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Triathlon

Update and Reflections

By | Race Reports, Triathlon | 4 Comments

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

By | Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | No Comments

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!

Meet the Athlete: Dean

By | Fitness, Fuel, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | One Comment

If at first Dean Hansen seems a bit intimidating, wait a few seconds for the punchline and characteristic smile. Even at 6 a.m. swim practices, I can count on Dean to respond with a sarcastic or witty comment. He is mentally tough in workouts and never misses an opportunity to encourage his lane mates. Thanks for taking the time to share some of your background with your ADoor-ing fans, Dean!

City of Residence: Ventura
Place of birth: Whittier
Day job: I own a small construction business called A Door Co. (Custom Garage Doors)
Dream job: Orthopedic Surgeon
Favorite hobbies: Trail Running and Triathlon

How did you become an endurance athlete? I became an endurance athlete to improve my health after many years away from sports. I also needed to drop 50 pounds. Triathlon started when the friends I ran track workouts with kept bugging me to do a tri. After a year of verbal abuse and hearing “you are made for this sport,” I bought a bike and took swimming lessons. Sure glad I moved to tris.

Favorite endurance athletic accomplishment: The first time I qualified for Boston Marathon was my favorite. The last five miles of the race I knew I had it! It was a very emotional end to the race.

Hardest endurance race you’ve ever completed: My first marathon in L.A. in pouring rain and frigid temperatures.

Most memorable endurance race moment: It has to be my first I M 70.3 Santa Cruz last year. It was my first long tri. At 10 miles in on the bike another biker hit my bars and sent me over the curb into the gravel and poison oak on the side of the road. My bike and I were a mess! I got up after a bit of time straightened my bars, levers and brakes and got back to it.

Current training/competition goal: My goals for this year are to complete more tris and to get my feet healthy so I can run fast again. I have been battling plantar fasciitis for a very long time.

Training/competition mantra: When there is a hard workout or race I’m going to learn to suffer like faster athletes ahead of me.

Pre-race ritual: There will be flour tortillas eaten on the start line!
Training tips: Hard days need to be real hard and easy days go easy.
Training pet peeve: Training partners that flake out at the last minute.
Post-race/workout treat: Post race there needs to be a beer or two. Post hard workout or ride, a cold muscle milk!
Ideal training “camp” location: I would love to have a training camp at Hume Lake, CA. Beautiful area and high altitude.

What motivates you to keep training and competing? My motivation comes from within. The thought of not being able to give 100 percent at my next race. Also not getting out of shape again.

What motivates you to keep going when it gets tough? When I am suffering I try to look around at others in the event and realize that I am truly blessed to have the physical skills I have. There is always someone out there with less abilities than I have and they keep going. The para athletes have reason to complain, I don’t… they are an inspiration for sure.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through endurance athletics: I have learned that I can accomplish what seems to be an impossible goal if I put my mind and body through the training. I never thought I could swim a mile or more in the ocean and with training now I can, well… that is subjective! Thanks Britt!

Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: “Suck it up” and put in the work. My wife Debbie always encourages me when I’m down. She always picks up my spirits when I’m going through “another” injury.

Athlete hero: Everyone that gets off the couch and puts in the work, without cheating.

Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes: Get out there and have fun! We only have so many days on earth and that number is getting smaller everyday. You can accomplish your goals if you put in the work.

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Fuel is what gets me to my athletic goals. Junk in, junk out.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Fit is being able to give 100 percent on race day and knowing that it will get me to my goals.

Pick one:
Swim, bike, or run? Run
Open water or pool? Open water
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Cheese
Watch on your left wrist or right? Left
Morning or evening workout? Come on, we are triathletes–both!
Hat, visor or headband? Visor
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap, to cover up the gray
Cheerios or Wheaties? Wheaties
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate
Crocs or Birkenstocks? Birkenstocks

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? I love the swim, bike, run. Maybe bike, swim, bike. Being a broken down runner, less running would be beneficial.

Oceanside 70.3

By | Race Reports, Triathlon | 2 Comments

First off, thanks God for a safe race with no med tent, no crashes, and no penalties! This was the first real positive long course race experience for me since my first 70.3 in 2010, and gave me the motivation to try it again sometime. Prior to this past weekend, my long course racing experience consisted of the following:

