Tuesday, September 23, 2008

USAT Nationals Portland

My apologies for the long post but it is really hard to summarize such a stellar weekend!  

Practical Coaching on bike recon Friday

OK, I have to start even before leaving for Portland.  Going into this race, I was initially pretty nervous.  It really started last week, I couldn't sleep, was completely freaked out about getting sick, and was just kinda nervous.  Beth and I analyzed the start list of our age group, and frankly, we underestimated the  competition.  But that didn't help my nerves.  So I took a step back and realized it didn't matter who was on that start list.   All I wanted to do was have a good.  No, I wanted to have a GREAT race.  I also knew that if I did have a great day, I would have a solid race and a pretty good shot of qualifying for Worlds.  That is a pretty nice bonus of having a great race!!  So, I started to relax and got pretty calm.  As in, no butterflies.  No real stomach distress.  And I started sleeping pretty well.  And, of course, I continued to eat like a freakin' teenager.  

Hmmm, surprise.  Me, Tyler, Noell, and Sonja eating!

So that's how the trip started, strangely calm.  Which is a GREAT thing.  Sonja (PIC) and I were on the same flight out and we just did our thang and traveled really well together.  It was especially fun to think about the last time we were in Portland together....we had literally met like a week before last year's Nationals and decided to room together (best decision EVER).  She came to pick me up at the airport and that was the start of a beautiful friendship.  We were both newbies to Nationals, and it was Son's first Oly distance tri - at Nationals!!! Brave girl!!!  Anyway, we met PC teamie Noell in baggage claim in Portland, and Tyler came and picked us all up.  We were off!!

Sonja running down her age group

The major fun of the day you ask??  Heading to the Nike campus in Beaverton.  OMG.   Sonja's friend Myra works at Nike and she took us on a warm-up jog around the campus trail.  I'm sure she was surprised at how slow we were (umm 12/min miles anyone?  These people are going to Nationals??) but it was incredible.  It is the most beautiful corporate campus I have ever seen, the buildings all had names like the Lance Armstrong Center, Mia Hamm building, Tiger Woods building etc.  Oh, and the coolest track - imagine your every day, regular ol' track, put in a lush green forest in the middle of it and surrounding the track, and that's the Nike track.  Amazing.  I do have to mention green shorts stalker dude, he followed us everywhere:  the trail, the track, and the long soccer fields.  Pretty sure he was checking out Tyler.  Then we got to shop at the Nike Employee Store.  Yep....very cool.  

The Nike track as taken from a moving car

The Practical Coaching team turnout for Nationals was amazing:  Steve, Andrea, Beth, John, Sonja, Tyler, Noell, Jenna, Julie, Anthony, and Barry.   And the 4 greatest supporters I have ever encountered:  Priscilla and Michelle, and Sonja's parents Eric and Helen.  Having all of us together at this event was exciting and downright FUN.  We push each other each and every day in training and have the opportunity to share the good and not so good in training and just everyday life experiences.  My peeps:)  

Friday morning rolled around and it was time to head up to the race site (Hagg Lake) to hop on the bikes and preview the course and packet pick-up.  It was just as I remember it....hilly.  Up and down and no real flats.  The run course is tough, 3 hills on the way out and 4 on the way back (I know, the math doesn't really work out but trust me on this one).  Swim course looked great and I was ready to get going.  Still calm at this point which is something new for me.  

