Category: Racing and Training


Slow Food UW Chilly Chili 5k

November 7th, 2014 — 7:50am

DSC05160Last night I participated in Slow Food UW’s Chilly Chili Run. It was a fundraising event for Slow Food UW—an organization I’m always more than happy to support. I was excited to be part of the inaugural event, especially because it combined two of my favorite things—running and chili.

My friend Claire also signed up, and together we toed the start line for the 5k. There were probably less than 30 participants, so it was easily one of the smallest races I’ve ever done. Claire and I both liked the laid back vibe of the race—the planning team didn’t over-think things or make it too serious. Just the lakeshore path, a stop watch, a fun t-shirt and a great post-race meal. The route followed the lakeshore path from North Charter to the start of picnic point and back. It was dark by the time the race started shortly after 5 p.m. I chuckled when one of the race organizers admitted that they hadn’t factored in daylight saving time back in the initial planning stages of the event. Most of the racers didn’t have lights, but Claire and I were prepared—Claire, with her heavy duty blinking/glowing vest and me, with my trusty head lamp. I’m sure we could be seen a mile away! Claire set a great pace—we were working hard, but still able to carry on a conversation. About 27 minutes later, we crossed the finish line.

Shortly after our finish, we met up with our friends Aronne and Kate, who walked the route, and together, we all headed to the Crossing, where dinner was eventually served. The chili had great flavor (though the beans were slightly undercooked), but the best part of the meal was the cornbread, which was wonderfully moist and delicious. The organizers invited everyone back for seconds, and we happily obliged.

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Bike Blessing & Blueberry Pancakes

May 19th, 2014 — 4:25am

DSC02847My favorite bike rides involve some kind of adventure and food. One of my teammates proposed Sunday’s ride to Vermont Lutheran Church for their 5th Annual Bicycle Breakfast, which included a blessing of the bikes, and breakfast with Vermont-style pancakes (buttermilk and granola), fruit sauces (blueberry and rhubarb), sausage, orange juice, and rifle-range coffee. Proceeds supported DreamBikes. I was able to more easily motivate myself through the very hilly 30-mile trek to Vermont Valley knowing that pancakes were on the other side. When we finally pulled up to the church mid-morning, we were just in time for the bike blessing. Afterward, we headed down to the church basement, where we loaded up on pancakes, sausages and coffee. The breakfast absolutely hit the spot. Without it, I’m not sure how I would have gotten myself back to Madison. It was a great Sunday adventure, and a breakfast I will dream about until next year. DSC02833

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Dairy Roubaix Ride Report

April 25th, 2014 — 10:04am

10277646_10103074508851497_5533140650549480916_nLast weekend I participated in the Dairy Roubaix—my first gravel grinder. It was an unsupported ride from Wyalusing State Park put on by a husband-wife team that host challenging bike rides for friends in beautiful spots around the state. While the official distances were 54 and 107 miles, riders seemed to cover those and a variety of distances in between. Nearly 300 cyclists lined up for the roll-out on Saturday morning. Some people raced, others rode. I chose the 54 mile route and rode to finish.

Having not done much cycling over the winter, the distance itself was daunting. Throw in a bunch of steep hills and gravel roads on a CX bike, and that definitely upped the challenge. We rode with a pack of friends and teammates for about half the ride, then split off with a smaller group for the second half. The only water stop came at mile 26, where, despite warnings on the website of the contrary—“No snacky snack. Nada”—I was delighted to find animal crackers, bananas, and salty sunflower seeds for the taking. We were also lucky to have the most gorgeous spring day.

