Monday, September 14, 2015

World Triathlon Series Chicago Day 1

Day one in the windy city was hectic! First off big thanks to Regina's friend Susan Osgood for the hospitality last night and free parking for the week and Mike Ferreira for picking us up at 4:45am to bring us to the airport.

When we arrived there was hardly a line and we stepped up to get our boarding passes only to be shocked. None of us were registered on the direct flight to Chicago that Regina booked two months ago!! Regina provided the confirmation number and it came up as leaving at 10:45am stopping in NY for 6 hours and arriving here in Chicago at 8pm. That was not happening. After going back and forth a few times we asked for the supervisor. She informed us that the plane we were supposed to be on had a mechanical and they changed it to a smaller plane. The system randomly chose passengers to be bumped. That email came in at 5am as we were checking in. After about 30 minutes we were switched to a 7am flight (it was already 6am at this point) to NY with a 20 min layover before our connecting flight to O'Hare. They set us up with pre-check and seats in the front of the plane so we wouldn't miss our flights. We checked our bags and were told we had to pay for them. Regina spoke up and said no that's not what it said when I made the reservation. After more back and forth and if we booked before July 1st they were free, after that not so much. We booked before July 1st. We made our way around to security and the line just kept going and going!!

Finally they called pre-check and were on our way to gate 19, or so we thought. We had about 15 minutes to get there and try to get some food. We stopped to get smoothies and they were out so we opted for breakfast sandwiches. Regina went to fill water bottles and came back with another look of shock. Gate 19 was headed to LA!! We looked at our boarding passes and had been checking our NY to Chicago passes. We dug out the Boston passes and had to be at gate 31 in 5 mins!! We made it.

It was a quick 45 mins to NY and we rushed to gate 19. On the way there we all checked our seat number and that space was empty, great. We made that flight and were the last ones on board in the back of the plane. We didn't care, we made it.

The captain came on after about 15 mins and reported that the electric box needed to be replaced. We looked at each other with those big eyes again. Really! He kept us up to date on the process and 45 minutes later we took off. Steve, Regina and I spent the entire flight planning the week. There is almost no sightseeting time for me until Sunday.

Between training, packet pickup Tuesday, picking up my aunt Tuesday night, bike check in and opening ceremony Wednesday night at 6, racing on Thursday, rest and recovery post race, packet pickup for my second race on Friday then a mandatory meeting, watching women's elite race Fri night, race Sat at 7:25am, rest and recovery and watching the paratriathlon on Saturday, watching the men's elite race Sat evening and closing ceremony.

Today's agenda: arrive in Chicago, get rental car, drive to venue to check out the course, assemble bikes, go for a ride, walk through venue, check into condo, go food shopping and get a swim in.

It mostly went to plan. The course is flat, it took awhile for us to find a parking spot near the park, we didn't leave any bike parts in NH, the rec path is WAY to crowded to get a good hard ride in, Lake Michigan looks like the ocean, parking passes disappear or fly out the window in the windy city and rental car nearly got towed, condo is in the basement but really nice, pm swimming was replaced by dinner and a blog, Sinea and I have the bigger room and the condo is really nice!

The view from the flat bike course!

Bike assembly in the park

Our condo.... in the basement

A really nice basement!

Tomorrow we do two bricks before packet pickup at 11, hit the expo, grab lunch, swim in Lake Michigan where the current water temp is 68º rest/nap for the after noon and pick up my aunt at the airport.

The Sprint World Championship race begins at 10am central time on Thursday, September 17th. My offical start time is 10:55. There are so many competing that the last wave begins at 1:00pm!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A few weeks off, now back to the game

Wow. Can't believe that my last blog was back on May 31. I had high hopes of writing one each week but life has gotten in the way. The opening season for Great Glen and the Auto Road came fast upon us as usual and the month of June was non stop events that consumed much of my time. On top of that training and travel to a few big important races and the next thing I know July is here. Two weeks of Teen Adventure Bike Camps, throw in a holiday and August is here.

With so much going on I was so distracted and feeling a little down that I took two weeks off of training for both physical and mental reasons. My recent struggles continue on whether I want to continue triathlon at this level or take a break after this season. How to balance what I am really good at to what I really want. How to train seven days a week and fit in a social life at the same time. Regina, Steve and I sat down and came up with the training plan for the next few weeks to get me back on track and ready for the 2015 World Championships.

