Monday, November 14, 2016

Iceman Cometh - a surprising finish!

Oh my gosh!  I'm still in shock/awe/surprise about a top 10 finish at's exactly the positive fire and momentum that I was needing as I prepare for the the intense (and crazy fun)  fat bike season that's ahead.

I know most of you are thinking it's silly to be surprised, and to some degree I agree, however if you recall I had a couple blah performances in September (Doh!) and then I took way too many days off my bike in October to be comfortable setting too high of expectations for myself.  So I didn't....and perhaps more joy in racing comes with less expectations and just being in the moment.

Tom and I made the full drive (10.5 hours) to Traverse City on Thursday, and arrived just in time to enjoy a couple pints of Grand Rabbits (yeh Michigan!) at the Rare Bird Brewpub, which was a super cute little place. 

Friday was spent dorking around the expo, trying on all the sweet new 45NRTH Naughtvind gear, and chatting non-stop with my Michigan BFF.  My coach Matt and his wife Tricia arrived in the afternoon and we headed over to Timber Ridge to get in a little pre-ride of the race finish.  Coming from California, Matt was pretty stoked about all the leaves, and it made me reflect for a moment on all we take for granted here in the Midwest. 

Friday night we enjoyed some of the best wood fired pizza ever! at Filling Station Microbrewery and come Saturday afternoon Matt and I were stoked to finally arrive at the start line to warm-up for our 2:30 pm start. So late!!  I noticed instantly that the pedals seemed to be turning themselves!!  This almost never happens, so when it does.... carpe diem! 

Photo Credit: Steve Bartzen
The start was a tad intimidating as I lined up next to 17 badass chicas... a couple Olympians (no big deal!) and more than a handful of other decorated cyclists. I promised myself that no matter what I would not end up racing the next 27 miles by myself.  Finally we were off charging towards Timber Ridge at a pace a bit faster than I remembered back in 2013.  

Things were brisk, but steady until we hit the first sand section at which point a gal totally endo'd  right on her face in the sand (gnarly!). I was lucky to stay upright and sneak by unscathed and of course this gave the signal for the front group to hammer....and so hammer we did and suddenly I realized I was in something like 7th place, which of course I knew would probably only last for a brief bit. Holy long sentence!  I was quickly passed by some gals chasing and soon enough I was in total sufferfest mode trying to hold onto any and every wheel that passed me and at the same time trying to decide when to take a breather and focus on the saving "it" for the rest of my race.

Finally things settled down and eventually I found myself in a small chase group with Alli Draggo, Sally Price and Mary Penta.  I was barely holding on the climbs and Alli (a powerful roadie) spent most of this first part of the race throttling the rest of us on the front. There wasn't much working together, nor did there seem to be a desire to do so. Alli seemed content to hammer.  I just hoped I could hold on as long as possible and I'm guessing the 2 others felt the same way..  Finally we started to hit some of the single track sections at which point it became quite clear what everyone's strengths were.  Mary was definitely smooth in the single-track, had a little pick-up but was smartly not burning her matches up front. Alli was hammering the power sections but slowing down in the single-track and Sally was probably the hardest working cyclist I've ever raced with, but really mashing the pedals and burned some matches having to catch up after a couple issues.  

Alli fell off in one of the single-track sections and then the race became very tactical.  I attacked on the descents and Mary attacked in the single-track. Sally was dead set on pulling up the climbs and regaining control at the front.  As we headed towards the final miles you could tell all of us were deciding when to make a move and it was Mary that went for it first. I held onto her wheel for a brief while and then was gapped slightly as she powered up a climb. I had no idea at this point what place we were battling for, but I guessed it to be somewhere around 13th place. Sally fell off the back and thankfully I was graced by a long downhill which allowed me to bridge up to Mary. The two of us then battled our way into the final 1K of the race, passing the young Haley Batten who was fading.
Photo Credit: Jill Martindale :)
I debated about what time was too early to attack (remembering how going too early cost me in 2013) and decided I would do so on the 2nd to last climb. The moment we turned left to climb I got out of my saddle and cranked the pedals as hard as I could. It was enough to create a decent sized gap heading into the last technical singletrack section. The course was now lined with millions of people of racers which had been partying since their finishes around noon that day!  I crossed the finish line solo and mostly happy with racing a smart race. 
Photo Credit: Steve Bartzen
Tom greeted me with a hug and and I gave my coach a high five.  I had no idea what place I was in, but I knew I'd at least beat a few people.  I headed over to the GRBC tent and Jenny handed me a Vivant Farm Hand, which tasted SOOOO good.  As you can see Danielle, who wasn't able to race, was still super stoked for me!

