Revolutionize the West Coast

Wanna do an awesome race on the west coast? Rev3, my favorite race series in the universe, is hosting a HalfRev triathlon in and around the beautiful and superfun city of Portland.

I love the Northwest, especially Portland. When I was in grad school in Montana, my flatmate and I drove from Bozeman to Portland for a weekend away and to attend the Portland Brewer’s Fest. It was on the waterfront, it was before I was following a gluten free diet, and it was a good ol’ time. Portland it a very unique city. The parks are great, and the botanical and Japanese gardens are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Plus the culture is just so eclectic and the town is pretty darn hip.

If you live in the Northwest, this is a serious must-do race. If you don’t, you should look into traveling out there for it! July in the Northwest is gorgeous. Check out tickets through Southwest Airlines (cheap bike charge!) and Alaska Air (supah cheap baggage fees here too!).


See you there!

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Recap: 2010 “Sophomore” Season

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my 2010 season is wrapped up.  I’ve even had two weeks of my post-season do-whatever-I-want awesomeness, [which really hasn’t been that awesome].

Racing this year has been a blast! In my second season as a triathlete, I raced more and improved from last year. And, I felt strong in the run of practically every race, which made me happy. I set some lofty goals at the beginning of the season, and although I didn’t make them all, I’m happy with the level I’ve risen.

Anyway, it’s time to reflect on what racing in 2010 brought me:

  • Two more marathons are checked off my 50×50 list (Utah and Michigan)- I BQ’d in both of these, too. Although I didn’t reach one of my goals (another marathon PR), I am still incredibly satisfied with where my run has made it. In fact, although I didn’t PR in the open marathon, I broke my marathon PR in the 140.6 distance by over 30 minutes. And, I also shaved off a minute from my previous best time in the 10-mile.
  • I ran the farthest I’ve ever run before, in a training run no-less. Although I was registered for my first ultra, I bailed because of sub-optimal health/stress levels. The ultra world is still there, and I’m striving to make it a to-do for 2011.
  • I broke 11hrs in the long course tri at Rev3 Cedar Point! This was one of my more major, loftier goals, one I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to accomplish. But, dare I say? I crushed it! I even got lost on the bike, which added a good 2 miles to my bike leg, and still cruised to a sub 3:40 marathon. And had fun!
  • I raced more in 2010 than I did in ’09, and I traveled a lot more for races, too. I even flew to a triathlon, which was something I had never done before. Special thanks to The Bike Shop and Bicycle Works for helping me out at Quassy!
  • I directed a half-iron distance triathlon, the Kuparisaari Tri, and got to meet some incredible people along the way. It was a lot of work (that’s an understatement), and the race could not have happened without the help of the KCRA, Bear Belly Bar and Grill (and the Lac La Belle Lodge), the volunteers, and the LLB community! I hope the race will continue, especially so that some day, I can race it!

So, what does that mean for 2011?

There are lots of things I want to do. There are lots of things that I don’t know if I can do. But I won’t know unless I push the boundaries of what I am capable of doing.

For me, 2011 is going to include more focused sessions, aiming to improve my swim, bike, and run. My specific goals are:

  • Faster swim!    I’d like to hit 32-34min in the 1.2mi distance, and 1:10 in the 2.4mi distance… or faster!
  • Stronger bike! In 2011, I want to get on the bike and enjoy the ride the whole time. I know that’s impractical, because some days just suck. But, this season, I struggled a little in races and training. I just didn’t have the fun that I thought I should be having. I did, however, get a little out of my comfort zone in the second half of the season, and hope to bring that back in 2011. One thing I plan to do in 2011 is use benchmarks to track my cycling progress.
  • Blazin’ run! I am a runner. I have it in me. And I love it, all the time. So I am going to work on my running strengths in 2011 to get me there. I think that the longer runs in the early season really boosted my endurance for the rest of the year, so I plan to build a solid base of long runs. And, I want to race a half marathon! I’ve never finished an open road half marathon!
  • Keep peeling off time and running down places in the HIM distance races. It was blatently obvious to me this year that you really can’t compare race to race. To put it in writing that I want to go 4:45 at Quassy is insane. Plus, courses can change year to year and its hard to have  standard. So, I’d like to just keep pushing to get better in this length, because its so fun!
  • Race a (legit) Oly. Last year, I did my one and only Olympic race at Rev3 Knoxville. This race was seriously legit; the only problem was, I wasn’t. And I didn’t race another Oly all season. I’d like to race at least two this year, and race them to the best of my ability. I’m really interested in what I will be able to do in this distance, especially when my run will be faster than that it is in the HIM.

Although I haven’t completely figured out my 2011 schedule, I am planning on doing the following races:

  • Ragnar Relay Florida Keys – all-women ultra team (Jan)
  • Rev3 Knoxville Olympic – May
  • Rev3 Quassy Half – June

Rev it up in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Rev3 just announced the newest edition to their series: Rev3 South Carolina!

I love the Blue Ridge Mountains. This race is the perfect location for triathletes east of the Mississippi- it’s only a 2hr drive from Atlanta. The first thing I did when I found out was google-map the distance from my soon-to-be home to the race locale: For me, it’ll be about a quick 11hr drive. Luckily, flying will be much cheaper when I move, too, so maybe I will fly!?

Any guesses as to where I’m movin’?

