2011 Loveland Lake to Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms.LackOfConsistency

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Right Shoulder: “Because I’m tired”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rev3 Knoxville

Well, the first race is done! And I not only survived, but thrived!

Walking to the start in the morning with dad, Troy, Annie, and Sharpie was a definite highlight. The sunrise was gorgeous, and the water looked inviting.


Chuckie had explained that for me, with my swim, my race is made or broken during the swim, so get on that line and SWIM. I was really excited for this. I wanted to swim hard, leave it all out there! Being in the elite amateur wave was super cool, especially lining up with PIC, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again, it depends on the race, me thinks.

So right after the pros we hop in the water and get ready. The swim is an out and back. The gun goes off and I GO, like, I REALLY go. I was in the thick of it, but not getting punched around too much. I found my place eventually, and got into my groove. I was with one other person and I couldn’t see feet. The water was very murky and your couldn’t even see the bubbles that you could feel. So I pulled up beside the person and swam beside them. Now I know this defeats the drafting thing, but it helped me with the straight swimming thing, which was a big issue for me last year.

About every 20 strokes my friend and I would body check each other. I’m sure they hated me as much as I grew annoyed with them. The reality is that we both probably suck at sighting, but we kept each other relatively straight! At the end of the swim I dug even deeper and pulled away from my friend. Getting out of the water we had to pull ourselves onto a dock. It took me just a split second of thought “Humm, can I actually do this after swimming so hard”? I pulled myself up, and slid myself onto the dock belly first, just like a seal…or like one of those Antarctic penguins.

As I ran up the dock and pulled off the top of my wetsuit my Garmin strap popped off. The strap went flying into the water, and the Garmin part went flopping on the pier. I reached down and grabbed it, and shoved it in my pocket.

I was OUT OF BREATH. I had swam HARD. Troy yelled on the dock that PIC had 3 minutes on me, and I was pretty jazzed about that. PIC is like my litmus test because her swim is so fast that it can barely get any better and thus, it’s pretty consistent! So, she’s a guage. And last year that deficit was in the 5-12 minute range, so 3 minutes is SWEET!

Off through transition, huffing and puffing, over LT (whatever that is, if I knew) and onto the bike. Breathe Sonja, breathe. Olympic racing HURTS! I pushed on the bike, yes, my dear, I pushed. I LOVED the course. Here I am literally huffing!

I was all by myself out there after passing one lady about 5 miles in. I just got into Zen mode and went hard. There were some great little climbs, and some awesome descents, and I’m happy to say that I didn’t touch my breaks ONCE. Not once, I was BOLD Sonja.

My dad and Troy were cheering up a hot storm, taking photos, and Annie was so cute in her Trakkers shirt. She kept telling people “Take it home”. I love that! What kid says that?

Coming towards transition I was going hard and then I saw PIC running. Dang, she looked good, and she looked FAST, How on earth was I going to get off my bike, through transition, and THEN catch her? DANG! She’s so fast!

I came into transition…still as hypoxic as I left and while running through transition my Trakkers devise went flying out of my pocket. The volunteers were so nice to pick it up and leave it at my transition spot (so glad I didn’t loose it). So if you saw my devise stop in transition, that’s why! I took off running, but of course my hypoxic brain took me to the wrong exit, and then the volunteers directed me the right way.

Headed towards the right way out I was jumping over towels, bags, and transition bike racks, I made transition into a total obstacle course.

Whew! Onto the run course. I dug my now strapless Garmin out of my pocket and hit the lap button. That way I would have an idea of my splits. Wow, I’m going as fast as I can. Where is Michelle?

I’m not feeling any more taxed than on the bike, but I can’t seem to will myself to go any faster. My first mile (after I dug the Garmin back out to check it) was in the low 6:40 range. Ok, not bad, that sounded like a good spot to hang around.

I stuffed the Garmin back in and just focused on keeping consistent. Where is Michelle? She’s NOWHERE in sight.

I’m running hard. Mile 2 goes by and we are on a bike path. I’m still looking for Ford. I was counting Elite amateurs and had counted three. I thought Ford was in 4th and I was in 5th. I was stoked about this. Then I see her. She SWEARS she waved at me, but we were both going as hard as we knew how. She was running from me, and I was running for her. I hit the turn around and knew it was going to take some serious work to catch her. Sure enough I worked really hard the whole way back and with two miles to go I could see her.

She had me! I worked the uphills, hard! I was gunning for her, but coming into the last quarter mile she still had 100 yards. We came in one after another and it was all hugs and wide eyes. I think both of us had forgotten just how much Oly racing hurts. It’s over quick, but it hurts in the process.


All in all I’m really pleased with my race. I’m super pleased with swimming hard, keeping some sort of contact with the front and not feeling like the rest of my race was lethally compromised. It was a really solid effort and has me excited. I think I am in a better place that I originally thought I was. It’s hard with the 100 miler race only being 5 weeks back. There has been lots of recovery, and less fitness building, but I am pleased with where it has all landed me.

I could still feel a little of the 100 miler in my lower inner quads, but I think that’s to be expected and I think that going hard helped to get a little more of the deep junk out.

