Azalea Sprint Tri 2015 (part two)


The coldest part of the race may have been then stairwell leading out of the pool. It was drafty and frigid and it was almost a relief to get outside in the sunshine. Almost. Due to a late start, the temps had warmed, but it was still in the mid-40s. On my run to transition, I grabbed my bike jacket and put it on. I had strategically placed it on the run to that I could grab it and go. In T1 I also donned my shoes and booties and gloves and hat. It was too much. I was warm - don't get me wrong, but next time I'll suck it up and just put on the jacket. 

too many clothes


After all, the bike is less than nine miles! I can do anything for nine miles. Right? I don't remember much on the bike. I was listening to my breathing and trying to get my wattage up. My favorite part of the course is always the bridge over Bradley Creek. The marsh grass was golden and the sky was tropic blue. Other than that I did what I always do: encourage one, thank one, pass one. I thanked each volunteer, I encouraged someone in transition and I passed at least one cyclist. 

I do have to tell a story about my friend J, though. About halfway through the bike - between mile 4 and 5 on Eastwood Road - she saw someone about 50 yards ahead of her get off the bike and sprawl on the ground.  Concerned, she stopped. Worried that it was a heart attack or worse, she asked if he was all right. No answer. Again, she asked, are you all right? Long pause. Finally, he answered loudly, No! I'm not all right! Do I look all right? I'm freaking freezing. I can't feel my hands or change my freakin' gears! (except he didn't say freakin') He threw down his helmet. Legend has it that he cried and stomped his feet. J's remarkable response? Get on your freakin' bike and finish the damn race. And she pedaled away.(She may not have used the word: freakin')

She later relayed this story to another friend who's reply was just as genius: Awwww, he should have worn a warmer dress



Azalea Sprint Tri 2015


I loved the first race of the season. I've done Azalea five times now and it did just what I wanted it to do: it got me fired up for the rest of the season. It shook off the cobwebs and reminded me of how fun this sport is.  It also taught me a few things to take with me to my next race.

It was a VERY COLD morning. Temps on race day in transition were 32-36 degrees. I opted to do my warmup in the pool instead of my normal run > bike > swim routine and although it didn't make a difference mentally, I think it may have affected my body in the race. I normally do a eight minute ride to check my brakes and gearing to calibrate my power meter and to get my cadence up. Then I do a quick run with dynamic drills and some strides to warm up my legs. Then I get in the water and do 200-300 yards to get a feel for the water. 

I skipped most of that because of the temps. I did take my bike out briefly to check on a sticky back brake that had been repaired by the tech in transition. I did run (very quickly) from transition to the natatorium. In that 30-second run, my feet became ice cubes and felt like concrete blocks.

My warmup was spent running my mouth and swimming. The diving well in the pool area was warm and I sculled, kicked, swam and played around for 20 minutes. Got out, got back in and then went to line up.

The swim (300 yard pool swim) was exactly as I had imagined it. Last week I mentioned that I'd been doing a lot of mental work for this race. One thing was visualization: seeing the swim in my mind exactly how it was going to happen. Once I was in the water, it was deja vu. The water looked the same, it smelled the same. I did my flip turns when I wanted and heard the crowds around me. It was just like I imagined right down to the detail of me swallowing chlorinated water on the third lap. I was relaxed for the entire swim. And I was a few seconds faster.

One more thing before I close for the day. The night before the race, I had watched Grey's Anatomy. Did you know that power posing can make you feel more confident?  Before one of the most important surgeries of her life, Dr. Sheppard stood like a superhero. Feet spread apart, hands on hips, chest out, chin up. Spoiler alert: she nails the surgery.  WATCH THE CLIP HERE. 

In the line-up for the swim start, I stood just like this on the side of the pool. Right before the swim director said go, I did it again. I looked him in the eye and when he said, "Go", I took a deep breath, stepped forward and jumped in. I felt like I was flying!


Race Week - Azalea 2015

As I mentioned the other day, it's race week. Azalea is the first race of the season and the launch of my triathlon year. I admit, this is not an A RACE for me. I am not primed for it - I'm not in sprint tri condition -  but I am looking forward to it. In fact, I'm so excited that my bike is already prepped, my transition bag is almost packed and my race plan is written. Here's why: 

TEAM TRI-UMPHS: I'm most excited to do this race with my team. This race has become our tri club's signature race. It's a hometown race with a setup that allows everyone to see each other out on the course. I can't wait to see my friends and teammates out there. This time, like most years, we have triathlon beginners. So as their coach, I can't wait to see them cross the finish line! Plus, we're headed to the Mellow Mushroom for a post-race celebration. Yum!

