Vineman 70.3 2015

I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2009. It was one of the first 70.3 races I ever raced and I had a rough go at it. I remember a few things. One, a tree fell on the course at mile 7. It fell on three competitors and one of them broke their back. The race was stopped and we all piled up, and when they cleared the way and we got to go it was a crazy large pack draft fest. Two, I met Audra Adair on the course during said tree incident, and we remain friends to this day. I went on that day to melt on the run, and she went on to run her butt off and qualify for Clearwater 70.3 champs. Ahhh, back in “the day.”

This go around, 6 years later, I was excited to be racing this iconic course again. We drove down in Muddys truck, traffic was smooth, and we did the expo business dropping our run shoes off, attending the meeting, picking up odds and ends, and making friends!

IMG_4094

Two highlights here, you know, besides the Mark Allen one of course! First off kudos to Jasmine, who is a mama to 5 beautiful kiddos and was racing her first 70.3! I met her in line at packet pickup and she was just such a bright light! I had a bit of a girl crush on her! She finished in flying colors! I made her and the kids do jumping photos at the finish line, and then I made everyone else standing around get in on it too!!

IMG_4099

And also Shannon, who I have vaguely known electronically, but now know personally…I love that! Great Job Shannon finding that finish line Sunday! Rockstar!

IMG_4096

We ate at the Black Bear Diner and stayed at Motel 6. It was all very ghetto fabulous, but because we had met up with Ron (AKA Punky) life was good. He may see me as his annoying coach (or bratty little sister) who makes him wear a HRM and never lets him train as much as he wants to, but to me he is family and I always feel more happy and silly and at ease around him. We happened to find ourself at the Walgreens late at night buying snacks…no ice cream…sad.

Race morning arrived, 4:40 alarm went ding, and I was up and excited. Calm, and tired…but excited. We loaded Ron, Joaquin, and I’s stuff into the truck and Muddy drove us to the start and dropped us off.

IMG_4112

My wave was really late in the day so we got to stand around and watch the PROs start…and finish the swim leg. I had a very sweet conversation with Magali Tisseyre’s mom during the PRO womens swim, beautiful woman, wonderful mom. Finally it was time to mosey on over. I met up with Christine, and Hailey, and I met my Coeur teammate Lindsey for the first time. We got ourselves into the water and I got in a short warm up before it was go time.

IMG_4138

I never really stopped to think “wait how do i do this again?” I just got up to the front line and when the horn sounded, I started swimming. Pretty hard. I wanted to snag some feet. I always want to snag some feet. I watched Christine and Hailey disappear quickly into the distance, I knew it was them, just knew. I was rusty! I really banged into quite a few girls, not because I was being overly aggressive, but because I was being dumb. A few times I ran into someone and was like “Oh that was rude” in my head and then 15 seconds later “oh crap, I did it again”. I really DO NOT swim straight when I am trying to swim hard and after brutalizing this poor woman about 10 times I finally clued in and just got on her perfect feet and followed them. If you are in Womens 35-39 and you had to roll over a douchebag woman about 8 times out there….I apologize, that was me, and I think I owe you a bottle of wine.

Vineman is special in that it is VERY shallow. You can stand up pretty much the entire swim. At the turn buoy you can actually walk. I remember people walking in 2009 and this year, I decided to give it a go. I always like to try at least SOMETHING new each time I race, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I stood up and I walked and I waded and I made a few friends, and we laughed and I looked around at the view, which is STUNNING, and I stretched my arms a bit and then when it wasn’t walkable any more I dove back in and kept swimming. The lady that I brutalized and then was drafting off of was swimming this whole section right next to us walkers and by walking I lost about 1-2 feet on her. When I dove back in I jumped out a little bit and was right back on her feet. She took the most amazing line towards the right hand shore all the way back and delivered us right onto the shore with perfect accuracy!

In fact…there she is…right there behind me in the photo, I think…. If you know this girl, hook me up so I can send her a care package!! Also, I look really sad here…and tired, and old. Triathlon is glamorous. Go Roka!

1097_001014

I ran to my bike and right as I got to it I saw Hailey running out of transition along the outer path. I felt good about that because I knew that she had probably stuck on Christine (super swimmers) feet and would have swam fast. Being one transition behind her I felt was pretty good.

