Monday, August 31, 2009

Countdown

It's finally time. For almost a year I have had this trip planned. A year. Mind you, I actually only started to plan the vacation part after I got home from Tuscaloosa. Details. But nonetheless, Saturday my family and I leave for Australia. Or Austraia as Charlotte says. I will race in the ITU Triathlon World Championships on September 12. Toe the line with the best of the best. How fun is this going to be? There are so many people to thank that have helped me get here: financially, physically and mentally. You know who you are and THANK YOU!! This is going to be an amazing experience and I am ready to take it all in:) I will send updates from Aussie-land and will have access to Twitter and email and Facebook. But Twitter updates are the easiest so once again......follow me @michelleford6p!

But this week is nutty....training, packing. The process of getting ready to leave for 2 weeks. And I seem to have caught myself a little cold too. So now I have to get healthy to go sit on a plane with recirculated air for 14 hours. The kiddos have DVD players, iPods, Nintendos .....pretty much every conceivable electronics device to make my trip that much more enjoyable. I mean their trip.

In other news, Michael completed his first Olympic distance triathlon yesterday in Windsor! The weather was ccccooooold. For us spectators. But he did great and really enjoyed his race, I am so proud of him! Way to go!

Charlotte and Iz at the swim start. Probably should have been decked out in fleece and wool hats.
Look how grey it was!
Michael coming in off the bike
Finishing up.....he looked a bit too happy!

No question who the star is here!

Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 USAT Age Group Nationals

Note: This is LONG!

Let me go on record, I love Tuscaloosa. I know, I know, before heading to Alabama for the first time in my life, I could say I wasn't enthusiastic. At all. Hot and humid was pretty much all I could think about. How could USAT hold a race in such horrid conditions. (OK, well horrid conditions for moi) What does Tuscaloosa have to offer??? So I planned my trip with as little time in 'Bama as I could get away with. In to town late Thursday night (although that was due to United and miles), race Saturday, and out early Sunday morning.

Too bad for me. Tuscaloosa is a pretty cool place. The folks in Alabama are incredibly friendly and nice, everyone knew about the triathletes that were invading their beautiful city and we were welcomed with open arms. And the race venue? It was beautiful! Mind you, the water in the river was a tad bit warm, and as a local said...dingy. But it was tree-lined, hilly, good road conditions, and there was some shade on the run. And it was right next to the University of Alabama!


Anywho, I arrived Thursday night and PIC Sonja was waiting for me and we drove the hour to Tuscaloosa. It was late but as always we entertained ourselves with music and fun chatter. Tyler and Beth were our roomies for the weekend and they were waiting up for us. It was late and I'm sure we could have stayed up much longer but we needed to calm down, quit laughing and get some sleep. We are, after all, very serious athletes.

Like I said, serious athletes. Very. Serious.

I missed the "C"

Friday morning we got up and went for a nice warm-up jog on the campus. School is in so we were weaving in and out of students but had a ball checking out the campus. It was definitely humid so we were all soaked after just a few minutes. Oh well. No whining. Everyone is going to have to race in the same conditions. Breakfast at IHop and then off to a meeting with TriBoomer and Athletes4aCure. We volunteered (rather, Son and I volunteered and hooked Beth and Tyler to join us) to do a live twitter cast of the elite race after our race on Saturday. We were planning on watching the race anyway (friend Amy D was racing her first ITU race as a pro!!!) and knew that this would be a fun way for us to give back to the triathlon community and this cause.

Beth, me, Brian aka TriBoomer, Tyler, Son

Then it was time for packet pick-up, bike pick-up, racking our bikes in transition, and checking out the race course.

Tyler was driving so we thought we should wear our helmets....

Paul Mitchell was raising money for its foundation so Priscilla, Son, Beth and I had red extensions put in our hair!

Having fun in the back seat!