I know I'm ready to focus my energy to best prepare me for the World Championships. I'm getting that very excited feeling knowing that I will be racing against the best triathletes from around the world. This race definitely has a different feel than 2013 when I raced the Worlds in London. That was in an overseas foreign country, and included an amazing vacation. This is Chicago just a short two hour flight from home, but will still have that same feeling of a huge race and in my own country!  Still the field will include athletes from around the world and I need to prepare for that.

In the middle of June Steve and I traveled to Mt Tremblant, Quebec Canada. That was amazing! Such an incredible venue and strong field of competitors. It was the second elite race for me on my quest to attain my pro card. Steve and I spent a few days training and exploring. On race day there were so many athletes it was a bit nerve wracking but I held it together the best I could. My swim was a little slower than usual. 30 seconds into my ride my computer fell off my bike so I rode without any numbers to follow but I did very well and just pushed it out of my mind. The bike course was two laps on a hilly course with no flats. It was so fun but so hard. The pavement was perfect and flowed so well. On the second lap I leap frogged with the same girl a few times which always pushes me. She ended up getting a 2:00 min penalty for drafting and had to serve it as soon as she finished the bike portion. Smaller races just add on the time at the end of the race. It must have been so hard to sit there watching all the people you passed, pass you back. The run also had a few rolling hills in it. The course was marked in km not miles so that threw me of a bit. The end of the race was lined with spectators cheering like crazy and we finished right in the village on the ski area. I pushed it as hard as I could. Somehow the crowd pulls it out of you and it feels incredible!  I finished just three minutes back from where I needed to, to meet the cutoff for my pro card. That was so frustrating!

I was 35 in the swim, 7th on the bike and 8th fastest female in the run out of 210 females! I finished 7th female overall. Steve and I celebrated with dinner and went back the next day to watch the Half Ironman. I rarely get to watch a live tri so it was great to see the transitions and learn from others mistakes and see how efficient others can be. It was a beautiful place and I can't wait to go back

The next race was down in Winchendon Massachusetts for the very popular Mass State Tri. I traveled down with my friends Mark and Amber and their son Sammy in their brand new camper trailer. Our other friend "Crash" met us there the next day along with Steve and Gina who came down in the morning. The race went well but was pretty hot. With about 2 miles to go on the run my friend Megan who is an incredibly strong runner passed me and said lets go "I'm pulling you, I'm working with you". That felt awesome! I held on for a few minutes and then the gap grew.  I finished 10th female out of 200. She was on the podium in third place and my friend Stacy Sweetser took 1st place overall! The rest of the weekend was relaxed and we hung out and got ice cream followed my an easy mountain bike ride the next day. Thanks to Mark and Amber for camping and a great weekend! Also to Crash, Steve and Gina for cheering me on!

I was supposed to race in Greenfield where I finished 1st overall last year but taking some time wasn't going to put me in a good place to race so Steve and I decided to save the 6 hour drive and reg fees and do a practice race here at home. It was hard decision but the right one.

The next race is on August 30th in Old Orchard Beach Maine where I finished 3rd female and 1st in the 29 and under division last year. It's an ocean swim and another very popular race.

I'll have one more sprint race the weekend before Worlds to get me prepped.

Well I'm off for a bike to run!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

King Pine Tri

Wow that was a very hard win and not my fastest but despite the high temps I'm very happy with my performance!

Plus it was the debut of my brand new custom triathlon suit (designed by me!) and my new aero helmet, thanks to Pat at Stan and Dan Sports!
Thanks Mt. Washington Auto Road, Great Glen Trails, Gorham Family Dentistry, and Mt. Washington Valley Bicycling club

Thanks White Mountain Aquatic Center, Comfort Inn & Suites, Peak Health, Stan and Dan Sports, Top Notch Inn, Stabil, Skratch labs, Gorham Hardware, Jay's Quick Lube, Pollock Photo and Smith & Town Printers.

Thanks for working your bike shop mojo for this gem, Pat!

Since it was a local race I didn't have to be up at 2am and got to sleep in until 4! Because of my long and specific warm up I like to be there two hours prior to start time. Plus I build in time for the bathroom, check in, socializing and because this race was local I had a few spectators! Thank you to Chris Fleming, Kim Henry, Lauren and Brooke and Dick Pollock for taking photos and of course Steve for coaching me before and during the race. Regina could not be at the race due to work but gave me a good luck phone call!

