Just a quick update from Dallas
I improved my finish position from LA, coming home in 3rd place behind Lisa Norden and Sarah Haskins. I am once again happy with my performance, as it shows that things are really going in the right direction for the last 2 races of the season coming up - Maui and Clearwater. The conditions here today where far from ideal. It was unusually cold for dallas, and it pretty much rained the whole way through the bike. A few of the race contenders struggled in the cold, which is no fun. They could eat more pies though :).
I also managed to sneak in to 2nd in the Toyota cup series, bring home a nice little bonus of $8000.
Right now i am going to snuggle up with Mike and try and get a good night sleep before jumping on an early flight to Maui.
Exciting times ahead.
You can't win 'em all!
You can't beat them all, but in my ideal world I would. I am guessing this goes for most competitive racers. We all love to win. This is why we train so hard right? To cross that line first! So finishing anything but first is always a little disappointing. BUT, as I have learnt, you have to be realistic with your goals and expectations. If you don't, you end up disappointed a lot of the time, and, I believe, make things a lot harder on yourself than they need to be. You also have to keep things in perspective, and appreciate how fortunate we are to be healthy and to be able to do what we do.
So with this in mind, I was pretty content with my 4th place finish yesterday in LA. Do I think I could have raced a little harder...yes possibly...and I am a little peessed off with myself for that, but I doubt it would have changed the results. The field was super strong this year, with I think 4 of the top 5 of the ITU chickies (from world champs this year) coming over to try and smack us non-drafters to smithereens. I knew they were all going to be up for the challenge, and out to prove that they are not just all about the swim and run. Having raced a few of them previously, I also knew that I wasn't going to have it my own way on the bike either. It didn't stop me from trying though :). For me to win this race or at least get on the podium, the damage would have to be on the bike....cos them girls can ruuun!
Before we got to the bike, the first challenge that lay in wait was the ever growing waves and chop in the swim. Even though we (the girls) still got battered pretty handily as we tried to navigate through the waves, I think we got off lightly compared to the guys (who went 5mins earlier). Even once we were through the surf, it was still so wavy and choppy, it was a real challenge for us to stay on course as we tried to sight the turn buoys. I think I got off pretty lightly and came out 45secs or so back from Sarah Haskins (pretty similar to Chicago), and was right in the front pack of girls. After my pitiful swims earlier in the year, I was pretty happy with this.
Into T1 I was smoked. Lisa Norden, Helen Jenkins, Liz Blatchford and Daniella Ryf, were all in ITU mode and blasted through transition, leaving me standing still trying to remove my ear plugs! I was possibly a little too relaxed :).....I blame it on the Xterras...cos thatís what they are all about!
Onto the bike, I started working hard from the get go. I had an idea that some of the other girls would be able to go well for 5km or so, but would fade after that. So I was patient and just focused on trying to set my own pace and ride my own race. At the first turnaround I saw that Ryf and Norden were still with me, but we had put significant time into some of the others. We had also caught and passed Speedy Haskins, but I knew I needed as much time as possible to hold her off on the run. At this point Ryf went to the front, and I figured that it was time to conserve a little and sit back letting her set the pace.
Again T2 was a little slow on my end. Something I need to think about for Dallas, me thinks! Even though I only lost 5-10 secs, it just meant instead of running out with someone and letting them set the pace, I was back on my own, setting my own pace. I felt like I ran solid, but just either didn't have the confidence to push on, or was not feeling 100% on top of it. I am disappointed with my lack of aggression on the run, as looking at the splits post race, I know I can run faster. Oh well....Dallas is now 6 days away, and I already feel more excited about this race than I did going into LA. Not only am I excited about racing in Dallas, but excited that I have managed to persuade Mike to come along too! Nothing like hearing that "GOOOOO JULIE" to get you going. I swear I hear it from a mile away.
Thanks for reading, and check back next week to hear how things went in Dallas.
Give credit where credit is due
The other day a few emails flew back and forth between myself and a few training "buddies" of mine. The emails started out with plans of what session we were going to battle when the weather had turned sour here in Boulder. To go out side and fight the wind or cold, or stay indoors and smash things out on the indoor trainer (and for me - one of my most prized posessions, my trusty Computrainer). On this particular occasion it was a harder decision than normal, because I had already pushed out some great sessions on the Computrainer 4 days and 2 days prior. Anyone who uses a computrainer, or even a regular indoor bike trainer will now that they are great for specificity, and great to make you work hard, but probably not the most the exciting form of training.....especially when your last two rides have been indoors.
Needless to say my vote was for outside on this occasion, but I was out numbered 2-1, so we stayed indoors.
The next decision to make was what the session would be. The last 6 weeks or so (minus race weeks), one of my key bike sessions has been something similar to 12x5mins with 3mins rec, or 6min/4min/2min with 3/2/3 recovery. The hard blocks on both the sessions are pretty much as hard as you can go. I have mixed these up with a session where I go 10x1min max full power, follwed by a 30min TT, and then repeat the 10x1mins. All of these hurt alot, and when I follow them up with a run off, leave me pretty much toasted for the rest of the day. So I was praying my two partners in crime where not hoping to do one of these beauties. So I left the session plan in the hands of them.
