Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Athletic Year in Review

Alright so I am not one to spend much time looking back and looking at what they did in the year as I spend so much time focusing my energy on what goals I want to accomplish....and what I am going to do to accomplish them.

However, 2015 was a stellar year that I have no idea how I could top in 2016!!  I wrote this down for myself, to remember what I accomplished...I am sometimes still shocked at how this idea I had one day of signing up for a local 10k has turned into this....

Before the year started, I found out I was privileged enough to make Team Wattie Ink.  I have really enjoyed racing on the team and the sponsors are so great to the team.  It is truly an honor.  And I am so excited to be on the team again for 2016. Thank you Wattie Ink, BlueSeventy, Speedfil, Herbalife 24, Rudy Project and the old and new sponsors for their support.

So the year started off with doing the USA Fit Marathon (2 months after a disastrous Ironman Cozumel).  I took a slight break from swimming and biking to get ramp up my run volume as fast and safe as I could.  I had the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The morning showed up, I started out a little ahead of pace (never a good idea) and about 5 miles in, a spectator said " You are the first women!"  Woah! Not used to that! So I made sure to keep it that way and ended up the overall winner and got my BQ time and PR'd in the process. Awesome!  And tied my super fast husband, Ryan Smith, for the most money won at a running race. :P (Seriously though, my husband is WAY faster than me and wins a LOT more than me.)

And then it was back to focusing on triathlons.  I attended the Wattie Ink camp in Clermont, Florida and we raced the Great Floridian Olympic Triathlon on the second to last day of camp and I surprised myself with a first place age group.  Not bad considering my old wetsuit would not zip! Soon after, this was replaced with the awesome BlueSeventy Helix which I love, love, LOVE!

Next, a friend loaned me a male sleeveless wetsuit lol for the Kemah Olympic (thanks Amanda) and I had a decent race there and ended up second in my age group.  I did this race to qualify and race Escape from Alcatraz in June.  They give a guaranteed registration slot to the first place age group winner.  Lucky for me, the girl who beat me was already registered this year and passed the spot down to me (thanks Becky!).

Next up was Ironman Texas.  It just wasn't my day considering I just wasn't feeling it.  Had come down with a cold the week before and just felt dead all week.  And of course the cold came back with a vengeance the day before the race.  Have you ever tried to swim when your nose is all congested and while needed to cough over and over again?!? Not fun!  But, I set a new Ironman PR regardless.

3 quick weeks later was Escape from Alcatraz.  I went into this race fully knowing I would be hurting and then wanted to take in the sights and race it easy.  Not the easiest race by far, but definitely one of the most memorable!  The swim was, so far, my second favorite swim ever (IM Cozumel will always be my favorite swim) and the bike was crazy fun.  I finished, and not as bad placement wise as I would've thought.

The week after that, I joined my JSC/SBS friends and competed in the Sylvan Beach Sprint Triathlon team challenge.  We ended up getting second and I somehow pulled off first in my age group.

I was planning on visiting my family for the family reunion at the end of July and saw that there was an Olympic triathlon in the town about an hour away.  Of course I signed up because I have always thought it would be awesome to do a triathlon in Michigan!!  Ryan, husband, signed up for the 5k they had with the race.  I ended up having a great day on the rolling bike and run course and won first overall. Ryan definitely won the 5k. And my parents got to watch me for the first time compete since I did track in high school. :)

Next up was Towne Lake Olympic Triathlon and I raced in the elite wave and got 6th.  Even though I didn't win any hardware, I walked away from that race feeling like a winner because I set a new PR of 2:20:05!! Woohoo!

Then was my second A race for the year - USAT Long Course National Championships, AKA Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma City, OK.  I had a great day there and just felt great the whole race, even though there were rollers, it was humid and like 80 or so degrees.  I set a new half ironman distance PR and won my age group and was age group national champion!!! And get to race for team USA at the Long Course World Championships at the end of September 2016!!

And then, I always wanted to Tri Andy's Tri and raced that in the middle of October and had a good race with first in my age group.

The only other race I did this year was the Turkey Trot 5K in my hometown. I was winning the entire race until in the last 400 or so meters, a girl outkicked me for the win. But I tied my 5K PR of 2 years ago which was definitely a surprise on very little speed work training.

AND I got accepted into the USAT coaching clinic which was in November in Salt Lake City.  It has been a dream of mine since starting to participate in these sports to share my passion for triathlon and running with other athletes and finally now, after passing with 100%, I can say I am a USAT level 1 certified coach.  If you are looking to improve at triathlon or do your first triathlon, you will soon be able to find me as a coach at TriDot!!  The new, totally revamped, cutting-edge website and system is set to go live very soon!  If you want a plan backed by math and science that takes the guesswork out of training while maximizing your training time, you should check them out! 

