congestion from the start. I had mentally prepared myself for all the congestion and stayed relaxed through the swim. And, I didn’t swim off course!

SWIM TIME: 25:12

T1: I found row 24 like it was nobody’s business! Left hand turn, ran down the aisle, and whoohoo found Trekie faithfully waiting for me!

Bike: This was a two loop course. I headed out feeling great and my legs were ready to rock! After only being out on the course for a short time, I came upon a volunteer waiving a caution flag telling cyclists to slow down because there was a no passing zone coming up. I tried to get ahead of any slow riders before that zone came but to my luck I ended up behind someone who I believed to be a novice rider. She was constantly on her brakes. It got to the point where I yelled at her to keep moving forward and to lay off her brakes! At this point I realized that I should have gone to the athlete briefings that were offered throughout the day at the expo. I decided not to attend one because I was rushed for time. However, note to self, always attend!

Another reason I should have went to one of the meetings, was that there were many turn arounds on the course. It would have benefited me to know where they were. By turn around, I mean sharp turns where my speed was reduced to 4-5 mph. At one point on the course the turnaround was over a wooden ramp!

Positives to this course: it was very well marked! Mostly flat. A few inclines. None of the inclines required me to get up out of the saddle.

Negatives: besides the no passing zones and turn arounds, I was under the impression that the course would go around the monuments. The only monument I was ever near was the Lincoln Memorial. So that aspect of the course was deceiving.

BIKE TIME: 1:14:15

T2: I dismounted my bike and started to run into transition only to find another wooden ramp that I had to push my bike over and run over with bike shoes on! I was able to find my rack without any effort. Racked my bike, threw on my run shoes, visor and race belt and out for a 10k I went!

Run: I had full intentions on giving this run everything I had left in the tank. I promised myself that when it started to hurt (as it eventually always does) that I would push through it and run harder. The first mile of the run was uphill, not tremendously, but enough that my legs felt the incline. As I approached mile one, it was marked with a huge flag and was very easy to see. At this first mile aid station, I grabbed a gel that one of the volunteers was holding out. Yes, I was already hurting and it was only mile 1. But one great piece of advice I have been given is that when things start to suck on the run, eat something! You will always feel better. Truth! The gel was a GU Orange Cream. Damn, did it taste good! I gulped it down and washed it down with a cup of water as I ran through the aid station.

A volunteer yelled as I passed that mile 1 was the only hill on the course and that it was all flat for the next 5.2 miles! I started trucking and he was right. It was a very flat 10k right along the water.

As flat as the course was, I saw many signs of weakness from other athletes. Maybe it was the heat? By the time I was on the run course, it was late morning and I do remember being hot. Other athletes were walking, breathing heavy, grunting, checking their watches every second, etc. I smiled a few times and told myself, “no matter what, never show any signs of weakness!”

I checked my watch at each mile and knew I was running the same pace and I was feeling great! I made sure to stay up on my nutrition and hydration, so at every aid station I made sure to grab something, even if it was a cup of water to hold on to for a few minutes and then dump on my head. It made me feel better. I only took that one gel at mile 1 though. After that gel I knew my stomach wasn’t going to handle anything else. I knew that if I just kept myself hydrated and cool that I would be just fine.

Indeed I was just fine. I ended up finishing with my best pace off the bike all year and not to mention a new PR by 2 minutes at the Olympic distance!

RUN TIME: 52:30


2013 has been a truly great year for me. I have learned so much about the sport of triathlon, about myself, about training and especially about racing. I have met some inspirational triathletes that I have the privilege of calling my friends! I have taken all of their advice and I believe it has truly helped in my performances this year. I have the best support system and the best training partners. I already cannot wait for 2014!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Timberman 70.3, August 18th, 2013

Timberman 70.3, August 18th, 2013

I signed up for this race after I PR’d at Syracuse 70.3. I couldn’t settle until I gave myself a shot this year to break 6 hours at the 70.3 distance. I remember when I registered, I told myself a 5:59 would be just fine. But I wanted it and I knew what I had to do.