I was sure to step right in a big puddle of mud before I got to the mount line, you know, just to make sure the interior of my shoes were coated in mud the entire ride. Winning!

There is a steep little hill right out of transition. I had my shoes clipped into my pedals. I was rusty, there was some fumbling, and muddy feet, but I did tell myself to keep calm and just get my feet on my shoes as efficiently as possible. If you ever go to a triathlon to watch, go to the mount line, it really is the most hilarious part of the race. People, myself included, do all sorts of silly stuff. You will be laughing for days! Go Quintana Roo! Love my PRSix!

1097_013229

And…finally I’m on my bike and rolling, whew. Heart rate check in…174. Genius. Okay, that’s probably not maintainable. But the bigger problem. My legs. Oh my legs. How can I accurately describe my legs. Well, they were a sort of mixture between the feeling you get when you are walking down the stairs the day after a marathon, and the pain you are in when your favorite PT gets out that metal tongue depressor thing to do “graston.” I remember thinking at one point, “I might actually be breaking them” Soreness, pain, sharp pain, resistance, anger, not happy, my legs were NOT happy.

1097_009484

From mile 0 to mile 56 I managed the angry legs. Because I like to be honest, and because it’s kinda funny looking back, I will share with you some of the thoughts that my brain decided to come up with while I was out there.

  • Oh lordy, they are broken
  • this is not any fun
  • this is sub-fun
  • why do I do this shit?
  • you are screwed for norseman
  • you are never taking time off again
  • screw muddy
  • F$%k muddy
  • damn you muddy
  • god this hurts
  • maybe i should quit
  • this can’t be good for me
  • sheesh this course has a lot of shifting
  • why did I ride so hard on wednesday night?
  • can’t we just ride straight for a little bit, preferably down hill?
  • is that wind?
  • it doesn’t even matter
  • oh my gosh they hurt worse
  • how is that possible?
  • is it my bike fit?
  • why did I let muddy convince me this was a good idea?
  • you are so screwed
  • how are you going to run?
  • there is no way you are going to be able to run
  • you are never taking time off again
  • muddy lied to you

Yea, that’s some of the fun stuff the brain likes to bring up. BUT, luckily, I have tools and adversity is what the tools are built to withstand, so every time these thoughts came, these are some of the other thoughts that came behind them. Granted, these new thoughts are choices.

1097_026630

Choices to NOT go down the rabbit hole. And choices I can only make because I meditate and I practice recognizing when I’m thinking unproductive thoughts. I’m actually getting really fast at identifying “not helpful” and reshifting. But the whole darn bike was like one long painful meditation session of refocus, refocus, refocus. Over and over and over, AKA, fighting the good fight.

  • getting in shape hurts Sonja
  • you won’t die sonja
  • push pull push pull
  • doing your best isn’t always fun in the moment
  • remember what Kona felt like
  • Muddy knows best
  • push pull push pull
  • 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8
  • trust your coach
  • hard work always pays eventually
  • relax your shoulders
  • today is not Norseman
  • point your toes
  • engage your butt
  • is this the best you have right now?
  • what doesn’t hurt?
  • push pull push pull
  • my nose doesn’t hurt
  • my toes don’t hurt
  • dang my shoes are full of mud
  • push pull push pull
  • head down chin up
  • lean into the pain
  • relax your jaw
  • trust your coach, trust your coach, trust your coach
  • race your race, push pull

At that was how it went. I didn’t pass anyone in my AG and only a few men passed me. It was kinda lonely. Towards the end I was passed by two women in my AG and that was helpful because it gave me a nice little dose of adrenaline and competitive spirit rather than brain/thought/leg/pain management. I was able to use that pass to REINGAGE! hahaha! Joaquin would be proud.

1097_023477

Coming into T2 I spotted Muddy from a mile away on the side of the road. It was so good to have him out there screaming up storm like he likes to do. He gave me some good splits and I was happy to hear I was actually IN THE GAME, in the HUNT, in a podium position. Coolio.

