Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 - swim

Ah, inaugural racing events how I love your challenges, hype, and finally the execution on race day. The unknowns become known. Expectations are high, especially with WTC events, and California did not disappoint. 

The 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe is officially in the books. And it's gone down unofficially as the slowest and hardest. In commemoration, this ended up being the longest blog post, so I'll split it up. The account of my journey on Sunday will unfold in the next couple of blogs. 

We stayed near Kings Beach so we had a relaxed 4:30am wake up. Forced down 2 packets of oatmeal and packed a banana. Mixed the bike bottles, Kyle drove us to the start {until the road closure forced us to turn up the 267}, and we walked to transition. Dumped the special needs bags and headed to Kermit to get him ready for the long day ahead. 

Frosty Kermit - poor guy had to sustain rain, wind and freezing overnight temps. Put on my saddle bag, snack pack {bento box}, bottles, Garmin, and made sure he was in an appropriate gear and that the power meter was reading. Tires felt okay so I didn't bother finding a pump. We actually got to access our T1 bags so I headed over there for some last min prep. I had double bagged and thank goodness. Bags were left in the rain as well and people were not happy/prepared when all their bike stuff was wet. I had those insta warmers so I unwrapped to activate and put them between my toe covers and shoes as well as in my long fingered gloves which I stuffed into my shoes. 

The race directors rented the kings beach convention center and opened the doors for us to put on our wetsuits! Definitely a lifesaver before the swim. Air temps were below freezing so I was happy to stand on a warm floor while taking off the many morning clothes. Kyle met me there and gave me a quick goodbye hug and kiss and after a puff of the inhaler and a bite of the banana I was off to the {frozen sand} beach. Wool snowboarding socks with more insta warmers kept my feet temp manageable before and after my warmup.  I actually got in the water before since it was approx 30 degrees warmer than the air! {I did this at St. George 2010 but water temp was 52 so it was more of a cool down; also an in-water start, which I much prefer.} I swam maybe 20 strokes out then back to get my face in and get the breathing under control. I watched both of the pro waves while standing in the water and paid attention to how many steps to dolphin dives and then back to steps {on the sandbar} they took before swimming. I got out, found the socks and nudged my way to the front of the swim start line. National Anthem, pump up song and then a 1 min warning. Socks off. Goggles on. Cannon. 

Swim: 54:46 {fastest female amateur / pro}

Run, run, dive, dive, stand and run run, dive, swim. Oh thank goodness! This feels so warm! I didn't fall on my face! I didn't stub my toe on a rock {or at least my frozen toes didn't notice}! 

The swim start arch was a bit offset from the first red turn buoy and there were a couple aggro men around me but I tried to find good feet. Before I knew it we were to the 1st yellow buoy and I was on the inside. Okay, mental note, buoys are flaring out. I opted to keep the yellows on my right and find the red one to make the left hand turn. I also saw a stand up paddler ahead and green caps following so I just followed their kicks. 

Why? If you haven't seen, it was a bit foggy from the drastic air/water temp differential.  I had opted for the tinted sweeds and at the time was questioning my call. 2, 3, 4, 5 - the labeled buoys were flying by and my pace felt okay. Turning was a non issue and as we were heading back in I couldn't help but smile at the truly amazing views. I mostly breathe to the right and before the sun crested the mountains the burn lines on the clouds were gorgeous. I also glanced back and saw another pink cap! 

Yikes, stop checking out the views and get back to racing! Water wasn't too choppy and I would've much preferred a large one loop course. By the 2nd buoy on my 2nd lap we started to pass 1st loopers. Seriously. I did see someone on one of those resting rafts and had to shake my head. Not sure getting out of the warm water into the cold air is going to help you buddy. I don't want to turn this into a "swim smart" rant so I won't. {get a coach!!}

We passed some female pros at the 4th buoy {yellow caps} and smiles ensued. I let the other pink cap girl take the lead on the way out but after we turned in I started taking charge. With a couple hundred yards left we really began to hit the masses. 

It was a zombie apocalypse in the water. 

People were barely moving and heading in every direction including straight at me. {??!}  I really really do NOT like contact in the water but at some point it's unavoidable. Situational awareness for some reason goes out the door when the faces hit the water. A man in an xterra suit swam stroke for stroke with me, breathing left as I was breathing right, and we battled through most of the swim together. We got to the sandbar and began running out congratulating each other. 

