Monday, December 30, 2013

Pecan Maca Nut Butter

There are many different nut butters on the shelves of the grocery stores, but I love making my own because you can nutritionally supercharge your nut butter.

Here is a quick and easy recipe for Pecan Maca Nut Butter:

4 cups raw pecans
2 cups cashews
1 tbsp maca powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

On my way back from Kona, I stopped in Los Angeles to spend some more time with Lindsey and see her mom.  I could never live in LA, but I absolutely love visiting and love the food. We went on a bit of a post Ironman food tour and hit up some of my favorite spots. I can't go to LA without going to Erewhon. I might be one of the only people who equates a grocery store to my mecca, but it is absolutely amazing. I got some really good stuff there, but one thing in particular I had never seen at a health store...Real Coconut Yogurt. Not the ultra processed coconut yogurt that is filled with junk that sits on the shelves around here, but real coconut yogurt. 3 ingredients. Coconut meat, coconut kefir, coconut water. I was determined to recreate this. Yogurt is great for digestive health, but dairy is very inflammatory and hard to digest. Most yogurt on the shelves aren't from grass fed cows. And most yogurts are filled with preservatives, sugars, artificial sugars and just general junk.. even the dairy-free kinds.
After googling some recipes, I realized there were several different ways to make it. Kefir grains, kefir powder, probiotic capsules. By chance, I follow someone on Instagram who posted her homemade coconut yogurt that very day. I asked her what she used and she sent me this link:
So I set off to Whole Foods and bought my coconuts. My plan was to just buy some probiotic capsules as mentioned in this recipe, but while in the supplement refrigerated section, I found coconut kefir in coconut water. PERFECT!

Once I got home, getting the coconuts open was a bit of a challenge. 

Hatcheting away with a cleaver finally broke the top off coconut. And yes, I still have all my fingers.

I drank the coconut water inside the coconut. And took a spoon and scraped out all the coconut meat. 

Homemade Nourishing Coconut Yogurt:
16 oz of young thai coconut meat (or 2 coconuts worth)
1 cup of Inner-Eco Fresh Harvested Coconut Water Dairy-Free Probiotic Kefir

(If you can't find the Inner Eco, then use 1 cup coconut water and dump the contents of 2 capsules of probiotics. You can use the coconut water from inside the coconut or a raw coconut water like Harmless Harvest). 

Blend together until smooth. 

Let it sit for 10-12 hours in a glass jar or bowl on a counter covered with a cheese cloth.

Makes about 2 cups. 
Refrigerate and Enjoy!

I topped mine with raw cacao beans and banana. But you could top with any fruit, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, dried fruit, granola, nuts, etc. 

I am on a mission to find frozen young thai coconut meat. I love the idea of opening and scraping a coconut for fresh meat, but the process is a bit time consuming. Having coconut yogurt on hand while training will be great, but I won't have as much time to hatchet away at coconuts once everything starts up again. I heard Exotic Superfoods has a good one, but they aren't in the Boston area. So if anyone knows where to buy Frozen Raw Young Thai Coconut meat in the Boston area, please let me know!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ironman World Championships- Kona Race Report

Around this time last year, a co-worker at the time and friend Ryan hung up a piece of paper that said “Cool $hit I want to do.” He looked at me and said “Kate, I feel like you have a lot of cool things you want to do.” Most people were writing things like Sky Diving, traveling to cool places, etc. I took the pen and wrote down “Run down Ali’i Drive.” “That’s it?” “Yeah, for right now... that’s it.”
Fast forward to Mont Tremblant in August, I was given that opportunity when I qualified and got my Kona spot. A dream that even a year ago seemed so distant. I don't have a background in any of the 3 disciplines and it has taken a lot of heart, passion and hard work to punch my ticket to the big island.  The road from Ironman Mont Tremblant to Kona was definitely not all rainbows and butterflies. It was probably one of the most mentally challenging training blocks I have experienced. My body was tired, mentally I was tired and most of my training peeps were in their off-season and had dialed back the training big time. I had a lot of solo training, though I was extremely fortunate to have several people step up to the plate and train with me. As much as I hate to admit it, I hit some bad mental lows. There was a 5 hour solo ride where I pulled over to pee and just sat leaning up against a tree and cried. I had moments of crying in the pool, crying on the trainer. As much as I absolutely love the training and the journey, I was bound to hit some bumps in the road after a long season. Though these rough times made me mentally stronger.
As I was finishing off my final training sessions before getting on that plane, I just felt like my legs didn’t have the snap. It was the first time I felt like I was going into doing an Ironman not fully feeling my best. But it was Kona and I was beyond thrilled that I was going to be toeing the line with the best in the world.
I arrived to Kona on the Tuesday before the race. I spent the next couple of days picking up my bike from Tribike Transport, registering, and doing some last final training sessions with Brigitte, Tara, Steve, Joe and Molly. I was so happy to have some QT2 people to train and hang out with. The first practice swim was unforgettable. The whole environment was incredible. Getting in that water and just realizing I was in Kona was so surreal. Everything I had watched on TV for years was right in front of me. The water was clear and gorgeous. My body was happy to be in the warm weather and warm water. I was starting to feel like I could do this thing.

