Wednesday, August 20, 2014

IronGirl Pleasant Prairie Race Report

Short Version: 
Thanks Lana!!

Another sprint tri in the books.  My back has been feeling good and was ready to race IronGirl this past weekend.  The race is up in Pleasant Prairie on the same exits as the outlets right after you cross the Illinois/Wisconsin Border on 94.  (Anyone that has driven this stretch knows what I am talking about)

Pre Race:  Got to transition early and was about to walk out when they announced it might not be wetsuit legal.  As someone who loves their wetsuit and would prefer wearing it, i waited till they made their final decision (which was NO wetsuits unless you wanted to be in the wetsuit only wave.  Decided to forgo the wetsuit and made my way over to the start. A friend from Crush wished me off which was awesome considering I had about 45 minutes to kill before my wave started. 

The swim is a Point to Point swim that is 1/2 Mile across the lake and directly into the sun.  As someone who isn't the best at sighting, this can be daunting but I decided i was would use the sun as my sight point and it ended up working pretty well. Got out of the water feeling good and ready to run to Transition... 

Made a quick transition and onto the bike.  The bike is pretty simple and decent roads.  I felt like I got into a groove quickly and played frogger with a few ladies.  There was one though that drove me crazy for a good 4 miles.  She kept riding right in the middle and when i tried to pass her, she would pull more to the left and then when i passed, she huffed at me.  Then she would speed up only to slow down later.  We had to exchange "leads" at least 5 times and it was quite frustrating.  I eventually just decided to peddle as fast as i could for the last 2 miles and got away from her.  It was well worth it as i don't like being stressed on the bike.

Back to T2 and a quick change and the run.  Even though running is probably my most comfortable discipline, i have been very cautious with my back. I kept a decent (for me) pace and high fived lots of people along the course.  There was a lot of comradery out on the run course (like there was last year) and I really enjoy that.  Stuck with one lady for the last mile and we were cheering each other on. 

Crossed the finish line and realized I PR'ed the course and distance by 30 seconds (as I PR'ed the distance last year at Irongirl. Was happy and weather was perfect.  Was medaled, grabbed a breakfast burrito and was on my way.  My second biggest accomplishment other than the PR was finding my car with no issues.  Great race, great energy!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Zooma Half Marathon Race Report

Last weekend, i ran the Chicago Zooma Half and had a great time with my running bestie and sister in law who flew into town from Utah.  Tia and Lani's friendship was how i originally met Tia so it was great to all run together. The race started on the south side (31st-ish street) and they asked that people take shuttles from downtown to the start.  We opted to drive and lucked out with super easy parking right near the start.
Pre Race PowerGel (PowerBar for later) and some super watered down cranberry juice.
Mandatory Pre Race Pic
I signed up and paid for the half but b/c of my back problems, i wasn't sure if the half was the in the cards and planned to do the 10K and if i felt good enough, i could push through for the half b/c of the way the course was set up.  (It was an out and back for the 10K and then another out and back for the half with the midway point being the start and finish area so I could make up my mind later)

There wasn't a ton of people at the race but enough to have some congestion in the beginning. I ran with Lani the entire way.  As we approached the 10K finish.. i decided to cross the finish line in case i wasn't feeling the half.  My back at that point was fine but i just didn't know how another 7 miles would make it feel.  I have come to realize that my tight feet muscles cause a chain reaction to seize up my back muscles and not cause nerve pain .. but pain enough to not want to run... wasn't going to risk it and would drop.  We decided to do a run/walk for the second half which made it so i could finish.  The second half of the course was a "standard lakefront" course with beautiful views of the city and a turnaround at 63rd street. We made our way back run/walking and clipped away as we caught up with life.

Since I don't see Lani often (maybe 1-2/yr), it was great to catch up with her while doing something i love.  I deferred crossing the half finish but ran up next to the arch to catch her finishing strong!  The post race party had a band playing and box lunches with a vege sandwich and some chips.  While we waited for Tia and her friends to come in, we rolled out on foam rollers and visited some of the booths. Cute post race set up and it was a nice day to just sit and chill.  After Tia came in, we hit up breakfast, showered, and took naps!  Perfect Saturday morning!!!

