Renewal

I’ve been hiding.

My last relationship ended with constant harassment, a restraining order, a new phone number and e-mail address, and a change in where I was living. It was THAT bad.

I stopped being consistent in my training. I left my coach because I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. I was generally a quiet, introverted, doubtful, scared, insecure, self deprecating version of myself. I put this out there because I know I’m not the only person who has ever dealt with a curve ball like this one.

My family, friends, and dog offered consistent support. But, I was stuck. Weekends were spent laying on the couch with the dog. My family is AMAZING, but over 2000 miles away. My friends opened homes and hearts to me, but I had to really force myself to take advantage.

A 3-day Drill weekend with the National Guard helped me start to refocus a bit. There’s not much time to dwell on one’s own problems while leading a platoon of over 30 people, helping them out with their needs, and working 16+ hour days.

The following weekend, I headed out to Austin to volunteer at the Team RWB Tri Camp. It started with a 12ish hour solo drive out to Austin. I LOVE road trips. I listened to some awesome podcasts (Sawbones and Nerdist top the list!), drank a few too many energy drinks, and arrived at a somewhat ungodly hour. I didn’t factor in the 2 hour time change, or the El Paso traffic… anyway…

Team RWB Tri Camp was AMAZING.

First – the athletes. Civilians and veterans participated, each of varying ability level. Incredible, motivated, strong, resilient, determined, selfless, amazing people. 

Second – the volunteers. So much time, effort and love put into this event and it showed. Every second, every mile.

Third – the pros. Passionate, skilled, helpful, and SO approachable.

I was brought to tears multiple times over the weekend for virtually every possible reason: sadness when learning of their struggles, happiness for their presence, inspiration, empathy, pride, joy…

I left with a full heart and a renewed spirit.

I feel like I’m returning to my normal self. When life or workouts have gotten tough, I think about all of the people I met who have faced and overcome so much in their lives. My personal struggles often pale in comparison. And, it’s not in devaluing my own struggles that I push to overcome them, it’s in using strength that I know is inside me. The strength that occasionally runs low and needs some topping off. The strength that I saw in each and every one of these athletes fuels me.

I will carry this camp & it’s participants with me.

Our deepest fear…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson

SuperSeal Olympic Triathlon Race Report

I beat my sub-2:35 goal with a 2:33:59!

Race day started with a nice little ride from my parked car to transition. I arrived at 6:30, because transition was closing at 7, but I wasn’t racing until 9. I got there just in time to see them closing the parking lot and directing us somewhere else. Oh well.

They kept transition open later for the Olympic Distance athletes – the Sprint started at 7, and the Olympic at 8 – which was a nice surprise. It was a pretty relaxing morning, though I was getting anxious to go race!

Around 7:30, I changed into my tri kit.  Around 8, I grabbed my wetsuit and headed through the tunnel to the start.

I finally got suited up and in the water around 8:40, and warmed up at little. I chatted with another girl in the military division. I even found a girl with no wetsuit ready to brave the 64 degree water!  She said she was afraid she’d overheat, so I pegged her as a hardcore swimmer, because who else follows that logic?

At 9, we were off! The bay was calm, the course had TONS of marker buoys, and the water temp was perfect in a wetsuit. My wave was military men and women, clydsdales, athenas and relays. I took off with the front pack, but by the first buoy resized that this was NOT their initial surge, and that I probably shouldn’t swim THAT fast for the full 1500m. I looked to my side and saw non-wetsuit girl. I spent the rest of the swim hanging on to her feet. It seemed like every time I sighted, we were at the next buoy. I was super pumped about how quickly the swim was going by, and that I found feet moving at the right pace.

I got out of the water, and realized I never put my HR monitor on, which was critical to run pacing! Luckily, I knew exactly where it was, and my bag was against the transition fence. HR monitor on,  shoes on, helmet on, and off I went!

The course is two “loops” which are really out and backs with transition right smack in the middle. We divided it up into 4 sections, and had target power numbers for each. This is a fantastic course – fast, flat, smooth, and naturally broken down into pretty even sections! I more-or-less hit my numbers well. On the first loop, I passed a guy in nothing but a speedo on a hybrid. He decided to draft me because he said he liked my pace, and actually kept up with me for a solid 3 miles. He honked his bike horn and cheered the whole time. It was awesome. I was in good spirits, and I felt like a caged animal. I wanted to ride faster, but I stuck to the plan because, you know, I still had a 10k to run.