At the QT2 Breakfast, Cait Snow had warned all of us newbies that bike check-in was quite the experience. I didn’t appreciate quite what she meant until I got down to the pier. There were regular people just spectating the whole event. Bike vendors had set up camp and were giving out t-shirts to athletes who were riding their brand of bike. I walked through the crowd and arrived at check-in and it was like walking the red carpet. Journalists and vendors were camped out with clip boards taking counts of the brand of  bike, helmet, saddle, bike components, and wheels that the athletes were riding.  People were taking pictures, and then there were just regular people not in the industry there just to watch the whole brigade. 

I got to the pier and had my own volunteer to walk me through the whole bike check-in and bike/run bag drop off. It was sinking in that I was going to be doing an Ironman the next day.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing with my feet up.

 We had an early dinner and was in bed early. Like at Mont Tremblant, I was very grateful that I was able to sleep the whole week leading up to the race and the night before the race. Hopefully this will be the new trend for future races.

As we were driving to drop me off, I realized I forgot my Special Needs bags. These are the bags that are at the half way point on the course and are filled with spare tubes, CO2, extra fuel and electrolytes. How could I forget them?!  Debating whether or not I really needed them, I decided I was setting myself up for disaster if I didn’t have them. We turned around and my amazing little sherpa Lindsey ran back in to get them for me. Luckily, we had left plenty of time to get to the start and I was doing okay with time. 
I went to get body marked. They had the tattoo numbers, which I liked, but thought it was more efficient having the numbers in our race packet like at Tremblant, rather than having volunteers mark us in the morning. I weighed in and then went to my bike to do some finishing touches. I made small talk with other athletes as helicopters were hovering overhead. The chef Gordon Ramsay walked by, but I was more star struck by Andy Potts walking by, who had pulled out of the race that morning due to injury.
As I got in to the water, NBC cameras and crew men surrounded us. I looked around at all of the people lined up on the pier and on the shoreline. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was real, I was beginning to live my dream.
The countdown started and I was surprisingly pretty relaxed. I had a small pit in my stomach, but I truly was going into the day with very little expectations other than to race smart and leave everything out on the course and to soak up the experience. The cannon blasted and we were off. I started to swim and felt really good in the water. I had coach Jen’s voice in my head reminding me on good form and technique. I was able to draft and had moments of clear water. I was knocked around very little and was very happy to actually swim rather than battle other athletes unlike a lot of mass starts. I got excited as the big blow up power bar perform got closer. I started to hear Mike Reilly’s voice commenting on the race. I ran out of the water and saw a 1:07:xx. I was thrilled. I was expecting around 5-6 minutes slower than Tremblant because it was a non-wetsuit swim, but it was only 2.5 minutes slower. With the wave group start at Tremblant, I really didn’t have any drafting, but here I was able to use the mass start to my advantage. By the time I ran over the mat, the official swim time was 1:08:00.  
I grabbed my bag and was off to the changing tent. I grabbed my stuff and was off. I looked and realized I was missing my second container of salt stick electrolytes. Shoot. I turned around and tried to find the volunteer with my T1 bag. I couldn’t find her. I couldn’t find my bag. Maybe I had thrown it out with the Ziploc bag that was holding my bars and electrolytes together. I use the Ziploc to prevent exactly this from happening, but clearly it didn't work. I'm usually in the women's tent by with very few other women, but this was the World Championships, so not the case. I quickly went through the trash. I couldn’t find it. Well, I am going to need to race with out them. I had some in special needs, so I could get some more then. I started to do the math and realized that I had enough in my one container to get me through the bike. As I started to ride, my heart rate was high. I tried to get it down and not get caught up in everyone flying by me and focused on my hydration. I needed to make sure I didn’t get distracted by all of the surrounding excitement and get 4 bottles down that hour. It was pretty easy as I had decided to make the switch and race with Skratch Labs. (For more on this see this post.)  