Friday, August 31, 2012

70.3 Worlds Preview Part 2: The Men

If you didn't catch my post on the top pro women racing Vegas, click here to read it. So here's part two of my Vegas preview based off the work I compiled when writing the Vegas preview for LAVA Magazine. Like with the women, the actual LAVA preview features 12 men, and I'm only talking about eight here. You'll have to pick up the magazine for the rest...

The 8 Men

Craig Alexander
He's the defending champ and a badass mofo. What more is there to say? So, then, let's just move on... jk. Actually, let's back up because last year says a lot for what we should expect this year. In 2011: Won Ironman CDA. Won Vegas. Won Kona. At Vegas, he went 3:54:48 with a 1:11:50 run, nearly 2 minutes faster than anyone else. I don't expect anything different this year. So far he has that IM win...two left to go!

1st Ironman Melbourne (Asia-Pacific Championships) -- 7:57:44
9th Racine 70.3 (11th OA)
1st Eagleman 70.3 -- 3:44:57, run 1:15:07

Greg Bennett
He's in it to win it!!! I'm glad to see Greg dominating at a new race distance (and not surprised really). He mentioned in our interview that he can "get bored" with 70.3 racing, but I somehow doubt that's completely true. I think he'll definitely land on the podium in Vegas. Just look at his results of the year. "Old" man domination!

1st Rev3 Knoxville Olympic -- 1:47:02
2nd Honu 70.3, almost running down Lance Armstrong with a 1:18:21. (oh, remember those days with Lance was still in it)
2nd Eagleman 70.3 -- 3:47:14, a few minutes off Crowie's time
1st Vineman 70.3
1st Muncie 
3rd Chicago Tri 1:50:09

Jesse Thomas
Jesse Thomas is still running fast, and now biking and swimming faster too. He has a couple W's in his season thus far, and is posting fastest splits. Vegas is a big deal for him this year -- last year he got ill after competing in Philippenes 70.3, which he said affected his race in Vegas where he finished 17th.

6th 70.3 South America Champs
3rd Rev3 Costa Rica -- fastest run
3rd Oceanside 70.3 -- 3:55:22, fastest run
1st Wildflower, defending his 2011 title going 3:58:59
4th Rev3 Quassy 
2nd Rev3 Portland -- 4:01:01 behind Cunningham, fastest bike 
1st Rev3 Maine

Michael Raelert
He's back! Personally, I think Michael could consistently be the world's best (or one of the), but quite frankly he just seems a little too thin and I'm convinced that's played into his injuries. But for now, it's a moot issue I guess. So after winning 70.3 Worlds in '09 and '10, and a disappointing '11 (no Vegas, no Kona, no K-Swiss million dollar challenge), you can bet he's ready to unleash at Vegas then Kona. He did make a late-season comeback in 2011 with a win at Austin 70.3 and second at Miami 70.3. And this year, despite a small race schedule, he's on fire...

1st Mallorca 70.3 -- 3:57:08, more than 13 min faster than 2nd
1st Switzerland 70.3 -- 3:44:13, more than 7min faster than 2nd (see a theme here??)
2nd IM Regensburg 8:18:53

Richie Cunningham
In 2011 he missed Vegas (injury in August -- fractured pelvis in a race), but recall in 2010 was 5th at Clearwater. Richie is a consistent, solid racer. Look how much he races and how well he does!!! He's one of the older guys, too, which this day in age is clearly an advantage as we're seeing. There's really not much else to say! 

2nd  70.3 Asia Pacific Champs (Dec 2011)
3rd 70.3 South America Champs, just behind studs Docherty and Armstrong 
6th Rev3 Costa Rica Olympic
2nd Oceanside 70.3
2nd NOLA 70.3 
8th Rev3 Knoxville Olympic
1st Rev3 Quassy Half
4th Eagleman 70.3 
1st Rev3 Portland Half
1st Rev3 Wisconsin
4th Rev3 Maine

Tim O’Donnell
He’ll be going for the trifecta of HyVee, Vegas and Kona (as will GB). Tim told me he's taken a more conservative approach to racing this year to focus on the big ones that matter, and that in past years he's been "cooked" by now. He's also recently engaged to Rinny, so there's no doubt that they have their heads down and are working hard/smart this year. He didn't do Vegas last year, but in 2010 he was third at Clearwater. Tim's been dominating since his first break through season in 2009, which included earning the ITU Long Distance World Champion title.

