Good Luck Exploring the Infinite Abyss

These are the adventures of my life

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Catch Up on Summer and Triathlon

   Where has the summer gone? It feels like it was just yesterday we were begging for warm weather so we could play outside without heavy gear. Now the end of August is upon us. This summer has been a pretty good one for me. There are a few things I have missed out on. One being taking epic hikes in Glacier National Park, the others being camping, and a vacation (like that was going to happen).  I just didn't get to it, or it did not fit into training. BUT, hey Glacier National Park isn't going anywhere, right? I'll have many more years to play in the park and camp and vacation. This summer I gave myself a second chance at triathlon. After a year plus of injury I wasn't sure where triathlon help a place in my heart. I knew that if it was going to happen and I could be happy, then I would have to let it happen organically. Go with the flow, ya know. You can read my previous blog to see that a triathlon camp in Mexico brought me back to life and rekindled my passion for the sport.

   After camp, I got right to work with a new coach and a new outlook. Instead of creating pressures and stress on myself for performing, I decided to let fear go and just take some chances. Why not see what happens and let it just happen.  I knew, and still know, that I am a developing athlete. I wasn't going to be a superstar overnight, especially with the time I took away from racing. So I've made this summer about doing everything to my best ability. This means taking it day by day, workout by workout, race by race. I had to keep my head out of it and my heart in. And this is just what I've done. Each day I am learning more. I'm not only gaining fitness, but confidence and experience.

Wasa Lake Triathlon
   I started racing again in June and July at  Olympic distance races, one at Wasa Lake in British Columbia, and the other in Helena, MT. I do prefer the longer distance races, but since it had been so long I needed to just start building. At Wasa I placed 5th in a strong field of women from Montana and Canada. A few I knew already, so it was nice to race the course with them. The day was just about seeing what I could do with only a month of quality training under my belt. My swim still left a bit to be desired, but the bike was coming along, and my run was fast considering I had not done much speed work. I have to say thanks to Sue Huse, who was my little carrot during the run. Although I didn't catch her, I had my game face on and fought for it. It felt great to go fast!!

I do have fun!
   I shortly after, I got right back on the training wagon. It was going well and I was having fun.  The weather was finally starting to get warm. I did get to spend a bit of quality time on Whitefish lake this summer, thanks to our wonderful neighbors. It usually had to come after the training, but that was ok. One of the key things I had to remember about going back into the training and racing was to keep my life balanced. I train mostly solo, so having social time with my friends is super important.

   After July 4th, I went that weekend to Helena to race again. In the winter I was swimming with the Kalispell KATS 11-14yr old swim team. They helped push me to be a faster swimmer and also enjoy swimming. I made a few young friends on the team, and this weekend on of my pals, Shaye Thompson, asked if I would take her to race. She wanted to race the sprint tri. It is super fun to see a 13yr old with a passion for triathlon and a urge to train and race. She said her friends didn't understand why she was always chose training over goofing off in the neighborhood. This young lady will be one to watch when she comes up into the junior ranks. It is a privilege and joy to mentor her. She placed 1st in the 19 and under category. It was a great weekend for both of us. It also reminds me that there is more to sport than just ourselves. That keeps me grounded.

  My race was pretty great. I was second out of the water. I know it is all relative to the field, but I wasn't used to being in a lead pack while racing. Only one other elite male exited the water first. It was cool!!! Swim was good, bike was good and much tougher than I expected. Then came the run. My coach had given me one goal for the race and only one I had to accomplish. I had to run under 40min 10k. Although my little sport background comes from running, I tend to doubt myself on this part. I went out on the run really hard, almost scared it was too hard. It was two loops and when I got to the second loop I felt great. I stopped looking at the Garmin and went hard. I came in 1st overall and succeeded making my sub 40 min with a 38 and change. Goal accomplished!!! Back to work.

daily fridge
 The rest of July pretty much looked liked this (see pic to left). I was adding lots of volume. I needed to prove to myself and grow confidence that I could go long again. I seemed to be progressing along with the plan pretty well.  Calgary 70.3 would be my first long course professional race of the season. It is close by and one I had not done before. And timing was perfect.
  Calgary is directly north of where I live in Montana, but I have not been up there yet. I looked forward to experiencing the city.  I do love being able to drive to races too. I over pack the car, but am super prepared for anything. I was also fortunate to have a lovely family open their home to me for the race weekend and show me around. Thanks Mills family.
Calgary swim venue

   The race venue was really nice. It was a man made lake in a suburban town. There was a soft sand beach, and really calm waters. Perfect for me. This race was really just a test for myself to see where I kept me head, to learn to be a racer, and go hard. I had nothing to lose but my fears of not being good enough. Having this mentality worked. I went into the race and went as hard as I could. My swim deficit had a smaller gap than I had imagined. I wasn't even last out of the water. Progress!!
The bike course wasn't very easy. The first half was a lot of long rollers and a good amount of little chain ring climbing. It is only one loop so you never can see where your other competitors are. I did get caught up in a little bit of the male age group drafting and had to hang back a few times. I lost a tad bit of time but I'd rather lose time that way than get a penalty. Off the bike ,I was with two gals. I decided to go with coach's plan and go the first few kilometers hard and then settle in. I passed them right out of transition and never looked back. I was surprised how fast I was running. This hadn't happened before. I was just present and took it one step at a time. I didn't see anyone until about 2km from the turn around. The run was all on bike path which was quite lovely. I made a good bit of ground on the girls, but in the end just caught one with 2k to go.  It was an awesome feeling. For the first time I saw myself as a "fighter", a "hunter", a real racer. I was racing other people, not just myself and the clock. It felt different. Of course, I followed my plan and stayed within my abilities, but it was great! I finished 6th place and was just ecstatic. Crossing that finish line again, as a professional, strong and happy, was fantastic.

