Sunday, August 17, 2014

Trans Tahoe 2014

Lake Tahoe is a pretty amazing place. I think I've put the Trans Tahoe swim relay on my yearly must do list. After the awesome time I had last year with Erin H. on a team we hardly knew, I knew this year was going to be even better. I'm not one for planning, and actually prefer when someone else does it and I just ride the coattails. However, I knew I wanted to swim again and to just be on the lake. So, I assembled the team, registered for the race, rented the boat, got the lodging and executed a fun long weekend!

life is good.
Thursday am was an o-dark-thirty wakeup just as Kyle prefers. We were on the road and into Tahoe around 2:30, just as the crazy thunderstroms were turning on. Lightning, thunder, rain, hail. Chaos. How am I supposed to train for my half ironman in these conditions? Jeremy and I went out for a quick ride once the rain died down, just enough to get my bike nice and nasty.

erin rocking it up brockway.
Friday we had planned for the long ride day.  Jeremy had two laps on tap {that's what happens when you register for the full ironman rather than the half!} and was worried about the afternoon thunderstorms, so we chose to start early. Erin, Erin, Steve, and Mark joined me for the 1 lap adventure. Afterwards we went to the beach for a bit, before the storms rolled in. I attended the captains meeting on Friday night and they let us know the contingency plans should the storms roll in earlier on Saturday. {Radio channels, protocols, etc}

Saturday was another early wakeup as the 5 team members had to get to the boat launch and drive across the lake to the start. Our lead swimmer Erin M. got a more relaxed morning as she got driven to the start line via car. As the captain and organizer, everyone looked at me to be the boat captain. Yeah, I grew up on a lake in Minnesota. But my dad always did the boat launching, tricky driving, and navigation. I think I only took the boat out by myself once. Suffice to say, I was very nervous about the responsibility. After the 2 second, "this is forward, this is reverse" tutorial by the boat rental staff, they pushed us away from the dock and I was forced into go mode, trying to not smash into the boat docked directly in front of me, or the other boats tied up in the area. Phew, made it out of there and we were ready for our long journey across the lake.

sun bathing beauties.
We got to the start very early and were just a floating around in anticipation, yet nervously patrolling the area. Before we knew it, the race had started. We were in the second wave. I started to get closer to the pickup area and luckily found Erin without too much trouble. This part is extremely scary, as there are a crap ton of boats all within a small area and now swimmers are in the water. After finding her, it was then about navigating around  the other boats and out the natural "channel" of swimmers forming through the impending and waiting boats. Phew, we were out in the open water and I was getting more relaxed.

finding erin. and then trying not to run anyone else over. 
Now it was just 10ish miles across the lake in a somewhat straight {or zig zagged} line to the west. We all had fun jumping in, which of course makes for epic photos in a ridiculously gorgeous setting.

so much fun. all in one.
Saturday night we hosted a big party at our house with two other San Diego teams. Sunday was a bit of a rainy day and Kyle and I spent it together as most everyone else journeyed home. We enjoyed some drinks {Woodies} at Gar Woods on the lake, watching a crazy lightening storm roll over the lake and some mini golf after {of which I won by 1 stroke.}

woodies!
storm watching from the deck at Gar Woods
this is serious.
Monday morning we left bright and early. Only our alternator failed around Lone Pine and we rolled into the only auto repair shop in town. Of course they didn't have the part and we'd have to stay overnight to wait for it to get shipped in. And of course the entire town's hotel business was booked with Badwater endurance run race support crews. Luckily, I gave our sob story to the front desk woman after she told us no, and after we called every other hotel in town hearing the same thing. She magically found a room available. Hotel pool and a race running just outside our door? Sounds like an okay way to spend 24 hours in the high desert. I had Tuesday off of work since the shop is closed, and Kyle called into his work with the news. He went for a mountain bike ride in the afternoon and I waited till sunset to get my long run in along Owens river.

Tuesday morning we decided to ride up Whitney Portal Rd to the trailhead. It's a ridiculous undertaking at 11 miles and 4,000 ft of climbing. Kyle only had his mountain bike and I was on Kermit, so suffice to say, we both didn't have our bikes of choice. Somehow we managed, and I think Kyle dominated with his granny gearing, but was nice enough to ride next to me as I was about to cry every time I looked up and couldn't see the top.

trying not to cry.
mr easy gearing. 
We passed 4 "runners" finishing the final leg of their race, that they started over 24 hours prior. We finally made it, and dipped our toes in the frozen creek, which felt amazing. We actually got the call that the car was ready when we were up there, so we {he} bombed down the descent while I descended like a sissy on my tri bike with sweaty palms, trying not to slide off my brake levers, smiling ear to ear. The fresh air and gorgeous views really do melt away the pain.


Got in the car with the new alternator, and it was idling like crap, and a with another quick adjustment, we were on our way, hoping the work we just forked over an arm and a leg for would get us back to San Diego.