1st San Juan 70.3 -- 3:51:32
3rd St. Anthony’s 5150
1st Texas 70.3 US Pro Champs 3:47:40
3rd Boise 
2nd IM CDA 8:41:36
2nd Lake Stevens 4:01:49, lost in the run which is rare

Andy Potts
He has four wins this year, including a huge W at IM Lake Placid where he lead from the beginning and never looked back. Then again, that's pretty standard for Andy in many of his races over the years. He has some unfinished finished business at Vegas -- last year he finished 11th in what he considers “a terrible race” due to personal reasons (he was still 11th), which he told me in our interview. Potts won 70.3 Worlds at Clearwater in 2007. 

1st Oceanside --3:54:03, his fourth time winning this race
1st St Croix 70.3
2nd CapTex Triathlon Race to the Toyota Cup
1st Escape from Alcatraz, 5x time champ
2nd Philadelphia triathlon race to the Toyota cup june 24
2nd Minneapolis triathlon race to the Toyota cup july 14, 1st kemper
1st IM Lake Placid 8:25:07, held lead from the beginning

Matty Reed
Choosing a No. 8 on my list was hard. But I have to say, I'm a big Matty Reed fan so he wins. Personally, I was expecting him to have a little bit better of a season than he's had so far this year, but I still think he's had some great showings and is racing a lot like he loves, which is good for his mind I'm sure. He had it tough in 2011 when he took on too much work with his yogurt shop in addition to Kona training, and didn't get to race a lot, including a no-show at Vegas. But he's good at 70.3 Worlds -- in 2010 he was ninth in Clearwater and in '09 was third

6th Oceanside 
10th Rev3 Knoxville 
2rd Boise -- but this was pretty much a tie for 1st, (they should have both been awarded with first. Hm, just like the women's triathlon race in London).
5th Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon, Olympic
6th Rev3 Quassy 
7th Boulder 70.3 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

70.3 Worlds Preview Part 1: The Women

As mentioned, I wrote a preview on the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Vegas for LAVA Magazine, and I have a whole bunch of good notes left over from the writing process that I can't just let go to waste on my hard drive. I took a lot of time to research results, stats and info on the top 24 contenders (12 guys, 12 girls). Funny observation: Despite a triathlete's nature to be "Type A," I found it hard to track down all these numbers and race results with some pros. Yes, some of our pros have great, up-to-date websites, but some not so much. I think the girls have it together more than the dudes! But I got what I needed...

Today we'll start with the ladies. By the way, this is not what I published in LAVA. Plus, I'm only choosing eight each. You'll have to read my article for the other four...

The 8 Women

Melissa Hauschildt (nee: Rollison)
Break out year in 2011 with 1st in every race she did -- Muncie, Vineman and Steelhead and Vegas 70.3 Worlds, plus Noosa Olympic in October, Nepan in November, and 70.3 Asia Pacific Champs in Phuket in December (the last of which she went 4:17:01, a course record).

2012 Season:
1st Australian Long Course Champs in Feb -- 4:14:39, a course record
4th Abu Dhabi -- 7:05
1st Byron Bay Olympic in Australia
2nd Boulder Peak 5150
2nd Vineman -- 4:11 with fastest run
2nd Boulder 70.3 -- 4:09:44, bike record

Linsey Corbin
In 2011 she suffered an injury that altered her training during the middle of the year. But it actually worked out well for Linsey and she ended her year going 3rd at Vegas and 2nd IMAZ. She she value in how she executed her training in 2011 and applied some tweaks to her training in 2012.

2012 Season:
2nd  San Juan 70.3 -- 4:18:38
5th Oceanside 4:29:46
2nd Wildflower 4:32:09
1st Hawaii 70.3 -- a course record in 4:26:09, on what’s said to be some of the toughest conditions that course has seen.
5th Boise (shortened course)
1st IM Austria 9:09:58, edging out Erica Csomor.
3rd Timberman 70.3

Heather Jackson
Once known for being a powerhouse on the bike, Jackson has shown she's the complete package now. In 2011 her 70.3 results were consistently top-5 with 4th in Vegas, 2nd Oceanside, 2nd Steelhead, 3rd Augusta, 4th Boise, 5th Rev3 Quassy, as well as 6th NOLA. This year she's been spending time training in Boulder, Colo., before Vegas instead of San Diego. She's also training for the Xterra World Champs on Oct. 28.

