Monday, November 4, 2013

Bienvenido a Miami 70.3

Yes, I had a Michelob Ultra after finishing
From the moment Miami 70.3 was put on my schedule, I'm pretty sure I've played this song daily in my mind. After a fairly aggressive early season it was time to look ahead to what goals I wanted to pursue for 2014. Coach Flanigan and I discussed various options, but ultimately my sights were set on earning my ticket to the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant. Miami was chosen for a few reasons:
  1. Reasonable travel requirements. Yes, it is in the opposite corner of the nation, but being a major city made the airfare a bit more affordable.
  2. Timing. I needed a solid block of time to build for this race after chinking my armor a little too much earlier in the season. (and I won't lie... the thought of escaping the cold, windy fall weather in exchange for palm trees and a warm breeze was definitely appealing).
  3. Points. In order to race in the World Championships I need to earn enough points to get a slot. Miami offered higher points than Austin 70.3 (which was held the same weekend).
My new buddy Murph and I did plenty
of this the days leading up to the race
The 10 weeks of training leading up to this race went almost entirely as planned. Aside from a couple hiccups with my running at the beginning of October, everything else was executed impeccably. Very few distractions. Head down. Eye on the goal.

Wattie Ink fan and fellow RD Susan Kitchen
stopped and introduced herself. Great gal and athlete!
This was my first race traveling solo. No MFMG to act as sherpa or keep me company on the flight. No Wattie Ink contingent or other companions to provide pre-race support. And I know this isn't rocket science, but putting my bike together before the race also fell entirely on my shoulders. But as my husband reminded me, "This is, after all, an individual sport."

As race day approached, the familiar jittery excitement continued to build. Thanks to a pleasant home stay with a great local athlete, Ola Besser, stress was kept to a minimum and logistics were simple. Some ill-timed sinus congestion, a few near-death experiences with Miami drivers and one very inhospitable car rental agent were no match for the focus I had going into this race. Matt paid me  a very big compliment the night before I departed Boise: "I've never seen you so prepared for a race."

The best part about a home stay is the ability to
make a customized, delicious pre-race meal.
Race reports can easily turn into rambling, detailed accounts of every moment of the very long day. So much happens the days leading up to the race and even more occurs the day of; it is nearly impossible to cover it all. What may work best is to highlight the highs and lows of each leg of the race. Here goes…

All racked and ready to go…
right next to Leanda Cave
The High: Being racked near Leanda Cave and Matty Reed in transition. Watching these two triathlon legends entertain droves of fans from around the world while obliging photos and hand-shakes was very cool. This was my first time meeting both of them, and from my brief interactions I can honestly say my admiration has only grown from the experience. 

The Low: NERVES!! I kept thinking, "jeez, just get me in that water and sound the gun!" All of the announcements and pre-race briefings were translated into Spanish and Portuguese, which made it feel like the World Championships. EEK!

The High: I found feet!!! Many of you who spoke with me prior to this race know that the swim start was a source of much angst for me. I've been working hard on my swimming and I knew going in to this race my swim was stronger than ever. Setting myself up for a solid swim by staying with the group was crucial. I was determined not to swim alone (like has happened several times this season). I also wanted to prove that I'm worthy of sporting the wicked fast Blueseventy PZ3TX with the big dogs.

The Low: Alas, they were the wrong feet to follow. By the time I had reached the first turn buoy I knew the lead pack had taken off, but I was still with a few other girls and I thought, "this is fine, just hang with them, you don't want to swim alone!" Well, about halfway through the swim I suddenly found myself engulfed in seaweed, as if someone had dumped a loose bale of hay into the harbor. I had followed those feet right off course into a big, floating mass. Imagine trying to crawl your way through several partially deflated air mattresses. The seaweed was buoyant, but not so much that it would support the weight of a human body. As I struggled to slog my way through this stuff (there has to be and END somewhere, right??) I heard a kayaker yelling and pointing me toward clear water. I was literally a couple feet from escaping the straw-like cloud but it was so thick I couldn't find my way through without the help of that kayaker. Once back on course the rest of the swim was smooth sailing…and I promptly surged away from those feet that led me astray.
No, this is not me. But it's a cool shot.
Photo credit: Ironman 70.3 Miami

