A year ago…..

A little bit of a flight delay and some free internet in SFO means a blog post! The past week has had me thinking a lot about my trip here last year, my first voyage to the Big Island. I am so lucky to be going back yet again this year and I know that there are many others who are taking their first trip. So, here it is, the ole “Open letter to myself one year ago” post…..

Dear Alyssa,

You’re about to have the week of a lifetime. You’ve watched for years the NBC broadcast, and now it’s your turn. Here are some things to keep in mind:

-Write everything down. As it happens. Scribble in a notebook, put a quick note in your phone memo – anything you need to do to make sure you can document the trip. Your memory is terrible, Alyssa. I know you try to spin it into being a blessing because “you can re-read books and re-watch movies over and over and never remember the endings!” but, this is not a book or a movie. This is a trip you are going to want to remember the details of and you will want to share with your family and friends. Carry a pen and paper, and write it down.

-Swim in the ocean without fear of sharks or whatever other things you’ve dreamed up in your mind about the ocean. See only the turtles and the amazing fish and keep your fingers crossed the dolphins will come to play. But when you swim, just do it from the pier. Watching Blue Crush 10 times doesn’t mean you have the ability to swim out from your condo over the rocks and the current and get out to the course from there. Save yourself the time (and embarrassment of trying!).

-Sleep. Relax. Keep your feet up. Hydrate.

-Get excited because this week will mark the beginning of your friendship with Julie! Take advantage of the time with her because you won’t get to see her often as she lives across the globe. But she will end up being a valuable friend as the time difference makes for great convos via text during early morning trainer sessions, or late night “I’m so tired” commiserations!

-Go to the local shop and get the Hawaiian rub spices you were eyeing. Yeah, you’re not entirely sure if these are actually Hawaiian through and through, but it will end up being your favorite seasoning for the year, and will remind you of your dreams on the Big Island every time you use it, so who cares if it’s truly authentic?

-Wear sunscreen. Really.

sunburn

-Go to the undie run and take part in it with the careless abandon of a first year sorority girl (okay, maybe not quite that wild….). Enjoy it. Turns out triathlon is a sport for the ages, and you’re actually one of the youngest girls out there racing so enjoy these days while you can!

undierun

-Go out after the awards banquet. But, maybe, go a little easier on the Mai Thais. You may not have to go fishing with dad at 5am the next morning and have to endure a terrible bout of hungover seasickness, but you’ll still thank me. I promise. 

And as always, go fast and take chances.

Love,

Yourself, one year older and wiser.

In non-triathlon news…

Despite a big trip looming this week,  I was still grinding out some work days and “normal” people stuff this week. I learned a few things, in no particular order:

-Cucumbers are not vegetables. Crazy, right? In my weekly farm share I always get some green items. Every week I have to try and figure out if they are cucumbers or zucchinis based on how they look. I never knew this would be so difficult, until I started guessing wrong – every week! This past week was no exception, as I cut a cucumber hoping it was a zucchini I could steam up for dinner. So I did what anyone else would do: I tweeted about it.

google

And then Michelle pointed out what many people probably also knew:

google2

This lead to an embarrassingly long Google search including, but not limited to, “what makes a vegetable a vegetable'” “fruits people think are vegetables,” and “are we sure cucumbers are really fruit?”

-How to get ride of pigeons. This one is still a work in progress, actually. I live in Baltimore City, so pigeons are just part of the deal. Pigeons flocking outside my home and swarming my windowsills, however, are not quite what I signed up for. This appears to be a new phenomenon, and when I asked my neighbors what the heck was going on I found out “that someone probably started a pigeon coop.” Great.

In my search about how to rid my house of being a pigeon magnet, I discovered a few things. One, you can lay out spikes. This seemed a bit dangerous, and I decided I didn’t want to deal with impaled pigeons any more than live ones, so I continued my search. My Dad suggested moth balls, which the internet has confirmed would work. Before I’ve had the chance to go purchase said balls though, I had to clean a crap ton of pigeon poop (no pun intended) off my stoop. Simple bleach and water did the trick. And guess what – the pigeons have been staying off my stoop. So, I have that going for me.

-The Navy is doing some aerial mapping over Baltimore. This involves a blimp flying over the city. One thing lead to another and I may have mentioned to coworkers that I thought all blimps were flown via remote control. Needless to say, blimps have pilots. And crews. Who would have known!

Also, Scandinavia is not a country. That’s about all I have to say about that.

