If you told me last year that I'd be doing my second Ironman in the span of 3 months I would have rolled my eyes and laughed. If you told me that I'd do the second of those in 9 hours and 14 minutes I would have had no idea whether that was fast or slow. For my entire triathlon career, I have been focused running a fast 10k after biking and swimming as hard as possible. And, I love that. But, I also realized after racing Challenge Atlantic City that I also love trying to run a fast marathon (after biking and swimming).
So, Bec and I decided I should give it another go and signed up for Ironman Chattanooga. I originally planned to do Mt. Tremblant, a race with a bigger prize purse, but those points do not apply for qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona for 2015. A person can only run so many marathons, so I figured I should wait and do a race with points and get a headstart in the qualification process for next year. The goal of this race was to get points on the board for Kona and now I have 960...a long way to go but it's a start! I also had a goal running time, but when we arrived in Chattanooga on Friday I quickly realized that would be extremely difficult/impossible with 10 miles of huge hills.
Of course, I also had the goal of a podium finish, but that too was made more difficult when we realized the swim was in a raging downcurrent river. The swim was won by Anna Cleaver in under 40 minutes! I won't go into the details of my swim, will just say it was slowed down, even in a fast river. I came out of the water in chase pack (41 minutes!!) but instead of 9-12 minute lead I was expecting we only had about 3-6. Not ideal and frustrating not to be able to use my swim strength to my advantage, but a race is a race and I knew I still had the chance to have a strong bike and run fast.
After about 30 minutes of riding I settled into 3rd position with Malaika and Bec. Anglea was on a mission and caught us about 45 minutes into the ride. She had a great day and went on to win her first Ironman! (Congrats Angela!!) Meanwhile, we were riding a fairly relaxed pace. Mostly I was just trying to stay legal in our three person paceline. The rolling hills made that hard to do and I spent a lot of time sitting up and soft pedaling. Weird to do that in a race! Around 70 miles, I just couldn't take it anymore and I made a move - the good thing about having a twin is that we can read each other's minds and after a few minutes I looked back to check and there was Bec with the motorcycle behind her. We had made a break and kept up our solid pace for the rest of the ride. When I passed her, I even said, "Isn't this fun?". She responded by pushing the pace for a solid 90 minutes. Bec can really ride when she is motivated.
I started the run in 3rd and stayed there for 8 or so miles when Ruth came flying by. Then Jennie came flying by. I started to try to match their paces but decided to do my own thing since it was so early on in the race. When we got to the hills and then the second lap things got crowded and I didn't have any idea where I was until a guy on a bike told me I was about 62 seconds from 3rd. Then another guy on a bike told pointed out 3rd place up the road. I had no idea I was still in podium contention. It was a great boost. Thank you mystery guys!! One of them even went back to find Bec. He came back to tell me she wasn't there and hadn't registered a split since 13.5 miles. I freaked out a bit and just went as fast as I could til the end. Jennie was in third place fighting too so I didn't make up much ground but I ended up doing my last mile in a little over 6 minutes! And I felt great. Close, but no cigar as my grandfather would say. I couldn't believe how good my legs felt, 9 hours and 14 minutes of exercise and I was ready for more. That leaves me confident for the next one and I know I can become good at this distance of racing.
The long drive back to NYC gave me time to think about the race. I had thoughts of wishing I had gone faster, yes, but more forefront in my mind was HOW ON EARTH DID I DO THAT?
1) Equipment: I felt confident and comfortable with my gear. Thank you Cervelo for my fast little bike, ISM for a super comfortable saddle (not a single bit of discomfort all 116 miles), ROKA for my speedsuit, Rudy Project for a comfy helmet and a choice of lenses (I opted to use the red lenses because it was overcast). Thanks to Nate and Doug at Bikeway for making sure my bike was overhauled and ready to race. Also, special thanks to the New York Athletic Club for their support in getting me to the race. Driving down to Chattanooga also helped, since I didn't have to pack and reassemble my bike. Things always seem to go awry in the airplane travel.
2) I enjoyed every minute of it. (Well, not the traffic on the second loop of the bike course- that was scary!). I loved racing with Bec and having my mom and dad there to support us. It's always good to have the team of people who believe in you most there for support.
