When I confirmed my membership with the 2014 SOAS Racing Brand Ambassador Team I had to submit a quote to go with my profile. When I read that, all I could think was how I’m the worst with remembering inspirational or funny quotes/sayings. If I hear or come across something that catches my attention, it tends to stick with me for a week or two, but then I forget it. So I started to think, ‘what do I tell myself when I need to dig deep?’ Danny likes to tell me to “HTFU” (that’s harden the f* up for those of you who don’t use the phrase), but that wasn’t going to work. I thought and thought and then it hit me, “don’t be a princess!’ I LOVE this quote. It’s my version of HTFU. I started telling it to myself after a bike ride Danny and I went on this fall. It was toward the end of the ride and we had a decently sized hill to climb to finish. Danny was ahead of me, but I noticed I was gaining on him. I decided to pass him, so I gave a max effort and went flying by him (probably while laughing and saying something like ‘suckaaa’). I love passing him, especially while climbing. Well because I put in such an effort to pass him, I totally ran out of steam and before I knew it he passed me back. When he did so he said, “Too soon princess!” Man did that get me. ‘I’m not a princess, jerk!’ :) It was pretty funny and it’s totally what I tell myself when I feel like I have nothing left in the tank.

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Hello New Year!!

2013 really was a great year!! It was full of fun trips to the coast, Bend, and plenty of race-cations to beautiful places including Oceanside, Coeur d’Alene, and Whistler BC Canada!! Danny and I, once again, shared the same race schedule, and there’s so much we can take away from all the hard work we put into 2013. I learned a lot about myself, improved on some weaknesses, and became more confident, mentally tough, and hungry to develop into the strongest triathlete I can be!

“Until you spread your wings, you will have no idea how far you can fly” – unknown author

My sister-in-law introduced me to the above quote just a few weeks ago. It’s perfectly fitting looking ahead to the 2014 season….in more ways than one!! Of course with the inspirational part, but also because the wing is the symbol of SOAS and I was selected to be part of the SOAS Racing Brand Ambassador Team in 2014! SOAS is an awesome company out of San Diego, CA that makes fashionable women’s specific endurance wear. I’m super excited to represent them and I can’t wait to see where the 2014 season takes me!! Cheers to an amazing 2014!!

Little late with this post but better late then never! Danny and I had been planning on joining two other friends to compete as a team in the 24 Hours of Whiskeytown in the beginning of October. We were really looking forward to that race! Getting on the mountain bike after the year we’ve had on our tri bikes was really a breath of fresh air. I almost forgot about how much I love mountain biking. There’s just something about being out in the woods and riding a bike…riding single track you get to tap into a completely different skill set. It’s much more dynamic than road riding because your constantly changing direction, looking for the best line, dodging trees/branches/natural obstacles, and (as Danny always reminds me) doing your best to keep the rubber side down! Basically, signing up for this race provided me with a great reminder of how much fun and what a great workout mountain biking is, and hopefully we’ll be able to incorporate more of it into our offseason training!

So did we all hear about the government shutdown?? I personally didn’t think it was going to directly impact me too much, but as we got closer to our race (supposed to be held on Oct 5-6), I realized we were to be racing on federal land. Great. Race week was upon us and it wasn’t looking good. Sure enough the shutdown lasted well beyond our race date so no 24 Hours of Whiskeytown for us! This was a pretty big bummer, but we decided to make the best of the situation. It was going to be a beautiful weekend in Oregon so on Friday morning we registered for the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic (held on Saturday Oct. 5), packed up all our stuff, and we headed to the coast!

We arrived in Yachats, OR in time to pick up our packets and watch the sun set over the ocean. It was a beautiful and we were happy to have found a pretty awesome plan B!