Sometimes an unexpected detour is just what you need after a long vacation. Having it extended that final day actually added to our journey and helped Kyle and I grow closer. It's something we'll need and look back to as he's prepping for D2. {his second deployment} His hospital detour the day after we got home wasn't something either of us expected. Suffice to say, I felt I needed a vacation from our vacation and hospital stay. I definitely fell behind on training and it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows in our neck of the woods {beach}. After hearing about his CT results, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief, for now at least.  Thank goodness he wasn't put on limited duty, or worse, medically separated. Life as we know it will continue on. He's "away" {not underway; this land based navy stuff is interesting} this week for some final prep. And in less than 5 weeks, we'll be back in Tahoe!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Semper Tri {then & now}

Back in 2008, the Camp Pendleton sprint was the first race I picked and registered for after moving to San Diego. I ended up racing Spring Sprint and a couple of TCSD club races in the meantime, but this race brings me back to my newbie days of triathlon. 2014 was the first time I came back, and I'm not sure why I waited so long. This is a very well run, organized event, on a great course and you get to run over a LCAC at the end! I snagged a free entry at a TCSD club meeting for knowing what LCAC is an acronym for {Landing Craft Air Cushioned}.

My race report will be a then/now on my feelings throughout the race.

PreRace
Then: I remember thinking how cool it was that they let us onto a military base. Now: Been there, done that, military wife. Then: Super wowed by the vast LCAC area, structure, launch ramp. Now: Still wowed. Then: Setup transition, and would've panicked had this years turn of events sprung upon me. Now: My wetsuit leg ripped open as I was putting it on. Like a serious hole, through the lining, across the entire front of my upper thigh. Ugh, not good. Was chatting with friends when this happened, and I was like, "Well, I don't have to wear my wetsuit bottoms, and maybe I'll just wear the top." My tri top isn't the greatest swimming top and would've caused a significant amount of drag. My shorts are a couple of seasons old now, and not sure they would've stayed on with the surf conditions. Okay, duct tape maybe? I went to the announcer's stand and surprisingly the guy had a bin of supplies and as I saw the grey roll, I knew I was in business. I put a couple strips on the inside to hold it together and then wrapped it around my entire thigh to make sure the water didn't wash it off. Seemed to be holding so I got in the water for a bit of a warmup. Got back out for the swim start, and the makeshift, ghetto wetsuit repair was going to work. BTW - I got these De Soto bottoms back in 2010 before my first Ironman. 5 seasons later, I'd say that was worth my $$. The top was replaced last year before IM Tahoe.



yep - this happened.

duct tape fixes everything!

Swim {Then: 12:50 / Now: 10:38}
I remember large waves in '08 and a rather tough current pulling us south. This year, the waves weren't bad but it did take longer than expected to get to the first buoy. The current was pulling us a bit north and almost pushing us back to shore. The way back in was easy, but I never really had a wave to catch. The sand run was horrible both years. :) Wetsuit repair and stripping went as normal.

Bike {Then: 1:00.03 / Now: 53:58}
Not really a fair comparison. I had Felty back then, possibly with some aerobars by that point. Now, my position aboard Kermit, with my aerohelmet and fancy gadgets, I should be able to go faster than I managed. I just couldn't wake up. Any time my cadence went under 90, my power dropped. I had absolutely no "push" and had to just spin my way through the course. Average power was 15 watts lower than it should be and I just couldn't find the pop on the course this year. I had 1 Gu and 1 bottle of APX.

Run {Then: 26:54 / Now: 24:46}
Wow, that sucked. I remember the launch ramp being crappy, but not that crappy. I trudged my way up that incline and struggled through the rest of the run. Couldn't pick up my feet, and again, that elusive pop I felt in my legs during SDIT hasn't made an appearance since. I knew I was leading my age group and probably had enough of a lead to hang on for the W, but man, I couldn't shake the funk I was in.

Overall {Then: 1:39 / Now: 1:31}
I ended up 2nd overall female {1st AG} this year as the lack of local pro's and possibly a smaller field helped the competition ease up a bit, and hey, I'll take it. The trophy was an old ammo box with their logo spray painted on the side which was a neat touch and a good conversation piece for Moment's trophy mantle. Thanks to all the volunteers out there - this course is super safe, fun and well run. I'll definitely be back!




Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kyle's frozen heart

Life has interesting ways of reminding us about breaking free from our daily grind. Sometimes it's a vacation. And sometimes it's getting 220 volts to the chest. Kyle tried both last week. And even after his heart was frozen, I fell more in love with the warmth inside that man. He is my life companion, my best friend and my lover and I know I'd be lost without him.

I'll save the Tahoe vacay for another post, but mention that it was a much needed break away and we both had a blast. Even car troubles couldn't bring us down. We came back energized for the grind ahead. But I don't think either of us were prepared for the events of those 3 days. 

Trying to keep this relatively short: He experienced some high heart rate stuff at work on Thursday. Like 250bpm high. Onsite EKG was showing abnormalities and Balboa wanted him transported via ambulance. Anyone who knows Kyle knows that he isn't a fan of anything hospital related. After almost 2 hours with the elevated HR, and 2 doses of adenosine, his blood pressure plumited and they decided to defribulate him, unsedated. 

It reset his heart and he claims after the initial millisecond of sheer pain, gave him instantious relief. And it was about that time that I got to the ER. His work called me that morning and made it sound like he was going in for some routine testing and may be there for a half day and I can go if I want. No mention of ambulance or puke fest he had on the way. 