As I started the last ¼ of the bike course, I finished my water. I usually don’t do that. I had a 24oz bottle! It was warm. They had an aid station at the last turn around where I tossed my bottle and grabbed a new one. Hadn’t planned on it, but luckily I have a stash of PowerBar water bottles, so I’m sure I won’t miss the one I tossed!

Racing with a power meter really, really helped me stay “in the moment”. Speed wasn’t on my main screen. I just had certain #’s to hit, and I hit them. So simple. Not thinking about pace, effort level (am I going to fast? too slow?), or time… awesome.

Into transition I ran to the wrong rack, looked around, and then found mine – my bright orange lining of my Blueseventy wetsuit was like a beacon of hope to a confused triathlete. After that mishap, this went smoothly, and I took the time to put on socks. Still a little worried about my shin, I ran in regular shoes, not my fancy-pants tri racing shoes. The plan was to do the first 5k at the high end of my tempo run HR, and then take off for the last 5k. Well, my HR never really got low enough. I toughed it out (DANG it felt like AZ weather, not beautiful SoCal weather!) and at mile 3, after dumping water on myself, I went for it… and I didn’t seem to get much faster. I had a really stressful week and just didn’t have the mental fortitude to push the last two miles. I still finished right around my standalone 10k PR – which speaks volumes about my improvement on the run, but I can’t shake the disappointment in letting myself slow down.

I had no idea where I was for my total time when I crossed that line. I saw 3:33 and hoped beyond hope that our wave had taken off exactly an hour after the first wave – and it HAD!

I happily accepted my 3rd place military female award – and noticed that I would have had 2nd if I raced in my AG instead. Oh well!

Based on my race, and some upcoming stuff in life, it’s time to switch to a run focus. I’m not declaring my shin “healed”, but I’m declaring it under control if I do the right things (strength, stretch, roll, and sometimes ice).

Also, the Army team roster was released. I am NOT fast enough (yet!), and even cranking out a 10k that’s 5 minutes faster (which I think I have the potential for) would not have landed me a spot on the team. And I’m ok with that. If I made it the first time I applied, where would the challenge be?

SuperSeal, here I come!

And just like that, it’s race week!

I feel more prepared entering into this event than I have for any tri I’ve ever done. Seriously, despite my 3-4 weeks of not running because of concerns about my shin, I’m so excited to get out there and race to see what I can do!

So, what’s different this time around?

Well, I’ve been working with a coach – Laura a.k.a. Frayed Laces. It’s my first time being coached as a triathlete. So, that’s been awesome.

I got a power meter. I’m more focused, motivated, and dedicated to my bike than I’ve ever been, and I’ve been training smartly on it.

And, I’m really not sure what to expect. I’ve made some serious gains, and I haven’t raced in what feels like forever.

So, we’re working on a plan. I’ll have some Power numbers on the bike, and Heart Rate for the run. We’ve discussed a swim strategy. Nutrition. Clothing. Shoes. Weather. I’m ready.

This weekend, a lot will be determined! The day before the race, the 2014 All Army Tri Team roster comes out. I’ll have a pretty good idea of what it actually will take to make the team. If you need me on Saturday, I’ll be stalking my competition via Athlinks and resting up for the race!

With what I learn on Saturday, I’ll be racing my heart out on Sunday.

It looks like I’ll be traveling solo for this event, so I’m very happy that I booked a room at a beach-front hotel, and I included Sunday night in the original reservation. Post-race, I’ll be relaxing – or maybe obsessively planning my next round of athletic endeavors – but either way, there will be beers! And beach! And sunshine! 

February is almost over already?

I’ve got a race report to post (Ragnar Florida Keys) and a race support report to post (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo MTB race), but they’re in my draft folder and not as exciting as some other things…

I’ll give you the quick and dirty anyway:

Ragnar Florida Keys

Awesome, as usual. I ran all 18 of my miles after taking ~3-4 weeks off of running to avoid an oncoming shin injury. Not the best idea ever, but it worked. My amazing little sister was on standby for all of my runs with her shoes on, ready to hop in for me the moment I felt pain… never did :) It was great to see most of my family, my van had a blast, and I got to catch up with some great friends!

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

I was the solo supporter of my friend’s attempt to do this solo. Crazy, right? He had his mountain bike stolen in the week before the race, and then broke the frame of his fancy racing MTB. So, he went into it on a borrowed bike, which had its own set of challenges. He was running in 4th for the first few laps, and then dropped to 6th after he stopped to sit for a while because his back was killing him. Night came, he slowed down a little, but seemed to be feeling better… and then crashed out on lap 7. He’s ok, but his race was over.