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The Oregon Coast Gravel Epic offered two course options – a shorter 37 mile route (Son of Abomination) and a longer 73 mile (Abomination). We figured it’d be the smarter choice to do the shorter (Son of Abomination) course since we weren’t prepared to spend at least 7 hours on the mtb! This was a new type of riding for us too. Gravel riding is getting more and more popular around here. We primarily rode both paved and gravel logging roads that winded through the coastal cascade mountain range. This meant there were steep and long climbs. It was a beautiful and sunny day, actually perfect weather for the coast, and when we got to the top we were provided with several overlooks of the expansive coastal forest. It was awesome!

As for the race. It was challenging for sure. Over the 37 miles there were 2 approximate 4 mile climbs, which seemed to last forever! It was pretty chilly at the start, warmed up on the ups, and got cold again with bombing the downhills. I always had someone around me, but figured I was towards the back because I wasn’t seeing many other girls. I ended up with a time of 3:24:18, 3/8 female and 15/44 overall! It turns out most people opted for the longer course (53 men and 8 women). It was advertised as 5000ft elevation gain, Garmin shows just over 4000ft…definitely a fun course and race, and if I have the chance to do it again next year, I’ll probably train a little more and go for the 73 mi version. We’ll just have to wait and see! :)

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Since shipping my little Trek back to JoAnn, I’ve been looking for a new road bike. Actually, Danny was doing a lot more looking than me. I’d get a little overwhelmed when thinking about all the possibilities and choices I’d have to make when considering things such as to buy new vs. used vs. build a bike, size, components, how much $ to put into it, etc. What I did know was that I needed something to ride over the winter, weather permitting, it had to be between a 49-51cm frame, and I wanted 700 vs 650 wheels to be able to change them out with my tri bike. I have also always wanted a Bianchi, so both of us had filtered the search accordingly.

A few weeks ago, Danny found it. A cute little late 90’s/early 00’s steel framed Bianchi Veloce! We arranged to meet the seller and headed down to Grants Pass to take a look. I took it for a test ride, playing with the gears, looked it over and everything checked out! I was so happy and excited to have found my new bike!

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As I was talking with the woman trying to sell the bike, Sherry, I found out that it was coming from a very special place. Sherry was selling it for her friend Libby. She explained that Libby and her husband were currently in the middle of a move and due to various life events, she hadn’t been able to ride it much. Sherry also said that the previous night Libby was questioning her decision to get rid of the bike because there were plenty of paved trails near her new home. Knowing how much she loved this awesome bike and all the cycling adventures she’d taken with it meant a lot to me because it reminded me of my first bike. From the start, Libby seemed like my kind of person, but then Sherry revealed a most awesome fact about Libby, she’s in her 80’s!! Awesome!

Libby,

Although I didn’t get to meet you in person, know that you’re an inspiration to me! I promise to take good care of our bike and I hope that I’m as passionate about my bikes when I’m your age as you are :) I’ve taken the old girl for several rides already and I’m impressed with how smooth she is on the road. I love it! THANK YOU!!

Whistler you are amazing! British Columbia you are beautiful! This whole experience was nothing less than magical and Danny and I are incredibly blessed to be able to participate in these races and travel to these fantastic locations. It’s easy to run out of adjectives when describing the awesomeness that was this race experience, but I’ll do my best to get that point across.

Everything north of Evertt, WA (a northern suburb of Seattle) was new territory to us. The Pacific Northwest is home to some spectacular sights, but holy cow did Mother Nature kick it up a notch with everything north of Vancouver!! My best description of the Sea to Sky corridor is that it’s like a super sized Columbia River Gorge (border of OR and WA). We drove up on Thursday and were basically in awe at the beautiful scenery until we left on Tuesday.

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Whistler is kind of like Vail on steroids. The Olympic village is full of shops and restaurants and its surrounded by a breathtaking mountainous landscape. The village was the hub of everything Ironman and we were fortunate to find a condo within a 5 minute walk. This made things very easy around race day.

