Ironman France: Mapped Out

On June 29th I competed in Ironman France.  Rain, lots of climbing, and scary descents made for an interesting day.  I finished in 10:17 as the 10th pro female, besting my previous time on this course by over an hour.  Here is my race recap…

IM France Swim

IM France Bike

IM France Run

Thank you Maverick Multisport, Argon 18, ENVE Composites, VO2 Multisport, Rotor Bike Components, Occupational Kinetics, Swiftwick Socks, Cobb Cycling, TYR, Champion Systems, 110% Play Harder, Infinit Nutrition, Primal Sport Mud, Smith Optics, TriBike Transport, and Vittoria.

 

 

 

 

Raleigh 70.3 Recap: By the Numbers

On Sunday June 1st, I completed Ironman Raleigh 70.3.  Here is a brief recap of the race, by the numbers…

Raleigh Pics

 

 

 

 

 

3:00: Wake up time

7:04: Pro Female Start

51: My bib #

75: Water temperature in degrees Fahrenheit – wetsuit legal (TYR Hurricane, baby!)

30:43: Swim time… Getting better!

1:51: T1

90: Pivlock v90 by Smith Optics (GREAT sunglasses!)

118Argon 18 E118 that is – the foxiest bike around

8.9ENVE Composites wheel set I rocked on the course

200: Average watts over the 56 mile bike course (Thanks Rotor Bike Components!)

148: Average heart rate on the bike

6: Bottles consumed on the bike

2:36:07: Bike split

21.5: Average MPH on the bike (Holy wind, Batman!)

1:32: T2

6:39: Average pace on the run

159: Average heart rate on the run

80: Grams of carbs consumed per hour during the race (Thanks Infinit Nutrition!)

1000: mg of sodium consumed per hour

1:27:19: Run split

4:37:32: Final chip time

10: Tenth pro female overall

63: Overall place

110: 110% Play Harder Compression gear that saved my legs post race.

3: Female Ironman champions I counted in the pro meeting

2: Second time I’ve done this course… LOVE it!

1: One other Maverick Multisport Pro, Mike Hermanson, raced Raleigh 70.3. (He rocked it!)

 

All in all, Raleigh 70.3 was an incredible race complete with an amazing venue, special friends, and tough competition.  Thank you Maverick Multisport, Argon 18, ENVE Composites, VO2 Multisport, Rotor Bike Components, Occupational Kinetics, Swiftwick Socks, Cobb Cycling, TYR, Champion Systems, 110% Play Harder, Infinit Nutrition, Primal Sport Mud, Smith Optics, and Vittoria for your continued support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memphis in May: A Race Report in Pictures

On May 18th I completed the Memphis in May Olympic distance triathlon.  Here is my race report in pictures…

Transition on Saturday… There would be more rain and another race before my race on Sunday.  Nice wetsuit though, right?!

Swim

Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming…

Bike Memphis

T1: Swim to Bike or “Swim AND Bike”

 

Run Memphis

What?!? No mud for most of the run…

Finish Chute

It’s hard to sprint in a chute that looks like this…

The king

Rockin’ it out with the King!

Awards

Award Ceremony (2:06 and change – good enough for 5th overall.)

Thank you Maverick Multisport, Argon 18, ENVE Composites, VO2 Multisport, Rotor Bike Components, Occupational Kinetics, Swiftwick Socks, Cobb Cycling, TYR, Champion Systems, 110% Play Harder, Infinit Nutrition, Primal Sport Mud, Smith Optics, and Vittoria.

 

Getting back up…

Sometimes when you go to a race expo in a foreign country things look a little bit different.  The vendors are unfamiliar, the language is incomprehensible, and the general scale is smaller than what you might see in the United States.  This was certainly the case in Los Cabos, but the expo for the Ironman did have something I hadn’t yet seen from WTC – inspirational posters.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy reading motivational quotes, so to say I liked walking around the expo would be an understatement.  One of the posters featured the Vince Lombardi quote, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”  Considering the race I had a few days later, this inspirational poster seemed particularly prescient.
#MotivationalMonday?  Try #MotivationalSunday!

#MotivationalMonday? Try #MotivationalSunday!

Sunday 3/30 – Race Day
My swim was great, there was just far too much of it.  When I went for a guide buoy that had drifted out of line on the long outbound leg, I lost the pack I was swimming with.  (You read that correctly, I was swimming with a pack.  I was swimming well; I was in the thick of things and I was loving it!)  Then… I had to be a hero and go for the buoy that had gone rogue and I lost them.  Crushing.  Adding insult to injury, the last leg of the “rectangular” course wasn’t exactly geometrically accurate.  The yellow buoys were all over the place and it was very difficult to reconcile the actual course with the athlete guide picture I had in my head.  It was not my best sighting day and I swam way more than 2.4 miles. When I looked down at my watch as I entered T1 I was disappointed with my time but looking forward to gaining some ground back on the ride.  Little did I know the Baja Pensisula wasn’t done messing with me yet…
I had no idea what Cabo had in store for me...

