Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tap Tap Tap...

Is this thing still on...?!?!

Yes, I guess it is.  Good.  Since I last left you all, I recovered from my freak toe slamming injury, not even really sure what to call it, and am back out on the roads on my two feet and on two wheels.  I never really left the pool but yes, I am still swimming too.  But this post is going to be a lot less about swim, bike and run and a lot more about the me outside of those activities but always influenced by them.

Throughout the summer and really this whole year I have been doing a lot of introspective thinking.  Mostly about gratitude.  The word that my application for coaching from Jen Harrison centered on and the word that I keep coming back to.  I have so much to be grateful for.  

I had originally thought I would just share that I'm grateful about being a triathlete and that when a door closes on one activity it is great that usually two others are available but that didn't seem like enough.  I was then thinking I would talk about how grateful I am for Jen Harrison and while I absolutely am grateful for the experience of working with her this year, that didn't seem like enough either.  So, instead I'm going to share a few words that came from a timed writing session I did the other day. 

When I sat down at the end of a meditation session (yes, you heard that right, I'll get to that in a minute) to do a timed writing session, the first thought that came into my head was, "letting go."  So I went with this thought and wrote down all the things that came to mind...
perceptions, over 30, woo-woo, holding me back, people, what's not important, uptight, anxiety.  Now, during my session I also elaborated on a few of these like, "over 30."  What that really means is that I am letting go of the fact that even though I'm over 30, it's okay that I don't have X,Y, or Z figured out yet.  I think that coincides with "perceptions"--I perceive that I should be at X place in my life, doing X things and well, earth to Alisa, you are on your own journey.  "Woo-woo" refers to, letting go of my preconceived notions about things like meditation and timed journaling-I'm embracing the woo-woo.  "People" was a hard one for me to really examine.  What I wrote down next to "people" was, "limited time, what's important, who is important, what are my priorities."  I'm a people pleaser by nature and I'm someone who really likes to give a lot in relationships and be as supportive of a friend as I can be, what I've had to realize is that I'm the type of person that really likes to have a few close relationships, rather than a lot of superficial ones.  Hence, to me, what I wrote down reinforced that I am choosey about my friends and that's a good thing.  I want to have people in my life (whether I see them a lot or not) that I can share my journey with.  I recently had a long conversation with a friend that I don't see very often and we talked about this very thing.  Meaningful relationships are so important.

What does all of this have to do with being grateful?  I think what I'm learning is that I am so grateful to be in a place in my life where I am really proud that I'm going through this introspection, embracing the woo-woo and spending time being grateful for the relationships I've built.  

I'm comfortable enough with me to reflect, realign and grow.  

A lot of this may sound trite or cliche but it's real and it's me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Big Sky & Wide Open Spaces

I never really thought of myself as a country/mountain girl, I've always been more of city/ocean girl. However, spending a week in Montana with my husband’s family I may have discovered some country roots. Growing up in CA, my dad, grandma and I would travel once a summer up to Montana to visit my aunt. As a kid, I remember the long hikes, the big mountains, wildlife, picking berries and the bugs (oh the bugs!). When my husband’s family picked Montana (very near where I would go as a kid) I knew it would be a trip down memory lane.  And it definitely has been.

Montana is a beautiful state with lots of wide open spaces, they don’t call it Big Sky country for nothing.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do much in the way of hiking but I’ve been able to do a lot of mountain viewing and some hobbling around. Remember that jammed toe, well, the X-rays were inconclusive on a 4th metatarsal break so they booted me up and gave me back my crutches--full non-weight bearing protocol.  I was diligent with the crutches for about a week and have been taking it easy in MT but it doesn't hurt to walk in the boot (as long as I'm not going very far) so I have semi ditched the crutches (shhhh don't tell the doc).  Despite not being as mobile as I'd like, I've still been able to enjoy some amazing views.  Also, given my type-A, super scheduled self, this is probably a good break for my body and mind.  It's tough going but if my year last year taught me anything it taught me that I can overcome an injury and come back just as strong or stronger.

