My Team:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rev3 Portland

Better late than never!

My flight to Portland went off without a hitch, and both my bike and I arrived unscathed. Managing the bike box and my other crap was a pain (Ryan, I missed you so!), but I did it, despite everyone staring at the skinny girl lugging a 58lb bike box with a 30lb bag on her back. I am so badass :) Now that I write it out, I realize that my luggage weighed almost as much as I do. Hey, maybe THAT’S why my swim sucked, haha!

Hello Mountains!
Portland Rocks!
As soon as I arrived, I drove the bike course. Wow.  Breathtaking.  The views, the climbs, the descents -- all of it was awesome!  Driving the course was crucial because not only did I get to enjoy the scenery, I also realized how technical it was, and that I really would need to ride conservatively to keep my skin intact.

After enjoying some sushi in the town of Troutsdale, I made my way to Hope and Brian’s house, where I had a blast hanging out with their 3 dogs and talking triathlon with Hope. Saturday was the typical pre-race ritual: getting a quick run and swim in, heading to the pro meeting, and then relaxing for as much of the day as possible. 

<mojo missing>  For some reason, I just wasn’t as excited to race as I normally am. I didn’t feel nervous, exactly, but I just didn’t feel ‘on’. Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t go away, but I had made a commitment to myself and I was going to keep it. Even now, two weeks later, I still don’t entirely know why I felt that way.

Before the race I did a quick run and swim to get my body warmed up before the super fast start of the race. When the gun went off, I was in the back, like usual, trying not to get beat up. Actually, my issue in the swim has been LACK of contact, but this swim was an improvement over Quassy. I lost the first group immediately, but was with 2 or 3 other girls for half the swim. I worked my arms off to stick with their bubbles, and it was much better for my mental focus to have other swimmers right there in front of me, pulling me along.

When I got out of the water and ran to transition, someone told me that a group of three was only a minute ahead of me.  Woohoo!! And, amazingly, there was one other bike in transition. Not last!

When I started the ride, my legs were already complaining.  I wanted today to be great and to race fast.  But sometimes you wake up and just don’t feel strong, and racing a half ironman is hard to fake.  I willed my legs to shut the hell up and ride, and as soon as the hills hit, they started listening. I maintained 5 watts more for the entire ride compared to Quassy, and I was in the mix with a lot of other girls much earlier in the race, which rocked! 

However, the stagger rule for pro’s, on an open course with car traffic, does not rock. The officials were around me for a lot of my ride, and I had to brake and soft pedal way too often to avoid being too close to cars and other cyclists (non-racers).  The course was amazing, overall, with only a few busy sections, and if I were racing as an age grouper, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. However, I’m rightfully paranoid of getting a position penalty (for not staggering), because a lot of girls had to stand down for two minutes due to the stagger rule.

Basically, if you can see another cyclist anywhere in the distance, you have to be staggered off of them, even if they are a mile away. If they move left, you have to move immediately, or will get called for a position penalty. I understand the point of the rule, but there are times when this creates a dangerous situation (when riding in the shoulder, for example, with no room to safely stagger). This is completely different than drafting, by the way, because there is no limit to how far in front of you the other cyclist can be.

The last part of the bike course was an out and back on Marine Drive. This was flat and fast, and I maintained a very strong pace. My big mistake was that I didn’t grab a final water bottle. For whatever reason, I thought we were much closer to finishing than we were. In this half hour, I got behind on my hydration, and now I realize that this happens fast. 

When I got onto the run, I was feeling pretty good for the first 3 miles. However, I usually have to pee immediately after the bike, and that didn’t happen. In fact, I didn’t end up peeing until almost 4pm! The first mile clicked by at 6:45, right on pace. The second one was 6:40, and I came up and passed a girl. The leaders were headed the other way, and I tried counting as they went by. It seemed possible that I could run up to 10th- I just needed to have a great run!  But as the miles went by, my legs died a slow, dehydrated death, and I had no kick to go any faster. I ran with another first year pro, Kelly Fillnow, who had an awesome run and she did what I couldn’t do by running herself up to 10th place.

