Ironman Louisville Race Recap

The decision to do a full Ironman distance race arose when discussing post 70.3 World Championships race plans with my coach, David. Knowing that I wanted to try one at some point in the foreseeable future, David  suggested prioritizing some longer sessions over the next few weeks, competing in Ironman Louisville, and then taking a much needed training break.

The 2017 season had its ups and downs, as is life, but overall I was feeling good about the results. There was not much time to ponder over the decision to race (typically a good thing for me!), so I figured why not cap it off with a new experience.

On race day we jumped in the just-barely-non-wetsuit temps in the dim light before the sun had risen. The gun went off and while I did my best position myself on some fast feet, the strongest swimmers pulled away and I found myself in a familiar spot within the first few hundred meters: swimming solo.

The swim course was more challenging than I expected. From the description and the fact that 2/3 of it was downstream, I was expecting more of a Ironman Chattanooga course: a glass calm river water with an easily navigable current. In reality, there ended up being some choppiness and what felt like some cross-currents as well.

Once I made the U-turn to head downstream I had to focus on calming the mind, swimming straight and sighting, due to the somewhat choppy water, (what appeared to be) non-linear buoys and low light. I chose to keep it simple and low risk by not taking the advice I had heard re: swimming 30m out from the buoys in a faster current, thus I stayed oriented. The handful of 10x400m swim workouts completed leading up to this race supplied the confidence that I had the stamina to swim strong until the end, and after exiting the water, I had a surprising amount of energy. (But that does not mean I want to do that workout every week!)


This is where I had the most uncertainty leading into this race. I had done a couple longer-long rides leading into the weekend, but “racing” 112 miles is an mind-boggling thought until you actually do it.

After heading out of T1 and settling in, I kept an eye on my numbers, especially the first half of the ride. While there should always be a go-by-feel component relative to the conditions, how you feel that day, etc., I knew that if the numbers were too high the first half, and namely if they were shooting up on the climbs, I would pay for it later in the race and there was a long day ahead.

The second half of the ride I upped he effort a notch while still staying cognizant of the pacing. The weather conditions ranged from hot and humid to chilly with strong wind gusts carrying in the impending storm. The last 20ish miles was into a headwind and I was officially ready to get off the bike and run.

In addition to pacing, there were two other key things that led to a positive experience:
1) Staying in the present // very-near future mentally. Continually ask yourself: what do I need to do within the next 15 minutes to ensure a good race overall?
2) Consistent Nutrition // Hydration. Don’t get too far behind, don’t get too far ahead.I did not break any course records, but overall I was pleasantly surprised that it was not the maddening grind I had expected.


The run was quite the learning experience, more so than the rest of the race. First off – call it pre race nerves or just a space cadet moment – I forgot to put my flask of INFINIT nutrition in my T2 bag. I stayed positive by telling myself that while this was far from ideal, I would just have to accommodate with the aid stations.

I started out a notch too fast because at the time it did not feel hard at all. The miles seemed to click off relatively effortlessly until around mile 11, when both of my lower legs and feet started locking up and I started feeling ‘woozy’ (i.e. the road appeared to be moving under my feet). It dawned on me that while I was able to grab gels and drink at the aid stations, the TripWire – INFINIT’s concentrated fuel in the forgotten flask – has a much higher sodium/electrolyte content. I made it to my ‘special needs’ bag, downed half of the flask of INFINIT waiting there, and immediately felt myself coming back to life.

From then on I struggled with the lower leg pain on top of the general aches of exercising the whole day, but just kept telling myself what a friend said to me before the race about running a marathon: whether you slow down or not, it’s going to hurt either way. The weather kept things interesting as similar to the bike, we experienced  humidity all the way to chilly, strong storm winds. So much can happen during such a long race and it took a type of mental strength that I had yet to experience in racing. At some point, the positive talk simply turns into: Stay smart and JUST KEEP GOING.

I held onto 2nd place, and the cheers heading into the the finish were the loudest I have heard at a race. I am sure many participants would agree that it made the finish exceptionally rewarding! I felt so thankful for the community of support that surrounded this race, from the participants to the spectators to the city in general.