Wide open spaces in Big Sky Country:

Going to the sun road, Glacier Nat'l Park

Going to the sun road, Glacier Nat'l Park

Going to the sun road, Glacier Nat'l Park (Mr. Pi and his brother taking photos)

Going to the sun road, Glacier Nat'l Park (my sister in law at an overlook)

Morning coffee from Montana Coffee Roasting Co. from outside our rental house

Top of Big Mountain (or Whitefish was big mountain when I was there as a kid so it was hard to call it Whitefish Mountain)

Mini walk up top (I took the chair lift up)

Not a bad view...the boot gets around (Top of Big Mountain)

Mr. Pi running UP big mountain (look closely he is there)

Sunset from the rental house

Panorama from the backyard of the rental

Great Northern Brewing, Whitefish, MT

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Stitch Fix

I’ve received several comments and questions about StitchFixI think this is worthy of a little blog post. {referral code if you're interested in trying this out for yourself (also found at the bottom of this post): 

What is Stitch Fix?
It’s an online clothing service where the customer (you) fills out a style profile including, clothing item preferences, color choices, sizing and general style.  You can also link to your other social media platforms like Pinterest boards but that is totally optional.  From there, you schedule when you would like your “fix” to arrive.  When your fix arrives, you receive 5 items, a style guide and personal note from your stylist.  It comes neatly packaged in a box complete with your receipt and return shipping envelope if there are items you are sending back.  You have three days to complete your online check out form and send back items you are not keeping.  If you keep all 5 you get a 25% discount on your order.

For me, when my fix arrives, I like to take the pieces out and review the style card.  Then, I pull various items from my own closet, like shoes, jeans, skirts, accessories that might pair well with what’s in my fix.  Then, I proceed to try them all on.  I try to do this when Mr. Pi is around so I can get him to take photos for me and give me his opinion.

Style cards

So what have a received in my three fixes?

Fix #1:

What I kept:
-Coral top. I didn’t love this at first but kept it because of the feedback from my Instagram poll and it has become a staple in both my work and weekend wardrobes.  

-Black top. I loved this top from the moment I put it on.  I’ve worn it to work as well as to a 1920’s party.  I love the back!  It's unique and a bit sexy without really feeling like you're showing a lot of skin.

-Coral capris.  I was absolutely on the fence about these but after my poll on Instagram I decided to keep them and I’m really happy I did!  They have been a really fun work piece.  

What I returned:
-The purple sweater.  It was so cozy but there was just so much material I felt like I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it.

-Gold necklace, not pictured.  This piece sat funny against my collar bone and I just didn’t feel like I needed another necklace.  Since then, I have asked not to be sent any jewelry.  You can update your style profile at any time…if at some point I want an accessory to show up in my fix, I’ll go back in and add it but for now, I’m good.

Fix #2:

Sadly, no one was around to take my photo so this is all I have plus the style guide (see below).

What I kept:
-Red top. I don’t own a lot of red. It is bold piece but in the end I’m glad I kept it.  Here are a two ways I’ve worn it!

What I returned:
Everything else.  This fix had several items that just weren’t my style, a bit to hipster/edgy.  I conveyed these messages in my comments back to my stylist and did some updating of my style profile.  

While I may not have kept much from this fix what is shocking about this fix is in there, if you can see from the photo of the style guide, was a pair of pants.  Now, if you’re anything like me, I usually take in like 7 pairs of pants into a dressing room and it is a crapshoot on whether ANY of them will fit.  These babies…fit like a glove, they were perfect.  I just didn’t think I would wear black jeans, again, not really my style but I was blown away that a stranger could pick out pants that fit me so well.

Fix #3:

What I kept--EVERYTHING.
-Maxi Skirt.  Again, I adore maxi skirts and don’t have one in anything close to this color.  This item was a little pricey for my liking, which I wrote in my feedback, but knowing how much wear I’ll get out of it, it was worth it to me. I've already worn this item a couple of times!

-Maxi Dress.  I loved this the moment I put it on and knew I’d be keeping it.  In fact, I wore the next day to a casual Friday and also out to dinner!  It is a perfect fit. (I also received a maxi in my last fix but it was a bit too roomy, my stylist sized down for this one and it fits perfectly.)

k, you can't really see it but this is a fun picture of Mr. Pi and I for birthday beers and dinner

-Pink top.  I was skeptical about this top at first but I switched bras and tried it on with the maxi skirt (which my style guide suggested) as well as a pair of my fave jeans.  It grew on me the more I wore it and decided to keep it after my Instagram poll.  Again, I've already worn this item a couple of times as well!