The bike course

Packet pick-up: me, Beth, Noell


Not my swim start wave but an awesome picture taken by Eric Willis

The swim had a great start: we lined up on the dock, sat down, and with 1 minute before the start, we got in and held onto the dock.  The horn went off but we had nothing to push off of, just let go and got a move on.  I tried to get out in front but in a controlled and non-sprint manner.  About 200 meters in I looked around and was still surrounded by women.  Rather than freaking out and thinking I was out of my league, I smiled.  Yep, I smiled in the water and said to myself, GAME ON.  This is gonna be fun!  By the first sighting buoy, the crowd had thinned out and there were maybe 8 of us with 1 or 2 clearly in the lead.  I settled on some feet for a bit (let's just call her Maria) but I kept hitting them and decided to swim next to her and in another girls wake.  By the turnaround I was swimming next to Maria, stroke for stroke.  I have never done this during a race before and I loved it.  At the next turn I saw another girl that we were catching (call her Alma), Maria saw her too and we went after her.  We were catching the wave in front of us (and yes, I admit, I swam over a guy, but come on this is nationals no time to be polite and/or nice!!!!) and even saw some swimmers from 2 waves up.  There were 3 of us now swimming together and pushing.  Alma tired a bit before the last turn into the dock and Maria and I dropped her.  I had no intention of being dropped by Maria, so we continued to swim next to each other to the end.  We both hit the mat at the same time!

21:31 swim time, tied for 3rd out of the water

T1: 2:05 (Maria 2:21 hehehehe)

Trust me, I was not going to let Maria beat me into transition.  I hauled ass up the boat ramp and into transition.  No major issues.  Helmet on, glasses on, goo in pocket.  Outta there.


Brrrr, it was cold starting off on the bike.  So I went like hell to try to warm up, and because, well, it was time.  I wanted to have a good strong ride.  I wanted to push the bike to where I would question whether or not I could run.  And I felt good.  My legs were ready to rock and roll.  I rode in my aeros pretty much the entire ride, even on the downhills where I normally hit my drops. I was passed early on by a couple of women in my age group that were very fast so they went on ahead.  But then Alma passed by me on a downhill and then had the nerve to slow down on the uphill.  Uh uh.  So I passed her on the uphill only to get passed again on the downhill.  Cat and mouse for awhile.  Finally, she pissed me off by not relinquishing her position on a pass and I was afraid of getting a penalty so I stepped it up and passed her for the last time.  It was about this time that I forgot where I was on the course.  I know, it's funny how race brain works but it's true.  I literally could not remember if I'd done the big hill twice and if I was on my second lap (I had and I was).  That was a strange feeling but then I saw the runners on the course and knew that I was in my final three miles on the course.  My legs were feeling the push on the bike but I was ready to transition.  

Bike: 1:12:15 (20.6 mph ave. on a hilly course!)

Coming into transition, apparently pretty happy about it

T2: 1:00 Toes were a bit numb from the cold and struggled with my shoes for a couple of seconds but no major issues.


Heading out, I kept telling myself, start calm, relax, concentrate on form, and then push.  but it is so difficult to stay relaxed coming out of transition and everyone taking off like a shot around you.  But I managed to not blow myself up and settle in.  Feeling started coming back to my toes, I heard all of the cheering, hit a downhill and all was well.  After the first hill, Steve caught me and had some very encouraging words as he went by.  Another girl from my age group went by and I made a mental note to catch her after the turnaround.  And then came Alma, she said hey or something to that effect as she went by on the downhill and we played our cat and mouse game again on the uphills/downhills.  I had to let her go right before the turnaround because I was afraid of blowing myself up.  Finally, I hit the turnaround at the bottom of the three hills and it was time to head back and see what was left in my legs and lungs.  I tried working with a guy from the wave ahead of me, he said let's go so I went but he didn't come with me.  I passed Trista on the second uphill and she said hey, let's work together (really not sure how she put all those words together, I was reduced to grunting at this point), you pull the uphills and stay on my shoulder for the downhills.  OK.  I am in.  She pushed on the downhills and I stayed right on her shoulder.  It was great working with her.  She wanted to catch another woman in front (once again she is talking, me - grunting) of us who had passed me earlier and I tried to stick with her but not this time.  Coming into the finishers shoot was just unreal: lined with people cheering, hearing my name over the loud speaker, and crossing the finish line.  I looked at my watch and saw a number that I could not believe.  2:23.  Holy crap.  I was exhausted but elated.  What a great race!  

