Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair. This one is a long one, but I promise I have done my best to make it well worth your time.
The summer has come and gone and I haven't done a great job keeping up with the blog. I've raced 3 more times since my last race report, but just never got around to posting about them. I guess life got in the way a little. There were a lot of highs, but a few lows as well. I had a blog ready to post after Calgary 70.3, but with the unexpected passing of a friend, writing a blog about a race seemed incredibly shallow and inconsequential. But, now that I've had some time to process this and hopefully gain a little more perspective I think it's time to get writing again.
So, here goes my best attempt at providing a brief synopsis of the 3 races... IM 70.3 Calgary, MountainMan Half Ironman and IM 70.3 Santa Cruz.
Following CDA 70.3 at the end of June, we spent another 6 weeks living van life in the Pacific Northwest traveling to the Olympic Peninsula as well as spending some time in my beloved city of Seattle. From there, we headed to my first race in Canada (Calgary 70.3) and it did not disappoint. Not only did the Canadians confirm for me that they do indeed say "EH" after EVERY other word, but I was also told by a Canadian that I had an accent.
On to the races...
I've spent a lot of time this year working on my swim. I haven't made any massive gains in improving my top-end speed, but have definitely worked on trying to sustain my short-interval speed over longer distances. With 6-7 pool swims per week and a lot of open-water swimming in Lake Washington while in Seattle, the work has been paying off.
I was really happy with my swim in Calgary having the fastest swim in my age group and one that put me at the front of the pack for the bike.
At MountainMan Half (my local half ironman in Flagstaff), 3 weeks following Calgary, I actually led the entire swim, something entirely new to me. It was odd being out in front and not seeing anyone in front of me. Knowing that YOU are the one EVERY one is following lays on just a wee bit of pressure. Trying to spot and stay on course with heavy fog over the lake that morning and then sun directly in the eyes heading back to the beach proved to be difficult. BUT, with a lot of open water experience I was able to stay right on track and had a very solid swim and ended up leading the race from start to finish.
Another 4 weeks following MountainMan and I was off to race in Santa Cruz. The swim in Santa Cruz was a bit more eventful. First, we were told two days before the race that the water we were supposed to be swimming in had high levels of red algae and bacteria and there was a swim advisory in effect from the health department. Fortunately, the race director was able to change the swim so that we would just swim "around" the algae and not "through" it (or at least those of us that can swim a straight line. For the rest of you... sorry, but red algae for breakfast it is!!). I was pretty nervous for this swim. I don't have a lot of experience swimming in the ocean ...errrr what I really mean is swimming with the sharks. I have a LOT of open-water swimming experience, but most of my races are in lakes. Sure I might kiss a fishy here or there, but it's pretty hard to get the idea of a shark out of your head when you're in the ocean. So, I attempted a new distraction technique. To divert my attention from thinking about sharks I thought about this image instead as it is far less frightening don't you think???
Come race morning there was such a heavy fog over the water you couldn't see but a few meters out. Besides the very first buoy, not a single other buoy could be seen. My mind started to wander again... now to both sharks AND dead bodies under water. I was just praying I wouldn't be one of the casualties. The race start got delayed due to the fog and we waited and waited and waited for it to clear as the start continued to be pushed further and further off. As much as I didn't want to be eaten by a shark I still prayed there would be a swim. The swim is the only thing that can actually give some separation on the bike and with these races already be overcrowded and the drafting by the age-group men getting out of hand how would we ever start a race without a swim??? Thankfully the race directors improvised. They moved the swim to another beach and shortened the swim by a LOT (about 800 meters down from 2000), but after standing on the beach in my wetsuit for over an hour I HAD to pee. Remember that part where I said we all pee when we get IN the water??? Well, this was an emergency and as we were all tightly corralled on the beach waiting for the swim to start I just couldn't hold it anymore and I wet my not-so-wet wetsuit. BUT, I was courteous and did my best not to let any of the pee dripping out of my wetsuit get on anyone's feet because, well, I'm polite like that.
The swim was a rolling start so I seeded myself at the front and I swam as HARD as I could. I knew if I swam fast I could get out on the bike before the packs started to form. I was feeling pretty confident coming out of the water and knew I had had a solid swim. I stood up and started to run for the beach. I'm pretty sure it looked something like this...
Okay, that is until I literally face-planted, much like the running chorizo you see below. There wasn't even a chance I could catch myself. I was face down in the water before I knew it.
