I've written a few versions of my race report for 70.3 Panama, each one was the usual prep, travel, race day conditions, blah blah. I scrapped all of that and decided to share what I really took away from this race. So, here goes.
I have a confession. Lately, I’ve been binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix and my favorite Kevin Spacey scene is the "You Are entitled To Nothing" speech.
I went to Kona this year during the Ironman World Championship to spend some quality time with my sponsors and practice the race course as much as I could. Here's what the practice swim was like a week before the race...thanks GoPro, Team Timex, blueseventy and Magnolia Masters!
We've all been there before. You're running along just fine, feeling good, smooth, fast. Then there's the periods of feeling 'not so good'. You're trudging, shuffling, gasping for air (or for the nearest park bench to sit down). How do you get through it? I'll share with you my go-to checklist.
Before I go into the list, when you start to feel really bad, grumpy or blah, ask yourself this: "Have I taken in enough calories, electrolytes and/or fluids? Start there. Do that first. You can come around pretty quickly.
My Top 5 Run reminders:
Yep, just breathe. Not only will it center your focus and attention away from your aching muscles, it will calm you down. I also say (to myself hopefully and not aloud), "pull yourself together, man!" :) This usually makes me chuckle.
Just controlled breathing slowly and deeply will get more oxygen to your muscles, but I found can also break up a good side-stitch cramp. Calm your breathing pattern and you'd be amazed at how different you will feel.
2. "Up tall"
This one goes back to something my college track coach said to me all the time. When the going gets tough, we tend to hunch over, looking despondent down at the ground. Throw those shoulders back and lean into it with your chest and your heart! Don't bury yourself into the pavement by looking at it. Look to where you want to go...that person just in front of you...the next mile marker...the finish.
This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but takes it a step further to make sure your hands are relaxed and your shoulders are not up in your ears. Let go of the 'death-grip' fists. Once you drop the shoulders and open up the fists, the rest of the body will follow.
4. No arm crossing
When we get tired, we tend to swing our arms across the mid-line of our body. Want to get to that finish line faster? It certainly doesn't involve throwing your energy off to the sides with your arms. Drive everything you have forward (this is related to #2 as well). I'm guilty of this because it seems every picture I see of myself running, my arms look dangerously close to crossing. And I'm actively concentrating on NOT swinging them!
Here's the catch though - please, please do not start running like Tom Cruise in movies. That 'hatchet chop' style not only looks wrong, but will certainly tire you out after the first take. At least he looks to be following my rule #2, though. :)
5. Go to the core/hips
Let's face it. Your legs are going to get tired and sore, your feet raw or blistered. But you know what? You have almost limitless energy to draw from your core. Tap into it. Again, going back to #2 & #3, if you're up tall and relaxed you can focus on driving yourself forward with your hips & core. Add to that a proper arm swing from #4 and it will become almost easy to push ahead with your core and your gut. So, dig deep my friend, you're in store for one of your best runs ever!
Thanks to Joe Patronite for the great running picture below. Almost crossing the arms, but not quite. :)
As I finish my race report, have a look at a short video of race week!
Timex launched a superior running watch earlier this year, perhaps ahead of its time! The Timex Ironman ONE GPS+ is the only running watch that has a built in music player, SOS & Live Tracking feature and the ability to send/receive messages - all from your watch - without having your phone with you! As a long-time runner, I can say this watch has changed my running experience for the better.
My top favorites for this watch is the touch screen, the ability to load/listen to music from the watch to my Bluetooth headphones and the Live Tracking feature (especially important being a female who runs solo a lot). I don't find this watch too big or too heavy (and I have small wrists). I've used it to tell my husband to come pick me up when I wasn't feeling well on a run, and he was able to find exactly where I was! I also have a friend who has her husband wear the watch when he goes on long motorcycle rides so she can find him if something happens.
I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about the watch - just contact me through the 'Contact' link on my site. Happy running!
Here's the scoop on this watch: BASICS
1. All-in-one solution provides GPS fitness tracking, built-in music player, phone-free communication and a clear color, touchscreen display
2. 50-Meter Water Resistance - try that with the Apple Watch!
*GPS reception and cellular services not available with watch in water
3. Rechargeable Li-Ion battery with 8hr life in full GPS and cellular-connected mode (4hr life when music player is also running.)
4. The watch is EMAIL based. It does not text and no microphone. It has its own email address
associated to it based on the person’s login who activated it (i.e. email@example.com)
5. The ONE GPS+ is different than the Samsung Gear S since it is a sports watch that allows you to be connected w/o your phone.
6. Unlike the Apple watch, the ONE GPS+ does not need to be paired to your phone for the majority of the functionality to work.
7. Yes, the watch does have a SIM (subscriber identity module) card. It cannot be taken out and is used for the messaging capabilities of the watch.
1-year of AT&T data
• service included with purchase. After the first year the cost will be approx $40/year.
