Saturday, May 30, 2015

Duathlon Season 2015

Immediately following San Juan 70.3 I took 19 straight days off of biking while I waited for my bike to be shipped home from Puerto Rico. I have never taken a bike break anywhere close to this length since I started the sport but it just felt right for me at the time. Gear West offered me use of a brand new Felt Z3 but I wanted to focus on swimming, do 3 running races, one last snowshoe run, & visit my parents for a long weekend.

My Chihuahua Ozzie turned 10 on March 23!

Easter Sunday hike with my parents & our dogs

Post 10 mile run race matching pinky toe blisters

Getting nice & muddy on a trail run in my Minnesota Tri News socks

Toenail removal 

I planned to not race locally until Apple but after doing 2 snowshoe half marathons & Puerto Rico 70.3 I felt like I was in shape earlier then usual but totally unsure of where my fitness was at because all 3 of those races were so different then anything I have ever done before so I had nothing to compare them too. So I decided to race earlier in MN then I ever have before and try a new race, the Falls Duathlon in Cannon Falls. I really enjoyed this race, both the run courses were scenic & the bike course was totally my style, hardly any turns with a boatload of wind, no technical skills required, just pure hard work & strength riding. 

DP would want me to note that I am posing between 2 hunks & be sure to point out that my tri suit was safety pinned shut (photo from Devon)

About 15 mins before the race I tried to zip my suit & the zipper ripped apart from the material. There was a 50% chance it was because this is my most fave GW uniform ever & I have worn it a dozen times per year for many years & a 50% chance due to a couple weeks around Easter that...

T2 @ Falls Du (photo from Sean Pease)

I broke the CR by a whopping :02 at Falls & decided to do a few more favorite dus before Apple. Two weeks later I did Oakdale Du. What a difference a year makes! I would love to forget the whole month of April, May & June 2014 but this year Oakdale was one of the most fun races I have ever been a part of! Nicole's mom captured our day with my camera in the majority of the photos below. I stole the rest from Steve Stenzel's blog which Ross somehow managed to take with Steve's camera in the midst of chugging a 16 oz PBR in under :24 inside transition standing on the timing mat. And no this wasn't a USAT sanctioned race :-)

Jerry recapped the race on MTN. Steve also gave a much more detailed women's race report on his blog here then I can write up because one by one all 4 of us picked him off on the bike & then one by one he ran us all down on the second run so he got right in the thick of all the action.

Top 4 women pre race

Start line

Race start

Run 1

Run 1

Run 1

Diane & I off the bike 1-2. Diane lead the whole first run. I passed her at mile 3 of the bike & lead until mile 10 where she caught back up to me. From mile 10 to the dismount line we went back & forth over & over just about every minute on the minute

Steve starting run 2 with Diane & I jockeying for position in the background (photo from Steve) 

Top 4 women all in the same frame on run 2. What I didn't know was that while Diane & I were going back & forth Nicole & Jenn were doing the same right behind us. Places 1 - 4 were only separated by 1:08 with 3rd & 4th only finishing only :07 apart in sprint finish fashion! (photo from Steve)

Diane crossing the finish line for the win withe me :20 behind. I am still confused as to how neither Diane or I PRed. She has gone :41 faster & I have gone 1:08 faster then we did here. I also time trialed the fall of version of this same race course 1:26 faster in the heart of my Kona build in 2013 @ Park Tool Du. Some days you just don't have it, the race certainly had PR intensity. (photo from Steve) 

(photo from Steve)

My most fave running race ever, TC 1 Mile was 4 days after Oakdale. We stood around in the starting corral in the cold & rain quite a while & then I bolted off at a blistering brainless pace I couldn't hold & tweaked my hamstring. I was a disappointed with my 5:47 time but still my most FAVE! A mile is so short you have to go for it from the start but I took off like I was in the 100M dash! Next time...

Gear West Duathlon was the following Sunday. This is the only race I prefer in the rain. The muddier the better! I am a more confident trail runner then road runner & loved the hills + wind combo we had on the bike, conditions played in my favor. The course changed in 2013 which was the last time I raced here & I beat my time by 1:32. Myself, Lisa, & Elaine finished 1,2,3 with Lisa being the surprise performance of the day. She has really improved her run & bike, when added to an already fast swim which has probably improved too she will be a major player on the MN race scene this year. Exciting to see hard work pay off!

