2012 Galveston 70.3

I can officially say that the cobwebs have been cleared from the system. Galveston 70.3 was epic indeed. I traveled to this race with my athlete Audra, who is a complete hoot.

I got to meet her hubby Clint, who took the best care of us over the race weekend. His entire family came out to see us race and it was like having my own family on course cheering me on. Thank you to the Adair family for the support and for adopting me for the weekend!

The pre race rituals went very smoothly for the first race of the year. No real hiccups and before I knew it I was standing on the pier with a slew of other light blue capped women of the 30-34 years like myself. As we waited I could feel a little bit of tension and like peoples eyes were on me. It was the Freak. This wetsuit got a lot of exposure. It’s really fast, and it costs a lot of money, and I was wearing it. Suddenly I felt like it caused a bit too much attention, I felt like I was on show. I tried to puff up my chest a little, act like I had big shoulders, do the thing some justice. As you can imagine I was more than ready when they let us in the water. I “warmed up” for the 4 minutes that they gave us, and then got on the front line, ready to find fast feet.

Off went the cannon and a group of 4 of us went off the front. I wasn’t struggling to stay with them as much as usual. I thought to myself, this wetsuit is FAST. I got on the first ladies feet and usually I’m kinda gasping and talking nice to myself to stay on feet. But I wasn’t. I was actually hitting her feet and her calves, and really just generally being a nasty foot tapper, not on purpose. I kept thinking…this wetsuit is FAST. At the first turn buoy I decided the pace was too slow. I figured I would try to pass and if the pace was indeed fast I wouldn’t be able to do so, and would just get back on the feet.

Nope, I went past her and swam away, then I’m thinking…dang this wetsuit is really FAST! I am leading my AG in the swim for the first time in my life. Nobody was on my feet, I was off the front, and feeling fast. I veered right a few times too many. I’m not the best straight swimmer, but I made it to the finish happy, and feeling like I must have swam a 30 or something.

The results were particularly alarming when Troy told me later. I was 1st out of the water, but I swam a 32:10, and would have been 9th in the 35-39AG. I didn’t swim fast, more just an average swim time for me. We just didn’t seem to have any of those studly swimmers in the age group there to pull us (me) all along. Total buzz kill after the race, but during the race, I was like “yea…I led out of the water….boooyaaa…my Freak is so fast”.


Onto the bike I saw HR numbers that had me wondering if I would survive 5 miles much less 56. Luckily I have my trusty “Perceived Exertion” scale in my pocket at all times and calmed down and told myself I wold not die. The way out had a headwind, but I wasn’t super sure what to make of it. I tried to ride as steady as I could. A few miles in Brooke passed me. She was 6th at Kona and biked a 5:12 there and she flys on the bike. Away she went. She had an additional 4 minutes on me at the turn around.

Somewhere around 45 minutes into the bike I saw a big slew of cars and cops and whatnot coming the other direction. And then, just like that, this black blur with a Livestrong disc wheel went by on the other side of the road. Lance. I wish I could say that I didn’t get goosebumps, and that I didn’t tell the girl next to me “That was Lance” like I was 11 and seeing New Kids on the Block in concert….but I would be lying. Apparently the Lance effect works on people who are not even super interested in “The Lance”. Then I felt bad for the second place guy because there were like 30 cars following Lance and I wondered what that guy would do if he wanted to try to pass Lance (gasp). Then I actually saw the 2nd place guy and he was riding right behind one of those said cars…and I realized…eh….smart guy. Drafting a car is far superior to drafting off Lance…don’t you think? Less TV coverage though…

When we made the turn, that was cool. Flying at 24 mph, finally I could get that cadence going, and was hoping I could make up some lost time. I rode hard. the heart rate came down like 2 beats…2 beats further away from death was how I was thinking about it. But all in all, my perceived exertion was about like I am used to…maybe a bit harder. The course is a simple out and back, and I honestly really dug it. There was this huge section where we were riding on this bridge sort of thingy, it was at water level almost, but it had water on both sides of it. That was seriously awesome.

Also, another crazy thing I want to note since I talked to a few people about it. I did not see a single marshall, or a single drafting pack. Not one. I’m not sure why because this course is totally flat, but I can’t think of a single incident of drafting that I witnessed (aside from the dude drafting the Lance groupies). Strange…but nice..

Somewhere on the way back Ashley Johnson passed me. She was looking strong and I kept her in sight. Towards the end of the bike I was able to get back up to her and repass her in the final mile of the bike. Turns out…Ashley and I would have a nice long chat after the race, and I would find out that she is also under Dirkinator tutelage. Didn’t know that out there…wish I had…would have tried to team it up (legally)!

T2…uneventful…lickity split.

Off running and I felt okay….well sorta, except my heart was near internal combustion, but hey, I’m a diesel, right?

I thought I had a solid chance at running a considerable amount of sub 7 minute miles. Maybe on a straighter course, or one that lacked evil headwinds. But it wasn’t to be. I got 4 or 5 sub 7s but the rest hovered in that “Not good enough Sonja, pick it up” range. I will admit thought, I was completely lost 95% of the time on this course, and for someone who’s nickname is the Navigatress, that’s a tough feat. They wound us around  and around and around, and they made us run up this random tarmac where Lance’s private jet was sitting there waiting to whisk him away after Jordan Jones pulled out the finishing kick of stardom and nipped him for 6th.

The run was hot, there were 2×180 degree turns on each loop. It took me 2 loops to figure out where the exit to the finish line was, and on loop 2 I was starting to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find the magical exit to the labyrinth. In fact, Ashley missed it entirely heading out for loop #4…her final run split is…well….a little long!

As far as how my age group race was going down, Brooke was long gone, never to be seen, schooled all of us like we were wee toddlers. Then Ashley was in front of me until mile 12 when she had a “kaboom” that lead to the aforementioned 4th loop…so I got back in front of her. Then not 5 seconds later, Adrienne Shields zoomed on by and I was back in 3rd for the AG. What a day, what a crazy crazy day.  As Clint’s mom would say “Oh my heart”.

Oh, I didn’t tell you about the heat. Well, I’m sure if you read any other blogs about the race, it will be a prominent fixture. It was hot, real real hot, everything is bigger…and HOTTER in texas. Some sections actually had a breeze (headwind) and other sections were very muggy stale humid evil hot. I noticed on the tarmac that we had evil headwind, and then after the 180…evil hotness. I was expecting happy tailwind…but you never feel those, do you? “The wind at your back” is a silly phrase.

The three loop course made the aid stations crazy town. But I have been yelled at on this blog before for being an elitist when moaning about not being able to get aid because I was running through the stations and lots of people were walking. So I will not moan, and I will just mention that I wasn’t able to (because of my inability to stop at an aid station) grab any aid the last 3 aid stations. So I was a hot mess when I finished and I counted that I drank 8 water bottles of water in a row. I poured another 6 or so over my body. I was actually starting to get quite scared for my predicament, I had trouble walking, talking, or standing up. Again, not moaning, my fault, don’t hate me please.

So that was my day. It was a wonderful day. I loved nearly every part of it, and I just can’t say how much I love this sport. It’s fun, I had fun, it’s an adventure, every race, every course, every time I push my limits. A huge thanks to the women of 30-34 who push me so hard, and send me home wounded, blistered, sunburned, and inspired.

As the years roll by and I meet different people, I have to say that a few stuck out on this trip.

Audra Adair – the woman has her own blog, but if I had to get taken down by 58 seconds by any one of my own athletes, Audra would be the one I would choose, and thank goodness, because she did indeed take me down by 58 seconds. She had a great day, a 15 min PR, a slot to Vegas…but those are her stories to tell. Thanks for kicking your coach’s booty…no more speed work for you!

Mary Eggers – I’ve been wanting to meet the Eggers for so long and I actually got to! First time on race morning and then a pat on the ass as we crossed paths racing. If you haven’t heard, Mary Eggers challenged Lance Armstrong to a 50 kick off to raise $$ for Teens Living with Cancer, and he accepted. You can donate here.

Christine Kenney – Christine ran me down at Ironman Cozumel and I must say, I was waiting for her to run me down again. I saw her out there a few times on some of the out and back sections and we would always make eye contact and wave at each other. This further warmed my already warm heart. We may be racing against each other, but it doesn’t mean we don’t support each other out there. I look forward to being afraid of Christine running me down again in the future!

David Adame and Brandon too – Congratulations to David on his first 70.3!! It was very magical to see Brandon out there with his guide, but for him to know that his dad was racing out there with him too must have been awesome! Relentless Foreword Motion!!!

Ashley Johnson – Such a sweetheart, I can’t wait to race more with her and I’m so stoked she got that Vegas slot. Especially after the 3 IVs it took to bring her back!

The Adair Family – Mr. Clint, you have a wonderful family, and Audra, you are one lucky gal. Thanks for feeding me, housing me, and making me feel at home.

None of these races would be even half as sweet without the Kompetitive Edge boys, my Quintana Roo bike, First Endurance in my belly, and Punk Rock Racing. Thank you for the support.

