Category Archives: Trakkers

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’?

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Wanna be a part of Team Trakkers in 2011? #fb

Want to be a part of something incredible?

In 2010, I was lucky enough to be a member of Team Trakkers. At first, I was hesitant to apply. To be honest, I felt like a faker. I had only raced three triathlons in my life! I was a newbie, an amateur. I mean, what does a rookie triathlete like me think she’s doing? Why would they want someone like me?! I thought it was just a bunch of crazy awesome triathletes in-it-to-win-it. I mean, I talked with some of the members of the Trakkers team; they were legit! But I noticed something; they were all real people. They had families, jobs, lives outside of the sport. And they weren’t always on the podium; but that wasn’t the point. They were moms, dads, daughters, and sons; they wanted to be good role models for their kids and make their parents proud. They were always sportsmanlike, always encouraging others to make healthy decisions, both for the mind and the body. They were a part of a sport that added something more to their life, but it didn’t make their life.  It added character and discipline, but they would have had that anyway. In truth, they were all-around badasses.

I applied last year with an itch to be a part of something bigger. Words cannot describe how Team Trakkers has helped me grow. Being a part of Team Trakkers has been one of the highlights of my triathlon career. I’ve made incredible friends, explored new places, and have learned so much about myself as an athlete. I pushed past the limits of what I thought I could do, and have taken my athleticism to a new height. No matter how far I traveled for a race this season, I always had a family on the other side.  I’ve been able to share these experiences with my family and my friends.  I’m growing up, and Trakkers has been lent a huge hand in helping me develop and mature.

So now, I offer this same experience to you. You, too, can be a part of this amazing crew!

The application window for Team Trakkers 2011 is now open. Click here to apply. If you have any questions about the team, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Click on the icon to apply

Photo credit: Eric Willis

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.

Chicago Tri- Sherpa Steez

This past weekend was yet another whirlwind, but I was lucky enough to meet up with my Trakker teammie Michelle in Chicago. She was in from Colorado to race the Lifetime Fitness Chicago Tri, and I was en route to Madison for an interview. I filled in as her midwest tri sherpa, and was it ever a good time.

Although I quite enjoy the sunrises over Lake Superior and the quiet, rather than hustle-and-bustle, that the UP offers, I did really enjoy my time in the windy city. However, if I ever go there again, remind me not to bring my car. I got in a little later than I wanted to on Saturday night thanks to rush hour (on a Saturday, at 6pm) traffic. We headed to dinner around the block and got nestled into bed at a decent hour.

Michelle was racing elite, which meant she was one of the first waves to get going in the Olympic distance event. Fortunately, that meant she wasn’t taking off at 6am, before the sun even came up. Unfortunately, that meant she had to get to the race before the sprint tri started so that she could get her stuff set up in transition before it closed at 5:45am. She was able to get things in order, hopefully under minimal stress, although I wish I had brought along a bike pump for her. We found a good viewing spot on top of a grassy knoll and watched the sprint athletes race out on the swim and in on the run.

Eventually, it was time for her to head in herself, so I found a good spot in line with the swim exit and waited. I started to get excited. I can only imagine how Michelle felt…

After grabbing the most horrid gluten-free breakfast I could find near the race start (Fritos and Coke) I made my way back to the lakeshore to watch the tailend of the sprint group finish up.


One thing I was so in awe about at the Chicago triathlon was that there were so many athletes. At least 8,000 athletes. Not just elite athletes that can put it down in the swim-bike-run, but also pro athletes. Even though I have raced two Rev3s this year and have had my share of the pro-exposure, I am still in awe if ever I see a pro triathlete in my vicinity. But along with these crazy fast athletes came the beginner triathletes. Athletes who may have never swam more than three times before the race. Had no idea how to sight for buoys, swim front crawl, or keep their face in the water. But they were out there, givin’er, on Sunday morning. Sure, some of them got passed by the first (and second) elite waves of the Olympic, even though the elites had a significantly longer swim and started later. But they didn’t seem to care, they were out there having a good time, doing something they would have perhaps never done before if the Triathlon hadn’t come to their city.

Fordy Ford got out on her bike and I did’t get a good chance to see her until she came back in. She was rockin’ though, and she racked her bike up quickly and swapped out her shoes. Off she went, speedster out of T2.


The finish area was several blocks away from transition, and it worked out so that by the time I made it over there (crossing traffic, getting water, and going pee) the elites were already starting to come in. I guess a 10K doesn’t really take that long, so I found a spot on the grass and waited for the women to come in. I started counting blue bibs, and the lead woman came in with a huge lead. Before I knew it, I saw the Green Machine heading toward me.

