Saturday, August 20, 2016

Humble and Kind



After the crash at Ironman Lake Placid I feel humbled to be healthy enough to race Ironman Mont Tremblant just 4 weeks later. 

Returning to Ironman training after Placid was painful. And not a "good" painful but an "ouch the sweat is stinging my road rash" painful.  I could have opted to take time off, let my body heal as it wanted and planned another race months down the road. My body fought against me more than it ever has the past 4 weeks, but my heart urged me to press on. 

I would jump in the pool and feel the sting of the road rash. “It’s impossible,” said my pride. 

My left quad would seize up more often than not and remind me of other athletes who returned too soon after injury. “It’s risky,” said experience. 

Crashing at Placid meant I can no longer qualify for Kona this year. “It’s pointless,”said reason. 

But after each painful workout I remembered that I race for the pure joy of racing. I race to test the spirit and to remind myself how brave I can be. “Give it a try,” said the heart.




Also, how special is it to share the course with my little sister Deidre? I know she is going to have a stellar race! I hope the work she has put in is realized and she crosses that line with a HUGE smile. 

And then we both get to hobble over to the Poutine tent. Je t’aime Canada!!!!


photo cred: Julien Heon

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ironman Austria: Clear eyes, Full Heart


I know this is "just triathlon" and there are so many other things in this world but that doesn't diminish the value this sport has brought to my life.  I feel sincerely blessed to be traveling around the globe and sharing biers and sauerkraut with new friends. We don't always speak the same language but we are deeply connected through our love of sport.  


I want to start this blog with a Heart Felt Thank You to my Austrian family, The Keiler's, for hosting and introducing me to their beautiful country. (And for the wiener schnitzel.)   

I could go on and on about the cool factor in Austria. The food, the mountainous terrain, the people, the language, the tiny cars, the coffee, the WIENER SCHNITZEL but I have a race report to detail here people! 

My mode of transportation: the basket bike.
The pre-race prep for race day was perfect. Hermann and I cycled on parts of the GORGEOUS bike and run course. I swam in the turquoise water of the Worthersee and felt blessed that my body and mind were healthy and ready to push hard for race day.

Here is a little insight into my typical Ironman race prep starting 2 days out.

Friday: I train for a total of 45 minutes including a light spin and either a swim on course or a very short run. I focus on sipping Infinit Nutrition throughout and finish the day with a large carbohydrate meal avoiding excessive fiber.

Saturday: I try to get up early and finish 20 minutes of spinning and 10 minutes of running before I eat a large, carbohydrate-heavy breakfast.  I spend the rest of the day reading and lounging. Gluttonous!

Sunday: Wake at 3:30am. Coffee and 2 slices of plain white toast. 1 cup apple sauce 1 banana and 8oz of Infinit Nutrition

After this I make my way to transition and jog an easy 5 minutes followed by some gentle stretching.  I try to be calm and breath and think positive during this time but it never fails that I recall that racing Ironman is crazy. Really freaking crazy!  And then the nerves hit.  

What helps me deal with the pre-race jitters and the ants in the pants is remembering that each time I toe the start line it is a GIFT.  Nothing is guarenteed in life so the first step is to feel blessed to toe the line. The second step is finding some meaningful affirmations to repeat throughout the day. 

Because it is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. - Muhammad Ali


Before I lose you in the actual race report I want to express sheer gratitude to my sponsors:


When the going gets tough and I want to scream at my quads to "Suck it the BLEEP up!" I remember how much support I have gotten over the years. I am grateful beyond words for my sponsors and all of my host "families" I have met around the world. 

My Austrian Family
 The Swim! (Read for super secret details, or a good laugh): I would have been swimming in the ZONE3 wetsuit but the water was too warm. Yet again. So for the pros it was a non wetsuit swim, yet again. I secretly love and hate this call which is similar to my overall feels about the swim. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I get kicked in the face and decide that my race is over and the chance of me perishing during the swim is an astonishing 100%

For the record I swam side by side with Rinny for a total of 15 minutes.  Moments later, waves, choking, and disorientation ensued and I found myself solo for the remainder of the 45 minute swim. At least I was swimming along in turquoise waters....IN AUSTRIA! The swim course was also outstanding as it funneled you into a narrow canal for the last 1K. Because I didn't have to sight much in the canal I focused on keeping the pressure on the throttle and pulling lots of water with the most perfect swim mechanics I can manage.

