Challenge Iceland 2017 Race Report

July 26th, 2017

Where to begin? This race was a huge challenge, it is right there in the name Challenge Iceland! (more…)


Sebago Lake Triathlon Race Report

June 18th, 2017

First of all a huge thank you to “my volunteers”.  My friend since junior high, Dianne Day, my three sisters Valerie, Ginny and Vicki and my niece Katie.   It was awesome having you guys out there and I know it was long, hot day for you.  THANK YOU!!!!

I have been procrastinating about doing my race report because at first I was pretty happy with my race, and then I wasn’t.  I wanted to give it a little time to gain some perspective.

So beginning with the positive.  My pre race jitters were minimal.   It was the most relaxed I have ever been in the days leading into a race.   I was confident in my training and just felt really good.  Race morning prep went smoothly.  We were assigned spots in transition – I like that.   I didn’t forget anything.  My wet suit went on without a hitch, and we lined up for the start.

I felt like my swim went according to plan.  I was really happy that I didn’t have the “freak out” I get sometimes in a race when I feel like the wet suit is choking me.  I never had to calm my brain down.  The water outside the cove was a little choppy, and I was trying to swim with a wider entry.  I was thinking about the things Eney had taught us at swim camp.  I swam in until my fingers were scraping  the bottom. At the end of the swim I noticed that I had not started my Garmin correctly, and spent a little transition time on that.

T1 went pretty smoothly.   We had driven the bike course and I knew it was pretty hilly – no real flat anywhere.   I was trying to keep my power above 120 Watts and not to go too far above my FTP.  The electronic shifters are fabulous.  I was much more willing  to shift than I have ever been and in both directions.  My Garmin beeps at me every fifteen minutes to eat.   I don’t know if I ate the first time, but I was consistent about it after.   The roads were pretty rough and I didn’t spend as much time in the aero bars as I would have liked.  I felt like I rode pretty strong and smart, trying to not “spend all my pennies,” so I would have a good run.

T2 went well.  I did spend a few seconds talking  to a 13 year old  girl about continuing, but I will always consider that time well spent.  As soon as I started on the run, I knew something was wrong with my left hip flexor.   It was super tight and running was – painful is too strong a word, painfully awkward.  Then I saw the first hill, steep and rocky dirt.  I walked and tried to stretch out my hip.  Ran, walked, ran, walked.  Probably runners wouldn’t think it was a hilly course, but I thought it was.  No flat here, either.  Thom was at one of the early corners and I told him my hip was bad.   He told me to manage the day I was given.  I was like, “Yep, already doing that babe.”  I was happy I stayed positive, kept smiling and thanking the course workers, tried to encourage people who looked like they were suffering even more than me.  Saw the 13 year old girl twice and that just thrilled me.  When I finished I was happy with the day.  It hadn’t gone according to plan, but I had managed it.

The negative – my swim time  was where I wanted it to be, but my overall swim placement was lower than I wanted.   That’s when I start thinking I should have swum harder, I should have kicked more.   I should have been more aggressive.   Instead of having a nice, pleasant swim, I should have kicked ass and taken names.

My bike splits for power were pretty good for the first ten miles, but then they dropped a lot.   My perception at the time was that I was working just as hard, but you can’t argue with the data.  Then on my recovery ride, my normalized power was higher than my race day power, and it felt like a pretty mellow ride.  Which got me thinking about why the difference.  And of course it’s food.   Race day breakfast was a glass of chocolate milk and a banana.   Recovery day breakfast was a breakfast bowl with steak, eggs and potatoes and a glass of chocolate milk.   I have already bought a small jar of peanut butter to take to Iceland to try to address my race day “eating problem.”  Food would probably have helped a bit on the run too.   I started off with two gels in my pocket, but one fell out and I didn’t notice.   For Iceland, I have a different flask with two large pockets.  I’ll put my gels there.

I’m “happy” that my next brick includes hill repeats on the bike.  I’m blaming riding the hills for my tight hip flexor when I got off the bike.  Obviously, I’ll need to do a lot of mobility work too.  Someday, I am going to have the race of my dreams., the one where everything goes “right”. Until then, I’ll keep working the plan, analyzing and making changes to get better.

