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!

Experimentation – How do you actually do it?

I recently wrote an article for Amrita on fueling for the long haul (you should go read it, I worked kinda hard on it. Also, maybe pick up some bars…plant based, all good stuff in them). When asked to write an article on fueling it’s tough not to write a novel. Since starting this sport in 2007 as a way to keep healthy and keep my weight under control, I feel like I deserve a BA in triathlon. I’ve learned so much and I’ve experimented so much. I’ve sought out experts advice and I’ve still failed, even while following it. The truth is YOU possess the tools to figure out YOU. It’s on you to know yourself because when your race goes south, blaming an article on gatoraid.com for your nutrition mistakes isn’t going to net you much.

I put the following quote in the article and this little nugget has really stuck with me!

“Learning isn’t acquiring knowledge so much as it is trimming information that has already been acquired.”

–Criss Jami

In todays day and age, the acquiring knowledge portion of experimentation is easy. Spend a night performing various Google searches and reading articles and you will have more than enough nutrition guidelines to get going. Keep scouring the net, and you are going to get information overload really soon.

So, then comes the question. You’ve got some information, you’ve got some nutrition products sitting on your counter…now what?!

Here’s how to do the “trimming information” portion of experimenting, the finding out what doesn’t work part:

1. Pick 2 training sessions every week for 6 weeks that focus on nutrition testing. These sessions are not the ones where you stop and eat a Snickers at the quickie mart (because you can’t carry Snickers on race day because they melt…I’ve tried). One of these should be your long ride, and hopefully you have a run off the bike here. You will know how your nutrition is going to work for sure with 60 minutes running off the bike, so make sure you have two of those in the 6 week testing period.

Your second session should have race pace intensity in it. Now, remember, sometimes the experimentation phase isn’t the ideal training you should be doing, but if you don’t nail down your nutrition, who cares how well you were trained. You gotta dot all your “i”s and cross all your “t”s.

So now you have 12 workouts, 6 long bikes with increasing runs off them, and 6 sessions with race intensity.

2.) Write it down. You’ve got some “acquired knowledge” right? You did some google searches and you got a general idea of what might work. You know that you can’t have 30 calories an hour and that you can’t have 700. You think maybe you should have 200, maybe 300, maybe 100. Pick what you think might work and write down your plan on paper. Decide what you are going to eat and drink each and every hour. Set out a plan of attack.

One caveat here: don’t make it complicated. I had one athlete that was using like 6 different products on her training efforts. It was a little of this and a little of that. She was mixing different brands of products and it was just a huge mess. Keep it simple. Have a product in your bottles, have an edible product or two in your pockets. Have one salt/electrolyte product if you feel you need that. That’s it. As a personal example: Osmo in my bottles, Amrita bar and honey stinger chomps in my pockets. That’s it. The experimentation is all about concentration of my bottles, and when I eat what. It could just as easily be First Endurance in my bottles, and picky bars and GU gels in my pocket. Or Perform in my bottles, and Power Bar blasts and gels in my pocket. I’m not saying this to endorse other products, but more to make a point that you just need to pick something.

3.) Go train. And guess what, follow your plan until disaster happens. In other words don’t go rogue. Don’t have the Snickers Bar at the quickie mart…don’t do it. But do write in your log afterwards that you were craving a Snickers Bar at the quickie mart, because that’s important information. Stick to what you are testing and if you said you are going to drink 27oz per hour, then drink 27 oz per hour. Do this plan for both nutrition testing sessions of the week because nutrition is likely to go south in one of two instances: when you go long OR when you go fast (or both…ouch!).

4.) Assess and analyze on paper along the way. Write everything down. If you had GI distress or you puked, you either put down too many calories, or your calories were too concentrated in your fluid. So change your plan to take less or dilute them more. If your watts or pace trailed off into oblivion along the way or your run off the bike lacked any energy and you were weak-sauce, then you probably need more calories, or more fluid, or more electrolytes, or more of all three. OR, you were going too hard and you need to slow down.

Decide which of these things went wrong and adjust your plan. Write down the new plan and you are ready for next week.

The overall point here is: pick something and work it until it works. If after 6 weeks if you still aren’t there, pick a different brand and start over or adjust…change the Picky bars to Amrita bars, or change the Amrita pars to Power Bars. Adjust, but use YOUR experiences, not others and give your initial products a decent chance at working.

5.) After 6 weeks of this process, I promise you that you will be 90% there, or you will be 100% sure what doesn’t work. And guess what, you won’t have to wait until race day to find that out! If you did not go rogue, if you really stuck to doing the plan and then assessing afterwards, 6 weeks later you will have made serious progress.

So, why aren’t people really doing this? I will tell you this. The good ones are. The good ones are doing a little reading, a little research, they are keeping their thumb on the pulse of the nutrition industry, but for ever hour they spend researching, they are doing 20 hours of personal research. Once you have a working plan that only needs minor fine tuning, it’s very easy to ignore the mass of articles and dribble out there that constantly is being spewed forth (like this one…CRAP…abort abort…stop reading…go riding).

I think in this sport, a lot of people just want to go out there and train. They just want to shut off the brain, and use the training for fun and stress relief, to feed their ego. A lot of people are out there hammering away the personal issues they are having in life. And for those types, often times, race day is where they have to face the true consequences of those decisions. It’s reactive training, not proactive training. I think it was Brett Sutton that tweeted, “we only train to be faster on race day” (but probably with more typos). Think about that one.

