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Triathlon

Austin 70.3 and Curiosity

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You know how sometimes someone says something that you have always known without knowing it? They put into words what you have felt to be true but never really expressed. This has happened to me twice in the past month or so; both times regarding the topic of curiosity. Two athletes that I admire, both runners, mentioned something very nonchalantly about their motivation to compete. Both spoke with simple terms that conveyed a message my heart had always known. Both spoke of a deep curiosity–a deep yearning to know what might happen if ____. What might happen if I give my best? What might happen if I dare to lay it all on the line? What is possible for me? I am recognizing that at the root of my sporting endeavors is this same curiosity. I am curious about where my God-given limits are. I wonder what potential lies within me. I think that inquisitiveness can spur me on in all areas of my life. Some areas are just better at provoking my curiosity–and those areas are the ones that I will pursue with the most passion. Maybe I need a spark of curiosity regarding bathroom cleaning techniques…

In other news, I finished my last triathlon of the 2017 season at Austin, TX. Brice and I stayed with some good friends (Thanks, Lauren, Vincent, & Mona pup!). We had a nice sampling of Texas food (tacos, coffee, baked goods, Italian, and Tex Mex). We checked out Lance Armstrong’s bike shop/cafe, and swam in the Barton Springs pool. We even got to see our Aussie/Kiwi friends, Emma & Sean, who are currently living in Houston.

Here’s my recap of race day:

I woke up race morning and felt that with each piece of race preparation–the brushing of teeth, the eating of breakfast, the drinking of coffee, the putting on of socks– I was getting ready for battle. That feeling can be scary and intense. It can make you feel so alone. But then I remembered that I don’t have to feel that way because the Lord is with me in every moment. I don’t have to do any of it alone. He is with me (Psalm 118:6). He is for me (Romans 8:31). He is my helper, so I will not be afraid (Hebrews 13:6). Remembering these truths gave me so much relief. I can’t do it, but He can. All my confidence is in Him (Jeremiah 17:7).

Austin was uncharacteristically cold for the day- just under 40 degrees at the start. But, the water was warm (and just barely wetsuit legal), so the swim felt comfortable. I was able to get out quick and then settled into my own pace for the 1.9km. It was my fastest 70.3 swim split to date–win! The transition was fine. I still felt pretty warm and decided not to put on any extra clothing for the 56 mile ride, assuming I’d warm up and be fine. I was wrong.

I now know that low 40s is too cold to ride my bike for almost three hours in nothing but a wet bathing suit. I could not feel my legs or hands. When I picked up my snacks/bottles I did so very slowly and carefully because I couldn’t feel whether or not I was actually gripping them. My power meter worked for about 5 minutes of the race. I am not sure what went wrong–it was fine the day before the race, and it’s fine now. Hmm…so this combination of not feeling my legs, getting limited food/drink in my mouth, and having no power meter made for an interesting bike. Also, my chain fell off halfway up a hill so I put it back on and then walked my bike to the top. I remember thinking to myself that these moments when things aren’t going “our way” are so important; We can choose to give up, get negative about it, or we can trust that God is in control. We can give our best to Him and trust that He knows what we need. Even though I felt like my race was going downhill, I could have a little laugh about the situation and then do my best to move my legs and warm my body up. Once things thawed out, I felt strong again and was surprised to have a bike split not too far off my fastest 70.3 bike split–Hooray!

T2 was smooth and I was finally feeling warmed up. By the time I hit the run course I could even feel my feet! At the start of the run I was happy to see that my legs were moving faster than they felt, as had been the case at both of my previous 70.3 races this season. It wasn’t as hard as usual to settle down into my goal race pace (usually I start too fast and have to control myself for the first few miles). After about 3 miles, I knew I was drifting off of my pace and felt that I was slowing (it was hard to tell with the rolling hills on the course), so I ignored my watch and tried to go by feel. I even started mentally checking out and thinking about what I was going to say to my loved ones after my “bad race”. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t over yet and that I needed to stay present. The inner conversation went something like: “Don’t write yourself off yet! (10 points if you just started singing Jimmy Eat World) Just because you might not hit your “A” goal doesn’t mean you default to ‘just get it over with mode’. Stay in it! Focus on the opportunities still in front of you rather than what is behind you.”