I drove to New Hampshire the Friday before the race and stayed at a secluded lake front property about 25 minutes from the race site. Once I got there, Kenrick and I went to pick up our packets and scope out the race expo. I have to admit, I was not impressed. We were in and out of there quickly and went back to the house for a short swim in the lake. A 20 minute swim had me huffing and puffing. My taper was right on point!

Saturday morning I woke up with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. It seemed like the air in New Hampshire was dry. Maybe it was the pine trees? But my allergies were in full effect. Great! We ventured out for a 30 minute ride with a few race efforts, and followed it up with a 10 minute run to get the legs moving. My legs felt heavy on the bike but towards the end of the 30 minutes they started to feel better. My legs felt awesome on the run. I knew I was ready to rock.

We decided to drive the bike course on the way to the race site to rack our bikes. I am so glad that we did this because we were able to see where the hills were on the course. And yes, there were plenty of hills. The hills didn’t seem to be too strenuous but they were certainly there. There was one decent climb around mile 10, which meant one decent climb around mile 46, and also one climb leading back into transition.

When we got to the race site I was in awe! It was beautiful! The first thing we did was walk our bikes into transition and found our spots on the rack. I was located closest to the shore line about three racks in from the barriers, short run out of T1, longer run out of T2. I walked my path in and out of both transitions, visualized over and over again, looked for easy ways to spot my rack/bike, etc. I didn’t want to forget where my bike was like I did in NYC!

I walked down to the water and the first thing I thought was, “ is this an ocean or a lake??” It was CHOPPY! As experienced of a swimmer as I am, even I was a little intimidated. It was going to be a battle in the morning if the water stayed like that!


We drove the run course as we left the race site for the day. I thought it looked good, a few inclines here and there and one decent climb towards the end of each loop. It was a two loop course, so I had to climb it twice. I felt confident though. I knew I put in some great work on the run leading up to this race and I just told myself to take it all in. Don’t get worked up. I can honestly say that the day before the race was the first that I have ever felt so relaxed and at ease. I knew what I faced, I just needed to go out and get it done.

RACE MORNING: 4:30am wake up. My throat was still scratchy. Nose was stuffy. I tried not to dwell on it and go about my normal race morning routine; bagel, coffee, banana, race chip around ankle, double check transition bag and off to the race!

We drove to the shuttle which was located about three miles from the race start. Athletes could park at the race site, however no cars could leave until 5pm. So we decided to leave the car at the resort and use the shuttle. Athletes were boarded on the shuttle first, so Kenrick and I got on and caught up with his family at the race site. We sat in total silence the entire ride. Three miles felt like forever. I kept thinking about the race at hand. I spent a lot of time listening to other athletes converse about the race, the course, etc. It seemed like everyone had the dreaded hills on their minds. A few times I caught myself smirking and chuckling. In a way I felt confident knowing I was not intimidated by the hills on the bike. I train on hills everyday!

Once off the shuttle, it finally hit me that I was racing! I was in the midst of the race day whirlwind. Body marking, the hustle into transition, setting up transition, the hustle to the bathrooms, the LONG line at the bathroom, the brisk walk to the swim start. It is all second nature to me now. I never once had the pre-race butterflies or the panicked “what-if” thoughts. I was the most relaxed I have ever been. I have been in this situation before, I have done this before, I have felt this pain before. There was nothing left to do it, but to do it!

I remember looking at the time and thinking wow I have a long time to hang out until I start. I was wave 17 so I started over an hour after the actual race start. I don’t think I have ever started that far back in a race either. My age group is usually one of the first waves in the water. I knew I would be trampling over quite a few athletes. It was chilly so I stood on the shore bundled up as long as possible. I decided to forgo a swim warmup and would use my actual 1.2 mile swim as my warmup, after all, a half ironman isn’t a swim race!

Just as I felt like I looked at the time and thought I had forever and a day until I started, time seemed to sneak up on me and it was almost go time. I put on my wetsuit and made my way to my corral. Kenrick was wave 16 so he lined up at the same time. He gave me a few words/thoughts of encouragement. One really stood out. He said, “no matter what, no matter how things turn on you, even if/when they get bad, always stay positive!” I wished him good luck and told him I would see him out there!