   I had not planned any farther out that Calgary. I needed to finish this race first, see where I was physically, and then I could start planning more. This was a smart choice, but mostly guided by my coach, Dan. He seems to get me. I'll be honest. I love planning ahead and organizing. However, in triathlon and in life, if we plan too much of our future out we can set ourselves up for a bit of disappointment if it doesn't go our way. . Dan is one smart guy. I have put my faith in him to help guide me to a lifestyle where I continue to love and grow in my sport ,but as a person too. Even if he doesn't know it, he challenges my mind everyday, not just my arms and legs.

  So, next we decided I would jump into Lake Stevens 70.3. This was another race that was fairly easy for me to get to and a new course to try out. Why not!! Lake Stevens was just beautiful. The scenery is to die for. It's amazing how different climate and vegetation can be just one state over.
I really enjoyed this quick weekend. I flew out early Friday and back out Sunday night. As I was back into a new block of training I did not taper like I would for a key race.   I didn't need a ton of time preparing. The swim venue is an awesome lake, and luckily it was calm on race morning. The swim was ok for me. It felt really good and confident but my times didn't show it. As I came out of the water I knew I had a lot of work to do.
My trusty steed

   I drove the bike course the day before and thought that there were a few rollers and it would be fun with the technical winding roads. It was fun, but boy it was not easy!! Just remember, the course is never as easy as it looks from behind the wheel of a car. HA!! It was a challenge. I came out of the water 9th but was able to bike myself up into 5th place. Another one loop course meant that I never saw the other women racing unless I was coming up behind them. With this type of course I really had to stay in my zone and within my power. So that is what I did. I was pretty tired by T2. I had gone hard and the hills did a number on me. I started to have a few doubts in my mind as I exited the run. Luckily I had a little talk with myself...which I often do....and said just stay present step by step. By mile 2.5 my legs loosened up a bit and I stayed the course. I saw the girls in front of me as they were turning round. I didn't think I could catch them but would keep my pace. By the next two miles I was gaining and didn't realize it. I stopped looking at my watch, again, and just went as hard as my legs would take me. I was able to run myself into 3rd place. My first podium as a professional.
Got to meet a few of my Betty sisters
    A year ago I would not have had the faith, confidence, or courage to ever think I could make a podium spot. This was a huge turning point for me. I have given myself this second chance to see what I can do, and not put limits on it. Will every race turn out great? Of course not. But I am confident with my present and focused attitude, I will give it everything I have. If my 100% one day is 1st place, Hallelujah. If my 100% is 10th place, it doesn't matter. I know I went out there and tested myself, gave it guts, and did it because I enjoy it. That's all.

   Up next for me will be Muskoka 70.3 for me Sept 7th. Its just another opportunity to do what I love and grow. I'm really looking forward to it. Thank you to my coach Dan, my family, and my sponsors, who have stuck with me even through the rough patch. I am so grateful for all the love and support I am given. We can't do it all alone, we are only human.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again. Tri Cozumel Camp 2014

    On May 6th, I reentered the world of being an athlete. Living and breathing life of sport into my veins once again. And BOY did it feel oh so good! After nursing a few broken bones over the past year, I hadn't been sure if this was a direction I wanted to take my life again. I had a huge year of soul searching. Being immobile really gave me the opportunity to work on things in my life that were not jiving and enhance those parts by trying new things, new behaviors. I have learned it is necessary to have balance in all aspects of my life, and in turn it has created a renewed, Erin. The new mantra for my life it this:             
Take Risks, Stay Present, Have Faith....see where it all evolves.

     A few weeks ago, I said to my husband that I was ready to take on training and racing again in its full capacity. I had this one heart string that was still hanging on. I wasn't ready to let go of triathlon. I knew the love of the sport was there inside me, however, I knew its presence in my life would be held in a completely different space than it was before. I have a new perspective on my own life and I would now be looking at triathlon with a new perspective. Rob was all on board with taking this leap of faith and seeing where things could go. And as if it couldn't have happened at a more perfect time, the opportunity to attend the Tri Cozumel camp fell into my lap, thanks to the coaching legend, Brett Sutton and his extremely hard working assistant coach, Robbie Haywood. 
   So on May 6th, I showed at the pool in the morning ready to go.  Day 1 of a of week of intense training at camp, community philanthropy, and racing. I was all in! I dove in head first, literally just trying to keep up. I know I have a lot of ground to gain back, but I was giving it all I had, and staying present in every moment.  Instantly the joy and passion I have for triathlon came rushing back. I felt full. I was a sponge for knowledge, and I was surrounded by a group that wanted me to be the best athlete I could be...individually. Brett's coaching style is about the person as an individual. Not one athlete has the same swim stroke, bike position, or run form. So many coaches take the same approach to every athlete, but often that back fires or hinders the athlete from excelling. We all are different and will evolve in our own ways. Sure the workouts may be similar, but the "Sutton Way" is tailored to each person and level they are at in each discipline. Brett really wants to help the sport of triathlon evolve into being all encompassing for anyone who has the desire or dream to compete. 