Highlights on the swim: Steve and I had a new plan for the swim start. Instead of being off to the side I started right in the middle of the front row to allow for the best possible chance of drafting and it worked perfectly. I hung on to the lead girl, Kara Newman for as long as I could. She was very fast and was out ahead of me in no time. Two other girls passed me and I swung in right behind them but they opened a gap after a few minutes.  It took me awhile to settle into my rhythm and after they passed me I was on my own for the rest of the swim. My sighting was perfect and I even passed a few guys in the wave before me.
Swim time - 27:42  .9 mile
Transition 1 time - 1:08 (4th fastest overall)

Comparison to a few years ago: The swim was mostly about finishing and only thinking about technique but now that I am gaining confidence and speed it is becoming way more tactical. It's pretty exciting to have the mind set to think this way!

Bike: Phew 33 miles was a long ride but knowing the course made a huge difference. Steve and I rode it last week and talked tactics. I was able to visualize each section and prepare myself mentally. Although the course is described in the pre race meeting you just can't get a feel for it.
Bike time - 1:38 33 miles
Transition 2 time - :46 (fastest overall)

I strongly suggest riding, driving or at least looking at the map a few days in advance.

Comparison to a few years ago: I never previewed my courses. I just rode and followed the signs and took it as it came. Educating myself on a course turns the race into a whole new game and keeps the mind off the pain.

Run: It was hot and I've been dealing with a sore/tight left hamstring so that was a distraction. Keeping my mind on the course that I also knew ahead of time made it just a little easier to push through it. I didn't run my fastest but focusing on technique and quick turn over Steve and I practice during the week makes all the difference when your body is tired.
Run time - 46:04 6.2 miles
Total time - 2:54:30

Comparison: I used to run to put the miles behind me and not think about technique at all. Steve and I have focused every run on technique and speed over the last two seasons.  Although I am pushing hard in a race I am still mostly relaxed and thinking of all the pieces of running.

After I finished I was asked how I placed and I had no idea. At this race there are six different races at the same time. Olympic and Sprint distance: Triathlon, Duathlon (run to bike to run) and an Aquabike (swim to bike).  The results weren't being updated so I had to wait until the awards to find out that I finished 1st female!! I was surprised because it wasn't my fastest race but humbled that I did so well.

Awesome job to all who raced and pushed themselves to cross that finish line!

Congrats to Joan Daly for completing her first Duathlon faster than she expected. So proud of you and you look amazing keep up the hard work! 

Next up: Mont Tremblant June 20th Elite race #2

Monday, May 18, 2015

Front Page of the Newspaper!

I was reacently intervied about ny training and racing by Rachel Brown who writes for the Berlin Daily Sun. She told me the story would be in newspaper. I had no idea I have a nearly life size photo of me on the front page with an extended story to follow! 
         Meghan Skidmore is a tip-top athlete, a triathlete to be exact. But it wasn't always that way. A good athlete in her youth — she says she played soccer in high school in Connecticut — she didn't get hooked on triathlons until she tried one while in college in Vermont.
        "There was a triathlon (in college) in spring; I tried, I did it. I don't remember how well I did. It was a pool swim, a bike and then a run, the spring of 2007," says the 30-year-old, affable and very fit Skidmore.
       Skidmore's next triathlon was that summer at Webster Lake, Webster, Mass.
       "That was my first official triathlon, I really wanted to do one. There was not a lot of training, just biking and running, no coach," she says.
        Now she has a coach, and the game has changed for her: Something inside her just wants to become better and better.
        Skidmore was on hand at Great Glen Trails, where she works full-time, as does her agent Regina Ferreira, to talk about her experiences, her dedicated training with coach Steve Vosburgh, her goal to obtain her Pro Triathlon license in 2015, an accomplishment that would put her in the elite-pro category with the opportunity to become professional.
         She has her sights set on the 2015 World Triathlon Championships in Chicago on Sept. 15.
Skidmore explains a triathlon is a swim, bike and run in that order, they vary in length.

