Monday, December 23, 2013

The Week of December 16-22

Swim: 18,100 yards (10.3 miles)/ 5:20
Bike: 226 minutes/ 3:36
Run: 33.87 miles / 3:49
Total: 12:45

Training was rough last week. Well, running and swimming were great, but I struggled on the bike. Of the 4 rides, 2 were good and 2 were not so good. The first “not good” ride was after a long day of shopping with my grandparents—I was definitely under fueled, and really not in it. I ended up stopping the workout early. The next ride my Powertap batteries died almost an hour into the ride and I was fed up at this point. I know you cannot make up missed workouts, and it really isn’t good to miss a workout, but I just let it go. For the longest time, it would stress me out if I missed a workout and I would think of this big scenario of how my whole next 2 weeks were ruined. Now, (I very rarely miss/quit a workout) I can just let it go. I cannot change the past, but I can focus on having a good next workout.

The rest of this post is going to mostly track and field related.

I got a message from somebody this week telling me he is “burnt out.”  I tried telling my college coach that I was burnt out an a few different occasions. He used to tell me that, “being burnt out just means you need to change the color of your lenses.” My “burn outs” never came in the off season—I loved training—rather they came mid-season. The next step was usually to put me in an open 400m or a 4x400m relay and then I was magically fine.

To address this off season burnout, I have put together my thoughts.

*First, think about what has caused you to feel burnt out? Running cross country, indoor track and outdoor track makes for a long year, but a lot of college athletes do it. Was cross country stressful? Do you feel there is a lot of pressure on you for track?

*Don’t stress over a missed run. Most of us have been running for a LONG time. A missed run will not make or break the season. As a track athlete, there are a few key times you have to be ready during the year—usually late February/early March and the month of May. A missed easy run here or there in December will not hurt you, IF it does not become a regular thing. I can honestly say that in all of my years of running track, I do not remember one training run that “made” my season, or a missed run that messed up my season.

*Run without a watch. So many times we get caught up in running a certain pace, or finishing a loop in a certain time. If your body feels like running fast, then run fast. If you feel like running slow, then do it. Your body knows what it wants, listen to it.

*Run with music…or maybe don’t run with music. I do most of my running with music and I absolutely love it. If I ever feel the need to change it up, I go to the local park and run on the trails without music. Sometimes all you need is a good, distraction-free run to get back on track. Other times, you may need the music to distract you from the fact you’re running.

*Run with somebody you don’t normally run with. When running for a team, you usually run with the same people every day, every week. Now that you’re home on break, switch it up. Call up an old teammate (or even somebody new) and ask them to run. It doesn’t matter if they are faster or slower, just run. I enjoy training alone, but I will never tell somebody no, if they want to join me on a workout.

*Just do something. Running may not sound super fun, but if you can convince yourself to get out the door for a couple miles, you may do more. Or, ride a bike…or swim…or do yoga. Something.

*Sit down with a good cup of coffee and remind yourself why you run. Most of us are not getting paid to do this, so ask yourself, “Why do I run?” It is okay to question that at times. I think you’ll remember that you are doing it, because it is something you love.
It was fun "back in the day" and it should still be fun now :)

*Lastly, you’re home on break right now. Sit back, relax, and enjoy time with your family. There is so much hustle and bustle all year long…now is the time to just enjoy whatever happens.

What would your advice be to somebody feeling burnt out before the track season started?

