Theme Preview Rss

Loveland Lake to Lake

This weekend I raced Loveland Lake to Lake. Loveland was my first Olympic distance race last year and kind of my "intro" to the tri world. With us focusing on much longer distances this year, I didn't really feel like I needed Loveland on my race schedule, but I wanted to go back for the nostalgia of it all. And I am glad I did.

Rode up early in the morning with Anthony and it was a nice time to decompress, relax and just chat about stuff. It's a good thing we are both morning people, or it might've been a real grumpy ride.

We got there right when packet pick-up and transition opened and went ahead getting things done. Loveland is a first-come-first-serve transition area. I set myself up in a relatively nice spot. Went for a warm-up run with some friends, stuck some beer in the cooler and down to the water to get started.

Now, Loveland is a beach start and can get pretty aggressive. Last year, I had major, major anxiety to the tune of me treading water and waiting two waves before I could get my heart rate under control enough to continue swimming. At one point, I had waved at a rescue boat, but they didn't see me (probably a good thing, since I was ready to call her quits). So, needless to say, I was worried about the swim start. Thankfully, Steve had done some drills with us to help alleviate the anxiety and it appears they worked! I went off at the front of the pack, swam strong and just kept going. No anxiety, no nothing. It was nice.

Coming out of the water I was pretty happy. Started the long run up to transition (and I mean LOOOOONG), but no worries. I had my bike set-up and I worked on getting my transition time down and I did (by about a minute). Off on the bike-- here I go!

The bike itself is pretty much uphill the whole first half, then downhill and then some rollers. I somewhat remembered it from the previous year, but perspectives change. So, a little worried about the uphills, I held back some, but kept steady as I could. This was bad and good. Bad because I probably could've gone a bit faster in the first half, but good because then I really rocked the second half of the ride. I stood through my climbs where last year I remembering struggling even to get up them. The rollers at the end, too, seemed like nothing where (again) last year I was struggling.

SIDE NOTE: The course is gorgeous!!! Here are some shots from when I drove the course. Just another reason to do Lake to Lake.
Somewhere about 5 miles left, I looked down at my watch time-- no way! I was going way faster than I expected. At this point, I could qualify for nationals!!! (I had contemplated qualifying for nationals a few days earlier, then looked at the times I would need and thought "nope, not gonna make it". Now, I decided to push for it!)

Finished the bike strong and into transition, then off to start the run. Here is where I have continually had back issues. BUT, not this time! Yay! (Thank you, Dr. Ken.) Off on my run. It was steady and easy-going. Being an out-and-back, I got to see a number of people on the course and cheer for them (and them for me). It was nice to have so much support and be able to give it.

Coming around the end was the best. There were people lined up all along the finish shoot and, for once, a number of people I know... including my kids! I slapped Hunter a high-five, got yelled by Beth to "finish it!", saw my chiro, my swim coach, everyone-- fun stuff!

Finished pushing it to the end. Then ran into John and Jewels, got some water, went to where a buncha peeps were hanging out, cheered in more friends, it was great. This is what you don't get when you go to the big events far away.

The whole day was a great experience. I dropped a half hour off my last year's time. I was glad to see so many people, both out on the course and after. I was happy Ross got to come up with the kids. I was extremely excited to see Jen complete her first triathlon (she rocked it!). And, yes, I even qualified for nationals. :)

Running the Colorado Trail

So I figured out the way to make me run just about anything-- tell me "it's pretty".


I am running a trail marathon next month in Wisconsin with my friend Jim, so I asked Steve to look at the elevation map (oy yoy!) and give me a trail run out here that was comparable in elevation change and all. While I know that my ultimate goal is Ironman Wisconsin, I wanted to be prepared for the marathon next month.

Steve said, "You should run the 1st and 2nd legs of the Colorado Trail."-- SOLD! I have heard so much about how beautiful the run is and I wanted nothing more than an excuse to do it. There was, however, a stipulation. For safety's sake, I had to find someone to run it with me, but I could choose whatever date in June to do it.

Enter Andrea. Friend of mine and sufferer in Moab with me. She is training for Ironman Louisville and said she'd be up for it. Awesome. We decided on June 17th. For logistical reasons, we decided to go up and back the first leg instead of doing legs 1 & 2. As far as distance, there were varying reports on exactly how far the first leg was. First I heard 12 miles, then 14, then I read in a book 16.8. Hmmm... not really up for 34 miles of mountains...

We met early in the morning to start off of our little jaunt. It was supposed to be a nice (hot) day, so water wan an issue. We both wore water backpacks, a double-water belt, took hand bottles and some water-filtration tablets. I think we were prepared.

The Colorado Trail starts with a steady climb up Waterton Canyon. I had never been there and it was beautiful running through the canyon at sun-up.
As we ran, we talked about our goals for the day. Andrea had said her legs weren't with her that day, so really any long-run distance would be fine with her. I said I wanted to do at least 20 miles and I would be happy. I figured that 20 miles would be pretty good prep for the marathon next month. We decided that, if we separated, I would go up, turn-around somewhere between miles 10 & 13 and catch her on the way back down. That way, if anything happened, she would find me on her way up and/or I would find her on my way down. About mile 5, I decided to go ahead.

