Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fat Salmon 3'ish mile Race Report

"Where's Teresa?" Was a common phrase used at this last weekends Fat Salmon swim race.  This was my 4th year in a row of participating. Coming off last weekends race with a fantastic swim for me I hadn't put much thought into this one. I am experienced at this event. I won the first two years, got 4th last year with little training and this year was wanting to get back on top.
FS swim start. Photo from FS FB page.

I started out like any other swim race and 300 yards (thanks garmin 910 for the metrics) in something happened. I had been swimming comfortable right along side friend/coach Kainoa and a human flock came swimming at us from the side.  Immediately it felt like my wetsuit was a cotton sweater in the dry cycle, my goggles magically had black masking tape over them, and the lake was boiling.  I flipped to my back to try to end this frenzy when I saw the masses coming at me. I put pressure on myself that I had to regain my composure FAST, but it wasn't going away. Fellow lane mate at master workouts, Heather Bales, happened to stop and ask if I was okay.  Panically or manically saying "no" she helped wave support over and went on her way when they were coming to help.  Waiting for eternity for help I became a flailing fish alternating between tearing my wetsuit off and floating on my backside.

When the super-hero arrived I jumped on the surf board in tears of distress and endless words of trying to make this lifeguard somewhat believe that I "could" be normal.  In surfer-style he chilled, with my composure regained I questioned "well, now what?". 

Could I be paddled over to the one miler and try to do that? Or hop right back in the lake and finish up the event.....hmmm.... The lifeguard asked "Well, do you think you can catch up to the group?". Was that a challenge? :) 

I tackled putting the wetsuit back on while balancing on a surfboard. Meanwhile, the head lifeguard guru came over to check on me.  He knows me, I employed him at Seattle Athletic Club for years, he has been a kayak supporter for me and all the other triathletes for years. So it was a surprise to him to believe that I was the one absorbing his staff's time with my panic.

I plopped back in the water (10' later) and began my swim race.  Going from 1st (or very close to that place) to dead last in the matter of 1' was an eye opener.  I gave myself a few minutes to settle in and then decided I could start working hard, I felt safe, so off  to pass as many orange hats in the remaining miles ahead.

I did a lot of "soul searching" during this time. Trying to figure out what went wrong.  I wrapped my head around a few things:

1. I had not gone through my normal race planning/visualization. I had taken my swim for granted, never really thinking that the "race" could be over in the first 5'. Next time I will make sure I put myself in the most safe place for me and prepare my mind for the worst.  Proper planning is key to success.

2. When in a panic I made it worse because I couldn't get back to swimming soon enough.  The take-away- IF this ever happens again I will take my time, focus on my breathing and calming myself.  The episode MAY not have lasted as long had I been patient with the process.

3. Stress. The day leading up my mind was occupied. I had not slept much either. And not that the sleep was the culprit, but the busy mind may have been a factor.  When the panic set in my mind was literally telling my body "I will NOT but up with this stress the next hour of this race". It really did say that!  It literally forced my body to stop racing. Moving forward- I will keep my mind calm and minimize unnecessary stress knowing that it WILL effect my race.

Open water swimming is stressful, it is challenging, and it takes a strong mind to get through the start, pace properly and deal with all the blows, bells, and whistles.  My body showed up but mind was not in the game.

As the event continued I also was thankful for the episode, thankful I was capable of getting back in, thankful of the experience to make me stronger for next years event, and hoping that my experience will be a lesson to many.

Throughout the three miles I paid more attention to landmarks, to sighting, to finding direct paths to make me stronger in years to come. I searched for Webb and swam alongside him a bit.  I swam into the finish as strong as ever and knew that today's event was a life-changer for me. 
Finish line!  Made it! Photo from Dave Johnson

Athletes and friends were wondering "where" I had been, and "why" I was not in sooner.  Let this be a lesson that on some days your game plan can change in an instant and crossing the line is sometimes the biggest accomplishment no matter what the clock reads.

Thank you to Liz Rosen at Fat Salmon for another amazing event, well organized, fun, supported and a sell-out each year! And congratulations to all the fish out there.

