Friday, December 7, 2007

The Price of Ironman

In the past 2 weeks, quite a few emails have been going around the TCSD yahoo group about the price to do an Ironman (now $500!). Yes, that is quite a bit of money, but here are my thoughts on it....

$500 is not just the pricetag for 1 day of racing. I will start training for IMAZ in June or July. I will spend hundreds of hours with my friends riding up the coast (or in circles on Fiesta Island). I will cry with them when in pain, and celebrate with them when we've completed a tough workout. For 6 months, the group of us will eat, sleep and breath swimming, biking and running. We will experience things in those 6 months, both personally, and as a group, that will teach us more about ourselves than we ever thought we could learn. All of this will lead to, what in my mind, will be one of the happiest moments in my life...Mike Reilly saying that I am an Ironman on November 23. The fact that I am 11.5 months away from raceday, and that thought gives me shivers....I think that's worth $500.

Here's another good point on Ironman costs from Bob Babbitt....great read.

Dear Tri Clubbers………..

If it’s okay, I would like to add my voice to the Ironman conversation. I have heard the Ironman bashing over the years for everything from high entry fees to the lack of elite and age group race coverage on the TV show to the fact that each year a celebrity is placed into the event and did not have to qualify like the rest of us.

As someone who has been rather intimately involved in the multisport world since 1980, I feel that what Ironman brings to the table is constantly overlooked:

How many of the people out there first heard about the sport of triathlon when they saw the Ironman coverage on television? Get those hands up high. The coverage from Kona was exciting and incredibly well produced, the scenery was amazing and who doesn’t get excited hearing Phil Liggett or Al Trautwig wax poetic about the desolation of the lava fields? Hell, Liggett can order lunch and I’d get excited. I get chills thinking about some of the classic coverage right now. The fact that we all met amputee Jim MacLaren, father of the century Dick Hoyt, everyone’s hero Jon “Blazeman” Blais and amputee Sarah Reinertsen through those shows told us that anyone and everyone could accomplish this amazing feat. All it took was guts and will and a never say die attitude.

We then pushed away from our large everything pizza with extra cheese, somehow got ourselves out of the recliner and vowed to try one of those tri-ath-alon things one of these days.

We did and it changed our lives forever. We made new friends, changed the way we looked and felt about ourselves and became better parents, employers, employees and people.

We learned from that show that all anyone with a disability wants is a chance and an equal playing field. Ironman-and the triathlon lifestyle-makes that available to each and every one of us not matter what our limitations 365 days a year.

The Ironman has been producing GREAT television since the mid 1980’s. And you know what? They PAY a ridiculous amount for that television. And in my mind, the Ironman has been paying for all of the public relations for the sport of triathlon right from the beginning. They win Emmy awards for that television coverage and the athletes who are showcased on that show become stars.

Even though you are now a seasoned triathlete and have placed in your division a time or two, you know that that show was the reason you became a triathlete to begin with. So where do you place value when it comes to an event that believes enough in us to fund the PR to grow not just the Ironman, but the entire sport?

When people are chosen as Kona lottery winners, the Ironman creates and funds a PR campaign around at least 30 of those athletes and surprises the winners at home or at work with a local TV media member. Most of these folks break down when they find out they have been selected to be in the Super Bowl of Triathlon and for many it is a highlight of their life. I’m not quite sure if they break down because they are so happy they have been selected, or because they are scared crapless and know the how tough that day is going to be. The PR machine is there at the race in Kona as well. They identify athletes from different markets, get on- camera interviews before and after the race with each of these folks, film the local hero swimming, cycling, running and finishing and put all of that up on the satellite so that their local station can look like they actually took the time and effort to film their guy or gal and put them on TV. Nope, Ironman funds all of that, which again drives new people to our sport.

Without the Ironman TV coverage, I don’t think triathlon makes it into the Olympics in 2000. Ironman licensed events in Japan and Germany and New Zealand and Australia provided the impetus for the creation of short course events around the world. It was only then that triathlon was able to become part of the Olympic family. Triathlon was actually the first event of the Sydney Games and the producer of that coverage, Lisa Lax, had been the producer of the Ironman for many years for NBC. Lisa and NBC loved the Ironman, loved triathlon and pushed for that event to kickoff their coverage, which was exceptional. If the name Lisa Lax is familiar, it’s because a few years later Lisa and her twin sister Nancy created the amazing documentary Emmanuel’s Gift and told the story about a young man from Ghana who was motivated to ask CAF for a bike because he was inspired by a former Ironman by the name of Jim MacLaren.

Ironman probably doesn’t do a good enough job blowing their own horn about everything they do for the sport of triathlon. I know that completing the Ironman for the first time in 1980 changed me forever and whatever the cost is for entry into this incredibly exclusive club is minor compared to what we all get for being a member in good standing of this amazing fraternity and sorority.

It’s easy to look at someone else’s business and feel they make too much money and critique how they do their job. Do you really know what Ironman pays for insurance in this incredibly litigious world? Public relations? Their NBC television show? How much work do they do in Tempe or Panama City or Madison to become part of the community, to get kids into fitness, to promote the sport of triathlon to people who never heard of it before?

When people call our office and tell me they want to put on an event of any sort as a fundraiser for their charity, I always recommend that they look towards doing a car wash or a bake sale instead.
I say to them, “Do you really want to wake up on race day and know that you are personally responsible for the safety of 2,000 or more people?”

At that point selling pound cake sounds pretty good to them.

That is the burden all of our race directors must bare and it is a heavy one.