After she crossed the finish, we meandered around the finish expo, which was great by the way. Eventually, we headed back to transition to get her bike, put it in my car, and head to awards. Although Michelle could get her splits after the race, she wasn’t sure where she had finished, although I was certain it was a top 20 finish and she was thinking it might have even been top ten. She ended up winning her age group and finishing 12th woman overall on the elite/AG side, with a time of 2:21:52. Not bad considering her swim was wetsuit-less (and everyone else had one on..), the bike was bumpy (but she still hammered out nearly 23mph) and the day was hot and humid.

Michelle did a good job of batting her eyes at the consierge and got a late checkout, so we made our way back there to shower and pack up, and then hit up Pizzeria Uno (the original!) on my way out of town. I did a good job of not appearing jealous of her deep dish original pizza, and gnawed on my greens.

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2010- Race Report

I decided to race Chisago again this year, somewhat on a whim.

My race schedule originally had penciled in my first ultra, the Voyageur 50mile trail race, near Duluth, Minnesota for this weekend, but my lack of long runs at mid-June and early season illness had me grabbing for the eraser. Instead of running myself into the ground, I decided to pull out of Voyageur and look for something else. Luckily, it was the exact same time that my teammate, Sharpie, emailed me asking what I thought about the Chisago Tri. She wanted to know if it would be worth it for her to travel from Colorado to race it, and with the idea that she’d be heading to the midwest, I decided to put my chips in the triathlon bucket instead.

The more I thought about it, the happier I was with my decision. The race last year was flat, fast, and a great primer for the FullRev at Cedar Point in September. I could test out my new 54 in a race setting, master my nutrition, and get in another long race on my new-ish bike. So with some back-and-forth with Sharpie, I signed up (race week registration was only ~$115 after fees) and reserved a room at the same seedy motel I stayed at last year.

I wanted to get to the Twin Cities area by noon so I could meet my friend Leiah for lunch, but I didn’t end up leaving Houghton until a little after 9, and so I stopped and had lunch at a diner in Spooner. Unfortunately, I was a little worried that the hashbrowns were not 100% gluten free, so I scraped around on the plate, ate four pieces of bacon, and headed back on my way. I got to TC a little after 2, and Leiah was at the Red Bull Flugtag, so instead of meeting her for lunch, I headed over there for dinner of kabobs on the grill. In the interim, I watched an episode of Scrubs (downtime) and ran a few miles to get the junk out.

My pre-race meal was light and full of veggies, but I was careful not to eat too much. I had caprese salad and a few skewers worth of peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and then picked up some ice cream on the way back to the motel. I was on the hunt for some Panda Puffs, but I was hardpressed to find them, so I grabbed a box of Smore’ables and decided to go with those and a packet of almond butter for breakfast. I tried to get into bed by 10pm CST, but by the time I had everything laid out and packed up, it was after 1030. I set the alarms for 445am and woke up every few hours thinking my three alarms weren’t working. Ughhh…

Smore’ables were a good breakfast, and I wanted to keep eating them because they tasted so good. I held back though, packed up my stuff and filled my aero bottle with water, 2 tablets of Kola Nuun, and EFS (fruit punch). I noticed that I only brought one of the two straws (daaaang) and couldn’t do anything about it then, so I filled up the largest volume of the two compartment system and headed to the race.

I didn’t ask to be in the elite wave, but since I entered my time from last year’s race, they squeaked me in to wave 2. It was nice, I had a great spot in transition and a clear path to my bike for both transitions.

Pre-Race Transition

I saw my teammate before the race, and a friend from college who started racing triathlon when he started graduate school in Illinois. I felt relaxed, carefree, and I tried to not have any “must do” expectations. Being placed in wave 2 meant that I got to head out first, and they bumped our race time up because of the delay on the first wave. I thought the swim would again be a little short this year, but I couldn’t see that farthest two buoys and by the time I made it around the last one I felt the distance. It’s amazing how slow time goes when I am swimming, how a half hour in the water feels like an hour on the bike. I found a set of feet, then lost them. Found feet. They were going too slow, so I moved on. Found another set, but they were going to zig-zagged. Eventually I was just swimming by myself. The waves behind me started to catch up, and I felt like I was swimming zig-zagged too. Eventually I got to shore in what felt like an hour, but my watch said 36:40. Nice.

Swim: 37:13, 1:55/100m pace

T1 was a little slower than I wanted, mostly because I couldn’t get my wetsuit off my timing chip. I was glad that I had safety pinned the chip on, but damn was I pissed when my wetsuit wouldn’t roll over it. I yanked and yanked and eventually got it free. Slipped into the shoes and helmet, and ran out.