We arrived Thursday night, got checked in, went for a quick run, and met our fellow Endurance Nation competitors for dinner. Friday we rode our bikes to Alta Lake to meet our EN teammates again. We scoped out the swim course, went for a quick swim, rode home, and got in the car to drive most of the course. Although we weren’t able to pre-ride the whole course in training, several of our teammates were, so we were pretty well versed on what to expect. What we saw from the car seemed to be on par with what everyone was saying – it’s tough. We went for a short ride when we got back, then we stated to get organized for gear check in the following day.

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(Olympic Village : Part of the 7mi Callahan climb : Bike/run course views – Green Lake)                          (Athlete welcome ceremony)

Saturday was easy. We dropped bikes and bags off and pretty much just hung out. I thought about my nutrition plan for Sunday, all the emotions I’d feel during the race, and what I would tell myself to keep pushing on when my body didn’t want to. My goals were pretty simple: 1 – finish, 2 – go sub 12:55, and 3 – don’t give up on the run and beat a 4:50 marathon. We went to bed early and set the alarms for 2am.

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Race day

2:00am – I’m up and drinking my extra large smoothie then back to bed.

3:45am – We’re up. I had a bagel craving, so I had about 1/2 toasted with cream cheese. Washed it down with some coconut water and a banana. Around 4:30 we were out the door.

We walked through the village to T2, got body marked, dropped off special needs bags, and hopped on the bus to take us to Alta Lake/T2. Thankfully, we were on one of the first busses, so transition wasn’t too crowded when we got there. I set up my bike (water bottles and food), filled up my tires, then Danny and I found a quite spot by the lake to hang out until it was wetsuit time.

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(Calm before the storm : the Iron-smootch thanks to David McColm [http://www.davidmccolm.com/])

Swim: The water temp was pretty perfect, high 60′s, which was much warmer than the air temp. The pro guys started at 6:50, women at 6:53, and we were able to get into the water at 6:55ish. It was a deep water start, so we made our way out and positioned ourselves about 50 meters from the buoy line. As the announcer counted down the last few minutes, I decided to move back about 15-20 feet from Danny with the hope of putting myself in a better self seeded spot.

The gun went of and here we go, our first mass start! I actually enjoyed the swim. The water was crystal clear and of course with each breath the view was superb. We didn’t exit the water after the first lap, just kept on into the next. I felt great in the water and thought I was swimming well. When I came up to the beach I glanced at the clock and was pleased :) I knew I had a new PR! Official time 1:21:49 (a 2:27 min PR over CDA) 33/50 age group = great way to start the day!

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T1: 4:44 (8sec PR from CDA).

Bike: The bike course was pretty extreme. It was fairly chilly for the better part of the first half. I decided against arm warmers mostly because I didn’t want to deal with them later on, but also because the climbing started right off the bat and I figured I would warm up easily. Not really the case, but it all still worked out and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Several people, including multiple pros, said this bike course is one of the hardest if not the hardest on the Ironman circuit. There was a ton of climbing and the placement of the hills could really crush you later on if you didn’t ride them properly. Thankfully several of our EN teammates trained on the course and gave us plenty of good feedback. One of the things I heard over and over again was pace yourself early on. Most of the climbing was in the first 30 and the last 20 miles, so it’s really easy to go out too hard initially then your shot for the last push into town, let alone a marathon.

I had fun in that first bit. I pushed up the mountain, but definitely had my foot off the gas some. I followed my nutrition plan and was feeling pretty good until around mile 50. My quads felt crampy and tired. I was getting concerned that it would only get worse and be disastrous by the run. Thankfully, I got my special needs bag around mile 60-65, which included a Gatorade, Kind bar, and a snickers. The extra calories were exactly what I needed! I started feeling pretty good again by mile 75-80, just in time for the last push up the hill to home!

I passed a lot of people in those last 20ish miles and it felt good. I came into town strong and ready to get off my bike and run. My bike split was 6:32:17. Not a PR but only 5 minutes off my CDA time, which I’m pretty proud of given this was IM #2 and IM #1 was only 8 weeks ago! I moved up to 15/50 age group. Oh yeah and I have a new PR top speed… I hit 45.6mph around mile 45 (beating Danny by 0.6mph!!)

