Monday, September 28, 2009

Exciting News

While I am waiting for a few more pictures to come online from the cyclocross races this weekend, I figured I'd take this opportunity to devote a little post to let you all in on some exciting news in my world. As of last Wednesday evening, I officially became a new member of the Punk Rock Cycling women's team!!! This is a pretty big deal for me...these girls are great cyclists and their team is widely respected as one of the top women's teams in the area. I am still somewhat in shock that they asked ME to join their team, but I am totally excited about the opportunity to learn from and race with these girls. More on this to come, but don't I look good in the black, green and blue???

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am having an absolute BLAST right now. Cyclocross has begun...I'm back at sister and her family have officially moved back is good.

I'm happy to report the black eye has healed and I have not acquired any additional injuries from crashing my cross far. I have a few bruises from working on dismounting and re-mounting for obstacles and from shouldering the bike up some hills, but other than that no new injuries to report. We had our first Renegade cyclocross training ride Tuesday night. Some local bikers pick a city park each week, throw some flags down for a course and we all show up to ride and have some fun. Tuesday was the first ride at Union Park. They had a great course set up for us, with a couple sets of obstacles, a big hill run-up, some off-camber stuff, some tight turns, a tiny bit of pavement and some good ole flat grass. We rode a "practice lap" to get a little familiar with the course, then it was go time. 45 minutes as hard as you want, as many laps as you want. After the first lap I wasn't sure I was going to make it 45 minutes. It was TOUGH! But I held on, lap after lap...quads were burning, hips were screaming, sweat was dripping off my nose. I.LOVED.IT. Each lap I got a little more comfortable...the downhill seemed to get easier, I could go a little faster, let go of the brakes a little more. One of the riders snapped some pictures on the last loop, going down the hill...F-U-N!!!!

My friend Steve is taking me out to ride some single track tonight - I'm so excited! Then Sunday, I'm heading out on a long ride with Greyt. Renegade again on Tuesday. So much fun I can barely stand it!

Last November I started CrossFit as a way to work on strength training that wasn't boring or routine. For those of you who aren't familiar with CrossFit, you can check out the website at But basically it's a strength and conditioning program that includes plyometrics, olympic lifts, running ,rowing, gymanstics,etc. I was in CrossFit from November till April and I really loved it. Then...I broke my hand. I stayed out of CrossFit during the summer to let my hand completely heal and also to focus on just racing. Now that I'm done with my triathlon racing season, I wanted to go back and work on gaining back some of the strength I have lost. I went back last week, two days...and was so sore I could hardly walk. First day consisted of 50 power squat cleans (clean it from the floor into a squat, then stand it up) using just the 45# bar. I was supposed to do 75 cleans but my wrist wasn't allowing it. Then two days later I went back for workout #2 - 150 kettlebell swings for time (36# kettlebell). By Thursday, I was one hurting unit. My muscles clearly were not ready to quite jump in as fast as I did. WOW. It hurt, but I loved it. I had really missed doing those workouts.

I went back yesterday for my third class...and wouldn't you know it, the workout of the day was the same one I was doing when my accident happened in April - Helen. Yes, some of the workouts have names...and the ones named after chicks are complete bitches. "Helen" is 3 rounds for time of 400m run, 21 kettlebell swings (36#), and 12 pull-ups. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous going into it. I had to get my mind over the fact that the last time I was doing pull-ups, the bar broke and I was in surgery two days later. With some great support from my girl Kelli, and my buds Jon and Cliff (in the red) was HTFU time!!!

Yeah, it grip in that right hand is not as strong as it used to be. And I only did about 5 or 6 as kipping pull-ups and had to do jumping pull-ups for the rest, but I'll take it! At least I finished Helen this time...and with no trip to the ER!!!
My sister and her family have officially moved back to Iowa. It's been a crazy month or so getting them all moved out here, them finding jobs, finding Gabe daycare, etc, but they are finally here. Last weekend they packed up their house in Chicagoland and moved it all home. I stayed behind and watched Gabe for the weekend....which I think at times was harder than the actual moving part! :D In an effort to still get some bike riding in while he was here, I borrowed a friend's bike trailer and decided I'd try it out with him. I thought he would enjoy it, but I just wasn't sure....
The faster I went, the louder he giggled. He absolutely LOVED it. I think this will have to be my next purchase so I can use it to pick him up from day care every now and again while it's still nice out. Not to mention the fact that it's a heck of a workout pulling him around in it!
I'll leave you with one last picture....doesn't he look like a happy boy?

Pool hair and cookie face

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Over To the Dark Side - Big Creek Road Race

Yes, boys and girls, I finally took the plunge and signed myself up for a bike race. Just a bike race. No swim before, no run after, just 34.5 miles of just the bike. It was hard. I was hitting speeds on my bike I never imagined I would hit. And my HR was probably at levels I never have hit on the bike either (I didn't wear it to know, though). BUT, I had a blast. I absolutely loved it. I have a lot to learn about racing bikes...but I enjoyed the strategery...the chess-playing...the ability to race the competition side-by-side. Now I just need to work on becoming a smarter biker so I can hold on and not get dropped in the last lap. DOH!

Here are some of the race in pictures (and video). Courtesy of spectator extraordinare - Greyt! Enjoy!

I really am excited!!

Pre-race with my adopted biking family, the Robinsons

Getting a little pre-race pep talk from Steve

Steve with his "I wish I was racing" face with my "I hope I don't puke" face on...