Chalk it up to Ironman-brain, right?!

Embrace your Treadmill

When I first was thinking about this post, I was thinking about it in the literal sense. I love the treadmill. I always have. Back when I was training for 100 milers I would piece together long runs by running from gym-to-gym in the city and jumping on a treadmill at each for an hour. And I did this even though I vehemently believe Baltimore is one of the best urban running cities around in terms of available outdoor running routes.

Working with Hillary has further cultivated my love of the treadmill. She too embraces it as a training tool and I have found myself doing some pretty silly workouts on it. And I say silly mostly because there’s no other way to describe the looks that people give you when they either witness these workouts or hear about what you’re going to do/just finished doing.

Boring? Yeah, sometimes. But throw a good Friends marathon on TBS, or a VH1 Top 20 Music Video countodown on the screen in front of me and I’ll be fine for a few hours! I love the monotony. I love that you set it and forget it. I love that it is one of the most foolproof ways of keeping your running honest. I love that you can people watch forever and ever. If I had a dollar for everyone couple I watched come in, get on treadmills next to each other, the girl turns on Real Housewives and walks at a 3.4 mph pace at a 1% incline and the guy turns on ESPN…..I’d be rich.

Loving the treadmill is one of my (not-so-secret) secrets to confidence on race day. Knowing that I can pound out miles in a fashion that people have told me they’d rather do just about anything else than have to do, gives me confidence. Knowing that these sets are done as a completely solo effort also makes me believe in myself and my ability to be strong on race day. 

But, we all have these. So, whether yours is the treadmill, the trainer, or the track –, embrace it. Spend a few more minutes there this week. Let these silly workouts make you strong. But, be mindful of your taper, of course 🙂

Tuning up!

Anyone who has ever been out to the Eastern shore for Eagleman, knows the definition of heat. They know what it is like to feel wind. I hate to break it to everyone who says you don’t know heat until you’ve been to Kona, but you can if you do Eagleman on a hot year. Which is precisely why I am not a regular at that race (and now with Quassy and Williamsburg as options who needs to suffer at EM anyway?). But, I have done it three times. Once as a relatively new triathlete who never dreamed she’s be a Kona qualifier. Once early in my HPB apprenticeship where Hillary told me I had to race in a bathing suit since I didn’t have a speed suit; therein lies the day all of my modesty went out the window, forever. And finally I agreed to do the race, sort of, a couple years ago as the swim-bike portion of a relay with Carly. Not once in any of those 3 attempts did I say “man, I’m having so much fun on this course I would really love to ride the bike twice.”

Which is precisely why, for the past 6 weeks since I signed up, I was secretly dreading this day. The Chesapeakeman Endurance festival, held more or less on exactly the same course, has a race for everyone from a sprint to the iron distance. The aquabike version of the iron distance is challenging enough that they give a prize purse. That, plus the offering of some good heat + wind training, was enough for me to pull the trigger and add this to the schedule as I wanted a final tune up before Kona. Needless to say, I got what I asked for!

cambridge

The Eastern Shore is absolutely gorgeous this time of year. I stayed at a bed and breakfast about 10 minutes from the race site and had a very easy pre-race setup and morning of. This really feels like a “mini-eagleman” because the sights are the same, but the crowd is much, much smaller. There were plenty of familiar faces here since it was somewhat of a local race, and it was nice to have friends around. The morning of the race was calm but I did check the forecast enough to know that the winds were going to pickup throughout the day as weather moved into the area, and that it was going to be warm. With the water temp above 70 I opted to go sleeveless, and somehow managed to be deaf enough to not hear warnings of jellyfish in the water that morning. After about 500 m of swimming once the race started though, I felt grass with my hand. Wait, that grass actually is stinging me. How odd. Oh wait….that’s not grass at all. Of course, there was nothing I could do but keep swimming. This was actually my first experience being stung by jellyfish and I have to say — it’s not really that bad. Yeah, it stings….but in the grand scheme of things if you are an athlete attempting this race, this jellyfish sting should not be of any concern to you!! I continued to feel a few of them here or there as I swam; again – there was nothing to do but keep swimming. As I came through the first loop I did glance at my watch and see a 33. Normally I’d be quite worried, but in the Choptank River which fully lives up to its name, I knew that was about right. I ended up coming out of the water in 1:07. Again, definitely slower than I’d like, but when they said I was 2nd female out, I’ll take that any day of the week!

