2013 Boulder

This was my 3rd time racing Boulder 70.3 and I think probably my last for awhile.  The Boulder reservoir is just exhausting!

The was the first year of the new rolling swim start. You lined up based on your projected final swim time. I lined up in the 30-32 min group. Lots of friends in the group and I really wanted to swim with Anthony. It made for a very easy gentle start of the race, people were chill. But I also found it lacked that adrenaline rush that I love about racing as well. It just took the edge off everything.


I felt like I was swimming great the first 2/3 of the race, but the last straightaway was quite bad. I got nailed twice in the throat and I took in a ton of water and then gagged and threw up. Not once but twice. I don’t think I lost any time due to it, it just was uncomfortable. Also got my goggles whapped so hard that they sucked into my eyeball. Had to stop and get that sorted out.


Out of the water I was really laboring. I didn’t know at the time I swam 32:42. Pretty bad swim for me, doesn’t really show the 20,000 yards of swimming a week I’ve been putting down in the last month, but that’s how I swam and it was the best I had on the day.

I got really lost in transition. Really not like me, my head was just in a big fog. I couldn’t find my rack, went down two different racks searching for my bike, didn’t recognize my stuff when I got to it, and had to stop and look at my race bracelet to remind myself of my number. Was a bit flummoxed mounting my bike as well.


Onto the bike my heart rate was high and my legs were screaming at me. But sometimes you just gotta tell them to shut up, ignore the HR, put your head down and ride. That’s what I did. I just rode. My head was spacey and I couldn’t make sense of the numbers like I usually do, so I just kept it raw and hard. It was painful. I was more in control than years past, but my legs never eased up, they were angry and I didn’t care. Nutrition went down great, except my Osmo tasted like soap. It was so strange.


I had this odd thing happen when we were going through an aid station and there was a sign that directed bikes one way and cars another. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which way to go. I kept looking at the sign and just couldn’t figure it out. It was odd, but apparently my brain did not show up to race. It was obvious, but I couldn’t figure it out.



Because of the rolling start you have no idea where you are in your age group or who you are racing. I’ll be honest. I absolutely hated it. When I sign up for a race I want to RACE, like with others in my age group. This was just some pseudo in-between bull shit and I will steer clear from races with this start format from here on out. Ironman has lost my business on that point. Thanks Ironman, for taking the race out of the race.

Off the bike, got lost in transition (translation) a second time. Foggy brain was still in command. Luckily I did not put on someone else’s shoes this year. Oh lordy. I got out running and shoved my Garmin in my bra. About a month ago I lost the wrist strap for my Garmin. It’s one of those that can go between the bike and the run and has a separate wrist strap for the run. Well I lost it so I have to stick the thing in my bra. Not ideal.


So I got off running and thought to myself: just run mile 1 on perceived exertion, go at what feels like 70.3 pace. When my Garmin buzzed at the one mile I fished it out of my bra to look at the split – 7:45. Ek gawd Sonja, you’ve got to speed up. And that’s about how the run went. Me telling myself to run faster, and trying to do so only to see split after split of lackluster times (for me). I tried to pick it up harder on the second loop, didn’t really happen. I wasn’t in an extreme amount of pain, more just felt like I was in a giant bubble, inside a slow motion movie, and I was trying to dig deep but couldn’t figure out how to do so.

The finish line was great, it always is. It also means you can sit down. I came in at 4:38:11, a whole 8 seconds faster than last year, 2 min slower swim, 2 min faster run. But whereas I was 2nd amateur and 2nd AG last year, this year I was 7th amateur and 4th age group. Congratulations to those I shared the podium with, some terrific races were had out there. Looks like everyone is in a good place going into Vegas World Champs in a mere 5 weeks.


Thank you to those who support me through the ups and down, KE, QR, PxRx, Amrita. This wasn’t quite an up, but it wasn’t a down either. I gave all I had and I’m proud of that. Onwards!









2013 Saint George 70.3

If you watched the triathlon racing last weekend via the blogs, FB or Twitter there were a lot of people talking about this fantastically gorgeous race in Saint George, Utah. I was lucky enough to be on the start line of that race and I can’t say enough positive things about it.

If you want to skip the reading and just get the story of my race, you can listen to Episode #37 of Jim and the other guy where he got me to spill the beans. 

Prior to the race I had a really strong training block with the camp I attended in San Jose along with the work I’ve done back in Denver. I was feeling good. Coming off Oceanside the fire in my belly was bright. Racing a 70.3 just 3 weeks prior to Ironman Brazil was something I felt excited about, I tend to recover quickly, especially in those final weeks before Ironman when my fitness is high.

I also had 3 of my athletes racing and I was really excited to see where they were at, and how the work I’ve been giving them is absorbing. I was just ecstatic with how things went. Mikki finished her first triathlon ever, very strong and she had fun! Mo had her first puke free triathlon since I’ve been working with her…and that’s been years. It was such a huge success for the both of us. And Jody had a superb race with no cramping, and is right where he needs to be for Brazil. Add to that, Punk Rock Runners 13 min half marathon PR on Sunday and I would say this was one of the best triathlon weekends of my coaching life.


As I lined up on the start line I had a lot of things in my mind. My athletes races, mainly the swim for Mikki (so much anxiety around that for first timers), but also PICs mom. She was really in my thoughts that morning due to some medical stuff she was dealing with, and I was thinking about PIC too, and hoping she could race for her mom and be strong. Here is our scared faces!


The reservoir is one of the nicest lakes you can find to swim in. The water is clear, you can see bubbles. I met Katie Kyme on the start line and we got into the water together. The start was smooth for me, although it was cold. My face was nice and numb but I felt like my turnover was a little slow as my arms were just cold and slow moving. I found some feet, they were great feet, straight swimming feet. On the final stretch, as the feet got a bit tired I swung around and swam strong to the finish. The swim work I’ve been doing with coach Nick continues to help me feel strong and prepared in the water. He assigns a lot of broken miles and I can refer back to those workouts on race day. It gives me tactics to use!


Out of the water and onto the Quintana Roo I was jazzed to get this show on the road. I love the first miles on the bike, because really, the only thing going through your mind is “How are my legs?” “Are they here today.” All I could come up with is COLD. My legs were cold, they weren’t warmed up and they were slow moving because they felt cold. So I decided to really give them some time. I told myself it’s a long day, let them warm up slowly.


3 miles into the race you go up your first climb. It takes about 5 minutes and I remember thinking “that was harder than when I rode it yesterday.” But you don’t always have to feel good in races. Sometime you just have to race hard, and know that it will all turn out okay in the end. At mile 15 I caught up to Rebecca and there were two other ladies in my age group right with her. I knew that when I went by this group of three I really needed to go and go hard. So I sat back (legal) and sat up and just watched for a little while. I ate a bar, and let my HR drop low and I just watched what was going on.