My run was nearly the same time as Quassy. This was disappointing because the Quassy run course was much harder. However, the fastest run of the day was only 6 min ahead of me, so I think we all suffered a bit from that bike ride, despite being a relatively flat run course.  Since the race, I’ve discovered that I can lose 5 pounds of water weight in just a 50 minute run, and that’s almost 5% of my body weight!  Next race, hydration will be mastered. The good news for this race, was that my bike split was the 8th fastest (of the girls that finished). I always have a hard time really pushing my limits on the bike, and my goal was to bike HARD- and that I did!

As usual, Rev3 did an amazing job. The course is spectacular and well worth the trip to the wonderful city of Portland. I wish I could’ve spent more time exploring, but that stupid thesis just won’t write itself.  Thank you to all of the awesome volunteers and police officers on the course, and thank you again to the Rev3 staff of for making everyone feel special.

Now it’s back to the daily grind! Next up, Rev3 Dells!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quassy Race Report- Progress!

This is how we roll
After a great experience at Rev3 Knoxville, I was really looking forward to another Rev3 race at Quassy. I knew the course was hilly and hard, which suits me, and the half-ironman distance is more my style -- more running, less swimming! Even more than the race, I was looking forward to seeing my family and my coach and friends that were all coming in from Boston to do the race. 

We left right after work on Thursday and made it to my parent’s house in Rochester right around midnight, then got to Connecticut by Friday evening. After dropping my parents and Cody off at their hotel, Ryan and I made it to our amazing homestay. Todd and Marni were absolutely wonderful and made sure we had anything we could possibly need. We had a great time hanging out with them all weekend -- I wish we could’ve stayed even longer. I am loving the homestays almost as much (maybe more?) than racing!!

Saturday morning we woke up to pouring rain, and although I felt terrible for the Olympic racers, I was so so happy to not be racing! Ryan headed off for a 4 hour run in the woods (he is training for the Leadville trail 100 run) and I loaded my Mom, Dad, Cody and fellow E3 Athlete Jana into the car to drive the bike course. Despite having raced over a dozen half ironmans, 56 miles is still really far! Driving the course was helpful -- I got to see just how hilly the course was, and also got to enjoy the scenery with someone else behind the wheel :)

I know this will get old at some point, but I still had a blast at the pro meeting. This time, I actually knew people, and had a few people shout 'Hey Alaina!' when they say me- how awesome is that?! Oh man, it is easy to make me feel special :) My wonderful Saturday was topped off with an awesome dinner with the E3 crew.

Saturday night I didn’t sleep really well, so Sunday AM came extra early. My morning routine went smoothly, but I was not in a race mood. I have a hard time enjoying race morning, and this was no exception. However, once we arrived at the race site, and I was surrounded by the excitement of the event, I started to feel better. I did a quick 15 minute jog to warm up, then put on my Xterra Speed suit to get in the water. 
As much of a smile as I could muster. Man I was tired!
I LOOOVE Rev3 Transition Areas!! I feel like a RockStar!
My parents, Cody, and I

I seeded myself towards the back of the pack, and when the gun went off, I just worked hard at maintaining a steady rhythm- but more importantly, remained calm and kept my breathing steady. I was in contact with the girls for a bit, and they didn’t seem like they were going all that much faster than me. Every time I sighted, it seemed like they were just a bit ahead of me. I felt decent in the water -- I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could, but I just focused on being strong and smooth. After the first turn buoy, I finally was aware of just how far the lead girls were ahead of me. They were well past the next
buoy, and no longer in sight. This was discouraging, and I had the feeling that I was last -- I even had a kayaker following me along to make sure I didn’t drown! *groan* I hate swimming. I really need to gain 10 pounds....
You can't see me because I'm cowering towards in the back!
I miss my wetsuit!!
So yeah.swim.swim.swim -- it felt like forever. That’s because it actually did take me FOREVER to finish the stupid swim. As I finally emerged, I tried so hard not to look at my watch. When I did, I nearly curled up in a ball in the sand and quit right there. Then I got into transition and saw my bike, just sitting there, all by itself. And THEN, I had a million people cheering for me (out of pity, I’m sure) and I couldn’t get my stupid speedsuit off. I ended up tearing it down the front, Hulk Hogan style (but not on purpose) that’s how stuck it was. 