The people at the top…they are proactively training. They are experimenting often because they are in the sport to learn more about their limits, or more about how limitless their limits really are. That type of training means constant, calculated, and reflective experimentation. It’s getting out of your head, away from your issues, and onto the task at hand.

Time Away

The thrill of Brazil has finally settled and I’ve been back to serious training for a good month now. I took a much longer break than usual this go around. My seasons are typically long and I usually plow pretty steadily through them. Most years I don’t really feel that my fitness had developed until late June, early July and my race results have followed suit.

This year, I had a May Ironman and couldn’t afford my usual slow growth of fitness. I needed to get in shape in the early part of the year if I wanted to get back to Hawaii. I worked with Coach Muddy and he had a clear plan. I spent several training blocks in San Jose where the weather was good, working on that early fitness, and it paid big dividends in Brazil.

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After Brazil I took a break and I have to say I’ve never felt in better shape in May, and I’ve never felt in worse shape in June. By the end of June I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to be fit again. But again, there is a plan to the madness and July started that plan.

It was a huge month. I don’t keep track of my mileage any more. I don’t track weekly hours, or log into Training Peaks except to write schedules. When my Garmin says “Delete History, Active Memory Full” I just scan back a few screens and delete all data. I’ve got nothing written down or logged since October. And I’m going to go ahead and say “IT FEELS GOOD!” I just dance in the glow of all the time I’ve saved. I handed the reigns over to someone I trust and he just watches me closely. It’s so nice.

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However, as July progressed I did a loose add up of the weekly mileage and I remember it started out with a 290 mile bike week, then for 3 weeks where mileage was in the 400 range. Loosely I pedaled by bike about 1,500 miles in July, give or take. The running and swimming…no idea. I just did what was required, ran when asked to, swam as many days as I could muster. But the lions share of the work was on the bike.

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I didn’t do anything too too wild on any one day. I did do 2×120 mile days back to back at the end of week two during the Double Triple Bypass. But all in all, 2 weeks at home getting a quick introduction back to training, and then two weeks of tough work in San Jose and Lake Tahoe.

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It was really interesting to see a month of work and rather than looking at the numbers to really look at where my body was at and the journey it went through. I had some really tough days in there. Some days where I didn’t feel fit AT ALL, and where just completing the mileage asked was hard for me.

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I had a day where my wheel was rubbing on my frame and I struggled my way back to my parents about to die trying to pedal home. That resulted in a full on panic attack complete with wheezing and flipping out. Then I had other tough days where there was a glimmer. I saw the glimmer of Sonja past and I got excited. One day we were at the track and the start of the session I felt heavy as a brick, but then half way trough the old Sonja showed up and dominated those intervals. Yet the day after that it was back to slow, hard, painful, dig for every pedal stroke type of work.

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Then, last week some time, about the time when I expected to be petering out (getting the waterworks – emotional release is always where I crack) I had two days where I could do no wrong. I was a beast and saw gigantic watts and got dropped by NO ONE. I was master of my domain. Of course, 2 days later…I was off the back by a ways, unable to get watts or heart rate up, and unable to stop the tears. And with that coach gave a big smile and pulled the plug. Time for rest.

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Now  I’m back home and dealing with the adjustments of being away for two weeks and coming home pretty darn tired. My family has been missing me and here I come home and just want to crawl under the covers for a few days. So, it’s been an adjustment for everybody.

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This weekend is Boulder 70.3, a race that is a complete side note for me. I wish I could say that my eyes have been fixed on Vegas and Kona, but really I’ve just been focusing on doing work, lots of work, and holding myself together. That’s where my focus has been. Everything else is just a whatever. But as the week has progressed, and I find myself a few rest days short of what I wish I had, stepping on the line at Boulder is going to take some guts. It’s a tough race.

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I learned this month that every training day is an opportunity for growth. Sometimes it just takes some distance to connect the dots. When I can balance having fun with the work, that’s when I have the greatest opportunity for success.

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2013 Ironman Brasil – The After

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Ironman #9. Wow. Six months ago I wondered whether I had run my course in this sport. I wondered if I had learned all that I had to learn and if it was time to scale back. But as the year got going I took my hard knocks and changed directions. I wasn’t ready to lay down but I knew I needed some changes in my own head if I was going to keep doing this sport.

So, here are a few of the changes this year that I think helped.

#1 – More Community. I got away from training by myself and just with Michelle and I took on new challenges. Coast Rides, camps, new friends, new training partners. This got me back to my tough girl independent roots, because the truth is, Michelle and I take care of each other. Getting left behind on the Coast Ride by the group of girls I was trying to ride with tested my positive attitude. Getting dropped repeatedly on Hamilton tested my ability to keep pushing on with a smile for my own good. When I found people who I really enjoyed training with, I made the time and spent the money to go train with them. I followed positive energizing people. And it brought out the best in me, it brought out the fighter.

Post drinks bus ride with the Chura, instant friendship! Man were we lightweights!

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#2 – Less Expectations. To say that I dropped my expectations completely wouldn’t be entirely true, but I definitely dialed everything down a huge notch. I did not plan anything after Brazil and I did not expect to race for a Hawaii slot. I wanted one, and I wanted to get back to the island, but I am done training day in and day out in hopes that one day of my life will go well. So I focused on making every day a good day, on having as much fun in my everyday training as I would on Ironman day. No more sacrifice, no more expectations that Ironman day will be any different than any other day. And honestly, as awesome as Ironman Brazil was, I can say that I  had a few handfuls of training days that were even more fun and fulfilling.