Before you hit the big loop on the bike you do get an out-and-back to assess the competition. I knew then that I stood in second place, but with over 100 miles to ride still I was in no place to get too excited. Hitting the first loop I noted that the way the winds were that day wasn’t going to be in our best interest as it amounted for a head or cross wind 2/3 of the time, and a tailwind for just about a third. And as things do, the winds greatly picked up throughout the day, making the second loop quite challenging with sustained winds over 15 mph, and gusts over 30.

It’s no secret that I love climbing on the bike, and that has most definitely become one of my greatest strengths. Coming out to this course was stepping outside of my comfort zone, and I definitely had to change the way I rode to make sure I was competitive here. I had to keep my mental game on point, and also stay focused for a solid 5 hours of riding. This course offers no time to zone out, soft pedal, free wheel, etc. You’re in aero, pedaling, the entire 112 miles. That’s what the Eastern Shore is.

As I hit the final stretch with a tailwind, flying at nearly 30 mph I was so happy. Happy to almost be done. Happy to not be running a marathon after this. Happy to be on my way to a huge 112 mile bike PR. I finished up in just under 5:13, which I think I would have been content with on a day with no wind, so given the conditions I am very proud. Taking second to local pro Suzy Serpico, who I believe I have been racing against now since the ultrarunning days, is also always a fun time and she makes me work for it! And as always a huge thank you to my Rev3 team sponsors who have gotten me to the start and finish of each race this year happy and healthy!

I was also able to meet the one and only Stephanie Granlund who is a fellow Team HPBer and Oiselle athlete! I am so excited to finally have met in person and can’t wait to watch her prepare for her first 70.3 next summer 🙂

steph

Elsewhere in the racing world this weekend, Rev3 was introducing Missouri to the Revolution! You can check out the pro recap of the race here — the pics of the lake alone make me want to put this one on the list for next year!

Internet findings

These days when my brainpower is all but used up to focus on swim/bike/run, you’ll have to excuse my lack of and abbreviated blogging. But, I stumbled across this on the interwebs the other day and wanted to share. This flyer from the US Forest Service circa 1946 has some advice for hikers when they are lost in the woods. As I was reading through this, I noted how poignant the opening paragraphs are for the endurance athlete as well. Take a look for yourself.

lostinthewoods

courtesy of brainpickings.org

Note: The rules which are listed after the paragraphs I outlined are great for being lost in the woods – but not so great for endurance competitions. Except the part about not quitting. That part is true.

Weekend Wrapup

 Remember that time I shoveled a track so I could do a workout before Cabo? Well, when I did that, I set a standard of no excuses. I truly believe in the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” mentality, and especially during the final build to races that takes all precedence. This week was another one of those trying moments. Friday morning I was (in a weird way) looking forward to a “Mr. Woodling” set in the pool. Whenever you see the name Woodling before a swim set, you know it’s going to be a doozy. In fact, I think he’s the only other name other than Hillary’s that can make my stomach turn when I know they’ve written the swim workout I’m about to do! But, Mr. Woodling workouts are also a rite of passage. They’re the workouts that when you finally, finally nail them, you know you’re fit. You know the hay is in the barn. They are the type of workouts you pursue time and time again in serach of those moments of perfection.

On Friday morning, I was heading to the pool at 5:30 am. I heard a noise in the car. Granted, I drive a 2000 Chevy Tracker – so, there’s constantly a barrage of strange noises coming from the car. But this one definitely didn’t sound right. I pulled over about a mile from home, took a look, and sure enough the back tire was flat. UGH. Now, I *think* I can change a tire, but I’ve never done it myself. But more importantly – taking time to figure that out was going to prevent me from swimming. I had a ride scheduled for the PM so I couldn’t just push it back. I was hit by a few different emotions. First – feeling sorry for myself. That lasted about 10 seconds until I noticed that there was a random man on a bench nearby I didn’t really want to engage with. Time to move on. No cars were coming by that early in the morning, so there went the “look helpless and maybe someone else will stop to help” plan. As I drove slowly back home, I brainstormed: How can I get it all done?

Back at home, I threw my gear into a huge backpack. Put the backpack on, and biked to the pool. Nailed the swim. Biked to work. Biked home during lunch to assess the tire situation and make a plan. Luckily tire held for drive to the mechanic after work, got it fixed. Friday night trainer sesh. Bedtime.

== success.