I got to the ER and saw that things were much worse. His bed was surrounded by docs, EMT's and nurses and he was covered in wires. I gave him a kiss and his first words were "I got shocked" and "It felt like I was on tv!" Okay, we're gonna be here for a while. 
he made me post this. he was "resting his eyes"
We finally got moved upstairs and out of the madness of the ER around 4pm and heard the plan for day 2. An Electropathway study and possible ablation. He's diagnosed with AVNRT and they weren't going to let him leave till it was fixed. {Wikipedia is helpful to someone unfamiliar with medical vocab.}

I went for a run through Balboa Park to clear my mind from the emotions and went back to tuck him in for the night. 
running on empty
Day 2 was long. I got there at 7am to sit in for the Doc meeting and plan for the day. He got bumped to third in line, and without being able to eat or drink until after the study, we knew it was going to be a long day.
movie watching day
Around 2pm they came in and got things rolling with a dose of Valium and rolled him down to the cath lab for what was a 4+ hour study. They put him into tachycardia to find the bad node. It was close to his av node, which meant they freeze it instead of burning, because they have more control. After retesting, they couldn't get him into the crazy rhythm again, which means she fixed it. 

5 hours of laying flat and still to make sure the holes in his groin and neck from the 4 cath ports clot properly. He did get to eat (Gagillone Bros cheesesteak from his boss) which was a relief. Another overnight stay. 

The drive home on Friday was hard. All of the emotions and fears caused me to get a bit tearful. Even knowing it was over and he's fine, I think the stress of those two days and magnitude of what had happened finally hit me. Trying to be strong and supportive can only last so long in the energy sapping environment of the hospital. Lucky for Kyle, he got some drugs to aid in his sleep. I had an empty bed. We had a lot of friends and family reach out, but all I really wanted was a hug and kiss goodnight from my man. In our bed. 

Saturday morning I went for my tempo run in OB before heading to the hospital. Trying to burn off some of the "woe is me" feelings of the night prior and oh yeah, I am still training for a race. If Kyle couldn't use his heart, I best use mine to some potential here. 

Saturday was a crappy day of waiting for discharge papers. Docs came in at 9 and said all is well and we release you. What that really means is they have a lot more rounds to cover and your paperwork is not our top priority. By noon the nurses still had no idea we were leaving. I think by 2 pm they finally started pulling the iv's and removing his monitor leads. 

"Thank the maker" as Kyle always says.  We were out of there in time to see the sun set over the ocean. 

So he's out of the woods with the electric stuff but they did find an aorta issue during his echo which he's receiving follow up appointments for soon. 

He's a happy, healthy, very bored sailor right now who'd much rather be back on his bike chasing those local KOM's. Soon enough. In the meantime he had some computer games to win. #willsdynasty

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Carlsbad Triathlon 2014

Here's the lowdown on the shop throwdown. Getting JT Lyons to the start line takes a little inter-shop smack talk these days. A lot of you didn't know or don't remember, but long before our road team started, JT was a pretty competitive triathlete. After starting a business, his fitness lagged as we grew. 2008 he raced IM Arizona and killed it. {Meanwhile, I did my first Tri in '08} He made a slight comeback for a bet with an old friend in 2011 at San Diego International {which he beat me in.} All the pre-race polls had me picked for the win, but I knew better. Jim and I had our bets on JT getting 2nd in each leg, but taking the overall win. Jim and I held up our portion of the specialization, taking the run and swim respectively, but not sure what happened to Vince on the bike. Oh wait- he put heavy cage pedals on his Dura-Ace 9000 cranks, thus using his running shoes on the bike because he "didn't want to get his Sidi's wet." And then there's that whole octopus dragging thing. Yeah, the bike did include the transition 1 and 2, but the clock doesn't stop in triathlon. He lost by 2 seconds. That hurts. 



From my perspective, it wasn't going to be a close race so sadly I didn't take it seriously enough. I had a pretty big week of training, as my coach wasn't going to let me taper for a shop competition. {Next year I may reconsider the race calendar}. I came to the start line with 15 miles of running and 3 rides, 2 which were interval work. Looks like I left some watts on the silver strand on Friday. 

The swim was ho hum. I'm not the greatest at the run-in, beach start, so I just tried to follow JT's line into the water. We were almost to the first buoy before I reconnected with him and saw his wetsuit. So, yes I figured it be a great idea to pull his leg, fully knowing he'd go ape sh*t on me. A hard dunk and a near kick to the face later and we were on our way. I put in a bit of an effort after the turn buoy and didn't see him again. 


T1 was slow as I use socks and road shoes. I'm not really a sprint specialist, so transition times usually aren't a top priority for me. Foot comfort and no blisters matters much more in a half/full ironman and these swimmer feet can't seem to knock those comforts. Hopped on my bike and felt like poo. Power ended up being 15 watts less than my last tri, 2 weeks prior, and the effects of the training were showing. Apollo Ono passed me in the bike lane around 4 miles in {on the right!! He'll get a penalty in Kona if he pulls that crap} Apparently speed skater legs translate well into cycling. Then the inevitable JT pass occurred. I had 2 options, draft my way back or be fair and represent the shop and myself in an appropriate, legal manor. Grr, stupid morals. I let him go. 

I got off the bike and hobbled through transition like a crippled old lady. {still struggling with the low back issue.} Lynne yelled that I was 30 sec down but I didn't see JT, so it had to be more. I ran hard on the boardwalk and wished I'd have known JT walked up the ramp! I started on the downhill towards the final 180 and these random men who were running but not in the race became my personal pacers and cheer squad. I told them that my boss is ahead and I need help. Trip him, please. :) We passed by as he was on us way back up and yeah, his running style looked like hell. Maybe I had a chance! I saw Jim with perfect run form and calculated that I'd at least, hold him off. Vince a little later looked like he'd thrown in the towel. I ran as hard as my legs allowed on the day and finished less than 2:30 min behind JT, keeping my job. :)



Racing my coworkers on a gorgeous So Cal day is pretty awesome. I ended up 3rd in the Elite category which was a fun bonus, ending up on the podium with Michelle Jones. (Olympian, ironman world champion and a Felt IA rider) She crushed all of us and edged out Apollo for a sprint to the finish. 