#3 – I said F-U to the scale. I could, and probably should write an entire blog post about the scale, but let’s just say that the “race weight” bullshit that is everywhere is just that. Bullshit. I started EATING like a teenager. I did a good job at camp keeping up with two pro males in the eating department. I ate whatever sounded good and whatever was put in front of me. There was lots of ice cream, and chips and salsa. Also lots of the good stuff, but I did not calorie restrict, or watch what I ate, or weigh myself. When I got home from Brazil after 2 days of dysentery I stepped on the scale and was 141. So I would say I probably raced somewhere around there or higher. This is 15 pounds higher than I have stepped on the line in Kona at. I embraced the bull dog. Couldn’t be happier. It’s a little hard to look in the mirror and see the extra pounds, but I’m more healthy, and my immunity is so much stronger. And bottom line is that I allowed my legs to get stronger by not calorie restricting so they were cuter. That’s the honest truth.

#4 I said F-U to the data. Let’s face it, I sit around and geek out on my athletes data a fair amount. The last thing I want to do is look at mine. I haven’t uploaded any of my personal data to Training Peaks since November. I have trained with my Garmin to know how far I’ve gone, and I wear my HRM about 50% of the time. I race with my HRM and Power on the bike and that helps me pace appropriately, but for a run I ditch it and just go on feel. It’s Ironman #9 and I’ve done it all. No data, race solely on data, mix the two, etc etc, I’ve tried it. So as a way to get back to the fun of the sport, I dropped some of the details. I have no idea what sort of weekly hours I trained on average, or weekly mileage. I just did what was necessary and I had a lot more time for recovery and rest because I wasn’t hindered by data geekyness (not a word) and worry.

So here I am, looking back on my best race to date. I can’t help but attribute it to the change in attitude and outlook over the last few months. I feel like at this point in time I am on solid footing. I finally got to a place where I didn’t need to go under 10, didn’t need to get back to Kona, and not needing it anymore is part of why it happened.

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Last year in Hawaii I remember feeling afraid to race well because that would mean that everything that felt wrong was actually right. This race was the opposite. I cared less about the results because I knew the journey was right. I love this sport. I love being out there racing and being a part of other peoples journey whether through coaching, being a friend, wife, or new acquaintance.

My favorite Quote, it’s on my bedroom wall.

“Results happen naturally when motivation is pure”

Motivation was pure, and results just happened naturally.

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The day following the race we went to the Kona Roll Down and I paid for my 4th Kona slot (they keep getting more expensive). I get to go back to the big dance, but this time I’m going to enjoy the journey. The WHOLE journey. I’m taking as many of my athletes who want to come. I’m surrounding myself with people who love the sport as much as I do. Whatever happens this year in October will simply be a natural extension of the training I do between now and then. No more, no less. I’m just excited for another day of fun in the sun.

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I want to thank Troy and Annie for their patience and understanding through the years. It’s so nice to hear Troy say “You are so happy this year” I’m lucky to have him in my life. Annie is excited to go back to Hawaii, it’s her favorite place on Earth. She’s such a life force in my world and I want to thank her for allowing me to chase my dreams. You wouldn’t think a 7 year old would encourage her mommy as much as my little one does.

I have to thank the boys for getting me strong this season. Mud oh Mud, this was you, you knew what to do all along,. Jim, Stephen, Gui, Chuck, Jeff. You boys pushed me and took me under your wing. I owe so much to you. Dave and Jen, thank you for your love and support as well. Operation Banana!

I also have to thank PIC, she is my sister and always puts up with my shit. Love her to death. Carolyn as well has really helped me with my run and has been my comedic relief the last few months. I love having strong women in my life. I could shout that from a rooftop!

A huge thank you to the companies that have believed in me. Kompetitive Edge always has my back. Amrita has been so generous in making sure I never BONK. I have been using their plant based bars on rides all year long, and I can’t tell you what healthy fuel does for the body. It’s magic! PunkRockRacing and Ron support me tirelessly, and QR! oh dear, another fastest amateur bike split…i think?, Nuun, Osmo, Fuel4mance, Dina and Stacy are helping me daily on my race nutrition. I am so blessed.

After the race we went to the Amazon! I’ll blog about that next!

2013 Ironman Brasil – The Run


Getting off the bike I felt that I was in the lead for the amateur race but I wanted to make sure. The course is 1 long loop of about 13 miles, and then two shorter loops of about 10.5K. When I put together my race plan I really wanted to run the long hilly loop conservative and then throw down the hammer on the short flat loops.

Did it go down like that?

No, of course not. Negative splitting the Ironman marathon always seems like an awesome plan on paper but never really comes together in reality. I’m not sure if everyone feels this way, but I almost always feel great getting off the bike (Kona being the exception). This time I felt better than usual, my nutrition was sitting super well. I felt great getting out running and 7:30 pace felt easy. I ran that pace all the way until we hit the hills.

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There was a short out an back around mile 3 and I didn’t see anyone ahead. I checked my watch and started looking for AGers behind me to get a time split. I was almost out of the out and back and saw two of them. I had 7:30 on the second AGer. I felt pretty darn good about that. Knowing I was aiming for a 3:30 marathon, that meant either of those girls had to run 3:23, on a hilly course. Okay Sonja, now, don’t screw this up. You still have like 23 miles to run.

What can I say, I loved the hilly section of the course. I ran the first long one up and down. Then the second steep one, I had to walk that! It was short and walking felt just as hard as running. At the top I got back at it. The third one I ran. On the big descent down to the ocean I saw Haley Chura (you have to read her Brazil blog, it’s hilarious) and had to give her a high 5. She looked really solid!