I loved the laid-back feel of the entire weekend. There was no registration fee for the ride—just an opportunity to provide a donation to help cover expenses. There was also a group camp site available, where we reserved spots in a bunkhouse along with 12 friends. I was instantly brought back to summer camp. On Friday night, there was a quarter barrel in the mess hall, and on Saturday morning, oatmeal and Kickapoo coffee were served before the 9 a.m. start time. It was also our friend Greg’s birthday on Saturday, so after the ride, we celebrated with plenty of food, beer and cake. Great friends, beautiful scenery, and a challenging bike ride—a perfect weekend in my book.1609809_10103074510573047_5871951290178925764_n

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Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

October 15th, 2013 — 12:56pm

IM2013Although I had experience on my side leading up to Ironman Wisconsin, this year’s race presented me with a new challenge. When I took my current job a few years ago, I knew the biggest event I’d manage fell precisely the same weekend of Ironman Wisconsin—every year.  Four 12 hour days on my feet and unpredictable stress hardly seemed like the best plan for the final days leading up to an Ironman. But when Ironman rolled around in 2012, I found myself sucked into the excitement and registered for the 2013 race in a fog of optimism (or…stupidity).Ironman-1

During the summer, training went well. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some regrets about how much of my summer revolved around swimming, biking and running. There were certainly times I longed for a more carefree and spontaneous lifestyle without the constant nagging feeling of when and what my next workout would be. At the same time, I love being outside and training, feeling the burn of a hard workout, and knowing that I’m prepared.

The week leading up to the race was both mentally and physically exhausting. I had trouble sleeping, and in addition to work, I was also trying to navigate a big life decision. It was all too much. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to pack my gear and transition bags and prepare the week’s meals in advance. I wore compression socks under my pants during my long work days, and just tried to get through the week in one piece.Ironman-4

The weather on race day was perfect. Other than a bit of wind that would come into play during the swim and bike, it was an Ironman dream day with temperatures in the mid-70’s and overcast skies. The fact that Sunday was sandwiched in between two days with sweltering temperatures made me that much more thankful for mother nature’s generosity.

On race day I woke up shortly before 5 a.m. and had breakfast—a bagel with peanut butter, coffee, and a banana, precisely what I’ve eaten before each Ironman I’ve ever done. Larry and I drove downtown and parked, and tears welled up in my eyes as we walked up to the Monona Terrace—I was so excited, and I always get a little emotional thinking of how hard and long so many people have worked for this one day. I then set off on my list of pre-race tasks: dropping off transition bags, pumping air in my bike tires, body marking, adding a pair of socks to my running gear bag, getting my wetsuit on and zipped up, and then finally, walking down the helix to the swim start. I knew I needed to get to the swim start early—you wouldn’t believe how backed up it can get as 2,500 athletes make their way into the water. And I like getting in early for a spot up front.

More than 20 minutes before the start, I was treading water near the inside orange buoy in one of the front rows. As the race start drew nearer, it became more and more congested with extended arms and legs flailing everywhere, and I’d move around to find open water. At one point, a nearby male swimmer announced to everyone around—I’m just confirming that everyone here can swim the course in around an hour. I’m guessing he wondered if some had misseeded themselves? I nodded my head confidently, then turned away to focus on the race.Ironman-2

At 7am, the cannon blew and we were off. Having lined up near the inside buoy, I had placed myself in line with the most direct path, but also in an area where I’d be more likely to encounter aggressive behavior, like elbows and feet directed at my head. But amazingly, it was one of the cleanest Ironman swims I’ve experienced. There were people all around me, but I kept my head down and stayed out of the line of danger. It was also my first time experiencing the one loop swim course implemented in 2012 (it was previously two loops). The course was fine, but it felt like it went on forever. It was also probably the waviest Ironman swim I’ve experienced—not the whole time, but parts of it, like when we were in the furthest corner of the rectangular course.  I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself then as I recalled my favorite activity at water parks growing up: swimming laps in the wave pool. That early training served me well. I finally reached the swim finish in just over an hour (1:02), my slowest Ironman Wisconsin swim, but I figured it was good enough considering the course change and waviness. I was later surprised to learn that it was the fastest in my age group.Ironman-6

Transition went smoothly and I was off on my bike. The first ten miles felt easy and fast—I was likely benefiting from a great tail wind. At some point early in the first loop, though, my legs became really achy. If the rest of the race feels like this, I told myself, I’m in big trouble. That feeling continued for another 20 or 30 miles. I started second guessing my taper, wondering if I should have done more mileage in the final weeks. Or maybe it was from all the hours on my feet at work in the days leading up to the race? Luckily, it did get better, and I felt stronger on the second loop. I focused on drinking a lot of Powerade and taking down gels and two or three salt tablets every hour.