2012 Season:
1st Palm Springs Desert Classic 
2nd Oceanside to Mel McQuiad with a 4:21:57
1st Wildflower -- new course record, 4:26:29
1st Encinitas Sprint 
4th Rev3 Quassy 4:34:07
1st San Diego International 
4th Vineman
2nd Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Angela Naeth
In 2011 she had four podiums in 70.3s including 1st at Boulder and the Leadman Epic 250. She's coached by Mark Allen. In my opinion, this year is panning out to be the best year of her racing career so far. She was 7th in 70.3 Worlds in 2010 and didn't do Vegas last year.

2012 Season:
1st 70.3 South America Champs in Panama -- 4:15:31, fastest bike
2nd Abu Dhabi -- 7:03:00
1st Leadman 125 Vegas -- fastest bike
6th St. Anthony’s 
1st St. Croix -- course record
3rd Rev3 Quassy -- fastest bike, 4:28:24, less than a min off 1st-place Rinny’s time
1st Syracuse 70.3 -- 4:16:27, course record
1st Rev3 Portland -- fastest bike (and it was a hard bike this year) and fastest run

Meredith Kessler
In 2011 – won Canada and 2nd at St George andCDA, her 70.3s weren’t as great as they’ve been this year. In 2010, though she won vineman WF, as well as CDA. How could you top all that? But she managed to so do so and her 2012 has been even better! In talking with her, she said she would have liked to have raced more after Vineman and before Vegas but Coach Matt Dixon thought otherwise, haha. This will be her first time doing the world championship races; she's doing both Vegas and Kona. ((She's my pick for the win at Vegas.))

2012 Season: 
1st IM NZ shortened to a 70.3 due to weather -- 4:22:46
3rd Oceanside 4:23:40
1st St George  --  10:12:59 (15 OA)
1st Eagelman 70.3 4:12:40 june 10
1st IM CDA 9:21:44
2nd Rev3 Portland
1st Vineman 70.3 -- beating a lot of the top names we'll see in Vegas. A sign of things to come?

Leanda Cave
In 2011 Leanda finished the year very strong, possibly her best end of season ever, with 6th at Vegas, following that up with 3rd Ironman World Championships, 1st Miami 70.3, 2nd ITU Long Distance World Championships Las Vegas, and a WIN at IMAZ. This year she suffered a bit of an injury -- a tweaked back in a t-run that had her down for several weeks -- but should be solid for the upcoming championship races.

2012 Season: 
4th 70.3 South America Champs Panama -- 4:21:42
4th WF 4:36:24 
2nd Colombia 5150 
1st Escape from Alcatraz
DNS Syracruse, Muncie due to injury 
5th Vineman – first race post-injury setback
3rd Boulder 70.3 -- 4:10:55

Kelly Williamson
In 2011 she finished her season strong with 13th in Kona going 9:29, and 6th at IMAZ. Last year she had 70.3 titles in San Juan and Buffalo Springs (defended this year), and was 2nd in Muncie and Boulder. This year she's training for Kona again, not to mention she'll do HyVee the weekend before Vegas. I think she can handle it ;)

2012 Season:
2nd 70.3 South America Champs in Panama in Feb -- 4:19:11, fastest run 1:16
1st San Juan 70.3 4:14:38
1st Texas 70.3 (US Pro Champs) 4:13
5th St Anthony’s 5150 
1st Rev3 Knoxville Olympic 2:01
6th Rev3 Quassy 4:39 
1st Muncie (Olympic distance)

Jodie Swallow
After a high of winning the 2010 70.3 Worlds, 2011 was not such a great racing year for Jodie. She dealt with injury, a plantar fascia tear, for the full year wasn't able to defend her title. She also had coaching changes, leaving TBB. This year she began strong coming off the injury and had a couple good showings, but then things turned south again with stress fracture in her foot. She's said on her website that her main goal is to heal well in time to gain back the 70.3 Worlds title she earned in 2010.

2012 Season: 
1st 70.3 South Africa 4:39:01
6th Abu Dhabi -- 7:10:29
1st Boise
2nd Syracuse 70.3 -- 4:19:09
2nd Muncie 
3rd ITU Long Distance World Champs in July -- 6:12:48 (Steffan was 1st in 6:04)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Steelhead 70.3 RR

Where do I even begin with this one? A lot of highs and lows came with this race. The weekend started out well and everything was running smoothly, including some incredibly good weather in Michigan that is apparently rare for this race. Instead of a lake with 4-6ft swells, we had this calm, serene body of water:
Lake Michigan the day before the race. Perfection.

