Saturday, December 29, 2012

RACE WITHDRAWL....I can't take it.

Let the countdown begin. It feels like forever since I last raced my bike.  9 More days until cx Natz and only 1 more week until I get to race my fat bike for the first time ever at Hillside Park.  I've learned that ever since I started focusing soley on cycling I'm obsessed with racing.  These past 4 weeks without racing have nearly killed me.

Since I've not been racing I get to smash myself multiple times per week in the confines of my own living room.  Yeh!  Living room riding = lame.  I have been doing all kinds of horrible power intervals that have me wishing I didn't race short stuff anymore :)  But I'm sure they will pay off come Natz and even probably help me on the mtb this spring.   I am feeling pretty fit and my legs are starting to feel like biker legs...yikes, Lisa might have been right about buying stretch pants!

Since I've not been racing much... I get to to do a lot of this!



I've been taking out the Greaser as much as possible, finding out that winter trail riding is a blast!  I also set a new personal low of 9 degrees on Christmas Day!   I've got a winter full of fat bike racing ahead of me and can't wait for the new experience.  Here are some of the Fat bike races on the schedge:
  • Cold Bear Challenge Races
  • Artic Fat Fever Excelsior
  • Noquemegon Fat Bike World Champs
  • Frozen 40 at Elm Creek Park
  • Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout

We also just pulled the trigger and bought a couple plane tickets to LAX and a scored a cheap hotwire hotel for March in San Dimas, CA.  I'm gonna race the Bonelli Triple Crown Pro XCT race in mid March!  Spring Break!  Also will be my first chance to race Short Track and The Super D!  My summer mtb race schedule is starting to take shape and I am more than stoked!  Mountain biking is gonna take me to a lot of new places!

On the non cycling front, Christmas was a blast and we had a ton of fun at all 4 Christmases, Aren played Santa this year on Xmas Eve handing out presents and he totally rocked!  Finally after 29 years I got to pass the torch!  Praise God!   Addie was cute as ever and definitely a big time Chiller! 


We spent Christmas eve, eve at Aunt Patty's and Christmas day at Michelle's and had a blast with Tom's family.  The kiddos are so mature now and its just been a blast to see them grow up!  Can't wait to watch them play hoops this winter!  Papa Dave is notorious for using big random words around Christmas time such as gridlock and Cheshire Cat.  This years word was "pandemonium."  You see vocab is not one of my strengths.  So of course I had to look this up.  Dictionary.com says the following:

pan·de·mo·ni·um

[pan-duh-moh-nee-uh m] Show IPA
noun
1. wild uproar or unrestrained disorder; tumult or chaos.
2. a place or scene of riotous uproar or utter chaos.
3. ( often initial capital letter  ) the abode of all the demons.
4. hell.

I'm gonna guess Dave was not referring to # 3 or #4 and rather to the uproar of kids running around and family members trying to talk over one another in full on Christmas spirit. Randomly...this word I am not sure I've ever heard before was also used by my coach in an email this week referencing the start of a cyclocross race.  I feel so much smarter. Now to find a way to use this word in my own conversations in the near future.


Friday, December 14, 2012

SNOW!!! and a Birthday!

December 7th is a new birthday...apparently.


 
What they really should have said was "Whiting Clinic would like to congratulate you for surviving 60 seconds of brutality."   Okay so the Lasik surgery was brief and perhaps I was just slightly uniformed (and suffering some kind of nasty stomach bug), but for all those people who said Lasik was pain free...they lied!
 
But yes...it was worth it.  And honestly I'd probably pay 5 times as much. because my new reborn eyes rock!  Throwing away all the contact chaos was mighty liberating!

As was tromping around in the snow last weekend on the Greaser!! I woke up Saturday to a facebook post from a buddy that said "I hope you're taking the fat bikes out today." It seriously felt like Christmas morning...I was stoked. 


Lisa and I ripped around for a couple hours exploring a nearby trail and enjoying the MPLS lakes.  We each only fell once...not bad for riding in 6 inches of snow!


 
On the "training" front I've already been in the pain cave twice this week and am already seeing some power improvement since early November.  1 month til Natz. A month without racing just might kill me. Thank God I have a winter of fat bike racing to look forward to! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

State CX Championships

Last weekend was the much anticipated State CX Championships!  I was super pumped for the 2 day event....I had a fresh new Foundry race kit and was stoked to be able to race the Foundry Auger again!  In fact I was so excited on Saturday that I FORGOT TO CHECK IN!! You're kidding right?  After doing what feels like 100s of races, for some reason checking in and getting my race # didn't occur to me until 1:26 PM (race start was 1:30 PM) when the announcer stated "make sure your numbers are properly pinned on your left side."  

SHIT!! Seriously?  I had warmed up for an hour in freezing temps, my friends had braved the cold to come out and watch me and now I was screwed and probably not going to be able to race.  I freaked out and ran into the warming house where check in was and in crazy Hurricane April style pleaded with them to help me hurry and get my #!  They told me they got it and for me to run out to the start line and they would bring my #!  The nice gentleman even ran out and pinned the # on my back as I was standing at the start line.  Lisa ran back into the warming house to grab my bike gloves I had ripped off in the middle of my freakish frenzy!   I looked down at my watch and it was1:29 and then the whistle blew.
Getting pinned up and pointing Lisa in the direction of my bike gloves.
sabiphotography.com
My coach Matt told me to go for the hole shot and so I ripped out of the start gate and I GOT IT! Tom said the race announcer had no idea who I was!  I couldn't believe it myself! In fact I hardly even knew where I was supposed to turn!! I was quickly passed and tried my best to hang onto the front group but lost them after a super sketchy dismount in the sand pit.  Then as I was starting the 3rd lap and trying to gap the gal behind me I took a turn too wide and got my handlebar tangled in the course tape.  Oh "F"...what happens now I wondered? I figured the tape would probably just snap and so I held on tight and then WHAM!  I went down hard!!  guess not :)  I got up quickly and was stoked to have kept my place in the race however the next time I went to shift..CLANK, CLANK, SMASH.  I knew instantly I had broken the derailleur! RACE OVER!!! Not again...Boo. 