I hit the ocean road and we ran along that, past our hotel, and out to another out and back. I was feeling good, but was just barely keeping things under 8min miles in this section, maybe 7:45-7:50 range. Those hills really take a bite out of your mojo. I turned at the out and back and was happy to have that part of the course done.

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I took another time split and now saw that I had a 12 minute lead over the second AGer. That was when I breathed a big sigh of relief. I just felt confident that I could hold onto that lead until the end. I still had like 18 miles to run, but my nutrition was going so well, and I felt really in control of my tempo and emotional state. My self talk was 100% positive, I was having a great day.

At mile 11 my liquid nutrition had run out. I had decided to run with a waist pack for this race. I have had trouble in past races on the run with nutrition. If you read this blog often, you’ve heard it all from me. After my bonk at Oceanside this year, I am more into being prepared and having what I know works with me, than being light. Duh…that only took 9 Ironmans to figure out. So I had 2×10 ounce bottles in my waist pack with Osmo in them and I had 2 packs of chews in what I call my Kangaroo pouch. At the aid stations I had been taking water at each one and drinking it or pouring it over my head.

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Speaking of water. I need to talk about the WATER! North American Ironmans HAVE to adopt the Ironman Brasil water situation. Do you remember the cups of orange juice you used to get in Kindergarten with the foil lids? Well, thats what they handed out on the run but in water form. So it was a cup of water, with a foil lid. This was the most genius thing I’ve ever seen. No more losing half the water during the handoff. You could carry it and use it later, you could poke a little hole in the top and pour it over your head. It WAS GENIUS. Best EVER!

See the water in the cups on the right. This is a different brand, but it’s the same container.


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Okay, so after my Osmo ran out, I tried some Pepsi. Boy, immediately it made me feel very up and down emotionally. So I knew I had to get into my special needs and get more Osmo. At mile 14 I finally hit special needs, and grabbed a spare bottle of Osmo and refilled my waist pack bottles.

So one thing that was really different for me during this Ironman was my sense of being alone. I knew there was zero chance of anyone out there knowing me, so I really just focused on taking care of me. It was truly an independent day and in some ways, I think that actually helped. Now I don’t get outside assistance from people, but just running by your family on the course is always such a huge boost. I was without that, and nobody around me spoke English. Even telling volunteers my number at the turn arounds, I quit doing that because I didn’t know how to say my number in Portugese. So it was a quiet day.

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Now I’m on the short loops and it’s time to boogy. Crap. Where is my boogy? I’ve got no boogy. 8min miles was where it was at. Not a lot of urgency, just running strong. I passed Claire and we had a little conversation. IN ENGLISH, oh how that felt good! On the first shorty loop when I was going into the out and back I heard this huge booming voice screaming for me on the other side of the road. It was Troy headed out on his long loop. It was so good to hear his voice. And to be honest, I felt this huge sense of relief because I knew he would finish, and that he was safe and alive.

The Brazilians don’t really cheer for people they don’t know, and they don’t own cow bells. So it was oddly quiet out there and I hadn’t actually heard my name all day. But I knew from day 1 that this race was about tucking into my own head and getting it done.

At the end of long lap 1 we got the coolest arm band to mark our completion of the lap. I was so excited about that, and then at the end of shorty lap 1 we got another one. The excitment to get the arm band was unbearable. I looked forward to it for miles and wondered what color it would be. You could use the arm bands to tell what loop other people were on and it helped the course volunteers direct people.

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Finishing my second shorty loop I was headed to the finish. I was feeling so great, so happy, and I just kept running. The finish didn’t come…kept running…still not there. I checked my watch and it read 3:31 at 26.2 miles. No finish in sight. It wasn’t until 26.6ish that I hit the chute and in a blink of an eye it was all over. The chute was way too short.

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I did a jump at the line. I felt really really good. They didn’t catch my jump, and the race photos are so funny, prejump, and post jump, but no actual jump. First jump I’ve done that didn’t get caught. Oh well, the face on this photo is pretty classic.

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I turned around and saw 9:51 on the clock and just started crying. I felt really alone, but really happy, and I felt a little foolish for being so emotional. There were all these people staring at me, and the announcer was talking to me, but I had no idea what he was saying (theme of the trip). There aren’t any finish line catchers in Brazil, you just sort of walk off like after a 70.3. They put a dry towel around my shoulder and I soaked it with tears.

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I made my way into the post race food area, grabbed some pizza (they had a pizza oven in the finisher tent and they were hand making pizzas and they were AMAZING) and sat down at a table by myself. I just cried for awhile there, there were happy emotional tears. I felt really dumb, but I couldn’t stop. So many thoughts were swirling through my head. It was mostly a loop of “Did that really just happen?”

I must say, I want to thank Hillary Biscay. She was in the tent and she was the only person that talked to me, not that I expected anyone else to or anything. She asked me how I did and if it was my first time under 10. It was really nice of her. Ken Glah was in the tent too and he looked tired. He won his AG, and was about a minute ahead of me. Amazing.

After a few minutes I got out of there and made my way to the hospitality house that Ken Glah has on the race course for all the athletes and families of the athletes. I cleaned myself up in the bathroom and went out to the course to wait for Troy to come through. Sure enough, he came running through with 1 shorty lap to go. I got to see him twice and he asked me how I did. I told him and he did this big fist pump as he ran away from me. One lap later I got to run through the finish line with Troy (they allow 2 guests down the chute with you) and that was so so so awesome. Except I had to ask him to slow down, that was a little embarrassing. He  jumped up and touched the Timex sign, a 1 hour PR for him in his 3rd triathlon ever.