All of us in mid jump... awesome. 

I might have gotten a 2 donuts from these guys

Love this city
Lani finishing!

Tia finishing!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Glenview Triathlon Race Review - 2014

Another year back at my neighborhood tri and again, it did not disappoint.

This race is perfect for newbies and experienced alike.  For experienced racers, it is an opportunity to go fast and have a great short race without a lot of fan fare (you can ck in race day and park within a few hundred feet of transition) and for newbies it is great to get your "toes wet" with your first tri. (pool swim, not a lot of fanfare)  but a great course, great support and well run. 

The pool swim is in 6 lanes of the Glenview Rec Center Pool (12 lengths).  They have you seed yourself by time and most people do a good job at putting themselves where they should.  The race officially starts at 6:30 but some people do not get into the pool till 8:00ish. This can provide a lot of waiting around BUT it is really nice to have the pool flowing and no clog ups. I seeded myself with the "just under 6 minutes" swim people and passed one person and was passed by one.  With my time at 5:52, i was seeded perfectly and felt great getting out of the water.

The bike is a 2 loop 10 mile course with a combination of closed roads and quiet residential streets. Even with a back hiccup a few weeks ago, i felt good on the bike and didn't have an issue in aero position.  I kept up with a few people and felt like I was at a good pace.  Considering I only had my cheapo Garmin, I wasn't quite sure but got into T2 with an overall time of 43 minutes-ish so knew I was doing ok. (ended up with a 17.8 MPH pace).  Transitioned to the run and knew I wanted to take it slower for a few reasons... but mainly b/c of my back.  I didn't want to push it and especially being on the bike for the first time in a few weeks, i didn't know how my muscles and SI joints were going to relax.  Luckily, all went great.  I forced myself to stretch twice on the course and ended with a 34:23 5K.  Compared to my 31 minute 5K last year, definitely slower but planned slower so i was happy about that.  Crossed the finish line pain free and only a minute slower than last year.  Considering I was 3:23 seconds slower on the run, I was happy with my time.  Got medaled and then saw Tia run in PR'ing the distance.

Visited all the vendors as they had a great post race set up including my chiro and trainer.  Right after the raffle, they said that Jesse (a paratriathlete) was finishing up the course.  My crush teammate, Kelly, was running alongside him and helping him finish his first race as a paratriathlete (he recently was paralyzed 4 mths ago and was determined to finish this tri.)  As everyone was clumping around the finish line, i biked over a quarter mile from the finish to see them trucking.  He was definitely tired but pushing along.  To say it was inspiring and emotional was an understatement.  It is amazing how powerful watching someone push themselves to their limits can be esp when faced with adversity.  Congrats to all of the finishers that day and especially Jesse!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rev3 Dells Race Report

Short Version:  Back to back traveling oly tris will lead to a much slower second race and if you take too long your child's first words to you will be "what took you so long?!"

Long Version:  Was excited to see the Rev3 crew for an encore Oly weekend in the Dells.  Coming off of Williamsburg, i was excited to continue that momentum. We drove up to the Dells Friday afternoon and got to Chula Vista around 3 pm.  Had dinner with Rev3 Staff, hit a few waterslides and feel asleep before 10.

The next morning, went to the practice swim, handed out SBR Products, swam and then participated in the wetsuit stripping contest.  I am still waiting to see the footage but i am sure it will be gloriously horrible of my trying to fumble trying to get my suit off with lots of parts of my body shaking and jiggling that shouldn't be.... but somehow got 2nd. Blue Seventy also sponsored the "worst wetsuit contest" which was hilarious. The guy in the purple won. 
Racked my bike and did some shopping at the Rev3 Store after the race meeting at the expo. Although I would have liked to stay off my feet after this, Josh was dying to go to the waterpark and Scott was studying so I took him.  Countless steps were taken as we went on so many slides. I was happy to be in bed by 10 again.  