The crowd support was awesome. Heard Mike Riley announce my name {incorrectly, but I won't hold it against him} and ran up the beach. 

Transition: 8:05 {Day Spa}
Walked to my T1 bag and had the wetsuit strippers pull my bottoms off and headed into the {heated!} change tent where I saw the rest of the female pros. A volunteer grabbed me {with a warm towel, seriously amazing} and brought me to the back corner - to a surprise - the heater vent!! I stripped down out of my swimsuit. Dried off. Started barking orders but my cheeks were frozn. Odd sensation. Order of events:
Leg warmers
Arm warmers
Body glide
Sat down for socks/shoes
Gloves {left the heaters in}

I was out of the change tent. It was quite a hike to get around transitions and through to grab Kermit myself, which had a sweet spot near the exit. {Volunteers grabed our bikes for us at IMSG} Out of T1 in what I thought was a slow 8 min but apparently ended up being a pretty quick transition based upon the 25 min average t1/t2 combo. 

A volunteer reminded me to take my time clipping in as people ahead of me were apparently having issues. Who? The pros? {Kyle told me later he saw the 3rd dude out totally eat it. Apparently frozen toes and bike clips don't go well together.} Got on Kermit, garmin started, and we were off! 

{"epic" bike report to follow}

Many thanks to De Soto for getting me the new top at such a late notice before the race! It was awesome and I had no issues or chaffing. Such a great fit and a fast suit. Thanks for believing in me and making a product these "swimmer shoulders" love! 

Also, to my ocean friends and training buddies - you guys rock - and make me look good! Jake, Erin and Christine you guys truly made my summer that much more enjoyable. Ironman is about the journey and you made getting to the swim exit that much easier and faster. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ironman circles

So here I am. Coming full circle to the end of my training and the finish of the real journey, to embark on the journey of race day. To circle around some buoys, turn the circular wheels and yeah, that run thing, hopefully in a bee-line, straight to the finish.

By the numbers I started this journey 4 months ago. I've managed to rack up:

317 run miles
2530 bike miles
58 swim (floating) miles
total time spent working out: 237 hours.

my favorite part of pre-race prep?
sweedish goggle assembly
It hasn't been about quantity, especially with the late start. I've put in some quality workouts this summer and have dug deep to find out where I can take my body. I have three more years of tri experience under my belt {and in my legs}. I'm ready. To toe the line and then to cross it. Into the crazy day that is Ironman. yippie!

sillyness w/stacy. wool socks and wetsuits.
we are the crazy people. :)
kermit is sad to be left in transition overnight
in the wind and rain.
You can track me HERE.

Vacation has been pretty chill since getting to Tahoe. We stayed with my friend Stacy for our first two nights at Squaw Valley area and are now at our cute little a-frame house in Kings Beach with my MN friend Nordica. Her BF Kevin is racing, so her and Kyle are on super sherpa duties.

I've hopped in the water a couple of times and rode a bit to decide what to wear. Which has been a large topic of conversation here. {and quite frankly, I'm stoked on the weather} My favorite email of the week is from Noko: "Stay away from the wimps that complain about the cold, they are just weak and eaten too much bloody kale and protein smoothes!!! ha PAY BACK TIME TO ALL THE IDIOT HEALTH FREAKS!"

My thoughts precisely. I throughly enjoyed my gluten filled dinner, aka carbo loading! Something that has worked for me every taper of my life! :) 

those darn bags. packing, prepping, marking, hauling.
Kyle has been a great sherpa, but don't worry, he's been enjoying this vacation too. Gaining as much elevation as his poor knees can handle by foot and bike. He'll do his best to update to his and my FB tomorrow.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement. Thank you to my training partners for their company and friendship this summer. You know you who are and I truly appreciate you! Thanks to coach Brian for helping me understand power and use it wisely. :) And thank you Kyle, for getting me and us to another start line. I know I said I'd never do it again. But here I am. In Lake Tahoe. Now let's work to that finish tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I swear one of these years we'll take a proper vacation. To a sandy beach with fruity drinks. But for now, these race-cations will have to suffice. 