Women's Beginner Race - GO!

Hanging tough with the girls...through Lap 5 (of 6).

The girls finishing without me. :(

But here I come!! Finishing strong!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday Night World Champs

So about a week ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at bike racing - you know, the kind that isn't preceded by a swim or followed by a run. In talking with my bike racer friend, he suggested I come out to this weekly ride to get a feel for riding in a pack, drafting, etc. This little weekly ride is the aforementioned "Tuesday Night World Champs". He assured me there'd be plenty of riders who would break up into packs so I wouldn't have to worry about hanging onto the fast guys. Because we BOTH knew that wouldn't happen.

So, I met Steve at his house last night around 5, then we headed to the rendez-vous point where he and his brother wait for the ride to roll around then jump on. As we are waiting, we see three riders screaming down the hill to our left. At that point, I see fear in Steve's eyes. Three riders?? That was not good. Then another pack came down the hill, but it was only about 10 riders. And that was it. Steve had warned me if it was a small group, it would be a fast group. And, of course, I was the only female. Wonderful. Can I just go home now? Please?

Well I didn't go home...I jumped on the back of the group and proceeded to head out of town with them. Once we got out of the city, the speed began to creep up. I kept looking at my bike computer - 24, 25, 26 mph. Holy hell. I held on to the back of the pack. (Although it turns out not close enough, according to Steve) Steve had said if I could make it up the Saylorville Dam hill and not get dropped, I could at least make it to Ankeny with the group. The hill was coming. I was getting nervous. 26, 27, 26 mph. I was working pretty darn hard to hang on. These guys looked like they were out walking the dog. ARGH!

Then there it was...the hill. Not a huge hill by any means, but a hill nonetheless. And the one where the women get dropped. I wanted so bad to hang up that hill. Those guys hit the bottom of the thing and they were up out of their saddles attacking it. Me, in my little triathlete mindset of spinning up a hill, reacted a bit too slowly and by the time I was out of the saddle attacking, they had opened up a gap. I was a goner. Absolutely NO chance of bridging that sucker. Damn it!

After the hill, I saw them up ahead and they were just putting more and more distance on me. Then we hit a spot on the route where there were several roads you could turn on...and since I couldn't see them anymore, I had no idea where they turned. And then I also realized I had no idea where the hell I was. I finally stopped at a little park to look at my notecard with directions on it. And then it started to rain. Are you freaking kidding me???? At that point I considered calling Greyt to come pick me up...but I wasn't even sure I could tell her where to pick me up. *sigh* So I did the only thing I really could do...HTFU, woman! I got back on the bike and headed north.

I finally found my way into Polk City and as I was heading in through town, I hear this guy yell behind me. It was Steve. YAY! I somehow managed to get back in front of the group and now had some people to ride with for awhile. That is, until the fast guys caught us a few miles later and Steve and the others dumped me again so they could get back on with the others. Those guys motored past me like I was standing still. Unreal.

Will I ever go back to TNWC? Um, maybe. After I've spent more time riding and have gotten stronger, perhaps. I didn't dislike the ride, and what happened was exactly what I thought would happen, so it's not like I was terribly disappointed or anything. And the point of me riding with them was not to hang on the entire ride anyway. It was to give me a feel for the pack riding dynamics and get some pointers from Steve for Saturday's race. I learned a lot in the 30 mins I hung with the group. And I'm excited to race the Cat 4 women on Saturday. I think I'll do ok....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Offseason Fun

I know some of you are still out there in the thick of triathlon season, especially you crazy people getting ready for an Ironman. I say that lovingly, of course. I, on the other hand, am done with my triathlon season. And loving every minute of it. Don't get me wrong, I had a good tri season. I had fun. But after Big Pig I was ready to move into the offseason and start really having some fun. I was ready for a change, ready to tackle some new challenges. And what better way to tackle new challenges than with a new toy??

CYCLOCROSS, BABY!!! Yep, decided to take the plunge this year and venture into the world of cyclocross. I needed something a little less "serious" than triathlon, and cyclocross has exactly what I am looking for. Off-roading, obstacle-jumping, mud-flinging, beer-drinking FUN. If you aren't familiar with cyclocross, here's a little taste of what it is...courtesy of the elite race at Jingle Cross in Iowa City last year.
(copy and paste...I couldn't get the link to show up otherwise)
Looks like a BLAST doesn't it??? And, yes, that is snow. Hey, I need something to be excited about as the weather turns cold. I've already been doing a little training, getting used to riding in grass, mud, etc. But just like when you first start seriously riding a bike, you have to condition parts of your body to handle this kind of abuse....

Yes, I crashed my bike. And yes, this will be the first of many. Think I need a little work on my crash technique??? No worries, I am ok, I did not black out and had no signs of a concussion. That being said, I am going to insert a little PSA here. If your helmet feels a little loose and wobbles on your head AT ALL, go get a smaller helmet. Had mine fit correctly, I would not have this wonderful shiner. It slid just enough to expose my brow bone which absorbed the whiplash effect of the fall. And yes, I immediately went out and purchased a new helmet that FITS.