Have a great holiday everybody, and stay safe while training! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Things I learned in 2013

December 2-8
Swim: 16,100 yards (9.1 miles) / 4:25
Bike: 362 minutes / 6:02
Run: 32.45 miles / 3:40
Total: 14:07
Dec 9-15
Swim: 18,000 yards (10.2 miles) 4:59
Bike: 3:23 minutes / 5:23
Run: 32.71miles / 3:40
Total: 14:02
Recently people have been asking me to post a weekly update, so I will try my best to do so. December started the build for the 2014 season. I don’t really have any super exciting things to report from the last 2 weeks of training—lots of time staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool, riding the indoor trainer, and cold/snow filled runs—so I made a list of the top 5 things I learned in 2013. I’m a list man. A lot of emails and texts usually start out with, “Hey I have something to ask you,” followed by, “A) B) C) or 1) 2) 3).” If I list things, I can usually get to the point quickly. If I do not list things, I will probably tell you my whole life story just to ask, “A) What time is dinner and where are we eating?”
Let’s begin!
5) "Swim and bike for show, run for dough"…but you must be able to swim first! The race is not won on the swim, but it can definitely be lost on the swim. Example? Age Group Nationals - swam 26:40 1500m but was well out of my AG race. With that said, it was still an overall great day. The swim was/is my weakness, but it is getting better. I have been swimming with a squad the past couple months, and it amazes me how some of these young kids can just keep going in the pool.
See ya again in 2014, Milwaukee!
4) There isn’t a magic formula for running (or swimming/biking) fast. I feel that I spent a lot of time in college searching for the best way to get faster. I tried low mileage, but everything quick. I tried high mileage (my highest week ever was 82 miles, and I will NEVER run that again). I tried a mix of everything really. In the end it comes down to consistent work (and sleep!). We didn't really do anything different this year besides run less, swim more, bike more, sleep more, and stay healthy. I may not have trained like a runner, but I was still able to tie or PR every run distance 1500m and above.
1500m. BAM!
3) Love your body—it is the only one you get! I guess this kind of goes with #4. This year I was able to start seeing what I am capable of doing, but I never tried to lose weight. I was able to just accept my body for what it is and let the training dictate my weight. Not only was I a lot happier this year, but I was healthy and strong.
Dad and me in Vegas (Henderson to be exact, ha).
2) I have a coach--it is his job to make workouts and analyze the data. Steve has done a great job of figuring out how to make me a better athlete. He doesn't ask me what workouts I want to do, he tells me what I get to do. I used to think it was fun when a coach would ask me what workout I wanted to I enjoy knowing that coach has it planned. For the first time in a long time, I fully trust a coach to have full control of my training. It has made it much easier as an athlete to just focus on the workouts.
1) Lastly, one of my favorite quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “This moment will just be another story someday.”  It took me a while to figure out what went wrong in Vegas—I had a great swim (for me), but a sub-par bike and run. I didn’t give myself much time to reflect on it, as dad and I were visiting the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Arches, and Colorado on our way back home. The following two weekends I had great races—it almost made me more upset about Vegas. Looking back on it, I had an awesome time on my trip to and from Vegas.  I finally made it west of Iowa by visiting CO, UT, NV, and AZ...I had to go through Kansas and Nebraska too, but I didn't stay any longer than I had to. The race was just another moment on this crazy 2013 journey :)
Some rocks I got to see after the race.
Well, thank you for reading and be safe out there while training. Let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Turkey Trot 2013 Race Report

The Turkey Trot is never really an "A" race for anybody, but it is always fun to run fast. Last year was my first year running the Oglesby Turkey Trot and I finished 4th in 16:04. I wasn't sure of my fitness going into the race, but I knew I wanted to A) run faster B) finish higher than 4th. About 6 weeks before the Turkey Trot I ran a race on the same course, so I was hoping to run even quicker than that. The course basically has 20ish 90 degree turns, and a nice hill in mile 3.
The course.

Race morning was a wonderful 25 degrees...not cold, but not warm. Okay, it was a little cold. There were 1500+ registered, and 1410 finishers. It is actually pretty awesome that a town of a couple thousand people has so many people show up to race!

My goal was just to get out quick and figure out who was in the race. I did not see some of the names I was expecting to on the participant list. Last year I made the mistake choice to lead the race early and try to out run the other guys. This year I decided to see what the others were going to do and race off that.