Got to the site with plenty of time to set up my transition and get a practice swim in.  Enjoyed the pre-race show (courtesy of Tommy Bartlett) which was a welcomed distraction before the race. Took some pictures with friends and we started lining up for the time trial start. 
Time trial swim allowed me to get into a groove pretty easy.  The water was calm and the temp was perfect.  I got out to the turn around pretty easy but then could feel myself getting out of a groove on the way back.  I am not sure what it was.. but I felt less efficient in the water and could feel I was slowing.  But I kept plugging along and was running up the hill before i knew it.

wisonsin dells   bike oly elevation Elevation Charts
I was preparing for it to be a hilly ride and remembered it being hilly in 2012. However, even with those thoughts in mind.. i forgot how challenging the course was. I honestly felt blah the entire time.  I had some major stomach cramping and I am strongly considering my fit on my tri bike.  I felt great on the road bike I rode in Williamsburg and considering using it more as i am slow enough to not really take advantage of the extra power i can get in aero.   a Rev3 team member recently posted about how woman were discouraged to ride bikes in fear of Bicycle Face.  I think this is one of the reasons I am not fond of my bike as much as I should... ignore the fact this disease was fictitious! 
 They were probably still faster than me    -Getty Images

The run had changed from 2 years ago when i did this race.  It used to be through the downtown area with no shade and lots of tourists giving you looks like you are crazy.... But, the new course featured SOME shade, more scenic route and again, lots of hills.

Started off the run and the tummy was still bugging me.  I walked for a few minutes, gave myself a pep talk and got going... Slowly.  The run was a 1 loop hilly course that had lots of undulations.  The first aid station that was up the hill i just biked down was amazing.  They were having such a great time and gave off great energy.  At that station, I joined two men that were struggling a bit.  We talked and chatted and agreed to play frogger with each other (definition of triathlon frogger:  everyone does a run/walk bit but the general idea is for each of you to stay somewhat close to each other and not drop anyone).  We were able to maintain that till the next aid station and then they had to stop and walk more so i continued on.  Had some Embrace the Suck and Love the Process moments during the race but loved seeing so many people I knew on the race.  Eric (Rev3's RD) was at the top of the hill to provide my encouragement and then there was the time that the eventual half winner (Ryan G) zoomed by me and patted me on the back to keep it up (it might have felt like i was going backwards with how strong/fast and calm he looked.)  Saw lots of other friends along the course which kept it fun!

Josh and Scott ran to the finish line with me.. This was a first as Scott is normally schlepping a ton of stuff and just sends J.... but it was awesome to run with all of them through the finish. Josh's first words to me were "what took you so long" ... thanks buddy.  I said we should jump but josh didn't want to.. and as you can see by the picture.. he refused.  I am coming down from my 2 inch vertical jump and Scott is still making his way up.  Nonetheless, love these shots and so happy for the free finisher photos!

Met up with my Rev3 teammates, all of whom podium-ed and got a cool interlocking medal!  Love my teammates.. such rockstars!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Report - Oly Distance

... with a few Game of Thrones references....

In the days leading up the race.. i realized how I needed to plan more for flying to the race than driving.  Normally, when we drive, i pack my tri-bag and then throw any last minute junk in a reusable and it all makes it safely to the race in the back of my car..  This time, I had to do a bit more planning as everything had to be cked for flying.  After some research, I realized that renting a bike would be more economical than paying to fly mine to VA.  (i.e. $300 + renting a bike box + dealing with assembly  VS.  $50 to rent a road bike).  Renting a bike you have never ridden can be dicey but my decision paid off (more on that later)

We ended up cking one bag.. which was filled with all my tri crap (2 wetsuits- neither of which i used), helmet, bike and run shoes, tri bag, waves gear towel, 2 waterbottles, trislide/foggies, my Rev3 Pearl Izumi tri kit, swimsuit for practice swim, flip flops and nutrition (mostly chocolate Powerbar gels.. i have come to love the chocolate ones!)  I think next time, i could put all of this in a carry on. 

