Good Luck Exploring the Infinite Abyss

These are the adventures of my life

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.


p.s
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 long....it 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

STEELHEAD 70.3

  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.



Monday, July 9, 2012

Mont-Tremblant 70.3

   I am so happy that I did this race. What a wonderful venue and wonderful time. All together this is one place I would suggest that no one miss to race a 70.3. The location is not difficult to get to, the scenery amazing, course challenging, and the community support was outstanding.
Mont-Tremblant is a lovely ski village north west of Montreal. I have never raced in Canada and was very attracted to this race. First off, it was the inaugural year for the race, and secondly, I knew the scenery and atmosphere would be gorgeous. It was right up my alley. It also fit into an open space in my race schedule, so why would I not race. The Ironman coordinators had a great expo area set up just below the village which was easy to get to, and had lots of different vendors that we don't see in the USA.
 My husband, Rob, and I drove up to Mont-Tremblant. A 13 hour drive doesn't seem that bad with someone else along, especially after driving that far for the last race. We also got XM radio in our car recently. Helps the time fly by.  I love taking my car to races. No bike fee, no chances of things getting lost or broken, and I can way over pack to make sure I have every single thing I need for the race. Love it!! I also am very grateful when Rob can come along to races. Although, when I leave home my bike seems to be in proper order, it is always helpful to know he is there to tweek whatever needs to be done pre race. I trust him a lot. It's also great to have the support and at least knowing that one person will be cheering you on. Thanks Rob!!!


On Saturday before the race Rob and I did a little bike ride on the course and took a dip in the lake. I really assumed that Lake Tremblant was going to be freezing because it is so far north and it was only mid June. Boy was I wrong! The lake is not very deep so it had warmed up pretty nicely. It was just on the edge of being non wetsuit swim. I didn't mind either way, but it ended up being a wetsuit legal swim. Lake Tremblant was so peaceful, clean, and clear. It was an ideal location to swim for a race, especially for me because my swim is still a work in progress. Later in the afternoon Rob, Jenny Fletcher and I took a drive on the part of the bike course we could not ride on that day, and then took a relaxing dinner before settling in for the night. I was unusually calm about this race. I was in a really good spot to not make any expectations for this race, but to just get out there and get more experience and execute to my best ability.
As usual race morning comes around pretty quick. The night before is rarely a full nights of rest. In Tremblant the sunlight is full on by 4:30am, so it did not seem like such an early morning. Nice part was that it was super easy setting up our transitions spots and getting to the water front quickly. Jenny and I , shortly join by Caroline, got down to the water first and took and nice warm up before the race. The water temps were perfect, conditions calm. I couldn't ask for better swim conditions.
The race organizers prepared a surprise for everyone right before the gun went off.
The famed Canadian Snow Birds took a few fly overs above the race swim start. The Snow Birds Demonstration Team is a Canadian icon comprised of serving members of the Canadian forces. It was really cool and an honor to be present for something that is much respected in the country.

So now to the race. As I said before I felt really calm and just ready to give it my all but really enjoy the whole experience as well. I got a nice start in the water and actually hung onto a few girls for much longer than I normally would. After I got dropped I just took the best pace possible and kept calm. The water never got choppy, the sun wasn't in my eyes. It was just a successful swim for me. I ended up having my best swim time in two years on this course. Now having perfect conditions does help, but I have been working really hard on the swim, so I was pleased to see the clock read 2 minutes faster than I expected out of the water.

T1 was almost a quarter of a mile away. We all had to run a LONG way to get to our bikes. I was definitely out of breath and tired by the time I got to my transition spot. Everything went smoothly and off I went. The first 5 miles miles of the bike are on a beautiful country road, nice rolling hills. I took off and felt wonderful. I chose to use my HED Jet 6 front wheel, and HED Jet Disc on my back. I actually got to the long highway stretch after the first bit and was worried I went too hard because I was just cranking out the power and flying. I decided that so what if I went too hard, I needed to take some chances on this course, on this day, and see what I could do. Every race is a learning experience and if I didn't try to go all out, then I would never know if I could do it or how it would effect me. So I gave it everything I had and hammered the course the whole way. In my opinion the last 20 miles of the course were the most difficult and had the best scenery. We were really in the back country. I would get going fast on downhill, then the steep hills would come and I'd have to granny gear it to the top. It was hard to get into a rhythm and that is where the challenge comes in for most cyclist. I looked at it as a big feat for me to stay present and just push what I could push and go hard. In the end I had a top 5 bike split and I was super happy for that.

The crowd support around the village was just super fun. I get a lot of energy and emotion from the crowds and volunteers wherever I go. It is something that is always appreciated and bring positiveness into my race experience. T2 was great because that's where we got a chance to see tons of people and hear the crowds cheering us in on the bike and then a ton on the other side at the run out. Very cool.

The beginning of the run was pretty tough. There was a short but very steep climb and then a winding road and another longer less steep climb up into the actual town of Mont-Tremblant, with a few rollers. The temps were going up and I could really tell but it wasn't anything worse than what I had been training in Ohio. The mid section of the race is on a long flat sand trail. This time of day there was no shade. Although the less impact of running on the sand was nice, it got very hot out there and there was not enough water out there for me. I needed more for sure. About mile 9 I started feeling the burn and hit a wall. I had not caught any girls on the run, but was gaining on them. I dug deep to give it what I had, but the rollers at the end hit me hard. I could tell that my fitness wasn't the best at this point and maybe it was because I did take some chances on the run. Either way, I finished with what I had. The finish line was just spectacular! We ran in from above the ski village and down through the middle on a stone paved walkway through hundreds of people. The energy was amazing!!! In the end, I had a good swim, great bike, and a decent run. I am proud though that I executed the race exactly how I was hoping, minus the last slower 4 miles of the run. I was able to dig and stay present and not worry about anyone else, just myself and what I could do with what I had. It was a wonderful race and I hope that next year it fits into my schedule.