I'll be back with more updates on cyclocross...and the other fun things I have planned for this fall/winter. It's going to be one fun offseason!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dr. Jekyll Meet Mr. Hyde - Big Pig Race Report

Well, I knew Big Pig would be more of a challenge than Racine, but I didn't quite expect the day I had on Sunday. The two races couldn't have been more different - including the distances! Racine was a perfect day (weather, physical state, mental state), the swim was short, the bike was fast, and the run was good. Big Pig was a horrible day (weather, physical state, mental state), the swim was choppy and visibility was bad at times, the bike was BRUTAL, and the run turned into a battle of will to just finish. So rather than write a race report that rehashes the most difficult 6.5 hours in my triathlon life, I think I'll instead list out some of the things I learned from the day. Maybe they will help someone else down the road. In no particular order:

> No matter how hard of a day I have, finishing always feels better than quitting.
> Nutritition will make or break a race longer than an Olympic.
> Races in tough conditions are won mentally, not physically.
> I need more experience racing to understand how to fully adapt my strategy when conditions are less than ideal. I am still new at this.
> Swallowing Heed is almost as hard as swallowing pride.
> Bad races are only bad if I don't learn something from them.
> Knowing the course ahead of time helps me mentally get through the day, especially when the day is not going well. (I heart Newhall)
> Passing people going 8mph is still passing people.
> Running is always faster than walking. Really, it's true.
> Even if it is downpouring rain before the race, put on sunscreen. It just might end up sunny and blistering hot on the run.
> Stick to Raspberry Creme PowerGel. It tastes good both when going down and coming back up.
> Hold onto that cup just a little longer at the aid stations - it works really well to disguise the fact that I am puking.
> Taking the extra few seconds in T2 to body glide the armpits saves me from the very painful chafing I experienced at Racine.
> No matter how tough a day, having the support of friends and family at a race is just awesome. No matter what, they always think you did a great job and are proud of you. Thank you Laura, Rachelle, Becca, Steve, Jamey, Kelli, Jon, Diane, Margie, Cathy Y and everyone else out there cheering us on. It means more than you know.

And with triathlon season draws to a close. I wish it had ended on a better note, but I learned a lot and will be a better athlete because of it. Big Pig is now behind me. It's time to focus on my new challenges for the fall - cyclocross racing, some road races, and sherpa duties for IM Coz!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Must. Stay. Focused.

Pigman is coming. T-minus 20 days. I need to stop thinking about cyclocross, a possible ride in the Black Hills in September, a marathon in October. FOCUS. I can think about those things in 20 days. Not before then. Right now it's all about riding hills, swimming without a wetsuit, and running in some heat/humidity. Time to smell the bacon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going Long – Spirit of Racine Race Report

My first season consisted of 2 sprint triathlons. I survived. In my second season, I dabbled a bit with different distances/race types, doing 4 road races (ranging from 5Ks to a half-marathon), 2 Oly tris, 3 sprint tris and 2 duathlons (one as team with Greyt). I survived in the olys, managed to take home some hardware in a few of the sprints, and DNF’d the half marathon. While it was fun to do all those different races last year and I learned a lot about myself and about racing, it felt a little like I had a multiple personalities. So this season I decided to drop the road races and challenge myself with long course triathlon. I chose my races so that I would do early season sprints to get back into the swing of open water swimming, then I’d go after Hy-Vee again for redemption, and I’d wrap up my season by tackling long course at the Spirit of Racine Half and Big Pig. Up until Hy-Vee, I was scared to death of these last two races on my schedule. There were MANY open water swim workouts where I thought to myself, “I need to drop out of Racine, I cannot swim 1.2 miles”. In fact, I’m pretty sure I said that out loud to Greyt after a swim at Big Creek one time. I thought she was going to beat me when I said that. :D But, I stuck with it and just kept hitting the open water. Then Hy-Vee came. And I found a little bit of confidence. Ok, a lot of confidence. I made that swim my bitch, and all of a sudden, the half became possible.

My week leading up to the race was a hectic one. I haven’t had to travel for work in MONTHS, and wouldn’t you know it, the week before my biggest race, I end up having to travel to Chicago for work. While not the ideal race week, I made the best of it. I spent a lot of time in the car/on the train thinking about the race, then had a great race talk with Coach Jen. After talking to Jen, I started to feel pretty good about what I needed to do to finish the race. Yes, my goal was to FINISH this half distance race, nothing more.

Greyt and I headed up to Racine on Friday so we could get settled and relax on Saturday instead of driving 7 hours in the car the day before the race. As we pulled up to the hotel, the first thing we notice is an outlet mall. WITH AN UNDER ARMOUR FACTORY STORE. Um, did I say relax on Saturday? I meant SHOP!

After a little shopping spree, we headed to the race site for packet pick-up, bike check-in, and a little practice swim. Packet pick-up was pretty uneventful, bike check-in went smoothly, and our practice swim was CHILLY – water temp was 59 degrees! Once we got going, though, it was fine. After the swim we drove part of the bike course , headed to Olive Garden for dinner, picked up our breakfast needs at Walmart/Dunkin’ Donuts (coffee!!!), then back to the hotel to get everything ready for the long day ahead.

Race morning came early – 3:30am! I had a hard time eating my breakfast, I was pretty nervous. Once body marked and in transition I went about my business of setting up my area then headed out for a short warm-up run on the path along the beach. I took a minute to stop and look out over the water where the sun was starting to come up. I was ready to do this. Once back in transition, I found Greyt and we started the long walk down to the swim start. I got in a pretty good warm-up in the water before they ushered us out to start the race. I wasn’t necessarily scared of this swim because I knew that if I had issues and needed to stop, I could pretty much just stand up at any point along the course. We were in pretty shallow water for this swim, so you could touch bottom most of the way. I told myself I would NOT do that unless I absolutely had to…but I think knowing I COULD touch if I had to made me a lot more comfortable going into the swim.

