Hey! All three of you have asked “what up with the blog?” I confess, it has been three races since my last entry, so I’ll try to blah blah blah here again. They say things happen in threes. I guess this is happening.
This is my third attempt at writing this thing over like three months (exaggeration for effect), so please forgive any confusing verb tenses that haven’t been edited properly.
The reason for the long pause? As you may have gleaned from my previous post about Vineman, I hit a proverbial wall some time in mid-July. This season involved more racing over more months than I’ve ever done in the past, and this during my “comeback.” Maybe someone more fit or driven can plow through so many months of half iron-distance and Olympic-ish-distance races without boarding the strugglebus a few times, but not me, not now.
I think, actually, my blergness had less to do with my strength and preparedness than it did with a rather “poorly planned” mid-summer concentration of travel and racing right when I “should” have been cracking down and refocusing on my A-ish races: USAT Nationals and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. BUT, that’s what happens when you just sign up and do all the races and travel-y things you want, instead of centering one’s entire summer on the sport. I’m OK with it, and things will be different next season.
At any rate, I needed a good kick in the pants and got it in late July at the second edition training camp organized by a Wattie Ink. and Black Dragon Racing partnership. Head Coach (and good friend) Robert “Flanny/Flabby” Flanigan put together another fabulous training trip in Bend, OR for members of the Wattie Ink. team. Opportunities like this are one of the distinct advantages of being a part of such a community.
The first Wattie/Black Dragon Racing camp was held this spring in the San Diego area. It was a fast-paced and kinda scary amount of volume for me so early in the season. Bend Camp, by contrast, was slightly harder to get to, during the middle of the season, and held in a veritable playground of outdoor activities, so was more …erm… civilized. Maybe that’s just because the group was mostly women, many nursing injuries, who were out to enjoy the scenery, not ride each other’s legs off.
Bend Camp concentrated on getting a lot of volume in over five days. Some intensity was thrown in too, as our camp overlapped the Deschutes Dash, a multisport festival held right downtown, on the eponymous River. A number of us raced the Olympic distance triathlon, but trained through it. All Wattie participants did pretty well with the downstream swim, uphill bike, and run that started out great before it went all trail on me. Coach Flanny won overall. I was the 4th woman overall.
The day after the Dash, we went on a long ride. Thanks to some fantastic efforts (very few demonstrated by me) a group of us pacelined about 96 miles in just over 4.5 hours. That’s my longest ride since Kona, 2012, y’all, so I was pretty happy with that.
About ten days after Bend, Dusty and I headed to Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee. We had done the race in 2013 and learned a few things, so made fewer race-week mistakes this time. I was also grateful to show up with more fitness this year, enough to get me off the bike in a position that, even after a parade of women in my age group passed me on the run, I still came up with a World’s qualification. Yaay.
After Milwaukee, I a) packed up and moved out of my apartment in Chicago –yes I’ve held onto it this whole time— and b) had about two and a half weeks of WEEKENDS AT HOME and JUST TRAINING before my final race of the season, Ironman 70.3 World Championships (aka “Vegas” but we can’t call it that anymore because it’s traveling every year and this year it was held) in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canaadaaaaa.
Mont Tremblant is a ski resort town (it reminds me most of Beaver Creek, CO) in the Laurentine Mountains. I actually went on a ski vacation with my family there as a kid but, well, snow-covered icy dark Quebec in December is pretty different from the lush landscape there in early September, so I had no childhood recollections of this beautiful place. It was really fun. As usual, though, being in a new place for a race means you don’t get to really enjoy it. We watched a ton of movies in the hotel with my feet up instead of exploring the town, eating poutine, or go-carting down the mountain. Le sad trombone.
As for the race itself, I don’t have too much to say. It’s a world Championship, and just being REALISTIC, I’m not there to compete for the win. I could have been more ambitious, and some people did manage PRs there, but being the swan song of my 2014, my only goals were to race honestly and have fun soaking up the atmosphere. Welllll… mission accomplished on the first point. The second part became harder as the race went on. I could have pushed the swim and maybe gone like a minute faster, but the first group was gone and I didn’t see much point in shelling myself before the ½-mile transition run. I found myself side by side with another woman during the swim, so tested some open water tactics with her, namely heading straight for each buoy and making her decide what to do about it. The bike course was challenging, particularly the last ten miles. It was also difficult to have a good time while scolding European men that we pass on the LEFT, here, and ya don’t repass a girl without dropping out of her draft zone, then just SIT UP to show how manly you are. UUUUGH.
Anyway, the run course had been modified from the full and half-Ironman events held at Mont Tremblant previously. Two loops for the spectators’ sake over the “punchiest” of hills –not my specialty at all. So, I cheered on and high-fived as many people as I recognized for as long as my mood and lung capacity allowed. Temps were cool to moderate through most of the day, so not stopping at each aid station for water and ice, as I’ve had to do at all my other 70.3s this season, helped me keep up momentum when the hills were stealing it all away.
THE BEST thing about “participating in” the World Championship was being on the same race course as some good friends. They also happen to be fierce competitors, but as a tubby mid-packer in this field, I could just race my best and enjoy their success. As we spun around three out and backs on the bike course, I got to watch Sarah Beth Barkley creep up on me and make the pass at about mile 45. Emily Kratz and SheriAnne Nelson were on my heels and made their passes in the las t 4 miles of the race –I was pretty proud of holding off such hard-charging runners for that long. Amanda Wendorff was off in the front pack all day, so I only caught a flash of her once on the bike, well well well wellllll ahead of me, then didn’t see her again until the last mile of her run. She was running faster than anyone I had seen in the previous hour, so I knew she was on her way to winning our age group. My friend Amanda, the fucking Women’s 35-39 WORLD CHAMPION. Blows my mind!
IN CONCLUSION, personally, I’m pretty satisfied with the results this season. On one hand I exceeded plenty of my own expectations while “just” going out there and demonstrating fitness –I mean I really didn’t “race,” as I’m just not “there” mentally. On the other hand, there were a lot of close but no cigar moments. Triumphs but mistakes, results but missed opportunities, you know. I goofed and slacked a bit, traveled way too much (we drove to only one of these 2014 races –no wait, two, if you include driving an RV up to Wildflower). I have zero doubts that iff I can get my shit together and PLAN a season (as opposed to signing up for every race I wanted to do, for fun) I’ve still got a lifetime best in me. Stay tuned.
So, that’s what I have for the quick wrap-up of my season. Maybe I’ll write a three-part miniseries on race-week meals and emotions? LOL j/k (boooooriiiiing).