Luckily, I have a LOT of experience with falling in races. If you've read my previous race reports you know I have a history of falling both in the bike AND in the run. It was only fair the swim get a fair shot at an epic fall as well. (Who knew you could fall in the swim??) So, in addition to swimming, biking and running I have now added "how to recover from a fall like it was nothing" to my training. Some of you have had the pleasure of witnessing my "worm" dance move at parties after the consumption of too much tequila. Okay, I think my friends actually referred to it as a "dead fish", but nonetheless I have practice on how to recover from a fall. My recovery went a little something like this...
Okay, onto the bike or bikes....
Calgary was by far my best bike ever. The course was FLAT and FAST!! I knew going into the race it would be so I went into the race ready to push myself to the MAX and I'm happy to say I delivered!! I averaged 24 miles per hour on the bike. HOLLA!! (Do people still say that??) My average power was the highest I've ever held for that distance of a race. (I won't tell you what that is though. I don't want to scare anyone).
Of course, there were the usual pussies out on course. And by pussies I mean age-group men who draft off of little old me. It's the same back and forth game over and over and over and usually by about the 3rd or 4th time they've drafted off of me and then ILLEGALLY re-passed me they have something super lame to say to me like, "Your turn" to which I reply, "No DICKWAD, this isn't a draft-legal race". We had a tailwind on the way out on the bike course and after turning into the headwind I knew it was my shot to lose the losers and just that I did. Not a single one of those pussies had the power to stay with me. I was finally able to relax and settle in and it was smooth sailing all the way back into T2.
My bike at MountainMan was pretty uneventful. I was pretty tired when that race rolled around and there was not a whole lot in the legs, but I was able to hold onto my lead out of the water and rode fast enough to have the fastest female bike split.
The bike in Santa Cruz was gorgeous as we rode out along the coast the entire ride. The views were breathtaking. Errr... so they say. I can't actually look up on the bike to take in the views when I'm racing. DUH! Views or no views, I was super happy with my bike again, putting out some massive power and having one of the fastest bike splits of the day.
Onto the runs...
My run unfortunately is still nothing to write home about. I am very slowly, but steadily making improvements and know that I have to just keep chipping away to hopefully bring my time back down. I've broken back into the 7:30 min/mi pace range for the half and as much as I'd like to get this back to 7 flat (and eventually sub 7) I have been humbly reminded run after run, race after race, that it is going to take longer than I'd like. But, if it weren't for the challenge I probably wouldn't be doing this.
All in all I finished first in my age group at Calgary 70.3 and 3rd overall amateur female in a time of 4:22:22. At MountainMan I was first female overall leading from start to finish finishing in a time of 4:52:30 and at Santa Cruz 70.3 I won my age group and was 3rd overall amateur female finishing in a time of 4:32:04.
And that's a wrap for my race reports. In other exciting news, I asked a man on the streets of Calgary who was walking around with a parakeet on his shoulder if I could pet his bird. He proceeded to ask me for money and when I realized I was about to pay a man so that I could pet his bird, I decided it was time to walk away.
Following Calgary we had the chance to hit up Yellowstone on the way home. It was my first time there and it did not disappoint. Yellowstone is absolutely AMAZING!
When living van life you must improvise and compromise which sometimes makes for some weird situations. This can include giving yourself a facial mask in the Starbuck's bathroom or peeing in a ziploc bag because well, it's late, all public restrooms are closed, and peeing on someone's front lawn just doesn't seem acceptable (at least yet).
Lakes make for GREAT showers and ice baths. Here I am in Diablo lake in North Cascades National Park in about 40 degree water trying to act "chill" but freezing my ass off!!
In closing, it's hard to talk about this summer without mentioning the passing of my friend Rebecca. Rebecca had a HUGE heart and she lead her life LOVE first. When I was in Seattle I had planned to call Rebecca but I never did. A few weeks after returning home I learned of her passing. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I realize now I will never have the chance to go back and call her. Life is short and with the amount of hatred, violence, and tragedy we are facing these days I think it is a constant reminder to LOVE more and to remember not to get so caught up in life that we forget to enjoy the journey and to stop and spread a little love along the way.
Rebecca was a writer and she would hand write cards to her friends, something I find absolutely incredible. After she passed I made a promise that I would do better communicating with my friends. No, it is still pretty unlikely that you will receive a phone call from me because I absolutely HATE talking on the phone. But, I have I picked up a set of notecards and am slowly but surely doing my best to fill them out and send them via snail mail to hopefully do my job of spreading a little more love.
Until next time,