feel, focus and… taper!

At Ironman Canada last August, coach gave me strict instructions to swim sans watch. I was a bit reluctant – because data or it didn’t happen! – but in the end, left my 910 in transition. Turns out, it was some of the best race day advice (heck, it’s some of the best training advice). There were no mid-stroke peeks at my pace, no fretting over my overall time. Just complete in-the-moment swim bliss, feeling each stroke and my body as I glided through clean, crisp Alta Lake. When I exited the water, I ran by the clock, completely oblivious; I was midway through the run before I knew my swim time.

Ironman Canada also taught me the importance of knowing what it feels like to bike mountains. Though power was fairly new to me, my Quarq failed on race day, so I went by what I’d always done on the bike: How it felt. The rhythm of each pedal stroke while climbing the Sea-to-Sky Highway and bombing back down. The pure joy of just riding my bike; the spectacular scenery was a bonus. 

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As triathletes, we get so caught up in all the data – and, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love seeing my average watts while biking or knowing that I nailed 25 100s in the pool. But, in the midst of all that data – the watts, the heart rate, the pace per meter or mile – we forget the most fundamental aspect of swimbikerun: How it feels. 

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currently // 08.08.2014

Where has summer gone?! Not quite sure how it’s already August. Nonetheless, it’s been a good one. Here’s what’s been up…

Drinking // all the fluids. I’m usually a really good hydrator and don’t leave the house without my bkr in tow. But, this past weekend (as well as couple other times this summer), I completely failed. Sunday’s brick wasn’t difficult, but whoa, was it hot + humid. Despite three bottles of Osmo active and a bottle of water during the three-hour ride and one bottle of Osmo after (not to mention the Osmo preload before the ride and the water I drank the rest of the afternoon), I completely bonked. The massive headache and puking that evening weren’t fun. Lesson learned: Drink far more Osmo and water on sunny 85-degree days as well all day every. single. day. 

Loving // My sister’s #finleyandlucy photo series on Instagram! She is an incredibly talented photographer (check out her site!), and her subjects… I am certain Finley is the cutest little girl ever, and Lucy, well, she’s a one-of-a-kind vizsla :) They’re too cute to just share one pic! 

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race report // chisago 70.3

Chisago Lakes 70.3 on Saturday was my first race of the season – and, with a shiny new PR (for Nick, too!), it was a good one! I knew if everything went well, a PR was gonna happen, but no one was more surprised than me about the sub-five(!). 

PRE-RACE
Chisago is about an hour drive from our house, so Nick and I were up early (earlier than we were for Ironman Canada!) and out the door around 4:40a. We arrived with the sunrise, and following packet pick-up – and me swapping from wave five to elite – set up our transitions next to bike in/out. We milled around for a bit, talking race strategy with coach Andy and catching up with friends who were also racing. Around 6:50a, we headed to the beach for a super quick warm-up swim (maybe a minute) to shake off the butterflies. 

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SWIM // 34:23, 1:38/100, 2nd AG. 
I was a bit apprehensive about the swim, as I’ve only swam open water twice this summer – the options are limited near our new place in the ‘burbs – and given Chisago was my first race of the season, the buoys looked far. I also felt a little out of my league starting in the elite wave… because the elite wave! 

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Nonetheless, the swim ended up being great and set the tone for the day. I positioned toward the right front of the beach start and more or less swam just to the left of the buoys for the clockwise one-loop triangular-shaped course. Zero issues with mass start craziness, and I quickly settled into a nice rhythm. About a quarter way in, Nick popped up to my left, and we swam stroke for stroke for a minute before he veered off. The rest of the swim was uneventful unless you count the weeds; they were out.of.control on the stretch back to shore… as in clumps so massive I had to adjust my stroke so my hands didn’t get tangled in them. Gross. With about a tenth to go, I caught super triathlete Suzie Fox and kept the pace to exit the water in fourth female, just ahead of her (and ahead of Nick… ha!). 

A run up the beach and a big hill, and I was in T1 (this added about a minute to my swim time). (Below, I’m in the yellow swim cap.)

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Gear: TYR nest pro goggles in smoke (brand new and no fogging!) and ROKA Maverick Elite wetsuit (no chafing!). 

Nutrition: Banana around 6a (~100 kcals) and one salted caramel Gu 10 minutes before go (100 kcals).

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ironman canada // course preview

I almost asked coach if I could race Ironman Canada this weekend. Because FOMO.

As my first 140.6 distance race, Whistler holds a special place in my heart, and I’m a little sad to not be toeing the line there on Sunday. It’s a magical place… the mountains, the ocean, the woods, crisp clean air (maybe we should move to the Pacific Northwest, Nick?!). No doubt about it, I’ll race there again… who’s in for 2015?!

With that, here’s a quick rundown of the course :) 

SWIM.
Surrounded by mountains, the two-loop swim in Alta Lake is nothing short of spectacular. The deep blue-green water is crystal clear and because it’s mountain fed, it’s clean and the perfect wetsuit temp (it was about 68 degrees last year). For the in-water start, I got in the water about 10 minutes prior to go and positioned midway back on the left. I swam just to the left of the numbered buoys – it’s a counterclockwise swim with sunrise to your left during the first straightaway – and had zero issues with anyone swimming over me, kicking me or ripping off my goggles. The turn buoys are a bit of a cluster, so be prepared to fight for position a bit. In 2013, racers were allowed to stay in the water between the two loops – much preferred (for me) rather than running out on the beach and back in.

For more on the swim, see my race report.

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BIKE.
Oh, the bike! There isn’t a much more scenic road to bike than the Sea-to-Sky Highway (which was closed to traffic on race day)… water on one side and mountains all around. It starts from Rainbow Park with a longer run across train tracks and around a corner before crossing the line to hop on. Almost immediately, you’re smacked with an uphill followed by some rollers, so be sure to start in an easier gear. The first 30 miles are an out and back to Callaghan Valley, with the first half mostly climbing. After biking through Whistler again, the course winds north, up and down, toward Pemberton. Bike special needs is downtown Pemberton right before the 30-mile flat stretch on Pemberton Meadows Road. There were many pelotons here in 2013, and while it’s tempting to join them or hammer it, conserve a bit for the big 22-mile climb back to Whistler and T2. There’s a wicked S-curve descent on the climb back, so be cautious and slow down; it’s quite precarious, and though I love bombing down mountains, this one turn was terrifying (driving this section before the race is a good idea). 

Remember: What goes up (and there’s a lot of up – 6,000 feet or so) must come down. My top speed was 46 mph, so be prepared for some flying descents. I was quite glad to have a 12-27 cassette.

More bike info on my race report.

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training weekend in the wisco woods.

 Wisco didn’t disappoint this past weekend. 

After a 13.5-mile run along the Mississippi on Friday – it’s fun when you PR on a training run – Nick and I packed our swimbikerun gear and headed to friend D2′s cabin on Little Round Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin. A bit later start than we wanted, so we missed an evening open water swim, but arrived in time for a delicious dinner and good convo in the screen porch.

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After a bit of a lazy Saturday morning (blackout shades!), we got rolling on our century ride around 10:30a. At the first stop sign 15 miles in, there was a hiss. My rear tire (why is it always the rear tire?!) had a complete puncture. What the…?! It was my lucky day, though: Coincidentally, D2 and Sarah happened to be at the bike shop in Hayward picking up a new tire for Sarah’s bike. Twenty minutes later, they arrived with a new one – THANK YOU! – and after a quick change, we were on our way. 

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