• Built-in connection to mobile network allows to send and receive email-based messages directly from the device with pre-set messages or use the keyboard to compose your own.
Pace & Distance
• Integrated Instafix GPS sensor tracks workouts, providing pace and distance. Workouts can be
uploaded instantly (phone free) to 3rd party fitness sites like Runkeeper, MapMyFitness, Strava, etc
• Additional performance features include customizable interval timers, audible and vibrating pace and heart rate alerts and notifications when you've achieved a personal record
Bluetooth® compatibility with heart rate monitor, foot pod and wireless headphones
• Allow your friends to track your workout or race.
• Designate “Angels” to see your location anytime the watch is on.
• Send a SOS message from the watch anytime you need urgent help.
• Device stores up to 4GB (around 1000 songs) and streams to Bluetooth headphones or speaker. Simply drag and drop songs from iTunes.
Third time's a charm, right? Well, not quite.
I am extremely pleased with my performance at IM France this year. I swam a little bit faster (still not fast enough, right Tim?), was a little slow on the bike, but had my fastest run ever (2:54) to bring home second place! I learned that, if provoked, I run faster than I think I can. :)
I've done this race the past three years in a row. Why? Well, when I first came in 2013, I previewed the spectacular bike course and was enjoying my time in Nice when my bike was stolen - the day before the race. I managed to get a loaner road bike that didn't fit me well, but I was at least able to complete the race and take home 4th. Last year I didn't have quite the bike mishaps (even though I did accidentally lock it - and my keys - in my rental car for awhile) and managed my first sub-3 marathon to capture 3rd.
I am determined to win this race and I hope the upward trend continues in my favor. The sights, people, sounds, scenery and time of year make this one of my more favorite places ever!
This year I had a minor hitch with my TT bike not showing up from the airline until the day before the race. (Always something with my bike when I come here!) I was feeling good with all three disciplines and just impatient to get the race started. The waiting game the few days before a race are always the worst, isn't it?
Race morning prep went smoothly and into the water we went. This is a two loop course with a short run on the beach between each lap and in past years I have typically been caught by the mass of age groupers by the beginning of the second loop. But not this year. I was nearing 200m left before they caught me, so I figured I had a decent swim time.
That extra minute or so faster in the swim put me in a much better spot on the bike, not having to dodge the groups of cyclists and continually slow down and wait, avoiding a drafting penalty. It was very nice to have a clear course to race. I felt good, not stellar, on the bike but was passing men, so I figured I was alright. Near the top of the first big climb (Col le Ecre) I was passed by Emma Pooley. No shocker there, I figured that would happen at some point. I just wasn't sure if I should try to hang with her or continue my own race. I continued my own race, but in the end she only out-rode me by 4 minutes. In hindsight I wished I would've felt better on the bike than I did to go a little faster, but it is what it is.
Onto the run. Emma and I came out of transition together, she was a few steps ahead. She started running 6:00-6:20 pace and I think both she and I were hoping this pace wouldn't last too long! I stayed behind her for a mile or so until she slowed, and I continued to press on. My effort level felt fine so I decided to keep going and let the pace naturally slow, but all the time holding the same level of effort. Besides, I had 6-8 minutes to make up on Jeanne and Cait and I wanted to snap the rubber band with Emma as quickly as possible.
Jeanne came back pretty quickly (she had a pretty fast bike split!) and I wasn't quite shaking Emma as much as I would've liked, so I continued to push. I also wasn't gaining much on Cait and wasn't sure how much I would, but I pressed on. I knew my coach might be watching my run splits online and ready to have a heart attack, but I focused on good hydration (it was heating up fast), nutrition and just holding steady. This is a 4 lap course along the Promenade des Anglais and it can really wear on you mentally. Luckily, each lap the course starts to fill with more and more people so it's constantly evolving into an epic party!
With Emma a safe enough distance back, I had to take a rare bathroom break. Nature was screaming! With that done, I focused on reeling in Cait if I could. The out-and-back nature of this course gives you opportunity to see the time gap and I could tell I was putting time into her. But I only had 10k to go and 2 minutes to make up. So began to dig way deep to pull out any effort that was left! I could tell I was closing in Cait, based on what I was hearing along the course (even if it was in French). I hit the 5k to go mark and think I had about a minute or so to make up. A pretty tall order against one of Ironman's best runners, but I dug in.
Close to the finish line is Hotel Negresco that has a round tower on top. It can be a welcome (or dreadful) sight as you near the end of the race. I so badly wanted to get to it as fast as possible, but I also wanted more distance to reel in Cait! In the end, she held off a little over a minute from me to snag a great victory. We both raced each other hard, to the very end, and for that I am really happy!
So, with a 4th, 3rd, and now a 2nd placing, guess where I'll be in June of 2016?
As always, I am incredibly blessed to have such dedicated family, friends, Timex Multisport Team, PowerBar Team Elite, SKINS, Trek, Shimano and a host of sponsors to deliver me to each start (and finish) line. Suffice it to say, it takes a village - and I couldn't do it without you!