So to recap my year, I won two races for the first time in my life (never won a race before 2015), I set a PR at the marathon, Olympic triathlon, half ironman triathlon, and ironman triathlon and qualified for team USA and am now a certified triathlon coach.  Top that, 2016!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Houston Towne Lake Olympic Triathlon - Second Time Around

I started doing triathlon's in 2012.  I was a 3 time marathoner looking for the next challenge and turned to triathlons.  Never swam a length of the pool in my life.  So I joined a gym and eventually made it from one end to the other.  I am now up to 5 sprints, 5 Olympics (counting Escape from Alcatraz as an Olympic...), 5 Half Ironmans and 3 Ironmans.  I have progressively gotten better due to smart training and the time put in.  Four of the Olympics I have done were this year.  I had avoided the Olympic distance due to being a strong biker and runner and well, my swim is/was a work in progress.  The Olympic distance favors the swim so not my strength.  But here's the thing, I have progressively gotten better at swimming and don't mind the distance now.  Want to know how I got from a 2:24 per 100 meters to 1:42 per 100 meters in two years? Well, you keep showing up.  You may be frustrated at times with all the faster people in the pool making you feel slow, but if you keep showing up and putting the work in AND focus on improving one little thing form wise each time, you will get better!!!  And sometimes be the fastest person in the pool ;)

Enough on that...

I raced Towne Lake Olympic tri in 2013 as my first ever Olympic triathlon.  I got second in my age group with a time of 2:31:40. The race director posted on Thursday that they were looking for more people for the elite invitational wave, so I sign on for my first ever invitational wave.

The race is on Labor Day which is definitely different than most races.  I didn't taper for this race as this is not my A race.  I am racing again in a couple weeks. And this was my first time doing an invitational wave.  I wasn't really planning on a crazy PR or anything, just wanted to test my fitness.

Lined up and waited for the gun to go off.

Swim 2013 time: 36:04 (see, I told you I was a slow swimmer)
Swim 2015 time: 25:34 (new Olympic swim PR)
So on Saturday night, they posted that a few pros in town were going to join us for the swim.  So I can now say I raced in the same wave as pros.  Actually the girl that won, Lisa Roberts, won Ironman France and the guy that won, Matt Hanson, won Ironman Texas, so I swam with celebrities. :) Well, actually it was more like we started together as I ate their "dust" quickly.  LOL  All in all, this was my best swim yet in a race.  I feel like I have finally learned to swim straighter and site better.  I took one buoy too wide, though, as I noticed a fast guy from the wave behind me cut that corner and I didn't.  Whoops!!  Anyways, I had a great swim in my BlueSeventy Swim skin.
I seriously love this picture - channeling Andy Potts LOL!!!
On to my favorite part - the bike.  So I have only been riding a bike now for 3.5 years and it amazes me at how fast sometimes I can get going.  I looked down at my watch several times and it said I was going upwards of 24 mph.  BUT my overall pace says 22.7 due to the course having some winding sections when you first start the loop (which you do twice) that I slowed down for.  I also went the wrong way once and had to turn around at one point.  The cop looked like he was telling me to turn and so I turned, but then he started yelling at me to turn around.  My mistake.  I passed a few people on the bike, but not as many as I am used to...due to having a slower swim and passing everyone from previous waves.  Being in the first wave meant nearly all clear roads!! Yay!!
Bike 2013: 1:04:30
Bike 2015: 1:02:00 (New Olympic PR)
As crazy as I thought it sounded before, I may have a sub 1:00 Olympic bike in my future!! Love my new Diamondback bike!!! And thanks to the sponsors for their support in my speedy machine! (Rudy Project, Speedfil, ISM Seats)

So, I failed to mention that humidity was at 98%.  >:{ Man that run sucked.  I usually am passing people on the run the entire way.  Well I still was passing people, but actually got passed by 3 people.  That rarely happens.  I bonked, I guess, and ran no where near my potential.  BUT I am over it.  It was a rough run and everyone else times slowed too due to the humidity.  I love my Wattie Ink trucker hat and kit.  So comfy even though I am dripping sweat. :)
Run 2013: 45:05
Run 2015: 49:16  :(

BUT here's the best part.  I set a new Olympic triathlon PR by far!!!
2013: 2:31:40
2015: 2:20:05 !!!