There are many parts of the bike course that are so fun and memorable—especially riding through throngs of spectators gathered and cheering Tour de France style, especially in and around Verona. I loved seeing friends and family at so many points during the day. They all made me smile. I had one more scare going up one of the biggest hills on the second loop—sharp cramps in my calves. I reduced my effort and frantically choked down several salt tablets and Powerade, which thankfully seemed to do the trick. Heading back to Madison on Whalen Road is always a great feeling—after spending 6 hours on the bike, the only thing I want to do is get off. Plus, I love the Ironman Wisconsin marathon. When I get to that point of the race, I always think, okay, I’ve got this. This is the fun part. Total time on the bike was 6:02.Ironman-8

Everything went smoothly again in transition, and I was thankful I had put an extra pair of socks in my transition bag to change into. Besides being severely dehydrated, I felt great going into the marathon and quickly found my running legs. The temperature was cool and ideal for a marathon. My focus was to rehydrate and continue fueling—I took in 1-3 cups of Powerade at each aid station, a gel every third aid station, and a few salt tablets each hour. I drank virtually no water to avoid the sloshy stomach feeling. For the most part, I felt really good and was able to hold a consistent effort, though my energy did ebb and flow. I race-walked the Observatory hill to save energy (someone once told me that it’s important to keep your cadence high when you walk hills). From the looks of my split times (which varied from a 7:19 to a 9:38 mile pace), I seemed to struggle a big in the middle of the marathon (mile 13 to 19 or so), but gained speed a few miles from the finish. It’s hard not to get excited at that point!Ironman-9

My favorite part of the run was seeing my mom and Larry’s family gathered on State Street and other friends along the way, like Jill and Ryan, Matt and Julie, and Kim and Matt. I was so, so thankful for the amazing support.

I finished the marathon in 3:47, with an overall time of 11:03, which put me fourth in my age group. My goal had been to finish the race in 11 hours, so I was right there. It was my second best Ironman Wisconsin finish time. Overall, I was pleased with the swim and run, but disappointed with my bike split. Several people asked afterward if I had qualified for Hawaii. Not this time. I was one place and two minutes away. But that’s okay. I’ve been to Hawaii and I told myself before the race that even in the off chance that I qualified, I wouldn’t take the spot. I hope to go back someday, but not anytime in the near future. For now, there are many other places I’d like to see and explore.

So that’s that. It was another incredible journey. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to do this race again, and for all of the support from family, friends and co-workers. I’m especially grateful for the love, patience, and support Larry showed me during the months of hard training. I can’t see myself doing another Ironman triathlon in the near future, but someday I’ll be back.

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Bring the Noyz CX Race Report

October 10th, 2013 — 10:43am

noyes2This past weekend featured two days of cyclocross racing from Noyes Park in Milwaukee. The race was put on by the My Wife Inc. team and appropriately named “Bring the Noyz.” I raced at 1pm each day with the women’s category 1/2 field. Since it was my first WCA race of the season, and start position is based on points, I was lined up in the back both days.

On Saturday, I had a great start and found myself near the front of the pack. But the ground was slick, and I had some combination of bad tread and overinflated tires that caused me to go down repeatedly. Other than CX nationals in January, I’m not sure I’ve ever gone down so many times in one race. It was extremely frustrating. I’d be near the front and then slide out on a corner, only to watch most of the field ride by me. Then I’d bust my butt to move back up again, only to go down and watch the whole thing play out again. Eventually I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. I rode the last few laps cautiously and finished in 5th place. noyes

The  next day I had family obligations and thought I probably wouldn’t be able to race. But I threw my bike in the car anyway, and it ended up working out. After Saturday’s disappointment, I felt like I had some unfinished business.  This time I borrowed Larry’s newer tires with better tread and erred on the side of underinflating my tires. There were muddier sections from Saturday’s rain, but it was all very rideable. I didn’t have a chance to pre-ride the course, which is usually really important to me, but I hoped it would be fairly similar to Saturday’s course.