Little did I know what they had in store. A 3hrs30min beauty. Yes it wasn't as intense, but with the amount of strength work it entailed (low cadence big gear work), left me once again Toasted (note the capital T!). But a great session none the less....well great once it was done...not so much during.
So back to the main point of my update. later that day I sent a message out to both athletes and made some comments as to how I was impressed with both of them. Their attitudes towards training the last month or so has been contagious. They have both been working impressively hard, and have stayed positive throughout. I have seen them also make some big gains in their fitness in one form or another. So in my message I wanted to give them both some credit for this. I got ridiculed for "blowing smoke up their asses"....to quote one of them.
This got me to thinking how triathletes, who in general (both pro and age group), do a lot of training alone, or at least without a coach encouraging them and giving positive feedback. Yes, a lot have coaches, but most of these coach from a distance, and so there is minimal day to day interaction. The athletes report back to the coaches, and they sometimes may give positive feedback then, or sometimes they just tick that session off and move on to the next one. This is very different from other sports....well sports that I have experienced, like swimmisng for example where there is a coach on deck every session.
At times it seems hard, as there is no-one there giving you the complementary pats on the back, or throwing out the "great job" or high fives. But deep down you know when things are going right. You know when you are in good shape, and you know when you have got through a great session. Just to clarify a small point, a great session isn't just those where you reach new boundaries, but they are also the ones when you feel tired as a dog, but still manage to get through it. It can also be a great session when you complete a 30min recovery run....keeping it recovery. The fact that there is no one there telling you it is great, just makes it a little harder.
This is where the importance of great training partners come in. Use each other. Give each other credit where credit is due. Don't throw around high fives and great jobs willy nilly, but make them work for it! Do not be afraid to "big them up" when it is deserved. Triathlon is as much about confidence as it is fitness, and if you can help build someoneís confidence then you should.
You never know they may return the favour one day.....I am ever hopeful :).....or maybe I just havenít earned it yet!
Most of the training is now done for the year. It is now race time. I have LA this weekend, then Dallas the following weekend. I will then fly to Maui and prepare for the Xterra world champs, and then it's 3 weeks till the big one...70.3 World champs in Clearwater. Check back soon for more.
P.S. - Thanks to Eric Wynn for the photos!
Crash no 3. Time to order the stablisers (training wheels)
To a professional triathlete, there is possibly nothing more frustrating than going into a race pumped and feeling in great shape, and then not being able to show your form due to one tiny laps of concentration. All that hard work, all that focus and dedication, all the extra attention to details outside of training, can be all for nothing unless you stay focused the task at hand ALL the time.
This is pretty much what happend to me this weekend in Chicago. I was pumped and super excited to race. Chicago is a fast race, and the conditions on race day were pretty much perfect. 65 degrees, sunny, and windy. All the signs in training were showing that my form was starting to come around after all the hiccups so far this year, and i was feeling confident coming off my win at 5430 3 weeks ago.
Race morning came along. I felt relaxed but excited, which i think is pretty much the perfect way to be. The adrenalin was flowing, but it was more due to excitement and anticipation, than nervous energy. While i went for a bike warm up, i sent Mike off like a packed mule to drop my stuff off at transition. The legs felt good and zippy, and with the wind picking up i was glad i had opted for my Bontrager 5.0 rather than the deeper 9.0. I located the packed mule, unloaded him and went off for a longer than normal pre race jog, and included some strides and drills to get the body ready to go. The only thing left to do was hike our way to the swim start, and cheer some of the other 9,000 plus athletes racing along on the way.
The swim start went well. Mike says i cheated....but i say i have just learnt the Xterra way of doing a deep water start. I swear in some Xterra's, we are at least 100m in front of the start line before the gun goes off. So it may have looked like i was a few inches in front of the others....but in reality it was just due to my cat like reflexes. Well that and i might have anticipated the start a little! But this wouldnt be the first, nor the last time this has happened.
I was super happy with my swim. Again due to my earlier crashes, with the broken ribs and such, my swim in some of my earlier races has been sub par to say the least. So i was a little anxious to see if i had managed to move things on a little in this area. I felt great for the first 300-500m, and settled in at the back of a small pack including Sarah Haskins, Sarah Groff, and the Beckster (becky lavelle). I was tucked in right on the feet, as Mike had instructed, so all was good. At some point i could see Becky and I were losing a little time to the 2 sarahs, but i was happy with where i was at (we lost about 45sec...which is alot better than the 1min45sec in minneapolis). It was just like college days swimming alongside becky.
It is then a good km or so to run thru to transition. For someone who has had 4 foot surgeries, this is not good news. So i opted to stop and put shoes on, to save the little toesies from running barefoot. I lost a little time, but was confident i could catch back up once on the bike.
Out onto the bike, the wind had picked up, and it was pretty much a head wind all the way out to the turn at about 10km. I tried to use this to my advantage to pushed hard. I caught and passed Becky and had Sarah Groff in my sights. I passed her too, and then set to the task of catching Sarah Haskins. In my mind, pre race i had set myself a goal of catching her at around 20km, so when i came up on her at the dead turn (about 10km in), i was pretty happy with how things were going.