 There were a couple single man breakaways in the first 1200m, but nobody wanted to keep on the gas pedal. At 1200m we were in a group of 3, and I decided it was time to take control of the race. I struggled with the hill the last 2 times I ran the course, so I wanted to give myself a cushion going into mile 3. I crossed mile 1 at 5:02 with a couple second gap on the chase pack.

The second mile is flat with quite a few turns. I decided to keep pushing. About 1.5 miles in, there were people out on the side sidewalks watching and I heard somebody say, "He looks strong right now." I needed to carry that into the upcoming hill!

I crossed the 2 miles in 10:10, and the uphill began. I was feeling good, but it was starting to hurt. At the top of the hill, Julie (and a crowd of other people) were there cheering us on. The thing that sucks about this hill is that it seems never ending--it goes up, flattens out, then goes up again! It is also by a sewage plant, so it smells "wonderful." Once you make it to the top of the hill, you have a lap around the block, then a loop around the park to the finish. At this time I had opened up 20second gap, so I was pretty excited. All that stood between me and victory was a loop around the park.

I crossed the line in 15:47--17 seconds faster than last year, and 7 seconds faster than Oct 5! Winning the Turkey Trot is nice, but I was more happy to see another course/race PR on less run training than before. November really was the "off season" for me, and I was still able to run well. After the race there is stuffing, cookies, pumpkin pie, and times!

My face was too frozen to smile.
As always, it was great to see so many friends and "regular runners." I have seen some of the same people at races since my first road race in 2004. It has been a lot of fun getting to know people over the years, and watch people grow as runners. There are also a lot of young athletes with a lot of talent, and it has been super fun to see their high school/college careers take off.

She has run all 35 Turkey Trots!
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, let me know!
Race splits

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I am honestly not sure where to start. I added this race to the schedule (without coach knowing it) a few weeks ago. I figured there is nothing wrong with a half…even if it is 6 days after the 10k. Ideal? Probably not…but since when do we do things the easy way?

I drove down to Litchfield on Friday night and stayed with the parents of a Greenville teammate. It was a quick, easy, and uneventful drive. I stopped in Bloomington for dinner—all pre-race meals should include something (Pad Thai w/chicken breast ) from Noodles, and a sugar cookie from Potbelly’s. (It’s a Greenville track thing.)
I woke up at 5:30 on race morning. I always like to be up at 3 hours before a race to give my body time to go through the normal morning routine. Coffee, oatmeal, shower, and head to the race. I was lucky and stayed about a mile from the start line, so this morning was very easy. I realized around 7:45 that I had never run a half before, and I wasn’t quite sure how to warm up for it. Do you warm up for a half? How? I figured a progression mile should do the trick—start easy, end a little quicker than race pace & then some strides. I felt good and was ready to go!

The air temperature was low 40, but it was very windy. On this two loop course, first 3 miles would be into the wind, followed by a bit over 3 miles back with the find. Repeat. The course is on a section of the old Route 66, and is pancake flat. It is definitely a fast/PR course, but the wind could definitely make it a tough day.

Somehow I got a low # again! No pressure!
The gun went off and I took off running. I wasn’t sure who was in the race, but I wanted to find out if anybody was going to try and work with me. In the first 400m I found myself out front. At this point I had to make the decision of keep going, or fall back and try to find a group to work with. I decided that if they wanted to catch up to me, we’d work together, but I had no plans of slowing down. The first stretch is out into the wind, so my goal was just to keep it under control for the first 3ish mile section, before making it to the first turnaround.

The first 3 miles flew by and I was feeling good. It was at this point that I would not be able to see the rest of the runners and decided if I needed to push it a little harder, or if I could back off. Coach and I had decided to aim for high 5:40s for my first loop, low 5:40s for the out section on loop 2, then whatever was left for the return trip. I came through the first 3 miles in 17:03, so I was already ahead of pace, but feeling great. I knew the wind was at my back for a little over 3 miles now, so I felt like I could left off the effort a little but still run a quick pace. I used this section to go through my checklist: knees up, hips high, head steady. All systems a go!