It took every ounce of strength I had not to quit that stuid race right there. As I (slowly) mounted my bike, I heard someone yell, "GO GET THEM ON THOSE HILLS!", and I just had to smile. So much was in that statement (well, it’s obvious why you can’t swim -- you’re built like a toothpick -- so you must be good at climbing, or else why else would you be racing pro?!) So, I vowed to attack those hills and catch at least ONE girl on the bike!
Last out of the water :(
Once on the bike, my watts were reading way higher than they felt. Good sign! I focused solely on that powertap and tried to quash the negative emotions. Luckily I had no idea how far back I was, or else I probably would’ve quit. I rode and rode and rode, enjoying the scenery, my legs, my bike and the wonderful hills. 

I was by myself until mile 25, when the first age group guy caught me. I thought they would’ve come sooner, so this was actually a positive!! I was able to keep him in sight for quite some time, so I know my biking has improved. Finally, I found the first girl and was able to pass her up a hill. Within a few more miles, I had another target and reeled her in. I can’t even explain how crucial this was to my race. 

It was at the point where the bike is just starting to feel long, and I was entertaining thoughts of riding my bike into a ditch, but seeing just one other person to catch got my brain in gear and I felt like myself again. I was happy to be riding and racing, and could not WAIT to run. I may have caught one or two more girls, but I can’t remember.
That bike was fun!!
When I got back into T2, I was just focused on getting onto that run course. Ryan informed me that a few girls I knew were only a minute or so ahead of me. I figured he must be lying, since both of those girls are typically faster than me on the bike. Once I started running, I was just feeling great. My legs didn’t really seem to react to the bike ride, and I just started clicking away the miles as best I could. I passed a few girls within the first mile, but I believe they ended up DNFing. 

The first few miles of the run course were super easy (downhilll), then came the long hard climb for what seemed like forever. It was a dirt road, just like I always run in Michigan -- it was just steeper and longer than any I have around here. I had pace goals in mind, but those kind of went out the window on this run course. 
Starting the run! I was so happy to be running!
Once I got to an out and back section around mile 5, I could finally see 2 girls that were within my reach. My strength was starting to fade, but just like on the bike, as soon as I have someone in my sights, my brain kicks it up, and I can race harder than I thought I could. It still took me another 2 miles to reel them in, but my legs felt terrific, and I realized that I actually had a chance at a sub 1:30 half-marathon. On this course, that would be amazing! We had one final out and back, and I saw that the next girl ahead of me was about 2 miles up the road, no chance of catching her, but I still pushed myself to try and get a half-marathon PR. Too bad the last mile was all uphill and totally killed my splits. Oh well!
Mwauh! I love running!
Finally, the finish line was in sight and I was thrilled to be done. Ryan informed me that I was either 11th or 12th. I could hardly believe it!! After a heartbreaking swim, I got my self together and fought one of my toughest mental battles to get back into the race. I am terrified of finishing dead last, but I worked my butt of and went from 19th (who started) to 12th overall. 

This race was totally stacked, and is considered the 'June Championship Race', with 1st place earining $17,500. Mirinda Carfrae won, and the first 3 places were within 40 seconds of each other. Check out the race recap here. Even though those girls finished well ahead of me, I am making progress (well, we won't count the swim, mmmkk?), and feel like I do 'belong'. More importantly, I had fun while racing, and had an amazing weekend with my friends, husband and my parents!

Thank you to all of the amazing staff and volunteers at Rev3! They do an absolutely incredible job- for both pro's and age groupers. You just have to do this race. It is as hard as everyone says, but it is just awesome! Thank you to Coach Jorge for believing in me, and getting me here. Thank you to my wonderful family for making the trip to cheer me on at my first Half-Ironman as a Pro! And thank you, most of all, to my husband Ryan, for, well, everything!

Me telling Kristin White I want her abs!

Jana, Coach Jorge and I post-race

Ryan, me and Jorge
This makes me smile :)

Cody was exhausted from the long
weekend of cheering! She was such a great spectator!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

First Pro Race! Rev3 Knoxville

Like a beginner, again!