After the race I got to have a little girl time with two of my favs, Jenny and Magali. It was nice to celebrate in our great races, Jenny first out of water, and victory for Magali in her hometown race. It was a perfect time to celebrate, reconnect and unwind. Of course there were a few glasses of vino, yummy food, and lots of laughing. We had to have a little kid fun time to race down the mountain Alpine Slide. What A blast!!! Rob was a little competitive on this one. He had to join in on some competition during the weekend, right!?!?














Overall this was a refreshing and revitalizing weekend for me. I was in need of a race that was successful in my eyes, a get-a-way with my husband to a beautiful part of the world, and to reconnect with some good friends. It all fell into place just right.

Thank you always to my sponsors, Power Bar, HED Cycling, FuelBelt, Rudy Project, and Blueseventy. I wouldn't be able to race and succeed without the best products in the triathlon world! Thanks to my coach, Derick, for believing in me and helping me keep a level head on this journey, and pushing me to my max. Most of all, thank you to my husband Rob for being by my side and supporting my endeavors everyday. Next up is Ironman Lake Placid July 22nd.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mooseman 70.3

Well this blog is a little behind, but better late than never. I don't have any pictures for this race because I traveled alone and it was pretty much raining the whole time, and I don't have a waterproof camera.

I decided to switch up my race schedule and go back to Mooseman the first weekend in June. I really loved this race last year. Love the challenge of the bike and the run, and the cold clear waters of Newfound Lake. Since this was a last minute decision I ended up driving to New Hampshire, a 13 hour drive...alone. I've got to say, though, I am one heck of a road tripper and can really haul ass and just go forever....sorta like Ironman, right?!?!

Well it rained the entire weekend before the race. All day Friday, and All day Saturday. The temperatures were only in the low 50's and it was an little scary to think we were going to race in this cold of weather. I am one that is all for racing in cool weather normally, but this was a little cooler than I had hoped. Race morning it was still raining, but not pouring. It was bearable for the most part. Transition was a huge mud puddle. Some people even had to move their bike rack because it was under flooded areas. I've got to say that I love when conditions get a little unpredictable because it brings some excitement to the day for me.

The water was cold but not as cold as last year. I was low 60's and perfect for me. I like being in cold water with my  Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. The new Helix gives me a lot more freedom with my arms with thinner flexible sleeves. Really like the fit a lot. I thought that I had the best swim of the season so far for me this year. I kept focused and just moved forward and tagged on to feet the best I could. However, my times reflected that my swim has at this point has not gotten any faster. I am always bummed when I think it was the best swim ever, and it's not, but I keep working and know it will come some day soon.

I flew through transition as it is pretty short. I knew the bike was going to be cold so I wore arm warmers under my wetsuit, and also my Blue Seventy neoprene tow covers for my cycling shoes. Although the arm warmers are a little wet at first, they dry off and protect your arms. It is much more difficult to pull arm warmers over wet arms. I stayed warm enough on the bike course and it really helped me stay focused and push hard. I set up my bike with my HED Jet 6 and Jet 9 wheel pair. I used it last year and knew it was the right set up for me. There are some steep grade climbs and I prefer to not use a  Jet disc on courses that have difficult climbing.

I really stayed pretty consistent on this bike course. I love the beauty and the challenge. Since there are lots of hills the competitors spread out easily which makes for a fair and safe ride. Up until the last 10 miles I was feeling strong and present. I lost a little steam at the end and started to worry a little if I had saved enough energy for the run.

I went in T2 with the attitude of, I've gotta give myself a fighting chance at this point. If I go and I'm dead Ill push the best I can. I was just coming off of Ironman St George and not sure how my speed would be. I did not wear a watch or Garmin, just went by feel. Surprisingly, I felt great! I took the first  mile a little easier to get my legs under me. It was sprinkling a little and the sun still had not come out. Perfect running conditions in my book. Cool, rainy, no wind....I mean it doesn't get much better than that when you are maxing yourself out, right!!!  So I got into a pretty good groove. I was able to push up the hills and really stay present. On the second loop I was so surprised, as well, that I was able to pick it up ever faster. I had no idea of my pace, but I knew it was challenging enough, but not where I would flatline. It was energizing. I was really happy with my run.

In the end my run was a 1:31, which isn't may fastest ever, but was a good effort and solid for me. I may have not be in the top 5 finishing, but I really executed a great race day and stuck with my plan. My fitness is coming and I am learning every race more about myself and how to play out the long days to my advantage. The most important part is I am figuring out what works for me. The season started out a little rough, but the more I race this year and continue to follow my coaching plan, I am seeing things evolve.

Thanks to Blue Seventy for keeping me warm and dry this race. Rudy Project for keeping me safe and aero on my bike, and HED for a wheel set with wider rims for the wet roads and keeping me super fast.
Additional thanks to Fuel Belt, Power Bar, and  Derick Williamson at Durata Training. I could not get through any day without all of them. This race was a step in the right direction. Looking forward to the next races.