Cedar Point FullRev Race Report

I was thinking about this post when I was finishing up the bike leg of the FullRev. I was thinking, around mile 95, of excuses I could make to tell you about why I got off the bike in T2 and never left with my running shoes on. I was construing various stories that left you with the feeling of “Oh, I get it” and “If that were me, I’d do the same damned thing.”

But before I tell you these stories, I should tell you the first one.

I considered not traveling to Cedar Point at all.

I got it in my head that leaving work for five days (weekend included), in the thicket of dissertation writing, and with two campus visits coming up (one in New York City, and the other in St Louis), I just couldn’t go. I needed to work on my slides for a lecture at Hospital for Special Surgery. I needed to go through Chapter One with a fine toothed comb so I could send it to my advisor for editing. I needed to write a manuscript on stuff I did this spring, finish a manuscript for stuff I’ve been working on for nearly two years, and work on the transitions between chapters 3-8 of my dissertation. It just didn’t make sense to leave right now. Not like this.

But Baberaham wondered why I would do that. My friend AJ was going down with me, and if I didn’t go, what would he do? It would be a long drive by himself, not to mention that we were planning on staying at my parents for two nights. And my Trakkers teammates would be there, my parents could watch me race not-so-far-away, and I’d get a break for my brain.

So I went. AJ and I drove down on Thursday afternoon, headed to Cedar Point on Friday, and dinked around Sandusky for less than 48 hours before our race. We did the practice swim, we road our bikes on a crappy road with a strong headwind, and we took naps. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the race, but I was as ready as I was going to be. Nothing I could do now, just race and see.

Race morning was pretty low key. I set the alarm for 4:15, got out of bed at 4:30, had a cup of coffee and a cup of Panda Puffs and packed up the car. Our bikes were already checked in, thanks to Rev3’s awesome pre-race bike check-in (so convenient!) and I just needed to fill bottles and my nutrition pouch. My stay-with-me bottle had four scoops of Orange EFS and 4oz of Liquid Shot mixed with water, and I affixed a Nathan Sports Propeller carry between my aero bars for a Liquid Shot flask (fits perfect, by the way). I was a little slower than anticipated, mostly because I hadn’t planned on needing to be weighed pre-race (not sure why I didn’t think about that…), but I got it all set up to go and headed to the swim start. I sipped on PreRace and Nuun on the walk over.

Lake Erie looks eerily calm

Swim: I sprayed my ankles and wrists with TriSlide and slipped into my wetsuit. The water was cold, which was amazing. I expected the water temperatures to be high and wetsuits to be illegal because the summer temps had been so high. Before the race, I was getting nervous and excited. The pros were delayed 10 minutes, which only extended the nervousness a little more. I was looking forward to the swim, though, because I’ve been working on it lately. And to be honest, I’ve never felt better, more in control, than I felt on today’s swim. I was smooth and fluid, I found feet, and I felt fast. Granted, my time wasn’t fast, but I think that had a little to do with the chop (especially on the second loop). I am not sure if the in-and-out-and-back-in swim course made times slower, either, but I definitely felt faster than I did last year at IMWI, even though my time was the same. However, Madison was a clusterf* of people, and there were times where I didn’t have to actually swim and I was moving as fast as everyone else. The thinner crowd at the Rev3 race might have made things a little slower in that reason alone. Not that I’m complaining though, I’d rather not get punched in the head or stomach…

2.4 mile swim: 1:14
T1: 1:31

T1 was fast for me, since I didn’t grab my gear bag and just headed straight for my bike. I actually thought it would be faster, but I think the chip mat to T1 exit was a little of a long run.  I ripped off my suit, and it came off like butter thanks to TriSlide. I threw it in the box next to my bike, slipped on my shoes and helmet and Trakker device, and off I went. No armwarmers for me today, because even though the water was cold, the air really was not.

Bike: The bike is what I like to call the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The first ten miles or so were rough, which I expected and didn’t really care about because we had a slight tailwind and, well, I rode it the day before. And, it was the beginning of the ride. Once I got out onto the open roads, I could go a bit faster, and averaged anywhere from 15-26mph.

The good: We cruised through the town of Edison, which was cool and somewhat Tour-de-France-esque, and popped out onto one road that was absolutely amazing. Smooth as glass and a tailwind to boot, and cruising at 26mph was easy with a 54 chainring. But, turn the corner fifteen miles later and the road turns to chipseal. Aid stations were plentiful, miles were marked every 10, which was awesome, and draft marshals were out in full effect. Traffic on the course was minimal as well! My nutrition was spot on, and not having an aero drink bottle was worthwhile. I missed a few bottles of water at the aid stations but they weren’t essential. I always had a bottle of water in one cage and a bottle to sip from that had EFS and Liquid Shot in it. The Nathan Propeller carrier was perfect, too, and the flask and EFS bottle stayed with me the whole way.

I yo-yo’d with a woman on the bike for both laps. She caught me on the rough stuff and barreled ahead of me until she was out of sight. Then, I would I blow by her thanks to my extra toothed chainring on the flat, tail-wind-assisted roads, and not see her in my wake. I have no idea how she could catch me, and she probably had no idea how I could find her again. The last time she passed me, on the chipseal of the second lap, I stopped to turn my wheel around (I got paranoid that running it the other way would propagate the small gash in my tire I got a few weeks before), and I never saw her again in the saddle.