The bike course is pretty much as flat as you can get. It is also pretty much as straight a roads as you can get. Out one way, dead turn, and back the other....then repeat the lap. Not too eventful, but great for getting aero and going fast. The only other hazards out there are quite a number of potholes, and expansion gaps in the road. Mike and i had talked only the day before about how I needed to stay focused over all these bumps, try not to let them slow me down, but not take any risks.
In the race, on the bike, all was going well. I was feeling strong and had pretty much made up the 45-50sec i had lost on Haskins by the 10km turnaround. I exited the turn and powered up to speed. After battling into a headwind throughout the first 10km, i was looking forward to feeling fast in return for working hard....rather than just working hard. Once back up to speed i grabbed down to grab my drink bottle, took a few sips and then looked down to put the bottle back. BIG MISTAKE. as at the same time another athlete out on the course veered in front of me. I was travelling a lot faster, and had to swerve to avoid him or her. Problem was was that i still had one hand on my bottle, and i lost control and hit a traffic cone. I cam down pretty hard and knew my elbow and fingers were pretty banged up. It wasn't long before Graham a USAT official came to my rescue (thank you Graham). he called for an ambulance and before i knew it i was on my way back to transition. I always think you know you are hurt when you don't even contemplate getting back on the bike. The thought hadn't even popped into my mind.
I know things could have been a lot worse, so i count my blessings. Never the less, it is still frustrating. I was feeling great going into this race, and I really wanted to try and put Sarah and some of the other girls to the test. Oh well. I guess it will have to wait.
Congrats to sarah and to Matt reed for their wins. Comiserations to Andy Potts, who also had an incident with an slower age grouper out on the course. Andy i hope you are healing fast.
Next up - lots of hydrogen peroxide, lots of neosporin, and lots of icing those war wounds and bruises. P.S. I'll post some photos of the damage soon.
A Solid week training
Those that read my regular updates will remember when I wrote about statman Gambles, and kinda sorta made fun of him for being so into his stats. Since writing that update Joe has gone on to have an incredible start to his year, winning both the Vineman 70.3, and more recently the Lake Stevens 70.3 last weekend. I know this is just the start of some great things for Joe, and so decided that I would "reveal" some weekly stats for this weeks training - in the hope that some of Joe's form will rub off on me next weekend in Chicago.
This weeks training went like this:
- Sunday: 1hr50min Long steady run, Swim 50x100 aerobic short rest.
- Monday: 3hr ride (30ish min TT climb up to Jamestown, 3x7min max climbs first one seated), 30min steady run off, Swim 5km with masters group
- Tuesday: 1hr20min run with 5x1milers with 3mins recovery between, Swim 3.5km technique work, 2hrs aerobic ride
- Wednesday: Computrainer session (10x1min, 30min TT, 10x1min), 45min Tempo run off, then back on bike to spin legs out for 45mins. Swim 3km recovery
- Thursday: 1hr10 run with 25min fartlek switching btn 10km and 5km pace, Masters swim 5.5km including 18x100 (8 on 1:25, 10 as 1 on 1:15 1 on 1:20), 4x300 steady on 4:10, 2hrs aerobic ride
- Friday: 1hr steady run (build last 20mins), Swim masters 5km including (500 fast/300steady/500fast/2x150 steady/400fast/4x100 fast), Bike: Computrainer session 1hr30 main set 5x1min, 5x50sec, 5x40sec, 5x30sec with double recovery
- Saturday: 4hrs30min ride including 1hr climb at tempo, 25min run...or grovel off
Totals: Swim - 26.5km, Bike - 15hrs30, Run - 6hrs55 = about 30hrs total.
All in all I am pretty happy with this weeks training. I hit 100% of the sessions I had planned, which seems like it might be the first time this year. With all the hiccups I have had, it is great to be back into some solid consistent training. I also feel that I am finally adapting to the altitude and am managing to inlcude both some intensity and some volume into the training. There is still a lot of work to be done though, but I am excited about how things are going. I reckon as long as I stay well clear of my Mtn Bike I should be able to hold things together. Things might get a little tricky when Maui rolls around....but we will come to that later on :)
Next up for me is a trip to Chicago. I am really looking forward to this race. Mike is coming along too which always makes it so much more enjoyable for both of us. We are also making a pit stop over in Madison Wisconsin to check out TREK HQ and to meet some of their team face to face that I have already been working with. I have heard that they have an awesome set up there, so we are excited to see where all the magic happens.
After Chicago I will come back to Boulder. I have deliberately left September free of racing so that I can focus soley on training. Oct and Novemeber are going to be busy months and I want to make sure that I am at the tippy top of my game.
Thanks for reading and the continued support.
The Big Showdown with the Chrissenator at 5430 LC - (tri-geeks beware, you may not like it!)
