Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Day in Da Harbor

This weekend is special. Not just because it’s Memorial Day weekend, but also because:

  1. a friend is in town
  2. it’s one-week-until Rev3 Quassy
  3. the weather is amazing

Baberaham has been geeked all week about our friend that is now in town, because for him, that means sharing funny stories, endless hours of mountain biking, and barbecue. Yesterday, we made breakfast the best way we know how- with local groceries (including nitrite free bacon and farm fresh eggs) and a boatload of coffee. We then threw the bikes in the back of the pickup (me with my roadie and B & friend with their mountain bikes) and made the trek to Copper Harbor for some glorious outdoor fun.

With just a week before my early season A race, I wanted to get some juice flowin’ and test my legs on some hills. What better way than to venture up Brockway Mountain?

Overlooking Eagle Harbor

Brockway has some of the best views in the whole Keweenaw of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscape. The roads aren’t in fabulous condition, but that’s part of the allure. And it’s definitely argued which side is more difficult to go up.

I rolled along M26 to the south entrance of Brockway, along the shoreline that provided a cool breeze. The Lake was calm and glassy, and the occasional car that passed me was driving slow and cautiously – another reason why I love riding in the UP. I rode up the south side, because I wanted a good warmup and wanted to transition into my mile repeats (running) quickly. I was shooting to get a few climbs in, but my legs were still feeling gassed and I decided to hold back a little.

On the up, I did a lot of standing, which is an amazing feeling. I feel fast and in control, and my road bike (Jamis Xenith Race) is easy to maneuver, light, twitchy, and aggressive. I had my gearing dialed in well, and I hit it perfectly when to up shift, down shift, stand up, sit down. My front wheel didn’t leave the ground once (which for me means I wasn’t pulling on my handlebars too hard). It was a perfect climb.

The disheartening part of Brockway, especially coming from the south side, is that the climb never seems to end. Turn a bend, still going. Turn another, keeps climbing. But I was ready, mentally, to handle that and I almost felt disappointed when I got to the top. Almost. My legs were not disappointed, and my quads and hips burned.

Once I got to the top, I lollygagged for a few minutes. My legs felt alright, and I debated doing another. I was thirsty and the temperature was higher on top of the hill than at the shoreline. It was time for the descent.

Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor was fairly quiet, considering it is a holiday weekend… but I am guessing it’s much busier today with the Bike the Keweenaw festivities taking place up there. It definitely wasn’t busy enough to scare this girl-

After my mile repeats, I basked (baked?) in the sun for a bit while waiting for the boys to get back to the truck. At that point, their legs were tiring but they wanted to keep riding, so I shuttled them up to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge where many of the IMBA Epic mountain bike trails start. Gravity was a friend yesterday.

For the love of swimming

I knew going into triathlon that, of the three sports, the swim would be my weakest link. And I knew, after training in 2009 for my first Ironman, that I’d have some ground to make up on the bike and run because I wasn’t about to get out of the water first unless the race directors gave me a thirty-minute head start.

Granted, I didn’t spend that much time focusing on my swim last year. I swam in training to survive the 2.4 miles. I focused more on swimming when getting bashed in the ribs than swimming fast. But I did learn a few things from just the few triathlons I have done thus far – to find feet, to find rhythm, and to put yer head down and go.

This year, I decided to focus more on my swim, and by that I meant: Get in the pool at least twice a week. Don’t be a Nancy. But then I started thinking to myself, maybe twice a week isn’t enough. I want to be faster, stronger, better this year. One component of that is to be a faster, stronger, better swimmer. I know (from experience) that the only way to get faster at swimming is to swim more (than once in a blue moon). I know that I can survive the 2.4miles, so why not try to get fast at it (or fast, in a relative sense of the word)?

So, along with the drama from my mamma (bear) and her perils of swimming as of late, I’ve decided to set a few performance goals for myself. Since my outcome goal is to improve my overall long course performance so I can gain an edge on the age group girlies, I’m going to have to do a few specific things in order for that to happen. Thus, my specific performance goals for this season are as follows:

  1. Swim a 100yd in 1:20
  2. Swim a 500yd in under 7:15
  3. Swim 1.2mi in a half around 30minutes

Since there aren’t many times that I’ll get a chance to swim 1.2miles this season, it is going to be hard to chip away at a time, but I’m shooting for around 30minutes. My best is 33:31, so I think knocking off three and a half minutes won’t be too impossible, considering my training history for swimming. However, I have a feeling it is going to be tough to do.