On my way back, I felt like I was flying and had to tell myself to dial it back a little bit. Part of my problem in the 70.3 run is I can get overly excited during the early miles and start to fade the last 5k. I wanted to make sure I ran strong the whole time today! I came back through my first 6 miles in 33:42 and thought, “this could get interesting.” At the second turnaround I noticed the wind had picked up.  At this point I knew the next 3 miles would make or break the run. Could I hold on? Could I take on the wind alone? The good news is those thoughts left my brain as quickly as they came. All I could control was my form and breathing, so I figured focus on that and the rest will happen—I can’t control the wind.
Racing down memory lane--Old Route 66!
The next few miles seemed to take forever. The course had plenty of spectators and people to cheer you on, but that wind was brutal. I didn’t look down at my watch too much, because I figured it was better to just run strong and see what happens…turns out I was dropping high 5:30s to low 5:40s into the wind! I finally made it to the turnaround and was a bit over 3 miles from finishing AND the last few miles were with the wind. Sweet! It was at this point that I really did want to open it up and see how I was feeling, but, to be honest… I wasn’t feeling “great.” I Felt good, but not as good as before. I managed to run low 5:30s the rest of the way and crossed the line in 1:13:05! I was shocked. My debut open half marathon, ran 1:13:05, and won by 8 minutes...I couldn’t have been happier.
Finished :)
I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers out on the course. I have done some big WTC/Rev3/USAT races, and I would say the volunteers here were just as good as any of those races! The energy from the crowd/volunteers?RD was electric! The other racers were also VERY supportive and encouraging as I was running by. I may have been out front, but I never felt like I was alone. There were also businesses along the way that had music playing, which was another huge plus! So, for course layout, support, and atmosphere, I would definitely give this race an A+! Racemaker Productions always puts on a great race, and this did not disappoint! I would definitely recommend putting this race on your schedule for next year. You also get an awesome hoodie.
The Greenville crew...these twins are FAST!!
I am still kind of shocked to have run 1:13 and honestly was not expecting that. I think the past 2 weekends have taught me quite a bit in terms of racing. First, to run the 32:44 10k last weekend essentially solo after the first mile, I had to focus on running my race and the things I could control. Coming off a great race, I decided to apply that to the half marathon. Run within myself and focus on a few key things; the rest would take care of itself. I was also able to quiet the voices in my head the past 2 races—and for me that is huge! I am not a patient person. I like to try and blow the doors off the race from the start. The past couple weekends I was able to quiet that side of myself and just run. I believe there is a time for both styles of racing, and the past couple races definitely worked out well.
Elvis was even at the race!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Canal Connection 10k Race Report

Sunday Nov 3,2013

I was not nervous for this race, but I was very excited to race. This is one of my favorite fall races. I ran it for the first time in 2004 and had dreamed of winning this thing someday. Last year I won. This year my goal was to defend my title, as there have only been 3 guys in 31 year history of the race to win it multiple times…and they have all done it back to back years. I honestly was not sure of my fitness going into this race, but coach and I decided if I could run 33:00-33:10, it would be a good day.

This race is a point to point race. You check in at the finish and they bus you to the start. I picked up my packet about 90 minutes before the start of the race. You have to stand in line by last name to pick up your bib. My last name starts with a “W” and all of the people around me were picking up numbers in the 500-600s. I tell them my last name and the lady says, “Oh, you’re the random #1 in with all these high numbers. You must have been waiting on your computer at midnight to sign up as soon as it opened.”  I got a good laugh out of that.
Such a low number!

My Garmin 310xt was being a pain in my butt, and would not turn on. I tried doing a soft reset and it still would not show anything besides the normal Garmin starting screen. It was fully charged. After messing with it for a while I decided to ditch the Garmin, because I would rather focus on something I can control, rather that something I couldn’t. There would be clocks on the course, so I would be able to figure out where I am based on that.