There was a really long narrow run into T2 and it was slow going as many of the waves were mixed up so some people were walking that section and we had to weave our way around them, which is totally cool, just takes a little maneuvering. I ran to rack 9 where I put my shoes and a few of the ladies in my AG couldn’t find their shoes. Apparently someone had moved their shoes overnight! They were screaming and freaking out big time. Can you imagine being in the hunt, podium position and then your shoes aren’t there. I remember having no T1 bag in Kona that one year, your brain is already in fight or flight and something like that really illuminates how you handle adversity. Most freak out! It’s the normal human reaction.

But I knew that I couldn’t get wrapped up in their drama, my shoes were right where I had put them, so I immediately encapsulated myself in a big Glenda the Good Witch Bubble…you know what I’m talking about, the pink glittery one, and I sat down, put my socks, shoes and race belt on, grabbed my stuff and got the heck out of there.

Running the first mile is always a joke. Usually too fast, sometimes too slow, feeling wonky, it’s never an indicator of the day. But I know one thing, my legs did not hurt like they did on the bike, not even close. So that was good news. Around mile 1 I saw Muddy and he said I was in 3rd. I knew that 1st and second had to be Hailey and Christine, two of my closest friends in Cali. I got this big smile on my face, because it was the three of us, and that felt special! Already a win win!

I caught Punky somewhere in here and asked how his knee was holding up. He said it was okay, but I could tell he was battling with it. We haven’t been able to run him in two weeks, so this was a big wait and see. He said there were two girls ahead, both in pink. I asked if one was in the same kit as me and he didn’t say yes. So that confused me a little.

It wasn’t until several more miles when I caught up to Christine. She was running really strong and smooth and in control, she looked great. We ran together a few seconds, exchanged “I love yous” and “your ass looks HAWT” and then I pulled ahead and kept charging. I didn’t look at my watch the entire run for some reason. By mile three I was feeling really strong and steady and beast-like and I didn’t want to look down and see a split that was slow, so I just decided not to look and to continue feeling good about myself! Haha! Matt Dixon even said I looked good, and in my head I was like “RIGGGGHHHHTTT OOOONNNN.”

1097_055127

Mark, Hailey’s hubby (the guy who thought Princess Kitty was a bear….skoff) was out on his bike. And of course he’s in his Dodo Case kit! See, on the Coast Ride in January, Mark is my favorite wheel to ride. Yes, I love Hailey’s husbands wheel. I know that 95% of the time that’s her wheel to ride, but sometimes they ride side by side, in which case I can be found on Marks wheel. So, the Dodo Case kit to me is a symbol of comfort: steady, strong, ease for me, and he was in THAT KIT. BAM, loving the symbolism!

Hailey was up the road, beyond sight and Mark was there on the side when I went by. Possibly to get a split for Hailey, but I just pretended he was there to help me. Again, I could have gone either way in my brain, but I was into optimism. I asked how Hailey was doing, and he said “good, she’s a little over 4 minutes up.” I got a big smile. Four minutes is legit, she was racing great, I was happy for her.

Then he told me I was in second, but I just felt I was in third, so I told Mark “people are telling me I’m in third” and he asked about the number ranges. I had noticed at check in that some of us had numbers in the 200s and others had numbers in like the 1200s or something. So I told him that and asked if he would investigate. Sure enough a few miles later he told me that Jen was about 1 minute up the road in pink.

For some reason, that information combined with how strong and steady I felt just lit the fire under me. I had been running with a guy named Alex (I think) and chatting and the chatting ended. I had no fear, it was just “what can I do to try to close that gap?” I looked down the road and knew exactly who it was because we she was who passed me at the end of the bike and we had introduced ourselves to each other out there. I had no idea she got out of T2 ahead of me and she was running fierce!

Into the Vineyard I ran as hard as I possibly could and whenever I could see her pass a pole or a tree I would take a split on my watch to see if I could run that section faster to close the gap. Then another split and another attempt to put just a little more into each turn, cut each tangent a little tighter, stand a little taller, move the legs a little faster. Out of the Vineyard Mark was there again and told me I was 30 sec back. I clocked it at 28.

We were getting to the turn around around mile 8ish and we are close to the turn and I see Hailey! I did not expect to see Hailey at all. I assumed she was past the out and back before I even got on it. And right behind her is Jen. Now all of us are within about 40 seconds with about 4.5 miles left to race.