3) Preparation: I made some sacrifices in order to make sure I had did everything to prepare for this race like a professional. Bec and I did a "run-through" the Sunday before the race where we practiced our watts/hr, nutrition, and legal paceline riding. That was a key session for both of us. While my training was not high volume (longest run was 90 mins, longest ride 85 miles), it was consistent and quality. I am grateful to my reliable and willing training partners to help me get through some hard days - thank you Anne Thilges, David Welby, Brad Austin and Monica Moreno. Want to ride for two hours around a 1 mile loop? Sure! Want to run up a mountain in 100+ degrees? OK! Good people are everything!
3) Motivation and Determination: After a very disappointing race at Hy-Vee, I was more motivated than ever to make up for that result. I witnessed some amazing performances in Mt. Tremblant that really fired me up. Another thing that's really motivating to me is doubters and negative feedback. That's just always going to happen, but I always find it can be be a weapon if you don't dwell on it. Someone insults you or doubts your abilities?? Prove them wrong!!
For anyone interested in registering for this race, I highly recommend it. Chattanooga is a great town. We are going to do a blog post about the things to do there since there are so many.
Congrats to anyone reading this that raced and especially to Angela Naeth, Ruth Brennan Morrey and Jennie Hansen for their podium finishes. I have no doubt those three will be in Kona next year and make an impact.
Thank you to the fans in Chattanooga, especially those guys on the bikes. It was amazing to have so much support on the course. And if you volunteered and I didn't get so say thanks when I got a drink - Thank you! My legs are now recovered from those hills and I will resume training tomorrow for my next race October 26 in Oceanside, CA.
Athlete Food has expanded and now has it's very own website. Please check www.athletefood.com for the latest healthy fueling ideas, quick nutrient-dense recipes or if you're just wondering what it's like to eat like an athlete.
What is Athlete Food?
Athlete food is a collection of recipes for active people, created by athletes and designed for the inner athlete in all of us. We all wish we could eat whatever we want, whenever we want. But eating a breakfast burrito before a morning spin class or a BLT before a tennis match or skipping lunch before a mom and me swim class…none of these things make us feel our best. Believe us, we’ve been there. With over 10 years of competing behind us, we’ve had plenty of time to figure out what foods work and which leave us wondering, "Why did I eat that?"
We started this blog, along with our good friend and food writer, Melissa, to share our experiences with fueling an active lifestyle. Our friends and family wanted to know: What do you eat before a workout? How do you refuel? How do you fit cooking into your jam-packed schedules? The short answer is REAL food – not just boiled chicken breasts and packaged energy bars – and a lot of it! Take a look at our recipes and you’ll see that we indulge in sweets, we experiment with the latest superfoods, and we pack as many nutrients as we can into our healthy dinners.
Guestblogger Sarah joins us today with her report from IronGirl Columbia. We couldn't be prouder of our little sis for fighting her way to a second place OVERALL finish. Just how did she pull that off? Continue reading to find out. --Laurel and Bec
IronGirl Columbia Race Report
As I stood among a sea of women in multi-colored caps, I couldn’t have been more pumped to race. It had been nearly a year since I entered a triathlon. But after a (mostly) successful few months of training–uninterrupted by injury or illness—I was confident and excited about this race. Besides, I’d always wanted to complete an Irongirl. No time like, uh, right now.
It turns out my trip to Norway last month got me more than just a $2750 novelty-sized check. The points I earned by finishing in second place qualified me for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships coming up on September 5. Competing in this race was one of my biggest goals for this season so I’m pretty excited to be given the opportunity to line up against the world’s best in Mont Tremblant, Quebec in a few weeks.
I was only in Norway for a few days, but I did my best to take in as much as I could. Most of my sightseeing was done during the 56 mile bike leg of the race. The scenery was stunning with winding roads and views of fjords around every corner. Even though we were way out in the countryside, there were local fans at top of every rise, cheering on everyone who rode by. It was cold and rainy, so the fans were bundled up in parkas and gloves. I stuck out as the crazy American racing in a bathing suit! Even though it was mid-July, this was not beach weather.
As for the food, everywhere I went, I saw open faced smoked fish sandwiches. I even had one (without the bread) the night before the race…and then the next morning I ran my fastest half marathon in years (1:23). Now that I’m back in training for this big race, I’ve been fueling with my own version of a Norwegian salmon sandwich, in hopes that it will power me to another top finish.