The definite highlight of the week was meeting all my Team Trakkers teamies. We have had so much fun this trip from BBQ dinners, to pre race ice cream meetups, to post race happy hour…VERY HAPPY HOUR! I feel like I have a network all over the US of super cool folks and I just adore everyone I’ve gotten to know this trip.

Another HUGE highlight was all the love I got on the race course this weekend. It was so awesome the last two miles to have literally 20+ people cheer for me. The best was while we were in the water waiting to start all you could hear was GO SONJA! Beth and Tyler were going crazy and I think everyone was thinking “Who is Sonja”. Even Kathleen was laughing. I have the best friends EVAH!

Ford and I with Megan, she so rocks the house.

Ford and I with Jamie

Having Troy and Annie at this race was such a blast. I will have to put a post together of funny Annie pictures from the weekend, there are some pretty hilarious ones! Troy, your a rock. And your shoulders are going to rock, because you carried Pook around for 4 days on your shoulders. Love you babe, thanks for helping me chase my dreams!

We got to meet Tara from the biggest loser. It was so interesting to hear about how hard it is to go from weight loss to athlete. Something both Tyler and I have had to negotiate. From low cal, to fueling to perform, from no salt, to ample salt, and learning how to eat while exercising! It’s all new stuff for her. Good on ya girl!

I also really enjoyed having Beth and Tyler at the race. I think they had a fun time and Bethie won her age group! Super cool!

There are way too many cool pictures to post, I wish I could put them all up! A huge thanks to my dad for taking like 1,000 pictures for the team this weekend. We loved having him around.

Finally a huge THANK YOU to my sponsors: GOAL0 (I know I know, you are all wondering what, who, huh, no worries, you will know soon), Trakkers, Saucony. Mix1, Core Concepts, Tri-Massage, First Endurance, Justins Nut Butter, Nathan, NUUN, and TriSwim. You all so totally rock the house.

PIC

You may have noticed that that I affectionatey refer to Michelle as PIC. It stands for “partner in crime”, I’m not really even sure when it came about. Maybee when she started her blog? I don’t know. She calls me PIC too. It’s rather fun. Sometimes I call her Fordy-Ford, or Michelley-Elley.

Michelle and I met shortly before our first ever trip to USAT Age-Group Nationals in 2007. That was way back when I had only done two sprints and Michelle was still riding this red bike with like Shimano 105 on it (I don’t mean to offend anyone…well maybe I do a little bit).

Breakfast two days before Nationals in 07

We were roomies in this totally cheep extended stay hotel right next to Nike in Portland. We both had what I would call super solid races, but even bigger than that we began a friendship that both of us never realized would be so much fun.

I think this was probably the last time we got totally sloshed right after a race…we are much more dedicated now (we are the middle two).

We trained together occasionally, mostly on weekend bike rides. Michelle was a working girl with a demanding job, but she was focused and nailed her workouts.

We went through a Twinkie phase (identical, comes in a pack of two). Almost all the group pictures we were standing next to each other, and we had matching helmets, blue bikes (she got rid of the crummy red one…no offense) and ponytails. Check it out.

Twinkies we are



Scary huh?

We came back to nationals in Portland in 2008 ready to kick ass, and qualify for Team USA. We had Australia on our minds. For the first time we allowed another person into our nationals lair, Tyler.

PIC, Me, and Tyler

He proved to be an acceptable addition. It also meant that PIC and I shared a bed for the first time. And we learned that we sleep well together, who would have thought? Probably a fact that our husbands try not to think about too often…or maybe they do. I don’t know and this is going south…

So we both really rocked the house at Nationals, it was the same course as the year before and PIC knocked 16+ minutes off her time, and I took off a little over 6. PIC nabbed that Team USA slot, and I missed it by one, but got it back in the lotto.

Early morning pre race, we are together, there’s a shock!

Several months after Nationals, the best thing EVER happened to my athletic career (and let’s be honest, it’s all about me). PIC got laid off, SWEEET, full time training partner. I think this is when the term “PIC” came about. That year was about becoming super stud kick ass athletes and helping each other get there. We started on the bikes.

Mt.Evans in the back, we two man teamed it all over the place that spring.


We really learned a lot about each other. Usually we knew more about where each other was at than we knew about ourselves. I knew when she was blitzed, she knew when I needed to eat. We shared gels, we took turns on each others wheels, and we had so much fun.


We raced across the county, heck the world, together. We always found a way to get our PIC time even if we weren’t rooming together. We found a camaraderie that year that was sorta “the next level”. I think in the beginning we may have felt a little competitiveness against each other, but any and all of that dissipated throughout last year. When we became PIC’s things changed and we helped each other through the hard times, and the hard races, and we celebrated with each other through the good ones. It helped that we had numerous good performances through the year. At Kansas, we qualified for Clearwater together.

We went to Nationals for a 3rd year together, we added Beth and Tyler to the room, which meant again…PIC and I were sharing a bed. Which apparently meant great races for the both of us. PIC taking 5th in her AG, and me 14th, both earning TEAM USA spots if we so choose to take them. Seeing her on the podium made me feel like I was on the podium, I kid you not.

Red hair extension…it was for CHARITY!

We went to Worlds in Australia with our different families, but we found a way to hook up and train everyday together. Training in unfamiliar adds a whole different crazy factor to things, but when we were together we seemed to have so much more confidence. It didn’t matter that we were riding on the wrong side of the road, we handled it together and we laughed a lot. Meeting up with Michelle was like a having a piece of home with me.