sabiphotography.com
I figured the Foundry Boys weren't gonna let me ride me ride their bikes anymore (I wouldn't blame them), however far the opposite! They helped me get a new derailleur installed that day so I could race again on Sunday! They Rock!  Sunday was the Age Group state races and things went much better.  I got the hole shot again was able to stay with the top girls until the middle of the 2nd lap.  Finally I didnt' break my bike!!! 

sabiphotography.com
I was able to race well enough to win the 25-34 age group race.  It was fun to climb to the top step as I haven't done that in awhile! And since this was state they give out State Champion jerseys! All in all though I just love racing CX and the culture and the atmosphere and all the girls have been so welcoming and it's just been such a blast getting to know a lot of cool new people!  Thanks to all my friends that came to support me this weekend and to my parents for braving the cold. My mom definitely thinks I'm going to kill myself but I love her cuz she still supports the hell out of me!  Big thanks to the guys at Foundry and to Carlos for capturing Saturday's story.



Now its time for some serious power intervals and VO2 max training to get ready for Nationals in January.  Bring on the pain.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jingle Cross did not Rock.

Ok I lied... Jingle Cross Rock really did rock...just not for me on Day 1 and 2.  To avoid an overly Debbie Downer start to this post lets just say this.

2 Race Day Ending Mechanicals Back 2 Back  =  Thrown Bike and Hard Core Meltdown

The guys at Foundry are absolutely the best though and feeling sorry for me lent me one of their awesome Foundry Auger bikes for Day 3 and I was able to race hard not worrying about my bike and managed to nab the 3rd spot on the Cat 2/3 Podium.  Sure everyone else was racing on 2 day tired legs....but heck I was racing off the back of an emotional freak out....pretty much an even slate in my opinion.  I was hungry.

 
The race itself was awesome and will surely be a must do on my cx schedule next year.  It takes place at the fairgrounds in Iowa City.  There were logs you had to run over, a fly over, and we even rode through a barn with horse stables and Christmas music.  Then there was Mt Krumpit....a massive beast of a hill that they change up each day to add variety.  2 of the days it was a run up and 1 day was a ride up.  They also had some real sketchy off camber stuff you had to ride down 2 of the days....this stuff is my favorite.....love letting the rear wheel slide out on the turns...bas @ss!

Other big things...I SOLD MY TRI BIKE!  yes way!  Its official, I've decided to solely focus on mountain biking and cx racing!  This new adventure is so exciting for me that I've even decided to stop running...for now.   I've got big racing plans and yes new big goals for the 2013 season, so I need to win the lotto asap so I can afford them...but at least this does fit with my LIVE LIFE NOW motto.  Between both Tom and my race schedules we'll be racking up some serious  miles this year and also taking part in an extensive ghetto hotel tour.

oh...and LISA BOUGHT A FAT BIKE!!!!!!!!!!

 
I am so pumped for us to go riding and I"m already trying to convince her that yes its only right you race these bikes too... and yes you have to race with me in Marquette in Jan.  Road Trip!!!....oh and sorry we're staying at the Super 8.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mill City CX Race

Brrr...what happened to the warm summer days.  Last weekends race in Bayport, MN was a frigid 30 degrees!  I was actually nervous to race my bike in these conditions as I had no clue what was the appropriate clothing choice.  Usually in these situations I go for the less is more option.  Well that option wasn't such a good option last weekend.

Half way through the 1st loop my fingers were freezing and I was already regretting my glove choice. After we made our way through the first creek crossing my feet were completely soaked!!! Crossing a creek is gnarly cool as you can see below....and I was super stoked about this feature....however, by the time the race was over it was a full on sprint to the car to warm up my toes!  Yikes I am scared for State and Nats as I'm sure it will only be colder!

 
It was a a pretty good race for me, I had a good start and was happy to be riding in the top 3 for the majority of the race trading places wtih Jen. She suffered a flat on the 2nd to last lap so I was able to ride to 2nd place. 

 
 
We are currently in  in Iowa City for Jingle Cross Rock.  First 2 days have gone horribly with a couple mechanical dnf's...UGH!!!! I am really good at breaking bikes, I've learned this is one my strengths.  Fortunately the QBP guys are letting my ride a Foundry Auger demo for tomorrows race....hoping to at least FINISH the darn thing!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

IRONMAN FLORIDA - Numero Cinco!




Well I'm not sure if you are even allowed to start blogging again after taking a 3 month hiatus, but who is writing the rules anyhow??

Of course a LOT has happened so I'll spare the gritty details outside of the fact that I am no longer a triathlete!!!  I know...shut the front door!  Randomly at times I felt like I was losing my identity...seriously??? don't be ridiculous.  Bottom line...I love to ride...and I've come to realize that the dirtier the better!

ouch...this hurts A LOT!
 
Ore to Shore was a blast as was Cheq 40.  I suffered, learned a lot and can't wait to better my results next year!  I spent 2 long weeks in a cast after a nasty mtb crash at Murphy. You want to play you have to pay I guess.  This fall has been a whirlwind.  I hoppped on a CX bike for the first time 1.5 months ago and I friggin love it!  I've probably raced cx more times in the last month then I raced tri's all year!  Let me tell you...this sport hurts!

Tommy on the other hand...he is still die hard triathlete which I adore and totally "get."  He has spent the fall mostly on the trainer in our living room....and rocking Ironman Florida in the lovely Panama City...aka...Red Neck Riviera.  This was to be his 5th Ironman and so proud of this man cuz for whatever reason some days you wake up and the sun doesn't shine....it wasn't his day. But finish times are not the spirit of Ironman...it's crossing that damn finish line that is. My cute man one up'd me crossing for the 5th time last weekend!  11:47 is a pretty damn good time!!

