Thursday, September 6, 2012

Calgary 70.3 Race Report-July 29th 2012

This is my 6th year doing triathlon, so I can easily say I know how to execute an Olympic distance triathlon, and yes after 6 years this was my first half ironman race. I felt very ready going into this race, I was healthy (with the exception of burnt lips), had no injury issues and had put in some solid training. I really like to hammer hard in an Olympic distance race so for me key in this race was going to be execution. Angie and I had talked it to death and I had a plan. The last thing I did say to Angie Saturday night was my biggest fear wasn’t blowing up on the run, it was underperforming on the bike….

The swim went really well. I had a great start and found fast feet by the first turn. I stayed on the same feet for almost the entire race. It was hard to sight so far to the turnaround buoys so I did rely on the swimmer in front of me and we seemed to hold a decent line. Coming back under the bridge I heard a whistle I couldn’t mistake and on a breath rolled onto my side and offered a wave to my gear mule for the day, my biggest supporter, my rock, my husband Marty. He saw me and I saw him…so nice to connect in such a long race. In the last quarter of the swim I did feel myself tiring and was falling off her feet. I told myself I had two choices. Slow down and swim alone or speed up and catch her feet again and probably end up exerting the same effort with the draft than I would alone. I sped up. At the last buoy things were getting very congested with us catching up to the men’s heat. Around the corner I lost her with swimmers everywhere and the sun in our eyes. I went way wide and swam a bit farther than I needed to but managed to get around quite a few men without getting kicked. My swim time was 31:31, slower than I thought I would be but not too bad.

T1 was fast and I was out and on my bike in 1:59. Once on the bike I reminded myself that until I hit the top of grand valley that my job was to ride like a tourist (unlike my mantra in an oly distance race which is to tell myself this is no vacation….). My chain fell off somewhere going up grand valley, tried to get it on without getting off but couldn’t manage so pulled over and fixed it. On the bike I was passed my 4 females (including Sheila Croft and Tanya Saloman-no surprises there) and passed 2 myself. I kept my hr in a target that I thought would be good over the 94km distance, 10 beats below what I hold in an oly distance race. I did enjoy this ride, it felt good from start to finish. Marty surprised me in 2 spots on the bike it was great to see him out there, ringing the cow bells for me! There were some other familiar faces out there as well, some TTL’ers, Tri-It staff (Madi and Rose) and my fav preggo triathlete gave me a high five coming up Cochrane hill (thanks Richelle). I got lots of cheers from people stuck in traffic on the 22 including these 2 girls in a convertible that I saw 3 times on the bike course and gave me the hugest cheers….thanks ladies! I took in all the fuel I had planned to take in and by the time I came off the bike my stomach was settled and ready to tackle the run. Bike time was 2:44:14, definitely what I thought I would be, BUT, with winds out of the west I should have been faster. I won’t over analyze the bike here, but I will say that I now know I can push harder on the bike over this distance and definitely hold a higher heart rate. So for next time….no more riding like a tourist!

Reaching out for a high 5 from the boys!
I am not sure how he made it but Marty caught me coming into T2. He gave his best transition cheers (he always knows how to keep me moving fast) and I was out on the run in :57. Once I started the run my body did what it always wants to do off the bike- go hard! I actually said out loud to myself to slow down. The first 18km of the run went very smoothly. I was a little slower than I thought I would be but the pace felt right and I was using RPE to judge effort on the run. I took in as much as I could at each aid station took the downhills slowly to prevent those quad cramps that have hampered me in the past. Got to see Steve W. on the out, it was so great to high five him as I went by, he looked so strong! Climbing up weaselhead on the way out I could actually hear the TTL aid station before I could see them. As soon as I came into view they went crazy! I almost started crying at the emotion of so much support! I was so choked up that I had to keep my head down and waived the cheers off just to keep moving forward! What a rush to go through that aid station! Angie ran with me and gave me some good advice and I was on my way again. I high fived the marshal at the turnaround and was pretty excited that the run was halfway done. Back through the TTL aid station where I think I had more composure and back down the hill. I saw Leslie-Anne here and again, that high five was awesome! The climb back out was hard, but not too bad and I was still feeling good. I saw my family at the top of the hill and got some good cheers and high fives from my son and his friend Jacob. And then….3km to go….and it got hard! The same kind of muscle fatigue that you feel in a full marathon! What?! Those last 3km were so tough, my legs hurt so much and I just couldn’t get them to go any faster! Again Marty and the boys showed up at just the right time and the boys ran along side me as the finish area came into view. My daughter Ayden and her friend Layne were there yelling as I came into the chute to cross the line. Run time, 1:41:36. A little slower than I thought I would be but still within my goals so was happy with that. Total time was 5:00:17.

