Thursday, November 17, 2016

IMAZ 2015 Race Report...Better late than never!

Wow…so It’s been a whole year since I raced IMAZ.  How on earth did that happen?? I honestly meant to write this up right after the race, but 2 days after the race, my immune system shut down and I was soooo sick.  I was out of commission the whole week after the race…then, well, life happened.   So in honor of my #tripletforlyfe Jenesse racing her first Ironman this weekend, I figured I’d finally put my race on paper!

I was lucky enough to take 2 whole weeks off for iMAZ, one week before and one after.  The whole fam (husband and 2 fur babies) road tripped it to Arizona, arriving on Wednesday after a pit stop at my dad’s house in SoCal for the night.  We rented a house on VRBO about 10 min. from the expo.  The house was perfect…close enough that it was easy to get to transition/check in/etc., but far enough away from the hubbub.  Hubby and I had a few days at the house to ourselves before my WHOLE FAMILY came into town!  My dad, brother (his birthday was on race day and I am super grateful he spent it in the pouring rain cheering me on) and nephew stayed with us, and my mom, step-dad, aunt, mom’s cousin and his wife had a condo practically across the street.  I used those first few days to preview the bike and run courses on my bike, check in at the expo, and generally stay off my feet.  In order to keep my mind off the monumental task ahead of me, I rekindled my love of jigsaw puzzles, which kept me super busy even after the race!

Team Coeur 2016.  LOVED seeing all these ladies out on the course!
On Friday, I met up with all of my Coeur Sports teammates who were racing– it was awesome to meet so many of them in real life and the support from these ladies was just amazing.  Aside from the normal pre-race tasks, the fam toured the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Scottsdale with the fam.  It was beautiful, interesting, and not even remotely triathlon related :) Then I left the family to deal with lunch plans and got a much needed massage. 

Leading up to the race, I am actually incredibly impressed with how relaxed I was.  I had complete trust in Coach Muddy and knew that I would finish the day, no matter what.  My training was solid, and I felt super strong.  My mom, on the other hand, was a hot mess!  She was sooooo nervous for me…I was the one that had to reassure her!  My mantra for the day was “first I’m going to swim, then I’m going to ride, then I’m going to run!”  That’s it. No overthinking it.  I definitely had some goal times in mind, but I knew that this was only my first Ironman and it was all about learning the distance. 

The day before the race, I got everything sorted into the necessary bags with literally everything labeled with exactly when/where I needed it.  I think I was most afraid of forgetting something!  I’d rather be over prepared than under prepared, but at the same time, didn’t want to overload my transition / special needs bags with the kitchen sink!  I’m happy to say I think I struck the perfect balance!  After bike check in, I spent some time in my recovery boots, watched the Kona broadcast for inspiration, and had my traditional pre-race dinner of Thai Basil Chicken with lots of white rice.  Then it was off to bed for a fitful night of sleep.  Even though I felt calm and relaxed about the race, the excited energy definitely kept me up much later than it should have!

Ready to go!  #muddylove
The Swim 1:13 (1:53/m, 16th AG)
UGH!!! The swim was AWFUL!!! This was definitely the most aggressive / full contact swim I had ever been in!  This year was the first year of a rolling start, and you couldn’t get in the water beforehand.  I had swum 1:10 at the Vineman Aquabike race, and I felt like my swimming had been going well leading into the race.  I thought I had a 1:08 swim in me, so I lined up right before the 1:10 wave.  Well…the swim definitely didn’t go as planned!  First off, the water was freezing!  It definitely took my breath away and I ended up taking a few side strokes/doggie paddles to get used to the cold.  Once my head and face got used to the temperature, the water was bearable, but those first few minutes were quite the shocker.

The calm before the storm.
After that, I spent the next 2.4 miles basically in a washing machine.  Even though I had never raced an Ironman before, the Lake Tahoe 70.3 swim was on the same course at the same time as the full, so I thought I knew what to expect.  Wrong.  I was kicked, swum over, swum into, everything you can imagine.  I never really felt comfortable and didn’t keep a steady stroke for more than a few pulls before popping up to check my surroundings.  I never had a panic attack, it just didn’t feel comfortable and all of the jostling made me much more tired than I expected.
When I finally made it to shore, I realized that my watch had paused during the swim and I had no idea what my time was!  With the helpful wetsuit strippers, I was out and on my way to T1 super fast, and used that time to reset my watch.  Luckily it was back in action for the bike leg.