So considering I set a new PR without a true taper and I had a bad run, I know that one day I will achieve my life goal of going under 2:20!!!  I can think of at least 5 ways I could've saved 6 seconds. ;) Anyways, stick with it!! You never know what you could accomplish until you tri!  (LOL sounds so cheesy!) 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon Race Report

The Escape From Alcatraz race is pretty well known in the triathlon world and a lot of people consider it a bucket list race. I read somewhere that 6700 people enter the lottery to get one of the 2,000 slots. And there were the few people there because they qualified at an Escape To Alcatraz race. I received a rolled down slot at Kemah Triathlon this past April and was super excited to get the slot!!   The event takes place in none other than San Francisco. The swim is chilly in the bay, the bike is hilly and the run has an infamous sand ladder and lots of running on the sand. It was surprise to me, however, to hear that 79% of the athletes racing were men....where were all the ladies!?

I arrived into San Francisco early on Friday morning (2 hours behind makes an early flight even earlier), retrieved my Ruster sports bike and wheel bags (I just carried on my purse and my Ironman Texas bag otherwise) and took to the BART (their subway). I was booked at the Parc 55 hotel just off of Union Square and the Powell Street station. Bad part was that the elevator at the station was put so I carried all my stuff up three flights of stairs. But I don't regret doing this over Tri Bike Transport as I saved myself $500 checking I myself. And taking apart a bike takes like 5 minutes and putting it together is pretty much the same - it is not that difficult! Anyways, the hotel was one block from the station and lucky for me, the room was ready when I got there. Awesome hotel - great location next to prime tourist spots. However, I would not recommend anyone doing the triathlon to stay there. It was almost comical how many people that I mentioned the race to in passing near the hotel had no idea about this race. People that lived there. And let me just say that San Fran has some of the nicest people! From the ladies that sat next to me on the bus, to the guys that gave me directions, to the servers to the person that explained hoe the bus system in town worked, it was refreshing. And there was a surprising amount of active people there, running and biking around town.

The reason why I don't recommend staying where I did was that the race site was an $19 cab ride away. I needed a cab for the bike. But luckily they do run at 3am, when I ordered pick up for me and the bike. The buses doesn't operate that early.

So Friday at 5:30pm, there was an optional meeting at the Sports Basement that was optional. Since I came in town early enough, I had plenty of time before the meeting, so I did some site seeing. Being as this was my second time in San Fran, I had seen most of the sites before so did more casual walking tour. Not ideal for serious races. But I was just racing this for fun...sometimes I take myself too seriously...since I just had done Ironman Texas three weeks before. Which according to a man irt at the airport trip return home, makes me pretty hardcore. Lol. So I took the cable car from Union square area and then to the end to Fisherman's Warf. This area or closer to Marina Green is where I suggest athletes to stay. Just past Bay as it kind of turns into Marina Street, there is a very nice paved path that lots of local bikers and runners are active on and affords nice views of the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. Sports Basement was in the Presidio area, so I basically did some window shopping, stopped by Ghirardelli's Square, got some hot chai tea, watched people swim on the beach and spent some time chilling in the park. I slowly walked the rest of the way to the meeting. Whig there was a short presentation on of race tips and a small question answer period with 5 pros. And 50 giveaways. I didn't win anything. And the information covered in this meeting was also covered almost verbatim in the mandatory athlete meeting. So no need to attend unless you feel lucky. I caught a cab (should've uber it) back to the hotel and ate at the restaurant there.

Saturday morning I got up and did a quick bike around Union Square at 6am.  Being as I was still used to central time, I had no problems this entire trip getting up that early.  It was great biking around the town when everyone else is sleeping - it is surreal.  I recommend everyone that ever travels to get up early to view the city on two feet.  Anyways, a quick run off the bike and shower later, I headed to a local diner for breakfast.  Note: food in San Francisco is fairly expensive.  I then took the bus to Marina Green to pick up my race packet.  I got there at about 11:30am and the line was crazy long.  All in all, I think I waited in line for an hour.  I stood next to a man and his wife from Australia and learned a bit about their triathlon world in Australia.  Have to do one out there some day.  On Saturday, you have the option of dropping of a swim exit bag, for the long run (.5 mile) to transition.  I didn't elect to do this.  More on that later.  I got all of my stuff squared away and took the bus (public transportation in San Fran is great) back to near the hotel.  I grabbed a sandwich from Walgreens and then chillaxed at the hotel watching movies.  I ordered food to go from a local Italian restaurant one block away and then went to bed early.  7:30pm.

Sunday morning, I got up and had a banana, two PowerBars, Herbalife 24 Hydrate and on the cab ride, Herbalife 24 Prepare.  I had pre-ordered a cab the night before for 4am as transition opened at 4:30am and the cab, a Prius, was ready for me and my bicycle promptly.  Took the quick cab ride to Marina Green and hopped in line to have air put in my tires.  If you can, bring your own as the lines were long.  I went and set up my transition area and was ready to go by 5:15am or so and hopped on the shuttle that would take us to the boat that I would later jump off of. The ride was a quick 10 - 15 minutes and then everyone went towards the boat.  There was another set of port o potties there and after a quick stop, got on the boat. 