I had an okay start on Sunday that put me somewhere in the middle of the pack. Overall, my race was a lot cleaner. No slippage or spills—I felt much more controlled in the corners. Eventually I moved my way up to third, with second place in sight. I got closer and made the pass. The woman in first was a professional and didn’t seem reachable. I continued to ride hard and held second through the finish. DSC00622

I took home a $200 paycheck on Sunday—which just blows my mind. I’m not used to the whole prize money thing. While it’s great to take home money to help cover the endless costs of bike racing, in a small way, I don’t like it. I don’t want money to ever become some sort of carrot that makes me want to race and do well. I want it always to be about the pure love of the sport and motivation that comes from within—pushing myself simply to see how far I can go. Not how much money I can make.

I’m not going to argue about the cupcakes, though. I thoroughly enjoyed my frosting-covered podium cupcake with sprinkles that I devoured in one bite. I totally deserved that.

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Trek CXC Cup Race Report

September 24th, 2013 — 7:46am

DSC00531I raced both days of the Trek Cyclocross Collective Cup at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo this past weekend. It was the first year of the event, initiated after the USGP race series came to an end in 2012. Not wanting to loose a UCI race in Wisconsin, the local CX community banded together with tremendous leadership from race directors JP and Renee. In the span of a few short months, they recruited sponsors, built a small army of volunteers, created a course from scratch, and invited some of the best CX riders in the world to Wisconsin.

It was my first race of the season and I couldn’t have been more excited. After months of Ironman training, it felt so good to hit the grass and dirt, and race in a completely different way. I was immediately reminded how much I love the sport and just can’t get enough—the challenge, the atmosphere, the people, it all just makes me happy. Interestingly, not only was it my first race, but it was also the biggest—with the largest and most competitive fields we’ll probably see all season.

I raced in the women’s cat 2/3 race both days. I was extremely nervous before the first race on Saturday. I had just gotten on my CX bike for the first time that week, and was still sore from Wednesday’s practice. I also had no idea if I was recovered enough from Ironman to race—I felt good, but still wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. One rider I know had strongly advised me against racing too soon after Ironman—he told me that it would be best to wait until mid-October to start my season. But I just couldn’t wait that long.CX2

The officials did call-ups for the start in order of registration. I had registered late, which meant starting in the back for both races. With such a large field, and the fact that the start is the most important part of a CX race in establishing position, it was not a great place to be. Interestingly, I had one of the best starts I’ve ever had on Saturday, and the absolute worst on Sunday. On Saturday, the whistle blew, I found a clear path through the pack, and after the first thirty seconds, I was probably in fourth or fifth position. Shortly after, I dropped my chain, but was thankfully able to recover quickly. In contrast, on Sunday, after the whistle blew, I immediately hit the wheel of the person in front of me and fell off my pedals. It was completely my fault, and I hope I didn’t cause the person in front of me too much trouble. That mishap put me close to last out of the start, with a lot of ground to make up.

Both races were 45 minutes long, which translated into six loops of the course. The first part of the loop was tricky—a slick, extremely steep downhill with a tricky curve leading into a monster run-up, then a set of barriers and another challenging descent with wicked off camber cornering. I tried to ride those parts cautiously, and then turn up the speed for the rest of the loop, which featured bumpy, but relatively flat terrain and a lot of cornering.CX1

On Saturday, I rode the first two loops in third place, then caught and passed the woman in second, realizing first was just ahead. At different points in the course, I would get closer to the leader, then she would pull ahead. I knew it was going to take a lot of effort to make a move. After the fourth loop, exhaustion set in and I talked myself into the fact that I was really happy with second place (I hadn’t considered a podium even a remote possibility going into the race) and that I better save some energy for Sunday’s race (and perhaps also for any lingering Ironman recovery). In hindsight, I wish I would have pushed harder those last two loops and seen what was possible. I learned after Sunday’s failed start that sometimes you only have one opportunity to go for it. But I also fully realize that the woman who eventually won on Saturday is an extremely strong rider, and even if I had given it everything to the end, she still would have likely won. But still, I wonder, what if I had dug deeper? One thing I realized is that I need to take advantage of drafting—I avoided being anywhere near the leader’s wheel, as I thought that would be uncool. But it turns out that’s completely legit in CX, or so I’ve been told.

