The training part of CAMP!

You may be interested in the events that occurred over the 5 days spent in Tucson training with some of the best triathletes and coaches around.  If not, you should probably stop reading here.
My journey started Monday night after work, December 5th.  After a quick stop by the house to grab socks (oops), my travel started with a 3 1/2 hour road trip to my Dad's house.  While I was away, my Dad, Brother and niece Josie replaced the brakes on my car - love them!!!  I arrived around 8pm, grabbed a quick bite and tried to sleep.  Since I was so amped up, that wasn't much of a success.  My brother was nice enough to forgo his usual sleep and get me to the airport.  I'm glad he was there, or I might have had a complete melt down when they told me how much it was going to cost to ship my bike to AZ.  Congratulations, family, for Christmas you get a very fit Sarah...I can’t afford anything else :(  He could tell I was nervous and reminded me that the last time I went off to meet a bunch of people I didn't know, was college.  Since I loved college so much, my spirits were lifted...and with head high and shoulders back, I was on my way!
I arrived in Tucson to find a driver waiting for me.  He wasn't exactly prepared to load a bike into his Lincoln TownCar, luckily it was not my first time.  Bike in the back seat and me and driver up front - perfect.  As we talked about all the things we were grateful for, like our American freedom, the Arizona landscape surrounded us and I was consumed.
The lodge we stayed at was perfect!  It had huge rooms which looked out onto the mountains behind and the lap pool was just a few short strides down the parking lot.  
Wednesday morning came fast, and I was incredibly anxious about our swim workout, but it surprisingly went by very quickly.  Before I knew it, I was tired and done with probably the longest swim set I've ever done.  Whew!  Now only a 25 mile climb ahead of us, NBD.  I know it's not normal, but I really like climbing.  Probably the for same reason I fell in love with hiking as a child, the view!  Mt. Lemmon did not disappoint!  Not only was the AZ landscape amazing, but the cookie at the top was a sweet reward!!  After devouring the gigantic Pumpkin Nut cookie, I soon regretted it...I can handle caffeine, not so much sugar.  The rest of the ride was relaxed, but we still had a ways to go before it was over.  It took us somewhere around 5-5.5 hours, which is more than my total weekly biking hours have been for months...probably going to feel that one!
Thursday was another great swim, I had been hoping for a recovery swim, but I guess we didn't go to training camp to recover!  It was another good set that went by relatively quickly.  Up until this point, I have never swam so many yards in 2 days...over 8k!  I felt like a rockstar!!  Concerned about how my body was going to hold up, I started pounding the H2O...downside = potty breaks.  We had a nice break before heading out to run some trails in Sabino Canyon.  Again, the terrain did not disappoint.  The new scenery and incredible running partners made the time fly by!  The only thing making me glad to stop running was rolling my ankle on one of the rocks and it was killing me...ugh!  I should apologize to my roomies for complaining about it - sorry for being such a wuss!!!
Just a short (90 minute) recovery ride up the same 4 mile canyon we ran earlier in the day...seems like exactly what I would do.  I say that sarcastically, but I could totally see the conversation with myself saying I would just go easy and hills are good to open things up, which would normally end in another conversation about what I was thinking and why do I always have to be so ambitious.  This time, I got to do the ride and blame someone else, so much better!
After our 3 workouts, we had an awesome dinner planned at El Charro in Tucson.  It was our 2nd night at the restaurant, but I was really looking forward to it.  I love big dinners (lots of people), and even though I'm not usually a fan of mexican, I really liked this place.  For probably the first time in my life, I turned down margaritas...my mom would be proud!  Admittedly, I did take some sips from neighbor Melissa :)  We were all exhausted and stuffed, but that didn't stop our excitement to head out for amazing gelato at Frost :)  I opted for a combo of Dark Chocolate (antioxidants) and Banana (potassium)...yum (and health?)!  Truly, that is the best gelato I have ever had!!!  
Friday, day 3 of swimming.  As I walked to the pool, I told myself if I can do 2 days, I can certainly do 3!  Not surprisingly, before I knew it the set was over :(  we did some fun drafting drills, which really helped with my feel of the water.  Next up, another ride and a short road trip to Tempe.
Friday's ride was a nice, even pace with relatively even terrain, which lasted a little over 2 hours.  By the middle of the ride I started to have some serious pain in my knee, and it was all I could do to make it back to the lodge for some ice.  Thank goodness that's exactly what it needed, I was starting to worry I wouldn't be able to run Saturday morning, whew!  Just about as soon as we arrived in Tempe, we were ready for bed and the morning came just as quickly as all the other mornings had.  We headed out for our 4 mile warm-up, just as the sun was coming up, so nice!!  It was a little brisk in Tempe, but sunny and serene!  We were a little early on our warm-up, so it was a bit of a struggle to stay warm before the run started.
The run was in honor of Sally Meyerhoff and in support of the Sally Meyerhoff foundation.  run4sal.com
I remember when the news of Sally's death first hit me.  I had never actually met her, but reading her story hit all too close to home.  Life is a gift and I have always believed that one way we show we are grateful for all we have is by doing what makes us happy and fulfilling our passion.  It seems that is how Sally lived and I was so humbled to be a part of the event.  
The event in itself was a massive success and drew some of the fastest runners around.  I settled into a good rhythm and focused on my form, not too concerned about pacing since I wasn't exactly sure how my body was holding up.  As I saw the finish line near, I did not want the race to be over...it all happened so fast!!  Once we all gathered and cooled down, it was back to Tucson for a celebratory dinner!  Needless to say, the place was spot on!  Local fare at it's finest...and the best company a girl could ask for!!  
Of course we couldn't leave with out one more workout!  Sunday morning we gathered for a quick circuit training with Trainer Trish :)  And, to tell you the truth, I think I was most sore from that 30 minute w/o than anything!
Thank you all for an unforgettable week!!!  Training partners Kelly, Gwen, Trish, Kim, Amie, Melissa, Jennifer, Laura and Meghan, Coach Cliff English and the one and only Jim Whitler.


