It’s that time again!

It’s funny – when I sat in Cabo back in March I felt like Lake Placid was just around the corner. In reality, Cabo feels FOREVER ago. I am surprised at how much fitter one can feel as the season builds. But – considering I have raced another 4 times and squeezed in 3 big training camp weekends….I guess I should feel more fit!

The town of Lake Placid is bustling, but I am lucky to be staying with my parents, nestled in the woods just on the outskirts of town. They have been enjoying their kayaks on the water and I have been enjoying my view while working remotely the past couple days!

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Luckily, this weekend’s weather is much different than the freezing temps and snow I endured back in May. There is some rain in the forecast tomorrow…but honestly after the bajillions of rainy miles I put in training this year, I think I may be more comfortable that way!  Leading up to the race the weather has been picture perfect allowing for some good shakeout swims and rides all around.

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If you are here in town please keep a look out for the Rev3 kits and give me and my teammates Laura, Kate and Andy a shout! And if you are virtually spectating, you can track online here and I am bib 530.

As always, a huge thank you to my sponsors who help me get to the starting line healthy and happy!  I’ll see everyone in the oval tomorrow night!

The Power of Positivity

Yesterday was a good day. I had a “sleep in” (even if it was only until 7!), and was powered through the last key long run before Lake Placid by an epic stage of Tour. Time to relax in the afternoon and a good dinner in the evening – a perfect day it was. And then I got up this morning and as I went about my usual routine pre-swim I caught up on news and twitter. And I got a little bit sad because so much of it was all about speculation over whether the current leader of the Tour is doping.  And I get it – I do. I fully understand the data and the numbers and how maybe it doesn’t add up as to why one rider may be riding as well as they are right now.

But, until proven otherwise, I’m going to believe the best in them. And yeah, I know – it’s annoying when people always see the world through rose colored glasses. But in sport, I have to.

I have to because I believe that hard work really does pay off. And that hard work really can make you go from good, to great. And that hard work can lead to some phenomenal, mind boggling, data-defying results.

Believing the best in others, the best in sport, and the best in yourself is the easiest way to gain an advantage. A reminder of this came a midst all of the speculation about the Tour as Meredith Kessler won Vineman, just 4 weeks after a serious crash at Eagleman. Her first tweets after this race?

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And she’s right. Positive thinking gets you results. You don’t do great things with doubt. Surround yourself with those people who believe in you and all of the crazy dreams you dream. As I head into the days before Lake Placid, I know I am.

Atlanta Wrap-up!

Look up “Dynamo” in the dictionary and you will find this:

dy·na·mo

  [dahy-nuh-moh]

noun, plural dy·na·mos.

1. an electric generator, especially for direct current.

2. an energetic, hardworking, forceful person

Examples of DYNAMO

  1. <a dynamo who barely needs to sleep, or so it seems>
Related Words
bootstrappergo-aheadgo-getterhighflier (or highflyer),hummerhustlerpowerhouserustlerself-starter;achievercomerdasherdoerenterpriser
Near Antonyms
dawdleridlerloaferloungertriflerclock-watcher,goldbrickshirkerslackercouch potatodeadbeatdo-nothingdronelayaboutlazybonesslouchslug,slugabedsluggarddallierlaggardlingererloiterer,slowpokestick-in-the-mud

After 5 days with the crew, I can confirm that this group formed under the proper name! It was such an honor to get to spend those days with them. We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot in that time:

-What a GAP is!

GAP

-It rains a lot in the gaps.

-If Haley names her future children Wolfpen, Jack, Unicoi, and Skeenah….just humor her.

-They sure know how to make driveways steep in Georgia.

driveway

-Bungee cords fix everything.

bungee

-Wearing matching outfits never gets old.

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-Masters swimming is fun. It is still scary, however, when Maria whistles at you and tells you to get out of the pool. Note: ignoring her and pretending you don’t notice does not help this situation. Totally worth it though when she makes you instantly faster!

-Masters swimming is also a bit ridiculous. Lots of strokes. Lots of everyone doing what they want. Lots of pool toys. I can see how it’s endearing.

