Thursday, January 2, 2020

EA: 70.3 IM Madison

IM 70.3 Madison was a bit of a last minute decision for us, and a great last minute decision. We happened to be training for IM Lake Placid, so right around the time IM 70.3 Madison came around we were going to be training to the same distances as the race. So the week before our coach recommended that we take a road trip for a nice supported ride, and run, and swim. 

So we headed off to Madison, WI. Ok, we actually drove off to Madison. It was an incredibly quick trip. We showed up on Friday, raced that Sunday, and headed back home that same race day.

After the traditional tune up ride and run, we dropped the bikes off. No gear drop, as this was a bring your own gear on race day situation.

Hopped into the lake for a quick swim. See all that algae? Yeah, that comes back to bite me in a little bit. My parents (and race day photographers) happened to have a prior engagement the night before, they were not with us prior to the race. But we did see them when we went out for the bike! Commitment to the game. Luckily, my bestie Kaitlyn and her hubby, Alex, came out to support us race morning.

Race morning came, and we set out to set up our transition areas and meet up with Kaitlyn and Alex. After getting everything sorted out, we struggled into our wetsuits, and made our way to swim start. Once the gun went off, we funneled our way into the water, and off we went for our supported workout day. The day was relatively warm to start with, as was the whole beginning of the summer for Madison. Which meant those algae blooms were out in force. On my way back in towards the beach, I swam straight into one. Beyond disgusting. As I stripped the algae off my face mid-swim it was not a consideration that this could lead to an allergic reaction. As I got to the boat docking ramp that lead to the swim out, I started to feel my face tingle. I ran as fast as I could to my bike and bike gear, threw my helmet and shoes on, and grabbed my bike and made my way to the mount line. As I mounted my bike I noticed that the tingling started to spread across my face and down my neck. Realizing this was an allergic reaction, I did what every athlete would do in my position: I promised myself that if I would stop and find help... in the event breathing became very difficult. I continued on with the bike, with my only goal being to execute the race plan I had been given, and race down those insanely speedy ladies in my age group. As I continued to bike, the reaction continued to worsen - with my face swelling, pushing my visor and helmet off my face. Fortunately, a swollen face and intensely tomato complexion was as bad as I got. I was able to make it back to the dismount line, and off to the run course. I managed to climb from 68th in my age group from the swim, to finishing with the 5th best bike split in my age group. I had set a pretty aggressive goal for myself aiming for under 8min/miles, and managed to average 7:59 min/mile. I'll take it!

Best believe I sprinted my little tush up that hill to beat those boys. Complete with a princess wave to my waiting family.

After crossing the finish line, we grabbed our gear, and headed back to the hotel room to get cleaned up, so we could make our way back to Ironman Village for the award ceremony. And 70.3 Roll Down Ceremony! 

With Joe finishing 5th, we had a little bit more hardware to drag home!

One of the great things about 70.3 Madison is that it's close enough to Minnesota that we end up racing with a bunch of our friends! Including an old high school friend of mine that raced her first 70.3 Ironman at 70.3 Madison! 
I think it is always important to stay during the roll down ceremonies because, in my humble opinion, it does not matter how you get on the bus as long as you GET on the bus. Meaning, I'm not one to believe that you only earn your spot by winning your age group. Fortunately for us ladies, Women for Tri have started donating/adding extra spots to women's age groups in order to help even the field between men and women's participation in World Championship races. Personally, I love that there is an organization helping to move the needle on a more equivalent gender participation for World Championship events. It also meant, that I was able to secure a spot to 70.3 Worlds in Nice!

The best part? Being able to share that moment with Joe, Kaitlyn, and Alex!

To celebrate, we dragged the Crew out to our absolute favorite: Red Sushi!

Thank goodness for last minute plans!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Zooming Around Zion [National Park]

Zion has always been a place I've wanted to visit, but wasn't necessarily at the top of my bucket list. Having gone now.... that statement has certainly changed. It's definitely at the top of my list now! I thought St. George was breathtaking. Zion made the views around St. George look quaint. And to think all of this is in our own backyard, no ocean's to cross. Just a quick plane ride to see some seriously impressive works of nature. The entire experience was like walking through a painting. Or a really awesome Western Movie film set. 

With so many ways to view the impressive scenery, we chose my parents favorite IM tradition - a convertible. It started by accident at IM Florida 2017, and is one they have happily relived at every race where they have rented a vehicle. 

Into the convertible we all hopped, and off to Zion we zoomed!

The views getting there were well worth the trip in themselves.

Yeah, that's where we're going.

What a butte!

Upon arrival into Zion you have a couple of options:
1. Hop on the bus to go visit the most popular areas of the park.
2. Drive up to the East Entrance of the park, for some self guided hiking.

Being people who enjoy immersing ourselves in nature more than we enjoy miming cattle plodding along a trail, we opted for version #2. Granted, when we go back (I do mean when, not if), we will take at least one day or two to stay within the park to be able to get to all the most popular areas of the park bright and early before the tourist crowds descend. Being that we got to the park after the tourist crowd had descended, we decided to go for a little hike of our own.

Off we sped, soaking in all the butte-y that surrounded us. Yes, that should be my last geology joke. But no promises.

The drive to where we were going is quite stunning, and it kept getting more and more breath taking as we went. 

With a quick stop at a look out area, before a tourist bus rolled in and all the tourists rolled out, we gathered our bearings, and discussed which trail to hike. Thankfully, we stumbled across some legitimate hikers that dubiously recommended East Rim Trail to Observation Point Trail. I assume the dubiousness was due to our lack of any actual hiking attire or gear. Clad with nothing but what you would go for a relaxing stroll in, and a backpack full of peanut butter sandwiches we set out on what turned out to be less than a relaxing stroll.

Off we went.

Where the Wild Things roam.

You never know what might be lurking. Like photobombing parents.

And forcing Joe into being my subject for photos.

A family that hikes together, stays together. And honestly, after a race it was much needed and appreciated. 

Seriously, how could you not love this place?

The higher we hiked, the more awe-mazing the views became.

Until we found the perfect spot for our makeshift picnic.

The perfect way to celebrate getting this one to another World Championship!

Love being able to share these experiences with these crazies. 

Until next time Zion!