Saturday, October 11, 2014

All ready to watch Kona!

Here is my setup:

Livestream video on my "smart" TV. We'll see how long this lasts.

Ironman blog, IronFan page, and leaderboards all have their own tabs on my laptop.

Also following the Slowtwich Race Thread.

Perhaps I should mention that the coverage starts at 6pm my I am going to be up all night. Totally worth it!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

IM Frankfurt Race Report

I was dragging my feet to write my race report for IM Frankfurt. I didn't particularly want to re-live the experience, but since I do want to write about my next two races, I forced myself to write this one.

So, here is the full report from the Team Timex blog.

In addition, here are some tips if you are actually doing the race:

1. Think carefully about the logistics of getting yourself and your supporters to the starting line on race morning. I elected to take the bus solo and my husband and friend rode down to the lake, where I saw them as I headed to the swim start. Even though I got on the bus with plenty to time, we got stuck in some bad traffic on the way to the lake and it seemed to take forever. Plus, I was sitting in the back, right by the engine, so all of us were getting very hot and sweaty. Then I was too rushed in transition. There were pumps available, but the lines for them were long and I wasn't familiar with how the valve worked. If I had to do it again, I would have left even earlier and brought my own pump.

2. Pack the stuff you want for the athlete's garden in your white pre-race bag and turn it in. They will deliver it to you within 5 minutes of finishing. It was so awesome to be able to put on my flip flops immediately. There is a shower trailer in the athlete's garden, so pack accordingly. I put some travel size toiletries and a small towel and comb in my post-race bag and that was a great idea.

3. Make sure that your rear bottles are super secure. A lot of people assume that they will have problems when they get to the cobbles in "The Hell." Since there is a bottle station right after that, it seems like it shouldn't be a big deal. However, I saw more people lose bottles in the pothole section in Frankfurt (about the 16km mark) than I did on The Hell. So before the race, find the roughest road you can and check that your bottles stay in place. This is also great practice for the cobbles....

4. Double bagging transition bags. Since it was supposed to rain after we had turned in our bags, I made sure to put all my things inside a trash bag, tie it closed, then put that in the T1 and T2 bags. This would up being a great idea even if it hadn't rained. In the change tent, I could pull out the trash bag and immediately the other bag would be free to hold the stuff I was taking off. I think I'm going to do that for all future races with bags for transition.

5. The bike course has permanent direction signs, so it is easy to pre-ride the course. However, there is usually a lot of traffic as well as stop signs and intersections. I would suggest riding it on a Sunday morning if possible. Don't even bother with the sections within the Frankfurt city limits - you'll probably be forced onto the sidewalk.

6. When you heading into T2, there is only about 200m left after you make the right hand turn to leave the loops. So if you're taking off your shoes, do that before you turn. The guy in front of me waited until right before the dismount line, so I had to avoid him swerving around.

7. If you are looking for a Kona slot and you are a woman...pick another race. They advertise 100 slots for this race, but since they are based on the demographics of the starters, there were only 13 slots for the entire women's field. My AG had 2 initially, but we got a third when one of the older age groups didn't take it.

I am trying to think about something to say about the run...the one major thing is that you can run on the course without issue all year long. In my pre-runs, I thought that some of the sections would get lonely, but that did not happen on race day. Also, most of the crowd was cheering for everyone and just their racer, so there was plenty of motivation.

Overall, I thought the race was very enjoyable and well organized. The crowd support was unbelievable and made the bike course so much fun. All in all, an amazing experience that is hard to replicate! Hopefully in time, I will remember all the good parts and not how worn out I was at the end.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lots of racing...but not race report writing

Ironman Frankfurt was 2.5 weeks ago...the Challenge Roth relay was last weekend...and I am racing a half IM in Poznan this weekend. So I've got plenty to write about, but nothing on the page.

There are a few reasons (or excuses!) for this:

1. IM Frankfurt wiped me out and I spent the following week in a daze and shuffling around like a senior citizen. Part of this was the heat and humidity of race day. But a bigger part was probably my disappointment in not qualifying for Kona. I knew that it would be tough, but I felt that if I gave my best performance it was possible. I dedicated myself to this for months and pushed myself to the limit on race day...and came up short. Instead of looking at all the positive things, I was focusing on the one negative that was completely out of my control. I was not too eager to re-live the whole ordeal by writing a race report.

2. I now have a part-time job as an instructor on base. I have been doing a lot of prep work for this and I teach my first class next week. I am looking forward to it, but it is taking up a lot of my time. Once I find my rhythm, that will be a huge help.

3. I am still tired. I pride myself on my ability to get stuff done and have the discipline to do all my workouts that my coach gives me. Maybe it was because I was in the Army, but I have lost the ability to physically assess if I am tired. But I have finally figured out that my mood/mental state is my best indicator of fatigue: if I am cranky or sad or easily frustrated for no good reason, I need to rest.