Sunday’s race was a very different beast. Messing up the start seemed to fuel my motivation, though. I knew that I would be playing catch up, and needed to be patient and focus on passing one rider at a time. I gave it my all—this time until the very end. My favorite part was going back and forth with my friend April. We were battling it out back and forth for third and fourth place. It was intense, but we were still shouting encouraging words at each other. At one point, I was taking a terrible line on a round-about section of the course, and she yelled, Kristin, next time take the corner wider—that will give you a better line. That’s what I love most about CX—when you’re totally duking it out with another rider and pushing each other to your absolute limit, all while having a blast and truly appreciating what one another are bringing to the race.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend, and I can’t wait for more. I am really thankful to have had the opportunity to race on such a great course, and watch a few of the best riders in the world during the pro races, right here in Wisconsin. Thanks to everyone who made the inaugural Trek CXC Cup possible, and such a great success.

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Ironman Wisconsin

September 3rd, 2013 — 12:38pm

door county runThis Sunday I’ll be participating in my 9th Ironman triathlon. But first, I have a major event for work to manage Wednesday through Saturday. Here are the details for Sunday’s race:

Sunday, September 8
#476 (W30-34)

Online Athlete Tracking
live.ironman.com
On Sunday morning, you will see a link for the Live Athlete Tracker on the homepage of Ironman.com. You can also access the coverage by navigating to Events and clicking on Ironman Wisconsin. You will be able to follow progress throughout the course with split times, pace, transition, and position information. Text updates, photos, and video coverage will also be available during the day.

Spectator Guide and Course Maps
ironmanwisconsin.com

I hope I make it through this week alive!

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Door County Race Report

July 31st, 2013 — 10:05am

doorcountyAfter taking last season off from triathlons, I felt re-energized and ready to get back to racing. The Door County Triathlon (half-ironman) seemed like the perfect race to kick off this season and test my training leading up to September’s Ironman Wisconsin.

Door County is a race I know and love in a setting that can’t be beat. Going in, I felt fit and ready to race. I considered it my “A” race of the season, especially since I already know the conditions leading up to this year’s Ironman Wisconsin won’t be ideal. My biggest work event of the year is the same weekend, so I’ll be putting in 12-14 hour days on my feet the three days leading up to the race. I have no idea what that is going to look or feel like (probably not good?), so I decided earlier this season that Door County would be my highest priority race.

We arrived to Door County on Friday evening and checked in at our camp site at Egg Harbor Campground, located close to the race site. I love camping, but I was also little apprehensive about how my body would feel after sleeping on a thin mattress pad. Despite the fact that I also forgot a pillow and we had noisy neighbors, I slept better that weekend than I did all week. I was fortunate that the temperatures cooled down significantly from earlier in the week, a fleece jacket can double as a pillow, and that Larry had the foresight to pack ear plugs. It was also refreshing to hang out with several friends who were staying at the same campground.

Race morning went smoothly. We woke up at 5am and I made coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. It was the first time I had to make my race breakfast using just a camp stove! We arrived to the race site by 6am, I picked up my timing chip, set up my transition area, and then did a short warm up bike and run. I had a few minutes to sit with Larry before he helped me zip up my wetsuit and I headed out for a short  swim before the start.

Just before 8am, I lined up with the first swim wave made up of elite men and women. I’ve done the race in previous years, and there had always been separate waves for elite men and women. But this time it was just one wave of mostly men, which made for a notably aggressive start. It was immediately clear that I couldn’t hang with the lead pack, so I settled into my own pace. I ended up on my own the entire swim—no one in sight ahead or behind me. It was a lonely place, and I kept second guessing whether or not I was actually on course. It was a bummer having no draft whatsoever. At one point I realized it was raining, which was very surprising. The swim seemed to go on forever, but eventually I rounded the final turn. On the way back to shore, there was one big orange buoy notably out of line with the rest, but it felt great to see the shore and sense the end of the swim.

