2013 Vegas 70.3 World Championships

Vegas 70.3 World Championships! I haven’t raced this since 2009 and I was excited to take another crack at it! All those bikes ready to go!vegas09

This year Vegas 70.3 was not Vegas 70.3. Ever since I qualified back in November for this race I thought about the heat. The last 3 years have been so hot and I was finally ready to tackle the heat. I had a plan, I had trained for the heat. I was ready for heat. I think everyone was who decided to race this year. But that’s the fun about triathlon, and why it’s a metaphor for life. Just when you think you are ready for a certain something, things change. We got a stroke of luck and didn’t have to deal with heat! Who would have guessed?

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Then we arrive on race morning and it’s raining, and not a little bit, but a lot-a bit.  It was a warm rain, not anything that made me cold, more just a nuisance because it was coming down pretty hard.

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I did all the normal pre race stuff. The transition area was a muddy mess, but it all went by very quickly. Michelle and I hid out under the bridge for a bit, we stood in the rain for a bit. I made sure to put on sunscreen anyways.

(dropping off the bikes the day before it was nice and warm, nothing like race day)

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After watching both the men and women pros exit the swim with Ron, it was finally time to get into the water. It was warm, and gross and I felt really good on the line. I lined up in the right spot, I picked the correct line to swim. I swam hard off the line and immediately felt about 30 girls pull away from me.

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I swam what felt strong. I was all by myself though. No pack to swim in, no single swimmer to follow. Just all alone out there. Turns out, I swam yet again really sub par for me. Which I am actually a little surprised by because I was feeling very strong in the pool recently and felt like my feel for the water was there going into the day. I swam the exact line I wanted to, it just wasn’t strong enough for a good time for me. Frustrating, yes, end of the world, no.

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Out of the water my mom told me I was 26th, I think i was actually 29th. I looked down and saw that I swam a 34 and figured “yep, ya can’t really swim that time in a World Championship and expect any better.” But after that thought I wasn’t too effected and just set out to continue to give my best effort.

The run out of transition it was pouring rain quite hard and there was lots of mud and gunk. I mounted my bike and set off to execute a steady and strong ride. There is a lot of hills on the course, up down, up down, all day long. Because the weather was so cold, I felt like I didn’t have to use my 105 degree race day plan. I could go a little harder and as long as I kept up with my nutrition I would be okay. So I set out to do that.

Throughout the ride I didn’t judge things. The “how am I feeling, how good am I doing” just wasn’t there. What a relief! I just practiced being smart. Rebecca Travis eventually passed me and her and I race well when we are cat and mousing so we kept that up for most of the ride. I gotta say, I really like that girl. I wish we lived close together because I think we would train together a ton. She rides smart.

There were some altercations out there. Mostly of the “hey you’re drafting, please stop” or “please get your 4 lengths before repassing me, because I just got mine before I passed you.” I cat and moused quite a bit with James, the Iron Cowboy who did 30 Ironmans last year. That was fun to be around him. Although he seemed to be having a fun stress free day and I was in the midst of trying to give a world class performance, so he was a bit more chatty than I was!

The main component of the day was the rain. The descents were dicey and I should have had Ryan at Kompetitive Edge tighten my breaks a bit more. I would have to squeeze my break lever really hard to get the rear break to work, and that scared me a few times, but other than that it was just about dealing with the slickness out there and getting pelted in the eyes with little rain cannonballs!

I had a low section at about mile 45-49. The heart rate dropped a bit and we had a head wind on what I thought would be a tail wind section and every flag I looked at was hanging limp so I was feeling confused. I ate and drank and refocused by thinking about my family and the sacrifices I have made to be out there racing. I thought about Brazil when I biked like a boss and tried to channel that. This got me back in the zone and I rode the last 6 which was actually 7 miles really strong (the course was 1 mile long).

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I threw my bike at the volunteers and got my bag, changed shoes and got out of transition. Immediately I was passed my Jeremy Cornman, and that made me so happy. He’s one of my favs. Then I was passed by Kevin Konczak who coaches Jen, and he gave me a boost. Although he mentioned he needed to use the port-a-john. Then later when he repassed me he said he didn’t want to end up like me at Kona. That threw me off my game for a second as I had a flashback, but I suppose I deserved that. I am an open book.

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I went out to run hard. I’ve had some less than stellar runs recently and I wanted to just see what I could do. I prefer hilly courses and this one does not disappoint.  I had coach out there yelling at me and reminding me to be a diesel. That really helped me up those hills, to just chug-a-chug-a-chug up up up.

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The mile splits were beeping on my watch and I would glance at them, but I didn’t really focus on them much because they were all over the place. The uphill miles were way over the 7s the downhills were under, who knew what it would all yield in the end. So I just dug in for the effort.