The High: Simple- I raced. Even with the seaweed debacle I came out of the water around the same time as 3 other women. We all left T1 together and were leap frogging our way through the first several miles of the bike. I knew the ride would be flat and fast and I was concerned about getting stuck in the draft zone of the other riders. Flanny and I had reviewed my target power the day before, and throughout the season he has encouraged me to "race" and use my power meter as a tool rather than a limiter. So I went for it, pushing the pace above my target watts several times early in the bike in order to try to get away from the other women. The confidence I had from being adequately prepared for that ride helped me push harder than I would have earlier in the season. All that time tucked in the aero position was definitely made easier by my Adamo Breakaway and Speedfil setup. In the end, my average power was about 3.5% higher than previous races this season. WIN!

The Low: The congestion that had set in the days leading up to the race came loose from all that salt water during the swim. Snot rocket does not even begin to describe what was coming out of my face. Remember the reference to shoelaces from the movie Turner and Hooch? Enough said.

The High: Finding my run legs! Flanny had warned me that because of the time-trial nature of the bike I would likely be stiff and uncomfortable starting the run. It was true. Man, that first mile felt like the longest mile I'd run in a very long time and it crossed my mind that I was too ambitious on the bike. I focused on turnover, form, fuel, hydration. Sure enough, within a few miles my legs came around and before I knew it my K-Swiss Kwicky's were ticking off the miles and I began feeling stronger as the run unfolded.
May I draw your attention to the left side of the photo. I am just starting the run and Terenzo Bozzone (the men's champion) just passed me with the grace of a cheetah, powering into his second lap. I remember thinking, "picture yourself running like HIM!" (Photo credit: Ironman 70.3 Miami)

The Low: I'm not sure what to call this "issue" I've been battling on the run, but it has been suggested that the problem originates in my lower leg and causes pain in my knee by compressing the peroneal nerve. Whatever. It sucks. Typically when my leg acts up it is only a matter of time before I'm walking. This time I managed to find a way to run through it will little issue, other than a slightly slower pace. While it is incredibly frustrating to know that I couldn't produce the run I'm capable of, it is encouraging that this "issue" continues to be less and less significant when it does rear it's ugly head. Here's to hoping it packs it's bags and leaves in 2014.

Nothing like sandy toes and
the sound of the surf in your ears.
I came in 9th, which is not the race I was hoping for and not the race I had prepared myself for. It also does not give me a great start at points accumulation for 2014. While my perfectionistic nature causes me to analyze what I could have (should have) done differently, I have been reminded by my coach and my network of supporters how far I have come this season. I have shown continual progress and consistency with my racing. I have attempted a heavier season than ever before, toeing the line with some of the best athletes in the sport to see how I measure up. And I have learned…a LOT. 

Back in Boise.
From beautiful beach scenery to picturesque fall colors.

The offseason is upon me…FINALLY! I am already thinking ahead to next season and the accomplishments and challenges that lie ahead. But for now I'll happily spend a significant amount of time sleeping in, baking and kicking MFMG's tail in cribbage. I can't begin to express my gratitude for all of the support I've received this season. This year has been an extraordinary journey, and I feel like I'm just getting started.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Closing Down Summer

For Real?? It has been over 2 months since I've purged my brain of all randomness involving triathlon and my life. I guess that's an indication of a couple things: a) I needed a bit of a breather from all of the racing hullabaloo, and b) life has kept me busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger.

Let's have a quick run-through of what's been going down in my little world:

Bend, OR

Shortly following XTERRA Les Bois MFMG and I loaded up with our good friends Clay and Jen and headed to Bend for a little bike and beer time. Jen and I participated in the Trek Women's Dirt Series all-women's clinic and got to hone our mountain bike skills while the boys, um... rode on their own.
A few of the props for technique building

Still working on my cornering skills...I'll get there!
Crux is a great new addition to Bend's many breweries!

Miles and miles of this!

MFMG chillin' mid-ride.