Now time to figure out 2018 …

Mental Fitness for Race Weekend

As much as triathletes enjoy the triathlon lifestyle, when it comes to the actual racing we tend to get nervous. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but for many of us, we are programed to get anxious when we have worked toward a goal and the day has come to execute.

If you are one of the many who suffer from the 48-hours-pre-race-through-the-start-of-the-swim-jitters, the following are helpful tips for managing this affliction so that you can relax as much as possible those couple of days leading up to a race:

1) Make a list of everything you need for the race ahead of time, pre-nerves, so that you are not scrambling around for a rubber band or shoelace last minute! Unlike, say, running a marathon – three disciplines equals a long list of items needed to compete, and you do not want to end up forgetting a key piece of the puzzle that leads to cheering instead of racing.

2) Get your bike race-ready at least a week out so that you can do some test riding the week leading up to the race. Whether this involves a trip to the mechanic or your own garage, better to trouble shoot a rubbing brake or maladjusted derailleur PRIOR to heading to the race.

3) Create a weekend outline ahead of time. Review the athlete guide and make a list of locations and times for the athlete briefing, transition area(s), hotel, packet pickup, etc. After creating this weekend outline, fill in pre race workouts and meals.

4) Sleep when you are tired the night before the race. A 4am race day wake up call is going to hurt no matter how early you go to bed, and we all know the adrenaline will be pumping in the AM in spite of the lack of Zzzzs. Don’t force yourself into bed at 7pm if you are not one of those people who miraculously sleeps on command. You will just lay there and ponder how little sleeping you’re accomplishing.

5) Eat an early dinner the night before the race. Sometimes the nerves can tie up the stomach, so this ensures you do not feel full when you wake up. Even if you fuel properly leading up to the race and your glycogen stores are ready to rock, getting that sufficient breakfast down the morning of the race should be considered a part of your race day fueling plan.

6) Breath mindfully as you are waiting for the start of the swim (and apply this to life in general!). This can be the most nerve wracking point of the weekend, and you do not have to be a Yogi to utilize this relaxation practice. (Click HERE for a brief how-to.) When the gun goes off it is totally normal to feel that heart rate shoot up and your breathing quicken, but try to direct your focus on the first buoy without spending too much time worrying about the others splashing around you. No matter the race distance, you still have a long journey ahead and the start of the swim is not going to make or break your day. Once you settle in, time to turn on autopilot and execute!


Wrapping Up the Season in the Land of Our Southern Neighbors

There is always a bit of hesitation when pulling the trigger on a race decision. In this case, I was on the fence: finish the season in Austin or Los Cabos? Ultimately the decision was made based on the fact that I was set on a vacation that involved a beach at some point this year, so hey, why not roll it all into one trip!?

The morning of the race was picturesque. While there was a bit of a swell during the swim, the water was warm in the blueseventy swimskin and the winds were calm. After all but drowning in Oklahoma City in September ;);), I was exceptionally appreciative of these conditions, as they have proven to be significantly in my favor. I swam solo for the last half of the swim and the arms have never felt stronger.


The Swim Start

The Los Cabos bike course offered some challenging hills and hot, windy flats. On a couple of the turn-arounds I was able to see a group ahead of me .. but knew most likely I would not catch them at the pace I was holding. I told myself to stick to the hydration // INFINIT nutrition to prepare for the impending HOT run and be careful to not make any silly tri-mistakes with pacing or a rushed aid station grab.

Due to the heat I went out cautiously on the run, being sure to not overdo it on those first few miles. I stuck to both positive thoughts and a steady, smooth pace better than I have all year, and as I am sure many did at this race, focused on staying hydrated. It was the best I felt all year running 13.1 and I crossed the line in 2nd. A great way to end the season!

A big take-home from this experience did not even have to do with the race: it is worth it do some off-of-the-all-inclusive excursions around the Los Cabos area! For the post race vacation it would have been way too easy to sit around at the all-inclusive like a sloth. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that type of vacation, I have done it in the past and it can be a much needed respite from the every day busyness.