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Run Time: 3:34:15

Overall Time: 9:50:49 says the results.

Final Placing: 1st in AG, 1st Amateur, 11th woman, 123th overall in the race.

Tomorrow, some thoughts and reflections….

An addition to this blog post 18 months later! I was contacted by Guto saying that he took a photo of me that he was entering into a photography show at a studio (PS Guto takes amazing photos of naked triathletes, so you are going to want to visit his site!) He is a photographer in Brazil. HE CAUGHT MY JUMP!!! So 18 months later I have a jump photo of the finish and here it is in all it’s glory! haha!! It was just a reminder to me of the pure joy I experienced with that PR and first IM amateur win. It was such a special moment for me and I am so thankful he reached out and shared his talent with me! So awesome!!! 

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12 weeks

Troy and I are less than 2 days away from a HUGE CIRCLED DATE in our calendar. See below!

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12 weeks left! This is the first Ironman that we are really really traveling for. My first one was in Canada. But we actually flew to Spokane, rented a car, and drove over the border. No Visa, English speaking, and really easy, we didn’t really even have to change currency. Cozumel was IM #6 and that was international, but we flew direct on Frontier from Denver to Coz. Bikes were free, no Visa, and they took dollars as well. We had to speak a bit of Spanish, but after 24 hours we were in our groove.

Now, Brazil. First off, we don’t know whether to spell it Brazil or Brasil. So, we’re not even sure how to spell the place we are going. We are headed to the town (town?) of Florianopolis. It sounds like a fictional land, and there is a little mark over the last “o” that I don’t know how to make that happen typing. We have also decided that if we are going all the way to Bra(s)zil we should see the Amazon (not the one where you pay $89 a year for Prime to get free shipping).

IM Bra(s)zil has a two loop bike course with apparently 4 VERY LARGE climbs per loop and the rest is flat. I’m not sure what this means or where said climbs are, but I’m going to find out because it seems like that’s something I should know! I do know that last years overall amateur rode a 5:33 and that seems pretty darn fast.
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So, we are also going to this Amazon place, to see it…we’ll report back in 13 weeks. I’m expecting birds, crocks, pirañas (yes with a squiggle above the n…it did that all on it’s own), maybe a sloth or two. Oh and it’s very hard to do research on said Amazon without continuously running into the Prime one! I just recently found out the Amazon is not near the Ironman. I now understand that it’s like saying…we’re headed to Hollywood for the Ironman, but if we are going to Hollywood, we might as well see Mount Rushmore….it’s like that…

Amazon is in Manaus (AKA Mount Rushmore). So we go: Denver to Dallas to Sao Paulo to 6 hours of thumb twiddling in Airport where we will probably stay at one of those Fast Sleep places so we can make out to Florianopolis (with a mark over the “o”) to rest relax taper to IRONMAN to Golden ticket (unknown) to Florianopolis (still with the mark) to Sao Paulo to Manaus (Mt.Rushmore) to Amazonian adventure on a boat with hammocks and birds and bugs to Manaus to Miami to Chicago to Denver.

Whew! This is SO not your domestic Ironman. The flights alone for all this travel were just under $1600 per person. Lodging in Florianopolis is another $1600 and the Amazon adventure is another $1600. I have planted a $1600 tree in the back yard. I thought it would bear $1600 fruit but instead I am merely out yet another $1600.

amazon-river-boat-4

Having both Troy and I doing the Ironman has added some expense over just one of us racing, but in reality, it’s not much. He would already be there spectating, so at this point, why not have both of us race? I think I’m honestly MOST excited about having him racing with me. When I think about lining up with him, going through race morning with him, and feeling the race anticipation with him, I get really darn excited. I wish I could say that I’m going to swim on his feet, but in reality, he will go out too fast for me to hang on and I will lose him.

Getting a VISA for Brazil is no small feat. My drivers license address is not our current address because the CO DMV doesn’t issue new cards for change of address. So today I hiked it down and stood in line for an hour to get them to issue me a new card just so the address on my card matches the address on my Visa application which is a requirement. Step 1 of 40,000 is done. We need notarized copies of all sorts of stuff, we have to provide passport photos…even though we already have passports. They need current photos that are within 6 months. It’s crazy sauce.

Troy and I sat down before I knew this was so crazy and divided up some tasks. I got flights and Visa, he got immunizations, and budget. So yesterday he comes upstairs and tells me, he just had to make 1 call to our doctor and we have appointments for our shots. ME, I’ve got a 40,000 point to do list, and his task is done in 3 minutes. He did say that after I got all the Visa stuff done he would reward me with an ipad. I asked him if he know how much the visas were going to cost? ($280 per person) No more ipad….

amazon_boat_trip

The more I plan for this trip the more I understand that this is going to be a once in a lifetime trip. It’s not just another Ironman for us, but a really cool chance to share an adventure together, all for the affordable price of 10 grand. While we are bleeding money right now, I know that once it gets here, it will all be worth it! Memories last as long as I do, whereas money…wait…I think I got that wrong…

So, the next 12 weeks are about getting myself in great shape to race hard, but also about making sure that we really live in the moment, and that we are prepared and ready to enjoy our trip (of a lifetime) to the utmost!

