The Utah half has become one of the races I look forward to every year. Last year I was in the hospital having a baby during the half and I eagerly anticipated it this year. The course is flat and the spectators and support are always superb!
One of the things I have loved about being on a triathlon team this year is that you have a built-in support system, and every racing experience is amplified. The night before my half I had various text messages and phone calls from my teammates wishing me luck and encouraging me. I was not nervous until the night before at packet-pick up. I learned that wetsuits would be allowed which normally makes a racer happy, but because of an incident with my dog, I was going without one. I figured if everyone was without, the playing field was even. No wetsuit, no problem. As I laid out my gear that night the normal thoughts went through my head, had I done enough preparation? Had my body amply recovered from the previous week's flu? What flavor of GU should I take on the bike? I went through the race in my mind then laid in bed for two hours trying to go to sleep.
Four hours later, it's race day! The only time I ever have to force down breakfast is race morning. I'm too excited to eat. One of my favorite parts of a race is the morning before the gun goes off. I love the energy and excitement as people prepare to race. I'm always 'Chatty Cathy' in transition with my transition neighbors. I met a few stressed out first timers, and enjoyed seeing so many friends and familiar faces. Amongst the friendly faces was coach Keena. She came to cheer everyone on and minutes before the first wave was to start she offered me her wetsuit. The miracle was that it fit, and I now had a wetsuit.
The swim was great! A double loop in the boat harbor. Lake sludge or not, I was happy to be there. I felt a little sorry for the race directors, trying to explain the swim route to a bunch of athletes with earplugs in their ears hopped up on energy drinks and adrenaline, was like giving instructions to toddlers with ADD. I think they had to explain the route about 20 times. The swim felt long, but enjoyable, there were no kicks to the face or leaky goggles, I love my swim mask. (thank you HEAD Swimming!)
As I came out of the water, Keena was right there ready to strip her suit off me, (thank you Keena). I rushed into transition excited to get on my bike. This is usually the portion of the race that I gain a little ground. I'm never last out of the water, but I can usually pull myself further ahead in a race during the bike. During the first hour on the bike, I kept telling myself to hold back a little so I could save some legs for the run. The bike course was so beautiful out on country roads and the weather was nearly perfect, a slight head-wind but otherwise great. At the turnaround I noticed myself getting passed quite a lot and my body very thirsty and running out of steam. I tried to not get discouraged and to focus on racing my own race. I instinctively wanted to speed up but my body knew it's limits. I was thankful to all of the policemen that took the time to provide a safe passage for all the racers through the intersections and streetlights that day, and I thanked every one of them as I passed by.
I would love to say that I didn't care what my bike time was, but truthfully I was disappointed in it. It was almost the exact same time I had two years ago and I know I'm a much stronger cyclist now with a much lighter and faster bike (thank you Kestrel!).
On to the run- I'll give you the mechanics, and leave the dramatics to the end.
The run was different than it was two years ago when I last did it (I don't know about last year), but I really liked the layout of the course. It's very flat and the majority of it was on the Provo River Parkway and nicely shaded. The various out-n-backs kept the run very social and allowed you to high-five friends and complete strangers. The aide stations were well placed, amply stocked and included opportunities to be hosed down like a wet t-shirt contest. The volunteers were abundant, supportive, and crucial to the success of this event.
As for myself, even with a slower bike time, (3 hours) I was still on track to keep my race within 6 hours if I could just keep a slow and steady run. I learned very quickly in mile one I would not meet that goal today. I barely walked, more liked limped/hobbled the entire first mile, even stopping altogether to try to take in even more salt tabs and get my quads to stop seizing. I remember at one point stopping and feeling like I just wanted to quit. I started trying to think of funny jokes in my head so I could stop the tears from coming out of my eyes, thus dehydrating and embarrassing me further. My throat started to close up and I told myself to just suck it up! No more pity party, I train on these very trails and I've never let them get the best of me and I'm not a quitter. What happened next is why I love this sport. Everyone passing by me on the out-in-back saw me struggling and I was buoyed up by complete strangers saying "hang in there," "you got this," "you can do it!". One girl, Ashley, even stopped to see if I was alright and another guy gave me his bag of salt tablets. I'm so accustomed to team sports where the other competitors would love to see you fail. Out on the trail it was like being a part of one big triathlon family. It doesn't matter where you finish on the podium, I know I've been inspired by those who have struggled and finished last because they didn't quit. Of course I thought about my teammates cheering me on and my family and friends who overcome hard things everyday, and if I had to limp or crawl, I was going to finish this race.
