Chris Wickard

Chris Wickard

My life, my world of craziness!

USAT Fantasy Camp

Where do I begin?  This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. 


Day 1 - Thursday

I flew directly into Colorado Springs.  I was met at the airport by Ava, a representative from USAT.  We drove directly to the Olympic Training Center (OTC).  One I arrived, they took my picture for my OTC badge , gave me a HUGE bag of swag (Rudy tri bag, Rudy helmet, sunglasses, bike jersey, t-shirt, goggles, swim cap and the list goes on), and the agenda for the camp.  Then they whisked away my bike box to assemble my bike as I had a Retul bike fit in less then an hour.  I headed off to check into my dorm room.  All the campers were sleeping and eating at the OTC during camp.  The dorm brought back so many memories of college.  I felt like a young kid again. 


The Retul bike fit was great!  We made a few adjustments which will hopefully help me be more comfortable in the saddle and faster.  I met a few other campers during my fit.  After my bike fit, I had a few hours or so to wander around the OTC grounds.  They have flags flying from all the countries that participate in the Olympics and pictures and information about all the sports. 


Off to the welcome reception where Rob Urbach, CEO of USAT , and Tim Yount, COO, welcomed us to camp.  There were only 9 athletes including myself.  They gave us an overview of the schedule as well as a brief bio of all the coaches that would be on-site.  Then we were off to the dining hall for dinner.  The food was amazing!  The choices were plenty!   You name it, they would provide it.  This is my idea of a great vacation...not having to cook. 


After dinner, we had our individual nutrition reviews.  Before camp, we had to provide a 14 day food journal.   I met with Nuwanee, my nutritionist.  She went over the athlete's food plate and ways I could improve my fueling.  I was able to ask questions specific to my nutritional and training needs.  What a great opportunity. 


Off to bed.


Day 2 - Friday

Off to the Athlete Center for a swim.  Diving into the pool that Michael Phelps and so many other great swimmers have trained in was cool.  I felt super fast that first 50 meters until I turned around and headed back.  WOW!  It was like I had just finished a long workout.  Was it the altitude?  Not really sure.  Once out of the pool and changed, we headed to breakfast.  Fresh made omelets and fruit...yummy!  After breakfast, we went on a tour of the OTC.  We saw the male and female wrestlers practicing, a room that can adjust altitude,  heat and humidity so you can train in any type of race climate and well as many other cool things.


After the tour, we had an hour and half strength and lifting session.  We were joined by Greg and Laura Bennett.  Greg and Laura are professional triathletes and Olympians.  During the session, we focused on exercises that would benefit us as triathletes.  Then we headed to lunch.


After lunch, we split into two groups.  My group started the bike drill session with Susan Williams (Bronze medalist in triathlon in the 2004 Olympics and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductee, Tim DeBoom (2x Ironman World Champion and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductee), Melissa Mantak (ITU World Champion, USA Triathlon National Coach) and Barb Lindquist (Olympian and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductee).  We went through various drills and intervals.  After the bike, we swapped with the other group and headed to the run drill session with Bobby McGee (one of the most sought after running coaches in the world) and Alan Webb (Elite Triathlete and Olympian in Track and Field...oh yeah, he also set the American record in 2007 for running the mile in 3:46 - SUPER FAST).  I really enjoyed going over run drills and form.  Bobby is a really nice man who is very passionate about running.


Back to the OTC for a quick shower and dinner.  After dinner, with all our coaches, we had a questions and answer session with all the Olympians that we trained with earlier as well as Jen Gutierrez (2000 Sydney Olympics and first American woman to qualify for the US Olympic triathlon team) and Tim DeBoom.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about their careers as well as ask specific questions that could benefit us.  It's now after 9 and time to for bed.



Day 3 - Saturday

Up before 6 to meet with the other athletes and coaches for breakfast, we then heading to the pool for a 3 hour swim drill session and under water swim analysis.  Since swimming is A LOT of technique, this session was really helpful.  We had Barb, Susan, Greg, Laura and Jen helping us.  It was almost one-on-one training.  After a quick shower, we were off to the US Air Force Academy.  They loaded up our bikes and once we arrived, we biked onto the grounds and were met by the Air Force Academy Triathlon team.  They were our personal tour guides along with our coaches.  We did two bike/run bricks and stopped for lunch.  After lunch, we biked by to the vans and headed off to the Velodrome.  I have to admit, I didn't like this very much.  I went around twice and called it quits.  It wasn't my cup of tea.  Several of the other athletes were tearing it up and flying around.  Afterwards, we had a transition clinic lead by Greg Bennett.  We had a mini mount and dismount contest.  He showed us how and why he sets up his transition area.  Even though I have been racing for almost 20 years, you can always pick up something beneficial.  Then we all biked back to the OTC.  Again, another quick shower and off to dinner.  Holy cow did we laugh during dinner.  We learned that Greg and Laura have lots of nieces and nephews (I think it was 18).  Greg tried to name them all but not sure he was successful.  They all have very unique names.  After dinner, we met with Barb Lindquist who evaluated our underwater swim analysis.  We all received a lot of helpful tips on how we can improve our swim.  We left with a copy of our swim analysis and ways to make us faster.  9pm, time to get some rest.


Day 4 - Sunday

Up again before 6 to meet for breakfast and start the day.  We were biking to the Manitou Incline.  I climbed the incline with Susan Williams.  Since this was my first time, I did stop several times to take pictures and enjoy the view.  Susan and I ran down and met up with Tim Yount, Tim DeBoom and a couple other athletes.  We then decided to go out for a ride before we had to meet at the Garden of Gods for lunch.  We did an awesome climb!  I was starving and ready for lunch.  We headed back down and made it to the Garden of the Gods.  At this point, I think I could have eaten the box that my lunch came in.  It did start to rain but cleared up by the time we got back on the bike and headed to the USAT headquarters.  Once we arrived, we were able to shower up and use the NormaTech boots before our individual massage sessions.   After the massages, we listen to Justin Chester talk about "The Art of Balance in Triathlon".  Then off to a local pasta restaurant for dinner.  The dinner was yummy and filled with great conversation.