Then, a male age grouper going the same pace as me ran with me for the middle 4-5 miles and was super encouraging–thank you, friend! At mile 9 I had to stop to use the porta potty for the first time in a triathlon, ever. After the stop, I felt great and starting speeding back up, only to slow back down for the last couple of miles. Those were probably the most mentally tough miles of the whole year for me–I felt so slow. Thankfully, I had Brice, Emma, and Sean to cheer me on and greet me at the finish.

Overall, I was happy to come away with a 70.3 PR. I don’t typically worry much about times since every course is different, and I don’t believe that times tel much of the story, but PRs are hard to come by so I celebrate that. Thanks to Coach Gareth for preparing me for the pain. Thanks to Metal Mountain Cycling for keeping me confident in my rocket ship. Thanks to Dr. Romeo for the top-notch treatment. Thanks to our Austin hosts, Lauren, Vincent & Mona, and to our “Juan in a Million” friends, Emma and Sean for making the trip out to Austin so we could see you. Finally, heaps of thanks to my handsome photographer-sherpa-husband, Brice <3

Meet the Athlete: Kathy

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Kathy Broder could be enjoying her retired years with extra hours of sleep and leisure travel. However, in her 70th year of youth, she would rather be waking up at 5 a.m. to walk onto a cold pool deck and plunge into a pool with her teammates. She prefers to travel with her bike and piles of triathlon gear to compete in triathlons for hours on end. I find Kathy’s daily decision to endure discomfort inspiring, and wanted to find out more about her “why”. Thanks for taking the time to fill us in, Kathy!

Current place of residence: Camarillo, CA
Hometown/place of birth: Los Angeles
Day job: Retired
Dream job: College career counselor
Favorite sports or hobbies (besides triathlon): running, grandma-ing

If you had to remove one leg of the triathlon and swap in a new sport, what would you subtract, and what would you add, and why? My swimming is very sad, so I would dump swim and put in jump roping.
Dream race: Perfect weather, down current swim, hilly bike, downhill run in the shade
Current triathlon/race goal: to survive IM AZ
Why do you want to accomplish this? Not sure…because I spent the money and because I allowed my teammates to badger me into doing a full. (Not really, I just got weak and signed up.)

When/how/why did you start triathlon? In 2008 I was camping in Carpinteria the weekend of the tri. I had never seen one before, and I was hooked. I started the following year…then I signed up for swim lessons.
Favorite accomplishment in sport: Surviving 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga this year. (Note: Kathy finished 5th at Age Group Worlds!)

Still smiling, and on her way to finishing 5th in the world!

Favorite non-sport accomplishment: Raising 5 fabulous kids.
Hardest race and/or workout you’ve ever completed: St. George 70.3 a few years back. I was so cold that I couldn’t think how to stop racing. It never occurred to me to stop and ask an official…I just kept going through the freezing wind and rain.
Most memorable training race moment: Memorable would have to be getting a flat at 5 miles before the end of the bike at Coeur d’Alene this year.

Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: Just enjoy yourself…I forget that one a lot!
Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon: Take it slow and grow into the sport. Buy your equipment after you figure out what you really need.
Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon: I’m pretty tough, but I really don’t like to hurt and I don’t push myself into that zone.
What motivates you to keep training and competing? I love the sports and the camaraderie. I look forward to training.
What motivates you when it gets tough during a race? I think of all the money I spent to hurt so bad.
Who inspires you and why? My teammates and all the other racers in the events. It’s amazing what we all do!

Race mantra: For the run, when it gets tough, I count one “e” and a two “e”…up to twenty, then I walk one “e” and a two “e” up to five. (This must be a piano player thing)
Pre-race ritual or superstition: I stress out on the minutia of it all…believe it or not, that’s what calms me down.
Pre-race pump up jams: “White coral bells upon a slender stalk…”

What is the first thing and last thing you do each day? Drink coffee; drink wine
Favorite type of running shoes: Asics
Dream training camp location: Coeur d’Alene
Training “secrets”: I always have a variety of food available
Racing pet peeve: People who arrive late and expect me to move over…not gonna do it.