Team RWB Tri Camp

I applied for this opportunity a while ago – not to be a camp attendee, but to be a volunteer athlete. I’ll be assisting coaches, and helping out new triathletes on our swim, bike and run adventures. I can’t wait to work with some amazing veterans to show them the wonderful activities and community associated with Triathlon. Derick Williamson is the coach hosting the camp, and I’m pretty excited to work alongside Time O’Donnell, Brad Williams, and Caroline Gaynor, among the many other Triathletes that will be there…

Army Triathlon Team

So, the requested time to apply for the team is a sub-2:35 Olympic Distance race. I applied this year anyway. Historically, Army Women has ranked the lowest of the military branches. Well, history is changing! I needed to ask a question regarding my application, and I got an extremely polite response that said there are EIGHT women in the 2:09-2:22 range. They pick five for the team. Holy cow, that’s smoking fast! So, this may become more of a 2016 goal, than a 2014 or 2015. Or it may not be a goal. I know that two years of hard, smart, consistent training should get me within that range, but am I willing to dedicate my free time and athletic pursuits to this one goal? We’ll see. SuperSeal will now serve as more of a benchmark than an attempt at qualifying. I’m a little relieved, to be honest. A 2:2X will certainly light a fire under me.

Prepping for Missouri

Last night, someone tracked me down after seeing me in the Army Tri Team e-mail, then again on the Team RWB Facebook page. She’s the one that applied with a 2:09 race. Anyway, she used to live in Missouri! Not only was she super encouraging regarding my training and making the team, but she’s also a wealth of knowledge about triathlon clubs and races in the area I’ll be spending my summer/fall.  Maybe a few months at Ft Lost-In-The-Woods won’t be so bad after all.

Work

We submitted a grant application that – if it’s approved – will guarantee me employment beyond my next round of Army training. Cross your fingers for me!

You made it this far?

Awesome. Here’s a bike. And then, a dog. 

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Teaming up with SBR Sports! TriSwim, TriSlide, Foggle!

You heard me right – I’m teaming up with SBR Sports this year. They are the makers of some awesome products that I’ll be using (actually, that I’ve BEEN using) and SHARING with you this year!

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TriSwim products consist of Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, and Lotion. They work to neutralize and remove the Chlorine, Bromine, salt water and chemical odor from your skin and in your hair. It’s so good, that it’s the official hair & skin care product of US Master’s Swimming.

The lotion is by far my favorite product. Swimming + dry air + winter cold = super dry skin right now. This it my go-to lotion to undo the damage from the pool… and the dry desert air… and the chafing… and the sunburn…

It’s also paraben-free and not tested on animals.

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TriSlide is a silicone-based spray on anti-chafe / anti-friction lubricant. I discovered TriSlide later than I would have liked… picture this…

My family does the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay every year. Two years ago was my dad’s first Ragnar! He started running just to participate in this with us! Well, the Florida heat and humidity caught him by surprise. He was chafing and needed relief. All I had was the stick of rub-on lube. And, not one to let someone suffer, I lent it to him. Ew. I won’t go into detail, but you can imagine what parts that stick came in contact with… we wiped the top layer off with the towel and pretended it was all ok.

So, now, I bring TriSlide to EVERY race – and every ride… and longer runs. It’s super sanitary! Not just for others, but for myself. I’m not rubbing the same stick on my feet, nether-regions, and that weird spot under my arm. I also don’t have to give my business a through rub-down – just a spray. It sprays where you need it and stays put! I use it running, bike riding (3+ hour rides and no need to re-apply), and even ruck marching. It works great to help get your wetsuit on and off, and to avoid chafing on the back of your neck.

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Foggle is a cleanser and anti-fog towelette. It looks like those little lemon-scented sanitizing wipes.

Foggle isn’t something I use daily at the pool, but it is something that comes out as race day approaches. Sighting isn’t critical in the University of Arizona pool, but it is on open water swims and races. For about a week or two leading up to a race, I’ll foggle my goggles, and then use it on race day. It’s awesome, and keeps me fog-free!

I also use these Scuba Diving, I’ve used them on my sunglasses before long rides, and I’ve even used them to clean and de-fog my snowboarding goggles. If you keep the wipes in a zip-lock bag, they last for a few uses.