So now that my late-season race calendar is empty, I think I have decided on doing the Munich Marathon. I also signed up for the relay again for Challenge Roth 2015, as well as Ironman South Africa in March 2015. I have not completely lost my motivation (that's a good sign!) but I recognize that I need to step back and regroup. I have learned a lot about myself over the past few weeks and I know that will help me as I move forward.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ironcat race video

I have no idea what they are saying, but this is pretty cool...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ironcat Race Report

This past weekend was my first race of the season: the iron-distance Ironcat triathlon in L'Ampolla, Spain (about an hour south of Barcelona.) This is a small race put on by the local club; there were only about 250 participants.

I will write more about my own personal experience over on the Team Timex blog, but I figured that I would include basic facts about the race here, since there is not a lot of English-language information about this race.


L'ampolla is a small-ish town on the Mediterranean at the south end of Catalonia. We chose to drive from Germany, but I talked to several other people from the UK and Germany that flew into Barcelona. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants in town, as well as grocery stores. It was a little bit touristy -- enough that there were menus, etc. in English, but not so much that everything was overpriced and annoying.


It was about 24C on race day and the winds weren't too strong. One of the organizers told me that in previous years, it has been very windy. For the first half of the bike, there was almost no wind, but it increased slightly in the second half. However, this meant there was a tail wind for the last half of my final lap, so that was great. On the run, the only time I noticed the winds were very occasional cooling gusts that were very pleasant.


The course map on the race website ( is very detailed and is in Catalan, Spanish, and English. All of the e-mails I received from the organizers were also tri-lingual. This was the 11th edition of the race, so they have this down to a science.

The race briefing, however, was entirely in Catalan and there didn't seem to be any instructions for English speakers. I had looked at the presentation before attending, so I was able to follow along and note where they seem to suggest special attention. After the brief, I came forward to ask my questions individually and they found someone to explain the answers. With that, I was clear on how the race would go.


Transition opened at 6 am, 1 hour before the start. They verified our numbers and helmet and we went to our racks. The numbers appeared to be sequential, but my number was missing. I then realized that the women were consolidated in a different rack (our race numbers were randomly in with the whole group, so they were not sequential.) In transition we laid our stuff out by our bikes and didn't use gear bags like other long-distance races.


The swim is three laps counter-clockwise around a rectangle, before you peel off and swim into the marina. The start is on the beach, and you only need about one or two steps before the water is deep enough to swim in. However, it is still pretty shallow at that point, so I was careful not to dive too deeply.

There are not a lot of natural sighting landmarks to use, but I didn't have problems seeing the buoys (big yellow spheres). The water is pretty clear, so it was easy to see other swimmers.

The exit of the swim is up the boat ramp in the marina. They had put down rubber matting to facilitate getting out of the water. There were also some fresh water showers a few steps away. The run to T1 is only about 100m.


With such a small field, the transition zone is pretty small. For both T1 and T2, we entered one end and exited at the other.


The bike course is 6 laps of an out and back. When you start and finish, it goes a bit farther to the transition area, but the usual turnaround is the roundabout in front of the Flamingo Hotel. The turnaround at the far end is just before the village of Camarles. There was a tent set up, so it was easy to see from a distance and the actual turn point was marked by cones.

I drove the course ahead of time and found it difficult to figure out exactly where to go, but once I rode it on my bike, it was much easier. However, there are no paint markings that I could see. On race day, there are plenty of arrow signs, as well as volunteers and police at the intersections.

Generally, the course is very flat and the road surface is good. I noticed a lot of little bugs hitting me on the section out to Camarles, so make sure you breathe through your nose! I was only out of the aero position a handful of times: the Hotel Flamingo roundabout, and the 90 degree turn to go out to Camarles. Be ready to spend a lot of time on your aerobars.

Here is where things were a little different then a usual IM race: At the race brief, I asked what they meant by "individual" and "organization" aid stations. The guy explained that you could get outside assistance (unlike WTC races). Since the water was only provided in 33cl screw top bottles that wouldn't fit in water bottle cages, I pressed my husband into service and had him give me a new 750ml bike bottle at the Hotel Flamingo roundabout. I would toss him my used bottle and he would give me a new one. This worked very well, and I was very thankful that I happened to put an extra bottle in the car before we left. The volunteers at the aid stations had unscrewed the water bottles and the water was cold, so that was a nice treat on the last few laps. If you just want to refill an aerobottle, you'll be fine with the on course water.


I was not completely sure of what to do when I came back to the transition zone, but the race officials had things roped off well and someone pointed to the entrance area. I knew I was following then same flow as T1, and someone else showed me where the run section started and also handed me a water. The transition area has an aid station, portajohns, and a sunscreen table. You'll pass through this area once per run lap.