-Short dress.  I can’t wait to wear this to dinner or to work.  I loved it the moment I put it on.  It fits well, isn’t too short and the colors are fun, not too bold or too boring.  Now that I'm back in the boot for my jammed toe (or whatever the injury is), I'll probably hold off on wearing this item; I'm trying to stick with outfits that hide the boot as much as I can.  Also, I wear a running shoe on the other foot for stability and to try to even out the height difference with the boot.

-Jean jacket (not pictured).  I was planning to return this item only b/c I already have a jean jacket that is almost identical to the one that I was sent.  However, with the 25% buy all discount it was cheaper for me to actually purchase all 5 items rather than return the jacket, which was one of the lowest priced items in the fix.  All in all, another jean jacket, slightly more fitted could totally come in handy.

The verdict on Stitch Fix--it's a great service and I highly recommend it.  I’m not ready for monthly fixes or anything but once a quarter or so it is a fun way to spice up my wardrobe!  My advice to new fixers, be specific in your style profile, create a Pinterest page of your favorite looks, set a realistic budget in your profile and give good feedback on each fix.

Here is a referral code if you’re interested, use it, I get credit in my account if you do, wink wink: 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Best laid plans…Race report?...PR!

Sometimes the best planning all goes out the window.  I was signed up to rock n roll my second half iron distance race on Saturday.  Well, last Monday, I got a cancellation from the race company, stating they were canceling the event.  I proceeded to go through the 7 stages of grief or whatever…mostly consisting of frustration, anger and determination.  After my performance at the sprint distance on July 20th I was ready to ROCK 70.3 miles.  The course was my strength, flat and fast.  Someday maybe I’ll go for scenic and hilly but for this race I wanted to hammer.  Sadly I wasn’t going to get to do that, or was I?

I sent Coach Jen a note and then proceeded to send texts to all my close endurance junkie friends venting my frustrating and telling them all about the backup options I was considering.  After my initial rage of an event being cancelled 4 days before the actual event, I calmed down and went into determination mode.  One of my first responses was...well, if unnamed race company isn’t going to put on an event for me, I’ll put one on myself.  Yup, a self-supported long course triathlon. Call me crazy, call me determined but I lived to tell the tale.  While this isn’t an “official” race with chip timing results I’m calling this a major success, a PR and a giant leap forward in my mental training.

Race Report: Inaugural (and probably only) Dunlap Racing Long Course Triathlon

“Race” morning.  Honestly, I was nervous.  I was going to attempt a long course tri, self-supported, by myself.  Could I do the distance?  Sure.  But mentally could I hold it together to complete the distance solo without that race environment?  As I got all my stuff ready and was heading out the door, I gave myself a little pep talk and I was off and ready to get to my start line “aka the pool.”  On my way to getting my things out the door I stubbed my toe.  I thought to myself, crap, just what I need, to break my toe on my way to my race.  I shook it off as best I could and with some soreness building (foreshadow) and went on my merry way.

1.2 M (2100 yd) Swim: 38:05 (1:48/100)
Uneventful swim.  Saturday morning at the gym there is luckily no one around!  Whole lane all to myself.  Settled into the swim and just kept a steady pace going.  I swam this like I knew I would have 56 miles to ride and a half marathon to run, conservative yet not dilly dallying.

T1: 45:55 –ha!  I got out of the pool, quickly rinsed off, because why not I had the time and opportunity too.  Changed into my gear and hit the road.  I drove out to the site of my bike and run.  I did all these things quickly but also used my time efficiently—I fueled while I drove and took the time to dry off my feet, apply sunscreen, etc.

56 M Bike: 3:30:10 (16 MPH avg)
My goal for the race was to hit 3:30 or faster (16 MPH or better).  I’ve been averaging 16 MPH for all my long rides lately but this not being an actual race environment I wasn’t sure I could get my legs moving any faster but figured I could hold steady at my training pace.  I did exactly what I would have done in a race, took the first 15-20 minutes to warm up, keeping a moderately easy gear.  After that I shifted and turned it on…right into a headwind.  I proceeded to oscillate between headwind and tailwind, which is exactly the type of course I was prepped for.  I was feeling good, sticking with my nutrition plan and was excited to know that I would have support for my run.