I was on the boat from like 5:45am until I jumped off.  It was a one way trip. :) I brought on board my Blue Seventy swim socks, my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit, a latex cap and the race cap they provided and my trusty tinted googles.  I was already wearing half of my wetsuit at this point as I am from Texas and it was a little chilly for me.  And I wore the swim socks sort of as shoes... I sat next to a girl and we chatted for a bit the entire ride.  Honestly it went by quick!  Then everyone started standing and I knew it was time to put on the rest of my wetsuit.  Before I knew it, the cannon went off and the pros dived in.  And then it was a mad rush to get off the boat.  Everyone that was under 40 was on the lower level and 40 and up were on the upper level.  You jump off of the lower level.  I opted not to wear a neoprene cap.  Obviously, the water was going to be cold, but I have never swam in before and knew I would be fine.  Looking around the boat at what everyone else was wearing, about 25% had neoprene caps, 60% had swim socks and 99% had wetsuits (yes, some people did the swim without a wetsuit!) 

Anyways, I finally saw the opening and it was my turn to jump in, feet first for non-pros, and off I go.  So everyone is like, OMG, I could never do that race because that water is so COLD.  Well, yes, it was cold.  But I had been taking cold showers for a week leading up to the race, no joke, without a wetsuit on! So I knew what it would feel like, sort of.  So I get in the water and the ONLY thing that was cold was my face. It was quite shocking.  But I was thinking more like, hmm, which way should I angle myself.  In the pre-race meeting, they stressed over and over again, swim to the left early on to get the best of the current.  So I did.  And as soon as I thought that, I was no longer thinking the water was cold, but that it was refreshing.  Which it was.  In Texas, the water is like 80+ degrees right now.  The bay was about 57.  So I got in a grove early and had very few interruptions (i.e. people bumping into me) the entire swim.  There were no buoys in the water and I actually quite enjoyed that.  It makes sighting more real and it feel more like an open water swim, if that makes any sense.  I kept left the entire swim and focused on swimming as straight as possible and did not draft at all.  They had kayaks a ways off to the right and left and I kept where I could always see them on my left, not right. And something else everyone says about that swim is that it is so wavy and hard to sight.  Maybe God smiled on us, but honestly, I didn't think it was that bad!  I swam the 1.5 mile swim in just over 38 minutes and considering I had done a 1500m swim in the ocean at a race in April in 33 minutes, I think I had a fantastic swim.  Not to mention that I exited with strong looking men and hardly any females. 

As soon as you get out of the water, on the beach there is a pre-transition transition.  You have the option of leaving a bag at the swim exit for a pair of shoes, a towel and bottle of water, checked like any other transition bag.  I opted not to leave anything for the .5 mile run as I would be fine just running in my swim socks.  That and they said that these bags would not be available for pick up until 1pm after the race.  So this run was pretty uneventful.  It is always surprising to me how slow some people run after they swim, as they get to transition.

I had a mental moment and ran past my bike, twice, trying to find it.  No matter.  Found my bike, ran to near transition, put the shoes on, (I can't run in these shoes and my flying mount is a work in progress) and off I went.  With 2000 of my tri friends. :)  There was never a moment on the entire 18 mile hilly ride where I had the road all to myself.  So you start off on a little bit of straight aways and then the fun begins. I rode my TT bike with a 11-27 cassette on my 80 carbon front and back race wheels. For people considering doing this race, I would recommend the road bike for better handling as there was very few spots where I actually got in the aero bars.  But I don't own a road bike, so..... I would also recommend not so deep of a wheel for the lighter folks as there were a few crosswinds off the ocean.  Not that bad but worth a thought.  And at least that cassette for sure.  So, I live in flat lands Texas where there are really not any hills.  The things we call hills pale in comparison to that of San Fran.  The course was out and back so every hill you went up, you would have to go down on the way back and vice versa.  I would highly recommend you to drive the course the day before to see what you have to do as there are some tight turns coming off of a hill that would be quite shocking if you were not prepared.  Being as I didn't have a rental car, I went to trusty U-Tube and watched a guy's post of him biking the entire course.  Very helpful.  Anyways, there was one hill on the course that was like never ending.  You make a turn and go up.  Then you make another turn and go up.  At this point I was already in the easiest gear as well I don't do hills often (and hey, it looked like everyone else was in lowest gear too).  You turn another slight corner and then you realize you need to go up more.  Yikes.  I imagine some people got off and walked it.  But not the people around me, which there was probably like 10 of us attacking the hill.  There was some grunting and standing and very slow cadence involved with getting up this hill.  At the end of the day, the up hills were fine.  I just hated flying down some of these hills with so many people next to me and not knowing where they are at with their bike handling skills.  All in all, the 18 miles was ridden in similar time to my normal 25 mile time.  I won't even tell you my average mph...