And, to the love of my life, thank you for letting me live my dreams every darn day.

Oh, and one last thing. My Rev3 family is running across America right now. I thought about them so so much this weekend and I just want to post their fundraising page here. They are amazing, so proud to know them. Please donate if you can.

2011 IM Cozumel Post Thoughts

First off, let me say how sorry I am to continue to drag this whole thing out. You all have put up with 3 posts just on the race, and now I’m still here talking about it. Every time I look at the readership of this blog I am shocked that so many of you tune in to read me babble along through these. Thank you! I tried to put in some pictures so at least you have something fun to look at while I mumble along.

These Ironman races are my love…MY LOVE (third to Annie and Troy). I have the pleasure of squeaking out two of them a year and they are two of the most cherished days of the year for me. I often think that maybe one year I’ll take a break from Kona, and from doing well at Ironman, and I will just race a ton of them. But to do well at them, you do have to limit them, and so, I get two precious days a year.

That being said, I will replay those two days a year over in my mind the other 363 days of the year. I think about these races, what went well, what didn’t, what needs changing, what worked, what didn’t work. I try to share some of that on this blog, and some of it is just too raw to throw out there…but I try.

I came into Cozumel on less than sure footing. For several reasons my life has had a few challenges in the past few months and it’s manifested itself in different ways. I have felt internal angst, but I have also learned things about my family, my husband, and myself through it.

I arrived in Cozumel ready for a month long nap, both physically and emotionally. I slept a lot those days before the Ironman. I even skipped the practice swim and a bike date with Sarah Piampiano on Saturday to sleep even more. I’m still sad about this. But I was tired, and whooped, and just didn’t want to move much.

I laid in bed and just wondered what I was doing with my life and whether doing what I love would be the demise of so many other things I love. I worried about Troy, about my family, about my friends. I train so much, I say “no” so often, and I’m tired when I’m not training. But I love it, and I live it, and Troy loves it, and we get to travel so much more than most.

After the race I left Cozumel full of life and joy. I was on cloud 9 and race day for me was an affirmation that of all the things I do in this world, of all the hats that I wear, besides being a mom and a wife, this Ironman thing is what I love most, and sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I am truly good at. It’s funny how that can happen. Race day is supposed to exhaust you, but it was life giving to me.

Emotionally I understand now what happened to me at the finish, but it’s taken some time to admit to all this in my head. When we lose control in life, we aim to control other things. Most all people strive to have control in their life, after all, the opposite is uncomfortable. I think triathlon draws in a lot of Type A people because Type Aers like to control things and there are lots of opportunities with three sports and lonely training to be in control. Type A people don’t do motocross…to much is beyond control, and too much is high risk.

Setting the 10 hour goal was my way of trying to control my world when I was feeling out of control. Which is quite pathetic because of all the things I could “control” the 10 hour barrier was a lousy choice! Ususally I am the girl who just sets forth the “plan” and then I go about executing, keeping a rational brain about not setting time goals and not getting stuck on things I can’t control.

When I came across in over 10 hours there was a huge emotional release. I think that it was my way of lamenting the total loss of control I felt. I can’t make people that I love healthy, I can’t make people that I adore like me, and I can’t pick a number and race to it. In a stupid way, I kinda thought that if I broke 10 the other things in my world would be righted, or that I could at least get a handle on them. Or at the very least that me lacking a handle on them would suddenly not seem so bad.

Like most triathletes, when I struggle in other aspects in life, it’s really easy to disappear into the training. Training for an Ironman is a good excuse to stick your head in a hole.

We ultimately don’t have control of much. We go out there and we do our best, in life, in sport, in relationships. And sometimes our best falls short of what se set out for. But if we are grounded, willing to learn, to self asses, and if we can still smile, then we haul ourselves out of the medical tent, we walk back and get our deserved medal, we grab a massage and some grub, and we move on. We fall into the arms of those that never leave our side and we go grab a fruity drink.

It may not make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me now, and it’s my blog. Ha!

So, if you read this blog to learn something through my mistakes, I will say, let go of the time goals. Work on what you can, and drop the rest. Lose the expectations, not because they are unrealistic, but because having expectations doesn’t get you any closer to achieving them. Focus on the hard stuff that no one else will do, be calm when others have angst, rally when others are falling apart.

I say these things not because I do them, not because I have mastered them, but as a reminder to myself. After all, it’s my blog… HA!

In terms of this crazy sport called triathlon, I still have much to work on, but when I look at what I asked myself to do, and I look at how much I gave to myself out there, I am really pleased. I am not upset about not going under 10, but I am upset that I set that as a goal in the first place. I am beyond lucky to be able to race these races, I am beyond lucky to have the support that I do. I don’t take these days for granted. They are a gift. But I also realize that racing triathlon is most the time, the thing I do to feel in control of my life, my weight, my emotional state, and my health. It may not be the best, but I recognize that it is that for me right now.

I want to give humble thanks to the following:

My husband and daughter: I am both easy and hard to live with. They are both easy and easy to live with. They are the two people in this world that I would lay across a set of railroad tracks for. Thank you with all that I am.

Chuckie: Two years he has put aside his own goals and dreams to train me. Thank you for all that you have done for me, it’s been quite the education.

PIC: She really is my sister from another mother…and father. Thank you for being that listening ear, and that woman who really accepts me for me.

Kompetitive Edge: Thank you guys for all the pep talks, and all the gear, and all the support, and all the well wishes. You have become family to me this year.

Quintana Roo: Thank you for the bike! Seriously, I love my little blackjack. My QR loved racing in QR!

Punk Rock Racing: Ron Ron Ron. What can I say? Not only do you provide me with the best t-shirts ever, but with advise and friendship that I really value highly. I call you when I am nervous, and you always calm me down.

TYR: My body thanks you. I have no chafing…except from the gel wrappers I stuck up my shorts. I have the most wonderful training gear. I am so lucky.

Justins: I went through about 40 jars of almond butter this year. Without you, I would be really skinny…and would barely be able to stand up!

Love Grown: I went through 58 bags of your love this year, and had it not been made with love, I would have surely starved to death, and died of a broken heart. Thank you.

Nathan: The best hand held bottles and waist packs anywhere. There was many a run where I would have been left high and dry without your products.

Nuun: The new grape Nuun has single handedly saved me from many a delirious bonk. My body thanks you.

First Endurance: What can I say, the Pre Race has propelled me to new heights, and the Ultragen has been there when I dragged myself up on the porch, kaput from all the training. Your products work. Bottom line.

Josh at Tri-Massage: From the All Sports Recovery Club to Josh’s MRT, by body is healthy, happy, and ready for many more years of this. Thank you.

To everyone who reads and my extended family: thank you for coming on the journey with me. From twitter to Facebook, to this blog, to my email and phone, I always get so much support from others. I think about all the close friends I have made the last 5 years and I know that these have been the best years of my life.


Kona 2011 Bike

As I headed out on the bike I swore that the course was different than last year. I didn’t remember going by Target and then up on Queen K before the out and back on Kuakini. But there we were, doing just that. There is no way to tell how your legs are doing just yet, I just focused on getting my heart rate under control from the mayhem that is “transition.”

My plan this year was much the same as last year. Simmer the heck down until about mile 40 of the bike, then start to build my effort. Lastly come home strong, with my head down and my legs going hard. It worked well last year, why not do it again this year? I do realize that every year is different, what the day dishes out is different, but I had to have a plan, however, I do recognize that plans change with conditions.

The out and back on Kuakini I got to see where the various people I knew were, and how much time I had lost in the swim. I was pleased and felt like I had a leg up over last year.  I also got to see ALL my family members screaming their heads off out there for me. I saw and heard their booming voices and I loved every second of it. Heading out on the Queen K, I settled into my effort and just started ticking off the miles. I remember feeling like it was a bit windy but nothing super bad. It felt a bit hotter. I wasn’t nearly as excited and pumped, in fact, I went through a bit of a lull in those first miles. I just likened it to all the training rides I’ve done. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get going on those too. Also, I know that Chuckie does not train us for our best day, he trains us to excel on a less than ideal day. I wasn’t too concerned.

The ride to Kawaihae was fairly uneventful. One guy made friends with me and he was really trying his hardest to strike up a conversation every time he passed me or I passed him. I was trying not to be snobby, but I’ll admit I was a little cold in return. It’s just that I know it’s a long day and I try not to go out of my way to waste any additional energy. It takes enough focus to keep executing your plan without being social. I wasn’t quite feeling 100% myself so I was trying to just focus on the task at hand.

I forgot that it was 20 miles from the turn to Kawaihae to Hawi, for some reason I thought it was like 11 or 16 or something. I saw Drew Scott at the side of the road during this section and I felt really bad for him. After all the wonderful juju the island has given his father, it was sad to see that the juju didn’t carry on down the generations. He was on the side with what I believe was a flat, and he had full on puppy dog eyes going on.