When I ran out of the water, someone yelled to me that I was the second female. Volunteers helped me peel out of my wetsuit, and then I was off to find my bike. I was thankful I had taken the time earlier in the morning to observe my surroundings and plot an exact path to my bike, since they all now looked exactly the same. When I got to my transition area, I threw down my wetsuit and put on my helmet, sunglasses and bike shoes, before grabbing my bike and running with it to the bike start.

The first part of the 56-mile bike course is flat and fast. I tried to ease into the bike, while simultaneously taking advantage of the opportunity for high speeds. The truth is, I never felt great on the bike course. My legs were achy and unresponsive. It was disappointing, especially since I’ve spent so much time this season on the bike, in an attempt to work my weakness. Still, I tried to keep my head in the game. I think there were two women who passed me during the bike, and I passed one. Thankfully, because of the way the start waves were structured, I didn’t have to deal with hundreds of men buzzing past me—which is my typical triathlon experience. I ate a Power Bar and a few Power Gels, but drank ridiculously little. The temperatures were cool enough that it was easy to disregard my fluid intake. But that would come back to bite me in the end!

Coming off the bike, I felt depleted and as if my eyes were rolling back into my head. But as soon as I started running, I felt like a new person. Other than some very uncomfortable pain in the ball of my foot (which has been a nuisance since cyclocross season), I felt energized and not at all like I had just biked 56 miles. Larry told me there was one woman a minute or two ahead, and another woman 8 minutes up. I thought the first woman might be within reach, but seriously doubted I’d catch the second. Within the first mile, I passed the first woman. And then a few friends who were spectating along the course let me that the other woman ahead of me was part of a relay. I was surprised and excited to know that I was in the lead and feeling good.

Halfway through the run I felt my left calf seize up in a cramp and immediately knew I was in trouble. It’s something I’ve dealt with before—a sign of dangerously low electrolyte levels. I learned my lesson the hard way during my very first Ironman Wisconsin in 2003 when my entire body seized up in one big cramp and never recovered. Nowadays I’m usually able to bounce back by popping salt tablets and downing Gatorade as soon as I feel the cramps begin (and ideally before they even begin). This time, I was able to keep the cramps from getting worse, but they stuck with me (at the same intensity and frequency) for the rest of the race. Anytime I tried to pick up the pace, I was instantly brought back to reality with a sharp cramp that warned me that I had better back off if I wanted to get to the finish line on two feet.

Eventually I came to the giant descent into the finish line and knew I was going to make it. I let my body fall forward, my legs nearly uncontrollable under me. As I approached the finish line, I realized volunteers were holding up a tape for me to break through. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to lift up my arms dramatically, so I just sort of shuffled through. Larry said that seemed to cause some confusion from race officials—was that our first female finisher? or not?  I was immediately whisked off by a reporter from a Green Bay newspaper for a quick interview. I was excited, but also very, very cognizant of the fact that there were more than a dozen waves behind me, and anyone could still win the race. Friends came up to congratulate me and asked if I had won, and I explained that I wasn’t sure. I was in the lead for now, but that could all change.

Afterwards I kept busy watching friends finish the race, getting changed, and picking up my gear from the transition area. When I finally checked the results an hour or two later, I saw that I came in second overall. Admittedly, I was disappointed—I’d come so close. But I was okay. I was glad to see that the woman who won beat me by more than 5 minutes (I think I would have been frustrated had it been really close, especially since she wasn’t in the elite wave), and honestly, I also found some comfort in knowing that she was older than me. It’s inspiring to know that women in their late 30’s and 40’s dominate endurance sports and that I’m still growing as an athlete.

In the end, it’s a race effort I’m happy with. I finished in 4 hours and 58 minutes—my second best time on the course, and my second second place finish at the Door County Triathlon. There’s a lot to think about now in terms of things that went well and not so well, and what I can improve upon for the future, but I also now know I’m on track with Ironman training. It took a lot of time to recover from this race (hence the delay of this race report), but I’m now feeling good and ready to tackle the last phase of Ironman training.