Swim finish with the dingy water

Going into this race I felt pretty calm. I had a recovery week and by Wednesday I felt like I needed a workout. I was already packed. Thursday I was jittery....think me on 18 cups of coffee (and I only had 1 cup!). Zowie I needed to get on the plane and get to the business of racing. But I wasn't nervous. I knew the conditions could be tough but there was not alot I could do about it and I had no idea how it would effect me. So I just went with the flow. Maybe I was too focused on what I would wear during the race (the race was not wetsuit legal and my current tri shorts are too big to swim in). But maybe that was good because it didn't give me any time to focus on the race and the possibilities.

The course looked tough! Decent sized hills on the 2-loop bike course and a couple really big hills on the run. Not flat at all except for the run finish. But that is good....

I slept great and woke up right before the alarm.....RACE MORNING! The four of us went about our business of getting ready and we were off to transition. I was able to drink a mix1 (my all time favorite pre-race meal/drink) and ate half an almond butter sammie. Other than that I felt good. I was still worried about what my sciatica might do on the run and, of course, that pesky stomach muscle pull that only shows up when I'm redlining. And I was about to redline for 2+ hours.

The crazy atmosphere in transition

Steve, Tyler, Anthony, Sonja and I went for a little warm-up jog next to the river. We stopped and looked at some of the swimmers already in the water and realized that there was a current in the river. Which was strange because the guy who told us the water was dingy also said that there was no current because they control the flow of the water from the dam.....but there was absolutely a current. And it was strong. We watched some swimmers go nowhere in the water and may have actually gone backwards. Uh oh. When we returned to the start area, the first swimmer was just getting out of the water. In 30 minutes. We heard he normally swam 22 minutes. Huh. There clearly were people in the water that were struggling. And, the long part of the swim course was directly into the current. This will be interesting.....Coach Steve-O had a couple of last minute instructions for me based on the current and a last minute goal (which I just kind of chuckled at) and I was in the water trying to warm-up in less than 6 minutes before my wave start. Not likely.

SWIM
I lined up in my usual position for the swim and we were off!!! I was totally calm and relaxed at the start and just started swimming but not pushing because I knew the big push of the swim wasn't at the start. I let a couple of girls go.......that was kinda hard but I knew there was some work coming up. First buoy everything was going well, my stroke felt great and my breathing was under control. Second buoy was where we saw the stationary swimmers and I positioned myself right where I thought I needed to be for the current. I was swimming straight for the buoy and I thought....this isn't so bad.....and then I took another 6 strokes and sighted again. And I was completely off course!!! Unbelievable. And there was a kayak there trying to point me and another girl back on course. Some corrections in my line and I made it around the buoy but I was pretty surprised at how off course I was in such a short amount of time. Now the hard part. I picked up my effort at this point but I can tell you that the middle red buoy did not seem to get any closer. And I couldn't even see the yellow turn buoy. And that damned red buoy just didn't get any closer. I made a conscious effort to increase my stroke cadence and tried to stay relaxed. But I just didn't feel like I was making any headway. Phew. Finally made it to the red buoy and saw the yellow buoy on the horizon. Are you f****g kidding me???? OMG. My swimming stud friend Cory was in the wave 3 minutes behind me and about this point I saw him cruising along right next to me.....YEAH FEET!!! I did my best to stay in his bubbles but it was probably only for about a minute. I finally made the yellow buoy and now just had to get to shore. I felt like I had been in the water forever. I got out and looked at my watch.....are you kidding me??? I can normally swim a race in 21 - 23 minutes. Today's time??? 29:33. I just kind of laughed and noticed that a girl had been on my feet for at least half the swim. BEOTCH! She beat me into transition.

(Note: because of flooding earlier in the week due to hurricane ???, the dam was opened which caused the current)

T1
Not much to report here except I could tell I had expended a bit more effort than usual in the swim. I got my speedsuit off (thank you Syd!!!) and got the heck outta there.