Susan and I heading back down.


Day 5 - Monday

Unfortunately, I had a 6a flight home so I had to leave super early.  The other athletes were treated to a first class super sprint triathlon.  From what I understand, USAT put on a GREAT event.  The lake was too cold so they swam in a pool.  I heard they did an amazing job!  It was set-up just like a national event.  They even had police who shut down the street for the bike...for only 8 athletes! 


I can't say enough great things about camp. I gained a lot of knowledge, some new friends and an experience that I can tell my kids and grandkids to come.   It was truly a fantasy and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  That's until I go back next year.




ITU World Championship in Edmonton Alberta

It is hard to believe that tri season is over.  My last race was the ITU World Championship in Edmonton, Alberta.  I competed in the Sprint and Standard (OLY) distance.  I've been competing in both races at nationals for the last two years.  I felt if I was going to go all the way to Edmonton that it would be nice to do both races.  I'm actually considering doing the trio next year by adding the Aquathon but I haven't completely decided.  I have a while to think about it. 


I decided to go solo to Edmonton.  Sometimes it is just easier for me.  I came to race and needed to concentrate on that.  I knew several other ahtletes that were going so I knew I wouldn't be alone.  I traveled out on Thursday and should have known then it was going to be a great race weekend as my friend Roger upgraded me to first class.  I have known Roger for about 10 years.  We met at nationals in Kansas City and have remained in touch.  Roger is 74 years young and one heck of an athlete.  He competes all over the world and in Kona every year.  Once I landed in Edmonton, I hurried to get my bike and off to my hotel.  I was scheduled to rack my bike earlier that morning for the sprint race and was awaiting ITU's permission when I could rack.  I didn't know when so I felt I needed to be ready.  


I went to the Team USA sprint meeting to learn more about the course.  Typically I have already had the opportunity to ride or drive the course but since I arrived the day before my race, I wouldn't be able to.  They did announce that those TEAM USA athletes that arrived that day, would be able to rack out bikes first thing the following morning.  After learning as much as I could about the course, I headed back to my hotel for dinner and last minute preparations for my race.


I woke up feeling great.  It was awesome to have the extra hour sleep since Edmonton is one hour behind home.  I met up with my new friend Bruce, from IL who I met coming back to the hotel from the team meeting.   He also needed to rack his bike and we were planning on riding over together since he had ridden over to the race venue the day prior.  I was lucky to have him as a tour guide.  Unfortunately, since we had to rack first thing, I had to wait about 3 1/2 hours before my wave start.  I hung out with Cindi from WI who I have known for quite a few years but have never spent a lot of time with.  I really enjoyed her company. We had lots of laughs and were able to watch the earlier waves.


My goal was to give it everything I had from the start.  Since the competition is from various places throughout the world, you never know what the competition will be like.  Once we were in the water, I knew I had to just go as hard as I could.  Even though I swam in high school, many times I find myself having a difficult time keeping up with those that swam in college.  Most still have that swimming edge.  I ended up swimming next to a lady from Great Britain.   We were neck and neck into the turn.  I decided to let her go ahead and grab her draft.  We exited almost the same time.  Transition was long.  I went hard and passed her coming into transition.  Once on the bike, I was in the lead for my age group.  It was two loops, with a few decent climbs.  I was never passed and entered T2 still in first.  The 5k run was 1/2 on pavement and 1/2 on trails which I'm not overly fond of and knew times would be slower.  I kept reminding myself, "this is worlds, you need to go hard."  I was able to maintain the lead and finished first in my age group. Once I crossed the finish line, I saw Cindi.  She asked how my race was.  I replied, "It was good.  How did you do?"  She said hers was good too.  A few seconds passed and I said, "I think I won my age group."  She said, "so do I."  It was hard to be excited as we didn't want to celebrate only to find out we missed someone coming out in front of us in the water and didn't win.  


Cindi and I gathered up our gear and headed for the showers.  Once cleaned up, we went to see if our results were posted.  We received confirmation that we both won our age group.  After a few high fives and back pats, we celebrated with a chai tea.  I know, we triathletes, are CRAZY!  I think we might even had full fat milk...NUTS, I know!


I had two days before my next race, the Olympic or Standard distance on Monday.  During those next two days, I went down to the race venue to watch the female and male professionals.  It was definitely lots of fun!  The athletes are amazing as well as the crowds.  There races are draft legal on the bike so it is a whole different race.  ITU is considering having the amateur sprint race draft legal at worlds in Mexico in 2016.  I think it is a terrible idea.  Many of us have raced for years or decades as non-draft and they want to change it now?  If we wanted to race the sprint and the standard distance, that would mean shipping TWO bikes as you can't ride a TT bike in a draft legal race.  CRAZY!  I hope they come to their senses.


Monday morning arrives.  I wake up rested but not feeling 100% after racing a few days ago.  I just don't bounce back as quick.  I also missed my NormaTec boots to help me recover as I didn't have enough space in my luggage to bring them.  I had to take the public transportation to the race since I racked my bike the day prior.  The public transportation system is really nice and easy to navigate.  A few minutes on the train and then connect to a bus and I'm at the venue.  My wave started a few hours after the race began.  Again, I waited with Cindi and we were joined by Andrea.  Cindi and Andrea were in the same wave which was before mine.  We wished each other luck and headed to the start.