The Bike: I started the course in 4th and wanted to slowly build heart rate and power as the race went on. The plan was to start at the low end of my Ironman watts and begin hydrating and fueling in the first hour.  During the first hour on the bike I aim for around 400 calories and 600-700mg of sodium which enters the old gullet in the form of Infinit, bananas and sodium filled gels. After an hour I started to feel all the good feels and the name of the game was "catch 3rd place."  After 55K of riding I was happy to pass 3rd as this fast fish had bested me in the water by almost 5 minutes. I made sure I was extremely focused and robotic in my racing for the remainder of the 180K. Every 15 minutes or so I reminded myself to take an entire body inventory, eat, drink, and keep the pressure on the pedals.   

My Felt handled extremely well on the technical descents and corners - even when it started down pouring. 

I got to wave 'Hi Hi Hi' to Ry Guy and Hermman at the start of the second loop and I started to believe I could be on the verge of hitting a sub 5 hour ride. A few hours and many, many Infinit bottles later I did just that! 4:59 BABY!! And now it was time to run.


 The Run: In case you haven't heard, 26.2 miles is a really, really long way to run after 6 hours of racing. The Ironman marathon is crazy. During my 34 years of life I have never experienced anything more painful. I was thankful for the crowd support and Ryan. Per usual, Ryan was everywhere on course and giving me accurate splits. Unfortunately, I was fighting an intensely upset stomach that did NOT want to take any nutrition. Sometimes you "win" the 26.2 miles and sometimes it puts you in a headlock and shows you who is boss. I wasn't able to wiggle out of the vice grip Ironman headlock but was HAPPY to cross the line in 4th with another 9 hour Ironman under my belt.

Now now all I had to think about was this:
BIER

And cruising around on the basket bike

1 week after Austria I flew to Philly for a little family reunion and to channel my inner Rocky. Ready to ROCK at Ironman Lake Placid in 3 weeks!!  


And before I sign off I promised a shout out to one of my friends I am sharing a house with at Placid.  I'd like to introduce John Rymes, Owner of Rymes Heating and Oil. He promised me a sponsorship for next year if I gave him a shout out so I thought I'd highlight some of his weekend ephemisms.  Actually, all of these gems spewed from his mouth in a matter of moments. Not only is he an accomplished long course triathlete and business owner but he has an extremely colorful vocabulary.

 
"I was really humping up the hills!" (post bike ride)
"It's just the air around my next turd." (during bike ride)
"I'm already drunk." (pre bike ride)
{someone is choking} - "I don't know the heinie-lick!"
"Keith runs like an albatross."

 Also, if you're cheering in Placid and want to meet him he will be the guy in the budgie smugglers.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Moments in Austria: Clear eyes. Full Heart.

"Competitiveness is the opposite of complacency. It is disquieting and uncomfortable. It requires commitment, and risk and soul-searching. When you choose to compete, you take a huge gamble. You might lose." - Pat Summit

That quote is truer that true. Competition can be thrilling and rewarding but also riddled with disappointment. In the end only one athlete crosses the line first.  

But the athlete that is in love with the journey and the special moments along the way is the lucky one. That athlete will always, on some level, win. 

I am in love with the  grind and long days of endurance training. 

I love the chase and to be chased. 

I am not afraid of failure. Failure helps me grow as an athlete, tinker with my approach and discover myself.

And I recognize that it is a GIFT every time I toe the start line.

Ironman Austria came hot on the heels of the DELTA DENTAL Race UP Mount Washington. A race that I will try to toe the line at every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It is grueling and unique and beautiful and the one with the most heart wins. I like that. Below are a few pics post 7.6 miles up, up, up the auto road. A few key points on how I approach this race.  I do not do any specific training for this event because it falls directly in the middle of the bulk of my race season. This particular year I was racing Ironman Austria just 6 days after.  Instead I put focus on some of the BIG GEAR workouts I do on the bike. A common one for me is 20 min intervals efforts where the first 10 minutes is in the biggest gear I can push and then 10 minutes at 90rpm. I try to hit the same power average during the entire interval. I find this workout carries very well over to running uphill due to similar muscle recruitment. 









Moments are always coming and going, so it’s sometimes hard to tell how important a moment is until it has past.  Some big moments are easy to see the value, while others might not seem important at the time, but later you’ll find out that’s when everything changed. Crossing the line 4th at Mount Washington was very special to me. I had been trying to break into the top 5 ever since I started running this race and this was the first year it happened. I also knew how strong and fluid I felt which was a great boost of confidence heading into Ironman Austria.  