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Nutrition that varies with length of race
Any favorite recipes to share? I swore off cooking when my last kid left the nest.
What does being “Fit” mean to you? Being in excellent shape

Pick one:
Long swim, long ride or long run? long run
Open water or pool? pool
Trail or track? track
Snot rocket, sleeve, or tissue? sleeve
Solo or group training? either
Chocolate or cheese? both
Watch on your left wrist or right? left
Morning or evening workout? either
Hat or visor? hat
Swim cap or no cap? swim cap
Cheerios or Wheaties? Cheerios
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? coffee

Any other fun facts about you? Don’t get me started on my newest grandson…he calls me blam-ma (I think.) Cutest kid ever!

On her way to an age group WIN at Santa Cruz 70.3

Update and Reflections

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Hey there!

Here are some updates from the last couple of months– race reflections and general observations.

So, Brice and I took a trip to Ottawa, Canada in June. The people we met there made our trip one of our favorites yet (and we have taken quite a few in our 3 years as a married couple). We were picked up from the airport by Jamie (the best volunteer ever), stayed with the most kind and generous host family, and even got invited into our host’s in-laws home for snacks and coffees (and a post-race shower…fyew). Our new friend Jamie loaned Brice a bike a to use for our stay, so we were able to use cycling as our main mode of transportation for exploring the city. The roads and paths were very bike-friendly!

During our 4 days in Ottawa, I got to compete in two draft-legal triathlons. It is always a plus when I get multiple race experiences in one trip, because all this travelling and time off can be costly. The first race was a “super sprint” semifinal, which took about 20 minutes to complete–three sports and two transitions in 20 minutes! This meant that the intensity was about as high as it gets in triathlon. It was painful. I got off to a great start, finishing the swim just at the leader’s feet, hung on to the back of the front bike pack (dreadfully fast ladies in my heat), and then ran as fast as my legs would go to cross the line 7th and qualify for the A Final the following day. It was a great opportunity for me to be in the A Final so that I could test myself in a strong field

Day 1 Swim Start

Day 1 Swim Exit

Day 1 Bike Finish

 Exploring Ottawa Post-Race

Checking out the locks

 

When we arrived at the race site for the final the following afternoon, it was warm and very humid. My pre-race anxiety began to get the better of me and I suddenly thought something that I sometimes think–even though I don’t want to think it–before races: “I don’t want to do this.” I had no motivation. But, I chose to do what I do often in training: kick in the autopilot and just “get on with it”. There are so many people on my team to whom I owe my best effort.

When the race starts, many of the jitters float away and I am left with the sound of my own breath, of water through my swim cap, and the sight of arms flailing, feet kicking, bodies splashing all around. The swim started out great, and I was near the front for a while. Shortly before the first turn buoy, I had a familiar feeling of doubt. Instead of being proactive and confidently swimming ahead, I started worrying about people catching me. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I quickly found myself near the back of the large pack, where I stayed for the remainder of the swim. Once you are toward the back, it is so much harder (it feels impossible) to overtake other swimmers and gain position again. It’s much easier to find a place at the front and stay there (as I had the day before). Exiting the water at the back of my swim pack, I struggled to catch the group ahead of me on the bike. I eventually joined a group with some riders behind me and stayed with them for the rest of the 20km. I was glad to be in a group, especially because it was blustery in some areas. I felt like I actually contributed to our group on the bike, which was a victory for me. On the run, I was able to find my pace and stick with it. I passed a few girls who seemed to have outdone themselves in the heat, and finished “in the mix”–another big victory.

 Day 2 (Final) Swim Start. Thanks to swim coaches Coach Mary and Steve for making me an “aggressive starter”

Day 2 Bike Course Turnaround- U-Turn into a big uphill. Ouch.

 Day 2 Run- Photo Credit: Stephen Maunder


After the race,
Brice and I got to have Father’s Day dinner and gelato with our host family before heading home early the next morning. We made lots of good memories in Ottawa, and we hope to visit again sometime.

