Monday, February 9, 2015

Pucòn 70.3

Having never been to South America, when Luke asked if I wanted to race Pucòn 70.3 4 weeks after Ironman Western Australia, I obviously said, "YES!". Pucòn has been on my race bucket list after watching the adventures and hearing rave reviews from Linsey Corbin & Ben Hoffman. The tricky bit is that a mid-january race can be difficult to get in shape for for us northern hemispherites. Not to be deterred, though, I knew that if I put in a couple of strong weeks of training in January, my Iron-fitness would carry me through and I'd hopefully make a couple of fitness deposits in the bank for 2015.
Getting to Pucòn, Chile is quite the haul, but if it goes smoothly (as our travel did), it's not so bad. I think we were in the 24-hr door to door ballpark. We flew from San Diego -> Houston ->Santiago -> Temuco, Chile. From Temuco, Pucòn is about a 90 minute drive along the beautiful Chilean countryside. Wynne did great and we stamped her passport in her 5th continent!
Instead of the typical effusive paragraphs of race rundown, I'll a top 10 things to know about a triathlete's trip to Pucòn 70.3 (and you'll get the idea of my race along the way... tricky, eh?)

1) The snowcapped Villarica Volcano flanks the town of Pucòn and makes for some serious "take your breath away" backdrops for your race photos. You can go hike this volcano (& slide down on a sled!) but we weren't able to- I don't think Wynne is ready for ice picks, crampons, and helmets in case of lava flow).
We admired the volcano from the comfortd of Pucòn village
2) South Americans LOVE triathlon. The race energy was INSANE all week and it felt much more like a full Ironman event where the pre-race dinner and festivities were all top-notch and very well attended. The Chileans were incredibly enthusiastic spectators and especially encouraging of females.. It was awesome! Luke was like a celebrity there and he signed more autographs than in Kona.
3) If you like meat, proceed directly to Chile! The town of Pucòn is incredibly cute and reminds me of a ski village, but its not a ski village. Throughout the walking streets, there are dozens of traditional Chilean restaurants with outdoor grills (Churrascarias) where they cook amazing meats to order. We definitely got our iron stores nice and high pre-race!


4) The swim takes place in Lago Villarico which is brisk, but not freezing. Definitely wetsuit legal. The swim course is awesome and the lake was calm for our race morning. I had a less than stellar swim in the beautiful Lago Villarica (one of those swims where I assumed it must have been long until I saw everyone else's swim times and realized it, well, wasn't)
Katya & I doing run recon pre-race. The swim is in that cove in Lago Villarica
5) The bike course isn't super technical or hilly, but you have very long shallow gradients (almost false-flat-like) to work with. I like these kinds of "climbs" because you can really get into a groove with your power. (I had possibly my best-ever bike split- 4th fastest female and "just" 3-4 minutes off the top bike splits which is a huge improvement for me). I think my improvement is a combination of a few things... solid coaching by Luke, my new Scott Plasma 5 w/ ENVE 6.7s, and finally a few really consistent months of training. My bike performance at Pucòn was almost good enough to make me forget my horrendous swim.
No pics of me on the bike, so you get one of Luke. Picture this as a female, but I was probably more aero ;)
6) The run course is HILLY. There are 4 steep (but not too long) hills on each loop of the 3-lap run course, so you do the math. I came off the bike in 6th, ran into 5th, ran off course (and back into 6th) and eventually back into 5th. I didn't feel great on the run, but I got it done and in the end was happy with my day. I got to see Luke a few times on the out-n-back loops. I could tell he was suffering, but he pulled home with a solid 4th.
On the run in my new Endura race kit. Photo: Wagner Araujo
Luke gettin' up the hills on the run... 
my fave pic- Luke & I crossing paths on the run!
7) When in Chile, drink the local specialty- Pisco Sours! (I had one, but honestly it wasn't my favorite...tastes a bit like a margarita with no ice).
Toasting w/ friends post-race: Mojitos & Pisco Sours
8) The village of Pucòn is very tourist -friendly, though most people do not speak English! Brushing up on your Spanish is a must, especially if you're a picky eater (I'm not, so I got plenty of surprises). I loved seeing a thriving tourism community that was not primarily fueled by US or European tourists. The Chileans and other South Americans vacation here. I loved this as, in contrast, when in Mexico, you feel as though there are hardly any Mexican tourists and the Americans (& our culture) take over much more, making the experience feel a bit less authentic
Wynne loved Pucòn and Chileans LOVE babies. It was so welcoming!
9) Also on the tourist-friendly note, Pucòn is a great walking town. No need to have a rental car unless you're looking to explore beyond the town (which you should if you stay a bit longer.. The volcano treks and hot springs look incredible but we didn't have time)

10) Just put it on your bucket list!

