Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Website!

Look who has a NEW website!!! Thanks to super stud athlete and web designer Pedro Gomes for putting together the perfect website for me!!! I love it!!!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

IM TEXAS Race Report! As Texans would say, I'm riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels!!!

I could not asked for anything more from Ironman Texas! It was to be a breakthrough race for me!
With a women's start list including Morrison, Corbin,Goos, Deckers, Lawn,Jacobs,Griesbauer, Stewart all Ironman Champions… and others like Williamson and Ficker and Loeffler and the list goes on.... The inaugural Ironman Texas boasted one of the strongest fields outside of Hawaiii. Intimidating yes, but I was not going to let it phase me. This was going to be my Kona if anything...my chance to compete among the best and see how I ranked up.

The result a personal best 9hr27min finish 8th place in a Championship race! The day turned out with a 1 hour flat swim 3 minutes faster than my previous non wetsuit swim. A 5 hour flat bike split...8 min PR on a harder course and a 3.22 marathon, a 7 min PR on the run in 90 degree heat and high humidity!

So how can I be nothing but thrilled with my result!!!! It was not a perfect race but breakthroughs like this give you a sneak peak into success! It brings you one step closer to your dream!

Here I am at the finish with a BIG smile on my face!

So here is my recap!
As I arrived in Texas and rolled through race week I felt excited but very calm all week. My roommate Maggie Freeman and I both were very busy all week doing I'm not sure what. Apparently from her eyes I was training alot and from my eyes she was getting some much needed R&R from her hardcore police officer job as a sergeant in Manalapan NJ!

All week I was just pumped and ready to roll!!! I arrived Monday and would have been happy to race Tuesday and got things over with. But the week was used to relax and to get a little used to the heat as New Jersey has not had one hot day all year!

Here I am getting ready for a training ride!

This was going to be my 17 or 18th Ironman (I've lost track!). So you would think I would have this down to a science by now! But however many I do, I still get caught up in the magnitude of the upcoming event and the craziness of the day! Even when the locals would ask, " Now how far y'all going!" No matter how many times I say the 2.4 mile swim,112 mile bike and the 26 mile run...I still battle to comprehend the distance! There is no way around it....If you have not put the training in you are going to suffer....and even if you are as fit as you can be..you probably still going to suffer sooner or later.

This was going to be my first Ironman race with new Coach Jesse Kroplenicki. I have been happy with how my season has been progressing. I have not been choosing the easier races with the smaller fields. I have gone for all tough races with very competitive fields. Texas 70.3 was the National Pro race for the 70.3 distance and a star studded field, a 7th place finish in St Croix with another great group of girls and now IMTX our Ironman Professional National Championships! I love the pressure...the harder the better!

Earlier in the season we had debated me going to Utah. A race I really wanted to do...as I love tough races but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to be a part of this race! It was big, it was going to be hot and it had lots of points for the new KPR system for qualifying for Kona!

Jesse had devised a plan that I was very comfortable with and I was excited to execute it as I had my last two races. Of course that night all I could do was think about my race plan and I found myself , as Texans would say,"Sweating like a turkey before Thanksgiving!" I absolutely had the worst nights sleep and I rolled out of bed with that tired leg/body feeling.

I followed the usual prerace routine...
We headed out to transition super earlier as we did not want to deal with the parking mess. I was happy to find my Kestrel had not blown away and was dry, as they had been predicting rain for days yet there was none! After loading my nutrition which consisted of 3 bottles of First Endurance EFS onto the bike and my liquid shots I headed down to the swim start which was a mile away.
I truly was excited...never nervous to race! The key I believe is I felt so well prepared! Coach Jesse had taken all the guess work out of it. Give me a plan I will do my best to stick to it! I put the training in, my body was healthy, there was no need to be nervous I just was ready to go!

The swim start seemed to take forever! I waited to the last ten minutes to jump in the water and do a quick warmup. I scouted out the best possible position and once the gun went off my sprinting speed was good. I had no problem finding the girls I was hoping to hang with. The pace was very comfortable and the swim for the first time actually blew by. As we turned into the canal I thought I would see if I could pick up the pace a bit for the last 800m. I actually loved the swim course...there seemed to be a current that pushed us down the last canal. I passed around Desiree Ficker and Linsey Corbin probably pushing way to hard as I felt like I was doing an 800 TT, but the crowd surrounding the canal was just pumping me up! I loved it! As we came to the end I remember thinking I wish I had paid more attention in the pro meeting because I could swear they told us to go around a buoy. I felt like all the lights were on me and I must not mess up. Luckily as I got close to the end I saw the buoy they were talking about and headed around it. The adrenaline through T1 was amazing and before I knew it we were on our bikes heading out!