  • 2010 Lake Stevens 70.3: 5 hours even. Pretty solid race. Felt strong and “in the zone” the whole way. I felt I raced beyond where I “should have been” according to my preparation.
  • 2011 Wildflower Long Course: 5 hours, 40 minutes. Something went horribly wrong here. I raced okay on the swim and bike, and survived the brutal run course, but didn’t realize how deep of a hole I had dug myself into until I still couldn’t eat or drink (or move) an hour after the race. I was carried to the med tent and given 3L of IV fluid. I finally got up (with my mom’s help) and squeezed a few drops (they wouldn’t let me leave the medical tent until I could pee!). My mom helped me catch the shuttle back to our campsite, where I laid miserably nauseous and half-awake until the next day.
  • 2011 Long Course World Champs: DNF. I was determined to get it right this time. The swim was cancelled due to cool temps, so we started single file onto the cold bike course. I thought I had kept my pace conservative, but somewhere around mile 50 of the 74.5 mile course, I realized that something was off again. I think it must have had to do with my pacing. I was bonking. I stopped at an aid station to refuel and rest a bit, then rolled through the rest of the course while hundreds of athletes zipped by me. I took my time in transition, and decided to start the run course and see what happened. I was running very slowly just hoping that things were going to turn around. It was an 18-mile course with two loops of a double out-and-back, so I got to see my parents on the course a couple of times. Once I realized that things were not turning around, and that I would probably need to walk the majority of the course, I found my parents and told them that I did not want to finish. I didn’t want to end up sick and in the med tent again. I was very sad. This was my first DNF ever.
  • 2012 Wildflower Long Course: 6 hours, 11 minutes. I was SO determined to race smart and nail my  pacing/nutrition/hydration. I somehow did not do that. I finished the race but had to walk/shuffle a good deal of the run course to avoid the same health outcome as the year before.

…After 2012, I stepped away from long course racing to focus on gaining some lost speed and figuring out my body. I completed a graduate degree in nutrition, and soaked up as much knowledge and experience as I could with regard to training and sports nutrition. I sought help from my collegiate triathlon coach, Coach Gareth, and we embarked on a long journey of discovering my triathlon potential. We are still on this journey today, more than 4 years later.

I was a touch nervous going into Oceanside 70.3 knowing it had been 7 years since I had executed a solid race at this distance. I told myself that this was a brand new beginning. I tried to forget about all of the negative experiences and give myself a fresh start, a do-over. Here’s the lowdown on my race at 70.3 Oceanside, 2017:

Pre race: I felt strong and fresh leading into the race–thanks Coach G! I did a better job of keeping my mind calm and not getting too amped in the days leading up. I learned from my N’awlins experience that getting my adrenaline rushing for a few days straight up to the race is actually exhausting and leaves my nervous system drained for the race itself.

Brice and I traveled to O-side on Friday and got caught in some bad L.A. traffic…who’d have thought? I made it to the pro athlete briefing just in time. It was neat sitting next to Heather Jackson, Holly Lawrence, and the other really, really, ridiculously speedy people.

After the meeting, Brice and I ate at a cool brewery in San Marcos. They even had a “Triathelete” Pizza, so I obliged.

After dinner, we stopped at a Target *because Brice forgot his toothbrush*. This meant that I was *forced to pick up some Talenti cookie dough gelato for dessert*! Geez, Brice. Our final destination for the evening was at our Homestay in San Marcos. We were very fortunate to land an AMAZING homestay host family with beautiful, cozy, accommodations. They also had the best little wire fox terrier named “Chesty”. He was just as ferocious as a cute fluffy puppy can be, and equally sweet.

Race Morning:

I woke up and went down stairs, where Chesty greeted me with a fierce growl (until he realized who I was and again became adorably playful). I also had the fortune of hearing the family’s chinchilla chirping. I thought it was an alarm at first! Ha!

I went about my usual morning routine, made coffee with my handy Aeropress and ate a TJ’s Force Primeval Bar toasted with peanut butter and jam. Nom. I grabbed my bottles for the race, and we hit the road. We arrived to find that our parking spot was in a primo location. Score! Making my way into transition was a bit hectic. I wasn’t prepared for the hugeness of this race-3k+ athletes, plus volunteers and spectators– so many people!

After preparing my transition area, I headed to the “professional porta potties”. Holly Lawrence and Meredith Kessler were standing behind me for about 10 minutes during the wait, and I got to hear them talking about random stuff. It was comforting because they sounded like normal people. Even the best athletes in the world have to poop.

The Swim:

After the gun went off, my first thought was “I forgot to start my watch!” so I opted to wait and get my times starting with the bike leg.

Pretty soon into the swim I found myself swimming with Heather Jackson. I was happy to have someone to pace with. About 500 or so yards in, I didn’t see Heather anymore, but as I rounded the first left-turn buoy at the far end of the harbor I saw a line of girls at my feet. I kept my pace to the next turn, a sharp left back toward the swim start/exit ramp. This is where things got foggy (literally). I couldn’t see a thing because the sunrise was blinding me and I had cleverly decided on my clear, untinted, goggles. I had been warned about the sun coming up but shrugged it off, thinking it would be no big deal–wrong! I stopped abruptly (sorry, ladies behind me) to try and find out where I was. I sat in behind a couple of women (including Heather) and we arrived at the swim finish in just under 29 minutes. I felt like the swim had passed by pretty quickly, which is not my usual feeling–so that was good. I was ready to test my fitness on land.

Starting my watch. Thanks for the pics, June!