Thank you to my amazing sponsors and to the race organization for making Pucòn 70.3 possible.. And now, it's almost time for our next adventure... back to Australia in 6 days!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Never too late....Thailand & Challenge Phuket

The original purpose of this blog was for me. Just for me. A chronicle of healing from a running injury and starting to train for triathlons. My blog has changed from just for me, to a little bit for the people who I know read (this could be "read" in past or present tense ;) as well as sponsors.
But no matter what, all along, it's been about documenting my journeys and the blog has taken me from age 27 to nearly 35. I don't think I've missed documenting a trip or race in some fashion (not always a race report) and I'm not about to start now.
So, even though Pucòn 70.3 is SOOOOO last month and our trip to Thailand was SOOOOOOO last year, I wanted to throw up a couple thoughts and memories. For me. (Pucòn coming in the next couple days, but today, THAILAND!)

So, back in November, we went to Thailand for Luke to race Challenge Phuket (Can you say bucket list race?). We flew San Diego to San Francisco to Hong Kong. We stayed overnight at the Hong Kong airport and flew to Phuket, Thailand the next morning. Not the easiest trip with a six month old, but there are worse things. We made it work. Including an airport-hotel workout with Wynne. We were  those crazy people.

We finally arrived in Laguna Phuket (the resort area) and all I can say is that place is dreamy! Our little family is happy when we're in the hot and steamy tropics and Phuket did not disappoint. We stayed at The Banyon Tree resort thanks to the resort and the race organization and it was most definitely the most unreal and luxe place I have ever stayed. We had an amazing villa with our own private pool and were treated to the world's most unreal buffet every day (can you say MANGO STICKY RICE?). The grounds also have a 40 meter lap pool- perfect for training, and easy access to the bike and run courses for the race where I did my training.
pool just for us! 
I was secretly cursing my decision to race Ironman Western Australia the following week because all I wanted to do was lounge by the pool, drink fresh young coconuts, eat green curry, and relax. Truth be told, I gained a few pounds that week, but Luke actually thought it ended up being a good thing as the combination of breastfeeding Wynne + heavy Ironman training lead to skinny Beth. I thought I was at a good race weight (we always think we're never too skinny, right?), but alas, never got to test it out at super skinny raceweight (as after gaining a few I ended up racing at my previous ideal race weight which for me is about 114/115lbs).

Wynne met her first elephant- Candy! 

Wynne got plenty of life advice from the wise Belinda Granger

She also learned how to chop fresh coconuts

Luke demonstrates motor-pacing Thai Style

Luke's race at Challenge Phuket (half-ironman distance) went pretty well considering the training he had done after Kona (not very much). He had a good swim and the strongest bike, but was unable to drop a couple of fast runners and came in 3rd in the end. If you're wondering about the course- the swim is a warm ocean swim followed by a quick beach run into a freshwater pond. The bike is HILLY and TECHNICAL. I rode it in my training rides and was thankful to not wipe out around some of the steep descending corners. The run is pretty flat but STINKING HOT. The race of attrition is fun to watch and Challenge Phuket is definitely a race that is fun for the competitors as well as the spectators who get to watch the spectacle and experience Thailand. If someone invites you to Thailand, all I can say is GO! I think this is, thus far, my favorite place to visit in the world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015- New Directions

I was waiting for photos. That’s my excuse. In the space between old sponsors and new ones and past years and present, it’s hard to define a perfect day (or way) to say that you’ve moved on in the sponsorship world. Often, there is the blank space of opportunity as the new year unfolds, with some winter hibernation time to write and think. Usually, races are only Sharpied in on the Men of Triathlon calendar later in Spring, giving ample time to lay out the new directions and give thanks for past support. 