Emmett's Most Excellent Triathlon:
I have not missed this event in the past 4 years. Never a disappointment, the Emmett Triathlon is an impeccably organized local favorite that almost serves as a reunion to Treasure Valley Triathletes. Setting up transition is almost like mingling at a party with friends- music, friendly conversation, jokes and an overwhelming sense of community makes this race one that I look forward to each season. Congrats to Jen Luebke for taking the win; it was my second year in a row taking the bridesmaid slot by mere seconds. Next year...
Matt was working and unable to take pics that day. This is all I got.

Our wedding anniversary and my birthday are two days apart. For the past couple years, we have spent the days surrounding these events doing this:

2012 70.3 World Championships, Matt plays sherpa, chauffeur, coach and photographer.

But this year we got to do some of this:
Dinner at our local fave, Berryhill

A reminder to MFMG who the
cribbage master is in this house.

Matt Green Photo also hit a major's first birthday. We spent the evening surrounded by friends and clients who have helped to make this venture a success. Here's to many more!

Getting back and giving back:

We vowed to schedule a getaway in McCall one last time before summer departed for the year, and we barely made it. In fact, unseasonably cool temps and mountain rain made it feel more like November than September, but that didn't stop us from enjoying every last second of our long weekend! My great aunt hosted us in the family's lakefront cabin for 4 blissful days of much-needed R&R.
Payette Lake at sunrise
Getting some swim time
At the end of September I also traveled back to my hometown of Nezperce to visit my family and attend the 14th annual Combine Demolition Derby. You read that correctly...crashing large harvesters into each other for entertainment purposes...fourteen years in a row. Visit the Facebook page to view a quick video teaser.

Sadly, the derby was cancelled for the first time ever due to record rainfall turning the fairgrounds into a mud bog. But there was another reason for me to get back to my hometown- to give back to my school. Nezperce Schools is involved in the Fuel up to Play 60 program and I was asked to put together an assembly for the students on nutrition and racing triathlon. What an honor to give back to my hometown and the school in this capacity! Special thanks to Callie Zenner, Jacky Mosman and the young Maddie Stapleton for encouraging me to come and giving me this fun opportunity!

We talked nutrition, then headed outside for a little mock-triathlon action complete with cowbells, transition a water station and LOTS of cheering!


Ok, ok... of course there has still been a fair amount of training in my life. Well...actually...a LOT of training as of late. Coach Flanny and I have set our sights on Miami 70.3, which is now less than 3 weeks away! I hadn't had a solid training block since my season began back in May, so the past 8 weeks have been focused, consistent and intensive.

Stay tuned for another update before the big day on 10/27!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gettin' Dirty- XTERRA Les Bois

I was first introduced to mountain biking back in June of 2005 while attending college at University of Idaho in Moscow. Learning to ride single track on Moscow Mountain (which is more like an exaggerated pitcher's mound with grass and trees on it) was not a cakewalk. Roots, downed trees, loose dirt, was not love at first ride. But my boyfriend had won a guided mountain bike tour in Utah in just two short months so we bought me a Trek 4300 and got me on single track as much as possible that summer.
A blast from the past: biking through Utah in 2005

Despite several bruises, a trip over the handlebars into a creek and a wickedly miscalculated off-trail ride that resulted in a broken helmet and severe gravel-rash, my confidence gradually improved- as did my love of riding. After moving to Boise years later, I fell in love with our incredible network of foothill trails surrounding the north and east ends of town. However, my love of triathlon (coupled with a lack of confidence due to less time on-trail) slowly pulled me away from mountain biking for the past 2 years...

...UNTIL THIS WEEKEND!!! Feeling bummed about a lackluster result at Lake Stevens and desperately needing a breath of fresh air in the tri department, I made a very logical decision: sign up for XTERRA Les Bois to shake things up a bit. I borrowed a friend's Stumpjumper and refreshed my skills with a couple pre-rides with MFMG.
First ride back. Still smiling and in one piece!

This is the second year Boise has hosted the offroad triathlon, and this time around it has been included in the XTERRA family. With Wattie Ink as a title sponsor, and my friend and Wattie teammate John Shilt at the helm, this was sure to be a premier event.