Delicious, authentic Mexican fare in Todos Santos, home of ‘Hotel California’.

Though our explorations involved some time in the rental car, it was worth it to experience the Dia de los Muertos celebration in the quaint town of Todos Santos, Cerritos beach with the perfect waves, the various beaches that were empty as far as the eye could see, the homemade chili rellenos in the tiny town of Santiago, and the a late night bouncing around Cabo San Lucas (ok that one involved a ‘party bus’!).

And do not worry, I have had plenty of sloth-like rest while back home in Boulder…

Happy training, racing and travels!

With winner Angela Neath .. fun fact: I stayed in her dorm room when I was 17 // on a recruiting visit at the University of Missouri!


Ryan put up with me pre vacation-portion :).

ITU Long Course Worlds in OKC

While all triathlon racing is challenging, this race was the biggest test of perseverance stress mitigation that I have experienced thus far since I started racing!

When I singed up for this race I was not aware of how many small rules and regulations differed from Ironman // WTC racing. I am sharing this in order to offer some advice: if you are ever planning to do any type of ‘ITU’ race, look and plan way ahead.

That being said, I got to the start line with everything in order and ready to race. The 4k // 120k // 30k distances marked my longest race to date, and I was excited to see how this non-70.3 would feel. I knew it was going to be extremely windy and hot, but I did not realize just how tough this race was until the gun went off..


Any swim improvements I make are tough to show off when it gets treacherously choppy out there, as it is just a skill I struggle with in spite of the many tips I have received along the way. Though, there was something about the experience that had me smiling internally, because once all of the waves went off, there were many times that I popped my head up and saw people treading water, swimming the wrong direction, talking to each other, etc. “Hey, we are all in this together” .. is what was going through my head!

Happy with the fact that I just kept going and did my best to relax. A few of us swam together off and on, and it was nice to feel some camaraderie out there. We made through the swim knowing there was still a lot of racing to go.


This leg is where I felt the surprisingly the strongest relative to past races and what I expected. I cannot claim to have put out earth shattering watts, but what I was able to hold solo for 120 kilometers in the heat and wind, while still feeling like I had some pop in my legs, was a win.

I had some nutrition issues (vague, yes :)), but I improvised and just grabbed what I could at the aid stations, which made me especially grateful for the volunteers who were out there all day!


img_8223The run felt a little too good to start, and against the sound advice I hammer home to the athletes that I coach, I went out a bit to confidently. I eventually settled into a more realistic pace and made sure to dump // drink water at every aid station and stay on the run nutrition. Because if I haven’t hit the point home enough, it was toasty!

Around mile 9 I felt the long race creep up on me .. not out of breath, not lactic acid .. just and overall feeling of heaviness. I held it together well enough for a 7th place finish in yet another strong field. This was a learning experience, as racing this long is a new kind of “hard” and more than ever, props to anyone who has completed a full 104.6!

I have had a few days to reflect on this race and the lessons learned and am reminded that often athletic challenges are such a metaphor for life in general…. 1) as much as you can and should plan ahead you need to accept that things will not go perfectly your way and 2) Just. Keep. Going.

Thank you for reading!


Thank you to these Maverick Multisport team supporters for providing the following discounts for us to share:



enve-site-logoI have tried out  multiple types race wheels throughout racing as a pro, and for the second year in a row, without a doubt the ENVE wheels are my top pick. It is no coincidence that ENVE wheels rode to the fastest bike split in Kona last year and five stage wins in this year’s Tour de France.

I currently race with the latest and greatest ENVE SES  7.8 wheels .. and while these Tri // TT wheels look beyond slick, they are not ‘just another pretty wheel.’ I have found that they perform superbly in all conditions. A case in point: the Racine 70.3 race this year. With the stormy weather came unexpectedly horrendous winds. Anyone who has ridden with me knows I will never win the award for best bike handler, and I was surprised how much I was able to stay in the aero position. With all of the variables and details that come along with racing triathlon, I like the fact that my race wheels are set, no matter the conditions. There is no worrying about switching out a wheel here and there nor toting along extra wheels to races.

enve-7-8-brake-track-1455726966990-1plif3du0920v-630-80One stand-out feature: based on aerodynamics R&D, the 7.8s feature asymmetric rim geometry with a front rim that is slightly shallower and wider than the back. And the wider rim widths allow for a wider tire, which has been proven to lower rolling resistance as well as improve shock-absorption on bumpy road surfaces.