I continued up the canyon past the dam without seeing it. It was there that the road got a little steeper, then about a mile later, the trail started.
It was gorgeous! And up, up, up! I wasn't sure if I was going to really make it, but then it leveled off for a bit. Phew. Wait more up. And that is how it went.
About mile 7.5 you hit a high point, then some downhill, then more steady climbing. It was fun, adventurous and gorgeous views everywhere.

In my guide book, it had said that a campsite at mile 9 would be the last place to get water in a dry year, so I stopped there to refill some water bottles in the stream. It's not a proper trail run without drinking from Mother Nature, now is it? (Don't worry, mom, I used purifying tablets. I was totally safe, just like when I used to go backpacking.)

But, it wasn't a dry year. After this, there were plenty of stream crossings...... and I hated them. I hate getting my feet wet, so I am going to have to work on my stream traversing abilities to be a "real trail runner".

I kept going up, up, up.
I hit the 10-mile mark.
After this, whatever I did was "bonus". But I was feeling the love and didn't want to stop. I hit mile 11. Thought about turning around, but then saw this...So beautiful. I couldn't stop now.

Around mile 12, I ran into a hiker. She was awesome and happy to see someone. She had been out there since 5:30 a.m. I decided she would be my turn around point.

And then it started, the downhill! Oh, it was ice to have gravity on my side again. So, I clipped along. The dread went away and I was "flying", although when you looked at my pace, I wasn't really flying. That's the thing about trail running, it's hard. And when you think you have everything going in your favor, you still have to worry about footing, falling, rocks, rivers, twisting ankles, everything. So, "fast" is not necessarily "fast", but it is fun!

Not too far along and I found Andrea. She was heading up and we were happy to see one another.
She told me her legs had been hurting, but it didn't show. She is a great downhiller. We stuck together for the rest of the trail.
Awe, back in the canyon. Plugged back along Waterton Canyon and back towards the dam.
Wait a minute-- how did I miss this on the way up?They were letting out water from the dam. Very cool.

Now, 6 more miles down the canyon. Without the steep grade, it made running a little bit harder, but got her done. It helped with the pretty views.
Soon, we were back at the road we started out, in desperate need of some relief. 24 miles up and down a mountain can take a toll on the body. So, off to the Platte River for a quick dip.
Who needs ice baths when you have the frigid waters of the Platte?

It was a long, hard run, but the views and the experience made it totally worth it. 24 miles with more elevation gain/loss than I will see in Wisconsin made me feel pretty prepared for my run next month. I am not saying I'll be fast, but I am more excited than ever to do it!

** Note: Shortly after getting home, I received an email stating that Waterton Canyon would be closed after August 2, 2010, re-opening in the Spring of 2012 due to a major construction happening in the canyon.

Training "home"

With the temps (and water temps) warming up, it was time to get back in open water. That being said, this week was return to the reservoir week for me.

Last year, it was our first season in triathlon and our first season in Colorado, so we really had no idea where to train, especially when it came to swimming in open water.

We tried Cherry Creek (ew! don't go there!), the gravel pond (awesome-- but far away) and Grant Ranch (good again, but limited hours)... and then we found the reservoir. Only 15 minutes from home (10, now that we know the shortcut) and open all the time. It's clean, it's beautiful, but, oh yes, it is cold. Take the bad with the good, right? I did not realize this at the time, but it is a mountain fed res, so the temps are always much colder than any other swimming hole.

On top of the water, there is a path around the res-- 8 1/2 miles. Conveniently, we had a lot of swim/run bricks last summer, so this worked out perfectly for us and spent a lot time running on the trail. Coincidentally, it simulates the majority of tri run courses we have been on-- hot, no shade, relatively flat.

Now that we are more versed in road riding, the Aurora res sits right on Quincy, a long, hilly road with little traffic heading east. It is perfect for our training rides leading up to Wisconsin, as the course is supposed to be hilly.
This picture doesn't make it look hilly, but trust me, it is.

I didn't realize it till I was there, but when I returned to the reservoir this week to train, it felt like "home". With the majority of our workouts taking place here in our first season, we learned a lot about tri training, our limits, our relationship and each other. It really felt like where it all started for me/us. It was nice to train in the familiarity and return to something that I hadn't been to since last August.

Oh, and I can't forget the best part. After a good workout, be sure to stop at the roadside stand (@ Gun Club & Quincy)...

...and get yourself a breakfast burrito. Only $3.25 and oh, so good!

Kansas 70.3

Leading up to our trip to Kansas... I wasn't really sure what to expect. I feel like Knoxville was a good warm-up race and just kind of showed me how different the variables in a race can be. And the more I learned about Kansas, the more I didn't really care for it. The weather for one- hot, humid and windy is what was predicted. There were hills on the bike.Ugh! Can't I just have one flat, fast and fun race? Please? But, I will say I was surprised with it all.