Saturday morning, made my way to the swim practice.  I had heard a lot about the swim course and the currents, I was really anxious to get in the water.  When we got there, they said it was 80 degrees and no one had a wetsuit on.. well, no one but me (any maybe 2 other people) as I am someone who likes the extra buoyancy and mental knowledge of the extra buoyancy.  I met up with my fellow Rev3 teammates and it was great to catch up with them as we handed out foggies and tri-slided people up. 

Blue pedicured toes for the race
When it doubt.. tri-slide it out (Andrew and Kate demonstrating)
shimmering up the practice swim
Got in the water and it was warm but great.. Since we were told we would be swimming with the current, i felt more calm.  I have mentioned some of my fears in the past about OWS but I feel like this season hasn't had any major bumps or freakouts.  Once I got my swim on, we made our way to packet pickup at Warhill Sports complex. 

Sunday -- Race Day and Father's Day
Race day was an early wake up call as transition closed at 6:20 and we had to stop at both transitions before go-time.  Rev3 had shuttles but I used the Kesten family shuttle to sherpa me around.  This worked out well and I also heard the shuttles were smooth too.  Scott and Josh were troopers waking up before 5 am.. I am sure this wasn't Scott's Ideal father's day but he played along and was extremely supportive.
Not quite the 36 hole golf day he probably hoped for.. but could have been worse.
Took some pics with my Rev3 Family and made the decision to not wear a wetsuit.  Although they were allowed, they were in the final wave by themselves and with the water being 81, i would be fine without. 
Love my team!

Set myself in the back and got into a rhythm fairly quickly.  I felt good and the water was nice and warm.  The sun was coming over the trees but i made it to the first buoy fairly easy.  Shortly before I hit the second bouy that had us turn into the current... I heard someone asking for help and it happened to be someone i knew.  We flagged over a kayak who came right over and assisted her.  Made sure she was ok and then i resumed my swimming.  That next stretch felt like it took forever.. i think it was a combination of the current, my adrenaline going and pysching myself out a little.  But I made it to the candy corn and a few of us laughed as we tried to get around it.. With the wind and current, it was kindof attacking us and finally one of the guys (which i have NO clue what wave he was from).. kindof held it as we moved around.  Once it I hit that turn, i kept telling myself I was "with current" and went as fast as I could.  Felt good and started sighting to the finish. Scott told me b/c of the current, we all were taking a wide approach to the arch.  It is funny when you are in the water as you loose that perception and I thought I was taking the most direct route and the other people ("who were so far away from me"  -- as in like 50 meters probably)... were so off course and in reality, we both probably were.  But everyone made it in and as we were walking toward the finish, a guy was yelling "where did it go?!  where did it go!?"  He lost his timing chip somehow and couldn't find it.  He was freaking out a little saying "I did all that working for nothing!"  I stopped and help him and found it floating in the water a bit out of his sight.  He was grateful and we ran to T1

Wow.. that wasn't as bad as i thought it would be... just don't smash my head in. 
T1:  It took me a while to get my socks on.. that is all

Since i rented a bike, I knew it would take some time to get into a groove with it. I had only ridden a mile on it to make sure my pedals fit and the seat height was ok. Luckily, I managed quite fine and had a great ride.  There were lots of shade on the ride and never felt overheated.  I figured out the gear shifters within a few miles and managed the rollers.   I enjoyed the loop and felt like many of the roads were empty.  I guess last year, there were some issues with congestion but no sign of that this year.   I used my Selle seat and had no saddle issues which was awesome.  I did catch me talking to myself around mile 18.  I don't know what it is but the quiet of the road makes me feel like i need to give myself motivational talks.. i hardly get this on runs but always have the urge on the bike.  Weird.. i know.. but not quite as weird at Theon... poor guy.
T2:  Came into the second transition feeling good.  Eric (the RD) was there to send me off with smiles.

Run:  Once i transitioned to the run, i felt pretty good and was quickly directed towards the trail for the run.  It was a two loop course for the oly that was about 2 miles in the trail and 1 mile on the pavement. I really loved the trail portion of the race as I like variety and SHADE.  I have come to learn that my body isn't a huge fan of direct heat for long periods of time so the shady trail was perfect for me.