The air and water was considerably colder than Friday.  The "lake" and I use that term loosely was very shallow.  Apparently, they drudged the lake a few weeks prior since it typically is only 4 feet deep and used as a skate pond in the winter.  The also added chloride which is strange since it is a lake.  The swim, bike and run were a two loop course since this race is double the distance of Fridays.  I thought the swim would get really congested with some athletes from earlier waves still in the water.  It turned out that it wasn't.  However, it was COLD.  I couldn't feel my feet.  I tried to swim with the lead group but eventually couldn't maintain that pace.  I ended up 4th out of the water.  


I hustled into T1 and off on the bike.  This is where the congestion began.  ITU rules are different than USAT as you have to be roughly 5 bike lengths behind the cyclist in front of you instead of 3.  I felt I couldn't really get into a groove and continue to ride clean.  Athletes were drafting and not falling back after being passed. It was really frustrating.  This is when the mental demons came and stayed.  I gave up on the bike.  I was tired from the sprint race and tired of fighting the athletes that weren't following the rules.  I kept thinking why should I try and hammer this out when I couldn't shake the athletes around me because most weren't following the rules.  I know, I was mentally sabotaging my race.  How many times have you run a race and let your mental game fall apart?  It happens to the best of us.  I did manage to pass one girl in my age group on the bike but was passed by another.  Finished the bike still in 4th.


Off on the two loop run.  My run sucked!  I would look at my watch and saw the slow pace.  I gave up.  Once I let the negative thoughts in my head, I couldn't get them out.  I kept thinking "running on this trail will make my run time slower.  I'm tired from Friday.  I won on Friday, this race doesn't matter."  I had LOTS of negative thoughts and I know me.  Once that happens, I'm doomed.  I ended up finishing 4th, one spot off of podium. Disappointed?  Yes.  I would have LOVED to podium in both races.  Could I have made podium if I kept my head in the game?  I'll never know.   What I do know is that I gain something at every race -  a new tip, a new friend or something new about me.  This race was something about me and dealing with the mental aspect of racing.  It is something that you have to continue to work at.  Come up with a mantra or focus on a positive workout is what I tell my athletes.  Now I just need to take my own advice.  I got this!


Best of the US Triathlon

This was my 6th appearance at the Best of the US (BOUS).  I think of BOUS like a mini USAT National Championship, as it brings out some very talented athletes.  Unlike Nats where you are competing against others in your age group, at BOUS you are competing against all the other female or all the other male athletes.


The hosts/organizers at BOUS are the ever-so-famous duo of Trudy Marshall and Jerry MacNeil.  They are extremely passionate about the sport of triathlons.  So if you ever have the opportunity to participate in a race that they are involved in, you know it will be spectacular. 


The morning began with the inaugural Capital City Sprint Triathlon.  Throughout the morning, Jerry was announcing the BOUS athletes and their background.  I think he spent a lot of time Facebook stalking to gather this information...hehehe!  Actually he is a WEALTH of triathlete knowledge.  If there was a trivia game of triathletes, he would be the "BEST" of the US.  I volunteered at the mount line during the sprint triathlon.  It isn't very often that I'm a spectator to a tri so I really enjoyed watching the race.  Even though I have been competing for 15 years, I was able to pick up a thing or two.  It was lots of fun!


Once a majority of the sprint athletes finished, it was time for the BOUS to begin.  Our race was an Olympic distance.  One of the many great things about this race was that is was very spectator friendly.  The swim was 2 loops, the bike was 3 loops, and the run was 2 loops.  This is definitely nice for those out there cheering us on as well as the athletes since we would get lots of cheers and encouragement throughout the course.


Our race was a relatively small field of competitors but it was packed with talent.  The males and females started the swim together.  It was surprising a not very physical swim.  You never can tell when the males and females start together if it will involved swimming on top of each other.  Since we all had the same swim caps, I couldn't tell how many females were ahead of me.  I felt good in the water and hustled into T1 with a few other females then onto the bike.  In the beginning portion of the bike, the roads weren't the best of condition but eventually the pavement smoothed out.  It was nice riding three loops and being able to see where the other competitors were in prospective to me.  The loops also seemed to made the time go by faster.  Maybe it was the awesome crowd cheering us on each lap.


Coming into T2, the skies were starting to darken and a rumble could be heard in the distance.  The two loop run course consisted of some rolling hills with a few small but challenging inclines.  The run I found was the hardest portion for me at this race.  During the bike, it was nice having a less congested ride but the run I found very lonely not having other competitors surrounding me.  This was one of those races where I had to dig deep to get to the finish line.


I crossed the finish line with my son Jake running with me waving the Indiana state flag.  Just as I finished, the skies opened up and it down poured.  I managed to come away with a 4th place finish behind an EXTREMELY talented group of ladies.  Taking the title of "Best of the US" for the ladies was Danni Fischer from Wisconsin who technically could be my daughter.  Yes, I'm getting old.  2nd place was Jenny Garrison from Illinois who earned two short course national championship titles in her amazing career as well as many other titles including a few years as a professional triathlete.  Then in 3rd place was Kristen Sass of Tennessee who was the 2013 Female Triathlete of the Year.  All-in-all, it was an amazing day of racing for me.  I want to thank Trudles and Jerry for a great race which I know they will continue to grow and build into "THE RACE" to race!  Thanks to my sponsors Spenco, PowerBar, Brooks and Rudy Project for helping me along the way!



USAT Long Course Nationals Race Recap

Last year, I decided to compete in all three USAT National Championship races - long course , short course, and sprint.  I really enjoyed it and decided to once again compete in all three.  This year, I was lucky because LC Nats were in Grand Rapids and short/sprint are in Milwaukee.  It is SO much easier racing without flying and dealing with all the added stress.