SWIM: I casually walked out to the buoy start line, other girls swam. I adjusted my goggles and sunk down in the water to get my wetsuit soaked and warmed up. The announcer gave the thirty second warning and I started my watch. I wanted to know my swim time when I finished. I took off quickly at the start, as I always do, to find clear water out in front. I remember briefly thinking “how am I going to swim well when I can’t even breathe from these allergies!” But just as quickly as I thought it, I quickly forgot it and remembered what Kenrick told me, “stay positive!” I kept pulling forward.

This swim course consisted of two right hand turns. I had clear water to the first right hand turn, however it all changed the second I made the first turn. I immediately found myself in traffic! I caught the athletes from waves before me. At this point it felt like an ocean swim. The water was choppy and there was a current pushing me towards the shore. I was fighting other swimmers, waves and a current. I told myself to relax and swim as smooth as possible. There was also a fog coming off the water and I had a hard time seeing. At one point I stopped and swam breaststroke, lifted my goggles off my eyes just to find the next buoy! I thought, “wow this may not be a good swim.” Stay positive…

I managed to find my way to the last right hand turn which lead for home and I kicked it into high gear. I saw a rainbow of colors, pink, blue, green caps everywhere. I just kept ticking them all off. I swam over top of people, grabbed their feet/shoulders/heads and pulled myself forward. It was very congested. I made sure to swim all the way into shore until my hands touched the lake bottom. I got this swim tip from my favorite pro triathlete and superb swimmer, Andy Potts! People were walking into shore as I was still swimming. Once my hands hit bottom, I stood up, lost my footing and fell face first into the water. Ugh! Stay positive. I stood back up and hustled up the shore. I glanced down at my watch and subtracted thirty seconds.


Fastest half ironman swim to date! It was go time! As I ran into T1, I heard Kenrick’s father yell that I was third out of the water in my age group and two minutes back.

T1: I was smiling from ear to ear as I entered transition. I couldn’t believe I swam so well in those conditions. I found my rack but ended up running right past my bike! “STAY POSITIVE!” Hey, at least I was on the right rack and only a few steps away. I tore off my wetsuit, put on the bike shoes, helmet, glasses and it was time to bring out the pink!

BIKE: Right out of the gate I rode up on course carnage! An ambulance was in the middle of the road, lights on, and four bikes lying on the ground. One person was loaded onto a stretcher and another person was on the ground with a very bloody leg. Stay positive. I paid a great deal of attention to my hydration and nutrition on the bike this race. More than I have ever done before. I had a lengthy conversation with Kenrick the Friday night before the race in which he told me that if you only drink when you are thirsty it is too late. He has a nutrition/hydration plan that he implements during the race and that it was something to consider. So before the race I made my own plan. I committed to drinking something every ten minutes and eating something every thirty minutes. Constantly thinking about when to eat and drink seemed to make the bike fly by! Before I knew it, I was staring at the hill at mile ten. Rather than panicking, like I saw a lot do, I shifted into the granny gear and spun my way up. I saw tons struggling; one guy even got off his bike and walked it to the top. I sat the entire time, my legs didn’t burn once. Nice, steady effort. No. Big. Deal.

The next forty or so miles were flat and very fast! I cleared the thirty mile mark at a 21.5 mph average! I felt great. I did a lot of passing, but was passed a lot too. In past races if I saw someone in my age group pass me, I would go harder and try to catch up with them. Not this race though. I stayed within my limits. I stuck to my nutrition/hydration plan, and the goal of not making my legs burn. After all, a half ironman is not a bike race!

There were a few aid stations on the bike and I made sure to grab something at each one. I grabbed a big bottle of water and drank half of it and dumped the rest of it on me to cool off. I was never overheated at any point, but cold water seems to always bring me back to life. At another aid station I grabbed a banana. Did that ever hit the spot! First time I ever ate something that I didn’t carry with me on the bike.

I was expecting the final climb in towards transition and seemed to take it with ease. I also realized that any time I climbed, it was always time for me to hydrate. There was something comforting to me holding a bottle while climbing. Don’t ask. This final climb was the only time I looked at my overall bike time. I knew that if all went well I was going to have my fastest half ironman bike split too!!


T2: At this point I knew what I had waiting for me and I knew that in order to go under six hours, I had to RUN.