The best part about local races is that one gets the opportunity to race with friends. Several local competitors toed the line, including pros Kevin Everett, Chris Ganter, Captain Awesome and Trish Deim (who made an impressive debut on knobbies!) and at least a couple dozen people I see regularly at TriTown and the Y. I had my orders from Flanny, too: "HAVE FUN." Check!

Goofing around with Jannalyn Luttrell and
Trish Deim prior to swim start. (Photo by Kevin Schultz)
I hadn't swum in Lucky Peak since Boise 70.3 and let me tell you, the water is soooo much nicer this time of year! I came out of the swim just a few seconds behind Jannalyn and got to work on the bike. The course is pretty straightforward: a two-loop hammerfest on fire roads and singletrack with a couple pitchy climbs and one very technical gully descent toward the end of each loop. But as I learned all those years ago: "if you ain't hikin' you ain't bikin'." (friend and race supporter Walter Poly took a good shot of me navigating the rock garden). With their superior technical skills, Hortie Everett and Sara Lloyd both passed me on the second lap, but I was just happy to have made it into T2 unscathed. Now time to conquer the "groin"...twice.

No wonder it's a restricted sucks!
I had run the course on a relay team last year, so I knew what was ahead of me. Nice trail through grassy hillside, a long, gravel downhill, some pavement, some sand...and then the groin. This little gem of a climb gains around 200 feet in just .15 miles. It is a sandy, rocky slog that makes it (nearly) impossible to maintain a rhythm or even attempt to run. And once at the top, wheezing and near fainting, you get to look forward to doing it aaaaaall over again.

Adam Winspear saw an opportunity to play
MC and, boy, did he deliver!
The groin is what makes this race notorious and proves that it lives up to the name "XTERRA". The finish line is just at the base of the climb, so at least there's some "ooncha ooncha" music to help push you to the top. To go along with the beat booming from the speakers below, local triathlete Adam Winspear decided the poor souls trudging up the groin could use some encouragement. He grabbed the mic and started hollering run splits and supportive words to all of the participants. Thanks, Adam!

Fellow Watties and good friends
Sue Marston and Jay Sampsel
(who finished 6th amateur and won his AG!)
With this being my first offroad tri and only 6 short days after Lake Stevens, I was thrilled to be the first female to cross the finish line. Let's qualify this win a bit, though: I was one of only two female pros to compete, and Trish had (as I understand it) never ridden singletrack before (you go, girl!). The field was mostly local athletes, with 130 competitors registering for both the sprint and olympic distances. While it feels good to come away with a win in my first XTERRA, I have no delusions about my abilities...I have a long way to go before being able to compete with the true lady pros of XTERRA. :-)

Major kudos go out to John Shilt and all of the volunteers and staff that made this race a success! Thank you Wattie Ink for your continued support of the sport of triathlon! Blueseventy's wetsuit and goggles made for a very pleasant swim. Kswiss, thanks for making a tri shoe that can handle trail like no other. And Powerbar, your Double Latte Powergel is da bomb!

Next stop: Emmett's Most Excellent Triathlon!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Over the Hump- Lake Stevens 70.3

This aptly-titled post is sort of a follow-up to last week's diatribe of the Burnout Monster. I had many concerned friends approach me after posting last week, especially so close to a big race. To be frank, I was a bit concerned about "outing" myself in such a blatant manner. Am I making myself vulnerable to my competitors on Sunday? Is this unprofessional of me? Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy? My friend and Lake Stevens competitor (who took 3rd in a stellar performance!) Kate Bevilaqua  found me at the pre-race briefing, gave me a hug and said, "I read your blog, are you OK??" And so it starts...addressing the storm of concern and buzz I created by admitting that The Blerch had followed me all the way up to Washington state.

Matthew Inman is the genius behind creating the Blerch- check out his work at 
The funny thing is, self-disclosure can be a cathartic thing. I told Kate that as soon as I had admitted and embraced the fact that burnout had found me, I felt a good deal of pressure lifted from my shoulders. Optimistic by nature, I feel that many of life's trials and speed bumps are manageable; one just needs to figure out a way over, around or through them. I decided to get over the hump of Lake Stevens, leave the Blerch in our sketchy neighborhood in Everett, WA where we stayed and get on with finding my race mojo again.