In AUS, training, note that we now have matching TT bikes, and non matching helmets, since I crashed and broke mine.

I think having each other there at World Championships paid off, we went 19th for PIC, and 30th for me, in our age group, in the world. And you know, PIC slept over in my hotel room the night before, I’m thinking that’s why we raced so well.

And at the end of the season we found each other in Clearwater, out there on the race course, and ran together for part of the race. It was almost poetic.


Michelle and I have learned through the years the value of having a training partner. I don’t think either of us could have ever imagined just how tight we would become. Going forward this year we have switched coaching, and we have switched team affiliation. It was a process that we relied heavily on each other to get through. Lots of leaning on each other, and a fair amount of tears.

It wasn’t easy, but you live, you learn, and you try to move forward with an open heart. With Michelle, I’m not afraid to tell her the truth, and she knows I’m in her corner 100%. I’m so extatic that the recent changes in our athletic career have brought us even closer together. I couldn’t imagine racing in a uniform that is different from hers, so I’m pretty stoked that this year we will be Twinkies again.

Having the same coach will enable us to continue to train together and to help each other achieve our goals. We have been very upfront with our new coach (who likes upfrontness) and he has instructed us to tattle on each other to our heart’s content (when it pertains to training). He seems to “get” our relationship and has an idea on how to use it to make each of us stronger.

We feel like we are a little mini-team this year. Our sponsors are the same, we represent them together, and although we are training towards different goals (as we have most years) I have no doubt that this year will yield lots more fun and silly pictures.

Thank you PIC, Michelley-elley, Fordy-Ford for all of your support, for being my “honesty” meter, for not making things harder than they need to be, for traveling with me, planning with me, schooling me in swimbikerun, for not holding it against me when I school you in bikerun, for sharing recipes, and photos, and lessons learned.

Here’s to another year of fun, we’re gonna kick ass!

Gonna Party Like it’s 2010?

img_0188.jpg

“Triathletes”, “friends”, yes you.

You are planning your 2010 season aren’t you? I knew it! It’s what December is all about!

Well, if you haven’t looked into the Rev3 races, you just gotta. Next week I am going to have a discount code on registration, but I wanted to give you a heads up so that you make sure to take some time to cruise the Rev3 website. There are three races you need to know about and you can check out the details further with the links below.

The really cool thing about the Rev3 company is that all of their races have options. We like options, Olympic, half, full…we like options. What do we like better than options? We like happy families. That’s why when you race at Rev3 races, your family and friends get access into the race venues….which just happen to be amusement parks.

May 9: Rev3 Knoxville. The main event is the OlympicRev distance, but they also have a HalfRev. The finish is smack dab in the middle of World’s Fair Park. Don’t believe me, check it out.

June 5/6: Rev3 Quassy. I went to this last year, it ROCKED THE HOUSE. They have added an OlympicRev to the docket this year. Your family gets to ride roller coasters at Quassy Amusement park all day while you race your heart out. Win win.

September 12: Rev3 Cedar Point. This the the debut of the FullRev, oh yes folks it’s the real deal: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, marathon. There is a HalfRev as well. All the action is in the middle of World Famous and grandiose Cedar Point Amusement Park. My mom said she would totally go, but that she would ride the coasters all day. Thanks Mom, just be sure to drag me home after 11 hours or so.

The race experience at a Rev3 event is like no other. Race staff create a forum where the pros are approachable, the schwag is delicious, and cozy, everyone is treated like a world class athlete, and where your family is extremely well taken care of.

Give the site a looksey, you will likey.

DISCOUNT CODE COMING NEXT WEEK.

Oh, and you might want to sign up for the Rev3 mailing list. That way you will stay in the know.

Double Oh, and for all my TBL fan friends, look who is doing the entire series, including the FullRev? If she can do it, so can you!

Triple Oh, I am on team Trakkers, and team Trakkers has an affiliation with the Rev3 organization. I get entry into the races for free. Just trying to keep to the new full disclosure rules. I do however pay all my travel expenses, lodging, etc, unless one of you out these would like to help me with that. Any takers?

ITU World Age Group Olympic Distance Championships

So, I got into this race via the USAT lotto. I was 10 seconds off a legitimate slot in 2008 at Nationals after they aged me up. It was such a blow and then 5 months later, poof, I was in via the lotto. I didn’t think one more second about it…until I walked into transition this morning. Suddenly I was reminded…I don’t belong here. I admit, it’s not the mindset that you want to go into a race with. I decided to put on my best Sonja smile and…fake it. I gave myself a pep talk, told myself to put my big girl panties on, and get out there and represent the USA with pride.