My run crew vehicle!

T2: 14:15  I did what I normally do in T2 with the addition of loading my bike into the car, instead of racking it and moving the car to a safer running location about 10 minutes down the road.

13.1 M Run: 2:34:06 (11:46 avg)
This is where the rubber was going to meet the road.  Running is always the sport I mentally struggle with and I knew today would probably be the same.  My goal was a 2:30 with an optimistic view of possibly a 2:20 finish but I was going to be thrilled with anything under a 12 min mile avg. My short runs off the bike hover around 10 usually and I have been doing intervals in the 8's.  However, for me and pacing while running, it is ALL MENTAL.  If I could mentally stay strong I was going to have a great run.

I was so lucky to have an awesome race crew in C (and later Mr. Pi arrived as well).  I set off and C proceeded to drive one mile down the road.  During that first mile I actually felt good, minus some throbbing in my toe.  I was warm but NOTHING like the June 106+ degree weather I dealt with.  At mile 1 I pulled up alongside C’s car and out came a silver platter…literally.  It was my own personal aid station on a silver platter…pretty sweet!  It was stocked with everything I could have wanted, ice, water, coke, chews, banana, doubleshot coffee (I used this during the bike portion of my IM), gels, etc.  I am truly so lucky to have friends that understand the crazy head space of an endurance athlete, who would give up a few hours of their Saturday to man “aid stations” on the side of the road.  THANK YOU C and Mr. Pi for your support...not only on "race" day but also during countless hours of training.

Off during mile 2 I realized this run would be both easier and harder than I had thought—I think this hits me during every race no matter the distance.  When I hit my next “aid station” I had a flashback to running with my Rev3 teammates from AZ to TX where we ran in one to two mile increments with a water bottle marking our stopping point.  I remembered how cool that experience was to be running in places I would probably never see again and tried to channel that into this run.  This was probably an experience I would not have again and I was going to relish it.

As the miles ticked on I started to feel better and better (I swear this is from the ice in my sports bra cooling me down and from coke...I don't drink soda, really EVER, but it is like rocket fuel for me during triathlons) by about mile 7 I was really feeling great!  My speed was staying consistent and I knew I would finish and finish STRONG!  Mr. Pi jumped in to run a mile with me from 8-9 and it was great to have the company.  It also made me realize that if I did have “company” or “competition” out on the course maybe I would have run faster, as I picked up the pace considerably with that mile.  When I hit mile 12, I could not have been happier.  C and Mr. Pi drove on another 1.1 miles and set up a finish line for me…I had no idea that was coming.  But as I rounded a small bend in the road, I saw my red ribbon finish line and with nothing but smiles, I crossed the finish line!  

Total (moving) Time: 6:42 
My overall goal had been to break 7 hours.  My previous PR time was 7:56 where I walked the half marathon due to the extreme heat.  This was an improvement by over an hour.  I PR'd all three disciplines from June!  Swim PR of 1:09. Bike PR of 17 minutes. Run PR of 49 minutes. 

My sweet ass medal!  Captain America meets Flava Flave.

This race/event/training experience whatever you want to call it taught me so much about my strength.  Not just my physical strength to complete this distance but my mental tenacity to go this alone.  I was determined and ready.  Coach Jen calls it “grit” I like to channel my Dad and call it perseverance.  

While I was out there I kept having the song/phrase “it’s a great day to be alive” in my head.  I’m not really a country music fan so I had to look up who even sings this, Travis Tritt if you were curious.  But I was really happy to be alive and doing what I love to do!