RUN: Before I get into the meat of this leg I have a side note. A few weeks before Timberman, I had the privilege to be in Lake Placid for the Ironman. I was able to be there and cheer on my training partners as they took on that challenge. I can’t help but point her out in this section because I believe her performance at IMLP truly inspired me for this race. Mandy Lovett plowed through 26.2 miles at the end of an Ironman like I have never seen before. Maybe it’s because she is my biggest inspiration and I truly look up to her, but I thought to myself, “if Mandy can push through 26.2 like it was nothing and look unphased and strong, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE as to why I can’t run 13.1 miles at the end of a half ironman.” I feel that this photo needs to be put in this race report, because anytime I have doubts when I run I refer to this photo. There are no words needed.

One more bit of motivation for me was that I was able to read Mandy’s IMLP race report leading up to this race. And in her report she quotes her husband, Brian Lovett. Another inspiration to me. I recited his quote in my head numerous times at Timberman. I am so happy to call these two strong athletes my friends. In his words, “You just make up your mind that you are not going to walk, and don’t.”

As I ran out of T2, Kenrick’s son and daughter stood with their hands out ready for high fives. I was pumped. I went over the time mat and started my watch. At past races, I never used my watch on the run because it played too much on my mind. But this race I had more confidence going into the 13.1 miles and I knew what I had to do to reach my goal. I promised myself that if things went downhill that I would turn my watch off. But I knew in my heart that wasn’t going to happen. I committed to the run and refused to walk.

I got to mile one and felt great. I glanced at my watch, 8:21 first mile. WHOA! I needed to slow down, I had a long way to go!

Every aid station I grabbed something. Water, Gatorade, cola, oranges, banana, ice, cold sponges. By the way, I am totally obsessed with the ice cold sponges. I grabbed two every time they were offered. One for each hand! And just like the water bottle on the bike, it was comforting to hold them.

Kenrick passed me on the run as he was in his final lap. He slapped me high five and told me to keep it up!! It was very motivating to have yet another inspirational friend/athlete out there on the course competing and cheering me on.

I thought of the run as four 5k’s and a little extra. I cleared the first 5k and I still felt great! At Syracuse I got to mile two and felt like I was at mile ten! This race was different. I remember seeing the only real climb on the course and thinking I’ve got you! I refused to walk. Spectators were cheering for me! People were walking all around me, but I did not give up.

Before I knew it, I was already halfway through the run and into the turn around chute. I saw Kenrick and his parents and gave them all a thumbs up! ONE MORE LOOP TO GO!

Throughout the run I checked my watch every mile and could tell that I wasn’t slowing down or losing any time. I was simply plugging away. I knew if all went well I would definitely have my fastest half marathon time at the 70.3 distance. This run simply flew by. I approached the dreaded last climb into the finish, and I will admit I was at the point where I wondered if I had anything left to run up it. Stay positive. Up I went.

I made the turn for home and had a load of energy. I kicked it towards the line. Spectators were screaming out my bib number and my name. I knew I ran just over 2 hours, but had no idea my overall finish time. I knew I was under six hours but not how far under. I knew I had to deduct an hour from the official time clock because I started about an hour after the pros.

When the official clock was in my sights, I glanced at it and saw it read six hours and between thirty and forty minutes. I lost it. Choked up, tears rolling, arms raised in victory. Running and crying. I can honestly say I have never done that, and wow what a task that was! But I knew I accomplished my goal.

I crossed the finish line and a volunteer told me to breathe! Take a deep breath! Easier said than done! I still didn’t know my official time but let’s just say when I found out, the tears were back!


OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 5:35:47 and a new PR by over 30 minutes!

I swear as I write this I am still in shock. The whole day felt effortless. After the tears subsided, I remember thinking, “Did I really just do a 70.3?” I did NYC tri a month earlier and felt way worse and that was a shorter distance. Kenrick said that’s when you know you did things right. The cards were certainly in my favor and I truly had a great race. I still can’t believe it. But there is one thing that I learned this race and I will be sure to carry it into all my other races…

“No matter what, always stay positive.”