The Bike:

After a tour of the very long transition area, we cruised onto a bike path and eventually into the hills of Camp Pendleton. The course was one big loop. I like that because it doesn’t feel as monotonous as some of the multi-loop short course races. I was expecting some hills because I had heard about them from friends who’d race Oceanside in the past, but I was not expecting such a steep gradient on the first climb. Okay friends, I believe you now. This hill was not joking around. My focus on the course was to fuel and hydrate well and to keep my power output under control. I think I did a pretty good job with those things. I consumed a fig bar within the first mile, a nut butter-filled Clif bar around the halfway point, 2 bottles of Skratch, and a large Gatorade Endurance (course support). I think that my fueling/hydration plan worked out pretty well–it left me feeling focused and without stomach sloshing on the run.

Acknowledging Brice, who was chanting his usual “THAT’S MY WIFE!!!!”.

I don’t have much else to say about the bike course, except that I heard my friend Savannah cheering for me at least 3 times. She was also racing, and feeling really good apparently 😉 She ended up having an awesome debut 70.3 race and qualifying for 70.3 Worlds!! Woot!

In T2, I decided to spray on some sunscreen and put on socks (I don’t usually race in socks). I am glad I did those things, because I ended up with neither a sunburn nor the gnarly blisters I have had in past races. I did end up with one blister on the bottom of my foot, but it didn’t really start talking to me until the last 3 miles of the run– not too shabby.

The Run:

I felt really good at the start of the run. I came through the first mile in 6:18, but did not feel like I was running that fast. My plan had been to start out closer to 7:30 pace (assuming my legs would be feeling like Jell-O) and gradually cut that to sub-7:00 pace. My gut said “You should slow down. You feel good now, but you will pay for this later. You can’t maintain this for 13 miles.” But, the pace felt smooth–almost effortless– in the moment, and I wanted to see how long I could keep it up. I thought “but, what if I can maintain it? What if I am having a breakthrough run right now? I want to see what I can do!”

So, I held about 6:20-6:30 pace for around 3 miles. Then, I noticed that my legs were not moving quite so fast. I stopped looking at my watch. I didn’t want to let my slowing splits discourage me. I decided to focus on trying to run steady.

Around mile 6 or 7 is where I started to really need the coping mechanisms that I often rely on when things get tough: sipping Coke and splashing cold water in my face; singing up-beat songs in my head; meditating on my current favorite word: “Fearless”; focusing on keeping my shoulders relaxed, elbows pumping, and legs turning over; remembering all of the hard training sessions I’ve completed.

At mile 10-or-so is where I was questioning why I had run so fast at the beginning. Would I have felt so sore and awful if I had just paced it more evenly? My focus became increasingly narrow: Just get to the finish line!

Post-race Reflections:

  • It took a while for me to feel as strong and healthy as I had in 2010, but I chose to believe that it would happen…and it did!
  • Triathlon is one sport, not three. It is a game where you have so many pennies in your pocket at the starting line, and you have to figure out where to spend those pennies to put together your best possible race. Don’t spend them all too soon, or you else will end up overcooked too early in the game. Don’t arrive at the finish with leftover pennies or else you will have not raced your best race on the day. You want to spend your last penny right before/at the finish line, feeling like you gave everything you had and played a smart hand.
  • The challenge of long course racing is in finding your “sweet spot” where you can push just hard enough on the bike to have a fast bike split but not hard enough that you mess up your run too much. That’s where I see room for me to improve for future long course races. I would like to get a little closer to finding my limits while still erring on the side of going “too easy” on the bike.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you:

  • To all of the friends and family who have encouraged me (at home and on the course): Brice, Mom & Dad, Tiff, the Olivers, Buenaventura Tri Squad, Lisa, John, June, Greg, Rebecca, Keith, Danny, Betsy, Steve, the list goes on.
  • To my brilliant coach, Gareth Thomas. As I’ve demonstrated in my prior attempts to coach myself through long course race preparations, even coaches need coaches. While I enjoy coaching other athletes, it’s nice to have someone else that I trust to look after my own training.
  • To my favorite chiropractor, Dr. Romeo. Thanks for helping me through all of the aches and damage that comes with training and racing. You’ve helped me to recovery quicker, train consistently, and show up ready to race.
  • To the best local bike shop, Metal Mountain Cycling, for taking care of my bike and keeping it looking tops.
  • To my VC Swim training buddies and coaches, Coach Josh and my M26 Tribe buddies, Skratch Labs, and Verve Cycling.
  • To the Ironman peeps who provided an awesome experience in Oceanside, and to the awesomest homestay hosts we could have asked for–the Hatalas.

Bonus Content:

Before this race, I considered buying another bulky bag to fit my spare tube and tire levers under my seat. But, rather than spend extra money for something to add weight and size to my bike, I decided to wrap some electrical tape around the items under my seat and call it good. Brice used his engineering skills to rig this up for me and keep the stuff from falling off my bike. It worked out great! I highly recommend it for anyone who is riding a road bike with limited storage space and/or wearing a kit that lacks pockets to stash stuff in. I think I’ll even keep this setup for my training rides so I can finally use my bento box (on the top tube of the frame) for snacks!

Brice’s super aero spare tube rig