So, today was one-step-closer to reaching my goals, but the ladder is still very long and very tall. I did a decent set around 4500yds, spent over an hour and a half in the brominated waters, and didn’t feel discouraged once. I jumped in around 6:40am to the only empty lane and got to work, occasionally taking sips off my bottle of EFS (definitely one of those people that has to drink something non-chlorinated during swim workouts).

1000yd warmup– with 200yd rotations of free, kick, and pull
10×50
free on the 1:00, with descending 1-5 and 6-10 (5 and 10 being the fastest, 1 and 6 being recovery)
500yd
free
5x100yd free on the 1:45
500yd
free
5x100yd free on the 1:45
1000yd cooldown and technique drills

After a while, I was one of two people left in the pool. It felt good to have got so much in without feeling bored or tired, but toward the end of the cooldown my calf hinted at a cramp. Good thing it was time to get outta the pool and get to my real job!

I think, for my entire life, I have always had a good time swimming, I just … forgot how to have fun. Swimming became a chore last year, the least favorite of the three sports for me. I dreaded going, I’d call workouts before I got to 2000yds, and I was just plain sissy. I don’t know why, but somehow I now feel stronger and faster in the water. Maybe its my flashy new swimsuits? Less stress at work? More comfort in knowing that I can accomplish big things? Even if I’m not faster/more comfortable, I feel like I am, and maybe that’s why I am enjoying it more. I know that swimming doesn’t have to be a chore, it doesn’t have to be something that I “have” to do, and I am starting to enjoy it. Finally!

OH! And I almost forgot: I wanted to add some tips I learned way-back-in-the-day when I swam in middle school and things I’ve picked up over the last year.

  • Take a shower with your suit on!
    • Not because you should be embarrassed to be naked, but because it is good for the life of the suit. You want to get the bromine out of the suit as much as you can so that the suit doesn’t dry-rot in your locker. It happens. Just delay it!
  • Lather up!
    • Luckily, I’m not blonde, so I never had to deal with green-hair. But, I used to get terribly bad split ends and dry, crackly hair from swimming every day. I think back then, I just went through a bottle of conditioner a week or something ridiculous (or maybe I used those hair conditioning treatments that smell like perm? I don’t remember).
    • Now, I have Tri-Swim, and it is awesome. My comb actually runs through my hair after a shower, even if I don’t use the conditioner, and my skin isn’t flaky and dry. And I smell like I am in the tropics. It’s so nice (and it’s so almost gone).

  • Spin your suit!
    • If your pool has a spinner, use it! It’s much better for your suit than wringing it out (which, for what its worth, you should not do!! Just like you shouldn’t wring out your hair!)
    • The spinner in our pool is called a SuitMate, and it is routine for me to shower, spin, and then get dressed.
  • Hang dry the suit by both ends or lay it flat!
    • I might be paranoid because my last suit stretched apart incredibly prematurely. Either that, or the mixture of bromine in the pool is off. Whatever the case, I learned that my suit can become too big for me, especially in the straps. I only have a locker, though, and I’m not about to leave my suit out for someone else to snag.
    • My trick? I hang my suit by the straps, as well as the crotch. That way, the weight of the damp suit (it shouldn’t be dripping wet because of the SuitMate) isn’t pulling on just the thin spaghetti straps, and I don’t have to worry about the suit showing my non-existant cleavage during a future swim. Another trick is to put a bar across the inside of the locker and drape the suit over it, but I haven’t got around to getting a bar yet!

I also want to say, I loooove Splish suits. My Trakkers suits are the first I’ve had of Splish, and they are not quite like the Speedos I’ve used in the past. They are snug but not restricting, and they are super comfy. I don’t feel like I have to pick a wedgie all the time, or pull the suit up on my chest, or adjust a dang thing. They just fit, and fit right. The fabric is different than a Speedo (my Splish suit seems more wicking/water resistant than any Speedo I’ve had), and its double-lined around the entire suit. Plus, the company designs suits for whatever the customer wants. If I wanted to make a suit that said “I am a badass”- they would print it for me with cool lettering and any strange icon I want. Amanda Lovato has some kookie ones with unicorns and rainbows, and I’m tempted to shop around for some brightly colored and outrageous ones next time I need a new one. So, extra cudos to Splish for designing such a great suit!