The bad: The chipseal wasn’t so bad, in reality, but the wind was. It was demoralizing. You wanted to go 22mph, you knew you could (the road looked flat, right?), but you couldn’t. Or at least I couldn’t. I sat at 15-17mph and just grumbled my way through it. And to be honest, I don’t know what is worse: hills or headwinds. Obviously, both are awful, and having them together is a death wish, but hills are at least gaugeable. They end when you get to the top and you get a break on the way down. A headwind is just a battle the whole way, until you turn off the road or throw your bike into a cornfield. Which I considered doing.

My left leg started getting sore about twenty miles into the bike, and it stayed sore until about mile fifty. I had a hard time shaking it, and the only thing that would relieve it was adjusting my position in the saddle to stretch out my IT band. However, by doing so hurt my crotch even more.

My stomach hurt, too, and at first it was because I was so hungry when I started riding. I ate a Snickers bar about twenty minutes in and that held off the hunger pangs, but my intestines did not want to move anything through for another hour or so. I should have sat up to let things settle, but I didn’t want to sit up going into the headwinds. Eventually, it settled.

Oh, and from the time I got onto the bike to the time I got off, I had to pee.

The ugly: One sweet part of the race was the choice of doing the FullRev or the HalfRev. I liked having the halfers out there on the course, because it split things up, took my mind off what I was doing, and put more people on the course. Not that I like more people, but there were plenty of times where I was completely by myself. One example of this was not intentional though. I was passing a halfer up a hill around mile 95, so I took to the left of the lane and passed. Only, I passed him at an intersection where people were standing. I was looking for cops, but I didn’t see any, so I continued through. I heard someone yell something about bikers, but just continued on. There was a guy ahead of me before the intersection that I’d keep my sights on, but with the rolling hills I couldn’t see farther than 200yards ahead. Eventually, I could see farther out, but I couldn’t see him. Could he have got so far ahead of me in that short of time? Hmm. Kept going, until I got to an intersection with lots of cars, no police, and no signs. What? The? Heck! I took a wrong turn somewhere. No later did I say this to myself than do I see a minivan pull up behind me to yell “You gotta come back! You’re off course!” I shook my head, tears welled in my eyes, and I wanted to be done. I missed the paint markings on the road, since the halfer I was passing at the time was riding over them. And I didn’t see the turn sign because it was probably in line with the halfer as well. Or it got knocked down from of the wind. Whatever the excuse is that I come up with, I ended up adding 2.5 miles (and 8 minutes) unnecessarily to my bike. And I was soooo over being on the bike.

I wanted to ask the minivan guy if I could put my bike in his car and get a ride back to transition. I wanted to be done. I was done with chip seal, I was done with wind. And when I eventually got to Huron and had to ride through the town, I was done with that, too. A little, fuzzy, football-sized brown and black lump of fur scurried out from a bush and nearly ran between my spokes, and I was thinking that would really make me done for the day. What the eff was that? I said to myself. Out loud. I might have even yelled it. It looked like a porcupine cat. Or a porcupine Pomeranian. For whatever reason, the fuzzy unknown being stopped before running into me, and scurried back into the bush. Eff.

The bumps, the wind, the bumps, ugggh. I told myself on the way back to the park, on the eight miles of road that was bumpy, jarring, and painful in the crotchal region, that if I wasn’t having fun, I shouldn’t be doing it. And I was NOT having fun. I started making excuses to give you, my dear readers, about why I didn’t leave T2 with my chip and running shoes on. I wanted to just rack my bike and stand next to my mom and cheer for the other, more tough, more deserving athletes. The last six miles were knocking me around, the crosswinds made me want to cry some more. Eventually, I saw the turn into the park and knew there was not much left. I could not wait to be done.

I dismounted and ran into T2, handing my bike over to an amazing volunteer.

112 mile bike: 5:49
T2: 2:11

“Want me to rack it?” I asked.
“Uh, no! Go run!” He said.
And I wanted to run.

I didn’t even notice it. It was almost as if the last twenty miles hadn’t happened. I ran along the black runway without even thinking. Grabbed my transition bag without even thinking. Ran into the changing tent and dumped my bag upside down.

Two women in transition asked me if I needed any help. I told them that I did.

“What shoes should I wear?” I asked. They looked at me puzzled. “Seriously. This is an important decision.”

My Saucony Guide 3s sat next to my Fastwitch 4s. The green of the Fastwitches looked so good with my kit. The Guides felt heavy in my hands. The women wouldn’t answer me.

“It’s up to you!” They’d say.

I put the green shoes on without thinking any more about it, and one of the women asked why I wasn’t wearing socks. “You crazy athletes, not wearing socks. I can’t believe you can run a marathon without socks.” I shrugged. I should have worn socks.

I ran out of transition quickly. My feet were turning over faster than I thought they could. I felt how I feel after riding 56 miles, not 114. I tried to slow them, but they just didn’t want to. They were having a mind of their own, those legs. I swear it had everything to do with my fast shoes. They had been racing fast all season, why would they ever stop now?

I hit mile 1 a little sooner than I expected. 8:02. No way. That seems too fast. I shouldn’t feel so good after biking so long, right? I hit mile 2 soon after. 7:25. Seriously? Slow down. The Go Fast shoes wanted to go, though.