Training Camp,Tucson AZ

As I'm sitting here trying to decide how to cram in all I did this past week into one blog post, I realized it's probably more important to talk about what I set out to accomplish.  Last Tuesday, I started my journey down to Tucson for a training camp with 8 girls I had never met and Cliff English, one of the most accomplished triathlon coaches on the planet!  We were all brought together due to the generous sponsorship of Jim Whitler, a triathlete, triathlon groupie, great friend and the most humble man I've met.
In preparing for the trip, I came up with a lot of less significant training goals, and one huge personal goal of being my true self.  To not be afraid of what people think of me and to not be afraid to fail at workouts, no matter what, I was going to be ME thru it all and see what happens.
Turns out, I can't remember having so much fun!  There are a few downsides, of course, like the painful reminder that when I try to be funny, it hardly ever comes out right...which can be kind of awkward.  So, I'm awkward, big deal.  
As I listened to the other girls and what their journey has been like and where their path is headed, I couldn't help but reflect on all the lesson I thought I had fully learned about living an authentic life, that's authentically me.  It took stepping back for a few days to realize that I've been living with my head in the sand!  What I didn't know I needed was perspective.  I have not been living life on my terms, and I am holding myself wholly accountable.
So far my terms are as follows:
Never give up on your dreams, achieve them.
Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you.
Don't be afraid of what you are capable of.
Push yourself to see if you will actually fail.
Never stop growing.
Train with people faster than you.
Should I fail, I will be there to pick myself back up.  I will be my own best friend.
Be present.
Be an example.
Those are pretty big terms, I'm ok with it.
Here's to being more of me and to you being more of YOU!