When you think about the Ironman, think beyond the events. Think about the joy that Ironman and triathlon has brought to your life and what the Ironman has done to provide a level playing field for wheelchair bound athletes, blind athletes and amputee athletes. At one time wheelchair athletes were told they could never complete the Ironman within the existing time cutoffs, especially the bike cutoff. John MacLean missed the bike cutoff two years in a row and made it on his third attempt. Then, Carlos Moleda went 10:55, not only making the cutoff times without a problem, but going faster than the able bodied athletes who won the Ironman had gone back in 1978 and 1979. That is called changing perceptions of what someone with a disability can accomplish.

The sport of mountain biking was hot in the 1990’s as was adventure racing. Both sports are nowhere near as big as they were back then. The fact that the sport of triathlon is still thriving after all these years has a ton to do with the constant investment made by the Ironman.

Ironman also has supported CAF to the nth degree right from our beginning with entries into a number of the events. The Kona spots have helped to raise over $1,000,000 for CAF.

I, for one, am eternally grateful for everything that Ironman brings to our world.

Sorry to go on for so long!

Bob Babbitt
Co-founder Competitor Magazine
Co-founder Challenged Athletes Foundation

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Someone....Please check my sanity!

Well, I did it, I took the plunge. On November 23, 2008, I will be competing in my first full Ironman race. Should be a fun year! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

TCSD Desert Camp - Borrego-a-go-go

Twice a year (January and October), the TCSD crew heads out to the Anza-Borrego desert for a weekend of camping, eating, relaxing, biking, and marshmallow fights.

Pat and I headed to camp on Friday evening, set up our tents, chatted around the campfire a bit, and then headed to bed.

On Saturday morning, we got our bike gear together, and got fueled up for a 60 mile ride out to the Salton Sea and back. I had never done this ride, so I really didn't know what to expect. I do recall Brian Long warning us about the wind on the way back....but for some stupid reason I decided to ignore his comment. 60 miles. I can do this in my sleep....

The ride out to the Salton Sea was HOT! In the first 5 miles I had my doubts, but then kept pushing on. The ride is through the desert, and although pretty barren of civilization, it is actually quite beautiful with the mountains in the background, and the canyons along the road. When you think desert, you think flat.....not in this desert. There were actually quite a few rollers! The ride out was actually not that bad once the winds started helping us along. At one point, I actually rode for 5 miles straight at 30+ mph. The entire time I was thinking that the ride back was going to really suck.

We made it down to Salton City, refueled on water, and then started heading back to camp. Wow! What a difference! The wind was coming out of the west at what had to be 20+ mph. And it was a hot wind. It was about 100 degrees out and so riding into the desert wind felt like riding into a hot hair dryer. It was MISERABLE! With about 20 miles left, I started hurting pretty bad. My heart rate was escalated because of the heat, and although I could've dumped an entire water bottle over my head to stay cool, I knew I had to conserve every drop b/c 20 miles is a long way. With about 8 miles left, I saw my friend Kevin driving SAG. I stopped, and said take my bike, I'm done. I'm not one to give up, but I know when my body has had too much. I was done! We kept driving towards the Salton Sea to see if any others needed to be picked up. The carnage was pretty unbelievable. Along with another SAG wagon, we picked up about 8 others and then headed back to Borrego.

Once I was showered and fed, life was good again. Lots of good meat and beer, and even our own version of ER to end the worries, he was ok after a couple stitches.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

MCRD Boot Camp Challenge

Here in San Diego, we are lucky to be surrounded by quite a few military bases. Camp Pendleton to the North, 32nd St. Navy Base to the South, MCAS, Point Loma (where Pat works), NAB Coronado, North Island...just to name a few. MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit of 2 in the country I think) is located here as well. From San Diego's airport, you can see the recruits marching and proving themselves on the obstacle course. One day a year, they open the obstacle course up to the public for the Boot Camp Challenge.

I have to say, when not out fighting for our country, the Marine Corps puts on some damn fine races. I have done both the Bulldog Bike Race and the Olympic Distance Tri up at Camp Pendleton and have always been super-satisfied with the venue and support (not to mention the cool t-shirts). When a couple of friends asked me to join their team for the Boot Camp Challenge, I figured...why not?

So, here's a little summary of my experience
  • Drove to MCRD in the am (AWESOME that it's only 1 mile from Pat's house)
  • Explored the expo (good expo, 2 beer companies)
  • Met up w/ my team (Run DMC) Court and Farah, and met my other 2 team members Kelly and Karla. Put on our cute tank tops that Farah and Court made
  • Got our pic taken by a tank w/ a hot 18 year-old Marine

  • Stretched/enjoyed the sunny day
  • Listened to a Marine Corps jazz band play at the start line to pump us up
  • Started the 3 mile obstacle course (jumped over hay bales, climed over log posts and made 8 ft. jumps, dropped and gave 10...twice. squatted through tunnels, etc.)
  • Finished race, felt pretty good (as an endurance athlete, 3 miles actually feels a little short now) Time = 30:50
  • Started driving home, then got a call from Courtney saying that our team had won 3rd place. Out of 16 teams! WHOA! Didn't expect that! Go Us! Check out the trophy we won (coming soon)!

All in all, fun day, fun race. Will hopefully do it again.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mission Bay Triathlon - 2007

Ahh...Mission Bay. Where it all began. The first triathlon ever was held here! My first triathlon ever was here! (well, kinda...I did a club race the week before as my first). This race will always hold a sentimental place in my heart, despite the mucky MB waters. This was my 4th year in a row doing this race. I've definitely come a long way since the fall of 2004!

Pretty normal except for the fact that Pat set his alarm to NPR, and at 4:30 am, NPR had nothing airing. Blank. That means no noise when the alarm goes off. For some reason, I got up and looked at the clock. 4:45! Oh Sh*t! Not too bad. We rushed out of bed, dressed, and headed out the door.

Supposedly there was a favorable current. I felt it at the start as it was pushing us past the start buoys. I swear it ended just after those buoys. I felt like I was swimming through mud the rest of the distance. I just couldn't get into my groove. One of these days I really need to get into a masters program....