5 rad things

5 things that I used the heck out of this year and I’m so glad I bought them:

My Klipsch headphones. I have 3 pairs because I lose things a lot. I get the nice ($$) ones because I like good sound and I’m already deaf enough. The toggle button works really well and it stands up fairly nicely to sweat, which is a major problem. Sometimes I have to dry them out for a few days to get the buttons to work again, but the sound is worth it and they are comfy as all get out.

5things1

Teavana. Oh dear, this was a pricy find! I’ve always wanted to be a tea drinker, but I wasn’t really actually fond of tea, until I discovered the herbal stuff at Teavana. My french press has been working overtime in combination with a mix of the Blueberry Bliss and the Kona Pineapple Pop. I like to add a little rock sugar and pour it over ice. Total treat, but not a caloric one.

5things2

Dude, I love my Flylady calendar. We get one every year. This calendar is about FUNCTION. There are no pretty pictures, it’s a work horse…like me (hahaha I crack myself up)

See how big each day is? We have found here in the Wieck house that we have to keep 2 calendars. One is electronic and is on every one of our mac devises (we are up to a house count of 7…we have a problem) , and the other is a paper copy on the Flylady calendar. Annie isn’t going to check the electronic calendar because she’s still learning to read…although it’s on her ipad mini, but she has learned to check the paper one every day. She likes to cross out the days too. She decorates with stickers as well when I’m not looking. She was actually crossing out things for a few months this summer and I kept thinking things had been canceled, but she just got black marker happy. So now the rule is “no using the black marker on the calendar without moms permission.” This thing has saved me so many times.

5things3

My darling ukulele. I don’t get to play it as much as I like, but I absolutely love it. I don’t see myself ever buying another ukulele, this one was made for me. Annie is now taking lessons and I need to sign myself up for some, but until then, I’m at peace when I’m strumming along.

5things4

My indoor outdoor temperature thingee. Why did I not get one of these years ago? Since we don’t have a TV (just 7 mac devises) we don’t have the morning weather. 95% of the time I just want to know how cold it is right now. This little guy tells me the outside temp and the inside temp. I use it when I’m getting dressed to go run or ride. It makes for super quick decision making. Love!

5things5

There ya go, 5 things that have made the year easier, healthier, and more fun. When I was writing this blog I asked Annie what her favorite 5 things were. She said…verbatim: “Toys, the roof over my head, you mommy, oh and daddy too, oh and blankie.” I was cracking up over that one.

My Friend Venn

And….the off season continues. Michelle and I got kicked out of Masters yesterday for trying to show up. One walk onto the pool deck had Nick turning us back around for the locker room, scolding us for not taking a break, and being too antsy to get back at it. Another week (at least) he said. We wined, “But it’s hard” and he said simply “It’s supposed to be.” So, we went and saw a movie.

I’m starting to get my thoughts together in a better way for next year. I’m starting to get the distance needed to look at things from a little further vantage point. Last night an impromptu chat with Troy got me thinking about fun and performance and how they link up or don’t.

In 2010, my first year with CV things were fun. Really fun, and looking back, it was probably the biggest growth year I had in my 6 years of racing. A win and successful execution at my first 100 mile run race, 3 Ironmans including an AG win at AZ, and a Kona debut of 10:17 were about as good as this girl could have dreamed. In fact it was beyond my dreams.

I had fun too. I got handed the right amount of training for me at that point in my journey, and I got to do a lot of it with people that I truly loved. We laughed so much and I have really fond memories. I was like a sponge, willing to absorb whatever CV was willing to give me. Giddy with joy, and the results just kept coming that year.

2011 was the same coach, the same set up, but things didn’t come so easy that year. the year started out fun, but I think everyones expectations were higher. 2010 had been great and everyone wanted to build on that. The year was a slow progression away from fun and towards performance results. And the results came, they did. The year was spent reiterating Kona Kona Kona under my breath. Do what’s right for Kona, be PRO, do the right thing, over and over.

I got a PR in Hawaii that year, but it was by the skin of my teeth. I almost broke 10 hours at Cozumel, by the skin of my teeth. The year solidified that I was an executor. I can take a plan and race the heck out of, stick to the correct details, make changes when needed. And I was fit, clearly fit. It was the first and only time I broke 3:30 in the marathon, and when I look back at photos I see the strain in my brow, and the fitness in my body.

Then I lost Chuck. And I found Dirk. I still haven’t met Dirk, hopefully someday. This year on paper was clearly a big step back. I felt fit, I really did. Heading to Kona I felt like I was in the best shape ever. I was seeing numbers that I wasn’t used to. But looking back, this entire year was a failure in race execution. There was a bike flat, but matched with a shakka filled lax marathon. Hawaii was my first disaster of an Ironman, it was the race I have feared for 8 Ironmans and a suiting way to finish off the year I suppose. In fact, Kona was a parallel to my year, “mild disaster but with a smile”.

I feel like this year was a big sweeping curve from performance results over to fun. I really had a lot of fun this year. Kona trianing with Laura, Friday Fundays with J&J including that awesome trip to Aspen on our bikes. NOLA 70.3 was about the most fun I’ve ever had after a race. I would say there was a brief pause in the fun and fast area at NOLA and Moab 55K, but from NOLA onwards the year was a series of less than stellar performances, riddled with execution issues.

As I look to 2013 it’s hard to decide what to do. I’ve been all over the board and yet, all my reflection doesn’t guide me much. How do I get back to what was so magical about 2010? How do I find that again? I don’t have any answers as of yet. I’m in the research and development phase.