POST Cross

As it turns out, Bend proved to be a successful cross-racing weekend!
Cyclocross is as much about the course conditions and weather as it is about fitness and technical racing skills.  Somehow, by earning it, I ended up with a great starting position in the front row and I knew that this was what could be a rare opportunity that I better not mess up!  So, I pushed it hard on the opening straight away and ended up second around the first corner.  Knowing the girl in front of me was going to take the line I wanted, I played it safe and tucked behind her.  Once I had a clear shot, I took it and never looked back!  Once I was in front, I certainly had my work cut out for me!  As someone told me later, winning a cross race is NOT a magic carpet ride and I could not agree more!  Being the me that I am, there was no way I was going to let someone pass me, after all, I had worked pretty darn hard to get where I was.  Lucky for me, I also had Ryan cheering for me and reminding me that I needed to keep pushing...woof!
One of the challenges of racing is that when you are getting really tired, moving obstacles are thrown at you...the slower riders.  Instead of having a straight shot up the hill, it became congested with teetering riders and slower moving hikers.  Don't get me wrong, there are benefits to this as well, especially since I spend my "off-season" racing triathlons.  My best results are cross races with a lot of running, go figure!
By the last couple of laps, I found myself in a fun rhythm, going back and forth with a couple of the Masters A racers.  I say fun rhythm, because that's what I kept telling myself, trying to keep my mind off the fact that both of my quads were a solidified mass of cramping muscle.  The other racers gave me the motivation I needed to keep pushing and not lose my place.  Yay!  Cross win #2.
It's all fun and games, until you are forced to upgrade to Cat A.  These girls are seriously tough!
Since there were only 2 races left in the season, I decided to take it easy on myself and just feel out the field, afterall, I wasn't even sure I could race for 60 minutes!  Yes, not only are they tough and scary, the race is also 15 minutes longer :(
The first race I felt absolutely terrible.  It was my favorite course last year, but I could not get into it.  Maybe it's just a racing hangover from Bend?  Of course, I was disappointed when I crossed the finish line because i knew i hadn't given it my all, but I was please to have finished 13th among the top female cross racers in the nation.  For the last race of the season, we actually got some rain!  Just enough wetness to keep things interesting.  It's funny that most of the race I was absolutely miserable, but as the end drew near, I was sad that it was all ending!
All in all, it was a fun season, I enjoyed all the ups and downs and look forward to next cross season.
For now a little relaxation away from racing so I can prepare my A game for next year!



Cyclocross has got to be my most unlucky endeavor I have ever been apart of!  It all started this weekend 2 years ago, on my mountain bike at a small farm in Walla Walla.  Each loop had a set of barriers, 2 creek crossings, a couple of run-ups and a pin-wheel formation.  Just how everyone starts, I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn’t matter.  I went hard when I could, and spent the rest of the time with a single goal in mind, not to crash.  Simple, yet effective.  
Now here we are 2 years later, 2 bikes later, a replaced broken rear derailleur, 1 right hip hematoma, a 1 fat lip, 1 black eye, and a broken arm.  It’s the sport where it’s not how you fall, but how you pick yourself back up that matters, originated. That, and a few other things.   In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the only sport I’ve done that the head official announces before every race that beer hand-ups are an automatic disqualification.
It’s fun, different and completely out of my element, making it absolutely perfect for an off-season activity.  
Here it is, Sunday morning in Bend, OR.  Day 2 of 2 Cross Crusade races.  
Bend is a high desert in central oregon.  A beautiful area, home to any outdoor sport and/or recreation you can imagine.  I love Bend.
The race course was 1/2 in grass and 1/2 in dirt, and lots of it!  The dirt in was deep, soft and powdery, causing a lot more problems than I imagined.  I am still sloughing dirt out of my sinuses and lungs.  Gross.  Every item we own is coated in dusty dirt.
Oh well.
The race itself was awesome.  I was the only one of our group that liked it, probably because it was really hard and I like to make myself suffer.  Lots of turns in soft dirt, some gigantic logs to jump over, a set of barriers, 2 small barriers strategically placed to force two small run-ups and a set of stairs.  By the time I was done, I couldn’t see a thing, couldn’t breathe, my throat was raw and my quads were cramping...apparently I have a warped perception of fun.  But, I already knew that.  My goal for the race was to kill the start, go hard when I could and be patient on the technical sections.  It worked!
Just one more step in becoming a calmer me.  Not only did I win :)  but I felt so much better!  Those two things probably go hand in hand, it’s always fun to win.  But it’s much more fun to win when you aren’t frustrated and disappointed!  Who would have thought that the toughest racing conditions you can compete in would lead me to find more peace within myself.  
Today is the costume race, and I can’t wait to go have more fun!  Hopefully my disguise will work, I'm sure no one will know to look out for the triathlete.  What?  I was on a budget.