Not only did Tommy lay waste to Ironman Florida....so did plenty more of my besties! Everyone perservered and finished...and actually most people PR'd.  The craziest thing on earth though....our good buddy Jeff Pearson was the 500,000th Ironman Finisher of all time.  Can you believe it?  1 in 500,000....fireworks went off when he crossed the line, it was incredible!

We celebrated afterwards with Corona's on the beach, way too much seafood and way to much fun!

 
I'm about to head out the door to Mill City CX sufferfest....then next weekend we're heading to Iowa City for 3 days of Jingle Cross Rock!! This cyclcross festival is supposed to be one of a kind!  It will be my first trip back to Iowa City since college in 2003. dang....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chisago Tri - Pool Party!

This past weekend the alarm went off disturbingly early for Chisago Lakes Tri.  Anytime the alarm goes off under 5 am it's brutal...and I boldly refuse to ever let it go off before 4 am unless we are heading to Mexico or something sweet like that...otherwise I can't think of any other reason worthy.  Tom on the other hand...don't know what it is, but on race day he wakes up like an 8 year old on his way to Valleyfair! I wish I was more like this...The drive out to Chisago was long..but I like that, just zoning out and I remember we we were having a random April career chat on the way out there...halfway through the chat I thought...hmm looks like someone is focused, not!


Chisago has always been one of my favorite races!  For whatever reason this race gets a really good turnout and usually most of my friends race one of the two distances.  Also, the sprint distance is rather bike heavy which suites me.   Heading into this race I was stoked to hammer the bike and felt as a result of the longer bike I would have a pretty good shot to to make it onto the podium.  Well as the saying goes...some days it just isn't your day.  This was not my day!  I felt alright on the swim and good for about 8 miles of the bike and then I just felt like straight up shat!.  I was hammering my legs as hard as they would and I just couldn't get the bike to cooperate.  It was a painful struggle and left  me 4th woman off the bike.  Not a good position to be in when running fast isn't your "thing."  So I got passed, and passed again and again and right before the finish again!  Just pour it on!! 

Finishing felt fantastic and I was stoked to see the infamous ice pool empty!  Since the water was still somewhat sanitary I went for the full on head under plunge!  To say this felt good would be a huge understatement!
Kathi snapped this shot....I think it looks like I'm about to give water birth!
I finished 8th and was a bit grumbly about my slow splits...but that quickly dissipated when I got my 2nd place age group MUG...I am loving this post race beer situation entering the tri scene!  I  raised my mug to my cute man who had a fabulous race finish 12th male overall and also placing in his age group!  Tom has been having a fantastic year thus far and I am so happy to see him race well!   I enjoyed seeing  Jeff and Christina get their podium mugs and also seeing Lisa have one heck of a half ironman finish in some nasty hot conditions! Dolan and Youness and E-Monster all also had great racing days! Love my friends!

In the afternoon I met up with Pam, Chris and Dan for some mtb loops at theo!  It was a hot day and after 2 more hours of riding I was totally smashed!!!  Gotta get these mountain legs ready for Ore to Shore in a couple weeks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Racing Frenzy #5 - Lifetime Tri

Wow...I am in the midst of a crazy racing frenzy...and in fact rather than writing this post I should be face down on the floor foam rollin' out these horribly knotted up quads!

After Curious George I decided I wanted to play in the dirt and thus have been adding as many mountain bike races as possible to my already decided triathlon schedule which was arranged during my Its January, I feel so fit and races are at their cheapest phase.  That phase happens every year and no matter how much I try to control it I just can't and I overbook the shiz out of summer.  Tom LOVES this..not! 

Lifetime Tri was to be my 5th weekend in a row racing...out of my 8 week racing frenzy! Hard to believe that this race has never made its way onto my schedule...its just always lost out to one of my faves...Heart of the Lakes!  I'll admit...my Its July and its so friggin hot and humid phase had just kicked in and I was seriously dreading the 10k run that this race offered as desert!  Well guess what? I survived...it was hot and humid...but it sure was a lot of fun! I shared some good pre-race moments with Cindy before the swim (thanks for the extra hair tie...I still need to figure out how to manage this long haired chaos!) Since it was too hot to wear a wetsuit I was shocked to feel so good in the water and that momentum carried me through the bike. The was different story and I was happy to finish just above 2:25 and I believe 16th amateur woman.  It was really fun to see Tom and so many fans cheering on the run and it actually made me enjoy the 2 looper!  I remember Lisa kept reminding me that once this was over I never had to do this distance again.  Thanks Lisa...it helped!


One highlight of my day was seeing Andrea post race (photo above)!  After messing her back up over the weekend she went from not being able to stand up straight on Monday to racing on Saturday!  I work with this chica and let me tell you...she is one determined, amazing lady!  So proud of her and impressed by her passion!  Love this photo as it totally captures how smashed she is!

Also loving how my race medal also acts as a bottle open...how cool?! However the grand finale had to be the post races beers in the Mich Ultra tent with Tom, Andrea and Ross...bottle opener not needed! Check out the carnage... I'm not driving! 

On a another final note...bring on the cyclocross nastiness! Meet Chilly Willy! You can see the resemblance...


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Minneman Pukefest and Elysian FunFest Weekends!