And then this is what happens when you find out you're in 10th place and in the money$$...say what!?!?!?

Sweet Photos By Jenny Acker
 The rest of the night was an awesome fun blur of hanging out at the campsite with 45NRTH teammies, Matt, Tricia and all the rest of my favs!  My heart is full after such a great weekend.   Huge thanks to Tonka Cycle and Ski, SRAM, Ride iSSi, and Bicycle Fit Guru for all your help in making this mtb season both fun and fast!  Your products and support inspire me to be the best possible version of myself.

Friday, November 4, 2016 were pretty special.

Oh October…I don’t’ even know where to start.  This month was one for the books and I’ll remember many of those special moments for the rest of my life.  It was a nice break from our typical routine which generally involves toast in the morning, work, racing, getting up early,and making sure I get in those 5 rides and trying to always hit the watts on my workouts. 

 Instead this past month was mostly about “US”, celebrating 10 years of marriage and me getting the opportunity to support the love of my life while he persevered to his 8thIronman finish.  The month was a steady reminder of how blessed I am to share my life with someone –and someone so damn awesome at that.  I try desperately to never take this for granted, and as such I spent most of October just staring at Tom in awe.  10 years, how did that happen!!

We kicked off the month with a trip to downtown Louisville for Tom’s Ironman.  Tom drove down mid-week with Jeff and I took a Friday night flight down.  This allowed me my first opportunity to book my very own UBER…and oh my gosh… where has THAT been all my life! UBER for President!

We’ve been to Louisville before but this was the first time staying right downtown. We shared a room with Jeff and together splurged on one right by the Finish line….it was surprisingly schmancy and I had a blast running (yes that’s right) along the nasty Ohio River! 

It was a sunny weekend and I was totally lifted by all the Ironman energy!  I rocked a solo spectatathlon on race day (my first time) and I truly loved internalizing the experience. 

I took the spectator bus out to the bike course and even took a small nap on a concrete bench. And of course I snapped a bunch of photos,cheered loudly and then shed a fear tears as Tom crossed the finish line. 

Each Ironman is its own special experience and this one wrecked havoc on Tom’s stomach…. causing him  to spend much of the marathon vomiting all over the place. UGH I could not have been more proud of him for finding a way dig to new depths.  Then, our friend Jeff crossed the line to nail a healthy PR at the ripe age of 65….a truly incredible accomplishment.   What a great way to end the racing season for both of these cats.

Then Sunday morning I got my first glimpse of Brett Farve in real life as I was heading to the airport. I never really thought of myself as much of a “Jersey Chaser” but nope... turns out I’m just as guilty as the next gal…

I was so flustered/excited/stoked I couldn’t even hold a conversation with the UBER driver!!!

If you know us well you know we’re downright obsessed with Mexico.

Our first trip to Mexico together was to Puerto Vallarta for our Honeymoon, so I suppose It’s no surprise why we fell in love with this place. I remember on that first trip hanging out in the pool looking at the ocean and dreaming about what we wanted our life to be like in 10 years.

At that point we weighed a combined 50 lbs more, I had just wrapped up a college basketball career and Tom had just finished his first Ironman in a pair of my Big Ten mesh basketball shorts and Nike Shox…you know those shox that went all the way from your heel to your toe?  Yeah…

I still hated running and mountain biking was so far from the realm of desire or possibility. Heck, we were supposed to have a couple of elementary school kids by now.

A lot changes in 10 years, but then again a lot doesn’t.  We still kept our promise to return to Puerto Vallarta for our 10 year anniversary and we still dream about what our life will look like in another 10 yers.  Perhaps our dreams really haven’t changed all that much after all. Mexico... we adore you.