As I climbed up Palani,  I saw my mom, dad and Lindsey cheering for me. It was such a great energy boost as I was about to head out of town. I settled into riding and my heart rate finally settled in where I wanted it. I was feeling good and riding well. All of a sudden two guys crashed right in front of me. They both went down and were sprawled across the road. I luckily was able to swerve around the crash. About 10 miles later, I was riding and I had been good about avoiding all of the dropped bottles, but missed seeing one and ran right over it. Luckily I was able to stay upright and continued on. I swear Pele was looking over me, because I had escaped two incidents that could have been disaster. A couple miles down the road, my wheel started making noises and rubbing. Uh oh,  I always get nervous when things with my bike go awry. I decided to pull over, get off my bike and try to fix it. Luckily it was just my brake that must have been jolted from running over the water bottle. I fixed it and was on my way. I continued to ride and was just in awe and full of gratitude that I was actually there, riding through the lava fields. The ride out to Hawi was pretty uneventful. I took in the gorgeous views of the ocean. Seeing the leaders of the race go by and the tv cameras and motorcycles that followed them was a bit surreal.  The return trip is where I started to experience the heat and winds. The winds were picking up by the minute. There were crosswinds and head winds. I was pushed across the road a couple of times, but nothing too bad. Later after I finished, I heard the winds were pretty mild compared to years past. I tried not to think of the wind and just continued to pedal. My focus was getting my nutrition in, keeping my cadence, power and heart rate where I wanted them. I was trying not to focus on pace as it was depressing to see the average pace decrease the more the winds picked up. At mile 94, my cadence and power went out, but by that point, I knew I just had to keep it steady for the next 18 miles. I was so happy to start to recognize the roads again and get back into town. I handed off my bike and was into the changing tent for a quick transition and then was off. My legs felt ok. My pace was slower than normal, but I expected that. I just tried to keep my heart rate where I wanted it. I usually can push a bit higher, but was trying to be somewhat conservative knowing that the lava fields had  a tendency to cause people to blow up especially around the energy lab. Running down Ali’i past Lava Java, I saw my parents and Lindsey and other QT2 supporters. As I went through the aid stations, my main objective was to get perform and water in me, take sponges and ice to do my best to keep cool. I continued to run and was feeling the effects of Tremblant lingering in my legs. I tried not to get caught up in my pace that was slowing and just try to keep my heart rate steady and where I wanted it to be. My walks through the aid station grew a bit slower and longer, but I refused to walk other than that. I was going to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I started on the coke around mile 12. Nothing had tasted so good. I was anticipating the turn to the energy lab… where was it? It felt like it took forever to get there. I was happy to finally make the turn and even happier to make the turn around. I was heading home. Finally. The sun sets at 6 pm in Kona and it gets dark really quickly. They were handing out the glow sticks and I was depressed to see them, so I refused the first time. The second hand out was mandatory. I put it around my neck and continued on. At this point, my body was really ready to stop. My chafing was so bad that when I peed it was burning. My feet were hurting. But the thought of getting to Ali’i kept me going. As I counted down the miles, I just kept telling myself I had run those amount of miles hundreds of times before and if I could do it then, I sure as hell could do it now. I was running near a guy who lived on the island. The locals were going crazy cheering for him. I pretended like they were cheering for me. I took that energy boost and soared on. As I took the right on Ali’i Drive, I started to tear up. This was it. This is what I had dreamed of. The spectators were cheering, I heard Mike Reilly’s voice grow louder. I saw Lindsey and my parents. I was determined to finally hear Mike Reilly say “Kathryn Weiler You are an Ironman.” As I crossed the line, a guy was wobbling and fell over into the arms of two volunteers. I was nervous he was going to fall into me. I swung around him and saw myself cross on the big screen overhead. I saw the clock 11:45:15. Though not even close to a PR, I was so so happy to see an 11 in that time. It was better than I had expected going into that day.  There I was, living my dream. I was officially a qualified finisher of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.  And of course, as I later told Mike Reilly when I happened to be sitting next to him at the bar a couple days later, I have yet to hear him say my name as I cross the line. It is a delusional blackout that happens every time.
The rest of the night was spent eating a great meal at Lava Java, then hanging out watching the finishers to midnight. For years, I have watched the Kona finish line party in the wee hours of the morning. Each year saying that I will be there someday. It was surreal.  I was actually there this time. 