TriClub at Azalea 2014

TriClub at Azalea 2014

MENTAL METTLE: I have been working a lot on my mental game for the past few months. I'm doing a few new things mentally that I haven't done in the past. The main one is to be focused on the process over the outcome. I've used this one before, but I need LOTS of practice. I tend to get anxious if I'm not going as fast as I think I should or I don't finish under my goal time. To get me out of that bad habit, I'm using this race to practice my shoulder rotation and bilateral breathing in the swim, I'm going to focus on my effort and cadence on the bike and I'm going to focus on my posture and breath on the run. 

My First Azalea Tri [2009] -
My newest mental skill is visualization. This is completely new and I'm not very good at it, BUT, I've been practicing it for weeks and plan to do it before the race. The premise is that I've been using imagery to see myself doing well, racing fast and feeling great so that when I'm in the moment, my body and brain react as if they've been there before. In my mind, I've practiced 12 lengths of the pool, I've counted my strokes, heard the voices on the pool deck, tasted the chlorine (only on my third and twelfth length), felt the water rush by as I streamline off the wall. I've rehearsed the transitions and imagined it over and over, with a stopwatch to see if I can do it all in under one minute. I've replayed the bike and run in my head and used past races to feel that threshold breath, to remember the tangents on the course and feel that burn in my legs. I've even practiced with the video that I created last year. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I've been sick for the past few weeks and have missed eleventy practices. Instead, I've been rehearsing the race in my brain.  I may not be faster, but I'm hoping that this will help me save energy, push a little harder and anticipate the obstacles that come with racing.   

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Although this race is not a prime race for me, I plan to race my hardest and best. I'm practicing mental skills, I'm practicing new swim skill, I'm practicing going hard, I'm practicing the nutrition. The idea is that if I practice now on a smaller race that I'll be primed for my May half iron at White Lake. 
The definition of PRACTICE is to carry out, apply; to do or perform often, customarily or habitually; to be professionally engaged in; to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient; to train by repeated exercises. 
Training makes me a better athlete, racing makes me a better racer. Practicing will put good habits into place, physically and mentally that will carry over into the rest of the year. By the time I face Ironman Florida on November 7 [248 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes], I will be proficient! 




I have a friend who loves to RELAUNCH her training every other week. She'll come into the workout and proclaim that it's time to RELAUNCH!  Maybe because she's missed a few or has a newer attitude or a bright new focus. That's definitely what I'm doing with this blog - and it seems to happen every year. The good news is that I have an idea - two themes - that I'm working on this year to guide what I focus on here in GumboLand. 

It stems from the questions: what and why. One of the biggest questions I hear in this sport is WHY? Friends, co-workers, family - especially my mother-in-law - they all want to know: why would you do this (again)? In fact, when you get the question from someone as important as your mother-in-law, you start to ask and really want to find the answer. 

One of my first blog sites centered around the very concept of Why-I-Tri. I listed reasons like big goals, friends, gear, competition and bling (I love a medal). Those are all true and fun, but as my races got bigger and my training got harder, so did the reasons behind the why.

The other theme stems from a question asked by a fellow coach: what are the qualities of a successful IRONMAN? Which ones do I have and which ones do I need work on? What traits do other athletes have that make them successful -- in triathlon and life in general. And, how can I apply what I learn in training or in a race to my life as a woman, wife, sister, daughter, leader, writer, mover-and-shaker and gumbo maker?

Let's start here, because this ironman, Lisa Hallett, has an amazing story and has a clear reason why she tris.  She pushes the boundaries of belief and transfers them to her own life.


Happy Happy New Year

And by new year I mean it's March! I figured I'd relaunch the site today in preparation for a new year of fun adventures. It's the first of the month, it's the first race week of the season and we're on the cusp of spring. What better time to jump into the mix and write about what's going on.

I am excited about this year and what it holds. There is some growing to do, there are adventures to be had and discoveries to make. I'm inspired by this quote that was tweeted by a friend recently. I'll explain more in future posts, but it sums up why I love to do what I do. And it's why I write about it. Here we go!