There were a lot of times that I had to refocus, recommit. Keep the gas on. There were times that I just focused on someone ahead and tried to run them down, guy, girl, dog, frog, didn’t matter.

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The last loop I just gave it all I had, like grunting, spitting, pushing with everything I had left, all I had. My family yelled at me that I was in 5th and I just kept pushing. I passed Katie (my podcast nemesis on Jims blog, whom I really love) and thought “okay, 4th now.” I ran hard all the way into the finish chute. I just had this weird feeling upon finishing. I was happy to be done, but for some reason I just knew I shouldn’t quite celebrate. And I heard a few minutes later from Sarah that she was 4th, and I knew she was quite a bit ahead and that I wasn’t on the podium.

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I borrowed a phone and called my mom and she said I was 6th. That was a hard few moments. You know they always say (and even I say this) that if you give your best you’ll always be happy? I knew I had given everything I could, but where was the happy? In that moment I was disappointed in myself. I can’t lie.

I always feel very vulnerable after races. I mean, it’s a hard time, I just gave everything I could, I put it all out there, and then you end, and you walk around by yourself, and there are all these thoughts in your head, and I’m always so emotional, with low blood sugar, and I’m always embarrassed about my emotions. I usually just want to get OUT of there.

I found Michelle after she crossed and we were able to meet up with my family and with coach. I had a nice little pep talk on the stairs with him that I’ll remember for a long time. I’ll admit its really hard for me to be emotional around my coach and to speak my mind. I would rather plaster on the smile and act like I’ve got my shit together, but in the moments after racing so hard, I just can’t.

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As he advised: Don’t look back, just move forward. And I will try my best. But it is easier said than done. I know I gave my best effort on that day, but I find it hard not to look back at the days and weeks prior and not judge those. Am I giving my best every day? I am doing everything I can all the time to be my best. I don’t think any of us can say yes to that, but it’s hard not to look back at the “no” times and judge.

I know this is one of those races that I will look back on and be so happy about. I executed well and heck, 10th in the world…I’ll take it! It stung a little to be the first amateur to not make the podium, but a few cocktails later and that sting was gone. Onwards!

10th amateur woman, 6th in 30-34, 34:00 swim, 2:41:10 bike, 1:34:59 run, 4:55:46 total time.

Vegas Baby!

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Oh Yea Baby! We’re in Vegas! Michelle and I flew here this morning to prepare for racing the 70.3 World Championships this weekend. Woo Hoo! World Champs!

It was awesome to see the swim course from the airplane. What wasn’t so awesome was to go to the actual race site and take a look at the water. The quality is really really bad. I planned on attending the practice swim tomorrow, but after seeing it, I think the 30 or so minutes I will spend in it on race day is more than enough. Ewww!

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Transition is LONG! Lots of running and it took a long time to find the mount line. Love the M-dot in duct tape. I thought that was impressive. The weather was quite hot.

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We drove the course with coach after checking out T1 and I was happy to see that I have actually been on the course. The first 70.3 distance race that I ever did was on this course, and I won that race (I think there were 30 women). So I feel really good feelings on this bike course, it’s got goo juju for me.

Nothing says Vegas like a pair of badass panties.

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After our course recon (it was 109 on the bike course when we were driving it) we went out on the town with Mom and Dad. I forgot how fun Vegas is, and we had a lot this evening.

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Tonight was fun, and tomorrow is business. It’s always great to be traveling with PIC and with my parents too. It’s easy to cut loose with them and to forget about the task at hand. Tomorrow we have the whole check your bags routine and then Sunday is race day. Whoop!

Irongirl 2013

Every year PIC (that’s what I call Michelle…Partner in Crime) and I try to do a race during the season that is just for pure fun. Like don’t take it serious, just show up and have fun! Last weekend the Irongirl series came to the Cherry Creek Reservoir, which just happens to be across the street from my house. Wha-LAH! It was a no brainer.

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I tried to get PIC to race in our jail themed bikinis, but she was like “no way” and we compromised with our PIC1 and PIC2 bikini tops with our old red Kompetitive Edge shorts.

The event had race day packet pickup, and can I just say THANK YOU for that! We showed up that morning, about 10 minutes before packet pickup closed and got our stuff. A huge highlight was the pink sparkly wrist bands! I loved them and was sad to clip mine off a few days later. But Athleta (the title sponsor…AWESOME) gave us purple bracelets that say “Power to the She” on them, and I don’t think I’ll be taking that one off for a VERY long time!