Finish line hugs

Women's top 3 (photo from Ross)

Women's top 4 (photo from Ross)

MTN's coverage on Apple Du here

This was actually my 7th straight Apple Du, the only event I've done every single year since I started racing, trying to keep my streak in tact for a decade. So many memories, I've placed everywhere from 42nd woman to 2x female champion & everything in between, always a super start to Memorial Day weekend! If you're brand new to duathlons or haven't raced one for 5 years you qualify for a $5 discount, check the race website for details. This is a wonderful race for first timers! In 2009 I did it on a men's road bike & had such a blast! You don't have to own all the fancy gear or a time trail bike. In one of my first dus I was so excited & clueless I forgot to take off my helmet in T2 & wore it out onto the run course for a few minutes, I think it might have been here in '09, I can't remember which race it was. 

Elaine lead the first run, I was 2nd into T2, :28 behind. I caught her around mile 3 on the bike & we went back & forth a couple times, she is really fun to race with, always smiling, chatting, & cheering for the competition while she goes. I took the lead back around mile 4ish but she was riding very well & kept me close in her sight through mile 13. After the turn onto CR 1 I knew I had to put my head down & hammer bc if I didn't gain any ground on the bike it was game over for me 1/4 of a mile into run 2. I biked all out the last 7ish miles and had a :45 - :50ish lead leaving T2. I ran the best I could for the second 5k, telling myself I have broken 20 on run 2 at Apple before & pushing hard in attempt to do it again. Elaine caught me with about 3/4 of a mile left for a :36 victory. Sub 1:35 in her first Apple is smoking fast! 4 lead changes between the two of us, my favorite kind of racing! I hope she does more duathlons, I really enjoyed racing her & all these other speedsters! 

Women's Elite Wave

(photo from Tony)

Hard to see but I had all my splits from my 2 best Apples written on my hand. Being a coach, really in tune with my recent training/racing data & having done this race so many times I predicted my finish time within :25. I knew I was going to come in right between my 2 best Apple times but closer to my best one. I wrote these down to be sure I beat my 2nd best time yet remind myself not to be afraid to push it harder on any one leg bc I have gone 1:33 before. I ended up :59 off my PR, about :30 slower on both runs. Having done the same race 7 years in a row I can't hide from myself! I love the honesty of this course, it never changes, 3 perfect loops! A turn around cone can't be moved in a different spot or a buoy too close/far from the year before, I can tell so much about my early season fitness from this race each year.

Excited I had my best Apple bike split (photo from Tony)

(photo from Tony)

(photo from Tony)

Cool Down Run

Love running Brian Kraft on Memorial Day, the most competitive 5k in MN. It means 3x all out 5ks in under 48 hours but is too fun to miss. My legs are always trashed from Apple & breaking 20 suddenly becomes this huge struggle but I dig a challenge. I showed up exhausted but left feeling super inspired & proud to be a MN runner, check out the 2015 stats BK5K posted, such amazing runners here!

6 men ran under 15 minutes.
30 men ran under 16 minutes.
75 men ran under 17 minutes.

7 women ran under 18 minutes.
20 women ran under 19 minutes.
36 women ran under 20 minutes.

I was actually the VERY LAST woman to break 20 mins! 36 of 36, just slipping in by the skin of my teeth! But I will take it! All I could hear the last couple yards to finish line was HKM screaming at me, "YOU BETTER SPRINT!!!" Was really hoping to get all 3 of my 5ks for the weekend under 20 but I only got 1 & 3, missing #2 off the bike by :34.

Recovery is a white fluffy robe, compression socks, a recliner, a lap dog, herbal tea, & a hot page-turner mystery

I finally pieced together my 2015 schedules...

2015 Du/Tri Race Schedule:
San Juan 70.3
Falls Du
Oakdale Du
Gear West Du
Apple Du
Trinona Olympic
Lake Minnetonka Tri
Lake Waconia Tri
HOLT Long Course
Toughman Chisago - can't decide which distance yet
(Taking all of Aug off for my IM build but will do Dairyland Dare 200k & Lake Rebbecca 5k open water swim as workouts with some assigned pace sets written in)
***Ironman Wisconsin***

2015 Running Race Schedule:
MDRA Meet Of The Miles
Winterrific Snowshoe Half Marathon
Melbourne Beach Half Marathon
Snowshoe Half Marathon Nationals
Irish Run 8k
MDRA 7 Mile
Fred Kurz 10 Mile
TC 1 Mile
Brian Kraft 5k
Midsummer Mile
Torchlight 5k
MDRA 15k
Surf The Murph 50k

Next up: my 2nd time @ Trinona Olympic, hoping for a course PR & looking forward to the challenge of chasing Lisa Lendway for a couple hours, should be a close & exciting race that could go either way, hopefully some others girls will be in the mix too, not sure who else who is racing.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gear West Triathlon Expo This Weekend!