But when you race on January 11th, this space disappears! All of a sudden, (if you’re lucky and your sponsors are ridiculously on top of it) I'm racing on a new bike and new wheels in a brand new race kit and never explained a switch, thanked my old sponsors, or properly conveyed my excitement about the new beginnings. 
I told you, I was waiting for photos. I wanted to have that perfect photo where I was in all of my new gear, cruising by some amazing backdrop looking happy and super aero on my bike etcetera etcetera. But there hasn’t been time for that yet. And then I raced! And then it was pretty obvious that things had changed in my corner, so without further ado..

For 2015 and beyond, Luke & I really wanted to team up and streamline our sponsorships. We love being partners to each other both in training and as parents, and it really seemed to make the most sense for us (simplification!) but also, the people we work with, to represent companies together. We think that by branding ourselves together, we can help the companies we work with even more…Let’s be honest, having won a bunch of Ironmans, Luke is the powerhouse of this relationship. He’s that guy that sells Scott bikes because he rides them faster than most anyone else. That might not be me just yet (though I was in the top tier of the bike splits in Pucòn last weekend for the first time ever!), but in a small way, I can complement Luke by continuing to reach out and hopefully at some point or another, maybe inspire girls, women, and now moms in a way that Luke alone cannot. So, we have paired up our major sponsors moving forward. 

(This is where I’d love to insert a really cool photo of Luke & I in our new kits with our new matchy matchy bikes but I don’t have one yet..) 

Luke & I have a new title sponsor, Endura, a cycling apparel company out of the UK that’s a leader in aerodynamic textiles (i.e. we will have very very fast suits). Endura is also breaking into the American market and I’m excited to help them launch into some new demographics in the US.  I'm already loving some women-specific features on the cycling apparel that I’ve never seen before- like these genius bib shorts just for ladies. 
Easy access! 

See that white upside-down “U” piping from the thigh over the butt? That’s actually a zipper for easy access potty stops while riding. No more complete undressing in a gas station bathroom to get bibs off for me! I am super excited also about our custom wear. Aerodynamics genius (or would the word be aerodynamicist?) Simon Smart (The man who makes Luke super fast in the Wind Tunnel w/ Drag2Zero and an engineer of ENVE wheels & the new Scott Plasma 5) has also been working with Endura to make some very innovative aero speedsuit products and I’m so fortunate to be an athlete that gets to put them into use. 
Luke & I crossing paths on a hill at Pucòn 70.3 in our matching Endura speedsuits . Thanks Ivan Figueredo for the pic!

I’m also really excited about working with Endura because I feel like in the world of aerodynamics and cutting edge textile engineering, it’s always the guys who are at the forefront. As women increase our presence (and speed!) in triathlon, I’m excited to show that it’s important for women to go as fast as possible too (and dammit my kit actually looks really good too, so it’s fast AND flattering - a deadly combo I think!) 

Riding into 2015 & beyond, I’m please to announce that I’ll be aboard Scott bicycles. I’ll be racing a Scott Plasma 5, the latest superbike from Scott, that Luke has been riding since last summer. I can’t wait to be a part of the Scott team, as I already look up to the women they sponsor including Jodie Swallow, Annabel Luxford, Alicia Kaye and Leslie Paterson- four athletes I respect and admire. Clearly Scott likes the fiery and feisty women, which makes it a great match for me. I’ll be sharing much more about the Plasma 5 and the other Scotts I’ll get to ride, but first impressions after one race: HOLY S&%T that bike is fast! Everything is integrated and sleek and screams aero. 

Speaking of Aero, we’re working with ENVE wheels and could not be more excited. Again, with Simon Smart behind the wheel technology, everything at ENVE is cutting edge and the wheels are what I consider wheel “couture”. For us, the partnership is very valuable because Luke really wants to be a part of the research & design of the products he works with and he/we have that opportunity at ENVE. Whether it’s testing wheel combos in the wind or giving feedback on design elements, at ENVE we are able to make the connection between athlete and designer and truly have an impact on the future, something we feel is very important. 