Pretty quick. I'd say about 40% of the bikes in my wave were gone when I got out of the water.

The bike course takes you out of ski beach, into the Sea World parking lot (lots of sharp turns), back out onto Sea World Drive and onto Fiesta Island for a loop before heading back. Since they paved the big loop on the island earlier this year, the race took advantage of it, making the bike course almost 2 miles longer. Advantage: ME! This is the only part of triathlon (other than transitions) where I can hold my own. The longer the better! I passed a couple of girls in my wave within the first mile, and then a couple more on the island. And then I started passing the boys. That was fun! I felt good on the bike. There were a couple portions where the wind held be back to 18/19 mph, but for the most part I was riding around 20 or 21 mph. For about a half a minute on the west side of the island, I thought I had a flat. Something just didn't seem right. Wheel looked ok though, so I powered on (I found out later at home that my tire really was flat...must have been a slow leak).

A couple of the 25-29 year old boys passed me on the bike (they started 5 mins behind). One guy passed me as I rode through Sea World the first time (must have been a wicked fast swimmer), a couple passed me on the island, and then 4 more passed me on the return trip through Sea World. Unfortunately they passed me just as we were heading into some water hazards (puddles). I was sprayed w/ muddy, dirty water and was speckled for the rest of the race. Oh well, you don't win races on looks.

Quick again. There were very few bikes on their racks when I returned. I love that.

Usually this is where I get passed by half of the people I passed on the bike. For some reason, that didn't happen too much today. I started off strong, and ran my first mile in 7:30. 7:30!??!?! Wait...there's no way in hell I ran my first mile off the bike in 7:30. Concensus is that the mile marker was placed incorrectly. I hit Mile 2 at 16:30, so my 1 mile of elation on how I had suddenly become a fast runner, evaporated pretty quickly. From what I can remember, only 3 or 4 people in my age group passed me on the run. I had passed Michelle Panik on the bike, and she passed me again at mile 1.5. Not too shabby. Clay, who started 10 minutes behind me, passed me at about the same time. I was able to hold off Pat (who started 5 minutes behind me) for another 2 minutes, and then he blew past me. I never saw Becky. She was ahead of me the entire time. How's that for some Ironman recovery? I was able to finish strong, and feel good at the end of the race. Sprints are stomach can usually be ready for beer within 10 minutes :)

Post Race
My wave was the third to go off. That meant I finished early and was able to make it to the beer garden by 8:30 am. Nothing like Mich Ultra for breakfast! :) It was a beautiful sunny San Diego morning. Couldn't ask for anything better. By 10:30 am, I was pretty buzzed. Pat and I were able to check another "Thing We want to do" off our list when we joined Paul, Erik, and Clay for breakfast at the Museum Cafe in La Jolla. I had the Asparagus Scramble. Yum!

Results (from my watch since Koz only does 3 splits)
Swim (500m)--10:24 (ugh)
Bike(10.4 miles?)--31:21
T2 --1:12
Run(3.1 miles)--25:23 (ugh)

Total: 1:10:35
16/119 W25-29

Saturday, September 15, 2007

TCSD September Club Race

Why I decided to do a race just 6 days after a half ironman is beyond me. I could've used a nice day to sleep in, but nah.....that's no fun!

Anyway, after a summer of "paid-for" races conflicting with club races, I finally had my chance to race on Coronado for the first time this year. Just a nice little sprint....

800 m swim (heard it was more like 1000) ----17:41
T1 ----1:55
15 mile bike ----46:43
T2 ----0:59
3.2 mile run ----25:23

Total: 1:33:51

After a quick bite to eat (Thanks again Denise), I headed home, showered, and got ready for another Tri Club Event....The Don Lopez BBQ! As a Michigan MBA, he didn't disappoint...a TV was set up for me on the bar :) Michigan beat Notre Dame 38-0. Go Blue!

Mmmmm.....some of Don's famous meat. This stuff rocks!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Big Kahuna Story....

....Otherwise known as "How I easily succumbed to peer pressure."

It's September. I'm tired. My body is tired. I've been training hard since last December. Work is busy. School just started. I had every reason in the world not to do this race. But... it was on my original race schedule for the year, I was planning on heading to Nor Cal for Pat's race anyway, AND half of the Bellas were already signed up. Even Juls! So, after a little push from the girls, I gave in. I signed up for another half ironman.

My race weekend began soon after Pat crossed the finish line at Pac Grove. Since Pat had TNT celebrations to attend to on Saturday evening, my friend Erik came down from Santa Cruz to pick me (and my bike) up. We headed straight for the (very small) expo and picked up our packets. After a nice big burger and fry lunch with the girls, we settled into our cute little rental beach bungalow. Before long, it was time to carbo-load with the rest of the TCSD crew at an Italian restaurant downtown. We had a couple hours of good food, good laughs, and good entertainment (at one point in the evening, the lights were dimmed, and all of the waiters and cooks put on a little song and dance show). Then it was back to the bungalow to get ready for the day ahead!
Race Day
Since our beach bungalow was only 1.5 miles from the race start, the 7 of us (Me, Court, Erik, Tina, Elaine, Shannon, Stephen) were able to bike down to transition. It was so nice to not have to load up a car, leave early, etc. A 5 minute trip, and we were there.

Transition area was a bit like Baja. No assigned racks, a little chaotic, but not too bad. This meant I got to rack with all of my friends, so that was fun. I got body marked, made my bathroom trip, drank some gatorade, and went on a 1/2 mile warmup run. Everything felt in check.