And then Tom took another trip around the sun (quit doing that!!)…and I surprised him with a costume, which of course I stole to wear while I handed out candy on Halloween! [insert Chewie voice].

I’m pretty sure I am still hungover from the month of October (so much sparkling wine!) – but nonetheless I am beyond stoked for Iceman this weekend and can’t wait to see my Michigan BFF and all our other racing favs…plus I get to race again with Coach!   Braap!

Friday, October 7, 2016

BACK ON IT! And Louisville Bound...

I'm Louisville bound and beyond stoked to cheer Tom on to yet another Ironman Finish this Sunday! I'm expect to be stuffed full on race day energy and positive mojo!  Anyone that's trained for an endurance event of this magnitude knows what it takes just to get to this start line in one piece ready to rock. I'm proud as ever of this cat, and it's true that I'm always inspired by his dedication and and persistence! He never complains about training...not like I do sometimes :) !

Photo Credit: Nick Weiler
Speaking of Training....I'm BACK ON IT!! And feeling motivated as ever!  I went through a longer than normal blah phase after Dirty Kanza where training felt like a bit of a drag.  However, these days I'm jacked as ever about nailing my over under intervals and doing everything in my power to gear up for Iceman amidst a fun October travel schedule! Giddy up!!  I recognize that everything has it's season and it's important to take a break...even if it's just mentally.  But no mas break for me!!! Bring on the sufferfest!

I've been doing my best to mix it up with this fall....jumping in to the Wednesday night snot flying CX races,

Photo Credit; Not Sure!!
Let me know if you took this so I can give proper credit! 

enjoying some single-track with Tonka's Rough Riders

Post Lebanon mtb had me BRAT!
Photo Credit: Eric Robertson

and finding time to do some other things like Yoga right on Target Field!!!  I suck at Yoga, and I dislike almost every second of it...well except savasana, but this experience was pretty rad!

BFF Ericka getting ready for some Down Dog!
Photo Credit: Hilary Dolan
This week I even broke out the running shoes one morning to get ready for our vacation schedule! Needless to say after about 20 minutes every tendon in my knees screamed as though it might rip in half!  So I stopped, grabbed a Coffee and walked the last mile instead!  The goal is to make it another 5 minutes this weekend! Braap!  ha!

I have to admit..for my own good...This past month I got a little caught up in losing "those last 5 lbs" and paid too much attention to the number on the scale.  That equated to just a downright feeling of blahness and frankly a disappointment in myself for caring so much about that number...which is just that, a number. Whether it's appearance or a desire to climb up that hill faster it's easy to pay too much attention to that number.  This was a good reminder to me to appreciate the strength that I have and to think of my body holistically -- I'm so grateful for all that this body allows me to do!

In other news, we discovered our oldest likes biking as much as we do....and thus the Adventures of Chubbs continues as she manages to sneak her way out of the back yard once again...

I'm also getting my fat bike dialed and ready to rock for the winter season ...turns out it's already snowing in northern MN.  Not sure I'm ready for cold and snow just yet, but seriously looking forward to my favorite season of the year!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cheq 40, Jingle Cross and a test of resilience...

It’s been a little over a week since the mudfest buttkicking race that was Chequamegon 40.  Every race is its own beast, and this one really challenged my ability to stay positive and remain focused. I must say, not much beats the pre-race buzz and energy that exists at this race.  It’s truly something special and I was pretty jacked as I lined up amongst 3000 other racers. Of course I was pleased to feel snappy on the roll out and was stoked to be feeling best I’ve ever felt at this race as we plowed our way through Rosie’s field!
Photo Credit: Kelly Randolph
Unfortunately that awesome feeling was short lived...and instead I rode the struggle bus like a champ for next 30 miles…getting passed by what felt like a freaking million people!! At one point Jeff and Pam passed me on the tandem and Jeff asked “do you need anything” and I’m pretty sure my response was “Ha, I need a LOT!” Bah!  Mama said there’d be days like this!!! :)

Photo Credit: Kelly Randolph
Seriously though I’m grateful for these kind of days as they make me really appreciate the great ones.  Regardless I had a blast like usual and loved grabbing a Coke and hearing all the cheers from the awesome peeps on the top Firetower. Love all of you…you gave me the biggest smile of the day!!  And of course my favorite part was seeing and high five'ng all my favs at the finish line! 