The swim was a point to point swim and at low tide. As I jumped across the many divots in the sand to get to the water to warm up I heard a local Aussie lady say “The stingrays make such a mess of this beach”. You can bet I spent as little time as possible walking into the water, I was swimming when it was 15 inches deep, scared of stepping on stingrays. I got in a great warm up and I felt like I was going to have a great swim.

img_9576.jpg

We lined up on the beach all intense like and then the bullhorn blew. It was the most insane crazy start EVER. I ran into the water, we dove in, bodies everywhere, hitting, kicking, and scratching. I got knocked in the head, swam over, kicked, hit.

crw_9667.jpg

I looked up to take my first sight…WHITE. I look again…WHITE. What is going on? Several more looks…then I realized that my goggles are full of water. I pull them off my face, I get hit, kicked again, snap them back on and I’m off. Better.

crw_9668.jpg

I’m swimming as hard as I know how and the body slams are never ending. It’s brutal, but I think I’m doing pretty well. About mid way through the swim a group of us ends up having a lot of contact as we realize we are slightly off course and some of us are trying to move back on, others not. I get hit in the nose, and my goggles get knocked off my face. I get them back on and keep swimming hard. About three quarters of the way through I feel like the swim is long. Oh No, not another long swim. Looking at the results, I think that “my” swim was long…like maybe I thought I was swimming faster than I was. I’m at a loss on that one! A 30:10 is a bummer for me. Especially since I swam so well at the IM two weeks ago. I’m at a loss there.

The transition was long and went pretty routine for me. I tried to make up ground, but I was quickly realizing that this is the best of the best athletes in the world and thus…everyone is good. I’m huffing and I’m on my bike and off.

The bike course was awesome. Lots of flat sections and I gave it all I had. I was going as hard as I knew how. Trying to make myself hurt more than usual. Whenever I got lax, I would push harder.

img_9652.jpg
img_9653.jpg

I was trading places with one lady a lot, it was frustrating for both of us because it was very hard work to pass the other and when we did, we both had to recover a little, which meant the other would pass back. At one point when I was overtaken I dropped onto her rear wheel but slowed considerably to get the proper distance back in the proper time. The official on the motorcycle came up to me and yelled at me. In the US you can do what I did, but for some reason he didn’t like it. No penalty, just a talking to.

On a personal note, it was very easy for me to stay drafting legal during this race. I was in an early wave and there weren’t a lot of people out on the course. I didn’t have any packs pass me, but I did see the packs both ahead and behind me. My dad got a great shot of Michelle Ford as she got overtaken by the pack that was drafting off Steph Popelar. Eye!

img_9668.jpg

Another shot of some pack action. Looking back I was really glad that I didn’t have to deal with that. My race times were completely of my own doing, and I was happy to have that experience.

img_9680.jpg

The first male on course overtook me and he was flying, that was pretty awesome. I only saw two guys on the bike course. It was so awesome to race with just women!

img_9721.jpg

Coming in off the bike I felt like I gave it all I had. I raced as hard as I could and the effort felt so much harder than past races this year. I was into transition with a 1:08:05 bike time. Again, I think I “thought” I was going faster than I actually was. He He! I was having fun though!

img_9777.jpg

A quick transition later I was off and running. I just got into a pace that hurt like hell and tried to keep it. Turns out it was about 6:46 pace and I held it the whole way. I passed lots of ladies on the run and had some great showdowns. I had a lady on my shoulder for a half mile, that was fun.

img_9741-version-2.jpg

img_9743.jpg

I had a lady totally go with me when I passed her. We sped up together until I looked at the Garmin and saw 6:10 pace. I got resilient and thought to myself “I just did an IM, I’ve got way more base that you”, and I did. Eventually she couldn’t hold it.

img_9797.jpg

I was bummed to see that the course was a little long and resulted in a 42:25 run split with 6.3 on my Garmin (which is usually short with out and back courses). I felt like it was so much faster, I felt like I was hauling!

img_9800.jpg

So, the theme of the day was “I feel like I’m flying”, but the times show that I was a little off on my perception. Which is A-OK. I had an unbelievable experience while I was out there. Racing against the worlds best at this distance is intimidating, exhilarating, painful, awesome, and kick ass, all in one experience.

img_9889.jpg

I made so many friends this week and out there on the race course. Racing in the TEAM USA uniform is one of the highlights of my entire year. I felt so proud and honored to race away with USA on my chest. And the “name on the butt”, well, that was everything it was cracked up to be as well, I loved it. The speedo fastskin suits are amazing, the most comfy suit I have ever raced in!

I did not by any means have a bad race. I had a good race. I put my heart and soul out there and it was what it was. Did the IM two weeks ago impact my day out there? Maybe. But I’m not one for excuses. I knew what I was getting myself into and I knew that the only chance I had at having a good or great race was to put all I had out there on the course. I did that and I am proud of myself!

My Partner in Crime and I.
img_9891.jpg

Final results:
F30-34: 31st out of 90
194th woman
6th F30-34 Team USA member (of 10…I did belong!)
swim: 30:10
T1: 1:37
bike: 1:08:05
T2: 1:03
Run: 42:25

The silliest picture of the day, cracks me up (Me, Michelle and Beth)
img_9894.jpg

I want to recognize my fellow Practical Coaching team mates who raced today:
Beth – 11th in F45-49 in 2:22:39
Michelle (PIC) – 19th in F40-44 in 2:20:16
Lori – 9th in F55-59 in 2:37:28
Anthony – 84th in M30-34 in 2:12:15

Ahh, the bum bum shot
img_9899-version-2.jpg

I want to thank Troy, he is such an amazing husband. He has been a total single dad this week, working, getting Annie to school and back (she only goes for 2.5 hours every day), and dance class, being a dad, being an employee, and juggling way too many balls. All that while dealing with a taper-grumpy wife who is like 18 time zones away and calls at 2am on a work night to moan. I love you so much it’s silly. Troy, you are a saint!

