Thursday, July 28, 2011

IMLP: Spectator Report

This past weekend was Ironman Lake Placid, which I am sure most of you know, was the Ironman that I did last year as my first Ironman ever! Since I decided to do 2 different Ironman races this year, but many of my teammates and friends were doing IMLP, I made the trip up to the ADKs (with Solveig) to spectate/support the many racers. The experience was amazing - JUST as special as actually racing IMLP, and I am eager to share it with everyone!

Solveig and I riding through Saranac Lake
We left nice and early on Saturday morning, drove Solveig's Prius to our cottage in Ray Brook, checked in, and went for a 1.5 hour ride through Saranac Lake and out towards Paul Smith College. It was really fun, the scenery was beautiful, and there were some nice rolling hills so we got a good workout! Then we headed into town to meet up with Mary and company for dinner. This is the fun part about NOT racing Ironman - you can get drunk at the Lake Placid Brew Pub the night before the race and not worry about it! (Not that I did that.. and not that I texted anyone who was racing and taunted them with my tipsy status).

our table at the Brew Pub
Sunday morning we got up super early so that we could get into town with plenty of time. We found Mary and a bunch of Train-This teammates, wished everyone good luck, and then set off to deliver bags to special needs and watch the swim start. The Ironman swim start is really something special, and there is a lot of emotion even with the spectators! While everyone was swimming loop 1, we headed to get some breakfast. I thought we would hit up a little shop in town, but Mary led us to.. a gas station. It's always classy with Mary Eggers in charge! Then we headed down to the mount line and watched a bunch of our athletes set out on the bike course! We then went back to the swim to watch the finals swimmers come in (the cutoff is 2 hours and 20 mins), then headed out to Papa Bear to cheer everyone up the hill for the completion of 1 loop of the bike course.

crazy Matt Kellman on the run in his neon yellow outfit!
After that, we set up the Score-This tent (because Rich Clark was there) at the top of "Rich Clark Hill" (can you see why it's called this?) with 2 microphones and a speaker. Rich Clark Hill is that steep hill that brings you back into town. It's a bitch, so we were at the top trying to motivate people up it! Rich and Jeremy just went non-stop all day - it was awesome! It was also a great place to see all my teammates, Rochester friends, and creepy blog friends that were racing because they went past 4 times over the course of the marathon.

Mary, Rich, and Jeremy
After 5:30 I went to check Kim's bike out of transition, and I walked it down to her condo. I saw Greg Glaser on the run and he was looking strong. Then we made our way over to the oval and watched people finish for a while. I saw Kim, Greg, and Josh run across the finish line but I missed everyone else.

Just some highlights of the really exciting parts of the day (along with some of my favorite photos!):

Probably the most exciting thing was Travis E. PRing with a 10:10, getting 4th in his AG, and getting a freaking KONA SLOT! For those of you who don't know Travis's background, he crashed on the Keene descent of loop 2 in IMLP 2009, broke his collarbone, and has been training since he healed with a vengeance for this race. Even though he is not a member of Train-This, he is Kim's boyfriend and we were ALL rooting for him. I don't think anyone deserves a Kona slot more than Travis!
Travis right after getting on the bike

We also saw White Hot race, I met his wife (the Commander) and his daughter (Teegan). He placed in the top 20 overall (not sure where), podiumed in his AG, and KQed for the 2nd time this year!

One of our athletes, Jochen, was flying. He led the Train-This crew for the entire race and finished in ~10:30. He's like a ghost - you don't hear from (or see) Jochen for 9 months before the race, and then BAM - he shows up and kills it!

Ken DESTROYED the run - he ran a 4:22 (which included many, many porta-potty breaks) and finished sub-12.

this is me running with Ken and yelling
that he was going to go sub-12!

Kim ALSO destroyed the race, with a HUGE PR of 12:16. She nailed her bike split right on the head and ran super well considering she was injured for the majority of her training. I am super proud of her!

look how pumped she is on Papa Bear!
Greg was doing his first Ironman ever, and was doing great until the run where he couldn't keep his nutrition down. So for 20 miles of the run, he was basically projectile vomiting. At one point, we were waiting for him, and then Ken and Kim both ran past us.. but no Greg (who had been in front of them both the last time we saw them). Ken told Amanda that Greg was vomiting at mile 6 and that he might have been taken by medical. Amanda was really worried so her and Greg's parents set off to the oval to see if he was in the med tent. He finally came up the hill, and I told him what was going on (why his family wasn't there), made sure he was ok (i.e. coherent and not about to collapse) and then sent him up to where Mary was at the QT2 tent, where Jesse took control. He totally HTFUed it for the rest of the day and finished in 12:20 with a GREAT attitude! I am calling Greg's day the "puke and rally."