Then I went. I put in a big effort for about 3-4 minutes and just went as hard as I felt I could reasonably go. After this effort when I pulled off of it, Sarah Jarvis passed me and said “Hi Sonja.” I took a look back and realized that she was the only one that went with my move.

The rest of the race was the Sarah/Sonja back and forth show. Sarah would pass me on every single uphill and then I would bust a move to get back to her on every descent. The course is very hilly. There are so many climbs that I lost count. But there were lots of bomber descents as well and the course evened out pretty well with a mix of the two. I remember going through 25 miles at 1:06 and thinking “this isn’t that slow.”

At about mile 38ish Sarah and I passed another girl in our age group, Christine. She was riding wicked strong and hung tight as well. As we approached Snow Canyon I was trying to decide on my tactic. My athlete Jody passed me and I had given him the go ahead to ride Snow Canyon as hard as he wanted, so he was bustin’ a move. I decided that I would keep my HR “managable” and use the 10 mile descent to bust my final move. So I rode that canyon hard, but not all out. Both Sarah and Christine gapped me pretty big.

Oh, and I ran over a Post-it note half way up the hill and it got stuck in my breaks and was making a HORRIBLE sound. It was a sound like I got a puncture, and I thought it was stuck in the back break but found it in the front and got it out. Scared the crap out of me for a few minutes though.

When the descent came I nailed it home. Hard as I could go, full tuck position on those descents and it paid off. I got back past Christine and Sarah and rode into T1 in the lead in the AG.

After Oceanside and my solid bonk I decided to make a few changes. I had a race belt with hydration to put on so that I was prepared with fuel goodies. I also decided to run without socks. I’ve been running in Sketchers recently and ran a few runs without socks in my goRun2s but didn’t practice with wet feet (bad move Sonja). I got my stuff on and got out of there.

I had advised my athletes to be VERY careful about your effort the first 2 miles. It’s a deceiving course and only gets worse as it goes. I started running and the hill was there but my legs actually felt good. My HR monitor strap was bugging me (I feel like that thing is trying to kill me on the run, hate it hate it hate it), but all in all I was feeling a boat load better than Oceanside.

I passed Mud who’s camp I attended and threw him my HR chest strap and got some encouragement to keep it steady. I also turned around, wondering where Sarah was and SHE WAS RIGHT THERE. This got me really excited. I love a good foot race.

The more the miles racked up the faster and stronger I felt (thank you Jen Schumm for all those single leg squats over the winter). I remember running down the first downhill and just feeling so strong. I had asked Stacey Simms (Osmo nutrition) a few last minute questions about my nutrition plan and I was repeating “I love Stacey Simms” going up one of those hills because my nutrition was working flawlessly. Having the waist belt was great, and I will take it in Brazil for sure.

I slowly got a little more time on Sarah as the miles went by and with each little surge I put in. I kept the pressure on and tried to catch every girl I saw in front of me regardless of age group. I felt better running than I ever had before in my life.

At about mile 6 I realized that my feet were getting harassed with no socks on. It just made me run harder. There was nothing I could do about it. With 2 miles to go, you have been descending for a long time and they send you on this out and back that’s an evil hill. I ran up that thing hard and took a time split back to Sarah of 1:05. Knowing I felt great, it was the first time I really smiled. Don’t get me wrong I was having fun, going fast is fun, but it was the first time I just was overwhelmed with absolute JOY. The last mile and a half I just wanted to feel the experience of the runners high, where you feel like you can run as hard as you want and it doesn’t even hurt. It was one of those days. I could do no wrong.

Coming into the finish I was so happy. It was so emotional to have one of those races where everything came together. Fitness Brains Tactics Emotions. It is so rare that everything falls into place and that was what happened for me out there.


I want to extend a huge congratulations to the ladies I shared the podium with who were not only the top 5 in the AG, but also in the top 6 amateurs. Way to go womens 30-34! Sarah Jarvis, Emily Ure, Christine Avelar, Carly Johann! Solid racing ladies!! Also, a huge shout out to PIC Michelle who opened up a new age group at this race, and took home the win, and did so for her mom.


Thank you to Kompetitive Edge, the new kit is great. Also thanks to Quintana Roo for my awesome bike. I didn’t have the fastest bike split, but it was close :) Amrita Bars, Punk Rock Racing, Osmo and NUUN have been so supportive. Thank you to them.

And also, a huge thank you to all those that have supported me through the good and the bad. My husband Troy and daughter Annie who continue to just love and accept me for who I am, tired, peppy, grumpy, you name it, they are my ROCKS. Thank you to the friends I have made training this year, especially the San Jose crew. And mostly, for the LOVE that I have received as of late.

Total Time: 4:47:28, swim: 30:57, T1: 1:40, Bike: 2:36:49, T2: 2:08, Run: 1:35:54, 1st Amateur, 1st 30-34


2013 Oceanside 70.3

I have had this race on my bucket list since I started triathlon. San Diego is the birth place of tri and I can see why! Also, I went to UCSD for my undergrad, and save for a wedding about a year after I graduated, I haven’t been back since. Well, I have been missing out! This coming week being Annies spring break I decided to bring the munchkin. Mom and Dad flew down from San Jose to make the trip complete. Oh how I wish Troy had more vacation days!


The day before the race went fantastic, I felt good, had fun training with Ron, but I did get a flat on my tubular at the end of our ride. Crap! This is where mom and dad and Nytro Multisport saved me. I called the guys at Nytro, Chris I believe, let them know what happened and they made me feel totally at ease. My parents drove down and dropped off the wheel, and an hour later, they were done and had taped on a new tubular. I’m speechless at the great and quick service. Love this shop (and I haven’t even been there). Thank you big time to ma and pa for doing my dirty work while I was able to sit by the pool with Annie and relax!

Pre-race logistics…Oceanside is a course that is tough to get your head around. Steep learning curve for the first timers!


Race morning I was a little nervous. I was trying to do a new breakfast but just couldn’t get it down. Mix1 kinda went out of business, so I need to find a replacement, and let’s just say I’m not there yet. Also, my daughter was asleep next to me (where she spent most the night elbowing me in the ribs) and she was so peaceful. I just stared at her, and reminded myself that I needed to be not just a good but a great example for her, both on and off the court.