Another unique feature is the moulded-in carbon brake track texture, which improves stopping and performs in wet conditions, which is something we can all appreciate as we scream through a race course!

You do not have to take from me when it comes to the tech specs, as the ENVE website is a great resource for all things aero wheels. Happy riding!!



IM 70.3 Racine Race Recap

This month’s 31 mile + half marathon, the “70.3” in Racine, WI was a strange one this year! But hey, we all sign up for these races knowing that the unexpected can unfold at any time, as triathlon is chock-full of variables at all times.

After waking up before the sun and heading to the race as usual, we learned that we had to kill time until 10:30am. I was thankful to have family there (yay for the remaining midwest pro races!), so we hopped in the car and got a second light breakfast at a local restaurant and watched some serious down pouring. This time the weatherman was on point, and the sun and heat ramped up right around the time we were supposed to start the race. It was disappointing to not have a swim, as the sun was shining off the relatively calm, inviting Lake Michigan water, but all we could do was embrace the opportunity to try something // a distance combo that was a totally new experience!

The race finally got going with a time trial bike start. Anyone who has raced in Racine knows it can be a bumpy ride, and this year was no exception. Add in some GUSTY wind and it made for a challenging 31 miles that required sharp focus on the Argon18 ride. There is not an exact equation for how muchRacineRun faster to go when the distance is shortened, but I did my best to notch it up a tad while not fully in olympic distance mode.

When it came to the half marathon portion, add an incredibly packed run course to the time trail start, and as you can imagine, it was an odd feeling to not have much of an idea where we stood. Since the weather is always a factor, and the sticky midwest summer heat did not disappoint, I knew keeping cool via water dumps at the aid stations was not something to skip! I faltered the last few miles of the run, which I am taking as an opportunity to learn, but overall I was satisfied enough to cross the line in 6th place, with the STRONG squad consisting of Lauren // Sarah // Sarah // Jeanni // Jodi ahead of me.

One reason I chose to sign up for this race was that it worked out nicely with a visit to the midwest to spend time with my family .. including my niece and nephew, who always leave a part of me feeling like I should live closer to them. Since the race I have taken time to rest up, enjoy both my remaining visit ‘home’ as well as Boulder, and finalize what the rest of 2016 will hold tri-wise!


A special shout
 out to the Maverick Multisport team sponsors who offer discount codes we can pass along to fellow athletes:


Boulder 70.3: Race Recap

There was no question about Boulder 70.3 being on my race schedule for the 3rd season in a row, because who can pass up a hometown, travel-less race? While I enjoy the fact that triathlon has introduced me to many new places, it is always nice to have a breather from the travel stressors (i.e Did the bike make it in one piece? Is my flight delayed?).

Since the weather is always a significant variable in racing, I should note the week // weekend was set to be a TOASTY one. While I typically say bring on the heat, the sudden onslaught was a bit of a shock to the system, thus I took the taper week even more low key than usual due to feeling extra lethargy. The morning of the race I felt more spring in my step than I had during the week, which I know many triathletes experience. Phew. 🙂

The swim start at altitude always seems to shoot that heart rate up, but I just fo60_m-100722675-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1353_048759-1651523cused on relaxed breathing and getting on some feet. I was stoked to swim with a pack for the majority of the race, which is something that does not always transpire. The water was a perfect temp. for the BlueSeventy swim skin, and I continue to feel more and more relaxed swimming in races these days.

The bike course took us on some very familiar roads, all of which I have ridden frequently during my time here in Boulder. Aside from the fact that we were told the course was 1.5-ish miles short, the familiarity seemed to make the bike leg fly by compared to other races, perhaps because I knew exactly what was coming up and could break it up in segments. Power-wise, I negative split this leg of the race, which is something I preach to the athletes I coach but do not always do myself! In addition to steadyily taking in my INFINIT nutrition, I took the time to grab water at all aid stations in preparation for the march around the Boulder reservoir that was to come.