It's an uphill battle

I think everyone knows this by now- I live in Michigan, which is also known as the Mitten State. It’s two peninsulas jutting out into four of the five Great Lakes, the largest (Lake Superior) of whose shores I live on. Michigan is sometimes lumped into the Midwest Stereotype- aside from the Midwesterners’ accents– that it’s flat as a pancake at sea level and full of cornfields. But its not (ok, maybe some of it is).

Where I live, in da UP, is quite… fun! Sure, there are no “real” mountains, nothing is really that long to climb up, but the glacial cut land near Lake Superior makes for a tough rolling bike ride if you want it to. This weekend, my buddies and I wanted to do just that. The plan was to do a 70-80 mile ride with the first 45 up some pretty tough stuff:

AJ and I rode our tri bikes, and Caleb and Karl rode their road bikes. AJ and I had a hard time keeping speed with the roadies, especially on some of the steeper climbs, but it was all well and good. My nutrition was dialed, in part because we ate a huge-ass breakfast before leaving Caleb’s (gluten free pancakes, fresh berries, bacon, potatoes, and coffee)- and also because I downed both bottles of fruit punch EFS (2scoops each) before we made it back to Caleb’s after 47miles and 2hrs40min.

It’s so difficult for me to describe how excited I am to be able to ride outside- in the UP in May- and sweat my butt off.  Sunday’s ride was hot and humid, like a sauna. The Lake Superior ice bath afterward was looking better and better with every mile.

Luckily we made a loop, and our station was at Caleb’s house. After the first 45 miles, we were able to refuel and rehydrate.

The ride wasn’t actually too hard (although my legs were saying otherwise during the first three climbs), and I felt refreshed after hitting Baltic and knowing I had a nice, easy descent to Caleb’s house.


And the extra 25 miles we added on? They were flat. I even took a free token from Karl back to Caleb’s house, because my rear wheel/brake were rubbing and grabbing when I stood to climb. Annoying. It worked out well, though, because Karl grabbed his shoes and we did a transition run (albeit a little delayed) from Caleb’s house, where he and I ran a speedy mile and a recovery mile.

And for a post-workout recovery? Ice bath in the Portage Lake (fed by Superior) and a barbecue/pontoon ride at our friends’ new house. Talk about a perfect Sunday.

One Midwesterner Stereotype that is real though: We love Pabst.

Score!

Some really cool dealios:

Rev3 is offering a special bonus to anyone who volunteers at the upcoming Rev3 triathlons in Quassy on June 5th and 6th. Volunteer, and get (along with swag, food, and VIP treatment) a huge discount on any future Rev3 half or oly!

$50 off a Rev3Half

$30 off a Rev3Oly

Click here for more details.

PLUS!

lucy activewear started a promotion earlier this month that I think is so very clever. It’s called Compete and Win! If you reap the fame and glory of a win in a race that you’re recently competed in, you can win free stuff from lucy if you do so wearing lucy activewear.


So, here’s the deal:

If you have recently raced in lucy clothes, and won the race (technically, in lucy terms, this includes placing first, second or third), make sure to snap a race photo and send it in to lucy for a free outfit! For the podium stars, lucy is giving away a training tank and your choice of a Propel bottom- remember how much I love my Propel skirt? The WIN (remember, its first, second, or third place) can include age group categories, too- so long as the race director designates them. So don’t be discouraged if you see Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe at your next race, you can still win some sweet swag. For official rules, click here.

Have a tune up race before your big win? Well, bring in a race bib to any of their stores, you get 20% off a full-priced lucy item. Do several races? Get several pieces of lucy clothes to stockpile your wardrobe! Although there aren’t any lucy stores incredibly close to me (the nearest mall is over 100 miles away), chances are, I’ll be stopping at a lucy shop or two in the next few months, and lucky-for-me the promotion is going through the end of August.

Double score!

Rock Your Socks 10K

I’ve been trying to find a local 10K to race, but my luck just plain ran out. The weekend’s races are either too far away (3+ hours), or not 10Ks. No matter how hard I think about it, I just can’t convince myself to travel over 100 miles for a race that short.

Fortunately, I have a couple key 10K routes and a GPS watch to guide me, so this morning my roommate and I set out to run a 10K time trial. Racing with Babes definitely helped remind me that Yes, I need to do a 10K this weekend and Yes, I can do one without an official finish line and chip timing.

I was hoping I’d have a big crowd to run with and gun after, but I couldn’t convince any of my training buddies to tag along. They were either out of town, out of motivation, or out too late last night. So, off I went, with a last minute addition of my roommie, who has never ran a 10K before.