I sipped on EFS and liquid shot from my Nathan handheld flask and moved through aid stations with ease. No stopping, no walking, just moving. I didn’t take any aid, I just moved through. I felt strong, holding steady at sub 8min/mile pace. I saw AJ’s bright kit and his wicked hair as I passed mile 5, taking a mental note of where he was on the course. I held strong, focused on my form, and ticked off the miles. I passed the point where I remembered seeing AJ and realized he was two miles ahead. The math in my brain was still working, maybe I wasn’t running hard enough. If I could run 1min/mile faster than him, I could catch him. That would be hard to do, he looked strong. But there was nothing I could do about his race, I could only focus on mine. So I did.

I came through the first loop on pace for a 3:30 marathon. That just seemed too fast, but I wasn’t worried about it. My legs would take me where they wanted to take me. I shouldn’t even be running, I should be standing by the side, cheering for others, done with my day. But my legs had other plans. They were showing me they weren’t ready to quit just yet. I held steady. Strong.

I couldn’t see any other amateur women ahead of me. I saw the pros, both Kathleen and Jacqui rocking the vibrant green Trakkers kits like me. I saw some of my Trakkers teammates and gave them high fives. I should have been in the pain cave, but I felt like giving high fives.

Around mile 14 I started drinking cola at the aid stations, mixing it half and half with water in my flask so it would go flat. My quads wanted to seize up around mile 15, and I drank a cup of Cerasport. Amazingly, that kept the cramps at bay. I kept drinking it at every aid station. Ice went down my top on purpose. Cola and water filled my flask and was emptied before the next aid station.

The liners on my shoes started to fold under my toes, and I couldn’t tell if it was just that or if my feet were cramping. My toes weren’t cramping. I started a mantra in my head. No cramping, no cramping. Stretch it out. As if I could will myself away from cramping.

The run course had a lot of turns, and it was hard to see who was in front of you more than a half mile ahead. But the amazing thing about a race this long is that you can pass (or get passed) by people you were separated with by miles off the bike. And that’s exactly what happened. I passed people I remembered on the bike. People who blew by me and must have started the run a half hour before me. An hour before me.  At mile 20, I told myself that a 60min 10K would get me under 11 hours. And then I was counting down the miles.

It started to hurt, whatever “it” was. I got tired, my legs got tired. My legs lost their pep. My feet hurt, my hips sank, my shoulders scrunched up around my ears. I felt sloppy and slow. But I kept moving. Two miles to go. One mile to go. My smile turned to a grimace and I ached to be done. And then I thought about the finish. My mom. My dad. Amy. Owie. They’re all there. They’re all watching. Owie was getting ready to run with me. I turned the corner and there he stood.

I grabbed his hand and we ran down the chute together. Sure, some dude passed me in the chute, but I didn’t care. I was running holding hands with a 3-yr-old across the finish line of my second ultra-distance triathlon. The volunteers at the finish lowered the tape, I felt everything from the day just float off my shoulders. I looked down at Owen’s smiling face and couldn’t help but feel like we just spent a day playing in the park. As I crossed the line, I didn’t have the emotional crash that I had at my first ultra distance triathlon (last year at IMoo). I didn’t feel like I just did what I actually just did. If that makes any sense. I did have tunnel vision, and I saw the volunteer inching toward me with the medal and I asked them to put it around Owen’s neck instead. They draped him with a foil blanket and he danced around. It was euphoric, watching him. It was almost an out of body experience. 26.2 mile Run: 3:39:20

Soon after, AJ crossed the line, and I convinced one of the volunteers to help me take off my shoes. My shoes were bloody, and I didn’t think I would be capable of taking them off myself. It was like a band-aid, and I encouraged the volunteer to treat it as such. Sure enough, my foot was anhiliated from a popped blister. I realized about three miles into the run that I had forgotten to spray the inside of my shoes with TriSlide. I have no idea how I forgot to do that, but I think my entire pre-race prep that included not thinking about the race influenced that incredibly poor foresight. I’ve raced all season with amazing results, and atmy “A” race I forget one of the most important things related to damage control. That was dumb!

Regardless, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have continued through T2 with my running shoes on. To see my mom and dad, Owen and Amy, standing there, cheering, taking photos… it made all of the anxiety of the bike disappear. To feel the way I felt on the run is indescribable. My legs just wanted to go. To be honest, I don’t know what happened. I was convinced that, on the bike, I was done with the day. But my legs had other plans, and they ran me to a 2nd place overall finish for amateur women, with a time of 10:46.

I learned a lot about long course racing at Cedar Point that I didn’t learn before. My independent training really paid off, because I rode a lot of the bike without anyone else in sight. My carefree attitude going into (and throughout) the race paid off, too.  Perhaps there is something about the long course race that makes it easier for someone a little more easy-going. One bad thing can ruin your day, and in a shorter race, like an Olympic or a half, it does. But in the long, ultradistance races, you can shrug it off and continue, perhaps even pretend like it didn’t happen. There’s not always time to fix things when bad things happen, but the day is usually long enough to work through a problem, or at least stick it out.

And I am so glad that I did stick it out. Seeing the smiling faces of my favorite support crew was the best feeling this girl could have.

I love you, Mom and Dad! I love you Owie and Amy, too. Thank you for sharing this special day with me, and for helping me after the race. Your support means so much to me!

And thank you to my sponsors, especially Team Trakkers and Rev3. Being a part of this team has really opened my horizons in the sport of triathlon and has encouraged me to try new things, push new limits, and reach new heights. Being a part of Team Trakkers has brought so much to my life in the last year! Rev3 puts on the best races, awesome for athletes as well as their families. I have never had a better race experience than what I’ve had with all three Rev3 races I’ve done this season.