Once our wave was called up to the start area, Greyt and I hugged and wished each other good luck then headed to our preferred starting positions. I on the FAR left away from the masses, and she more in the middle right in the thick of things. The siren sounded and we were off. The water level never went above my knees until right before the buoy so most of the wave ran out to the buoy instead of swimming. Once we got to the buoy though it was game on. I started outside and felt really good. Over the first 1/3 of the swim, I found myself maneuvering around A LOT of people walking/running in the water. It frustrated me at first because they were running just about as fast as I was swimming , but then realized they were wasting a lot more energy than I was so I just did my thing. Eventually I found myself a bit more along the inside buoy line and it was getting pretty shallow. Then my hand hit sand during my stroke. Damn it! So I jumped up on my feet, quickly looked over my shoulder to find open water, and dove back to my left and started swimming again. I stayed calm, relaxed, and just kept swimming buoy to buoy. When I saw the yellow turn buoy, I smiled in the water. Once I rounded the last buoy, the water got shallow very quickly so I stood up and saw Greyt about 10 feet in front of me. I gave her a little shout to let her know I made it. She turned and looked at me and I did a little happy dance in the water. I am pretty sure she rolled her eyes at me. Ha! Anyway…into transition…and out on the bike.

Ah…the bike. My happy place. I felt really solid right away on the bike, even though I spent a lot of time at the beginning dodging launched water bottles, miscellaneous equipment, and rear mounted bottle cages. Oddly enough, all the cages I saw were the same brand as mine:

We’ll get back to the bottle cage story later. I had three goals on the bike: 1) Nail my nutrition, 2) Keep my cadence around 90 rpms and 3) Ride at about 80%. If I did these three things right, I would come off the bike in good time and be well situated for the run. I nailed #2 and #3…I half nailed #1. I got all my gels in, but failed on the liquid calories by one bottle. I really need to work on drinking more often on the bike. I was saved by the cooler temperatures this time, but that might not be the case at Big Pig. In any case, I rode well and strong the entire way – keeping myself at 80% effort and around 90 rpms. Could I have pushed harder? Maybe. But in the end, I was really happy with my bike.

Coming into T2, the dismount line was at the bottom of a hill. I noticed from the top of the hill that it was really crowded towards the line so I steered over to the right side where I saw one guy just getting off his bike. Figured he’d be outta there before I got there, so I headed his way. Well, apparently he was posing for pictures or adjusting his shorts because he didn’t move. Granted, I probably came in a little too hot, but if he had moved I would have been fine. Needless to say, we had a little collision at the dismount line. Neither of us fell or anything like that. The only casualty was one of his water bottles from his rear cage. It ended up wedged between my aerobars. Nice.

In and out of T2, it was time to run. I felt pretty good coming off the bike, but I kept myself in check so I didn’t start out too fast. My goal was to run the first loop solid, but not over the top, reassess at the halfway point, then either pick it up for the second loop or hold tight. First loop felt pretty decent, I kept hitting my gel as planned and taking water at the water stops. See, I was enjoying the run, I was smiling!

I saw Greyt after the first turn around, about halfway through the first loop. She looked strong. We high fived and kept trucking. At the end of the first loop I saw my sister there cheering me on. I needed that little boost. We hit the hills at the beginning of the second loop and lots of people were walking them. I put my head down and focused on using my arms…I was not walking that hill. Thanks to the lovely race photographer positioned halfway up the hill, you too can share in this moment with me:

I started to hurt with about 4.5- 5 miles to go. The next aid station had flat coke. Remembering something Molly said about nothing better than a shot of flat Coke around mile 67…I grabbed a cup and took a big swig, washed it down with a little water then got moving again. A mile or two later, I saw Greyt again. She gave me another high five and some words of encouragement and I was off to finish. It was right about then that it really hit me. I was going to finish a half iron distance race. After all my struggles with the swim, and all the issues I’ve dealt with this past year, I was going to finish. That was an awesome feeling. It gave me the boost I needed to finish pushing myself through to the end. (It was either that or the Coke!) Coming down through the last stretch, the course was lined with people. I was looking for where my sister was earlier so I could grab my nephew and cross the finish line with him, but unfortunately I didn’t see them. I crossed the finish line and I have to admit, I got a little choked up. I was pretty damn proud of myself. And I was so happy that my sister, brother-in-law and nephew were there to share that moment with me.