The climb up to Hawi was easier this year, no cross gusts, but the last 3 or so miles to Hawi was insanity, worse than last year. I got a chance to see where the leaders in my age group were and it was awesome to see that they had already put 30+ minutes on me (ouch). I just continued doing my thing. I can only do what I can do with the cards I have in my hand. I spent a lot of time with my head down, uber focused.

I pulled into special needs, replaced my bottles and shoved a bag of gummies up my shorts. On the way down from Hawi was when I started to wonder why I was feeling a little off. I just felt a little ill, but was continuing to try to get my EFS down. I craved water and coke, which is a scary thing to be starting at mile 65 on the bike. I kept feeling my tummy to see if it was poochy… a clear sign that I put too much nutrition down the hatch. It wasn’t and I was relieved, but I had that ill feeling. It wasn’t too bad though, I have felt much much worse so  I continued on with the plan as scheduled.

I came down from Hawi as hard as I could, I passed PIC in here and that was a freakin’ godsend. I was at a point where I really needed the pick me up. She looked very strong, very steady, and consistent. I asked how she was and she said good and asked how I was. I told her I loved her and she said she loved me back (insert your own joke here). Just like that we separated and had to continue with our own plans. Mine involved staring at a solid white line.

The last 32 miles of the course is where I try to nail it home. I did just that, putting my head down whenever I could and just focusing on the Garmin and the white line. I tried to get the heart rate up as high as I could, which is never that high at that point in the day. I tried to tuck and be as small as possible. Last year I didn’t get passed at all in this section, but this year I seemed to get passed quite a bit. My tummy was still off feeling but I was ignoring it and just focusing on going to my pain cave, executing my plan. I was grabbing coke and water, and trying to sip my EFS, but my focus was on riding hard over all else.

I really wanted to ride 7 minutes faster than last year. 4 in the swim, 7 on the bike, 7 on the run, and the 10 hour mark is mine. So all along I was doing the math and fighting for those 7 minutes…but it looked like 4..maybe 5 was going to be the reality. As I rode along the Queen K at 24 miles an hour, push push pushing my way back to the pier I gave it all I had until the very last moment. I think 4 minutes was all I got off last year. 5:26 I believe.

But I tried darn it, I tried. I remember thinking…4 won’t do…that means you need to run 3:20. But I added the 4 to the previous 4 from the swim to make 8 and I filed that away.

I handed off my bike to a lovely volunteer (love that part) and I ran around through transition. It’s quite the run in there. I felt my legs and thought they were doing pretty good. I was excited to get through transition and get the heck out of there. Once in transition I got a chair this time. Put on the compression socks and my shoes, grabbed my hat and race number and ran out of there. Socks, shoes, hat, number is all I put in my bag.

And now the real work begins.



2011 Loveland Lake to Lake

This was the third time I’ve raced this race. It’s a great local race, one where the race management just consistently puts on an excellent event. The post race food is awesome and for me it’s like a huge reunion. I felt like I knew 100 people that were racing and spent so much of the morning and afternoon catching up with friends.

Also, this race is in my husbands home town, which means we get to spend the night at his parents house the night before. They take great care of us, and Roger always comes out and takes photos, which is just awesome!

The transition is an “open transition” so it’s first come first served. Which means I was of course standing about 10 deep back in the line at 4:50am to get into transition first. I’m not Type A….what are you thinking? I got a great spot, same exact spot that I got 2 years ago, yup, still Type A back then too. I set up my stuff. I really try to keep everything as simple as possible (shocker?).

PIC came in a little later and she racked right next to me which is always so fun. She was starting 4 minutes back, which meant she might pass me in the water, dang it. We discussed that if she caught me in the water we may get to “play” on the bike, legally of course! I didn’t want her to pass me in the water, nobody wants PIC to pass her in the water, but it’s not like they/me have a choice!

I walked down to the water, chatting with all sorts of friends along the way. It was a good thing I started in one of the later waves because it took me a solid 15 minutes to get my TYR Hurricane wetsuit on. Its tight and I love it. We discovered a hole in PICs wetsuit after she loaned it out, that was no bueno. We had a little chat about “loaning” things, a chat that CV has had with us several times, yet we still keep making mistakes on that front. Insert: Team PIC banging head on wall over and over.

I felt pretty good in the water, especially after I peed in my wetsuit. Now nobody will ever loan me a wetsuit. If your swimming is anything like mine you usually can’t really tell how things are going to go with those first strokes. I had watched a few waves go off when I was putting on my suit and after confirming with Troy I decided to line up way left. It was a more direct line to the first buoy and seemed more sparsely populated.

This week has been a tough week for me in the pool. Chuck is having me train straight through this race. As he says

“we need to build a pan that can handle the bigger fish-frying”

This week I have had good days in the pool, bad days in the pool, double days in the pool, and an open water swim that was blissful. I’ve been thinking about the swim a lot this week. Mostly wondering why I am Ms.LackOfConsistency when it comes to the water. Some days I’m on from the get go and 1:33 pace in the meter pool is cake. Other days 1:40 pace has me panting at the wall, and a few days ago, 10 100s into a 20×100 set I went from crap to fantastic and held onto fanstaic the rest of the swim.


I guess it’s better than Ms.ConsistentlySlow…I’ve been there.

They count us down and I GO. I GO really quite hard (for me). It think the fact that I forgot the scooper for my First Endurance PreRace and thus had to guess at what a teaspoon is was partly to blame. I was on triathlete-legal caffinated overload. Half way to the first buoy I look around, find some awesome feet and hold onto them the entire swim. The PreRace had me pretty focused and I swam my ASS off, the whole time screaming in my head “Chase the bubbles, chase the bubbles”. I never even touched her feet I was swimming so hard trying to stay on them.


I swam a 25:58 which includes a 1/4 mile run up to transition. It was my fastest swim at this race by a few minutes. It was hands down the best swim I have ever had in a triathlon in my life. Michelle’s bike was still there when I got to transition. Part of me was shocked, and the other part of me looked longingly back down the line of people running into T1 to see if I could see her. I assumed she was close.

Onto the bike. I think I have been jaded by the sprint I raced last weekend. I had this new sense of pain and I was off to find it again. I found it alright, yup, I found it on the climb up to Horsetooth reservoir. I forgot to put on my heart rate strap that morning so I was free, unencumbered, unaccountable for the sheer absurdity that my heart was beating at. I loved not being tied to that little bugger.

On the way back into town there are a series of rollers. My legs were squarely underneath me in this section and I could feel the watts in my quads. They were fired up and wanted more. There was a group of boys that went by me and I enjoyed the “pass the group of boys”, “watch the boys all pass me”, “get my legal distance behind them”, “repass the boys”. That little game had me hard charging all the way back to transition. My new bike QR Blackjack was CRAZY today. She loves going fast and the better shape I get in, the more she is going to shine. She has a crazy streak in her, so I just hold on and pedal!

I get into T2, set Blackjack on the rack, and I sit down.

Left Shoulder: “Sonja, why are you sitting down”

Right Shoulder: “Because I’m tired”

Left Shoulder: “Sonja, you’ve never sat down in a triathlon”

Right Shoulder: “I’m just going to put my shoes on and then I will get up and run”

Left Shoulder: “I think that’s a good idea”

Out I ran and the only thought that went through my head for the first mile was “Sonja, you biked way too hard, your legs are trash”. We hit the one mile mark and even though I knew exactly where it was I couldn’t believe I had 5.2 more to go.

They were painful, all 6.2 of those miles. I enjoy that this race is an out an back run because you can get a sense of where you are. I was passed by a woman who was 27 and she was haulin’. I was really glad she wasn’t in my age group. I dished out about 20 low 5s on the course. Lots of friends out there racing.

Troy and Annie and my parents in laws were near the turn around and Troy told me I was winning my age group. That’s always the goal for me.

My mantra for the day was “Never Settle” and I didn’t. My legs cussed at me the whole way but I managed to push them to keep running hard and not slow down. Good legs!

The last 1.2 miles were awesome. There were so many people cheering and whooping it up. I was having a blast and smiling up a storm. I just felt like I had a good day and I was happy with the effort my body put out. The kids ran and cheered when I went by and Troy gave me a big Whoop Whoop!

Annie held out a feather for me as I ran into the finish line. She never ceases to amaze me with how much she loves being out at the races. It’s so much fun for her to hang with all her buddies that she has met through the years. I know that she is creating memories that she will have for life, and I love all the different and unique people that she has the pleasure of interacting with. It’s so good for the kiddos.

So, all in all, it turned out pretty darn good. I ended up with second overall in the race and got handed an envelope with a little bit of cash in it. Can’t turn that one down and it was a huge surprise to me. Congratulations are in order to my podium mates Megan Riepma on her win and Wendy Mader as well.

Congratulations to everyone that raced this weekend. Huge props to all of you. I couldn’t do it without my awesome sponsors who bail me out of all sorts of crazy things I get myself into like my own personal bondsman. Love all of you! A special thanks to Roger, my father in law, who took all the photos on this post. He so totally rocks!