After Washington all energy was focused on RECOVERY. A few of my secret weapons:

-8+ hours of sleep per night
-SPM Omegagenics fish oil 2x daily
-Infinit Nocturne at bedtime
-self massage/foam rolling
-2x daily Smoothies made with beetperformer juice and wheat grass and kale and jalapenos! 

Before I knew it I was flying out on the big bird headed to Klagenfurt, Austria! I am just going to build some suspense before I detail my training, nutrition and secrets in the lead up and during the Ironman. 
The top of the bike Ironman Bike Course

The Famous Basket Bike with the beautiful Ironman swim course in the background.

The most wonderful host Hermann Keiler and family. And again, the Basket Bike.


Stay tuned for the Ironman Austria Report....


Sunday, June 12, 2016

THE Killington Stage Race and the Curious Case of El Puncheur

I raced THE Killington Stage Race over Memorial Day weekend. I am proud to say I have weaseled my way from Cat 4 to Cat 3. (This upgrade was due to some hard work but mostly weaseling).

Anywho, this means I now get to ride in the Pro Cat 1/2/3 waves with the BIG girls. Besides for the small fact that this new category means I must ride CENTO per CENTO. Here is what I have learned so far:

CENTO PER CENTO. Say: chento pear chento. The Italian version of 100 percent.

Day 1 was the Circuit Race. Sixty miles of racing with lung busting, quad burning races within the race: Queen of the Mountain challenges and 2 Sprint competitions each lap. My 'big plan' was to contest every QOM, recover and regroup, and then set myself up in the second row as the big sprinter girls charged for sprint points. My 'big plan' as we sprinted through the line would be to continue to attack VOLLEBAK style when everyone else sat up to briefly recover from the sprint.

VOLLEBAK. Say: Foll-back. If you're riding with a group of cyclists and someone says this Flemish term, go as hard as you can.  Unfortunately non of my VOLLEBAK attack-attempts worked for long but I found these A BLOC efforts invigorating. 

A BLOC. Say: Ah block. Another common French term for all-out efforts.

I finished up Day 1 in 5th. Not bad, but considering how my quads felt I was wishing I had a BIDON AU MIEL.

BIDON AU MIEL. Say: bee-don oh mee-all. A French term literally meaning sticky bottle. When a rider pretends to be getting a water bottle from the team car but hangs on and gets a tow. A general term for getting a pull when you need one.  (So I ate a few post ride donuts instead. No team car, sticky bottles or teammates but I had donuts.)

Day 2 was the Mountain Road Race. It was an exceptionally challenging 70 mile day with plenty of climbing.  There was some attacks in the first 45 min but it was nearly impossible for any team to make a successful break and the wind on race day forced our pack to be UN COUPE DE BORDURE.

UN COUPE DE BORDURE. Say: un coo de borr-derr.  When a crosswind forces riders to fan across the road seeking shelter from another rider. The wind was relentless and I seemed to find myself a bloc at the front WAY. TOO. OFTEN. I can't help it. I am a BAROUDEUR.

BAROUDEUR. A rider who loves to attack and mix it up.

I could also smell the first Queen of the Mountain approaching which meant it was time to go VOLLEBAK again!  I charged uphill and after 5 minutes of climbing found myself in LA FUGA! And la fuga is just where I love to be!

 LA FUGA. Say: la foo-gah. A delightfully colorful Italian term for THE BREAK.

It was myself, Stephanie Wetszel from SAS-Mazda team, Amy Bevilacqua, and possibly another SAS-Mazda rider in the breakaway. I was charging uphill and was delighted to hear heavy horse breathing coming from behind.  This only made me charge harder. I stole a glance backwards and I could tell 2 of the girls were FAIRE LELASTIQUE. 

FAIRE LELASTIQUE. Say: fair lass-teek. This French term is more like praise for resilience than condemnation and refers to the valiant struggle to hang on. When the rider repeatably lets a gap open then claws back to the group.  

I saw 1K to go for the QOM and charged.  The elastic snapped. It was now myself and the powerhouse Amy Bevilacqua. I crossed the line 1st for QOM points and Amy asked what we should do as we still had 40 miles of riding and it was a 2 girl la fuga against 30 quadzillas. I knew we didn't have time to waste because as soon as Stephanie got swallowed by the pack, SAS-Mazda and Green Line Velo teams would get organized and start to chase hard. 