Minneman triathlon was a couple weekends ago!  Tom and I had volunteered for this race last year, which meant that we had a free race…love it!  I will be honest that I was really nervous about how this race was gonna go.  I’ve been having so much fun on my fatty lately that I had only ridden my tri bike twice since St. George!   I suppose I could have guessed it…this race was pretty much a smack in the face …I felt terrible the entire time….and especially the last 100 meters of the run when I started dry heaving…at this point I knew I was in 3rd place and as usual was super stressed about getting caught by some more gals.  I continued running thinking that I could hold it off…at least until after the finish line, well I was wrong…and for the 2nd race in a row I threw a sexy spew all over myself party as I struggled over the last 20 yards of the race.  My favorite quote after the race from Matt Payne was “nice…way to throw it all over the place!”  I remember thinking “I can’t believe this is actually happening…yes I am puking all over myself Gatorade commercial style…and this is only a sprint tri!”  I did end up on the podium and was really happy to be there all things considered!  It was also a very well organized event which I would consider doing again! 
Thanks Yndecam for capturing the moment!

Tom had an incredible race finishing 4th overall and 1st in his age group!  He even WON A TREE!!! I am one Proud wifey!  Since we have an apartment I thought it would make a nice Christmas tree, but instead we dropped it off at Tom’s parents house to be planted…of course we named it “The Champions Tree.”

This past weekend we did the 29th Annual Elysian Rookies Triathlon. We have been doing this race the past 5 years and absolutely love it….it is always a highlight of our summer as we get to spend the weekend on the lake with Kari and Mark and Mark’s parent’s at the River’s lake home!   We arrived Friday night just in time for some pontoon action and of course a few lucky pre race Bud Light Limes!  It was still ridiculous hot outside, but forecast called for a storm to come through overnight and cool things off.  Race morning came quickly and temperatures had dropped thankfully!  We picked up our awesome fluorescent race T-shirts and set up both T1 and T2.  My favorite part about this race is how for most participants this is the one race they do each year or perhaps it is even their very first tri and they are able to do it on basically whatever bike they own without being judged…I absolutely love the innocence of this race, it’s $35 late registration fee, and it’s scattered transitions.  I would hate for things to get too professional at this race as I think it would lose its “rookie” appeal.  The race distances are .4 Mile swim, 8 mile bike and 4 mile run.  Run heavy...and surprisingly a fairly hilly 8 mile ride! 
As Tom and I were getting our bikes set up in T2 I was checking out the other racers to see who might be my competition and all the sudden noticed someone in a USA tri suit with the last name “Haskins” on it.  I knew of the Olympian, Sarah Haskins, but immediately dismissed it assuming it was probably some random age grouper that had a USA tri kit from Age Group Nationals or something (and coincidentally the same last name).  Turns out I was wrong!! Now way!  It was indeed Sarah Haskins and she had randomly showed up with her husband who apparently is from Mankato area.  She is set to race the Lifetime Tri next weekend and must have done this one for fun!  She was genuinely nice and even stuck around to hand out the race medals!   Both Tom and I had pretty good races!  He finished 3rd overall (1st place was Sarah Haskins husband who I think used to be a Pro).  I was 2nd…or 1st Amateur (no puking!).  Tom Rivers (Mark’s dad) also did the tri for the 3rd consecutive year and looked strong as ever!  Once we got our medals we peeled out and spent the entire afternoon on the pontoon and in the water with the Rivers and the Larson’s!  We downed way too many silver bullets and left with a fresh tan!!  What a way to spend a weekend!  We had a blast hanging out with the kiddos Allie, Kate and Drew!  Thank you Marie and Tom for the splendid hospitality…can’t wait till next year!
Drew and Allie  "Cheese"  - Photo Credit to Ericka Larson

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lutsen 39er...MUDFEST!

This past weekend we took to the North Shore for the Lusten 39er race.  The longer distance 99er race was the main event, but I’m still on my mountain bike training wheels so I went with the shorter distance that I could actually wrap my head around...and thank God since it was an epic mudfest!   The awful flood that struck Duluth over the past week had me worried 1. We might not make it up to Lutsen 2. They might cancel the race.  Pretty ridiculous actually when folks in Duluth are in despair...but I was so excited for this race I would have been real sad to have missed it...besides RAIN = MUD = DIRTY and I was stoked for that kind of race! 

My parents came along for the weekend away and the four of us made it up to the race no doubt, and actually all we could see as a result of the flood was a seriously nasty brown Lake Superior.  We laughed at the thought of TCat swimming through that mess during the Superiorman Half in a couple months!  We also couldn't pass up a stop at Gooseberry falls...it was spectacular and in full roar!!
Hot Papa Calhoun!

We arrived at the Eagle Ridge Resort in Lutsen Friday afternoon and immediately I loved the atmosphere, so casual and laid back with a nice touch of energy...kind of like sitting in a coffee shop listening to someone play their guitar...chill.  We grabbed dinner on the patio, I even had a couple lucky pre-race Corona's and was so excited about the fact that I wasn't nervous for this race at all...I was just excited for  fun day...and I suppose my expectations were minimal.  


Pre Race chillin'
Race morning came quickly and soon enough I was trying figure out what was a proper place for me to position myself in the corral.  This actually involved me checking to see if any women were ahead of me and if so inching my way forward.  The star spangled banner was played, and a rifle was shot!  We were off!  Since the race was downhill they had a van in front keeping the race speed under 20 mph...Which was fine and I actually appreciated a chance to warm up the legs.  People were chatty in the pack and I loved how everyone was just out here to "have fun!" About 5 miles in we took a left and started a climb that I swear would never end.  They call this a category 3 climb, but I’m not even sure what the means...let’s just say it kept climbing and climbing and climbing...probably like 3 miles worth of it. During this section I was passed by a gal in the 39er and I just couldn't get my legs to go with her.  I stared at her blue jersey 200 yards off into the distance and then she was gone! The next 20 miles or so are pretty blurry and involved some tar, gravel roads grass, big rocks in the swamps...yes full on 2 feet of water pits.  I was nervous at the first swampy pit and after making it through I was ecstatic! "This is so much fun" muddy water was flying up even into the back of my bike shorts…it was wild!  During this section I was riding with about 10-12 guys and some were actually telling me they would help me catch the gal in first. What a nice change of pace from the guy you pass in a tri that can't believe he is getting beat by a girl!  I found myself really enjoying the pack riding way more than I expected and couldn't believe the advantage you can get riding in a pack. 