2013 Syracuse 70.3 2013 Timberman 70.3
0:32:48 1:33/100 yds 0:29:38 1:24/100 yds
0:03:37     0:02:07
3:02:52 18.37 mph 2:55:28 19.1 mph
0:01:40     0:01:49
2:25:23 11:05/mile 2:06:46 9:40/mile
6:06:20 5:35:47

Friday, July 26, 2013

New York City Triathlon, Olympic Distance, July 14th, 2013

Ideal Acceptable
Swim 0:16:32 1:00/100 yds 0:17:00 1:02/100 yds
T1 0:04:20   0:04:30  
Bike 1:10:00 21.0 mph 1:14:00 20 mph
T2 0:01:15   0:01:25  
Run 0:52:30 8:27/mile 0:54:30 8:47/mile
Total 2:24:37 2:31:25

Two years ago I was a spectator at this race and loved every minute of it. I mean what’s not to love about competing in NYC? Great scenery around the Hudson River, lots of people offering support, the mile stretch of 72nd street and Central Park! Ever since I was spectator I have entered in the lottery to compete in this event. I was never picked, until this year! This quickly became one event on my race lineup that I was thoroughly excited for. I also became more excited the closer I go to this race. A month prior I competed in Syracuse 70.3 and PR’d. I knew I was in great shape, the swim for the event is FAST, the atmosphere in NYC is amazing, and the list could go on forever!

I drove into the city the day before the race; hotel check-in was at 3pm. I arrived approximately an hour early thinking I could check-in early. WRONG. I checked in; however a room was not available at that time. I walked around the corner to the nearest pizza place, ordered my pre-race lunch pizza and scarfed it down in the hotel lobby. 3:10pm rolled around, still no room available. At this point I was getting anxious and pestered the lobby attendants until finally I was able to get into my room. STRIKE 1.
I made my way down to transition to rack my bike for the night. This event has close to 3000 competitors of all different ability levels. Therefore, there are two transitions. A red transition and a yellow transition. Red transition is closest to the swim exit, yellow is the farthest. Of course I was in the yellow transition! Being in this transition, I knew I had the farthest run from the swim exit, approximately 700 yards.

I went into transition and racked my bike on the designated rack. Depending on how you looked at transition, my bike was located just shy of the middle. I knew I had to walk transition a few times to familiarize myself with where my bike was placed. I walked to the swim in and then proceeded to walk to where my bike was. I then walked from my bike to the bike exit and then from the bike in back to my rack. I did this twice. I made note of the advertisements posted to the fence too as markers for where my race gear would be located. Once I felt comfortable and convinced I knew where my bike was for T1 and T2 I made my way back to my hotel room.

Race Morning: The night before I made sure to set my alarm twice because this race started earlier than most other triathlons I have done. The professionals were set to start at 5:50am! According to my calculations I was to begin sometime close to 6:30am so I wanted to make sure that I was awake, up and moving with some added time to spare. I set my alarm for 4am and 4:10am. My alarm went off and I looked at the time, 4:10am. I thought, “Why didn’t the 4am alarm go off??” My dad informed me that I slept through the 4am alarm! Wow. I didn’t even hear it. That means that it was going off for at least two minutes and it didn’t wake me. That has NEVER happened. Not even in my everyday life! I am usually very restless the night before a race, this night I was apparently knocked out! STRIKE 2.

I made my way down to transition to set up my bike/run gear quickly and then started the trek towards the swim start. From transition to the actual swim start is close to a 1.5 mile walk. Now add 3000 athletes trying to make the same trek, can you say crowded? It was relatively painless though and I made it up to the start in time to see the pro’s start. I couldn’t help but notice the current sweeping them down the river! I was pumped and mentally prepared for a FAST swim!

Swim: I entered the orange capped corral for females 25-29. There were two corrals for my age group. I walked right up to the front. The swim was a time trial start, so fifteen athletes were sent into the water every twenty seconds. I wanted to make sure that I was in the first group of fifteen in my corral. I always love listening to the pre-race chatter between athletes. I heard a lot of gals in my group talking about this race being their first. I remember thinking, “wow! What a huge race to choose for a first timer!”