     "Half Ironman and Ironman are typically longer. A sprint is a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, 3.1-mile or 5K run; Olympic is a mile swim, actually 0.9, 24-mile bike ride, 6.2-mile or 10K run; a Half Ironman is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and half marathon — 13.1 miles; and a full Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon — 26.2 miles," explains Skidmore. She says pros complete an Ironman in eight to nine hours while amateurs may take 13 to 17 to finish.
      Skidmore typically competes in the Olympic Triathlon. On April 26, she completed the 5150 St. Anthony's Triathlon Olympic (Elite) in St. Petersburg, Fla.
      "This was the earliest in the season for me. I learned so much from that race. Not saying that you can buy experience, but I guess I did because of the cost to enter the race. Now I know what the bar is," she says, smiling.
      "The biggest thing in this race that added to my time was the swim. The average time was 25 to 27 minutes. I did it in 35 minutes. It was the first time in open water in the ocean. It was choppy, swelly; it was in a cove, but the waves still come in," says Skidmore, who trains indoors with Vosburgh at the White Mountain Aquatic Center, outdoors at Echo Lake and from First Bridge in North Conway on the Saco River.
       "To prepare, I watched some videos with Steve. We could look at the bike course before. It was in the city and the roads were closed for the race, mostly through small neighborhoods and it was flat, not like training here. It was 82 degrees with humidity," she says.
        How did she do in Florida?
        She wrote on her blog: "My feet hurt and my legs were noodles, but I did it. I raced with the elites. I finished in two hours and 34 minutes, placing me 8th of 13 in the elite women and 33 of 48 men."
       "The top girl to beat finished in two hours. To meet requirements for the pro card, I have to finish within 8 percent of the top female finisher. For me, it would have been two hours 12 minutes. I finished in two hours 34 minutes," she says.
         Some races are entered by age categories, represented in four-year increments, while some are elite races with no age category.
         "It is easy to be competitive in an age group, in the elite /pro race, age groups disappear. I race with a girl who is 14," she says.
       The elite/pro races are important for Skidmore to reach her next level, and they must be races with a cash prize. The race in St. Petersburg gave away $33,000. The top female was awarded $10,000.
       "I was pretty successful last year — overall female, the next level is elite-pro and to break in you have to apply for the pro card. Elite and pro are pretty much the same. The USAT (USA Triathlon) use pro and elite interchangeably for the pro card, but some races have pro and elite classes, it can be confusing, a gray area," she adds.
       To obtain the pro card, Skidmore must find races awarding over $5,000 in prizes in the Olympic category. She says the cash Olympic races are hard to find. Half Ironman and Ironman with over $5,000 cash prizes are more plentiful.
      "I think the reason is cash draws more competition," says Skidmore, adding there is a cash prize calendar to help find races.
       And if she obtains her pro card and becomes pro, what next?
      "After pro card, am I ready to be a pro,?" she asks.
        She responded: "There are two ways to be a pro: You could be fully sponsored, train a lot more, do meet and greets, race some races and maybe earn some money or not. I think I can have a pro card and still work. How much more can I push myself mentally and physically?

