Saint Anthony’s Triathlon

Arriving in Tampa after an uneventful flight was quite the shock. It was warm, damp and totally beachy. By the time we got to our cottage it was nearly midnight. We were staying in a little one bedroom cottage about a block off St. Pete’s Beach. I put together my bike that evening and we hit the hay.

Friday morning we awoke to a cloudless sunny sky. I was itching to get to the beach, but we needed to hit the store for breakfast and lunchy items. Friday was spent unintentionally sunburning the smitherines out of ourselves. I had one goal for friday – have fun and don’t get burned. Yeah, kinda blew that one! At first we thought we would be fine, but as the evening wore on we realized we were in big trouble.

Saturday we woke early and got to the race site for a pre race debriefing by Steve and Andrea. They did a great job of explaining the course while keeping a casual tone. We had to turn our bikes into transition that day, and boy was transition HUGE. It was by far the largest transition I have ever seen, with over 4000 competitors. That evening we met for a group meal over near our cottage at a very nice Itallian place called Gigi’s. Everyone was festive, Troy and I were just hoping our sunburns would heal.

I slept great before the race. I think having the sunburn got my mind off everything else as I was just trying to send healing thoughts to my skin.

The morning of the race I woke with very minor sunburn pain and I was ready to go. It was totally cool to travel to the race with Troy. We cranked up the music in the car and didn’t have to worry about 2 year old eardrums. We were rockin’ out. Transition closed at 6:45 am but my swim wave started at 9:00 am. Nice huh? We arrived a bit close to transition close time and I luckilly got set up and out of there with 4 minutes to spare. Troy and I parked the car and we headed over to find a shady spot to chill, stay calm, and watch some of the bikers come by. It was nice to be “around” the course, but not really involved, and thus able to keep my excitement curbed.

Fifty minutes before my swim wave start I went for a fifteen minute run and then walked over to the swim beach, got into my wetsuit and got into the water. The water that day was 74 and thus legal for age groupers to wear a suit, but not for the pros. I did a rather long swim warm-up, swimming down to the first buoy and back about 4 times. I got in the crowd with all the other light blue caps and I was really calm, but a bit stern, and for some reason very focused. I was very within myself, and nothing around me seemed to make me nervous or bothered.

Swim: Run Run Run, Dive into the water. Spit, Ack, Salty. Swim Sight Swim Sight Swim Sight. I wanted to sight often all the way to the first buoy since I always get lost in the first portion of the swim and usually end up way off course. For the first time I stayed on course and swam straight…for awhile! The swim was broken into three legs and when I made the second turn to start the third leg I could see starfish on the ocean floor. I was totally mesmerized by this. I was so excited that I swam off course and a guy on a jet ski had to get me going back in the right direction. The swim exit is a set of stairs that you have to swim up to and climb out of. This part was really cool, one of my favorite parts of the swim. I looked down at my watch and saw 29 minutes. With all the choppy water and the starfish, and the getting slightly lost I was ecstatic! I gave Troy a thumbs up!

T1: I ran into transition, straight to my bike between row 45 and 46 (Crazy, huh?). Wetsuit came off perfect (because it’s too big) and I was on my bike quick.

Bike: The bike was wild. This course was flat, and fast with lots of turns. Luckily Steve has really trained us how to turn so the entire Practical Coaching team sailed through the bike portion. The course had a lot of people on it since I was in the last swim wave. I was passing a person at least once every 5 seconds. I went by hundreds of people. Drafting laws were a bit hard to enforce, but since I was passing people so often I felt safe. Half of the Florida police department was on the course keeping us safe. I felt so safe in fact that in many points in the race I relaxed my upper body, put my head down and peddled as hard as I could. It was such a top notch race!

T2: In T2 I had a really bad thing happen. I lost control of my bike (I was holding it by the handle bars) and the back of it slid out to the side and hit a lady that was running behind me. I am so trained to stay calm during adversity during races that the lady yelped and I just kept running. I didn’t apologize and I just feel horrible about it. After I racked my bike I had the hardest time getting my shoes on. I had to stop, take a breath, calm down, and try again. They went on that time. I still feel bad about hitting that lady.