T1: 1:29

It wasn’t until I started on the bike that I noticed that A) the compartment I filled with fluid on my aero bottle was not the compartment that the straw was in and B) the straw holes were different sizes between the two, and I just so happened to have the larger diameter straw with me. So I had to stick the straw inside the bottle and get onto my pursuit bars with my face right next to my bars in order to drink. That was pretty crappy. So anytime I wanted to take a drink, my neck would crane downward and I felt like at any moment I would hit a bump and poke my eye out with the huge ass straw. Not only that, but I could only get a few sips at a time, which made my usual “drink as much as you want to on the bike” plan go out the window.

About five miles in, I was getting caught by some packs. Girls hugging other girls’ wheels. Men zipping by at mach 3. I realized most of them were from the sprint race, and at the sprint turnoff, even though it was fairly obvious, I was a little confused and almost turned the wrong way because so many of the athletes were going that way. Once the sprinters turned off, I tried to get into a rhythm, but I couldn’t knock the woman who was riding by me when a guy would go past only to slow down on the slight inclines. Eventually, I thought I dropped her, because I put the hammer down for about three miles. But then I got to an incline, and wanted to save my legs. I tried to get into my smaller chain ring, and I felt all my power disappear. I dropped my chain. No. no no no. Everyone went zipping past me, one guy asked if I needed help, but I was able to throw it back on quickly. Stopping on the uphill didn’t help, though, but I caught back up to drafter-girl by the end of it and cruised on by.

I was on my own for a while. I was afraid of dropping my chain again, so I tried to stay in the 54 as much as I could. In fact, so much so that at one point I was hammering so hard up a hill that I thought I might snap my chain. Ugh. Ok, just downshift, even if you have to stop and fix the chain, it will still probably be faster than this! Transition was smooth.

The bumps started getting to me too. Every ten feet, the concrete was cracked every ten feet or so, and every crack was just wide enough to send me jarring forward and backward. There were dozens of miles of cracks. Bump bump bump, and soon I noticed that my right elbow pad was moving. Soon, my elbow pad was no longer supporting my weight, and I was supporting the weight of my body through my shoulders instead of my elbows. I wasn’t sipping on my EFS as often as I wanted to be, and I was thirsty but I was out of water. And I was alone, so I was losing focus fast. This sucks, I thought. Maybe I should just stop now, maybe these are signs I shouldn’t be racing today. My legs felt like lead and I was scared about the run. How can I run fast after staying in my 54 on all these hills? I’m going to have to run fast if I want to maintain any sort of respect, because this bike split sure as heck isn’t going to be my proudest triathlon moment. I was feeling sorry for myself.

But then I rethought that idea.

These kinds of things have never happened to me before in a race. Races, for me, have always been practically flawless. My nutrition has always been spot-on. My fit has always been great. I’ve never had a flat, dropped a chain, or anything like that. I’ve always felt good, strong, fluid. And I was feeling good, too, just a little beat up. So what if I was having issues? So what if I was stupid and didn’t check my bottle beforehand? So what if the new chain ring, for the first time, dropped my chain in a race? These are things that I experienced now, the hard way, in race where it matters. But these minor little set backs were not enough to ruin my day. Heck no. Get tough, I told myself. Just deal with it. And don’t let it happen again.

So I cranked on. I hammered the downhills and calculated my time. Ok, just keep this pace, and you’ll be where you need to be. I was shooting for 21.5mph average, but that was for last year’s course, which was flat as a pancake.  This year’s course was not. After re-evaluating the course and catastrophes, I decided that I wanted to be under 2:45. I was starting to bonk, and then I rallied home around mile 49, when a group passed me. It sort of woke me up. And fired me up, too, because Drafter-girl was back and hugging the wheel of another drafter guy. Drafter guy was doing all sorts of stupid things, like passing on the right, blocking me in, speeding up to get by me only to slow down once he was there. He wouldn’t let go of the guy’s wheel in front of him (a Peace Coffee racer who I’d see later on the run). I took a mental note of Drafter Guy’s number, and I got around him and the drafter pack he was with. Peace Coffee racer let me squeak ahead of him because he noticed I was boxed in, and he kept trying to drop the drafters but to no avail. No way in heck was I going to let them draft off me… but then the drafters finally overtook me and rode the peleton all the way back to transition. In hindsight, since there were no penalties given, I could have just squeaked in behind these packs and dropped my time a good 5-10 minutes, but that is something I would have had to live with, knowing, and I am too proud (which is probably a fault under these circumstances).

Bike: 2:44:33, 20.4 mph pace

T2 was much faster. In and out, perfect transition spot and flawless transition. I didn’t need anything, just my Fastwitches, number and visor. Off I went.