    Camp week was filled with challenging swims, double track workouts, and incredibly windy and fast bike rides around the island. And let's just add heat and humidity for me, as this Montana girl had not even been riding her bike outside this season due to the frigid temperatures. Luckily I love sweating and embraced the heat as a tough maker, not a disadvantage. Also I can not omit that I was surrounded by world class athletes, old friends and new friends, and thriving in the atmosphere of like minded, driven, and compassionate people. This had been exactly what I was looking for to fire up that spark in me. I am so grateful.

Daily during the week we would see about a hundred kids come to the track and sports facilities after school and practice with all volunteer coaches in their chosen athletic activity. It is free to all in the community and seems to grow by the day as the residents of Cozumel spread their desire to be healthy.
       Another part of the week that really made the camp meaningful and complete was the weekend of DOVE community events on the island of Cozumel. The TriSutto team has begun putting together community events all around the world to fight DRUGS:OBESITY:VIOLENCE: through EDUCATION. And this is not just for the young kids, but adults and hopefully families together.
        This week there were a few key events that DOVE put on in order to spread the health and wellness movement for all. On Friday, the lovely, athletically talented, and Spanish speaking pro triathlete, Brooke Brown,  held a nutritional talk for over two hundred kids and their parents about the importance of whole foods eating and staying active. The support was tremendous with claps and cheers of encouragement and how the community wants to see the changes implemented. 

On Saturday morning all of the Tri Cozumel team and campers joined at the track in the morning to hold a kids biathlon for anyone 18 and younger that wanted to participate. There were laps around the tracks, then directly laps into the pool, and then back on the track for laps to the finish line. There were no firsts or last, everyone got to cross that finish line tape and a medal as they accomplished something amazing. Each shared a common desire, to put their best out there and give it all they had. The final division of racers included a disabled category, which further shows this event was for ALL. Many of the kids were partnered and supported by the Tri Cozumel teammates. The very last finisher was a young kid confined to a wheelchair. Olympic gold medalist, Nicola Spirig, had pushed him around the track and then swam with him in the pool. As they approached the track for their final stretch, the young kid exclaimed that he wanted to walk. He wanted to prove that he was just a normal kid, with dreams and abilities. The entire crowd in the bandstand and on the track stood in amazement and cheered this young Mexican kid on to the finish line.  There were so many tears of joy and inspiration in that moment. 

       For me, and for many of the professional athletes there, this event helps keep us grounded and awake. Daily we get wrapped up into our silly struggles of when to fit in workouts, or being too tired and stressed out. PEOPLE, we have a gift, and that is LIFE! I know there are times of difficulty when life is not balanced, dealing with injuries, or not enough time to do what we want. But deep down for me, the meaning of life is about living it to the fullest, giving and receiving love, and remembering to be grateful for each moment. Keeps your eyes open, there is purpose in each breath we take. 

     So finally, Sunday, the Taste of Cozumel sprint triathlon. I had not competed in a triathlon in almost 18 months. Although this race was more about community, charity, and camaraderie, I couldn't help but be excited to get at it again. After all that time away from racing I forgot what it felt to train hard, race hard, and what it was like crossing the finish line. Anyone reading this knows what I am talking about. Whether a good or bad race, the feeling of crossing the finish
line is sorta like bliss. YOU DID IT!!! Its a celebration of dedication and passion. So when this morning came I was just happy. Once again feeling full. I was surround by love and support. This community wanted to have the sport as part of their home. There were age groupers and pros racing together with heart. There was no timing or places, just a feeling that we could all together be a part of something that connects each of us, love for triathlon. 

   This week was so important to me on many levels. I wanted to reignite my drive and dedication to being a professional athlete. I can say that this was one complete week for that! I got to train under a legendary coach with a new perspective on training and racing that I completely believe and trust in.  I had the opportunity to workout with some of the best athletes in the world, and got to be part of philanthropy, something bigger than myself, which happens to have impacted me the most in this journey of coming back into triathlon as a much different athlete. 

   The DOVE organization (go to is expanding throughout the world and I encourage you to go the website and find out more on how you can join in on the ultimate training, camps, racing, and community involvement that I was so blessed to be a part of. Even in the United States we could help our communities fight against the DRUGS:OBESITY:VIOLENCE: through EDUCATION. We can all make an impact.

  Thank you to Brett Sutton, Robbie Haywood, Susie Langley, Jorge Valdes, the island of Cozumel, and the rest my amazing friends and athletes. This week of immersion has changed me forever. I hope to return again. I am forever grateful.