Couldn't have done it without these two:

On the foreshadowing of the toe jamming incident.  So, Sunday it was pretty sore.  Monday I went to the doc for some x-rays.  Results came back negative for a fracture, hooray!  BUT they are sending me to a specialist.  Of course, I'm terrified of hearing the "c" word (crutches people, get your mind out of the gutter).  I'll be in the boot for a little while to immobilize it and let it heal (I'm hoping this won't be a long time but it is what it is).   While I find it annoying to again be in the presence of this ugly gray accessory, my experience on saturday was amazing and I suppose doing a self supported half iron with a deformed toe makes me even more of a badass (either that or just dumb).  I'm staying positive it'll heal up soon and I'll be ready to rock and roll again for the rest of my year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Freedom 5k and an update

Why yes, you're hearing from me again so soon...considering you haven't heard from me much lately this is probably a new record.

2014 Freedom 5k--Race Report.  Jen and I did this race in 2012 when she was pregnant the first time so when she asked me to run this again while expecting baby #2 I said SURE!  Running with a pregnant lady is super fun b/c you hear “you go girl” and “wow look at her” through the whole race AND while I know they aren’t talking about me, it’s still a fun atmosphere.  Anyway, when I asked Coach Jen about it she wanted me to RACE it.  

Honestly, from the get go I wasn’t that set on racing this race, I wanted to run with Jen.  The night before I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me so I started off race morning not really feeling ready to run fast however, I lined up toward the front and told Jen that if I wasn’t feeling it I would pull over to the side, find her and continue to run with her.  

I went pretty balls out mile 1 and ended up running close to an 8 min flat.  I started to feel sick, more so than I already did at the start line from the food the night before, I walked a bit and tried to run again, ugh.  At this point, I just wasn’t into it so I was slow jogging some walking and finally I pulled over to wait for Jen.  Of course, being the amazing athlete that she is, I didn’t wait long and jumped in to run with her.  She ended up feeling and doing great, I finished a few seconds behind her--yup, my badass pregnant friend beat me!  PR streak for the year over (though, I would like to point out I've already PR'd the 5k, twice) but what's so great about this race is my "bad" 5k is a 9 something avg and under 30 minutes.  

I wouldn't have had this race any other way.  Watching my amazingly athletic pregnant friend in a race is just f'ing inspiring! This girl will always be IronJen to me!



Onto a life update.  Training is going really great, Coach Jen Harrison is amazing.  She is pushing me well out of my comfort zone and things are really paying off.  I feel strong physically and mentally.  I’m gaining confidence and, when I can get my head in the game, it is showing.  

I am also loving sharing my love for the sport of triathlon with friends just getting into it.  Hello introducing my good friend to her FIRST brick workout.  LOVE.

Hour ride/15 min run--BOOM

I am really looking forward to giving back to the sport more as the years go on because really, what’s not to love about triathlon?!  I've already gotten involved with the USAT Board here in the NW and am looking for other opportunities in the future to give back.

In addition to training and racing, the Pi's have celebrated an anniversary in SF and spent a few days in a floating home on Shasta Lake. 

Shasta Lake

Anniversary game at AT&T Park--GO GIANTS

On the drive back we stopped to get in a run. 

Life continues to throw me a curve ball here and there, trying to figure out what I, and a few others, are affectionately calling our "third-life" crisis's.  I cut out a silly quote the other day from a Starbucks cup holder that about sums it up:

Monday, July 21, 2014

RR: Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Triathlon (PR)

And, we are back with another RR.  I've actually done two races since the last one but I'll start with the race that was the more exciting of the two.

It's been several years since I raced a sprint and I really wanted to find one this year.  The one I normally do fell on the day of my first HIM for the season so that was out.  I remembered a few years back Jen did this race so I googled it and registered.  I had high expectations for this race.  I wanted a PR, I wanted to compete and secretly, I was hoping for a podium finish, though, I was going for a top 5 AG.

Race morning, it was overcast, windy and chillier than it has been.  I'll take it--at least it wasn’t 108 like the HIM.  Pre-race went all fine and dandy and as I was getting into the water I told Mr. Pi that I was excited and ready to have a fun time!

Pensive pre-race photo

1/2 mile Swim: 13:03 (1:29/100yd)

Despite it not being a big race I got into a tangle with one other lady and couldn’t shake her.  We swam stroke for stroke for probably half the race.  It was slightly annoying but also motivating to not slow down.  It was a downstream race which made for a fast time.  Sprint swim PR set, off to a good start.