And as usual, my nutrition was spot on with First Endurance, Nuun, and Honey Stinger, and awesomely accessible with cool gear from Nathan Performance Sports. My feet were fast in their FastShoes, the Saucony Fastwitch 4s. My bike was a rocketship thanks to the awesome guys at The Bike Shop.

Trak me online for the FullRev at Cedar Point! #fb

Tomorrow, I’m racing the FullRev at Cedar Point. At 7:05am EST, I start swimming 2.4 miles! Then, I’m off on the beautiful roads of Erie County, Ohio, for 112 miles of biking, and then slip on my Saucony shoes for a quick 26.2 miles of running. Wanna join me?

Because (virtually), you can!

Trak me in real-time with the Trakkers device! You can trak me here: Trakkers Live. I’ll be wearing the device as soon as I’m done with the swim.

You can also follow me on the Rev3Tri site, which will have periodic updates (as I cross mats at various places along the course), and my number is 411. Word!

Distracting myself before Rev3 Cedar Point

It’s 10:31pm and I’m assessing the situation. I have my duffle bag, filled with clothes that I literally threw from across the room. I have a cloth grocery bag, filled with my race day nutrition, water bottles and race belt. I have a messenger bag, sitting in the back seat of my car from my last trip (interview in Wisconsin), just sitting there. And an iPod shuffle, battery dead, sitting in my cupholder.

My gas tank is on empty and my running shoes are somewhere in my car. I don’t know what shoes I am going to wear on race day, what chamois cream I am going to use, or what hotel I’m staying at (off the top of my head).

Life has been busy, simply put. I am not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing, because its kept my mind off the race and I haven’t even thought about writing out a race-day play-by-play. I am going into it blind, but not as blind as last year. I know what I am getting myself into, but I am excited about the prospect that I don’t have a plan.

I usually race poorly with a plan. Does that make sense? No. But if I have a plan, I usually push the limits of said plan, instead of diligently sticking to it. Want to run a 70min 10mile? Gotta run 7min miles. But last year, when I did the Canal Run (a local 10mile race), and my goal was to break 1:10, I went out at a 6:40 mile. Oops. That oops didn’t get me across the line in 70minutes.

Sure, I have goals in the back of my head that I’d love to hit. I’m sure most athletes out there on Sunday will. But truth be told, I can’t compare what I did at Ironman Wisconsin last year to what I can do this year at Rev3 Cedar Point. This season, my training has been different, the Rev3 race course is different than IMWI, and the weather in Sandusky is most likely going to be different than it was last year in Madison. I am just going to do my best to push it (just a little) in the swim, stay comfortably steady on the bike, and get it done on the run. The run is my favorite part.

But in the mean time, I am focusing on other things. I’m writing my dissertation, doing experiments in the lab, and consulting with local physicians. I’m trying to write manuscripts, I’m interviewing for post-doc positions, and I’m traveling like a maniac. Maybe these distractions will keep my mind busy and away from focusing on must-dotime restraints on Sunday. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The last few tweaks

Aside from the notion that I haven’t had time to sit down and plan out my race-day strategy for the FullRev at Rev3 Cedar Point, I’d say things are going well. I’ve been all over the midwest, and August flew by faster than me on my Plasma. Interviewing, racing, writing, dissertation-ing, powerpoint-ing, yearning-to-throw-computer-down-the-stairs-ing, and all sorts of other ing-ing going on in the Land O’ Endurance Meg. Luckily, I have kept my sanity. And I am not convinced that distractions from races like a FullRev are a bad thing when the taper lurks.

One quite glorious distraction is that my Plasma got a few upgrades. One of these included a new wheelset that I ordered individually from The Bike Shop in Houghton. I saved up, bought the front Sram S60, saved up for another month or two and then bought the rear S60. Luckily I know the owners so they didn’t think I was some neurotic, crazy, insane-o triathlete that was indecisive about what wheels to get (in reality, I could only afford one at a time).

Psychologically, the new wheelset has been a huge boost. The hubs are smooth as butter, and they wheels aren’t heavy or cumbersome. I am pretty sure that my new tires help, too. A friend, follower, and former Tech alum – who tests bike tire rolling resistance – pulled a few strings out of the kindness of his heart and a set of Bontrager Race X Lite Pro clincher tires wound up on my doorstep. These are awesome handmade (290 threads per inch) tires with a treadless, supple rubber. Since there was a dramatic change from my Shimano R500s to the SramS60s wheels, it might have been hard to notice, but the smooth, freeing, and speedy feel of the tires could hardly be ignored. I never had to look down to see if I had a flat, like I did constantly when I was riding Gatorskins. And the Race X Lite Pro tires connect to the road in a way I’ve never experienced before with any other tire. They feel responsive, but also a little like ice-on-ice.

So the Bonty RaceXLite clinchers are the third fastest clinchers out there, which makes me feel a little gear-whorish, only because “it’s not about the bike.” But, when the difference between RaceXLite Pros (MSRP $64.99) and the Bontrager Sports (basic tire, $12.99) are the price and nearly 10 watts per wheel, well… I’ll take it.

Go figure, with the recent rain/traffic/weather, there is an influx of gravel on the roads up here, and I’ve already successfully got a small gash on one of my brand new tires. Luckily, it doesn’t appear to be spreading… But I am keeping an eye on it. Plus, the tires at least appear to be non-directional, and since my front wheel was on backwards (my roommate is a roadie/bike mechanic), I just flipped the wheel and now the gash will likely stay put for sure.

