Sunday, April 24, 2011

Open water swimming

Like most people I fear something in open water. For some it is waves, others are afraid of the darkness in the water and would rather see what is down there, for me it is FISH. I have never had a bad experience with fish, but they just freak me out.

I can block it out during races, but it takes a lot to get me in a lake for practice (I think the words OCEAN, PRACTICE and ANGI will never be in one sentence!!!).

Yesterday I had my scariest swimming experience ever. Phoenix has a bunch of beautiful lakes. Lake Pleasant is my favorite for racing. And I might actually consider going there for training. It is mostly calm (except for last week's race), the water is beautiful and there is no stuff...aka..see weed, sticks,...we also have Bartlett Lake...maybe my 2nd favorite one. Then there is Saguaro Lake. It looks beautiful, but the lake is surrounded by cliffs and that freaks me out a little.

We had a tri clinic at Lake Rosevelt yesterday. The Lake is beautiful and I believe it is the biggest Lake in AZ. One end looks very nice, the other end is big fish habitat as trees were flooded there...there is no way we would swim there...I thought. Off course I was wrong and as we put on our wetsuits to go into the foresty lake I already started to freak out. Who knows how big the fish can get in there!!! It seriousely is like a forest in the water and you have to find your way out to the swimmable part. It was scary. I held onto the kayak until I thought we were out of trees. And the I touched one!!! I started screaming!!! This swim was crazy- everytime I finally put my head unter water I saw another scary looking tree. And every once in a while you would touch one...SCARY. I was so happy once I was out of the water. From now on I will really appreciate clean, big lakes with no vegetation in them!!! I promise!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phoenix Triathlon

2k swim - 20 mile bike - 8k run = Phoenix Triathlon...long swim, GREAT :-) But hey, you can only get better at something if you keep trying, right? Week number 5 of racing rolled around and I have to say that the nervouseness was way less then at the first race of the season...actually it felt a little bit like "just" going out for a swim/bike/run.

Pam and I arrived at the race with plenty of time to set up our transition. It was crazy windy out there (the picture doesn't do the real conditions justice!!!). We started the swim and I saw one guy turn around after only 100 m. I like waves, so to me it was fun. It makes me forget about my fish fear and helps me think I am on the beach body surfing :-)

I made a bad goggle decision and had to stop 3 times to clear my goggles...Lesson learned. I got out of the watre in 4th and I have to say this was the most fun I have ever had swimming in open water. I love waves!!!

On the bike it was a lot of up and down and up and down. No highlights, except for a dead donkey on the side of the road :-( Poor donkey. I passed the girls in front of me and just settled in a good pace. It is always fun to race at Lake Pleasant, the course is very hilly which makes it a good workout.

Onto the run: I had 5 guys in front of me starting the run. I wasn't planning on going after them, instead just racing my own race. At mile one I passed 2 guys and I was in 4th place in the mens :-)

The run was VERY hilly and walking the course would have been NICE :-)

At the finish with Nick.

Pam and I after the race.

The FLAGSTAFF crew. Sad, but I am now considered a Phoenician...It was great to see Chris and Ryan at the race!!!


Successful day at the race.

The rest of the day was full of fun, non triathlony things. Shopping, good food and a match of tennis. Pam and I got our butts kicked by Mr. Tennis. It was him vs us...we held him off for a while before he used his tennis tricks to show us how it is done. It was so much fun. I am still sore from playing (three days after) :-)

Sunday we went to Tucson for the Old Pueblo Criterium. My race was 50 min. We all stand at the start line when I rear brake just fell off. That might be a problem. As they were doing call ups (yes about 1 min from race start) I tried to find a tool to fix it. Luckily I was successfull. The race was very uneventful. I had no legs to try to get away, I was very tired from training and racing (the 3 hr workout the day before the triathlon might have been helpful with that). I just held on and tried not to hit the pavement (cyclists are kind of mean...I had a few close calls, but thankfully I was able to rescue myself). I ended up 7th in the field sprint, 8th overall and I was seriousely just happy to finish. I love crits: I love the speed and the corners and the attacks. Hopefully I can do one soon with fresh legs.