There were even thunderstorms in the forecast for race day but come Sunday it was so nice -- low/mid 70s, some clouds early on then sun and very mild winds (again, sounds like a rarity at Steelhead).

Going into this race I knew I had a couple hurdles. First, racing more fatigued. I didn't really taper for this race compared with every other 70.3 I've done. That was on purpose given the short turnaround post-Vineman, and it left some question marks but it was part of the plan. I was up for it. Secondly, "adapting" to the time change in less than 48hrs. We traveled Friday afternoon so there's no doubt my body still was thinking it was 1am when I woke up Sunday at 4am ET. I tried to ignore all that, though, and trick the body into thinking it was fresh and ready. Race morning I seemed to be ok, but some things were off. **TMI alert!** For example, this was the first time in my history of racing that I was not able to go #2 before a race! I just had to deal with it.

course recon -- I see cones!
Pre-race was fun. I really enjoy traveling to different parts of the country that I probably wouldn't visit otherwise. We flew into Chicago and made the boring drive to Benton Harbor, MI, which is a very small and low-key town. A one-Starbucks-in-town kinda place. Parts of it are cute, parts are run down and ghetto. The nearby towns, like St. Joseph, are cute but quaint. That said, a good venue for racing because lots of open, country roads with little traffic, lots of GREEN everywhere, and big parking lots thanks to it being the mecca of Whirpool--I've never seen so many (or any) of their offices.

Riding the run -- highly recommend.
                                                                          One thing we did Saturday, which I loved, was ride the run course and drive the bike course. I've never done both those in their entirety and it was fun and helpful! As for pre-race eats, we found decent places but that was very tricky in this part of Michigan. Slim pickings. Whole Foods? Yea right. Thus, the food aspect is deserving of a blog in itself, to come :)

Onto the race... I'm going to do this RR differently and start with the finish. I feel the finish is the most important part, and gives the rest of the story more merit. (Plus if you skip the rest, you at least get the happy ending here.)

Crossed the finish line in 5:14 and change. Every muscle was screaming, and I feared if I stopped I'd be stuck. I kept walking for a good 10 minutes to shake it off. I felt like puking, crying and falling over all at the same time. I hurt pretty bad. "What...just...happened... why did that hurt so bad?!"

I had a while to wait for John because he started 30min after me. I asked a guy to check results on his iPad so I could see where John was and guess how much longer until I saw him. I also had him check my results...

Surprise. Turns out I was 2nd AG. What?! That meant Vegas potential. I went to investigate. Turns out I qualified for Vegas 2013, as there were two slots in my AG! Um, really?!?!?!?!?! I mean, Vegas is what I've had my eye on--it's something I've wanted to EARN, and doing so at this race was a big triumph. It was a testament to not giving up even on a bad day. I'm still a little in shock that my journey at Steelhead 70.3 ended on such a high note because it was a tough, tough day for me.
Vegas baby! Was advised, "cover your code so no one steals it" haha.

From the beginning...
Race Day

I got abnormally nervous beforehand starting Saturday night while trying to sleep. This is very rare for me these days. Maybe it's because I'd dished out so much money to make it to Steelhead and, therefore, felt the pressure to "do well" whatever that means. As a coach and someone who's studied sports psych, I tried to do all the tricks to mellow out. Not until we made the the 1.2 mile trek down the beach to start the point-to-point swim, did I start to feel focused, ready and excited to go. Powered down most of a banana close to go time, and got in the zone.

I had dreams of a 35 or faster swim in my head. The swim was a run-in start and run-out exit (including run up the beach in deep sand), which certainly slowed up some of our times. But forget that even, I swam like crap and felt like crap. About 1/4 into it I got this intense nauseated feeling like I was going to hurl. I could feel that banana in my throat. I was trying to ignore it and not totally vomit. Meanwhile, I was not able to hold on to any feet for a draft and was basically in no man's land zigzagging around. On the positive side, my kick felt stronger and there were no leg cramping issues yet again. Truthfully, I had no idea if I was going fast, slow or in between. So when I stood up and saw close to 41:xx on my watch I almost burst into tears right there! I was baffled and disappointed. Stupidly, I slowly walked out of the water and up the beach instead of hustling, adding more time to my swim split. I was thinking: "What the #$*& is wrong with me? Sick? Fatigued? Both?"

