2016 Wisconsin Milkman Triathlon

27 06 2016

I’ve been making multiple trips to Wisconsin over the past 6 months, more so than I usually do. One of the reasons for all the trips is that I’ve been taking classes at the UW School of Business Center for Processional and Executive Development in addition to my monthly business trip. Man, it’s been exhausting! I didn’t realize how much stress/exhaustion/work it would take to make it through, but I can happily say I came out on the other side with a few extra letters behind my name to boot!

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This last trip was the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent in Madison. I arrived on a Wednesday for a Thursday-Friday class, spent the weekend, and then took my capstone class on Monday-Wednesday before flying home.

A few months ago, when I was looking into flights for this trip, I knew I’d have to decide to stay the weekend or make two trips because of when the classes were scheduled (depending on costs). For fun, I did a quick Google search to see if there was a running race or a triathlon in Madison that weekend, because why not? As it turned out, there was a new event in town- the Wisconsin Milkman Triathlon  which was scheduled to occur on June 19th! I reached out to my SOAS teammate Kathy to see if she knew anything about the race, and as it turned out, she was already registered! So, when it became clear that it was a bit cheaper to spend the weekend in Wisconsin rather than fly home, I decided to go ahead and register for my first triathlon in Wisconsin!

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PreRace: Logistics/Getting there:

I decided to ship my bike via Bikeflights.com because I actually had a work meeting in Tallahassee the first day of the trip, and didn’t want to have to pay to check my bike twice. This was the first time I’ve ever shipped my bike (I had only ever used TriBikeTransport previously) so I used the bike shops they recommended (Cycle Sports Concepts in Tampa and Endurance House in Madison).

In all honesty, I’m not sure I’ll use BikeFlights again, or if I do, I’ll do something differently. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. When my bike arrived in Madison, the rear pulley was broken! Thankfully the guys at Endurance House were able to fix it, but they said they’d never seen anything like it before and the box the bike arrived in wasn’t damaged!IMG_4759
  2. In theory, BikeFlights should be cheaper than checking a bike on a plane or just straight up shipping it. Since I’m clueless about disassembling and assembling my bike, I had the shops do it for me, which means I paid for that service in addition to the shipping costs. Disassembly and packing x2 and Reassembly x2 adds up. UGH!
  3. When my bike arrived back in Tampa, the bike shop noticed something else was amiss- the sheath for the bolt in my seat post was loose. The guys at CSC are still trying to figure out what to do about it, so my bike isn’t home yet :(.

I have no idea how/when any of these issues happened, so I really don’t know who’s  at fault. I really don’t want to shell out any money for this, so I’m hoping it will all be fixed and I’ll get my bike back really soon.

The other interesting thing that happened before the race even started was that I forgot my bike shoes. Yes, I know. It’s an OBVIOUS piece of gear, how did I forget it? Honestly, I don’t know. I remembered my recovery protein powder but forgot my shoes. Sheesh!

What makes this mistake even worse is that my Gramin pedals/powermeter require a special type of cleat. So no bike shoes = no Garmin cleat.

The guys at Endurance House were great and they helped me find a new pair of bike shoes. Unfortunately they were out of the Garmin cleat, and so were a few other shops they called. Thankfully, one of them learned that a Look Keo cleat would work just as well, but EH was all out of that too! By some miracle, another bike shop down the road had these cleats so Kathy and I drove there to pick them up and have them installed.

Phew- finally, I had my ducks in a row!

PreRace: Saturday

Saturday morning was race check in! Kathy and I met up at Olin Park for a swim in Lake Monona with a whole bunch of other athletes. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and the Lake was much warmer than usual- a perfect 72 degrees.

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After our swim, we grabbed our bikes for a 40 minute ride. Kathy took me on the first part of the course which was super helpful for me. I was clueless as to what to expect so this little preview was much appreciated. Kathy warned me about Wisconsin roads after a long winter, and sure enough I got a taste of some bumpy/rough roads. I also got to experience a few hills. It was definitely going to be an interesting bike.

We got back from our ride, dropped our bikes in the car and then ran the short kilometer to the check in/expo. Check in was a breeze- they were super organized and it wasn’t crowded at all. Then, we walked outside to the expo, where Kathy and I both questioned “Is this it?” The only thing that was worth our while was the Normatec tent, where we sat in the boots and relaxed for a bit. Gosh I love those things!