Tribute to MFMG since he couldn't be there with me. #sailboat
Lake Stevens was a late-add. Flanny and I sort of thought, "why not?" when I had expressed interest in racing. Travel isn't too taxing and I had always wanted to race the hilly course. Many of my local TriTown friends were racing, including my buddy Andrew Li. We were riding the coattails of all of the other athletes who had solidified plans, so we had to scramble to find a hotel room and travel arrangements. Turns out Andrew and I make excellent travel companions. With his mellow personality, generous nature, impeccable Ah-Nold impersonations and affinity for food, he made for perfect company for a road trip and a great race buddy.

Representing Blueseventy!
This boy loves his hotel waffles!
  Race preparations went smoothly and before I knew it I was bobbing in the warm water waiting for that gun to go off. With Meredith Kessler and Tennile Hoogland in the mix, I knew it would be blistering pace for the swim...and the Blerch got the best of me. I relaxed into my own pace, made friends with the wonderful bouy line along the course and cruised. It was less stressful than my last two race starts, at a cost of over a minute off the main pack. Damn Blerch.

Lake Stevens provides a picturesque but brutal bike course, with a mix of rolling hills, pitchy climbs and sharp turns. Friends who had done the race before told me the course would really suit me, as I usually thrive riding hills. Not so on Sunday. Flat legs. Flat affect. I almost wished for a flat tire. Stupid Blerch had followed me all around that topsy-turvy bike course, nagging the entire time about how much better I'd feel if I just threw in the towel.

One thing about the Blerch...doesn't seem like he can run. :-) Within a couple miles of the run my leg turnover picked up, as well as my spirits. Some encouraging words from Matt Lieto (who rocked it, placing 5th) and fellow Wattie Inker Guy Crawford (finishing a solid 7th place) helped my feet find their wings. Now, running a 1:29:46 may not seem like a big deal when compared with speedsters like Meredith or Kate, but cutting below that 1:30 mark is a major milestone for me and well worth celebrating!

Andrew getting re-bandaged by friends
Kirk and Rachel. Sad Panda
Handlebar hanging on by a few carbon threads.
The Boise TriTown crew also had an impressive showing, with 4 members winning their respective Age Groups and several others finishing strong as well. However, I was told at the finish that one of our TriTown guys was spotted being carted off the bike course in an ambulance...and it turned out to be my co-pilot, Andrew. Misty morning conditions made for poor visibility and he hit a rock about 5 miles into the bike...going approximately 30mph. By someone's grace he walked away with some significant patches of road rash, but all of his bones intact. 

While not pleased with my placing at Lake Stevens, I am happy with a swim PR and THRILLED with my run. Funny thing about starting at the bottom... you have nowhere to go but up! As always, I am incredibly grateful for all those who support my endeavors: Wattie Ink, Blueseventy, KSwiss, Speedfil, Powerbar, ISM and of course my friends, family and #1 Superfan Matt. I couldn't venture into this realm without you.

And with that, my first season racing with the pros is winding down...I think. On a whim, and at the behest of several friends I've signed up for my first off-road triathlon, XTERRA Les Bois. Gun goes off at 9:00am tomorrow morning. Ready for some DIRT!

Should make for an entertaining race report, too. ;-)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Burnout Monster

On the eve of my departure for Lake Stevens, WA I find myself in unfamiliar territory: I am not giddy with excitement. The pre-race anticipation typically bubbling over within me is absent and the thought of staying home is more appealing. Though this is difficult to admit, it is consistent with a pattern over the past couple weeks. Despite a solid recovery period and relatively light training schedule I am unusually tired. An old running injury has flared, causing a training setback. I find myself only smiling about 70% of the time (instead of my usual 90%). Every day seems to drag a little, the standard bounce in my step peculiarly absent. An unsavory, unwelcome little troll has crept into my life. His name is Burnout.
First grade. I never was good at faking a smile.
The thing about Burnout is he likes to catch me by surprise, pretending to be disinterested in interfering with my life's mojo. Things flow, training, social life, family, sleep...I juggle these things better than a circus performer (if you don't believe me, watch this video. Around 1:50 I do a pretty neat trick in T1). But this incessant performance gets tiring and we all have our limits. 
One thing is for certain, MFMG and I will be returning to White Bay very soon. (it's Burnout's kryptonite.)