And honestly, I think because it was my first race back and I had nothing to lose and nothing riding on it, I got super giddy. It was all just so much fun that were were all out there racing our butts off, and that we were strong women, friendly on and off the course, but getting the best out of each other. I usually would be a little nervous with things close like that, but I wasn’t, it felt like girl power. I tell ya, we ladies provide some entertaining racing!

Jen put the hammer down to pass Hailey and then she ran like a boss! I caught up to Hailey and we ran side by side for some time. I had it in my head that when I got to Hailey she would magically just run side by side with me and we would run down Jen and it would be a sprint finish and we would all end up falling over at the finish line from exhaustion and racing and awesomeness.

But no. Eventually I pulled away from Hailey and set my sights on running the remaining hills on the course to the best of my ability. Jen continued to gap me and increase her lead more and more. I was running as hard as I could and my form was as good as I could get it. At mile 11 Muddy was there on the side screaming at me how proud he was to which I screamed 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8…which means…engage! Then he said “I told you so kid” to which I yelled the F word and the YOU word. Not my finest choice of words, but it was more of a “damn you were right.” Then I told him about my legs on the bike and how horrible they felt which felt good to get off my chest.

The last two miles are mostly downhill and I could see Jen up there, but she was UP there. I tired to run with all I had, but I wasn’t able to pull her back at all. I fought, but she was the better woman on the day, and that was 100% A-Okay! Hailey came in just a tiny bit behind me. All three of us, pretty darn close, some awesome racing out there. It was an honor to be a part of it!

1097_059697

All in all, for me it was a great day out there. I was floored with how good my legs could feel running after they felt so bad on the bike. Joaquin had the same exact experience, to a T. So that was interesting as well. It was a good confidence boost for me going into the next few months and it feels fantastic to have that SPARK back in me. Motivation is high! Okay, one more time, cuz I bought the silly photos!

1097_062710

Huge thanks to the ladies I raced against for your great sportsmanship, you all are class act. Thank you big time to Coach Muddy, Coach Barbara, and to Joaquin for being my family the last three weeks and also to Troy and Annie for letting me get away to work on my hobby. Also, Thank you to YAY (you have to have a good attitude when your kit says YAY on it), Quintana Roo (PRSix rode so great), Tribella (thank you for the constant help and advise), Coeur (for the sisters, the teamies, the kits, the training clothing, and for Hailey/Kebby/Reg), OSMO (I could not have gotten through 3 weeks and this race with out PreLoad, Active, Recovery, and Stacys advise through the years), Smith glasses (my new fav sunnies), and Punk Rock Racing (where I get my spunk).

Swim: 29:07, T1: 1:36, Bike: 2:39:25, T2: 3:19, Run: 1:34:46, Total: 4:48:13, 2nd in W35-39, 4th Amateur.

Next up, August 1st….Norseman!!! Bring it on!

Keep abreast of the happenings with my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching by signing up for the newsletter here. New fun goodies are rolling out over the new few months and I would be so honored if you would sign up for notifications!

Also the Facebook Page is picking up lots of steam since I post fun photos and ti-bits of knowledge every day! Liking the Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching Facebook Page would make my heart sing! 

Training Camp with Joaquin

This past weekend I raced my first triathlon since Kona last year, Vineman 70.3 (race report up next). It’s been nine long months! After Kona last year Muddy and I had a long chat about where we were headed from there. The Elite card issue came up and we put that to bed for the final time. I will say the current climate over at WTC and the women’s inequality issues helped make the decision pretty easy…yea…I want no part in batteling “the man” while trying to push my body to new limits. I’m very much feeling for the women PROs these days. Also, after Kona, I was really tapped out.

Muddy and I agreed that I would take a big big long long break. The longest break since I started the sport. It sounded great in theory, but it was hard in practice. It wasn’t hard to not train, that was actually really easy for me. More it was hard to hold on to my self esteem. To watch the fitness and the speed and the strength fade into the distance, to struggle through workouts at paces and speeds that were once easy was rough. I thought I would handle it like a champ, but the hard reality is that it was like someone tore away my security blanket.