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Kathy and I parted ways for a few hours, but came back a little before three to check our bikes and attend the pre-race meeting. I recognized the man leading the meeting from when I spectated at IMWI last season. He had been bringing in the finishers when Mike Reilly needed a break. The team putting on this race was experienced! The meeting was a nice refresher of the information in the Athlete Guide, and we were assured that the streets were being swept and marked before the sun would rise. Oh, and he also confirmed that the last quarter mile of the run into the finish chute included the lovely hill right behind us. CRUEL!

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After an early dinner (pizza), I crawled into bed and watched some TV before lights out around 9:30. Kathy was picking me up at 5:15 and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible!

Race Day!

It was an absolutely beautiful morning for a race!

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I got up and was surprisingly not nervous for the day that lie ahead. My mindset was that this was a long training day. I had zero expectations. No time goal, no place goal (It helped that awards would be for women 30-39. Hello competitive age group!) – just get out and have fun and get in some miles.

Since our bikes were already racked, we had plenty of time to get through the usual morning routines of a triathlete. It was pretty warm (for Wisconsin) and I was actually kinda bummed- I was looking forward to a 70.3 in cooler temperatures, since all of my previous races have been in Florida and it’s crazy heat and humidity. Well, at least it wasn’t as humid as I’m used to.

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We made our way to the start where we waited for what seemed like forever before our heats. I didn’t start until 7:42- it was definitely going to be hot by the time I was running!

Since I’d never raced in WI before and I hadn’t done any tri-stalking of the local athletes, I really had no idea how this race would pan out. I’m generally a strong swimmer so I took my chances and lined up at the front of the pack. The gun went off, I did a few dolphin dives and started swimming. There was one girl who got out a little in front of me and was swimming at a nice strong pace.  I opted to stick to her heels for a little and save some energy. By the time we hit the 2nd buoy, we were starting to catch the wave in front of us. I was also gaining on her. I eventually overtook her, and I had no idea if she stayed on my feet the rest of the swim or not!

The first leg of the swim was directly towards the sun, and sighting was a bit difficult. But I hugged the buoys the best I could and just kept swimming. It got a little congested, and I swam over a few people. There was one point where someone in front of me suddenly stopped and I came to a grinding halt so that I didn’t totally crash into him/her. I was a little annoyed but quickly got back on track and kept swimming. I really had no clue how I was doing. I felt good, I was passing a lot of people, and I didn’t seem to be getting passed. I was hopeful today was going to be a good day!

Swim: 30:08

(I think I was 7th fastest female swim, including the elites)

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I got out of the water, pulled my wetsuit halfway, laid down and then the wetsuit strippers took it the rest of the way off. Gosh, wetsuit strippers rock. Thank you!!

I got up and then ran towards transition, which I believe was about a quarter mile away. I kept telling myself, This is not a sprint, you don’t need to kill this part of the race!

I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses, put on my bike shoes and sprayed myself with some sun screen (yes, I did take the time to do this!) before heading out.

T1: 3:41

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Oh the bike. This was the leg I was most apprehensive about. How “bad” were the roads actually going to be? Will I need to walk up any of the hills? Again I reminded myself I was there to have fun and get in a good workout, and that’s exactly what I did.

The bike course was really pretty- lots of farmland and some cute towns. And yes, it was hilly. I hadn’t swapped my cassette out to be my climbing one and there were a few times I regretted that. But, all in all, with the exception of Observatory Hill and then one more on the way home, I really didn’t find the course all that outrageous. The hills were rollers- and what goes up, must come down!

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I played leap frog with a few people on the course, but I also felt like I was constantly passing people and being passed. I guess that’s what happens when you’re in a later wave but you’re a speedy swimmer:-)

Garmin tells me I gained 2451 feet in elevation, averaged 18.3 mph and my max speed was 44mph.

Overall, I was quite pleased with my bike split!

Bike: 3:03.37

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Despite the fun on the bike, I was happy to get off. One of my new bike shoes was starting to rub on the top of my foot and I could tell I was getting a blister. I was really hoping it wouldn’t interfere with my run!