-Riding with friends in the rain > Riding solo in the rain

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-10ks are (still) hard.

-It’s not the 4th without fireworks. Even if they are from Walmart!

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-Long rides with puppies and sag are The. Best.

peanut

sag

All in all, I can’t wait for another opportunity to train with the Dynamo crew – I will be back!

QOTD

“You see, when we unite around something positive, we heal. We grow. We share and we listen, we support and are supported, we understand and are understood. And then, we are loved. Long-distance running provides a distinctly robust social fabric, a relational weave generating hearty portions of confidence and self worth. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It’s real. It works.” –Nick Triolo on the Western States 100

Celebrating America!

It feels like the past 6 weeks have been more like the Christmas season with all of the exciting things that have been lined up. Racing a couple Rev3’s, Lake Placid camp, Skyline Drive birthday rides – and there is still more to come! This past weekend kicked off one of my favorite times of year as the Tour de France has started. To celebrate the Tour AND the 4th of July I will be heading down to Atlanta tonight. Two years ago I raced the Peachtree 10k and swore I’d never be convinced to do the run again! However, when given the chance to race as a kickoff to a GAPS Camp with Haley and the Dynamo Crew down in Hotlanta, I couldn’t turn it down. So, here we are:

peachtree

Hopefully the 6 miles doesn’t hurt me quite as bad as it did back then – because I’ll be following it up this time with 3 big days on the bike. I’m excited to get away and have some fun on 2 wheels to continue building my bike legs before Placid.

A few goals for the weekend:

-A sub-40 10k…..let’s set the bar high right?

-Make chamois butter my bff for the 350 miles of riding.

-Get some lessons in stick figure drawing from Haley.

-Make it through my first masters swim practice on Monday morning – excited this will be with the Dynamo crew!

And I don’t need to make having fun a goal because with these friends I’m pretty sure that’s a given 🙂

Rev 3 Williamsburg Race Report

Being my third triathlon in five weeks – plus two “training camp” type weekends, not too much felt out of the ordinary as I packed up and headed down to Williamsburg last weekend. Being on the road is starting to feel like the new normal, and I’m not complaining! I am loving being able to escape the city on the weekend and put in quality training and racing hours.

I arrived pretty late so I settled into the Colonial Inn and got right to bed. It was an early wakeup on Saturday so I could get down to the practice swim. It was here that I was able to meet up with my Rev3 teammates. Our shimmer suits and new team t-shirts were definitely taking the beach by storm that morning. After the swim I headed over to the expo which would also be T2 and the finish line area – right on the campus of William and Mary.

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I spent some time here at the team tent — and of course taking some green screen pics.

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I swear, I could go home after the green screen a happy girl without even racing!!

Saturday ended up being quite hot, so around mid day I went back to the hotel and that is when the fatigue from the past few days really hit me – with a 3 hour nap! I’ll admit spent a good portion of that nap in the NormaTecs (yay for drivable races when I can bring them!). After dragging myself back out of bed, I still had to squeeze in a ride and find some dinner. Luckily Williamsburg is an amazing race venue and there are plenty of options everywhere for the food situation. I found a premade meal at the Fresh Market and a few hours later was back to settle in for the night.

Unfortunately at this point my roommate – and fellow Team HPB and Rev3 teammate — Maggie, was just getting to Williamsburg. The travel day from hell, this girl was seriously dealing with it all. She didn’t get to the hotel until I was in bed and relaxing watching the Jodi Arias movie on Lifetime (That’s a crazy story by the way – I must have been living under a rock to have missed pretty much this whole thing. Or maybe that’s good because I was just training under a rock:)) Anyway, as Maggie unloaded her stuff I caught her up on life, Jodi Arias, and the deets for tomorrow — then it was sleeptime (again!).

I love the earlier start time at this race, but when I opened the hotel door at 4:30 both Maggie and I let out a gasp – it was POURING rain. Neither of us really accounted for that! We crossed our fingers it was going to be a passing summer storm, and headed to the race site. Since it was point to point, first we stopped in T1 to drop off our stuff for the run. The rain was continuing so plastic bags it was! Then we headed out to the river for the start. Everything went super smooth for me. I had the perfect amount of time to tune up the bike, drop off my morning clothes, get into my wetsuit, and relax before the start.