Even though I have been racing for 17 years, as I get older my training changes, race plans are altered, diet changes, sleep patterns are different, etc...  So before LC Nats, I really spent more time with my race plan nutrition and the days leading up to the race.  I have always known that nutrition plays a big part in race performance in LC races especially as I get older and wiser.  On Friday before the race, my goal from my coach was basically to feed the fire for Sunday's race.  Friday happened to be the kid's last day of school so another mother and I decided to meet for breakfast.  I ordered a full stack of buttermilk pancakes - YUM!  I cleaned my plate and my stomach was semi uncomfortable by the time I left.  I felt like I accomplished my mission for breakfast.  Lunch time rolls around and I was meeting my two 85 year old gentlemen friends, John and Andy, for lunch to celebrate John's recent birthday.  I met them both at the YMCA in the pool when we moved up here in 1999.  I ordered the soup for the extra sodium and chicken bruschetta.  Again, I cleaned my plate and was approaching the feeling of uncomfortable.  I thought, "no more food."  After school, my kid's went to my mother's house for the annual summer grandkids weekend so when dinner time came, Dave wanted to go out to eat since we were kid free!  OK, I'm game and actually hungry.  We dined on lots of bread, chicken and pasta and pina colada cake.  I think he had to roll me out of the restaurant.  NO MORE FOOD!  As much as I didn't want to eat again, I knew I needed this to perform well on Sunday.


I headed to bed early knowing I wouldn't be getting much sleep the next evening.  I woke up and ate a bowl of oatmeal with nutella.  If you haven't tried it, you must.  You won't be disappointed.  Then I did my prerace workout.  Once I showered, Dave and I were off to Grand Rapids.  (I was fortunate enough that the race was only about 10 minutes from my in-law's house.)  However, since a few hours had passed since "breakfast", I felt I need to stop off and get an order of pancakes for the ride up.  After this meal, I was instructed to keep my meals on the lighter side.  I munched on pretzels throughout the day until my early dinner.  


I headed to bed early but didn't get a very good night's sleep which is typical.  I woke at 4am to rain.  I got dressed and ate a bowl of oatmeal with nutella (it never gets old).  Then I gathered my things and headed to the race venue.  I arrived and sat in my car for about 1/2 hour hoping the rain would dissipate.   Unfortunately, it didn't really let up so I headed out in the dark on my bike to ride to transition.  I wasn't sure what to expect as transition wasn't set up the day prior when I scoped out the transition area.  I found my spot and prepared my gear.  I covered as much as I could for the time being and did a short prerace warm-up. 


The race began at 7a but my wave wasn't until 7:20a.  I was in the last wave for the 1/2 Ironman distance.  About 45 minutes before I swam, I had a PowerBar Energy Blend.  I have found these great before my swim as they have a different consistency than gel much "thinner".  They are more like applesauce or baby food fruit, which will all know is TASTY!


The gun goes off and there I go.  I'm feeling good despite the lack of open water swim practices due to the cold local waters.  I noticed another girl in my wave on the left.  We seemed to be going the same pace so I decided to latch on and catch a draft.  It was probably the best swim I have had in a long time.  I was able to stay on her feet the entire swim.  She was sighting well so all I had to sight was her feet.  I knew there was one other female from our wave not too far in front of us.  When I exited the water, I made a quick stop off at the wetsuit strippers.  Oh how every race should have them.  I'm not sure why the lady that I swam with didn't stop but I passed her right away in transition and she still needed to take her wetsuit off.  Time 30:47


T1 was pretty congested as we only had a 3 foot path to use.  You could only go as fast or slow as the person in front of you.  However, I managed to have the 3rd fastest T1 time of the ladies.


Off on the bike.  By this time, the rain was just a light mist.  It ended all together about 1/2 way into the bike.  The roads were still wet but it didn't seem to effect anyone.  I felt great on the bike.  My first 10 miles were 23 mph.  I knew this was a bit more aggressive than my race plan but I was going on my perceived effort and it seemed OK.  At the turnaround, the course seemed to be a lot more congested.  It was also around this point, that I was passed by another female.  I couldn't see her age on her calf which were the size of softballs.  I knew she was a strong cyclist.  I thought I knew who she was.  My goal was to keep her within my sight which I did.  As we entered T2, I heard someone yell, "Go Laura!"  Sure enough it was Laura Sophiea.  She is AMAZING!  She biked a 2:26 and she is 59!  I met her at 70.3 Worlds in Vegas several years ago.  She is really an inspiration.  Nutrition on the bike was 3-3 1/2 20ozs of PowerBar Perform, a pack of PB energy chews, 2 honey stingers, PB gel and salt tabs.  Bike - 2:30:29 which was 5 minutes faster than my race plan and a PR.


By the time, I rolled into T2, we had encountered the sprint and OLY distance participants so I really had no idea where I stood among the other females in my age group.  Coming out of T2, I felt pretty good.  My first mile was a 6:58.  My next 7 miles, I average 7:25ish pace, close to my prerace goal.  Then I fell apart and ran around 8:10ish pace for the rest of the race.  My legs were tired.  Looking back, I probably was too aggressive on the bike in order to have a decent run.  I ended up running a 1:41:22 and a 7:44 pace which was 4 minutes slower than my race plan.  Nutrition was salt tabs, PB gel and drinking at EVERY water station - sports drink and water.  I crossed the finish line exhausted and wheezing.  I couldn't catch my breath.  Dave came over and took me to the med tent.  I had felt for some time that I had exercised induced asthma and it was confirmed.  After a few puffs of an inhaler, I felt better but not decent.  Even though my run was behind race pace, my bike was ahead of race pace and I finished in 4:45:48 which is a PR by about a minute and a half for me.  At 44 and I was still able to get a PR, I can't complain.  I finished 1st in my age group and was 4th overall female. 