T1 1:47

Bike
Finally on the bike I knew I was supposed to take the first lap of the 2 lap course "easy". Whatever. The girl on my feet in the swim passed me right away as I was getting my feet in my shoes and it was all I could do not to go after her. Relax and do your own race I kept reminding myself. My heart rate was all jacked up due to the hard swim and I hit a hill before I even had a chance to relax and get it under control. I think the first part of the ride was uphill. I finally relaxed and felt in control at the first dog leg. I saw a bit of drafting and kept out of it. And I felt great every time I passed a rider with a disc wheel. Haha!!! And I really started to feel OK. And I passed the girl on my feet on the second lap. My legs ached but it was all manageable. I felt like I was pushing but in control. I did however feel my silly stomach pull-thingy. For some reason, when I'm redlining in TT position it locks up and becomes almost painful. But I tried to relax and breathe through it. I knew it would be a problem so now I was in manage mode. I stood up out of the saddle each hill and it was all good. I only got passed by a couple of people and I had expected to be passed by many more during the ride. But it never happened. It was kind of surreal! And then it was time for T2....the bike seemed to go by fast!!

Bike 1:06:48 (ave. 22.3mph)

T2
Damn stomach thing really roared to life as I hit transition. But I racked my bike, put on my shoes, grabbed my number and hat and moved on out.

T2 1:12

Run
My main goal for the run was to be consistent and not have a total meltdown like I had at Boulder Peak (not that I may or may not have had control of that). Start out strong but conservative. I had 3 good hills to get through before the flat section to the finish. I grabbed water at the aid station and put ice down my sports bra. So far, so good. But I was in manage mode....the stomach thingy was there in the background. Grrrrrrr. Up the big hill and to the turnaround. And then I saw the strangest thing. I saw PIC. And my race brain couldn't figure out what had happened. I started behind PIC. Why was she behind me now? CRAP, I thought. Was it a 3 lap bike course???? WTF? And it dawned on me that I had passed her on the swim. And then it slowly occured to me that for the first time EVER in my triathlon career that the swim was going to have a major impact on results. I was pretty sure I was top 5. OMG now I just need to hang on and I'm going to have a pretty good result. Steve-O passed me on the third hill and pointed behind him for me to follow.....I tried. But I was breathing pretty hard so I hung with him for a minute and he went on his merry way and told me to relax my breathing. And then a minute later Son was there. I knew it was her, I know her breathing, I have trained with her day in and day out for the last 7 months. Go Sonja...I said to her.....and she told me to stay with her on the downhill.....Oh I wanted to but I was on the edge of blowing up. I relaxed my shoulders and tried to ride the downhill. And away she went. But I was determined. I was on the flat stretch and I figured I only had about 20 minutes left. Can I hold this pace for 20? Sure I can. And my breathing completely relaxed and I felt great. I picked it up a little. And then I saw Tyler's finish line. And I knew I only had a quarter mile to go. This is it. Make it good and don't let anyone else catch you. I finished strong with a bit of kick. Yee Haw!

Run: 44:30 (personal best)

Overall time: 2:23:48
5th place age group
39th female (not bad for an old lady)

Qualified for 2010 Team USA in Budapest, Hungary

I looked down at my watch and saw my time as I was gasping for air. Really?? Even with the slow swim time? Even before looking at my watch I felt good about the race. But I was surprised at the time, I didn't think I had broken 2:30. I left it out there, managed my discomforts and finished strong.

And the best part? Not only did I have a good race, but so did my Practical Coaching teamies. Steve, Sonja, Beth, Lori and I qualified for Worlds next year. Tyler, Anthony and Barry had fabulous races. What a cool day. I love racing with my teamies around, supporting them and vice versa. And just knowing that they are all out on the course.....it is an awesome feeling. I am so lucky to know and train with these wonderful peeps.

Team 1 (me and Beth) at our lookout point for the Elite race

Volunteering for the twittercast was an absolute blast. Sure we were tired. Sure we didn't get the recovery we needed. So we needed to sit down. What overcame all that was the fact that we were out there supporting a great cause and having a great time doing it. I look forward to helping TriBoomer and Athletes4aCure again in the future!!

Me, Sonja, Beth

5th place podium finish (I got a bottle of fish oil!!)

Celebration dinner


Beth, Jacob, me. Jacob won the fastest combined transition time competition. 1:37 for both transitions!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Much about nothing

I am sitting here with just over 12 hours until my plane departs DIA for the hotbed (literally) of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (well, landing in Birmingham and driving to Tuscasloosa). Home of the University of Alabama and race site for the USAT Age Group Nationals. With all of my training buddies in tow it is bound to be a fabulous weekend!!