30 pairs of quads against 2. You do the math!

So Amy and I did the only sane thing two cyclist would do: Sprint for dear life! I can't say how exhilarating and mentally exhausting it was to be in a 2 girl break with 40 miles left of racing. Fortunately we were getting updates from the lead officials and motos that our lead was, miraculously, growing! We were in a tight 2 girl pace line swapping leads every 15 seconds.  

The struggle was real.

In French the suffix -eur changes a verb into an agent noun. So going with this theme every 15 seconds I shifted between the leadeur and the chaseur and was consistently a big whineur.  

But alas, I knew once we hit the last 5K uphill portion we would be in a safe haven. No one could catch us on the steep ascent.  (Note: this was optimist thinking considering I was waffling between thinking my quads were going to explode to absolutely certain my quads had just exploded. And then I would double check. Nope. Quads were always miraculously still intact.) 

Finally we hit the base of the final climb. And this is when it because evident that I was EL GANCHO. I was unquestionably, without a doubt, EL GANCHO.

EL GANCHO. Say: el gan-cho. Spanish for being at your limit - those times if the pace picks up even a tiny bit, you'll be finished. Like a fish on a hook being pulled from the water, a rider in this state is leaning far forward and gasping. Good visual, huh?


Final Climb

Day 3 was the Time Time. Nothing too exciting to report here except we can cycle back to  CENTO PER CENTO. This is all you need to know about a proper TT. If you have to ask yourself if your going hard enough, you're not.  And then if you ride hard enough: 

Chomp, chomp!
Next up: Mount Washington and then Ironman AUSTRIA


Thank you as always for my sponsors who let me wave my crazy flag!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chattanooga 70.3: Swimming like a donkey!

Remember my last blog where I spoke of neutral bike starts and how Ironman should adopt this rule?

Well, apparently I took that to heart at Chattanooga 70.3

Except none of the other pro girls got the memo so I was the only one partaking.  This was undoubtedly my career worst swim. It could have been the wallop to the head and the goggle mishap. It also could have been the fact that I can't tell my left from my right when I have race adrenaline careening through my veins. Regardless, I discovered that when you swim like a donkey you have to run your donkey ass off to get back to the top.  (Thank God I love this sport)

Let me briefly back up and say Chattanooga, TN is beautiful! It is green, and lush, and chock full of trails for running and biking. It also has some pretty rad coffee shops, ice cream shops and donut shops. (If you don't judge a town on the donut quality then you clearly don't have your priorities straight.) 

Donuts.

Chattanooga will be a fantastic venue for the 70.3 World Championships in 2017 and I can't wait to return.

This is what you do on taper

GREEN!

Chattanooga!


I figure I will start this race report with a little diagram of where the swim went wrong. The triangles are the buoys and the arrows show you which way the course runs. Pretty straight forward, right? Except I am out in left field. Doh!

As you can see I am not even on the map. Doh! But I made sure to depict the girls going the correct way in a very plump fashion to make me feel better about the current situation.
I sprinted into transition and yelled to Ryan, "oops!"

I was 13th. Time to get to work! I knew I was pushing hard during the start of the bike but it was only after I checked the power meter file did I discover I pretty much set 2 back-to-back 20 min efforts.   At around mile 30 of the bike I found myself in 6th.  I took a second to reset, eat, chug the Infinit and focus.  And then I continued to charge up the hills and ride smooth and strong on the flats.

Before I knew it, I was flying into transition on the speedy Felt and I saw Ry jumping up and down telling me I was in 6th and giving me splits to the next 5 girls. Unfortunately, the 5 girls up the road were 70.3 champions, Ironman Champions and the World Champion - the best in the sport! Quite the list of girls to try and run down!

The beautiful, rolling terrain took my mind away from the pain of chasing and being chased. I knew I was cruising along and could feel the excitement building.  It was turning into one of those races where I could keep pushing and pushing and pushing. This is the best kind of race!  The last 10K I clicked off 6:16 per mile to have one of my fastest run splits off the bike. After having a difficult swim I was pretty stoked to finish 6th among some of the best girls in the sport. This is all good news for the upcoming Ironman in Austria!

Look at those ups courtesy of Hoka One One!