Chrissie Wellington, aka "the Chrissenator", is such a star in the triathlon world that many are intimidated by her presence. I am fortunate enough to have got to know Chrissie the last few months both through training and few some chilling outside of training. I am delighted by this, as not only do I have a great new friend and training partner who kicks my butt daily (both in training and in scrabble), but it has also reduced this "intimidation" factor. We joked a few times early on that we should plan our seasons so that we would never show up at the same race. We figured we did enough racing in training to cover those bases! But a few weeks ago it seemed that our plan was going to fall short, as we were both looking to race locally here in Boulder. With Joanna Zeiger (current 70.3 world champ) also racing, and some other stud-muffins, it looked like it was going to be a great race, and one that I was excited to be apart of.
There was a lot of talk going around locally. Everyone was excited, as they should be, to see Chrissie race in their home town. "So how much do ya reckon she is gonna kill it by?", "how many men do you think will beat her", "when do you think she will pass all the other chickies", ...etc., etc. A Lot of tri chatter was going on in the days leading up to the race. I just used this chatter to fire my belly up! As a professional triathlete I think that you must belive you can win any race. You have to stand on that start line and believe that you can win this thing, no matter who else is racing. Part of how I believe you can do this is to focus on what you can do to the best of your ability. I think I really managed to hone in on this yesterday, and in the days leading up to it. I tried to block out all the tri chit chat, and what that I couldn't I used to fire me up. As I stood on the start line I was ready and 100% focused on what I needed to do to win this race. And as fellow racer Simon Thompson emailed me later..." that steely look in your eyes on the start line scared the shit out of me. It sure did fire me up too though".
My game plan was as follows - try and be more aggressive at the start of the swim. So far this year my swim has been sub-par. I think due to pure lack of mileage in the pool (broken ribs, and bum hand). On the bike, my plan was to really try and lay the smack down. The idea behind this was for 2 reasons: 1) I wanted to use this race as a test to see how I could really go on the bike, and see if I could still run off it ok, if I left everything out there. Races like this are perfect for testing out race tactics like this for the bigger races later in the year. And 2) I wanted to put as much time into my competitors as possible. SO far this year I have been feeling super strong on my Trek TTX, and even though I know it is really the engine that counts, you still have to be 100% confident in your equipment. I have that without a doubt. Not only do I feel comfortable, I feel fast. That's all that counts! On to the run, the plan was to just see what I had left. Which yesterday turned out to be just enough (I won by just over a minute).
Sometimes the nice thing about leading for much of the race is that you don't get any time splits. With my game plan yesterday of focusing solely on me, this worked out well, as I really managed to block out what was going on behind. If anyone caught me...so be it! I gave everything I could from the word "go".
Now I said this yesterday, and I say it again for all you "tri geeks" out there, I really don't think you can read too much into this win. This is the kind of race where athletes come into it with different agendas. In a way, Chrissie and I couldn't be on a more different plan. She is 100% focused on 3-peating in Kona in early Oct. I am focusing on trying to 3-peat at Xterra world champs, and then trying to improve on my 2 x 4ths at Clearwater. I also have some races in between then and now that I would dearly love to kick ass in (Chicago, LA, Dallas). You guys can speculate all you like, I know you will continue to, but one thing I know for sure is Chrissie and I will take you out at Scrabble or Bananagrams any day! Bring it on!
Next up, a few easy days to let my pins recover. Then, 2 weeks of solid training leading into Chicago, "the biggest triathlon in the world".
It's the year of the MB!
I thought after posting a pretty standard update after yesterday;s race that today I would change tact and write about something a little different.
It's the year of the MB. This is something that I keep telling good friend and training partner Mary Beth (MB) Ellis. She smashed me today at the Boulder peak triathlon, and added this win to an already stella year. She won both the Escape from Alcatraz and the Pan American champs earlier in the year. Hence I keep telling her...it's the year of the MB. It was also her birthday today, so I had to give it to her right! :). If only that was the case. Yes I was a little tired after racing yesterday, and flying back yesterday, but I chose to race both, and I stood on the start line 100% ready to race. She proceeded to smack me on the swim, edge me by a nose on the bike, and smack me on the run. I did however get a chance to smack or punch her before the race though....so all is fair in love and war.
When we moved to Boulder, I knew that I would find people to train with. I didn't really plan on who that was going to be, but I am really happy with how it turned out. I probably do most of my training with MB. A bit like me, she likes to bish bash bosh and get training done without too much "faffing" around. She also seems to have a sense of humour....which is a little rare over this side of the pond! Ok that might be a little harsh....but you know it's also a little true :). Alongside some of my other training buddies include none other than the Chrissenator (nuff said), Mary Miller, Statman (Joe Gambles) and the Rinster when she cares to grace us with her presence. A lot of fun is had, and it really has given me a new lease of life in my training after many years of solo miles in the rain. For this I have them to thank.
As for the race today. Yes it was as hard if not harder than I expected. I felt GD awful on the swim....worse than yesterday. Felt ok on the bike, but just couldn't get on top of the gears, and ... OKayish on the run. My legs now hurt like sheeeeeeet. But I think I can gain a lot both mentally and physically from this experience.
The Boulder Peak is a great race (and part of a great series), and Barry and Jodee Siff to a fantastic job putting on these races. I feel honoured to live so close to these races and look forward to racing there again next year. I just hope they pick a better weekend for me....preferably not with another race the day before.