My legs started to calm down a bit as long as I didn't run over 10 min. miles. I saw Keena running along the trail (that woman is always training, she's amazing!) and she high-fived me and told me to "tough it out and keep going"- I love that.
I was happy to reach the aide station with two of my teammates, Mckenzie and Taylor, they dumped ice down my sports bra so I could snack on ice chips for the next mile (worked quite well). Every couple of miles my legs would start to seize and I would have to walk a little which was frustrating because my lungs felt great. I battled through those 13 miles! Seeing the finish line at the end of a race like that was beautiful.
The post race food was perfect! They had plenty of chocolate recovery milk, bagels, fruit, water, etc. I sat down on a chair just as they started to announce the winners of the day. I think the overall winner came in at 4:20! Amazing. I made a comment to the guy sitting in the chair next to me, "wow, I'm feeling a bit slow..." he looked at me and said "So what! We just did 70.3 miles on foot, bike and in water!"
He was right. I am so blessed to have the ability to exercise and move, and participate in these great events with such awesome people. It's amazing what we as people can do when we let go of our fear of failure and just do our best. I have had races where I got stand on the number one block on the podium and yes, it feels great, but ultimately I don't race for medals, I race for the whole journey.
This would not have been possible without the help and support I have received from family, friends, and sponsors. Specifically, RaceTri for a track record of amazing races and TriEdge for taking on the TriEdge-Kestrel Womens Triathlon Team.
My other amazing sponsors: Kestrel, Flexr Sports, BEARPAW, T3 Triathlon, HEAD Swimming USA, Coach Keena Training (thank you for your wetsuit rescue), and Cool-Aide: Sports Towels (I ran with this towel and it helped me stay cool during the run!)
I have been waiting for this race all year. It was going to be the race that I pushed myself beyond what I thought I could. My only train of thought leading into it was to race against me.
Leading up to the race I had an awesome week of taper! As I flew into Vermont, I decided I was going to stay away from the craziness and enjoy the trip. We spent time in Montreal and Stowe leading up to the race. I got my bike checked in on Friday afternoon and could not believe how big transition was. There were about 3000 racers at this event and it took me a few minutes to even find my bike spot. As I set up my bike, I quickly noted landmarks to make it easy to find the next morning.
I had a traditional, quiet dinner that evening: salmon and vegetables. My goal was to be back to the motel by 8 pm so I could get all my things together, put on my markings and be in bed by 9:30. I received a phone call from Coach H that evening, and this phone call actually helped me so much on race day! He walked through each and every step of my race with me; what I needed to do, how my body needed to respond. His words echoed in my mind several times as I was on the bike and run during the race. I am very appreciative to him for making that phone call the night before the race.
I woke up feeling well rested and oddly enough had a great night's sleep. I quickly grabbed my breakfast and gear and headed down to meet friends and head to the race. Since Boise 70.3, I have decided to not check the weather as it really doesn't matter and most likely won't be what you thought it was supposed to be anyway. And besides that, we end up racing in whatever conditions the day brings. We got into transition and I got my belongings quickly set up. I loved the “clean transition” they had at this race. We took only what we needed in transition and then checked in our transition bag with the items we didn't need.
I quickly noticed an open spot where a bike was supposed to be next to me and I thought that was weird as this was a championship race. Shortly after I had that thought a couple men came up and placed a dozen roses on the ground, and told me that their friend was to be racked there and she was killed in a bicycle accident three weeks earlier. This made my heart sad as I thought how easily that could be any of us. I later learned she had two children the same ages as mine and was a high school teacher. She was killed by a drunk driver 8 miles from her home on her bike. I spent the next few minutes thinking how lucky I was to be at such a large event among top athletes, how lucky I am to have a body that enables me to do this sport that I love so much.