I was 7th female overall and 2nd place in my age group.

In retrospect, I think I could have been alot faster on the bike but that is water under the bridge. It was my first half ironman and I had no idea how my body would react to racing this distance.  I will definitely be tackling this race distance again in 2013....Just like in olympic distance racing I want to see what I am capable of, I want to challenge myself!!

Me, Coach Angie, and Leslie-Anne (2nd in her AG too!)

2 Sprints and 2 Olympic Distance Tri's- an update! year I really need to be more timely with my blog/race reports!

Here is the short version of some tri's I did this summer!

Sylvan Lake Sprint- First off I want to say I love this race!  So well run and organized!  Cathy and Scott with Sylvan Lake tri club do an awesome job with this race!!  I did this race 1 week after the Woody's Half Marathon so really didn't know what my legs would do, but it was a great race ( you will hear this alot in 2012, it was quite the year for me personally).  Swim and bike were faster than last year, run was slightly slower but run course was 300m longer this year so probably right on par with last year so considering my tired legs was super happy with that!  Loved being at the race with my athletes Jen, Marnie and Jim and cheering on lots of the Red Deer/Sylvan Lake athletes that I have come to know over the past few years.  I was 1st female overall and 3rd out of the men and I was faster than last year on a slighly longer course!  Yipeee!!!!

Wasa Olympic Distance - Made this weekend a road trip adventure with my daughter Ayden.  On a side note she got her learners right before we hit the highway and drove 2/3 of the way there!  WTG Ayden!!  We also had great hosts with friends of ours, Ron and Leah and their two daughters.  I kind of felt like a pro on a homestay!  The water was brutally cold and they shortened the swim, which is too bad because I had a good swim, a good bike and my best triathlon 10km ever!  41:49!  If this had been a full distance I think I would have been so close to a sub 2:16 time!!  Ah well....  The cool thing was I was 4th female overall (2nd in my AG) and was "in the money".  Wasa gives out cash to top 5 overall finishers.  I was so pumped and thrilled to stand at the front among such speedy ladies!  A huge thanks to Charlie with RM Events for putting on such a top rate triathlon.

Woody's Sprint Tri -  Another awesome race!  Val does such a great job as RD!  One cool thing about Woody's is they take the top 10 overall finishers (male and female) from previous years and group them together in the pool at the end of the swim.  So it feels less like a time trial and more like a head to head race.  Awesome fun!  I was 2nd last year out of everyone, so got to race with the #2.  And they kept announcing to watch out for the athletes with numbers 1-10.  As I came into t2 someone hollered at me to go beat some boys, so funny, so I yelled back "I'm trying!".  I was 2nd again out of the men and 1st overall female.  A fun day...not quite as fast as last year, but super happy with my result.

Edmonton Triathlon Festival and National Championships-  This was my first non wetsuit legal swim and surprisingly I was faster this year than last year!  Wooohooo!!  I need to swim more without a wetsuit!  It works for me!  I had the bike of my life but unfortunately the heat hit me on the run and had my slowest run time ever!  However, the strength of my swim time and bike time, even paired with a 45min run was enough for me to set a new OD personal best!  2:17:50.  (now if only I could plunk in that Wasa run time I'd have that sub 2:15 I am dreaming of......)  I was 4th female overall and 2nd in my AG.  So exciting to be on the podium again at nationals!! 

Well, that's the short version of most of my 2012 tri season!  Calgary 70.3 gets it's own post!

Red Deer Half Marathon May 20, 2012 (long overdue!)

I signed up for this race to help me prep for Calgary 70.3 Ironman.  The original purpose was to be a training tool.  However, after running two good 10kms in March and April (40:51 and 40:29) I knew that this race had the potential to be personal best day.  My previous personal best set in Nov of 2011 was 1:32:15.  I set a goal of 1:31 flat thinking this would be a good challenge.  I printed off one of those nerdy pace bracelets (because I am a NERD) with the splits for 1:31.