For those of you on Twitter (follow me @michelleford6p), a couple of us have signed up to help @triboomer and @athletes4acure cover the live pro race after the age group race on Saturday....a Twitter Cast! Sonja and I will be taking pictures and video and posting current leaders on the bike and run. This will be a blast! Last year we did the same thing but in an unofficial/stalker-ish way. Pictures should be better quality this year with my new phone!

Start of the men's pro race
It was cold in Portland last year. I expect fewer clothing items in Tuscaloosa.

So, I leave tonight and 2 hours later Michael and Charlotte return from their quick trip to California to visit G-ma Nelly. I miss them and won't see them till Sunday....

My little bat-girl

A couple of Charlotte-isms in the last week that make me giggle:

Char (I'm on the trainer): You're riding your bike?
Me: Yes
Char (looking around): Well, where are you going?

Then....
Char (alone in the family room playing a game): Who tooted?
Me, Michael and Iz look at each other: Huh?
Char: Oh, it was me!!!! hehehehehe

So there you have, my random ramblings for this Thursday morning. I need a workout.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekly Update

Monday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed
Tuesday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed
Wednesday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed
Thursday: Thankfully a day OFF!! (but only this week)
Friday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed
Saturday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed
Sunday: Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed

Rinse and Repeat.

There's a reason I haven't posted any weekly updates of late. A couple of reasons really. But mainly it is because all I have been doing for the last 2 weeks has been speedwork.

At first I admit, it was kind of fun. I have been waiting all season for some quality speed (not drugs peeps, my abundant use of coffee is legal). All the long swimbikeruns. Hours and hours of distance work. So many hours that I had to remind coach Steve that I am not doing an Ironman at the end of August with the 17 Hour Training Day crew. Well, at least not this year.

So bring the speed work on!! I looked at my schedule and saw nothing but short, intense workouts. What to do with only a 2 to 3 hour session?? All the time left in the day....oh, my productivity will go way up during the day. Loads of laundry, tons of research, looking for new clients, lots of cooking etc. This is gonna be great. And it did, it started out great. I had a couple of fantastic sessions on the bike and run that I felt very good about. And then Steve-O reminded me that you'll probably feel a bit flat for the next week or so......and I did. After the first couple of speed sessions I was flat out exhausted. Drained. Not a lick of energy. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch. And eat. But then I'd have to drag my butt off the couch to get to the kitchen. How badly did I need to eat? For the first time in months, I woke up in the middle of the night. Starving. Had to feed the beast to get back to sleep. 0 to hungry in 3.9 seconds. Oh, and how fun am I? I have yet to be able to watch an entire movie all the way through. Tonight I promised my hubby....we can watch half of Frost/Nixon tonight and the rest tomorrow! But I'm not sure I'll even make it half way right now!!! Good times.

A few of us have also been trying to train for the heat and humidity of Tuscaloosa for Nationals next weekend. This consists of putting on clothes for your run/ride when it's 90 degrees. The first time, I put on a long sleeved shirt for my 1pm run without any shade. I was dehydrated in approximately 30 seconds. The first 2 miles went OK. The last 4? Hot. Thirsty. Need a nap. The next run with a long sleeved shirt I brought the water bottle. At least my brain isn't fried. Yet. PIC and I saw someone heat training at the gravel pond earlier this week. He had on a hat, long sleeved shirt, and sweat pants. I guess I'm just not that serious!

And so it's progressed over the last week and a half. Speed, speed, speed, speed. Another session today that went fairly well. A couple of mini-sessions coming up this week. And then the true test coming up this weekend. Nationals is here, I can hardly believe it's August. And that means Worlds is right around the corner......


Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Performance" video

I just saw this video on Everyman Tri and had to post it....it made me giggle!!! The first rap/cycling video EVAH....

Performance that's the name of the game

If this silly tune gets stuck in my head I am DOOMED.