I got into transition, put on my shoes (no elastic laces, so I need to actually tie them), grabbed some nutrition and my hat, sprayed on sunscreen (again), and ran out while clipping on my race belt. I can’t believe I’m 2/3 of the way done!

T2: 2:40

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The run started off pretty good for me. It wasn’t super humid, and my legs felt surprisingly good. But, I knew there were a few hills in the early parts of the run so I didn’t want to go out too hard. I tried to focus on good form and not letting my heart rate get too outta control.

The night before I had read a handout from Marni about 70.3 race strategy and it said to think of the run in 3 intervals: warm up, pre-set, and main set – just like how regular workouts are structured. So I tried to keep that in mind as we ran through the neighborhoods of Monona.

There were already a lot of people walking, and it took a lot for me to stay mentally strong and not join them right away. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and told myself to run happy. This race was for fun after all!

Aid stations were every mile and a half. It was my plan to walk through every one and grab water and ice- I wanted to make sure I didn’t get overheated out there!

The first three miles seemed to drag on- maybe I just wanted to get through the warm up? I kept reminding myself that the half (and full for that matter) is about who can slow down the least. I was definitely slowing down some, but I was still having a solid run.

I allowed myself to walk when I needed it (and to be perfectly honest, I think there were a few times where I mentally gave in and walked just like every one else around me) and I was trying to stay up on my calorie intake, but my stomach was starting to feel sloshy. I had Osmo in my race belt, which I was good at drinking regularly, but the Shot blocks were not appealing to me at all. At one of the aid stations near the midpoint of the race, I started drinking coke and had a few small pretzels. Unfortunately Coke was only at every other aid station, so I didn’t get my fill of Coke as often as I wanted it, but I was still able to get enough to get me through.

Eventually, we were at the part of the course I recognized. The run course was a loop around Lake Monona, and on multiple occasions, I’ve run part of the way around the lake, but never done the whole thing. The end of the run was part of the loop where I had done a bunch of training runs in my time in Madison. I got a mental boost from the familiarity of my surroundings, and I knew I was almost home! I looked down at my watch and realized that I might be able to slip in right around 2:00 as well- bonus!

Eventually, I was at the dreaded uphill before the finish chute. I put my head down and chugged my way up and into the chute. I had done it!

Run: 2:04:48

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Overall time: 5:44.53

overall place: 200 out of 835
division place: 13 out of 99
gender place: 33 out of 290

Final thoughts:

Though this was my slowest HIM, I still think it was a solid day.

When I first saw my rankings I was a little annoyed. I grumbled to myself:

I would have done much better in ranking if I had only been in my real AG (30-34). 

Gosh, the elites were calculated into my AG too, how unfair!

But then I took a step back and realized that 13th place in an AG that included the 34-39 year olds AND the elites is nothin to shake a stick at! And, I was in the top 25% of the ENTIRE RACE- men and women! That’s nothing to be ashamed of!

This race was a great reminder that triathlon is fun- it’s not always about placing and podiums and fast times. It’s an amazing thing that I have a strong, healthy body that allows me to push it for 70.3 miles! I should appreciate that more often!

It’s all about where your mind is- if you’ve got a positive attitude, you’re already halfway to a great race.

Oh, and the race team put on a great event! The course was clearly marked, post race food was pretty good, and hello free photos! If I was local, I’d definitely do this one again!

 

 

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What A Triathlete Does In Vegas

21 10 2015

Last week, I spent 4 days in Las Vegas for a conference. I’m three weeks out from Challenge Florida, and though my training generally hasn’t been as stellar as I would have liked, I didn’t want to totally throw the race away by not doing anything while out in Sin City. So, I did what any normal triathlete would do, and rented a bike (**sarcasm**). Yes, you heard that right, I rented a BMC road bike with 105 components and walked my fully-geared up self out of the casino I was staying at at 6:30 in the morning to go for a bike ride. Totally. Normal.

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(In case you were wondering, yes, there were people gambling at 6:30 in the morning.)