Racing triathlon requires a lot of ALL kinds of support!!  Even though I feel like I say it all the time, but I would not be able to do what I do w/o my friends, family, coach, sponsors and community...not to mention all the great products that get me thru training and racing!
Because everything and everyone is important in it's own special way, not a particular order, the following is not in order of importance, it's mostly random, but not entirely.  You decide.
I would like to thank my partner in crime, Ryan!  I've dragged him along to so many races across the country and world, yet he's always in good spirits and always up for the next adventure!  Thank you so much for keeping going (and organized), everyday!  You mean the world to me :)  
My family is always so unbelievably supportive!  I would not be who I am (good and bad) w/o them.  They are amazing believers in me and always pick me up when I doubt myself.  They may not understand me all the time, but they know what I need most is their love and acceptance.
Coach Jablonski of SET Coaching.  Jason is practically family too, since he has been coaching me for the past 6 years?  No matter what I put myself, or him through, he never waivers.  He lets me work hard, and holds me back when I need to.  I would not be physically able to do what I do w/o his guidance!
My friends are the best in the world!  I don't have as much time for them as I would like, but they never give up on me!  Their companionship keeps me grounded, keeps me laughing and keeps my whole life in perspective.
I have had a lot of support this year from sponsors too, who selflessly help me achieve my dreams!  Thank you: 3 Rivers Road Runners, Sally Douglas and her sister Nancy and Fresh Advancements (Toronto, ON) and Wild Bill.
There is larger community that surrounds all of the above mentioned, the people I work with at both Douglas Fruit and Stemilt Growers, my gym Tri City Court Club, the Tri-Cities and Wentachee, WA.   
I know I've mentioned in earlier blogs that I've struggled with my positive mental attitude this year, I would like to thank my counselor for helping to guide me to better emotional and mental health, Jennifer Dean-Hill.
One more thank you to the companies that make the products that I rely on everyday: Specialized, SRAM, Zipp, Clif, Gu, Zoot, Mizuno, Pearl Izumi, Giro, Oakley, CWX, SET Coaching, Nuun, 2XU, Garmin, Advocare, Sportquest and Some Bagels. 
Thank you everyone for believing in me, keeping me grounded and letting me soar!