Las Vegas Photography Workshop

March 19th, 2017

We took a trip to Las Vegas so that I could take a Bryan Peterson Photography Workshop and visit with my Mom and Dad. The workshop was Saturday and Sunday, so Mom and I took the workshop while Dad and Veronica relaxed at the hotel. Veronica rented a road bike from Las Vegas Cyclery and had a couple of good rides up to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  Monday and Tuesday were spent roaming around, unsuccessfully looking for dragonflies, but getting in some nice hikes.

The workshop was great. Each day was a full day of shooting from early (6am) to late (8pm). Saturday had a mid-day break, but Sunday was only broken up by a leisurely lunch.  Although the web site said there would be 8 participants, we had about 16 people.  I don’t think that had a negative impact on the workshop because it felt like everyone was getting as much (or as little) personal attention from Bryan as they wanted.  Sometimes everyone wanted to be in basically the same spot, so it only took us one round of shooting to realize that sometimes we would have to shoot in waves. Since everyone was a photographer, everyone was attentive to staying out of others’ shots and happy to relocate if needed.

As you might expect, there were a range of abilities in the photographers. It felt like most people were intermediate to experienced shooters, with a couple of people who needed a bit more attention.   I was hoping that we would get to share images, but there just wasn’t time for that.  Beyond just transporting us to various locations around the city and Valley of Fire, Bryan talked about technical topics, e.g. shutter speed, depth of field, etc. and artistic aspects like seeing and techniques for specific images.

Bryan has published a couple of books and done a series of YouTube videos for Adorama – 156 and counting!  Some of what we shot I had seen in his videos or read about in one of his books.  I suspect that everything we did at the workshop is covered in those resources, but it was fun to get out and shoot in an interesting place with some hands-on guidance.  Bryan even arranged for a model, which was a nice change for me since I don’t usually shoot models.

I came out of this with about 50 images that I’m keeping.  This is a much higher count than I usually share, but there was a larger diversity of images that I usually get in a weekend. I mean, how many dragonfly images can you post at one time?  A couple of the images are behind the scene shots of group to give a sense of the event.

Coeur d’Alene 70.3 Race Report

June 26th, 2016

Swim:  I’m really happy with how my swim went.  The time isn’t quite what I wanted, but I thought I sighted pretty well.  Most important to me, I felt comfortable.   Austin’s swim was pretty awful and so it was nice to get back on the “horse” and have a positive experience.

Transition: Super slow, a LONG way to walk.  No wet suit pullers and I had trouble getting the suit off over my timing chip.  I ate my GU to get some fuel going for the bike.

Bike:  I felt really good starting out, unlike at Austin, which also made me very happy.  I just tried to settle in until we got out of town since it  was pretty crowded.  Once on the road along the lake, I started paying attention to my watts.  My hip started to hurt on the very first hill about six and a half miles in.  I decided I would ride out to the turn around and back to town and if it didn’t get better in those 8 miles, I’d be done.   We had driven out over the second part of the course on US 95, so I knew that part had a two mile hill at 6%  on the way out and a one mile hill also at 6% on the way back.   I reasoned that if I couldn’t do the two little hills pain free, it was ridiculous to continue.  The pain didn’t go away, so I was done.

I start physical therapy after we get home from vacation and I’m going to make another bike fit appointment.  Daily rolling and stretching have become routine.  I really like the venue.  Coeur d’Alene is gorgeous!  The volunteers were really wonderful.  I hope Ironman holds the race at the same time next year because I want to try again.

Austin 70.3 Race Report

November 9th, 2015

I had two objectives for this race. First of all I wanted to actually be anticipating it, not dreading it.  Second, and most important, I wanted to have a good run.

The week leading up to this race was crazy.  I had to teach in the morning and cram all my parent conferences into four afternoons.  I also had to write two days worth of lesson plans.  I am as passionate about doing my job well, as I am about being a good athlete.  The extra work I needed to do was time consuming and mentally draining and as a consequence, I didn’t follow my taper plan. It also left me no time to start getting antsy about race day.

Friday was our travel day.  Saturday was for athlete check in and meeting  and bike drop off.   We also went to a local grocery store to get breakfast items.  It was pouring rain in Austin on Saturday.  I waited until the rain abated a bit in the afternoon to do a quick shakedown ride on the bike.  I ran through all the gears a couple of times and braked a few times  and the bike felt fine. I had a wonderful time visiting with family Saturday night and actually got a pretty good night’s sleep.