---------------

We're on our way to Tahoe! Vacation responder is on. Kermit is packed and I'm so ready to jump in that lake. 



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 SDIT

The yearly benchmark race. I almost didn't register as my run prep wasn't where I'd have hoped it would be, but the lovely folks at TCSD granted me an entry as a thank you/retirement present for my help with the JCC swim program over the last 6 years. Coach's advice was solid and I went for it. And it was everything I had hoped it would be. A great confidence builder in the plan and in the work I did this year on my bike. I can't believe it, but crit racing actually helped me race triathlon. That silly full gas on, rest, sit in, full gas, unpredictable, controlled by others, way of riding and racing somehow translated to an individual pursuit. 

The swim was ho-hum, as it usually is. Gun went off and I started out moderate. Looked around and saw a couple of lurkers, but decided to drop the hammer and get them off my feet. Kyle commented on the swim start, "Babe, before the first buoy you've taken half as many strokes as the girls around you and you've already dropped them." I watched a video he took and yeah, my stroke rate is a bit slow right now. I really don't have the swim fitness to keep it up, so I relied on my strength to pull me through. Time was close to my slowest at this race but was still first out in my wave. {12:31}


Kermit was back in action this year, and I got to hammer the bike. I PR'd the course {49:12!} and had a blast up at Cabrillo. It's so nice to know every bump in the road- and there were quite a few! Gotta love the city of SD and their water line issues. Once they are done digging up OB/Point Loma, I can only hope and wish they'll actually dig up the entire road and resurface. It's a disaster out there right now. Power was where it should be {200 watt average} and I {not so gracefully} got off the bike still holding the lead. 

If you saw me in T2, I ran to my rack like an old lady. My freaking jammed low back was NOT happy coming out of aero and standing was a bit difficult. I knew I'd eventually shake it off as it had before, and just after the sand out of T2 I was able to stand straight. Phew. My run garmin wasn't cooperating, so I finally switched it to timer mode and went by the course mile markers. Was hitting my 8min/mile goal and feeling pretty great, surprisingly! 

Kyle was yet again an amazing Sherpa and has this race down pat. He drops me of at transition, drives to the finish line, rides his bike back to the swim start and cheers the entire way. He gives me time checks on the run.

hanging out before the swim.
This year I had the lead until mile 4 on the run. It was the latest I'd been passed on the course, yet I'm never surprised when it happens. The first girl ran a freaking 38 run, to which I have no answer to. The second came past me and my legs refused to respond. Not that I blame them, as they've had no speed work an haven't even ran a mile under 9:15 in training. Pulling off just over 8min miles for 6 miles was a huge feat for me and I still can't believe they did it. I ran 49:08 and the muscle soreness was quite the reminder for the next couple of days.

focused.

Overall at 1:53 this was my second fastest SDIT and I was pleased with the result. Last year I was Debbie downer after a less than spectacular day and it was nice to redeem myself, if only for the confidence it gave me going into this summer. I ended up 3rd in my AG.

cycling podiums are fancier.
It's funny how my bike times at this race seem to mimic my run times each year. 

2009: 52/54
2010: 50/50
2011: 50/51
2012: 49/47
2013: 49/51
2014: 49/49

In 2012 I was coming off decent fitness from Carlsbad half marathon, and Panama 70.3, and Kyle was deployed. After a couple months off, I put in an almost 30 runs in 30 days during April which kickstarted my training, but still I lacked focus and consistency leading up to the race. One of these years, I swear I'll actually schedule my training plan to peak for this race (i.e. actually train for it!). I'll eventually get to that elusive top spot on the podium!

Onto Carlsbad Triathlon this weekend! It's the Moment Employee showdown. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 7, 2014

MBGP & Upgrading

My last race as a category 3.

Solo 2 lap TT for two primes.
Pain face after getting caught from said breakaway. 
The wining move. Orange girl attacked at the last kicker, so I had no choice. 
I hammered down the hill and took the last corner perfectly, coming 
around with enough time before the line. There it is. My race report in pics. 
{thanks pbcreativephoto.com for the shots!}


Finish line video by Kyle


Prime hunting with Deanna and podium shots with my Parlee. The winner's
jersey made by Capo was an awesome touch by the race organizers! And of
course, APX was my drink of choice for this short, hot race. {35min}

I've been struggling with how to fit in, and I realize by trying to do that, I'm only lying to myself about where I can go. Let's face it, I've never fit in, and as a women in her 30s, it's not looking like I'm going to anytime soon. As a female athlete, I think we have plenty of opportunities to second guess ourselves, doubt our abilities, and hold ourselves back. That's a lot of internal struggles, matched with the external pressures and fierce competition, and it's no wonder our sport lacks participation numbers. It takes a certain type of person to be a bike racer, and for once I'm willing to admit that I have it. The courage to race.

I've submitted my upgrade and pending USAC approval, I'll be a Category 2 racer. 