We headed to McLain State Park, because I wanted to run a bit on the Canal Run course. The Canal Run is such a sweet and fast 10 mile race, yet every year I seem to get slower and slower (by adding about 30 seconds to my time every year…). Although it’s not a goal race of mine for 2010, it is a week before my first ultra (Voyageur Marathon- 50mile), and I would like to use it as a tune-up and get some speed from my legs- and to see where I am at in mid-July. So, off we went.

We did a short warmup (~12minutes) and I wasn’t sure that was enough. My legs felt a little tight and depleted. Even though it seemed chilly when we got out of the car, after the warmup I was stripped down to shorts and a tee.

3-2-1-, off we go.  My roommate hung back from the start, and I was running alone the entire way. I worked on keeping my knees up, ankles relaxed, arms pumping, shoulders relaxed. I started to feel the heavy, humid air around mile 2. At the turnaround, I couldn’t see my running partner, and I started to wonder where he went. No- focus. My breathing is heavy, but I don’t feel like the air is going all the way into my lungs. My eyes get tired, my shoulders start to get higher. I check my form, then get distracted again. I should have passed him by now. 2 miles left, and up the Lily Pond hill, with still no sign of Sam. Where is he? Did he turn early? Must have. Stop thinking about that, Megan. Just focus. I see him ahead with 1.2 miles to go. Pick it up, you’re slowing. Focus on your form. Get moving.

I turn the corner into the park and dig deep, but not deep enough. My watch stops at 42:44 at 6.2miles, and I admit that I’m not satisfied. That was slow, and I know it. But I haven’t been doing intervals for weeks. And I’ve been sick. And I bonked hardcore in two sessions already this week… I try to make excuses but I can’t accept them. No, just deal with it. That’s the time, the watch doesn’t lie. You gotta get faster. So for the first 10K of the season, I’ll take it. That’s a decent benchmark to knock down next time, and hopefully I crush it and boost my confidence.

First mile:      6:42
Second mile: 6:47
Third mile:    6:49
Fourth mile:  6:52
Fifth mile:      7:05
Sixth mile:     7:00
Last 0.2 mi:   1:26
Finish:          42:44

Route:

Elevation:

Misery Loves Company

What has six legs, six wheels, and a heckuva lot of fun? Me and two of the dudes from Flyer Cycles. Last night, I joined my friends, Tervo and AJ, on a ride of grandeur over the rollers of the Keweenaw to Misery Bay.

Misery comes in many forms, but riding the road bike masks that pretty well. I knew that riding with AJ and Tervo would be a bit more challenging for me, maybe even painful, even if they went at a leisurely pace (for them). Putting it lightly, Tervo can climb well. AJ rocks a 64×9 or something ridiculous (I’m probably exaggerating). But they’re both really great dudes to train with, and even if I’m huffing and puffing and falling off my bike, I always come back for more.

Yesterday’s ride: Roughly, 50 miles round trip. Not too long, but some decent climbs along the way. And some hilarity as well.

There were some climbs, some decents, some rumble strips, some cars, but once we got into Toivola and turned toward the Bay, the road was quiet. We could even ride three abreast for most of the way back.

Oh, yeah. There was some dirt, too.

One of the most rewarding things about biking in the Keweenaw, aside from all the rollers and cool breezes and low traffic, is the destination. Want to see a waterfall? We can do that. Want to see Lake Superior? That’s easy. Yesterday was so calm in Misery Bay that we couldn’t hardly tell where Superior started and the sky began…

We got back to town as the sun was setting. I bonked a few times, but Tervo saved my day with a few gels he stashed in his pocket. I don’t know what I was thinking not bringing along food, especially when riding with these guys. Perhaps I knew we were going to Misery Bay and wanted to make it suitable? Luckily, during one of my bonks we made plans to head to the Dorfblick Training Center after the ride to eat big-ass burgers and watch Ironman, and that brought me home.

I’m looking forward to some really nice weather, big training, and even better recovery this week.

I love the UP

It’s starting to hit me, all the things I shouldn’t take for granted.

Watching the sun set over Lake Superior, the water is calm and the sky fills with stars. There’s nothing but the soothing splash of the waves on the beach and the distant howl of a coyote.

I have great friends, a great place to live, and an amazing life. Where I am is my absolute favorite place in the world. And I’m here. Now. Living it.

I love the U.P.