So it's finally here {well, in 5 more sleeps}: IM Lake Tahoe family vacation! We have the kids packed {Kermit and Thuvia and their 2 friends} and we're on the long road to my second Ironman. Getting to this point hasn't been nearly as dramatic as the first and really, the hardest part was getting through these past two weeks of Tri Classic craziness and training, packing, working. 

The almost end of an exhausting week. Sherpa was a bike course van driver, aid station worker and all around helper on arguably the hardest {and most definitely longest} day of my work each year. 

For some reason I had the crazy idea to test my endurance that week; 12 hour work day Wednesday. 17 mile long run on Thursday morning followed by a 14 hour work day. And then 31 hours straight Friday - Saturday {well I did make it home for a shower at 3am}. Still, I managed 12.5 hours of training during a 65 hour work week. Okay- enough of the numbers. When I was looking ahead at my calendar, I was more concerned about making it through that week than anything training was going to throw at me. I seriously cannot believe I've survived five years of this race. Many thanks to all the volunteers who make it possible. And to Sara - the person who invests the most into this event and who is thanked the least. She is the one who deserves all credit for this race even happening. 

If you raced and had a good time, send her a thank you email: 

Hey Sara. You rock. And your sunglasses are boss. 

{wagon rides, pizza with the boys, and the lone last swimmer on course} 

Last week was recovery and mental checklists. Sunday brought my best procrastination skills:
Bike/run with Kara
Swim with dolphins in the cove
Fro yo with the coach
Surfing with Kyle, Chris, and Jeremy
Picked up race supplies at Moment
Finally got to laundry and the dreaded packing for a #freakingironman. 

It is unbelievable how much sh*t you need to swim/bike/run your body 140.6 miles in one day. 

Monday was of course an insane-o day at work only after my car battery needed replacing and a final PT appointment. And today, Husband woke me up at the ungodly hour of 3:45 for final packing of the car. {it's almost like race morning when I force him out of bed!} We're on the 395, making our way up the large state of CA. On my final approach to IM Tahoe. 

Super Sherpa drivin. 
Speed racer chillin. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


As IMLT is quickly approaching, I'm looking forward to it with an anticipation I haven't had all year. That jittery excitement about the swim start line has been putting smiles on my face and happiness in my heart.

After a couple of hard weeks at work and putting in big work weeks of the S/B/R variety, they are much needed smiles. Last week was pretty great. By Monday I had my long ride and run partners/routes lined up. Massage booked. A new book {Faster} written by a friend surprised me in the mail, along with a gifted jersey remembering Jackie from a teammate. 

I didn't just survive, but made my interval workout the day after my 16 mile run. I knocked out a bunch of great bike fittings. Rick gave me a much needed hair cut and dye {bleach} and I treated myself to a new pair of jeans & a pedcure. I rode the longest ride of my life, surviving 2 flats, hwy 101, tested the 700c tube in a 650c wheel {twice} and finished that ride by crushing Soledad Mountain, up Via Capri, at mile 107. Boom.

Labor Day didn't start out with the same pop as last week as the legs were feeling the cumulative effect and me and my saddle aren't getting along as of late. Husband tagged along for the first half, bailed, and I luckily saw miss Beth and tagged along with her, Luke and Trevor for their "easy" 30 mile spin. Turned home and managed to motivate for the inside Torrey Pines climb and Via Capri, yet again. Ride ended up a bit long, and I extended the brick run, thinking who am I? 

So that's it. Or is it? Less than 3 weeks to the big day and now less than 2 until we leave. And I had this urge to get one more long run under my belt {or in my legs}. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but with the coach's blessing, I'm did it. Mentally, I needed to do 17. To get to the point where there's less than double digits left. I'm remembering how I felt before St George - a bit flat and sluggish and almost like there was too much taper time. And my appetite is scaring me. 

So surviving these next two days...yeah - we in the thick of the Tri Classic craziness {and still need volunteers!} will be a miracle. 12hr work day Wednesday, 14 yesterday after my long run - Vacation can't come soon enough. 

2 tidbits of even better news?! My sis Meg is preggers! I finally get to fulfil auntie Rachel duties. Starting with a baby shower when we head home after Christmas. And my bf college roomie Missy just had her 2nd on Tuesday, Nolan Michael {love him!}