My plan on the run was to not do anything crazy, as on this exposed course, too hard too fast at the beginning would be exceptionally detrimental. The course kept us working with its hills and minimal amount of pavement. It was nice to see so many familiar faces out there, and thank you for the splits Ryan & Michael! While it was not the ‘fastest’ run ever for me, I was satisfied to do what it took to get a podium spot for the day. Congrats to everyone who knocked out this race!

Now back to the drawing board to figure out the schedule for the rest of the season ..




A special shout out to the Maverick Multisport team sponsors who offer discount codes we can pass along to fellow athletes:


One down .. One just around the corner ..


With Maverick teammates: Jess & Jon

This weekend I am heading into my second race of the year: Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. I have heard great things about this course’s beauty, and you’ll never see me scoff at a downstream swim! An incredibly strong field is signed up, so I look forward to see how everyone lines up at the finish line. The cycling numbers v. effort have improved the past few weeks, which is typically a good sign, but it is never a good idea to try to overly-predict a race result. So we shall see what transpires!

My first race was in mid-April at Ironman Texas 70.3 in steamy Galveston. Now that I am heading into my 6th solid triathlon season, you would think I would get over the “wait how did // do I do this again?!” scattered thoughts, but not so much. It was good feeling to get this one out of the way after a long racing break.

The morning was beautiful and I enjoyed having teammate Jessica Jones’ company as we pulled on the BluSeventy Helix wetsuits headed down to the swim start. Smooth water always calms that pre race anxious feeling (trust me I know this will not always be the case), but once the gun went off that heart rate shot up as I tried to find some good positioning. This did not happen and unfortunately I swam mostly alone. Aside from catching a draft, open water swimming is more enjoyable


Swim start .. here we go.

and comforting with company! Complaints aside, I have definitely exited further back from the front in my tri days so I cannot complain.

The new 2016 Argon 18 bike setup felt very smooth. The winds were rough out there alone, and riding in aero for 56 miles STRAIGHT on FLAT terrain in aero position was a shock to the system, but that was all from the user side, not the equipment. I just tried to stay steady and consistent with with INFINIT nutrition and and not blow out my legs. I got passed by a handful of ladies, but I have learned that there’s no use burning all the matches to try and stay (legally) with someone who is just plain riding stronger that you are!

The run leg was a good reminder that even though you legs feel like lead off the bike, they WILL loosen up with proper pacing, hydration and nutrition. To a point, I felt better as I went, and tried to pick up the pace the last 5k. The course had loads of turns, which actually kept me ‘entertained’ as I tried to hold my pace around them. As I crossed the finish line in 7th, it was a relief to just knock out a race and get the season really going. With fewer races across the board, the bar has been raised at the pro level in this sport, which in many ways is a good thing.

After the race I was frustrated to learn that I was seconds from the person ahead of me (AKA a paycheck:)), but when I reflect back it was a positive season opener with a finishing time of 4:20, and I can say that I did what I could with what I had physically on that day.

There are highs and lows that come along with anything we pursue, and one phrase that I try to remember during those moments that  lean towards the lows side is:

Not to say on this day I felt like quitting per say, as there were plenty of high points, it’s just always nice to remind yourself of the core values – whatever they may be – that made you get up and out the door and sign up for a race.

Thank you for reading and happy triathlon-ing!

Happy WINTER Training

Boulder, CO is my home, and while we do not experience the absolute roughest winters, we get our fair share of snow, ice and cold temperatures. Thus, I have figured out some ways to stay as triathlon-sane as possible through the winter months.

The following are some random winter tips pertaining to the sport. Sometimes small details can add up to a significant difference when it comes to getting motivated to train when it would be so easy to cozy up in a blanket on the couch:

– Swimming outside? Invest in a large swim jacket, and if there is a dry sauna where you are swimming, sit in there for about 5 min right before going outside. Game changer!