Mom dropped Ron and I off at T2 at 5:10am and it was go time! T2 set up, ride bike to T1, set that up, walk around nervous like, run around nervous like, wait for your wave to go off. I was literally 50 minutes after the PROs, which is fun when you get to see them all come out of the water. But sad too because they have crossed the line before you are even off the bike. I also ripped a big hole in my freak…doh!


After a nice little chat with myself, I started to get excited, to get my game face on. I realized that I wasn’t fearing anything. I was ready. I wanted in that water, I wanted to see where I was at. They let us in, we swam over, I tried to figure out where to line up, and in the process off went the gun. I was in a good spot, got off the line well, got clocked a few times, clocked a few ladies. Relatively damage free.


The first thing I noticed was how awesome the water was. I was prepared for cold temps but I found them to be positively perfect. Refreshing, and cooling. I must say, I hit my groove. I just had a really successful swim. I swam straight, I focused on the form things I needed to focus on, and I was in control. The biggest difference was that I felt STRONG. I have put on 10+ pounds since Kona, and I’m loving every one of them. I’m leaving the lean to the gazelles, embrace the strength!.

At the end of the swim you can see the clock and you get really excited. It was a fast swim for everyone so seeing that I was swimming a 27…..and then 28 made for a sigh of relief.

Out of the water and onto the bike. Transition was long, but I made my way through quickly and got into it. Soon after transition I was told to “GO AFTER IT” and I took that to heart. Today was the day for boldness, after all, I have NOTHING to lose. No ego that hasn’t been crushed in Kona, no expectations to uphold from myself or others. There was only opportunity in my hands. The bike is mostly on Camp Pendleton, so you aren’t allowed to drive the course. It was 100% sight unseen. Once I got going on the bike and I felt my legs under me, I could tell they were there, I just decided that I was going to put to use my new strength, my new muscles. I rode and I rode hard.


I figured Christine was first out of my AG from the swim, so I was looking for her. Plus, she’s one of my FAVORITE new friends (Coast Ride bonds you) and I just wanted to see her familiar face. She’s getting married in two weeks, so everyone wish her a happy wedding. Found Christine, that rocked, also found Rebecca Travis and let me say she kept me HONEST out there. We definitely used each other for motivation and it was all so positive. I like that. Two thumbs up for her. Also I heard her chew out some boys for sitting on my wheel, now there’s a girl after my own heart. Boys on my wheel, totally allowed in training..not allowed in racing!

Huge thanks to Quintana Roo for the new Illicito. It was my first race on the new frame, and it was good for the fastest amateur bike split. Major ups to QR!!

My legs were under me, so I went for it. I wasn’t letting up until I hit the wall. Coming into T2 I felt fantastic. I heard my parents and Annie cheering up a storm and I was on. I decided to put on socks and so Rebecca got out of T2 in front of me.

I took off and I was on. I felt good, I felt solid, and I was holding myself to 7 min pace. I slowly caught Rebecca and I just knew I was in the lead in the AG and the amateur race, mom confirmed this. I just had to hold on. I calculated time gaps. I had this, just had to run a lot of 7s. I run 7s all over this earth. I had this.


And then I looked down and I ran an 8min mile? What’s happening? Oh no. Okay, limit damage. I start running through my calorie count. Then I start cussing. I’m low, I’m bonking, I’m REALLY bonking. I dig out my emergency gel with caffeine. I get that down. I go to coke.

And I only had one choice left. Fight for every inch. The girls were coming, and I was not firing on all cylinders, so I just fought for every inch. It wasn’t pretty but my mind was strong and I was going to limit any and all damage that I could. Rebecca went back by me and gave me tons of love and support to hang tough. With about two miles to go Kendra went by me as well. I fought with all I had at the moment, shoving down the coke, trying my best to limit the carnage.


The finish could not come soon enough. I found that line. Yet another line, another line in my life that I crossed, totally exhausted, exhilarated, and feeling so raw and vulnerable that I can barely look into the eyes of those around me. Putting yourself out like that, fighting for every inch, coming into the finish totally spent and dog tired is HARD. It takes recovery from both emotionally and physically. I went for it, spent all I had, and I came up a tad short. Did I give a shit about that…hells no.


About an hour after the race, after many cups of salty recovery drink (thank you med staff) and a large lemon aid, I’m sitting there cheering for everyone still out there doing battle with the course. I’m looking at the ocean, the blue sky, I’m hugging on my daughter and sitting next to ma and pa, and I was just overcome with JOY. You can take the dog out of the fight, but not the fight out of this dog.


My fitness is where it is, my nutrition needs some tweaking. All of it is very early season (blah blah blah). I have (or can get) help with all that, but the FIGHT, you can’t buy that. You gotta make that, it comes from inside, and you can really only appreciate it after you lose it for awhile. The fight is back in this girl, like a shark, I tasted blood out there, I glimpsed greatness, and although all the accolades belong to others this weekend, I found my fight, and it aint going anywhere.

3rd AG, 3rd Amateur, 4:48:17, swim 28:05, bike: 2:37:40, 1:38:05


Congratulations to everyone who found their own greatness out there. Keep pushing, keep smiling, keep appreciating the fact that you are capable enough to compete. I know I will!

Thank you to: KompetitiveEdge, Quintana Roo, Amrita, Punk Rock Racing, and NUUN. Also a huge thanks to SOAS for their love this weekend, such a great group of women!

Well that Hurt!

I signed up for an open half marathon a few months ago. I haven’t run one since 2008. I thought my PR was 1:29:50. Looks like I was delusional. I went back through the blog and found it and it was 1:32:54. So, it looks like I ran faster than that off the bike at NOLA this past year. Opppp, Nopppe, just looked that up, and I went 1:33. I SWORE I had broken 1:30 somewhere, sometime. But the only race I can find is Harvest Moon the first year I ran it, and I ran 1:28:50 off the bike, but my Garmin showed that as 0.4 miles short. That’s pretty short…I can’t really give myself that one.

So, I’ve been running with faster people recently and I’ve gotten faster. Yup, a miracle, I know. I wasn’t sure how long I could hold onto the speed that I seem to have found, but I wanted to go for it. This is new territory for me so I feel a bit like a baby deer, overly optimistic and kinda wobbly. But hey, I’ll take overly optimistic any day.

One of my new run buddies Carolyn was signed up to race too, so I was excited to have a her out there with me. She’s on her way to Boston and we are very equally matched in the run department, so we lined up side my side.


Off we went, the weather was gorgeous and I was in shorts and a tank top. Oh happy day! It’s March 3rd in Colorado and I’m in shorts! This course is a doozy. It’s 3 miles flat across a dam, then 1 miles super steep down, then 2.5 miles false flat downhill. My friend Todd called it a Credit Card race, as in you put the money on the credit card, then you have to pay it off, ie come back uphill!