Lake Superior sunset

Campfire at Great Sand Bay

All's quiet on the homefront

…except the incessant coughing of me and my roommate and the fits of phlegm I cough up in the middle of the night.

I was pretty bummed to have got sick right before my first tri of the season. On Saturday (the day before the race), I couldn’t breathe without feeling a sharp pain on my kidneys, and my lungs wouldn’t expand no matter how slow I breathed. I probably took too many puffs from my inhaler than were healthy, popped an entire box of Dayquil, and drank a gallon of OJ. And I still couldn’t kick the funk.

Now, after the race and all the traveling, I have no voice and I haven’t trained since the race.

I am sore (from NOT training), beyond antsy, and I want to cry because all I really want to do is ride my bike for a few hours and go for a run.  Heck, I’ll even take a few hours in the pool. But I am afraid that anything I do will put me back even further.

So I will wait. Sit on my hands (literally). I guess its a good time to get work done, anyway.

I have a big week of training next week, including American Triple T in Ohio next weekend. I’m not sure if I will be making the trip. If I feel like this, driving for 20 hours each way probably isn’t going to help my lungs get any better…

this isn’t supposed to be a woe-is-me post. I’m kind of floating around in training land trying to figure out what is ok and what is not ok for me to be doing.

Rev3 Knoxville!

I don’t think I could have picked a better race than the Rev3 Knoxville as my first Olympic distance tri. The crowd, the course, the competitors- everything was awesome and unlike any other race I’ve done.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

And I almost didn’t do it. I originally signed up for the halfRev, but with the team challenge I decided (with my background in team-point-accumulation with xc and Nordic) that we could always use more racers in the Oly as backups. What if someone flatted? Took a wrong turn? Lost their shoe? So I switched over to the Oly a few weeks before and felt good about my decision. As race day approached and my trip to Tennessee ensued, I started feeling under the weather. Then I thought: Maybe I shouldn’t even race. With Triple T and Quassy both less than five weeks away, I really couldn’t afford to lose a lung over a race. My body ached and I couldn’t breathe, and I wasn’t excited about entering a pain cave like that.

Luckily, I woke up race day morning, or rather at 3am (that’s not really the morning, per se), to a drenched t-shirt and sweat-covered sheets. But I woke up with a smile and a deep breath. I felt good. Really? I went back to sleep for a few more hours of snooze. Whatever bug had decided to take residence in my lungs has seemed to move on, and I felt more confident in my ability to do the race, and not have to worry about whether or not I’d pass out from hypoxia on the bike. Little did I know that you’re supposed to feel that way in an Oly. I know for next time.

PRERACE NUTRITION—
I had about a handful of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, which is less than usual, but I wasn’t particularly hungry and I wasn’t worried about being hungry during the race. I mixed a heaping scoop of First Endurance PreRace in with 1.5 scoops of EFS powder in my water bottle and sipped on that about an hour before my wave’s swim start.

COURSE:
SWIM— 0.9 miles, 23:36 (97.8sec/100m)

Photo credit: Eric Willis

The swim course was awesome. I really liked that the start wasn’t at transition, and it was clever on the race director’s part to do this with as many waves as there were. The pros were out of the water before I started- heck, so were most of the elite amateurs. I got to watch the pros take off, and come to grips with the swim course before I swam it (since I didn’t do the swim preview the day before).

I was happy with my swim. I didn’t really push it, which meant I never went hypoxic, but I also didn’t feel sloppy or slow. I felt smooth and found a good rhythm. I’m probably right in assuming that in Oly distance triathlons, you don’t really want to find a rhythm so much as just push it hard enough so you don’t crash and burn, but with my 22-hour-drive and recently-broken sickness, I wasn’t about to put myself in a pain cave that would end in a visit to the hospital. So, I just found some feet, passed some pink caps, some yellow caps, some blue caps, and just put my head down and dug, dug, dug. I swam all the way to the dock, because twenty strokes or so before I was there, I realized the swim exit was a mantel onto the pontoon. Perfect! I was surprised that I could get out of the water without any problem. It was easy, actually, and I didn’t need any help from the volunteers who were hoisting others out. But when I brought my knees to the dock to walrus my way onto the deck, my calves had a different idea. They balled up, and I made a quick decision to move as fast as I could to get into the standing position. Luckily, the muscle-seizing ceased, and I started ow-ow-ow’ing my way to the ramp. I started running/stripping my way to transition, and got into my new tri shoes pretty quick. Since transition time isn’t free time, I grabbed my gloves without putting them on, strapped on my helmet and grabbed my bike. Off I went…