Testing out some new gear the day before the race. Vroom Vroom! #bikelove

Our last new sponsor is The Island House, a 30-room boutique hotel in Nassau, Bahamas, set to open in Spring 2015 & we're excited to do some training camps there in the amazing facilities. The Island House is a new venture of longtime endurance sports supporter, Mark Holowesko, and this year he is sponsoring tri

athletes under the hotel title. I feel very lucky to be included as an Island House athlete, as the other athletes TIH is sponsoring are much more “decorated” than I. However, Mark has always been one to support not only the top dogs, but the underdogs too, and I hope this year I can make the Island House proud!

With all the new, there is absolute comfort in the tried and true and I’m happy to be continuing with some companies I don’t think I’d live without. SRAM has supported me since I started racing pro, and I’m happy to continue with the amazing component company, along with Quarq powermeters. I truly love the products, but even more, I love being a part of the SRAM/quarq family. The tech support at big races is absolutely incomparable and the people behind the parts make the relationship even more special. I’m also continuing racing with ISM saddles (this is non-negotiable for the last parts! Even if they stopped sponsoring me, I’d still my ISM), and Smith Optics. Locally, I have the longtime support of businesses & friends including by bike shop Nytro Multisport, my ART man Dan Selstad, and Beaker Concepts. Back this year, I’ll be swim training in Betty Designs swimwear- because every girl needs a good reason to hop in the pool . Lastly, my good friend, Jessica Cerra, started a bar company - Harmony Bar- and I’m getting in on this one at the ground floor. They're made from real food and are gluten free (two flavors are also vegan/dairy free). The bars are that good that they don’t taste like bars, but unfortunately this means the supply in our house gets depleted much faster than energy bars that would be purely used as “fuel”… 

Before I take off, a THANK YOU. First and foremost to Zoot, my very first sponsor and a relationship that began almost 8 years ago when I wore my first pair of Zoot shoes and got my first Zoot wetsuit An amazing, local California company that I grew up with in the triathlon world. THANK YOU. Although no longer my apparel sponsor, I will continue to race in Zoot shoes and wetsuits because I love them, so that’s not changing and they’ve offered to continue to support me in that, a gesture which means a lot. Thank you also to Cannondale bicycles for helping me start my professional career on great bikes. It was great to join the Cannondale team when women’s marketing was a big initiative and I really felt I was able to make an impact in helping to make cycling -for fitness or competition- more accessible for women. Along with Cannondale, I was lucky to ride Zipp wheels for 3 years and feel so lucky to have been supported by the Zipp products, and even moreso, the people behind them. Thanks also to Bonk Breaker and MRM nutrition, two Southern California companies that I’ll always love. 

So, if you’ve gotten this far, I owe you a Harmony Bar because you are likely bonking by now… Ask me for one the next time I see you. 

On we go to 2015! 
my team, 2015!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ironman Western Australia 2014 race report

It would be pretty easy to read all the comments and congratulations on my Ironman Western Australia race and misconstrue that I won the darn thing. In truth, I was 4th- 8 minutes from the win, but on so many levels, it was a win for me. First, I must congratulate the superwomen who actually DID make the podium- New Zeland's Britta Martin who set a new course record (8:56), Germany's Mareen Hufe who rode (in a good way) like a man (9:00), and Australia's own ever-solid Liz Blatchford (9:02).

Two minutes behind Liz, in 9 hours and 4 minutes, I crossed the finish line with a fist pump, a smile, and no regrets.. Ok, a few regrets, especially in that swim, but we will get to that later! All-in-all it was a huge day for me. To put things in perspective, 4th place and a 9:04 was not even (if I'm being honest) on my radar.  I was ranked 16th of 31 female professional starters coming into the race with a 'predicted' finish time of 9:47 or something. My personal "best-case-race" secret goal to "prove everyone wrong and that I still got it" was actually around 9:15 and my primary goal (that I was willing to tell people) was to break 9:30. I had no inklings that I'd post a time that would have won the race outright in 3 of the past 4 years. Just when thoughts of "maybe I should hang it up" and "wouldn't it be nice to spend all day with Wynne instead of on bike rides" crept back into my head throughout my race preparation, this had to go and happen and make me believe again, darn it. So, on I'll go into 2015 believing that I can and will one day win an Ironman and sneak onto some podiums along the way.... But first, to close out 2014- my 2nd & final race report of the year - my race year was short and sweet thanks to Wynne McKenzie's arrival 6 months ago, but I ended up accomplishing more this year than I ever thought possible. Okay, okay...THE RACE!