(can you find the two nuts on the left side?)


The race started, off we went, and I was flying and it felt EASY PEASY, Like effortless, form felt great, I was breathing HARD, but I was ON IT!.


I hit the turn around at 42:15 and this is an exact out and back course. Miles 1-6 were: 6:30, 6:34, 6:27, 6:17, 6:22, 6:35

Then we start to feel the false flat uphill, and it takes a bit of wind from my sails. 7 and 8 were 6:44, 6:48. Okay, that’s cool, it’s all good.


Then I look down, we are starting up the bigger hilly sections, and my pace does not match my perceived exertion. That’s when I start to dig deep. I’m getting passed, people are pulling away from me rather quickly. Miles 9 and 10 are 7:25, 7:40. Mile 10 was the really big hill that we came down. It was a doozy, and I hurt bad. My calves started to cramp around mile 9. I’m not exactly happy with my Newtons at that moment.


Then we get back on the dam and I think, okay, back to sub 7s, you got this. But I felt like I was running on the bottom of the ocean. After the race all I could think was that it was like a turtle running from a slug. He’s RUNNING for all he’s worth…but he’s a turtle…so…

I fought so hard. I got passed by many ladies and I fought to run with each one. But my mile splits were 7:11, 7:15, 7:10. Ouch! Carolyn found me again with a quarter mile to go and she sprinted on past. We finished within 15 seconds of each other.


So, I now have a new PR in the half marathon. I don’t have to go searching any more for it, it’s now 1:29:07.

I looked back at my race and I CLEARLY made some HUGE pacing mistakes. But you know what? I wouldn’t take them back. I didn’t know how deep my new speed was, but now I do. If I had gone out more conservatively, I still wouldn’t know. At this point in time, my ego is strong enough to handle an internal combustion (somewhat, okay, maybe 70% strong enough to handle it).

I would rather take risks and learn lessons, than run yet another safe race. I must admit, it’s a bit embarrassing to go KaBoom in a race. You’re “that girl” that went out too hard. I knew every lady that passed me was shaking her head going “she went out too hard.” I’ve been that girl, shaking my head at others as I passed them easily in those final miles. But I think, to be that girl again, sometimes it helps to have a race like this every once in awhile. The kind where you drag yourself home and lick your wounds a little.

Despite any wound licking, I had a really fun time out there. I loved racing and I’m so glad I was healthy, happy, and fit enough to tow the line.

It’s the A races that you want all this stuff worked out for. These half marathons that are a few steps from your front door, they are on the schedule to learn, to take risks when there isn’t anything on the line to lose. So, I’m really happy to have a new PR that I can build off of. I hope to run another, FLATTER, half marathon in the future, maybe cut that PR down by a little bit.



2012 NOLA 67.3

DUDE!!!! I don’t even know how I’m going to blog about this weekend. I think it was the most fun I have ever had at a race weekend. NOLA is freaking awesome, so much fun fun fun fun, I can’t even explain it. So many amazing stars aligned this weekend and it was more than just the swimming biking and running.

Mama Willis (my maiden name) came with Michelle and I on this trip, we shall call her mama PIC. We also enveloped M into the fold, she’s officially PIC 3 or Trouble 3 or my favorite…Dr.PIC.

I’ll admit, I got a long pep talk from the Dirkinator before the race and it rocked so hard core. I got off the phone feeling like a beast and I felt so ready to put it all out there. Also, since I chopped off my hair, my alter ego has come out. It’s mostly a Justin Bieber, 16 year old, teenager sort of attitude. I’m not sure Michelle is so fond of it, especially after a tweet from Mac that said “It looks like Michelle is dating a rapper” (best tweet ever).

I was really not taking things very seriously before this race, which is good for me, it’s definitely not my norm. Ususally I am sorta Type A planner, organizer Sonja, but this trip I was 16 year old, hat on backwards, whatevsssss, Sonja. The awesome part was that because my mom was there, there was no fallout from my lack of organization. I feel like I can be a kid when my mom is around, she is seriously the most nurturing woman you will every meet.

Friday morning and we woke up and put our bikes together caught a cab to get beignets. They were everything I always hoped them to be. Sugary, fried, dense, totally wonderful. I think I had 4, maybe 5 of them.

We visited the French Market after that and picked up souvineers for the kiddos. PIC and I also found shirts that we had to buy immediately. This PIC thing has really gotten out of hand. WAY out of hand. But that sort of thing is allowed in NOLA, believe me here! Everything is way out of hand, and I love it!

Packet pick up, race meeting (swim canceled and replaced with a 2 mile run), bikes put together, nap nap nap, eat eat eat, bikes dropped off at transition. It was so windy things were blowing around like crazy. This was one of my favorite transitions due to this awesome and photogenic lighthouse in the middle of it. It was a good marker to run to.

We were settling into bed and getting those last minute things taken care of when PIC realized that her heart rate strap didn’t seem to make it into her bag. Crapitty Crap Crap. I could tell she didn’t want to inconvenience anyone because heading out at 9pm to procure a heart rate strap in one of the most dangerous cities in America was not her idea of a fun time. No worries!! We all hopped in the car and went on a heart rate monitor hunt in our jammies. Luckily we were successful!

Race morning was cold, and windy, and cold, and I had to poo. We got that taken care of and then I was in a great mood. Michelle and I ran the 2 mile run course as our warm up and I think we were the only ones. I’m glad we did recognizance on it, it was good to see it. It was quite windy on one section and I’m glad I wasn’t surprised.

The really cool thing about the DU format was actually seeing all the Pros take off together in one group running. You never see that, and it was really cool. Hard to explain but it got me super hyped up. I got to see the PRO men come in and go out on the bike, and the women as well. I tried to cheer for every one that I knew. I saw Michelle go out on the run and she was right with Dr.PIC. With the AGers they were letting us off two at a time in a time trial format. So you started with a buddy.

When I got in line for my turn I found Hailey. I knew going into this race that Hailey and Libby would be the ladies to watch. Libby is coached by Dirk and is insanely strong. Hailey beat me in Kona by several minutes. See, the 30-34 women have this special bond. Twitter/blogging has really helped it, but we have this really cool thing going on. We are fierce competitors on the race course, but afterwards we follow each others blogs, we train with each other when we are in each others towns, and we have deep respect for each other. That’s why it was extra extra special when Sarah P. won the PRO race at NOLA, because she’s one of us, she raced 30-34 last year and we are really supportive of the ladies that were 30-34 and are now PRO. Might I mention we are so so glad they turned pro…

With the TT start Hailey and I just slipped in the front. We were the first two to go off in the AG, and we went off together. It was a bad idea on our part. We should have gone last, but we ended up racing off the front the whole day and then wondering if anyone snuck in there.