Tomorrow the Legend himself Sammy the mudman Gardner arrives. He is staying with us this week in the lead up to the Beaver creek Xterra next Saturday. With Sammy G around there is always entertainment. Hopefully there will be time for a little training too though.
July makes for a busy bee.
So the grand plan for this July is lots of racing. Some people can race themselves in to great shape. I have never really tried it, and figure what the heck...lets give it a try. If all goes to plan I will race 4 times in the space of 3 weeks. These races will include 3 Olympic distance races, and 1 Xterra, and 2 of these races are at altitude. It could get messy....but I am excited by the challenge of it and excited to see how I fair.
Today was the first of the 4 races - the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis. This used to be one of the biggest races on my calendar, but with a much reduced prize money, and somewhat smaller (yet still tough) field, I certainly didn't try to peak for it. Mother Nature looked down kindly upon us today, and blessed us with near perfect race conditions. Low 80's, clear skies, and even the water temperature was pleasant...about 74. Typically this race has been like an oven especially on the run, but with the brisk breeze all was good in the land of Dibens....or I should say legs of Dibens.
The race started out pretty poorly with the swim. I seriously swam like a one legged donkey. I could see the lead pack drifting of in the distance, but even with a couple of deep digs I couldn't get close. I think I ended up losing a good minute, which is disappointing, but in reality I suppose to be expected with the riblets and all the last few months. And on the plus side, I knew I really had to nail it on the bike to even get into the race. Once out on the bike my legs felt strong, and the lungs felt good with all the extra oxygen. I pushed on and passed a few girls early on. A few were crying at the side of the road after being pulled aside for cheating...er I mean drafting. I caught Becky with about 4 or 5miles to go, and we then came into transition about 15sec back of the leader Sarah "the fish" Haskins, and posted the fastest bike split by over a minute or so. Oh if only that donkey I turned into on the swim had had two legs!
Out on the run things felt good. I settled into my own pace, and held onto my 2nd position the whole way round the run. The legs felt good, and with tomorrow's race in the back of my mind, I was glad I had a healthy cushion over Becky in 3rd, and the faster approaching Wassner in 4th.
So I am now sat in the airport waiting for my flight back to Boulder. Tomorrow is the Boulder Peak triathlon. I wouldn't normally choose to do 2 races on back to back days, but feel that it would be wrong not to at least start the race tomorrow. The race takes place less than 5km from our house! Whether the legs will want to function and how it will feel to be back at altitude... I will find out tomorrow. But I am excited none the less. It is great to feel healthy again.
24hrs of Mayhem
Oowie wowie. 24hr mtb races are HARDcore. It was a lot harder than I remember too! That might be due to the rule change that each rider on the team now has to do at least 4 laps. The old rule was much kinder to me....2 laps! Tie that in with bugger all to no sleep, and that makes for some very tired cranky people. The other rule change was that all elite teams have to have at least one female.
A little bit about my team - "USE all stars"
- El Capitan Sammy the champ Gardner. Many of you that follow my website will recognise this name. Sam comes from a mountain bike background, and raced professionally for a while. He then found his talent for swimming, and switched to triathlon, and in particular Xterra racing. He has now one a handful of Xterra races and is without a doubt one of the fastest bikers on the Xterra circuit. This was a great chance for Sam to see how he shaped up against some of his old buddies
- Jody Crawford - I raced with Jody 2 years ago as well. Since then he has risen to superstar status winning the British National Cyclocross champs earlier in the year. Jody provided us with some entertaining moments throughout the 24hrs, and had some classic comments throughout the night.
- Dave Collins - Dave is also a mtn biker dude. I believe he said this was his 8th Mtn Mayhem! So he must have a screw loose somewhere. He was Mr prepared - I guess you would be if you had done this 8 X's, and Mr consistent and was solid throughout the 24hrs.
- Our Mechanics - Steve and Craig. We seriously couldn't have done it without them. I reckon they almost have the hardest job of all of us. They probably got less sleep than all of us, as they washed and cleaned and checked over every bike before and after each lap. When the lap splits are hovering between 40-45mins, this makes for busy mechanics. Thanks guys.
- USE - Very kindly provided us with our lights for the weekend. With my limited knowledge of night riding (never done it!), I can't really make too many comments about how good they are, but all the guys were singing their praises. Sammy G wouldn't use any other!
Some highlights from the 24hrs
- when the 24hrs where finished
- Jody's comment at 3:15am after lap number 5 for him - "F'ing hate biking. F'ing never doing another bike race again". My comment back "dont worry Jode ...only 9hrs to go!"
- After Sam's storming first lap, where he had at least a minute lead, some of the comments flying round were great. "yeah who the heck's Team Scott", "man Stu is hurting", "it's in the bag!". Maybe it was a little too early to make these comments boys! Team Scott then went on to ride each lap about 1min quicker than us.....which meant they went on to lap us...but we keep that one quiet. We did laugh long and hard about this afterwards.
- Jody passed out spread eagle with a banana on his hip for about 20mins. Priceless.
- The band of butt trumpets that played throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning. I could have done without this really, but at least it made the guys giggle like girls.