As I finished my warm up and put on my Brooks t7 racing flats, I noticed Bryan Glass was also racing. For those of you who don’t know who Bryan Glass is, he is the 2013 USA Masters 15k Champ, along with the now 10x winner of Canal Connection, and course record holder, & masters course record holder. I knew I would not win the race, but I knew a fast time was definitely possible! I had to remind myself that this race was supposed to be about running smart and fast, not about winning.

The race went by pretty quickly. The first mile was 5:11 and there were 4 of us within a couple seconds of each other.  I knew I had gotten out quicker than I wanted to, but there is a bit of a downhill in the first mile, so I wasn’t worried that I got out a tad fast. Shortly after mile 1 we were down to 3. I decided to let the 2 other guys go, because I really wanted to run fast and didn’t want to risk blowing up between 5-8k and suffering the last 2k home. I came through 2 miles in 10:25, perfectly relaxed.  At this point I just said, “Hey Coree, you’re running great. 10:25 is over a minute slower than your 2 mile PR. Just stay relaxed and it will be a good say.” I could see the other guys up there, so I had motivation to keep running. I came through the 3 mile in 15:36. At this point I was no longer worried about pace; I just wanted to run a strong last half of the race I knew I was on pace to PR unless something big happened.

I was pretty happy to make the final turn!

From mile 3-4 the gap started to get pretty big and I wondered if I was slowing down, or they were speeding up. I made the decision to back off the pace a little just to be safe.  I ended up coming through 4 miles in 21:01. After doing some quick math in my head I was positive I could PR. I knew the guys were already 30 seconds or more ahead. At this point I really wasn’t hurting like I was expecting to be, so I picked it back up. My 5 mile split was 26:20. I told myself, “drive with the knees,  keep the hips high, focus.” This was the hardest mile of the race, because this is where I finally lost sight of the leaders—there are a few turns in the last part of the race.  I kept plugging along, and say 31:30 for 6 miles. At this point I knew I could go farther into the hurt box and pull off a nice PR. I closed the last .2 in :74 to finish in 32:44. My 10k PR was 33:17 from last year, on this same course, so I was very excited!

Lookin' pretty strong on my way to the finish!
Mile splits:
5:11 – 5:11
5:15 — 10:25
5:11 — 15:36
5:25 — 21:01
5:19 — 26:20
5:10 — 31:30
:74 — 32:44

So, what do I take away from this? Well, I think I ran a smart race. I knew I could not win, but a fast time would be possible. Instead of going with the leaders and seeing how long I could hang on, I decided to pull back and run something I felt was more manageable. Did I negative split? No. But I honestly feel this is the best possible race I could have run for the day. I feel I did a good job of running off feel and managing my pace to set myself up for a good race. The overall win would have been nice, but a huge PR is even better!

I have had a lot of people ask me what my training was like leading into this race and how I had such a breakthrough day. Honestly, we have not done anything different or special for this race. After Branson we pretty much went into “off season” mode. I have been running almost the same as I have been all year, but without the workouts. A lot of easy days—some long, some short, but nothing too intense. I’ve been biking. I’ve been swimming. So for me to run sub 33 for the first time, I am thrilled.

Next up? Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon on Nov 9. I’m pretty excited to see what I can do in my first open half marathon. Once again, the goal is just to run smart. Hope to see some of y’all out there!