Things were going really well until BAM the guy in front of me t-boned a rock and went head first over the handlebars...I had to slam my brakes to avoid riding over him and his bike...it was gnarly!! I yelled to see if he was okay and he said "yes" and I made him say it twice before I kept on going. At this point the back broke apart and i rode about 10 miles by myself...boo!! until I was caught by the chase pack behind me.  I jumped on and rode with them until we got to the last 4 mile section.  This was supposed to be "single track" but let me tell you it was nothing like the single track I had ridden at home, it was grassy and swampy and muddy and at some points it even appeared I was riding down a creek.  With about 1 mile to go I saw the blue jersey...no way...I couldn't believe it. She was struggling in the rugged "single track" sections and I was able to catch her and make a pass on one of the turns.  All the sudden "oh my gosh... I am WINNING THE RACE!!"  I am not used to winning races and whenever this seems to happen I seriously PANIC!!  I would look back on occasion to see if she was gaining on me on the hills since I knew she was a powerful rider.  I also knew that the last part of the race involved a super steep perhaps 200 meter long climb..  Finally it was in sight however I was completely TOAST.  At one point the slope was so steep I toppled off my bike...I was trying so hard to get back on and looking back seeing the blue jersey gal was 15 yards back...it was a miracle that I was able to get back on and pedal my way up the rest of the hill and across the finish line! 

 I WON THE RACE!!! I was shocked!!! I had never won a race before....6 years of Tri’s, running, etc and I won my first race on mountain bike!! Who would have thought??? I finally am worthy of drinking out of Tom's "winner's mug."  ( you see he has this mug from winning the Dreidel Dash 5k this past fall and if I ever would have coffee in it he would say "are you sure you should be using that? Hilarious!!) Take that Tom!
Post Race...I was Smashed!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Red Wing Classic MTB Race

Finally it was here!  My first Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race of 2012!  I've come to realize that in order to "race" Hottie I've usually got to do a bit of travelin.  However it's all good since I am getting to see a lot of new areas and this was my first trip to Red Wing.  What a beautiful place set right on the river!  Memorial Park is where the race is held and its pretty much right at the top of a huge bluff and the views are incredible!  I was racing in the Sport class which meant a race start of 11:00 AM!  Can you believe that?  a whole 3-4 hours later than most of my tri's!  Tom was driving...which meant I was navigating...which is you guessed it...a horrible combo.  However I'm guessing if we flipped flopped...still a horrible combo.  I should probably just ride in the back seat from now on since we ended up in Hastings...oops.  Thankfully we realized our mistake quick enough to still get to the race with just enough time for a small warm up. 

The fun part about these races is that they are pretty much all day long fiesta starting With the kids and beginner races finishing with the expert/pro races. By the time I arrived the race day energy was already in full affect...think getting to the bars around 11:30 pm..just like that! I loved it.  Just before the start it was smoking hot and I was worrying that my ALL black All City jersey was going to turn out to be a horrible choice. Also I had ordered a size large and realized it was...well a bit too large and thus I had to tighten it with some safety pins in order to keep my spare tube kit from bouncing around...ghetto! 

The line up for the race start was quite interesting.  It kind of went in waves. Seemed to be a few different waves for the men based on age groups and well since there isn't quite the # of women racing only one wave for us...right in the back.  I was already getting antsy about how the start was gonna go...where to line up my bike..how fast would the smash out of the gates be... etc.  Also they had this thing called "call ups"  It's exactly as it sounds..basically they call your name if you are good enough and then you get to move up to the start line first and thus pick your starting spot.  Craziness...obviously since I've never done a race my name was not called :(  So I took my sport in the back row which is most likely where i belonged and waited for the gun to go off. 


BOOM!  woah...holy shiz i couldn't believe how fast we were just ripping out of there and just like that I was in probably 8th or 9th place.  I was mostly observing at this point and then remembered...THIS IS A RACE...MOVE YOUR ASS!  at which point I did and was able to pass a couple gals on the hills entering the first single track portion of the race in maybe 5th place.  It actually didn't take too long for me to pass most of the women...well except for 1 gal in a super cute Lululemon bike kit..so not just for the yogi's?  So I was in 2nd...but my tongue was practically touching my knees!   I remember at one point looking down and my watch said 11:32 (our race started at 11:08) i though holy shiz...I still have like a whole nother hour of this...I had better chill out. I was able to see Tom and and some other spectators on some of the single track sections...awesome.  It was super fun to hear them cheer.  However.....I did manage a nice wipe up right in front of them.  Couldn't believe the timing! The trail wasn't wet, but it was a bit slippery and I realized that i completely SUCK at climbing hills with roots cuz it seemed like every time I'd get stuck on the root, spin my back tire and pretty much topple over.  The icing on the cake of these incidents was that meant I got to run my bike to the top of the hill...hard and hard core.  At least good practice for cyclocross season I figure (yes I fully intend to dabble in that too!)
LOTS OF THIS!!!