T2: 6:04 – not a PR probably because it included a bathroom break!

Run: I started off feeling good, keeping a comfortable pace and only walking water stations. I knew I was capable of running a better marathon than I did in CDA and I wanted to prove it. I saw Danny around mile 5.5. We stopped for a kiss and short chat about how we were doing and feeling. I gained energy from him and kept up running fairly well for a few more miles then the legs just wouldn’t shut up. Miles 11 or 12 – 20 really sucked. There was a lot of walking, but still more running than CDA.

Then, there was “that” girl…In my age group. I caught up to her around mile 17. She was walking, but walking super fast, way faster than my walk. If I walked she would drop me, but she wouldn’t run, so when I picked up the pace I would catch her. I caught up to her around mile 21 and I told myself “that’s it I’m losing her and running the rest of this race” so I did…(nearly) only walking water stops. I finished strong and proud and so incredibly happy with what I just did! Run time was 4:40:41, a 25:11 min PR from CDA!!

Total time 12:45:35 15/50 age group :) a sweet Ironman PR of 21:34 min!!

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I LOVED this race. Sure it was tough, but it’s supposed to be. Yes, there are areas to work on, but there always are. I’ve learned a lot from this race about myself, and although it was pretty crazy to tackle two Ironmans in my first season of long course racing, I feel very fortunate to have learned these lessons now versus next season. Triathlon is an amazing sport and I feel like I’m the luckiest girl to be able to share it all with my husband!!

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Thank you Endurance Nation for guiding me over the last 10 months! I couldn’t have done it without you!! Work works for sure!!

Check out the race day video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-et2fW_TcNA

Over the last few days the prerace feelings of excitement, anxiety, joy, and fear have really set in! Ironman Canada is 1 WEEK away, it’s crazy!! Danny and I started planning our 2013 race schedule about a year and a half ago and Canada is the last super serious race we have planed for the season (although, we may still fit in a marathon and have already committed to represent half of a team in a 24-hour mountain bike race in Northern California in Nov. :) ). Either way, any other race we decide to do this year won’t even come close to matching the prep that goes into an ironman, and don’t get me wrong this is probably a good thing.

Am I ready? Well, I’ll admit I haven’t nailed or even completed every workout since IMCDA, but I most definitely feel mentally and physically stronger than I did prior to CDA. I have had some really great swim, bike, and run sessions, and I feel like I’m a stronger athlete for sure. I also have a greater confidence this time around just from finishing one of these before. I guess this makes me feel more prepared for this race. Now, to only worry about what I can control and not what I can’t, such as having mechanical issues on the bike, to hopefully calm down some of the anxiety and fears and just enjoy the journey!

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Toes are ready to race :) and they match my bike!!

If we had it our way, we would have a big group of family and friends come to Sherpa and cheer us on at every one of these races…who wouldn’t want that?? But, our families were only able to attend one of our big races this year and that was CDA. We are so thankful that we were able to experience it all for the first time together, and they will be sorely missed next weekend. The bit of irony I deduce from this situation is that if we were going to have support for one of the two races, it’s better that we had it for CDA as our first Ironman. For me, a whirlwind of emotions will forever be tied to that race and it was so much more special to share it with family. Canada will be a tougher race all around, so it’s a good thing that it’s not my first crack at the distance. I’m going into it with more confidence, strength, focus, and experience, which will hopefully offset some of the family/friend/Sherpa void.

I came up with a new mantra not long ago during a hard workout “I can, I will, I have.” You better believe I’ll be telling that to myself all day in Canada!! Here’s to one more long day of racing in the 2013 season :) Canada, see ya soon, eh!!