And let me tell you, the fire in my belly has been ignited, I am going to do everything in my power to get back to Kona. And where I gave everything I had on that day, I know I can do a heck of a lot better on that course. And I have a burning desire to go back and do just that.

A huge thank you to Tim Snow and QT2Systems. They have helped me accomplish a dream that only several years ago seemed ridiculously unrealistic for me.  Thank you to my QT2 Teammates who continually inspire me. I am so honored to be on a team of such supportive and talented athletes. Seeing you guys absolutely crush it at Kona inspires and motivates me even more. Thank you to everyone back home for all the love, texts, tweets, Facebook messages and calls. The outpouring support meant the world to me. And knowing you all were tracking me back home, helped me battle through the lava fields.  To Jen for continually help me grow as a swimmer, to Pam for the friendship and on going hospitality at the lake especially this time around when I would show up at her house at off hours because I had a lot of solo swims to do. To Susan at Concord Sports Massage for always believing in me and keeping my body in top condition.
 To my siblings, Michael and Meghan who were sending me lots of love and positive energy from back home. And finally thank you to my Mom, Dad and Lindsey. Having you on the Big Island supporting me and helping me conquer my dream meant the world to me.  I can’t thank you enough. I love you. 

My love for Skratch- Racing an Ironman with Skratch Labs Hydration

I usually always race with Powerbar Perform. It is what is on the course and for the sake of ease, I use it. I don't love it, but I do better with it than I did with Gatorade, so I can't complain too much.
I do love Skratch Labs though. I fell in love with it several years ago when it came to the market originally as "Secret Drink Mix." The history of the drink is interesting. The cyclists in the Tour de France were all getting"gut rot" from their sport drink sponsors. Sports Physiologist, Allen Lim, created an all natural, high electrolyte sports drink with lower carbohydrate percentage for optimal absorption. End result, Gut Rot problem solved.

After Ironman Mont Tremblant, I had a call with Jon from Skratch who had raced with it during an Ironman to discuss the feasibility of doing it. When I calculated my adjusted fluid intake for Kona and realized I would need to be taking in 4 bottles an hour, I decided my gut was going to be much happier with Skratch than with Perform.

Jon sent me the new Skratch Hyper that hasn't hit the market to try out as well. I tried it out while training and loved it.

Race Morning I sipped on a bottle of the Hyper. It is a lot of electrolytes and it was absolutely perfect for a hot weather race like Kona. I have a high sweat rate, so I always have to be cognizant of taking in enough fluid and electrolytes.
 I had a bottle of concentrated Skratch on my bike and in my aero bottle and on the hydration tail, I had regular bottles of Skratch to get me through to the first aid station.
For the concentrated bottle, I had a 24 oz bottle and filled it with enough scoops for 12 bottles. And filled the rest with water. I then took a sharpie and made 2 oz marks up the bottle. At each aid station I would take a bottle of water, fill my aero bottle and squeeze 2 oz of the concentrated Skratch.
As I was riding through the lava fields, I was so happy I had decided to hydrate with Skratch. It went down much easier and I was able to hit my hydration target, which I don't think I would have been able to accomplish without some sort of gut rot.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report 2013

I'm still in utter shock as I write this. I keep thinking that it was a dream. But it happened. It really happened.

The days leading up to the race were great and stress free.. for the most part. Friday I got hit dead on during our swim by another swimmer who was swimming the opposite way and it was so painful I thought I had knocked out my teeth and had a concussion. Luckily, I was surrounded by wonderful friends who all made sure I was okay. My neck continued to be sore the until Saturday, but after some arnica oil and self-massage, it wasn't anything that was going to interfere with my race. On Friday, I registered, signed away my life on multiple waivers and it was all beginning to feel real that I would be doing an Ironman in a couple of days.

Later that day, we went out for a light spin and my heart rate was extremely high for the effort I was putting out. It made me extremely nervous that it may continue to be high for a low effort on race day, but I just tried to not freak out and tried to put the negative thoughts outside my head.
Saturday was spent carbo-loading, hydrating, packing bags and checking in bikes and bags. 