Monday, August 10, 2009

What A Weekend

The family did its best to wear ourselves out this weekend! We started Friday night by heading to Boulder Creek to play and picnic with PIC's family and new friends H&B. I don't think I have been tubing in the Creek, well, since college. And though we were a bit tentative at first, it was a blast!! Charlotte sat on my lap and giggled the whole way down even after getting dumped. Isabelle was a wee bit frightened after she went under and decided not to go for round 2. I tried to lose my favorite crocs (x2) but they were rescued. I even got a bit of rock rash on my bum! We all ate, talked, and watched the kids play and the sun set. It was a beautiful evening!

Charlotte is always game for more fun. I may or may not have been dumped off my tube....but there is no photographic evidence!

Michael crossing the creek

My sister's wedding reception was Saturday night (yep, the wedding was in June in Hawaii with just the family). I had so much fun seeing old family friends and catching up with high school friends too. It is so cool to see time pass with these people, I've known them for practically my entire life and they are always around for the milestones. My girls behaved beautifully even though there were no other kids around and we loved meeting Nicole and John's friends.

All dressed up and yes, I am wrestling Iz

Friends and family

Newlyweds Nicole and John

Ummm, table 7 was clearly the place to be

My parents

Isabelle and Mary having a deep conversation

Charlotte and her new favorite "toy" - a Blackberry

As we drove home, we saw a fireworks display and stopped at the side of the road to watch. Nice evening topper!



On Sunday, Michael left the house early to ride Highgrade and the girls and I made breakfast and watched a movie. Very relaxing. OK, it was too relaxing. I needed to get my workout done but needed a bit of help getting out the door. Michael packed up the kids and I packed up my bike and we headed back to Chatfield. I got my ride done and the family played at the "beach" for awhile. A stop at Dairy Queen on the way home and a bbq on the deck wrapped up our fabulous weekend.

No wonder we all went to bed at 8. Phew!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

State Games of America

On Saturday I drove myself down to Colorado Springs to participate in a little sprint triathlon at the State Games of America. The entire event is pretty cool, something like forty different sports for kids of all ages to compete in. The triathlon fit perfectly into my schedule and after the near "disaster" at Boulder Peak (I know, I know, it wasn't really a disaster, more like a disappointment) I was just wanting to have a positive experience before heading into my "A" races later this month and September.

I woke up in a good mood and had just a bit of tummy butterflies. I could still eat though (Mix1 is the BEST!!!) and had a small cup of coffee on the drive. I was having a good time listening to cool music and watching the sun come up. Even though transition opened at 5:30 I purposely decided to be anti-Type A and I showed up around 6am. I still got a fantastic transition spot! This race was so low key that there were only 6-8 bikes per rack. It made for a long transition area but I was comfy and could have even had a tent popped up in the space I had.


A. Newt ready to go....look at the room she had on the rack!

After setting up, I took a nice long jog around the lake. Surprisingly, after a 100 mile bike on Wednesday followed by a 6 mile run and then a 12 mile run on Thursday, my legs felt nice jogging. I picked up the pace a couple of times and knew I would have a good run. My potty visits were right on time and I was getting excited. The water temp was supposedly 74 degrees and I even flirted with the possibility of going without a wetsuit but Saturday morning the air temp was only mid-50s and I was a bit chilled. So then the question was sleeves or sleeveless. Having 2 wetsuits now is making my life difficult. I made the call - sleeves - because I remembered that last week's sleeveless pond swim really ticked me off because the wetsuit would not behave (kept coming undone in the back, wetsuit hickies, pull string wrapping around my arm etc.).

The other great thing about this race was that there were tons of newbies toeing the start line. I LOVE watching these people because it always reminds me of where I started.......Danskin in 2003 - and it brings back great memories. And because I had people help me out all those years ago with my endless questions, I always try to help everyone I possibly can that are new to the sport. A couple of women had no idea where to put their race numbers and weren't afraid to ask me so I spent a few minutes with them before heading to the beach. Really, the newbies are the coolest.