Around 6:30 am, an hour prior to start, the wind picked up... lovely. Why did the wind have to follow us all the way from Utah?? We all watched Lake Champlain go from a nice calm lake to one with waves and white caps. My wave wasn't set to go until 8:52 and I had hopes that once the sun rose the wind would calm down, but it never did. I thought back to other races that I had wavy swims and knew that I could get through it. My time goal for the swim was out the window; I was going to get in and do what I could. The swim was a little crazy. I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean and wondered if I would feel dizzy when I got out. I couldn't see the buoys due to the waves so I just followed feet hoping they were headed in the right direction. I was able to hang onto the same feet until about 400 yards from the finish and then I have no idea where they went and I was left to spot for a short period on my own. Dang waves! But, I was having a great time out there amidst the craziness and was staying focused on the task at hand. Swim time: 31:12, 1:55 pace (No PR here)
I quickly ran into transition and was off on my bike. I was looking forward to this bike course. It was rolling hills through the countryside. It was beautiful and parts of it overlooked the lake. I was amazed at how quickly the bike course went by as I was having such a great time and enjoying the ride. I wasn't passed by any women, but quickly picked several off. I took in my nutrition as planned, watched my heart-rate and my average speed. I was feeling great! Bike time: 1:09, 21.5 MPH average
Into transition again and out on the run. Coach H echoed through my head, “fastest transitions ever!” No time to be wasted. My goal was to not go out to fast on the run; I needed to race smart. The first quarter mile of the run is straight up a hill. I really wanted to walk, honestly, but dug in and just ran- there would be no walking today. I absolutely loved this run course- beautiful course. Most of it was along an awesome path with trees alongside. I honestly was having the time of my life. Don't get me wrong, I hurt, I was tired, and I felt like my heart would burst, but I was fully satisfied with my performance and kept my head clear of any negative thoughts. When I heard from the side line I had a half mile to go I knew I was going to blow my run goal out of the water which gave me an extra boost! Run time: 41 minutes, 6:38 minute/mile
End result: 2:24 time, a PR for me. I placed 20th in my age group, 20 seconds away from automatically qualifying for Worlds.
I would call this the race of my life. I am still waiting for the 'perfect' race without any problems as this still brought its' own: not having my bike when I landed at the airport, a windy, wavy swim, bike gears not working right, and the speed on my CatEye not working, but I can honestly say I have no regrets with this race. I laid it all out there and enjoyed every minute raced. I crossed the finish line and literally said, “That was fun!” and I meant it. I learned more about myself and what conditions and preparations benefit me on race day then any other race before this. I came to truly understand, racing is a journey. I hope I can take all that I learned from this race and implement it into future races.
A special thanks to my sponsors: TriEdge, KESTREL, FLEXR Sports, HEAD Swimming USA, BEARPAW, T3 Triathlon and Coach Keena Training. Thanks for helping me have a great race! Also, a special thanks to my awesome coaches. Their guidance and recommendations enabled me to have a fantastic race and meet my goals.
May 30, 2012 – San Diego, Calif. – FLEXR Sports, makers of the only eco-friendly sports bottle with a disposable and fully biodegradable liner, today announced the FLEXR Sports Remote Bike Hydration Kit sets a new standard for hydration among cyclists and triathletes.
Mark Goldstein, an avid cyclist and triathlete stated,” Recycling is very important to my family. We recycle everything that we can to be great stewards of the environment. I was sickened of the way regular plastic bottles became nasty and no longer something I wanted to drink out of. I have been using these bottles for cycling and running for nearly two years now. The new quick disconnect and rear two bottle remote kit are fantastic and completing long unsupported rides are much simpler with FLEXR Sports.”
The FLEXR Sports Remote Bike Hydration Kit has several unique components and key benefits for cyclists needing maximum hydration during their rides:
- - The patented bite valve enables the athlete to drink without removing the FLEXR Sports bottle from the cage mount; a flexible straw ensures maximum fluid flow.
- - FLEXR Sports offers the only BPA-free sports bottle with a multi-use disposable and fully biodegradable liner that eliminates harmful bacteria or unpleasant aftertaste and keeps the bottle as clean and fresh as on “day one” for years to come.
- - The Remote Bike Hydration Kit also allows set up for up to three bottles; one bottle can be filled with water and energy drinks and mixes can be stored in the other bottles.
- - FLEXR’s unique quick disconnect system allows triathletes and cyclists to quickly swap out bottles or switch from a front bottle on the down tube to the rear bottles without stopping.