BIKE— 24.8 miles, 1:23:49 (17.75mph)
Bad news was I am not very good at putting gloves on my left hand when I am riding on my bike. Good news was that I remembered to bring them along. I wish I had put socks on my feet, but that would have probably sucked up more time in transition. By the end of the bike, my feet were cold and I couldn’t feel them.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

The bike course was awesome. I went into it thinking that the hills in the downtown section were going to be the hardest because they seemed to be the steepest and longest, but I was wrong. The downhill section was fairly easy, and even the climb to the bridge felt like it was just long enough. My calves would have me thinking otherwise on some of the rollers in the first ten miles, but they never seized up again, luckily. Once I got into the meat of the course, what I like to call the covered part (where the road narrows and the trees cover), it was like spreading butter on bread. Everything was so smooth, and the turns weren’t too sharp that I had to brake. I stayed in aero for most of it, sans the climbs. There were a few climbs on the covered part that were head-down, small ring climbs, but I like those kind of climbs. Sure, you can’t go 25mph up them unless you’re Chris Leito or Julie Dibens, but man, are they fun. I even stood up on some of the climbs, which is something I couldn’t do with my previous tri bike (the QRoo Caliente didn’t offer enough clearance for my knees and I’d hit them on my elbow pad mounts).  I took a few pulls off my EFS and only got one sip off my Liquid Shot, but fortunately I didn’t give in to my desires to pull my liquid shot carrier (the Nathan Propeller 2.0) off my bike and chuck it into the woods. It did not want to stay tucked nice next to my headset on my top tube. Instead, it kept sliding down and hitting my knees, or dropping to the underside of my toptube where it would chuck out my valuable Liquid Shot. I need to come up with a different set up for that holder.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

I did see a few cruise by me that were drafting, and it annoyed me for about two miles until we got to the next winding climb. I figured that, if they weren’t still drafting each other, one of them would lose the other on the gradual but long uphill. I swapped positions with a guy who would bomb the downhills and hammer out of my sight only for me to find him again on the next climb. I played a little road-racer act on the last five miles, stood up and hauled my bike around and hammered out a strong finish, feeling great metabolically (but feeling frozen in the feet-region). Transition 2 was faster than 1, but I didn’t have to go as far.

RUN— 6.2 miles, 51:08 (7:50min/mile)
The only way to describe my run start was, I felt like I was running on stilts. It might have been my cold feet, or givin’er in the bike toward the end, who knows. I made the mistake of grabbing a cup of water at the first aid station straight out of transition and I got a side cramp right away. It lasted about 2 miles, and it stopped when I started drinking Coke (and stopping to drink it). I would have been better off to not brought my Garmin with me, because my pace was annoying to me but I couldn’t do anything about it. I tried to run faster but my quads would start seizing. I realized, after the run, that I should have consumed all my EFS powder mix on the bike. And I didn’t quite realize just how painful that run really was until I saw Eric Willis’s photos; arms are high, face is long, body is collapsing in on itself. That is me running when I am not doing well… and this is me in the first mile. Lucky for me the race was only 6 miles instead of 13, and I found my groove a little better after mile 3. Although I’m not geeked about the run split, I was out there! I can’t win ’em all, and sometimes ya just gotta go with what the day (or week) brings you.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

The run course layout was nice, because we were able to pass the runners who were finishing when we were on our way out, and I was able to cheer for my teammates as they came in to crush the field! We hopped on the Greenway for a few miles that provided some shade and great spectators. Since it was an out-and-back, I could see where everyone was, which for me on this day was probably not the best thing. I felt a little demoralized already with my GPS on my wrist, beeping at me every mile. But, after the cola, I was able dig a little deeper and actually give’r quite well on the uphill into the finish.

I felt like I kept it together- emotionally- well, considering I was coming into this race a week ago wanting to be competitive in my first short-distance triathlon. I wanted it, but it didn’t want to be mine. Things happen, plans change, and I think I rolled with it well. I didn’t get mad at myself because I was running 8min/miles in a 10K, and I didn’t get mad when I found out my bike pace was over 2miles/hour slower than my goal. I was happy that I woke up feeling like a thousand bucks worth of lungs, and that I could actually get a full, deep breath in, something I hadn’t been able to do in days.