I had heard about this portion of the course called the "stairway to heaven" and I kept wondering when it would suddenly come into view.  About 3/4s the way through the first loop we took a hard right and BAM there she was.  It was probably the most ridiculous thing I've seen thus far in a race (it was close to as gnarly as the Kuparasaari Half Big Bertha Hill from 2010). No one around me the first time through was able to ride their bike up it.  I just took one look and conceded instantly....by the time I  ran up it (okay more like walked) my calves were in huge knots!  I was stoked to get back on my bike but was worried how much time I lost with those walking shananigans.  I was still in 2nd...well until I dropped my chain...damn it.  I need to learn to act calmly in these situations..instead I swore like a truck driver and was so rattled it probably took me twice as long as normal to fix the situation and also gave me a front row view of the now 2nd place gal passing me...not cool, I also realized that even though I was still in 3rd, the gal in 4th was now right on my arse. Dang move it... I knew we still had quite a bit of racing to do so I was hopeful I could use my endurance to make up some ground...however not so much.  I finished the 3rd loop only 21 seconds behind 2nd place (I just kept seeing her blue jersey... like a dangling carrot).  We were both about 3 minutes from 1st place. IT WAS A BLAST!!!!!  And the other gals were super nice and friendly at the finish and it was fun to ramble about the challenges of the race...loved that and can't wait to race again!   


 Next up is the Lutsen 39er race this coming Saturday!  This race is mostly on gravel and snowmobile trails with I think only about 4 miles of single track. However the North Shore has been getting pummeled with rain over the past few days so could end up being a royal mud bath!  Party on!

Monday, June 4, 2012

DIRT, DOGS, and CHEERS

Dirt:
First off...this girl is obsessed!  Ever since my first mtb ride at Theo I have been completely hooked and can't stop talking about this new new adventure. I feel like mom and dad just came home with my first Huffy!!! Lets Ride!!  You see when it comes to most things for me there is no half assin it...it's an either balls to the walls or no thanks ..and poor TCat I'm 100% certain he just sits back and laughs at how I digest these new experiences and won't shut up about them! 

Since I am a glutton for competition...before I even bought Hottie I was already google stalkin up a storm when and where I could race her!  I heard about these Buck Hill Thursday night races, they sounded pretty laid back and a nice pressure free opportunity to give er a go!  This would be only my 3rd time riding Hottie and I knew I was totally out over my skis on this one...and I was so nervous all day I probably peed 25 times!  I signed up for the Recreation Women Class which apparently only includes about 7/8 people...in fact shockingly I would say women only represented about 10%  of all the racers.  Thank God I got there early enough to do a dodgy warm up loop at which I was quickly presented  with the opportunity to learn how to get passed, which proved to be a very valuable skill 30 minutes later. 


Race started at 6:30...first the Advanced Men, then Advanced women, Rec Men and finally Rec Women!  Boom!  We were off... I was a little hesitant (chicken shit) and surprised out of the gate how fast the pace was.... by the time we had made our way up to the start of the single track I was quite out of breath.  This was to be a 2 loop race for the rec wave.  I spent most of the 1st loop trying to figure out how this passing situation was and I was feeling like a red bull in a china shop when passing some of the rec men. The first gal had a mechanical and I was able to pass the other gal on one of the uphill road sections...suddenly I was in first and I couldn't believe it!  It was ridiculous and super sketchy riding as I was thinking "how could this be happening..I don't even know what hell I'm doing!" or much less where to go!  I started to feel more comfortable on the 2nd lap and things were flowing pretty smoothly...until crunch my chain flew up into my wheel...i had to stop and pull out the chain, and run up a few hills before able to mount my bike again..at this point I WAS DYING!!! Total panic attack mid race and my heart rate must have been 200!  At this point some of the advanced men were catching me and it was feeling like a total cluster!  Of course I ddn't want to stall anyone...yet still wanted to ride as fast as I could. I was so relieved to finally finish the race and it was only 37 minutes long! I was shocked that I had won!  I had no idea these races could be this hard...and definitely was surprised at how much fun I had...wow!  The post race atmosphere is fantastic with everyone just chilling having a a beer and watching all the kid races...I even saw a 5 year old boy crash hard, hit his head...and then get right back up and finish!  Awesome! I was so stoked afterwards I couldn't fall asleep and pretty sure I spent the whole night dreaming about it!   Big thanks to Chris for helping me fix the rear derailleur situation and also fitting me properly on this bike...I already race again tomorrow...Elm Creek Sprint Series style!

Dogs:
Believe it or not there has been more fun to the past couple weeks than just racing!  We spent memorial day weekend in the CHI TOWN catching up with good friends Shan, Trav , CC and Matt! This was a somewhat central meeting spot since we're all scattered across the country now.  TCat and I went for a run Saturday along the lake shore...okay it was probably more of a jog..but still it was a good hedge for the 2 Chicago dogs, Geno's East and numerous bud light limes that was put away this weekend! See I even "trade" on the weekends :)  We all had a blast checking out the city and we roasted literally in 97 degree heat outside Millennium park!  Are we in Mexico? This was my first legit trip to Chicago and I really loved it!  Here is a late night photo with my two besties! What a couple Divas!


Cheers:
The Buffalo triathlon was my first race back in 2006 and ever since then it has held the crown for my very favorite local race!  They do such a spectacular job and it's no wonder they got 1600 people to sign up this year!  The race as usual went off without a hitch.  I was bummed to not be racing, but knew I wouldnt' get the result i wanted since still recovering...besides I was also more than stoked to just cheer for my TCat who was racing the Sprint as well as friends Lisa, Andrea, Jason, and Donnetto!  One bummer though...no latte...that can never happen again.  The TCat had a fantastic race...taking 9th overall in what seemed to be a very competitive sprint race relative to recent years.  He was really throwing it at the end and I could tell by the pained expression on his face...I was so proud and happy to see him have a good race!  Lisa also raced strong as usual and looked so great on the run!  Jason always smiling and Donetto finishing as well...these 2 amaze me since they both competed with me only 4 weeks ago in the St. George hot mess than I have been trying to repress.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spectator Fun and New Adventures

It has been an exceptionally fun past couple weeks recovering from Ironman St. George (in my world that means mostly sitting on the couch and catching up on all the fun stuff I'd been neglecting during my high volume training period). One of my favorite things about recovering is SPECTATING!!! I had been looking forward to May for a really long time and the opportunity to just go to watch the TCat and my other training buddies race...skim vanilla latte in hand of course!