Next weekend is a weekend off racing but with a lot of training. It will be fun and help me get ready for Duathlon Nationals coming up soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Marquee Tri...I mean Duathlon

The swim at the SuperSeal Triathlon almost got cancelled...due to high E Coli levels...but the morning of the race they announced that we would have a swim. Now I am in the Valley of the sun, preparing for my race last Sunday. It rained all day Saturday, so that...tataaaa...the city couldn't allow us to swim in the water because of possibly high E Coli levels. The Marquee Triathlon turned into a Duathlon. Like at SuperSeal I had mixed feelings...but I think there was more happiness then sadness involved ;-)

I warmed up for about 5 min (note to self...more warm up needed :-) and then started the race with the men's elite/under 40 wave. We went out at a nice pace, so that I finished the first 3.1 miles in 18:09. I went into transition with 2 guys, and I believe there were 3 more guys in front of me, but I wasn't sure. At this point I was just hoping to have a good race and not get left in the dust by those guys.

I was somewhere in lala-land on the bike. I passed a few guys and one guy passed me, which made me think: oh yeah. We are racing...I have to push a little harder. Sometimes I have a hard time focusing on the bike. It feels fast, but once someone goes by me I realize that I have more gears left and I can push harder. The bike went by fast and it was fun to ride on part of the IM Arizona course.

I got onto the second run and saw 2 guys in fron of me. I caught one about .5 miles into the run. He was funny. He told me he is a swimmer, duathlons are really not fitting for him :-) I told him to come with me and we can push each other, but he decided not to. At mile two I caught the first place guy. I decided to pass him and keep the momentum going-because I knew I had some good runners behind me and needed that cushion. At mile 4 I looked back for the first time...and saw that one guy was closing in on me. The gap got smaller and smaller and the feeling of knowing you are going to be swallowed up is not fun. Your mind tries to mess with you :-) You can't do it...oh yes you mile 5 I turned my brain off and pushed hard...I must have looked back 20 times in the last mile and it seemed like he was RIGHT THERE...but I held him off and finished the race with a 37:XX run.

I found out later that there was one more guy in the 40 + wave who finished ahead of me, but I am super happy with the result. I have never been that far up in the men's results!!! Here is Coach, happy to see I was holding off the guys...if you could zoom in on me you would see that at this point I was still worried about getting caught :-) This might have been the first time Nick saw me without a smile on my face!!!

Happy but glad it is over :-)
Time to get ready for this weekends PHOENIX TRIATHLON as well as the Old Pueblo Criterium.

Next weekend will be NO racing (after 5 races in a row), before I make the trip down to Tucson for Elite Duathlon Nationals.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race # 3 and my new partner in crime: Quarq

After SuperSEAL I wanted to go out and train immediately again. I am having so much fun racing and training that it is hard for me to rest. But I know it is good for me. I am glad I have a great Coach who helps me and makes the rest-day-training-day decisions for me...

After taking it easy for a few days we decided to race this weekend in a local race. Local races are nice because you get to know other athletes in your community, which I think is very important. I raced in the Iron Gear Sports Mesa Sprint Triathlon. With 3 hard training days right before the race I was not sure what to expect - I was just really tired :-) But the race went really well and I had a lot of fun. Sprints go by so fast!!! I ended up winning the race and, for the first time in my tri life I managed to win the OVERALL (men and women). Next weekend I will be competing in another local race, the Marquee Triathlon. It will be a competitive race with many of our very fast AZ racers. It will be great preparation for Duathlon Nationals and my upcoming trip to Germany.

SPONSOR UPDATES: I am very lucky to be representing Quarq this year. Quarq is owned and developed by very nice and smart people, Jim and Mieke, who I got to know during my time in Spearfish, SD. I am very happy to be able to collect and analyze my riding data from now on. My network is amazing: with the help of Iron Gear Sports my Quarq powermeter will be on my bike by Wednesday and Nick and I will be able to analyze and fine tune every workout from now on.