Gear: Coeur Team Kit, Roka Maverick Pro Wetsuit, Roka X1 goggles in Light Amber, Garmin Forerunner 920XT

T1 4:33
I was in such a hurry to get on my bike that I completely ran past my transition bag!  At IMAZ, they have a bunch of chairs set up right outside of the changing tents.  I wasn’t doing a full change in T1, so I just grabbed a chair, pulled on my Castelli aero top (already loaded with my extra nutrition) and cycling shoes, threw on my helmet, and ran off to meet up with PennytheP3.

The Bike 5:35.40 (20.02 mph, 5th AG)
Oh what a day Penny and I had!!! Now the weather the day before the race was perfect – sunny, light breeze, in the 70s…on race day, mother nature decided to throw a wrench in the day and unleashed quite the downpour that got worse and worse throughout the day.  But I was LOVING it!!!!  

Thumbs up for Coach!

Honestly, I cannot even explain how much fun I had out on that bike course.  I was quite the fan of the three loop course – each loop was about the equivalent of Coach Muddy’s Wednesday night rides, so it was a really manageable way to breakdown the course.  I was lucky to be out of the water towards the front(ish) of the race and didn’t run into any congestion that I heard was common on the course.  I mainly rode by myself – there were a few guys that I leapfrogged with, and I passed apparently 11 girls in my age group towards the beginning of the ride, but was pretty much in my own little world. 

I always prefer cold weather to hot, and luckily adapted to the cold weather on the bike.  I saw lots of people pulled off to the side of the road, huddling in cars at aid stations, wrapped in the foil blankets…anything to warm up.  I was just super grateful that I wasn’t having those issues.
Since the course is 3 loops, you get to turnaround near the transition area 2x.  There are tons of spectators in this area, and that was where my whole cheer crew was hanging out.  They were super easy to spot because my mom made the greatest hot pink GoGo Gomez Support Crew shirts. 

Benny is quite apprehensive about the crazy lady (my mom!) with the cowbell!
It was an amazing boost to see and hear them all cheering me on!  And they were all HUGE troopers because it was a gigantic downpour during the whole bike portion of the race and they stuck it out on the sidewalks with no coverage, ringing cowbells and cheering everyone along.  They just rock!  And our third #tripletforlyfe Eileen completely surprised me out on the course!!! As I came back to transition at the end of the second loop, I yelled out “oh my God!!!!” I just couldn’t believe that Eileen had made it!  It was a complete surprise and made me feel pretty special. 

So surprised that Eileen made it!  #tripletforlyfe
Coach Muddy was also along that part of the course, asked how I was doing, and I couldn’t do much more than smile! The desert is not my favorite landscape to look at, but with the storm clouds on the horizon and the cacti popping up, I really made sure to appreciate the beauty that we were racing in.  I rode steady for the entire 5 hours and 35 minutes.  I knew I had passed a bunch of ladies right out of the gate, but I had no idea where I was in the field, but I didn’t really care.  Honestly, I had an absolute blast on the course.  I am quite aware that it is definitely not normal to want to keep riding at the end of a 112 mile ride!  All those climbs up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains definitely paid off because Arizona was pancake flat!

And the founder of Coeur Sports, Kebby, was also out and about along the bike course!  You know you are part of an AMAZING team when the actual owner is out at the races supporting her girls!

Gear: Coeur Team Kit, Castelli Aero top, Louis Garneau triathlon shoes, pink rudy aero helmet, Cervelo P3,Smith Pivlock Asana Sunglasses
Nutrition: Salty Balls, Cheese and Cracker packets, base rocket fuel – fueled like a champ.  And was super lucky my water bottles unfroze by the time I needed them at special needs!

T2: 2:45

Even though I wanted to keep riding, when I pulled into T2 with my brother and husband running along the chute so excited…again, I was nothing but smiles.  Since I was in the change tent pretty early, I had at least 3 amazing volunteers helping me out.  The got me changed and ready to go in no time.  I was excited to get out on the run course! 

The Run 4:46.09 (10:55/mi, 11th AG)

The run started out well…I exited T2 with a smile, and my legs felt surprisingly good.  It felt much colder than it did on the bike, but not too cold that I was uncomfortable.  I saw Coach at about mile 2…told him I was feeling good but chilly, so he wanted me to start drinking chicken broth when they put it out at the aid stations to help myself warm up.  Through the first lap, I felt pretty good!  I was drinking my Base rocket fuel, eating my Gu, and just cruising along.