 If I had more time, it would benefit me, but I am still getting pretty good time," she says adding that finding sponsors is a full-time job.
        "People don't just jump at you and give you money. You have to work hard," she adds.
But first she has to find the races in which to qualify and there is the cost of entering the races.
       "You have to have criteria going to races. Florida was expensive — $1,000. The five elite races are super expensive. I may not be able to go to others," she adds.
        That's where fundraising comes in.
        Her Team Skidmore and agent Ferreira work hard to raise money. Skidmore, who lived in Randolph and in the employee cottages at Great Glen during the summer, reached out to businesses north of the Notch for support. Three years ago, she moved to Intervale to be closer to her coach and to the White Mountain Aquatic Center.
        There are some events planned for north and south of the Notch to help raise funds:
• Shannon Door Restaurant and Team Skidmore will be hosting a benefit night on May 28.
• Berlin Bowling Center will host Skidmore Bowling Benefit Night, June 13.
Libby's Bistro hosts a benefit night July 9.
        Skidmore, who also gives back to the community, wishes to thank businesses for supporting her:
Mount Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails, Gorham Family Dentistry,, Mount Washington Valley Bicycling Club, Stan and Dan Sports, White Mountain Aquatic Center, Comfort Inn & Suites, Peak Health Sports Massage, Top Notch Inn, Jay's Quick Lube, Gorham Hardware, Pollock Photo, Smith & Town Printers, Skratch Labs Hydration and Stabil Icers.
        Skidmore also invites anyone who would like to do a training run with her, whether it be easy or hard, to zip her an e-mail:
       Speaking of training, coach Vosburgh and Skidmore connect.
       "There are no words to say how grateful I am to Steve. He keeps it fun, fresh, never boring. We have toys in the pool. He is so technique-oriented, to get the extra edge," says Skidmore.
      They met at Great Glen Trails, where Skidmore works.
       "Steve skis and bikes at Great Glen, and we got to talking back in 2010 about my hobby, and he gave me some suggestions for my first Half Ironman. We continued working together after that race," says Skidmore, adding that Vosburgh is the Nordic ski coach at Kennett High School.
Here is a typical day of training.
       "Tomorrow, before I go to work, a one-hour swim at the aquatic center. We will transition to outside at Echo Lake. We sometimes swim at First Bridge downstream to where it bends and gets shallow and then upstream past the bridge," says Skidmore, who works at least an eight-hour day in an active position, skiing, taking photos on the Mount Washington Auto Road.
         After work, it is a brick work out.
       "It is either 1 ½-hour bike or one-hour run, either or both. You have to train your muscles, and you do the workout in the swim/bike order. If you do a hard bike and a hard run, your legs feel like bricks," she explains saying you train like that so come race day your body isn't saying, 'What are you doing?'"
        Then it is home, shower, have some dinner and sleep.
        "Sleep never seems long enough. Still haven't found time to manage everything. Although I have Regina, I still must post race results on my blog. Having a social life is important, but I am not a night owl," she grins.
        It would be hard to be a night owl with six days of specific training and one day off. But it really isn't a day off; it is a recovery day.
     "In the winter, Sunday is a free day but an active day. I either ski or go snowboarding. In the summer, it is Monday, some physical activity, but unstructured," she says.
     Skidmore and Vosburgh work with an online training program.
     "I have an online log. Steve gives me my workouts. I write down what I did, how I felt. He can log in and see how I am feeling. We talk every day. I also have a computer on my bike, (an aerodynamic, triathlon Cannondale Slice bicycle) which can take me through zones one to five. It is really wattage goals; you go by those numbers," she says.
      Skidmore can't say enough about Vosburgh's coaching technique.
     "The cool thing about Steve, he knows how to layer things in, knows the psychology of training. There are some workouts we wouldn't have done two years ago. Even though he never raced in a triathlon, he is so in tune with a training plan, reading books, watching videos. He is like a sponge," says Skidmore, adding that Vosburgh biked competitively since his early teens, has a strong background and ran track.
        And there is that devotion.
      "Steve is so dedicated to train me. It is just as easy to be dedicated to train with him," adds Skidmore.
        For more information visit:, or call Ferreira at (603) 915-6665.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Team Skidmore Fundraisers

Time to raise some money!! Check out the three fun events this summer to help me with the costs of traveling and racing.  A raffle with great prizes will be held at each event.   

I am so grateful for the support I have in the community and I wouldn't be here without those who have donated or given me words of encouragement, it means a lot and goes a long way especially when I am racing or trying to get through a tough workout. 

Hope to see you this summer! If you have any questions or want to donate a raffle prize shoot me an email or give me a call (860) 377- 4206.

Pizza at the Shannon Door - Thursday, May 28
The Shannon Door Pub hosts Team Skidmore Thursday evening from 4 -10pm with a portion of proceeds of every pizza sold being donated to Team Skidmore!

We'll have a raffle with prizes from local business'. No need to RSVP just show up with an appetite!

Shannon Door Pub Rt 16 Jackson NH, 03846

Bowling Night - Saturday, June 13 

The Berlin Bowling Center shuts down for Team Skidmore 6 - 9pm! Spend your Saturday night bowling a few strings with friends. We'll have a raffle with prizes from local business'.

Tickets are $25/per person, and include an evening of bowling, friendly competition, pizza, salad. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

For tickets please contact: Meg    |    (860) 377- 4206       
                                           Regina  |  (603) 915 - 6665

Berlin Bowling Center 283 Main Street  Berlin, NH 03570

Dinner with Liz at Libby's Bistro - Thursday, July 9th
Libby's Bistro hosts a wonderful dinner for Team Skidmore! Enjoy expertly and lovingly crafted food by Liz Jackson’s culinary team. Cocktails at 6:00pm dinner at 7pm
             “Liz Jackson, who has been with us before, proved herself again to be the
                         most versatile prep cook and baker, as well as all-purpose kitchen expert.” 
                                                                                       -Julia Child, Baking with Julia

Tickets are $35/per person an must be purchased in advance.