I had to make sure I watched my footing as i have been known to drag my feet when i run and have tripped over my own two feet too many times to count.  The trail had lots of undulations but nothing too crazy with the crushed limestone.  I kept an 11:37 pace and I felt great the entire time.  I chatted with a few people (caught up to teammate tracey and the guy that lost his timing chip) and we stayed together for the last 2 miles of the race which was great.  Wrapped around the corner to see the finishers chute and Josh waiting for me.  Scott was snapping pics and josh was clapping and ready to go. Loved crossing the finish line with J and was quickly medaled and given a cold towel and headsweats finishers visor. 

Such a great race.. love Rev3 and all my sponsors (Rev3, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, SBRSports, Waves Gear, Polar Bottle, Sole Socks, Headsweats & Enduropacks).... i seriously love racing and you (and my family) make that possible. 

Honor Ride Chicago

Was convinced to do this ride by my friend who is with Team Salute and so happy I took the opportunity. Road to Recovery's Honor Ride was created to:

'To improve the health and wellness of healing heroes worldwide by providing a life changing experience that can impact their lives forever.  
R2R supports Spinning® Recovery Labs and outdoor cycling programs at Military and VA locations around the U.S. to help injured veterans overcome obstacles they face. Cycling is an important part of the recovery and rehabilitation program for two reasons:
1. Cycling is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate. 
2. Participation in the Ride 2 Recovery Program helps speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process. 
A) Ride 2 Recovery provides program events and site locations 
B) R2R designs and builds specially adapted bikes to suit injured veterans needs making it possible for almost any warrior to participate in the program, including quad amputees."

Kicking things off
Start and finish line at Evanston Suburu
There were 3 distances to chose from and it welcomed people of all different abilities. We chose the middle distance of 38 miles. They started the ride with a little information about what the organization is doing and did a color guard salute... and we were off. Jen and I got going and one of the R2R guy's pulled up to us.. after we realized he was the sweeper (or "motivator" as he called himself)... we enjoyed some great conversation with him.  He was a veteran that needed direction when he came home and found the organization and cycling to be his answer.  The weather was perfect for the ride and nice course along the north shore.  The two aid stations we stopped at were awesome.. lots of food, support and great morale.  Cops monitored main crossing areas and it was pretty smooth sailing except for the little stretch through S. downtown Evanston where I was quite certain I was going to get doored.. but luckily I didn't.  

Great support at mile 18ish
At one of the aid stations
Came back to Suburu and they provided hamburgers, drinks, a musician was playing some patriotic music and they had a raffle at the end. Supporting the veterans has been something that has been on my mind watching a moving special on HBO about PTSD and this was a small way to support them while still serving my own hobbies. I definitely recommend it for 2015! 
Cute dog at finish... had to snap a pic as i am a "dog person" now

Monday, June 9, 2014

Energizer Night Time 5K Race

This was one of my favorite night time races to date.  In the past, i haven't been overly thrilled with them with the major reason being safety.  I have seen people trip, get wacked by low branches and one person get seriously injured from low visibility and a rocky lakefront path. However, when I was offered two comp entries for the Energizer Night Race from i couldn't pass them up as josh was really jealous I did the GloRun without him.. and I am sooo happy we did it.  Proved to be one of the best night races out there!  Here are a few reasons why

  1. Great amazing swag (Nike Gender specific shirt, Energizer headlamp, nice razor, full size sunscreen)
  2. Same day packet pickup.. so many races are eliminating that which is very annoying and loved that they had it right near the start
  3. Has a strong charity component in conjunction with
  4. They ran the course at dusk vs. complete dark which i felt made it safer esp with the headlamps.  It did get dark at the end but it still felt safer. 
  5. Amazing and fun DJ that definitely brought some crazy energy
  6. Great post race party and great food trucks.  Although you had to pay, they all took credit cards and i had the most amazing grilled mac and cheese sandwich... with bacon
Such a great race.. definitely recommend for families as safer than other night races! THANKS ERICA