Off the gun I went out too fast!  My suunto had been calibrated with my training shoes and I had decided to race in my tri shoes as part of the prep for Calgary 70.3, (the foot pod does not "move" well from shoe to shoe) so needless to say my pace was reading WAY off!  As the first few km markers were ticked off I knew I was too fast, but it felt good so I kept at it and just resigned my self to the fact that either I was going to have a brilliant race and smash my pb or have a total blow up later in the race.... (My coaches mantra of race with your head to start and heart to finish was ringing in my ears).

As the race continuted the km's just flew by.  I couldn't believe how fast this race was going by for me.  The course was absolutely beautiful!  There were hills, which I usually hate, but it didn't matter today.  The weather was perfect, the course was scenic and I was on a roll.  I kept referring to my pace bracelet and couldn't believe that I continued to gain ground on each split time.  I soon realized that even if I blew up at the end I was still going to have a personal best day.  I think the excitement of knowing that I was going to be faster than I thought pushed me to hold that pace and go for it!  I caught up to a guy around that 16-17km mark, and if you have done a half, you know this part of the race.  This is where pace slows a bit and things really start to hurt.  He was chatty and positive.  I told him we were going to beat 1:30 if we can hold this pace and he said, "uh oh, my back half is going to be slow".  He was doing the full!!  We ran together for a couple kms and then he realized he should slow down, but he urged me ahead to go catch the next guy (which I did).  It's always great when you get a bit of mental mojo at a point like that in a race.  As my husband would say that was the TSN turning point.

 As I approached the dreaded uphill that takes you to the downhill finish I just dug in and went for it.  Checked my watch and realized that if I gave it my all I could do this in under 1:28.  The crowds were amazing and brought me across the finish in a time of 1:27:55 -- 4 minutes and 20 seconds faster than my previous personal best!  It is still unbelieveable as I type this....I never imagined I could run a  half marathon that fast. It felt good from start to finish, it was a "zen run" as my coach Angie would say.  I was 3rd overall, but after a race like this, placings really don't matter.  It was me versus me!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon - January 15, 2012

Drumroll please.....My First Marathon!!!

I really don't know why I waited 20 years to do my first marathon. I think I had so many overuse injuries in my days before triathlon that I just didn't think my body could handle marathon training. Well...I was wrong! I did use my chiropractor (Thanks Dean!!!) and my travel roller to keep me in one piece, but I actually loved the training for this race (Thanks coach Angie!!!)

I traveled to this race with the 3 athletes that I coach, Jen, Lara, and Marnie. And lucky for me, I also get to call these 3 ladies my friends! Little did I know when I arrived in Phoenix how much I would rely on these ladies on race day.

The morning of the race went well, I was able to eat my usual pre race bf without my race nerves giving me problems and was off on the hotel shuttle to catch the light rail to the start. Once there I quickly figured out the basics, porta potties, my start corral, and the gear drop. I had a great warm up and got throught the porta pottie line up 10 minutes before race start. There was a back log in the transportation from the finish to the start of the point to point race, and the race itself was delayed 30 minutes! I ran to the porta potties for one more time, for good measure! On a funny note, I was so excited for the race to start that I forgot to lock the door...and well, you can imagine what happened next. Oh well, I was doing my first marathon, I was too excited to care!!!

My plan for this race was to pace for a 3:20 and try and hold on. The guy beside me at the start also wanted a 3:20, but he was going to go out faster and plan for the "fade". So, off we went. My job in the first 10k was to run like a tourist, and I did! I enjoyed the crowds, the bands, the other runners and hit my splits bang on!

From 10k to the half my job was to run loose, and I did that, but I was still running like a tourist! I was absolutely loving every part of this run!!! I hit the half just under 1:40-perfect!!From the half to 20 miles my job was to stay sharp and focused. It was at this point that I was feeling so good that I picked it up slightly. I picked up a running buddy around this time and we chatted and I remained super postitive and totally confident that I would come in under the 3;20 mark.

Everyone says the race starts at 32k and I was getting so excited to hit the 20 mile mark so I could just run and not worry about holding back....Ha! Was I in for a surprise! I had planned on thinking of specific people to movitivate me each mile from 20 into the finish. At 20 miles I was still feeling really good, and was busy thinking about my in-laws and how much they have supported me. At mile 21 I was thinking about my mom and dad and how proud I knew they were of me and then around 21.5 miles it got hard. I knew it was going to happen, but this part of me just really didn't belive it. You mean I wasn't going to cruise into the finish all happy and smiley?? What???

Mile 22 was my daughter, and I thought about how she would cheer me in and what she would say. I thought about how she knows what this feels like, she has raced her heart out in track and cross country, but boy, this was getting really hard, and it was tough to think about her.