One of the things I love to say is, " MORE TO BE REVEALED".  I will stay present and let things unfold as they will. I look forward to writing more blogs about my renewed journey into training and racing. 

Just a few more fun pics of the week:
Old friends and new friends

                                                        Brooke's birthday and relaxation time

Me and "the DOC"

Post race fiesta with my roomies
                                                               My cheering squad

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Not a Setback but a Reinvention

   So recently I have been looking back on the year, thus far, and the progress I have made physicially, mentally, and spiritually. I have come to realize that, although my year has had a setback or two, they have created a stronger me. So now I am looking at this year not as a year missed out, but the Reinvention of Erin Spitler. With this said, I have made a lot of new changes in my athlete lifestyle. I have created a balance of home and sport as well as taken a look at things that I did not do before that can develop me into a stronger more well rounded athlete for the future.

      On my last training trip out to California, for Tower26 swim training, I started to see that there were things that were my peers were doing that I had not incorporated enough into my training. The first being I needed more time in the open water. Well this was perfect because the group I was training with did just this. In 10 days, I swam an open water session 5 times. Some were just for time and distance while others were focused group workouts with technique, speed, and race scenarios. I desire to become a better open water swimmer. I know that improved times in the pool reflect getting faster in the pool, but they do not always translate into becoming faster in the open water. After a few talks and a short group lecture with Gerry Rodrigues, of Tower 26, I realized how important it is to incorporate key workouts in both the pool and open water if I want to improve my race times. In these 10 days I really got to experience a variety of ocean conditions, which helps me becomes more comfortable each time I go back, and also prepares me for race days when the conditions aren't so great.  When I got back to Montana I was super motivated to do a lot more open water swimming and now I am in Whitefish Lake at least 4 times a week. Somedays its just getting in the consistent nonstop swimming and other times I count strokes. If anyone gets bored swimming straight try this: count your strokes, you can choose any number combo you want but it goes something like this. 25 slow/50 fast/ 25 slow/ 50 fast, and then you can increase : 20/75/20/100. This gives variety and you get in a little speed work as well.

     Also while I was out in California I was introduced to nutritionist and doctor, Dr Philip Goglia of Performance Fitness Concepts. He has worked with many professional athletes in all types of sport. I have always believed that I was a healthy eater and that I ate and fueled well for the training that I do day in and day out. I have hesitated meeting with a nutritionist because I know a lot about food and what is good and what is bad for you. However, this time I decided to take a leap of faith and give it a shot. If this was another opportunity to reinvent my inner athlete, I was willing to take the risk. Boy oh boy how happy am I that I took the leap of faith!

   Dr Goglia bases his nutrition plans around Metabolic Testing. He has studied and been successful for years creating personalized food management systems based on your metabolic type. The science behind the plan is that every person is individual and that if we want to lose fat and gain lean muscle, we have to eat the most foods that our body metabolizes the best.  It's not a diet but a change of eating that will lead to your strongest and leanest potential as an athlete. This made sense to me. I actually took a blood test to see where I fit into the spectrum and it turns out I am balanced, "Dual" efficient metabolism, in all areas of protein/carbs/fat. However, at the time, I was eating way too many carbs and not eating enough meat protein to enhance my muscle recovery after long days of workouts.
I decided it wouldn't hurt anything to give my new plan a try, especially since I am not racing yet.
I am really pleased to say that I have been on this new eating plan for my metabolism for almost 8 weeks now. In the first two weeks I lost 7 pounds of fat. As most of you know I am thin, but I was surprisingly not at my leanest potential and was holing on to a bit of fat on my body. Since the first two weeks I have easily been able to maintain my body weight and lean composition.  I also want to add, that I am not deprived at all. I actually am eating more than I had been eating before I went to PFC Nutrition. Dr. Goglia has also dialed in my daily training nutrition as well. My endurance on those long weekend bricks has increased and I bounce back each day feeling less fatigued than before. In the past I lived to eat, rather than eat to live, but now I eat to thrive!!! It's like treating my body like a temple. It gives back to me when I nourish it.

    I am really happy that I have taken a chance to focus and work on new aspects of my life as a triathlete that I had not looked at before. I know we have all heard the saying, "It takes a village", well I am creating my village. Things are coming together for me and I wouldn't have been able to Reinvent Erin Spitler all by myself.  My coaches, nutritionist, chiropractor, friends, and as always, family have made this all possible for me to continue living my dream, and to become the best well rounded athlete I can be. It is important to me that when I come back to racing that I be at a peak with my lifestyle, fitness, and nutrition.

Dr. Philip Goglia wrote a book on what I have written above: TURN UP THE HEAT. If you are curious about getting to your race weight and becoming leaner, check it out. Or click the link for PFC Nutrition on the right.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

   Well it has been quite a while since I've had activity here on my blog. A lot has happened, some good, some not so good, but in the end every moment has been a gift.

  December 1st, I missed the last step going down stairs in my house and broke my foot. I was scheduled to take a trip to California the next day for an intensive swim block with Tower 26. Needless to say, I had to set this plan back for a long while.
   At first I was in a cast for 3 weeks to begin and believed I would be back working out by mid January. The day after Christmas I had a check up and my bone was not fusing but shifting apart. I went into surgery two days later. This was the not so good part. I accepted the outcome and just had to deal with it and take it day by day.  There were many many tears.