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It’s Race Time!

July 18th, 2013 — 11:24am

kandmAfter several weeks of Ironman training, it felt great last week to switch over to race mode and test my fitness leading up to this weekend’s Door County half-ironman triathlon. It was also a week of firsts: my first race of the season, first aquathon in two years, first open water swim in a Madison lake this season, and my first ever-road race. It was also the first time I crossed a finish line in first, but ended up third.

The interesting catch to last Thursday’s aquathon (1000m swim followed by a 5k run) was that participants had the opportunity to take time off their overall time by consuming food in transition. Each tray of wings, can of beer, or cupcake consumed was good for two minutes off a participant’s race time (up to 8 minutes). It’s a fun idea, but I had doubts about my ability to consume wings and cupcakes and then run a hard 5k. And I figured the time it would take me to eat a cupcake would probably cancel out any kind of advantage gained. So I bypassed the food table. And in the end, although I finished first, two women moved ahead of me in the final standings due to their iron stomachs.  I guess I have some work to do on my cupcake transitions!

I still had a great time and it was wonderful to see and catch up with so many friends. Race-wise, I felt especially good during the swim. Although I’ve been training exclusively in the pool, I felt really comfortable navigating the open water. And the run went relatively well, too. There were definitely people gaining on me, and my legs were not comfortable nor happy running fast, but I was able to gut it out and finish. And after the race, I enjoyed a few of those transition snacks.DSC00303

Saturday’s Bluemounds Classic was my very first road race, put on by my team, MadCity Velo. I volunteered my time before the race serving as the co-cookie coordinator—meaning that I helped coordinate the efforts of 8 bakers and more than 200 cookies for the post-race celebration. Sounds like my kind of job, eh? At the last minute, I decided to participate in the race, figuring it was a great opportunity to get in some very challenging hill training. The course is 24 miles, includes 2 laps of a beautiful 9-mile loop in the unglaciated region of western Dane County near Brigham Park, and finishes with an infamous four-mile climb up County Highway F to a summit finish. There were about a dozen or so women who started the race. I felt lucky to have a teammate who was generous enough to show me the ropes. We took turns pulling and she clued me in on race strategy tactics. In the end, we finished 3rd and 4th. My legs definitely felt the burn afterward. And I’ll also admit to indulging in more than my fair share of  cookie sampling post race.

This weekend I’m off to Door County to participate in the Door County half-ironman triathlon on Sunday. It’s one of my favorite races—it’s really well run and in such a beautiful spot. I see this as my “A” race of the season (more so than Ironman Wisconsin in September), so I’m going to give it my all. It’s also my first triathlon in almost two years. I feel ready and excited…not only to race, but also for a weekend away in one my favorite places.

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Fourteenth Annual Giro de Six Lakes

July 5th, 2013 — 5:43am

July 2013 001Yesterday I participated in the Fourteenth Annual Giro de Six Lakes, a brisk-paced group ride from Madison to Poynette and back, that takes place each Fourth of July. The group included more than 50 Madison cyclists. I’d never done the ride before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a great time—the ride was challenging and fun, and had a great Fourth of July twist.

I find that my effort varies drastically when riding in huge peloton—one minute I’m floating along in a cloud benefiting from the draft, and the next moment I’m barely holding on and my legs and lungs are on fire. It was the perfect ride for Ironman training—a great endurance effort with several built in intervals. And thankfully, whenever I did come close to falling off the group, one of the riders from Brazen Dropouts helped pace me back to the front.

My favorite part of the ride was when the ride organizer loaded up on candy at our gas station rest stop in Poynette and distributed bags to all of the riders. Then, on our way back to Madison, we rode through Token Creek, where the entire community was parked on blankets along the street waiting for the Fourth of July Parade to begin in another hour. We rolled through and tossed candy to the kids. The announcer cried, and here come our annual bike riders! July 2013 002

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