I walked out onto the boat launch in the middle of the Hudson and found myself staring the river down! It really was an awesome feeling. Boats, kayakers, jet skis, lifeguards, spectators, EVERYWHERE! I put my toes over the edge of the launch and waited. Age groupers had to do a feet first entry into the water, only the pros were able to dive. The whistle blew, feet first jump and it was off to the races! I maintained a quick arm turnover until I freed myself of the pack and then settled into my pace. I started sighting and scanning for other females in orange and purple caps. I wanted to tick them off one by one! What an awesome feeling it was being carried down the Hudson. I was in a full body wetsuit and a quick current made this swim feel almost effortless. Normally my arms become sore and tired but they didn’t, not once during this swim! I tried to swim in the middle of the .9 mile stretch. However, at one point I became too comfortable and in the zone that I stopped sighting. Next thing I knew, I took a breath and was facing a huge boat! WHOA. My lungs also consumed boat fumes. Something I have never experienced during a tri. Definitely not a good taste/smell to have in your mouth/nose. I must have been flustered by the fumes, maybe even high on them (HAHA) because I found myself swimming far right and slightly off course. Great! STRIKE 3. Wasted time! I continued to pluck away at the purple caps (Females 25-29, corral before mine) and quickly found myself at the exit. The swim exit is a metal ramp and there are volunteers standing on the ramp in the water to grab athlete’s hands to help them exit. The ramp was steep and obviously slippery when wet! I grabbed a volunteers hand and ran up the ramp.

SWIM TIME:  16:31, :59/100 yards, 1st in Age Group!

After exiting the swim I now faced a 700 yard run to T1. I kept telling myself, “Relax. Get feeling back into your legs and set yourself up for a good bike!” I had a volunteer yell at me after exiting the swim that I have a “river beard” and to wash it off! EWW. I took my hands and wiped my face. Brown and green muck everywhere. I don’t even want to know.

Enter T1: Instantly I couldn’t find my bike. I panicked. How could this happen after I mapped out this transition numerous times the day before? I ran down the wrong aisle and wondered why I didn’t see any pink! I began scanning other aisles. How did I get into the aisle that I was in? Lost bike in transition = STRIKE 4.  More time wasted. I found my bike, still had to take off my wetsuit and put on my helmet, glasses and bike shoes. Once situated, I took my bike off the rack and went to run out of transition but now I heard a rattle coming from my bike. I look down and realized that my chain had jumped. SERIOUSLY? And how did that happen? STRIKE! I stopped in the middle of the runway, put it back on and once again tried to hustle out. I knew this transition was already going to be a long one considering the longer run and well my loss of direction! Now a mechanical! I get stopped behind three guys leisurely walking their bikes out of transition. And I mean leisurely walking. A snail’s pace. I couldn’t run around them because the exit was narrow. STRIKE. (I have stopped counting at this point)

BIKE: I hustle up to the mount line, finally on and all I wanted to do was to pound out this 25 mile ride! The bike starts out with a short straight stretch along the Hudson and then athletes make a sharp right hand, uphill turn followed by a sharp left turn at the top. In the midst of trying to pick up speed and making all these sharp turns I hit a pothole and my water bottle flew out. EVEN BIGGER STRIKE. I figured I would be fine with only carrying one bottle of Gatorade for this ride. It was only 25 miles. Well, I now had to do 25 miles with zero hydration. Panicked. Agitated.  Frustrated. I tried to calm myself down. Eh, 25 miles without hydration will be okay. It’s not like it’s a half ironman or anything. I didn’t feel so bad when I proceeded through the course and saw many water bottles on the ground. I knew I wasn’t the only one.

I rode the left hand side of the lane majority of the course. I passed a lot of people. But at the same time I found myself staring at the road the entire ride. The course was a main highway in the city, so that meant that there were potholes, cracks, craters, you name it, everywhere. I saw lots of athletes on the side of the road with flats. I thought, “Just what I need to seal the deal on the day, a flat!” So I ended up playing it safe. The heat started to take its toll on me. Leg cramps from dehydration arose around mile twelve. My right hamstring and right calf felt like they were going to snap! I took more nutrition than normal thinking it would help alleviate the issue. Nope. I had nothing to wash down the gels; the taste and stickiness sat in my mouth and was just nasty. I remember thinking on a few occasions during the bike, “Why am I doing this today?” I kept looking down at my bike comp and seeing my mph average and my overall bike time. I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust. My average was nowhere near what I was capable of.