Don't forget to come out to Gear West Bike & Triathlon this weekend (April 18 & 19) for the inaugural Triathlon Expo! There will be Group Workouts both days, Demos, Deals, & FREE FOOD for all! So be sure to tell your friends, family, neighbors, training partners, & co-workers as well, the more the merrier!

Here is the Group Workout Schedule & web link with full event details. 

I will be there on Sunday morning leading a no drop group ride @ 9am with Hannah, Ann, & Payne. Following the ride you can check out the reps from over 20 different tri specific companies, chat with over 20 MN race directors, & enjoy free Caribou coffee, pancakes, & hot dogs! We are riding the GW Duathlon course so if you want a preview or refresher, come bike with us! If the weather is nice Ann & I am going to head back out afterwards & do a hill repeat workout I've written using the steep climbs on both ends of Homestead, Homestead & CR 6 Homestead & CR 24, which is a hill on the GW Du course, everyone is welcome to join us for that as well, all riding abilities encouraged!

See you this weekend!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Race In Paradise

(Yeah!!! I am killing it on my New Year's resolution to take more pictures, I uploaded over 100 for this post, feel free to just look at the pics if it's too long to read). Each year goes by faster then the last and I am left wishing I had more pics to remember it by...

I found out exactly why the San Juan 70.3 slogan is "Race In Paradise" & why I saw some superstar names in passed results with finish times they are capable of going much faster then on other courses. It was a fantastic event and the most fun half iron course I've ever raced! This was my favorite swim course to date, the bike is along the coastline with breathtaking ocean views, the scenic run is historic as you get to explore Old San Juan on foot which is a 465 year old neighborhood with about that many cats too! The elevation of Old San Juan reminds me of San Francisco except the temperature of an oven. This course was tougher then any half I have done before and was so unique that I can't really compare it to the others, you just have to do it to understand its difficulty & beauty. It is not wetsuit legal, it is HOT, humid, has a 1k run from the swim exit to the transition which most racers stopped to put shoes on for, it is windy, and the run is HILLY! 

I signed up for this race in August to have a specific focus & race to prep for over the long MN winter & a fun vacation to dream about on sub zero snowy days. Also, hot races have always been a huge obstacle for me and I am greatly intrigued by the things I suck at. Instead I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in Nov and in a boot until Christmas, so my excitement quickly turned to panic. My motto became: 

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

As I wrote my training plan each week for Puerto Rico & throughout training I kept telling myself, just get to the starting line. I could only run 3 times a week so I had to maximize every session & 2 full days off after every long run were ordered. I kept reminding myself, it is very early in the year, I want to be at the top of my game in September not March, relax, breathe, no need to rush a comeback, no need to risk any setbacks, this is not a PR course, this is not a fast course. Prepare for this race as well as you can, do your best, embrace the elements, enjoy the journey & make the vacation more important then the race! It is okay to have a slow start to the season if that means not reinjuring. Race conservative & smart! 

The essential pre-race pedicure! The best softball coach I ever had constantly told us, "You have to look good to play good" & "It's not if you win or loose, but where you eat after the game." I still try to honor both those things. I got a palm tree & birds on one big toe & a bike on the other, cut 8 inches off my hair, & went blonder.

It was a LONG day of travel on Fri March 13, I took 3 different flights starting at 5:45am. Only Ann would give someone a ride to the airport at 4am! She's something else! A selfless giving sole, one of a kind.

Southwest boarding procedure is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get! This ticket had middle seat by the can written all over it!

But it was all worth it upon arriving at our resort! Welcome to Paradise!

Taking my bike to transition, one of the resort resident peacocks was hanging out to my left

Saturday afternoon ocean swim

Our resort is in the background, the first Hilton ever built outside the 50 states. This wasn't the swim course, I am right across from the finish line.

Swim exit ramp, Mom checking out the course. She said, "That looks like a long way to swim!"

Swim course, it is a point to point route but not a straight line. You start in Condado, go under the Dos Hermanos Bridge & end in San Juan

This is my swim wave, photo by Jay Guerra. LOVED swimming under the bridge with screaming spectators lining both sides!