For tickets please contact: Meg    |    (860) 377- 4206       
                                          Regina  |  (603) 915 - 6665

Libby's Bistro & SAaLt Pub 111 Main Street, RT 16  Gorham, New Hampshire 03581

Monday, May 11, 2015

St. Anthony's Triathlon

Race Day Temp: 80º
                 Humidity: 98%
                 Light to moderate winds
                 Water temp: 84º

Start time: 7:03 am
Arrival: 5:40 am

It was still dark when we pulled into the VIP parking lot, yes I personally paid for VIP parking! Finding parking in a city was one less thing I wanted to worry about and it was so worth it. Plus Gina didn't have lo lug around my pack for the whole race.

I was so nervous but in a good way. I set up transition and walked past the race announcer and he looked up my number and saw I was from NH. He called me out and mentioned it must be tough coming from the north and racing here I smiled and agreed and chatted with him for a minute or two.

Because the race is so big bikes cannot leave transition the morning of the race so I did my standard  running warm up to get my legs ready. I returned 15 mins later and was nearly soaked in sweat.
Steve and I chatted about all parts of the race. Here I think he is telling me some waves will be small and some will be big. Just kidding I have no idea what he is saying.

The swim was a point to point so I had to be sure to build in time to walk to the start and Steve and I talked more strategy. At this point I zone in on just the swimming and forget about biking and running. He tried showing me a huge tree for sighting because the water was so choppy but we were too close to shore to see it. The swim was parallel to the beach for a while then it turned out to sea. 

Steve and I way out in the point finding the BIG palm tree to sight on

The male pros started followed by the female pros then the elite females and males together. That was different usually males and females are separate. As we walked out to the start buoys I thought to myself what am I doing in this wave. Then that passed and I felt special and proud that I challenged myself to register as an elite. Even if I finished last in the category I was going to be ok with that. 

We treaded water for about a minute then the count down began I shifted my body to horizontal as Steve and I practiced in the pool. It takes a few seconds to go from treading water vertically to being in the horizontal swim position so might as well get there before the gun goes off. 

BANG!! I swam as hard as I could for the first 100 yds or so to get position and the more I sighted the more swimmers drifted away from me. I tried my best to draft and deal with the choppy water.  Before I reached the first buoy the wave of swimmers had big gaps in it. After I turned to sea the waves got bigger and I swallowed so much water I had to break into breast stroke a few times. It was not my best swim. Last summer my average swim was around 27:00 and I have improved a lot over the winter. I clocked a 35:00 so I had a lot of catching up to do. 

As I got closer to the shore I began to visualize the bike course. We drove it and rode it so I had all the pieces together in my head, yup all 24 miles and 27 intersections/corners. I started drifting past the exit due to the current something I forgot about in the ocean I had to re-sight and locate the stairs.

I climbed the stairs a bit dizzy from the waves and being horizontal for awhile and ran into transition. 

I knew exactly where my bike was in the sea of about 2,000. As I exited T1 the announcer mentioned Stacy Sweetser of Sweetwater Swim Studio and myself right behind her both of us from NH. She started 13 minutes behind me and passed me in the swim. Shes an excellent swimmer glad I took a swim session with her! 

The first 1/4 to 1/2 mile of the bike course was a brick road but I was prepared for it, it was actually fun and I felt like I was racing like the pros on cobblestone! 

I passed her before we got to pavement and she said go get em' Meg! Once on the course I was able to visualize each turn and prep for it. I looked down at my computer to check in with wattage and cadence but I forgot to put it on my bike so I had to go with feel. At first it threw me but after a few seconds I let it go and forgot about it. I tried to bridge gaps and stay with those that passed me for as long as possible. I drank a ton in the first 10 miles and negotiated the corners at speed while pedaling. I took my gel a little earlier then planned but it worked out well. As I was coming back into the venue I start spinning a little higher and lower the power just a smidge so my legs are fresher for the run. I had picked out a spot during the preview but I was getting close to passing another girl so I went for it before the mark and it was a confidence booster so it was a good move.

Back to the cobblestone and into transition I picked my spot out and switched over to run. I should have taken a few seconds to wipe my feet because I paid for it later. As I run in with my bike I try to have quick turnover and light feet to prep for the run.

Running out is always so exciting for me, the course is lined with spectators cheering everyone on it's very easy to get caught up with that and run faster then I should but it feels so good. I knew the run course so I tried to push through each mile as fast as I could. At mile three my 100% waterproof super sticky bandaid starting peeling off. I ignored it and kept going. The cool water at the aid stations helped and I dumped as many cups of water on myself as I could.