Awkward run up the sand...why is this always the hardest part of the swim for me? Probably added an extra minute just getting to the timing mat for T1.

T1: 1:44 Good lord, what was I doing for nearly 2 minutes, this could use some improvement!

12.5 mi Bike: 39:59 (18.75 MPH--2nd fastest bike split in my AG)

My goal for the bike was to ride balls out.  If that meant blowing up on the run so be it.  I got out and got going and right before the first turn one lady passed me, and sure enough she was in my AG.  However, not long after the turn I came up on a girl, also in our AG and blew by her.  Not knowing exactly where I had come out of the swim, my goal when Pink shirt girl passed passed was to NOT let her outta my sight.  I shifted and aeroed right through the headwind.  My watch was set on total time so I hadn’t a clue my pace and that was fine by me…all I wanted was not to be passed and to pass as many people as possible.  The charity wave started before my wave so I was constantly passing the slower riders but through the rest of the ride only two dudes passed me, hauling ass I might add.  Pink shirt AG girl was within my sights but riding too fast for me to catch her.  At the turnaround it was a nice tailwind back to the park and I got a look at some of the riders ahead of me.  I thought there was maybe one other girl in my AG ahead of me and thought I was probably in 3rd.  For the first time in any race, I was a freakin’ competitor!  As I rushed through the final portion of the bike I kept saying, just run strong.

T2:  1:12 Again, this could be improved.  What took me so long?!?

5k Run: 28:53 (9:17 avg pace)

Not knowing my bike split really at all but briefly looking at the total time I thought, crap, I can blow my 1:35 total time goal out of the water with a strong 5k.  So, off I went.  The girl I had passed early on in the ride, I had seen at the turnaround and she wasn’t THAT far behind me.  At this point I was hoping she was a slow runner.  On the 5k, I passed several duathletes and charity wave runners and just settled into a comfortably hard pace.  I was focused on running a good race.  If the girl behind me passed me I would try to keep up but really I cared about executing my own race more than a podium finish at that point.  Mile one clocked in at a 9:20, I was happy with that and asked myself, can I run faster…so I turned it on a little more, especially as I approached the turnaround and saw the Pink shirt girl coming back toward me, I figured she was probably running too fast for me to catch her but I was going to try.  As I hit the turnaround, I was scanning the crowd looking for the girl I passed on the bike, sadly, she too looked like she was running pretty fast and gaining on me.  I held it strong and mile 2 beeped in at 9:09.  I was holding my own!  The only people passing me were guys who looked like they were running 6 min miles and 1 freakishly strong looking 40-44 year old lady (made me think of Coach Jen).  I felt awesome!  At some point during the final mile, green shirt girl passed me, I held onto to her tail as much as I could but she was out running me.  As I rounded the corner to the finish line, the only thing I could think of was HOLY CRAP this is awesome!  I saw the finish clock which read 1:34 and I was sprinted to beat my goal of 1:35…but I had forgotten that I wasn’t the first wave!  I looked down at my watch 1:24---holy shit, 1:24!  My 5k spilt was under 29 minutes and faster than the Freedom 5k (more on this race to come) I had done just a few weeks prior.  Not only that BUT I felt like a competitor!
Passing a duathlete...why on earth would someone want to skip the swim and do an extra run?

BIG smile to go along with my BIG PR

I found Mr. Pi and told him how awesome the race had gone! We walked around to cool down a bit and then I found the results tent.  I knew I was probably wasn’t going to be on the podium but I wanted to check.  It read 5th…BUT turns out that the girl that won our AG was also top 3 overall (along with freakishly strong 40-44 year old) so I ended up in 4th by about 40 seconds.    This is what stinks about not being a fast runner.  However, I think I can cross weak cyclist off my list. So CLOSE to a podium but I think what’s more important is that I raced to my potential and completely BLEW my sprint distance PR out of the water with a 25 MINUTE improvement!

Official time: 1:24:52

I really could not be happier with this performance, I left it all out there, I competed, I kept my wits about me and I finished strong. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RR: Folsom Triathlon (aka Epic Mental Challenge in Extreme Conditions)

So, this blog is turning a little into  a race report blog.  I have all sorts of things to say but just no time to write them all down.  And, I’ve also felt a need to be more private with my life, not sure why but I’ve even considered deleting some of my social media, well FB, not really my blog or Instagram =).  BUT, for the time being, my posting may be infrequent but it'll still be present.