If you read my blog or see my Instagram or Facebook pics it's no surprise that I've had a little success this season. Upgrading wasn't one of my goals, but I suppose that's what has to happen after accumulating all the other goals. I'm leaving Cat 3 without a state championship jersey, which is something that was a goal. I'm leaving my teammates and won't have the ability to help them upgrade. And I'm indebted to them for dragging me to the line and helping me rack up these points. I'm leaving the category that often had two opportunities to race; gaining invaluable experience hanging on to the pro fields, and being at the forefront of "racing" and tactics in the category 3/4 fields. I'm leaving the category that afforded me the experience of racing 6 times in 3 days at the 805 Criterium Weekend. I'm leaving the comfort of the known.

I know no one really takes USAC rankings seriously, but it's pretty cool to say I'm going out on top.




So why upgrade? I'm 3 points away from a mandatory upgrade and if anyone calls me a sandbagger again, I may hurt someone. So, I'll take that aggression out in my training and racing. All joking aside, I shouldn't hold myself back from becoming better. My teammate Greg said it best "Be excited, Rachel, if just not to undermine the gravity of the achievement for the rest of us whom upgrade points don't come quite as easily. Congrats! First Moment to two." So I've been dabbling with the big girl racing, but now it's time to show myself that I belong. To show myself how far I've come since my first criterium a week after my first Ironman in 2010. 

after my first Ironman and a week later, just before my first crit.

And that's how it's always been. I've dabbled in the two sports, cycling and triathlon, since living in San Diego. There has been focused training blocks towards one or the other, but most of the time, for me, it's about getting out there and racing. My current preparations for Tahoe 70.3 are going well. Manhattan Beach Grand Prix was sandwiched between SDIT and Carlsbad Triathlon this coming weekend. There's always been something about toeing the line that motivates me much more than the daily grind. The race day adrenaline can't be duplicated outside of competition and that's what fuels my fire to train. I'm a competitive person by nature. I've honed my racing skills and craft of winning, and I'm ready for my next challenge. I didn't push for an upgrade, because I wanted to learn from the best and I knew I had to personally "feel like a cat 2 racer" before actually becoming one. There are a lot of riders who put upgrading first, but I think my patience will pay off. I want to be a smart, safe rider, someone who has others looking for my wheel. So here it goes.

Expect the best for yourself, and nothing less.

{I have my husband to thank for always encouraging and supporting me throughout our journey. He's a big part of the reason I've experienced success and have kept my head high, through controversy and failures. His love {and bell ringing} is second to none. My sherpa, my teammate, my best friend and the love of my life. #willsdynasty}

Saturday, July 5, 2014

summer love

Zen running. I've never believed in it {or understood is probably a better word} because I'd never experienced it. Runner's high. Yeah, not so much from the "land" of swimmergurl. But tonight, I think I've come as close as I'll ever get to the feeling of floating. We aren't talking about cranking a 6min/mile pace, floating like Meb. Just one of those runs where no body parts are barking back. Where your mind is at ease with every step. Where I finally felt at peace with where I was at, in those exact moments. The run wasn't forced, nor planned and definitely not fast. I ate dinner {a lovely one, prepared by my husband} and watched an episode of House of Cards. We discussed tomorrow's plan and then I decided to run.

At 8pm. On a perfect summer evening. In Ocean Beach. I don't think a run can get much better. The sun had just set and the clouds were colorful, hovering above the ocean. A slight breeze made the run out quiet and the way back tranquil. The San Diego river was calm and the ocean was tucking itself in for the evening. 

Anyway, I digress with setting the scene. It was just one of those runs I won't soon forget. I'll fold that into my heart and bring it out during this next run block of training, where I'm sure the zen will quickly fade as the mileage and pace ramp up.

June has come and gone. And there was only a hint of gloom, which has since past. I get to keep my husband home for a couple more months. I'll reflect back including my yearly benchmark race report alongside my first mtb race in a post to follow. 

Is this real life?
I got to meet Meb!
Happiness is.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

{bike} Love. and those who lack.

Love, not hate. Cyclists look after each other. We point out obstacles, we lead out team members, we lend a tube/co2/flat help. The hate we are confronted with stems mostly from road-raged drivers who needed that extra second we've just took from their lives, while they've waited until it was safe to pass. Or don't wait for that safe moment and nearly run us off the road. We've all been there. Some of us yell back, throw the fist in the air, or use certain fingers to display our fear and anger we just experienced. Some brush it off and ride on. Some cyclists hang it up and don't come back because they aren't confident in their own skills, nor the skills of the drivers around them. Some aren't so lucky and end up injured or sadly, killed. But I digress.

Then some of us experience hate from the inside. Which is the worst hate of all. We as cyclists need to ride together, cheer each other on, and lend a bit of Tegaderm when times are literally rough. Leave those hateful words behind. 

Today I had my first real hate. And I can't help but say it hurt. Finding yourself on top of the podium tends to bring jealousy into the mix. Jealous insecurity? Maybe others have felt this towards me before, but when it was put into the world in writing, it kinda stings. I have a loving husband. I work at a bike shop. I'm passionate about swimming and cycling. My family is awesome. Life is pretty simple in the Wills' household. Not perfect. But that's life. And if you are jealous of mine, then make it for yourself. I'd suggest starting with love.

