Midwest Mayhem RR

I suppose it's about time I write a race report, if I even remember what one of these is supposed to be.

Big surprise, it was hot. The water was bath-water warm and not pleasant at all. But I shouldn't complain because it was pancake flat and there were no broken-off sheet pile walls for me to cut myself on. I went slow on the swim since I was worried about overheating before I got out of the water. That wouldn't have been good. I didn't realize how slow I was going, but based on my swim split I was really dilly-dallying around. This isn't a water tour, Sam.

I should explain my strategy for this race. Due to the heat, I was hoping to ride hard, maybe get the best female bike split, and then jog the run. I was hoping for a sub-3 hour finish. I am not built for hot-weather running and things go downhill fast when I overheat. My German-Scandinavian ancestors were laughing at me all day. I've always said if there is a race that involves throwing bales of hay and hauling buckets of grain, I would WIN! At least I've learned to take it easy during hot-weather races. I've done more damage than good in the past.

Race strategy aside, I wasn't planning on coming out of the water in 37:54 (over 2:30/100m). I just shook my head when I looked and my watch and knew I had to make up time on the bike (wait, I thought I wasn't racing hard?). For comparison, in the last short race I did I average 1:42/100m.

I flew through T1 in 1:05, fastest transition in my AG. I got on the bike and then started to work. This race is a sadistically hilly course with the Kansas wind pushing you around the whole time. I have not been training in the hills. But I did catch every other female except 2, and I was close. Considering the hills and wind, I was happy with my bike time of 1:18:18 (19.1 mph). I was the 2nd fastest female on the day and I blame that on the farmer who decided on taking his thresher out to cruise the course. Jerk.
I took a little more time in T2 because I wanted salt before starting the run. I downed 2 S-caps and shuffled off in 3rd place in the women's race.

The best part of the run? Seeing Shelley and Kelly at the first and last aid station. I kept a modest 9:20+ min/mi pace, not bad considering it was now well above 90 degrees and humid. I held on to 3rd place until the last 1.5 miles in the race and was passed by two women, clearly with a runner's build. A volunteer tried to get me to chase "You're only 30 sec out of 3rd!". No thanks. There was no chase in that weather. I finished the run in 56:39 for an overall time of 2:55:37. I made my sub-3 hour goal.

I ended up 5th overall female, which also happened to be 5th in my AG. Nuts! There was 13 min between me and the winner and 25 min between me and the 6th place finisher in our AG. Less than 2 min separated 3rd-5th places. Oh well, since I was using it as a training race, I would say it was a success. Best part? No diaphragm pain! I think I finally have that problem figured out.

Now I'm focusing on Nationals, increasing my hill training and long runs. I'm looking forward to VT just for a break in the weather!


TDF Junkie

It's Friday night, John is out of town and my big plans are... watching Stage 19 of the TDF! I couldn't be happier. Yes, I have been dreaming about passing Contador while climbing up the Alps. Yes, I have been trying to find a red polka dot dress. Yes, I find men in spandex sexy.

Hi. My name is Sam and I'm a Touraholic.

I temporarily renamed our cat Thor, in honor of Thor Hushovd of Norway, one of my favorite riders who has two Stage wins to his name. Unlike the real Thor, Thor the cat is in a heated race for who can nap on the couch the longest.

My weekend plans involve running, swimming, biking, watching the tour, and making a training plan. I'm a month out from Nationals and a couple months from Austin. The intense heat we're under is making it difficult to get out and definitely not enjoyable to train. But it's the Midwest in July so I just need to suck it up.

Training plans to follow, but for now, time to watch the Tour!!


Not Again

I am beyond blessed to have amazing women in my life. I feel honored to call them friends and their strength, compassion, grace, and humility leave me wanting to be a better person. You should all know my friend Kelly by now. Well, in case you're unfamiliar, it's time to meet Shelley. This is not my story to tell, I'm just here to love and support along the way. But to make a long story short, Shelley was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Read her blog. Send her hugs. Keep her in your thoughts. Love you Shelley!!

On a lighter note, John is now concerned that breast cancer is contagious. He is insisting on twice-daily breast exams, and he feels it necessary that he perform them, just to be sure. I can't get anything done around the house!


Motivation Aplenty!

After spending all winter studying, I had a hard time getting motivated to get back to training. I picked an off-road race and a long-distance local triathlon to force myself to do something. Anything. Well, that is not a problem any more.

First, within a few days of learning I passed my test, I signed up for Austin 70.3 in October. I was hoping to get another 70.3 in before the end of the year and before I age up to the 30-34 age group. For those of you who may already be into the 30s and beyond, that is in no way an insult. In fact, I'm little nervous about aging up; women in their 30s are fast!
And as I posted yesterday, I'm now signed up for AG Nationals in August. That was enough motivation that when I got to work today I was able to walk right past the Bavarian cream donuts someone brought in without hesitating. OK, I was hesitating and possibly drooling but I did not eat one and that's the important thing.