We arrived in Western Australia on the Tuesday prior to Sunday's race. Monday night, we boarded a red-eye in Thailand (oh yeah, forgot about Thailand...will do a post on that soon!) and woke up in Perth, Australia. True to form, Wynne slept the entire flight like a champ, allowing Luke & I to log a few hours of sleep as well. The drive to Busselton takes about 3 hours from Perth, which passed quickly as I played on my phone and Mr. Driver-man Luke soldiered on to our destination. (Quick aside- we rented a Toyota Rav 4- and if you travel with a baby & all the fixins plus two bikes- it will all fit! Definitely will be our go-to rental of choice.) When we arrived in Busselton, we checked into a lovely little studio at the Sebel hotel and went about bike-building, etc. Wednesday through Saturday, I rolled around the Busselton course with Mr. Driver-man-daddy-day-care following behind me with Wynne and kept the swim & run ticking over.
Rolling through the perfect course

This might be the biggest "hill" on the course

Checking out the swim course from above with Wynne- That's a long way around that pier!
Coach Wynne gave me a good race-week swim set at the local Busselton pool. 
The bike fairy got my Cannondale Slice RS ready to race fast. Zipp disc on for a flat fast ride.. WHOMP WHOMP! 
I must say that planning my big race to coincide with Luke's first true week of off-season was brilliant. He was all about taking care of his girls and all I had to do was focus on the race at hand.

All-in-all, race week could not have gone smoother, and I was perfectly healthy and ready to toe the line. (So often, I come down with a cold during race week and am just incredibly thankful each race-eve that I get to go to bed without a sniffle or issue). I'm glad race week was so spot-on because the week prior, well, not sure it was the best race prep as we were in Thailand for Luke's race at Challenge Phuket. I admit to doing a bit too much sightseeing, eating, drinking, and playing and not quite enough specific training. In hindsight though, maybe the "extended taper" works well for me! I did have an unfortunate crash on my bike in Thailand that I didn't tweet, etc about because I didn't want any excuses out loud in the universe. The right side of my body was a bit banged up, but nothing that really ended up impacting me on race day, just a couple scars to add to the lot that already exist. Ok- back to race week.. Summary: it went well!

I did a few pre race interviews including the Toyota Early Edition presented by First off the Bike (you can see it here

Up at 3:30 for a 5:30am start... yes 5:30 am START! It gets light crazy-early in Australian "summer" and they like to take advantage (btw. as a side note, I asked Luke today, "Everyone here goes to bed late but wakes up so early, when do they sleep?" He answered, "Winter." )
Yeah, so I ate breakfast, which my Driver-man-daddy-day-care-slash-chef cooked for me- Pamela's gluten free pancakes with extra maple syrup and lots of coffee. Also add "scavenger" to the list for Luke's roles as he located an electric skillet for me in Busselton to cook said pancakes as we had a limited "kitchenette" in our studio. Closer to race time I also had a Coconut Cashew Bonk Breaker and a bottle of MRM Hydration Factor.

At the race start, I went for my lucky/standard warm-up jog (26.2 miles isn't long enough, eh?) and put on my Zoot Prophet 2.0 (Another quick aside... this suit has changed wetsuit swimming for me. A huge upgrade in my opinion from the 1st Prophet, it is incredibly comfortable and non-restrictive. It makes me love wetsuit swimming which has traditionally been a nemesis of mine). I did a warm-up swim for about 5 minutes and then we were called out of the water.

Calm & clear - ideal race morning conditions

As we lined up to go, I was sickly nervous as usual. The 30 minutes prior to race time in an Ironman are 30 minutes I'm still working on enjoying. I try my best to channel my anxiety into excitement, but it is very difficult for me. I'm never nervous about completing the race, I'm always just nervous about letting others down or being a failure in other people's eyes.. I dread people looking at their online trackers thinking, "oh dear, shocker of a swim!" or "her bike is hopeless!" or other things along the way. I say this because it's real and hopefully one day, I won't think this way, but in case you think this way as well, just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