  About 7 weeks after the initial injury I hit a pretty low spot. Take away all physical activity from a professional athlete and put them in gloomy cold wet Ohio winter, and this is pretty much expected.   I had to get myself together. I was sad, miserable, and there were so many unanswered questions about the future. I worried everyday, all day.

   I decided to escape and visit some friends in Florida. First stop was Tampa where I got an attitude lift from a great friend who put some fun into having an injury. This beautiful bedazzled cast gave the situation a little light. I started to relax and realize that things could always be worst and to make the best of each day. My body was recovering and I needed to take care of it first and foremost.
  Then I traveled to West Palm where I took some much needed time alone. I began reading books on personal transformation and meditating. There was purpose behind all of this happening in my life. To be honest at the time of the accident my life was on fast forward. Unfortunately, it took a fall and broken bones to open my eyes to a different way of living my life. I did a lot of soul searching and found that I could not control a lot in my life but I can control my behavior. I didn't need to know the answers or what the future was going to bring. I needed to learn to stay present, patient, grateful for every moment and accept what is, especially accept myself.
   So I started doing things, getting active again. I began physical therapy 3.5 months after my fall. I knew it was going to be a long road back to peak fitness, but I was willing to take the journey. I also got involved in community activities as well. I was seeking a life with more balance and passion. We adopted a new dog, I joined a large city chorus, I was having fun.
 Eventually I was able to take that trip to California to join the Tower 26 swim training for a few weeks in April. I wasn't running yet, but I got to work on the things that needed work. It's hard for anyone to want to focus on their weakness and not our strengths. Our egos don't want us to. But I am thankful to have been given the time and resources to do so. I also picked my cycling back up, started gaining fitness, and made some lovely new friends in the process. It was great to be around other athletes to get me going again.

When I returned to Ohio we had finally sold our home after almost a year and a half. I was just getting back into a routine and now throw a hitch into that by having less than two weeks to get out. I knew I could manage it all plus my other commitments if I just stayed present. The chorus I joined was called Harmony Project. A community service based city choir that focused on bettering the Greater Columbus area. I chose to plant trees this year for Arbor Day. I love nature.

Then came moving day. It had been a long, exhausting, and hectic week. But we did it. As soon as we signed the papers, we left for a family wedding in Louisville, moving truck and all. We had the weekend to decompress a little, but as Sunday rolled around Rob began his 3 days trip across country to our new home in Whitefish, Montana.

I, on the other hand, still had commitments with the Harmony Project the following week back in Columbus. Our big performance we practiced all winter for. This group became such an important part of this jounrney for me because every moment was uplifting and inspiring. I found parts of me that were missing by joining and giving back. Although Rob was gone I still had my parents and a lovely crew of friends that came to support me and the Harmony Project. I appreciate them all for taking the time for a little Peace, Love, and Harmony.

   The following day Oliver and I left at 6 am for a 3 day trek across the northern United States. It was a long haul for me alone and him cramped in the back seat. But we actually had a smooth and flawless drive. We saw lots and lots of cattle. After Minneapolis, that's about it until you hit Glacier National Park....ranches.

   We've now been in Whitefish, Montana for a month. We are all settled in and adjusting wonderfully. Our place is perfect for us and even comes with a lake.  We have found great new terrain for my training and have met a lot of very active people in our community.

  Last week I jumped into my first race of the year, the Montana State 40K Time Trial. Although my running is a slow process, my cycling fitness has been coming along and I wanted to test myself and see where I was progressing. I placed 1st  in my division and 2nd place overall in the state, missing 1st place by only 40 seconds. I had a ton of fun, got the competitive drive going again, and proved a lot to myself about staying patient and present. It was a great feeling. The socks on the left were my big prize for the day! Its not much, but it wasn't about the prize it was about getting out there and going hard.
  I am now back in California for 10 days to get a strong block of swimming in again. The open water swims are going to be eye opening and really good for me at the same time.

  So this is me over the past 6 months. It has been hard, different, and transformational. I am in an amazing spot with my life right now, more confident and happy with me overall. I am not sure when my next triathlon race will be.  I want to be fit to race, not just race to finish. It will all come in time and I am patiently making progress everyday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Revolution 3 South Carolina

   I wanted to show this top picture first because this really does show what this race was for me. It was FUN! The energy in Anderson, South Carolina was amazing. I love racing Rev3 races because the atmosphere is relaxed yet energizing and very supportive. It seems that every time I toe the line at a Rev3 race, I just feel ready. From all of the Rev3 staff to every volunteers, the production always seems to come together so easily for all of the athletes to make it a great race day experience.