All in all it was an experience. I almost put the word "fun" in there, but think I need a few more days...weeks..or months to people to do that. It was seriously hard. The combination of lack of sleep, eating at funny times and then getting funny tummies, and having to get yourself up for an all out effort time after time was hard hard work. I was truly exhausted after my 5 laps. I don't know how the guys did 9...and yes Sam you did 10!
I would like to say I will be back again next year, but at the moment it would come out more like Never EVER again.
My weekend of firsts and records! (and no unfortunately I didnt win the race...but was happy with 2nd!)
I just got back from a long weekend in Wimbleball, Exmoor where I raced the UK 70.3. It was a very long but fun weekend, and all in all I am "chuffed to bits", as we say over here in blighty, with my 2nd place finish. Cat Morrison had a storming run and closed down my almost 7min lead off the bike with a few miles to go. If she stays healthy I think Cat could upset a few people at Kona this year in her Ironman Kona debut.
So other my than 2nd place finish, there was a lot of 1sts or records for me this weekend:
- Longest time I have ever been in my Blue Seventy wetsuit (2hrs) - they delayed the start for almost an hour and a half due to the mist on the lake. U could barely even see the start buoy from the shores edge. I was lucky as I only put my wettie on about 20mins before the original start time of 6am. Those poor nervous first timers must have been stuck to them... I swear I saw people with there wetsuits on at 4:30! Nothing like being prepared hey :). If you think that was bad I had to chuckle at Rich Allen (old Bath training buddy), who once he puts his goggles on leaves them on. I think his eyeballs might have popped out when he took those off!
- First time in racing on my Trek TT bike. Nice! Went on to beat last years and the year before's bike split by about 9 or 10mins. It's nnnnice, I Like!
- First time I haven't been able to do a pre race poo before the start of the race (anyone that has ever raced - you know what I mean). Blame it on the jetlag
- Most I have managed to eat on the bike. I am notoriously poor with my race nutrition, and I was determined to stay on top of it for this race. I managed a Powerbar gel on the run, and on the bike I had a WHOLE powerbar. I think I pulled a jaw muscle in the process, and took me about a lap to eat it. Powerbar I LOVE your products, but how hard is it too eat some of the bars when it is a little cold outside....they are rock solid!
- First time in a long time that I stopped to put socks on in T2. I still got a whooper of a blister, but I think that was due to lack of training run miles than anything. Its probably been a good 10 weeks since I have ran close to a 13.1miles...and yes the .1 does count.
There were also a few not so exciting "not firsts". I lead out the swim with a handy 2min plus lead on the other girlies, and then proceeded to put more time on to them on the bike. I went out onto the run feeling comfortable and strong, but had a feeling I would start to suffer close to the end. It was just going to be a case of whether I would get to the finish line before Cat caught me...meeoow. Some would think that with a 6:30min lead that I would have it in the bag, but I know better. I have been there plenty of times before. Sometimes I can hold on for the win, but sometimes not. That's just the way I like to race. Lay it all on the line and make em chase. It felt great to be racing again, after painful months, and I achieved my main goal for the race which was to get round without breaking another rib. I might possibly have broken a finger....but hey that's a whole nother story :). Wrap me up in cotton wool Mike, I think its going to be one of those years.
Next up, an nice chill out week at "home" with the parentals, and then Mountain Mayhem on the weekend. I am racing for the USE All stars team, where we are hoping to give a few mixed Mtb teams a run for their money. Let the weather gods be on my side.
In Honour of "Stat man"
The last few months have certainly not been dull, that's for sure. I returned from Saipan, broken ribs and all, to Mike and Lucky, and our first temporary housemate Jonny. Jonny Hotchkiss is another British triathlete trying to make his way to the tippy top of the triathlon world. Being a close friend of the "Chrissenator", he decided he would come on over to Boulder to check out what it's all about, so we invited him to come and stay with us. The conditions were, stay as long as he wanted, just no farting in public, and he was in charge of lots of frisbee action with L-dog, with me sidelined for a wee while. Jonny was great company, and we all loved having him here, despite his picky eating habits.
A few weeks later, it was then the arrival of Mary Miilllllerrrr, and Joseph Gambles aka "the stat man". We lived with them for a month or so when we first moved to Boulder. As they too were bunking up chez Mr Chase. Original plan was that they would stay for a week or so, until they found something more permanent. But they too have found a love for Frisbee throwing with the pooch, and so will be camping out in the basement until their return to Oz sometime in Nov.
Training has been very hit and miss the last 2 months. Not unexpected really, considering my rib was broken into 3 pieces. What I hadn't counted on was a wicked bout of a cold, which returned at least once. Yes, broken rib + sneezing and coughs = a lot of pain. To top that off, I went and re cracked my rib just last week while swimming. I knew it as soon as it happened....as you would, but went for x-rays which confirmed that was the case. The hard thing is knowing what you can or can not do. The doctors seem to say do what I can within my pain threshold???
Anyway on to the title of my latest update. In honour of Stat man.