One great thing about this race is that my wave was for 34 and under Women. This meant that I got to start with just about all of my bellas. The gun went off, and we were running into the water. I couldn't have asked for a better swim course or conditions. The water was calm, and the sky was very overcast, which made for easy swimming and sighting. The swim was basically around the Santa Cruz pier. If you went off course on the swim, you were a dumb*ss. The pier is huge, you can't miss it! In addition, the buoys that we had to swim around were bright orange, and really stuck out in the gray water and sky. The water was a tad bit cold (around 60 degrees), so once I got over the initial brain freeze, I had to make sure to continue to wiggle my fingers and toes to keep them from freezing up. It really wasn't too bad though. The water in my wetsuit warmed up fairly quickly, so for the most part, I was really comfortable. I ran out of the water and shocked myself with a 37 minute and change swim! That is 5 minutes faster than my other HIM swims. This race may not turn out so bad afterall (I later learned that the swim course may have been a little short...oh well).

T1 was long, probably 3/8 of a mile. I ran up the beach and to the boardwalk, where out of the sand I was able to easily take off my wetsuit. I then got to run across the street, over some train tracks, past a skateboard park and some restaurants into T1. T1 was pretty standard, although since the weather was a bit chilly (low 60's), and it was a longer race, I had to spend an extra few seconds putting on my arm warmers and gloves.

This bike course was FANTASTIC! Once again, the weather was great (cloudy and low to mid 60s) which made riding the course even better. Compared to Oceanside and Baja, there was much less climbing, so that was a nice relief. There were quite a few rollers though, which added a little challenge. The bike course weaved through some Santa Cruz neighborhoods before heading out onto Highway 1. Most of the course was right on the coast and absolutely beautiful. Since it was an out and back course, I could see how all of my friends/competition were doing. I saw Michellie Jones heading back to transition when I was at mile 19, which meant she was 18 miles ahead of me. Damn! Crazy fast! My friend Tina passed me around mile 20, and then Elaine passed me at mile 21. Within 2 miles of the turnaround, I was able to see Mer, Juls, and Shannon on their way back as well. I passed Elaine around mile 30, but never caught the others. Around mile 40, I hit a nice descent and my bike computer read 38 mph....and then 0 mph. bike computer crapped out. This sucks. I had to ride the rest of the course blind (not knowing my speed or how many miles were left). Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it. I finally reached transition and saw Pat there (in a Michigan t-shirt, nonetheless) cheering me on. That put a smile on my face. :)

Nice, short, mindless as always.

I hit the timing mats out of T2 and saw that my watch read 3:39. If I could do a 2 hour 1/2 marathon, I could do a sub-5:40 race. I was pumped. And then I started running....

Pat cheered me up the first hill, and then it was time to get my mind in gear to finish this race. The crazy thing about this distance is that when you get off the bike, you are completely exhausted. In every HIM, I think to myself that there is no way that I can run 13 miles. Then you realize that you already have 2 events down, so you have to finish. Somehow mind overtakes matter.

The run started on the sidewalk along the coast, then headed into the neighborhoods, and then back onto a running path through some farms and seaside bluffs. Miles 5-8 or so (including the tiki turnaround) were on a dirt path along the water. It kind of reminded me of running at Torrey, except without the steep hills.

Around Mile 1.5, I caught Tina in my sight. It took me a good half mile to catch her and pass her. She was looking strong and in good spirits. As I was heading up to the turnaround, I saw Juls, Shannon, and Mer all within a couple minutes. They were a good couple miles ahead of me. Shortly after the turnaround, Elaine passed me, holding a really nice pace. I also saw Steve K. and Tina who were just a few minutes behind me.

I realized towards the end of the run that I'm getting better at dialing in my nutrition. I had 2 bottles of Carbopro 1200 mixed with gatorade on the bike (800 calories total), and no solid food. Although my stomach was a little nauseous during the run, keeping me from running the pace that I really wanted, I never came close to bonking. That was great! Recalling my last 4 miles at Oceanside where I was nauseous, bonking, and in pain, this run was a piece of cake.

With about 3/4 of a mile left, I caught up with Elaine again. I said something to her about how much she was kicking ass, especially since she didn't do much training, and then all of a sudden she took off. I must have been a good motivator. I couldn't keep that pace. She would finish 35 seconds ahead of me.

The last half mile of this run is beautiful, but absolute torture. You drop down to the beach, and have to run through the sand, under the pier, and down the beach (in the sand) up to the boardwalk area to the finish line. Running in soft sand after close to 6 hours of racing hurts. Pat found me with about 1/8th of a mile left and ran with me for 30 seconds or so. He was talking, but I wasn't much of a conversationalist at that point. JUST...NEED....TO...FINISH....

Well, I did. And in PR time as well! :) I wasn't incredibly happy with my run time, but I went as hard as I could (at least without puking). All in all, a great day, a great race, great weather, and a great course. I'd love to do this one again.

Here's the numbers
Swim (1.2 miles) - 37:30 (1:56 /100m)
T1 - 5:31
Bike (56 miles) - 2:55:32 (19.1 mph)
T2 - 1:06
Run - (13.1 miles) - 2:09:39 (9:54/mile)
Total - 5:49:19
24/66 Women 25-29

Pic below is of some great race recovery....This stuff was great!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

August 2007 Aquathlon - Flat and Fast!

What a beautiful day for a race! Sunny, low surf, and Very low tide (probably the lowest I have seen). Some of the fastest people in San Diego signed up for this race. I set up transition next to Jim Vance, and chatted with Kate Major after a warm-up swim. The UCSD team and some crazy dudes from Brazil also competed. 2004 and 2006 Ironman World Champion, Norman Stadler, was also present, though he didn't race.

With the great swim conditions, and the flat run, and the crazy competition, I turned out my best Aquathlon time to date.