Admitting that the evil monster named Burnout has infiltrated triathlon for me is a painful realization. I imagine it is how a musician feels if the songs he plays yield no joy. The other half of Team Green agrees. He told me today, "Even when you're at rest you're planning your next event or training session; constantly looking ahead instead of enjoying what is happening in the moment. It's the triathlete mindset." He knows me best. This is the heaviest racing schedule I've attempted thus far, so it is not surprising that I'd test my limits and venture into unknown territory.
The good news about recognizing Burnout early is that I can break out my Kung-Fu Ninja skills and beat him right out of my life. I have an uncanny knack for finding the upside of life's speed bumps (with the aid of an incredible support system, of course) and persevering through them. Two things are certain:

  1. I will race Lake Stevens 70.3 this weekend giving it everything my heart, mind and body has to offer. And typically I surprise myself when I lay it all out there.
  2. After a proper post-race celebration with a mob of friends who will be racing with me, I will regroup, rest up and send Burnout's ugly mug down the road. I've got some playing to do.
Addendum: My friend Justine (who understands the vacuum that is training, racing and keeping up with the daily rat race) shared the following with me upon reading this blog. Turns out there is a name for the green-eyed Burnout monster- "the Blerch"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rockin' Pacific Crest

Mother Nature smiled upon us this past Saturday with moderate summer temps and a delightful cloud cover, making for perfect race conditions in beautiful Sunriver, OR. It was my first time racing Pacific Crest Long Course, though I have heard many good things about the venue and race over the past several years. It was time to work it into the schedule...and I'm so glad I did!
Juniper Swim and Fitness Center.
Another reason why Bend rocks (besides the beer selection)

My coach, Flanny, and I decided that Pacific Crest would be targeted as my "A Race" for the early season. The pro field at this race is smaller and more attuned to my level of competition at this time. I knew Mackenzie Madison and Jennifer Luebke would be racing, which would challenge me in the perfect way to bring out my best race. Having raced Leadman 125 in Bend last September, I was somewhat familiar with the bike course. I was also urged to pre-ride the run course since it was described as a maze of paved bike paths winding through cabins and trees, where every turn is like Groundhog have no idea where you are because everything looks the same. Got it.
A particularly enjoyable view from the run course...
and a welcome break from the monotony.

Logistically the race was a tad of a headache as a first-timer, as T1, T2 and the expo were all in different locations. I opted to forego the shuttle bus on race morning and rely on my manager/photographer (also known as my husband) for transportation to the event. Morning setup went smoothly, arrived at the swim start early enough to leisurely set up T1 and enjoy my pre-race snack of peanut butter and banana goodness.

Now for the race recap. I apologize for the lack of photos- Matt is trying his hand at shooting video and it has yet to be produced. Look for a follow up post later on. As always, I'll try to keep this concise and entertaining so as not to provide a cure for insomnia...