As the pros went off I watched intently….and I couldn’t help but notice that they were being pushed quite a ways off course by the current. It seemed so odd to me though that they were going so far off course – and no one was breaking from the pack. I debated for awhile the benefits of pack swimming vs swimming that far off course. Sighting definitely wasn’t an issue with the cloud cover (the rain did stop, but the clouds hung around). When my wave lined up, I made the decision that I’d stick with the course and swim alone if I had to. The other interesting part of this swim was the tides were also affecting the start – for a good 2-2.5 minutes we were dolphin diving and water running to the first buoy before it was deep enough to swim! Of course this creates a lot of giggles and “what the hecks” as we made our way out there. It was all fun though and we were all in the same boat, so no biggie! In fact, I must be quite the dolphin diver because I hit the first buoy first. (BlueSeventy you can send my swim bonus to my home address :))

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Once it was deep enough to swim I noticed that in fact most of my wave was getting pushed out left. Honestly – I had no problem staying on the buoy line. But, because so many men in the waves ahead had also gone off course, this created a chaotic first turn. Once I made it around that buoy though I got some open water again and just kept swimming. It wasn’t until the second turn that I finally saw another pink cap, and I managed to stay on her feet all the way in. I happened to be swimming without a watch (working on replacing my Timex!) so I had no clue where I was time wise. But – RD Eric told me I was 4th amateur female out of the water (and third was a few steps ahead) and that was music to my ears. I hopped on my bike and set out for the ride.

Overall this ride passed by quickly. I was doing a good job at catching people once they were within eyesight, but I also felt good about how hard I was able to ride when there was no one in sight many times. Towards the back half I also realized I had caught a couple of the pro women. Given their headstart, I felt pretty good about that! The bike course has no major hills, but also isn’t pancake flat, and the winds were stronger than when I rode around the day before. At the two out and back points I was able to see that I had no room to relax – there were definitely a few girls in hot pursuit. I ended up coming off the bike in 2nd – now time to run!

I had checked out the run course a bit the day before and so I knew there were a couple hills on both sides of the out and back. The humidity was also quite high at this point (note – I think a lot of people were fooled into thinking it was cooler than it was with the cloud cover as well. I was glad I stuck to my nutrition/hydration plan on the bike despite the clouds!). There were quite a few Rev3 teammates both racing and volunteering which was amazing. At the first out and back I saw the girl ahead of me and she looked good – and then I noticed I was being chased by two others who also looked like they were holding up great! Tara was sitting in fourth place, and having raced against her a few times now, I know she can run! Seeing them so close to me got into my head a little bit around mile 3. I wasn’t feeling super fresh. I just came off of a HUGE training weekend. It was hot. My race belt was bothering me. — I began to compile my list of excuses and wait for the girls to catch me. And then I got to the second turn around – and I still had the same gap on them.

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This was when I truly started to believe. I heard I was 1:50 down on first place, and I just decided to tuck in, and hold on. I didn’t have another gear in me, but I could hold this. I knew I could – I’ve done it in training. Many, many times. At the far end of the loop I saw that I was making small gains on first place – and maintaining the gap to third place. As I came up on the final mile my teammates were amazing cheering me through and keeping me going when all I wanted to do was stop and get some coke. The last mile is basically a half mile downhill, then a half mile back up to the finish. I hit the turnaround and looked up, only to see two girls – third and fourth place – coming down. Fast. That was as much of an “oh shit” moment as I needed, and I put myself into gear. Looking at my Garmin data I can actually pinpoint this moment as I briefly managed to drop to a 5:33 pace! Of course I didn’t hold that all the way up the hill, but I did finish strong and keep about a minute between me and the third place finisher. Which – I was SO pumped to see – was Tara!! She gutted out quite a race and earned every bit of that.