This is not to say I haven't felt jealously towards others. I know of the hard work and dedication, drive and motivation, put forth to achieve a goal. I've been jealous of fitness, I know hard work has been put towards. Of job titles, which were earned. Of perfect relationships. Of hotter bikes. Of my husband's metabolism. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, social media tends to bring out the best and worst in people. It's either painting pretty life pictures on Instagram or smashing businesses on Yelp. What you don't often see is the hard work, heartache, arguments, job application failures, relationship issues, screaming children, and all that other crap we hide behind the doors of our homes. What you don't get is that face to face interaction. That other crap is what makes life interesting I suppose. What make the highs great. And as for those lows: How brave would you be actually letting a business know they messed up to the owner before blasting the company online? How brave would you be letting me know I'm a sandbagger to my face? If you want success for yourself, you shouldn't wish failures upon others. 

A friend told me today: Successful people don't break others down.

After 6 years here in San Diego, I really feel the Minnesotan in me and sometimes beneath all the sunshine in California there is darkness. The nice isn't so nice. The relationships aren't as strong. Loyalty is something spoken, not practiced. Judgments are made before introductions. {Seriously, I've never met the guy} I guess that's the way it is. 

I'm always looking for new riding partners. Come to Moment. Call me a sandbagger {or a badass cyclist} to my face so we can joke about it, and LET'S RIDE! 

We all need just a little less hate and a whole lotta love. (Words spoken by Mr. Ralph Elliott; a local cycling race announcer and promoter)

Tomorrow is bike to work {makeup} day in San Diego!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Firestone 805 Criterium Weekend

Racecations are the best with Kyle as my sidekick. I won't say they are the most organized or are without drama. But they are time away. Together. And sadly, they race by too fast.

cheap floaty and a pool = relaxation.
teaching my man Kings in the Corner
This past weekend we headed up to Lompac and Buelton, CA for the Firestone Walker 805 criterium weekend. The CA state championship race moved from Brentwood this year and we've had this weekend on our calendar since the announcement. We were packed and ready for our four day weekend by the time I got off work on Wednesday evening. Stayed with one of Kyle's old navy buddies in Ventura and headed up to the race area on Thursday morning. We checked into the campground and took a quick bike ride through Solvang {and hopped over private property fences, hike-a-biking, to complete the loop}. Returned to the campsite for some pool time {really ruffing it} and made hot dogs on the fire for dinner. {s'mores too!}

This weekend was all about the criterium. I toed the line 6 times in 3 days and had no idea how my body would respond to that much intensity in such a short time. Quite frankly, I'm shocked at how well it went and have a lot to say but I'll try and keep it brief. Most importantly though, I am indebted to my teammate Deanna. She worked her ass off for me this weekend and I've never enjoyed the view ahead more than when it comes from the colors of my teammate. Her selfless riding is unmatched in the women's racing scene and I cannot thank her enough for the work getting me in position. She made my job of getting to the line easy. 



Firestone 805 Allan Hancock EVOC Track Crit
Friday was a sleep in morning for us {as much sleeping in you can do in a tent} and we headed to the race site 20 min away rather early. The course was on police training grounds and was quite frankly a bit of a disappointment. There were zero turns and the course was the least technical I've ever seen. It'd be like a crit on Fiesta Island. Boring. Windy {another weekend theme}.

W3/4: Toed the line. Attacks happened, but we all know that they can't really be called attacks. More like surges off the front where everyone knows it's going to happen, so accelerating at a moderate pace makes it easy to bring them back, and makes the attacker more tired. Deanna lined me up for a prize prime and we snagged it easily. Winds started picking up and with one to go she brings me to the front. The main headwind section was a bitch. Being on the inside for the last curve before the sprint was critical and unfortunately not where we ended up. I ended up having to come around her into the wind and easily gave the inside line away {a much better line} and sprinted in for second.

day 1. podium 1 (2nd)
WPro123: We weren't too stoked to race as the wind was picking up and the course was so uninspiring. But we paid and were there for the other races anyway, so why not. Attacks were much punchier, but still were not going to stay away. Deanna brought back a couple of breaks and worked hard in the wind. I tried to stay sheltered and to position myself near the contenders. She again pulled me to the near front and I slid in behind a sprinter who took me to the line for 5th.

kyle, bryan, brendan, and vince. Kyle on a break. and day 1 podium 2 (5th)

Firestone 805 Avenue of Flags Crit
Saturday was the same wind story, but much different on the course front. It was an L shaped 6 corner course with a punchy "hill" - but not a real hill. Half the length of the Barrio Logan hill. Our teammate Kim joined in for the fun.

W3/4: The race started off pretty mellow. Deanna got set up for the primes and I was in conservation mode, so I followed her but didn't sprint around the girl who she gapped on the first bell, and was poorly positioned on the second. Deanna snagged both for herself. Maybe halfway though there was a crash {in the straights after corner 2} that I saw/heard before it actually happened and was able to make it through the carnage. In typical 3/4 fashion, everyone is looking around and slowing, and for the next couple of laps we were going not fast. We get setup for the last lap and Deanna is pulling strong again. Unfortunately our line again took us to the windy side and I couldn't catch the girls who got the earlier jump and ended up 3rd.

day 2, podium 3. (3rd) And the ladies! Deanna, Kim, Christy, and I
This was an omnium weekend, meaning there were points for top 10 places all 3 days and an overall podium. Deanna and I had planned to do all of the 3/4 races but take Saturday afternoon off to rest up for Sunday's big race. After getting points on the first day in the Pro123 race we decided to make it a game day decision on Saturday and register after experiencing the hill. It wasn't that bad, so what the heck.