Wildflower 2011 Race Report

After being in the sport of triathlon a few years I’m starting to put together a “bucket list” of races. You know, the big hitters, the epic races around the world. Wildflower was definitely on that list and this season I really wanted to race there. I can now say that Wildflower lived up to it’s “Woodstock of Triathlon” reputation, and I have have the pictures to prove it (too bad they are full of public nudity and I can’t post them on my blog).

Megan and Michelle arrived late Wednesday night and we packed up Thursday and headed to Lake San Antonio. We were three women driving a huge van so needless to say we missed every exit we were supposed to take. Sometimes you are too busy singing, chatting, or smelling the flowers to remember where you are headed. It turned out to our advantage though because we got to preview 75% of the bike course that way. Big Nasty definitely lived up to it’s reputation. It was big, steep, and definitely nasty.

We got a super sweet camping spot that proved to be decently quiet, yet still in the thick of things. We headed out for a ride and a swim. All three of us were sporting new TYR Hurricane wetsuits and we couldn’t wait to test them in the open water. But first we had to get them on. 20 minutes later, Michelle was victorious, but Megan was still struggling.

Friday was where we really got a taste of how nice it is to camp. We woke up leisurely, made a great home made breakfast, got in a bike and a run and some expo shopping and then crawled into bed to relax and chill the rest of the evening. We were ready to go and excited to race.

Saturday morning my parents showed up at our campsite with Annie in tow and I found out that she woke up with a raging fever. I told Megan and Michelle to go on to transition without me since my little darling just wanted to lay in my arms. I was pretty worried about her because we didn’t have any medicine, all the roads where closed, and it was going to be a major pain for my mom to find her way to a store to get medicine. I asked dad to ask some of our fellow campers who had kids and he came back with some medicine. She laid in my arms and we talked. Annie’s biggest concern was that she would be too sick to give me high 5s on the run and daddy had asked her to give me high 5s for him. She kept saying “I’m cheering for daddy” meaning since dad couldn’t be there she was cheering in his place.

I finally tucked her into our bed in the van, covered her with every blanket I could find, watched her eyes nod shut and then booked it down to transition with about 15 minutes to spare, leaving my mom to watch her. She slept for the next 3 hours in the van and my mom and her made it out to cheer for me coming in on the bike and then she passed out for another 3 hours. Sick little girl.

As I booked down to transition I was so thankful that Wildflower is the kind of event that is “totally chill” but “totally well run”. I had plenty of time to set up and use the port-a-pottie and collect my nerves before my wave took off. In fact, they never really close transition, you are just expected to stay out of other peoples way if you are going to be in there. I liked that!

I lined up for the swim ready to go. I tried to put aside the mornings events and just clear my mind. The water looked inviting and my old high school boyfriend was doing the announcing so it was nice to have a friendly and familiar voice over the loudspeaker. He even said “Previous Morro Bay Pirate and Leland Charger Sonja Willis…I mean Wieck”. Those are the two high schools I went to, and that cracked me up a bit. Great job with the announcing Nick, you are well suited for it!

Before I knew it he was counting us off and the horn sounded and we were dashing into the water. I got out really well in this race, probably the best I’ve ever swam the beginning of a race. It was straight, and I don’t think anyone even touched me. I felt fast and rhythmic and I really really liked my new wetsuit. I can’t believe how free my arms feel in my TYR Hurricane compared to my old De Soto and how buoyant I felt in the water. I ran into 3 kayacks and 1 surfboard in a row which definitely wasn’t a highlight of the swim, those things hurt when you bump into them.

As we rounded the buoys to head back the chop became a major issue. Quite choppy but I just tried to swim as strong as I knew how. I had some navigational struggles in the chop and found myself bouncing from buoy to buoy more in a pinball fashion. Not exactly ideal, but my mantra for the day was “Do your best” and I was trying my hardest to just swim as well as I could.

I exited the water and I hadn’t worn a watch so I didn’t check my swim time. Later on Michelle would get downright parent like on my butt for standing up when I was still waist deep in the water after she saw the above photo. I had a quick transition and the Hurricane came off so quickly. Literally zero struggling there. I grabbed the bike and got out of there. There is a huge hill about 2 miles in and we had preridden it the day before (see picture below). I really tried to simmer up that hill. It’s a long long day and I wanted to settle into the effort before I started hard charging.

The Wildflower bike course is pretty awesome and pretty insane. There are parts that are pretty tame. For those parts we had an evil headwind. There are parts that are totally hilly, for those we had a wicked cross wind, and then there is Big Nasty. It doesn’t matter what the wind is doing on Big Nasty, slow slow slow is the name of the game. To do the course justice there is a 10 mile stretch or so where you have a downhill and a tailwind and you can get back some of the time that you lost on the other sections.

All in all, I really just did what I could do. I rode a steady race, doling out my energy in an even fashion, trying to save a bit for the run, but trying to keep my heart rate high and steady with minimal dips or hops. That means hauling ass on the downhills as hard as I could go, and tempering myself on the uphills minding to not blow the heart rate through the roof.

I was passed early on by two ladies in my age group, at the same time, ouch. They were hauling and it was early so I didn’t even try to go with them. Sometimes you have to ride your own race, sometimes riding your own race puts you out of the hunt. It was a decision I made, and I’m not exactly sure it was the right one, but I made it, and I’m learning from it. I was also passed by Susan Williams, which was an absolute pleasure. She rides with such ease and skill and I wanted to tell every person around us “She has an Olympic Medal”. It was very cool and I feel very lucky to be wearing the same Kompetitive Edge uniform as Susan.

I was pleased at the end of the ride to see Kendra from Kompetitive Edge pass me back and give me some kudos and encouragement. It reminded me that we need to train together because we are similarly matched across the board. Kendra?

Now I was ready to see what this insane run was all about. I took off in the beginning miles and quickly realized that the parts of the course that I thought would be flat like “along the waters edge” were very rolling with steep little kickers all the time. At mile 2 I took some EFS liquid Shot with PreRace in it. The caffeine gave me a definite boost and I found myself flying past pretty much every person I encountered.

Up the hills there were lots of walkers and at the hill in mile 4 I was the only person in sight not walking up the hill. I was slow, but I ran. I like to keep my cadence up and keep my momentum going and walking never does that for me, so even if it’s steep I try to keep to a run. I was passing people, I think a few were in my age group. I had no idea where I was in the age group, I knew 2 went by me on the bike so I just kept chanting “do your best, go go go, do your best, go go go”.

A lot of the course was on a dirt trail and that made for lots of extra fun. The steeps are steeper and the downhills are evil steep too. I ran down with reckless abandon, caring not for my quads or my face should I have taken a fall. As we wound around the campground I got a second wind. So many people paid me compliments and one lady said to me “You’ve never looked better” and I actually believed her. Ahh the power of a positive attitude.

I knew there was an evil hill at mile 10 and it was at the bottom of an out and back section. I counted here and saw that I was the 8th woman (without factoring in all the wave starts or age groups, or the PROs who started first) and I made the turn, finished off another dose of EFS and PreRace and tried my hardest to run fast up that stupid hill. I also noticed there was a lady pretty close behind me (yes, that is her in the below pictures, she was FAST).

The end of Wildflower is crazy. You are treated to 1 mile of some of the steepest downhill you will ever run on a road. It’s crazy. As I rounded the turn to start the last mile the girl behind me had caught me, and she was in my age group. It was the first time I had been passed the entire run by a guy or a girl. She was running so fast and we were going into the final evil downhill. I said to myself “no Sonja, no no no”. And I passed her back. She immediately passed me right back.

I ran a few steps, thinking, thinking. I realized there is no way to be more tactical, there is no way to outsmart this. If you want to come in ahead of her, you have to run like your life depends on it.

And I did. I ran down that hill faster than I have run since high school. I wasn’t just pushing the downhill, I was running all out downhill, panting and grunting like a wild bull (why do I always end up in this situation). I pulled away from her and I was so scared to look back, to show fear, but I was freaking scared for my life. I let myself look at my watch just once and it was 5:32 pace. Holy moly, I didn’t know I could run that fast.

I ran that hard the entire way to the finish, determined to not look back until I was safely in the finish chute, where I landed feeling totally woozy and amazed I held her off. I looked back and she was right there. Whew. She was totally NAILS!

I had the craziest thing happen afterwards and I think it might have been due to the fact that I took an entire serving of First Endurance PreRace over the 13 miles. I was really hungry. Usually after racing my appetite is low. Well, this time there was three huge bowls of fresh strawberries at the finish line and I just stood there and ate and ate and ate and ate. I ate strawberries one after another all the way until Michelle came into the chute. Probably 30 of them. Then I ate more food. I estimated that I ate 2000 calories within 30 minutes of finishing. It was a really good thing though because I ate minimally the rest of the day.

After Michelle and Megan finished we collected our stuff and collected our results. I came in 4th in the age group which I was pleased with. It was a good test of my early season fitness and I think Chuckie and I know where I need to go from here. I had an absolute blast at Wildflower and I will be back for sure! It was a total hoot.