Tweaking is pretty much done, and I only have two more key workouts before the big dance. I am excited to race the FullRev at Rev3, and the more I think about it, the more excited I am. There’s less pressure, since I’ve already experienced the distance a year ago. But then again, there’s more expectation, because since I now know what to expect, I can at least ponder ways of how to improve. I’ve worked on my swimming more. I have focused more on intensity on the bike. My run is stronger than last year. I am excited to see what will happen, how the day will unfold.

And I am risking things more this year than last (eg. by running faster but less puncture-resistance tires, by having a more aggressive position on the bike, and by not racing with an aero drink bottle- I’ll be using regular caged bottles instead). I’ve raced more this season, I’ve traveled more to both race and spectate, I’ve been reminded of the joys of the word Team, and I’ve been more involved in the sport than I ever thought I would be. Each day, I have come to love the swim-bike-run more and more. Am I a triathlete? You betcha.

Rev3 in photos

I did a little digging, and found photos of me from Dan Hicok Photography online. Word.

Can I just say that I LOVE my bike fit? Thanks to Chad Johnston from Skier’s Peak in Sylvan Lake. Dude knows his stuff. You can just see the laminar flow!

Also, I am now tan.

I felt good on the run, and it shows. Although I look a little slouched, my arms are low and my shoulders are relaxed. AND, I can tell from this photo that I am a happy girl.

More weekend recap

Here’s the weekend in photos:

Since my bag was a no-show for the first 12 hours, I went to KMart to buy shorts and a tank so I could go for a run on Thursday.

Jenn and I cruised around the 'Burys for a bit, climbing some hills and cruising some downhills. So glad she brought her bike along on the train!

Jenn and I enjoyed some food while we cruised the bike course. I got hungry just driving those hills!

Hi Jenn!

The new Trakkers devices are looking sweet, and they are now waterproof too. This little guy fit in my jersey's back pocket and I forgot about it.

The green and pink Trakkers visors were everywhere. Kids, adults, it seemed like everyone was wearing one this weekend. Word is getting 'round about how rad Trakkers is!

Rev3 does it right.

A Favorite Race- My Rev3 Quassy Report

There’s mounds of work to be done. It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in my office working on a presentation for an upcoming conference in Florida. I have two papers to write, qPCR to do, and histology to perform. But I wanted to write my race report while the race is still fresh in my head.

The night before:

I kept it pretty chill on Saturday, with my feet up and fluids in. It was humid, sticky, and hot, and I must have drank a gallon of water/Nuun/EFS (at least). At least every other bottle of water I drank had electrolytes of some kind, and since I was sweating just standing around, I knew it wouldn’t hurt me. I went for a short run to get my legs moving and came back to the hotel after 20 minutes dripping in sweat. I then took a cool shower and read a book. I just relaxed and thought about the race, the course, my strategy. I tried to avoid stalking other athletes out in the blogger-world who were doing races that day, and just tried to let my brain wrap around the next big day. I got to bed early (around 930) and set an alarm for 4:15am.

Race morning:

I got up before the alarm. Hmm. I laid there for a while until the alarm went off, and I tried to be quiet and got my stuff out of the room. I put on my uniform, ate some Panda Puffs (5-6 handfuls) and drank a bottle of EFS (1 scoop in 16oz water). I threw my stuff in the car around 5:30 and rolled up the hill to race site, which was only about four miles away from my hotel.

I mixed a bottle of EFS and Pre-Race (1 scoop each) and sipped slowly on it while I set up my transition. In the aero bottle (50oz water) went three scoops of EFS, and in my Nathan Trail Mix sling went 3/4 scoop EFS, 1 tab of kola nuun (caffeine please!) and water in each bottle. I sprayed my bike shoes with some Tri-Slide, and then sprayed down my shoulders, neck, and thighs with it too. I finished the Pre-Race mix and headed to the beach with my wetsuit, where I got into the warm water for a quick swim. The water was 72 or so, and it was definitely warmer than I expected.

The pros were getting ready to start, and after the national anthem, their wetsuit-free swim began. By the time my wave was lining up, Matty Reed and the first group of male pros were exiting the water. It was exciting to see them coming out. The amateur elite wave, which was supposed to take off after the pros, was canceled due to lack of entrants (apparently only four people signed up, and I was one of them), so I was shimmied back into my age group start which was the second to last wave to take off. It didn’t really matter, since all the women started in the last two waves besides the pros, but it might have been nice to not have to pass some people on the bike by crossing the yellow line because some didn’t know how to stay to the right…

The swim- 37:04 (1:55min/100m)

I turned my Trakkers device on a bit before the start and the red blinking lights were searching for a signal. I threw it in my back pocket and literally forgot about it. The swim was fairly uneventful, although I felt like I slowed down after the first buoy and couldn’t really find any feet. I found some, and then they left me. I found some more, and then they were swimming away from the buoys. I found another pair, and then they slowed. I quickly ran into blue caps and silver caps (the two waves that started ahead of me) and I was soon passed by red caps (the 40+ women). Overtaking some of the swimmers was annoying, because many forgot to sight and were zigzagging, but I was impressed with how spread out and low-impact the swim was. My feet were touched, but not grabbed; I was bumped, but not shoved or elbowed intentionally; and I could see where I was going fairly well. I swam as far as I could and stood up, right behind Jill from All3sports. I was right on her heels, but had to stop because I dropped my goggles and a guy behind me kept yelling “GIRL! GIRL! You dropped your goggles!” (I would have left them, because they are $2 a pop, but then I was worried I’d get in trouble for littering on the course or someone else would step on them…).