Anyway, often once the gun goes off, I shake the nerves and just get into it. I lined up behind Liz Lyles (2013 IMWA winner) because on my best day, I believe I can swim with her and come in a couple minutes under an hour. Clearly, that was not the case last Sunday. With 30 women on the start line, the start was actually incredibly aggressive. I got pummeled and kicked and elbowed and am guilty of doing a bit myself to keep my position. I was smack in the middle and thought I got a good start with a big, fast pack. Unfortunately, a few hundred yards in, the feet I had chosen lost the feet ahead of her and I was too late to close the gap. I did try to swim around, but was about 10 meters off of where we wanted to be when I got to the front of our splintered group. The good news was that there were 6 or 7 girls with me. The bad news was that the 6 or 7 girls I wanted to be with were just ahead of us. I know I'm not the only one in our group who thinks we should have swum a bit faster. I think we are all capable of it, but made some critical errors at some point. Anyway, I led the crew all the way to the turnaround point (which is the end of a VERY long 1.2 mile Jetty). After the turnaround, things got washing-machine-esque and I was having trouble spotting the buoys. I have had some navigational issues in the past and even though I was swimming strong, I couldn't see the buoys and honestly didn't trust myself. I breaststroked for a few meters to signal the girls to come around me and then I hopped on the feet of the new leaders (one of whom was my friend Sarah Piampiano, thanks SP! ). To my right I found Michelle Duffield and to my left was Dimity Lee-Duke, both girls who had been swim companions in IM Malaysia.. I knew that we all wanted to swim with the group ahead, but there is consolation in company and I was happy to work with these girls. At some point I also saw Kristy Hallett who always makes me smile, so that was nice too. Michelle had told me that she had never swum over an hour at Busso, so I assumed we'd squeak in there, right? WRONG! Exiting the water in 1:02, I knew I had work to do. Actually, I had no idea of my swim time, but did judge by the (small) number of bikes remaining that our pack definitely had our work cut out. The good news- I was not alone!!

One of the huge advantages of a large women's field is that throughout the day, there are races within the race. In smaller fields, I am often party-of-one for a 112 mile rolling buffet which is a feeling similar to that of poking your eyes out. Instead, today I had company! The bike course at WA is two, flat, 56-mile loops- a perfect course to pace yourself for a personal best if you ride smart. Right away, Dimity and Sarah P. motored their way towards the front of the race, but I stuck to my own race plan.  I settled into my goal watts (about 10 watts higher than IM Malaysia). I found myself "racing" Michelle and Kristy, and we pushed each other for the first lap. Kristy got away at one point, but Michelle and I continued to work to catch her- love racing wit these girls! At one point, I had to stop and take the sticker off of my Zipp disc (We had placed the sticker to cover the valve opening) because the noise was mind boggling every time I took a pedal stroke and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I lost about 30 seconds. After hopping back on, I rode hard until I caught the girls I had previously been riding with.

The most technical part of the ride are the eleven 180 degree U-turns
The second lap got very crowded as we were passed by a lot of age group men. I was pleased that there were no obvious draft packs, but there was definitely undeniable legal-slash-not quite legal pace lines of dudes. When men passed appropriately, it was easy to keep the 12-meter draft zone. However, often, even if I was what I judged to be exactly 12 meters (without pushing it) from the person in front of me, a man would pass and then slot in between us. This was incredibly frustrating because if I am at 12 meters, (per the rules) no one is supposed to come in between us until I have "opened the gap", they are supposed to keep riding and passing ahead. Unfortunately, so many age group men did this illegal slotting in and I'd be forced to sit up or drop back to avoid a penatly. It got to the point that I finally said (nicely) to a few who tried to slot in, " I'm sitting at 12 meters, please continue passing". Anyway, like it or not, there was a lot of company on the bike, but the girls around me all did a nice job of keep it legal, fast, and fun. I hope and believe that they can say the same of me. By the end of lap 2, I was actually dropping most of the age group men and found a 3rd wind... I motored home the last 40k and ended up passing a few pro women I hadn't seen all day who had ridden out a bit too hard. Into T2, I saw that I had ridden 5 hours on the dot and was pleasantly surprised.. My previous personal best was a 5:18 I believe, so that's a good chunk of time. My official ride time for the 112 miles was 5:00:25