T2: 54.5 seconds

I was a little pissed about the bike, because my bike was my best leg in triathlon last year, and I was certainly not representing. But I think the resurgence of people toward the end of the bike made my head go a little fuzzy. The mechanical, the aerobars, the hydration issues- It was all water under the bridge. I had my strength ahead of me, the leg of the race that I’ve been working on this season.

The run started great. I felt great. I tried to hold back a little because 13.1 miles is a long way to go. So I sipped some EFS liquid shot that I still had in my jersey and settled into a rhythm. I heard someone talking incessantly behind me, and I wanted to yell “Just shut up and run harder!” but then I reconsidered. Run your race, I’d tell myself. Be smart. Eventually a guy left his chatterbox and passed me, but I stayed focused on keeping consistent and fluid. I ended up getting matched by another guy, who settled into the pace with me. I noticed he was the same guy I saw on the bike, the draft dodger in the Peace Coffee kit. I was happy to see him, and we settled into a nice stride together. His Garmin beeped every mile, but I didn’t ask about our pace and just hit my lap button when I crossed the race marked miles. We ticked away the miles, and he confessed that he was shooting for 7:50s. Although that was slower than I knew I wanted to go, I held my ground and didn’t let him influence my pace.

The miles cranked by, and when I got to around mile 2 I saw the men’s leader, Dave Thompson. I ran through aid stations, I didn’t do any run-walking, and I would drop my Peace Coffee buddy because of that, only for him to catch back up after a few hundred yards. I knew the course, and I knew what to expect; it was almost as if I had ran it the weekend before, it felt so familiar. I stayed calm and tried to use mile 5 as a rest mile, but that didn’t work. I saw the women’s leader when I got to around mile 5 or so, and my teammate, Carole, when I got a little further. I gave her a high five and she gave me a huge adrenaline boost. I hit the gravel loop and focused on my form. I felt light, almost too good, considering how I didn’t feel quite so awesome on the bike. I kept it steady and eventually lost my running friend. I kept picking people off, wondering when (and if) I was going to blow up, but I kept refilling my flask and sipping on water. I wanted a pop so bad by the time I hit mile 8. I could taste the sugar, the carbonation, I wanted it. And truthfully, knowing that there might be some at the finish helped get me there. I put my head down and noticed a familiar number ahead of me, a tall, stocky guy run-walking his way in. Same number as Drafter Guy. I blew by him without saying a word (usually I at least mumble a “good job” or a “hiya hiya yip yip yip”). I passed my friend Owen on his way out and I new I was close. Weaving through the neighborhoods, I could hear the announcer over the speakers and I just upped the anty. I pushed it, all the way in, feeling good and strong. I found another gear. I didn’t even feel like collapsing at the finish, which probably meant that I didn’t go hard enough, but I was happy with my time (sub 5hrs) and knew it was a great effort (only six minutes slower than last year). Considering the bike course was accurate distance (last year my bike computer had it at 54.5miles), and was more challenging as well (last year = flat as), and that the swim course was likely more accurate at this year’s race, I’ll take it!

My splits:
1- 7:10, 2- 6:59, 3- 7:35, 4- 7:32, 5- 7:33, 6- 7:11, 7- 7:19, 8- 6:57, 9- 7:22, 10- 7:28, 11- 7:20, 12- 7:20, 13- 6:51

Run: 1:34, 3rd fastest run of the day

Finish time: 4:58
1st AG, 12th overall.

My friend Leiah showed up when I finished and we hung out and chatted while I waited for the awards. It’s always nice to be able to see friends when I travel to races! It’s become somewhat of a habit for me to have reunions with friends at races, but I hope they don’t mind, because just as much as I loooove to race, I absolutely LOVE to see and visit with my friends 🙂

Carole ended up finishing 5th, which was in the money, and her friend Jackie won the whole shebang (an age group triathlete that was in the Top 10 at IMStGeorge this year).

I can’t believe how cool it was to have Carole there. Having traveled all the way to Minnesota from Colorado, for what I thought of (at least last year) as a podunk race, was really rad. To have another green machine out there with me on the course was motivating and I truly believe it helped me find another gear on the run. And, with two Trakkers athletes on the podium, I’d say we had a pretty damn good day!

I thought I would inevitably hit disaster with a bonk because of the stupid mistake with the aero bottle, but I never did. The EFS and Nuun worked great in keeping me balanced and tuned. And, yes, they did taste great together. There’s something so rewarding about a slightly-fizzy sports drink when I’m out riding in the heat.

My neck, on the other hand, is not impressed with my poor decision to not double check my bottle before leaving home. I feel like someone put a vice grip around my scapula. Doh.