Looking back at the race, I'm not sure I would have done anything different.  Could I have gone a little more conservative on the bike?  Sure, but who knows if my legs would have felt the same way on the run.  I performed at the level that felt right for me on that particular day.   I adhered to my race and nutrition plan almost to a "T" and was able to produce a great race!  So many dedicated athletes go into the race without a plan whether a 70.3 or even a 5k.  Sure, if you are a weekend warrior, go out and have fun!  Stop, smell the roses and enjoy every minute but if you are training day in and day out to achieve a PR, race your first 70.3, 10k or any other race, you need to set race day goals (and training goals).  Why would you spend all that time training and preparing and NOT have a race plan.  This race had inspirational quotes throughout the run course which was great to read and pass the time.  One from Vince Lombardi is "the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will (I think it could say "a lack of a plan to achieve your success.") 


Thanks to my sponsors - Spenco, PowerBar, Brooks Running, Hometown Events, and Rudy Project!

My Day as a Triathlon Analyst - Leon's Triathlon

Leon's Triathlon does an amazing job of promoting their race.  Comcast Sports Network (CSN) started broadcasting it three years ago - locally and through the US.  It is exciting to watch an amateur triathlon on TV, especially knowing so many people.  Last year the day prior the race, CSN always does interviews with athletes.  Last year at Leon's Triathlon, I was having constant nerve pain in my arm from a bulged disc in my neck.  I really thought I was done racing at the time.  I knew I couldn't continue if it didn't go away so during the interview, I said, "I think I should take over for Robbie (Ventura) next year."  Robbie didn't know I was going after his gig.  Lucky for me the nerve pain went away about a month or so and I was able to continue to race. 


Fast forward to this year.  I received an email from Tim Morris who is the Managing Partner at GO TV Entertainment who puts together the broadcast.  He asked if I was interested in being an Analyst this year.  I said, "Sign me up!"  This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I was planning on racing Long Course Nationals in Grand Rapids the weekend after Leon's so the race wasn't on my calendar. 



Tim and I


I spoke with Tim, the Friday before the race, to get my assignment. Not much time to prepare and being type A, this isn't good for my nerves.  I arrive on Saturday to do some pre race commentary about the course.  I have never done anything like this before...OK in high school I did take a course and we were video taped.  I showed my fellow classmates how to make a boxed cake mix, intense I know.  When I arrived at the venue, I walked around for a while and spoke with several athletes.  I would be in charge of the swim and run portion.  They were bringing in Ironman Champion Chris Lieto for the bike portion.  WOW...I have two assignments and he only has one.  PRESSURE!  I watched while several people swam and it looked like the sandbar was back.  They also changed the run course from previous years so I wanted to become familiar with it.  The day went well.  I was given a "official" shirt to wear and a watch from one of the race sponsors, Reactor .  I asked Tim what time I needed to arrive the next morning and if there was anything else I could do to help out.  He said, if I wanted to come early and help point athletes out in transition who should race well that would be great.  I said I was there to serve and I would see him in the morning. 


Sunday morning rolls around.  I arrive at Wolf Lake.  The sun is shining and the day looks to be a great one!  I'm in my official Analyst gear and ready for the day to begin.  I'm actually surprised that I'm only the slightest bit sad that I'm not racing.  After helping out in transition with the camera crew, I'm off to cover the swim portion with my camera man Erik and producer Bobby V.  It was really neat watching the race from the pontoon and following the lead pack of swimmers.  We shot the entire swim portion with me giving some play by plays.  Lucky for me, they aren't broadcasting the event live.  I'm sure there are several bloopers of me getting tongue tied.  It was actually quite an ordeal.  How is the position of the sun?  My hair was every where in my face and I'm trying to talk and not push it away every second.  Knowing what I know now, I would have worn my hair up but I taped on Saturday with it down.  Since they piece it together like it is all done in one day, it would have been like the movies where the car crashes and breaks the windshield and in the next scene the window is in tack.




In my "official" gear on the pontoon boat race morning.


After the swim, we boogie to shore and on to the back of a truck for the bike with Chris.  Initially they asked if I would drive.  I said, "as long as you don't mind that I don't have a valid driver's license in the state of Indiana and I just stopped drinking a few hours ago."  So needless to say, I didn't have to drive.  You realize I'm joking, right?  Even thought I did say it.  Anyway, Chris wanted some help with getting the athlete's names quickly so I was in the back of the open truck hanging onto my rope so I didn't fall out going down Cline Avenue.  I was jealous because he had his sunglasses on during the taping.  I had asked about it the day prior and they "preferred"  to see people's eyes.  He just rebelled.  We chased the men's and women's leaders until it was time to head back to transition for the run portion. 




Now we are off on the truck to the run segment.  We only had about 300 yards where we could tape because the athletes started running on the new path around Wolf Lake where we couldn't drive.  I was able to interact with the leaders and ask a few questions.  Again, I'm still really nervous so who knows how it will turn out.  Good thing they have the ability to edit me out.


All in all, it was one heck of an experience for me.  I enjoyed hanging out with Chris Lieto and getting to know the guys who make the broadcast happen.  That night I went home and crashed.  However, the following night I was having dreams of what I could have done and said differently.  I just hope I get the opportunity again some day.

Race Recaps - 5 in 1

Carmel Triathlon - Sprint Triathlon  (April 14th)


I have been doing this race for the last 3 years with my son Jake.  It is a nice early season race.  The swim is a pool swim which I prefer for Jake.  I just don't think he is comfortable enough in open water with a group of kids all racing to see who gets out of the water first.  Plus it is less nerve racking for me to watch.


We arrived the night before and had fun going past the house Dave and I lived in Fishers.  It is hard to believe it has been over 13 years.  We had a dinner date at Bravos which I LOVE!