T2: I ran my bike into transition and my legs felt wobbly and my body felt woozy. But at least I was able to find my rack without incident. I threw on my run gear and headed out onto the 10k course.

RUN: Directly outside of T2 was a table with water and Gatorade. I grabbed water, poured it on my head, grabbed more water, poured it on my head and then grabbed Gatorade and chugged it. This was the first time I had any hydration in over an hour and a half! (Swim and bike compbined) After the table, there was a sharp right hand turn and an uphill. Wow. Talk about shuffling up that sucker! But I knew once I got up that hill it was on to 72nd street and into Central Park! 72nd street is closed to traffic for this event. There is so much energy at the point. There were spectators crowding around the police barricades, cowbells ringing, posters/signs everywhere, police officers standing at the intersection cheering, and not to mention the high NYC buildings surrounding you. I had a huge adrenaline rush running down the center of this street.

Mile one was complete and just as quick the rush wore off when I entered the park. Legs cramps resurfaced. The run now became a matter of surviving and I knew I faced a lot of hills in Central Park, including Harlem Hill.

Now let’s talk about Central Park. Who wouldn’t want to run there? Well, on this day and at this particular event, CP is not closed to the public. So there were you’re everyday walkers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers, rollerbladers, stroller pushers, etc. etc. etc. And here is the kicker. These people were not moving for racers, the racers were moving for them! It was up to the athletes to maneuver around them. I can’t even begin to count how many times people ran out in front of me as I was running. So, I had 6.2 miles to complete, after a swim and bike, in heat and humidity, in a park loaded with hills, dehydrated, cramping and let’s add on moving around Central Park’s finest. What a cluster.

“SURVIVE.” I found myself repeating this many times during the run. Luckily they had aid stations every mile. Already depleted, I knew I had to grab everything I could at each station. Water. Gatorade. Ice. I took the ice and put it in my sports bra until it melted into chunks. I took two chunks and held one in each hand. I swear I feel better running when I am holding onto something. Weird, I know. At this point my feet and shoes were soaked with water and sweat. I had blisters forming, and definitely more than one! Must keep moving forward! Hills, cramps, blisters = not a good time.

FINISH: I made a right hand turn into the finishing chute and I was really not excited to finish. I can honestly say that I have never been at that point in any race before. Not excited to finish? Not excited to hear your name announced? Not excited to receive the finisher medal? I was not excited in the least bit! I didn’t feel accomplished in any way. I had high hopes for this race/event and was thoroughly disappointed. I knew that on a good day I would be able to PR on this course, especially with a swim as fast as this one. But those cards did not fall into play. I was nowhere near a PR, in fact I was close to fifteen minutes off my last Olympic distance time. I did not rank as high as I knew I was capable of either.

After having time to digest this entire disaster of a race, I have realized that not only do triathletes need to be physically tough, but mentally tough as well. On this day I was neither. I mentally broke down and because of that I physically broke down as well. It is hard to race when so many negatives arise. It was hard for me to keep things intact mentally. However, I have never had a truly “bad” race. I guess it was my time to get a bad one under my belt!

As I write this, I can’t even remember the course scenery. All I can remember are the negatives. This is one race that I will not do again, but I am happy to have crossed it off my bucket list. Unless you are a professional or elite athlete competing in this race, it is not for competitive age groupers. The course is crowded in all three legs, and is built around first timers. It certainly was not the race that I had hoped/looked forward to.

NYC Triathlon. Swept under the rug. Lessons learned. Move on. Keep smiling.

Ideal Acceptable            NYC TRI '13
Swim 0:16:32 1:00/100 yds 0:17:00 1:02/100 yds 16:31 :59/100 yds
T1 0:04:20   0:04:30   6:18  
Bike 1:10:00 21.0 mph 1:14:00 20 mph 1:21:11 18.4/mph
T2 0:01:15   0:01:25   1:30  
Run 0:52:30 8:27/mile 0:54:30 8:47/mile 0:59:58 9:40/mile
Total 2:24:37 2:31:25 02:45.30