Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NOLA 70.3 Race Report

New Orleans… The home of beignets, Bourbon Street and triathlons without swims. :)

Going through one of the pro’s race report I fell in love with her statement, seriously how fitting is it?. So, I mentioned before how I like to go in great lengths in my race reports, I usually start with the trip and the days prior to the race, especially if is an out of town kind of race. This time around I feel as if I have to go back even more given the circumstances, so chill out, grab a cup of coffee and feel free to stop reading anytime you want to.
The day before heading to NOLA I was on my way to the pool when a friend of mine texted me and asked me if I had read the news about the race, the first thing that came to mind was ‘don’t tell me we are not going to have a swim, AGAIN!’ after a couple of seconds of thinking on a thousand different scenarios I told myself not to freak out, last year there wasn’t a swim and I end up having one of my best races, how worse could it get?
Well, it turns out it could be a lot worse. A year ago they cancelled the swim the morning of, and end up with a bike/run race. This year apparently they decided that this wouldn’t be enough to screw up with the swimmer’s race and head so they decided to put a 2 mile ‘warm up’ run before the bike. To make matters worse they shortened the bike course since part of the course had lots of debris from the storms. So if you think about it that is a swimmer/non-runners worst nightmare... Carmen’s dream race LOL.

I put a smile on my face and said ‘whatever it is, I can’t do anything about it’. I have been working way too hard to self-sabotage any races and I figure after the fact I could vent on my blog about it, so here it comes… SERIOUSLY???? Two years in a row, looking back what I find most offensive is the fact that they cancelled the swim based on forecasted conditions, I don’t know about everybody else out there but I don’t recall weather forecasters being right very often, not sure what the point of not waiting til race morning was, so before I go any further I will say ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’… PHEWW! I feel better now.
A year ago I drove to New Orleans with my sister Raquel and had the time of our lives, honestly race day was just one more thing to add to the fun weekend. This year was quite different, me, Sami and John (Sami’s training partner) drove together, don’t take me wrong I had a great time but starting with the fact that I was only allowed to go to the bathroom so often on our trip down (and then back), and the fact that the two people I was travelling with were THRILLED with the recent news of not having a swim the whole weekend just had a different ‘ambience’.