Also, thanks to my parents. They have allowed me access to the “parental tab” for this trip, taking great care of me in my taper-grumpy state. Dad took all the pictures, they are so awesome and something I know my entire team will hang onto for years. To the most supportive parents ever, I love you guys.

And lastly a thanks to all of you out there. All the tweets, facebook comments, and comments on my blog have kept me going. I haven’t had a lot of time to chat with you all on a personal level and the constant travel has been a little stressful. Your comments have helped me to feel connected and supported and loved.

2009 USAT Age Group Nationals

Before I get into the race report, a little update. I’m on the skyride bus headed to the airport, headed to Ironman Canada right now. From wednesday to Wednesday I’ll be on Canadian soil, so please limit all emails. Please no text messages and no direct messages on Twitter. Calls are for emergencies only. The best way to say hi is to comment on my blog, or post a tweet with @gosonja in it. I have a data plan for my phone, but it’s pricy and tweeting is the cheepist.

Lastly, please wish Amy good luck, and keep her in your thoughts Friday, she’s having both ta-tas removed.

I’m always chatty on outbound flights. Always. I’m bristling with excitement and I make friends with those around me. On my first leg it was a business traveler who used to dabble in triathlons, on the second leg it was a nice guy from Chicago headed to Birmingham for the same reason I was. We talked and talked and talked about triathlons, it was totally the bomb!

Rolling into the Birmingham airport at 11pm it was desserted except for compression sock clad triathletes. There were so many athletes I didn’t know what to do with myself. Anthony found me walking to the car rental desk and it was like we hadn’t seen each other in months. You know how it is when you come across someone that you see all the time in a nonstandard location…it’s like “OOOHHH Tony!!! hug, hug” We walked around the airport for awhile waiting for Michelle to get in and drooling over more triathletes. I also ran into TriBoomer. That was super exciting because we had planned a meeting with him on Friday to get the scoop on volunteering for Athletes for a Cure. After retreiving Michelle and deserting Anthony we headed to Tuscaloosa to met up with Tyler and Beth, our roomies for the weekend.

nat5.jpg

Michelle and I roomed together at Nationals the first year we went. That was where the partnership in crime developed. Last year we added Tyler to the mix, and he passed the initiation with flying colors, mostly because of the introduction of the “Tyler Tab”. This year we added Beth, and boy was she a huge hit…she pummeled Tyler with pillows like she grew up with ten older brothers or something.

After our arrival and the multitude of midnight pillow fighting that resulted, we all crashed in our comfy beds, ready for a hectic Friday.

nat3.jpg

Friday was all about: easy run, Starbucks, IHOP, meeting with TriBoomer, pick up packets, get red extension put in hair by Paul Mitchell, pick up bikes from VeloExpress (awesome service), drop bikes in transition, drive course, eat, watch movie for 30 minutes (excpet Tyler), CRASH!

nat2.jpg

The meeting with TriBoomer was especially important. As a group, triathletes are pretty self centered, not a lot of volunteer work going on there, me included. I’ve been wanting to change that, but have been unsure on just how to do so. I had followed TriBoomers blog after hearing his “news report” on the Get your Geek On Triathlon Podcast. I considered him quite reputable within the triathlon community and when he posted on Twitter that he needed some folks to help on behalf of Athletes for a Cure, both Michelle and I responded. What he was planning was a live radio show and twitter cast of the mens and women’s pro races on Blog Talk Radio. He needed spotters, photographers and tweeters. Michelle and I were game, so we dragged in Tyler and Beth. The meeting with TriBoomer was awesome and we were set with our jobs for the pro race. I was stoked that besides TriBoomer himself, and a university of Alabama volunteer, the four of us were his main work force.

nat4.jpg

Saturday morning came, and for the four of us, it was like clockwork. Nobody got in anyones way, we all progressed through our own routines and before we knew it we were at the race site warming up.

nat1.jpg

We found out a piece of key information on that warmup. The swim was a river swim and we had been assured the day before that the river was not flowing. There was a dam down river that was keeping the river still. Well, on the warmup we got to a vantage point where we could see that the early waves were encountering a huge current. It was so big that there were about 5 swimmers stuck at the first turn buoy into the current. We stood there and watched in horror as they swam and swam and swam and went nowhere. Soon enough the police boats made there way over in that direction. Back at the swim start I watched more swimmers while waiting for my wave and was shocked to see the bulk of participants making very little progress towards the swim exit. It was sad.

Soon enough it was my turn. I got in to warm up. Against the current I swam out and thought “Okay, at least I can swim against it”. I turned to swim back and it took 4 strokes to get back. I lined up on the dock and my entire age group was holding onto the dock for dear life. You could feel the current trying to rip you off the dock. Gulp.