    It was a great treat that the race started an hour later due to sunrise. I'll be the first to say that an extra hour of sleep before a race makes a huge difference. The morning was pretty uneventful and I had plenty of time to get ready and just be. Sometimes I wonder why I have so much time left on my hands before the start, but I will always take more time than no time and running around like a mad woman.
I got in a good warm up in Lake Hartwell and felt prepared to get out there and do my best.
The swim start was very shallow so I tend to run as far as I can to stay with the group. The start was a little rough as most of the gals were all in a pack together pushing each other. By the first buoy we spread out and the water was flat and the course easy to navigate. I got in a good pace for me, and although in the back of the group, I was still keeping the gap small. I never felt that I lost my momentum and caught a few girls. The last stretch always seems the longest but I could see a few pro women right in front of me and just kept my eyes on them. I ended up only being less than a minute down from a small pack of women. When I got into T1 I passed one and followed on out of transition.
This felt really great for me to be out of the first transition and already be four women up from the back.
Now to catch a few more.
   This bike course in Anderson is deceivingly harder than most would think. The course is one loop. The good part for me is that I never really know where I am and just stay present and keep going hard. There are lots of turns and rolling hills that don't allow you to get into a good rhythm for very long. There is also not a very good opportunity to see how far ahead the next competitor is....thanks to my hubby, Rob Spitler, for being out there on the course in many places cheering and giving me splits to the next pro women ahead. This really helped me push and know I could catch a few girls. I felt really strong on the bike again. I had a lot of confidence from the bike I put out at Rev3 Cedar Point and know my training has been very consistent since then, so I was feeling strong, focused, and present even though the course was not easy.  When I came into T2 I had caught a few pro women on the bike and saw the next few women still in transition, so I knew I was close to a group and in the mix of the competition. It felt really good and was energizing for me. At this point it seemed as the hard work was really revealing itself.
  I started the run and tried to hold back just a bit to get my pace under control. However, I think it was a little faster that I would have planned. There is a long downhill at about half mile into the race so the pace was up. I could see Jacqui Gordon and Anna Cleaver in front of me, but at this point not worth chasing down right in the beginning because I'd probably bust. So I kept them in sight and at the same distance for most of the first loop. The run is a little hilly and was changed to two loops this year so better spectating. I enjoyed the new two looper, although a little tougher than the previous year. The sun barely came out during the run which really kept the focus on running and not on staying cool.
  By the second loop I had been caught by Lisa Ribes and caught up to Jacqui G. I just stayed with the both of them. I paced off of the both of them as I was a little timid to go past too hard and then be caught again. So I settled in by Jacqui and just focused on staying right with her. We did a little back and forth in leading but really knew the race at this point was between us. We eventually passed Lisa and stuck together through the paths of the town park. I was hanging on for dear life and hoping that I had a kick in me at the end. The better part of the past mile is uphill a little and we were pushing and huffing and puffing. At the last aid station I decided it was now or never and had nothing to lose. I took off as hard as I could pick it up. I saw my husband at the last turn and said "how close?" She had dropped back about 20 yards so I just looked forward took the last short downhill as hard as possible into the finish line and was so ecstatic.
   This was a huge breakthrough for me in this race. I was able to finally be in the middle of the competition and  get my fighting face on. This was new for me because in the past I have been mostly racing against myself to catch anyone far ahead. This time I had women in the front and back of me and had to really stay with them and push myself and not let up at all. It was a great feeling to be so close to a group and feel that the fitness is paying off. The "process" is coming together. I have to thank Jacqui  for being a great competitor and really putting me to the test. She has always been a tough athlete and puts up a good fight.
   I am really looking forward to the final race of my season at Rev3 Florida. The field is predicted to be big and the course fast and furious. Although, I am guessing wind and heat will play a big factor in the race, I am prepared to put myself in the position of fighting again in this race and see where it takes me. I finally feel like my mind and my body are in sync with each other.
    Special thanks to all the Rev3 staff and volunteers for making this race possible and my best one of the year. I had a smile on my face for much of this race. Also thanks to my sponsors who make racing possible for me: PowerBar, HED, BlueSeventy, Fuel Belt, and Rudy Project. I had a great day!!!
On to the next one, on to the next one, on to the next one.......

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Point Full Ironman

    Well I'm back from vacation and happy as a clam! I got some good rest, played in the Montana mountains with family and friends, and had time to reflect on my race at Cedar Point. Boy what a really fun race!(relatively speaking, of course:) The Revolution team works really hard to put on an outstanding race for all of the athletes. This particular weekend they worked extra hard.

   On the Saturday before the race I was still at home. Super cool in my book. I live 2 hours away from Sandusky and had planned to go up early in the morning and do a ride/swim before the pro meeting. Turns out when I woke up there was probably the worst thunderstorm I've ever heard going on, and it was happening up on Lake Erie as well. I decided to hop on my trainer in the basement, which I have not ridden in months and then go hop in the pool before we drove up. I wanted a chance to loosen up but didn't want to count on the weather clearing when I got up to the lake.

   Rev3 creates a whole weekend of races and family activity around the main event. Saturday they had to cancel the sprint distance event due to rain, high winds, and rip currents in the water. The staff was able to pull together a great morning in the horrible conditions and still do a 5k run in the rain, and later in the morning a fun run for the kids. Kudos to everyone at Rev3 for really caring to create the fun in such a difficult situation.