WPro123: Hardest race I've done. From the gun to the finish. So much windier at 1:15pm than 8:05am. Attacks from the start kept the bunch strung out and left me no where to hide. I rode this course as technically smart as possible. I took all the corners clean and on the right "side" for the wind to be most blocked by the one girl next to me. Still, I'm sprinting up the hill every time, and redlining on the "downhill" section tucking myself as low as possible begging the wind to give some relief {it never came}. Girls are popping off the back at a regular rate as the field is diminishing quickly {36ish starters, 16 pack finishers}. Heck, I'm popping off the back. Twice the motor went in front of me and thankfully the pack pace lulled in the slightest amount and I chased like hell to catch back on. Crash ahead in the corner and Deanna get's caught behind. I see it happen enough in advance and the crasher skids out of the corner enough to allow me to take the inside line and catch a wheel to hammer onto the pack. The pack attacks. Because that's the difference between the races. 3/4 girls look around. Pro girls attack when they hear a crash. It's a chance to break, or at least splinter the field. Every time around the finish I'm begging for the laps to get lower and the clock to race faster. Is it over yet? I am seriously wondering if I'm going to finish. Each lap crawls by and I'm running on fumes. I have burned every match I ever thought possible and am somehow pulling out splinters of efforts to just hang. Hopped onto a good wheel on the last lap and turned for the finish. There was a bit of craziness at the fence {as that was the better line with the wind} and I was forced wide {and into the wind}. Came around a girl and the blast of wind almost made me laugh while in full sprint mode. It did make me feel like I was riding into a wall. Couldn't believe I managed to finish. Seriously. Hardest fought battle for 7th place ever. Deanna actually finished without getting lapped begging all those girls who got popped to work with her. The girl who crashed ended up getting a free lap and I was pissed to see her back in and to see my teammate on the back chasing. Felt vindicated when crasher ended up getting popped again from the main group. {RIDE IN YOUR DROPS!}

Saturday evening ended with Kyle's race {last race every day all weekend} and him winning a $100 bottle of wine in a prime when I shouted at him to do so. Love that man. ;) After the races, we were invited to a dinner party at a local gal's amazing house! The food was awesome and the company was even better. Most of the women's 3/4 field was there and it was great to spend some time with these ladies off the bike.

kyle moving up to win me some wine!


Firestone 805 Avenue of the Flags Crit
Sunday I woke up tired. Like really dead to the world tired. We packed up the car the night before but still had to get the tent and sleeping crap loaded in. I made oatmeal for breakfast and we were off to Lompac for the final day of racing. I was basically sleeping on my trainer, trying to ingest as much caffeine as possible. I even had half a coke at 7:30am. 1 vanilla Gu. 1 motivator. Come on body, work with me. Wake up!! The course was an 8 corner course, but was longer than Barrio or Brentwood, so there was quite a bit of road between the corners. It was also a bit wide for most of the course making it less technical than I'd like to see. And those straights meant the wind would yet again play a role.

W3/4: We again worked on the lead out for the primes. Missed the first one again due to energy conservation {I gave up midway though the sprint}. The second prime was for omnium points for the top 3, and I ended up getting 3 points for 2nd. The rest of the race was a bit fidgety. Searching for safe wheels. Controlling the race. And on the last lap while following Deanna's wheel, I got pushed into the gutter on the one tight corner. She pedaled out and I had to let off the gas to not go down. I watched her ride up the road. I sat in and decided to make a move on the next corner. Deanna was making her move and an unnamed competitor decided to move to the inside and they bumped shoulders and bars and seriously almost went down. I was angry. And was holding my breath through the entire fiasco. I was watching Deanna leadout the wrong team! I gunned it out of the next corner and had to maneuver around quite a few riders. I was on a good wheel, but found out later her chain dropped and she couldn't shift to the big ring! Went into the last corner in a crappy position and sprinted in for 4th in the most disappointing finish of the weekend.

lead out for a prime
WPro123: What a fun race. Yeah I was dangling off the back for a while, but this race was significantly more manageable than the heart attack of a race the previous day. The attacks were strong, as was the freaking wind. I knew there would be the omnium points prime half way through and what do you know, 25 min in and they are singing the bell. I had warned Deanna and she did her best to move us up, but the peloton was a bit jumpy and I had to use my brakes a little more than I like. Was fighting for position all through that lap. 

An attack shortly after left the race split. Joy {the eventual winner} was still in our group so I was concerned, but not alarmed. A coupe corners later and she attacks the chase group and I freak out. This is it. That's the race right in front of me. Deanna drives me to the front and I launch. I put in an effort that I know is more matches than my book has. I have to believe in every pedal stroke. I hit the windy section and tuck so low. My thighs are pumping harder into my chest, mashing the pedals more than ever before. I'm gaining on the break. Dangling. I hit the corner and thankfully the tailwind pushes me to the back of the group. Holy hell I made it. I seriously quoted Top Gun and gave myself a pat on the back {Gutsiest move I've ever seen, Mav} knowing that it could've been the winning break. And Danny Munson of  Cycling Illustrated snapped a rad photo of my move! Instagram. Cycling Illustrated.