Gunshots around 7:50am: We biked on one side of a highway closed to traffic in the San Juan district of Miramir and the other side was open to traffic. During my last 200 - 300 meters swimming, two cars headed in the opposite direction of our race fired shots at each other. They weren't shooting at racers! Both shooters were still awake from the night before and had apparently started a fight somewhere else that continued on the road. Two athletes were caught in the crossfire on the racing side of the highway, a 26 year old female from Wisconsin was shot one time in her calf and a 45 year old local male was shot 3 times in his abdominal region & a third athlete crashed their bike. Many athletes behind them were stopped and told to lie their bikes & bodies on the ground. A highway patrol car following the shooters was hit multiple times. One shooter was shot, then crashed his car and was found dead behind the wheel and the other shooter was arrested. San Juan is absolutely beautiful, I loved my time there and I felt safe my entire vacation. Hopefully this isolated incident won't effect the future participation of this spectacular event. I feel so sad that this happened to fellow triathletes and I followed the medical updates of the Wisconsin female. She wrote on the race FB page that she can't wait to return next year and finish. Both athletes are stable which is so great to hear! I've never been anywhere in the world where the local people are so proud of their country and so proud to hold a race.

I knew I was near the gunshots but wanted to know how close officially so I looked by checking the WI women's swim time. She exited the water at 7:39:55am (started in a 7:00am wave & swam 39:55). I exited the water at 7:47:03 (7:12 wave start & 35:03 swim time). I gained :38 on her in T1 & am not sure if I got any closer to her in the opening mile(s) of the bike course. I would guess I was about 5.5 to 6 minutes behind this unfortunate chaos. 

The 1k run from the swim exit to transition, hundreds of competitors stopped to put shoes on for this including Sarah Haskins. I went back and forth with my decision. After seeing the amount of shoes lining the exit on race morning in no order (many the same brand as mine) I decided any time I would gain from running faster with the comfort of shoes would be lost on a blonde moment attempting finding my own pair. We ran over a variety of rough surfaces like cobblestone, I usually get a boost & a rush from pain so I am confident with my choice.

Here is a shot of the some of the shoes lined up, both sides of the swim exit, hundreds and hundreds of pairs. I think this is one of the pro women but I am not sure who.

The bike was flat but not fast. This had to do with the heat, humidity, 3 U turns, and the whipping wind which really picked up the last 20+ miles. I started with 3 of my own bottles which lasted me until mile 25 and then I started to get majorly dehydrated bc the aid stations only had wide mouth water & Gatorade plastic bottles without a sports top. They were a huge width and didn't fit in my cages and didn't have lids on so I couldn't put them down my suit. I didn't see a single sport top bottle the whole ride. I tried so hard to fill my aerobottle but the opening was so wide & the wind so strong nothing was going in. I did manage to pour 3/4 of a water into my bento box and dissolve all my salt tabs. So each aid station I would take one bottle & chug as much as I could before the final call for trash, dump the rest on my head, and toss it. I was out of hands to take more then one. I've never seen these bottles in a race before and if I see them again I will just stop my bike and refill bc I got so thirsty and there weren't very many aid stations. The bike course was lovely, I really enjoyed the view & being off my trainer in the bathroom.

I loved the run! I made my Dad run every hill the day after the race and I have run course photos from Old San Juan further down in this post. There were hundreds of cats on the course so being the animal lover that I am, I counted cats to distract from the sweltering heat. The run is the reason I biked in my bathroom. I was preparing myself for a cooker with no cloud coverage or shade & there is a portion in a national park where you run along a huge wall with no airflow or water stops, it felt exactly like my bathroom.

Finish chute

Finish line, crossing over the mat to the official start of the real vacation

Cooling down in the med tent

They put a bag of ice under my head and neck and rubbed more ice on me

Jumped right back in the ocean to cool off! We had the sun in full force on race day, not a cloud in the sky.

Post-race battle wound blood blister

The most random sunburn I've ever seen. Racing stripe?

Ahhh, the post-race meal! There was the best Mexican restaurant & right by the swim exit. We ate there twice! They had award winning guac, the best & biggest I have ever had & served in a dog shaped bowl with 4 sturdy legs to hold it up.

My arms were shaking holding up the bowl. They also had the biggest and most delicious burrito I've ever had with kale, brussle sports, a ton of other delicious ingredients topped with melted Chihuahua cheese which is made from cow's milk, I wasn't eating Miles & Ozzie's relatives! Swim course in the background.