– Doing a long ride on the bike trainer? Organize a trainer party with friends, as chatting and watching movies together is far more entertaining than a solitary session. Watch a Netflix series that does not require much brain power and switch between the show and music. Vary your cadence / gear work even if you do not have a specific workout.

– Doing a long run on a treadmill? Break the monotony by varying therun res incline setting throughout the run and gain strength from the ‘hills’.

– Sign up for a race .. Any race. Or even plan our your race schedule for the year. Knowing that you’ve taken the plunge and paid the entry fee will get you moving.

– Get outside even if it’s cold, especially if you do not have specific intervals to worry about. Fresh air and sunlight are good for our well being, even if we cannot see the sun. Metal studs on the run shoes work wonders and allow you do run on beautiful trails you may otherwise avoid because of the footing.

And a special shout-out in this realm to Maverick Multisport Team supporter: Jaybird.

The Jaybird X2 wireless headphones have made winter training so much more enjoyable. I often NEED a music option when on a treadmill or trainer, so not having to worry about a tangled up cord or the placement of my device is a helpful. It’s also nice to be able to adjust tracks and volume on the headphones themselves as opposed to via the device.

The X2s come with different sizes of of ear tips and fins so that you can get a snug, secure fit that isn’t compromised with movement. The sound quality is perfect, they block out extra noise, and I have yet to lose the bluetooth connection.convenient and enjoyable.

Rocking with the X2s in the Miami 70.3 transition area.

Rocking with the X2s in the Miami 70.3 transition area.


Another innovative product from Jaybird: the REIGN. My favorite feature is the sleep dial, which shows your ideal sleep-time, last night’s sleep-time, and recommended sleep-time for tonight to be at your best tomorrow.

Triathlon: The Balancing Act of 3 Disciplines

It is easy to look at the sport of triathlon and think of it as three separate sports combined into one sporting event. But if you define triathlon as a single sport of its own, than I believe that one’s relative success in the sport is significantly correlated to the ability to balance the three disciplines, both in training and racing.

And when I say ‘balance’, I do not necessarily mean giving equal weight (or shall we say, training stress) to each sport, but rather giving special attention to areas of needed improvement while keeping consistently moving with all three disciplines. This is difficult to figure out, which is why it is an area in which a knowledgable coach comes in quite handy.

Following are some challenges and considerations that I have found to be unique to triathlon v. other endurance sports:


Recovery on a daily basis is exceptionally crucial because you can do multiple tough training days in a row in triathlon, so long as they are different disciplines. For example, it is very common in triathlon training to have a hard bike workout followed by a hard run workout the next day, whereas a runner would not do a track workout the day after a hard tempo run (because the training stress would be too high if JUST running). This can be a mentally challenging component as well.


To elaborate further on an aforementioned point: no matter your strengths you must consistently train all three areas. But (to quote coach Dr. Phil Skiba) you also have to “train your weaknessesmiamiSunrise2 and race your strengths.” While the latter part of that statement applies to choosing a course that suits you, the first part relates to the fact the there is only so much training stress the body can handle, thus it should be used up in a higher proportion where most needed.

I feel confident asserting this point because of personal experience. I consistently ran better with overall faster race results relative to the competition than in previous years, not because I ran harder or more in training, but because I swam and biked at a higher level in training. Thus, these two areas in which I have less experience took less out of me in the races. Again, here is where a knowledgable coach comes in very handy!


Learning how to balance the the disciplines within a race is just as important. Nowhere is this more evident than the transition from biking to running in a race. We would all like to believe that our highest watts and fastest possible speed the bike should be executed on race day, but as many of us have learned, this is not the case.10402631_1145477142133263_7488044626225659036_n

Look back and I bet your best overall race result was not on the day you went balls to the wall on the bike. If it was, then I say you can do better! Quite simply: bike hard … but not so hard you cook your legs for the run. Finding that sweet spot is a task in itself.

And finally, to steal one of my colleague’s standard quotes: as always – just my humble opinion (which I have loads of) – take what you like and leave the rest.


Thanks for reading!