Mile 23 was my son. At this point I had tears and my legs were on fire. At some point there was a small hill, but I am not really sure which mile that was. I do remember bring Liam to mind, the look on his face at the finish of one of his xc races, where it looked like he raced to his limit. I remember thinking, be tough like Liam.

Mile 24 was my husband, but to be honest, at this point I was in so much pain that I could barely bring him to mind. I do remember thinking he would be proud of me but I just couldn't think of what he would say.

At Mile 25 I was really starting to slow down and I thought, "what would Angie say". The answer that came to mind was a simple "GO SHARON!!" Loud and Clear! At this point I was doing my very best to hang on through what was the worst I have ever felt at the end of a race, EVER! I knew I just had to hang on a little longer because my girls told me they would be there to run me in. When I saw them I wanted to cry, but I tried to compose myself for a picture! They ran me in and promised me the finish line was just around the corner, although it was hard to believe!

I crossed the finish line in 3:20:34! I was thrilled!!! When they say the race starts at 32k, they mean it!!! When they say it's a different kind of pain from other distances, they are right!!! But, wow!! I did it, I finally ran my first marathon!!

I was caught by not 1, but 2 volunteers at the finish. They held onto me awhile and once they were sure I could walk without falling over I made my way through the food, out of the secure area to find the girls. And when I saw them I just started crying. I don't know if it was emotion from finishing my first marathon, or just simply relief that they were there for me, I am not sure. But we all had a little cry and I got to hear how their own races went in the half (VERY GOOD, BY THE WAY!). From then until we got to the hotel, these girls took care of me! I could barely walk (I felt like I was the only one walking funny, but they were quick to point out other people to make me feel better). I think they were scared to let me into the porta potty!!

In the end, this was an amazing experience for me! One I will never forget!! Big thanks to my husband and kids for supporting me and even though you weren't there, YOU WERE THERE! Thanks to my coach for preparing me perfectly, to my chiro, Dr. Dean for keeping me in one piece, to my "girls" for being the best fans ever, and to the people of Phoenix (especially all the cheer teams-they were the best) and the organizers of the race for an awesome, super charged event! It was fantastic!!!

Wow....I've been neglecting this site!!!

Well since the last post that was well over due I have done quite a few races!!
I am going to highlight all of them in one post...and yes that is almost my entire 2011 race season. Let's see if I can do better in 2012 :)

I was all set to head to Wasa and race the fast girls when 2 days before the event I pulled my hamstring...yes, my hamstring!!! How does a distance runner do that?? Long story short I was able to race Chinook Oly the following weekend. I biked really hard, not knowing if I could run and the result was a slow run with some quad cramping, but the hard work on the bike was enough to hold onto the win!

Next up was the Woody's sprint my athletes Jen and Marnie (and sadly missing Mel who fractured her elbow just a few days before). I have since learned that racing with these girls is good medicine for me as they keep my nerves at bay every time I'm out with them! The bike was a tough,windy, hilly course, but I pushed hard and had a great day and a great run and a huge sprint distance pb and overall win.

In July it was the Edmonton ITU age group olympic race. I was worried about this one being a hilly and technical bike race in the rain. I must admit I didn't push as hard on the bike as I probably should have, but was able to pull off a really fast run for what would be at the time a new OD PR for me. I was 5th overall and 1st in my AG.

In August it was back to Kelowna. Other than really hot temps everything went really well here for me in the swim and start of the bike. Past problems of quad cramping began to creep up at the end of the bike and the beginning of the run but I was able to stave them off with electrolyte pills and pull off another OD PR, a time of 2:17:54. I was really happy with this time given the heat and hilly bike course. I am still chasing that elusive 2:15, but each year I creep a little closer to it so hopefully I can get there one day!!

After the Apple it was a series of runs that kept me busy until the end of the year. Dino Dash in Sept was a good fast 10km, just short of a "30's pb" in a time of 40:53. Next up was a course best at Melissa's (and who are we kidding, I was there for the food and fellowship of great friends, the race was a great excuse!). In October was 15k (or so) at the Gorrilla Run in prep for the Last Chance Half in Nov. This was a personal best day for me in which I happy pulled off a negative split to finish in 1:32:15. But the best part of this day was getting to watch my athlete Lara pull off the same thing, a negative split and a HUGE pb herself. It was a zen run day for both of us!!

So...that catches you up, short and sweet??