This was the final stretch of the run, Trista is a few steps ahead of me

In case you were wondering, this is how I look when I finish a race

Run:  46:28 (7:29 pace) fastest run EVAH

Total: 2:23:15, 17th in age group

Me, Son, Tyler after the race (another great Eric W. shot)

Best part of the day:  All the Practical Coaching folks had a great race
Second best part of the day:  PR in the Olympic distance 
Third best part of the day:  The best cheering squad ever
Fourth best part of the day:  Celebration hot tub 

A HUGE shout out to my hubby too.....thank you for taking such good care of the girls while I was gone.  I can't do this without your support.  ILU:)

Here are a couple more pics
Me, Matty, and Beth.  We are NOT stalkers.....

Relaxing after the race

StevieP Coach Extraordinaire.  Seriously folks, I call him that for a reason.  He is truly a great coach and has helped me realize my abilities and achieve my goals.  Thanks Steve!  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Things I will not miss....

My PIC Sonja wrote a great post about the top 10 things she would NOT miss about this part of the training season.  I was going to leave a comment and then I started thinking about the items that I could add to the list.  And I kept going although mine seem to be overall season comments......  It was way too long to leave a comment on, so read her post, and here are my additions (in no particular order):
1.  No more swamp-ass (Bethie's term) from swimming and immediately transitioning to bike and/or run.
2.  Not smelling like the pond or wondering if the warm spot I just swam through was really warm or if I just swam through someone's pee.....again.
3.  Track calculations:  if we do our 200's on xx then we should be able to do xx and keep our heart rates at xxx.  The math NEVER works out.
4.  Fast but not hard.  Or was that hard but not fast.  Quick but not hard or fast.  Trying to decipher/remember what was on my schedule in the MIDDLE of the workout.  I am clearly not as bright as PIC or maybe I would have tried writing on my arm.  But I'm sure I would have just sweated it off anyways.
5.  The never-ending pile of "wicking" laundry that surprisingly grows no matter how many loads of laundry being done.
6.  When I discover I have no clean workout clothes and trying to find the least offensive smelling item in #5, sniffing it, and thinking Not Bad....
7.  Coming home after a speed workout and eating 3 pieces of pizza.  And popcorn chicken.  And macaroni and cheese.  (Guess who cooked dinner tonight??? ILU Michael)  And eating all this standing up.  Because it was too far to the table to sit down and I needed to eat.  As in NOW.  Oh yeah, and topping it off with a piece of chocolate cake thinking to myself, I could actually eat more.
8.  Avoiding the "what did you do this weekend?" question from my non-tri friends.  I mean, really, do you want to know I swam in butt-cold water, and followed it up with a torture session at the track?  My typical answer, you know not much, a bit of swimming, a little running.  Wait, I do this every weekend.  Nevermind.
9.  I will not miss StevieP Coach Extraordinaire saying to me at the track (as I am gasping for breath, begging for mercy, my heart rate around 310), Can you pick this one up?  AHHHHHH
10.  Feeling like I have been violated by my bike seat while in TT position and hitting a bump in the road.  Ouch.  

Nationals are a mere 5 days away.....leaving for Portland on Thursday!  I am very excited and cannot wait to toe the line Saturday!!!  I will attempt to update my blog on Saturday for anyone who is interested:)

P.S.  Thank you Michael for all of your support!!  It means the world to me.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

IT Happened

Ha, finally, IT happened!  I was out on my 1.5 hour TT ride, in fact, I was in the last 2 miles on my way to transition to a fast but not hard (????) run when I felt it.  Thump thump thump.....uh oh.  Pretty much knew in an instant what was going on.  Pulled over and took a look and yep, I flatted.  