Race morning, I am up early (as usual).  It was a cooler morning.  We arrived at the race venue and they were still setting up transition even though it was supposed to be open.  Once we got situated, we headed to the nearest gas station for a hot chocolate and cappuccino.  We were pretty cold and thought this would help wake us up and keep us warm.


SWIM - 400 meters

Even though Jake has been racing for 3 years, he was nervous.  Heck, I still get nervous.  The adult race is first and then the kids.  My main goal - go as fast as I can to get back before Jake starts.  My swim was the same as previous years.  I might have been able to go slightly faster but I had technical difficulties with my new tri shorts.  I practiced with them on the bike but never in the pool.  Well, come race morning, I realized they didn't have draw strings so when I went to push off the pool the first lap, they didn't want to stay all the way up.  Hmmm, probably not a good thing so I took it easy on the turns.


BIKE - 10 miles

Short but technical with multiple turns and roundabouts to deal with so not a super fast course.  I knew there were about 6 women who started in front of me in the swim.  However, I would much rather hunt someone down than be the huntee.  So my mission was to reel as many of them in as possible.  By the time I finished, there were only two people in front of me.


RUN - 3.1 miles


Since it was so cold, it took me about 2 miles before I really could feel my legs.  It showed in my split times as the first two were considerably slower.  I ended up 1st overall female for the 3rd year in a row.  But most importantly, I got back in time to see Jake start.  He did really good in the swim (considering he swims 80% of it breaststroke), his bike has improved since he started shifting his gears and his run was so much better than last year because he didn't burn himself out on the bike by not shifting gears.  Overall he did an excellent job and I am super proud of him and enjoying sharing triathlons with him.


RAMP RUN - 5k  (April 20th)

This race is at Purdue Calumet.  John and Tabby, the race directors, have this down to a science so I knew the race would turn out great.  I've been trying to work on not taking my first mile out too fast.  It is so hard not to get caught up in the start of the race and end up with a 6 minute mile or less.  How I envy those that can run under 6 minute miles the entire race.  My first mile was 6:15 so I was happy with that and hoping I had enough energy to stay steady the entire race.  After the first mile, I met up with a 13 year old boy named Casey.  I was watching him run in front of me and anytime he would hear someone behind him, he would speed up but then slow back down.  I finally ran up next to him and said he needs to keep a steady pace as he was wasting energy with surging all the time.  I really enjoy meeting people during a race.  We ended up running the rest of the race together until the end which I encourage him to sprint across the finish line as I had zero energy left to sprint.  LOL!  I ended up 2nd OA female.




Since we use to live in Indy, I really enjoy doing this race.  It is the largest 1/2 marathon in the U.S.  It brings around 30,000 people.  They have bands all along the route and you get to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 


I drive in the day before.  I head to packet pick-up and browse the expo.  The weather is warm.  When I left Crown Point it was 37 and when I arrived at Indy it was 80.  I was hoping the cold front would move farther south.  I always stay at my good friend Tracy's house with her family.  I have known Tracy since I was 7 so it is always fun catching up with her.


I'm up at 4:30 race morning and head out the door.  Luckily the temperature is around 60 and the sky is cloud covered.  Much better race conditions than the day prior.  Since this race is so large, they have corrals.  I'm fortunate enough to be in corral A and not have to fight through the crowds of people while I run.  I hear those in the last corrals take as long as 45 minutes to get to the start line once the gun goes off.  As in any race, I go out in hopes of a PR.  My pacing out to the racetrack is on target.  However, my hamstring is not loosing up and I am hurting.  I start thinking to myself, "I don't want to do this again EVER!"  I try to get rid of those thoughts since any negative thoughts can sabotage your race.  I make it off the track and see my friend Lucie walking on the side of the road.  I yell out to her and she said she hurt her calf.  Lucie is one of my many "all-star" friends.  She is amazing!  She was the overall female winner of the race back in 2006.  Now heading back to the finish line, we are running into the wind.  Around mile 10, my friend Tom comes up behind me.  I tell him that I am hurting and he runs with me until the finish line.  THANKS TOM!  Our goal was to make sure we break 1:30 and be one of the first 500 finishers.  We finished at the exact same time, 1:29:21.  Two minutes off my PR but good enough for 1st overall master female since Lucie had to walk some and still ended up with a respectable 1:41 (her worse finish ever in her 18th consecutive Indy mini - amazing!).  I ended up 388th out of 30,059 finishers and 25th female out of 16,029. 


TriAncilla - sprint triathlon  (May 18th)


I always like to try new races so I was looking forward to this race.  It is only about 1 hour away and I have always heard great things about this small race.  This would be my first outdoor swim of the year.  Race morning weather was perfect.  It was good to see so many familiar faces.  Speedy DJ Hanback was there on the men's side as well as my friend Amy Kuitse. 


SWIM - 500 yards

The swim was a point-to-point.  A few of us decided to swim over to the other side instead of taking the bus.  Surprisingly enough, the warmer was comfortable.  I did decide to wear my wetsuit to practice for my next race which I would be wearing it.  I started in the 2nd wave of ladies.  This is the only race that I have ever done that the ladies go first so it was nice.  It was an easy course to sight but probably not 500 yards since I ended up with a 5:44.  Oh how that would be nice!  I was first out of my wave and heading into T1.


BIKE - 11 miles

By the time I exited T1 and on the bike, there were two girls from the earlier wave in front of me.  The road conditions in the beginning weren't very good but most country roads aren't.   I passed one girl right in the beginning and could see the lead motorcycle and other girl up the road.  After a few miles, I finally pass her.  The bike was pretty uneventful which is a good thing.  However, at the end of the bike, the lead motorcycle took the wrong turn.  I ended up with almost a 1/4 mile longer on my mileage.  A little frustrated when I turned around but as a participant it is your job to know the course so I let it go.