Boom, we are off. Down river we go. I was at the first buoy before I could say Tuscaloosa. We took a right turn across the river and I was on a set of feet. We get to the next buoy and we are 15 yards downstream from the buoy. We make the EVIL right turn and thus begins the carnage. Swimming against current. I was secretly afraid to look at the shore, hoping I wasn’t one of those sad folks that wasn’t going anywhere. I stole a look and 10 strokes later I stole another look. Whew, I was making progress. It wasn’t great, but at least I knew I wasn’t going to be one of the many DNF’s of the day. It wasn’t pretty but I swam as hard as I knew how and eventually I made my way to the shore. 43 minutes for a mile swim, shesh.

Transition was flawless and I was off on the bike. I had a little trouble getting going, and my quads HURT from all the kicking, but I made my way through the bike. It was a two lap course, with three U-turns on each lap, so 6 total. I got a little tired of all the turn arounds but the bike went by about ten times faster than the swim.

nat91.jpg

The transition to the run had an extra step this year. I put on socks at Steve’s request. He was really concerned with all the technical downhills we would beat up our feet. With IM Canada a week later we couldn’t afford to have mangled feet. So I sat down, put on socks and off I went.

I instantly got into a groove and felt like I was calm and steady. I was running behind a guy that I had gone back and forth with at the end of the bike, he was older, but very fit (tops were not required on men in this race due to the heat…thank you triathlon gods). He was running so strong that I just stuck onto him. I was excited to think that he could drag me around the course at a fast pace. We got to the first hill and he stepped off the course to PUKE UP HIS GUTS! Dang! There went my pacer. On the first hill, which was also an out and back I saw that Michelle was just in front of me and Steve was just behind. Michelle had actually passed me in the swim despite starting 12 minutes behind me. Yea, it was that bad. So I focused on drawing myself into her, and holding off Steve. Steve caught me first and I hung to his shoulder…until I didn’t. I got to watch him pass Michelle and watched her hang onto his shoulder…until she couldn’t. It was fun to watch! Soon enough Michelle and I were side by side and I secretly hoped that she would find that extra little bit to hang with me the rest of the race. That would have been awesome!

I pulled away from her and at that point I knew I could start picking it up. I came upon Wonder Woman. I passed her, she passed me back and I passed her again. In the final half mile I dropped the pace down to a strong kick and found 3 other ladies in my age group to pass. It was a nice way to finish.

nationals.jpg

Crossing the line I felt good, not too tapped, but also felt like I had been on an epic adventure. We should have been given a medal for just surviving that swim. One guy was out there for 179 minutes. Do the math… Tony, Beth and I were all in the “swam slower than we ran club”. It was EPIC!

We waited in line to get our results and I was pleased to see 14th age group. Yea! That should get me on TEAM USA for 2010. Standing next to Michelle and watching her find out that she was 5th in her age group was pretty priceless. It was her day for sure!

We grabbed our bags, and bailed out our bikes. We cruised back to the car and changed. We had a mission, it was our time to give back, to work. Athletes for a cure needed us…but that’s better left for another post.

Thank you Troy!!! Thank you to my trip roommates Beth, Tyler and PIC Michelle. I laughed so much this trip. Thanks to Steve for training my body, and thanks to Trakkers, NUUN, and Core Concepts for supporting me.

nationals2.jpg

Details:
Swim: 43:03
T1: 1:27
Bike: 1:07:14
T2: 1:05
Run: 41:21
Total: 2:34:08

Lastly a huge congratulations to my PIC Michelle, she was 5th in her age group and made it onto the podium. You can read about it here.

nationals3.jpg

Have I done Enough?

As my miles taper down, and my training hours dwindle I’ve started to look back on what was accomplished this year. I think you have to remind yourself what you have done to reach your goals, it’s easy to forget. Steve, Andrea, Anthony and I started off this training block by heading to Canada together to volunteer in August 2008. Being total triathlon geeks were immediately bitten by the Ironman bug. We had way to much fun volunteering for IM Canada and we came home so jazzed and excited to train for the next years race. Steve got to thinking about how he was going to train us and thus was born the 17 hour training day plans. A website followed, and we had introspective meetings once a month. We started to build or base and along the way came lots and lots of fun.

We ran 41 miles on the Colorado trail and dragged way way way too many people with us.

pb010050.jpg

We ran up Red rocks stairs a ka-billion times.

pb080151.jpg

We swam and swam and swam all winter long

pb090159.jpg

We signed up for our first 50K and ran all over Moab.

pb150270_2.jpg

We ran long long runs in tights…with friends.

pb220381.jpg

We ran even longer runs, through the snow.

pb290437.jpg

We swam more…and more…and more.

pb300455.jpg

We ran 46 miles to Boulder in 19 degree weather.

dsc_0055.jpg

I tried to run 15 miles two days after running 46 miles and not yet recovered. I hurt myself. My knee kept me out of the running game for about 4 weeks, just had to take it’s time to properly heal. I learned the difference between bad pain, and healing pain. I will try much harder not to make that mistake again. Here is the “I’m happy but I hurt look”.

pc230742.jpg

We ran up Mt Evans in the snow and I turned back early b/c the knee wasn’t quite back completely. I can’t believe I left these two together.

p1030837.jpg

We went to Catalina Island and I watched Steve, Andrea, and Anthony run 50 miles. It was a hoot, and I gained perspective on being on the sideline. I had a ton of fun, and drank a few too many pomegranate margaritas.