I got to T2 and was happy to see at least 10 red run bags still on their hooks... I'm always a little pleased when I'm not dead last, (ok, that is not the remark of a "champion" but well, it's true). Anyway, I threw on my Zoot Ovwa 2.0s (love love love!), Zoot visor and Garmin and ran out of the change tent. There were SO many (possibly drunk, but very fun!) Aussie spectators cheering me on, I'm sure I had a huge smile to be off my bike and was excited to get the lay of the land and the competition on the run course. After the 1st half mile, I saw Luke (& Wynne!) and he told me I was in 12th  (I had come off the bike in 15th but passed a few in transition/the first kilometer) and told me where the girls were up the road. The 4-loop out-and-back run course is IDEAL for course support and also for spotting your competition.
Not a bad place to run a marathon

Within 10 minutes, I knew that I was within 8-ish minutes of at least 5 girls.. I didn't look at my pace as I was running and just tried to run comfortable until I settled in. If I had to guess, I'd have thought I was running about 7:15 pace. When my watched beeped signaling the first mile, I looked down and saw 6:20 for the mile.. Whoooooooops... Hold your horses, Harriett! I tried to slow down, but my legs didn't want to. I checked my heart rate for the first  time and saw that it had already settled to my special "you can run a whole marathon at this heart rate" number so I decided to just go with it. I ran the first 10k in 40min and 20 seconds, so yeah, coming in hot. BUT, I was not overexerting myself. I knew the pace would drop eventually, but I just needed to keep the "easy" feel. Spoiler: Nothing feels easy at mile 20 of an Ironman marathon. I also know that if I start out around 6:30 mi/miles and creep into low to mid 7-minute pace by the end, it balances out to around a 3-hour marathon. The first half of the run was unreal. I felt invincible and had easily moved into the top 10. After that though, the girls became harder to catch and further strung out. It took me a very long time to catch Sarah Piampiano, Dimity Lee Duke, & Asa Lundstrom. After that, I was in 6th, pretty sure that that's where I'd end up. The next girls ahead were Bree Wee, who was moving really well, and Yvonne Van Vlerken who was not moving as fast, but had a significant chunk of time on me. I don't know exactly how much time because I thought they were too far ahead to catch so I didn't take splits. Luke kept telling me I could catch Bree & Yvonne but I honestly didn't believe him. I just kept running and trying to hold my pace, but I started to feel super nauseous and really depleted/low on calories. I wanted to take in gels but I just couldn't face the gels. The thought of them made me want to vomit. So, I ran the marathon on Gatorade, Coke, and fumes. I was dying for something salty, but in Australia they only have Vegemite on toast as a salty option and that is not in my repertoire. Next time I'll pack some chips or pretzels in special needs in case I'm dying for some relief from the sweet. Anyway, the second half of the marathon was pure, painful work. I felt slow, hot, tired, sick and I just wanted to be done. I think that helped me march on to the finish line. At some point, I caught up to Bree and passed her, but that took a very long time. At the last turnaround (less than 2 miles to finish), I could see Yvonne ahead, but was happy with my 5th place. Already proud of myself, I thought I'd just make it to the finish and that was enough. But slowly, Yvonne was getting bigger in my view and then at some point I knew I had to make a move and pass her. With a little over a mile to go, I passed Yvonne, ran into 4th and knew that's where I would finish the race. At 25 miles, I finally looked at the elapsed time on my Garmin and saw 2:51:30 ...holy crap, if I just run, I will go under 3 hours?!? DONE! The last mile flew by & I crossed the line in 9:04 and couldn't believe I was seeing that number on the clock- except it was 9:07 but I knew that was the pro male time as we started 3 minutes later (my previous best is a 9:38! - but all courses I've done prior rate much higher in difficulty).

I got to hug Luke & Wynne just over the line and barely made it to the chairs before vomiting everywhere... whooooops.. But, that got me a quick ticket to medical and an IV. An hour later, good as new, I went to find my people and celebrate! Sure, it wasn't a win, but it was a bunch of little wins in my book and put the "what-ifs" and "maybes" back in my brain. What if I swam with the pack just ahead? What if I improve by 5 watts or 5 minutes on the bike? when you swim a 1:02 or bike 5:00:25 or come in at 9:04, it's hard not to dance around how to get those numbers just down below the round number zone..