This was a day of firsts, my first race as a Pro, my first race of the year, and my first open water swim of the season. How fun! What’s that saying? Don’t do anything new on race day? :)
Going into this race, my only solid goal was to not come in last place. There are moments when I have my doubts about whether or not racing ‘pro’ is a wise decision, so I was worried that if I raced poorly, those negative thoughts would take over and ruin the experience of this whole year. Aside from that goal, I truly wanted to have fun and learn as much as possible. I am happy to report I was successful at all three!!

Race Lead-Up:

The days leading up to the race were probably my favorite part of the whole weekend. Ryan and I had a wonderful drive from Michigan, enjoying the gorgeous scenery in both Kentucky and TN, rocking out to new music on Spotify. We made it in an easy 8 hours and headed straight to the race site. I was pumped to check out the Rev3 setup since this was my first time at one of their events. The race site was at Worlds Fair Park right in downtown Knoxville, at this gorgeous park. The expo was perfect, everyone was friendly, and I could already see how if someone brought their family, they would be very easily entertained with the bouncy house and other kid-friendly activities nearby. It also seemed like everyone had a dog, and it made me miss Cody-bear like crazy. I was so excited to get in line at the Pro booth, so I had Ryan take a picture:

As soon as I got my packet, we turned around and on the big screen -- there was my face!!!

After dinner, we headed out to drive the bike course. The elevation profile hadn’t looked terribly intimidating, but everyone warned of a tough course. None of the hills were particularly gnarly, but there was also almost zero flat riding for the whole 25 miles. My weakness as a cyclist is maintaining my watts while going downhill or with a tailwind -- give me wind or hills and I’ll crank the power, but make it easy and I get lazy and enjoy the ride :) At the top of the most technical descent, I pulled my bike out of the Element for a quick practice ride. It was a blast, and I figured out the best way to take the turns, something I rarely have the chance to practice in Michigan.  

Finally, we headed to our homestay. One of the race coordinators put us up at his mother's place while she was away -- so we had a whole condo to ourselves -- how awesome! Well, not totally to ourselves. Our host for the weekend was Pearl, a gorgeous kitty that ‘required’ almost as much attention as Cody!

Pet me...prrrrr

Saturday morning came super early for Ryan. He wanted to take advantage of our proximity to real mountains to get in some hill training for the Leadville 100 trail run in August. So while he headed off to the Smoky Mountains, I cuddled up with Pearl and listened to the thunderstorm roll in, hoping Ryan was OK atop the mountains! (Check out his version, here).
I met up with another pro athlete, Megan, who was kind enough to invite me to ride with her. Whoa, hills. Yeah, tomorrow will be interesting! Ryan got home just in time to head back to the race site for my first ever Pro meeting! It was so SO cool to be in the VIP tent with all of these incredible athletes, many of whom I’ve been following from afar since I started this sport. Right before the meeting began, Greg Bennett sat at my table, and was immediately chatting away with his buddies. I made some lame joke, and couldn’t believe when he actually laughed. I am such a LOSER, but it made my day. (You can roll your eyes, it’s OK).

The last stop of the day was a swim in the Tennessee river. The water temperature had dropped to 66 degrees, so the race officials confirmed it would be wetsuit legal. Nearly everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and Greg Bennett made the same observation that I’ve stated -- some fat-ass at the USAT was the one who chose the 68F cut-off temp. TOO COLD! But 66 in a wetsuit is perfect! I donned my De Soto two-piece and hopped into the murky water.

Something is missing from that bridge...

The rest of the day was just easy- for once in a very long time, I wasn’t nervous or worried. I was just happy and excited-- the way racing used to make me feel. The field was so stacked with short-course experts that I knew I had no chance of placing- and that was OK, in fact, it was terrific, because there were absolutely no expectations other than to race my best.

Race Day!
Alarm went off at 4:30 and I easily got out of bed -- this is almost my usual wake up time. I let Ryan sleep a bit more, and by the time he got up I had already finished my breakfast. Now this is notable because I typically have such bad pre-race nerves that I can’t eat and usually puke up anything I manage to get down (not conducive to racing my best!). First major success of the day!