Let me back up a second. One of my colleagues who was also going to be at the conference is a bad a$$ and is a semi-professional cyclocross racer. She races in Belgium representing the US. Yeah, she’s legit. Anyhow, Corey had a race coming up and was planning to rent a bike to get some saddle time in while in Vegas. Though quite scared about being royally dropped in the desert, I asked if I could tag along. Thankfully, she had an easy ride scheduled for Friday so I was confident I could hang. I called up Bike Blast Las Vegas, where she was renting from, and reserved my bike.

Quick review of Bike Blast: When I tried calling from home on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a bit of difficulty getting a hold of someone there. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get a bike and would be stuck at the hotel gym. Thankfully, I was able to talk to Matt on Wednesday afternoon when I arrived in Vegas to secure my bike. The great thing about this company is that they have an option to deliver the bike to the hotel where you’re staying. And, it’s $69/day, which is, in my opinion, a great deal. Sign me up! They dropped our bikes off the afternoon before we planned to use them, and they helped me put on my pedals because I didn’t have the right sized allen wrench. Whoops. You don’t need to bring your own though- they have clipless and regular pedal options that come as part of the standard rental! The rental also included a helmet if you needed it, water bottles, and a local bike map. And, when you’re all done, they come pick up the bike! How awesome is that!? I would totally rent from these guys again- just make sure you call often and early to make sure you get your bike!

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On Friday morning, we met up at 6:30 to attempt a ride Corey found online from someone who at attended InterBike. We got a little lost at first, but then rode down the strip for a bit before turning off and then heading towards the mountains. Of course I had to grab a selfie while we were stopped at a traffic light:

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Once we were out of the craziness of the strip, we found a nice bike lane and made our way to a quieter part of town. We rode out about 45-50 minutes before turning around. Unfortunately, it started raining on the ride home. The way home was all downhill, so there were a few times where I was a little nervous about stopping. Thankfully, we weren’t going to fast, and we made it safely back to the hotel.

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I didn’t realize how dirty I had gotten from riding in the rain- I got in the shower with all my gear on in order to wash my kit!

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I debated whether or not I was going to keep the bike another day because Corey was planning a more intense ride on Saturday. I was definitely scared. But, I absolutely loved riding in a new place and I really wanted to make it out to the mountains to do a little climbing. So, I called up Bike Blast and thankfully I was able to keep the bike another day. Ready or not, my legs would be up for a beating tomorrow!

On Saturday, we met up at the same time and now that we knew exactly where we were going, we got to the bike lane about 15 minutes sooner than we had the day before. Corey asked if I would rather ride out to the mountains at tempo/endurance pace, or if I would rather do some intervals when we got to the quite streets. Uh, mountains please! So, I got on her wheel and we headed out. Thankfully, our pace wasn’t anything too crazy. I was riding hard, but I wasn’t struggling to hang on. Phew.

We ended up riding out to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor’s center, which happened to be an entirely uphill ride. I kept looking down at my watch and wondering why the pace we were riding felt so hard. Oh, it was because we were slowly climbing the entire way.

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 (elevation listed in meters)

It was cool to be out there in the valley, with mountains rising up all around. It was pretty out there; a welcomed change from the trail along the highway where I normally ride.

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About a mile and a half from the visitor’s center, the sky opened up and it started raining pretty hard. We booked it to the shelter of the entrance to the canyon, where we waited a few minutes for a break in the rain. The staff checking in cars warned us that we shouldn’t go up the mountain, since it was pretty muddy/flooded thanks to the rain. You don’t have to tell me twice!

When the rain slowed we decided to head back to the hotel. The way back was great! I was a bit cautious because of the wet roads, but we could pretty much soft pedal the entire way home (see elevation chart above). I would love to do this ride again when it’s dry out and see how fast we could actually make it back.

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#teamSOAS in the house!

When it was all said and done, we had ridden 60.6 km in 2:20. Not super speedy, but I’ll take it!

Later in the afternoon, the nice folks from Bike Blast came to pick up the bike as scheduled. I’m so glad I opted to rent a bike- I had a blast checking out new scenery and riding in a state I’ll likely not ride in again (however, there’s always Silverman…). It was fun to ride with a colleague and talk about things other than work. I definitely want to ride with her again- I’m sure I’ll get my legs torn off- but I would love the challenge! I didn’t let the time away from home put a damper on my training, so let’s do this Challenge Florida! I’ll see you soon!