Around mile 10 or so they started putting out the chicken broth, and I followed Coach’s instructions at the next 2 aid stations…BIG MISTAKE!  My Base rocket fuel was supplemented with Base Salt, which was a fantastic concoction for me during my training and at IMLT 70.3…but all of that was in the heat.  Since I was so cold, and not sweating out the same amount, my sodium levels were apparently very different than they were during training.  Adding the chicken broth meant that my body couldn’t process all the sodium and caused my stomach to hate me L.  Starting around mile 13, there is a VERY obvious drop in my mile splits.  I kept shuffling forward and at each aid station, I would try to take in some pretzels, bananas, water…anything but my rocket fuel or Gu.  Nothing seemed to help.  I passed my mom and aunt around mile 19, then Jenesse and Eileen around mile 20. 

Later they told me that they were super worried because I just looked like death! Finally I reached the last turnaround on the far side of the lake, around mile 21, and decided that I would have to make a pit stop in the porta-pottie.  And thank GOD!  I threw up every bit of liquid in my stomach.  So gross!  But as soon as I exited, I felt like a totally different person!  

My stomach settled itself down and my body could finally do what it wanted!  Even after all of that, my legs felt “fine”!  (Well, as fine as they can at mile 135 of the day).  I was bummed that my pace had slowed so much solely due to my stomach, but took comfort that my body was strong enough to still feel good at this point of the day.  At mile 22ish, I saw Jenesse, Eileen and my husband (for the first time on the run because he had the map upside down all day!!).  They were shocked at my miraculous recovery and to this day laugh at what I said – “I puked everything up and now I feel great!”  
Lifesaver! Crossing the finish line with Jeana #heartandcourage
So happy to cross that line!
At this point, it was dark, chilly, and I was tired!  Those last few miles felt oh so far, until I spotted another Coeur kit just ahead of me about a mile from the finish.  I was so relieved to find Jeana and she honestly pulled me through that last mile.  We ran in silence, side by side through that finish arch then collapsed into the best hug of the day!  My family was gathered at the finish and I was so glad to see them all.  Unfortunately, I spent the next 20-30 minutes getting rid of all the bile in my stomach near (but not in) the med tent before finally celebrating with my amazing support crew. 
Best Support Crew Around!  (Missing: Auntie Nan, Geoff and Ethan)
Overall Time: 11:42.15, 11th AG
It was a very weird feeling after the race…I was super proud of completing the race, but since I never doubted that I would finish I didn’t really know how to process being done!  I knew that I had a lot left in me and was definitely frustrated that my stomach slowed my marathon down so much.  But that left me wanting more.  I knew that an Ironman wasn’t just a check mark on the bucket list, and I couldn’t wait to sign up for another one.  

Post-Race Breakfast with the Coeur ladies at Snooze!
After the race, my immune system decided that it was tired of working and I was laid up with an AWFUL cold/flu for about a week, which was a major bummer since I didn’t get to take advantage of eating all the thing. L  After I recovered, I took advantage of the off season, re-evaluated my 2016 plan and decided to take a year to finally do Crossfit and race some 70.3’s. A year later, my fire has been renewed and I am all lined up for Ironman Coeur D’Alene on August 27, 2017!

Good luck to everyone racing IMAZ this weekend – I will be all along the race course cheering my heart out!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Holy Cow...It's IMAZ race week!!!

Well…it’s race week! How on earth did that happen??? In less than 6 days, I will be lining up to start Ironman Arizona (IMAZ).  Honestly, it all feels quite surreal.  Over a year of planning, anticipation, and training have finally wrapped up.  I know that I am physically ready…I’m not nervous, I just can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I will be racing for 140.6 miles next Sunday!

Last summer, Coach Muddy and I sat down to chat about my 2015 season.  After racing my first 70.3 (Oceanside), I knew that I wanted to “go long” and race a full Ironman.  Muddy says Arizona it is…then I had to wait and wait (you can’t register until the current year’s race is done).  Arizona is the last US race of the season, and it is so popular that you basically have to go to the race the year before you want to do it so that you can sign up on site.  SO in July 2014, I signed up to volunteer at IMAZ 2014.  Then I jealously watched friends sign up for race after race while I had to patiently wait until November to volunteer in order sign up on-site.
Finally November rolled around and I got my first full Ironman experience.  I volunteered at bike check in and watched athletes nervously check their precious bikes into transition the day before the race.  On race morning, I volunteered at body marking, writing race numbers on athletes, calming fears and pumping them up for the big day ahead.  Then I worked the Run special needs station (athletes can fill a bag with anything they think they might need during the second half of the marathon – ranging from more nutrition or clothing, to notes of inspiration…there was even a girl who whipped out her compact with mascara to prep for her finisher photo 13 miles later).  I definitely shed a few tears in excitement and relief as my friends made their way along the run course.