  • Solid swim! Yahoo!!! The plan was to try to stick with Jen Luebke, whom I know is a solid swimmer. Plan failed...I was so amped at the start that the only thing my brain was screaming within the first couple hundred meters was, "FORGET HER, JUST GET SOME AIR!!" (You can bet that I'll be implementing a swim warm-up at my next race). By the second buoy I had calmed myself and settled my heart rate enough to pick up the pace again and get into a good rhythm. Turns out I was just over a minute behind Jen into T1, and nipping at Mackenzie's heels. Right where I wanted to be!
  • And now for the blooper reel. No wetsuit peelers at this race, so I was left to my own devices to strip off my Blueseventy Helix. Now, I remember watching a great transition video put together by Boise pro Chris Ganter last year in which he suggests stepping sideways out of your wetsuit. Note to self: wet neoprene on wet neoprene is slippier (new word) than new tube socks on freshly polished hardwood floor. I found myself with both feet in the air, landing flat on my rear on the asphalt. (Yeah, I'm a pro.) What else could I do but lie there on the pavement, squirming my left ankle out of the suit to finish the job? Look for the video to be posted as soon as MFMG is finished editing. I have no shame. :-)
  • The bike leg was relatively uneventful. Mackenzie passed me straight out of T1 and I knew she was out for blood by the way she steadily faded into the distance and out of my sight over the next few miles. I had discussed my strategy with Flanny the previous day, had my target wattage and was encouraged to race, but not do anything stupid on the climb up Bachelor. I told myself not to chase just yet, settle in and be patient. I pedaled comfortably in solitude, soaking in the ponderosas and mountain lake scenery for 58 (not 56!) miles. The bike was executed as planned- controlled and leaving me well-fueled and hydrated for the run. Once again, my nutrition plan was like clockwork.
  • Imagine my surprise when I enter T2 and Wattie Ink teammate Aaron Edwards calls out, "you're about 7:30 down from Mackenzie." Ouch. She must have ridden out of her mind! Then I hear, "4th place female!" Whoa, that was a blow... This mental jolt was just what I needed to get to work on the run. Again, the plan was to find my legs over the first couple miles, relax and settle into a rhythm.
  • Mile 4 of the run is where the magic happened. I noticed my pace was feeling very comfortable; but comfortable is not how I like to race. I had read a great article recently (courtesy of my friend and fellow tri-geek, Lauri Thompson) that examines the art of racing and suffering. I decided it was time to suffer. Watching my pace gradually pick up, I settled in at a slightly slower pace than what I had been doing on the track for mile repeats. I figured if I could hold that pace for at least the next 6-7 miles, perhaps I'd find another lady to chase for the last few miles of the run. And so my K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights carried me through the next several miles with a little more spunk than typical. 
  • FINALLY between miles 8-9 the trio of significant others appeared (MFMG, Ben Metcalfe and Matt Lieto) all there to cheer on me, Mackenzie and Jen, respectively. I was rapidly closing on Laura Coombs and Jen. Sweet! Hearing that I looked as strong as MFMG has ever seen me on the run, and that I had cut into the sizable lead Mackenzie had on me going into T2 was just the motivation I needed to hold the pace. While it wasn't enough for me to get the win, I was thrilled with a run PR of 1:31:58 on a somewhat challenging course.

  • Congrats to Mackenzie on her repeat win (I've lost this 5th consecutive for you at Pac Crest??) and to fellow Boisean Kevin Everett for a stellar performance. Special thanks to our house-swap buddies Rick and Meg Floyd (look for great things to come from this neo-pro at Lake Stevens!). Also, Hortie Everett, Kevin's wife, for cheering and calming me when I let a little "French" slip out as I fell over in T1. :-) And of course, Matty Green...there are no words.
Next up...Lake Stevens 70.3!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 4th Discipline

Swim, Bike, Run. That's what we triathletes spend the majority of our time thinking about. It is what occupies our daily thoughts, our dreams at night and (much to our families' chagrin) dinner conversations on one too many occasions.

But there is a fourth discipline to triathlon: Nutrition. Ask any seasoned athlete and he or she will tell you that nutrition and hydration is key to successful performance. We've all see athletes meltdown due to dehydration or make a mad dash for the porta-potty at inopportune times during the race to relieve the products of an upset GI system. Proper fueling can mean the difference between a triumph and a catastrophe.

Being a Registered Dietitian, I am quizzed frequently by fellow triathletes about race nutrition. The questions posed could easily make Letterman's Top 10 list, as they've probably been the punchline of every triathlete's dramatic tale of race-day horror at some point:
  • "What gel do you recommend?"
  • "Which electrolyte replacement is best?" 
  • "How do I manage GI upset?" 
  • "What's your favorite pre-race meal?"
  • "What do you think about drinking beer for recovery?"
10 Barrel brews hold a special
place in my nutrition plan. :-)

And so on. The tricky thing is, everyBODY is different and will respond to nutrition differently. Everyone has different taste buds, different amounts of enzymes and digestive compounds running through their system, and will be working at varied intensities. It is impossible to examine all of these aspects of race nutrition in a blanket statement that will fit every athlete.