Swim (1000 m): 15:27
T1: 0:42
Run (3 miles): 24:08

Total Time: 40:17

As always, there was some great food afterwards....including Strawberry Shortcakes a la Elizabeth D. Yummy!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

America's Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon - 2007

This Race was HOT! And I don't mean Paris Hilton Hot, it was hot HOT! Ok, I guess I should stop complaining. I live in San Diego, where I'm used to running in 60 degree weather under cloud cover. This year's AFC fell during one of the hottest weeks of the year. 70, sunny, and humid at race start...maybe 75. Good thing I don't live in the southeast (or even the midwest) where summer mornings can be outright miserable.

The morning started out at Pat's house. He only lives a couple miles away from Balboa Park (race finish/parking) so staying with him earned me an extra 20 minutes of sleep-in time. Pat and I parked at the zoo and then boarded the bus to Cabrillo National Monument for the start of the point to point course. We both stretched, went to the bathroom, stretched know the drill.

Before the start, we ran into Jen Yake and Tim Neuschwander (as well as a couple other friends). Jen and I ran the entire race together last year, so we decided to start out the same this year. We started out at a nice pace (8:15 or so) for the first couple miles. My body was feeling ok, especially with the downhill portions. I stayed with Jen for the first 6 miles, and then I knew there was no way I could hold her pace for the rest of the race. Oh well. Miles 6-10 take you onto Harbor Island, and then along the Embarcadero. The crappy thing about this is that you're heading directly into the sun for most of this. It was HOT! At most aid stations, I sipped some water, and then poured 1 or 2 cups over my head. It was good to keep the head and body cool.

Around mile 9, my friend Eric caught up with me. We ran about 2 miles together and then reached the final hill of the course....where he dropped me pretty solidly. I had forgotten how painful the end of this race is....mile 11 -12.5, when you are completely depleted, are basically all uphill. Yuck. See the race profile below....

I finished the race in 1:55:57 which is a 8:51 pace. I was about a minute slower than last year, but was ok with that. With the heat, and a half ironman coming up, I had no need to push it too hard.

After a great big breakfast, I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking beers on the beach w/Pat and my brother, Ben, who was in town visiting. Now that's some nice recovery!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Up North Michigan (Elk Rapids)

July 17 - 21, 2007

After a 6 year absence, I had the opportunity to go Up North with my family this year. My family spends 1-2 weeks every year at a cottage in Elk Rapids, MI. This was my most favorite place in the world growing up, and after spending some time there again this year, I think it still is.

The cottages are small and rustic. Thin walls, shower curtains for bedroom doors, well water, and no hot water or shower inside the cottage (one community one to share). The air and water are super clean and fresh, and town still only has one stop light. This is one of the most relaxing places on earth. A perfect chance to read a book, lay out in the sun, drink some Bell's Oberon, swim, and roast marshmallows.

Of course, going on vacation did not mean vacation from training. Pat and I brought our wetsuits and did a couple swims in beautiful Elk Lake. We also did a 10 mile run outside of town and got caught in a Thunderstorm. I loved it! I hadn't seen rain in over 6 months, so a nice thundershower felt great on my body!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Camp Pendleton Olympic Distance Triathlon...and "Ode to Denner"

July 14, 2007

For some crazy reason, the San Diego area only has one official olympic distance race that I know of, and Camp Pendleton is it. I did this race last year to see how I'd do at this distance. Once you've done a race one year, you have to do it the next, and the next, and the next to see if you can improve upon your times.

So...that brings us to this year's race. After last year, I was praying for a cool day with lots of clouds. For some reason, it can get really hot on that run, even though you're so close to the water. Mother Nature was nice to us, and kept the temperatures reasonable and a few spotty clouds in the air.

Highlights of this race included: racing with Pat (this was only the 3rd race that we have done's really cool to have this shared experience), seeing my long lost friend Nick Abramson (he got engaged and decided to fall off the face of the earth), and racing on a Marine base with lots of hot 18 year old boys yelling "Good Job Ma'am." Yes, pretty cool.

For some reason, even though this swim is only a 1500 m swim, it seems SUPER long. I'm not a fast swimmer, so there was nothing exciting about this leg of the race. I swam, felt ok, and got out of the water in an expected amount of time.

T1 in this race is long. There is about a 1/8 mile run through the soft sand, and then another 1/8 or so of a mile through transition. pretty tiring! I decided that this year I'd take off my wetsuit as soon as I exited the water to make that run a little easier. Good move!

The bike is my favorite segment of the race for most races. I ride through Pendleton all the time, so I knew exactly what to expect on this course...a few small rollers, maybe a little wind, nothing to be worried about. The ride went fairly smooth until I reached the last aid station. A couple of the Marines asked if I wanted some water, and I yelled, "pour it on me." Well, they took "pour" as "throw" and threw a cup of water directly into my face. I was blinded and water pushed all the way into my sinues! Ow! It's amazing that I didn't fall off my bike. Luckily, I was able to recover quickly and get a good laugh out of it.

Don't remember it

The run, although not as bad as last year, was still pretty hot. At this distance, this is the discipline that I need to work on most. My running sucks, and breaking 55 minutes is damn near impossible. I can run a 48 minute 10 in a road race, but have a very hard time doing anything other than 55 minutes in a tri. Just another thing to add to the list.

Pat's wave started about 1/2 hour before mine, and he finished almost 1/2 hour faster than I did, so by the time I crossed the finish line, he had had an hour to get hydrated, cooled down, and ready to cheer me on. It was fun to see him get a little crazy as I ran down the finish chute. We watched a few other friends finish and then headed to Pizza Port for some well deserved chow! Yummy!


