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.

Lessons from Sochi*

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Miami, Florida.  The result? I was pretty adept at running in scorching temperatures with 100% humidity.  That and… Winter sports were lost on me.  I did learn to be a fairly proficient downhill skier thanks to a very well off best friend whose father owned the biggest travel agency in South Florida, but I had no access to most winter sports.  The funny thing? For a person with a very limited history with cold weather, I have a huge affinity for the Winter Olympics.  This year I found myself watching a lot of the coverage just to see the competition play out.  Our DVR had very little available space thanks to this obsession, but I gained a few insights from all of that avid TV viewing.  Athletes regardless of their native land and regardless of their preferred sport display some amazing similarities.  The cold weather athletes in Sochi taught this fair weather triathlete a few things…

Sochi

The Importance of Control:
Marathoners, cyclists, curlers (Curlers?!), and alpine skiers all exhibit amazing amounts of control.  One of my favorite examples of control and self-awareness in sport is biathlon, an event that combines cross-country skiing and shooting.  I can’t imagine racing toward a shooting range, red-lining it on cross country skis, then stopping briefly and controlling my breathing and heart rate enough to hit a target the size of a golf ball.  The ability to race at just the right speed to quickly cover the course and still be able to shoot accurately is incredible.  Like biathletes, in triathlon we’re lucky enough to call on different skills during the same race, but a biathlete’s breathtaking sense of control inspires me to think about pacing and transitions in a whole new way.  In a race it is so easy to forget restraint, let loose, and let go, all the while risking the latter portion of the competition.  The mental focus and forethought biathletes exhibit would serve us all well.

The Importance of Resolve:
In triathlon we’re fortunate to have wave or mass starts; you and 500 of your closest friends all toe the line together.  While this might make for some scary swim conditions, it makes for great racing.  You know exactly where you stack up and where your competition is.  Many athletes at the Winter Olympics don’t have it so easy.  Long distance speed skaters race head-to-head two at a time but the real competition is most likely not the one other athlete he or she is on the track with.  The real competition could be in a heat far removed from their own.  Bobsledders have to compete ONE team at a time. They are constantly striving to have their best run because even a head-to-head match up isn’t a luxury their sport affords.  The resolve these winter athletes exhibit, always racing against the clock, is admirable and could teach us a thing or two about pushing ourselves to the limit without an audience, without competition, when no one is looking, and when no one is beside us.

The Importance of Support:
One of the best moments this year was American Noelle Pikus-Pace’s medal winning skeleton run.  When she crossed the finish and saw her blazing-fast time she literally jumped off the track and into the stands, all the while letting out yelps of joy and “We did it!  We did it!  We did it!”  Her elation was palpable.  It’s impossible to refrain from smiling when you see her reaction.  As you watch Noelle kiss her family members and soak up their love you get a sense of how important support is for every athlete.  Four years ago, Noelle placed a heart-breaking fourth place at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.  With the support of her family and friends she persevered and trained and worked tirelessly to return to this world stage.  As a triathlete it’s so hard for our family members to continuously and consistently support our hobby.  Our sacrifice usually means their sacrifice.  Having the support of those around you can change EVERYTHING.  (Just ask the three Russian men who rallied in the final meters of the men’s 50k cross country race with the help of the home crowd to sweep the podium in Sochi.) It’s important to nurture the relationships we have with our loved ones to keep that support structure strong and resilient.

The twenty-second Winter Olympiad was full of harrowing stories and important lessons.  I suspect wherever two or more athletes are gathered comradereie, competition, and learning experiences are created.  If you’re in the market for more life lessons and a healthy dose of inspiration, the Paralympics start March 7th.

Abracadabra

I recently discovered a show on the National Geographic Channel called “Brain Games”.  In one particular episode the producers challenge the audience to be a good witness to a crime.  That is – witness a crime in progress and then try to recall as many pertinent details as you can accurately.  The TV audience gets to play along with individuals who were present for the staged crime, a pickpocket incident.  It was disturbing to see how easily details were forgotten and supplanted with new ones, how conflicting the eyewitness accounts were, and how many people grossly misremembered what actually happened.  The narrator explains this phenomenon by discussing our active memory and its limitations.  Our active memory is designed to hold a few pieces of information (like what you wanted from the refrigerator when you got off the couch or where you put your car keys) for a very short time.   Problems arise when you try to recall many minute details, like what a suspect was wearing or the names of each person in a new group, long after seeing the person or meeting those individuals.