Everything was done pretty early, and was able to get my feet up for the rest of the day. This was after visiting Mc at Fluide Bar a Jus and getting some delicious, nourishing green juice. Mc has the most wonderful, infectious energy and if you visit Tremblant, you need to visit Mc and order some juice or a smoothie. Plus, I helped create some of the recipes on her menu. She cuts all the kale from a local farm and her smoothies and juices are made with a ton of love and energy that will help you go fast on race day. 

Race Day:

My alarm went off at 4 am. I slept surprisingly well. The first couple of Ironman races I did, I think I slept maybe an hour the night before and slept only a couple hours each night in the week leading up to it. So, I am always very grateful when I can sleep well during the nights leading up to the race. I instagramed a saying that was my mantra for the day: Be Awesome. 
I refused anything less.

As I stood on the beach, Oh Canada, was sung. I can't help but sing the words "hail Colby hail" whenever I hear it. My alma mater's school song was to the tune of Canada's national anthem and my years up on Mayflower hill flashed in front of me as I heard it.
U2's Beautiful Day blasted. F16s flew overheard and Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman was pumping up the crowd. I became a bit verklempt just thinking about the day that was about to ensue. All of the hours in the pool, on the saddle, and in my running shoes were all culminating to this moment. Although the journey of Ironman is what makes it so special, so no matter what was about to  happen during the day, I already had one heck of a great journey in the bank. 

The Swim:

This was the first year of wave starts. Tremblant was an age group start versus the self seeded start done at Lake Placid. I was the second to last wave and I have to say that I initially was not too pleased. I wasn't happy that they changed the mass start. I think that Ironman is meant to be hard and I think that triathletes should work to be strong swimmers before attempting an Ironman. I always loved knowing that we all started at the same time and I knew exactly where I stood out there on the course. That being said, I have had some of the scariest moments in my life during the mass start. I've come out of the water with a black eye, I have had a 250 pound man take two hands and push me under the water and swim on top of me and when I tried to get back to the surface, I struggled to get air due to all the people on top of me. So, despite liking the mass start, I completely respected WTC for making a safer swim initiative. I preferred the age group wave start over self seeded, so that I knew where I stood against my AG when racing.
The gun went off and I tried to stay on some of the girls' feet. That didn't last long as we caught up to the wave in front of us in less than 2 minutes. Soon the fast girls had disappeared in a sea of 50 + men. I just focused on my stroke and swimming strong. I had Jen, my Masters swim coach's voice in my head during the whole swim. I have to say, all my negative thoughts about  the wave start disapated. It was the easiest Ironman swim start of my life. No kicks to the face, no one grabbing my ankles and pulling me backwards. I didn't even have thoughts that I might literally drown from big men being on top of me.  I didn't get too much of a draft advantage besides from the overall draft of the field. I am still unsure how much of a pull I got. However, I tried to get on the feet of as many people as possible, but would just pass them quickly as I moved up through the waves. Later after the race, I heard from many people that they didn't have this experience and the water was still very crowded. 
I started to hear Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman's voice and I knew I was close to the swim exit. I saw that I had done a 1:05. I was content with that. As I ran down the red carpet, I felt like a rockstar. The crowds were cheering. I saw Mc from the juice bar and gave her a high five and was on my way into the T2 tent. 

The Bike:
The bike course is beautiful. It is freshly paved rolling hills. I am so impressed with how much Mont Tremblant has invested in repaving all of the roads. It makes a big difference to have a smooth ride. They changed the bike course this year. They paved more of Rt 117 and extended the course past last year's turn around. They cut off some of the course when you went into town. I really liked the change. 
As I was riding, my heart rate was super high. It was much higher than what it should have been. I was having the same issue I had had earlier in the week. However, my power and pace were right where they should have been and my perceived effort was where I wanted it to be. I even felt like I was holding back, but my heart rate just didn't seem to want to lower. I weighed the option of over riding and running the risk of suffering on the run, or pulling back and playing it safe. I decided that I was going to go for it and ride on perceived effort and take my chances. There was a point that I literally said out loud "screw you heart rate you aren't going to mess up this race for me".  I do know that I can hold a high heart rate for a long time and I was confident that I could do it again that day. I finished the first loop and was feeling good. The wind picked up on the second loop, but even with the wind, I was feeling stronger than I was on the first loop. Jen and Della and I went back and forth for a bit on the bike. It was good to see the two of them and they gave me some motivation. I ended up finishing really strong on the bike and passed a lot of people at around mile 100 that had passed me earlier in the day. I ended up riding almost an even split. I was 2 minutes slower on the second loop, but I was extremely pleased due to the wind being a huge factor. I was ecstatic to have ridden a 5:49. I wanted to break 6, so I was well under that. And I was exactly 20 minutes faster on the bike this year over last year. All those hours on the saddle paid off.