May 12th - Oakdale Duathlon
TCat had a 50 mile ride to do so it was just Marge and I making the trek out to Lake Elmo Park Reserve for the race. Once we located the race venue we searched desperately for a coffee joint...Caribou in Woodbury...thank GOD! Lisa, Greb, Eman, Dolan and Scotty (coach) were all racing and it was a perfect day! Pretty much everyone PR'd on this course and Lisa biked a whopping 3+ minutes faster than last year!! Incredible and so excited for her hard work to be paying off on the bike! Scotty...aka beast...was incredible and as impressive as ever winning the race and breaking the master’s record as well!


May 19th - Blaine Triathlon
Minnesota weather can be quite interesting almost always skipping the spring season heading straight into hot summer...it was a windy 85+ degrees, smashing away any early season cold water concerns! This was the first running of the Blaine Triathlon and minus a couple rookie mistakes it was a fabulous race that we'll likely consider adding the schedule for years to come..I mean they even had Cuzzy's cater in a post-race shredded meat feast! Lisa picked me en route to the race and our course we allotted time for a Caribou skim vanilla latte run at which point I also added a lovely raspberry white chocolate scone to the order after proclaiming "I really had better start training again..." Since TCat was racing this one as well as Christina, Greb and Pearson we were stoked to put on the cheering hats! Greb had the most jaw dropping lead on the swim that I had ever seen! He also was leading the race coming into T2 unfortunately wasn't able to hold on for the win but did nag a very impressive 2nd place finish! My TCat also had a stellar first race of the season grabbing his first ever Triathlon PODIUM spot finishing 3rd!! I was so happy for him! Christina killed the women’s' race finishing 3rd (largely due to her new found biking power!!). My buddy Greta had a great day coming off injury as well to take the win for the women....what a fun day!


You would think this spectating excitement would be enough...but oh no... we have been busy. This past Wednesday I drove all the way to Owatonna with Karlita (my mom) to meet and adopt our newest member to the family Vito! He was currently set up in Foster care..and the moment we saw his picture we just knew he had to be ours...anyone that knows me probably knows that once I my mind on something there is no distance too far or mountain too high keep me from getting it! You see...Chubbs our current and much loved Orange Tabby Cat has quite a personality of her own...we like to say she is high maintenance...but seriously she meows like a raging goat...which is cute mostly, but totally not cool at 2, 3, and 4 am in the morning! Anyways after much reading and encouragement to get her a "buddy" Vito has found himself a permanent home!  First couple days were a bit rough with lots of hissing and growling Chubbs style...but now we are flying smooth...no nighttime meowing and Chubbs seems happy...and Vito... well he just brings so much life and energy to the family...we just love him.


Lastly...OMG I BOUGHT A MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!!!! You see I have always been intrigued by the MTB scene and the Xterra Mtb races and deep down always wanted to give this a go. Buying bikes is never a cheap endeavor, but since giving up our 2nd car last Fall we now have the means to as I like to say "buy as many bikes as we want to!" We decided on a Salsa Mamasita hard tail frame due to its flexibility for racing many different events and had a ton of fun picking out all the parts to build her up! She is fast, fun and a Hottie of course. In my opinion every bike should have some white on it! today marked Hottie's maiden voyage and in all reality my first proper mtb ride ever!! Chris Balser, the bad ass Bicycle Fit Guru and mountain bike beast so generously offered to show us the Theo Wirth ropes and teach us some much needed technical tricks. Love that guy! First he took us to this random place called Brownie Lake??...when we first rode in I quickly realized the insaneness of this venue choice (knowing Balser I of course wasn't really surprised) and instantly my heart was pounding like a sledgehammer and I thought I was going to friggin kill myself! Well after some serious sketchy riding in there I survived and we then ventured over the Theo course and thank GOD this was much better. I was starting to feel more and more comfortable every 5 minutes or so and by the second loop was really enjoying myself...well with the exception of the 2 really gnarly head over handlebars wipe outs that both Balser and TCat had front row seats for! I even shed my first drop of mtb blood!! 3rd loop was a go slow and no brakes loop ( or more like brake as little as possible). It was a blast... and the small amount of rain made it seem even more epic ...I had so much fun and seriously felt like I was a kid again...loved washing off the dirt and actually made me realize the last time I'd been that dirty was high school soccer! I can't wait to ride again and already adding some mtb races to the calendar. First race will be the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Red Wing Classic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ironman St. George Race Report

When Ironman St. George made its way onto the Ironman circuit 3 years ago and quickly dubbed itself as one of the toughest Ironman courses, I knew that I would have to do this race at some point.  I was strangely intrigued by the difficulty of the bike course and what at that time appeared to be an equally hilly and even more difficult run course.  Last summer I decided 2012 would be the year.  When WTC announced the change in run course for this year’s event I’ll admit I was severely disappointed, feeling as though I had been cheated…after all you don’t sign up for an Ironman, and definitely not Ironman St. George, unless you truly like to suffer.  In some sick way I’ve always envied those warriors that you see towards the end of an Ironman, glowing necklace around their neck, shuffling, crying, puking and collapsing their way to an Ironman finish.  I desperately wanted to know what that felt like, to question if a finish was even possible, to throw out any limitations and find out what was my real “uncle” point. 
Looking out across the reservoir at conditions similar to the conditions of the race start.