RUN  - 3.1 miles 

Once into T2, I put my shoes on, grab my watch and bib number but thinking I am missing something.  Ooops, forgot to put out my visor.  I am not sure I have ever run a race without a visor.  Rookie mistake...oh well.  The run is flat and mostly pavement with one lap around the soccer field.  I end up crossing the finish line in 57 minutes and some change.  I was 7th overall and first female.  I would highly recommend this race.  It was well run!


GALLERY GALLOP - 8.5k beach run  (May 18th)

Another new race and another new challenge...SAND!  But what was I thinking signing up for two races on the same day.  This race was an evening race.  I left the house and it was 80 degrees but by the time I arrived at the beach it was 65.  I forget how much the temperature drops in the spring when you are closer to the lake.  From the first step I took, I hurt.  Oh how I could tell that I raced this morning.  I tried to find any packed sand but with the people ahead of me stirring it up, it wasn't easy.  I knew my miles would be slower running in sand but I wasn't sure what pace I should be.  I just decided to run and not worry about pace.  My friend, Heather Henderlong, was right there with me.  She is amazing running in sand!  I think I should train with her out at the dunes as I could tell she was use to this.  There was a short area where we ran on pavement which I relished.  However, back on to the sand and the hardest portion of the race...running up and down dunes.  At one point, I walked up the dune since I was going just as fast walking as I was trying to run.  Then back onto the shoreline.  I crossed right at 42 minutes.  My miles were 7:18, 7:48, 7:48, 7:29, 9:00!  I have to say it was one of the hardest races that I have done.  If there would have been a 1/2 mile more of beach to run, Heather would have past me as we finished almost neck and neck.  She did amazing!   We ended up 1 and 2.  Boy, I was glad to be done.  My bed was calling my name.

Holy cow time flies!  It is hard to believe the kids will be out of school soon.  I'm looking forward to a great summer with my kids and some more great races!

Talking TRASH!!!

Yep, I AM going there.  I have had it!  We have all done it, maybe once.  Come on...admit it!  Ok, then if you won't admit it, you have at least thought about it, right?  Recently, I've been doing  A LOT of it.  I have finally had enough and I am about to explode.  Seriously people do you NOT know what a trash can is?  Wait a second...what did you think I was going to write about?  . 


Typically, I begin my runs and rides by going down the same street.  I see soda cans, beer bottles/cans, trash bags, paper, milk jugs, tires, a TV and even a bowling ball.  The more I run on this street, the more it makes me sick.  So last week, I stopped to talk to an elderly man named Bill who lives on the street.  I asked him if I picked up trash would he mind if I left it at the end of his driveway so I didn't have to haul it home.  He was quite alright with that.  He also tries to pick up when he can.


So today was the day I was going to pretty up my route.  Heck it might even make me run faster.  Here is a picture of what I was looking at..


I'm happy to say that after spending only 1 hour, I had 4 trash bags filled.  I'm really not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I found 1 1/2 pairs of shoes, a pair of underwear (I didn't use direct contact), that someone likes really likes to drink "Unearthly" Beer (yes, that is the real name and I guess if you drink it, you don't care about dirtying the earth), and that 99% of what people throw out their window can be recycled. 


I did have one lady stop and thank me.  I also had several people wave to me.  Maybe they were just being friendly but it made me feel like they appreciated what I was doing.


So with Earth day on Monday, April 22nd, I am asking you to take a mere 30 minutes out of your day to help clean up our Earth.   I read an article a few years back about a lady who carried a grocery bag with her while she ran.  She picked up trash along the way.  Then she would run by a trash can on her route and dropped off her bag.  Sounds easy enough, right?  So go outside, enjoy the weather, get some exercise and help make our world a prettier place.


Like this post if you'll join me this week in "talking trash" and cleaning up our Earth.  Or if better, share this post and hopefully we can encourage more people to help out. 


First Race of 2013

Saturday was my first race to officially kick off the 2013 season!  I signed up for the LaPorte 10k.  I've always wanted to do this race since I grew up in LaPorte.  The rolling hill course goes right past the house that I grew up in.  Since this year, the race was not during my kid's spring break, I was able to compete and was excited.


Saturday morning was chilly but not crazy cold.  I decided to race in tights, a tank top, arm warmers and gloves.  Usually, I am the one in long sleeves and a jacket as I am not fond of the cold.  When I got to the start line, my friend, Karen Nagel (running goddess of NW Indiana), was in tights and a jacket.  I thought, uh oh, maybe I'm going to be underdressed.  I remember a few years ago at a cold Thanksgiving race she was in shorts and a tank top and start to question my attire.  However, I would rather be a bit chilly than too hot so no worries, all smiles.


As we were all standing around talking before the race with 1/2 our backs to the start line, the police car sounds its horn.  No count down, no warning or anything.  We all look at each other, wonder if it was the start of the race, and determine fairly quickly that it was and take off.  As I thought about my race plan earlier in the week, I told myself that I was NOT going to go out too fast.  I typically go out WAY too fast and struggle at the end of the race.  I was determine to not make that mistake and get caught up in the hype at the start of the race.


My first mile was close to my target pace.  I'm passing a few people and someone even comments that I'm smiling.  Why not smile?   I'm doing something I enjoy doing when there are people out there who can't and would trade places with me in a heartbeat.  I keep smiling and pluggin' away.  We start to encounter some hills and there are a few guys I see in front of me and I start to reel them in.  I take advantage of the hills and attack them.  While they fade back on the hills, I'm pushing and passing them.  Even though it would be easier to ease up, ATTACK in your next race on the hills.  You'll be amaze at the number of people you pass.   