Fantastic job to PIC Michelle who took 2nd in her Age Group behind Susan Williams. Congratulations as well to Tim Hola who took 2nd in his AG and 3rd amateur, and to Grant Bovee who won his AG and took 2nd amateur. Kompetitive Edge had 7 athletes race, 4 podium finishes, and 7 solid solid performances. Great job CREW!!

Me, Michelle, Kendra, and Grant from KE.

Trish, Michelle, Me and Kendra. It was so much fun to have all the Kompetitive Edge athletes out there. I felt like I was amongst friends all day.

The next day Megan, Michelle and I had a fun little adventure as everyone wanted to dip their toes in the ocean. Cambria and Morro Bay it was. Thanks girls for a great week.

Thank you so much to my awesome sponsors. A huge thank you goes out to Kompetitive Edge who put together our gorgeous TYR uniforms. The TYR Carbon line is by far the most comfortable tri kit I’ve ever raced in. Not one chaffed spot, not one sore area.

First Endurance came through for me yet again. This time the experimentation with PreRace during a race was a total success. I think I have the downhill at 5:30 pace to thank for that!

Also a HUMONGOUS thank you to my parents who let three silly girls borrow their very expensive Sportsmobile and who then drove to the race with a sick child to cheer and take pictures. My dad Eric took all the race shots and they rock!

PreRace Should be called KickAss

I learned so much attending a recent First Endurance talk by Robert. It was nutrition focused and also FE product focused. The one product I have been a little nervous about trying is the FE PreRace. First off it comes in this tiny little container. You open it up and it smells really bad and is this yellowish powder.

In 1 teaspoon of this stuff you get about 2.5 Redbulls worth of caffeine, taurine, and qurcetin. It’s BAM. Which, totally made me nervous. Especially on race day, I try not to do anything crazy new. I don’t consume caffeine pretty much..EVER, maybe once a month via an occasional chai.

During the talk with Robert he was talking about PreRace and he said, we really didn’t name it properly, it’s not just for racing. It can be used once a week for that key workout that you really want to do your best on.

When using the PreRace you perform at a higher level, which then requires a bit more recovery, but in the process your body should hopefully adapt physiologically to going just a little faster.

I wanted to try it. It’s early season and the right time to try new things.

Chuckie assigns me a weekly “rhythm swim”. Rhythm my ass, this swim kickes my butt, and I picked the darn thing. When coach says “pick a 3K set that you will do weekly”, there is really nothing you can pick that won’t hurt…PIC went with 30X100) My weekly “rhythm set” looks like this:

15×200 in the Meter pool. (<–Meters here folks)

  • 1-5 on 3:20
  • 6-9 on 3:40
  • 10-12 on 3:55
  • 13-14 on 4:05
  • 15 bust it

Your times are supposed to get faster with each successive set. Mine never seem to. I tend to max out around the 12-13th one. Even with more rest I’m working really hard those last ones.

So, yesterday I put the PreRace (aka KickAss) to test. I mixed a HALF dose (1/2 teaspoon) into a water bottle with 100 calories FE Liquid Shot and filled it about 1/4 with water and some ice. Then I downed it.

It was not good, I’ll tell you that right off the bad. It’s one of those “get it down” sort of things. I got it down on the way to the pool.

I warmed up and got right into the set. I didn’t feel jittery, just ready to go go go.

Holy moly. So, the funny thing about this whole experiment was that while I was swimming the workout I didn’t “feel” any different. My perceived exertion was the same, I tried to chill the first ones, and then start to step things up as things went along. But the times were a huge shocker every time I got to the wall.

I didn’t really “want” to post my times for all of you to see. Swimming is that sport that I try to be strong, but sometimes I feel a little guarded in. But, you know what, the times paint a crazy story for PreRace so, I’m gonna post them here.

Last week (no PreRace):
3:14, 3:13, 3:14, 3:16, 3:15
3:14, 3:13, 3:07, 3:15
3:14, 3:07, 3:08
3:05, 3:07

YESTERDAY (1 tsp not rounded of PreRace 15 min prior to swim with 100 cal liquid shot):
3:08, 3:08, 3:08, 3:08, 3:08
3:04, 3:07, 3:07, 3:07
3:04, 3:02, 3:02
3:03, 3:03

Crazy huh? They did a double blind clinical study with PreRace and cyclists were 3 min 17 seconds faster (15 watts) over 40K after using PreRace, all without any increase in heart rate. You can read about it here.

So yes, the main thing I learned is that PreRace amps you up (even 1/2 a scoop) and that it can be used about once a week with added recovery after a key workout, not just “PreRace” (I wonder if the name KickAss is taken?)

I was also VERY productive when I got home after swimming. You can ask PIC about that one. I called her and she was like “Wowah, you are crazy trying to do 5 things at once right now”. Don’t tell the college kids about it!

I’m off to the Lost Coast this weekend, the next post will be on how to follow along while I run. First Endurance products, Nathan gear, and my FLIP video camera are packed.

Kona – The Run

Heading in off the bike they have you run all the way around transition to the back side of the pier, in a way reversing your steps from T1. It’s quite a run so you get a taste of how your legs are going to feel. Mine were basically saying “What on earth have you done to us”? They were pretty heavy. I grabbed my bag, ran into the change tent, which seemed rather busy and dumped my bag out on the ground. I had two volunteers helping me and although it was a bit crazy, I got through the entire T2 in about 3 minutes.

I hit lap on my watch coming out of T2 and it said “Delete History, Active Memory Full”. Grrrrr. It does this to me in training and the only thing to do is shut it down, turn it back on, delete all history, and restart the watch. But that would mean I would loose all my ride data. I remembered my watts, 169 average. But I was sad about losing the data. I ran that first mile going “think Sonja, think, what to do”? I thought maybe I could steal a watch off someone else. No, that’s not a good idea. Maybe I could delete some old training sessions and see if it would let me hit lap. I tried that…which was a pain in the butt to be clicking buttons while running. It didn’t work. Back to the drawing board.

After running a bit longer and “thinking” I finally decided to delete everything and start new. So I cleared the history, restarted the watch, turned it to run mode, and hit start somewhere just after mile 1 of the run. It was a good decision. It would have been fun to look back at my ride data, but, it was more important to have access to my watch during the marathon!

I gotta admit, I wasn’t all too sure where exactly the run course went. For some reason I thought you spent a lot of time on the Queen K, and very little time on Ali’i drive. I had driven the Queen K portion, I had run the Energy lab, but I had not scoped any of Ali’i drive. Some surprises are needed.

After the watch incident I got going onto Ali’i drive and my legs were turning over very nice. I saw Bree Wee and we tried to slap hands, but we completely missed each other. It was so kind of her to give me some Aloha out there. At mile 2 I started wondering when we were going to turn around.

I need to talk about the aid stations here on Ali’i because they are worthy of their own post. The stations were phenomenal, there was so much aid to be had. Sometimes I think they took up 0.1 of a mile, with multiple opportunities to access the goods. I had on my new Nathan waist pack (which I love) and a Nathan 10oz hand bottle in my hand. I barely needed them. The stations had me covered. It was a bit hot so I was taking full advantage of the fluids on the course. I even had a few gels on Ali’i drive.

I saw my family coming directly out of transition, and then I saw Chuckie, Michelle and Angela around mile 2. That was awesome, lots of booming cheers from them, I totally loved it! Chuckie told me to find someone and work together with them. Great idea. A lady had just gone past me at a good clip so I tried to get her back. But she wasn’t the working together sort, so I was still “dating”.

At mile 5 we finally turned around. My mile 2-5 splits had been somewhere around 7:45, 7:41, 7:51, 7:52. I spent a fair amount of time those first miles wondering if I had gone too hard on the bike. I was working pretty hard those first miles, but having trouble really telling where my body was at. They weren’t flat miles either, there are some hills on Ali’i drive.

The 5 miles back on Ali’i were pretty uneventful. I saw Brynje who is coached by Chuckie too, and she looked great. I continued to eat a bit too much at the aid stations, but it all tasted so good. Those next 5 miles were 7:58, 8:00, 8:04, 7:57, 8:03. I really was paying very little attention to my watch. Back through town, back through the awesome cheers from everyone.

Then we ran up Palani hill. This is so much harder of a task than it looks like when you watch it on TV. Palani is like a 3 block hill and it’s steep. I knew I shouldn’t spike my heart rate so I tried to take the hill as consistent as possible, but I won’t lie, it hurt. I heard my name being cheered for and tried to smile as much as possible. My friend Jordan was there with his girlfriend Chrissy. Mile 11 with Palani hill was 8:41. That’s a big slow down, but it’s to be expected on the hill and I wasn’t concerned at all.

Now I was on the Queen K, yeah! The infamous Queen K that I’ve been waiting for! Coming down the first hill I mentally noted “big hill…coming up this will suck in 15 more miles”. At the bottom of it Michael Lovato passed me on his way to the finish and he said “Good Job Sonja”. He was wearing an orange kit with orange Kinvaras and the whole look was very cool. Orange is a color more athletes should try. I tried to give him kudos back, and I think I did, hopefully they didn’t come out like “Humph go huh huh michael”. I remember getting goose bumps after he said good job, I was really touched by the gesture. That was very kind of him to give me props out there on the course.