Run: Exiting transition was so cool because I could see Andrea and Julie up ahead. As I ran by Andrea I gave her a pat on the tush, she was looking great and running super strong. Soon I passed Julie as well, and was able to tell her good job. The run course was an out and back through a swanky neighborhood. There were huge shade trees and bomber aid stations every mile. So totally awesome! I took it out at a very conservative pace and just tried to ramp it up. I looked for ladies in my age group and wasn’t seeing very many. I would see a lady ahead that looked young so I would go catch her…only to see she was 33 or 31 or something not in my age group. I did this the whole way and did pass a few people in my group. Everyone on the course and along the way kept commenting about my awesome pace. I was just crusin, but it was tough to weave through all the runners on the course. I saw Michelle, Nicole, Jenna, and Sarah on the course. It’s always awesome to see friends! Apparently I never caught up to the leader in my age group. I pushed hard…but not too hard into the finish and standing there was a lady that looked my age. I checked her calf and sure enough she was 27. It turns out she had from 40 seconds to 1 minute on me the entire race. Just out of my visual!

I was really ecstatic to find out I was second in my age group. My FIL Roger called Troy and let him know the news and it was just icing on the cake. This race was the most fantastic race I have competed in. Afterwards they had oodles of food for the athletes and free beer for athletes, spectators, anyone who wanted it. SO WELL RUN! So totally cool.

The whole team waited and waited and waited around for the awards ceremony to see me get my award. It was unbelievably sweet of them. We even saw Bree Wee, but I was too shy to say hi to her!

Ahh, I am still basking in the great race euphoria, we will definitely be back next year! I highly recommend this race. Fantastico!

Still Here, Home Soon

We are all packed up and ready to head home early tomorrow morning. We had a great day here today visiting the Salvador Dali museum, Sunken Gardens, seeing a movie with Michael and Michelle, and topping off the evening with a wine bar visit and gormet meal. Today was truely decadent, and we are very ready to come home and shower our little girl with hugs and kisses.

Many many thanks to all of your wonderful comments on my blog. I just read them from Troy’s Blackberry (what I am also using to type right now, cool huh?) I plan to have a thorough race report up tomorrow, and mental Monday up later this week.

Thanks again for all the well wishes!

We are Off

Annie is with grandma. I totally lost it. She was crying, I started crying. This is hard! Troy was fine.

We are headed to the airport now! My mom said that she would post race results on my blog for me as soon as she gets them from Troy on Sunday. So check back then!

My wave leaves the swim beach at 8:58am Florida time (so 6:58 Colorado time, 5:58 California time).

We are off for some fun in the sun!

Down to the Wire

I’m officially in “Ahhh, I have less that 24 hours before I leave and so much to do” mode. I would feel 100% better if I hadn’t arranged to have the carpets cleaned while we are gone (compliments of the apartment complex for renewing our lease). I thought it would be the perfect time, but now I’m looking at packing up a 2 year old for 5 days with her grandparents along with packing myself for not only a beach vacation, but a triathlon as well, AND THEN leaving the house without anything but large furniture items touching the floor. What was I thinking?

And what am I doing? I’m blogging…

Get off the computer and get back to work Sonja!!!!

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! I hope you are doing something friendly for our land today. Today is a great day to put some thought towards your current lifestyle. Do you do some things that you know are wasteful? What can you resolve to do this year to cut down on your energy consumption, or the waste you create?

In celebration of Earth Day I used some of Troys shirts that were headed for the Goodwill to make some reusable shopping bags. I simply cut a square out of the collar area, cut the sleeves off and sewed up all the cut edges including the bottom. I got the idea from the BaggyShirts booth at the Sustainability fair this weekend at the Denver Botanic Gardens. This would be the perfect first sewing project if you are new to the sport!



Another great idea is to plant a garden. Local homegrown produce is unbeatable in terms of taste and environmental consciousness. Even apartment living is garden-able. I currently have an herb box, a lettuce box, two tomato plants, and two snap pea plants thriving. You don’t even need a balcony, just some sunny windows! Check out my new garden pictures.


If you are in the Denver area, Tattered Cover is offering a free book bag to anyone who purchases a book at any of their locations today.

Also my friend over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess posted about a great free coloring book for you kiddos that you just have to print.

Have a wonderful Earth Day!

Mental Monday (13): Race Visualization


When you are pre-recorded for success… just press PLAY.
Fast Forward Sports

I always include in my pre-race routine a race visualization. I think a lot of people leave this out because it feels weird. Taking some time to sit down and visualize your race going how you want it feels a bit strange. If you aren’t used to visualization the first couple times may be a bit awkward, but there are ways to get around this. I encourage you to take on the task of a pre-race visualization session.