My swim time had me close to wanting to just check out and go through the motions, but I still had that urge to compete and go for it. I didn't travel all that way to blow a race because I felt sick and tired, and had another bad swim. I wasn't dying, I could continue on. I just had to play my cards right.

The bike was pretty mellow, uneventful and a rather easy course. Except for maybe 2-3 climbs, the uphills weren't even what I would call hills compared to what we have in Calif. I never even got out of the big ring the whole race. I think there was still close to 1,000ft elevation gain, though. The ride goes through the Fruit Belt area and a couple times the road conditions get a little crappier, but not terrible--Vineman roads are worse I think. The majority of the time the roads are smooth and fast. Winds were mild at best so that helped keep things speedy. Also unlike Vineman, I felt like I had a lot of space to ride my pace vs. getting stuck in traffic. That was nice. Passed a handful of girls in my AG, but didn't see much 25-29 action.

I was trying to shake the terrible feeling I had in me, but it was a battle. For nutrition I relied on Skratch Labs drink mix, which--thank goodness--settled well and didn't exacerbate my unhappy stomach situation. I couldn't handle much else other than some of a bar. Caloric fail. I should have easily ridden 5-8 minutes faster, but given how I felt I made a conscious choice on the bike to save something for the run. That's always a tricky game to play and one of the things that makes triathlon so tough. Looking back, I think I made the right call.

My bike split was a 2:41:xx or something. Better than Vineman, at least. For all the time I lost on the swim, I gained some back on the bike and was heading into T2 in about the same time I had at Vineman. Still feelings of uncertainty crept in. Self-talk: "Yes you feel like sh*t but just control what you can, DNF is not an option even if you puke more. It's just 13 miles. Manage your energy."

Side note: I liked their transition area, it was very fair--one long stretch that we all had to go through the same way, for both T1 and T2. Easy. I'll be honest, in this race I used transitions for some rest/relief rather than to cut time. Just another sign that my A game wasn't quite there.

Like the swim, pre-race I had dreams of fast run times, i.e. for me a 1:40 or faster. Hm. Let's put it this way: When I started running at Vineman I felt strong and ready (it hurt but wasn't death marching). But when I started running at Steelhead, I felt weak and tired (more like shuffle/death march from the get go). But out of the gates I got some motivation when I saw a pro male on his last mile puking and still running fast as hell. "If he can...." I was all over the map with pace in the beginning, and quite frankly the whole race. Mile splits from 7:41-8:31. Part of that was the course: Heck, it was tougher than expected even having biked it! I don't think their 200ft elevation gain is not accurate (my garmin said 550ft, hm?). There were a few mean short, steep hills and lots of slow gradual climbs, and it didn't feel like the downhills matched the climbs. Haha.

I won't lie, there were times when I was holding back tears because I was hitting the wall so badly and sick of feeling so sick. One of the only things I had going for me was that 13 miles doesn't seem so long. "Just take it one at a time." I did some math around the halfway point and realized a 5:15 or faster was still possible so I made that my new goal. So long, sub-5:00. I just put my head down and hurt till I finished. I won't go into all the gory details because that run was not my finest for many reasons, but I finished. Run split 1:46.

Final Word
So there it is. Highs and lows for sure. Overall, there's so much to be proud of here, and there's also so much work to be done. There's a good chance my "bad" day was a result of fatigue going into the race, pre-race anxiety gone bad, and....? To still finish, podium and qualify for Vegas makes it a lot sweeter, but I still know I have a ton of work to do. I probably won't do any more 70.3s this year, but I will still race some shorter stuff, run races, etc. And I'll continue to build that swim fitness--it's only just beginning.

Next up... dining tips for Steelhead 70.3, post-race day trip in Chicago and more!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ramblings: Steelhead-Surfing-Vegas

Well, it's been a month since Vineman so that can only mean one thing: time for the next 70.3! On Friday we depart for Chicago then will be driving over to Benton Harbor for Steelhead 70.3 on Sunday. I've never been to this part of the U.S. so I'm excited for another adventure. That said, I'll be honest, there was no part of me yearning for a trip to Michigan (no offense MI); this particular race just had the right timing and is domestic so I'm not totally breaking the bank :) I do keep hearing the general area is great though -- fruit belt or something like that? -- and the course seems fairly mellow as long as crazy weather doesn't screw with the swim (again), so we should be in for fast & fun times. Plus, Monday we'll head over to Chicago to be tourists for a day and enjoy some post-race indulgences before heading back home. (Good pizza place recommendations anyone?)