But I know where I want to head. I have vision, and I’ve been there before, so I can find my way back. It’s about the journey, right? You can get short term results in this sport, but long term results take time. Sometimes it’s not the accumulation of training that is needed, but learning enough about yourself to let go of some of your hang ups. To grow enough inside so that all the work you put in can rise to the surface. To become vulnerable to failure, and to release your fears. I had no fears in 2010. I was flying by the seat of my pants and too busy to look back, truly present in the day. But this life of ours is an ever flowing river, that changes through the seasons.

2012 Austin 70.3

I thought after Kona that my season was done, but when PIC told me that she was going to race Austin 70.3 I wanted to join in. I was in no way ready for this race specifically. I mean, I had more fruity drinks than workouts by the time I stepped on the line. It was a swan song. Just one more for fun.

PIC and I had way too much fun in Austin. We saw Punky in the airport before we left Denver, and we ate at this really good co-op on our first day there. We had burgers, and fries, and they were awesome. It was freezing outside and the weather seemed to get colder as the trip went on. We drove the course, partially in the dark, stopped for popsicles and junk food and ate it all. I had this chocolate banana mexican popsicle that was to die for, and slightly suspect.

We checked into our hotel and it was totally seedy. I think there was a fair amount of drugs being sold in the hallway that evening, and PIC and I spent the hours of 3-5am huddled together in bed thinking we were going to die. I can’t imagine the quantity of drugs you can buy with 2 fully decked out Quintana Roo CD0.1s. Needless to say, we lived through it (barely) and we let out a huge sigh and awww when we checked into the Hilton the following day (you try fitting two built up bikes, two empty bike boxes, lots of luggage, and two women into a Nissan Altima…no easy task). Lunch with Brian was awesome, it’s been years since the three of us have all been together and was great to catch up.

On race morning, which was so cold I had on every single piece of clothing I brought on top of one another, my main concern was thorns. My transition spot was a bed of those kinds of thorns that are multisided and evil. One step and my Uggs were loaded with them.

The transition was a “clean transition.” That was said to us over and over. I knew my tires were good and that I would carry my bike to the mount line, it was my feet I was worried about. They wouldn’t let me put a towel down. I asked, I begged, I gave sad eyes to the cute guy, nope, he was unyielding. I thought about getting an official but decided to not clip my shoes in my pedals and to just wear them through T1.

After setting up T1 we nestled ourselves into one of the cabs of the rented Rider trucks that Ironman had. Nobody ever knew, it was our secret hideaway. The water temp was like 30 degrees warmer than the air so the cold temps actually were fine during the swim.

I swam as best I could, tried to stay on feet, got a bit muddled at the end, but felt good about it. AND, I really enjoyed it. I was warm and it was a wave start so I didn’t get beat to smithereens, which was so relaxing compared to Kona.

I ran to my bike, put a coat on, and started to put my shoes on. I had to wipe 20+ thorns out of each foot. They were in deep. I carried my bike out, mounted and got out of there.

I started in the next to last wave so I had a blast out there. I got to pass lots of people all day and I totally totally loved the course. It was cold when I started and my legs were quite chilly, but they warmed up about 10 miles in and I just had fun. I rode hard, but it felt good to ride hard. I just gave it what I had, and didn’t worry about much else.

Into T2 I threw on the Newtons and went running. 1 mile in I pulled off my HR strap and shoved it down my pants. I just ran by feel, as hard as I could, but I enjoyed myself as well. I found a guy at one point that had a metronome. I asked him what it was set to and he said 89. I run a pretty natural 90, so I had a blast running with him and marching to the beat of his little beep. I’m not sure one of those things would make me any faster, but it was fun for a few miles.

At one point he said “I just did IM Louisville a few weeks ago” and I retorted “Oh yea, I just did Kona” and I felt immediately bad. I even said “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to rain on your parade.” I didn’t at all mean it to come off as arrogant, I just meant to imply that we had something in common. Total dumb bunny move there and I felt bad the rest of the day over that one.

I really liked the course. It was three loops, but not boring loops, they were exciting and I really enjoyed myself. But my feet hurt and I couldn’t understand why. My heels and the balls of my feet were so sore and my Newtons never make me sore. Come to find out after the race it was the remnants of the 20+ thorns in my feet that made that pain. Talk about a prickly situation (bada-boom).

The Mile High Multisport crew was out there cheering and they made me feel like a queen the 6X I saw them out there. They cheered for me like Troy cheers for me, and I tried hard to smile every time I saw them.

The finish line was a total blast, it’s inside the arena. I was glad to make it to the line, as I am every race. I had no idea what my placing or time or anything was, but I did know that I enjoyed the race and it reminded me of how I felt when I first got in the sport. Just happy to be able to race my heart out for the sheer reason of physical movement. Michelle and I have agreed that we can’t ever race it again. They temps were in the 60s and this race is usually in the 90s. We had the perfect day, and don’t dare temp fate. One and Done!
This is probably one of my favorite pictures of all year. I love PIC.

Michelle and I both ended up 2nd in our AG. The lady who won mine was not only drop dead gorgeous, but out swam, out biked, and out ran me, was so far ahead I didn’t know she existed, and put out a stellar performance (maybe? who knows how she felt, but she dominated for sure). I look forward to following her from here on out. The other lady on the podium at the awards was a Nun. Rad.

The weekend was topped off with a few drinks with Jess Smith and friends and some damn fine TexMex. Michelle and I went for ice cream, and then snuggled the night away before a 6am flight…which I slept through.