After the race, Greyt and I headed down to the water for a post-race ice bath. My feet, ankles and calves were really hurting. We went back up to transition, grabbed our gear, and headed to the car. After dropping our gear at the car, we went back to check out our results. At this point, we had a ballpark idea of what time we finished in, but no confirmation via unofficial race clock or results. Our times weren’t posted yet so we ate a little food, then saw they posted more results. We were ecstatic with our times. We both had great races…well beyond our expectations. Then, they posted the penalty list. I heard someone mention there were over 250 penalties issued so I thought, I’ll just go check to make sure we’re clean. That’s when I saw this:

Yep, #193…that’s me. Big ole 4 min penalty for Abandoned Equipment. See, when I hit about mile 15 on the bike, I reached back to the aforementioned Profile Design Aqua Rack for my bottle of plain water, and instead of getting just the bottle, I ended up with the entire aqua rack in my hand. Yes the entire rack, including both of my bottles. I was like WTF do I do now? I tried riding with it resting on my aerobars between my arms, but the roads were so bumpy it just kept bouncing around everywhere. I decided I needed to save my one bottle of nutrition in case I dropped the damn thing so I sat up, pulled out my nutrition bottle and stuck it in my jersey pocket. Just as I was about to try and re-situate the rack and remaining bottle, I hit a huge bump which sent the rack and bottle flying to the ground. There were other racers all around me, I heard people hit it. I felt awful. So I slowed down thinking I should go back and pick it up. We were on a very narrow section of road and lots of people riding around me and I wasn’t sure how was I going to get stopped to go back and get it. Besides, once I got it what was I going to do with it for the next 40 miles anyway?? So, I just kept riding. And apparently a USAT official was right there because I ended up with the penalty. Which I totally deserve, I know. I just really hope it didn’t cause anyone else behind me problems because it was in the bike lane.

So, anyway, all in all, I had a FANTASTIC first long course race. I’m looking forward to Big Pig on August 16. It’s going to be a completely different race and I’m anxious to see how I fare in water you can’t run in, on a hilly-ass bike course, and in mid-August Iowa heat and humidity. The more I think about it, though, the more I kinda like this long course thing. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gaining Momentum - Hy-Vee Triathlon Recap

I think this picture pretty much says it all:

I could have flatted on the bike and death marched my way through the run, and I still would have been out of my mind excited on Sunday. I had a minor little freak out right at the beginning as 145 of my closest female friends aged 30-39 thrashed around at the start, but I quickly got over it and started swimming...and just kept swimming. THE ENTIRE WAY. And did I mention this swim was NOT wetsuit legal? That's right folks, I swam .9 miles in open water without a wetsuit, without stopping to hold onto a buoy or flip on my back to calm myself down. That was a huge victory for me. Huge. Somewhere along this 2.5 year journey I've managed to become a swimmer. Not a fast swimmer, by any means, but a swimmer nonetheless. I owe a lot of thanks to Greyt for that...she's been by my side the entire way, encouraging me, listening to my freak outs, and going out to practice with me whenever I have needed. Without her, I'm not sure I would have made it to this point. And thanks to Coach Jen as well...for all the workouts, the pep talks, and believing in me. And, Laura, of course...thank you for supporting this crazy addiction of mine and for being there Sunday all over the course. Ok, enough with the Oscar acceptance speech...

Carrying the excitement of that swim with me through the entire race, I had just an awesome day. I really had fun out there racing. I can honestly say it's probably the first time I've really enjoyed the entire experience. My bike felt really good, strong. I had a few minor hiccups in the last 1/3 of the bike, like a bit of a queasy stomach and some slight cramping in my calves, but nothing that made me slow down. The issues with my calves did cause a charlie horse in my left calf in T2, but I sat down and got it worked out before heading out on the run.

The run was fabulous. I allowed myself to take it easy at the beginning to make sure my calf wasn't going to flare up and just to settle into the run. I was surprised at how good I felt. I usually don't feel that great starting out on the run. My HR and breathing was in check, I was ready to have a good run. I think it helped that there were no mile markers on the course. I just kept running and pushing as I felt I could. I handled the first big hill well...remembered coach's instructions to shorten up the stride and use my arms. I can't even believe how much using your arms helps. WOW. So many people were walking up that first hill. About three weeks ago, I probably would have been one of them, but my training has really been coming around and I was ready for this course. Down the hill, turn the corner, and there's the turnaround. Over halfway at that point, and I still felt great. Just after the turnaround I saw Greyt. She was running strong, just like she has been. I yelled across the street that she better get moving so she can catch me and spank my ass as she runs by. I fully believed she would do that because she has been running so well lately. But, then again, I didn't really anticipate what happened next. I'm not sure if it was the gel I took at the beginning of the run or if I just somehow caught a second wind in all the excitement, but I found another gear on the run. I charged up the two remaining hills, passing a ton of people along the way. Then it was all downhill to the finish.

There is NOTHING quite like turning into the finish at the Hy-Vee triathlon. They do it right. You come around the corner and the course is just lined with people. Then you turn one more time and it opens up to this huge grandstand area that is FILLED with cheering spectators. And, the blue carpet. Oh that sweet blue carpet. Such a surreal experience. And to top it off, as I was running for the finish line I see this hand sticking out from the crowd in front of me and I heard "Go, Kris!", I looked up just in time to see my Mom and Dad standing there grinning ear to ear and my Dad with his hand out for a high five. That was just the best.

This was right before I saw Mom and Dad. Pushing hard to the finish!