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The Ironngirl sprint is a women’s only race. I have never raced a women’s only event, but this will not be my last. It was so awesome to have lots of fit women in transition, total girl power, and it just took such an edge off. I felt at ease, and I would really suggest that any women doing their first tri start with this race. It was a perfect introduction to the sport. Although I think someone starting with this race might be a little disappointed racing other races after this, because they treated us so well.

Troy was taking care of Annie, and also Michelle’s girls Charlotte and Isabelle. After setting up transition Michelle and I headed to the swim start. Michelle was in the first wave and I told her I fully expected her to be first out of the water, to maintain her lead through the bike, and to be the first to cross the finish line. It was expected. We erupted in laughter. However, that’s exactly what she did. She even had the lead biker on the run, and that is just awesome!!!

Michelles wave got going and I watched her the entire swim, leading and then pulling away. Someone in my wave commented on her and I was like “That’s my best friend” yes….apparently I’m still in High School but I was so proud of her leading that swim.

We got lined up, I was in the 4th wave and I had a really great swim the night before so I was ready to go for it. They sounded the horn and we all started swimming. There were 4 of us right off the bat that pulled to the front. One woman pulled away and I was unable to match her pace. The other two ladies and I swam together for a little bit and then I pulled ahead.

The course was designed really smart. Usually in the res they have people swim into the sun, but race staff angled it right and the swim was really straight forward and not into the sun. The buoys were in line, and properly spaced, it was just really done right, and I’m kinda picky.

Out of the swim in 11:28 I was STOKED! I felt strong and was 2nd out of the water in my age group. 3 feet out of the water, Sally Wang ran past me. She had swam on my feet and now was outrunning me into T2. We had to go up like 5 sets of stairs and Sally was making short work of them. I was huffing and puffing up those things, giving myself a little pep talk internally to GOOOO!!!

Helmet and bib# on and I was out of there. Everything was so panicked. It’s a sprint so I was redlining and trying to put my shoes on! GO Sonja! I got back past Sally who was on an ITU set up representing her friend’s company, C2CTurf – used artificial turf. She looked great. I put my head down looked at a high wattage number and just tried to nail it.

It was so hard to go to that deep uncomfortable place, plus maintaining control of my bike while riding at a much faster speed than I am used to at a much higher heart rate than I’m used to. I almost missed a turn because I was hammering so hard and I barely had time to break and make it. I may or may not have locked up the breaks and literally skidded around the corner. Poor volunteer! But its a RACE and I love to RACE!

The volunteers were really great on course. They were so positive and did their jobs really well. I saw Michelle out there hammering in the lead and it inspired me to keep going as hard as I could. When the watts would drop I would just crank them back up again. It was really really fun. 30:53 for 12 miles and I was off that bike in the blink of an eye.

Off the bike and onto the run, I was nervous that Sally would catch me since she seemed light and fast. The girls were running with me and yelling at me like the best cheer crew an Irongirl could ask for. I love that Michelle and Is girls are so supportive and love watching their moms race. I ran as fast as I could, which was unfortunately about as fast as I run an olympic…maybe a 70.3. Where is my upper end? I was trying! I run the course probably 3 times a week so I knew every nook and cranny. It was awesome to be on home turf. I think one of the coolest parts of the day was when I was coming in the last half mile and a lot of the women were going out on the run and it dawned on me, in the heat of the moment, that it was all women. Just a ton of girl strength, it was very empowering and really helped me dig deeply.

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Into the finish line the girls ran me in, and Michelle was there with a big grin, as well as Troy who was probably in the midst or female overload! Such a great sport. 21:01 run time for a total sprint time of 1:05:31!

the finish line was the best. They medaled you, and handed you this ginormous bottle of water! Like HUGE! Great sponsor. They had a full breakfast set up for the finishers complete with burritos, eggs, sausage, yogurt, fruit, you name it! They were even making FlapJacked protein pancakes on site. It was the best post race meal I have ever had!

Michelle and I grabbed our phones and downloaded the Irongirl app and our results were posted. Michelle had won her AG which she knew because she was first across the line. She was 6th overall and I had won the race overall. That was awesome and made me feel really great. The winner schwag was pretty darn awesome. Arm warmers, hydration waist belt, car decal, beautiful pendant that says “Every girl has an iron core” and a $100 gift card to Athleta. So well taken care of!

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All in all this was a fantastic race. I would love to do it again next year. The race was really well run, it had small event charm with big event perfection. Maybe next year I can get a big group to do it and we can costume up and make a day of it! Unfortunately, after the race, I had to go ride 100 miles for Kona prep. But I had a smile on my face the whole time from such a fantastic morning.

Huge thanks to Troy, Annie, Char, Iz for the cheers, and also to my sponsors for helping me do this sport I love so much. Thanks to Irongirl for a great event.

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