This year, we had in the works a one day Rim2Rim2Rim adventure in the Grand Canyon.
These adventures are: amazing, inspiring, renewing, and……exhausting! But I love them because even if you’re at races with friends, you’re still pretty focused on yourself and your own race. You certainly don’t get to spend 15 hours straight with your bffs. And believe me, you don’t know quality time until you’re hiking for hours in the dark up the side of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I’m pretty sure everyone else out there that night was listening to our convo and very worried about the state of the four women up ahead
So…..how do I pick my adventures? First, if you’re working with a coach, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to loop them in on the discussion. Often what might sound exciting will also be working against your main goals that you’re working towards. That’s not good. The timing of when to fit these in is quite important. I can do a 50 mile when it’s in November, giving me plenty of time to recover before building for the next season. I can do a hard marathon in January when my focus for the year is going to be a run-focus. But I couldn’t do a 50 mile in March, right before my season starts. Or, going for a marathon PR in May or September wouldn’t work as well either. Hillary helps me figure out where to place these adventures to fit well with training. And sometimes the adventures do fit well within the season – like our epic bike rides.
And of course, the most important rule of off season adventuring….always plan the next one before this one is over! We have plenty more up our sleeves
After spending 2 weeks in Kona with activities that centered around being on my feet in the heat for 8 hours/day, and another that involved drinking beer and running, I was nervous coming home that week because I knew it was a quick turnaround to Beach2Battleship 140.6. After winning the event last year, there was no question that I would be competing again to try to defend that win. But there was certainly some anxiety as I questioned my ability to bounce back after that trip to race well. And, Kona trip aside, having 4 iron distance races in 8 weeks was an experiment in itself. This was one of the first times where racing definitely felt like a job. There was a large part of me that didn’t quite feel like getting up on Saturday to work. But, it was an opportunity for a paycheck and for more experience racing the distance – there was no way around that.
One of the reasons I was excited for the race was that it was going to be a reunion with friends! In 2014, I had a great experience with my home stay in Atlantic City and was definitely bummed not to be able to head back this year and see them. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. My AC friends decided to take matters into their own hands and just pick another race to get together at – B2B it was! So, Ed and I joined Jeff and his wife, along with Tom and Eric (our AC hosts) in Wrightsville Beach. We had a sweet house rented right near T1 and the start, and were luckily given a great few days to spend at the beach weather-wise.
I was also able to reunite with my B2B homestay last year and join them for their annual B2B pre-race dinner. After it brought me good luck last year, there was no way I’d miss that!!
Race morning came and we were greeted with warmer temperatures than last year, making the pre-race wait much more comfortable. Jeff’s wife was not racing, and having her help shuttle us to T1, then the start, also made my morning much more relaxed. I didn’t have to be up hours ahead of time to get to the shuttle buses, etc. In fact, I think my alarm was set in the 5’s – unheard of and very civilized!
The mass start set us off, which meant that I would be unsure of where the competition is for most of the day. The wind was picking up a little and offered some choppy water in the middle of the swim to work (slightly) against the current. Despite the chop though, swim times were as always quite fast and I came in around 48 minutes. I grabbed my Dimond and set off on the 112 mile ride. I had gotten myself in the mindset before the race that I was 10 hours away: 10 hours away from putting my feet up. From food. From the offseason. I could do anything for 10 hours, right?! However, when 5 of those 10 hours are going to be spent on a bike, it’s a little hard to convince yourself that it’s just a little bike ride. I did notice better road conditions than last year, and I was able to hold my power well when I wasn’t around people to help push me. I actually felt pretty good coming off of the ride, pleased not to have to TT 112 miles again for a few months.
The run began, and pretty much how every race since Copenhagen has been – I felt…..fine. Not great, but not terrible. Just fine. I wasn’t so far off a target pace, but it also wasn’t coming easy. Luckily, at this point it’s become a strength of mine to run through that, and I began just clicking the miles off. I had a peek at where the other women were on the out-and-back, and with about 10-15 minutes separating us, I knew I just had to continue running hard because I’d never know what happens. 10-15 minutes can be made up if someone hits a wall at mile 20, so I just had to do my thing and see what happens.
With favorable weather and a good run course, no one was hitting the wall, and my 3:26 marathon – the fastest female run of the day! – secured my 3rd place finish. It was also a really nice surprise to have some family out on the course – I hadn’t seen my Uncle in years and he was a champion cheering section for me during the entire run!! I know it’s hard to believe but despite the hurt, I was actually having some fun out there
After the race, it was certainly time for celebration. First I celebrated over beers and burgers with Melissa, who interviewed me for TRS Radio (check that out here!). Our group then continued the celebration back at our beach house, and then again the next morning with some Donuts (these were amazing) and several plates of food at the awards ceremony!
One thing was for sure: I was ready for a break after this one. I am planning to kick off the 2016 season fairly early, so right after this we shut things down and I took relaxing to the next level. Of course, my off season plans always include some crazy adventure, but with this many races in the last 2 months, my fitness for that was not in question.
Of course, a huge part of the reason I was able to race those 4 Ironmans in 8 weeks: my sponsors. Especially Smashfest Queen and Dimond bikes – you guys helped make this happen. And to Hillary, who believed in me and helped me get through all of this without any pity parties or breakdowns, thank you, thank you! I cannot wait to see what 2016 will bring.