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All in all, I loved this race, and I was happy to walk away with a 2ish minute PR on top of everything else. It’s always fun to race on a college campus – the energy is built in to those places I think! I also started out this year with the intention of racing to see exactly what my potential is going to be in the next couple years. Nailing this second place and earning the pro-card qualification (if I should choose to take it!)…..well – it just feels really good. There’s no real way to describe what it is like to believe in what your potential is – and spend years putting in the work for those goals – and finally have it start to show in tangible results. But I’m excited for – and ready to work for – some big things to come. Only time will tell!

Birthdays, Bikes and Bears!

Sandwiched in between my two races this month was a big birthday weekend. Of course, when the one and only Hillary Biscay is your coach, that means big birthday weekend with a capital B! Not only that, but Hillary herself was going to be doing the workouts with me! I had mentioned to her earlier this year that I finally wanted to knock the Skyline Drive ride off my bucket list. Having fellow HPB-er, Leslie, in the area confirmed the plan. As I was looking at the calendar to pick a date, the birthday weekend was born — and having Hillary fly in was icing on the cake.

I scooped up Hillary from a late Friday flight and we drove right to Leslie’s. Although the thought of 220 miles over 2 days should have been enough motivation for us to get right to bed, of course we had to stay up for a bit to chat 🙂 The late night lead to a lazy(ish) morning, and when all was said and done, it was after 12 noon when we were finally rolling down Skyline Drive. Looking back – probably not our smartest move. But we were having fun and enjoying the day so….whatever. Going North to South on Skyline starts with about 22 miles of climbing, and we were lucky enough to have a headwind for this portion! Having the late start also threw off our eating schedule, so when we stopped at Big Meadows (about halfway) for “Lunchtime” – it was actually closer to dinner time. When I saw it was 5pm I had a small panic moment, but we figured we still had 4 hours of daylight and that should be fine. Although, as the sun was setting and we were only at mile marker 90 (having 115 total to ride for the day), I began to have flashbacks to my R2R2R experience. Why am I always fighting daylight on my life adventures? I should really start to plan for the fact that the sun does go down. Sigh.

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All is well that ends well though, and we rolled into Waynesboro to find that our clothes had in fact made it to the hotel! The Holiday Inn Express was amazing – several dinner options right across the street, the staff was great with the mailing clothes before/after, a free breakfast, and a jacuzzi! You seriously don’t need anything else on this trip. Since it was late when we got there, the night moved pretty quickly and before we knew it we were on our bikes again. Having left hours earlier than we had the previous day there was some bounce in our pedal strokes as we knew we weren’t in any hurry and we could just enjoy the day.

hpb

About 15 miles into the ride I looked up around the bend and saw a dark shadow. Could it be???? YES! It was a little black bear!! Hillary and Leslie were riding ahead of me at this point so I alerted them and we all stopped to check him out. As we reached for our phones to take a pic he got a bit of stage fright and scampered off into the forest. Bear count – 1!

All in all this ride truly is amazing. Within the 20k of climbing you have some breathtaking views, and we were blessed with mostly clear skies. In fact, the only storm that blew through hit while we were inside eating lunch! Such good luck. Day 2 continued to be a bit more relaxed as we literally ate our way through the Shenandoah. Fudge cups, onion rings, vanilla ice cream cones…..we did it all. As we neared 15 hours in the saddle our conversations were fewer and farther between, but I was having a blast just being out in the mountains with two of my favorite people. There is just something about the Blue Ridge Mountains that relaxes me and makes me feel at home. And the fun of 40 mph descents is always exhilarating too 🙂 As we came around one of the bends we found several cars stopped and a group of people out in the road pointing up at the tree. Within a matter of moments our bear count climbed to 5! It was truly a treat to get to see 3 baby bears up in a tree, and mama bear guarding below them.

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As we got back to the car we were all feeling good – although still smashed enough not to run off the bike! It was time to eat some more, and get back to Baltimore – the weekend was still not over. After a long couple months at work I had opted to take Monday off to spend some time with Hillary…..and do a 100×100. After all, it’s not a birthday without that set, is it??! And there’s no better company in the pool than Hillary. As we left the pool and headed to the nail salon (obvious next stop) I did have to acknowledge how far I have come to be able to string together those long days of training and still be able to function. Ironman training is a funny beast. You’ll be entirely too overwhelmed to think about the next hour of your life sometimes. And other times you hit a phase where you know you can string together 20 hours of training in 3 days. I feel like this year is allowing me to get to my next level”athletically, and this weekend has validated that to me. Most importantly, among all this training, while I am tired, I’m not falling apart. I’m not an emotional wreck and letting the fatigue get to the best of me. That is a big step!