Between mile four and five it got hard and painful. The temp was high and the dirt I didn't wipe from my feet started rubbing in the insole of my shoe, I don't wear socks so after while it was getting raw. I changed my stride a little and it helped but it didn't go away. I just kept pushing it out of my head and knew I was getting closer to the finish. Once I hit mile five I did the best I could to complete that mile faster than the last. Coming down the last straight away I focused on my form and pretended those in front of me were pulling me closer to them. That always helps!

I rounded the last corner into the parking lot to the finish chute and gave it my all. I finished just behind Stacy we congratulated each other as she waited for her husband.

My feet hurt and my legs were noodles but I did it, I raced with the Elites! I finished in two hours and thirty four minutes placing me 8th of 13 in the Elite women and 33 of 48 Elite men!

I found Steve and Gina and they gave me the biggest hugs, they were so proud of me.

When it's hot I usually jump back in the water but the temp was 83º so I found a shower to lower my body temp.

It was a great intro to my season.

As for meeting the criteria for my pro card, I wasn't fast enough. I needed to finish with in 8% of the fastest pro female. Her time was 2:00:30 I was 34 minutes behind her, a 2:12 would have met that criteria. Even a few of the pro women didn't finish in that time.

It was an incredible experience and as I get into my season that gap will close. It might take a few seasons to get that close but I was happy with how I did and where I placed!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

One day before the race!

Well it's been really hot here compared to back home in NH where it has snowed a few times but that was to be expected. I did my openers this morning and now off my feet for the rest of the day so I have time to write my blog!

Day 1: Downpour!! 
Plan: Put bike together, run the run course and either drive or ride the bike course, watch the Red Sox play the Tampa Rays
After Steve and I put my bike together and had to problem solve the seat post clamp bolt I tightened too much and broke. We rented a bike for Steve from St. Pete Bicycles but due to the high demand for rentals for the race he ended up with a hybrid which was much better than the Barclay bike he rode in London! We tried reserving a road bike but couldn't because of the race.

Gina dropped us off at the race venue to check out the 6.2 mile run course; Steve riding and myself running. I started with a 10 min warm up followed by some agility drills - to get my legs warm and ready for fast running. I did some intervals at race pace. During which the skys opened up, like really opened up. It was raining so hard we go lost! The course is marked with orange spray painted dots for cone placement and they seemed to disappear in the heavy rain. The course is an out and back in a neighborhood with alot of side roads. Some dots mark road closures some the actual course. We told Gina we'd be back at 12:30 and it was nearly 12:45 pm when we realized we were lost. We asked for directions and got a funny look, us being completely soaked and out in the rain. As we made our way back Gina came and found us, a little worried but she figured we had taken cover, nope! It could rain on race day so why not train in it! The streets flooded so I was running through deep puddles and rivers which of course soaked my shoes with water and street debris. This created and opened a blister on the back of my foot, not great for having to race in a few days.

Because it still looked like rain we decided to drive the 24 mile bike course. We followed the course map provided online and we were off. All streets in the city are by number both east and west and north and south but the east/west streets don't reflect that. 1st Street South actually runs north/south and then there is 1st Ave which runs east/west it was very confusing for me. Some of the streets are one way and are not distinguished on the course map because they will be closed on race day. We had to navigate around those and make do. There are quite a few turns which makes it's a technical course. Steve and I practiced taking corners at speed while pedaling so it will help. There is a long section where the pavement is rough which makes it hard to drink from my water bottle that has a long plastic straw. It is mounted on the front of my bike so I don't have to pull it out of my cage. So I will prepare to drink before that section because I don't want a straw up my nose!  It took us nearly 2 hours to drive the course but very worth it. We decided to ride it with intervals the next day.

Gina bought tickets to the Red Sox game while were running! I've only seen them play once so this was a treat, I was worried about sitting in the sun all evening but the stadium is a dome so that wasn't an issue. We were about 20 rows up from the Red Sox dugout! Thanks for being spontaneous Gina!