The locals said it is always very windy, hence my crazy hair. We actually had to hold our wine glass if it was less then half full or it will blow over and away.

I am not sure what place I got overall or in my AG. On the internet race results it says 4th AG, on the paper results at the 70.3 Worlds sign up it said I was 3rd AG & they gave me the 2nd AG award. Guessing I was somewhere in the amateur top 10, possibly 8 or 9 & somewhere in the female top 20, possibly 17 or 18. There was great female international amateur competition! Several of the AG winners were from outside the US. Results weren't really important to me at this race so I don't mind not knowing, I came for the killer workout in paradise!

Reading in a hammock & a yoga/meditation class on the beach were perfect recovery!

Here is one run course hill that we ran twice. Dad is headed to the bottom, left of the car, it twists further left and keeps going. We took a cab & wanted to spend the day exploring Old San Juan after so unlike when I made him run Palani Hill in his running outfit the day after I did Kona, he had to run these in his street clothes.

Still climbing

Dad nearing the top

View from the top of the hill Dad just climbed that was on the run course. The building to the right was built in 1521. The ocean is behind.

Top of the hill, Old San Juan

3 run course cats, Old San Juan

3 cats

4 cats

Cat in a plant on run course

Cat under a bench

Run course cats, there are 4 in this pic but are hard to see here

3 cats

"The Wall" section of the run

Run course cat

Run course cat

A cat running on the course to the left

This is the run course too. The big cobblestone climb starts behind me to my left. It is split into 4 turns. You climb out of the wall section, turn left and run the hill I am standing on, then turn left again...

and climb this steepest section, then take one more left and climb the last section where there is finally a water stop shortly after

Cat seeking shade for a snooze under a car on course

Run course elevation, I took this pic from a roof top restaurant in Old San Juan

View at sunset from our 20th floor resort suite, feet up, recovery!

San Juan sunset over the lagoon/swim course

I watched the sunset every night, I love this gorge view!

I was looking forward to the day my dad and I had planned on the Tuesday after the race more then the race itself! A 3.5 hour hike uphill through ladders, caves, rocks, & straight up waterfalls in the San Salvador Rainforest to repel 80 feet down a waterfall, hike uphill a little more, then take 5 ziplines down + a short downhill hike to the very bottom.

San Salvador

We climbed right up/through the waterfalls

Some parts are so steep we used rope to help pull ourselves up

This waterfall was the toughest to get up! 

Repelling for the very first time, I am hooked!

This was one of the top 5 most fun days of my entire life, I want to do it again!

Crossing over the waterfalls was the hardest part, they were really strong!

Eating fresh fruit served at the bottom of the waterfall

There was a cave a short walk to the right, inside of the waterfall, you could drink right out the water in the cave, it was the best water I've ever tasted, so fresh! I was guzzling it right out of my hands.

Coming out of the cave

Starting the ladder climb

Top of the ladder

5 ziplines that got progressively longer & faster!

We had the best guides, they made our day all the more fun with their personalities!

Zipline selfie

Our guides grandma's house. They had us over for a 3 course home cooked Puerto Rican meal. Chickens, cats, dogs, & a litter of new puppies lived in their yard.

I loved this dog! He smiled!

Baby pineapples starting to grow


Authentic Puerto Rican meal. Chicken, rice, beans, plantains, corn, flan, etc.

There are about a dozen pics from our two story balcony bc I LOVED the view and would get up early to watch every sunrise & sip coffee then watch every sunset each night. And just stand outside in admiration every time I walked by at random times of the day.

The view at night. I sipped wine with my parents most nights before bed & took it in some more

Sunset, there are a bunch paddle boarders to the right passed the bridge but hard to see from the size of this pic

Sipping coffee at sunset

Each day I got Starbucks in the lobby & drank it on the balcony

The view through my floor to ceiling bathroom window, I took this through the glass

Back at the hammock, different day

One of the resort pools with a swim up bar

The giant ocean slide! My dad and I had a race: ocean swim to the slide, climb up, slide down and swim back! So fun!!!

My right foot: big toe 70.3 blood blister, rainforest spider bite on the left of ankle, frost bite on back of the ankle.

 I had the most wonderful time in San Juan! I am happy with my race, just missed my sub 5 hour goal by a little over 2:30 but life is too short & way too awesome to care! So grateful for every part of this race-cation!