As it happens those tasks are not difficult at all for Ron White, a two time USA Memory Champion.  During the course of the show we see White memorize the serial numbers of four one dollar bills in one pass, remember the names of twenty strangers walking into a theater, and accurately recall the order of an entire deck of cards after scanning the deck only once.  To outsiders these tasks seem incredible, née almost impossible.  So how does he do it?  With strategy and lots and lots of practice.  Remembering the serial numbers on a bill?  Ron will chunk that string of numbers into smaller two digit numbers that each correspond to a predetermined picture in Ron’s head.  “94” would have its own distinct image, just like “12”, “78” and “49”.  He then “places” those pictures in a memory map of his house.  As he “walks though” his house in his minds eye he sees the figures sitting on pieces of furniture and he can recall the corresponding numbers in order.  Remembering the names of twenty strangers?  Easy… (with practice).  He assigns common names a picture.  “Gary” might be a garage; “Chris” might be Santa Claus.  Once he sees the person he takes that picture and combines it with some feature on the person that stands out.  If Gary has a big nose, White might picture a garage falling on Gary’s nose.   When the veil is pulled back and we get a glimpse into Ron White’s process, the incredible things he does seem a little more achievable.  Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not magic and something we mere mortals could replicate on some small scale with some time and focus.

During this episode of “Brain Games” Ron White likened himself to a mental athlete.  He practices every day just like Lebron James or Missy Franklin.  The only difference?  His is a sport of the mind.  As cool as it was to see him pull off theses amazing feats, my favorite thing that he said?  “With a little practice, anyone can do it.”

When I tell people outside of the running and triathlon worlds what I do with regards to training and racing I usually get two responses in the following order… One: A look of wonder and awe sweeps over the individual’s face.  This look is quickly followed up with response number two: a phrase that sounds something like “Wow!  I could never EVER do that.”  I’m not quite sure what to say when I hear this, but over the past year or two my retort has been very similar to White’s: “Sure you can.  It just takes some training.”  There is no magic involved in endurance sports.  If you want to succeed, you have to endure.  If you want to endure, you have to practice enduring.  A lot.  And consistency is everything.  Swimming, cycling, running, recovering, stretching, and eating right are not optional.  You have to practice every day – no skipped workouts or excuses allowed.  If you can do that… Voila!  Sweet sweet success.

Auditions

I recently saw a show on PBS that drew me in for multiple episodes called “Broadway or Bust”.  (I couldn’t resist.  Once upon a time I fancied myself an actress and I have a degree in theatre from Barnard.  “What does one do with a degree in theatre?” you ask.  Well… That individual becomes a professional triathlete, of course.) Back to the show…  “Broadway or Bust” follows sixty teenagers who have all won their respective regional musical theater competitions and consequently have received an invite to New York City for a week of dorm-style living and musical theatre boot camp.  During this grueling week the kids practice their solos, learn group numbers, get critiqued by producers and directors, and are coached by actors and choreographers all in service to one huge show on the last day of “camp”.  On that final day, the teens take over the Minskoff Theater (usually home to the “Lion King”), put on their production, and effectively audition one last time to win the Jimmy Award for best actor or actress.

What’s great about “Broadway or Bust” is that you get to go behind the scenes.  Not only do you see what life is like backstage, you get to see the most confident kids struggle with their nerves and even more intriguingly, you get a rare glimpse into the audition process.  The show lets you in on the closed door sessions where theatre bigwigs come together to whittle down this enormous pool of talent to a very few and then again to just two.  Your heart almost breaks when you see the director of the program cavalierly remove headshot after headshot from the row of kids still in the running to win the big prize.  Not so much because you liked this kid or that kid, but because you know that these teens will see this episode and will relive that terrible moment when they got cast aside.  It was at this point in the show that a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, who was on the judging panel, spoke to the TV audience about rejection.  In summary he said rejection is a way of life for people in this industry.  It happens every day to thousands of wonderful, very talented people.  Not getting selected just means you weren’t the most perfect fit for that role on that day.  Should you stop auditioning?  No way.  Should you give up acting?  Hell no.  You go out tomorrow and you try again.  For if you dwell on the rejection, he contends, you will never succeed.

After hearing some harrowing stories from St. Croix 70.3 and Ironman Texas, I could not help but draw a parallel between racing and theatre.  Race day is like one big audition.  You rehearse and practice and rehearse and practice (and rehearse and practice some more).  Then you and a hundred of your closest friends all vie for the same spot and only one of you will get it. Only one of you will have everything come together just right, on that day, on that course.  And what if you don’t get the part?  Will you hang your head and retire your running shoes?  Avoid certain races?  Avoid certain distances?  I don’t think so.  The best athletes will learn from the experience and use what they now know to become better athletes.  There is no use dwelling on the negative for that is only a reflection of one teeny tiny day.  Keep fighting.

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