Before I get to the race report, I’ll do a little update on life.  Life has been busy.  I’ve probably been through the most stressful (emotionally and just generally) period in my life.  The last month or so has been an extreme period in my life.  My professional life has been busy, my personal life has been full of introspection and thoughtfulness (not a bad thing but a stressor) and I was peaking physically for this race.  I did the best I could with all of the stressors in my life—as far as workouts, I did almost ALL my workouts, I modified a few workouts to add in extra rest but all in all I still put in the work for this race.

This was my first long course distance tri since 2010 Barb’s race and my first tri since the IM.  Last year, I completed the halfRev aqua-bike in Maine but wasn’t yet up to the running.  I have been training well and have been having a stellar year so my expectations were high!  Well, they were until I started getting phone alerts for severe weather and drove the bike course.  Oh boy.  Foreshadowing…

Saturday I picked up my race stuff and my Dad went with me as we drove some of the bike course.  Couple of big climbs (for me), lots of rollers and some flats on the back half.  Driving the bike course a few things came to mind.  1) The course is going to be VERY exposed to heat, sun and wind. 2) Hillier than I was anticipating and hillier than I was really trained for. 3) Crappy pavement.  But honestly, none of that was a huge deal to me, I was staying positive, I’m stronger this year than I ever have been and I was only going to focus on what I could control.  As Saturday went  on and I kept seeing weather alerts for extreme weather, I got more and more nervous.  Temperatures were predicted to be over 100 degrees, topping out between 104-108, and wind gusts up to 20 MPH.  Well, it is what is--weather you can't control but you can control your mindset and how you respond to it.

Race morning went fine, got up got ready, ate my breakfast and my sherpas, aka the best family supporters ever.  Got to the race sight by 5:15am and it was already nearly 75 degrees.  Not wanting that to get in my head I calmly set up my transition area (first time since the IM and I had kinda forgotten what it is like to set up a towel transition area instead of a bag).  As go time got closer I put on my wetsuit and headed to the water.

Swim: Up until the horn start I didn’t even know which way  I was supposed to be swimming.  Not great race organization in my opinion (there were a few other instances of that on the course as well).  There wasn’t a loud speaker by the swim start and they hadn’t told us which way to go.  I figured I wasn’t going to be first so I would just follow the caps.  I have been doing some great swims but if I’ve skipped a workout it is usually a swim.  Readers here know that I’m comfortable in the water and the distance wasn’t at all intimidating. 

My goal: Hoping for sub-38 but really anything under 40 was going to be fine with me.
Actual: 39:14 not my best, not my worst.

T1: 4:10 – funny story here…I lost my bike!  I ran all the way to the end of the transition area IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!  Oops, rookie mistake.  Whatever, in and out, quick wave to the fam.

Bike:  My plan was to stay hydrated and wet to stay cool.  I wanted to stay positive on the hills, push the flats and generally enjoy the ride.  Total success with all of those elements.  I have been riding between 15.5 – 16.5 on average but haven’t done any real elevation, the biggest gain I’ve done this year, um, 700 feet.  Starring down a 2200+ feet gain profile I probably shoulda worked more on hills, oh well.  Despite my lack of hill training (not Jen’s fault, I just haven’t gone hilly lately b/c I’ve been enjoying SPEED on flats), I felt pretty good on the climbs.  The rollers were just fun and the flats I exceled holding 18+ for miles on end.  The roads were as expected pretty bumpy, lots of strewn water bottles on the course.  Parts of the course were just weird, like the part through the office park (though, I was happy to avoid the busier roads and the pavement was nicer), but parts of the course were just gorgeous the rolling golden northern California hills, with big oak trees and the scent of summer.  By about mile 20 of the bike course I was already pretty warm and continued to stay hydrated and cooled off by squirts of water from my water bottle.  The last 11 miles were on a bike trail with AWESOME headwind, not.  This is the only place I really saw egregious drafting and no marshals---sooooo annoying.  Oh well.