Danny and I really wanted to fit this race into our 2013 schedule, but didn’t decide to register until a few weeks post IM Coeur d’Alene. We wanted to make sure we had our legs back and could keep up with IM Canada training before committing. I’m so happy we were able to make it happen not only because it was our first local race of the year, but also because it was an absolutely beautiful venue and our favorite wheel company, Rolf Prima, was the title sponsor :)

Our day started early as usual. Danny packed up the car and we had our usual breakfast/pre-race food. Our friend Dave met us at our house and we were on the road by 4:30am-ish. Dave is a good riding buddy of ours. He’s an excellent cyclist who felt the first bite of the triathlon bug while tracking us during IM CDA. This was to be his first experience with triathlon.

We had about an hour drive. It was pretty cool out when we got there, mid/low 50’s. It was announced the day before that the water temp was 77, so I was beginning to think that once we got started the water temp may be warmer than the air. It’s funny how relaxed and less chaotic a smaller local race feels when compared to a larger Ironman branded event. Because I wasn’t shuttled into place I almost questioned if I was forgetting something. There are no designated “bike” and “run” bags and T1 and T2 are the same exact spot. Once I got my bike set up and gear ready I stepped back and took it all in. Racing triathlon does require a lot of prep, but on race day the simpler the better and I was excited to get this race started!!

2013 Tri at the Grove

After transition was set up, we went back to the car to finish getting dressed, get sun screened-up, and our other friends Jacklyn, Mark and their daughter Myah met up with us. They made the trip up to cheer us on and spend the day enjoying the race and the beautiful venue. It was great to have all of them and Dave there to support us and we’re very fortunate to have wonderful people like them in our lives.

Swim: 32:00 – The positive: water felt great, minimal contact, and a 36 sec PR from Folsom 2012. The not so positive: I didn’t feel super awesome, I’m pretty sure I had trouble swimming in a straight line, and my hit or miss goggles were a miss. As always I need to work on my swim… place 22/47 overall women.

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Bike: 1:12:27 – My goal here was to average at least 20mph. I knew the course wasn’t really hilly and I have been feeling really strong on my bike over the past few months. I miss judged the hill coming out of T1 and started in the wrong gear. I’m pretty sure this mistake is largely what caused my right piriformis to cramp like no other. It was terrible and hurt like a mother! I felt ok standing on my bike, but couldn’t push very hard, and I initially had to coast downhill to stretch it. All I could think was “oh no, this is bad and how will it affect me/Canada if I continue?” I ate some honey stinger chews and took in some water and it thankfully relieved itself after about a ½ mile into the course. A few guys passed me during that time, but that surely wasn’t to last. I tried and succeeded with putting the hammer down as much as I could. I nailed the bike, passed a ton of people. My avg. speed was 20.7mph and I PR’ed the bike by 5:09 (although Folsom was hillier), 5th overall fastest female bike split (this includes 2 pros, the first place only beat me by ~8min :)). Super happy with my bike…except the cramp that is!

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Run: 50:38 – My run has been the slowest to recover after IM. I feel like I’m back overall, but felt a little sluggish during the race. My gut didn’t seem super happy with what I was doing and was a little crampy off and on. I probably would have benefited from doing a better job hydrating and eating on the bike. Two fast girls passed me on the run and from start to finish I had the same girl insight, just about 75-100m ahead of me. I thought about pushing to catch her, but never made the move. In the end she finished 18sec ahead of me. Hopefully someday I will be able to run down someone who’s that close to me… maybe a new goal?? I was about 1 minute shy of PR’ing the run and had the 13th fastest female split.

I finished in 2:37:46, a 5:37 min PR 1/3 age group and 9/41 overall female (including 2 pros). It was a beautiful course, I honed in on a few new things to work on and think about, we got to enjoy the day with friends, and I’m adding another PR to the list!

Thanks again Dave, Jacklyn, Mark, and Myah for showing your love and support!!

2013 Tri at the Grove

(all of us on the dock cooling off after the race)

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