One of the things that had me worried was the fact that never in my life I had run more than 13.1 miles, not on a race nor in a training day and yes you will say ‘come one is only 2 more miles’, but guess what, for all those non-swimmers out there just think of the stress you go through when moving from an Olympic race distance to a Half Ironman… now imagine you didn’t even get to train for that extra distance, not so cool huh?, so I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t taken off by the news but tried not to let it get to me. I was determined to have a good race.
The two days before the race were pretty low key, we tagged along with Jeremy and Elaine, they always seem to pick the coolest restaurants and with two guys on my party you can imagine research was not a priority.
Race morning we headed to transition to get everything set up, it was pretty cold and the wind didn’t make us feel any better, good thing we were prepared and kept my two jackets on til I headed to the TT start. After I was done setting up I headed out for a quick run warm up and left my ‘extra layers’ back in the car. I was lucky to have one of the earliest waves and decided to place myself on the front for the time trial start (we were sent out on pairs every 3” within your wave). I end up being the 3rd-4th person to start on my wave, which was pretty nice, last year I got stuck at the end of my age group and I didn’t want to make the same mistake this year.
Jeremy had mentioned we should go out and settle on a solid pace but nothing crazy, low Z3. So I did, I actually felt VERY good on the first two miles, on the way back I saw Jerry Halphen, Sami and Dean Pappas (all of them on the wave after ours). I noticed at that point that Sami didn’t start on the front.
Finally have a pic with both feet off the ground... am I becoming a runner??
T1 was pretty uneventful… and please let me brag about my speedy transitions this time around, this was something that needed work on the last couple of seasons, I hope this is an indication I will be ‘better’ this year although I can’t take credit for it cause I have not practice anything in specific. BUT I had the second fastest T1 in my AG and fastest T2.
As I have mentioned before this year is all about my IM and pacing on the bike, I wanted to have a good run (secretly looking to break 1:40) and I remember how last year we had headwind on the way out and tail wind on the way back. So my plan was to take it easy on the way out and then push harder on the way back, this way my legs wouldn’t be overtired for the run, little did I know this year there wasn’t as much tailwind on the way back, instead we kept hitting crosswinds everywhere. I never found the time to push harder. I usually stay mid Z3 on my HIM bike, but this time around I was way below that (average HR 147.. not even Z3 buuuuuhhh). My shoulders and neck were very sore from holding tight to my aero bars, after the race Sami mentioned how he just ‘relaxed’ his upper body, well unfortunately some of us are midget size and found myself being blown over the course more times than I thought possible. On this leg of the race I am usually passed by a couple of girls, but I was surprised at how many of them passed me. By the time we reached T2 I was just glad I was done with the acrobatics trying to keep myself from falling.
T2 was FAST!, yes I said fast please check and see J. Took my visor, salt tablets and gels and made my way through the run out arch. Due to the storms they had to change the run course to a two loop course, I started running and settle on a pace, I didn’t feel particularly good but didn’t feel bad either. Right before mile 1 I got passed by Jeremy and one of the male pros, it was pretty cool to see them a couple of times through the course as they stayed together for one whole loop. Right after they passed me Mirinda Carefree passed me as well, that girl has the perfect form! Almost like mine if I may say so myself J. 
Once I started the second loop I felt great all of the sudden and decided to push a bit harder, by mile 9 I passed these two guys who were running together and they thought I was holding a ‘good pace’ and stuck with me. It actually helped me keep my mind busy since they were having a full blown conversation and kept me entertained (I will never understand how people can talk while racing). Around mile 11 I started to die and they encouraged me to stay with them. I saw a girl ahead of me who I knew had passed me on the bike (she was not in my age group but was in the 40+ wave), I started closing the gap and by the time I passed mile marker 12 I decided to make the pass, looking back I should have waited a little bit to sprint cause half a mile into it I run out of gas, she passed me again and I just ‘survived’ the last ½ a mile.
I have the feeling this pic wont be making it to an magazines :)
I crossed the finish line and had no idea what my bike or run time was (my Garmin was on my bike and somehow I managed to stop my watch), I knew I had way too much left on my tank after the bike, but I also knew I was pretty happy with the run… I thought maybe I broke 1:40?? Well I didn’t, come to find out I ran 1:42:38 which for the speedy ladies in my AG might sound like nothing BUT that is my second best 13.1 (last year I did 1:41:52 on that race, course was a different one though). I am very happy with my run, I wish I had broken the 1:40 but I think if we wouldn’t have had the two miles up front I would have been able to (famous last words… could of, should of, would of).
Looking back I wish I had pushed harder on the bike, but you never know what would have happened with my run if I did. Overall I am happy the way things went, race conditions couldn’t have been any worse for me, I always wondered how I would like doing duathlons… well, I don’t, that is why I do TRIathlons. And for those thinking I am a whiner, I would LOVE to see some of you guys getting your run cancelled… and since we are at it lets put a little ‘warm down’ swim at the end of the race ;).
I learned a couple of things on this race, first of all I had the best race day nutrition to date which I am sure is what helped me stay consistent on my run, I also learned that if I think I can push harder on the bike odds are I CAN (especially if every time I look at my HR is not even in Z3!!)
I wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give a shout out to my weekend companions and they both had an awesome race. First of all Sami had a KILLER race, he crushed it and ended up 2nd in his AG. This was a great confidence booster for his upcoming IM and I can’t wait to see him race in Lanzarote. John, his partner in crime, also had an amazing race taking 4th in M45-49, these old guys can run!!
Carmen and the studds
It is pretty funny how last year I ended up 5th in my AG and couldn’t get a slot to Vegas, this year Sami and I had decided we are not going to do Vegas, he didn’t take his slot and I actually end up getting one on the roll down which I didn’t take either. Most people think that the older you get the easier is to place, well think twice, I ranked 8th in the F40-44, these ladies can run! It is becoming very clear that if I want to stay competitive at this distance a- I need a swim J and b- I NEED to bring my run under 1:40.
Next up for me is Knoxville Olympic, I am antsy to get to the start line. I know my run is better than last year and can’t wait to see what I can do on the bike.
Thank you to my sponsors for getting me to race day on top shape (PT Solutions, Muscle Milk and K-Swiss). To my coach Jeremy who always amazes me how he knows what to say (or not to say) to make sure I can have the best race (if it weren’t for him I would have shown up with my disc and needless to say that would have NOT been pretty). Lastly, thanks to the one person that ALWAYS makes this little escapades possible, my sister Raquel. She was yet again the champ this weekend, stayed with my two monsters and not even once I had to worry about how they were doing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Race Week and Overdue Kudos...