Open-Faced Salmon Avocado Sandwich
2 slices multi-grain bread
1/2 avocado, sliced
2-3 slices of smoked salmon
How to Assemble:
Layer avocado slices on bread and mash down with a fork,
Top with a few slices of smoked salmon, a few slices of cucumber and some fresh dill.
Finish with a few grinds of pepper.
It's not exactlty the result of dreams, but 4th at the New York City Triathlon is actually better than I expected out of myself. Being so close to the podium (8 seconds in the end) was tough but the race and the day still remain one of the best of the year. It's the day that so many New Yorkers participate, cheer, and just notice triathlon. It is like a party (one that starts at 5:50am and pours rain during) seeing so many friends and getting so much support and good vibes from fellow New Yorkers.
I went into the race just reminding myself of that. Have fun, enjoy every moment and push yourself as hard as you can go. It had only been five weeks since my ironman and a busy five weeks. All good things (filming a video for Mercedes-Benz, a hard bike race, a certain new piece of jewelry) but I hadn't quite given myself a chance to really put my feet up and relax. Next time I will know to plan some time on the beach after an ironman! I felt terrible in training for about 4 of those weeks. I almost wanted to give up and quit when I got dropped up a climb I usually have to wait for minutes at the top of. Swimming was even difficult because my quads would scream out in pain everytime I pushed off the wall. I had to take a step back and respect what I had put my body through: an ironman and then a very difficult bike race. I realized it was ok if I took a little break from the "epic" workouts. Instead of a 5 hour ride, I did 3. Instead of a transition run I walked around an art fair. And, what do you know...three days before the NYC Tri I was on the bike trainer and my legs suddenly felt normal. I went for a run and I could actually go at a fast pace. It was such a relief!
Still, I knew I was taking a big risk coming into a race against some of the top girls in the sport somewhat underprepared physically. Not ideal, but I have learned that it's nearly impossible to have perfect preparation. I dove into the Hudson and did exactly what I planned on doing - made every stroke count and made the most out of every minute on the race course. I was so focused I didn't even realize it was pouring rain on the bike until halfway through it! My only lapse in focus was the few seconds I wasted trying to put shoes on after the swim. I ulitmately gave up and ran barefoot to my bike but that little bit of time changed the dynamic of the race. Instead of riding with the pack ahead I spent the whole time chasing. I ended up having a great ride anyway and put myself in a good position for a podium but lost a battle on the 10k run with Jill Peterson. She ended up 8 seconds ahead of me for 3rd. Despite a 4th place, I can't really be too upset. I didn't let any fears get in my way and I pushed myself well beyond what I thought I was capable of. I feel like every race has a lesson and in this one it was: Never give up. I did everything I could to get to that finish line as fast as possible and I'm pretty proud of that!
When I was finished and cooling down I saw plenty of other people doing the same thing. There were so many tough people out there, and for anyone reading this who raced, you should be proud of yourselves too!
Thank you to everyone cheering me on out there and thank you to my sponsors. My legs might have been tired but all of my equipment was PERFECT! THANK YOU!
Next up is the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines.
The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Reebok.
This morning - two days after the NYC Tri (race report soon!) - I had the opportunity to go to the new Reebok store in Union Square for a hardcore strength workout. It's not typically something I'd be doing so soon after a race, but I didn't want to miss the chance to check out the store and the work out. We do so much of the same type of training (swimming, biking and running) so this was a great chance for me to find out what the strength/circuit/cross-fit type classes are all about. Reebok set up an event (an early morning workout is just my style!) and invited fitness bloggers in the city to attend and spread the word about the new store, the classes they offer and a new running shoe they just released.
Checkout this video to see more about the shoes.
As for the workout- it was great! We were led by the professional strength coaches from J2Fit. For the grand opening of the store there are events through August with leading fitness pros, and they are all FREE! Check out the selection here. They are also doing a bunch of contests and raffles, so it's definitely worth a visit.
So, back to the training - I was very store and a bit nervous, but we went through a good warm up that loosened me up a bit. We then did a circuit with push-ups, kettlebell squats and row/twist planks. We did each of those stations 3 times for 1 minute each. After a short break, we went into a "relay" - something I could possibly be good at! I soon realized that it's actually very hard to do burpees fast. Especially after squats, a medicine ball throw down and mountain climbers. The coaches and my fellow classmates very helpful and encouraging and cheered each other on. I was exhausted by the end but felt great. I can't wait to go back for more!