And with that, I officially put a cap on the 2012 season. It’s time for some time away. The Garmin has been put away for good, and my bike is still in the box. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m not that concerned.

 

Ironman CDA 2012 – The Swim

This was a tough Ironman for me to prepare for. I have my Kona slot. Why exactly am I racing? Oh yea, to see how Dirks training shows up in my body. I’ve had a rough go the last few weeks and I came to the race site less than confident. But if I know something about myself, it’s that I give my best every single time, AND, I can execute a plan. So, we have all read Chrissie’s book by now. Remember how she always writes something on her wrist band for when she races. I thought I would give that a go. As I did my pre race mental work sitting on a nice rock on Tubbs hill, I realized there was a lot of things I was scared of. I’m not usually a scared person, but I was scared of being slow, and I was scared of getting beat. That really was the bottom line, whether warranted or not, I was scared about these things.

As I was reading my little quote book I came across:

“Be fearless in the face of your fears”

So I wrote fearless on my wristband. And that was a good thing for me. Having fears happens, but I can choose to be fearless, I can choose to face them head on. So I did.

Swim

It seems that every year at CDA they compact the starting swimmers more and more. There are a few things that confuse me about the swim here. Why contain us in such a narrow start corral? And why 2 loops? The lake is really big, and the beach is quite large as well. I’m not sure if it’s for dramatic effect, but if so, they are successful in that. I lined up way left so that I could escape towards the inside buoy line if needed. They don’t like you to do this but survival is survival.

Pre Race Snuggles

All week long I had been talking to people about the cold swim and how to handle the mass start. I had two athletes racing their first Ironman, Katie and Emily. Both are strong swimmers, but the Ironman swim can squash strong swimmers like a bug, so I was especially attentive to them before race day, making sure they were “ready.” My advice (like Dori) was to “Just Keep Swimming” even though you want to stop and freak out a little, just keep swimming hard and things will settle with time. We also had to deal with the cold water and it’s easy to want to stop swimming when your face is freezing, but you just gotta keep going, keep swimming. The first 5 minutes of Ironman are the worst part of the day in my opinion.

Katie, Me, Emily (or EmyK as I call her)


I saw Katy B on the start line. We held hands through the national anthem, and I saw my friend Guy as well and my nerves were less than usual. I was standing next to the clock so I knew when we were going off. Boom went the cannon.


 

I ran in and started swimming. I was good for about 30 strokes, swimming, fighting, battling for some space. Then I started getting whaled on, so I went to my super wide “get the hell off me” stroke, still getting pummeled. Then a sharp kick to the chest and I got a little wind knocked out of me, just keep swimming Sonja, be fearless. Then I breathed left, no breath, right, no breath, a few strokes, no breath, a few strokes, no breath. I started to get scared, couldn’t breathe, and forgot completely about being fearless. Then a swift kick to the face and askew went the goggles. I breast stroked and put them back on, kick to the face, swam over several times. Back swimming freestyle, goggles are are full of water. I cleared the water, kick to the boobs, and go back swimming, still no breath, no breath, getting pummeled. And all I can think is “Just keep swimming, you told Katie and Emily to just keep swimming, be fearless.” Panic, and then, I find myself flipping over on my back. It felt like a total surrender, I got swam over what felt like 10 times, but I just backstroked and gasped for air. After somewhere between 6-100 strokes I flipped back on my belly and I breathed every 2 strokes all the way until the first turn buoy. I never breath 2 strokes, always 3 or 4. I also thought about Katie and Emily and I was scared for the both of them, hoping they were doing okay and were safe. They were fine…dealt with it all better than me. Good girls.

It was the worst start I had ever had to an Ironman. About 10 times I thought to myself “I should get a PRO card so I don’t have to put up with this shit.” Around the second turn buoy heading back in for the first loop, I looked up and saw the hundreds of people in front of me and thought “Maybe nix the PRO card idea.” Hahaha!

I hit the beach finishing up the first loop in 32:45. I waded out for more carnage. The second loop was particularly fun due to the chop. It was crazy out there. Luckily I knew better than to think it was due to boats. 2 years ago I cussed at the imaginary boats that were creating all the wake, but this year I knew better, I told myself to be fearless a good 5 times on that second loop and that seemed to give me strength. CDA really is one of the toughest IM swims out there with the cold water, congestion, too close together turn buoys, and 2nd lap chop-land. It’s a tough one. The last 25% of the swim I repeated over and over and over “Get me the F&#% out of here.” I was more than ready to be done with that swim.

I don’t know what’s going on with my cap here, I have a shark fin. Honestly, any Ironman swim that you make it through alive is a good day.

I exited, and looked at my watch, 1:08:40. Ouch. But honestly, I didn’t even judge it, or put an emotion on it (good progress for me). I just moved on. I was happy to have survived and fared okay. I was cold, but knew that if I was cold, then others would be freezing.

I grabbed my T1 bag and ran to the tent. I got a chair…always nice, and even had a volunteer to help me (super rad). This was the first time I was surprised by my mood. I was super chatty with the volunteer, usually I just nod. I methodically put on my favorite green vest, and my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. She put on my race number, and helped me put on my little arm warmer bracelets that I rolled up after I got on the bike. I said thank you like 5 times, gave her a big smile and trucked on out of there.

I picked up my bike at the rack and headed out of transition. My mount was easy, methodical, and I was HAPPY! Like brimming with joy happy, smile from ear to ear.