Massive Thanks To My Team:

Delta Dental
PBM Coaching
Velocio Apparel
Rudy Project
Beet Juice
Infinit Nutrition
MC Cycle and Sport
Ry GUY!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

About The Bike

In honor of bike to work week (May 16-20th) I thought I might discuss my last bike endeavor/race: Quabbin Road Race.  In short, bike racing looks romantic on paper but really it is one of the most physically and emotional demanding things.  

And here is why: You have to THINK! You actually, have to be really smart while pedaling really fast. And you have to be sneaky.  I am none of those. Well, maybe I am a little sneaky while tip-toeing to steal the last cookie from the cookie jar - but definitely not smart.

To excel as a bike racer you also need: fearlessness, speed, astuteness, tactics, raw horsepower, patience and the bravado to take risks. I only have a few bike races under my belt and in this short time it is very apparent that bike racing also stimulates the brain to produce norepinephrine.  This production  allows you to process much more information on a subconscious level, leading you to perceive an elongation of time. So the burn in the quads bike racing elicits is perceived and duly etched in your brain.  Yet I am come back for more! (See, not very smart)

I started the day with my normal smoothie of Infinit Nutrition, Beet Juice, lemon, jalapeno, ginger and spinach (Disclaimer: May require a stomach of steal but it is very energizing) and did a 15 min warm up on the Felt roadie.  The race started with the normal neutral start and we all lollygagged and rolled down hill for about 3 miles. Can I suggest Ironman adapt the neutral start? It is a much more relaxed way to get the day going. No jockeying for position - just smooth sailing and chit chatting.

But as soon as the lead moto gave the command I was all business. Straight to the front like the fearless leader dumb dumb. I tried to set a good pace and cover all of the moves initiated by the girls with raw horsepower.  And then I got really, really tired. So I sat back for a bit and tried to think smart thoughts but before I knew it some quadzilla made a super move and I got antsy and fought my way back to the front. At the halfway point there were sneaky attacks coming from all angles including one massive attempt through an aid station! I am a triathlete and require at least 2000 calories per hour so I was a little slow to cover this move but I eventually did.  And then another attack! I thought for sure this one would stick as 4 of us were charging hard up a large hill but a few others latched back on to make for a robust 15 girl pack going into the final 3 mile climb to the finish.  Full on norepinephrine and quad burn. I battled to 2nd overall but took first in the pull-for-as-long-as-you-can category so I considered it a win. :)

Thumbs up for dumb dumbs!

Obviously it is ALL about fashion. @VelocioApparal

Female Cat 1/2/3 Podium

Getting beat for the win due to my lack of tactics.
NEXT UP: CHATTANOOGA 70.3!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Things Start To Happen

And then things start to happen.

Don't worry. Don't stew.

Just go right along.

You'll start happening too.


Of course I'm quoting the one and only Dr. Suess but things have been HAPPENING!!! 

February was the month of Snowshoe Nationals in Utah. 

Utah is rad.

Utah is beautiful. 

Racing at 9000 feet is none of the above.  

I was in great shape heading into this race ready to defend my 2014 title. Instead, I was 6th.  I waffled between feeling like an undercooked souffle and a rolled up, empty tube of toothpaste. 

Actually, during the race I came up with a few similes my body felt like while racing at altitude:

1.) A brown, empty banana peel without purpose
2.) Muhammad Ali's sparring partner 
3.) An accordion on the last day of Octoberfest

Altitude is no joke. But I raced aR and realized racing with plenty of o2 molecules takes top priority. 

Accordion on the last day of Octoberfest. 

A rolled up, empty tube of toothpaste


It was time now to jet off to Tuscon, Arizona for PBM COACHING CAMP!   In addition to some rad workouts there was plenty of laughing, minimal puckering and maximal effort.  My favorite workouts were the long climbs (Mount Lemon and Mount Kitt) in the areo bars. Riding in a big gear up these ascents is great for building glut strength and in my opinion transfers quite well to bike power on flats with a head wind.  Another possibly obvious but also essential pro training tip: Pack extra nutrition. It is impossible to fuel yourself with the following:

1.) an empty Infinit bottle
2.) angry words
3.) an arm warmer
4.) prickly pear cacti

I know because I attempted all 4 during the last miles of a steamy 104 mile day which included a 'race' up Mount Kitt. 

Me and my petite friend Andrew Fast hammering up Mount Kitt
And now it's time to jet off to Galveston, Texas for the 1st Ironman of the year....

TBC