Time for the swim start!!! As I have talked about before, I hate swimming with the boys. EWWWWWWW! They are aggressive and full of testosterone and ready to hit/kick/swim over anyone in their way. And my wave had boys. I'm pretty sure it was the old fart wave (40+) and the boys were foaming at the mouth ready to go. Normally, I head to the front of the line and swim to the front of the pack. But with these boys???? Nope. I lined up right behind super swimmer Cory with hopes that I could ride his draft through the first couple of minutes of craziness. No such luck. Feet and arms everywhere. Yucky boys!!!! Finally I made it to clear water without too much damage and just tried to get in my groove.

Swim: 12:06

Transition went smoothly but last minute decided to not wear sunglasses. My favorite pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses broke last week and I love love love racing in them. My other pair is too dark and it was still kind of cloudy so I opted out of the glasses. (yes, that was another shameless product plug) Although I raced last week's crit sans glasses without a problem, that may not have been my best choice...

I started out on the ride knowing that there was a downhill and then a decent sized uphill. I hadn't previewed the course but got a glimpse of the hill on a drive-by. And the course was 4 loops so I figured it must be a downhill, uphill, downhill and an uphill. Times 4. Huh. The first downhill was fun except for the fact that I couldn't see!!! The lack of glasses and the cold wind and the downhill speed made my eyes water and my nose run. Hoping there are no pictures because clearly, that would not be pretty. Then the start of the first uphill and I swear it felt like I had a flat because I had slowed down so much. Nope. No flat. Just a big hill with a headwind. Lovely. Up and out of the saddle to the top, a corner, and a fast downhill. The next uphill wasn't as steep but I still got out of the saddle to climb. At this point my quads screamed at me a bit, they were feeling the effects of the last week (ummm, last 6 months). Oh well. It was what I had. And so I just counted the hills to get my 4 laps in. Before I knew it I was headed back to transition and my feet were numb.

Bike: 40:45

Racked bike, and almost fell over trying to put my flats on numb feet. Left transition and noticed a women ahead of me seemingly running at a good clip. Perfect! I had a bogie!! I reminded myself to just get in my groove and slowly reel her in. Whatever. I passed her in the first half mile. OK, here we go! But I could tell by her breathing that she would not fight me on the pass. My breathing was under control and hers was labored. About this time a 22 year old boy toy passed me and I thought he was cruising. But he never got that far ahead of me, I was pacing with him! I saw Cory on the dog leg of the run (well, he saw me I was a bit focused) and then I was at the turnaround. I still felt great. My hammies were a bit tight but I didn't have any of the cement-like feeling I had at the Peak. I could also feel that stomach cramp just a bit but I'm not sure if it was a breathing cramp or related to my stomach muscle pull (blah blah blah). But I managed it and just kept going, tried to pick it up slightly, and tried to reel in boy toy. And then I was done. Sprints tris go by so quickly!!

Run: 21:11 (PR!!!)

I felt great even though I had no idea what my times were. I was pretty sure I had won my age group because no one passed me. And that was wonderful and everything but I didn't care. I knew in my heart I had put together a strong, solid run and that was my goal for the day. I knew my bike was OK, and I was OK with that. I talked with Cory for awhile and then we went to check out our results. 2nd place overall. And all my splits were right in line. Nice!!! But the best part was that I knew before even seeing splits that I had had a good day. The results just confirmed it. What if the results were poor??? I think I would still have been pleased with my run.....I like to think that the results are a by-product of a good day:)

So, here's the fun part. Everyone knows that triathletes are a bit of a crazy bunch. And we all seem to have our own quirks. That being said, I let a few of mine go today:

I did not race with my trademark ponytails (GASP!!!!). And I liked it.

I did not time my race. OK, this was a fluke, I was wearing my watch but apparently did not start it. But it was great. I had no idea what my splits were. And, in fact, didn't care.

I didn't wear sunglasses on the bike or the run.

I showed up casually to transition.

I did a light swim warm-up and a heavier run warm-up.

What does this all mean??? Well, nothing really except that it is always good to try new things and to not get caught up in your own hype/history. Allow yourself to let some things go or maybe try something new. But always with the purpose of not forgetting why we are out there on race day. To push ourselves, to expand our horizons and most importantly, to have fun.

I had fun Saturday!