I can’t believe that it has been six months since I toed the start line at the Anderson, SC Half. This past months have been full with time with the family, good food, lots of training and of course a handful of setbacks. But thanks to one person I’ve come through the little bumps and I can not only say I am about to race the first tri of the year but on what I would consider a pretty good shape.

A couple of weeks a go I dedicated a blog to ‘my team’, talked about my family, my sponsors and all my friends who even without knowing it they have pushed me through the hard times in training. I have been meaning to follow up that one post with one more person, that no, I did not forget at the time but I just though he deserved his own post… my coach.
This is going to be my fourth season doing triathlons and third working with Jeremy (Sipos). Once hubby and I got bitten by the triathlon bug we knew we wanted to be as efficient with our training as possible. We ‘shopped’ around among some of the local and remote coaches and instantly decided on Jeremy.
I have to say that having an athletic background and always with a coach’s support I never thought I would be able to find a better fit than my former swim coach Paulus Willdeboer. Little did I know how much I had changed on the last 20 years of my life and how my coaching needs were sooo different than during my swimming years.
We met Jeremy and started working with him a month or so later (October 2009). I could right away tell this relationship was one to last. Sami and I are both pretty self-motivated, we know we want to do well and we know that it takes dedication, determination and HARD work (yes, I didn’t capitalized that work by accident). For those that know Jeremy it can’t come as a surprise to you that he meets all of those three as an athlete, but you probably don’t know that he also meets those as a coach. Jeremy has not only taken us to a level that I don’t think me or Sami ever thought we would be able to compete at but he has proved to us that he is in for the long run like we are.
I am not going to lie and say that I always like him, the last 3-4 weeks of a hard block, when volume picks up, you hurt all over and just want to REST his emails are not always welcome with a smile J. But I know ‘coach knows best’, I can’t help but smile as I type this as I can picture my daughter Nora singing to the soundtrack of the movie Tangle where they say ‘mother likes best’, I like to change the wording and sing it ‘coach knows best’.
Turning 39 has come with some up and downs (can’t wait to see what the 40s bring!!), I don’t get sick very often nor do I get injured, but on the last couple of months I had some ‘minor’ injuries and a couple of colds. Luckily I have been able to keep up with the training, and other than back in January when I was for 3-4 days when I couldn’t run or ride due to a knee injury I have been able to ‘keep moving’ through all the little bumps.
It always amazes me when I see people spending X amount of $$ on a coach and then doing their own thing. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I would trust Jeremy with my kids (although my kids LOVE Mr Jeremy and Mrs Elaine), but I can tell you that whatever he asks me to do I will do it. I think Sami and I have been very lucky to find him and his coaching style couldn’t be more fitting to us.
Usually at the end of my race reports I like to thank the family, Jeremy and all those I feel I owe it to, but so that I don’t have to write (or for you read) the same thing over and over I will just say it here, thank you Jeremy!
As I mentally prepare for Sunday’s race I know how I should race coming race day, like I told Jeremy at one point last year ‘think of it as I am your puppet and you the puppet master’. I know exactly what the plan is… pacing pacing pacing. Trust me when I say that word will be embedded on my head all day Sunday and hopefully everything will come together.
Race week butterflies or ‘butterfly kisses’ like my kids like to call it have started, I am pumped and excited to race and can’t wait to see everybody out on the course. Oh and by the way, for those that ‘feel sorry’ about themselves for getting older, think twice, me and my 40 year old+ peeps will be getting in the water the very first female amateur wave which is definitely a first for me!! (sorry John F and Haley!!!!!).
Hope everybody has a great week and safe travels to all our friends travelling to New Orleans, see you on the course!!!
Happy training!