Travis, Greg, Kim

I saw my creepy blog friend Jon on loop 1 of the run. I yelled his name and he told me that he had "a cupcake with my name on it" waiting for me at the house he was staying at. He did great, finished in 12:05 for his first Ironman, and I TOTALLY went and got my cupcake the next morning before I headed home! Check out his race report!

Jon and I the day after Ironman
I saw my other creepy blog friend Mandy on the run course as well. I knew she was wearing blue, and I thought I saw her walking up the hill (no shame in walking up that steep hill - TONS of people do it) so I yelled "Mandy?" and she didn't hear me. So I then yelled "MANDY!" - still no response. I was determined to not let her get by so I ran up behind her screaming "MAAAAAAAANDY" at the top of my lungs, jumping up and down, and waving my arms in the air like a maniac. She then turned around and started waving her arms too.. it was really funny! Make sure you check out her race report (she is writing it in 3 parts). She is totally hilarious, takes everything in stride, and is super smiley all the time!

My 3rd creepy blog friend Emily was also racing. Unfortunately, I did not see her during the race, but I hooked her up with last minute lodging so she was in the cabin right next to the one that Solveig and I were staying in. I may have left a creepy note on her door while she was gone.

At the finish line, I was sitting on the hill with Mary and Solveig after we had watched Kim and Greg finish (and gone over to congratulate them). I said "wow, I haven't seen Josh all day" and Mary replied "I wonder how he's doing?" And then I looked up and said "hey.. I think that's Josh running down the finish chute right now!" So funny and random!

Basically, it was a really fun and inspiring day. It has me pumped all over again to race Ironman Wisconsin in less than 7 weeks. And it was SO FUN to cheer on all of the Train-This athletes (Jochen, Ken, Kim, Greg, Josh, Rich, Tim, Deb, & Stefany) along with EVERYONE ELSE! I am also still hoarse from all of the screaming that I did! I obviously can't describe every single person's race, I just touched on a few: Ken and Kim are 2 of my training buddies and Greg is a good friend of mine. But every single person did great - either PRing or doing their first Ironman ever so it was a really, really great day! I am SO PROUD of everyone!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

mini-Mussel 2011 Race Report

This post has been delayed due to my computer dying and needing to be replaced. All of my race photos were on my MacBook which was being held hostage at the Apple store, and then they were transferred to my new MacBook Pro, which is now in my possession so I am able to finally post this race report!

Anyways, onto the mini-Mussel! I did this race last year and had the sprint race of my life, placing 5th OA. At the time, I was on an Ironman taper and I was coming into this race with peak volume under my belt and nicely rested legs. This year was totally different - I was 3 weeks post-Ironman, had been working out very lightly for 2 of those weeks (the first week post-IM was a complete rest week), and my legs were still feeling a bit iffy. Not bad, but not great. I had done maybe one outdoor ride and had been running a little slower than usual. Even so, it's hard to not want to take down your time from last year, to do better, to be competitive.

Train-This was in RARE form for this race. I got to transition at 7 am sharp and saw Mary. She was having issues with her tubulars. I went in, got racked, chatted with Tim, got my chip, and then by that point, Greg was setting up his bike on the rack next to mine. Mary came over and showed us her body marking FAIL where she sharpied her number on her arm completely backwards because she looked in a mirror while doing it. Also, she was wearing a practically see-through swim suit that she found in her car because she forgot her race suit. Like, the thing was probably going to disintegrate while she was racing. THEN, Greg one-ups her by showing us the tiny pair of triathlon short shorts that he was "forced" to wear (I think he secretly likes the attention) because his mom washed the wrong pair. THEN, we are literally about to walk out of transition and a girl comes over to me and says "I think you are in my spot." I look at her like "WTF, I am a triathlon pro, I have done 2 Ironmans, I would never make that rookie mistake." Then I looked at the spot in transition. 1724. Looked at the number on my bike. 1794. F$%&. I grabbed my bike and bag, Mary and Greg grabbed the gear that was laid out, and we moved me down to the other end of the rack where I actually belonged. As I was doing the walk of shame across transition with my entourage and gear, another local triathlete (and someone who works at the same place I do), Alan Hatch, yells "that's weak, Alexa!" I think I would rather walk home from a blackout night of drinking without my pants than have to do the transition walk of shame ever again. Luckily, my actual spot in transition was WAY better than the pretend one.