Now here's the deal (which you probably don't know), I have really never changed a tire.  It's true.  Of course, I have flatted before.  But there have always been rescue people there to either take over or help (yes WSM I'm referring to the Elephant Rock flat).  I am not proud of this.  In fact, I am quite embarrassed.  But hey, it's out there now.  Which is why, when I flatted, I actually smiled.  Good, let's nip this in the bud.  But, of course, I made the rescue call to Michael!!  He answered on the first ring because he knew I was riding and said "What's wrong?".  You see, the last time I made the ride phone call, I was driving myself to the ER.  So I told him and asked if he could come help me.  

In the meantime, I walked my bike to a grassy area and decided to get down to business.  Got the rear tire off.  Got some tools, CO2 cartridges, and a tube out of my back pouch.  Huh.  OK.  I have watched many people change a tire and with a bit of finagling I got one side of the tire out of the rim.  OK, cool I'm on a roll!  I get the other side out.  I break out the tube and the CO2 cartridge.  Now this looked tricky......but I somehow figured that out.  Then Michael showed up, Look Honey - I'm doing it!!!  I'm changing my own tire!!!  So, I can pretty much say that I did the whole thing by myself.  So there you have it.  I did it.  And yes, it took 2 CO2 cartridges, like I said those things are tricky!  You can make fun of me if you want but I am pretty tickled about this!!  Mind you it took me 15 minutes. I.DID.IT!!  

Now back to that "fast but not hard" part of the workout.  Those were the instructions for the run.  Hmmmm.  Seems like an oxymoron to me.  Isn't fast hard?  But sometimes hard is not fast.  Huh.  So I started out up a hill.  Phew, didn't feel fast but then I saw my first mile split come up.  Well OK it was fast.  But was it hard?  I was still contemplating this going into my hilly mile 2 and 3 and pushing the uphills.  Oh, now I think I get it.  Maybe hard means not getting my heart rate to 167 trying to keep the pace on an uphill??!!!  DUH.  Oops, too late.  Mile 4 I was unable to get the heart rate back down, I was hot and tired.  But, probably a good reminder of transitioning to my run after riding.  Don't take it out too hard.....how many times do I have to learn this miserable lesson???

On the countdown to Nationals, a full workout schedule this week and weekend and then ease into a taper.  Although looking at my schedule I am missing where the obvious taper thing is.  But, I know StevieP Coach Extraordinaire has a plan.  And though it may not look or smell like a taper.  I'm sure it is.  

Happy Trails!

Yurt Camping

It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Ford Family!  Between our camping trip, Michael's travel, getting my last remaining workouts in before Nationals......there has been no time for any blog posts!  

Labor Day weekend is our annual yurt camping weekend.  We head up to Sylvan Lake State Park outside of Eagle where there are three yurts next to each other.  Michael found this spot 4 years ago and we've been up ever since.  The last couple of years, we've had our neighbors join us so that we can take over all three yurts and have the place to ourselves!  It works out great, we switch cooking duties at each yurt and the girls run wild on the trail connecting them.  

Iz, Ava, and Primo - 2 of the yurts in the background

Sunday was a gorgeous day and I woke up early to get my run in - 7 miles with hard efforts on miles 2, 3, 5 and 6.  It was hilly which I thought was great prep for Nationals except for the fact we were at 9,000 feet.  But it was a great run!  I got back and the mom's started cooking breakfast and Dan started making bloody mary's.  Yee haw not a bad recovery drink!  Mark will now be known as Hot Cakes since that man can make some awesome pancakes on the campfire.  
Everyone (except for me) went on a great hike to the caves after breakfast.... I stayed back with Primo because he didn't look like he was ready for a hike:( He's 1o years old now and his hiking days seem to be behind him.  So we hung out in the sun and read a book.  I can't remember the last time I was able to sit down and read 100+ pages in one sitting, it was so peaceful.   

The girls on a hike

Dan, Mark, and Michael grilling dinner with Charlotte looking on

Breakfast time!

Charlotte at the lake!  It was the only way to get her to nap - car ride.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  We made it back from the mountains in time to head to the pool for the last swim of the summer!  I can't believe summer is over!!!  

Peace out!