When it was finally time to get going again, that was also incredibly hard. Two sports is fun, swimming and running. You can have a life, but throw that third sport back in and ouch, back to being all consumed by triathlon again. I stopped and started multiple times. Having one solid week or 5 solid days then taking 2 days off or sleeping for two days. It was fits and spurts, fits and spurts.

IMG_3769

Muddy and I had planned for me to come out to see him for three weeks in late June because my dear friend Joaquin was coming for that time period as well. The first 5 workouts in San Jose were not pretty. I was so slow and it was so painful. There was all this speed work and I had done NONE of that. I cried after the first 5 workouts in San Jose and Joaquin had to talk me off the ledge….5 times. The swims were okay, I was feeling solid there but the bike, oh the bike. Day One – Workout One. Thumbs up!

IMG_3743

The first day I was in San Jose I rode the Wednesday night ride. I got dropped by every single person, and I was going all out, my heart rate was 178 for most of the ride. I won’t admit how many times I repeated “Oh how far you have fallen.” I pulled in dead last, and went out for my run off the bike with tears in my eyes. I came back from my run off the bike with tears rolling down my cheeks. Coach looked at me, he always cares, and he knows me so well, and said “Don’t read into it, I know how to fix this.” Joaquin and I dragged ourself back to Rob and Trinas (thank you R&T xoxox) licking our wounds only to have a double run day the next day with 18 miles of running in 100 degree temps, much of it faster than I felt prepared to run. Still thumbs up, but the smile is forced!

IMG_3753

It was a dicey few days. Over the weekend when coach went to CDA to be on course for Stephen (he got 3rd in the PRO race!!) Joaquin and I joined up with Kayla and Hailey to ride the first two days of the Coast Ride. Joaquin gave me another pep talk and I got myself together, put on a smile, and went to do what I love. We went without SAG support, just mailed a box to Monterey, and bought new outfits in Morro Bay. It was a sobering few days. I got dropped on every climb. I could hold okay on flats, but the climbs I was off the back. It was good for me though, and I definitely got to see from behind just how flipping strong Hailey and KK have become. Kinda felt like that stark, in my face, reality that I have to rebuild the engine. It’s not personal, it’s just from taking time off. My attitude changed out there on the coast. Thank you Hailey and KK and Joaquin. Mark^2 too!

IMG_3805

IMG_3808

Oh and all along I have Princess Kitty sticking out of my pocket and Mark Manning says “You have a bear in your pocket.” I was appalled! I said “It’s a cat, not a bear, that would be ridiculous” Haha! PK did have a great time on the coast logging some serious pocket time!

IMG_3883

When we landed in Monterey I felt more alive. The ocean gives me strength and boy did I need it. Riding through the strawberry fields is usually the worst part of Coast Ride Day 1 in January because it’s dry and dusty. But in July it’s ALL STRAWBERRIES EVERYWHERE! It smelled amazing! Joaquin and I needed to procure some flip flops in Montery so we hit up the mall in our kits, with our bikes to buy some at Macys. We got A LOT of looks and I don’t think we smelled too good.

IMG_3812

IMG_3809

IMG_3819

We had a nice meal out with the girls, which resulted in KK getting food poisoning and having to call her hubby to come take her home the next morning. Stupid shrimp. I slept like a bear, and the next day we headed out as a little group of three to tackle the Big Sur hills.

IMG_3830

I gotta say, sharing all of this with Joaquin, who was just so thrilled to have a month off work to train like a PRO, well he deserved the happy Sonja. So pedal stroke by pedal stroke I got over my bad self. As I like to say HEAD DOWN (do the work), CHIN UP (keep it positive). Rolling into Morro Bay, after throwing a tiny fit after Ragged Point when Hailey and Joaquin were dropping me every time they took a pull (sad legs), I was happy. I love that darn rock. I love that blue coastline. I love where I was lucky enough to spend ages 10-15. Like home, but more special.

IMG_3845

We got Hailey set with a shower, a little black dress, and packed her into the car of a sweet Uber driver who came to get her and take her to the SLO airport so she could drive back home Sunday night. Joaquin and I stayed in Morro Bay. We went to Wavelengths Surf Shop and bought board shorts, shirts and sweatshirts. We had roast beef sandwiches at Hofbrau house and waked to the beach for sunset.  It is a sunset I will not, for the rest of my life, every forget. It was stunning.