I was again lucky to have Hillary staying with me another couple days. It was a valuable look into the life of a pro triathlete on the road! I do have to say that having someone there to wake up before 5am with me to get in a few hours of workouts makes it MUCH easier! I will never take those days forgranted. Wednesday meant the end of our adventure together, but only for a few weeks as we’ll see each other in Lake Placid soon enough. Until then we have plenty to stay busy!

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Rev 3 Quassy Race Report

Last weekend I was competing in my 5th triathlon of the season, but it was an event I was greatly anticipating since it was my first Rev3 for the year. Racing the Rev3’s has really become a breath of fresh air for me. You don’t have to have kids to enjoy the atmosphere at their races, or to take part in the fun venues where the races are. The pro field was stacked and there is a huge prize purse – yet things felt surprisingly calm.

I arrived in Connecticut late on Friday, which left me the whole day Saturday to relax and get things together. A much needed sleep in happened, then I headed over to the race venue. Fellow Team HPB-er, Leslie, and fiance Nate, were there and I arrived in time to see Nate on the podium for the Olympic. But more importantly (okay, maybe less importantly, but still very important) — I arrived in time for us to take this pic:

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After watching all of the green screen pics pop up on the Rev3 Facebook page during Knoxville, I have been greatly anticipating my turn to do this! That meant I also duped Maik into a few pics as well. Nothing like giving the GCM a cardboard sword and telling him to pose!

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Saturday was quite hot, so I put off my pre-race workouts a few hours longer and opted for a pedicure instead! I also got lunch at this little market about 10 minutes from the race site – Nature’s Goods Market which I’d definitely recommend to anyone in the area. Finally the temps began to lower and I met Leslie to ride and run. For my pre-race dinner I was super lucky to get an invite to the BBQ at Maik’s home stay. I was able to meet some of the locals who were so nice and welcoming, and I will also be seeing them in Lake Placid! Definitely one of the best pre race meals I’ve had in awhile, and for sure some of the best company!

The next morning started early and luckily some of the heat had left. It was much warmer still than the previous year where I remember my feet being fridgid prior to the start. My swim wave was starting behind almost everyone else, so I had some time to kill. It really is a great swim venue, and the beach start makes it fun. As I started the race I felt strong in my sleeveless wetsuit and tried to stay with as many girls as I could. After the first turn you are facing right into the sun which makes it a little difficult to sight — and we were already catching some of the stragglers from the prior waves. It was a bit chaotic for most of the swim, but if anything I think that helped me stay focused and not get too comfortable. As I came out of the water I saw a 30 on my watch which is always a good thing! And, not too many bikes were out of T1 yet – even better.

As soon as my butt hit my saddle I felt like this glorious rainbow came down and everything else was erased — it was just me and my bike in a cloud of happiness. All of my riding the past year is most definitely paying off, and I was able to stay relaxed and comfortable the entire ride. Being one of the more difficult 70.3 courses, it’s easy to blow up and get ahead of yourself. But I managed to nail my nutirition and my pacing, allowing me to take 8+ minutes off my bike split from last year. And I was having fun the whole time. As I hit the last 10 miles I was passed by a couple girls. I felt like I could have gone with them, but I also knew I was well ahead of my pacing from last year…..and I knew what was waiting on the run. I think I made the right choice not to red-line the effort, and stayed consistent, rolling into T2 with only a couple other bikes already racked. Time to run!