We arrived in Lawrence on Friday after flatting on the highway (tip: call 511. Some nice passerby did so for us. Otherwise, we might still be out on the highway). The weather was hot, hot, hot and humid to boot. I went for a light jog Saturday morning and came back dripping with sweat. Man, this was not looking good.

Saturday was spent checking in at the expo, putting our bikes in transition, scouting out the bike course and finding out that wetsuits were not allowed the next day- ahhh! The venue in itself was in a campground and you were allowed to park and had to walk to everything from there. Note: If you can avoid it, don't bring the kids.

Scouting the bike course:
Lincoln felt like I did about the course-- kinda boring.

Sunday-- off to the race! We got there uber-early, only to find out that every triathlete and their brother had gotten there even earlier. Had to park and shuttle in. On the shuttle, we learned that the ice-water gods had come down and blessed Clinton Lake lowering its temperature to 77.5 degrees-- that's 0.5 degrees lowers than what we needed it to be to be allowed to wear our wetsuits-- yay! No drowning for Randi today.

Despite our early arrival, it also seemed like there was "just enough" time to check-in, drop our stuff in transitions and get prepared. Either I am getting better at this or... In transition, I met some other cool ladies. 1. that was from Madison, so we had lots to chat about and 2. that was doing Madison this year for her first IM, too! We agreed to look each other up and become fb friends.

This tri was by far the largest with 16+ waves to start. I was in wave 11 and Ross was in wave 15, so I stuck with him till my wave was called. The swim went good and was pretty uneventful-- in a good way. No anxiety and managed to swim relatively straight. I tried to draft as much as possible, but the water was not so clean, so it made finding bubbles even harder.

Out of the water, up into transition went pretty seamless. Again, I must be getting better at this or... and off on my bike.

Don't know what it was, but I felt like I pretty much rocked my bike. Biking has always been my "challenge" for tri and today, it came pretty easy to me. I can probably thank my coach for this, who has worked with me onmy bike form, fielding many, many questions and sent me up to the mountains I don't know how many times, just to make my legs stronger.

As I was passing the dam, I saw what I thought were hawks circling and I wondered if they were jayhawks-- we were in Lawrence after all. I later found out that they were turkey vultures. Yikes.

The hills, too, came pretty easy. I think it was a combination of the fact that (a) Knoxville was much hillier and (b) the hills were very similar to the road out by our home. I also found a guy who would climb every hill standing, so I stuck with him for motivation. (Turns out, he's from Englewood, so he knows how to climb.) When I got towards the end, there was a long hill coming up the backside of the dam. We were about 2/3 way up the hill and I looked over at a guy-- "I got no more gears left" he said to me. I felt so bad for him. I was doing ok, I was still in my big chain ring.

The thing that wasn't rock star about my ride was my back. My back started to ache on the ride. I took some ibuprofen, focused on my form and hoped that it would be ok when it came time to run.

Coming into the second transition, it was off my bike and onto the run. Here was the big test-- how would my back be? Fail. It hurt. Bad. I managed to run the first mile before I had to stop, stretch and walk some. From there on out, it was run/walk and massage my back. I had a horrible first 6 miles of my run. As I passed each aid station, I would ask for ibuprofen, nope. On top of the pain, it was hot. You didn't feel it so much on the bike because of the crosswind, but man-o-man could you feel it on the run!

As I was hitting my second lap (mile 6.5ish), my back loosened up. Yay! I was tired and hot, but now I couldn't blame my back for how I finished the race. Amazingly, my legs felt good, so off I went. I spotted someone wearing Rocky Mountain Tri Club gear and I cheered for him as I passed him.

The best thing about having a crappy first lap would be that my second lap made me feel strong and confident. I was passing a lot of people and just trying to plug along and get her done. Towards the end I was run, run, running and then would have to walk to take a breather, then off to run, run, running. (My goal for the next one is not to have to stop and walk-- just keep going, even if it is at a slower pace.)

So, here's the part that will show you how non-competitive/clueless I can be. I crossed the finish line and had no clue of what I finished in. I know the clock time was somewhere around 6:26, but I had no clue what my actual time was. I had to stop someone who was also in my wave and ask her. Clueless, I know. We guessed at our times and I thought I might have finished in under 6 hours-- yay for me! That would be a pr.

I found both Nikki and Ocky from my masters swim. They crossed shortly after me and it was nice to celebrate our finishes after a long day. I found Courtney, too (my new transition pal), and she had also finished and was happy. Congrats to her on her first half! Chrissie Wellington (mega-tri-superstar) had even handed her her medal. How cool! Chrissie must've been on potty-break when I crossed. Bummer.
Me, happy to be finished.

I waited for Ross and got a shot of him finishing. He crossed the line and Chrissie Wellington gave him a pat on the back- again, jealous.

It was a long, hot day and we were both glad to be done!
A big THANK YOU to Gary and Diana who watched the kids and allowed us to race!