General stuff about the race-
The REV3 volunteers and organization is simply AMAZING! One hundred huge standing ovations for the city of Knoxville, the Pattens, the Gollnicks, Carole, and everyone else who did everything they could to make this one spectacular race. If I had a question about anything, I could ask someone- anyone- and they’d point me in the right direction or answer my question. There were so many people in the park, and along the course, with blue Rev3 shirts on. Every intersection had some sort of patrol directing traffic, and there were more than enough people at the aid stations (and more than enough aid, for that matter). They were excited to be there, they were extra helpful, and they didn’t ask for anything in return. The guys from Elite Bicycles were doing FREE tuneups on bikes, and did quite a fair share of friendly teasing when I’d go to get my tires inflated. The A.R.T. was free, although the regular massage was not. But after having A.R.T. and trigger point, I don’t really like massages anyway.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

The Pro-Presence is outstanding. When I was finishing up my run, Dede Griesbauer was on the course cheering people on, about two miles away from the finish area. And even though he didn’t race, Michael Lovato was out on the course on a motorbike. There were so many big-name pros in attendance. Matty Reed threw down and finished first for the men, and pros like Terenzo Bozzone, Julie Dibens and Chris Lieto were out racing. The Trakkers athletes, including Dede, Mary Beth Ellis, Richie Cunningham and Brian Fleischmann, all finished in the top ten, securing prize money and dominating over Team Trek/K-Swiss.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

Photo by: Eric Willis

The roads were great, too- at least in my opinion. Part of the challenge of a technical course is being able to ride over not-smooth surfaces all the time. Being able to see your line and take it, and that includes taking a line around a corner or around a rough patch. The bike course did not have many spots with rough surfaces, either- and when it did (there was a stretch that ran through a road under construction), the volunteers were out sweeping it the night before with brooms. Seriously, I saw them.

The swag was phenomenal. Picking up my race packet included a visor and a tee. A sharp-looking tee, too, I might add (dare I say, classier than my Ironman Wisconsin tee?!?). But, when I finished, I got a medal and a long sleeve poly that was ridic. It looks like a downhill mountain biker’s jersey. SAH-weet! And, all the mothers got pink leis when they finished, special pink expo bracelets, pink numbers, and a special pink gift bag filled with mother-goodies (including a Trakkers race number belt and a pink Trakkers visor). Not to mention free post-race food (including sandwiches from Calhoun’s). Real food. Although I couldn’t eat it, my dad could. And being the great spectator he was today, he definitely deserved it.

The expo was small but specific. There was not junk, no random companies with tents that had nothing to do with triathlon (or were just trying to sell stuff). There was a booth for Elite Bicycles (where the free tuneups were), a booth for All3Sports for race-day essentials (like nutrition, apparel, or a new set of wheels), a Rev3 merchandise booth (although I don’t know what else I could get for my wardrobe that wasn’t given to me in my race bag), a make-a-sign-for-your-athlete booth, and a Trakkers booth.  Oh, and a massage booth, of course.

What I’ll do differently next time (aside from not driving 22hrs to get to a race and getting sick in-transit):

Swim- I felt great about my swim, but that’s an area of triathlon that could always use improvement for me. I think that the next time I do an Oly I will push it a little harder in the swim, go to the next level. Of course, this will get faster when I start swimming more and stop being a nancy about the pool. What better way to get my butt in gear than to cover it with my new Trakkers suit?!

Bike- I need to stay focused for the entire race. I got distracted by the drafters, and I got distracted when I passed people who were riding side-by-side or riding too close to each other. I took the attention off my race and put it on the race as a whole. I need to just get my head in the game, especially for the shorter distance races, because there isn’t time to be thinking about other things.

Practice faster transitions- Whatever I did, it wasn’t all that fast. My first transition was around 3min, and the second was around 2. I need to learn how to run fast with my wetsuit on and just give’r, learn how to ride my bike while putting my feet in my shoes, and/or other tricks. I did get to practice post-race with a competition by Simply Stu, although I didn’t win. It was rigged.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

I might try to put on a pair of socks in the swim-to-bike transition, or come up with a way to temporarily line my tri shoes with something so that my feet don’t get as cold at the cooler races (which are plentiful in the Midwest). Maybe those disposable foot warmer things? Hmm… Does that sound weird? Watch, my feet will get too hot and then I will complain about that.

Sleep- The sweat-ful sleep was helpful, if for nothing else but to get whatever was in me out. I should have taken better note of that, though, when I woke up, and I should have drank a bottle of EFS or Nuun at 3am. Then I might have had a better chance of replenishing my electrolytes that I apparently lost while snoozing, and might not have had issues with cramping during the race.