This is where the fun really gets going in Quassy. As if you didn’t have your fill of the hills on the ride, the run course keeps you very honest. I didn’t feel very smooth, but I was running even on the long uphills so I’ll take it. The places shuffled a bit here as some of the girls there showed they had running legs. As tough as the run is, it truly is one of my favorites. You have a little bit of everything and before you know it you’re in the last 5k and can feel the finish…..but not before another hill of course! I ended up crossing the line in 5:02 – with a 6 minute improvement overall from last year. Given the hotter conditions I am very pleased. Progress is the name of the game and I’m certainly showing some this year – can’t ask for much more than that. Thank you to all of the Rev3 Team Sponsors who have helped me fuel, train, and recovery my way to that progress. Leslie also had a great day out there — going under 5 hours on that course is a feat in itself!

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Little did I know the best parts of the day were yet to come! Maik and I rode the rollercoaster and a couple other rides, and had a nice quiet lake swim to shake out the legs. It was so nice to get to relax and unwind before hopping back in the car and making the drive back to Baltimore.

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Recovery this week has been coming along nicely. I’m pretty much counting the hours at this point until Rev3 Williamsburg in a couple weeks – but first, a Birthday Bike Bonanza is on the schedule! More on that to come 🙂

Not always rainbows and butterflies

Now that the sun is finally out here in Lake Placid

I can breathe a sight of relief! The past 48 hours here have been trying, to say the least. At the start of this year I made the decision to do things I needed to do that would help me race to my full potential this year. Part of that involved training camps – heading to Tucson over the winter, I’ll be heading to Hot-lanta in July, and then I had this trip scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Three days, a cottage in the mountains, and my bike == perfection.

….And then I saw the weather report. “It’s not going to be THAT bad” I kept telling myself as I stuck to my guns and made the drive up to Lake Placid Thursday night. “You trained for Cabo over the winter. You’ve been through tough weather. You can handle it.”

On Friday, in between the workday I managed a loop of the run course (in the pouring rain) and a swim (with water AND air temps below 60!). This proved to be nothing compared to what I was going to face on Saturday, though. If you happened to watch the national news last night, you may have seen the report of SNOW in Lake Placid. I took this picture as I drove to town this morning just to prove that snow was still on the ground!

So yes, yesterday was a tough day. I woke up to pouring rain and spent a solid 90 minutes googling “how hard is it raining before it’s too dangerous to bike in” before even setting out. I made it approximately 4.5 miles of the 56 before I was completely soaked. As I rode the last few miles, wiping snow from my glasses, constantly clenching and stretching my hands to ensure myself that despite not feeling them, they were working, I questioned a lot. I questioned why there is absolutely nothing truly waterproof in my entire closet of riding gear. I questioned why people are afraid of global warming when there’s a snowstorm in May. I questioned if I should even stay the rest of the weekend or if I should drive home tonight and just cut my losses.

“But tomorrow will be better. One of the weather forecasts on one of the many weather websites says there will only be a 50% chance of rain through the day with only 3 hours of real rain.”

So, I frantically spent the night drying out my riding clothes. Since I don’t have a clothes dryer in this cottage that meant draping everything, a couple articles at a time, over the radiator. When it smelled like burning I rotated the items. Pretty foolproof.

…And then I woke up to pouring rain again. I packed up the car and headed into town, hoping that it would cease. At least today it was slightly warmer, so no snow would be coming down. But, there were the 20 mph winds to contend with.

This time I spent about an hour calling around to the local bike shops seeing if anyone had rollers in stock for sale. If they did, I think I would have rationalized that purchase and spent the day indoors. But, none were to be found. So, I wandered into the cycling shop and asked the question that they had already heard countless times before 9am that morning – “I need better gloves, what can you find me?”

They took me up and showed me what was left – not much! “You probably don’t want to ride in these” he said, handing me a pair of huge Goretex ski gloves. “Ummm this is my ‘I’m absolutely riding in these gloves face'” I said. Even better was they were half off because who the F needs SKI GLOVES IN MAY?!?! Haha, anyways. Along with the gloves I once again put on just about every article of clothing I brought with me. I couldn’t help but have this playing in my head:

With my new Goretex gloves I headed out much happier than the day prior. There were more people on the roads, and that kept me occupied despite the weather. As I was making the final climb on the loop the cold and wet, once again, started to get to the best of me. Goretex is great, but apparently it has its limits too as the gloves were finally soaked to the core. Lucky for me I wasn’t done with one loop – I turned around, headed down the ~12 miles or so to the bottom of the climb back to town, and climbed back up. Talk about kicking a girl when she’s down, had gravity not propelled me down the road I am pretty sure my body would not have pedaled down for sheer unhappiness at the situation. Alas, that’s the beauty of a bike. That whole “where ever you go – there you are” saying really rings true. As long as you can get out the door and down the road……there you are. And, now you have to get yourself back.