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So, there it is! The SBR Sports family of products. Now, the REALLY cool part is, I get to share! There will be a giveaway here once the sponsorship gets in full swing… but I’m also hooking up some groups, clinics, practices, and races. So – do you want some SBR Sports swag for your next event? If so, send me an e-mail and we’ll chat :)

Aero Camp!

First, thank you to Team Red, White, & Blue for this opportunity. A triathlete donated their deposit for the camp to Team RWB, and I happened to be willing to pay the remainder and able to attend. Thus, I ended up in over my head at Aero Camp!

This Aero Camp was the brain child of Accelerate3′s Brian Stover, HD Coaching’s Heath Dotson, ERO Sports and Alphamantis.

Let me start by saying it was an amazing experience!

I walked into the Velodrome – the first one I had ever even seen in person – and was terrified. Here’s a shot of the group post-ride. And yes, that’s the track, not the wall!

To kick off the camp, we got some instruction on track bikes from Missy Erickson – an all around-badass on the track, and an Olympic hopeful for 2016. She managed to get a bunch of triathletes riding in a pace line on fixed gear bikes on a track. Impressive! No crashes, either :)

The thing that really helped calm me down on the track was that faster = safer. If we ever felt like we might slip, just pedal faster! And with no potholes, hardware, furniture, or dead javalina to worry about – it was easier to just get in that mentality. Fast can be scary, but on a smooth track, it was awesome.

My confidence grew, even though my hands hurt from the death grip I had on the handlebars.

Anyway, next was lunch and a pool-side discussion of what we wanted to test.  With guidance from Brian and Heath, my run list looked something like this:

#1 – remove spacers under stem

#2 – possibly add a spacer

#3 – go narrower on my pads/bars

#4 – placeholder in case more fiddling is needed with my aero bars

#5 – remove bottle cage, use BTA (between the arms) bottle

#6 – one piece suit (2 piece was my baseline)

#7+ – helmet tests

We were set and ready to go…

Then, my ego took a blow…

That happened.

I knew my fit wasn’t aero-optomized, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Well – more room for improvement, right?

Jim from ERO had me jump on a trainer for a 3D Retul view of my fitting. He really wanted to lower my seat 2 cm before we even started, but we kept it, just so we could see what a drastic difference it would make.

This alone was an eye-opening and educational experience. Perhaps my too-high seat was a factor in my shin pain?

Given this info, we rehashed my testing plan.

With all of that work done, it was track time!!

Each testing run was about 12 laps. One lap to get up to speed, one lap to calibrate, and 10 laps of testing. We tested two people at at a time, so when one was testing, one was making changes. Let me tell you, by my final runs, I was getting TIRED!

#0 – baseline with current set-up

#1 - Saddle down 2cm; aero bar down approx 4cm

#2 –  -17 degree stem, s-bend extensions rotated in

#3 – Remove Cages, BTA installed

#4 – One piece suit trial

#5 – LG P09

#6 – Rudy Project Wingspan

#7 – LG P09 and attempted shrug

But wait, don’t my #1 and #2 runs violate the rule-of-thumb of only changing one thing at a time? Yes. But, my fit was THAT bad. And, we were trying to get me to a more reasonable baseline position.

For me, my best run was #5. My BTA set-up was SLOWER than my bottle on the down tube setup. A one piece suit made virtually no difference over my two-piece tri suit. My shrug helped nothing.

I also left knowing I still have work to do on my fit. I need to get lower in the front, and probably longer. And get some shorter cranks. But, overall, I’m saving myself close to 35W, and that ain’t bad. My first run is the top picture, my best run is the bottom one.

I’ll leave you with some general observations:

-lower is better, until it’s not

-speedsuits are only good if they fit WELL, and then, only for most people.

-the Trek Speed Concept also had really good numbers overall – similar to the LG P09 – it just seemed to be low drag, no matter what – same with the TorHans aero bottle

-shorter cranks aren’t just a new trend – seems like they are a great way to go, especially for us shorter people. They suggested swapping my 172.5 for 165 or 160.

-things that look aero, or are aero for one person, might not actually be aero for you. for example, a girl had her torpedo-mount bottle sticking up really high. they put a smaller bottle in and changed the angle of the cage. it LOOKED faster, but it was slower. It even surprised the guys running the clinic.

-bottle position (torpedo-style mount beat frame mount – this is “generally” the most aero-neutral)