As God would have it…on Saturday I got the ultimate sufferfest…the one that I had always so desired.  2012 Ironman St. George was relentless.   25mph winds (40-50 MPH gusts) made for a treacherous, incredibly wavy, fear for your life and those around you kind of swim, one that my words on paper will never give adequate justice to.  The morning weather was calm….however 10 minutes into the swim it was as if someone had turned a hurricane switch and suddenly everyone was in a state of panic! The waves were based on my estimation about 3 feet high with white caps spraying water everywhere making the visibility extremely difficult.  I have never seen so many heads above water and all the volunteers in boats were yelling, but the wind was so strong that I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying except one gal pointing her ore and saying “aim for the right side of the rock” (there happen to be a massive boulder right in the middle of the Sand Hallow Reservoir).  So that’s what I did… bringing my head up about every 5 strokes to get my balance and catch my breath!  It was freaky!  If you were prone to motion sickness, this was one for the record books.  At about 1.5 miles in…I was puking like a college kid, and suddenly feared for my own safety.   There was only one kayak in sight at this point and he appeared to be fighting for his own life trying to make his way over to shore near the massive boulder. 


Very choppy, racers scattered everywhere  (let me know if this is your photo so I can give credit!
 The “race” had become more about survival with the main goal of just flat out getting back to shore.  Some buoys seemed to be flung off course and I remember seeing some racers skip the last red buoy, probably more out of desperation rather than an intentional cheating of the course.  Once I finally rounded the last buoy there was somewhat of a reprieve from the face smashing waves and I could see the end in sight. As I stumbled my way up the boat launch, I knew I had already accomplished something incredible and that this was going to be an epic day!  I heard that 80 to 200 people were pulled from the water and that they even had to send a bus across the other side of the reservoir to pick up people who had swam to their safety.  So many people were unable to complete the swim that they actually allowed them to continue the race without their chip, something I’ve never witnessed in an Ironman event.  I also believe the swim cut-off was extended beyond the traditional 2:20 as official results exist for those that swam over the 2:20 cut-off on the swim.  No where can I find confirmation of this however.
View from the shore, you can barely see the buoy to the left (let me know if this is your photo so I can give credit)



Heading out of T1 I was very glad to be hopping on my bike and heading out of the reservoir, however, it quickly sunk in that these same evil winds would be right smack in our face for the next 50+ miles as we made our way north past the town of St. George. The first 20 miles or so were seemingly manageable until we started to climb into up the mountain towards the town of Veyo…. at which point things got crazy!  The winds were really whipping through the canyons in multiple directions, staying upright on your bike became a real challenge, and seeing single digits MPH readings was very disheartening…about 30 miles in I actually started to laugh as it was sinking in how truly ridiculous this was, and suddenly I was incredibly excited and invigorated by the extreme difficulty of this event. I started to notice that other racers looked mentally exhausted and some seemed to be seriously struggling.  I began to feel like Pacman gaining a little bit more energy and power with each biker that I passed.  The last 10 miles of each loop was a an adrenaline junkies dream as we had the winds at our back and were riding scary fast downhill  reaching speeds up to 51 mph…at one point it occurred to me that just a small pebble in the road could leave me skinned and very broken.  Luckily they had just repaved the roads, likely for this very reason.  I felt pretty solid on the bike and recorded my best amateur bike placing to date, something I am very proud of considering the conditions.  You can see the downhill speeds recorded on my Garmin here:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/176337847
Coming into T2 I was feeling pretty good and was really looking forward to the run.  The first couple of miles felt pretty good, however by mile 3 I could tell the swim and bike had really taken its toll as it was taking almost every ounce of mental and physical energy I had left just to keep turning my legs over….23 miles to go.  I focused on continuing to run no matter how slow it was…taking in liquids, gels, salt tabs you name it anything that might revive my tired legs.  The run course was nowhere near as hilly as the one from 2011 and not nearly as epic as the day’s swim/bike experience, however, but it wasn’t flat by any means and its 58 turns certainly kept things interesting.  At about mile 16 as I was climbing up Diagonal Street my gut was in such a knot it brought me to a walk as I tried to calm it down and revive the rest of my race. 


The next mile felt like an absolute eternity and I was feeling increasingly worse unable to take in much as the aid station and nothing seemed to ease my stomach.  Finally I reached my husband Tom, my Coach Scott, and friend Lisa at mile 17 at which point I was stopped hunched over taking in all the encouragement they could provide, and finally put on an incredible projectile vomit show for those 100 or so folks that lined that specific street.  I remember staying “I don’t know what to do” and trying to think of a means to make it through the next 9 miles as I knew that quitting was absolutely not an option and I was starting to fear if I didn’t turn things around I would pass out and leaving he course would be outside of my control.  At this point….another racer heading the other direction on her 2nd lap went out of her way running over to me and screaming so incredibly loud “c’mon lets’ go” at which point I reminded her “I am going that way” pointing to the direction I was heading…her response, “I don’t care” which was proceeded with a shove on my back that catapulted me my 4th Ironman finish. 

This was my slowest and lowest placing Ironman race to date, however it was by far my most satisfying.  I had suffered in way that I had never suffered before; and finished an event that will go down as one of the toughest Ironman’s to date.  On this epic day, only 1024 people were able to call themselves finishers, a feat 29% of starters were unable to accomplish, by far the highest DNF rate of any Ironman.   I feel truly blessed to have completed this event, and to have witnessed some incredible camaraderie, more than any endurance event I’ve participated in!  My training partners and great friends Shane, Voss, Marge, Julie, Jason, Donetto and Brian also persevered and found levels they didn’t know were possible on Saturday…having trained with all of these Ironmen, I had no doubts that we would all Finish this race. Thanks to my great friend Lisa who took time out of her life to share in this epic day with me, and thanks to my Coach Scott for your relentless passion towards my dreams and your enormous amount of patience , I know I am at times not the easiest person to coach.  So glad you got to witness this display of mental strength you helped build. Thanks a million to Chris Balser, AKA Bicycle Fit Guru...you absolutely rock, and thanks the lovely folks at The Fix Studio for your serious smashfests! Lastly, to my calm and poised husband Tom, you heal my mind…. you are so patient, and believe in me more than I do at times…I could never accomplish any of this without you.
Vegas Baby!  Post race at the Bellagio!