dsc_0185.jpg

We ran up Highgrade…a tough climb for most local cyclists

p2151304.jpg

I progressed through another great snowshoe season, this time with more depth to my running and made my second National Snowshoe team.

img_0110.jpg

I got two new bikes which made me way faster

img_0052.jpg
p3121589.jpg

Michelle and I raced the boys over our entire Shadow loop, and we won (because we’re better).

p3221631.jpg

We rode everywhere. Shadow, Epic, Shadow, Epic. Climb climb climb

p3221632.jpg

We went to Las Vegas and slaughtered a half Ironman

p4170002.jpg

Then turned around 40 hours later and ran across the Grand Canyon….twice

p4201874.jpg

I ran a mountain marathon in Gateway Colorado

img_1205.jpg

I raced my first road race

p5302015.jpg

I went to Connecticut and raced the Rev3 Half Ironman

p6062043.jpg

And then the next weekend raced the Kansas 70.3 half Ironman

dsc_0051.jpg

and then the next weekend raced the Loveland Lake to Lake Oly

8a1h1395.jpg

And then we rode our bikes home

img_0255.jpg

It all involved a lot of this

img_0238.jpg

and this

img_0260.jpg

Then we cranked up the mileage and rode out east week after week after week, hundreds of miles. 156 mile rides, 100 mile rides, and lots of 85 mile rides.

img_0272.jpg

We trained for 17 hours in one day. The “official” 17 hour training day. 7K swimming, 100+ riding, and 30+ running.

17hr2.jpg

I went to California and competed in Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman

img_0319.jpg

Then came home, rode a couple hundred miles, and entered my first crit

dsc_0281_2.jpg

Then we rode 225 miles in one day

img_0509.jpg

And finally we endured a hail storm after 100 miles on the bike and 18 on the run, incurring substantial “hail damage” to our bodies.

img_0523.jpg

So, all these experiences. What if I completely choke at Ironman? Doesn’t matter. No really, won’t I be so disappointed if it just doesn’t go my way on the actual day? Nope. Because, for one, I know what it feels like when it’s not going my way. I’ve been to that ugly place on runs, on swims and on rides, and you know what, I’ve persevered through it, I’ve figured out how to keep going. So does adversity scare me? Nope. Number two, I’ve enjoyed this training, I’ve enjoyed the Ironman lifestyle. If you haven’t seen much of me lately it’s not because I’m out there painfully toiling away on my bike, it’s because I’m out there living it up doing what makes my soul happy. I have found out that there is something in me that loves to go long. I love the outdoors, and I love the way this training makes me feel in both heart and mind. If all this was for nothing…I would sign up again tomorrow. The adventures and experiences have been priceless.

I don’t know how I can encourage you all out there, but I want to let you know that I don’t consider myself to have any special powers. I don’t see myself as an unusually hard worker. What I do have is a passion to live life to it’s fullest, and the ability to smile. If any of what I have done in the past year sounds fun to you, please find a way to talk to me about it. Do you see all the pictures of all the different people that did just some of the fun stuff I did last year. Well, that could be you. So please don’t sit by and think “Man, I wish I could join them”. I would love to find a way to make that possible for you.

A Schedule of Sorts

Well Folks! I’m surprised that you have stuck through this with me. It’s been an eventful last year. In one week mayhem of epic proportions is going down! Let’s give you all a little outline of where I stand so you know what to expect. I don’t want anyone having any sort of medical complications from reading my blog.

THE WARMUP: Thursday 8/20 I board a plane headed to none other than Birmingham Alabama for the USAT Age Group National Championships at the Olympic distance to be held in Tuscaloosa. On Saturday 8/22 I will have the chance to qualify for Sept. 2010 ITU World Championships which are to be held in Budapest, Hungary (Olympic distance). I’ve got to get top 18 in my age group for a guaranteed slot, roll down is to 25th place, but beware of the lessons learned last year. They must age up everyone and recalculate the results before they award slots…so really, I wont know until I’ve had time to geek it up and do this myself. My travelmates: PIC Michelle, Bethie, and Tyler, which means uber fun crazy crack-a-lackin kinda times.
stadium1.jpg

THE MAIN SET: I arrive home on Sunday, spend 62 hours at home, give Annie big smooches and whisk Troy away to Penticton Canada, via Spokane. While Annie lives it up with her grandparents, the 17 hour training day crew, plus my parents will be drinking wine in Canada. NOOOO!! We will be a ball of type A nerves as we put the finishing touches on Ironman Canada prep. The bullhorn goes off on 8/30 and I’ll be swimming (2.4 mi), riding (112 mi), and running (26.2 mi) with 2000 other folks who have been training all year, just to hear Steve King announce “You are an Ironman” (Steve King is back this year). There are Kona slots up for grabs, and you can bet that some 17 hour training day folks will be going hard in hopes of a slot. If any of the 17hour crew gets a Kona slot I’m booking a ticket to go. Can’t miss that. Kona is 10/10 this year. After Ironman Troy and I will take a few days to unwind, visit some orchards, look for OgoPogo, and then we head back to Denver on Wednesday 9/2.
penticton_lakeside_resort_exterior_penticton_britishcolumbia_canada.jpg