China 2011

Going into the race, I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened during the race, I would not lose focus of what I was there to do.  I was there to race for myself.  But I had no idea what those words would actually turn into, boy was I in for a big surprise!!  
Just like every ITU Age Group World Championship race, the days leading up to the race are jam-packed with things to do.  There is the opening ceremonies, including the Parade of Nations complete with dancing Chinese dragons.  The parade was longer than I remember from before; which, I wish I would have planned for by not guzzling a 1 liter bottle of water before hand!  Luckily, just as we were headed into the Stadium for the Ceremonies to begin, I spotted a restroom, which turns out was my very first squat toilet experience...my aim needs a little work ;)  After the ceremony, we were to have a dinner, also in the stadium.  Since we had all not eaten for at least 3 hours, a very long time for triathletes, everyone rushed to the food lines.  We were handed these nice looking boxes we figured was our dinner.  Inside, we found all sorts of preserved food items like a chicken leg, a pork product, preserved fruit, etc.  We sort of just stood there staring at the food and each other in disbelief that this was dinner!  As soon as I was about to dig into something, someone walked passed with pasta.  What?  Real food?  Immediately we rushed to figure out where it came from and how we could get some.  I don't remember ever eating pasta that quickly, it was like I had to eat it just in case that was the last time I would see familiar food again!  
After the ceremonies, our days filled with course previews, registration, meetings, team lunch, bike drop off, etc.  
Finally race day!!!  The bus left our hotel at 4:15am, which was fine since I can't sleep well the night before a race anyway.  I tried to eat breakfast, but all I managed to choke down was a piece of toast with jam.  Once we arrived to the race venue, everything was great...until I couldn't get air into my front tire.  Sometimes the valve closes itself inside the valve extender, which means I have to take my tube out and re-do the whole thing, NBD.  That is, it shouldn't be.  Sadly, our team mechanics were no where to be found (I found out later that the officials wouldn't let them into the venue and had to sneak in just as the race started) so I had to head to the official race mechanics, who did not speak English.  Somehow we managed to fix the problem in just enough time to hustle back to transition and get in line for the toilet.  40 minutes and no warm-up later, I had enough time to check in my remaining gear at the bag check and run around transition barefoot for 5 minutes before being corralled for the race start.  More than anything, I count on my warm-up to calm my nerves before a race, but since that didn't happen, I figured some good old fashioned girl talk would ease the tension a bit.  It seemed to work just fine.  
The water was too warm to be wet-suit legal, which I wasn't planning on at all, but I figured it's better than freezing to death in 40some degree water like earlier in the season.  I had high hopes for the swim, but it turned out just about like every other swim I have done this year - not that fast.  "Crap!  That's okay", I told myself, "stay strong, stay calm and carry on".  I grabbed my bike and headed out to the course, which was about a 100 meter down hill run out of transition.  I jumped on my bike and immediately knew something was wrong.  The first part of the bike course is on rubber mats, so I told myself that it was the mats.  As soon as I hit the pavement it was certain, my front tire was completely flat :(   I had no idea what to do.  We had no CO2 cartridges so I was unprepared to fix a flat.  The course was fenced off, and hundreds of bikers were flying past me, so I figured the only thing I could do was keep moving forward.   I took my shoes off and started to run, pushing my bike along side.  The first official I saw said something in Chineglish about my race being over and to hand in my timing chip. Confused, I just said NO and kept running!  A few other officials stopped me, all begging me to just turn in my chip, but I was not ready to have my race be over.  I just kept running, obviously knowing I couldn't exactly run the entire 25 miles barefoot, but I was not ready to give up.  I was not willing to quit the race just to save face, I wanted to finish that race even if I came in last place and killed myself doing it.  For some reason, about 2 miles into my run, there was a wheel pit.  Outside help usually disqualifies you in an ITU race, but I figured it was going to be the only way for me to finish, so I grabbed a wheel.  It was too wide and had some sort of off-road tred and about 90psi, but it was my only choice.  Once I was riding, I can't remember having so much fun.  I love going fast on my bike and I felt like I was absolutely flying!  It was a 3 lap course and I ended up doing the last 2 laps in about 20 minutes each.  
The run was also 3 laps, with a nice long hill on each one.  Despite the hill, the course was really fun!  I had a great time on the run and somehow managed to even pass a few girls in my age group!  On the last lap, for the first time in a long time, I was sad the race was coming to an end.  Even though I was devastated that I didn't place very well, I had so much fun doing it!  After the race, there was one remaining obstacle...getting my wheel back.
After getting the run-around, I found out that the only way to get my wheel back was to actually retrieve it from the wheel pit. Great.  Ok, NBD...except that I had 30 minutes or so to get back for the bus to our hotel.  Oh man, it was getting hot and I was thirsty and ravenous but the only way out of this was to run the 4 miles to get me and my wheel on the bus.  Just as in the race, I was stopped numerous times and had to explain to the Chinese officials what I was doing, using lots of hand gestures and made up sign language.  There is not very much freedom to do anything without being questioned and followed.  I was a little late for the bus, but somehow managed to make it back.  In case you are wondering, a 40 minute cool-down run does not feel very good!  
People have asked me how I feel about my race now that I've had time to reflect.  Maybe I should feel frustration and disappointment, but I don't.  I raced for me.  For once, I didn't give up on myself during the race, not once.  I'm proud of what I accomplished regardless of where I placed.