Unfortunately a lap later, the chase group got their engines going, the break was unorganized, and the gap was bridged. Dang it! All that work! All those burned matches. 5 laps to go. I'm in recovery mode. The pack is getting squirmy again and I find myself near the back using the brakes all too often. With 1 to go Deanna brings me to mid pack and grabs the pro girl's wheel and heads into corner 4. We are on the outside and we all get pushed wide. And then she brakes. Hard. I'm screaming. The Monster Media girl gets forced on the other side of the fence! I'm at a standstill and manage to get around and sprint down the windy section to catch the field. Crap! {that effort was at a higher max wattage than my sprint}. Made it through the narrow corner, take a breather on the tail wind section but know I need to be moving up, not back. Moved up in the next two turns and hit the last turn on the inside stuck in traffic. Go to sprint and some crazy bumping is happening on the fence that I manage to get around and put on the afterburners for a second sprint attempt which lands me 5th! I was so happy at the finish to actually be there! After the crazy last lap and the bridging efforts, I was just so relieved to cross that line alongside some great competitors. 

Phew 6 races and 7 podiums. With the consistent finishes all weekend I managed to place 3rd in the women's 3/4 Omnium and 4th in the women's  Pro123 Omnium! I couldn't have done this without the help of my amazing teamie. Mad props to her aggressive and selfless riding. So much fun. No bear jersey this year, but I had much more fun racing more and not sandbagging for one race. Testing my legs and fitness and will to ride hard were much more rewarding experiences. I found some new pain thresholds and dug deeper than I thought possible, while still being there in the end. Gaining that experience and muscle memory will only make us stronger racers.  


Day 3. Podium 6. (5th)

Kyle was yet again the last race of the day in a desolate town. I enjoyed my well earned Firestone 805 beer and had fun cheering for him and Greg. It was a late night on the road but so worth it. Definitely on my list for next year, although sadly I'll be solo as Kyle will still be deployed. {more time for team bonding!} 


so much fun. 
I'm really starting to believe the pro123 races aren't that scary and that my ability to hang on and be there at the end is greater than my mind once thought. Good thing I'm switching gears to half Ironman training now. :/ 


Monday, May 12, 2014

up close, yet so distant

May 1 was the 6th anniversary of my first triathlon and I feel so far, but yet so close to that day and this sport. This winter/spring I've removed myself from almost all things triathlon. Scratch that. Removed myself from running {and Kermit}. And now I've done something that'll require me to pick it all back up again:



Yeah, I couldn't resist the pull of the Tahoe battle {albeit half that battle} this fall. Ironman announced the half, on the same day as the full, and yet again the pull to register for an {almost} inaugural race was great; I'll be headed to Tahoe again this fall. 

my favorite photo of the day last fall
Let's just talk about the journey that'll bring me to the start line:

Run - mmm yeah, we'll need to be getting back on this bandwagon again. Yet, I've jumped on so many times before and have basically fallen off the train every time. I want to do things a bit differently. New watch. New shoes. New motivation. New mobility. New body. {I wish} 

Yeah, I realize I can't change who I am, nor the feet and ankles I swam my body into, and because of that, I cannot approach running the way every land athlete does. This water girl needs to give some extra attention starting from the bottom up {just like what I teach all my swimmers - kick, core, then arms} - for me, it's going to start with my toes, arch, heel, achilles, ankle, shin, calf, knee, hamstring, quad, hip flexors, butt, and yeah my head. Strength, mobility, stretching, releasing, supporting. Not to mention, positivity. These actions will get me to the start line ready to race. Because, quite frankly, I'm rather sick of getting to the start line ready to swim and bike and "survive the run" which has been my motto for oh so long. This time I want to STRIVE.

taking care of my poor leggies last year

Bike - Kermit will be paired with Elsa {the power meter} again after this weekend. I've learned a bit on Super Grover this winter and how my body responds to effort levels. Granted, I haven't ran off the bike once, but I've gained some strength and guts that I didn't have on my bike before. Through very non-scientific testing, I've found I can actually back off on the cadence and lower my HR a bit, push a slightly bigger gear and climb faster. I've always been a spin to win kinda rider, so don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about 60rpm here. But backing it a bit below 90, my knee and heart are responding okay to the change. Will be interesting to see how Kermit does. And yes, I'll even incorporate a little {or a lot} of Fiesta Island interval/strength work on the bike. My motor needs some fine tuning. 

mannyvphoto.com Dirty30 Birthday ride.
Super Grover needs to be hibernated for a while


Swim - this is going okay. I've been swimming once a week at the cove, plus floating through a couple of swim lessons here and there. Once the bike racing slows down, I'll add a couple masters workouts a week. But in all reality, I haven't lost my swim. This summer, I got a team together for the Trans Tahoe swim relay {we still need a boat! anyone? Bueller?} so I'll have to ramp it up here a bit for that. Looking forward to getting up there again and checking out the updated bike course and hoping my lungs fare better this time. Also interested to see what IM will do for the 70.3 swim start. 



In the meantime, I had some bike racing to attend to! Last weekend was the criterium at Barrio Logan {downtown San Diego} and it was awesome to have teammates in both my races! {congrats to Deanna who worked her ass off this spring for her upgrade.} This weekend we headed north of Santa Barbara for the CA State Criterium Championships at the Firestone 805 crit weekend. Had a blast on my weekend away with Kyle. He's ramping up his workups for deployment in November, so we are trying to enjoy the small vacations we have together between his time away. {more on this epic race weekend to follow}

Oh and speaking of new, we just got a new Tempurpedic mattress! I feel like an old married couple, getting excited about such a major purchase, but we are sleep/recovery nerds and cannot believe we've been on something so uncomfortable for this long. It just got delivered a week ago and we spent the last four nights camping; so yeah, we're a bit excited for restful night sleeps ahead!