The Run:
I had a fast T2 and was off to run the marathon. My legs felt pretty good. My heart rate was strangely fine while running and I was able to keep it right where I wanted to at the pace I wanted to run. The weather was gorgeous with the temp now being about 80 degrees, probably the coolest race I had this year. I absolutely love this run course. It has some rolling hills until you get out to a packed trail where you do an out and back. I love it because it is soft on the legs and I love the out and back because you get to see so many people. All was going well until about mile 14 where I hit a dark place. I wanted to slow down, dark thoughts of not being able to finish crept into my head, my legs wouldn't turn over at the rate I wanted. My typically permanent smile had disappeared. A distinctly remember a guy saying "Hey! You are my smiley girl- best smile out here- where did it go? Smile - it will make you feel better!" And so I did.. he was right... to a certain extent. I thought of all the 4 am training sessions, all the hours logged and knew that I would get through this rough patch. I refused to let the last 10 miles be bad. Then all of a sudden it was like someone flipped a light switch at mile 17- I was able to run again. Maybe it was the coke kicking in, maybe it was a second wind, but my legs felt great, my pace picked up and was going to finish this thing really strong.  I was so happy as I entered into the finishing chute.

It is a feeling like no other to be running down the chute in the middle of Mont Tremblant's pedestrian village with the crowds screaming. I was so so happy to be crossing that line. 

Post Race:
I hung out for a while and saw some friends who had finished, ate some food. I went to go collect my bags and change into dry clothes. I got my bike and started heading back to the hotel with a stop along the way to get some juice from Mc. Celery, Kale, Carrot and Lemon. It was just what my body wanted after taking in sugars all day. I checked my race results and was thrilled with my 10:47. I was not so thrilled when I saw 7th place. I didn't have too many expectations, but I did have a secret, ok not so secret goal of getting to the podium and was hoping for a 5th. But I had one hell of a day and if a 10:47 got me a 7th place, well then 7th was what it was. I couldn't control who showed up. 
I found Tara and Stan who had come to cheer me on. It was so wonderful to see them and I was so grateful that they made the trek to cheer me on. I have a great video of Stan telling me exactly what he thought of the drive to Tremblant, but it isn't exactly appropriate for the blog, although hilarious. Let's just say, don't try to get into Tremblant on the day of the race. 


With my 7th place, I decided to go to the Kona Slot roll down. Chances were slim, but you never know. They plowed through the younger age groups, all the slots had been taken. They got to my age group... there were slots. They called the first girl and she was crying she was so happy. Shoot. Ok. I needed one person to to show or to pass. They called the next girl. Annie Jean. Silence. "Annie Jean??" Silence. The french translator started calling her name. I'm thinking you know your name no matter what language.  This was all of a sudden getting very real. I was in shock. The girl didn't show up. I was getting a slot. Holy goodness. I was going to Kona. Mike Reilly called my name and I was in disbelief. A life long dream accomplished.

A huge thank you to everyone for all the texts, Facebook messages and the love. I have a ton of people to thank who have helped me a long this journey. By no means did I get my ticket to the Big Island alone. First off to Tim Snow and QT2Systems, I can't believe how much QT2 has helped me get to the next level. I wouldn't be performing anywhere close to where I am if it weren't for them. And to my QT2 teammates, I am continually inspired by the dedication and passion for this sport. 
To my whole crew of training peeps, but especially Jeff, Demello and Jimmy Lew. Words can't express how appreciative I am of you guys. Not only pushing me physically, but always being there through the ups and the downs of the journey. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To Jen for believing in the girl who couldn't swim and taking my swim to a whole new level. To Pam-  I can't thank you enough for your friendship and hospitality of Pam's Pond and the rest of the lakers for making swimming fun. To my lululemon family- words can't express how grateful I am to be part of such an inspiring, understanding, loving, supportive group of people. To Susan for keeping my body in top condition and always believing in me. 
And finally to my family: Mom, Dad, Michael and Meghan for always believing in me, supporting me, and inspiring me. I'm so grateful and feel so lucky to have you all as my family. I can't find the words to  give enough justice to how grateful I am to you four. i love you. 