How do you run 2 miles before you know you have to bike 52 (course shortened due to storm debris) and run another 13? I don’t know, you just run your ass off. There’s no great way to put it other than…RUN!!!

Hailey and I came into T1 about :20 seconds apart. I was leaving as she was entering. I got on the bike and took off. Hailey caught me 10-15 minutes in and I just consider her a stronger rider than me. When she went by, a switch flipped in me. Usually I am very into “race your race” “don’t let others dictate your pace” “etc etc etc” but a switch flipped and I thought about the fact that this was a duathalon, and that none of it really mattered and I could take some risks. So I went with Hailey. I sat about 5-10 bike lengths back, and when I say “sat” what I mans is…”I biked so insanely hard I thought I was doing an olympic distance race”. But I figured, why not!? Go for broke. Hailey had me against the ropes for the better part of an hour before I got comfortable in the pain. The good thing was that my legs were 100% ready to go, and while they hurt, they also didn’t want to let up either.

If Hailey lost her focus and I saw my heart rate go down, I would pass her, and try to set a harder tempo until she passed me back with an even harder tempo where I would have to fight to hang on. Also, having never ridden like this I was concerned with the drafting. I wanted to make sure I was riding 100% legal because I usually spend most races continually passing people, not sitting behind. I was actually really stoked to be passed 4 times by course marshals and each time they had nothing to say about my position. I was like “Sweet, you are doing this right”.

Hailey set a hard tempo all the way back to T2, and we came into T2 together. Like literally we ran across the timing mat side by side. I could feel both of our competitive juices flowing. We had the fastest female T1+T2 of the day…pros included. We were racing!

Out on the run, we ran shoulder to shoulder for some time. The course was challenging with some causeway type hills, several on each loop. There were two turn arounds per loop and one roundy-round…you know, like in Europe. The “hot corner” was essentially the “hot circle”. I found a way to somehow slowly drift in front of Hailey, she was fierce, and tough, and it was such a highlight to race her neck and neck.

I made my way through the first lap getting passed by all sorts of PRO women, and age group men. I tried to go with all of them. I heard the announcer saying that Sarah P was winning and then I saw her race by on the other side of the road with the 1st place female lead biker. I was so jazzed and inspired! I saw Beth Shutt out there too, she looked so strong and solid, I was happy to see her in her element. My mom was all over the course and it was so great to have her there cheering, and cowbelling. The second loop I started looking for Michelle at the out and backs. I saw her once and she wasn’t too far ahead, but she wasn’t coming back to me very quickly either. She ended up running 2 minutes slower than her open 1/2 marathon PR that she set 3 weeks ago. PICs running is soooo BACK!

In the final mile I saw her in front of me and I picked it up. I wanted to run in with her. But with every step I realized I wasn’t catching her. I tried harder and harder to pick it up. My legs were beat, I tried to pump my arms faster and faster, and I made a small gain on her. As we were probably 100 feet before the finish shoot, I meekly yelled “Ford” and SHE PICKED IT UP. I was hoping for some mercy! I picked it up as hard as I could and coming into the chute we were side by side. I asked if she wanted to hold hands, and she said yea, and that’s how we crossed. What are the odds??? Time trial start, and yet we found each other in the finish chute. I will add that she was 3rd in her AG by 2 seconds…I’m going to go ahead and take credit for that one (just kidding Ford, that was all you honey).

I was really happy with my race. I didn’t know the result. I didn’t know if someone starting behind me had gone faster, but without knowing any of that I was happy. I RACED in the truest sense of the word. I took chances and I gained confidence and I surprised myself with those risks. I have more work to do, it’s April, but I learned that I can go a harder and still survive. I was really happy. I also had a lot of fun. Sure it hurt super bad, but it was really fun too!

Syd, PIC, Dr.PIC, me, Hailey

Mark, Brandon, PIC1, PIC2 = KE CREW!

My racing yielded an Age Group win and also and overall Amateur win. That was icing on the cake really. Or powdered sugar on the beignet! Mmmmm beignets! Oh, and my Kompetitive Edge teammate Mark Hillers, he won the amateur mens title. KE was in full force!

run: 13:29, bike: 2:18, run: 1:33, overall 4:07

Womens 30-34 podium, and the only girls that posed with their arms around each other. Mad respect for each of these ladies, Jocelyn, Libby, and Hailey.

That night we went out and CELEBRATED! We had a twitter/Womens 30-34 REUNION with lots of friends that involved food, drinks, jazz, Gelato, and awesome conversation with great people. I think there were like 13 of us, and we ate like champions! It was such a treat to celebrate Sarah Ps win that evening, so happy for her! After ice cream it was time for Bourbon street. Oh my lanta. There are no words. What happens in NOLA stays in NOLA, but here are a few photos….a la Hangover style!

Dr.PIC, SarahP, Hailey, Stephanie


Hand Grenade!!



First off thank you MOM! Not every mom will hold your drink while you….what happens in NOLA stays in NOLA….

Thank you to my sponsors Kompetitive Edge, Punk Rock Racing, First Endurance, Quintana Roo, who are all probably a bit disappointed with some of those last photos!! Also, thank you Troy and Annie for being you… love you both!

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.

Racine 70.3

Racine 70.3 fit on the schedule this year. I had never been to Wisconsin, Vineman was sold out, and the race sounded fun, so I signed up for it.

Saturday morning bright and early I was on the direct flight to Chicago. Landed at 10am, was in my rental car by 11am, and was at the race site by 2pm, including a rather indulgent stop at Trader Joes for food for the weekend. I had 6 hours to pick up my packet, put my bike together, and check my bike in. I think that’s doable!

I drove to transition only to find out packet pick up was not there. I drove back to town and found packet pickup. The line was 1 hour long, yikes. The line management was pure hilarity, they had the line in a room and it was basically doing a reverse corkscrew, so the end of the line was in the middle. Pure mayhem, and people were skipping loops of the line because it was such a cluster.

The Post Office is up for sale in Racine, in case anyone is interested:

Got the packet. Got back to transition, built my bike, borrowed a pump and went for a ride. I saw someone I knew on my ride, Sydney! That was really cool, to know ONE person! My top 3 gears in my big chain ring were hopping so I went to transition to see the bike tech. No bike tech. They said there would only be one on race day (when you aren’t allowed to take your bike out of transition…?). A guy told me where there was a bike shop so I rode over there. 3rd Coast Bicycles completely hooked me up and my bike was shifting beautifully when I left there. I went and checked it into transition.