Mary, Greg, and I headed down to the swim start where we hooked up with various other members of the team. I was in Mary's swim wave so when it was our turn, we got in the water and made our way out to the buoy. I will take the time now to say that that was the last time I saw Mary during the race, except when I saw her on the out-and-back run, where she was ~1 mile ahead of me. Jeff Henderson yelled "GO" and we started swimming. I have been working hard at my swimming all year - my 400 yd time trial has decreased by 20 seconds and I am swimming 3x per week instead of 2x. I made it halfway through this 750 m swim hanging with the front pack of ladies, but halfway through I drifted to the left and lost them. Still managed to have a good swim!

Swim: 11:19, 1:31 min/100 m
T1: 1:21

Got on the bike and was feeling good. I pushed it the entire time, and passed TONS of people. It was windier this year. Not much to say about the bike other than I felt good. Matt Curbeau blew by me about halfway through, and then Greg passed me a bit later. I yelled "nice shorts" as he went by. My time was a little slower than last year.

Bike: 47:42, 20.4 mph
T2: 1:16

Got to the run and finally started to feel the effects of an Ironman 3 weeks prior. My legs just didn't want to move. I started the race at 7:40 pace. Last year I averaged the race at 7:20 pace, so I knew I was not going to run like I wanted to. As I kept running, I felt worse and worse. It was hot and my legs were DEAD. At one point I saw 9:XX on my Garmin - YIKES. Whatever, I just wanted to be done with it.

testing out the Train-This crop top!

Run: 25:55, 8:06 min/mile - SO SLOW
Time: 1:27:40

After crossing the finish line, there was a wonderful sight - kiddie pools filled with ice cold water. Greg was sitting in one - he had raced well and then puked his guts out at the finish line. I got in and we were soon joined by some other teammates, and I think we definitely creeped out the other people in the pool.

Ended up 2nd in my AG, and 14th OA female. Big drop, but.. it happens!

I also met one of my blog friends, Anne-Marie, who was there and was racing Musselman the next day! So it was super awesome to meet her and she did great racing in the 95 degree heat!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

a photo log of my IM recovery!

What have I been doing during my weeks of recovery post-IM?

I have been drinking.
me at Magpies

 I have DDed slightly drunk German men.
Matthias at Magpies

I have ridden rollercoasters.

I have hung out with lots of friends (and worn a DRESS)!
Amanda, Greg , Matthias, and myself at Corn Hill Festival

And finally, I have been doing workouts to get ready for mini-Mussel on Saturday..
Mark and me at Kershaw Park

So I can hope to do this again!
mini-Mussel women's podium, 2010

Key word: hope. (Hopefully the drinking, Ironman-ing, and sitting on my butt do not slow me down too much!). And I'm racing against my coach. So there may be some "accidental tripping" going on during the race as well. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

what not to do

What not to do..

..right before a race..


When I was doing last minute additions to my bike (nutrition) in transition - the morning of Ironman Coeur D'Alene, maybe 45 minutes before the race start - a girl approached me (I had actually met this girl the day before in line at the bike tech tent) and asked me why I carried my flat kit in a water bottle on my X-lab. (This is just how I do it for Ironman. I am fine using 2 bottle cages for nutrition because of the bottle exchanges, so I put my flat kit in the 3rd cage and therefore eliminate the bag hanging under my saddle. It's just a personal preference). I explained that to her. Then she said "well maybe I will do that too." 3 or 4 other girls in the vicinity IMMEDIATELY yelled "don't change anything!!"

She had her flat kit in a bag under her saddle. Which is a totally legitimate way to do it. Her reasoning for wanting to change? She thought I "looked fast."

(seriously????) :)

First of all. I'm not fast. (Edit: I may be short course fast-ish but I am not Ironman fast!) And second of all. WHO CARES? This is a general rule of thumb for races and is borderline common sense! You're going to be faster using what you train with than by trying something new on race day and messing it up.

Case in point: I do not do a flying mount or dismount. I don't know how and I am too scared to learn. Would it be faster? Yes - in the long run. But if I decided to do a flying dismount on Saturday at the mini-Mussel, I would most likely crash, therefore adding time to my race and possibly maiming myself (and poor Hedwig) in the process! (This is something that I NEED to learn how to do!).

Keep it simple and make all changes WELL IN ADVANCE!!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


There are some pretty big changes coming to my life as a triathlete in the next few months. Details are not something that I can give (sorry), but I will say that my cushy life as a spoiled rotten "coached athlete" will be going in a new direction.

Hi, my name is Alexa, and I do NOT like change.

The funny thing about being presented with changes and obstacles in our lives, is that these are what allow us to grow and develop as human beings. If I never had any challenges in my path, and I never had to learn to adapt and move forward, where would I be?