Training had been going well. I'm more in maintenance mode and volume hasn't been insane. I've had some great days and some "eh" days. At times, I expect more out of my body at times than it's willing to give, so that's been a bit frustrating (everyone is nodding their heads in agreement, right?). When I get frustrated I then have to get real and remember that the past four weeks have included two taxing races, way more travel than I'm used to, work "chaos," etc. I don't feel that I'm wearing my body down too much, just trying to do enough without overdoing it. I have those chill days every now and then too... like this past Sunday I bagged a full bike ride to instead surf with my little family (they begged - how could I say no?). I can't even remember the last time I paddled out with my all three of them, mom, dad and sis! It was a perfect day of catching more waves than I can remember... not to mention those occasional ones where I'd catch the same wave as mom, dad and/or sis? Priceless.

I was actually impressed with my surfing skills after a bit of a hiatus from the board. Maybe it's all the swimming as of late! I'll tell ya, the one area of training where I've been hammering it and with which I'm happier than ever is my swimming. I've been putting in more days in the pool and working on my weaknesses. My biggest weaknesses is my kick. I lost my fins, so that's made a difference on those kick sets (I never used fins a lot before, but I did use them on kick sets). I can already see improvements in just using my own god-given flippers to kick away. Of course, I've been working on technique, speed and other areas and it's safe to say I've dropped a good amount of seconds off my 100 pace... or at least, I don't feel like death when trying to hit certain times.

I hear the swim at Steelhead goes with the current, whichever way that ends up being on race day. Maybe that will help my quest in shaving minutes off my half-iron swim time :)

In other news, I had one of my athletes snag a spot to Vegas at Philippines 70.3. Sounds like that race was brutal, especially on the run with the heat and humidity!

Speaking of Vegas, I just wrote a preview for LAVA Magazine on the top 24 athletes to watch at Vegas this year. I compiled a lot of freakin stats on people. I used quite a bit of that for the article, but I still have this enormous list of info on people... I might turn some of it into some blogs. It's interesting to track the season's of the pros and see what they've been doing. Gotta say journalism + triathlon is fun.

That's all for now... time for a quick taper swim/run. It's overcast for the first time in days here in SoCal, and for once I'm actually welcoming the lack of sun and cool air. It's been h-o-t and I'm sick of all the sun exposure I'm getting. #socalproblems

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Ran.

Whew, what a stretch of days it's been! More fun than I can express, but demanding! It started with my trip to San Diego for a two-day modeling gig with H2O Audio and John Segesta. What a blast. I forgot how much I love modeling.
With Segesta on a perfect SD day.

Day one I was rarin' to go after a roll-outta-bed trainer session. On the road by 7AM. The shoot was in studio, and my first shot was a doozy -- I had to stand there literally getting drenched with cold water straight out of a hose while holding my "Zoolander" face ;) Ha! The day wrapped semi early and I was able to fit in a swim and run in Encintitas, where I stayed the night. The YMCA there is super nice, and since it was my first time it was free. Score! Followed that up with a run along the coast, dinner from Whole Foods, sunset at Moonlight Beach. Perfect evening.

Day two (Friday) was on location and started bright and early with a run shot at Sunset Cliffs. I have a whole new appreciation for magazine cover shots of runners -- there is a lot that goes into getting "the perfect" shot, and I swear I ran 2+ miles in a small little radius before we were totally satisfied. Followed that up with kayaking in Mission Bay and swimming at the Boy & Girls Club Solana Beach. Got my triathlon in ;) Annnnd 8 or 10 hours later on Friday it was a wrap. Can't wait to see the finished shots... it was so fun working with H2O Audio and all the folks involved. Love the products I got to test out in the shoot, too!


Half-Mary Race Report. Fast forward and the next thing I know I'm on a plane to San Francisco to do a butt-crack-of-dawn half-marathon on Sunday. Why? Who knows. At this point my leg with the sting was getting better, but I was not 100% at all. The trauma of the sting, benadryl illness, etc, had taken a toll, and  I wasn't able to get in adequate rest time to snap back.

But I was NOT going to give up on the run. I knew I wouldn't do further harm, and I'm not one to throw in the towel so easily.