I had no idea what Cabo had in store for me…

Once we got on the bike in Los Cabos we had to climb a hill out of T1 and then get on the Transpeninsular Highway.  The problem with that?  The asphalt on the highway and the asphalt on the entrance ramp were laid at different times and there was a large bump demarcating the two. When I made the jump up to the next level of asphalt, my aero bottle went flying as did my bike computer which was attached to it.  I thought about leaving my now empty aero bottle behind, but my $500 bike computer had to be rescued.  Stop. Unclip. Go. Backwards. On. The. Course. And retrieve my lonely bike computer.  When my bottle went flying so too did the contraption that holds the computer in place.  So I had a computer with very helpful heart rate, cadence, power, and distance metrics and I had no way of putting them on display. The computer sat in my pocket… for 112 miles.  As I completed the first of three laps I focused on settling in and making up for the fact that I had lost a valuable nutrition bottle so early in the race.  All went well until about mile 40 when I felt a change in the way my bike was handling as I sped down a hill at 30 miles per hour.  When I looked down… catastrophe.  I had a flat.  Luckily I was approaching an aid station with some lovely gentlemen who came running when I called for mechanical.  All told, the stop probably took 6 or 7 minutes.  When I got back on the bike I was eager to make up lost ground, but I was also nervous about more road hazards that could sideline me again – especially now that my spare tube was gone.
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At this point I just started to laugh.  Could anything else go wrong?  The whole race up until this point had been a comedy of errors and I started to consider DNFing.  Was it too late to sign up for Ironman Texas?  Could I get myself out of this ridiculous hole I was in or should I just throw in the towel and try again another day?  Cue inspirational poster and James Earl Jones (who has a voice I imagine is something quite close to God’s) speaking Vince Lombardi’s words.  So what if  I get knocked down?  (Over and over again…) It’s the getting back up that matters.  IT’S THE GETTING BACK UP THAT MATTERS!  So… I rode on – despite being way behind the eight ball, despite the scary road conditions, despite it all.  I had 100 miles left and I was going to make them count.  Not only did I get back the people who flew by me during the flat tire ordeal, I was even able to pick off a few pros before T2.
Working my way back up on my sweet Argon 18 and ENVE Composites.

Working my way back up on my sweet Argon 18 and ENVE Composites.

Coming off the bike in an Ironman is always difficult but the blazing sun made T2 in Los Cabos especially hard.  I didn’t want to leave the changing tent.  After applying a new layer of sunscreen and some serious coddling by the awesome volunteers I tore myself away.  The run was a three loop course featuring a few short hills, one dirt/sand trail, five different dog legs and lots of sunshine.  In other words… It was hard.  It was fairly uneventful; almost comically so.  Leading up to race day my teammates and I joked about the goofy things we would do as we passed each other on the run course, but when the hour was upon us, pirouettes and herkies were nowhere to be found.  We barely had the energy to give a slight nod of the head.  “Heeeey,” she said as if she were an angsty teenager who couldn’t be bothered with niceties like salutations.  “Heeeeey,” he responded, sounding equally unenthused.  So inspiring.  In the end I picked off more girls as I ticked off 26.2 miles and came across the line as the 10th Pro woman – extremely happy to be done, but secretly wanting another chance.

Sun, sun all around and not an inch of shade.

Monday 3/31
The day after an Ironman I am always the best kind of sore.   I am so spent that waddling hurts and the thought of stairs makes me want to cry.  As I sat there looking at the Pacific replaying the race in my mind, one thought kept forcing its way in.  I want a do-over.  It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.
Posing on the stairs?  Not quite.  More like taking a break...

Posing on the stairs? Not quite. More like taking a break…

Thanks to Jeff and Matt for inspiring me on race day.  Thanks to Niki for being the ultimate travel companion, race day photographer, and “sista from another mista”.  Thanks to Debi for her wisdom, advice, and words of encouragement.  Thank you to Cyrus, Mary, and my whole family for their support and love.  And of course none of this would be possible without my incredible sponsors.  Thank you Maverick Multisport, Argon 18, ENVE Composites, VO2 Multisport, Rotor Bike Components, Occupational Kinetics, Swiftwick Socks, Cobb Cycling, TYR, Champion Systems, 110% Play Harder, Infinit Nutrition, Primal Sport Mud, Smith Optics, TriBike Transport, and Vittoria.