Last Sunday I decided to ride alone up to Estes park via Big Tompson Canyon. The rest of the clan would then drive up there and meet me for lunch before a post feast hike up in the Rocky mtn national park. This is probably one of the only times I have ridden alone since I have been here in Boulder. Sometimes it is nice to ride alone, and just crank out a good solid pace the whole way. This is pretty much what I always used to do back in Bath, so it was refreshing to get back into the old habit if only for a day. 1 week previously I had done the same ride with a group of people which included Mr Stat man. Now, Stat man is the proud owner of a new Garmin GPS watch. Anyone who has ever had one will now know why he is now called stat man. Every 5 mins or so we would be informed that's 850m climbed now, our average pace is 33kph, air temp is dropping to 75 etc., etc. Don't get me wrong, they are great training tools, but sometimes you just need to get out and ride your bike and ride it hard til you get where you are going.
As I was riding along I starting thinking of this, and noticed a few of my own old school stats along the way:
- Number of people sucking my wheel - None
- Cyclists I passed from start to the bottom of Big Tompson climb - 17
- Cyclists I passed going up big Tompson - 5
- Cyclists that passed me - None
- Drivers that almost took me out 1 - Dirty Barsteward in a tan chevy truck
- 10 Kittens for sale
- snakes - 3 (1 dead, 1 tiny and one HUGE....i almost puked)
- TeePees/ wigmans -1
- Fisherman - 6
- songs listened to on the Ipod -45
- time spent waiting for Mike and the gang to meet me there - 28 cold miserable minutes in the rain...not that I was bitter about it at all :)
- Fun had - Lots. One of my most enjoyable rides since I have been here.
Take that Stat man.
Next up for me....well I am heading back to the UK next week in hopes of racing the UK 70.3. I am not yet sure if the body will be ready to race, but I am ever hopeful. I think it will be a last minute decision. The following weekend I will then be back on the MTB to race Mountain Mayhem (24hr mtb race) with a team of studdly guys. Let's hope I can do my share and we can at least be in the shout for the win.
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for more, or you can follow my twitter for daily updates and pics
2nd in Saipan again!
The Swiss miss had me again this morning in Saipan. Renata really does own this course and has now won it 4 years...if not 5 in a row. She totally deserved the win today, and has now brought our head to head battles up to 4-3 (to me just!).
My race started out ok, and I exited the water in second behind a speedy swimmer on a relay. Andy Noble tucked in behind me, and then passed me on the 200m run to transition. I then passed him back up on the road climb, and was starting to feel ok. Not awesome, but I sort of expected that, as I had put in 3 weeks of great training out here. Once on to the off road sections things where going ok, but I wasn't riding them as well as I had done previously in practice. I was making silly mistakes and I think I put this down to the fact I knew I had 2 of the best MTB chickies out there chasing me down, in Renata and Shonny. Then the shit really hit the fan when I went down a section of the "wireless" trail. Not entirely sure what happened, but before I knew it I was eating dirt and was in a lot of pain down my right side.....and was totally winded to boot! It took me a little while to have the urge to get back on the bike, but I did and as the next male pro wizzed by he shouted "come on, come on!". So I hopped back on and plundered on. I knew that the worst outcome would be a cracked rib, and that by pushing on it wouldn't get any worse. Just might be uncomfortable....to say the least. The rest of the bike course went by pretty slowly. The climbs were hot and every time I got out of the saddle my ribs told me to swiftly sit back down again. On the off road sections that followed I was slow, having lost all the confidence I had....which ain't much :).
Back into T2 I still held the lead, but was apprehensive as to how things would go on the run. Surprisingly things weren't too bad on the flat, but as soon as we hit the trail and it kicked up or down I was forced to slow jog/walk. Now there is a serious possibility I would have been walking some of those sections anyway, as my ankle stability is pants. Renata passed me with ease maybe after about 25mins out on to the run, and continued to dance her way down the ravine, and proceeded to put another 6 or 7mins into me. Not that I was worried about that, I was 100% focused on just getting to the finish line and getting some ice put on my ribs. Whether Shonny passed me or not, at that point I didn't care. Fortunately for my bank balance, she too crawled her way down the ravine section on the run, being a little wary of an ankle injury she picked up a few days before Maui last year. So I grovelled my way to the finish shoot in 2nd place and Shonny came finished in 3rd. Local gal Mieko, had a similar day to me, also crashing and hurting some ribs, but also stuck it out like a trooper and came home 4th Pro woman.
On the men's side, fellow Brit and Xterra travel companion Sam Gardner, aka "Sammy the champ" , pulled off the biggest win of his Xterra career, beating a strong mens field which included 2008 US champ Mike Vine, last years Xterra Saipan Champ (and fellow USTS champ from 1999) Andy Noble, and a handful of other top men. Jim-bob Mcconnel, put in a gutsy performance with an ailing Achilles and finished 6th. He just needs to stay on course next year and surely a top 5 will be there for the taking.
Next up for me - lots of ibuprofen, Ice, and a 30hr trip back to Boulder. Happy days.