The weekend continued with its share of highs and lows. Solid ride, followed by tripping over a small rock on the run off the bike because I wasn’t paying attention.

photo (3)

Went to the movies (saw the Spectacular Now = awesome) but accidentally ate sugar-free twizzlers instead of regular ones and spent the night paying for the sorbitol in my system (I’ll spare you the dets).

Solid half marathon and meeting some Oiselle ladies followed by a 30 minute wait at the most inefficient Starbucks everrrrr.

photo (4)

But admidst it all, I had to remember: Make no excuses. Get the work done. It will pay off! Five weeks!

My Top 5 Reasons to Race Rev3 Maine!

5. The beach. Whether it is enjoying some pre-race R&R, or just taking in the gorgeous sunrise before the race, the beach in Old Orchard Beach, Maine is simply stunning. And if you don’t want to believe me, then maybe you can believe Triathlete Magazine which ranked it in the top 15 breathtaking swim courses!

Photo: Eric Wynn
Photo: Eric Wynn

4. The lobster. And the picture opportunities that come with lobsters. It would probably be a crime to go through Maine without eating some lobster, and this race kills two birds with one stone and the post-race lobster bake!

3. The run course. It’s no secret that I love long distance trails in the US. I just love the concept of being able to take a path not meant for cars and allowing it to take you miles and miles from the start of your journey. The run course in Maine takes you onto the Eastern Trail and that makes for a fast run – and one that is mostly shaded! I love being able to step off the pavement onto the trail and just get in the zone as the miles tick by.

2. The time of year. August isn’t always the best time of the year to race, especially in the Baltimore area where I live. However, a few states north in Maine the temps the past two years have been ideal for summer racing. It IS still summer, but it’s a better summer up there, I have to say. Plus, with a fairly shaded course, you’re not going to get hit too hard with the elements. August is also perfect timing to gear up for a longer race in the fall, or build through the season to peak here before hanging up the bike cleats and clearing your Sundays for football and beers.

1. The people. The triathlon community in Maine has been so welcoming the past two years. They have opened up their homes for us athletes to stay in, relax in post race, and shared a bit of their lives with us. After two years it is now a tradition for me to head to a homestay in Cape Porpoise, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I am forever grateful to Nick and the other members of the Kennebunk Beach Triathlon Club who have helped make this such a wonderful experience for me from day one! Thank you!

 

Time for the Blinders!

Well friends, we’ve made it to the <8 weeks point. With my first race of the season being mid-January, it seems crazy to think that the off season is almost (ALMOST) in sight. The good news is that I’ve been pretty darn proud of how I’ve made it to this point. Emotionally and physically I’ve held up quite well this year.

But when it’s 8 weeks to go, I assure you, that shit gets cray.

It seems like some sort of Murphy’s Law to have a flawless 8 months, and then all of a sudden everything I touch breaks. Electrical appliances, my car, my cat’s teeth, the projects I’m working on at work…..all of a sudden nothing is going right. The life stress of course seeps into every other aspect of things too. Crazy doubts begin to surface. Even though I’m doing nothing different than I have before, I find myself entertaining the thought that everyone trains harder than me. Everyone is faster than me. And clearly, I’ve totally overestimated my ability this year.

In past years, these thoughts would have brought me down a level. They would have actually affected my workouts. They would have caused me to lose sleep. But not any more….and I think there’s a word for that. Maturity maybe? Whatever it is called, I’m glad that with Hillary’s help the past few years I have arrived at a place where I can take a step back and understand the ridiculousness of these thoughts. I can identify where the stressors actually are, do what I can to make those better, and ignore the crazy.  I am, in a sense, putting on my blinders. I pay attention to me and do the things that I need to do to be successful at work, in my sessions, and have a little fun when I can too. And I don’t let myself feel guilty. Because, for 8 weeks, that’s okay. Because no matter what my crazy mind may try to trick me into believing, effort is between me and me. And I know the effort I’m putting in.

blinders

When I Grow Up

When you would have asked 9 year old Alyssa what she wanted to be when she grew up, she probably would have said something like “orthopedic surgeon” (thanks to the amazing Doctor who fixed my broken arm!), or “a lawyer” (probably because I watched a lot of People’s Court – it was on before the Price is Right at 11). Basically anything that involved a lot of school, a lot of effort, and a lot of time. I was dreaming big, important career dreams. Even through college, when I realized I didn’t actually want to spend any more time in school than necessary, I was looking at jobs that would require long workweeks, and really “paying your dues” in the first years of your career to move up the ladder. Actuary, consultant, investment banker….these were what I gravitated towards for a career.