Day 2: Sunny
Plan: Ride the course, pick up race packet and swim the course 
After looking at the bike course map I decided it would be better to write down the directions to take with us. Gina dropped us off at the venue and was to meet us back at the hotel around 1. Steve and I planned to practice cornering in the Tampa Rays stadium parking lot. Gina drove to the Gulf Coast to check out a restaurant on the beach. After we negotiated the bike course we broke it into sections and discussed the plan. This is really good for me to break it into pieces. It doesn't seem as long and keeps my mind occupied on the tactic for each part. We ride through a golf course community which has big speed bumps actually speed humps. Steve told me to ride them at 20 mph to see how it felt. There is room to ride around but in case there are riders around me I needed to know how it felt to ride over. There are also raised reflectors sprinkled throughout the course, yup he had me hit one of those too, just in case it happened during the race. Can you tell he has a ton of racing/riding experience? He thinks of everything! Once we got back to the venue we headed to the stadium parking lot for some cornering practice. Due to the cold spring weather in NH I have only been on the road three times before flying down here so it was great to get this practice in.  We rode back to the hotel after covering nearly 35 miles. Hit the showers/pool and enjoyed smoothies from the Ninja Pro that Gina brought down.

We drove back to the venue and checked out the swim course. It was not completely marked and it was hard to tell exactly where it started but I think we swim about 3/4's of it. The last ocean swim I did was in Maine and it was cold, not here! The current water temp is 83º so wetsuits are not allowed. Steve wore his to keep him higher in the water to swim fast enough so I could draft off him. The water got pretty choppy half way through but earlier we had watched a video with tips for dealing with rough waters. I tried my best to keep them all in mind as well as all the things going on thinking about technique.  It will be difficult but everyone is dealing with it so I just have to stay focused on my race.

We headed to the athlete tent to pick up my race packet. I registered in the Open Elite (now Open Age Group) so I will not be racing in age group this time. Yes I am nervous and have been since I registered a few months ago but it will be somewhat of a good test to see how I do against the next level of competition. I say somewhat because it's early season, this is my first race but I know what I have to do and I just need to execute it the best way I can. 

From there we headed to the Gulf Coast and had dinner on the beach. Salmon with sweet potatoes and veggies, lobster mac and cheese for Steve and a shrimp salad for Gina.  She wanted us to see the sunset but we were pretty tired and needed to get back and sleep. We'll be going back for that sunset before we leave for sure!

Day 3: Sunny 
Plan: Openers, transitions,  bike drop off, a quick walk through expo and rest for the afternoon
Openers are a brick session. Ride for about 20 mins or so to get legs warm, yes even in 85º they still need to be warmed up, then 3x 3 mins hard efforts with 5 mins easy spin in between then ride back and switch to a 10 min run then agility drills followed by 2x2 min hard efforts with 2 mins in between sometimes 4 mins depending on how I feel. We drove to the venue to do this on course but the Meek and Mighty Tri was using the same course. We had to park the car on a side street and Gina was going to move it closer to the venue after the race ended and I was going to call her to find that location when we were finished running to practice my transitions.  Steve and I re-routed around the race and went the "bottom" part of the course for openers. I did the best I could and had to obey traffic lights and stop signs so it was a little frustrating to get up to speed only to put the brakes on and sit and wait.  I switched to my run shoes and took my jersey off, I was cooking. I did buy the water proof blister bandaids and they held through the bike but not the run. I ran for 10 mins and it started peeling from the bottom due to my shoe rubbing. Steve pulled the map out of the plastic baggie and we put it around my heal to protect it from my shoe. It worked for the time being. I ran my hard efforts in the blazing sun and realized my phone was in my jersey in the car that Gina moved. Steve and I got to the venue and knew she'd be near the pool but not exactly sure where. It didn't take long to find her and she told us she sent me a text with her location. I laughed and said my phone was in the passenger seat right next to her when she sent it!

I ran through T1 and T2 a few times because I haven't done them since September. It went well and hopefully it will go a little smoother tomorrow! Gina made lunch for us in the park before I dropped my bike for the night in transition. We walked through the expo again and then back to the hotel for a nap and relaxation. Dinner is home made tonight, chicken and veggies on Gina's camp stove.

Race start is 6:50 for Pro men, 6:53 for Pro Women and Open Elite (now Open Age Group) start together at 7:03 am tomorrow! You can track the race live here. My race number is 117 in F Open. At the time of this post we are not entered into the system so I'm not sure how this page will display tomorrow. There is a search option for my name or bib number so that might help.

Mega thank you to Gina for navigating through the city, parking, waiting around for Steve and I to train, prepping the food, shopping and moral support.

Huge thank you to Steve for creating the workouts and doing them with me on a hybrid bike, working on my bike, researching videos and tips for better racing and checking in with me about how I'm feeling.

I've been updating my Facebook page with photos and videos click here to take a look!

Bed time soon and mentally prep for race day!