One great thing about having raced so many times is that it took me about 5 minutes to set up my transition area. I decided to put my shoes on the bike and use rubberbands to hold them, but stupidly never really practiced my T1 since last season (or, um, maybe ever...). What’s that about race day and new things again? I keep forgetting....

Rev3 really made me feel like a Pro!
Once at the race start, I did the wetsuit dance while chatting with some other female pros. A few minutes before the male pros began, I jumped in the water and did some hard warm ups to get my body ready for the intense pace of the swim start. I felt totally ready, and was in a good place before the gun went off. This was the calmest I’ve been before a race, ever.

The male pros took off, and we followed 3 minutes afterward. I seeded myself in the middle of the bunch, and just off the front line. As we began the swim, I had zero contact with any other girls and just swam my brains out. For about 100 feet I was with some other girls...and then they were gone. Of course! Right after I lost contact, I started to have my first ever open water panic attack. Despite having warmed up a bit and feeling used to the water, my wetsuit all of a sudden felt like a vice around my chest and neck. I wasn’t having any trouble taking in air, but it didn’t feel like I was actually getting oxygen. The distance I had to swim was suddenly insurmountable, and the urge to just flip on my back or get to a kayak was practically unbearable. It took all of my mental energy and focus to get my sympathetic nervous system back under my volitional control. Throughout this little episode, I never stopped swimming, but it took another 10 minutes or so to get to the point where I could really push myself again. That was a pretty cruddy way to start my race, but I focused on the positive, which was my ability to get it together again.

The swim exit was directly from the water onto a dock, with no stairs, ladders or handles, and  everyone just stood around watching me try to pull myself up, flopping around like a fish out of sea. I hope they at least laughed :) The run to transition was nearly a quarter mile, and I heard Ryan cheer me on. I had no idea if I was last out of the water, but it sure felt like it! Once I got to my bike, I saw a few other bikes, and breathed a sigh of relief that no, I was not dead last, or at least not yet.

I went through T1 like I’ve never done a transition before in my life. I didn’t realize that I only know how to mount my bike from one side, and when I was on the wrong side, I practically froze up and didn’t know what to do. Once on my bike, I couldn’t get my feet into my shoes- my feet were still wet and my shoes are about a half size too small. Disaster! If someone has a video of it, it should be titled what NOT to do in a race. Gr.

So, here I am, starting the bike, and I’m in a pretty bad place, mentally. I’ve just had a crappy swim, complete with my first panic attack, a totally embarrassing T1, and my head is just filled with thoughts of WHATAMIDOINGHERE?! Unfortunately, things got worse before they got better...

Within the first mile of the bike, we had to go over a set of railroad tracks that were in the middle of a downhill section. I rode my hoods in case I needed to brake, but ended up hitting the tracks hard. My water bottle flew out of my aerobar cage, and I was unable to catch it. For a split second I thought about ditching it, but since it was my only bottle and I didn’t want to litter, I screeched to a halt, turned around, and retrieved it from the pavement. Turns out, the stupid POS bottle landed on the top and broke the nipple-part off, causing it to slowly leak GU Brew over the next 20 minutes. I drank as much as I could before it splashed out, covering my bike, hands and legs, but was still a bit nervous that I’d be without fluids for the first half of the ride.

Going up the first hill, I heard an awful screeching sound from my back wheel. NO! not another problem! I’ve had a few stupid mishaps with my bike in the past, but this time I was careful to have both Ryan and I go over every detail to make sure no part of my race wheels could rub anything! Unfortunately, when I hit the railroad tracks, it unseated my wheel just enough to rub my brakes. I made the quick decision to just release the brakes, and hope that they might still yield some stopping power on the descents I knew were coming up. Wow. This was a really, REALLY crappy start to my pro career, HA!

I tried so hard to overcome the mental anguish of the start of this race, but my legs were being stupid and would not put out the power I knew I had. I was 12 watts under my target, and spiraling down into a very bad place. And then, it happened. I saw my first competitor up the road. Moody Alaina instantly turned into competitive Alaina, and my thoughts were back under my control. I passed her up the one big hill that I had practiced on, and amazingly enough, I was NOT caught on the downhill!! And the tide finally turned...