And last, John and I have been religiously following the Tour, which has been exciting this year to say the least.
Maybe it's because I ride more, but there is nothing more motivating than watching those men hang it out on the line every day. And unlike most races, they're not done after a hard effort, or two or three. They have 3 weeks of killer riding, with crashes and flats and weather to deal with. The more I watch, the more hooked I get. Whenever I see a bad wreck, it almost breaks my heart to see the injuries and watch someone abandon the race. There is so much strategy, timing, luck, and pure guts involved... Man, I'm getting excited just writing about it! It truly is the most epic race on the planet.

Needless to say, I'm no longer lacking in the motivation department. Possibly setting a new bike goal for this year? It could happen.


USAT AG Nationals? What??

I logged in to USAT today to print out a temporary card for my race this weekend, and this was the page that greeted me! Huh? OK, I'll be honest, I really had no idea what it takes to qualify and I'm still not exactly sure if this is a big deal. I had to do a little bit of research on Nationals.

For USAT Nationals, in special events, the top 33% of the AG qualifies. For other sanctioned, pre-determined events, the top 10% qualifies. I qualified at Redman, but I was 3rd in my AG, which was the top 15% since it was a small field. So I think they opened up the field to a roll down, which is why I only recently figured out I qualified. Although, to be honest, if I had been emailed with the notification I probably deleted it anyway.

Anyway, it's the first Nationals I qualified for. And in other news, today I received official notification the I am a licensed Professional Structural Engineer (in the state of Nebraksa). Since I celebrated passing my tests with a registration for Austin 70.3 (oh yeah, I need to update on that) I decided that signing up for Nationals for receiving my official license number was appropriate.

When is Nationals, you ask? August 20th, which only gives me about 3 weeks to really train. But let's be honest, it's not like I was expecting to go to Nationals or consider that my "A" race for the year.

I'm loving life right now and everything seems to be coming up roses. More details to come! Shelley says I should buy a lotto ticket! But to quote my brother-in-law, "It's better to be good than lucky." Then again, a lotto ticket won't hurt!

Hey Christi! I'll be in CO soon, I'm going to email you about running trails!


You Can't Pick Your Genes

Every now and then I'm reminded about the real reason I train and race. Sure it's fun and I love to go fast, but it really comes down to health.

Back in November, my mom had a couple nasty falls that she blamed on her "good" knee. Unfortunately, my mom is one of many people who pay for their own insurance and she didn't want to go to the doctor because she was afraid of the cost. She finally went in on Friday to see a specialist (yes, that is 8 months after she fell) and she had surgery today.

Everything went well but she has arthritis in her knee and she had torn her meniscus in three places. She's on crutches for a few days and then starts rehab. I keep trying to gently nudge her in the direction of exercise (in the form of walking) and making small changes in her diet to lose weight, given her knee issues.

I should explain that I am not blessed with good genes. Most of the women in my family tip the scale over 250 pounds. At my heaviest I was about 165, and it wasn't pretty. My mom has the family record for age at first knee surgery; she was 30. Type 1 diabetes is in the family and several family members have been diagnosed with Type 2. So exercising and being conscious of what I eat is important. Between my mom's surgery and watching the Tour, I've been highly motivated to ride my bikes. I've seen the alternative, and it usually ends up in the hospital.



If you've ever heard a 14 year old screaming in glee at Justin Bieber, then you know what I sounded like on Saturday morning. For the last 4 weeks, I have been obsessively checking the mailbox waiting for my licensing exam results. It was the first thing I'd do when I got home and sometimes I'd check it again before bed (you know, those midnight mail deliveries are sneaky). Everyday. As soon as it was 8 weeks after my test, it was like I was the kid in A Christmas Story - "Where's my decoder ring?!?!" Well, on Saturday my decoder ring finally showed up.

Actually, it was much more boring than a decoder ring, it was just a letter. But this letter had four sweet, sweet words that I have been waiting for.

Vertical: Pass
Lateral: Pass

Sweet monkey livers, I did it. Pass rate was 27%. I'm still a little in shock that I actually did it on my first try. Clearly, I didn't screw up the double integration of the trigonometric function as I thought I did. Sorry, I digress.

The important thing here is that I DON'T HAVE TO STUDY THIS FALL!!! Which means......


I'm eyeing up Austin 70.3 in October. It is a little over 12 weeks away, which is a perfect training cycle for me. I need to work out some of the logistics yet, but I'm 80% sure. The bad thing is that John has to take his licensing exam the last weekend of October, so he won't be travelling with me. It's a bummer, but I'd really like to get one more 70.3 in before I age up to the 30-34 age group. I'd also like to keep my streak of at least one 70.3 race a year.

The bottom line is I'm back on the training wagon and I have my life back. It feels so good.