This year has been an interesting one for me to say the least!  1 week before Aquaman, I was supposed to do the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon, but for the first time I set my alarm all wrong :( I woke up in enough time to still make it to the race, which was shocking because I did only get about 4 hours of sleep!  Anyway, I got the race, set my stuff up, jumped in my wetsuit, headed out and swam around in the gorgeous lake...then quickly proceeded back to my stuff, packed up and walked back to my car.  And for whatever reason, it felt great!  It was exactly what I needed to do, for ME.  Of course I felt a lot of things, but looking back, I know I made the right decision.
Fast forward 6 days to Aquaman.  The prestigious Friday night aquathon held in downtown Richland, race 4 of the 5 race multi-sport series.  I had been going back and forth with trying to figure out if I really wanted to race or not, until finally I decided that I would much rather run and swim with a bunch of happy people than mope thru a 50 minute run by myself!  
As I pulled up to the race, I was not too surprised to see that I was one of the first ones there...since that's pretty typical.  It was a toasty 90 something August evening...but it felt so nice to be there.  One of the reasons I love being early to a race is because you get to watch all the excited people arriving!  It's sort of relaxing, in a way, to realize you are not the only one that gets worked up over a little race.    With the race rapidly encroaching, I was somewhat calm and relaxed...at least a little more than normal.  I told myself I was really just going to take it easy and have FUN.  Usually I feel like throwing up before a race, but this time I felt fine, just like before a workout.  As we lined up I began to wonder...what is everyone going to really think if I just take it easy?  Then I thought, I honesty don't care, I'm just going to do what my body feels like.
As soon as the "horn" went off, everyone started filing out down the path towards turn #1.  I was surprised to notice that I was right there with everyone.  I couldn't help but go hard, I LIKE to go hard.  But it wasn't strenuous, it felt comfortable...almost like that's where I belonged.  Until, that is, we got to the turn around point and I couldn't breathe!  I had taken nearly 2 weeks "off" of training and my lungs were still in off mode!  Oh well, I thought, there's only one way out of this now...here we go!!!
As soon as I got to the water, I felt sooo incredibly relieved!  The cool water felt amazingly refreshing and it didn't even feel like I was swimming until about half way.  That's when my arms were on fire and for the first time during the race, I felt like puking!  A few boats had passed, making the water really choppy, plus the water is kind of smelly, especially when people with horrendous body odor are swimming by you!  Never the less, I had a decent swim, only allowing a couple people to pass me.  Incredibly I was still the first woman.   For a while I thought it must have been a mistake, but sure enough at the turn around I hadn't seen a single woman!  Thankfully the men all had their tops off, or it can get a little tricky sometimes.  The second run was fine, once I got over the feeling that I wanted to hurl!  I just tried to keep a steady pace and good form.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was so happy to be there and SO incredibly glad that I had raced.  Not because I came in first place, but because I really felt like I wanted to be there.  
I will never forget a story someone told me a long time ago.  It was about a marathon runner that had come up to them after a race, in absolute admiration of what they had done.  This person had probably finished around 2 hours after the Marathoner and did not understand what was to admire.  The Marathoner said that running that far is so hard, they could not imagine having to endure it for 2 additional hours!  I think of that story often at races when I see EVERYone out their going as hard as they can.  I don't take for granted that it doesn't take me as long as some, as I'm sure that won't always be the case!  Doing events like this is so inspiring, on so many levels!  Kudos and thank you!


The Drift

During my training run yesterday, I felt really strange.  It was about 5pm and 95 degrees out, but I figured it was nothing that I wasn't used to.  That is, until I noticed my HR creeping dangerously high.  It was a tempo run, so my HR should have been somewhat comfortable.  And for the most part it was, but during my efforts, I would be running along and suddenly could not catch my breath.  I looked down and my HR was 15 beats higher than normal...WTH!!  I immediately started analyzing the performance and figured I was either out of shape, over trained or a big fat wuss!  Turns out we can chalk this one up to a good old fashion "hang-over".  Well, partly anyways.  After further review and consultation with my coach, it has been diagnosed as "cardiovascular drift".  The major factor in cardiac drift is dehydration. I drank at least as much water as I normally do throughout the day, but it wasn't enough to combat the previous night's birthday festivities.  That and the heat.  But, you know what, it was worth it!  So what if I could barely jog home with my HR as high as it would be during a normal race effort.  There are few nights when I let loose a little and forget about the stresses of training and racing, and it feels kind of good to just be a normal person out on the town every once in a while.  Of course, the reality of the day after remind me why I don't do that very often. 
More importantly (to me) is that I'm reminded that the rewards I feel from racing and training are much more fullfilling than that second glass of wine...on most days!  