Pull into transition and throw on my trusty Asics noosa tri shoes and off I go.  I should have worn socks.  But I have worn those shoes over 20 times without socks for similar distance without socks no problem.  I didn't really think of how I didn't have a big toenail (thank Ironman Texas 3 weeks prior of that one) and how much sand was going to get into my shoe and how that was going to feel.  So the run starts off on a hardened sandy path and then you run for a ways and then up like 30 steps to the road.  Then down a mountain bike looking path and then to the beach.  At the beach this year was a turnaround and a water station.  There was loose sand here.  The second my shoes hit the beach, sand got everywhere.  And I stopped dead in my tracks due to the pain on my big toe, that didn't have a nail on it.  Lucky for me, there was an aid station a few hobbles away and I stopped there and asked if they had an aid station.  It was unbearable pain and I was hoping for a bandaid at least.  I was okay with loosing a couple minutes to finish this race feeling okay.  I was here for the experience and didn't have any goals but to finished and knew I would at this point, preferably running, not walking.  They searched for a first aid kit and I used a cleaning wipe to clean off the tip of my big toe which had lost several layers of skin where the nail used to be and had sand in it.  Ewww.  And took big gauze and wrapped it with tape around my entire toe.  Problem semi solved. I knew at the end of the beach run part was the sand ladder and needed to be better for that.  So I gave it a run after the wrapped toe and it was painful but bearable.  So I half walk jogged up the sand ladder (it was pretty congested here and lots of slow walking folks).  It is a sand ladder as it says.  There are steps semi built in this very steep cliff that are completely covered in sand.  They say to use the ropes and step on the steps but that didn't work that well for me.  Anyways made it up that few hundred steps and then off to the road and down the previous steps (very congested! One lane only!) and back on the harded path and around to a very welcoming, loud finish line. 

It was an awesome finish line!  Straight to the food tent and got some chicken broth and pasta and bread.  They also offered salad....seriously people?  Salad after working out a couple hours. lol!  If you have people waiting for you at the finish line, I highly suggest you have them ready with warm clothes as the breeze off the ocean can get chilly.  I went to transition to grab my wallet and bought the race jacket (very nice!!), cycling socks and coffee cup.  I figured this was a souvenir worthy race!  Then went to get myself a beer at the Sierra Nevada trailer (not free, purchased) and chilled out for a while.  Then called for a cab, waited FOREVER!!! for my cab and chilled in my hotel before seeing the rest of town that I didn't get a chance to see earlier that week.  And gone the next day!

So I have gotten asked a lot in the last week if I would do this again.  And the answer is HELL yes!  The race was awesome.  And the second time around, I would actually "race" it as I would know what to expect.  Thanks to Wattie Ink and all sponsors for their support in the sport I love. What should my next challenge be?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ironman Texas 2015 - 2nd go around

I debated with myself for a good month after Ironman Cozumel if I ever wanted to do another Ironman.  I figured after a less than stellar day there, I owed it to myself to try and do another one.  So I found a spot for Ironman Texas and registered.  I did Ironman Texas in 2013 and had some nutrition issues which made for a tough race so I wanted to see how I could do 2 years later.

My lead up to the race was okay.  I did a couple of race day simulations and nailed them.  BUT after doing my long run two weeks before the race, I got sick.  I felt like my throat was sore after my run, just thought I was thirsty? and then that night we went to see the new Avengers movie (great movie) and towards the end of the movie, I felt like someone took the wind out from under my sails.  The next day I could barely breathe and I called off of work.  I went to work the next day which was a terrible decision and was totally out of it. And then the same with the next.  That entire week, I did not work out as I barely could breathe.  That Saturday I did a relay that had me running 1.5 miles and it went better than I would have expected but it still hurt like hell.  The next day I did a very EASY 3 hours on the bike and the rest of the week, I just tried to get better and do as minimal as possible.  Let's just say that I over tapered.

I left work early on Thursday to pick up my race packet and visited the Wattie Ink tent (I am on the Wattie Ink team) and met Wattie himself!  Friday I did a quick run around my neighborhood, went to the practice swim, came back home to get the bike and gear check items and then back to drop them off at transition.  Which was disgusting!  The mud was all over the place and it smelled terrible, like manure.  It was raining the few days up to the race and that is what caused the mud.  Anyways, racked my bike and covered it up with trash bags and went home to chill on the couch.  While I was chillaxing, I noticed that my throat was again sore and nose was running.  Not ideal conditions for the day before an Ironman.  Had my regular dinner of baked chicken, sweet potato and sautéed spinach and then in bed by 8pm.  And slept all night.  I know a lot of people have trouble sleeping the night before a race and I did when I first started doing triathlons, but now I seem to be able to sleep all night.