The air was thick and muggy as we headed out onto the one looped bike course! Linsey had flown out of transition and even Desiree I tried to stay with for a bit but I knew that it was a bit above where I needed to be riding on the bike. My legs were not feeling super. I was a little concerned that I pushed too hard on the end of the swim. But I was very patient. Actually for 50 miles my legs were not responding...but I waited....I knew they would come around! I have been in that place many a time in training...where all of a sudden they kick in. I was not going to worry about it. My legs did not need to feel fantastic, I just needed to stick to my plan and ride steady! Coach Jesse was out on the course and I wanted to tell him how my legs were feeling, but I opted not to. Instead I smiled and stayed positive! I actually was riding really relaxed as I was riding totally solo except for 1 or 2 age group guys that came flying by and at around mile 50 Tyler Stewart came by behind another pro guy and I attempted to keep them in sight. For about 5 miles I probably pushed a little harder than I should..I really enjoyed the course of flat and rollers,, wind and cool rain at times..
The miles really ticked by fast and around mile 70 my legs finally kicked in. I was riding with ease into a little headwind and working out that I could get a bike PR if I continued at the pace I was going. I have always wanted to break 5 hours but I did not want to risk anything by over exerting myself near the end. So I just let it be and knew it was going to be close....ended up missing it by 22 seconds!

It looks like I am grimacing here, but I was actually smiling as I am always happy to get off the bike without any mechanical issues!

I had no idea where I was positioned on the bike, so it is always good to come into transition and see a big empty rack!

Once again the crowd support coming into the Woodlands was amazing. So many Texans came out to support the event and people that were sitting in traffic were cheering instead of yelling and screaming!

Running out of T2 was probably the most exciting and stressful thing. I wish I had a picture of that. Jesse had me carrying all this food, liquid shots,Cliff blocks and I was holding my garmin and trying to switch it from bike to run while sprinting with my heart at a gazillion beats. I am not sure what happened but somehow I locked the Garmin and now I could not see a thing...the screen was locked and I was for the first time in the race having a little freak out! It's hard to stick to a plan when your device is not workin. I yelled out to Jesse and he yelled back for me to slow down and remember to pace. I still think I managed a smile and ran out onto the first loop trying to stay calm. So now I am running, trying to stay in control all the time trying to figure out how to unlock the garmin. It took me 4 miles to get the right combination of buttons and even though I had already devised a back up plan which was basically run on feel I was quite panicked. It turns out those first 4 miles without knowing what I was running was actually the fastest. 7.15 pace. Once I got the Garmin working I relaxed and settled into a more comfortable pace.

My second issue in the marathon was that my heart rate was coming in way to high....so I kept having to slow the pace down further and further. I was so torn as I wanted to run faster yet I knew I had to run steady. What I did not realize is that I had grabbed a gel and it had pushed under my heart rate monitor so it was not reading correctly. What it did make me do was run with in myself and besides an upset stomach later in the day.... I was feeling great out there. The course setup was perfect! Running through the waterway area was probably next to Hawaii one of the most fun runs I have been on. People lined the paths and it was 2 miles of much needed energy and I thrived on it!
It was getting very hot! As Texans would say, "So hot that the hens were laying hard boiled eggs!..lol" It was easy to get caught up with the crowd and not hydrate properly but I made a point of stopping a few times and grabbing 2-3 cups of sport drink and dumping water all over my head! My Avia Bolts were getting soaked but are so light they don't get weighed down at all!

I was getting alot of updates that the girls were slowing down up ahead so I just kept pushing each step and finally passed Dede and Joanna Lawn. I dropped my pace down to 7 minute miles the last few miles trying to catch Desiree but she saw me coming and picked up the pace as well.

It was such a great feeling taking that turn and heading into the finish chute. I was hoping for a PR on this course but I had no idea what my swim or run time was so when I turned the corner and saw 9hr27min on the clock I was ecstatic!. Wohhoooo I could not believe it! My previous fastest time was a 9.46 in IMSA so this was to be a 19 minute personal record!

Coach Jesse was there at the end and I am so glad he got to share in my happiness! It has been a long road to trying to make a breakthrough in Ironman and here it was! Three months earlier Coach Jesse had said with conviction, I have no doubt you will PR in IMTX and he was right! I believed him!

This was not my perfect race as I have room to improve my swim,bike and run....but it takes me one step closer to my goals!

Thanks to all the support and good wishes I received this week. My family and friends,My Trakkers/Rev 3 Teammates, the QT2 System family, Coach Jesse and my sponsors at First Endurance and Kestrel!

There are many things I attribute to my success at IMTX. The lead up into this race has been a strict nutrition program. My First Endurance products are key! Multivitamin, Optygen, EFS and Ultragen! 4 key products that ensure I have the best quality workouts and recovery! The Core Diet, Coach Jesse's Nutrition program that ensures I am getting good quality food to aid my recovery! My speedy Kestrel that helped me set an 8 min PR on the bike! A coach that believes in me and trusts my commitment to the sport and lastly the never ending support from my sponsors and family!