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I got to watch the ITU women's race on Saturday, had a great race on Sunday morning, then got to hang around and watch the new ITU Team event on Sunday afternoon. That was so cool to watch. I'll post some pictures from that in another blog. Got some up close and personal pictures of all the stars in action. I'll leave you with a couple pictures of some really cool people I met this weekend:

Katie Weaver

Hunter Kemper (he signed my helmet!!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Whole Lotta Catchin' Up To Do

Sorry I've been so delinquent on my blog, but it's Facebook's fault. Darn thing makes it way too easy to update loads of people with one or two sentences. So, anyway...lots of stuff went down since my last blog post. Two races came and went with a little 12K time trial stuck in between, a bunch of major training hit the books, a BIG BIG BIG break-through occurred, and the first of my three MAJOR races is right around the corner. Like this weekend. How did that happen??? Sorry if this gets kinda long...I'll try to keep it short. And next time I'll try to blog a bit more often. :D

Bluff Creek Triathlon Race Report - Two weeks after the pin came out of my hand, I took the plunge and raced the sprint tri at Bluff Creek. I had like four or five swims under my belt, and I knew it was going to be rough. And rough it was. I got kicked in my recovering hand no less than 8 times in the swim, and came out of the water with it throbbing like crazy and me behind about 35 other women. I hopped on the bike and pushed as best I could, moving up to about 11th female. The run reflected my lack of training, and I was slow. Lost a couple of places, but I finished. Not a great race, but it got me into race mode and helped me along my path towards the break-through.

Two weeks of Solid Training - After Bluff Creek, Jen put the hurt on me. I trained hard. And I made the point to get into open water as often as I could. Hy-Vee was coming up fast, and I was determined to NOT have a repeat of last year's swim at that race.

12K Time Trial - I've been wanting to do this, just to see what happened if I went in and pushed as hard as possible on the bike. Well, folks, it hurts. Plain and simple. But it was fun. :D Although next time I won't do it two days before a sprint triathlon.

Holiday Lake Triathlon - I decided I needed another race under my belt before Hy-Vee so I entered this new race in eastern Iowa. With Copper Creek being held the same weekend and Ironman Kansas 70.3 also the same weekend, I had a feeling this race would be fairly small. And it was. Not even 150 people, 38 of them women. The weather was crappy, raining all night and right up until race start. The race went better than Bluff Creek. My training in OW paid off and I had a great swim for me. Got on the bike and hammered through the 18 miles of hills, wind, and light rain. Came into transition feeling pretty good and ready to run. Then proceeded to suffer my way through the hilliest 3.5 mile course EVER. They weren't big hills, they were the short, steep kind that hurt on the way up and on the way down. And they were relentless. I think I remember one stretch of maybe 200 yards that was flat, the rest was either up or down. And it was on a pavement/gravel mixture that made for unsure footing. Not the most fun I've ever had running. A woman at the last water stop told me I was the 3rd female. I checked back over my shoulder and saw no other female in sight, so I allowed myself to cruise into the finish. No need to push harder at that point, I was already feeling tightness and pain in my left hip flexor/quad. The race as a whole was stronger than Bluff Creek, I could tell my training was coming back. Slowly, but definitely coming back. OH! And I also had a chance to hang out with Maria at this race. It was awesome to get to know her a bit and see her kick some serious butt out there!

More training - Right after the race, Jen again put the hurt on me. Long run, long ride, swims, swims, swims. I saw some paces on my runs that I haven't seen for awhile, so things are looking good. The process is working. But the biggest thing of all happened less than a week ago...

THE BIG BIG BREAK-THROUGH - For any of you who have been following my blog for awhile, or just know me in general, know that I struggle with swimming. I have come a long ways since that first tri in Colorado where I couldn't even swim 25 yards without having to stop and hang on the side of the pool. But, I do still have my issues, especially in open water. This season I made the decision to get into open water as much as possible, as early as possible, so I could avoid the disaster that was the Hy-Vee triathlon last year. I had been going out to Big Creek every Tuesday with Greyt, and other TRI Racers, and doing pretty well at being comfortable in the water and doing a lap of the buoys before stopping. After Holiday Lake, I felt the need to make sure I could swim the distance of the Hy-Vee course (.9 miles). A fellow TRI Racer had done some work to figure out the distance around the buoys out at Big Creek so I knew that one mile equaled swimming out to the first buoy, completing three laps of the five buoys, then swimming back to shore. That was A LOT more than I had been doing continuously, so it was a bit intimidating. But last Wednesday night I told myself I was going to swim that one mile distance without stopping, no matter how slow I went.

I met Sarah at Big Creek, Greyt was going to be joining us a little later, so Sarah and I went ahead to get started. The water was really choppy. There were quite a few boats out on the water, sending some good chop back to the shore. At first, I got a little freaked...I wasn't planning on choppy water. But then I just put in my mind that I needed to do this, and that the chop was a bonus because it would help prepare me for a possibly rough swim at Racine. So, Sarah and I get in and take off. I focused on staying smooth, long strokes, easy breathing, rotating fully, and riding the little waves from the boats. It almost felt like I was body surfing at times. And for the first time ever, it felt FUN. I was actually having FUN swimming in open water. The first lap came and went. Then on the second I see Greyt swimming towards me, stopped only briefly to let her know I was doing ok and I was actually having fun (I knew she would be wondering)then went on my way. I started the third lap thinking "Oh. My. God. I am doing this. I am going to do this mile." And I wasn't even tired. Sarah and I came to a stop after the third lap at the buoy and I told her I was going again. That's right, folks, I was going for a 4th LOOP! Coach had a 50 minute swim on the books and I wanted to hit that 50 minutes. It would be the first time I did it continuous without breaks. And I did it. The fourth loop went just as well as the previous three. As I came into shore, I saw Greyt standing in the water waiting for us. When I could stand, I got up and did a really stupid looking happy dance and fell back into the water with the biggest smile on my face. I had done it. I swam OVER a mile without stopping. Without one single panic attack. And I did it in some rougher water than I was used to. I was ecstatic. At that point, I felt this HUGE relief wash over me. I knew I could do Hy-Vee. And I also knew I could do Racine. For the first time, I believed that I could actually do it without struggling the entire way. I was pretty damn excited. I even had to call Jen on my way home from the lake to tell her about it. Not just because I had a breakthrough, but also because I wanted to call her with some GOOD news for once. It's been a tough year...just wanted her to share in the first GOOD thing to happen in awhile.