Nine year old Alyssa wouldn’t have said she wanted to be a professional triathlete.

But, 9 year old Alyssa was out in the backyard just about every day kicking the soccer ball around. She was out there jumping from the swing set, challenging the neighborhood boys to running races, and propping up a wooden beam on bricks so that she could pretend she was Dominique Dawes (her older sister was always Kim Zemeskle). Side note: don’t forget to put some bricks under the middle of the beam too. Otherwise you may find yourself breaking the wood in the middle of a split jump and the beam will be gone forever 🙁

Nine year old Alyssa – shoot, even twenty-two year old Alyssa – would never have thought that a future – let alone a career – as a professional athlete was possible, so she just didn’t entertain those thoughts.

It has taken me awhile to be comfortable with the fact that life isn’t always what you dream it will be like as a 9 year old. I don’t have a crazy job in consulting where I’m trying to run the corporate world – rather, I’m quite happy being somewhat low in the pecking order. I don’t have a master’s degree, let alone a PhD….nor do I have any intention of going back to school. It has taken me awhile to come to grips with the fact that my 25 hour training weeks are the long days in the office, even if that’s not what pays the bills right now. And that working my way to earning a pro card and racing with the elites is just as meaningful as spending these years working my way up to the corner office.

This is a hard perspective to keep when you do hear a lot of “I know you want to just workout all the time, but what do you really want to do for your career?” from the outside world. But once I realized it, I was able to look back at my past and see that I just might have been working for this from the very start – I just didn’t know it yet. And once I’ve realized that, I’ve found encouragement around just about every corner. From friends, to family, to the internets, the support and the encouragement is there.

You just have to open your heart, and mind, to it.

#8: In the mix! Lake Placid Race Report

Ironman Number 8 is in the books! It’s an old but true adage in sports that it never gets easier – you just go faster: yesterday was no different. Hillary and I met on Saturday to set out a race plan. I tend to stick on the less is more side for race plans – go hard, have some fun, and no walking! In so many words on Saturday, it came down to this: Go for it. With a Kona spot and a pro-card qual checked off the list already for the year, it was clear I had nothing to lose. I certainly hadn’t come all the way up here to play it safe.

The morning of the race was very smooth. It was considerably warmer than it had been in the last few mornings, and the rain was holding off for the time being. I dropped all my necessary gear off, said goodbye to my parents, and got into the water for a warm up swim. We were part of the new “swim start initiative” so after a warm up (which – by the way, that small area was not quite enough room for anyone to actually do more than just get wet) I lined up in the front corral. I saw Hillary off to the side and knew that meant she had decided not to start. So bummed for her, but racing an Ironman is never an easy day. Racing one sick is the worst, and she made the smart call to let her body recover. Selfishly, I knew that meant I’d have a full time cheerleader on the course!

We were told we’d start 5 minutes after the pro women, when in reality we started 2 back. Honestly, the swim start felt just as rough as it always does, but the new start did help me be less nervous beforehand. So, I’ll take it. I came out of the first loop and my watch had a 29:xx on it (official mats had me around 30). Realizing it could finally be the day I hit that sub-1 hour swim, I took off for loop 2. Unfortunately here it was a lot of swimming over people, and I just had some trouble really getting into a rhythm. I came out in 1:02 – not what I hoped for but still 2 minutes faster than ever before. Progress!

As I was running into transition I was passed by a girl who was BOOKING it. I saw a ‘P’ on her leg and realized that I had at least caught one of the pro women! Man do these girls transition fast! I had a smooth change and out onto the bike it was. Ahhh, the bike. I was so excited to not be swimming. And I was so excited to be on my bike. The rain was coming down but the temps were reasonable, so it was actually kind of nice for the climbing. Within a few miles I caught back up to the pro I saw out of the water, and another one! I felt good, and I think I was excited to feel like I was actually in the middle of the pro race. So I pressed on. Within 40 miles, I had caught all but one of the other age group girls.

However, as I did the math coming up that first loop – I realized I had biked pretttty darn quick. Whoopsies. On pace for a 5:20 was probably a little ahead of myself. I have biked myself into a hole many a day, so I knew I was on the brink – if I pushed hard again for another lap I may not get out of that hole. I opted to scale back a little bit and relax more for the second loop. I didn’t want to lose the time on anyone I had just picked up, but there was no use spending all my pennies on the bike. By the time the second loop picked up, the swirly headwinds had also, and no matter where we rode it felt like the wind was in our face. This was especially unpleasant for the final climb. Luckily, I had faced this weather back in May doing repeats up the climb, so I was ready! As I came to the end of the bike I was ready to be done, but I have to say biking that section through town is so much fun!