THE SPEED SET: You would think, whew, that’s enough. But OH NO. Another 65 hours later I am boarding a plane to LA, and then after meeting up with my mom and dad, onto Brisbane, Australia. First time to OZ, yep-a-roonie. Troy and Annie will be holding down the fort in Denver, while SO MANY OF YOU OUT THERE have helped me get to ITU WORLD Age Group Championships. Although I leave Colorado Saturday 9/5, I arrive in OZ on Monday 9/7. It will be a fun filled week of triathloning with opening ceremonies, team USA pictures, training rides and runs with the official TEAM USA coach Steve Pye, who just HAPPENS to be my coach. We will be chilling with PIC Michelle, 17hr crewmate Anthony, PC chicka Laurie, spicy as hot sauce PC teammate Bethie, and all their respective families. On Saturday 9/12 I will step on the sand with the WORLDS best ladies in my age group to duke it out over the twisty, turny, spectator filled Olympic distance course. This race qualifies you for nothing, expect the title of “Kick Butt Triathlete”.
gold-coast.jpg

THE COOLDOWN: On 9/14 I will drag myself back to Brisbane and pop myself onto a flight where I will most likely sleep the entire 19 hours back to LA. When I awake I will have the stupidest, lamest, happy grin all over my face. I will get off the plane and collapse into Troy’s arms, look up at him and ask, “When do I get to do it all over again”?

Is the next month going to be challenging? Yes. Am I going to miss Annabelle and Troy? You bet cha. Do I feel insanely lucky to have even 1/10th of this opportunity? Humbly. I have received so much help from those who love me and those who are sick of me talking about triathlon. Everyone has patted me on the back and told me “You can do this”. Yes, I can do this, but even more so, I will LOVE and APPRECIATE every single second of the experience.

The Right Fit for my Feet

This is totally the week of product endorsements! After I took the time to have the best steel toe boots reviewed – it’s now time for me to tackle the subject of my favorite running trainers. When you train the distances that I commonly do, you become very fond of certain products that gracefully allow you to do your work. The good products, the helpful products, have a special place in your heart, because when your gear goes wrong, your training tends to follow suit.

One of the most important places that you want your gear to work is your feet. When you love to run A LOT, as in you love it A LOT, and the amount you run is A LOT, you have to have more than a good shoe, you need a great shoe.

This last year I gave up having three different shoes: a lightweight trainer for short fast runs, a heavy weight trainer for long road runs, and a trail shoe. I found a shoe I love and I wear it for everything except races. And crazy as it sounds, it’s a trail shoe.

Oh my, what shoe is this Sonja?

It’s the Brooks Cascadia.

img_0501.jpg

I love it so much I rotate through three pairs. I have 3 pairs of the Cascadia 3…maybe next up I will buy 4 pairs of the Cascadia 4…which I hear is MORE comfortable, and boasts an environmentally friendlier BioMoGo midsole, the world’s first-ever biodegradable midsole for running shoes. The laces are made out of recycled materials as well!

img_0502.jpg

Brooks has a great site that helps you figure out what shoe would work for you. Check them out at www.brooksrunning.com

They are also on Twitter…they are so cool! Follow them: @brooksrunning

Sport Science

home_mainfeature051.jpg

Have you received any of these crazy Sport Science shirts in your race packet lately? You can tell because they have the little bright yellow tag on the sleeve. Last year our Phidipides shirts were Sport Science and I found myslelf working out in it a lot. At first glance it looked like your run of the mill cotton t-shirt. The first time I put it on I couldn’t believe how well it fit. They make women’s and mens shirts separately. The other track club members were pretty jazzed about it too.

A little about their philosophy:

In 2003, we launched sport science™ smarter performance™ for the fun-having, sport-playing, running, walking, hiking, commuting, climbing, training, traveling, going, doing active people of the world.

Our mission is to create products that do more so you can do more – clothing that can go anywhere and do anything, not just in regards to function, but to comfort and style as well. When true technical performance fuses with incredible comfort and versatility, smarter performance™ is the result.

Then I worked out in it and I knew something was different about it. The fabric that Sport Science uses feels soft and nice like cotton, but it wicks. Normal race shirts are either cotton, or tech. I never feel like I can wear my race t-shirts that are tech shirts around town because they are a little thin and breezy, and somewhat see through. I definitely can’t wear the cotton race tshirts to workout in. Not for any considerable workout at least. But these sport science shirts really bridge the gap. Practical Coaching used this company for their shirts this year…I bought three!

img_0330.jpg

kansas13.jpg

Cruising through their website it looks like they make all different cuts of shirts. I would love to try out a sleeveless and a long sleeve, I definitely see a tied dyed shirt in my future, and the wool line looks really enticing.

Oh, and this isn’t just a chick thing. Troy has a habit of wearing things he likes over and over again until they die (usually beyond when they die). Despite the fact that our 17 hour training day shirts are pink, he wears it every other day (when he’s not wearing the grey Practical Coaching shirt). I haven’t told him it’s pink (he’s color blind). He hasn’t worn them out yet, and he said that if it was his choice he would wear only this brand of t-shirts. Pretty strong feelings from my mellow-smellow hubby!

If you haven’t raced a race that has Sport Science shirts you’ve got to find one! You wont be disappointed. If you know of a race that is putting Sport Science in their packets, leave the name and link in a comment below. And if you are Sport Science and you are reading this, I really love your product!