    By the time I had gotten up to Cedar Point it was around noon. It was very windy but the sun was coming out and the forecast for the race day was shaping up to be just perfect. I was invited to do my first pro panel during the expo. I'm a former theatre girl, so being on stage doesn't make me nervous. I guess being put on the spot might a little:) I didn't have much to say and got stumped on a question that needed a quick answer and said something really lame. Oh well, I was the pro from Ohio representing. It was an honor to be able to share my experience and learn stuff from my peers as well.

 So on to race day. The pros were allowed to keep our gear at out spaces in transition so I got things situated pretty quick and ended up being the first person at the swim start. This was ok by me because I'd rather be very early than running around freaking out because I'm not ready. So my husband and I sat down and watched the sun rise in the clouds. It was peaceful and I was ready. Now, as far as the swim goes I am going to be point blank. It was embarrassing. I got a great start and hung on to the back of the group for about two buoys and then was alone. I could see one gal in front of me about 75m most of the time but could not hang on. I felt like I was doing well and felt strong, so put my head down and did my thing. Not sure what happened to me. The water did get pretty choppy once we were out in the unprotected bay, but geeeez, Erin, it wasn't that bad!! I mean, I made it through the swim at St George this year. This should have been a piece of cake. Even if the course was a bit wasn't 10 minutes long. That's how slow I was! Guess I know where my off season focus needs to be even more this year. I did not see my time when I exited the water, thank goodness. It would have most likely messed with my mind. I could tell it was a bad swim when I saw my husbands face at transition, but I didn't let it get to me. My friends from the JustTri group from Columbus were there cheering me on and encouraging me to stay present and in the race.

Now on a more positive note, my bike was flipping outstanding. My coach and I had a plan and I stuck to it like glue and pulled out the 3rd fastest bike split and a bike PR for me. Spot on with power, pacing, and nutrition. The key was and always is staying present. The Rev3 bike course was actually perfectly laid out. There was little vehicle traffic on the bulk of the roads and the road conditions were pretty nice as well. The only problem is that it is pretty lonely out there. There were surprisingly few spectators out there besides aid station crews. It is super to easy to get around to see athletes in your car and no closed roads. I suspect some of the riders thought my mom, dad, and husband were part crazy because they were everywhere out there. Shout out to the JustTri friends for kickin' it out there too. I really appreciated their support and the support they gave other athletes as well.  112 miles is a long way and some encouragement and the ringing of a cow bell can do wonders for the weary. I was very proud of my performance on the bike. I played things very smart and actually never tired and kept my energy and attitude high. Feel like I am on the right track with my bike training and very encouraged about that.

   As I enter T2 in 6th place, all jazzed, I knew that 2 girls were only a few minutes in front of me. I was feeling good and the legs felt decent. I usually create some anxiety around the run and felt a little different this time coming off of the bike. It wasn't very sunny so I ditched my hat for the first time and just ran with my sun glasses. I actually chose for this race to use low light lenses. Rudy Project sun glasses all come with regular UV shades or the reddish low light lenses with each pair. This was my first time using them but it was a good decision for me. Looking back I started out too fast and out of my comfort zone a bit. I knew I would tire down the line so thought going out faster when my legs felt good was smart.....turns out not so much. I was running about 7-7:15 miles for the first 5. I could tell though that my anxiety was rising as my body was getting tired and breathing labored. This run course gave me ample times to see where my position was with the other pro women. I could see by mile 8 I was doing ok, but my pace was slowing down. I decided to throw my Garmin to my husband and just go by feel and not obsess over the numbers. Mile 8-16 were tough for me. I got into my head a little knowing that the pain was creeping on every mile and that there was still a far way to go. Bad move again. Should have just stayed present because that's what always works. I know it, but sometimes you get caught up in your own crap and forget those tools you have to keep going and positive. Every race is a learning lesson, right?!?!

   Well by mile 16 I decided that I was going to push through the pain, stop being a panzy, and try to catch the girl in front of me who was about 3 mins ahead. For me and my pace, in 10 miles, that wasn't super realistic, but you never know what's happening to the other pros as well. So I gave it my best go. At the last 2 miles I decided if I had anything left in the tank, I'd use it up now. I ran the whole way back over the causeway as fast as I could. I still came in 7th, but gave it a go.

   Overall I was hoping for a faster swim ,of course, and a faster run as well. I am proud every time I cross the finish line. I am also grateful to have the opportunity to toe the line and be the best I can be at every moment. It doesn't always turned out as I planned it, but it is turning out how the universe planned it. I accept that and learn lots from every race about myself, my ability, my journey, and my love for the sport.

   Thanks to my sponsors for their support in helping make my dreams come true. PowerBar( my nutrition was spot on), Rudy Project, Blue Seventy, Maxxis, and Fuel Belt. Also HED Cycling has helped me step up my game on the bike with some wicked fast wheels (JET 6/JETDISC) and I've heard through the grapevine they are coming out next season with some even better faster models...get ready people!

  Finally to Rob, Mom, and Dad for being the best support crew and cow bell ringers, you guys rock. Ironman days are long days and it means the world you are willing to give up the time to be there to support me. And lastly, thank you Charlie, Eric and the whole Rev3 staff for creating an outstanding race. It was lots of fun and looking forward to racing Anderson, SC half next month.