Looking forward to the rest of the season!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

St Croix Race Report and Adventures!!!

Beautiful St Croix!

Well I have many hours of sitting around an airport today so what better time than to write my race report while the race is fresh in my mind.

I raced St Croix back in 2005 the last year I raced as an amateur. I was thrilled then to win the amateur race and it started what was going to be a very successful year for me and ultimately the year that made my decision to turn and race professionally.

When either I or Coach Jesse, suggested doing this race I was excited at the prospect of returning and conquering the Beast yet again.

I was thrilled to arrive in St Croix, Thursday morning with my Kestrel 4000 in one piece, on a flawless trip….Well besides the fact that Continental upon landing in St Thomas flew so close to the water that I almost fainted… and the ride over on the small seaplane on Seaborne Airlines was so shaky due to the wind that I felt quite nauseas..but you quickly put those things right out of your mind once you have landed safely. Remember if booking this trip next year to try fly from San Juan on AA but do not book through Cape Air as no bikes are allowed!

My next surprise came at the location of my hotel that I had just booked a week ahead of time. The hotel was right at transition. I had not rented a car and this location really allowed me to spend the most of the two days before the race really just chilling and catching up on emails etc. and staring at the beautiful blue St Croix water.

Race DAY!
Nutrition Sponsor First Endurance
3am Wake up….probably a little too early given my location but got up to have a small breakfast. Consisting of a banana, 1 bottle of EFS and 1 bottle of Whey Protein.
Now I could have gone back to sleep but I was worried I might sleep right through the second alarm. So I just got organized and then reorganized even though I was already 100 % ready to race the night before. So basically I stared at my stuff and watched time tick slowly by….

Thought I would go check my bike in at 4.30 as it was something to do, only to be told bike check in was at 5. So back to the room and more waiting!~!

Finally 5am came and I tried to stretch what really just takes 5 minutes in transition into an hour. At 6 it was time to make the swim to a small island for a beach start.
This was my first hiccup of the day. I had my EFS Liquid Shot and my water which I was meant to take right before the scheduled 6.33 start. I was debating whether to take it 40 minutes early but instead opted to tuck it in my suit and hoped they would have water on the island.

Once on the island I found some water but reached in for the shot flask and it was gone. I guess when I jumped off the Pier it got pushed out so now I was without coffee or any quick energy for the am and just relying on pure adrenaline to get me going!!!
The adrenaline was definitely there at 3 but by 6.33 and waiting on that beach for 25 minutes all the girls were all sitting and ready to go back to sleep…well I was anyway!

6.33 Race Start
Swim TYR!

I had watched my fellow team mate Richie Cunningham and his high knee speed and quick entry into the water. So I decided to try replicate his style. As the horn blasted I sprinted into the water and find myself in open water ahead of everyone…the only problem is somebody did not like me being in the front probably because I did not belong there. So when we got to the turn they decided to grab my ankle and yank it backwards. Wander who the culprit was????
I just laughed to myself! Coach Jesse and I had been working on my turnover and I was excited to seeing it pay off but I felt like I was holding up the faster girls so I almost felt obliged to move over so they could swim by and I could try jump on their feet. Sadly I was now having my feet hit on every stroke which was really affecting my kick which I needed as it was a non wetsuit swim. So I pulled aside once again and decided to swim on their feet instead. Now I was a lot happier and was letting all the hard swimming and my speedy TYR Torque speed suit go to work.
I decided that I would rely on the girls in front of me to sight all the way out into the chop so I would not drink as much water as in the practice swim. I felt so much better in the water than a few weeks ago in Galveston.
When we made the right turn to start swimming towards the seawall that's when things got terribly confusing. First I spotted a pro guy swimming in the wrong direction …I could not fathom why???
Then about five minutes later we were swimming way to close to the age groupers which I could not understand either. Lastly we had a boat following us telling us to go another direction. We all stopped and had a little conversation with them and then continued on our way. Which happened to be a 90 degree left turn from the direction we were going. Just when I thought my swims could not get any more entertaining this one I think topped it. But above all that, I was determined that I would just stay on someones feet until I got to land!!! The result a slow 32 minute swim that was probably 1.6 miles long!!!
Mission accomplished!!!

Bike Kestrel!!

So the two girls I came out with were Angela Naeth who had got second in Texas Galveston 70.3 3 weeks ago and Leslie Patterson who I had googled and new she was going to be strong on the bike. They both blasted out of transition and within a few miles I could no longer see them.
Due to the lack of consuming my EFS liquid shot…. I decided it would be best to get right on some nutrition. So I started working on fueling. I had opted for 3 bottles of EFS which with the heat and humidity I knew would not last long. My goals was to get through at least 1 maybe two by the Beast so my bike might feel a little lighter going up!
I had not managed to see the course so it was fun remembering parts of it from my previous race experience. I knew the Beast was at mile 21 and I anxiously awaited it's arrival.

