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.

70.3 Worlds Race Report

 Short and sweet Vegas recap:
Headed to check in on Sat.

The calm before the storm!
I woke up race morning to look outside and see rain. Not what I was expecting to see in Vegas! Basically it rained all morning and finally decided to clear up when I started the run. It never got too hot, but it did get warm. Anyway, here's the report.

Swim- 37:12
PR swim (wetsuit or non wetsuit). Found feet early on and just drafted. The pace felt easy and I didn't feel like I was using much energy. Thanks to XTERRA Wetsuits for the Velocity-M speedsuit.

T1- 3:15
Uneventful. Nice long run around the lake. My bike was easy to find since there were only a few bikes left on the rack. Then we had a nice run through transition and up a winding hill before getting on our bikes.

Don't I look so happy to be on the bike?

Bike- 2:52:37 (19.47mph)
I should have known from early on this could be rough. As I was mounting my bike, I lost one of my bottles of water. Since I was less than 15 seconds into the race, I decided I should probably stop and get it. From there I rode the struggle bus for the first 30 miles of the race. I was putting out decent power, but not going anywhere. Starting in the last wave, and having a weak swim made for a long, lonely ride. When I got to the turnaround point, I started to find my legs. At this point I knew I was not having a good ride, but I did not look at my watch--I figured that would just put me in a bad mood.

T2- 1:27
Quick and simple. It was nice to not have to rack my bike.

Not looking too happy!

Run-1:28:22 (6:44/mile)
I had gone into the race with the intention of running sub 1:20. I believe in my training and I am definitely in shape to do it. I did an easy loop of the course to preview it, and knew my up and down miles were 12ish seconds apart, so I made a pacing plan accordingly. In the first half mile of the race I knew I was in trouble. I was not feeling very strong but I was going to try and stick to the plan. I threw in a couple surges trying to get things loosened up. First mile 5:45. So I ended up 5 seconds faster than I wanted to be, but I figured with the surges it was okay. The next 2 miles were uphill. I was struggling to hold 6:30 pace...not good. At the start of the downhill miles I felt like I was flying, only to find out I really wasn't. At this point I didn't care about pace anymore, I just wanted to finish. Mentally I was ready to go, but my body wasn't having it. The volunteers were great, and there were quite a few groups playing music and cheering along the way. The crowd energy was great and I tried to use it the best I could. I ended up walking a few times in the last 4 miles, and had my slowest half ironman run.

Total: 5:02:53

Dad & me after the race.
So what do I take away from this? I had a fun experience, and was glad to have the chance to compete with some amazing athletes. My swim is getting "better" although it is far from where it needs to be. However, it is frustrating to prepare for a race and just have an "okay" day. I know I am stronger on the bike than I showed, as well as the run. At this point, the easiest thing to do is move on and get ready for Rev3 Branson in a few days. Branson is not a walk in the park by any means, but I absolutely love the course.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Road to Vegas, Part 1

A few days to go until the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. Am I excited? Yes. It finally gives me a reason to road trip out somewhere west of Louisiana. Along the way I get to see a few friends, meet coach, and see real mountains!

After a long Friday of work, and a run with Wyatt, I packed up the truck and took off…well, I wanted to leave a 5pm, but 9pm is close enough. I made it 30 min down the road and realized I left the little yellow computer for my power meter at home, so I had to turn around and go get it. Nothing like adding an extra hour to a trip! I arrived in Iowa City a little after midnight, just in time to sleep!

So far I have:
-Made it west of Louisiana
-Met up with friends in Littleton, CO
-Explored Boulder
-Met Coach Steve (and got a lesson in blowing bubbles from his son)
-Spent a lot of time relaxing in Estes Park
-Had a open fire steak and potato dinner, along with homemade ice cream
-Met a few Greenville Track/XC alumni

Here are just a few pictures for the start of the trip:

The World's Largest Truck Stop...I wanted candy.
"Nebraska... the good life." ...if you like living/driving though a flat state.
It rained on me in Lyons, CO.
I could almost see the mountains.
Estes Park...7500ft...Is it getting harder to breathe?
A nice, small cabin to relax at.
My room in the mountains.
My view as I walked out of the cabin.

More Estes!
 One more day in Estes, then headed to Vegas! More pictures to come. Safe travels and good luck to those racing this weekend! See ya in Vegas!