Fat Salmon....I will be back!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report 2012

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better- Pat Riley
Lake Stevens swim course. Photo by Joey Compton.

I ALWAYS try to look at the positives with every race, although, I was quite disappointed in Hawaii.  I could come up with several reasons as to why it was such a low, but I chose to take away from it the improvements.
If every race were perfect we would never learn, never have much more desire and never find that extra little bit that drives us one step further.
I made some changes to my training post-Hawaii. Nothing too big, just more swim focus (frequency, not in volume) and more bike focus.  I had a REAL agenda going into Lake Stevens, quite simply,it looked something like this:
#1 Give the swim everything, from the get go.  Prove to myself that I can swim and RACE.
#2 Give the bike all I got.  Watts higher than Hawaii.
#3 Run with whatever I had left and aim for sub 8’s.
(This is not how I typically race. This was actually thought out and planned as my run fitness would pretty much land me the same no matter how I paced on the bike….it’s the truth J)

TYR Freak of Nature!
I feel this was my best swim race of my ENTIRE triathlon career yet and it was in my all-time favorite wetsuit the TYR Freak of Nature. My plan was to not get punched…yes, I had decided I was going to control this. And to put my head down, swim my heart out and never let up. I changed my normal plan and had my gel 15' (instead of 10') before the start and went without the caffeine, this helped in not making me feel nauseous from the get-go.  I started my watch when the pro men left (2 minutes early) so I had nothing to think about but waiting for the gun. I put my head down for 12 supa-dupa-fast strokes (4 more than normal) and took my first breathe and no one was beside me.  Hallelujah!!!! I went straight for the buoy cable and swam right on top of it. I imagined it as a pool lane line and remained dead-center over it.  Knowing each and every stroke was moving me directly forward.  I would sight every-so-often and decide how many strokes to the next buoy, count them out, site, move to the right and then get right back on the cable.  At the pro meeting they told us that the “direct path” was not to follow the buoys on the way in. So as soon as I could see the finish “arch” I moved over and aimed for it. I knew someone was on my feet around the lake as I would get a few taps on the toes here and there.  With the final few yards to go Tenille Hoogland put the hammer down and came out first (she had an amazing come-back race placing 2nd overall for the day!). I was so happy to really feel like I could swim again!!!!  The biggest highlight was the face plant I did coming out of the water….oops.
T1: Spent forever in trying to get my wetsuit over my garmin….grrr!!!
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Tu
If I pushed my hardest the whole ride I could hold a HR of 158-160.  I did this for the first hour and then my body was FROZEN. I kept aiming for my cadence goal as I watch my HR dip further and further south as my body was becoming an icicle in motion. I started counting down the time to get off the bike.  2 hours, 1:30, 2x30’, 30’….etc. My body stiffening, descending in rain, and thinking I would be pulled from the race was not how I wanted to feel on this ride.  I continued to give it my all, being aware that my hydration was low because I was way too cold to drink.  The conversation between my chattering teeth and my mind were not agreeing. Beth Walsh passed in the final 10’ish miles and it forced me to have a self-talk of a lil’ “suck it up sista”.  Not enough fluid and 6 yummy Powerbar gels later, the dismount line was in site. The ride was a huge improvement, holding 10 watts higher than Hawaii and the highest ever since my return.  The goal was to be stronger and I was!
Photo by Joey Compton
I felt great the first 2 miles but my gut forced me to the port-o-let for a couple minutes at mile 3. From there on I just stuck with my goal of trying to hold sub-8’s which would be a huge improvement over Hawaii. And that I did. My gut was not happy which I normally do not experience as much in a half but with my choice-lack-of-fluids on the bike I couldn't expect perfection.  In the last two miles I tuned out everything and ran my fastest miles of the day.
Soaking up the final stretch!

To say I am happy is the truth, to say I am content….absolutely not.  The flame is burning deep inside, there is more.

I have never, race a local BIG race where we have tons of TNM athletes racing. Choosing to do this one since I had not raced Lake Stevens since 2007 and I really wanted that home-town feel…beyond euphoric. With 23 TNM athletes on the course and a team tent full of amazing supporters I was beaming.  TNM family….you rock!
TNM LOVE!!! Photo by Joey Compton

Striving. Believing.Dreaming.