The Beast as I remembered was to be the second challenge of the day! Your mind starts to mess with you…questioning whether you will make it up. I had put a 12/27 cassette on so I knew that would help me. But as I approached the tail of the Beast with it's fiery flames and switched to my smallest cog I was shocked that with no gear left it was already hard at 14% grade. I started to sweat it out…wandering, hoping, praying I would make it up….wishing I got a practice round first. Coach Jesse had suggested I would be able to stay seated and spin my legs yet I was out of my seat grinding away. My hands were sweating and I was really nervous that one was going to slip right off the bars and I was going to go flying!!! Then my worst fear would be having to walk up or have to attempt to mount on a hill.

Halfway up you reach the 24% grade…a narly section where everyone stands just waiting for the beast to claim it's first victim. I was not going to be it! Actually it was around halfway up that I realized that my mind creates a pretty good movie and I was really making this Beast out to be a lot more ferocious than it was. I settled in…regrouped…sat down and began spinning my way up the never-ending hill where I survived but didn't slay the Beast!!!!
From there I knew there were more challenges to come!!!
Most new comers to St Croix assume once the Beast is over its smooth sailing. This is far from the case. You not only have headwinds to deal with but never ending climbs. When you are used to riding the flattest of flattest roads in preparation for IMTX these hills start to get old quick. One thing I was prepared for was the wind! From mile 25 -45 was nothing but pure headwind!!!! Followed by 2 -4 steep hills in the last 10 miles!

From mile 25-45 three small groups of five guys went by. I had just done a 10 mile section by myself and what was me laughing at the winds was now angry screams. I was getting testy and when the marshalls's went by me I signelled them to please break up the drafting as it was getting annoying. They acknowledged my concern and sped up like I had sent them on a exciting mission. But then what did they do...drove aside these guys just
letting them continue their rotations..one guy pulls then recover switching every few minutes. Me being irritable now and seeing that these guys were nervously slowing down waiting for the bike to leave decided to pick up my watts a tad and catch up to the group to kindly request an answer to why no red cards were being handed out.
Now I know I am not racing these guys but at that point in my race I could not fathom why a group of very capable guys could not do their own work like I was doing. Why could they not break the party up….Funny enough I don't believe the marshall were even carrying penalty cards never mind knowing what they were!
When I asked the marshals what was going on up there they just smiled!
Not the reaction I was looking for 3 and a half hours into a hard race.

So sadly I returned to my race plan and continued on my efforts of enjoying the beautiful scenery St Croix has to offer all the while being hit left right and center by the never-ending climbs.

Finally 5 bottles of fluid later I finally raced into town….feeling ready to get my run on!

AVIA!!!! RUN 13.1 miles Unofficial Time 134 7.10 pace

With my speedy Avia Bolt's on I tore out of T2 with a plan to run nice and steady and finish strong!
It was very humid and the challenging bike course were definitely making my legs a little heavy. But after a solid mile of uphill running I started to settle in and feel pretty good. I passed a friend or two along the way and it was great to be out there. The guys were coming past running fast downhill and it was motivating seeing there efforts. When I made a left into the hilly Buccaneer property the heat was weighing down on me and I was feeling a little sick to the stomach. Once again I distracted myself with the beautiful ocean views and smiled always happy to be racing and doing what I love. A lot of the terrain in here is grass and trails and a windy golf course tar trail that takes you on loops up and down the golf course including a very steep hill that you have to do twice being a 2 loop course. Most of the guys I saw on the second loop were walking up….I tried to put myself into my hill repeat mode and charged this hill trying to keep my heart rate mildly under control.

I actually kind of like this run course as it has so much variety. Uphill downhills heat wind grass and people to cheer you on.

On my second loop the constant caffeine/sugar feed of gels /gatorade and pepsi actually gave me a kick and enabled me to finish strong…and happy!!!!

I finished in seventh place behind some great girls. Congrats to Cat Morrison,Miranda Carfrae ,Angela Naeth,Leslie Patterson, Kate Major and Amy Marsh who all raced so strong! Big congrats also goes to Rev 3/Trakkers Teammate Richie Cunningham for his
3rd place finish! Thanks to Coach Jesse Owner of QT2 Systems for getting me through a big training block and ready to race!

I encourage everyone to come and have there own crazy experience of this race. A small island race that probably has changed much in the last ten years that will reward you of great memories and stories to tell for years to come!!! This race has Heat Humidity Hills and Headwind!!!!! Be Prepared!!!!

Next up Ironman Texas in 3 weeks!