Congrats to all the racers out there, in particular there were some truly some great performances. Sonia knocked down at top 10 at her first Cheq 40 and of course a big shout out to Abby for her well-deserved win following a stellar road season! 
These days I’m focused on CX (well sorta) and getting prepped for Fat Bike Season!! Yes, the snow is coming….and you can’t stop it!!!
Photo Credit: Matthew Pastick

Tom and I are in the car on our way back from Iowa City.  I raced the Jingle Cross master's race this morning and pretty much imploded in the heat…no for was an epic blow which had me on my back after the finish seriously pondering if I might need some medical attention. 
I’m guessing running (instead of walking like smart people) through the nasty deep mud on lap 2 was probably the nail in the coffin for me. On a positive note I’m pretty happy with how I rode through the technical sections. I know the fitness will eventually come back around.  
At least my sock game was on point!!

The highlight of our weekend was reconnecting with my college roomie and basketball teammate, Jenna! Truth be told, I used to be a Hawkeye….sporting the black and gold for two season of basketball before transferring to Minnesota. Iowa City holds a lot of firsts for me as I plunged into college and adult life….and for this reason it was so rad to head back there after 15 years. 

Saturday we enjoyed some of the Octoberfest activities downtown….and I got to meet Jenna's dog  with dreadlocks...
Of course we watched the World Cup races and then biked to an amazing BBQ dinner at Mosely’s. Geesh, maybe that's why I blew up, ha! For all we changed over the years, Jenna and I realized, we really haven’t changed a bit. All In all, this was a pretty awesome weekend!! 
Today I'm officially starting the countdown to the cheerfest at Tom’s Ironman on October 9th!! We've got a fall season filled with bikes, beaches, and besties.  At this point I'd say life is pretty, pretty, pretty...pretty, good.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ore to Shore..on doing MORE with LESS

ORE TO SHORE WAS FREAKING AWESOME! Marquette was as rad as I can remember and I was quickly reminded why this is my favorite race ever!!  I love so much about the town of Marquette...... the sandy race course, the amazing community, and the beautiful scenery.  It's always worth the 7 hour drive and I already can't wait until next year!  

Last weekends race performance (4th place!) came both as a surprise and as a relief.  I had taken some planned downtime in June following the DK200 and I would have been the first person to label my training the 4 weeks leading up to the race as "lackluster" and more "as able" than I would have liked. Don't get me wrong...I was still nailing intervals on nearly every ride, I just wasn't getting in the hours or rides/week that I was used to. I had a lot of training data telling me that Ore to Shore may not go down well.  So when I pinned my best ever Ore to Shore race performance, I was totally elated!! 

Why the lackluster training?  Like many of you, these days I'm more passionate about more things. We bought a house, I'm leading a key project at work, I have an amazing family I love to spend time with and I'm newly obsessed with SolidCore. I'm super stoked about all these things!!

The thing is, when one becomes more passionate about more things it doesn't necessarily mean that one is less passionate about those other just means that there is now less time for all the said things one is passionate about!! Bah!!

So how does one do more, with less time?  I'm learning it's about change, and adaptation. It's about saying "yes" to those things that make me happy, and saying "no" to those things that don't bring me great joy. It's not about missing workouts and feeling frustrated/guilty, instead it's about being flexible, making adjustments, and maintaining balance.  It's vowing to never to be a victim of my own choices. It's about BEing in the moment, living freely and confidently setting boundaries. It's about worrying less, and making the most of the time that I have.

When it comes to cycling and training plans it means less hours and more intensity. It's means REAL rest days and very few recovery rides. It mean murdering myself nearly every time I hop on the bike and in turn loving what this plan gives me OFF the bike. These days every workout has a purpose and this concept is helping me realize that I indeed can still have it all.