Through my blog posts I look forward to sharing some of my insight, as well as learning from others, as to what strategies compose a winning nutrition plan. For now, I'll share my race day nutrition plan for a long course race such as Boise 70.3. Remember, this is what works for me...your body could be totally different.

  • First and foremost: a hearty breakfast. My daily nutrition is of utmost importance to me, and pre-race is no difference. My favorite go-to breakfast is a huge bowl of fruit with plain, fat free Greek yogurt (Chobani Plain is my fave) and a crunchy cereal like Kashi GoLean or granola. Paired w/ my standard cuppa joe and I'm ready to rock. 

  • Pre-race snack. Most races require athletes to get up and get moving early in the morning, but if you think about it you probably have a few hours between the time you finish breakkie and when the gun goes off. I prefer to take half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich with me and eat while I'm setting up T1. Boise 70.3 had a unique "lunchtime" start, so I had my sando on the way out, then nibbled on carrots and yogurt while setting up my bike. And drink water!
  • On the bike: Usually my tummy is a little temperamental after jacking my HR in the swim and with the adrenaline coursing through me as I roll out of T1 I can't really get anything down my throat but water until I calm down. Since I've done such a good job of fueling up to this point, I will allow myself about 30 min of "settling" into the bike before I touch any food. I'll sip water during this time. People joke that I ride with a "buffet" of food...and maybe by some standards I do. My Bento Box is jam-packed with boiled, salted Idaho potatoes, an oatmeal power cookie made by our local Wildflour Bakery, a couple Nuun tablets and some raspberry Powerbar Gel Blasts. I'll also take about 16-20 fl oz of Powerbar Restore (approximately 2 scoops) for sipping throughout. A few notes about my bike nutrition choices:

    • I like to EAT on the bike. I have trained my body to handle this and to expect solid food. That said, semi-liquid and liquid nutrition is absorbed more quickly, thus the sports drink.
    • The salted potatoes are money when you're so sick of sweet, sugary stuff that you'd give anything for something "real". A word of caution- I have had trouble chewing and swallowing these down if I neglect my hydration and get cotton mouth. So this actually helps me remember to drink water to wash 'em down.
    • Powerbar Restore is not designed or marketed for use during the event- it is intended for recovery. However, years back I had latched on to Perpetuem, which is a carb/protein mixture. I used this for a season until it didn't seem to work for me any longer. In the process of seeking out a replacement product that still had some protein and carbs I came across Restore. Now, the research on consuming protein during endurance exercise is mixed...but if it ain't broken...
    • I always have a little more food than I think I'll need on the bike. The Powerbar Gel Blasts are good insurance for me, in case I just don't feel like eating anything else, or need some quick sugar in the system. You never know when you'll get a mechanical, drop some goodies on the ground mid-bite, or simply just need more fuel than you originally estimated. I figure if I roll into T2 with a little fuel leftover I'm in a good position nutritionally.
    • Sometimes the Nuun gets used, sometimes it doesn't. My bike food supplies fantastic electrolytes so it is rare that I need more. On very hot days, or days where I don't need as much fuel, but more hydration I'll pop one of these puppies into my Speedfil to ensure proper hydration.
  • On the run: By this time I know I have loaded my system with about all the calories, carbs and electrolytes it can possibly handle while working at this intensity. Things are about to get even harder on the run and solid food is not an option for me. My solution: suck on Gu Chomps the entirety of the run. Rolling one around in my mouth will last about 2-3 miles, then if there's anything left, the Chomp gets chomped down. Aid stations are water for the first 6 miles or so, then supplementing with cola each aid station after. 

Now, to go back to my initial point: that every individual's physiology and taste preferences vary. What I have described is my plan, and will hopefully give you some new ideas to try. I also welcome comments, sharing strategies, or questions regarding this topic. The fourth discipline is, for many, the trickiest of all.

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