Sunday morning was clear, but very windy.  We stayed in the car for a little bit, drinking chocolate milk and eating a banana.  Then I decided it was time to start moving.  I dropped off my run bag and we got on the bus to go to T1.  I knew it was going to be windy all day and the high was predicted to be only 62 degrees.  I didn’t want to be cold on the bike, so I had a lot of gear to lay out at transition.  A dry bike jersey, wind vest, arm warmers, knee warmers plus the usual T1 “stuff”.    With that done we headed down to the swim start.

The advertised swim was counterclockwise, my favored direction.  At the athlete meeting we were told they had just received approval to switch the direction which would make for smoother transition flow.  We were not allowed into the water until the wave before us had left.  Once in the water I swam a little bit and then tried to get into a good position.  The water was warm, but the wind was making me cold.  Finally the gun went off and we took off.  The first leg out was incredibly chaotic.  Between all the bodies and the choppy waves I ended up taking on more water than I had planned.  It was not pleasant.  By the time we got to the first turn the bodies had thinned out a bit and the water was calmer since we were now traveling with the waves.  Much better.  But then we turned again.  Not so many bodies, but the waves seemed bigger and stronger.  It seemed to take forever to get back to shore.  All the extra water left me not feeling very well and after I had my wet suit peeled, I trudged up the hill.  I had a rug to walk on for about one third the distance to my transition spot and then it was barefoot through the cold mud. I packed all my swim gear into the bag, put on all my warm clothes and headed over to the mounting line, hoping for a better time on the bike.

I felt like crap on the bike from the moment I started.  Yes, it was windy and yes my power pedals were not picking up for some reason.  But that really had nothing to do with why my neck hurt, my triceps hurt, my lower back hurt, my right quad hurt down by my knee.  And my stomach just felt gross from the swim.  And all that reared their ugly heads in the first mile.  I kept hoping with every mile that passed that I would feel better.  And I didn’t. I found myself wishing that occasional EMS sirens would be for me.  I was miserable.   About twenty miles in my right derailleur started going over way too far whenever I would downshift.  About twenty miles from the finish it snapped off.  I had just come down a pretty big hill and was pedaling across the flat to build some momentum before going up the next one.  The rear derailleur was three up from the bottom when it broke, not a good climbing gear on the best of days.  I spent the next twenty miles, swearing my way up every hill.  I either had to grind my way up or stand.  I briefly considered if I could fix it, could an on course mechanic fix it, could I move the chain to a better gear ratio.  I came to the conclusion that none of those options would work and just kept pedaling.  It was an uphill ride into T2 and by the time I got there, I wanted to bag the run.  My legs were fried.  When I dismounted I nearly fell over.

It was a long walk to my transition spot and I was looking at all the bikes and thinking terrible, negative thoughts. I got all my bike gear off, put on my running shoes and hat and walked over to the porta potty line.  Thom was waiting for me by the fence there and I told him how I fried I was.  He told me that  I wasn’t done and to work the plan.  I took off thinking that there was no way I was going to salvage anything out of this race.  The run was three loops.  I walked quite a bit at the start of the first loop. I hadn’t gotten to ride easy into the bike finish and I was feeling it.  The run course was a lot hillier than advertised.  I think it’s 177 feet of elevation gain per loop.  Somewhere in that first loop I started getting into a groove and I felt good.  I was running the flats and downhills and partway up the big hills, walking to the crest and then taking off again.  I was eating my gels every thirty minutes.  I was working the plan.  And for the first time all day I felt good.  It was hard, but it was the good kind of hard.  My family was fabulous.  They had signs from sisters and brother in Maine.  They yelled and woohooed every time I passed them.   Spectators on the course were great, enthusiastically cheering me on by name.  (First names are on your run bib.)  At mile eight Thom asked me how I was feeling.  “Good!”  was my answer.  I was doing the math in my head and I knew I was on track for a running PR.  Something good was going to come out of this hell of a day and it was my objective from the start of training.  I finished feeling strong and happy and my first words to Thom were, “F—ing awesome run!”

Overall, I did not have the day I wanted, but I am so proud of myself for doing that run at the end of a crappy race.  I don’t think I’ll sign up for another race that takes place during the school year.  It adds a layer of stress and complication that I just don’t need and there are lots of good summer races!  I do plan to do another one though, ’cause hey, the run demon just had it’s ass kicked.  🙂

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