Monday, July 8, 2013

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

When I originally sat down to write this race recap, the first line read:
"One word describes Syracuse 70.3: Hellish." But in reality, I love racing, I love the atmosphere, I love the camaraderie, and I love the pain, even if the day is more like a battlefield than a triathlon. So no matter how "hellish", I'm always grateful to be able to race.

Maybe it was course, maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was Harpoon B2B still lingering in my legs, but the day was pretty brutal.
I was obsessing with Instavid race morning (ok maybe I should have been focusing a wee bit more on preparing for the race, but it was a good way to keep things light and calm any pre-race jitters).

Ok clearly I was having issues with video:

The water temperature was 70 degrees, so I decided to wear a full length wetsuit because I am always cold. However, half way through the swim, I was thinking I should have opted for the sleeveless as I was heating up a bit. My swim was solid. I latched onto the feet of some girls, but quickly gained some confidence and decided to pass them and bridge up and see if I could stay on the feet of some girls who were faster. Before the race I had decided that I was going to try not to swim as conservatively. This was a success and felt good when I finished the swim. Thirty-five minutes for a wetsuit swim is on the slower side, but after hearing many people including Pros were slower than normal and heard rumbles that the course was longer than 1.2, I was fine with 35 minutes.

Dede Griesbauer's blog sums up the rest of course pretty well in a couple succinct lines.  My favorite line is how she describes the bike course: you climb for the first 15 miles or so, and according to WTC’s “Mickey Mouse topography map”, it’s all downhill from there. Sorry I didn't see it like that."  My second favorite line: "If the bike course in Syracuse was challenging, the run was derived from the mind of Satan himself."

It wasn't the hardest 70.3 I have done, but close. The heat made it rough. I was cursing B2B during the race, knowing that it wasn't doing me any favors at that moment, but in the long run and for the larger goal, it was making me stronger. I just felt like I didn't have any snap in my legs. I was racing as fast as I possibly could, but I just didn't feel like I could hammer through like I normally can. Looking at my run splits, I had to check my ego at the door and just be comfortable with the splits I was running, because any faster was going to lead to blowing up later on. Besides 2 men and 3 Pro women, no one was passing me, so I should have known everyone else was struggling too, but in my head, I thought I was the only one having a rough day. When I got to the aid stations I was grabbing everything. Pouring water, grabbing sponges, taking as much Perform as my body would handle- taking everything and anything. Even coke sounded good to me. That coke at mile 8 was nectar of the gods. And once you get on the coke, you stay on the coke, so I was welcoming it at every aid station. 
This was a QT2 Key race, so it was so great to have so many teammates racing out there on the course with me. Cheering from Tim Snow always give me a huge energy surge, and Matt Curbeau was out there too at one of the turn arounds on the second loop, which was huge. 

I was very happy to cross the line. I ended up with a 5:24:xx with a :35 swim, 2:54 bike and 1:49 run. They were my slowest splits this season, but given the conditions and the course, I'll take it. I was 9th out of the water in my AG, biked my way to 6th then ran my way to the podium to finish in 5th. 
Torrential downpours and thunderstorms led them to cancel the awards ceremony, but here is a glamour shot of my hardware in my kitchen:

Overall, I would do Syracuse again. Nothing like a good challenging course to keep you honest. 
Next Up: Mass State Olympic this weekend. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Texas 70.3 Race Report

I was so excited to kick off the 2013 season last weekend in Galveston, Texas.
Texas wasn't originally in the plan, but after a long winter in the pain cave, my mind and body was in desperate need of some sunshine. And if you spent any time with me over the past couple of months, I'm sure you heard me say I was craving vitamin D more than once! 

MANY hours spent in the Pain Cave

I backed out of doing Hyannis marathon and did the half instead back in February. I was sick the week before the race. Backing out was very hard for me to do, but I actually listened to my body and decided it was best to try to spare my immune system from getting a royal beating especially with temps in the 30s and pouring rain race conditions. It just wasn't worth it. That being said, I was itching to race. I had an extremely solid winter of training and felt ready to do an early season 70.3.

We flew into Houston on Friday and stocked up at Whole Foods. There were about 5 Whole Foods in the Houston area, but naturally, when we saw the name of one of them, we had to go there. Kirby is my middle name and since I get way too excited about small things like that, they gave me a free reusable bag with the name. 