My Watch: (2:53:13)
Swim (1500 m): 32:09
T1: 5:29
Bike (40km): 1:18:00
T2: 1:13
Run (10km): 55:59

Official Time: 2:53:13
Swim + T1 : 35:24
Bike + T1/T2: 1:21:55
Run: 55:54

Friday, July 6, 2007

Scripps Ranch Old Pros 4th of July 10k Run

July 4, 2007

While most people use a holiday to sleep in and relax, triathletes see it as a day with extra training time. The 4th of July is no different. With quite a few options (Coronado 15k, Fiesta Island Time Trial, La Jolla cove swim), I chose the local Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10k run. Pat was already doing it with TNT, and it was only a 5 minute drive from my house, so I figured, why not? Plus, this FINALLY gave me the opportunity to wear the $1 American Flag running shorts that Nikki and I bought at Road Runner 2 years ago.

As with every race, I want a PR. This one was no different. My best 10k time to date was on Thanksgiving (49:17). I wasn't sure if I could beat this though. I wasn't really feeling it. My feet and lower legs had been bothering me (need new shoes), but I figured I'd just give it my best and see how things went.

For the first 2 miles, I felt pretty miserable. I had run close to a mile for warm-up, but the combination of the morning heat and trying to get my heart-rate into gear wreaked a little havoc. I finally fell into stride after mile 2. At this point, I started picking off the women, and then some men. My 5k split was ~24:28, which is pretty close to my best 5k time last year. If I could keep this up, I could PR. I started slowing down at mile 4, and kept the same pace until the last half mile. At this point, the race was all downhill (for real downhill, not in the literary sense), so I was able to push the pace a bit.

Final Time: 48:59 (PR)

Pace: 7:53

Place: 7/70 (W25-29)

After the race, Pat and I opted to skip the beer garden knowing that PB festivities were beginning soon. Starbucks was calling, and there was one just up the hill from the race finish....Perfect!

Now, if only I could run this pace in a Tri. We'll see next week!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

San Diego International Triathlon - 2007

June 24, 2007
Stealing from Pat's blog...
We woke up to a beautiful June Gloom day. As the summer starts to heat up, triathletes are some of the crazy people that actually enjoy the cloudy mornings. Hopefully the clouds would hang out for a couple hours.

This was my third year doing this race, so there were really no surprises heading into the day. This is a great race, as many of the local San Diego triathletes come out (Tri club members and pros...i.e. Michellie Jones). It was great to see many of my friends as I set up transition.

The only difference in this race were the heavy hearts many of us had from losing our club president and friend, Jim McCann, earlier in the week. To show our appreciation to a man that meant so much to our sport here in San Diego, we wore specially made bracelets and wrote messages on our bodies.

As I said, no surprises in the race course. The swim is flat, the bike is hilly, and then the run is flat. A good course for me! I was able to take ~1 minute off my swim over last year, ~6 minutes off my bike, and about a minute off my run. I beat my overall time from last year by about 9 minutes, so I was pretty happy.

Swim (1000 m): 19:16
T1: 2:45
Bike (30 k): 56:21
T2: 2:24
Run (10 k): 55:37
Total: 2:16:23

Aiming for a sub-2:10 race next year! :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thanks Jim....

I lost a friend this week. Jim McCann, President of the Triathlon Club of San Diego (TCSD) passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday.

I don't remember exactly when I met Jim, but it was probably sometime in late 2004, early 2005 when I was becoming more active in TCSD. I recall how he remembered my name right off the bat, and as a new transplant to San Diego, made me feel welcome and important in this huge group of people.

A few things that I'll always remember about Jim...
  • He took the time to get to know everyone he met on a personal level. He knew that since I was a Michigan alum, there would be nobody better to sell me my new bike than Mike Drury (a frickin' Buckeye)...yes he had a good sense of humor like that.

  • Other than running TCSD and his wetsuit rental business, he really could've capitalized on his "matchmaking" services if he wanted to. He was always looking out for new or single members in the club and trying to set them up with other new or single members. It wasn't random though, he really went to great thought about who he set people up with. At every event, he was always introducing people to eachother whether for dates or for friendship.

  • Jim was great at getting people to "volunteer" for things. I don't know how he did it so easily, but one day you're talking to Jim, the next day you're coordinating a big TCSD event, or running his wetsuit booth. I was actually telling him last week that I needed to take lessons from him! His influencing skills could get me far in the Corporate world.

  • Speaking of the corporate world, Jim was all about starting your own business. I can't even count how many silly conversations we had that included him telling me to leave the Corporate lifestyle (i.e. stop traveling to Bakersfield!!!) and come up with a marketable idea so I could work for myself.

  • Jim was an extremely giving person. Whether it was giving advice on triathlon stuff, giving you contacts to help you get to the next step on your endeavors, or giving you a discount on a wetsuit, giving to others made Jim happy.

This past Saturday night, Jim and his wife Dee Dee invited the entire Tri Club to their house for a bbq (yes, all 1700 people). Yes, crazy!!! Luckily for their neighbors, not all 1700 showed up, but I was one of the lucky ones that did. I'm not a very philosophical person (I'm not even sure if I spelled that right), and unless it includes numbers (you know, the engineer thing), I don't really try to overanalyze things either, but in retrospect, you almost have to think that that gathering happened for a reason. He had one last opportunity to spend time with so many people that he cared about and that cared about him.

That night, Jim gave me a tour of their house and we ended up on their rooftop balcony overlooking the coast, their pool, and the party below. I joked that if I lived there, I would be naked the entire time because of the secluded nature of their yard (No hideous bike short tan lines!). We also chatted about how awesome it was to get a group of people together like this for food and fun. That was Jim. You could talk to him about everything and anything, but mostly it was about enjoying life and living life to its fullest....which he did.

So, back to the title of this blog. I want to thank Jim.

Thanks for making a midwesterner feel at home out here in California. Thank you for inspiring so many of us to do things we never thought we could, and encouraging us to embrace this "triathlon" lifestyle. And thank you for building and being part of this family we call TCSD.

We'll miss you...