And so it began, the Queen K. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s 1 part hot, 3 parts hilly, and 2 parts relentless. You’re on it for about 6 miles until you turn into the Natural Energy Lab (NEL). So this is where I needed to find my zone, and crank it out. I was trying to find my zone, and I was still looking for someone to work with, but I was feeling a little inconsistent. I was having to give myself little pep talks, lots of them, my zone was being elusive. Miles 12-14 were 8:12, 7:59, 8:12. Somewhere in there Bree Wee and I passed again and this time we were successful in our hand slapping. I wish I had a picture of that.

I have several triathlon “angels” in my life, at least that’s what I call them. They are people whose presence I consider lucky and they always seem to share wisdom with me in a selfless way. Bree is one of them, as is my friend Adam who has raced Kona before. So I felt an extra boost with that high 5 from Bree, and again I got goosebumps.

Mile 15 was my first really big challenge of the day. I had noticed at about mile 12 that my tummy was a bit poochy. I thought to myself “You’re taking in too much, the tummy isn’t digesting”. I had already peed twice on myself during the first 12 miles, and I’m not talking little pees. I was HYDRATED. But during mile 15 I started to get the sloshy tummy. I could hear it thumping and moving. I was hoping it was the guy next to me, but it was me. Towards the end of mile 15 I got the sudden feeling of “OMG I have to poo like pronto”. I was looking for bushes and well…it’s the Queen K…there are none, just LAVA! I saw an aid station soon and knew they would have a potty. I tried to run fast…but not too fast, and with about 50 meters to go, I lost a bit of the battle with my tummy. It was the worst feeling, knowing what I was most likely doing in my shorts.

I finally got to the port-a-pottie and did my business. I tried to clean myself up the best I could. But really, I didn’t give a crap…literally, okay, wait, I guess I did give a crap, but you know what I mean. I just wanted to get back on the course and limit my potty time. The pit stop took exactly 42 seconds and I was back on the road. I made some new “rules” for myself, which were no more eating or drinking for 2 aid stations, and tread lightly while my system recovers. Mile 15 was 8:53 including the potty.

We had some hillage from there and eventually we turned into the NEL. This portion of the course is tough and I’m not exactly sure why. You go down a pretty big hill and all the special needs bags are here. It should be a good place, but I think it’s one of the hottest sections of the course. You can see the runners just ahead of you here and I saw Whitney from Boulder looking very very strong. I saw Wendy Mader as well, can’t miss the Timex kits! Miles 16-18 were 8:10, 7:59, 8:17.

I made the turn and headed back out of the energy lab. I started to drink some fluids again as my stomach seemed to be okay. I tested it bit by bit. I passed up my special needs bag. It was only 8 miles to the finish and I didn’t want anything I had stashed in there. Running out of the (no) Energy Lab is really brutal. It’s a hill and it’s hard and hot. Lots of people were suffering through here, me included I guess. I tossed my hand bottle at an aid station, knowing I could make it to the end without it.

I passed Wendy here and she was not happy. I’ve heard nothing but cool things about Wendy from my friend Fred, but I keep meeting her in the middle of races when she is struggling. I felt for her, and I didn’t want to pass without saying anything, so I said “Are you Wendy” and she said “Yes” and I said “I’m Sonja” and she said “Hi Sonja”. But the way she said “Hi Sonja” was in a very sad little mouse voice, and I just felt worse for making her talk. Mile 19 up the NEL hill was 8:54.

Back onto the Queen K your spirits really lift. There is a downhill after that big hill and you only have about 7 miles to go. I was looking forward to the 10K to go mark, because anyone can suffer for 10K. This guy came past me, and he was running like there was a fire under his toosh. You could tell it hurt, but this guy was embracing the pain cave and throwing it down. I immediately hopped on.

And this is where I found my Zen mode. For a good 5 miles I latched onto this guy and we ran through aid station after aid station. I was one stride behind him, just staring at his back for 5 miles. Sometimes other people would jump in the mix, but eventually they would drop back or move along. I don’t know if I annoyed him, but I tuned into his stride and zoned out completely. Miles 20-24 were 8:03, 8:18, 8:02, 8:26, 8:17. And I was happy with them. The guy that I latched onto is in a ton of the pictures above, he has on a dark red top with a huge M-dot in the middle. He so totally rocked!

I passed my dad and my Uncle Norm and Cousin Kyle. They were cheering up a storm and taking pictures. My Uncle Norm was helping a woman that was done. I felt so bad for her, especially after hearing the story my Uncle told. She was only 2 miles from the finish, she was in my age group, and she was just done. Her name was Megan Newcomer and I hope some day I can find out if she is ok. The stories were pretty scary. Uncle Norm is with her here.

At the top of one hill this volunteer was telling everyone “it’s all downhill from here”. My brain went crazy for a bit over that one. I knew there was one big hill left, one really big hill. I made sure to tell my stud pacer friend this. I also asked him if he knew what race clock time was, he didn’t, but I found out he had an Australian accent. Sure enough we hit the bottom of the hill and there it was facing me. BIG HILL. I had about two miles to go and I thought, poop on this hill, I’m going up it HARD. So I did. I ran up the last hill on the Queen K like the finish line was at the top.

And at the top of that hill you turn and get to run down Palani. I ran down Palani as hard as I knew how, pretending the finish line was at the bottom. Then you turn left on Kuakini and I ran along that as hard as I knew. I was now getting tired of running hard. I turned the corner towards Ali’i and there was Chuckie and Ang and PIC. I started crying and heard Chuckie yelling to GOGOGOGO. I went harder, my throat choking up, but with no tears. Then I turned onto Ali’i and it was all smiles. Ali’i was AWESOME. It was lined with people, all of them cheering like crazy. I saw a woman right ahead of me and thought “oh no, I gotta get her, what if she’s in my age group”. When I got up near her I noticed she had 3 numbers on her arm which meant she was a pro, so I didn’t give chase. They started 30 minutes ahead and I wasn’t going to ruin my finish line experience racing her, ya gotta milk those last steps.

I ate it up on Ali’i. It’s truly the best finish line in the world and it did not disappoint. Because I had to restart my watch I had no idea what the race clock time was. I came around the corner, looked up and saw 10:17 on the clock. I was totally flabbergasted, I was ecstatic and my whole body washed with goose bumps. I ran over that finish line full of smiles and warm fuzzy feelings. My last two miles were 8:00 and 7:12.

The race volunteers were amazing afterwards. They take great care of you and before I knew it I had a lei and medal around my neck and I was laying on a massage table. I had an interesting thing happen after the race this time. I couldn’t find my family and I was horribly tired and I actually got sad and upset. I think it was a blood sugar thing, but I shed a few tears of sadness walking around afterwards. The massage helped a ton and then I found my family.

The evening was spent dancing it up at the finish line until midnight. It was an amazing experience, that midnight finish line. Thousands of others were there too.

I have a treat for you for tomorrow on the blog. My aunt Grace took some great video of the day and I made a movie. It turned out really good, so I’ll post it after my closing thoughts tomorrow.

total time: 10:17:53
swim: 1:10:41
T1: 2:24
Bike: 5:30:47
T2: 3:17
Run: 3:30:46
W30-34: 15th
amateur women: 31st
overall women: 60th
overall: 637

Rev3 Quassy HalfRev

Hi All! Below is my Quassy race report. I don’t have many photos, I’m sorry. What is here from race day Michelle Beeson took, thank you!!! It’s quite wordy, you’ll have to use your imagination more than usual! Enjoy!

Driving to the race that morning, MIchelle and I in a red little Chevy thing and Kathleen following in a Red SUV we hit EVERY DARN LIGHT on the way there. It was comical as we sat there at 5am waiting for the light to turn green, not a soul in sight.

Red lights or not, we made it with time to set up transition. I had the sweetest spot I’ve ever had in a race. I’m pretty sure it was better than 90% of the pros. It’s such old hat setting up now, doesn’t seem to matter if it’s oly or half, same stuff for the most part. I keep it as minimal as possible: run shoes, hat, race number. My bike shoes are on the bike, all my nutrition is on the bike, helmet on the aerobars. That’s it, do it quick, a little air in the tires and get the heck out of the crazy land that is transition. I tend to race without sunglasses because they bug me…but I do try to train with them (when I don’t forget them…don’t get mad dad).

PIC Fordy-Ford and I headed back to the car and put our bags back. The parking lot at Quassy is right next to transition and all cars are accessible. We Tri-Slided up, threw on a few Trakkers temp tattoos on our calves, and grabbed the wetsuits. PIC headed to the potty and I headed to the water. I got in my exercises from Josh, and sat in the WARM water for a little while. I saw all the waves go off and waited for mine which was second from last. All the mens waves went off before the ladies. PIC was in the last wave 3 minutes behind me. I knew she would pass me in the water and I would need to catch her on the bike, if I could. If not, then the run maybe?