So, I did. And then I even ran with heavy frozen feet too! Once again, I skipped the swim. Mirror Lake looked ready to wreak havoc on anyone who entered, so maybe tomorrow I’ll fit that in.

Speaking of tomorrow – a 0% chance of rain and 60+ degree temps means I’ll be leaving here on a high note! A tough weekend to stomach but I’m glad I stuck it out nonetheless. Lots of miles in the books amidst tough conditions – can’t find any better mental training than that!

Bottle it up!

It had been 21 months since my last olympic distance race. While I’d prefer to always leave them off the docket, having Columbia in my backyard as a course I had used to train on a lot this winter made the race much more attractive to me this year. And, coming off of a busy early racing season I knew I was in shape – but did I have the speed? Having to bottle up fitness that is supposed to translate to a 10+ hour race, into a 2.5 hour race……well, that can get interesting. But, if Meredith Kessler came out to prove it can be done, then I’ve got to give it a try.

MBK

Race morning came and in true Columbia fashion, weather was weird. Kinda wet, kinda humid, kinda blah. Just weird. If you’ve done this race before you know not to expect any better anyway, so I was fine with it. I headed down to the swim and watched the pros go off.  I was happy to be part of the “elite” wave here – this meant getting to start the race about an hour ahead of my age group which is always a nice perk. During the swim, sighting was a little tough with the fog, but overall things went well and I felt pretty smooth. I had contact with the group for a large portion of the swim, and came out about a minute faster than I have before. As I came into transition I noticed a couple other girls a tiny bit ahead, so I did my best to grab my bike and get out of there. This proved to be valuable as I was able to pass a couple girls in the first half mile or so. From there it became a matter of just doing exactly what  I have been doing in training.

From Baltimore City, you can get out to that course in 60-90 minutes depending on what route you take. Tack on a loop of the course, ride home, and boom, you’ve got a great day of riding under your belt. After doing that many times, I have grown to know that course quite well, and I wanted to take advantage of that. There was pretty much no wind and it was this weird drizzly/misty environment which wasn’t slowing us down, but wasn’t helping make the course faster either. In fact, at the first turn the guy ahead of me went into it too fast and slid out, so I was overly cautious at any turn. Even with that, I came through the bike loop in 1:12. This is about 3 minutes faster than my previous best, and the best part of it was that I knew I still had some running legs on me.

Columbia

I took off running to some familiar cheers and realized that it was going to be a long 10k  – I was all alone! During the entire run I saw no one else running the direction that I was – I suppose this is the woes of the “elite.” Luckily the course does pass the runners in the opposite direction at one point, so I was able to see many of the pro women which was fun. I knew I was doing pretty well as I was able to see M BK heading to the finish line — in previous years the top 1-3 at least had all been on the other side of the lake at the finish line already by the time I was heading out of the park. I talked to myself a bit – a trick I haven’t had to use in awhile! – to keep myself company, and lucky with it being “only” 6 miles, the time went by quickly. I am still haunted from being passed in the last 1/4 mile of my last time at Columbia, so I did my best to finish strong and keep my place. I came through the finish just under 2:22, about 8 minutes faster than the last time I was at Columbia, and almost 5 minutes faster than my Oly Dist PR.

To me – that’s huge. It’s always fun to get a PR, but it’s even more fun on a course with a long bike and a hilly run. When I see girls who raced 2:02/2:03 at St. Anthony’s a couple week’s prior racing 2:15ish at Columbia, I’m encouraged. I am confident that I am exactly where  I should be. And I’m even more pleased that this ultra girl has managed to get some speed in her. Hard work pays off!