A couple of articles on Jim's life:

Triathlete Magazine

Competitor Magazine

Friday, June 15, 2007

June 2007 Aquathlon

June 7, 2007

Time for the second aquathlon of the TCSD Summer Aquathlon Series. Same place (La Jolla Shores), same distance (1000 m ocean swim, 3 mile beach run). Today the sun was out, and the tide was low(er). Great conditions for a race.


***According to my watch. May be updated once offical results are posted.
Swim: 17:38
T1: 0:38
Run: 24:37

Total: 42:53

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Encinitas - The Race That Wasn't

May 20, 2007

A day that will go down in infamy....for me at least.

The Encinitas Triathlon is fairly new in town, only 2 years running (however I think it was re-incarnated from a race held years ago). I didn't have a chance to do it last year as I was competing in a half ironman down in Baja that weekend, so I was chompin' at the bit to do it this year. The race was a 750 m swim, a 20k bike, and a 5 k run. Pretty easy distances. Another exciting thing about this race is that my boyfriend Pat's wave was to start 4 minutes after mine, which makes for an "almost" equalizer. He would've probably passed me and kicked my butt early in the run.

Anyway, back to the race....

This is where it starts and ends. The swim was a square course from the beach: head out from the beach to the first buoy, turn right and head north, turn right and head back to the beach. My wave was the third to go, after the Pros and the 24 and under men. The pros started 10 minutes or so before my wave. We could tell right away, even from the race's top swimmers, that the swim was not going to be easy. Big waves, big current. Before the 2nd wave went off, Greg Welch and Paula Newby-Fraser were telling us to aim north as the current was pulling south.

Well, my wave and I headed north. I guess just not far enough north. After 7 minutes, I was only half-way to the first buoy and in the thick of the waves and the current. A large wave came and took about 10 of us 50 m towards shore, and the current carried us about 100 m south of the buoy. Oh, this was going to be fun. Some people were calling it quits at this point. I found another woman in my wave and said, "Let's Do This!" That lasted about 30 seconds before I realized that I was never going to be able to swim against the current. I headed back to shore, and then ran north along the beach with a couple others from my wave to re-enter the swim course again. At this point, more than 10 minutes had passed. I decided to go for it again. Unfortunately, when I got out there, it was more of the same, and my body was already exhausted from fighting the waves before. I did what I never thought I would do. I called it quits, my first DNF. :( I decided to hop on my bike because I still wanted to get a workout in. I did the 12 mile race course and then headed back to the race finish to watch Pat finish (he had a great race and a stellar run by the way, even after the tough swim).
So, lessons learned.
1. I need to take some open water swim lessons and learn how to handle large surf.
2. A DNF is not the end of the world. Yes, I was sad not to finish, but I knew I gave it my all. An experience like this just makes me more determined to kick that race's ass next year.

Here are some pictures that a friend took on race day...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

May 2007 Tri Club Aquathlon

May 17, 2007

One of the great benefits of being a member of TCSD are the free races. Each summer, the tri club hosts a series of 6 Aquathlons (1000 m swim, 3 mile run) at La Jolla shores. Over the past couple years, my bike has become my strong point in triathlon, so I get to use these races as an opportunity to get completely demolished by the 150+ strong field. Since I'm a "glass half full" type of girl, I guess I should look at it as an opportunity to make my swim and my run stronger.

The highlights of these races are

1. 150 + people starting the swim in front of the Marine Room (really nice restaurant). It's pretty funny to see the faces of vacationers and San Diego's elite as we run into the water. WTF?!?!?

2. The food after the race. Pretty amazing. Pizza, pasta, and Elizabeth Daubner's amazing desserts.

This month's race went well for the first race of the year. The run was a bit tough, as it was high tide and we had to run through sandy water up against the sea wall. Great workout for the calf muscles!

May 2007 Aquathlon Results:
Swim: 18:03
T1: 0:47
Run: 25:58
Total 44:48

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Spring Sprint Triathlon 2007

May 6, 2007

This was my 3rd year doing the Spring Sprint Triathlon. It consists of a 1/4 mile swim, 9 mile bike, and a 3 mile run. It's a short and fun race, but still difficult because you are in sprint mode the entire time.

It was fun to once again be competing against some of my friends. Its great how we make each other push harder in a race. In this case, my biggest rival was Becky Sandbeck. She got out of the water before I did (not surprising, she swims for her job training Shamu....really, she trains Shamu!). I passed her on the 2nd loop of the bike, and then she passed me at the 1/2 mile mark on the run....and then finished 2 minutes ahead of me. Looks like I need to work on my run!

It turned out to be a great race though. I continue to improve my time year over year. Here's how things turned out:

Swim: 9:01
T1: 2:00
Bike: 26:58
T2: 1:00
Run: 24:16
Total: 1:03:15
8/44 (W25-29)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Ironman California 70.3 - 2007

March 31, 2007

Well, I'm pretty lousy at this blogging thing. It is currently May 1, and I am writing about a race that I completed over a month ago. Oh well.

I'm using this blog more for me, so I can remember what races I did, how I felt, and what my times were. If other people care to read, then go for it. Anyway, here goes with the race report (from what I remember 1 month later).....

Got to Oceanside somewhere around 5am. Parking wasn't bad, but it was about a mile from transition. Luckily we all had our bikes to ride. It was really bizarre to see so many people riding their bikes in pitch black. It was also pretty crazy to hear how quiet it was.....everyone thinking about the long day ahead.

I made my way into transition and racked my bike. After a few minutes, my fellow bellas...Julia and Jen Y. showed up and racked near me. It was great to have friends nearby to calm my pre-race nerves.