I got a good spot on the start line, and I got out well with little contact, and I found some feet for a little while. Somehow I got stuck in a little group of three, all of us idiots swimming shoulder to shoulder to shoulder. I was in the middle and we were drifting off course. I would try to veer back on course, only to smack the girl next to me over and over. Eventually we got sorted out and went around the first turn buoy. I got on a set of feet that belonged to a girl that was the same speed as me, so I felt like I was swimming too easily on her feet, and I kept tapping them. Apparently she did not like this (I don’t mind people tapping my toes in a race by the way, I just assume I have a friend with me, you wanna join the party…hop on board). She stopped, turned around a little and kicked me. Wowah! So, I swam off. Yikes. Wow, I wonder what her heart rate was! Dude, life, and racing, is soooo much better when you chill out a little.

So then I proceeded to swim in a general off course nature for a while. I actually missed two buoys, but they weren’t turn buoys so I’m assuming that it’s okay. The last several buoys I finally started getting into a rhythm and was feeling some mo-jo. I exited the water 5th in my age group (out of 28) in a somewhat slow time of 34:29. Anthony also swam a 34 and we swam the same at Knoxville as well, so either we both swam bad, or it was a little long (PIC swam a 27, so that makes it seem not long, or…she’s a fish right now). Who knows! Either way, it’s all good!

I was through transition super fast (1:20) cause my spot rocked the house. Off on the bike I knew that I would recognize much of the course from last year (only a few modifications to the bike course this year) and I knew that my Trakkers teammates were manning the mile 29 aid station so I was looking forward to seeing them. I got going into the bike and it’s always dicey the first few miles. It’s where I get an idea if my legs decided to show up. Would they ache and need a longer warm up, would they be stiff, or would they feel good and rested? I don’t know how on earth, but when I took roll call, and I said “Legs?”, they said “HERE”. Boo Ya. I didn’t spend much time easing in, I just started rolling.

About 10 miles in I spotted PIC. From 100 yards back I could tell something was wrong. I got up to her way too quick, I would have expected to reel her in very slowly, if at all. When I pulled up next to her she said “I’ve already flatted”. I immediately thought, “She’s still 3 minutes ahead of me and that included a tire change” (b/c she started 3 minutes back on me). So I told her “Your still three minutes up on me, it’s okay” but as I rode on I didn’t get the feeling that she was coming with me (not in a drafting sense, we don’t draft, it’s not legal, but in a “momentum” sort of way). I could feel her frustration, it’s the first time she flatted in a race. I felt for her.

I rode on and I tried to focus on myself. Getting back into my rhythm was easy, everything just felt so good, and the work was work, but it was fun, and I was racing. I did a lot of smiling because my legs showed up for work and I LOVE it when they do. Since we started behind all the men it was constant passing. Always chasing and passing the next guy. I passed one of my Trakkers teammates Chris on the side of the road with a flat. There were a lot of flats, but really nothing on the road that I noticed that would lead to flats…strange. Chris had it taken care of and he passed me a little later in the bike looking strong. Then I passed him back, then he passed me back. And then he was gone.

This bike course is so dang challenging. It’s definitely the hardest bike course I have ever ridden in a race, and many others were agreeing. If you did Rev3 and you know of a harder bike course, I’de like to hear about it! There were 87 hills…in 56 miles! Steep buggers too! I stayed focused the entire time, taking the turns as strong as I knew how, and being bold on the descents. I watched my heart rate and my power on the climbs and tried to stay consistent and evenly paced. I was surprised to be descending at 40mph in my aerobars. At home I tend to play the chicken card.

The mile 29 aid station ROCKED. My Trakkers teammates were full of so much energy, and I gave them lots of smiles and loves, even though they were directly after this gnarly hill. It’s was a blast to see Michelle (anthony’s wife, not PIC) at the aid station because to me, she is a piece of home, and of family. By the way, she volunteered BOTH days. I love her!

Here is the handoff to Amanda Lovato. Nice one!

Onwards I went. We got to the out and back and I started counting ladies. It was hard to tell who was an age grouper, and really, who was a woman (as sad as that sounds) but I thought I was in the top 5-10 non-pro chickas and that got me excited. I looked for PIC behind me and I didn’t see her, which made me worried that she had flatted again, or had DNFed.

The last miles I was feeling the climbing in my legs, but they were still very much underneath me, going strong. I wondered if I was going to beat the 3 hour mark and it looked like I would. Rolling back to transition I started counting ladies in earnest. I could see the numbers on their arms and knew that 2 digit numbers were pros. I saw that my teammate Kathleen was in the lead and I told her so. There was a lady hot on her tail and then I saw maybe 4 other ladies, but couldn’t make out numbers on them. I rolled in off the bike in 2:52:35, good for the 6th fastest amateur bike split. My bike is really coming along and that has me excited. I’m feeling more powerful this year and my legs have gained some “girth”. Yes, I just said that word.

It was go time. I was FIRED up. I rolled into transition and I was back out 0:56 seconds later, socks and all. Boo Ya! By the way, I love my new Saucony Kinvaras. They rock the house. Totally squishy and supportive, in 7 ounces. LOVE THEM and they are my Ironman shoe, FOR SURE! I have found that I do prefer a minimalist shoe. My feet feel stronger when they are allowed freedom. A light weight trainer is about as heavy as I like to go. Except for a trail shoe…but this year even has me thinking differently on that front.

So I take off running and I know that the first 1.5 miles is really the only sustained downhill section of the course. It’s not time to settle in, oh no, it’s time to take advantage of the downhill and RUN. I came through the 2 mile point in 14:05. mile 3 was 7:00. About 1.5 miles in a lady cheering said “nice job ladies”. WAIT, “ladies”, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear. So I turned around and looked. Crap, she’s right, there is a lady in black right on my tail.

Of course it shocked me for a second, how long had she been there, was she gearing to pass? But then I remembered…calm, think, no need to race anybody. Just run the best race you know how and if this lady is still around in about 11 miles, then you can reassess. I generally like to run my own races. So I decided to do just that. I relaxed for a little while and then checked up on my heart rate monitor and settled into a similar heart rate that I had maintained the first three miles which I had run entirely by feel. That really worked for me. Then we entered the hilly portion of the course. And there were lots of hills for 11.5 miles. Big hills, little hills. Short hills, long hills. Hills above, and hills below. Red hills, blue hills, yes I would like two hills, Sam I am.

And again, this was the most challenging run course I have ever been on in a tri. But I had prepared in my head for it, and my legs were on FIRE (in a good way). My abs were working strong and I was standing tall, keeping my form, and smiling for the most part. I came upon Robert from the Terrier Tri Club. I LOVE Robert, he’s adopted us Trakkers folks and he is just the nicest guy, even though he once cleaned up dog poop with a Trakkers shirt. On purpose. I thought about slapping his butt when I went by him, but wasn’t sure if it was appropriate so I pulled up right next to him, shoulder to shoulder, all quiet like. He said “I knew you were coming, how are you feeling” I gave him a big thumbs up and he said “Go get em girl” and SLAPPED MY BUTT! Hahahaha. I felt so loved, in a Terrier tri club kind of way!

And off I went. I reeled in lots of people and it was really motivating. Around mile 5 I finally saw a lady in the distance and I worked hard to reel her in. When I got up to her I saw she had a “P” on her calf for PRO. I felt bad then, knowing that they started 30 minutes ahead of me and she must be having a tough day. On a short out and back section I was super relieved to see PIC. Whew! She looked a little miserable, but I was just happy that she was still putting up the good fight.

Of all the people I passed I only had one guy go with me and he was the cutest dude. At one point I kinda freaked out and turned to look at him because his footfall was so soft and light I thought he might be a chick. After my look back he pulled up next to me and said “I’m sorry to tailgate you but I can’t seem to pass you”. I said “As long as your not a girl it’s fine”. We ran close to each other for most the race. It was really nice and motivating. When he felt strong I would work to stay with him, and visa versa. I think it’s always fun to find a buddy on the course.

There were so many hills I can’t even tell you about all of them. I had an 8:16 mile in there, seriously steep! But I was still running fast(er), taking names, and feeling good. On a second out and back I passed another PRO and I saw I was in 5th (amateur), with 4th in sight. I worked hard to run her down and when I pulled up on her, I saw a “R” on her calf. So I pulled up next to her and said “Are you a relay?” She said “yes and you gals are crazy”. I love that! And then I ran on. The final mile was the most brutal on the entire course with a very demanding and steep prolonged up hill, it was a 8:21 mile! Ouch!

Just before it started I had a visitor. Charlie (owner of Rev3) pulled up next to me on a golf cart! He said “How ya feeling?” and I said “GREAT, I’M IN 4th”. He said “Yea, but there’s a girl right behind you”. He’s ALWAYS giving me flack and I knew better than to believe him. Plus I knew that if anyone challenged me at this point in the race they would loose, I felt super strong. BTW the lady that was close to me at the start never made a pass. Funny how much can change in 11 miles. We chatted a little, and he asked if I wanted a ride…which I did not! Silly Charlie. Rides are for quitters.