My goal:  My goal was 3:30 – 3:40.
Actual: 3:47 (elevation per Garmin 2265)-- given the heat, the hills and the wind—I’m happy with this but definitely room for improvement!

T2: 3:00—I call that a success for me.

Run: Oh good lord this was where my race unraveled.  I have been LOVING running lately, especially running off the bike.  My runs off the bike have been 9:40’s – 10:30’s and I was feeling really confident about this run.  However, by the time I got to the run it was upper 90’s and the temp was still rising.  I started off with a slow shuffle and about 6 minutes in my HR was outta control and I felt dizzy and the slow march of determination began.  From here on out I tried a 1 min run/1 min walk, sometimes this was fine other times I felt like was going to pass out.  As one point, I seriously thought CA was having an earthquake it looked and felt like the ground was shaking.  At that point, I started taking 2 salt pills, instead of 1 at a time.  I found the best strategy to be the following: at the aid stations, drink 1 water, 1 water dumped on me or spray from a super soaker some of the aid stations had, 1 cup of ice down my sports bra and a BIG thank you to the volunteers for being out there on a triple digit day.  For a few minutes with ice down my sports bra this made running bearable—so I would run out of the aid stations until my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest and I felt light headed.  When I hit the turnaround at 6.55 miles I was so close to calling it.  Temperatures were now well into the triple digits and I was only halfway.  I was looking at the slowest half marathon of my life.  You know those people that say they are going to walk a half marathon? Yeah, I’ve always though they were crazy---now that I basically have, I still think they are crazy!  On the second loop, there were points I felt absolutely terrible and points were I only felt mildly less terrible but I don't think I got above slightly less terrible on the second loop even with the aid stations being fully stocked with ice and water.  By this point all my time goals were out of the window and all I wanted to do was finish and jump (or crawl) back into the river.  Everyone on the course was walking, several with very dejected looks on their faces.  The heat was oppressive and unrelenting and unfortunately the course had little to no shade and even in the shade I'm sure temperatures were triple digits.  I saw at least 2 people get taken away in the emergency ranger wagon and my family saw a couple of ambulance bound folks.  I ended up finishing the last couple of miles with a really nice guy training for his first IM.  I kept telling him how much harder THIS race was than my IM experience and that finishing this race, in these conditions, should give him a big boost of confidence for the IM.  This race seriously was the hardest race I’ve ever done--mentally and physically to keep going in those conditions, I think I walked the line of determined and stupid but ultimately, I know my body pretty well and knew that if I walked it in I could finish.  I didn’t pass out and I didn’t quit.

My goal: 2:20 – 2:30
Actual: 3:23, a FULL HOUR slower than I had wanted

Total: 7:57  Over an hour slower than my original goal of 6:30 (my pie in the sky was as close to 6 as possible).  With the hills on the bike course I had adjusted to 6:40 - 7 hours but definitely did not think I’d be nearly 8 hours. The total DNF/DNS rate from what I counted on the website was over 50 people!  I counted 180 total finishers from the website and the number of finishers over 7 hours, nearly 70.

best part of the whole day--the after race water float

The bright side:  This is STILL a 29 minute PR from my one and only other half distance at Barb’s race in 2010.  This course was much hillier (1000+ feet hillier), DEFINITELY much hotter and probably windier, though, I don’t really remember the wind conditions at Barb’s race.

I know I have more in me at this distance and I know I’ll get there!  I mean, what’s the chance of doing another race in 106 degree temperatures?!?

Big shout out to my wonderful friend Kristen for driving down from the bay area, standing in the heat, while 9 months pregnant!  Also, just as big of a shout out to my wonderful family who are always there for me—both the highs and the lows.  They too, stood around in extreme conditions and had nothing but positivity for me.  THANK YOU—I am truly lucky to have such a great support crew.

Also a shout out to Jen, my wonderful coach, who has been pushing me to my limits this year and keeping me going with my PR streak.

As I’ve been saying, every race is a learning experience and this one taught me that the words on my bracelet (persevere, endure, believe) do really hold true for me.  I am not someone who quits, even if the day isn’t going as planned.  I am really proud of myself for finishing this race—now it’s time to recover and get back to training and pushing myself to my fullest potential.