IMG_4043

IMG_4039

The next day we rode 19 miles to the SLO airport to pick up a car. We had our new outfits shoved down our shorts, in our sweatshirt pockets, we looked like Hobos (Joaquin’s word). The entire ride we discussed words in the English language that have two meanings. Like a bear goes RAR, and you bear a burden. Joaquin has excellent English (he’s from Mexico City) and we had fun laughing the whole way there with like 60 PSI in our tires.

IMG_3870

The drive back was quick and we were in San Jose before we knew it, and in the pool as well, since it was now GO time. I spent three more days with Muddy and Joaquin getting my ass handed to me in most every session before it was time for me to fly home for my anniversary with Troy. We had booked tickets to go to Wanderlust (I’ll blog about that this week). After Wanderlust, I felt complete reset and came back to San Jose for another week of training and to race Vineman.

This was when the magic started to happen. The reset at Wandelust really was huge for me. I did some big runs out there, and when I came back my legs were tired from running but my heart was more clear and my brain was on board.

We had the best week of training before Vineman. It was hard. Lots of training hours. We also fixed some saddle issues I had been having on the bike that I think were contributing to some of my issues. I hit the ground running last week and didn’t look back. On the Wednesday night ride that week I rode with the front pack. I had some great track sessions, some promising mile times and I was starting to feel like myself for the first time in nine months.

IMG_4073

It’s quite amazing what Muddy was able to do with me in such a short amount of time. He knew what to do, and we just got to work. We took it day by day, but we implemented the plan. As the boys would say “It’s time to ENGAGE.” Omg this photo makes me laugh so hard core!!! Coach was making us tri-tip while coaching our workout on the trainers, but I title this one “IT’S TIME TO ENGAGE”

IMG_4036

Joaquin and I became attached at the hip, oh and we ate ICE CREAM every single night of camp. We found this place called CREAM that makes ice cream sandwiches and we ate there every night. We sang lots of songs out loud, took Princess Kitty on adventures, ate food, ate food, ate food, drank coffee, drank coffee, drank coffee, and SWAM BIKE RAN our tails off. It was good stuff.

IMG_4002

IMG_4092

IMG_4146

Going into Vineman we were both feeling the hurt of the week. If you have never had the experience of training straight through a race, I really urge you to try it. There is nothing like stepping on the line extremely compromised and having NO IDEA how it’s all going to play out. It’s good for your brain. At one point earlier in the week Muddy said “I don’t want any meltdowns out there” and it made me realize he was a little nervous I might not be able to hold myself together. His concern was valid.

IMG_4049

I’ve raced tired before, but not tired and undertrained. Hearing that really made me think, and I told him “Look, I will step on that line as a blank slate, that’s the only way that we will know what we need to change going forward” This really is the goal at every race, to let whatever training and fitness you have in you ooze out. It may be lots, it may be little, but you have to get out of your own way. You have to let what’s in there out, so that the coachycoach has good information to make future decisions with. If you meltdown, how’s he going to do his job? How are you going to get better. It’s not personal, help him help you. That was where my brain was at.

IMG_4038

On Saturday we packed up and headed to Santa Rosa to train. Looking back, the highlight was definitely riding the run course with Muddy and Joaquin and seeing coach analyze the course, tell us where to run on the road, where to push, where the aid was. He was like a kid in a candy store. That got me laughing.

Vineman report up next! Whoop!

I’m sitting in the airport now, heading back to Denver to rejoin my home life. I cried when I had to say goodbye to Joaquin and then when I had to say goodbye to coach. We really put down some great training but more than that we strengthened the bonds we had with each other and we had a lot of fun together. Last – Day, Second to last workout!

IMG_4142

It really is about the journey, regardless of the payoff and I’ve had a great journey out here. Going into Norseman in less than three weeks my head is finally screwed on straight. It’s an adventure. It’s Norway for Petes sake. I’m there to do my best, to be relentless, to persevere through the tough bits, but I’m also there for the journey, for the small contrition that Norseman will have to my overarching story, to my life of adventure.