Friday and Saturday were spent doing some light workouts, registering, racking bikes, resting and relaxing. With 34 QT2 team members racing, it was really great to meet some new people at the team breakfast on Saturday. 
Sunday morning came fast. As I put on my new kit,  I couldn't believe I was racing this early in the season. I had a healthy dose of pre-race jitters, and was excited to kick off the race season.

The Swim 1.2 miles:
My wave didn't start until 8:25 am, so I had A LOT of time to wait as I watched wave after wave start the day. The swim was a treading water start. All the 30-34 year old women were jamming out to Carly Rae Jepson and Beyonce as we waited to jump in the water. The predicted water temp was 72 degrees, however, on race morning, the race announcer said it was 65 degrees. SIXTY-FIVE?! I am a big baby with cold water, and anyone who has seen me get into an 80 degree pool or the lake knows that it is not a quick process. I was freaking out a bit about having to jump into 65 degree water rather than my typical routine. I waited until about 1.5 minutes before the start and took the plunge. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought and felt much warmer than 65 degrees. Maybe I am just getting tougher? ha.
The cannon went off and I saw the front girls take off. I tried to find someone's feet to latch onto and draft, but I wasn't having too much luck. I swam alone for a while. At the first turn, I was able to get onto a girl's feet and I stayed with her as she plowed through the stragglers from the waves ahead of us. I channeled my inner Pam and made sure I stayed with this girl. I felt like I wasn't working hard because of the draft, so I questioned whether I should break lose and go. I decided to stick with her, because I would be fighting through the crowd if I didn't. At the final turn, I decided to go for it and dropped the girl. I started to think I hung on to her too long. I came out of the water feeling great. I wanted to do 32 minutes, so when I saw I had done 33 minutes, I was a bit disappointed, but knew that 1 minute wasn't a huge deal. 

The Bike 56 miles:
The bike course was an extremely flat out and back with sun beating down and the winds blowing. My heart rate wasn't picking up, so I started to ride based on watts, pace and perceived effort. I was a little nervous that I wasn't riding where I was supposed to be with out being able to use heart rate as a gauge, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I trusted I was where I was supposed to be. I got passed by two girls in my age group on the bike, both of whom were QT2 teammates. I was tempted to pick up the pace to try keep them in sight, but reminded myself to ride within my limits and ride my own race. My bike has always been my glaring weakness, so when I started to pass a couple of people in my age group I was shocked. The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful besides 2 aid stations not handing out perform when I went through. I tried to grab the water, when I realized there wasn't any perform,  but when I had yelled out perform, the volunteer took a step back.  I rode for the next 15 miles without fluid. I knew this could be extremely detrimental, but all I could do at that point was to make sure I was dead on with hydrating for the rest of the race. At the turn around, I was expecting we would get a tail wind. But no, the wind was worse on the way back. What I had thought was a head wind, was really a cross wind, so we didn't get any help on the way home. Everyone was fighting the same wind I was, so I just stayed in aero and tried to ride strong back to transition. I finished the bike at 2:44, which was a bike PR for me. I was extremely thrilled as I rolled into transition.

The Run 13.1 miles:
The run was a 3 loop course with 3 out and backs in each loop. It was flat and went all through the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention center. There were some parts that went to the road, but they removed the airport section that was part of the course in past years. Once again, my heart rate still wasn't  picking up, so I started to run on perceived effort. I feel much more comfortable with my run, so I wasn't too concerned about not having heart rate. I know my edge on the run. I was so happy to be off the bike and running. I was even more thrilled to be running in the Texas sunshine. I was feeling strong and good as I started to pick people off. The texas sun was hot, but with the temps in the high 70s, it could have been way worse. I tend to run better in the heat anyway. The highlight of the run was the cheering from Tim Snow, Cait Snow, Chrissie Kropelnicki and the QT2ers that had already finished. Their screams and motivation were HUGE.. and the best part was I got to absorb the energy 3 times.
I finished the run with a run PR of 1:36. I was extremely happy. I didn't know my overall time until I had walked over to where the QT2 crew was cheering and Kaitlin Anelauskas looked up my time for me. I was over the moon thrilled when I heard 4:59. I had a pipe dream of breaking 5 hours, but I knew the stars would need to be aligned for me to do that. I placed fourth in my age group and qualified for Vegas 70.3 World Championships for the first time.

Overall, the race and weekend was just what I needed. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the 2013 season. I am so grateful to be part of such an incredible team full of extremely talented, dedicated yet down to earth athletes.