Shake it up

or: Shake and bake.

or: Shake it like a Polaroid pick-chaaah.

or: I’m shaking things up a bit.

I was supposed to do my first (real) ultra this weekend.

I was supposed to train with long runs (think- 6-7hours) and lots of food and lots of rest.

I was supposed to step it up.

But I didn’t.

Maybe I shouldn’t say it like that. No one was forcing me to run the Voyageur 50mile on the Superior Hiking Trail. No one twisted my arm to register online and mail in the check. I did it on my own.

And I’m not really stepping aside, I’m still stepping up. I am just stepping up a different ladder.

There is a big difference in focusing on triathlon and focusing on ultra running. It’s true that cycling can help my endurance, and that cycling and swimming offer a great break from the impact of running but maintain my cardiovascular fitness.

But if I want to be good at triathlon, I need to focus on triathlon.

And I’ve been making excuses to not focus on triathlon. I was sick with some sort of China Funk/Whooping Cough/UP Death Flu in May, right after Rev3 Knox, and pulled out of the American Triple T. And I was recovering and traveling and recovering in June. and I was wedding-ing and traveling and sleeping it off in July.

And I stopped moving for a day and faced it: I am not ready for this type of 50 miler. The Superior Hiking Trail is hard. Rocky. Hilly. Unforgiving. And I have been training on roads, snowmobile trails, and two-wheeled machines. So I threw in the towel on my first ultra and reeled in another beast: Chisago Lake Tri.

I did this race last year, and had a blast. It’s a short drive (6hrs) and I know the course. It’s a fairly big race (1000 athletes?) and a fast course. Its competitive but not too competitive, and I have a benchmark. Plus, the bike course is flat, so it will be a great tune-up for the Full Rev at Cedar Point.

And I am trying something new. I am not going to focus on my previous best time or try to beat my swim or my bike or my run time (or all three). I am going to go into it with the same mentality as I did last year, just to try and race the race, do the best I can do on that day, and hope for the best race I can give. I am going to test my ability to let all things go and not actually hold something in the back of my head like: “Why are you just NOW getting on the bike when last year you were out of the water in 34 minutes?” or “This pace isn’t going to get you off the bike in 2.5hours like laaast year.”

Instead, I am going to ask myself questions, like:

“Are you having fun?”

And if the answer is no, I am going to shake it up some more. Carole will be there, too, so maybe I can moon her. Maybe that will be my goal…

Detroit FreePress marathon, and something a lil' special! #fb

I’ve been honing in my fall marathon schedule (that’s right, already looking ahead, past the Cedar Point FullRev), mostly because I absolutely loved doing a post-Ironman marathon last year. Not only was it awesome to visit Columbus, Ohio, where I got to hang out and race with Kendra, one of my MegaTough teammies, but I also ran myself to a three minute marathon PR, something I hope to do again in 2010.

Where will I do this? Well, I’ve got my sights set on the Detroit Free Press Marathon. There are many reasons for this, but it boils down to the following:

  1. Close to home: I don’t have to worry about traveling to a city where I have to pay money by going out to dinner, renting a hotel, etc. etc. Plus, I know Detroit, and I love Detroit!
  2. Weekend trip: Yeah, its actually quite a long haul for me to get to Detroit from school (about a 9hr drive), but at least I don’t have to worry about delayed flights, lost luggage, and $450 airfare!

Why do you care what fall marathon I’m doing? Because you could do it, toooooo! It’s an international race [you run across the border into Canada!], and Detroit has some really awesome areas (believe it or not). Some of you are my Midwest crew, and I am super excited to meet and greet with ya’ll at races. Why not head out for the Freep? Not only is there a marathon, there’s a half marathon too, and a 5K, and a marathon relay.

Want something even cooler?

Trakkers, the GPS trakking device for athletes that has been at all the Rev3 races, is considering their schedule for this fall.  I used one of these devices at Quassy in June. The device enables friends and family to follow athletes using the device online in real time during their race.  One of the events they are considering being available for is the FreePress Marathon. Trakkers will make this decision based on the desire and interest of athletes to have the device available for this event.  Since I will be down there and have quite a few friends that are planning on doing it as well, I am pushing for Trakkers to be here.

If you are interested in racing any of the FreePress Marathon weekend events, let me know. If I can find enough people interested in renting a Trakkers device, we’ll be able to wear them! Race day rental will be $19.95 per device.

So, are you interested?? Feel free to email me directly (mlkillia [at] gmail [dot] com) or comment on this post, and I’ll be pulling to have Trakkers at the Detroit Free Press Marathon!

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.