Next up I really wanted to get a swim in Lake Michigan, so I suited up and headed to the lake. It was pure bliss and I spent about 40 minutes in the water swimming around. After that, I drove 50% of the bike course, checked into my hotel, and hit the hay.

Race morning, 4:00am alarm, and I woke up at 3:56 on my own. I was jazzed and ready to go. I drove to the race, and because I’m type A, punctual to a fault, I got literally THE BEST parking spot right next to transition with a beautiful view. I slept for 30 minutes in the car, put my stuff in transition, slept almost another hour, and then headed over to the swim start which was a 1 mile walk.

KISS: Keep it Simple!!

My wave was one of the last at 8:05am. I watched other waves go and realized that the first 50 meters or so are a dolphin diving sort of situation. I’ve never dolphin dived before but I realized that if I wanted to swim with the pack that I wanted to, I was going to need to dolphin dive.

So….I practiced until I got it down. The other athletes must have thought I was crazy but if you don’t know how to do something, and there’s time to learn, then who cares! There’s no time like the present.

My wave went off and I dolphin dived like my race depended on it, which it did. I got those faster feet and I hung on. As different people would pass the feet I was on, I would switch feet, always trying to stay with the faster ones. About mid way through the swim I wondered whether I had missed the boat on this swim. I was swimming a bit too easy for me, I tried to pass the feet I was on but was unsuccessful, so I got back on them. With about 2 buoys until the final turn buoy I got caught by the first swimmers in the wave behind me. I made a split second decision to hop on their feet and swim as hard as I could to stay with them until I got dropped. I made it to shore with them, dropped the group I had been swimming with, and was exceptionally proud of myself.

LONG run up a sandy beach to the timing mat, into transition, on with the race number, Oakleys, and new Rudy Wingspan that my dad just got me (thanks dad!), grab Blackjack and get the heck out of there.

The bike was pretty flat with some rollers, and various sections of headwind, tailwind, and crosswinds. I stayed aero the entire time except for turns and I didn’t touch my breaks a single time. It was a 56 mile time trial and I steadily passed tons of people. I passed two ladies in my age group within the first few miles and then was on my normal stocking mission to find the next ladies in my age group. I couldn’t find them. Every woman I passed wasn’t in my age group, but I continued to ride hard hard hard. The one thing I would alert others about pertaining to this course is the road conditions. For much of the ride there are expansion cracks in the road, so your ride is “Uh-Uh…Uh-Uh…Uh-Uh” the whole way. Thank you TYR Carbon shorts…

This ride I choose to work on my focus and on my distraction control. I was very in the moment. When I would get distracted I would calmly bring myself back to the effort, similar to meditation. Focus on the now, focus on my body, on staying aero, on keep the pressure on my legs steady and strong. It worked out well and was both mentally and physically tiring.

The last few miles I had a run in with a guy. He was being a complete jerk, passing on the right when he didn’t need to, not obeying the rules. I just wanted past him, and so I moved to pass. I overtook him and was moving over right when he said “Wowah, No, on your right” and passed me back on the right. I dropped a few Fbombs on him and told him I overtook him and he needed to drop back, and that he was a F$%#er (apparently I was a little feisty). He rode off in front of me, so I dropped back and just kept my distance.

I made it in and out of transition licitly split and was off on the run. Right away I noticed how hot it was. Holy moly, the first mile was a scorcher. About 1.5 miles in I passed the doofus from the end of the bike and I looked at him and said “Where are you now, jerk?” and I then passed him and made him eat my shoe dust. He really pissed me off. Mostly because it’s crap like that where penalties happen, and I don’t want to be involved in that sort of behavior.

The run is two out and back sections, so the first out I was looking at every ladies number to see if she was in my age group, WHERE ARE THESE GIRLS? I knew there had to be more ahead of me, there usually are, and the last one I passed was mile 5 on the bike. I got to the turn around and that’s when I realized I was leading my age group, that I had been leading it since mile 5 of the bike. This is a completely new experience for me.

I didn’t want to rest on my laurels, because now is the time when you race the clock, now you race the invisible leaders of the other age groups. To do this, you have to race yourself.

I was really hot. The race was humid, and getting steamy by the minute. I was struggling to put down 7:30 miles. Thoughts would creep into my head like “What is wrong with you”, but I would stop them at the door and say, “Go Harder, tighten up your form.” You never know what a course is going to do to you. It wasn’t until afterwards, looking at some of the PRO ladies run splits that I understood that everyone suffered like I did out there.

The hills on the course were quite evil, 4 of them, and steep. The aid stations felt far apart and I was grabbing ice at each one. It was pure Kona practice. I set mini goals along the way…run hard to the tent, stay with the guy with the circle on his back, fix the form. Still, the pace did not quicken all that much. Heat is a tricky one.

Running down the final stretch was a lot of fun. I gave a lot of high 5s and did a fun little jump at the end.

Being on your own at a race is odd. In the finish food tent I found Sydney and we caught up. Then I got my stuff out of transition, sat on the grassy lawn and boxed my bike back up for the flight home. I repacked my bags and then headed to the lake for a swim to cool down, “shower”, and ice my legs. It was awesome, clean and clear blue water, 66 degrees, amazing! I wasn’t the only athlete down there and I enjoyed chatting with others, met some cool people doing IM Louisville this year.

I called my family, Troy gave me some results and I headed to awards. I took 1st in my age group, and 8th woman. 2nd amateur to Susanne Davis of Team Timex. I knew during the run that my finish time would be 4:45ish and based on the year before I thought it would take sub 4:40 to take the amateur title. Sure enough, she went 4:40.

Since I didn’t know anyone, my dad suggested I ask someone with a nice camera to take my photo and email it to me. I got the nerves up and asked a nice guy who said yes. He was there to support Kristin Andrews who took second PRO woman in her debut year as a PRO! Go Kristin!

After awards I headed out, back to Chicago, back to Trader Joes, and to the airport where I flew home, oh yes, and there was a stop at the Cheese Castle on the way. It was a CRAZY 38 hours, but all in all, very productive. I got to see where I am at with 12 weeks until Kona. I learned some lessons out there, had some successes. All in all, quite a great day!

I went to a Cheese Castle, who knew?

Thank you to my great sponsors, the TYR Hurricane from Kompetitive Edge performs wonderful dolphin dives, my Quintana Roo CD0.1 Blackjack is FAST, I keep getting faster on it, it’s a little scary! A special thanks to my newest sponsor DAD, thanks for the new helmet!

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!

Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a race report. I made the decision after IM CDA to train exclusively for Kona and purposefully put zero races on the schedule. As I got into my training Chuckie suggested that I race the Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon as a Kona tune up race. It’s just a 20 minute drive from my house, it’s on local territory, and it’s affordable.

As the race grew closer I realized that it was the same day as the Rev3 Cedar Point races and I was kicking myself for not going to CP to cheer on my Trakkers teammates who were doing the 140.6 race there. But then, looking at it from the Kona prep side this was the right decision. No airplane (germ exposure), travel trip expense (Kona spending money exposure), days of reduced training (kicking butt in the future exposure). But, I really missed out on Rev3 Cedar Point, and I would like to send out a huge congratulations to all the new 140.6ers!!

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about racing. This close to Kona (4 weeks) I pondered what would happen if my results were lackluster. Then I would have to do the important job of figuring out what went wrong, and making sure my confidence didn’t take a plunge. Racing can be a little scary sometimes! But the night before the race, I did my normal mental work and I talked to myself about stepping on the line with a clean slate, with ZERO expectations, and just seeing where the race goes. It will be a good indicator as to where I am at, but if I let nerves get in the way, then it won’t be a good indicator. I thought I went to bed with peace, but I had a nightmare that Annie got bit by a spider and died, so maybe not all my issues were resolved. I love being a mom, do the irrational thoughts ever stop?

We arrived early that morning and waited in a long line of cars until 6am when the reservoir opened. Of course Annie had to go pee while we were waiting, and of course when Troy was taking her in the bushes (what few there are out there) the line of cars started moving. Troy was so happy that I didn’t drive off without him, and I was so offended that he thought I would do such a thing. :)

I got a GREAT spot in transition, right close to the bike exit and facing the proper way out. I set up my goods…minimal minimal minimal and got out of there. One of the things I forgot is that racing so close to home you see all your friends, all the triathletes that you miss at travel races. I loved bumping into everyone that I did, especially some of the multisport newbies like Brett, and Ron.

I was in the second wave to go off. In the first wave was the elites and the women 35+. I’ll admit right now that I think I was a little confused about the Elite wave. It said on the website that you had to have a PRO card to win money. And I interpreted that to mean that you had to have a PRO card to enter the Elite wave. So I did not. But I was wrong, someone like me could have entered the Elite wave, but I wouldn’t receive $$ if I won, since I’m an AGer. Live and learn.

So wave #2 it was. I wanted to swim good so I went hard from the start. I got out really well, swam really straight, and found feet. Sweet. They were great for awhile until they started loosing their navigational focus and I went solo from there. I tried to swim hard, pull hard, stay straight. I lost it a bit towards the last 20% of the swim but what I lacked in navigation, I made up for in effort. I exited, checked my watch to see 31:17 and ran UP UP UP to the transition and timing mat. It took 1 minute to run UP UP UP that hill.

I heard Chuckie say something to me on the way up…right as I was pulling off my wetsuit top, so I heard his words as: “Humngh Sonja, your mshyo sjhlli hukrps”. Right, got it coach!

Is it just me or are my legs frighteningly tan? I wear sunscreen, I swear!

Into transition, off with the suit, on with the glasses/helmet and I was out of there. I would like to highlight that I won the overall mens and women’s T1 race. Yes, sir-eee I went 0:48 seconds for an overall race best, Tim Hola’s got NOTHING on me (except swim/bike/run). Tyler would be SO proud!

Ha! Onto the bike. I had ridden the course several days prior with PIC and we had Kona like winds. We were going about 9mph for miles and miles. I felt prepared to have wind on race day and I almost wanted it so I could practice for Kona. When things were rather calm I was a little bummed, but not for too long. I got into my groove and incorporated a few things that Chuckie has been teaching me during training. I was racing without my race wheels, so I had my training PowerTap wheel on the back, and my training American Classic on the front. One thing CV has taught me is to avoid heart rate and power spikes during the race. This was a course with rollers, so I really tried to SIMMER during the hills, and keep the intensity HIGH on the flats and straights, thus keeping power and heart rate consistent. This is called “Being nice to your body and doing it a favor so you can ask it to run fast later”, or “BNTYBADIAFSYCAITRFL”. No really, it’s a technical term, it’s in all the Exercise Physiology books, look it up. So with that in mind I stayed focused during the race and tried to nail the task at hand.

The other CV thing I worked on was to not let my watts drop over the course of the race. This (apparently) happens often to athletes, so I really kept an eye on the watts and steadily rose them throughout the 56 miles. I was expecting total headwind the last 10 miles coming back on Quincy and almost shouted “Hallelujah” when there was none to be had. I pushed the entire way back, keeping the heart rate in check and really pushing hard down the hills to keep watts up.

I love my new gearing! It’s perfection! The compact with the 11-25 is just perfect for me and when Chuckie said the new crank length would make me faster, he wasn’t lying. My bike split came in at 2:26:49 and 22.9mph.

I also wanted to highlight Amber Rydholm. Despite the fact that we have only met once, she cheered me on by name out there. Amber is an Iron-chick and did both Placid and St.George this year. It was great to talk with her, and we got to know each other a bit better after the race. Cool Chick!

Amber and I on the podium with Annie, Um, Amber is really tall, did I mention that?

So I rolled into transition, threw on my socks and run shoes, grabbed my hat/number/nutrition and ran on out. It was cool to see lots of empty racks. I hit my lap button at the timing mats and I looked down at my watch. It said 3:01 for the overall race time. I was really really shocked at this. It all started to come together. Immediately I said to myself, if you can run 1:30 you can race 4:31. My PR from Clearwater last year was a 4:40, and I was pretty jazzed about that time. To know that running under 1:39 was going to result in a PR got me a little excited…but just for a moment.

I had a 1/2 marathon yet to run. I immediately got focused. I was excited to test out all the work we have been doing with my run. Well, not “work” really, but just the things I have learned about awareness and going Zen, and keeping my posture. So, that’s what I did. We had some wind out there and I was lucky to work my way up to a guy running very close to my pace within the first mile. I tucked behind him settled in.

I focused on lowering the heart rate, standing tall, keeping my arms high, shoulders back and “boxing” with the hands. I tried to keep the belly engaged, and the head movement minimal. Focus Focus. And the miles started ripping by. My Garmin would beep at me every mile and tell me my split and they were all in the 7:00 range, some a little under, some a little over.

On one of the aid stations my wind block and the #1 male took all the aid and I wasn’t able to pick anything up. I remember thinking “This is part of the sport”, now what can I do about it? I decided to forgo the wind block in order to come into the next aid station first. He hung super tough with me though. I think he wondered why I was picking it up and passing him. He asked my name, I asked his, and then I told him “I really need aid at the next station”. I think he understood then.