From there, everything improved. I was able to push myself a bit harder and even caught a second girl heading into T2. My T2 wasn’t as ugly as T1, but I still have room for improvement. As we left the parking garage, I was right behind another girl, and Ryan informed me that my new friend Megan was just up the road. The first mile clocked by at 6:07, and I was astounded at the pace- it actually didn’t feel too bad! I resisted looking at my pace too often, and instead focused on racing, and staying with this one girl, who was running a solid time. By mile 2, we had passed another girl and we were still holding low 6’s. The guys were headed back to the finish, and Greg Bennett was just ahead of Cameron Dye. What a close race!
Heading out on the run!
Right after the turn around, we caught another girl, but this time my running partner was starting to pull away from me. I checked my pace, and I was still waaay faster than my target pace (6:30-6:40), so I just ran what I could manage. My energy got a little low, so I took a Vanilla GU and immediately perked up. Up the road, my mark was catching and passing Megan. By the time I looked up again, Megan had passed her back, and I found myself closing the gap. 

At the 30 minute mark, I passed the girl I had been following this whole time, and worked super hard at catching Megan. We were nearly running together for that last mile, but every time I tried to take a step ahead of her, she could still put on the jets and keep me at bay. The last ½ mile was all uphill, and I just didn’t have enough strength (mental and physical) to get ahead of Megan, so we crossed the finish line within seconds of each other. I had an absolute blast running that 10k. It was so tough, but I felt like my training finally paid off, and I ran much faster than I thought I could. I was also surprised by how many girls I passed, and that no one passed me!!

After the race, Ryan and I hung around, chatting with all the other props. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves a lot, and it was fun to be able to congratulate everyone on how well they did. I was SO happy to come in the top 20. This race was seriously stacked with some amazingly fast women, and a lot of ITU girls as well. I have almost no experience at this distance, and it hurt just as much as I expected. Despite my rookie mistakes, I still raced pretty well, but I also know it wasn’t up to my full potential, especially with such a short run! The whole experience got me fired up for the rest of the season. I was also happy to meet most of the girls that are racing Rev3 this year, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the familiar faces throughout the summer.

Total Time: 2:14:40, good for 19/25. Swim: 22:25, Bike: 1:08:50, Run: 39:05 (from Garmin)

Last but not least, I want to give a HUGE thank you to Coach Jorge for getting me to this point- not only to race hard, but for all of the years leading up to this point. And thank you to my amazing husband Ryan, for doing everything for me at this race-- this life would be impossible with out you.

This race is a must do! The course is gorgeous and FUN. Not a PR-type course, but not terribly hard, either (I don’t know about the half though). Rev3 does a tremendous job all around, and they made me, as a rookie pro, feel really special. Now on to Rev3 Quassy in June!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Important Questions

The Rev3 folks sent out a questionnaire to the athlete's asking a few random questions.
Here are the questions and my answers!

What song is playing in your ipod RIGHT NOW (the song you most frequently listen to before a race)?
My husband just resurrected an oldie but goodie- Bombs Over Baghdad by Outkast- great song to get pumped!! 
Non pump-up music currently rotating are: the new Shins album, Tune-yards, Civil Wars, M83 and Alabama Shakes

What is the last book you read?  
Since I have almost no time to read books printed on paper, I love listening to audiobooks during my runs/rides, and the last book I read/listened to was called 'Cutting for Stone' by Abraham Verghese. I've also been enjoying a Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo, and have finished a few of his books recently as well. 

If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be? 
Book- Huck Finn. I grew up as a tomboy and loved the idea of a river adventure. Or Hermoine, 'cause magic is awesome and I want to fly!
TV/Movie- Either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
STRING CHEESE, orange juice, milk, eggs, salmon, grapes, spinach, peppers, cucumbers, beer and ice cream 

Gluten free or bring on the gluten?
 Wheat and my GI tract are not friends. Not celiacs, just happier being wheat-free. 

Favorite beer? 
So...despite being 'wheat-free' I still drink beer every so often :) Favorites are Bell's Two Hearted IPA and Dark Horse Brewing Company's Crooked Tree IPA (both Michigan beers)

Favorite candy? 
Chocolate covered almonds and Reese's pieces

Post race indulgement? 
I give up the wheat-free thing and eat McDonald's cinnamon rolls while eating a Reese's peanut butter cup flurry. After EVERY race :) 

Best training tip?
Quality over quantity. 