Women's top 6 plus Wynne

Thanks to all who have supported me this year & beyond, especially my sponsors...On to 2015!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching up.....

In the Kona aftermath, I forgot to update my little space of the internet here.

The title of my blog is California Training (I remember wanting to call it California Triathlon or something but I had never done a triathlon and didn't want to be a poser.) Anyway, it's been nice to be back home and actually do a bit of California training between race travels. It was especially nice with Luke's sister Jacque here until yesterday to help us with Wynne, so business as usual was easily accomplished with her help (Thank you, Jacque! xoxox)

sunset on the way to girls night at Bestawan, our favorite hangout

When we got home from Hawaii, I buckled down for a couple big weeks of training (for Ironman Western Australia on Dec. 7th) before we jetted off to the Bahamas for the UWC Bahamas Triathlon.

This is what happens when you ask Dad to watch the baby for 10 minutes on the plane. 
The UWC Triathlon is an amazing race in paradise that is made possible by some amazing people. Race Director Barbara Ann is passionate about triathlon and raising money for scholarships for Bahamian kids. She puts on an amazing event and there is a big focus on not only our pro race, but also the kids clinic and kids tri.
Luke giving some pre-race swim tips at the kids tri clinic

Mark Holowesko sponsors the race and helps take care of the pros, showing us the amazing landscape of the Bahamas and allowing us to experience the magic of his island, Highbourne Cay.
The best way to fly to a tiny island? Sea Plane! Tim Don & Trevor Wuertele help load 'er up
Highbourne Key is so special that this years Ironman Hawaii runner-up (and fellow Zoot athlete), Ben Hoffman, proposed to the lovely Kelsey at their favorite secluded snorkel beach. I'd go more into depth about the amazing boat rides, accommodations, surf & turf by the Highbourne chef, golf cart races, etc but then you'd hate me because it's "oh so hard" to be a professional triathlete and all... Seriously though, its amazing to see pros truly taken care and appreciated for a few days, and the generosity of our Bahamas hosts is not lost on our group, who have seen our fair share of couches and wondering how long we can live on winnings from the last race.

Wynne has some well-deserved "me" time on a deserted beach at Highbourne
The highlight of the Bahamas trip was, of course, the race. I was able to race with a truly world class field, including current World Champion Gwen Jorgensen, winner of the Lifetime Series Alicia Kaye, the one and only long course superstar Heather Wuertele, and other speedsters including Lauren Brandon and Anna Cleaver. In the Olympic Distance race I came 6th (okay, last!), losing most of my time in the water to the fishies that out-swam me by many minutes. Luke came 3rd in the men's field with an equally stellar group lining up... I love to see him mixing it up (and doing well!) across distances. During our week in the Bahamas, I kept up my Ironman training and got in some solid sessions to keep the wheels turning until I got home to log the big miles.
me & Luke

Wynne kept up her 6-pack routine too... No slacking in paradise!

I think I heard (World Champ) Gwen Jorgensen's ovaries bursting every time she held Wynne. Sorry Gwen, Rio 2016 awaits you! 

Back home, I buckled down and here we are... lots of lovely (a little chilly- dipping below 60*) long bike rides, masters swims with my favorite crew at the Encinitas YMCA, and runs along the coast and through the trails. Getting in all my California training before we hit the road.

Ran a 16-mile point to point long run w/ Courtney along here on a crisp fall morning

Henshsaw loop- riding up Mesa Grande with Luke, Jess, & Mike the Bike

A favorite destination stops on our 100+ mile rides to Santa Ysabel
easy jog with Luke on the coast

Last weekend I raced the Silver Strand Half Marathon to see where I'm at and running FINALLY felt "effortless". I raced this one one other time in 2009 (thank you, blog, for being a great historian) and it was my 2nd 13.1 and the first time I broke 1:30 in a half marathon. This past Sunday, I ran 1:22:05 and won the female race. Luke had a solid race as well and came 4th.
Silver Strand Half Marathon finish line

Just one week out from our next trip across the world. First stop, Thailand for Luke to race Challenge Phuket. 2nd stop, Busselton- Ironman Western Australia, here I come!

(gratiuitous baby pic) Wynne is ready for her first trip down under!
 Thank you to all my sponsors and supporters who have helped me return to racing and keep me going... One more race for 2014!