After body-marking and a couple of bathroom trips, it was time to make our way to the swim corral. While we were walking, Andy Potts (pro triathlete and Michigan Grad) was just making his way out of the water. He was a full 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the rest of the pro males. Absolultely amazing. Something about those Michigan grads! :)

(1.2 Miles - 42:14)
The swim is by far my weakest link in triathlon. One of these days I'll join a Master's program and get faster. The water was cold to begin with (as expected). I think someone said it was 59 degrees. Better than the 55 degree water I heard about last year. For such a long swim, it turned out to be pretty brutal. With waves going off every 3-4 minutes, I was swimming over, getting kicked by , and running into people for almost the entire time. It seemed like I was always in the pack. After the turn-around, things opened up a bit. This was primarily due to the fact that we were swimming directly into the sun and nobody could see the buoys or the person in front of them. Good times. I made it out of the water, and heard the announcer say my name. Pretty cool feature for these big races....sophisticated timing chips! Off to T1!


T1 started with a long (1/8 mile at least) run to the back of transition, and then back to my rack. My feet were pretty frozen, so it really hurt to run. I saw my friend's Brian and Mary while I was running. It's great to have such a large race in your home-area. Lots of people to cheer for you! I made it back to my bike and started taking off my wetsuit. One of the volunteers offered to help. I'll know better next time. instead of pulling from the top, she bunched most of my wetsuit onto my calf. Ahhhhh! Painful calf cramp! That sucked! I massaged it for a couple seconds, and then got my bike and took off .

(56 miles - 3:02:54)
Other than my calf cramp, I went into my bike feeling pretty good. I opted to leave my armwarmers behind, and am glad I did. The sun warmed me up pretty quickly. I knew the first 25 miles of this course like the back of my hand, fairly flat and fast. I had to concentrate on pacing myself. At about mile 4, I passed my friend Helena. My predictions were right. Her wave started 8 minutes after mine, but I knew she would beat me out of the water. Super fast swimmer! I think she beat my swim time by about 9 minutes. I have a little bit of an edge on her on the bike, so I was able to catch up to her. I knew that would all end on the run though. It is so great to have competitive friends that make you better!!! One day I will beat you Helena, one day!! :)

I did get to see some other friends on the bike as well. I saw Julia on the out and back portion on Las Pulgas (she was a few minutes behind me), and then again at mile 30 when she passed me. I saw Raja, and then Stacy around mile 20 when they passed me. They started 8 minutes behind me as well. They are both super strong on the bike, so I expected them to pass me as well.

At mile 30, phase 2 of the bike started...Hills! The back side of Pendleton was something I hadn't seen before (closed off to Civilians), so I didn't really know what to expect for the hills. Jim Vance had mentioned that the first hill was a short version of the inside of Torrey. B.S.!!!! Sure, it was short, but steep as hell! I saw a few people walking their bikes at this point. I'm happy I did do all of those Torrey repeats. My legs were strong enough to get through. The other 2 hills were really no big deal (especially compared to Baja last year).

The final 10 miles were flat with a little bit of a headwind. At this point, I knew that if I could maintain a 20 mph pace, I could beat 3 hours. It would be close. With about 6 miles left, I knew I'd just miss my target. I had been dropping to 18-19, and didn't want to kill my legs to stay at 20 before the run. I was still happy with my time though. I was hoping to beat 3:15 and I beat that by almost 13 minutes.

Nutrition on the bike went well....accelerade (yuck), gatorade am, gatorade endurance, clif mojo bar, power bar, clif shot bloks, jelly belly sports beans. In all, I think I got about 700-750 calories in me. Next time I'll know to get a few more (see run section).

Quick and easy, nothing to tell here

(13.1 miles - 2:01:43)

Ahhh, the run. The final leg. The good thing about the run is that you can walk it if you really need to. Of course I was hell bent not to walk. The run started off good...I felt really strong. I saw my friend Jen on the sidlines, and my friend Paul taking pictures. So nice having friends there to cheer you on. After about 3/4 of a mile, I caught up to Julia, ran with her for a couple minutes, and then took off. By the time my run started (around 11:30 am) the sun was really starting to beat down. It was probably only 70 degrees at the most, but when you're running, it feels like a whole lot more. At every aid station, they had sponges soaked in ice cold water. This was great! I'd grab 2 and put them under my shoulder straps of my tri-suit. Whenever I was feeling too warm, I'd just squeeze! :)

The run was 2 loops along the coast in Oceanside. Once again, familiar territory. When I lived in Oceanside, I ran here a couple times a week. With a 2 loop run, you get to pass your friends a couple of times. I couldn't let any of them see me walk! So I kept running. I felt pretty good on the first loop. The second loop was a different story. I really didn't want to eat anything on the run, so I mixed it up with liquids at each aid station (water, gatorade, coke). By mile 9, I was hurting. My hip flexors hurt, and I was starting to bonk. I was so out of it at that point that I didn't even think of eating. Plus, my stomach was a mess, so eating may not have been a good idea anyway. I'd have to say, the last 4 miles of that race were the most painful miles I have ever run. I just kept at it though, one foot after the other. I know I can break 6 hours. Just make it to the finish line! With about 1/4 of a mile left, I could see the finish line and hear the announcer. I was almost there and I started sprinting (or at least what felt like a sprint). I did it! :) 5:53:03!!!!! (The time shown to the right was the time from the first wave start - 49 minutes before my wave)

Post Race

Upon crossing the finish-line, I picked up my finishers t-shirt, medal, and hat, and then saw my friend Darrell. Darrell is a guy I ride with on Saturday mornings, and he was volunteering at the race. He came right over to me in the finisher's shoot, made sure I could walk and gave me a great big hug. I started bawling. I sooo wanted to break 6 hours, and I did it pretty soundly. It was so great to have a friend there to celebrate with me.

After chatting with Darrell for a bit, I headed straight for the food tent and scarfed down 2 slices of pizza and a coke, and headed back to transition to share war stories with my friends.
What a super day! :)