Race morning was paleo pancakes with banana, walnuts and syrup and then some Herbalife 24 hydrate, a decaf coffee and a Herbalife 24 prepare.  Parked by the mall and then walked to transition. Set up my bike and then walked to the swim start.  Checked my bags and got in line for the swim.

This year was the first year that they did a rolling start for Ironman Texas.  Basically like a running race, you self seed yourself based on what swim time you think you will have.  I seeded myself aggressively by the 1:10 mark.  I did a 1:07 in Cozumel and so it was hard to guess where I need to stand.  Some people don't like the rolling start but actually I liked it.  It seemed to space everyone out more on the bike a little.  The thing I didn't like was when it was time to go all they said was "GO" no air horn or cannon!  That takes away a little of the feeling of the mass start.

I wore my Blueseventy swim skin, Wattie Iink team shorts and Wattie Ink sports bra with my heart rate strap already on.  So we walk into the water and then we dive in.  And start swimming.  There was quite a bit of rough swimming for a while, only got one really good elbow.  Which thankfully was not to the goggles.  Anyways, after I got in the water, I swam the entire way. At a comfortable race pace.  I know I could have swam more aggressively but I didn't want to overdue it since I still felt sick.  And I certainly was.  Did you know that you can have a coughing attack while swimming?  I do know as I had 3 over the 2.4 miles.  And when I first got in the water, my nose was stuffed so I was having trouble breathing but eventually it cleared and it was swimming as normal.  I found myself at times getting scattered brained like loosing track of forward movement which I tend to have happen in open water, but then pulled it together.  Best way for me to swim open water is to focus on getting buoy to buoy and just take one at a time and don't worry about the big picture.  That gets overwhelming as it seems so long otherwise and sometimes feels like you are going no where fast. 

2013 swim time: 1:39:04 2:33/100m
2015 swim time: 1:12:50 1:53/100m

So what did I do differently from 2013?  Well, leading up to 2103, I had felt like I could teach myself how to swim.  Wrong.  Oh and I had some panic attacks.  I joined a master swim class for all of 2014 (it hasn't worked into my schedule for 2015 yet) and that made a huge difference.  If I want to keep on moving forward, there is more drill work and hard internals in the future!  But I am quite happy with that time as it got me out of the water in 15th in my age group.

2013 T1: 7:36
2015 T1: 4:35

Every minute counts!  I taped up my transition bag with a special design in black duct tape so I wouldn't run past it.  Normally I run past my transition bag (did in 2013) and then have to back track to it.  I ran with my bag to the tent, took off the cap, goggles, swimskin and put on my Wattie Ink team bike jersey, helmet with visor and held my shoes.  Thankfully, with the muddy transition, they had little kiddie pools by the exit of transition for us to clean off our feet.  And some really nice volunteers splashed my legs with water.  I put on my shoes and runish to the mount like.  I hate running in bike shoes.  Hop on the bike and off I go. 

About 5 minutes in, I go to blow my nose and my visor popped off.  I should have checked it before running out of transition.  Plus it felt like my back brake was rubbing.  So I hopped off, checked the brake, clipped the visor in and off I went.  While on Woodlands Parkway, an Escalade pulled out in front of me to cross the road and I had to slam on my brakes which caused me to slide sideways a little and luckily just missed the car and didn't wipe out.  That's one way to spike the heart rate!!

112 miles is a long way but I have trained prior to getting sick, at an aggressive power that I had maintained for my long rides.  But this day, I just wasn't feeling it.  I normally have a whole another gear but I guess with being still sick and my over taper, I just didn't have anything more.  I felt really bad at mile 30ish and just couldn't get myself to pee on the bike, so the next aid station, I took a few minutes to get off and go to the port o potty.  Which was down hill and incredibly difficult to get out of in cycling shoes without slipping. :)  Back on the bike and I still felt so out of it.  My visor had popped back off at mile 10ish and I had been riding without a visor/sunglasses for almost two hours.  It had been overcast so it didn't really bother me.  But then the sun came out in full force and I decided to stop again and pop the visor back in.  I got the attention of a motorcycle cop who was just what I needed at that point.   I asked him to try to snap back in my visor, which he couldn't, and then I got it in myself.  I was chatting with him, telling him I seriously just wanted to quit and he said that you are doing better than me by just starting.  Nice man.  Also, at that point, I was more concerned with how I would get back so I decided to just keep on going.  The ride took more out of me than it ever normally does so it just wasn't my day.  I have never been passed so many times on the bike before.  I now know what the faster swimmers/slower bikers feel like, getting passed over an over. :/

At 80% of the water stations, I squeezed water over my jersey, in my mouth and in my speedfill aero water bottle.  As far as the rest of my nutrition, I had 3 bottles filled with Herbalife 24 prolong, 1.5 Powerbar performance energy peanut butter chocolate bar, Powerbar cola blast energy chews and a Gatorade hand up at the last couple aid stations.  I also had 1 Energy Lab electrolyte tab every 30 minutes.