So, that is that. We're all caught up now. :D I promise I won't wait so long to get a report up from Hy-Vee.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back in Action

I finally got the ok to get back in the pool and out on my bike. No more trainer!! YES!! I have a lot of catching up to do on my training, but I have faith in the process and in Jen that she will have me ready to go for my big race in Racine. I'm still in the process of coming to terms with the fact that some of my races will not be what I had hoped them to be this year, but I am getting over my bad self and focusing on Racine. That was my goal race for this season, and that is really all that matters to me right now. The races leading up to Racine will be tough, mentally and physically, but they are a means to an end this year.

This past weekend I went to Galena to watch Greyt and Jen race. I also notched my first DNS. It was an emotionally/mentally tough day for me. I think it was the first time I've really let myself get angry about what happened with my hand. Up until now I've brushed it off as a stupid accident, nothing I can do about it, doesn't help to get upset, everything happens for a reason, blah blah blah. But standing there, spectating, I felt really angry. An accident that never should have happened was forcing me to the sidelines. It wasn't fair. And I was pissed. Instead of being out on that crazy, hilly course racing my heart out like I should have been, I was standing up at the finish area staring at all the racks in T2 clenching my jaw with tears stinging my eyes. I allowed myself that time to get mad, to feel the frustration, and to come to terms with the fact that life isn't always fair. I had the right to feel angry and upset and it was about time I got it out. So I stood there for several minutes letting myself feel all the things I've been pushing aside for 5 weeks. Then I took a big breath, turned around and went out for my run on the race course, making damn sure I even crossed the finish line. While I still had a few bouts of frustration during and after the race, I think I've finally dealt with my emotions around this and can put it behind me. I'm not going to let this set-back ruin my season. It most certainly will change it, but it sure as hell isn't going to ruin it.

"Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength." - Unknown

Friday, April 24, 2009

Today Is A GREAT Day Because....

1. I got the ok to start running again!!
2. I also got my stitches out.
3. I have the appointment made to remove my pin. Two weeks and counting!
4. It is 84 degrees and sunny. G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S day to start running again!
5. It is FRIDAY. Who doesn't love Fridays?
6. I picked my bike up from the shop. They've had it for a couple of weeks getting a bunch of new goodies installed. She looks SuhWeet!
7. Did I mention I get to start running again??

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Playing the Waiting Game

It's been two weeks since surgery now and I'm still forbidden to do any training....unless I can keep my hand raised up to at least ear level. I did manage to sneak in a couple of CrossFit workouts that entailed one arm kettlebell exercises, some situps, some air squats. Nothing too intense, just SOMETHING to get my body moving. Granted, the CF trainer said I looked like I was riding a bull when I was doing the one arm kettlebell swings, but I was at least do some exercising yet still following doctor's orders.

I have another follow-up appointment with the doctor tomorrow. Hopefully he will let me start running, maybe some biking on the trainer. Keep your fingers crossed for me. So far I've decided I have to pull out of one race, the Galena duathlon on May 16. But, if he doesn't give me the ok to start running tomorrow, I will most likely need to also pull out of the oly race on May 31. Grrrr. That really will not make me happy. That will mean Hy-Vee will be my first race of the year...something I did NOT want to have happen. But if that's the way it has to be then I'll deal with it.

Here's hoping to some good news tomorrow...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Quick Update

This will be short...still not the greatest at typing with one hand. Surgery went very well yesterday. The doctor was able to get the bone back in place with no complications. There was no tendon damage or anything. I have a pin holding the bones together that sticks out of my hand a little bit. That will come out in about 4 weeks. No cast, just a splint that I can take on and off to clean my arm/hand and exercise my fingers. I'll be off training for a few days, but am hoping to be able to start running a bit next week. We will see. Oh and to answer the question about how it happened...I was doing pull ups at the gym when the pull up bar broke, sending me crashing to the concrete floor. The steel pull up bar then fell across my hand causing the break and a small laceration. A freak accident...the kind that tends to only happen to me!!!

Thanks everyone for the concern and means a lot!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hey All!

Just a quick message this morning as I'm wasting time before heading to the hospital for my surgery. Yes I said MY and SURGERY together. Long story, but the gist of it is that I had a little accident at the gym on Tuesday that resulted in a "transverse displaced fracture" in my second metacarpal bone on my right hand. In English that means the bone in my hand that runs from my knuckle of my index finger to my wrist is snapped in half, with neither edges of the bone still touching. No small hairline fracture for me, oh no, when I do it, I do it BIG. So today I'm heading to surgery to have two pins put in to hold the bones together while they heal. I'll have those taken out in four weeks then hopefully back to swimming, riding outside, and racing. Sounds like I can still run and ride my trainer, so I plan to do that as much as possible to maintain some fitness anyway.

I will drop in tomorrow with an update on the surgery. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goodbye, Four Eyes!