Where to go: I take a lot of baths, so my race visualization usually happens in the tub the evening before the race. The spot you choose doesn’t matter as much as the ability to get comfortable in it. You can grab a cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee. The perfect time may be in the morning the day before your race while you have breakfast and the sun is coming through the windows. Or you might take a short afternoon walk with a snack. Give yourself some time, 15-30 minutes with no obligations, nothing to rush back to.

Make sure that you have already talked with your coach if you have one. Have your race strategy panned out, and any and all goals established.

What to think about: Once you are comfortable sit down and just start thinking. Think about leaving for the race, packing the car, how your drive will be quick and uneventful. Arrive at transition, think about body marking, setting up your spot and visualize your warm up, potty breaks, etc. Walk your mind through the start of your race, diving into the water, swimming calmly. The key here is to visualize things going correctly. Allow yourself to feel the warm fuzzy feelings of things working out. Think of the perfect swim. Imagine how it would feel to exit the water with the best possible swim. Calmly trot up the beach and into transition. Watch in your minds eye a perfect transition. Go through your transition steps in perfect order, quickly, efficiently. Exit transition and watch yourself get settled into the bike. Watch your focus and determination stay consistent and imagine a flawless bike that is strong, efficient, and comfortable. Back to transition, again perfection, onto the run. Feel your legs adjust, feel your blood redistribute to the proper muscles. Go through this in your head. Watch yourself pass tons of people in the process of having your best run. Let no negative thoughts enter, just imagine the best possible outcome to your race. Give yourself a moment to bask in the ideas of perfect execution. Sum up your visualization with some focus on after the race, seeing family, smiling, cooling down, happy, calm, satisfied.

I am thought. I can see what the eyes cannot see. I can hear what the ears cannot hear. I can feel what the heart cannot feel.
– Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Do you get it? See, if you just sit down and think about things a little bit it won’t feel so strange. Race visualization has a way of easing your nerves and tensions about a race. You have gone through it in your mind and preprogrammed the idea. You are now free to go about your pre-race business without constantly thinking about race day. Try it, believe me, you’ll like it, and you will race better because of it. Don’t stall, don’t feel the need to write down an elaborate script, just sit down, and think your ideal race through from start to finish. That’s all you need.

Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.
– Cherie Carter-Scott

Strides for Epilepsy Race Report

I didn’t plan on racing today. Nope, nada. After asking Steve what I should do instead of my planned bike for today (bike out of commission for awhile) he said if I wanted I could come do a 5K out at Wash Park today. Steve was going out to help one of my teammates, Sandy, post a great time to get into a good Bolder Boulder heat. I stayed up late last night with friends, had like 5 smores, and didn’t even sweat it that I might race today.

Another one of our teammates, Kirk, was going to jump into the race and help with pacing as well. It almost felt like a little pacing party this morning. Troy and Annie came along to the race, as did Steve’s son, and Sandy’s 4 kiddos and her brother and niece. It was a total party.

The original plan was for everyone to help with the pacing but as we got on the line to start Steve changed it up on me and gave me a new little strategy that he wanted me to attack. I admit having the game changed last minute was totally fun. A year ago I would have been MAD, but today I just got a little smile on my face and said…”I’ll try until I blow up”.

After the national anthem and some really touching words by Congressman Perlmutter we were off. I stuck straight to my plan that Steve outlined and this took me across the one mile point at 6:12. My first thought was that this was too fast. But I was sticking to my plan. I relaxed up, calmed down and just focused on turning over the legs, calming the mind, and let my body do what it loves. I came into mile 2 around 12:40 and felt right on. I decided to put in a surge that would hopfully pull me away from the lady I was running with and into the lead. I surged hard up a little hill and just let it come to me.

I was in the lead. It’s funny the feelings you get when you are leading a race. Instead of relief, it’s dread. You have this idea that everyone in the race is coming to get you. You use all your mental strength you keep your head on straight. In the lead, the work is all yours. I heard Kirk yell something at me from behind. I figured they were further directions from Steve, being relayed up the race pack. Before I knew it Kirk was at my shoulder running stride for stride with me. I stood a little taller and ran a bit harder. You see, Kirk is a bit ellusive amongst the group. He is a amazing rock star of a triathlete and one of those people that just being in his presence makes you feel fast. It was great to round the last turn with him.

I really felt like I was on pace to break 20 minutes today. That number seems to be my nemisis. I don’t run 5K’s too often, but when I do, I haven’t broken 20. I think the last 1.15 was a little long, or maybe I wasn’t flying as fast as I felt. My finish time was 20:25. I took the first overall slot for the ladies, and Sandy pulled in right behind me with the third place slot. Second went to local tri-star, just turned professional, Kylie.