Well, thanks for reading. If you have any questions, ask away! Train hard and stay safe out there!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Litchfield, Oglesby, & Bradley RR. Canal Connection 10k/Route 66 13.1 Preview

I have been slacking when it comes to race reports--here is just a quick wrap up of the last 3 races, and a preview of the next 2 races.
Litchfield Lou Olympic (2:04:17, 3rd)
This was a last minute decision to race. We had just finished up the last 19 hours of driving from our Western Adventure.  I got home at 8:00 am Saturday morning, talked with coach, and decided I was going to race the next morning. So at this point it was 70.3 Vegas, Litchfield, and Rev3 Branson all in a 14 day span. I love Racemaker Production events, so it really was not a super hard decision to race—the only thing I worried about was the fact that I had taken the previous week off, and I had Branson a week later…but hey, I’m young…right?
Swim: 20.30, 6t
T1: :45.45, 1st
Bike: 1:06:48, 22.3 MPH, 3rd
T2: :21.40, 1st
Run: 35:53, (5:47/mile), 1st
The swim was wetsuit legal. I was actually hoping it would be non-wetsuit legal, so I could use my Xterra Velocity-M speedsuit. I was feeling great in the water, and found some feet to follow. I felt like I was swimming quick and had a good feel for the water...a nice change. I felt like time just flew by and I exited the water in 20:40... ...When the RD saw me come out of the water in 20.xx he knew something happened. Ha. I guess a lot of people ended up turning 1 buoy too soon, making it a .7 swim course rather than .9. Oops. The bike course is a nice out and back—pretty uneventful. The roads were chip and seal, so you had to be careful cornering. Other than that, fun course. The run is a 10k out and back with a couple rollers. I enjoy this course, and will hopefully be back again! A studly 17 year old that won the race (2:01)--Jack Klekamp is a name you are proably going to hear a lot of in the future (and now)! Also, any race that gives out beer as a prize is a pretty dang good race in my book!


Oglesby Holy Family Shuffle 3 Mile (15:53, 1st)
A lady at work talked me into running this fundraiser for her kids school. This course also happens to be the same as the Turkey Trot 3 Mile on Thanksgiving morning. I figured this would be a good way to get some practice on the course. I have been known to do some reckless things in racing, and today was one of those days…Took it out at 5:00 first mile (had not done any hard running since Rev3 Branson). I ended up winning in 15:53 (first time sub 16 on this course—and it’s a tad over 3 miles) and I was happy with it. There is a not so nice hill in the final mile of the race—it sucks (in the best way possible)! I thought I was going to be able to hold on for a little bit quicker time, but that hill just crushed me. Can’t wait til the Turkey Trot!
Looking "great" right before the finish. Ha.

Bradley University Classic 8k (27:08, 22nd)
I have never been a huge fan of cross country, nor do I ever think I have run a great cross country race.  I think I have had some good races, but never great races. I had no idea what kind of shape I was in heading into this race, so I just decided to go out with the front pack and try to hold on. Well, first mile was 5 flat with a pack of probably 30 people. But 5k we were still in a pack of 10ish @ 16:11. And then the wheels fell off. I had been doing a lot of just easy runs for a while (since Vegas) so I was lacking speed, and probably didn’t make a good decision by going out 5 flat the first mile. The next 2 miles were ugly, and I crossed the line in 27:08. So a bit over a minute off my 8k PR, but I can say I finally had fun during a cross country race! It was also great to see some of my old Greenville teammates and coaches.
...And this is where it starts to get ugly...

So what’s next?

Canal Connection 10k (Sun Nov 3)
This is an awesome race put on by the Starved Rock Runners! If you are looking to run a fast 10k, this is it! The race starts in LaSalle, IL and ends in Utica, IL. I am looking forward to racing it this year, because these guys always put on a quality, fun race. They also have some delicious pizza and muffins after the race. I won the race last year, and people keep asking if I am going to defend my title this year…I guess we’ll just have to wait til Sunday to find out! I can't say that I have had "awesome" training leading up to the race, but a well executed race should still produce a time fast enough to leave me happy for now.
Can I repeat? We'll find out!

Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon (Sat Nov 9)
I have never actually raced a half marathon before. I run the distance in practice often, and I have run it in 70.3s, but never just a half marathon. Racemaker Productions informed me of the new race this year, and I had to sign up! Instead of the typical t shirt, they give out awesome hoodies! This is a 2 loop, 13.1 mile race in Litchfield, IL—sounds like it should be flat and fast race. What kind of half marathon shape am I in? I really don’t know. I will just go and try to run a smart race. *gasp* Did I just say I’m going to try and race smart?! I can suffer through a poorly paced 5k and 8k and still run "okay," but that doesn’t sound too fun in a half marathon. I think I just need to be realistic about my fitness and go from there. But, before I can focus on the half, I need to get through Canal Connection! Also, there is a discount code for this race right now. Check out the Racemaker Production Facebook page if you want it!

Well, thanks for reading! Hope you are having a great “off season” (if you want to call it that). If the season is not over for you, good luck!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rev3 Branson and What It Means to Me

Rev3 Branson—Guys Weekend 2013
Don't we look so good?
Work til 3, drive to Greenville. Pick up the support crew (Josh, Ray, & Ross) for the weekend. Head to Edwardsville and eat with teammates Alex and Michelle at Pit Pit. Drive to Branson. Check into the Branson Windmill in at 1am. I stayed there last year, because I found a sick deal on it…same with this year. Good night.
Wake up. Breakfast.  Outlet mall…it was right by the hotel…Check in.  Pro Panel.  Athlete Meeting.  Ride. I was thinking about not riding…good thing I did. I had a small issue with my rear wheel…that would have been bad on race day! After getting that sorted out, I got in a quick ride before heading back to the hotel. Met up with Dan and Tammy, and went to Old Chicago for dinner. Dan was doing his first half ironman in Branson…brave man!
Old Chicago is a MUST the night before the race.
My wake up call was scheduled for 5am, but I woke up at 4:15 ready to take on the world. I didn’t want to wake the other guys up (although I’m not exactly super quiet in the morning) so I tired to get mostly ready in the dark. I stopped by McDonalds for my pre-race coffee and oatmeal, and went to T2. Set up my run gear, then went drove to Dan’s hotel…I apparently did not pack my CarboPro for the race, but he had some extra. Thank goodness. Went back to the hotel to pick up the support crew and drove to the race site.
Pre-race pictures (of course),  warm up, and just enough time to get a little nervous. Perfect.
They are really tall...Okay, I'm not tall.
Swim: 37:30
Had, so I have been saying all year I could swim 35:00 in a wetsuit, since I have been able to swim 37:00 in a swimskin. I got out quickly, and thought I was in a good spot. I had quite a bit of contact for the first 200m, and then I got into some clear water. I just assumed the swimmers gapped me I was falling behind…no big deal. I kept swimming hard and sighting. Well, next thing you know I am being tapped on the shoulder by a kayak paddle and the nice girl was telling me I am about 75m off course. What?! How in the heck did that happen?! So, I had to swim another 75m back to get on the course, and finally found a group to swim with. It was foggy and sighting was already limited, so I just figured whatever, I’ll just follow them. When I finally saw the arch, I put tried to prepare myself for a 40something minute swim and just told myself to stick to the plan. Well, I look at my watch, 37:xx. So….even with swimming an extra 150m, I still had a good swim...actually a great swim!!
T1: 1:44 – short and quick
I didn't crash while mounting my bike. Yay!
Bike: 2:52:57
I have done this course before, I knew what to expect. Spin the uphill, but don’t spike the power. Hammer the downhill. Use the momentum for the downhill to start getting you up the uphill. Use your gears. Be prepared to go slow uphill and fly downhill. This course has over 1k more of climbing that Vegas, and I think it is more challenging, but I rode the same time as Vegas, so I was happy.
T2: :46 short and sweet
Run: 1:20:45
Time to go to work!