T1- 1:53

I got to my bike and there were quite a few left on the rack, which made me think that I had a decent swim (after the race, I wasn’t too happy about my time; it was a good 4min slower than my best, and I thought I had improved muchos-muchos since last year). I grabbed my helmet, clipped it, slipped into my shoes easy-peasy, and grabbed my bike. That was all I needed. Off I went.

Bike- 3:00:54 (18.6mph)

The bike was fun. It started downhill, on a part of the course that I rode with Jenn on Friday. I was excited to get my legs spinning, and I was surprised at how steep some of the hills were in the beginning. Not long, just steep. And none of the hills were really all that steep; there were just a lot of them.

I felt good, considering the past several weeks of training. My biggest fear was that I would putter out toward the end of the bike, so I tried to stay conservative. I felt my butt burn on the ups but got out of my saddle and attacked the hills. I continued to push on the crests and just felt like smiling the whole time.

The “Big Hill” that everyone was talking about- that I remembered from driving the course on Friday- was better than I expected it would be. It was long, sure, but there were breaks it seemed, and I passed a lot of people who were riding the train (at the bottom of the hill, it looked like a train of triathletes riding side-by-side up the hill). About a mile into the hill, I caught up with a Spaniard that asked where this big hill was, not knowing that we were already there. He and I traded places for the rest of the race- him bombing past me on the downs and my catching up and gaining ground on the ups.  It was so great to see my Trakkers teammates at mile 29- I was so excited I started flailing my arms and waving and smiling at them. I grabbed a bottle of water and filled up my empty aero bottle (surprised at myself that I drank 50oz in under 30 miles) and rolled through quickly.

Around mile 34, my EFS Liquid Shot literally shot out of my Nathan Propeller, and I had to stop to pick it up. It was, unfortunately, at an intersection where the downhill leading into it would have catapulted me into even MORE downhill and pushed me up the next climb a bit, but I didn’t want to get penalized and I didn’t want to be without my nutrition on this tough day. I pulled to the right, stopped, and waited for bike traffic to clear, and although a group of guys went blowing by me while I waited, it didn’t take long for me to catch back up. I tried to apologize to them for stopping as I went by.

There were a lot of flats on the course and I didn’t really know why. I mean, a LOT. I would say I probably saw at least 15 people stopped. I never saw any sharps on the road, and there were pot holes but they were well marked with red paint. I was relieved to have bought some Gatorskins a few weeks ago from The Bike Shop, and even though they are a bit heavier, I didn’t get a flat.

Sometimes gaining momentum on the downhills was difficult. One thing I wasn’t happy about- I did a really bad job of transferring my power from the downhills to the ups, and I found myself spinning without any force where I should have been at least pushing something. I would drop by gears too soon, for fear that I’d drop my chain or have some other stupid mistake, and instead it just cost me a few passes on the beginnings of the ups.

I got to the out and back and saw my teammate, Kathleen, as I was making the turn. She was flying and looked great. Not soon after, I saw Sonja with what might have been a big grin on her face. I wondered where Michelle was, because I expected them to have similar bike splits and that Michelle might have got out of the water first. Sure enough, she was close behind. I couldn’t remember just how long the turn around was, but I was glad to see that the ladies (Son and Michelle) were likely only a few miles ahead of me (maybe 4? 5?) and considering that I was a weak swimmer and they are great cyclists, I was feeling more confident. I saw Jamie and Chris, and that was it for green. I made the turn with a woman in front of me, who I didn’t expect to have as good of bike handling skills as she did. She got out of the turn faster than me, granted she was on a road bike, but she stayed ahead of me even on the downhills. I would gain some ground, and she’d go flying off the front again. She was looking strong.

I had no idea what time it was or how long I’d been biking (mileage or hours) because my bike computer sensor would go in and out, especially on the downhills. I hit mile 40, and my computer read 36 miles. I hit mile 50, and I was at 46. So the last six miles I tried to rally the troops (my legs) and get moving. I didn’t want to have too much junk in my legs, and I knew the bike ended in a climb, but I didn’t remember the exact route. I was relieved when I saw runners, because that meant that I was basically doing the reverse of the beginning of the run course, and before I knew it I was heading up Old Sherman Road and back to transition. I saw Anthony and Chris around mile 2, Kathleen, Sonja, and Michelle as they were railing down the hill. I wasn’t confident I could catch them, but I knew if I could get moving like they were I’d have a good shot at placing well.

T2- 1:29

T2 was mostly uneventful, minus the tongue of my shoe getting stuck and having to finagle it free. My bike was one of the first back on the rack, which made it easy for me to get in and out of transition (aside from the girl next to me throwing her wetsuit right on top of my shoes). I grabbed my visor, race belt, and water belt, and  I was in and out, probably one of the quickest transitions I’ve had, even with a shoe hiccup.