Food- Because I was at the expo on Saturday, I didn’t pay attention to when it was time to eat and when it was time to rest. I did a decent job (not perfect, of course) of staying out of the sun, but I definitely went from 7am to 4pm without eating anything but a peanut butter and jelly LARABAR. Oops. I also need to figure out an Olympic distance nutrition plan, something that keeps me from feeling so uncomfortable when I get off the bike.

Special thanks to my dad for coming along with me. He drove the whole way to Knoxville, practically, while I slept in the passenger seat. And he was out there all day on the race course cheering, taking pictures, and getting sunburnt. Thanks to Jim and Evy too for housing us, feeding us, loving us, and sending me home with six pounds of fudge.

And I HAVE to do something about those white legs. Can you even tell where my shoe ends and leg begins?

More photos to come when I get back to Houghton. My dad took a ton on my camera today, and I look forward to sharing them!

One last thing, online race results for all Rev3 Knoxville events can be found here!

Rev3 Knoxville! EXCITE!

My dad and I arrived in Knoxville yesterday afternoon, and it’s been quite the whirlwind since! We headed straight to Jim and Evy’s and relaxed with a bit of front porch sitting. Just like old times…

I got to meet (quite a few) of my teammies last night at dinner at Calhoun’s on the River. It was great to chat, put (real) faces to names, and meet new people. The Three-Gluten-Free sat next to each other (Katie, me, and Savannah) and we fared well, even with southern barbecue. Turns out, southern hospitality is a real thing, and our waiter was outstanding.We even had surprise guests at our dinner table, as the Lovatos and Richie Cunningham stopped by. EXCITE! I mean, no big deal. hmph… !!!

This morning, although I was feeling like a Rev3 trailer hit me, I met the rest of the Trakkers squad that came to race this weekend in Knoxville. We had a team photo shoot, a quick run, and some major bonding time at the Trakkers tent. Sonja‘s dad, Eric Willis, was the master of photography for sure, and he took some amazing shots. If you can’t find me in this photo, just look for the gal with the whitest legs. Something about the Great White North rings true.

Photo credit: Eric Willis

And I even got to spend some q-time with the pros. Rev3 is seriously the Hollywood of triathletes. Check it out:

Photo credit: Eric Willis

Yep, that’s me in the background… of Michael Lovato and Dede Griesbauer! No big deal. Umm… EXCITE!

Photo credit: Eric Willis

This type of team together-ness would never be possible without our happy-go-lucky Mama Bear, Carole Sharpless. I would say she was running around like a chicken with no head, but hers was on straight. Actually, her head was down and she was just charging straight ahead, givin’er like she is going to do this season in racing. She even put her head down for an hour or two on her trainer next to the Trakkers tent so she could get some training in without being MIA. Ridiculous(ly awesome).

Sharpie. Photo credit: Eric Willis

There were lots of great things at the expo, too. The swag is sweet, and includes a tee and Headsweats visor. Trakkers had a few cases of First Endurance goodies to give away, and the A.R.T. was free! Talk about amazing. I felt like a new person after having the treatment (and I could actually breathe afterward). The volunteers for these events are absolutely, hands-down, the best I’ve ever seen. Everyone is so helpful, so excited to be a part of this event, and so plentiful. And that’s just at the EXPO! I can’t imagine what race day will be like. The course is beautiful, winding, and technical, and the roads are narrow and hilly. In fact, the last few miles of the bike are going to spent in the pain cave. Perfect!! And its even supposed to be cooler tomorrow, with a high of 65.

Team Trakkers is ready to race. See our excitement?

Photo credit: Eric Willis

Some of the Trakkers athletes are going to be packin’ heat- or rather, packin’ TrakkersGPS. Although you can’t follow me (major bummer, I know), you can Trak Kati, Savannah, and Laura in the half-Rev, and Anthony, Kathleen, Janet, Meredith, Rachelle, Michelle, and Sonja in the Olympic. Check it out here or head over to http://live.trakkersgps.com/events.aspx. I don’t think my dad has the nack for twittering on my phone, but I’ll try to update as quickly as possible post-race here. You can track the Rev3 Knoxville feeds by searching with the #rev3TN hash too!

We’re here to throw down, and throw down we will. We’ve got some serious team bonding going on. See ya tomorrow at the races!!

Photo credit: Eric Willis