2013 bike: 6:08:11
2015 bike: 6:06:52 

Considering how much faster I have been on the bike last year, this is disappointing.  But in 2013, I didn't stop at all and in 2015, I stopped 3 times, so I guess that is good??

2013 T2: 9:41
2015 T2: 5:11

So, as I was running from where I dropped off my bike, I was unzipping and taking off my jersey (ran in sports bra and shorts for the run), taking off my helmet, quickly found my run bag taped in black and got in the tent.  Where I had the best volunteer.  She brought over water for my muddy feet while I put on my Injinji toe socks and Asic zoosa tri shoes. I clipped on my belt that had my 6 gels and electrolyte tabs and put on my shades and off I went.  I was one of the few people that wasn't wearing a hat.  Everyone had a hat or visor on to help with ice to the head and shade.  But on long runs, wearing a hat or even a visor feels like it squeezes my brains and causes me to overheat so I just can't wear them.  The downside is that my hair is long and usually my French braid as a few fly aways that are annoying but I will take that over a head ache!

I ran through the first couple aid stations tossing water over my head and then realized that I was going to need to walk the aid stations.  I have a very high sweat ratio and I need to consume at least 2 - 3 cups of fluid at every aid station in that kind of heat to keep performing.  Unfortunately learned this the hard way.  And everyone else was walking the aid stations.  I tell you, it is really hard to walk for a minute and then get back to running.  That is what makes this race so tough.  Your body is saying F this and you are like do I really want to do this, yes you can do this.  I personally have arguments with myself in my head all of the run about walk or run.  Anyways, I found a slow pace that I could run forever and stuck to it and ran from aid station to aid station.  It is the hardest on the last lap because a majority of the people are walking so it is so hard to keep running when everyone else is walking.  Kind of draining.  But someone had a sign along the run course that said "it's all about that pace, that pace, no quitting" that I found myself singing at a couple points. Thanks for that sign, whoever put that up there.  I did Gatorade for two aid stations in a row then a couple waters with a tab and Powerbar gel every 3 miles and put ice water over my head and ice down the front and back of the sports bra and shorts.  Towards the end of the second lap, I added coke into the mix and the last lap, I took one of their gus at mile 21 and grabbed more salt out of my special needs bag on the last lap.  I did stop 3 times to use the port o potty which is pretty much the same as the last time I raced here.  Last lap was incredibly tough as I could feel my heart rate spiking a little and my breathing being more labored but wanted to get it over with. :D  Ran up to the finish line and for the first time since being married, heard, Claudia Smith, you are an IRONMAN!

2013 Run: 4:53:48
2015 Run: 4:23:53

I really thought I would run faster as I run 1 - 2 minutes/mile faster on my long runs in training but all in all, I guess I can't complain.

2013 total time: 12:58:20 31 in AG 30 - 34
2015 total time: 11:53:21 16th in AG 30 - 34

Honestly I was expecting more from myself but can't be that disappointed as this is a new PR for me!!

Aftermath:  I had a Herbalife Rebuild endurance shake as soon as I picked up my morning clothes bag and tried to eat a Powerbar protein bar.  The back of my legs were/are pretty tight and there is a massage scheduled for Tuesday.  Hobbled back to my bike and off to Ginos for pizza.  And I had blood blisters under both of my big toe nails.  Probably will be loosing one or two in the future.

I have to take a moment to thank Wattie Ink and the sponsors (Blueseventy, Speedfill, Rudy Project, ISM, Powerbar and Herbalife) for their support on this journey.

I also have to thank my husband, Ryan, for his support of this crazy hobby of mine.  He would normally have pictures for me to share (he brought his very nice camera) but he raced in a beer mile that morning as part of the Jockstrap Catapult IM Texas festivities, which was his first one and he ran a 6:46 which is like good for 150th in the country???  And a few jello shots later, him and all of the JSC crew were cheering on the runners in their underwear.  But I looked forward to that part of the run every lap. Thanks for the cheers.  And thanks to all of the volunteers - amazing!

