Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mississippi Represents at USAT Age Group Nationals!!

Note:  This is a reposting from ICEdot Athletes Blog!

A couple weeks ago I raced at USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee.  All of the planets aligned that morning and I had a great race!  The weather was perfect with morning lows in the 60′s!  A far cry from the 100+ degree heat indexes that I have been training in here in Louisiana.

My training had been a little sporadic for the couple of weeks leading up to the race and I had to really work hard mentally to keep the negative thoughts of not being ready out of my mind.  Instead I tried to imagine that I was just “fully rested”.  We’d been getting our house ready to for us to move into and I’d been painting, cleaning, and having what felt like a million appointments at the house, and trying to work too.  Missed a lot of workouts in those two weeks.

But the real reason for this post is to give a shout out to some friends in Mississippi.  Now Mississippi is not what you’d call triathlon mecca.  Until just the other day when Louisiana passed it up for first place it was leading the country in obesity.

Pam and me at Race of Grace Triathlon!

Two of my friends from Mississippi were also racing at Nationals.  Pam Cox is in my age group and lives in Jackson.  She is amazing!  A couple years ago when Bill and I moved to Hattiesburg I signed up for a little race in Philadelphia, MS called The Race of Grace and Pam was there and we reconnected as friends.  I’ve known her for 26 years from when I lived in Jackson back in 1987.  Back then there were only a handful of triathletes in the area and we would all do our swim training together.  Pam was fast then.. and has not slowed down.  That girl can get off the bike in a half IM and run 7:15 miles.  I knew I would see her on the course as she went by me, I figured it would happen on the run.  At mile 3 on the run, she came by and said “Good Race” and was gone.  I was running 8 minute miles, she was running smooth 7:00′s.

Crawfishman Triathlon 2013
Sam and Judy Hudson on the far right.

And then there is Sam Hudson from Hattiesburg.  I trained with Sam’s wife Judy when we lived there.  Judy is a good triathlete, she swam for Auburn and has tons of athletic talent, she met Sam while they were in college.  Sam is an amazing triathlete.  He was at that same Race of Grace triathlon – he won it!  Sam asked me early last year if I was going to Nationals, at the time I was not planning on it.  He is the one that put the bug in my ear that I could qualify for World’s.  The wheels started spinning and then my friend Becky asked me if I was going and my brain went into overdrive and the plan was made.

There were a couple other guys from Mississippi also racing at Nationals, they actually drove up and were kind enough to bring all of our bikes up so we didn’t have to break them down and fly them there (no, we don’t have Tri Bike Transport companies anywhere near close.) I think a long drive like that really takes it out of your legs. Both of them had good races but not anywhere near where they usually race. Which is superfast!

So here is the bottom line: Little ole’ Mississippi qualifies 3 of us for World’s!! How cool is that? Who would imagine? You think we’re all going? You betcha! Look for Spansel, Cox, and Hudson on the back of three trisuits in Edmonton, Canada next year!!

See you at the races!!


Monday, August 19, 2013

USAT Age Group Nationals Race Report + Other Good Stuff!

It's been a little over a week since USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee and I'm just getting around to writing about the race and my trip. Life is really hectic right now, we closed on our house on July 18th and have been working on it getting it up to Spansel Standards before we move in! That means lots of appointments - electricians, carpet, tile, cable, satellite, air conditioning, irrigation system, fence, deck, screened porch... the list seems endless. After the estimates comes the work. I feel like my life has been a month of meeting and waiting. I'm ready to get settled.

Bill and me, post race at River Cities!
Age Group Nationals was proceeded by the River Cites Triathlon here in my now hometown of Shreveport. It is my favorite race and this year was my 18th time to be here. I love this race - the venue is really nice, the swag is REALLY nice and the race speaks for itself. River Cities was on a Sunday and the following Saturday was Nationals. I needed a plan. So I called my friend Denise's husband Kyle, and asked him what I should do. River Cities is the local race, I wanted to do well but as he explained.... It's "Nationals", and should be my A race. Good Point!

Kyle is also a USAT Coach and was my Master's Swim Coach in Hattiesburg. He recommended that I swim hard, I would be fine recovering from the swim. Hold back a little bit on the bike and take the run about 20 seconds per mile slower than I usually race a 5K in a sprint triathlon. I did exactly that except I think I took the run a little too easy! 9:00 minute miles.. but I'd had sporadic workouts the two weeks leading up to the race and I think it had something to do with my lackluster run. Both of my quads tried to cramp and seize immediately off the bike, so I ran easy and watched my stride so they wouldn't come to a full blown cramp. Any time you do that to your muscles you are basically causing a pretty sever injury and it can take a couple weeks to recover. With Nationals in just 6 days I thought erring on the side of caution was the smart thing to do.

I left for Milwaukee on Thursday, flew out of Dallas so I had a 3 hour drive from Shreveport before my flight. Got there in plenty of time so I wasn't in any kind of a panic. Becky, my friend from Team Aquaphor picked me up at the airport. She was the reason I was at Nationals in the first place. Last November she invited me to come out to Ironman Florida where she was racing and I went and cheered her on and met her "in person". Prior to the we knew each other through Facebook, the team, and a few phone calls. Earlier in the year she had asked me if I was going to Nationals. I'd never given it a thought, but Bill and I talked about it and thought it would be fun and a chance to hang out with Becky again.

We did all the usual pre-race things like packet pick up and a swim in Lake Michigan. My wetsuit is still in storage with all of our furniture and belongings so Becky brought me her extra one and I needed to try it before race day. It's a size smaller than I like to wear and I was worried that I would have one of my typical "wetsuit panic attacks" in it. Fortunately the water was cold ~70 degrees and her suit is MUCH more flexible than mine. I have a Blue Seventy and hers is an Xterra.... I think I'll be getting a new wetsuit...