The race always comes down to the run. I was in 2nd in my AG and like 10th OA going into the run. I ran out of T2 and saw somebody in a white jersey that was running about the speed I wanted to run (my garmin died on the bike, so I was just running off feel) so I hopped in and started running next to him. I looked over and realized it was Ben Hoffman…If you’re ever going to have one of those “Oh Sh*t” moments during a race, this may be one of them. Good thing my Garmin was dead!
Anyway, we ran together for my first loop, and unfortunately he got to finish and I had 2 more loops to go. The run course was not very crowded (a good thing), but spectator support was scarce on the back half of the loop—it made for a good mental test. The volunteers at this race are simply AMAZING. They are by far some of the best I’ve ever experienced in a race. So hats off to you and a very sincere thank you! It was great getting to see my friends 2x a loop as well! Anyway, finished up, ran 1:20 and knew I was under 5, so I was happy.
Total: 4:53:42 –17 minutes faster than last year! 1st AG, 4th amateur. I was pumped.
After the race I also got to talk to Ben Hoffman for a few minutes, which was pretty cool! This was my first Rev3 event, and I really enjoyed it. I think it is more relaxed than a WTC event, but still with the big time feel. Also, they give away quite a bit of “free” stuff.  I will definitely be racing more Rev3 events in the future. Branson will always be on the schedule...I absolutely love the course and it really is just a fun place to race.
Now, I am very happy to have won my AG in a Half Ironman and take a lot of time off the same course, but Branson is a special race for me for other reasons. Last year I qualified for Worlds at 70.3 Branson by finishing 2nd in my AG. Even more important than that, this year it has been 4 years since I decided to get help for an eating disorder that started in high school. To quickly sum it up, it started my sophomore year of high school when somebody I looked up to told me I needed to lose some weight to run fast in cross country that fall—I was 5’6” and 117lbs at the time. Over the next few years I continued to lose weight until spring of my junior year when I had a stress fracture (first of 4) and knee surgery. I did not plan on running in college and I let myself get to 140lbs…a healthy weight. I then decided I wanted to run in college and the cycle started again. By my sophomore year I was running 70-80 miles a week and eating once a day, sometimes less than that. I got back into the sub 120 range (which doesn’t have to be unhealthy, IF that is a natural weight for you—for me, it is not natural) and ended up getting another stress fracture after the first meet of the year, BUT I had just set a minute PR over 8000m. It was at this point people really started to wonder if something was going on and I decided to reach out and get help on Sept 22, 2009. Over the next couple years I had to turn to swimming and biking as a form of cross training for track/cross country, and a way to work out without putting pressure on myself to perform well. Swimming and biking played a huge part in my recovery—physically and mentally. I have had the support of many coaches, family, and friends along this journey, but I can gladly say I am healthy and able to compete at a decently high level today. Four year later, it was great to race Branson and have 2 of my good friends that played a huge part in my recovery there with me (and Ray too).  Sure, qualifying for Worlds at Branson last year was great, and the age group win this year was fun, but being celebrating being healthy and being able to compete in a sport I love is just awesome. I really am thankful to have such an awesome support system, and I look forward to many more years of health, training, and racing.
Thanks for reading, y’all.

Monday, September 16, 2013

20 Favorite Vacation Pictures from Worlds Road Trip

Here are my 20 favorite pictures from my 2 weeks road trip. Mostly a bunch of rocks haha. Hey, it was my first time west of Louisiana! Sometime I'll get around to posting the rest to Facebook. Enjoy.

First night in Estes Park!
A different night in Estes.

Sunset in Sin City.

First night in Vegas...went to play BINGO.
Dad volunteered at the race!

Post race swag!
My first view of the Grand Canyon...

The GC started to clear up.

Hiking one of the trails at the GC.
Walking next to the clouds.
I believe I am above the clouds now...
And then it began to rain...
And then it cleared up 15 minutes later.

Outside of Monument Valley.
Selfie time!
Outside the hotel in Moab, Utah.

Arches National Park.

And another arch.
...and another.
Roadside picture.