Next up was Des Moines, Iowa. The first and most important thing that happened was that we located a Trader Joe’s and R.E.I. very close to our hotel. Double Win! We ended up making several trips to the R.E.I. for some supplies and mechanical help with my bike :\

Once again, it was warm and humid out. The water was also warmer than it had been in Ottawa. One of my pet peeves is swimming in warm water. I am one of those people who ask the pool maintenance folks to please turn off the heaters! But, sometimes I have to suck it up. As the noon start time approached, I could feel the adrenaline building and calming myself down became my main objective. I got in the water for a “warm up” swim but found myself doing a lot of recovery stroke on my back because I needed to calm down and breathe. I trusted that my body would know what to do when the gun went off. I envisioned a happy dog running into the water and embraced the SwimRun rule of “dogging in”.

Thanks to USA Triathlon for the photo!

To my surprise, the heartbeat sound which is used in World Triathlon Series events was played prior to our start. Just in case I wasn’t anxious enough. At the sound of the gun, my body knew what to do. Thanks, body! I ran like an excited dog into the water and found myself at the front of the group going stroke to stroke with the eventual leader out of the water.

It was going great…until it wasn’t. Halfway through the swim, my fight or flight instinct ran out. I was now entering survival mode. I turned over onto my back a couple of times to catch my breath and as the majority of the field passed me I began to wonder whether I would be able to continue the race. I attempted to stand on the beach and wobbled my way up the sand, feeling like I had never stood on two feet before. I slowly regained composure as I made my way up the path to transition.

I was still a bit out-of-sorts in T-1, and threw my goggles on the ground. A  referee had to tell me twice to put my goggles in the bin (you get a penalty for leaving equipment outside your bin). I noticed that there were still a few others behind me and decided to take it easy until they caught me on the bike and then try to stay with them. I mounted my bike and pretty soon the girls behind me caught up. Around that time, I noticed that there were an awful lot of barriers and people wandering through the middle of the course, so I yelled at them to move! Then, I realized that we were no longer actually on the course. Thankfully, we found our way back after losing a couple of minutes to our detour. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized it was me who made the wrong turn and unfortunately for the ladies behind me, they followed me–so sorry!

The rest of the bike was okay. I began to feel strong again and was thankful to still be moving forward. Off the bike I locked into a comfortably hard pace and made it to the finish line in one piece, happy to be done but disappointed in my haphazard swim execution which had an unfortunate impact on the rest of my day.

That evening, Brice and I went out celebrate his birthday. He chose a zombie-themed burger and shake joint where we had a good time consuming large amounts of saturated fats and empty carbs.

The next few days were spent extracting some lessons from my less-than-ideal performance. I made a new friend on our flight who happened to be a psychotherapist. He helped me sort out my feelings about the race and even gave me some insight based on his own observations. He suggested that I might have placed a little too much weight on my performance, and on the triathlon part of my life in general. He mentioned a sort of “importance range” where our passions should be. A little too far to either side of that range, and we get off balance. We lose sight of who we really are and what our ultimate focus is. For me, that is being a child of God and following after Him wholeheartedly. My new friend and I shared this goal, and we talked at length about life– about how our passions, relationships, stuff, talents, etc can be such blessings* to ourselves and to others, but those same good things can become idols which distract and harm us. This conversation has stuck with me, and I have been asking myself more frequently what is really the greatest desire of my heart. Is it to be great at doing something (i.e. Triathlon)? To be liked by people? To be perceived as “good” or “nice” or “pretty” or “fit” or “strong” or “religious” or “successful” or “____”? If the answer is yes to one or more of these–which it often is–I need to redirect my gaze and put the “idol” in its rightful place: important, but not too important.

*About that word: blessing, I have been thinking about what it really means. It gets thrown around a lot lately, which is fine. But, I think we tend to look at a blessing as something like winning, or getting presents, or accomplishing a goal, or having things go our way, or not getting hurt, sick, etc…When I hear the word “blessing” it is a reminder to me that God can make everything work for our good, no matter how bad it seems (Rom. 8:28). He can make a blessing out of a curse (Deut. 23:5). So, whether I win or lose, it can be considered a “blessing” depending on how I look at it.