The run is also 6 laps of an out and back. One end is along the coast, heading south. The other end is the far end of the pier. After leaving the transition aid station, the next one is at the south turnaround at 3.5km. The course is slightly rolling as you go through town and at 3km, you'll head onto a dirt road that ends at the aid station. This is also slightly uphill heading out, and this is where you'll receive your band for each lap. In this case, you got a black band every lap until the sixth and final lap, when you got a white band.

So the run course broke down to:
Head out of transition >>> aid station and turnaround @ 3.5km >>> back through transition @ 5.5km >>> turn around at end of the pier @ 6.25km >>> back to transition @ 7km. Repeat 6 times.

The course alternates between the road, the boardwalk, and the sidewalk. It is well marked with cones/tape/arrows and there are lots of spectators cheering. In some places, there are dips in the sidewalk, so be sure to pick up your feet. Also, there are various bollards you need to avoid in the area by the pier.

On the final lap, they will direct you to the finishing chute. I saw lots of people finishing with their family members.

Post race:

There was plenty of room to relax, plus there were massages and a station with various drinks, sandwiches, and paella. This area is immediately adjacent to transition, so it was no problem to go pack up all my stuff. After the awards ceremony, we enjoyed a pizza dinner before heading to our rental house.


This is a huge advantage of this race: many people may find the lap format boring (I don't), but it gives your family plenty of opportunities to see you. There is a raised area near the swim where you can easily watch the whole course and the exit. For the bike, spectators can hang out at the beach while you are out of town. And there are a couple restaurants on the run course. My husband enjoyed a leisurely meal, and would walk a few feet to cheer when I came by. There is also a playground right in the middle of town.


I thought this was a very well run race and I really enjoyed the laid back, party atmosphere. Another bonus is that all of the food we ate while in L'Ampolla was so delicious. There were a few times when I wasn't completely sure of what was going on, but it didn't bother me. I would recommend that future racers really study the information provided and learn some key words in Spanish to make race day a bit less stressful.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Timex Multisport Team Camp 2014

Being part of the Timex team last year was such an amazing experience. I spend a lot of my time training alone, so it was so wonderful and uplifting to have a group of friends that I could turn to for advice and support. At last year's camp, I got a taste of this, but after having a whole season to experience and appreciate it, I was really excited for camp and to get to see people again.

People ask me exactly what we do at this camp -- while there is some training, the main purpose is to learn all about the products that our sponsors offer. We had several new sponsors this year, so there is a lot of information to take in! But in addition to the classes, this camp is a great chance to get to spend time with my teammates and learn about their successes and challenges.

Living in a foreign country, it is very easy for me to feel a bit isolated. The Timex Team is like a family to me, and my main goal for this weekend was to soak up as much motivation and love as I could, so I would have something to remember when the going inevitably gets tough. Between all the pictures, hilarious stories, and happy memories of the fabulous weather, I think I accomplished the mission!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

IronCat, here I come!

I am a super-planner, so I like that you have to sign up for Ironman races a year ahead of time. When planning my race season, I had my eye on the IronCat, a full distance race put on by the Catalan Triathlon Club that is just south of Barcelona. But given that we are going to be moving again in a few months, I was biding my time on signing up in the event that our schedule wouldn't accommodate it. Surely it wouldn't sell out...right?

Well, it did. But the city council recently moved to add more participants, so I am on the list. Hooray!

Less than 60 days to go...check it out at

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A couple more Norseman training notes

Here are some items I didn't mention in my Norsemanifesto, but they've been floating in my head for a little while.

1. Training for Gaustatoppen. I didn't do any hiking in preparation for the race, but it turns out it wouldn't have mattered. The route up the mountain only resembles a dirt trail for a small portion at the beginning. After that, it is stepping your way up rocks.

I normally lack the coordination to do this efficiently, so you can imagine my difficulties at the end of an Ironman. 

This is where the Stepmill comes in. (I am talking about the machine that you climb up physical stairs that go around a belt, not a Stairmaster.) By using the Stepmill at the end of your long runs, it would be excellent preparation for Gaustatoppen. The Stepmill will be more challenging than a Stairmaster (you can cheat on that one!) or actual stairs and will test your agility on tired legs. 

2. Support crew vs. mountain partner. Given the stress of the whole day, it is very important to have a person who is completely synched with your plan for eating, drinking, and dressing, as well as keeping an eye on your attitude and well being. However, it is possible that this person might not be the best choice for a partner to go up the mountain, depending on your abilities. This is when it would be beneficial to have more than one support person. If I remember correctly, the one white support shirt you get only limits how many people are in transition, and you can take a completely different person up the mountain, or multiple people. So maybe your spouse is going to be the best choice for your "caretaker," but he/she won't be able to keep up on the mountain. Another person would definitely be an asset in this case.