Monday, November 28, 2011

Steppin it up in Cozumel

I spent the week down in Cozumel before the race, meeting new people, relaxing by the pool, and eating some darn good ceviche!

I wasn’t nervous at all going into this race. After all, it’s just another Ironman. Excited though- very much so!

A few of the pros I knew going into this race, were super friendly, and lining up right before the swim I got nothing but smiles….and I’m pretty sure they weren’t the “haha little girl we’re gonna school ya”.

We got into the beautiful warm waters of Chakanab with enough time for a little warm up and then we were off.

Therein lies the first amazingly beautiful thing about racing pro: the swim was not a cagefight the whole way! It’s like there’s a mutual understanding that we’re all going to swim hard, end up on feet or next to each other and if you can’t cut it you’ll be off the back…no need to elbow you or sink you down.

I found a good pack right away and it seems I stayed there the whole time, coming in with the top girls- minus like two that swam 40s high.

Honestly the swim felt super super comfortable- cruise effort the whole way.

Into T1 all was good and off to the bike I went.

On the bike I was going to put out the same effort as in Hawaii and just ignore the girls as they went by, because I had to be realistic with my bike strength and any catching up/moving up spots was really going to come down to the run for me.

Before this race I was told numerous times that in your first times as pro, especially if the bike is your weak point you’ll be alone. This was said as a warning. I, however, adore riding alone. I train alone almost all of the time, and in age group for some reason I ended up in noman’s land all the time as it is.

This held true until half way through the 2nd loop, then I caught 2 other pro women, and some of the age groupers. I was also getting caught by the lead ag men, so really I saw about the same people as I do in other races. Certainly I was glad I was not near the age group packs that form in a flat race like this, because that is extremely sketchy! One wrong move in that one lane road and there goes your day.

Anyway, as to how I felt- I just didn’t have that spark in my legs like I did in Kona. Maybe I overshot some of my training leading in, maybe I still had some deep Hawaii fatigue, maybe it was mental, I don’t know.

I felt ok but just not on fire like I did a month prior. Also, the first 1hr my back and hips were really sore- it was weird!
That said, I am entirely happy with my effort and the result. I could not have ridden faster on the day, and to me that’s all that counts: how much you give. Plus, 2 min faster than last year, on a much windier day- I’ll take it!

T2…..oh this was a nightmare. Please don’t laugh.

So I get in, change into my comfy running shorts- best move ever in Kona (I feel like a runner, they’re dry and free-ing). Into the porta poty I go and leave my flask with salt tabs and 3 gels on my chair and tell the volunteers I’m just going to the bathroom.

I run in, and then spent 30-45secs fumbling with the safety pin for my bib number that came off. Easy to do when you’re just at home….in T2 with shaky hands and in a hurry, not so much.

I come out and my salt flask and gels are gone! They had taken them…like to return to me in my bags at the end of the race. WTF?!?!??!?!?! I don’t appreciate ignorance with initiative- that is by far the biggest flaw in humans. If you don’t know, don’t take initiative!

So the girl says “oh you needed it, it’s gone….wait can you hold on?” Uhhm no! I’m racing! I stand their dumfounded hoping maybe they will just run right in with my flask- the most important thing but no.

I sped out pissed. Actually worried more than anything because if it stayed hot the whole run like it did last year, I would’ve been screwed.

Luckily, cloud cover popped up and after the first loop, for loops two and three, the heavens came down.

I felt ok on the run. It got progressively better which is rarely the case, for me at least, in Ironman. The first lap I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep going I was in a daze. At one point I was seeing blurry, and my stomach hurt bad. I just prayed this was an ache and not the beginning of runs on the run again! But I knew I had to finish this race and I had to finish running not in shambles like last year.

Again, my legs didn’t have the spring they did a month ago. But at least I was running decent. I started eating bananas with coke in loop 2 and that saved me! I had never tried bananas and it was awesome.

In loop two I climbed back into 10th, played cat and mouse with another girl, and eventually held 9th.

I am thrilled at conquering this feeling of hell and it’s a lesson that things can always get better! I ran as strong as I could and the best definition for what I did this day was GUT IT OUT.

When it started raining and we were literally traversing a knee deep “river” of flooded streets, I just had to chuckle. It made for an epic day.

So I end the season, proud of what I’ve accomplished and sure beyond a doubt that I made the right move at the right time to start racing pro. I am also sure beyond any miniscule doubt that Ironman is out of my life for about 5 years. I cannot wait to have the spring, speed, and feeling of real racing that comes with sprints/Olympics/70.3

For now, it’s time to relax, keep moving with some other activities, and enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Thanks to my support team:

Nytro Women- I had a ball this year racing along side you girls, and to Kristin- thank you for all you did for us! I can’t wait to see what next year holds for ya’ll.

Nytro- thanks Skip and all the guys at Nytro for being there for me, and simply being the best bike shop!

Beaker Concepts- Few people are behind me like you. I appreciate all the advice, and help.

Newton- Best running shoes in the world. I had my best year of running and no gnarly blisters or injuries.

TYR- ya’ll are swimming. Thanks for the new 54min swim PR!

Reynolds Wheels- Best out there! I knew that if my legs didn’t show up to ride, at least I had the wheels to keep me going forward fast.

Lifesport – Thank you coach Paul for an amazing season!

Nuttzo- No nut butter compares. Glad I could get others hooked on this too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cozumel, here we go!

A LOT has happened since Kona and lucky for me, it's all been great! I enjoyed some down time, indulged in some sinful, but oh-so-delicious, *healthy* junk :) and jumped right back into some quality training for Cozumel.

Right after I ran the Irongirl 10k in Del Mar two weeks ago off a heavy 7-10 days of real workouts, I was smashed...and I mean burried 100ft below ground. So much so that I struggled moving from my bed to the couch and fridge. I even started to wonder if I could race at all and concluded that if this continued into the end of that week I'd pull the plug.

It wasn't only the training, I also moved in 24hrs to my own condo in Carlsbad- which I'm super stoked about...but going from boxes to literally "home" in that time period has its heavy price. It was worth it though- I'd rather work as if on speed and give myself a perfect living environment than dance around it and not be completely comfortable.

But, never underestimate the power of hibernation! After two days of playing "bear" I bounced right back and now am into my first day of taper having polished off some of my best-feeling rides and runs so far this season :)

I tried hard to keep the same weight I had for Kona- 110 race morning, but something about doing back to back Ironmans has me much hungrier during and after training. So while I didn't stray completely off track, I did sturdy myself with 4lbs extra weight for this race. In all I'm ok with this because I'm not feeling on any cusp, I'm healthy, strong, and I'm still at what I consider (for me) race weight.

So now it's Friday and all that's left is a few workouts this weekend, lots of packing, and off to Me-hee-co!!

No matter what the result of my first pro race, I will only ever get one "first pro race" just like my first Ironman, and that is special itself. I'm fit, healthy, happy, and grateful. I will give it my absolute best, and will toe that line with the confidence of knowing I belong. I have no expecations (really for the first time ever haha) except of myself to not let up one bit and stay mentally strong. I will say this though, the Ironman slogan got it right: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.