Thank you to TYR for the amazing gear-goggles to site, a comfy wetsuit, and cozy racing gear- this girl could not ask for anything more!
To Powerbar for keeping me fueled, recovered, and a little less hungry!
To Cyclops for the power to see the power!
To Gerks and Specialized for the bike that is smooth!
To Rudy Project for keeping my head and eyeballs safe!
To Zoot for the non-blister, light, colorful shoes that keep my feet happy!
To Seattle Athletic Club downtown for the massages, the amazing trainers (pilates and Kurt Kinetic) and the healthy enviroment I get to be in all year-round!
To lululemon for the super sporty-girly outfits to keep me running!
To 110% and Recovery boots for keeping my legs from screaming at me!
To all my coaches for just being YOU!
To my inspire!
To my friends, family, and husband....I love you!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Friday Night Swim Race Race Report

Long overdue indeed.

I love this race.  Lots of TNM participants, low-key, very well organized (Thank you Raise the Bar), and my favorite sport, really can't ask for much more.

We left super-early to beat traffic to Kent on a Friday night.
Which gave me plenty of time to “think” about the race,  I’ll admit, B and C races I don’t put too much thought into, just go in and give it all I got…or something of that sort.  But there is something about the smaller races that also make me more nervous than the bigger ones. So in “thinking” out loud to Mark  I had a lot to go over:

Positive thinking:
Hawaii swimming days!
*I had put in a ton of swimming in Hawaii (Linsey you rock)and beyond and was feeling strong in the water.
*I love swimming.
*Great practice race.
*I love racing!

Race Strategy:

*Start out conservative
*Pace myself with the group/people I am comfortable swimming with.
*Build and then “hang on”
*"If it is super close, you sprint to the finish" (that was Mark’s advice!).

I lined up for the start with the New TYR Freak of Nature. So comfy! I was alongside my husband and 3 other soon to be TNM Ironman CDA finishers.  I knew there was a strong field in the group. Mike who attends the swim classes I teach at Seattle Athletic Club downtown and my friend/teammate Linsey who is one tough cookie.  When the going gets tough this girl can dig deep like no one I have ever seen.  She just happened to swim 3 (yes 3!) open water swim miles that morning in prep for her upcoming 11 mile swim race.

Mike and Linsey post-race
I am never one to start out sprinting, make me incredibly nauseous, so I put up with people yanking at my feet while they sprint the first 100 or 200 or whatever yards.  About mid-way through the first straight-a-way through a two loop course the petting of my feet stopped and I could see someone  ahead, whom had picked a totally different route of swimming the course.  I stayed directly in line with the buoys.  I figured at this point that swimmers would be on my feet and I kept it conservative trying to stay in my comfortable place so I could use my matchsticks for later.   Rounding the first turn buoy I did a quick check and could see some swimmers behind, but none right on my feet. Phew…this helped settle me a bit so I could swim at my own pace without the pressure of others. I kept my sights on the one swimmer ahead.  I knew the stroke but I swore it was Linsey.  1st loop I checked my watch around 26’. Never super accurate as I always start my watch early to be ready for the gun to go off AND I can’t do math and race at the same time. But this is where I had “estimated” I would be so knew I was swimming solid. Loop two I started making ground on the swimmer ahead and had small vision of possibly winning. After the final turn buoy I really gave it what all I had left and could feel my face burning hot and my fingertips going tingly numb.

Laura and I.
I popped out of the water as second swimmer, and found the first swimmer was Mike the whole time.  I had won overall women afterall.  I know if Miss Linsey were not swimming over 16 miles that week that this would have been a much closer race and I am excited to see her flourish in just a few short weeks at her big event!

I was lucky to meet Laura who is a fabulously strong swimmer and triathlete, but it was her kindness and sweet smile that stuck me the most.  She had an awesome swim winning herself a cinnamon roll that looks to-die for!

Thanks to RTB for the fabulous fun event and the super yummy 40 pound pie!  With Mark a few weeks away from CDA it didn’t disappear within 2 days like last year!