Talented? Ummm… Not so much.

Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite recurring conversations between myself and some of the athletes I work with…

ME:  How is the training going?

ATHLETE: It’s going “okay”.

ME:  What do you mean “okay”?

ATHLETE:  Well I am following the plan and I feel really good.  I just want to know…

ME: Yes?

ATHLETE: When am I going to get faster?

I recently read a book called Bounce by Matthew Syed.  If you like Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point or What the Dog SawBounce is right up your alley.  In fact the author quotes Gladwell several times when making the argument for the book’s main thesis, which is essentially that there is no such thing as talent.  The theory goes something like this: people are not born phenomenal runners, incredible swimmers, amazing cyclists or even exceptional pianists, computer programmers or chess masters.  People win the Masters, become Olympians, and develop into world-famous cellists not because of talent but because they have put in a lot of work doing what they do best.  Gladwell and Syed quote scientists who have actually quantified the mind boggling amount of work these so-called talented people have put in.  The number of hours?  Ten thousand.  Think about that.  You want to be good at something?  Really really good at something?  You have to put in… Ten. Thousand. Hours.

As athletes we are always comparing ourselves to one another, standouts in our sport, or older versions of ourselves.  We want to get faster, stronger, and smarter now.  The rub?  We will never be Michael Phelps unless we put in the time that he has put in.  This thought can be extremely daunting.  He’s been working so hard for so long to be a phenomenal swimmer.  We could never do that, why even try?  But if you think about it, the idea that talent is not born but instead created can be incredibly empowering.  If you commit yourself to the process and commit yourself to purposeful practice, with time you will improve.  Curious about when you are going to get faster? How about chipping away at those 10,000 hours.

When talking about this blog post idea with a few friends, I couldn’t help but notice that this theory didn’t sit well with a lot of people.  Some people are just talented they contend.  According to them, no matter how hard we try or how much time we put in we could never, ever be like these superstars of sport.  As a professional triathlete muscling her way through her rookie year, I am not afraid to admit that I don’t want to believe that.  I am where I am, not because talent was bestowed upon me, but instead because I have been running since I was eight years old and training is one of my favorite things to do.  I am going to get better through work, not some gift from the heavens.  So how do I argue with someone who says, “Some people have talent and some people just don’t”?  Take a look at the circles below.

 photo (7)

My coach and I mulled this over and came up with an idea: Environment, purposeful practice, and genetics can all contribute to our success or lack thereof.  When these three things come together, you get amazing ability.  Michael Phelps was born with an incredible “wingspan”, was lucky enough to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under Bob Bowman from a very young age (so he could start logging those hours) and he has put in lots and lots of hard work.  Unfortunately, we don’t always have control over our environment and genetics.  The good news?  When we are old enough we can often choose an environment that nurtures our abilities and body type isn’t always a limiting factor.  The great news?  The amount of purposeful practice you put in is completely under your control.  So we’re back to those 10,000 hours.

Too many people give too much credit to the genetic and environmental advantages they think talented people benefit from and I suspect the reason is simple.  The idea that we can create talent is scary.  It means a lot of hard work.  And it means a lot of time.  Remember that feeling you would get when your college professor gave you the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester and you thought, “How the heck am I going to do all this?  I don’t even want to start.”  The feeling you get from the idea that talent is created is like that… times 10,000.  But if you don’t think you have the time to create your “talent”, remember this…

photo (8)

Shorter is better.

Coaches

Last weekend Fredericksburg played host to the Endurance Sports Expo.  Vendors like Zipp, SRAM, Skratch Labs, and Newton were all present as were an unbelievable field of speakers and presenters. Brian Walton (an Olympic silver medalist in track cycling), Hunter Allen (a former pro cyclist and power training guru), and Allen Lim (nutritionist and physiologist to a number of Tour de France athletes) were all on hand to share their expertise.  In addition to presenting their own talks, many of these individuals gathered together for an “Ask the Coaches” session that I was lucky to be a part of. It was amazing to hear what all of the coaches had to say.  They gave great advice on everything from key workouts to common mistakes most athletes make.  My favorite response of the weekend came from Hunter Allen when the panel was asked, “Why hire a coach?”  I get this question a lot and I hear all kinds of answers from different coaches.  Hunter’s response was beautiful in its simplicity and succinctness.  “You should hire a coach to shorten your learning curve.” In triathlon where tons of time can be spent on swimming, cycling, running, and learning how to race is there really any time to waste?  Oh and Mrs. Debi Bernardes, coach, mentor, elite athlete, and friend – you rock!  Thank you for continuing to shorten my learning curve.