I remember when I first heard about Pacific Crest Triathlon.  Everyone I knew raved about it as being fun, beautiful and very challenging.  Being the girl that I am, obviously I signed up as soon as I could!  It is all that legend told, and more!  There are 10 or so events throughout the weekend, which means lots of people and a guaranteed good time!  And it's in a mountain resort town, obviously very beautiful.  And challenging, in so many ways! I mentioned it's a mountain resort, right?  MOUNTAIN = Cold, that's the first challenge.  Today we pre-drove the course, and sections of it still sport a 6-10 foot snow bank, for example.  Not so bad, unless you start the day swimming in sub 60 degree water - starting to get the picture?  I guess I probably don't need to mention the climbing, since the snow gives away the elevation bit.  The run course is pretty gentle, if you don't consider that it is 40+ degrees difference from when you started the race, another perk of the mountain town!  I'm not the only one that enjoys said challenges, which is probably why the race draws the most competitive bunch in the Northwest, giving it that extra special added challenge of competition, yes it IS a race after all!
For me, the biggest challenge is within myself.  Yes, I'm tougher on me than the fore-mentioned lake, mountain, snow and competition.  So, thank you for everyone for your encouraging words, that I'll be playing in my head over the course of the race.  Here are some of my favorites:
"you are the only one that can beat you"
"you may even surprise yourself at what you are capable of"
"if it doesn't hurt you aren't going hard enough"
"don't be afraid to shine"
"I will cheer for you when you sprint across the finish line in first and I will still cheer for you when you can barely make it to the finish in whatever place"
"don't forget to breathe"
"if you learn something from this race, it is a success"
"I love you"

Thank you everyone.
Tomorrow, I will be a 1/2 ironwoman :)


HARD days are rarely the hardest!

Over the few years that I've been training, I've become a firm believer that it's not the hard days that make the athlete, it's all the OTHER days!  It's the gruelying long "easy runs" and "light spins" that are the hardest to get through.  First of all, you almost never feel like doing them.  And Secondly, they never feel easy.  Honestly, recovery weeks are my least favorite weeks.  Sure, there are a few fewer hours I spend in the pool, on the bike or running, but I wouldn't really be able to do those extra hours if I tried!  Those are the hours my mind starts to play tricks on me.  Do you really need to get up at 4 to go swim, really???  Wouldn't you rather meet for Happy Hour than do an "easy spin"?  Oh man, am I ever going to feel better?
Getting thru those days is where you find a lot about yourself and your mental strength and determination.  It will also teach you a lot about your friends and how much you rely on them to make grueling workouts barable.  Not to mention, your loved ones and their ability to love during these hard times!



I realized today how long it's been since I've actually trained and/or raced in warm weather!  8 months!  Dear Sun, I think I like you, please stay for a while.
Luckily my body is still in shock, otherwise I'm sure it would have revolted against my training.  My first ever half (ironman) is coming up, so training is intense right now, focusing on all that high end speed.  It's sort of grueling, but definitely my favorite part of training...and that's not the only thing wrong with me :)
One other thing wrong with me is allergies.  Today, I forgot to take claritin and was an absolute mess on my ride.  Honestly, not that unusual.  However, when I passed a couple of guys who decided to hang on to me w/o letting me know, they were not too happy when snot came flying back at them...oops!
Other than that, my 4 hours of training went off w/o a hitch!  Ok, other than that dehydration thing.  It's one of those things that happens when summer finally decides to show up.  Like the first time in spring when you accidentally forget to wear sunscreen.  It only takes that one time and you never do it again, until next spring.
This weekend makes the countdown 3 weeks until the "big race" - holy crap!  Physically, definitely ready. The rest of me, well, I'm doing better than I ever have!  I'll be ready, and so excited!