In other news: Brice and I gambled for the first time during our layover in Vegas. There goes $5 and all my race winnings (oh, wait…).

Up next for me: IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Cruz & Austin!

Food for thought: There will always be a reason why you can’t. There will probably be lots of them: You aren’t genetically gifted or talented. You don’t have money for fancy equipment. You have asthma. You have an abnormality that limits you. You started later in life. You aren’t strong enough. You have poor flexibility. You keep getting injured. You are busy. You are tired. Your friends don’t think you can…Instead of focusing on why you can’t, Find the reason(s) why you can. 

Meet the Athlete: Lori

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When I think of friend and fellow athlete Lori Sharp, I picture one of my favorite childhood princesses, Ariel (The Little Mermaid). Both have beautiful red hair, a knack for singing, and can move through the water with grace and pure joy. I also envision an authentically happy and confident woman who is always ready to embrace a challenge. Lori is a powerful influence in our local endurance athlete community. She spreads positivity and encouragement during training sessions, in her work environments, and even in the midst of grueling competition. This interview offers a small glimpse of her athletic background and motivation. You can find out more about Lori’s latest adventures here.

Current town of residence: Oxnard CA

Hometown/place of birth: Richmond Virginia
Day job: I’m a sales associate at Mile 26 and REI, and I also teach backpacking/hiking/outdoor fitness classes at REI.
Dream job: Getting paid to travel
Favorite sports or hobbies: Running, Biking, and Olympic Weightlifting. I also enjoy traveling and backpacking

How did you become an endurance athlete?
Ironically, when Josh (husband) and I lived in Hawaii we just happened to be in Kona the day of the Ironman World Champs. We were on Ali’i drive getting shaved Ice and stumbled upon the bike/run transition. We were just in shock . What is going on?! These people are doing what?! It was awesome. I think I sat there for an hour not realizing what we were actually watching. Silly right?

Little by little we’ve transitioned to from strict runners to triathletes. My first sprint triathlon was at an all women’s event while we were living in North Carolina. The swim was in a pool and afterwards I hopped on my huge mountain bike . When we moved to Oxnard from Los Angeles a friend gave us the name of a local triathlete, Adam. Josh teamed up with him pretty quickly. He introduced us to local duathlons, a track group, and swim class. Being around all these amazing athletes helps me enjoy the sport so much.

Favorite endurance athletic accomplishment: Augusta Ironman 70.3 . Having just moved from Hawaii, we were flying solo at our first 70.3 in Augusta,GA. We had no family with us and knew NO ONE at the event. I even second-guessed myself being there. I’m a runner, not a triathlete! Josh and I had a running group and small triathlon group we trained with in Hawaii but did most of our training with each other. When his wave was about to start lining up I had a small panic attack. He gave me my pre-race kiss and he was gone; I was ALONE, and I would be for the next 6+ hours. I finished well before all the time cutoffs and had a real fun time!  I had completed the longest and biggest race of my life (at that time) by my own strength. I was hooked and knew I wanted to keep doing triathlons.

Hardest endurance event you’ve ever completed: I think the Crossfit Open 17.1 workout this year was one of the hardest. It was a 20-minute long workout combining dumbbell snatches and burpees. You had a 35 lb dumbbell that you snatched over your head a certain amount of times, and then  you had to jump on and over a 20 inch box in between doing burpees. The dumbells started with a set of 10, then 20, 30, 40, ending with 50. In between each set you had to do 15 burpees. I had a minute and fifteen seconds before time was up with 15 box over burpees left. I was exhausted but I wanted that time. So I sprinted through the box jumps and burpees and I finished with 1 second left. I was hurting and almost blacked out but I ended up being the #1 female in my gym for that workout–couldn’t have been happier.