That said, I must have been on a major adrenaline high because as soon as we got to SF I just wanted to play and explore! We had a jam-packed afternoon -- complete with a couple good beers and a delish risotto -- and got to bed wayyy too late considering the 4AM alarm time on our phones.

Race morning. Dark. Cold. For once, it was so early that I had no appetite to eat and I also didn't want to over-eat right before a hard run. I got down some GF cereal and almond milk though. OK, so how this race worked: There are two half-marathons and one marathon. The first half starts at 5:30 AM with the full and you do 13.1 together, it's a point-to-point race that is quite hilly and difficult and congested with runners; definitely harder than the second half. The second half runs with, you guessed it, the second half of the full. But our race, the first half is something! Just the fact that you're starting in pitch dark -- and that's how it is for at least 5-6 miles -- makes it tough! But it's worth it. The hills are a great challenge, and you get to do an out-and-back on the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, who gets to run on the bridge like that?! So cool! Especially considering it was my first time ever seeing the bridge!

Before the race I decided I couldn't get hung up on a PR on this course and with the week I'd had. So I just decided to run hard and see what happened. I enjoyed it more that way, but don't get me wrong, I still made myself suffer -- average HR overall was 167. The first 5 miles were mostly flat, but not easy -- it was hard to find a rhythm with all the people and all the passing that had to be done in a narrow area. I was pleased with my pace though, of 7:18-7:35ish. By mile 6 the real hill climbing began, and that was my only mile that wasn't sub-8. The hill was no joke.

Then onto the Golden Gate Bridge, which was caked in fog, cold and wet. You couldn't even see the most the bridge while approaching it. I was wearing a sleeveless top, shorts, arms warmers, my new PxRx visor and I got super chilly in the wind, heavy mist, etc. Motivation to run faster ;) At the same time, I was saying to myself how lucky I feel thanks to sport and the places it takes me. No complaints.

Take that back... My only complaint of the day: The aid stations were weak and sparse. There were 4 or 5 total, and the water cups had mere drops of water so it's safe to say I probably had less than 3oz to drink during the whole thing -- no bueno. In their defense, I guess when you have over 80k-90k (?) people running you have to manage your resources.

After the bridge there's relief in climbing with a really steep downhill at mile 10 -- my only sub-7 mile! But the downhill is deceivingly hard on the body. That mile is followed up with relentless uphills for the remainder of the race -- finishing uphill for 2+ miles HURTS! I was blowing up to some degree trying to hold onto my sub-8 pace, and I was also probably overly dehydrated AND bonking -- the cereal and one gel weren't enough in retrospect. But I didn't really care. I wasn't totally dying.

I didn't actually look at my watch for time until right before the finish, and it read 1:38. Ha! Definitely no PR (which is 1:36 btw). It was then a race to secure sub-1:40. Crossed in 1:39:01 with a HR of probably 185. The race finish, which is miles away from the start in Golden Gate Park, was quite uneventful. Most the runners who I'd been fighting for sharing space with had apparently been doing the full, and they veered off around mile 12-something, after which I was practically alone. It was also only about 7AM, cold and misty out so only about five spectators. Not even many finishers at that point either. All the smart people in SF were still tucked in bed! I waited for John, and didn't have to wait long! He was right after me... man, he's getting good.

Finish with my man :)
I passed on the complimentary Irish coffee (yuck) and we took the shuttle back to the race start to quickly get back to the room to, ya know....... order breakfast in bed with Olympics on TV, and Compex on legs!!! ;)

I never really care about my placing in run races, but I was curious to see how I fared against other women here given the tough course. I think the steep hills were much worse than a race with the same elevation gain but gradual hills, ya know? So, was it just me who was slow or everyone? Everyone. Turns out the fastest time of the 4,000 females who ran was a 1:31, so that says something. My time of 1:39 got me 9th AG and top 20 overall. My actual run distance on the Garmin was 13.28 miles, so I did nail that sub-7:30 pace. (And oh yea, next time I'll do the second half -- starts later and is easier with less climbing. The top female times in that race were around 1:19-1:21.)

View from our room in downtown SF

After the race we had a couple days to play in SF. I'm trying to branch out and travel a bit more when I can these days, and SF was at the top of the list. I can't even begin to tell you how much stuff we packed in while in town. Not to mention, lots of walking... probably 5-7 miles a day (including the day of the race). That's city livin for ya. Good times for sure! But it does feel soooo good to be back home....