Here we gooooo!

It's hard to believe the first race of the season is already over...which means triathlon season 2011 has officially started!!! Of course, just like the spring has been in eastern Washington, the race was cold and wet.  In fact, you might have heard me cheering at the top of my lungs Sunday morning when the race director announced they were cutting the swim short because the water was so cold.  That was my favorite part of the race.  Oh, and the last mile of the run when the feeling finally returned to all 10 toes.  The swim went surprisingly smooth, other than having to dodge some bobbers and crazy side kickers, nothing catastrophic happened.  I brilliantly placed the only thing that was supposed to keep me warm, on my transition towel, under my helmet.  Of course, the absorbent towel created a mini-lake under my helmet for my "warm" gloves to paddle around in.  Ok, so I guess my 4" shorts and a tri-singlet will keep me warm?  Answer = NO!  By the time I knew I needed to get some calories, my hands had frozen into the position of hooks, making it nearly impossible to get anything out of my jersey pocket.  Luckily, it seemed I wasn't the only one suffering from the cold temps, by the time I entered T-2 I had a pretty good lead.  Since my feet were frozen in one position, it was easy for me to slip my foot into my running shoes...not able to feel a thing, I just hoped my toes weren't bent backwards or sideways and off I went.  By mile 5 of the run, my toes finally regained feeling and I actually felt warm!  What a great way to end the day - feeling good :)
This race was so much more than a victory for me!  I have been working extremely hard on my self-talk during a race and I feel like I've made huge improvements so far this year.  Not to say I don't have a long ways to go, but at least for once I finished the race with a positive attitude!  Actually, I was shocked at how good it felt...of course the wine tasting afterwards helped a bit too :)
Thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am - I could never have found this road alone!



It's no secret that I've spent the last 5 weeks healing from a broken arm, which has put a damper on spirits for sure.  But, this time has helped me focus on the part of training that I don't necessarily neglect, but am not very good at.  That is, mental training.  It's just like when I was a personal trainer and made people do the things they hated the most - that was my job.  I knew when they weren't with me, they only did the things they were good at, inevitably the exercises they enjoyed doing.  Same with me, I thoroughly enjoy the physical aspects of training...but sadly, that's not all it takes to be successful at racing.  Because I wait too long, it's always so overwhelming.  Like I said, the good news is that I've had some time to focus on my mental training, and it's been very healing.  Most of my life I have been happy and optimistic, but there are times when I just feel this dark cloud following me around, and it keeps me from looking up - it keeps me from my dreams.  It's good to see light again :)  And I think I realize what it means when I need to take care of myself - I need to be my own friend.  We all need to.  I need to sit down with myself and have those tough conversations that I keep supressed behind the I'm too busy or don't know how to deal with you so go away.  It's not rocket science and it's not that I don't hear it all the time, but it's sometimes hard to convince myself that I need to listen and I need to not just ask for help from others, but I need to ask for help from myself.  THIS training for me is far more difficult than mile repeats or timed 400s in the pool.  But we all know that anything worth acheiving is worth working for.  THIS training is going to be far more rewarding than I imagined.  I feel that I've come so far in a short period of time, and the most exciting thing of all, is that I have a long way to go!  Ugh.


New Year - same old me!

All-in-all, the holiday season was darn good!  I had a lot of fun visiting family, and catching up with Ryan. 
I've often told people that just because I work out a lot, doesn't mean it's easy.  The end of my racing season this year, was not too long ago, December 10th.  This has made it particularly difficult to be motivated come the first of the year.  In fact, I was a little uncertain wether or not I could actually find my motivation again!  It completely snuck up on me the other day as I started to look at races for this coming season...and there it was all over again.  Now, I'm faced with a foreign challenge of not being able to train hard for a few more weeks due to my heeling broken arm. So, I've taken on a few other projects to keep me occupied...like re-organizing the entire house :)  Hey, I have to do something with my energy! 
I am definitley looking forward to the coming season, doing the things I love the most; racing my heart out and spending time with family and friends.