Run- 1:42:26 (7:49min/mile)

I was glad to have brought along my Trail Mix belt, because I skipped through a few aid stations and sipped on my EFS. I lost a bottle in transition, though, so I only had one 8oz bottle to hold me over.  I was also glad that I brought the belt because it had my inhaler stashed in it, and around mile 2 my head started throbbing and the sound was going in and out. This was not the time for me to be having an asthma attack. I took a puff but kept running, holding my breath as I passed a relay girl (she must have thought I was crazy), and my head throb subsided. A woman with a 30 marked on her leg went bobbing by me, running on her toes and just flying. I couldn’t match her speed, and I didn’t want to for sake of blowing up. Off she went, out of my sights.

I was cruising, but I wasn’t uncomfortable by any means. My feet felt light and fast in my Fastwitch 4s. I felt like I was just out running, below threshold but not easy, just comfortable. I wasn’t sure how hard I wanted to push it, but I was knew I needed to hold back a little. Around mile 3.5 or 4 was the big, steep climb, and it seemed to just keep going. I walked a little, but then decided that I could just get over it and keep running, and so I did. I knew the top was coming soon, and as soon as I got there, I was greeted with a turn. Down down down, I saw Michelle and a few other women. I skipped driving this part of the course, so I wasn’t sure how long it was, but I figured it was around 2 miles or so. There was an aid station at the turnaround and I took my first cup of (not flat) Pepsi. Slurped that and a cup of water and off I went, not stopping. Run run run, I felt strong and comfortable. I wasn’t breathing hard, I was focusing on keeping my arms pumping and my form strong. I stood up, relaxed my shoulders, and just moved. I was picking off the miles, and I got to a climb with a green lure ahead of me. I was hoping it was not Michelle. I noticed then that bobbing girl was just ahead of her. She was slowing too, because she was now back in my sights. I found out on the bike path (as I passed her) that it was Michelle in green, and I gave her a not-so-gentle tap on the behind and tried to get her to go with me, but she looked in pain. And bobbing girl was limping and flailing from left to right on the bike path. I went by her, and that was when I realized that I hadn’t let a single person pass me besides her. And there I went, passing her back. I started focusing on picking people off, and I started to smile as I caught the next person, and the next. I heard feet behind me, but they were not catching up- they were falling back. I saw Sonja again at the turn around, me at little before mile 10 and her past mile 11. She looked strong, and I felt a wave of confidence as I rolled out the out-and-back. Charlie passed me on the cart, and yelled at me. I passed the coach from Terrier Tri, and smacked him on the bum too, and he yelled and we exchanged thumbs ups and I kept pushing forward. After the turn around and another cup of Pepsi (not flat) and I felt the bubbles that had shaken up in my stomach come bubbling out of my mouth. Well, at least it wasn’t vomit. I spit and kept moving.

One last hill, and I knew it would be tough. And I felt like I hit a brick wall. Under the bridge, and I wanted to cry. My legs hurt, my body was tired, my head was hoping that the next turn would be the highway, but it wasn’t. I wanted to be done. And then I was back on 64, and I had a quarter mile left, and I ran across the railroad tracks. I sprinted into the finish and wanted to topple over. The volunteers gave me a bottle of water and a medal around my neck, and I moved through the finish chute. I saw Jenn and the Trakkers team and I smiled. I was done!

I ended up finishing 2nd in my division, and 13th overall for amateurs. Count the pros, and I was sitting at 25th. Yep, there were more pros racing Rev3 Quassy than both the Honu and Kansas IM 70.3s combined. With 2nd place, I received some amazing swag, including a Fuel Belt (pink!), plaque, and a $75 gift certificate to Cannondale. The post race food was outstanding, with a buffet line of some delicious salads, burgers, slaw, and even mac-and-cheese (if only I could eat it!).

Unfortunately my Trakkers device lost signal around mile 6 or so, and anyone trakking me online must have thought I crashed my bike. Luckily I was just fine, no crashes whatsoever; I think the tree cover and lack of cell reception really hindered my device from working. I literally forgot about it in the swim, couldn’t even notice it in my pocket. I made sure every once in a while during the bike that it was still in my pocket, and on the run too, but it stayed put. The new design of the device is really cool, I was just bummed that my parents got worried about me during the race. Sorry, Mom and Dad!

I feel great about this race, even though my time is not a PR and I didn’t have a very strong swim. My transitions were spot on, and my run felt strong. I left it all out on the course, but I didn’t bonk or cramp or blow up. My stomach was solid as a rock the whole race, and my energy levels never plummeted. The heat and humidity, which I am definitely not used to because I live in the UP, was not an issue for me and I hit my nutrition like a hammer to a nail. It was an incredible experience, and it was an incredible venue.

EXTRA-special thanks to my friend, Jenn, who received the Best Friend Award for hanging out with me this weekend. Not only did she meet me in Connecticut to hang out, but she followed me around Middlebury while I did neurotic triathlete things. She held my bike when I was getting my timing chip, she drove the course with me, and she was a mega-outstanding-super-awesome volunteer for both Saturday AND Sunday. Cripes. She also got in a 3hour road ride on Saturday on the hilly roads. Daaang. She rocks.

My Trakker teammates are phenomenal. The ones that raced on Saturday stuck around and ran the show, busy-bees all day on Sunday, taking on multiple tasks and just being awesome.

Also, thank you soooo much to my sponsors, Trakkers, Saucony, First Endurance, Tri-Swim (Tri-SLIDE was amazing as always), Nuun, Nathan Sports, and TriggerPoint. Rev 3 put on an incredible race- this was by far the best race I’ve ever done and it was challenging, rewarding, and incredibly well organized. I am so excited to race in Ohio in September!

Pictures to come soon!