I swam one little loop with it and the water felt so good that I took it off and we swam another one without. Becky swam both times without one and it gave us an interesting perspective on how much they help. She and I swim about the same speed. On the first loop I noticed that she was slightly behind me and I was swimming easy to get the feel for her suit. On the second loop I swam hard. She was right next to me. We talked about our effort levels when we got out and she said she swam hard on the first loop and easy on the second. All doubts of whether or not I would use her wetsuit or my speedsuit went out the window. Wetsuit it is!

The swim waves were really spread out, the first wave went off at 7:30, mine was almost an hour later at 8:28 and poor Becky's didn't start until 9:50! It's a good thing the weather was cool, it was a long time to wait. My swim was uneventful, the wetsuit was fine. I looked at my watch as I was approaching the exit ramp and saw 24 minutes. Good swim. Happy with that.

T1 was kind of a long run and I went down the wrong isle. I was on row "F" and I turned on "E". Fortunately a lot of bikes were gone so I just ducked under a rack and got to my bike. Had some trouble getting Becky's wetsuit off of my feet, I usually cut mine shorter but didn't want to start chopping on a borrowed suit.

The bike ride was nice! Not the most scenic ride but fast with some climbs over a bridge and back, but a lot of fast areas. I averaged 21.6 for the 40K, my best bike split ever for that distance. There was one woman who was a drafting manic though, I saw her on a wheel of a rider in front of me and she finally got dropped by her and then hopped on my wheel as I went by. I heard a volunteer on the side of the road scream "15 FEET". What is up with the cheaters? Do you really have satisfaction in your race if you cheat and draft for a majority of the ride. Geez. Losers...

Both she and the woman she was drafting off of initially got ahead of me just before the end of the bike and we all rolled up to the dismount line together, but I ran off the bike and both of them stopped and swung their leg over to dismount. T2 was uneventful, found my place without any trouble and headed out onto the run.

Checked my watch a couple times and was running right at an 8 minute pace. Typical for me in this distance race. I was planning on holding 8:00's for the first 3 miles and then picking it up. Didn't happen - this time it wasn't my quads but my calves that were singing. That has happened to me before even with my focus on hydration before and during the race. It's done that ever since I was fit with the shorter cranks and aggressive areo position. I need to make a call to Johnny Cobb and ask if it may be related.

I did get passed by several women in my age group during the 10K run, but just couldn't answer. I tried once toward the end and my calf almost seized. I remember looking at my watch at right around 4.5 miles and it said 2:15. I was hoping to go under 2:30 which is my typical time for an Olympic Distance Tri. Brain goes into overdrive... ok...I'm running 8's so a mile and a half is 12 minutes... that puts me at 2:27 at mile 6 with .2 left to go. I think I can make it!!!  And I did! 2:27:58. Happy Happy Joy Joy!!

AND.... saving the best part for last.... QUALIFIED FOR WORLD'S AND TEAM USA!!!

Called my husband, Bill and he had been tracking me and knew I wanted to go under 2:30! He was happy for me. I hadn't mentioned World's to him even once, thinking it was just out of the question to go. So our conversation went something like this:

Bill:  Congratulations! Sub 2:30 way to go!
Me:  I was hoping but didn't know if I could do it!
Bill:  So does this qualify you for anything? What does this get you?
Me:  It qualifies me for World's.
Bill:  When is that?
Me:  September of next year.
Bill:  Where is it?
Me:  Edmonton, Canada.
Bill:  So let go to Canada, eh?
Me:  REALLY?????

So we're going to Canada next year! I get to race for Team USA and wear a suit with my name on my hiney!

Hmmm.... I think I might need a coach! Coach Kyle?? Want to help me get ready for World's?

Here are some photos I took of the city while I was there!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Team Aquaphor Challenge!

It's a new month, you know what that means? A new Team Aquaphor Challenge!! We're going to focus on abs this month! Here is the calendar:

Now there are a couple things to remember when doing these exercises. 

The Crunches
When you're doing the crunches, make sure that you keep your back pressed flat against the ground. Keep your hands barely touching the back of your neck, don't pull on your neck or hold any pressure against it. Look to the ceiling and not toward your feet. And do them s-l-o-w-l-y! Too many people rush their crunches, the negative (lowering back to the ground) is just as important as the upward lifting of your shoulders. 

The Leg Lifts
I prefer to do these with my hands under my seat instead of above my head. The same holds true here with pressing your low back against the ground as it does with the crunches. There shouldn't be any space in between you and the ground. Try thinking about making your navel touch your low back. Don't let your legs drop all the way to the floor, keep them up several inches. When I have the swimmers that I coach do these I have them go from almost 90 degrees to 6 inches off the ground. You can add some inner thigh work by pointing your toes and turning them out. But alternating between pointed toes and flexed feet will add some variety into your leg lifts too.

The Planks
We did planks month before last so hopefully you'll remember what to do on these. Keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Try not to let your hips raise up. You can add some variety to your planks by walking them up and down. To do this start on your elbows and move up to your hands and them back down to elbows. Right elbow, left hand, right hand, left elbow. Then switch it and reverse to left elbow, right hand, left hand, right elbow. 

Have fun with this month's challenge. Oh.. and keep squatting! I'm doing 100 per day from now on as maintenance!!

River Cities Triathlon is this Sunday! My favorite race of all time. This will be number 18 for me! A bunch of my friends from Hattiesburg are coming up to race! I can't wait to see them! Will report on the race after the weekend. Then it's off to Milwaukee on Thursday and USAT Age Group Nationals! I get to see my friend Becky and hang out with her and some other Team Aquaphor folks!  Busy month for me!

See you at the races!

p.s. Didn't proof read this, in a hurry! Please excuse any grammatical or typing errors!