  *** If you are reading this and want to get in a late season triathlon before winter comes, check out the REV3TRI.COM website. There are 3 more races in 2012 and the experience is just fun, fulfilling, and you can bring the whole family along. There is something for everyone to do. Different activities, different races. Come join us. Hope to see you there!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


  What a wonderful weekend in Michigan! As the advertisements claim, "PURE MICHIGAN". The weather was perfect and mild, the scenery beautiful, and the race course ideally laid out for the race. The biggest plus of the weekend is that for a race, that has had a bad streak of canceling the swim, had  calm, flat, and clear water to start everyone off on the right foot on race day.

I got to South Haven, MI, just 20 minutes north of Benton Harbor, on Friday night. We have friends that live in this area and it was wonderful to mix in a visit on top of a race. The Saxe family were just a delight to stay with and really made both Rob and I at home and comfortable leading up the the race. The little towns on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan are just too cute. All with boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, and fun energy that lake towns have in the summer. We got to explore a bit and see this part of the state we had not experienced before. It was very laid back and stress free. Something I appreciated a lot. Everything just took its course and feel into place as it should pre race.

The Steelhead race is unique in that the swim is point to point, so in the morning everyone must walk the 1.2 miles in the dark from TI down the beach to the start. I had done this race a few years back as an amateur and remember seeing pros almost miss the start because it does take a long time to walk down the sandy beach. So, on Sunday I made sure I padded my pre race routine with plenty of time to make it to the start without an extra pressures. The water was calm as can be, a delight for me. I got off to a pretty good start in the swim. I hung on to the pack for longer than usual but I also ended up loosing them a bit down the line. It is nice that this swim is point to point so you can really sight the beach line when you breathe and look forward much less. I kept my head down as much as possible and gave it everything I had. I felt pretty solid, but the times are still about the same. I'm working really hard on my swim and have been doing some different things these days in practice. I know that this is going to take me a bit to see some results. However, I know it will come in time, and when it does, watch out! HA!!

Exiting the water there is a 75-100 meter stretch of deep sand to run though before you hit the pavement. We all know that deep sand is a pain when we are trying to get our legs underneath us and our wetsuits down. Once into T1, I could see the girl in front of me out of the water. I knew she would not be too far ahead, and I got through that transition as fast as possible. I caught up to her fairly quick on the bike. We swapped places back and forth a bit, but eventually I decided not to continue to hammer past her and just stay close behind (legally) her the rest of the way. I was really happy with my bike. I stuck with my plan to keep my wattage fairly high on this course, but I made sure not to go too much over. My bike felt the most comfortable on me this race than I have felt all year. It felt light and smooth and just right on. I love the set up I have with my HED Jet Disc and Jet 6 in front. There is such a difference in fluidity and weight with my race set up. I really fly! There was hardly any wind as well, so the wheel choice was spot on and perfect for just a few rolling hills. I was able to stay in my aero bars almost the entire ride.

I entered T2 with the other pro woman I was riding with. I got out of T2 before her and took off pretty fast. I knew she was close behind and had no idea what type of runner she was. I was able to hold her off and then settle into a fast but less labored pace for the rest of the run. I had a few goals for this run; 1) I needed to push and prove to myself that I can run as fast as I know I can. I tend to doubt myself a little when it comes to running off of the bike. I am heading into a full distance ironman and was really testing myself and gaining confidence at the same time. 2) I wanted to really nail my nutrition in the race, but especially on the run. I carry my own Power Gels because I prefer the consistency and flavors to the on course nutrition, plus this is what I train with at home. I got the nutrition and fluid thing down pat without any GI distress or slowing me down. Super happy with all of this.

I really enjoyed the run course. There were not too many spectators out there but the flow of it keeps athletes on their toes, as it is never down one long road for long. I do have to say though, I never saw any other of my competitors, let alone any athletes on the first loop. It was a little lonely out there, but that is also an obstacle I handled pretty well. I kept my head in the race , but my mind out. When you don't know where you are at, and its just you out there, the challenge becomes staying present and not letting the mind wander to the dark side.

There were many pluses to this race as I reflect back. I pushed myself, stayed present, nailed nutrition, and proved that when I choose to, I can show up for myself in many ways. I say it in many of my blogs but for me it always comes down to one thing in long course racing. STAY PRESENT. My best races are always when I relish in the unknown and remove pressure to figure it all out, but to let it play out. I am super stoked for my race performance at Steelhead. I am ready to keep this momentum going and keep in mind all of the things that made this race great for the next upcoming REV3 full ironman.

Have to shout out to my wonderful husband, Rob, for coming along when he can and being the best sherpa, photographer, and support team. I am very lucky to have the love and support that he gives. We really had a great weekend and post race relaxing by Lake Michigan. Thank you to HED Cycling and Power Bar who played a huge part in my race success this weekend. And of course, always, to Fuel Belt, Rudy Project, and Blue Seventy. Without all of their support I would not be where I am today. Great companies with great products to help make me and you be the best we can be. Ready to take on the next challenge.