Off into T2 as the second age grouper, I was pretty excited. But I was also pretty nervous – did I bike too hard? Last week I watched the ESPN Nine for IX documentary No Limits. In that is a quote by Tanya Streeter that has really stuck with me:

“If it isn’t something that’s physical stopping you, then it’s mental. So, is your mind going to be your weapon or weakness?”

In this moment I told myself: do not let your mind be your weakness. You can run off that bike.

The 3rd place age grouper had come off the bike only a couple seconds behind me, and we left T2 together. As you leave town with all the cheers and the adrenaline you can’t help but feel good. We kind of laughed together as we ran step for step saying it felt harder to hold ourselves back than to just go. But, I knew well enough as this was #8, that holding back now would pay off later.  Cynthia and I ran together through the first turnaround. At this point I dropped back a bit and was starting to worry. My toes were hurting. I know, I know. Just run Alyssa. But seriously – they were HURTING. Like, worse than anything. Suddenly I realized that it felt like I was cutting off the circulation to them: my shoes were pulled to tight! So, I stopped for a couple seconds, loosened the laces to the point I thought I could run right out of my shoes, then picked up the pace again. Step by step as blood got back to my toes,  I was able to run better. Whew! Heading back into town I knew I was going to be faced with two big hills.

Coming up off the first hill I saw Hillary. The best and loudest on-course cheerleader ever, she shouted encouragement. To which I just shook my head. Our conversation then went like this:

“What? Why are you shaking your head?”

“I don’t feel good”

“What’s wrong”

“My legs hurt”

“Listen – if you think ANYONE feels good right now running up this, you’re WRONG. Pound some calories, and keep moving! You look FINE.”

Ha! I felt like a little kid that just tried to get out of school early by faking a sickness and was told to get back to class and stop making things up! And, she was right. I was fine. And to be honest, I was still making good time. So, I kept plugging away. As I started the second loop, I moved back to 5th as Kendra flew by me. Seriously, flew! That girl’s got wheels! “Just hold on for this loop” I told myself. The second loop was a little bit more distracting because now people were pouring out onto the course. Little by little I was picking people up and ticking those miles off. As I was heading out River Road, I was caught by a friend of a friend, Dave. Only having actually met in person that morning, I knew there’s no quicker way to become friends than during an Ironman (that IS how Haley and I met after all!). He wasn’t keeping calories in, but lucky for me his rough day was helping keep me moving through several miles. We hit the turnaround, and were heading home!

alyssaIMLPrun

I call the final miles the countdown, and once again Hillary was waiting at the top for me! We can get under 10:30, yes? She asked. Holy shit – can I? I wondered. I changed watches after the swim to my Garmin, so I truly had no clue what my total time was due to transitions, etc. I gave her a thumbs up because I would certainly try! The SMASH crew was out in full force, and Michele and Anabel’s cheers as I hit the bottom of the last hill were so inspiring. Coming into the oval I saw my parents, and as  I rounded the final curve I saw the clock: 10:29:45. Ahhhh. Sprinting through and coming in just under 10:30 by the clock (I realized I had a buffer with the swim start – so final official time of 10:29:53!), I was spent. I felt better than I ever have at the end of a race, but man oh man did it hurt.

Getting under the 10:30 barrier, with a 15 minute best over the 140.6 distance, felt so, so good. Solidifying another age group win was also meaningful. It was also fun to feel like I was in the mix for the women’s pro race. It’s a shame that they are only given a 2 minute head start, but it does work out in my favor to see where I stand.  I told people going into this race that sub-10:30 would be reason to be excited, and I am standing by that! The progress I am making is encouraging. To Hillary – thank you for being the selfless coach that puts me above all else even when your day isn’t what you wanted. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you to my parents! Sherpa duty for an Ironman is no easy day, and you never complain.  Thank you to my Rev3 team near and far – you guys are an amazing support system and get me through the tough days, no doubt! And of course, thank you to the Rev3 team sponsors: NormaTec, PowerBar, Biotta, BlueSeventy, SBR Sports, Compex, and Pearl Izumi — words can’t describe how you make this sport possible!

On ward for some recovery – and then next up is one of my favorites for the year: Rev3 Old Orchard Beach!