Most memorable endurance training and/or race moment: Even though it just happened, I don’t think I’ll ever forget this weekend (Mountains to Beach Marathon, 5/29/17). I’ve never felt as good as I did during miles 15-18. I was just waiting for my race to go south, the slow down, the race leg cramps–and it never did. I mean, I hit the “omg I just want to walk” moment around mile 22, but I knew what I had on the line. You won’t have to run another marathon until Boston if you just make it through these next 4 miles, I told myself. That was enough motivation for me. I flew down Sanjon Rd looking at my watch and almost crying. If just kept my pace I was going to finish more than 5 minutes under my qualifying time. Before the race I was just hoping to get a qualifying time. Instead, I did better than I thought possible.

Current competition goals: Qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon and finishing my first full Ironman.

Why do you want to accomplish these goals? The Ironman is another “unicorn” for me–a mythical race that seems just outside my reach or comprehension. As I keep catching my unicorns, I can’t help but relish in the fact that I can ACTUALLY BE an athlete. I still have a hard time seeing myself as one. Having the resume of Boston Marathon and an Ironman will help solidify that. Plus, I love racing, I’m sure you didn’t know that. 😉

Competition mantra: Courage to Start, Strength to Endure, Resolve to Finish

Pre-race ritual or superstition: I like to paint my nails the color of the race. It’s just something girly and fun I enjoy.

Training tips: If you’re attempting a new race distance or event, make it a fun one or do it with friends.

Training/racing pet peeve: Racers who only care about themselves. They move your stuff, cut you off, take 2 and 3 cups of water in a row at an aid station, etc.

Post-race treats: Pizza, chocolate frosted cake/cupcakes, and doughnuts.

Ideal training “camp” location: ANYWHERE warm. I do better in heat than in cold.

“Pump up” jam of choice: I start every race with the song “Geronimo“. It’s a fun song and it’s one of those iconic things you say when you jump into water. Like “here I go!”. I think of that as I run past the beginning of every race start line.

What motivates you to keep training and competing? Being born with multiple birth defects, the ambition set for me was just to be healthy, not “anything you want”. So, I held myself back thinking “I’m too small, too weak, too fragile, too slow”. I have problems with my own abilities. That’s why I keep racing. I want to prove to others and mostly myself that I’m a strong athlete. Every time I cross that finish line or get through a rough workout, I feel like a champion. Also, everyone I train with. I have some amazing athlete friends and I love hearing about their achievements and motivational stories.

What motivates you to keep going when it gets tough? Music is a big passion of mine. When I get frustrated I start singing either out loud or in my head (especially during triathlons when I don’t have music).

Something you’ve learned about yourself through endurance athletics: Regardless of my past, current condition, and perceived mindset, I can make myself into the best version of me if I just try.

Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: Pain is only temporary, while the feeling of an achievement lasts a lifetime.

Athlete hero (and why): Chrissie Wellington. She set the stage for women in the triathlon world while being extremely humble and down to earth . I love that, like me, she’s a clumsy, self-proclaimed Muppet. *Insert image of Kermit the frog flailing his arms every where while running*

Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes:

Some days will be easy, some days will be hard, and some day you’ll just want to quit. Just remember, you are creating the best version of yourself. Celebrate the good days and be gentle to yourself on the bad. Creation takes passion, patience, and perseverance.

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Whole, non-processed, colorful, and healthy food.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Being able to achieve your athletic goals in a healthy manner.

Pick one:
Swim, bike, or run? Run
Open water or pool? Hawaiian ocean bays; in California? POOL
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Watch on your left wrist or right? Left
Morning or evening workout? Morning
Hat, visor or headband? Visor
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap; my hair gets tangled in my mouth without one
Cheerios or Wheaties? Honey Nut Cheerios
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Coffee
Crocs or Birkenstocks? OOFOS 😉

If you could swap out one triathlon discipline (swim/bike/run) for another (anything!), what would you swap out and what would you add in its place, and why? Umm…how about Horse Ride/Run/Horse Ride.. that would be amazing!

Any other fun facts about you: It wasn’t until 2011 that I started running, or participated in any regular athletic activity. It’s been a long, hard road but I’m finally learning to love it. Everyone I workout with is amazing and a great inspiration.

Thanks, Lori!