All in all, I had a ton of fun executing a race strategy today. I learned a lot and this race really added to my confidence level as a competitor. Steve just keeps teaching me little by little, piece by piece. I just keep praying (or meditating) that I continue to have the clarity to absorb his teachings. I really feel like he is “raising me” in the sport and I couldn’t feel more lucky for the mentorship he provides. As we warmed up he was giving Sandy all these tips, and I was just basking in the fact that I got to be there to listen as well. He really knows how to race, and he is full of many gems.

Tons of thanks to Troy as well who totally was out there for me today. I was thinking on the way home about the sense of ease I feel when I run by my husband in races. It’s instantly calming. When he isn’t there my whole race feels off. He adds way more than I can describe to my race experience. Just knowing that someone out there doesn’t care if you stick to the plan or not, if you blow up or not, bonk or not. He could care less, he’s always just there with a smile on his face, cheering his guts out while running after a two year old. I am SO stinkin’ lucky.

A Bike Accident

We drove into the garage with the bikes on top of the car today. Troy’s bike is totaled, he cracked and bent (read: mangled) his frame. My fork was broken off, but the frame is intact. The sunroof of the car was shattered. The two bike racks were totaled. The rack bars on top of the Subaru are also totaled. It’s been a fun afternoon.

We are trying to be light hearted about it, but we catch ourselves every once in awhile with a sour look on our face as the reality seeps back in. Being down about it doesn’t help anything, and it’s not like anyone was hurt in the process. Still, it’s hard to see the busted up bike carnage that resulted.

Steve is ordering a new fork for me which will be overnighted on Monday, so we should be able to get my bike up and running again before we leave for Florida. Troy’s bike will have to wait a little longer. Unfortunately I think we will just need to get him a completely new bike. Looks like the car will be covered by insurance, subject to our deductible of course. Happy times!

Ahh, the joys of endurance sports.

Mental Monday…errr…Friday (12): Outcome Oriented Thoughts


The season is heating up. Things are really starting to happen. A lot of training has been done in the off season and in April/May most of us will see our first triathlon. The last couple days I have felt a little uneasy about the season starting. Why would this be?

Outcome Oriented Thoughts.

I nailed it. As triathletes many things can happen in the off season. Some of us put in insane amounts of work, some of us fall off the wagon. Some work on their weaknesses, some on their strengths. No matter how you spend your off season, when that first triathlon comes around you naturally wonder where you are at. You secretly hope that the off season has given you the strength to far surpass your best of the year before. If you have been sinking instead of swimming in your off season you hope that some of your fitness has hung on. Either way it’s almost impossible to keep from thinking of your first race as a litmus test for your entire off season work (or lack thereof).

You have to get over it. This kind of thinking is an obvious form of “Outcome Oriented” thoughts, in other words you (and me) are thinking about the outcome of the race before you have even stepped on the starting line. Thinking about race outcomes when you don’t really have any control over them just yields panic, unease, sleepless nights and stress.

The first race of the year is all about having fun, remembering why you love the sport of triathlon, and getting out the cobwebs. It is not a litmus test for anything. Most all of us will train straight through our first race, and if you are racing in April/May the probability that you have any speed work under your belt is slim to none.

But, we can’t help it, we still think the thoughts.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I will be in Florida in one weeks time and I am already anticipating those thoughts of “I have a ton to prove” and I am talking myself through them. I have nothing to prove. I only need to remind myself how much I love the action of completing a triathlon. To remember the pleasure I find in the pain and the competition; that’s the only goal. Race Execution, now that’s something I got really good at last year, but need to re-remember.

This first race is not the culmination of all the off season weeks, it’s the starting point. Your Number 1, A race of the season, now that’s the culmination of your off season and your on season.

This weekend I am going to focus on positive mental thoughts surrounding my first triathlon. I am going to talk myself into having fun, staying calm and happy, enjoying the experience, and feeling blessed that all my body parts move and function with precision (a luxury I tend to take for granted that many others don’t have).

When in doubt, take a deep breath.

Homework: If your first triathlon is coming up start thinking about those little voices that are talking to you. What are they saying? Are they worried about Performance OUTCOME? Are they worried about proving yourself, or showing your in better shape than you are. Start enacting some techniques to turn those thoughts into warm fuzzy feelings. Convince yourself that you CAN NOT be outcome focused, you must be process focused, and positive. Good Luck!

It doesn’t get any easier; you just get faster.
– Greg Lemond