So I am attempting to look at this change as a positive instead of a negative, which is hard. I like things to stay the same. I have a great relationship with my coach Mary. She understands how I work, she gets my crazy schedule, she is level headed when I am freaking out, she is accessible, she is affordable, and she is really good. Basically, I have been living in a "too good to be true" bubble for the last year and a half.

And the biggest reason - I have seen major results. I have completed 2 Ironmans. I have PRed by 24 minutes in a half-Ironman and have PRed a half-marathon, I have placed OA in competitive races and even won a race this season. If that is not a reason to stick with a coach, then I don't know what is.

Inevitably, as Mary's life changes and she takes on new challenges and opportunities, it is going to affect my life as well. But it is a chance for me to embrace my training schedule and see why I am doing the workouts that I do, rather than just have it handed to me on a silver platter that I then just spit back at Mary after I am done. I am not saying that I am changing coaches, or that I am going the self-coaching route.. I honestly don't know what is going to happen yet, but it's going to be new, scary, slightly exciting, and different.

No matter what happens, I love Mary, I love my teammates, and I love Train-This. I will always belong to them.

Details to come..

Friday, July 1, 2011

Your questions answered!

I have been asked a bunch of questions pertaining to my race and particular aspects of Coeur D'Alene and the course, so I figured I would try to answer some of them here. Clearly, I am not a pro, having done only 2 Ironmans, but if I can provide at least my perspective, perhaps someone out there will benefit from it!

Apparently, dissecting my issues with the Ironman marathon on Sunday is greatly helping a bunch of people on Train-This to learn what not to do during an Ironman! It's only slightly embarrassing to see all of mistakes highlighted and picked apart like I am some kind of idiot. :)

So anyways, here are some questions that I have gotten, along with my answers. If anyone has any other questions, feel free to post them in the comments section and I will try to answer them if I can!

Why did my run go downhill and why did I end up in the medical tent?
This was a nutrition issue. I am supposed to drink 1 bottle of Ironman Perform per hour while on the bike. I was on the bike for 6.5 hours, but I only drank 4 bottles. Totally my fault. Totally resulted from me having a blase attitude towards getting in those calories. All I can say is that I need to stay on top of this in the future, and I DEFINITELY learned my lesson. What's the point in doing the training, paying the money, and taking the time off of work if you're not going to follow through with your nutrition plan?

What was the water temperature at Ironman Coeur D'Alene?
I believe the water temperature was measured at 58. I'm pretty sure it was colder than that, since it was 58 when I swam on Thursday and then the lake temperature continued to drop as race day approached. I am guessing.. 55 or 56 degrees. I saw lots of people with booties and neoprene caps. I did not wear either - just a long-sleeved wetsuit and my swim cap.

Which course is harder: Ironman Lake Placid or Ironman Coeur D'Alene?
The swim at IMCDA was definitely harder than IMLP, hands down. Colder water, rougher start, the course was not set up for any practice swims, and it was just a slower venue in general. I'm pretty sure anyone would agree with this. Both bike courses were challenging - I prefer the IMCDA course and thought it catered more to my "style" of riding (even though I rode it 10 mins slower) and was more enjoyable to me. The run course was a toss-up. Even though I had a worse run, I actually liked the CDA course more (the IMLP section along river road seems to go on forever for me) but there is a really big hill that I think is worse than the 2 hills at IMLP, and if you choose to walk up it, you will lose a LOT of time because of how long it is.

Which venue did I like better?
If you go purely by the course itself - I liked IMCDA better. However, Lake Placid is a much nicer town than Coeur D'Alene, the expo setup in the Olympic oval is cooler, the fans are crazier, there are better places to eat and shops to check out, and the general excitement level is higher. This is all probably because Coeur D'Alene is a LOT bigger of a town than Lake Placid so things are more spread out, while Lake Placid is compact and the activity is all localized. Plus, it hosted the freakin' Olympics TWICE, so it's a classier place.

Would I race Ironman Coeur D'Alene again?
I am in no hurry to repeat any Ironman race over and over again. That being said, I enjoyed this Ironman course a lot. Accessibility was a problem, lodging was expensive, and not renting a car was a HUGE mistake. But the bike course was REALLY fun. I would LOVE a 70.3 in this location!

What would I do differently?
Other than the whole nutrition fiasco, I would have taken more care to apply sunscreen. I had volunteers apply it to my shoulders, but my back is sunburned to the point of blistering and it is KILLING me. I also would have rented a car. Seeded myself differently in the swim. Walked through every other aid station instead of every, and walked through aid stations with a purpose rather than walking to the "last chance" trash bin.