- - Affordable: 21 oz. single kit retails for $34.95, two-bottle kits retail for only $69.95. The bottles can be used off the bike with the standard cap that is included for conventional bottle use.
Rachel Zambrano, a FLEXR Sports team rider who recently finished her 1st IRONMAN and placed 19th in her division using the FLEXR Sports Remote Bike Hydration Kit commented, “Nutrition is often the most complicated parts of racing. FLEXR Sports made it pretty simple for me. With two of the remote bike kits, I never have to come out of aero when I’m racing. I refilled my FLEXR bottles at the special needs stop, which took less than a minute, and was off again to finish Ironman Texas.”
The FLEXR Sports Remote Bike Hydration Kit is available in four options: a 21 oz bottle; a 28 oz bottle; a kit with two 21 oz bottles in the rear of the bike; and a full kit that includes three 21 oz bottles. The Rear Twin 21oz Remote Bike Hydration Kit retails for $69.95 and includes two 21 oz. FLEXR bottle with 6 liners, two new caps, poly tubing, “Y” connector with quick disconnect couplers at the bottles, and re-useable zip tie connectors for easy maintenance.
The TriEdge-Kestrel Women's Triathlon Team is proud to call FLEXR Sports a sponsor. "I LOVE the biodegradable liners. It's so nice to come home from a ride, throw away the liner and be ready for the next workout," one of the women commented. Another added, "I don't have to deal with the faint taste of last week's workout."
FLEXR Sports bottles and accessories can be purchased at www.flexrsports.com.
About FLEXR Sports Products
FLEXR Sports provides environmentally friendly, sports hydration products and accessories. Additionally, FLEXR Sports donates 5 percent of all sales to charities in the fields of health and environmentalism. For more information about FLEXR Sports, please visit www.flexrsports.com or visit us on Facebook or Twitter at @flexrsports.
Despite the endless warnings about the dangers of bacteria in old water bottles, I seem to continue to use the same ones over and over. It's pure laziness that has kept me from washing them out with soap after each use. I like to assume that since I only had water in them, I'm perfectly fine using the same bottle until it begins to smell strange. The truth is my husband and I train every day, we end up constantly overloaded with cheap water bottles in the sink, cupboards and workout bags; it's a serious pain.
FLEXR Sports has solved this issue with their BPA-free sports bottle. It includes a disposable and fully biodegradable liner that keeps the bottle as clean as the day you bought it. As an added bonus, I can use my flavored drinks without dealing with the vague after taste in my water in the coming weeks. The liner shrinks as the liquid is used reducing the sloshing issue and you can drink without tipping the bottle. I especially loved this feature on the bike where my eyes need to stay on the road.
- Various styles and sizes ranging from 8oz. (FLEXR jr.) to 28 oz. and come with five liners
- Additional liners (25 ct.) can be purchased as well as other accessories
- Ergonomic shape and feel
- Air space between liner and bottle act as insulator to keep liquid cold longer
- Patented one way jet stream valve, for accurate and precise flow.
- Comes in large variety of colors
- Designed by athletes for athletes
- Fully biodegradable liner
- BPA free
- No bacteria or unpleasant aftertaste
The FLEXR bottle completely removed my need for additional bottles hanging around the house. I have a pack of liners that I keep in my gear bag and car and I'm completely in love with this bottle. The other day, I left my it in my spin class and didn't realize my mistake until they locked the door. Since I had Carbo Pro and Zip Fizz in the bottle, I would normally just call it a loss, unwilling to clean it out after it's been sitting for a few days. However, it bothered me enough to lose the bottle that I got someone to open the door for me a day later. I plan on hanging on to this bottle for a long time.
My experience with FLEXR was the main motivation in seeking them out as sponsors for our TriEdge-Kestrel Womens Team. I really wanted our women to experience these bottles and we're proud to call them one of the team's title sponsors.
For more information about FLEXR Sports products go to: www.flexrsports.com
CONTEST!! TriEdge is giving away three 16oz. bottles with the palm holder. Here's what you have to do... count the sports bottles in your own cupboards and post your number on the TriEdge facebook page. Contest begins Friday 4pm MST (3/09/12) and ends Sunday 3pm MST (3/11/12). Winners will be chosen at random and announced shortly after contest closes. Contest is open to all US residents and is void where prohibited.