Tomorrow is the day. 9:30am. After that, no more contacts, no more glasses. I'm getting laser eye surgery, baby!!! Wahoo! Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous. I guess I probably should be...I mean it is surgery. On my eyes. There is a possibility something could go wrong and my vision could end up more screwed up than it is now. But really, I'm not nervous. I'm excited. For the first time in almost 20 years I will be able to get up in the morning and be able to see clearly without glasses or contacts. And that is very exciting to me!

For those of you who are more curious about the details, I am not having LASIK surgery, I'm having the "flapless" eye surgery called Advanced Surface Ablasion (ASA). There's really not a lot different in terms of the outcome of LASIK vs. ASA, there's just a difference in how the surgery is done and the risk of complications after surgery (although not a substantial difference in risk). I talked quite a bit with the surgeon about the two procedures and just decided given my active lifestyle, that it made sense for me to have ASA instead of LASIK. If you are interested in learning more about the differences, here's a link to a document that talks about ASA and the differences from LASIK:

Ok, off to finish up some last minute work stuff so I can be off the rest of the week recuperating!! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One Tri Camp...

Last weekend I went to a triathlon camp in Sarasota, Florida. Not just ANY triathlon camp, mind you. This was an all-chick triathlon camp AND it was hosted by 5x Ironman winner, Heather Gollnick. I signed up for the camp way back in like November, when Jen first posted about it on her blog. So I had plenty of time to get very nervous and very excited. I was nervous because I had been sick pretty much from Christmas through mid-January. Which meant no training whatsoever. I was worried I would go into camp way behind everyone else and not be able to keep up (which turned out to be semi-true). I was also very excited because this was great opportunity to learn about the sport from some very talented pro and elite triathletes. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was also just plain excited to spend a few days in sunny Florida!

Overall, camp was an unforgettable experience. All of the campers and coaches were amazing in their own right. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and I look forward to keeping in contact with them in the future. As for the camp itself, I learned so much not only about triathlon the sport, but also about myself and where I am in my triathlon journey. The biggest thing I have learned is that I have a lot of work to do to get ready for these half ironman races this summer. Not just physically, but also mentally. I need to push myself to train harder and more diligently. I need to find ways to continually go outside my comfort zone to get stronger. And I need to find ways to get over my “bad self” when I get frustrated or discouraged. All in all, realizing these things about myself and changing the way I think/feel/train will only make me a stronger person and triathlete.

Camp was also filled with many firsts for me, including:

• Biking over 45 miles in one day
• Taking apart, packing and re-assembling my bike – TWICE
• Flying with my bike (Southwest ROCKS!)
• Riding in a paceline (scary, but fun)
• Seeing an alligator outside of a zoo
• Seeing a live armadillo (YAY!! FINALLY!)

While all the other bloggers from camp have posted many, many great photos from the camp, I decided I’d be a little different and hand out some fun “Camper Awards”. The recipients of the following awards were selected purely on the basis of my own personal experience at tri-camp. Some of you may have handed these awards out in different ways, or given different awards, based on your experiences with everyone. But here’s my version of Camper Awards:

• Miss Congeniality – Melissa Schwartz – Pure goofiness that had us cracking up all weekend long. Raise the roof!
• Miss Photogenic – Molly McNamara - Perfect smile in every picture. Even underwater! And there are lots of pictures of her. This girl even ran with her camera.
• Best Swimsuit – Courtney Dewees – Love love love the “I will swim every day” Splish.
• Most Determined – Sondra Houhoulis – This girl is serious about getting better in this sport. And she absolutely LOVES every minute she spends training. The harder the better.
• Best Attitude – Sherry Lynn LaBree – Fought through some serious calf pain on Saturday and Sunday, but she buckled down and got through her workouts. And all with that huge smile of hers.
• Best Dressed – Aimee McCaa– From her Louisville IM cycling jersey, to her jammies at pancakes and PJs, this girl rocks her style.
• Hottest Bike – Heather Gollnick – I have to say, that pink camo QR is suh-weet! And TINY!
• Best Draft – Monica Murphy - She was so kind to let Rachelle and I ride her wheel for 30 miles. Without Monica, I think I’d still be out on that second loop somewhere.
• Best Taste in Music – Jennifer Cunnane – Vanilla Ice, Tone Loc, Ice T, Public Enemy. Word to your Mother.
• Best Fish Impersonation – Cheryl Stine. This chick can swim. FAST. If I could only swim half as fast as she does.
• Best Moon – Elizabeth Waterstraat – Those shorty shorts make for easy elf-mooning.
• Best Travel Buddy EVER – Rachelle. This goes without saying, she put up with me for four days. Although I did contemplate giving her a Stinkiest Feet award….
• Most Intense Camper – Jen Harrison. And I’m not just saying this because she’s my coach. I honestly think Intensity might be her middle name. Could have also won Most Likely to Fart While Laughing award.
• Best Conversationalist – Holly Ball. Holly can and will talk to anyone about anything. So personable and genuine. She made the run on Sunday so much more enjoyable. Thanks, Holly!!
• Best Swim Lane Partner – Kate Oliver – This girl doesn’t make a splash. At all. NO waves when she swims. Poor thing was probably getting sea-sick from all the chop I was sending her way.
• Fastest Blogger – Todd Gollnick – He had the trike race pictures up before we even got back to our hotel rooms! Molly was a close second for this award...
• Slowest Blogger – Me. The proof is in the pudding.

And so I will close my camp recap with some photos from the last afternoon in Florida…it was colder than it looks!