Least favorite thing about racing? (nerves, taper, waking up early, etc)
Pre-race nerves...makes me puke :( 

How do you push through the pain during a race? 
 Challenge myself to go just a little bit harder.

Naps or no naps?
Saturdays -- always, and if I had the time, I would nap every day. Occasionally I'll curl up under my desk at work and snooze for 20 minutes -- but don't tell anyone! :)

Experience the seasons or chase summer?
I love summer, but my dog looooves snow, so for her happiness, I will experience the seasons. Shoveling snow is good core work, right?

What would you do if your were not a pro triathlete?
Well, I am only a professional triathlete in my 'spare' time. When I change out of spandex, I don the garbs of a poor graduate student- lab coat, geeky glasses and everything. I am in my 5th year as a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan. I am studying the role of the basal ganglia in internal motivation. 

And in conclusion, here is my newest Cody adventure: taking a ride in a motorcycle sidecar! Cody is now demanding we ALWAYS travel this way:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dreaming of Knoxville

My my, time flies.... my conscious brain has been in denial that April is coming to a close. My sleeping brain however is very aware that Knoxville is creeping ever closer, and that means the pre-race dreams have begun! Each night, a new tri-related dream/nightmare awaits, and each night I ride another race-related crazy-train. Some dreams involve me repeating previous mistakes -- such as not realizing my wheel is rubbing my bike frame, or purchasing new goggles the day before the race and actually using them for the first time on race day :) Others are totally bizzarre and have me WINNING. Haha! Only in my dreams.....

The reality is that Knoxville will be my first ever race as a PROFESSIONAL triathlete.  Me? A 'Professional' Athlete? I still don't really believe it....maybe it will finally sink in as the gun goes off next Sunday morning....but until then, I'm still just a Professional Nerd. 
Hey look- there I am!!
Since it is my first race, both for the season and as a Pro, my goals are to have fun, first and foremost, to not race like an idiot, and to learn as much as I can from the experience. Since the only Olympic distance races I've done were part of the American Triple-T, where I raced back-to-back Olympics on the same day (with an uber-hilly Half-Ironman on tap the next morning), I don't have a solid sense of what paces to expect. And that's fine- with how well my training has been progressing, I am looking forward to just that-- NO expectations-- just race. HARD. It will be fun to see if I can mentally and physically push myself way out of my comfort zone! 

I am also SUPER excited to race my first Rev3 event! Without even having met anyone in person yet, or having done an event, I've been extremely impressed with their race organization. Must be why 28 female pro's are signed up to race!  

And since I haven't posted in a while, here is my latest favorite picture of the snuggly-cuddle-bug Cody:

"Life is Good"
And with that, I am off to clean my bike and get race-ready! Bring it on, Knoxville!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Good Things

Whenever I find myself lamenting about how tough it is to balance my PhD-Self with my Triathlete-Self, I realize I have to take a step back and appreciate how truly lucky I am.

#1 Amazing, supportive husband! He cooks for me every.single.night and only occasionally  complains about my wheat-free, almost vegetarian diet :)

#2 No Time Clock, my schedule is flexible!! Those 60 hours of data analysis, lab work and thesis writing can squish like jello-brains around my training.

#3 No additional responsibilities (like kids, for example). Just this fuzzy-wuzzy nubbins that wants to spend every waking minute with me.

#4 My pool is a 2 minute walk from my office!

#5 And to go with that- the rats don't care what I look like! Goggle eyes? Wet hair? No problem!

#6 Michigan is actually a decent place to train (when the weather isn't below freezing, so, um, half the year :) ).  We have an amazing state and metropark system with relatively safe roads to ride on. The best open water swimming lake EVER is 20 minutes from our house. From my door, I can run almost 15 miles on all trails, ride my tri-bike for 80 miles while only stopping at 4 stop signs and 2 lights, or ride my cross bike on dirt country roads for unlimited miles with more tractor traffic than car traffic.

So yeah...stress can suck it- life is good :)