I was able to get aid and keep my pace. I got to mile 6 and I saw the first lady pass me going the other way. I immediately recognized her as Mandy Mclane who I knew recently moved to Boulder (rad). She was one mile ahead of me, and I was actually really happy to be within one mile of her. What I didn’t realize was that she had registered in the Elite wave, so she had started 5 minutes ahead. But I didn’t know that at the time. Near the turn around on the dam I saw the #2 lady, Wendy Mader. I gotta admit, the Team Timex outfits are just plain daunting. Wendy looked like she was HAULING, I didn’t know if I could catch her. I also didn’t know that she started in Wave #1 as well, not as an Elite, but as 35+.

The aid station just shy of the turn around had my friend Brett’s daughter manning it. She recognized me and the aid station went BALLISTIC for me on the way back. LIKE CRAZY BALLISTIC! I loved them so much, I wanted to give them all kisses. It really made me laugh, and I think if I can inspire ONE young female cross county runner to stay healthy, EAT FOOD, and SMILE, then my job is complete. Thanks girls!!

On the way back I struggled a bit with the aid stations. They were on one side of the bike path, so when you were running back in, the people going out were in line for the aid and I didn’t want to have a head on collision with any of the racers. I missed one station, and then two more I just pulled over and took cups myself instead of taking them from the volunteers. I’m trying to have better aid station edict because this is something I’m not great with. It’s a work in progress. On the way back in I also had SO MANY people shout “GoSonja”. I really tried hard to wave at every one of them, another work in progress there. Please know that I hear you, and I value the fact that you are willing to take energy out of your race to shout my name, it means A LOT and it makes me run faster!

I had been watching Wendy HAUL in front of me, and then I came around a corner and she was right there. She soon stopped to stretch out what looked like a calf that was in pain. I FELT for her, as I know that when racing most athletes one goal is to keep moving forward at a steady clip with minimal issues. That’s one goal I think we all share. So I ran by Wendy but hoped that she would be able to stretch it out and get back into her pace.

I ran into Richard, who REALLY made me laugh. Richard is the dad of one of Annies schoolmates last year. We have become really good friends with their family and Richard got into Kona via the lotto (what are the odds…two parents in one preschool class of 12…headed to Kona). Richard was going out when I was coming in and he shouted “I’m coming for ya”, which was funny. But then, he kept shouting it like 5 different times and his voice kept getting fainter and fainter. In the moment it was hilarious and it was the one thing that broke my focus during the whole race. I lost it and just laughed for about 20 seconds.

I knew at that point that I was in second, behind Mandy, and I assumed she started in my same wave since we are usually the same age group. I was pretty jazzed. Heading into the last mile I switched my watch over to race time and noticed that if I ran hard I would be able to break 4:30. I couldn’t even comprehend it. I really couldn’t. In triathlons there are others to “race” but really, we “race” ourselves. I try to use other people for motivation to do my best, but when it comes down to it, it’s about finding the motivation from within and letting the chips fall where they may. Focus on what you can control…which is you…and your best results will shine through.

I ran strong into the finish keeping my form as perfect as I could muster. At the end they have this HUGE slip-n-slide that ROCKS. I took not one, but TWO trips down the slip-n-slide. I really think that this should be mandatory for races, it was really awesome!

I was standing around at the finish talking to Jen who I met at CDA and just love. Her husband Mark came up and said “You won”. I said “No, Mandy Mclane won, she was in front of me”. He dragged me over to the results and sure enough, I saw “Elite” next to her name which meant that she started 5 minutes ahead of me, and with that factored in, I was 13 seconds ahead. I was first overall, and I felt a bit bad that we hadn’t started in the same wave. It’s always hard to race someone who is in a different wave.

Shock, really pure shock. Chuckie says I shouldn’t be shocked, and I’m trying to get over it, but I was shocked. The 4:29:29 was an 11 minute PR over Clearwater. Although my Garmin did have the run course as short, there were a lot of twists and turns and the Garmin tends to underrepresent that. It could have been right. If it was right, then my 1:28:50 was a 2+min half marathon PR.

I learned so much during this race. Besides the fact that I got to practice all this stuff that CV has been teaching me in a race setting, I also learned the value of training. I never thought in years past that all my racing was impacting my racing, but this triathlon, and how I felt during this swim/bike/run really showed me just how much you can gain when you do commit to train for a big race. If you don’t race every little race along the way, then you might just shock yourself (and shocked i was). Racing is fun, it’s gratifying, and it’s a thrill. Training requires focus and diligence. But I never realized what huge rewards it can pay…until Sunday.

I also realized that I have sold myself short in the past. We all derive our identity from different places and I’ve always considered myself as “the hard worker”. I realized today that hard work can take you a long way. Hard work can win you races, and talent is a multifunctional word. It can mean lots of things, including your ability to work hard and capitalize on what genes you have.

Lastly, while this race was a great result for me, I plan to put it in my back pocket and then put my nose down and continue to do what I do best: comit. I have 26 important days until Kona, and I know that any mistake I make will be punishable by the island gods. Several weeks ago on a ride up to Ward I was joined by Cam Widoff. I don’t think I have to explain who that is, but let’s suffice it to say that he has raced as a PRO in Kona more times than….well…pretty much anyone. I asked him his advise and he said that the years he came to Kona humble and just ready to focus on himself and do his best were the years that he raced well. So that is my plan. Do the right thing from here on out. Focus on diligence in sleep, eating, limiting stress, and training. Spend minimal time attached to electronics, and maximal time spent with my legs up against the wall. And finally to arrive on the island humble, happy to be there, and happy to have the opportunity to race well.

Thanks in a very big way to: Trakkers (congrats to Rev3CP finishers), Goal0 (keeping my electronics solar charged), Saucony (my Kinvaras rock), Mix1 (2 for breakfast), Core Concepts (bamboo t-shirts rock), Tri-Massage (keeping my body happy), First Endurance (in my bottles, in my tummy), Justin’s Nut Butter (chocolate almond is heaven on earth), Nathan (just ordered 4 new hand bottles for KONA), NUUN (did you get any in transition?), and TriSwim (do I smell like chlorine…nope).

An especially huge thanks to Troy and Annie who were out there in full force, you guys rock, and I love you tons. I promise to take you on a Hawaiian vacation in 26 days.

And to Chuckie: humble thanks, my coach. Thank you for putting in the hours with me on the bike and writing me schedules that make me laugh and make me fit. You continue to train me in a way that makes me surprise myself. 26 more days until Kona, here we come.

Results can be found here.

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?