Next up is Escape from Alcatraz on June 7th, so after a week off this week, I am going to do some easy sessions to just experience that race.  Then I have a little gap to fill before the half in Redman at the end of September.  Future focus is building on my speed on the bike and run and maintaining the improvements on the swim.

I think this may be my last ironman for a while.  I do so much better at shorter stuff. And while it still hurts doing shorter stuff, it is more my style of hurt!  On to the next one...

Kemah Triathlon 2015

So, I promised someone that I was going to write up a blog about this race, and here I am a months later.  LOL.

Race morning started like any other.  With the addition of seeing definite rain in the forecast.  Was afraid there would be lightning but thankfully it held off for us to race!

Kemah Olympic Triathlon is unlike most other triathlons because you get to jump off of a paddle boat.  Everyone has to be on their boat by 6am and then the boat slowly takes you out to the starting point 1500 meters from shore.  The swim is pretty straight forward as you just pretty much swim in a straight line to shore. 

On the boat, I hung out with my JSC/SBS friends and we all jumped off the boat one after the other.  I had ordered a wetsuit as my last one's zipper was broken and was tossed, but unfortunately it didn't arrive in time for the race.  Luckily enough, my friend Amanda had a sleeveless wetsuit that no one claimed that fit me great. Anyways, since the start was a rolling self seeded jump off the boat start, it was hard to figure out where you placed as it did take 15 minutes for everyone to get off the boats.  We were towards the back of the line.

It came my turn to jump off the boat, maybe 10 foot jump??, into the water and placed my hands over my goggles so they didn't get knocked off and in I went.  I have been working a lot on my swim.  I have previously always gotten out of the water towards the middle of my age group and then passed a lot of people on the bike and run.  Something about open water, I get so confused and scatter brained.  It's like I swim myself in circles and prevent myself from moving forward.  Anyways, I told myself on this day that I would swim the entire time and only stop for dire circumstances (water up the nose, choking, goggles off, etc.). So after I jumped I got in my grove and had an okay swim.  Note: I took a good elbow to the face as I passed a dude and then had to fix the goggles and then back to swimming.  Seeding wise, should have jumped sooner but oh well.  There was plenty of space for me to swim.  Swam in 32:21(2:09 per 100m) which was good enough from 3rd in my age group.  I guess everyone else had a rough swim.

Seriously, I never take a good swim exit photo.
A little jog to transition on concrete to the bike and off I went. Or so I thought.  I had my bike shoes rubber banded on my bike and the right shoe had somehow snapped as I ran it out of transition.  I didn't realize this until after I hopped on my bike and it rubbed on the ground and then unclipped itself.  And of course I was rolling at this point, so I had to turn me around and go pick it up and dodge people going out for their bike ride.  And a volunteer was yelling at me to get out of the way and I was like, I will get out the way after I get my shoe.  Anyways, put my shoe on then hoped on the bike.  Annoying. It was raining at a decent rate at this point and there are few spots on the road that had little pebbles and dirt so everyone looked kind of like they pooped their pants after they got off the bike. :D There was a few pot holes so between dodging those and passing people, the ride went by quick.  But again, should have jumped sooner so I wouldn't have had to do quite so much dodging.  Average watts: 230 for a time of 1:09:29 21.4 mph
They see me rollin'
Had a more successful dismount and sprinted to re-rack my bike.  Since I had Ironman Texas in a few weeks, I didn't want to get any blisters by running barefoot, so I put socks on.  I have, since this race, found a pair of shoes that I can actually run in for 6 miles without blisters, so next race I will wear those! Anyways, set to work on the run, my first couple miles being faster than the last two as I was a little too aggressive (uh a 10k is not a 5k) and ran with my heart rate through the roof.  Ran a 42:46 10k which is a 6:54 pace.
I would like to think I look tough in this photo. :D
Overall time 2:28:44 good for 2nd in my age group which I lost 1st just by over a minute.
So, something else awesome about this race is that you can bypass the lottery for Escape From Alcatraz race in San Francisco by winning your age group.  I was really gunning for 1st in my age group because I have wanted to do Alcatraz ever since I have first heard about it.  So I was pretty bummed after I heard that I was 2nd in my age group.  I approached the girl that won the age group asking if she was going to take it and she said she was a maybe. 

That's me in the pink
Well, if the first place person doesn't take the slot, they do roll it down.  The roll down process was slower that Ironman (you get an email in the middle of the week after the event if you get the slot, and then it is rolled down.)  The girl who beat me, found me on Facebook to let me know that she was not going to take the slot as she is already registered for this year and doesn't want to do it next year, so I got the slot!!  YAY!  I let them know I wanted to do it this year, so I am all registered to do it this year on June 7th!! Seriously can't wait!!