Coming into the finish was awesome. I had talked to Troy the night before and asked him what he wanted me to do on the finish line. I knew he would be watching on the live coverage that Rev3 does and he said to jump up and down (original, I know). I came down the finish line and I went CRAZY. I was skipping, and jumping, and leaping, and just being generally crazy, all for Troy. The crowd was laughing and the announcer was getting a kick out of it. I hope I was at least a little entertaining out there! He was watching, and he was laughing. I blew him kisses into the camera too. I was really happy. My run split was 1:40:47, the 3rd fastest amateur split, and only 39 seconds off the fastest amateur run of the day (but not even close to all but two of the pros).

To finish 4th overall non PRO is awesome, a great result for me (5:10:07) on a hilly course. They awarded top three overall, so I was given the age group win, being 4th, although the first overall woman was in my age group, so it’s kinda like a 2nd age group, if we are to get technical. All that is exciting, and always fun, but the best part was my LEGS! It was such a boost in confidence to remember what it feels like to have my legs under me, to feel like I can race hard and strong. The border collie was out in full effect today, taking advantage of being off the leash. I felt like the Sonja that I like to be with lots of smiles, lots of go-go power and lots of Grrrrr. With IM CDA three weeks away this race was a really good confidence booster and I feel ready to tow the line in three weeks.

Team Trakkers had many podium finishes!

Love Tony, love PIC. Love sharing these races with them.

I’ll admit, it was hard to see PIC come in, tears in her eyes. She’s such a trooper and the rest of the day she kept saying “That was the hardest thing I have ever done, I wanted to quit 100 times”. By the way, she was 2nd in her age group. Her blog is www.gofastmichelle.com

A huge thanks to Charlie. I love the Rev3 races and was really pleased with Quassy, just as I was last year. The course is challenging, but it’s honest and it’s a true test of your stamina, strength, pacing, nutrition, and heart. If you are all up into your times, or want a super fast course, this is not that. But if you want to find what you are made of, if you want to challenge yourself, or…if you just want to race at an amusement park…then this one’s for you.

Also, I can not thank Vahid and Shallah enough for hosting not one, not two, but THREE of us crazy Trakkers triathletes at their house for three days. They fed us and took amazing care of us. Many humble thanks!

Vahid and Shallah!

Sitting out on their back yard beach the night before the race, having a (small) glass of wine, enjoying life!

Chuckie… thank you Chuckie, thank you Chuckie, thank you Chuckie!!! We are getting there aren’t we?

Season Opener and Trakkers Premier

Tomorrow I will step on the line (errr, float in the water) for my first triathlon of the year, and my first race entering the elite amateur category. To say, for several reasons, that I have some healthy nerves would be to state the obvious. Olympic distance racing always hurts whether you are in shape or not! Racing in the Elite amateur category is something I have always shied away from since my swim was in a different ball park as most elite amateurs. This year, I said, yes, I’m going for it. And going for it at the Rev3 races, where my Team Trakkers is racing as well, feels like a safe and supportive place to do so.

The race is going to be so fun. If you are here in Knoxville you can come down to Worlds Fair Park and watch the entire race unfold on a huge Jumbotron, and then see the finishers come through the chute. If you are spectating from abroad, you can watch the live coverage HERE on competator.com

Also, you can watch the Trakkers showcase! Tomorrow will be the live Trakkers debut. I have my devise, its charged up and ready to go. The devices aren’t waterproof yet, so my devise will start trakking and will sit in transition while I swim. When I get on the bike you should see my green dot moving. Michelle and Kathleen (Kathleen is the current Kona amateur record holder) are also wearing devises and are in my elite amateur wave, so be sure to watch and cheer for them as well! The link to watch can be found by clicking HERE, or you can go to http://live.trakkersgps.com/events.aspx

You’ll want to click on “Rev3 Knoxville Olympic” to see me.

Lastly, you can follow twitter where Troy will be tweeting it as he sees it. Follow @gosonja on twitter, or click here to see my feed.

Today has been a blast. We had a great photoshoot this morning featuring the very famous photographer….my dad! He did such a good job and we had a lot of fun too.

Then we were off for a run with some teamates. We ran down to transition and around to the swim start. We loosened up the legs and FordyFord and I got in a few pickups.

Off on the bikes, Michelle, Jamie and I went went and rode a little bit of the course including a really rough section that we were nervous about seeing it on the drive. It’s as bad as we thought and I’m glad that I got a preview.

Back to the expo we met back up with all our Team Trakkers crew and we had so much fun giving away lots of free First Endurance goodies. People were so excited and it was great to hear so many people say “This stuff works”. No Duh! That’s why we use it!

I caught sight of Julie Dibens. I really dig her, and she is killing it on the pro scene recently. She was so nice to take a quick snap shot with me.

After the giveaway we headed out to the water for a swimy-swim. There were lots of cool parts to the swim but some of the highlights were hearing a talk from Pip Taylor and Heather Golnick about how to swim the swim.

Another highlight was that our Trakkers swimsuits came in so when you looked around the swim deck there were lots of teamies and you could recognize them easily. So much so that Mary Beth Ellis came over and asked to borrow a swim cap. She is on the Trakkers Elite team and I think of us as the age-group minor leaguers. Knowing that she could turn to any of us AGers for help made me feel good. It’s nice to feel like you have a family out at the races.

Hopefully our Pro team will come to understand that we age groupers totally dig them and are always willing to lend a helping hand, whether it be at a race, or if they are racing in our hometowns. We are a big network of people who love this sport. In return our pro team has been so awesome about reaching out to us age groupers. Every one of them has stopped by at some point to meet us, wish us good luck and answer any questions. Here is Dede Griesbauer coming by to say hello.

The swim was a total hoot! The dingy water was actually really nice. I even tasted it and I was impressed. Apparently the only reason it’s dingy is because of the recent storms, and it’s actually a really nice river to swim in (so we were told, and I would agree at this point). Beth, Michelle B and I paused at the first buoy for a photo op!

There are no words to explain this photo, pure happy!

Finally after the swim, a little lunch, and a little Trakkers booth time, Michelle and I headed back to our respective hotels to nap, blog, and rest our feet. This evening we will drop our bikes in transition, grab some grub, and hit the hay…it’s ALMOST RACE DAY!

Team Terrier Tri Club is going DOWN (as is Dynamo Multisport)

6 hours after 62 miles

At 2am, I should not be blogging. I should not be awake. But here I am, starting my blog on my iPhone, laying here in bed with a sound asleep Troy and Annie. I am awake because the pain woke me up. Not that I was sleeping that well anyways. Tossing and turning, shoving my pillow between my legs, searching for a position that my legs would accept.

Ben asked me on lap 9 to explain the difference between the sprinters paincave and that of the endurance athlete. While the sprinter dealts with 100% all over mind degrading pain, the minute he or she stops it would take a small miracle to conjure up the severity of the pain. To the endurane athlete the pain is much like that of injury. Every single step hurts with searing sharp pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. But, you are there for it. There is no mentally escaping from the endurance runners pain. The pain does not stop when you stop and often times haunts you for days. The endurance athletes pain is almost a form of depression. And when it wakes you up at 2am, when you obviosly need your sleep, you feel utterly broken. That’s the difference.

So yea, I hurt. But as I said many times during my 62 miles of running yesterday, “I’m still me”. I’m still smiling, chatting, laughing, downplaying the effort, and just generally exicuting sound strategy. I’m still totally humbled by everyone who came out to run with me. Several of them, including X-stud quarterback Ryan, and his motorcross racing wife, Melissa, went father than they ever had before. They dragged Ryans sister Jen out, who doubled her longest run of 6 miles out to 12. She’s probobly feeling very similar to me right now.

As I lay here waiting for the Vitamin I (as Chucky calls it) to set in, my big thoughts of the day include.

– I am so supported by my running friends, I had someone with me every lap! I can not thank you guys and gals enough.

– My husband Troy continues to shock and amaze me and others with his ability to watch Annie in a boaring parking lot for 13 hours while keeping me refueled, doing a check on me every lap, being time keeper, welcoming runners there to pace me, and supporting all of us.

– The gear my sponsors have provided totally rocks. First Enduance, Nuun, Mix1, and Justins Nut Butter kept me fueled, Nathan provides the most comfortable running packs, Core Concepts clothes me in things that do not rub or chaffe, Trakkers hats keep me sunburn free, Saucony has created a shoe I never once wanted to change out of even when they were a soaking wet muddy mess, and Josh at Tri-massage with his fixing techniques and exercises kept me on my feet.

– Although most of the entire run hurt, I reached a pain plateau and it was one that I could manage.

– There are 38 more miles in me, I now know this.

– Do not sit down. Beware of the chair. Sitting is reserved for the port-a-pottie.

– Circus Animals (the pink and white ones) and yellow bunny peeps saved the day. These two things rocked my mouth!

With this thought, I will post this rant and get back to bed. The pain has gone from a 29 to a 16 and I think I might be able to sleep. I took video during my run, so tomorrow I will edit it and post it, along with a play by play report. Until then…yawn!