I see Karen throughout the race in front of me and try to keep her within my sites.  I know she is a better runner than I am and know that I am not going to catch her unless she is having a bad race.  I'm OK with that.  This is her arena and I respect her as a runner.


Close to mile 3, I test out the new PowerBar energy blends.  I have used it in training but this was my first "run" with it racing.  I LOVE this stuff.  The banana blueberry tastes just like baby food fruit.  It has the same velvety consistency and is so yummy!  And the apple mango strawberry is like flavored applesauce.  I highly recommend them.  Easy to go down and not as thick as gel.


Not intentionally but my splits were almost identical.  My 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th mile were the same while mile 4 was off by 1 second.  Throughout the race, I'm think how good I feel and how prepared I am for an early season race (thanks to my wonderful, funny, beautiful, and very wise coach Jenny Harrison...yes flattery is not beneath me, I actually consider it a good life skill).  Seriously, my legs feel good, I'm consistently putting up good splits, I feel like I could run longer at this pace and my smile has faded only slightly.  This is good news for my upcoming 1/2 marathon in May.  My last mile was my fastest which is different from previous 5ks or 10ks where my first mile is my fastest.  This is how it should be...mental note.


I finished 2nd overall female and 1st master.  And....drum roll...a PR by 1 minute!  Yes, at 43, I was able to get a PR for the 10k distance!   Life is good!  Keep smiling!

Stop and Breathe....

I often wonder what my life would be like if I didn't have so many things on my plate.  Would I be bored?  Would I just take up another hobby or volunteer for yet another committee?  I honestly think that most family's lives these days are as hectic as mine.  That is why I try to surround myself with friends that have 3 or more kids because then my life looks like a piece of cake.


I spend my weekdays getting up around 6a.  I am fortunate enough that I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to workout but can take advantage of getting some solid rest.  I wake up, jump out of bed and head to the kitchen and turn on the Keurig.  I am not a coffee drinker but enjoy my Chai tea.  Maybe if I switched to coffee, I could get more things accomplished throughout the day...just a thought.  I pack the kid's lunches and get their uniforms ready for the soon to be mad rush.  I wake the kids up around 6:35.  That gives them 15 minutes to get dressed, use the bathroom and brush teeth before we are out the door.  Luckily my kids do not like to eat as soon as they get up but wait until snack time at school for breakfast.  One less thing to cram in each morning.  Twice a week, I volunteer first thing in the morning at school.  Afterwards, I am usually pressed for time to get to the pool before lap swim ends.  I hurry out of the pool and take my usual 5 minute shower.  I know at least once if not twice today, I have to take another shower so why bother trying to get rid of the chlorine smell when you know it never really goes away.


Back in the car and my morning swim, I head for home.  My stomach growling and in need of food.  I woof down my breakfast and head downstairs to check e-mail.  After checking e-mail, if I don't have to go back to school to volunteer, which lately has been everyday.  I spend some time on the sewing machine.  Things at Happy Headbands have been going well.  I'm excited for the weather to get warmer and races to begin so sales can pick up.  I still think to myself, "WOW!  Who would have thought I would be making headbands 6 months ago?"  I enjoy it and will continue to ride the wave.  However, it is time to stop sewing and head out for my run.  Let's pray my coach isn't trying to kill me today and I will still be able to walk tomorrow.  Once back from my run, I jump in the shower while lunch is cooking...shower number 2.  After a quick lunch, I'm heading off to get the kids from school. 


Back home from school, I go through the kid's backpacks to see how much time we'll need for homework.  Then I head back downstairs to sew or start working on my beginner's triathlon program which I'm coaching beginning April 22nd.  I just finished a 6 week program and really enjoyed it.  I was extremely proud of the 13 individuals who completed the course.  I could seem tremendous improvement especially in their swim.  This session will be 10 weeks and we will be training for a sprint race this summer.  YIPPEE!!!  I also am on the race committee and co-race director for a Crown Point triathlon in the Fall.  It will be September 28th so if you have ever wanted to compete in a triathlon, this will be a good one.  However, I might be slightly bias...


Around 4p, I round up the kids for homework.  After many "in a few minutes Mom" or "NOOOO, not now!", we are ready to go.  Sometimes, they have 15 minutes and other times it could be over an hour.  I really don't remember having this much homework at their age.  And I don't remember it being this hard.  I feel like I'm going through elementary school again.  Since my memory is gone, it is like going through school all over again.  :) 


Soon I hear, "Mom, I'm hungry!"  Time to start dinner.  What to make, what to make...I don't mind cooking but I would rather have someone tell me what to make.  That is absolutely the WORSE part is trying to figure out what to make and hopefully everyone will eat it.  There needs to be an app that allows you to select from easy, quick meals to more complex.  The app would give you your grocery list and then a recipe each day.  If you decide to design this, make sure you include lots of pictures.


PANIC sets in....WAIT, what day is it?  Do the kid's have soccer or basketball practice today?  I'm sure one of them does.  Back in the car.


Twice a week, I teach an evening boot camp class at the YMCA.  And one night a week, I have some friends over to share in my misery of riding on the bike trainer.  It is soooo much more tolerable with others.  And yet again, another shower.  I should be the cleanest person alive so why do I still smell like chlorine???? 


Hopefully I have some time in the evening to rest after the laundry is folded, kid's things packed up for school tomorrow, dishes to be put in the dishwasher, counters to be wiped, nagging the kids to take a shower, fish and cats to be fed, liter boxes to be cleaned, 10 minutes on the foam roller, rooms to be picked up, more laundry to be done...  The good thing is I haven't had time to stop and think how tired I am.   Ah... then back at it again tomorrow.  However tomorrow, I'm going to take just a minute to stop and breathe...however, I'll have to remember to add it to my things to do list or it might not get done...

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