Julie signs with Trek, and the latest from Saipan
I am writing this from Saipan, after a fantastic week of training. It came off the back of my first race of the season, 1st place in Guam. More often than not you are super motivated the day after a win, and then the day after that something hits you like a ton of bricks. I really didn't feel too bad this time, and will have put in around 35 hours of training this week. It helps when you get some awesomely exciting news like I received this week. I am super excited to announce that I will be riding for Trek this year. To me Trek is one of it not the biggest and best bike company to be associated with. Most importantly you just know that their bikes are going to be awesome. I have yet to see or ride the road bike or TT bike, as I am obviously still out in Asia preparing for next weekends Xterra Saipan, but I can't wait to get back to Boulder to try them out. Trek also have a great reputation of really looking after their athletes, and a big factor in me being really keen in working with them is that they are really interested in pushing hard in the triathlon market over here in the US. For me this seemed a perfect match, as I want to raise my profile over here now that we are based in Boulder.
U can see a few pics of me from Guam on the awesome full suspension Top Fuel mountain bike (flickr) - Thanks again to Rich Cruse. Nick at trek tells me that for Maui I will have some even lighter wheels, and they reckon the bike will weigh in at about 21lbs. Now I know I don't know a whole heap about mountain bikes....but that is LLLLLLight...with a capital L...especially for a full susser.
Anyway as you can tell I am pretty excited about what is in store for this year.
Back to my trip here in Saipan. As usual the locals are being super friendly. It's hard to go out for a run or a ride without someone shouting "go Julie" or "welcome to Saipan" etc. Anyone following my Twitter will also know I have been eating way too much Subway. So much so that the lady knows what I am going to order as soon as I walk in the door. She has also been sneaking me a large drink instead of a medium :). I have to get those fluids in don't I Mike!
Tomorrow I move from my home stay (which is about 15 steps from the ocean) into the race hotel, the PIC. My stay here at the "beach house" has been fantastic. It has been nicknamed the teachers house, as 4 teachers rent it out from the owner. They have opened up there guest room to me, and it really has been great. An ideal location, and is quiet. I actually think I am sometimes last to bed! The Hotel I move in tomorrow (PIC) is a super nice hotel, with a 25yd pool, a play pool with all sorts of fun games, and a Lazy pool for those post run swims! There is always something to do there: table tennis, volleyball, etc. etc. If I can't win the Xterra next Saturday I will certainly make sure I win at Table tennis - Renata you are going down! Not that I am competitive though :)
I hope to add more pics throughout the week, and will keep tweeting away. Thanks for reading and hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather wherever you are (say that fast 5 times with out messing up ;)
Julie Wins Xterra Guam
Wow, I had forgotten how crazy Xterra's can be. Don't get me wrong, Maui is a great course. It is hard and hot and everything, but these 2 races out here in Guam and Saipan are ccccrazy. They had me wondering why the heck I do these! Once in race mode though it didn't take me long to remember why - cos I can. How many opportunities do you get to do stuff like this.
I arrived here in Guam late on Tues night. I had a bit of a marathon trip here, flying a long way around to get here. Denver - Houston - Tokyo - Guam! The room at the Hyatt, care of the organisers and the Hyatt regency manager, was very welcomed! Thank you guys. Wed through to race day (Saturday) where then spent trying to get over some of the jet lag, and trying to acclimatise to the dramatic change in weather conditions. From snow in Boulder, to 30+ degrees and about 90% humidity! We also ventured out on the course to check out both the run and bike segments.
The run course here is truly amazing. I have never seen anything like it. It starts out pretty normal with about a mile run along a straight flat road (which is hotter than all hell), then you start climbing up off road through long grass for about 10mins, before sliding down a cliff. First time I did it I spent about 5mins trying to see if there was an alternative way down there......no such luck. You then have a bout 5-10mins of normal running, before the crazy stuff begins. First you drop underneath a bridge into a river and run underneath it. On the other side the waterfalls start. The best way down these I think is to slide....but to try to slide with control...rather than like being on a water slide. At the bottom you then either jump into and across a waist deep section of water, or (as I prefer) dive in and swim. The next 10mins is then spent running, limping, swimming down the river bed through the jungle. Thankfully I didn't see any creepy crawlies...or snakes today!
Anyway on to the race - It went well. The swim was pretty much as expected, and after about 100m I was out on my own trying to push the pace on. I led out the swim by a few minutes, and out on the bike course I felt pretty strong. That altitude training stuff might actually be working! It took Sam Gardner (1st male pro) about 20-30mins to catch me. We had a bet on to see who would make it too the goat trail first. He had me by a few mins, so I owe him a subway! I managed to stay upright the whole ride...which is a big improvement, and came into T2 still in 2nd overall. Out on to the run, I tried to run hard on the sections that were runnable, because I knew I would be a big wimp on the waterfall/river sections. Jim Mcconnel passed me as I was having a cuppa on the waterfall, and he never looked back.
I finished off the run ok, and finished 1st female, with Renata Mcconnel in 2nd. Both Renata and I are racing in Saipan, so I will need to get some good training done in the next couple of weeks, as she owns the Saipan course.
I will hope to be twittering away while in Saipan so if you can follow me on there. Thanks to Rich Cruse for the photo above. I have also set up a flickr picture site so you can see some more pics from Guam. These are a mix of my pics and Rich's pics.
Thanks for reading
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Feb 2009 - June 2008.