First Time Mountain Biking

5 09 2013

My boyfriend Bill has been mountain biking for YEARS. He was really into it when he lived out west, and spent countless hours roaring down mountains and jumping over obstacles. When I met him, it was clear that mountain biking had been a huge part of his life and still was- though, as you can imagine, biking in California and Nevada is WAY different than biking in Florida. Regardless, he still got out and rode whenever he could, though it was mostly powering through town, hopping over parking blocks, off curbs, and down steps.

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Unfortunately, Bill and I had never really ridden together because a) I didn’t have a bike to ride and b) having never been,  I was pretty stinkin scared. Well, that all changed this weekend when my friend Chris invited us to go mountain biking! Chris’s friends had an extra bike (or two) that they brought along as we headed up to Croom in the Withlacoochee State Forest (insert puns now).

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As we drove up to Croom, my mind was trying to wrap itself around what exactly I was about to do. I’d never been mountain biking before and all my “real” riding experience has been on road, so I was trying to figure out exactly how this mountain biking thing works. Not the whole pedaling part (duh), but when I go for a ride on my tri bike, I’ve got in mind exactly how far I’m going for the day, approximately what my pace will be, and what I can expect to see on the road/paved trail I’m riding.  It’s a pretty predictable workout. But with mountain biking, I was clueless- Were we going to ride a certain distance? For a certain amount of time? Chris and Bill assured me that I would be fine, and we’d really go by how the group was feeling.

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We got all geared up and hit the trail, and within the first 10 feet there was a tiny uphill with some big roots sticking out. I hadn’t down shifted in time, and as soon as I hit the incline, I knew I wasn’t going to make it over. I hopped off and walked it over the tiny hill. Great. That was a baby hill and I had to get off and walk. This is going to suck.  No sooner did I get over the hill, when I saw Blake stopped. His chain had snapped and was in need of repair or he wouldn’t be riding today. Thankfully, Chris #2 had tools and was able to fix up the bike. While the bike was being fixed, Bill gave me a few pointers, reminding me to shift often, anticipate the hills, and stand up and sit back on the down hills. Ok, I can do this. 

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We got started again and I felt myself gripping the handle bars until my knuckles turned white. I will not fall. I will not fall. There were a lot of sharp-ish curves in the trail and then all of the sudden I was riding down a small hill. I’m pretty sure I screamed, and I started to feel the same way I felt when I was climbing the Golden Staircase– terrified. Bill kept talking to me, saying encouraging things to calm me down. I was so focused on the ground that I don’t really recall everything he said, just that he was being a super boyfriend.

IMG_8509As we were riding, some of the guys were talking about the Drunken Monkey. I wasn’t quite sure what they were talking about-sounds like a tropical bar to me- but I soon found out. Basically, the Drunken Monkey is a part of the trail where there are some more challenging hills. Unfortunately, Chris #2 (our trail expert) didn’t really know where the easier trail met back up with the harder trail, so we all went together on the harder trail. Gulp. Actually it wasn’t that bad- well, it wasn’t that bad because I walked/ran the bike up/down the steepest of the hills. This girl did not want to get injured!

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As the ride went on, I started to get more comfortable on the bike, and actually rode down some of the tinier hills. I only fell off the bike once, and thankfully it was in some sand and I was going slow. There were a few other sections where the trail split into a hard section and an easy section, and I took the easier section with at least one other person each time. Several hours after we started, we made it back to the car in one piece, exhausted!

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The only real casualty of the day had been Blake’s bike, whose chain snapped several more times along the trail, and then finally it wasn’t fixable anymore. He scootered the last few miles on the trail, and when we got back to the paved trail, he was towed back by some of the guys.

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When it was all said and done, I think went about 16 miles, but man, it was a tough 16! My whole body hurt from that ride!

Did I have fun? My response to that has to be: I think so? During the ride, I was petrified of falling or hitting a tree. And though the downhills were probably some of the more exciting parts of the ride, I think the scared feeling trumped the “ooh this is fun” feeling. I think if I get more comfortable on the bike it will be more enjoyable, but for right now, I definitely like road biking better than mountain biking.

Question of the day: Have you ever been mountain biking? What was your experience like?