Over the past few years, I've often been called "one of the hardest working pros in triathlon". That may be true. There are many of us out there working hard. But what I've recently (finally) come to terms with is that the ones who are successful aren't necessarily the hardest working ones - it's the ones who are most committed. (thanks Leanda, Tim, Jon and all those who have told me this over and over again) To me, 'working hard' gets me 20th at Kona; commitment gets me more than that. I absolutely want better than that and am committed to achieving it.
I work hard in training and with my business, but found myself wondering 'what am I willing to commit to?', 'what is my passion?' I got that answer a few weeks ago at IM Lanzarote, after many, many months of 'knowing' it but not admitting it to myself for fear of what others may think of me, or fear that I would be letting others down, or fear that I would be viewed as a failure.
I came into IM Lanzarote very ready to put together a great performance on Ironman's most difficult, challenging course. I had an average swim for me and very soon into the bike I encountered a major mechanical issue that left me with 1 gear - all 112 miles and 9000' elevation of it!
Swallowing that reality pill and finishing the bike course anyway, I decided to not begin the marathon - saving my legs for my next race (IM France), since I was quite far behind the leaders at this point. As I sniffled and burst into tears turning in my timing chip at the transition area, I realized then that my commitment lies in the absolute desire to push myself, suffer and prove that I am one of the best Ironman athletes out there. I was crying because I wouldn't get the chance to suffer and challenge my competition, and that is exactly what I want to do - what I'm committed to doing.
So, I've changed my life course after that event and have committed myself to the training, suffering, pain, grit, glory, accomplishment, recovery, lifestyle, choices, determination, willpower and sacrifice that is being a professional triathlete. Because it's not the hardest working ones who win; it's those who are the most committed. Show yourself what you can do.
My multi-part series about sponsors and product begins with SKINS Compression. First of all, I love the fact that this company takes a firm stance and does not tolerate cheaters and they believe that athletes should handle themselves with honesty and integrity at all times. They should play hard and fair – be determined and driven with the ‘true spirit of competition’. 'Nuff said.
A brief history of SKINS
In 1996, an Aussie skier had a bold ambition – to feel ten years younger so he could ski all day, party all night and be ready the next morning do it all again. His starting point was the knowledge that improved blood circulation would supply more oxygen to his muscles, helping them work harder for longer and recover faster. So he consulted with NASA and other experts to confirm he was on to something. Turns out he was. Soon word got out that there were these things called SKINS that improved your power, speed, stamina and recovery.
I'll be the first to say that I'm not really a gear/equipment freak. I don't buy a lot of "stuff" - never have - but the items I do buy/own are the best because I plan to use them well and for a long time.
Adding to that, I'm a long-time runner. We runners don't care for a lot of fancy-schmancy bling and gadgets, just give us a route and point us out the door and we're off. However, I have to say that every single run I have done in the A400 compression 3/4 tights and top have been my best. The A400 is the latest in the SKINS active compression line and they nailed it!
Here's what the A400 line is about: "developed based on 400 key body touch points - dynamic gradient compression -scientifically proven to accelerate blood flow to deliver more oxygen to active muscles and remove lactic acid"
It's true, this gear WORKS! The workouts I have done in this clothing line have found me feeling energized, smooth, strong, and able to push past what I thought I could do on that day. I thought the first time I wore them it was a fluke, but the second, third, fourth, etc times I wore it? Same effect. Amazing.
Going back to my 'old school' runner mentality, I also have never liked to run in tight or revealing clothes. Despite these being compression clothing items, they don't create weird lumps, bumps or muffin tops when you wear them; they are well engineered and use 'gradient' compression, so I don't feel like 'that' girl, thinking she's 'all that' working out in a full bodysuit :). (one minor exception is my A200 shorts - I found the waistband to be snug, but that's because I ordered a size smaller than I should have.). The top has grips at the bottom to keep it in place so it doesn't ride up and even though the ones I have are black, I don't get overheated wearing them out in the Arizona sun. A stash pocket in the waistband of the tights allows you to take a Powergel or your car keys with you too.
I give this new A400 line from SKINS a huge two thumbs up! I'm already ordering more tights and tops so I don't have to keep washing and wearing the same ones over and over again. I hightly recommend these if you really want to feel your best during your workout. Following up with the recovery tights, tops and/or socks afterward and you'll be ready to roll just as hard the next day! Rarely does a day go by that I don't wear at least my compression socks - lest I get cankles from sitting at my desk or driving to meetings. :)
We just finished another amazing Timex Team camp, this year in my own stomping grounds of Tucson. What a great group of people we have on our team, awesome sponsors and camaraderie that is unsurpassed. All the details of camp - and my revised 2015 goals - is coming soon! Check back often as I will highlight each of my sponsors each week, giving you the scoop about the product, the company, what it's done for me and how it can help make YOU a better athlete!