I knew several people racing and the whole day was incredibly emotional.  I was so excited and happy for all the racers, but also quite jealous because I wished I was out there racing too!  The next morning, bright and early, I was in line for registration, and my journey had begun…eek!
This past year has been a pretty exceptional training cycle.  It included the Coast Ride in January, Vineman Aquabike in July, and Santa Cruz 70.3 / Tahoe 70.3 (in back to back weekends in September).  It has been my most consistent year of training, and I actually loved getting in the pool (unlike years past where I would sit in my car going to the depths of facebook to procrastinate my swim workouts!!).  I finally grasped going slow to go fast while running, and did not miss a single bike workout thanks to my #tripletsforlyfe training buddies. 

I cannot wait to arrive in Tempe and get swept up in the excitement of registration and prepping for the race.  Throughout the week, a total of 12(!!!) family and friends will be filtering in to be my cheer squad and I couldn’t be more thankful for their support.  I can’t wait to be on the lookout for my mom’s bright pink shirts along the course. #gogogomez
I definitely would not have gotten to race week without these amazing people: Coach muddy – thank you for your support, guidance, and genius training plans; My Super Sherpa mom – thank you for being at every race, volunteering, ringing your cowbell, and making sure I get to the start line; My dad for always being my sounding board and constant cheerleader; Team Coeur – the best group of ladies for support, encouragement, motivation, amazing sponsors, and even better gear (so excited to be back on the team for 2016); Team Muddy Love – amazing training partners, especially on the track and our Wednesday night rides...truly a family!; My #tripletsforlyfe, Eileen and Jenesse – I certainly wouldn’t have gotten through this season without you two…thank you for hours of girl talk on the bike and while running, holding me accountable for my workouts, and being incredible sources of inspiration; and lastly my Husband – thank you for putting up with our messy house filled with tri gear and water bottles galore, and for your endless encouragement, enthusiasm, and love.

IMAZ starts at 6:50 am on 11/15 and you can track me on'm #1131!

Happy Racing!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Race Recap: Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3

I figured that since I’m racing again TOMORROW (!!!) I should probably put my Santa Cruz Race Report up first!
This was my first actual tri of the season, so I was pretty nervous, but excited, to see how my training translated to running off the bike.  I had a goal of breaking 5:30, and running a sub 2 hour half marathon, but I just didn’t know what to really expect for the day.
Since the race was in Santa Cruz and my hubby was out of town, I decided to sleep in my own bed and drive over the hill early on race morning.  I was nervous about the parking situation, so I was up at 3 am!!! I ended up with a super convenient parking spot and napped a bit until transition opened at 5.
Coach had tons of athletes racing which was super fun.  After transition set up, I met up with Jenesse and her super Sherpa husband/photographer extraordinaire (Dennis gets photo cred for most of the photos in this post).
Just like at Vineman (which I’ll recap soon!) I was really relaxed before the start.  Jenesse and I hopped in the water on our way to the swim start to get adjusted and it was a gloriously perfect 63 degrees – seriously I was surprised at how pleasant the water felt!
Pre race nutrition: PB/honey sandwich, banana, ½ Honey Stinger Waffle, bottle of skratch
The swim was ROUGH – it’s an ocean swim, going around the pier and it felt like I was swimming against current all three ways.   It was especially choppy near the end of the pier!  I drank lots of water, but kept my cool and still came out of the water in 14th!  Not too shabby!  Even with the conditions, it ended up being a PR by a whole minute!
SWIM: 35:12.  GEAR: Coeur Sports team kit, Roka Maverick Pro Wetsuit, Roka F2 Goggles in Light Amber (seriously these are the best! So freaking comfortable and easy to see out of, even though it was overcast with the sun peeking out at the start.)
After a crazy long run to transition, I was off on the bike.  I got new race wheels (Enve SES 6.7s…thank you #coeursports #sponsorlove) Felt awesome…until I got stung by a wasp!!! Thank goodness I’m not allergic! The weather was perfectly overcast and I just rolled along!  With this being basically a hometown race, almost all of Coach Muddy’s athletes were racing and it was awesome cheering everyone on out on the course! 

The course follows Hwy 1 and has some beautiful views of the coast.  Luckily the winds weren’t too crazy on race day!  Half way to the turnaround, the course cuts off the highway onto a winding backroad…and this is where one girl simply drove me crazy!  She just would not move to her right…just rode along blocking everyone behind her!  It was crazy frustrating, but once we were back on Hwy 1, I dropped her for good!
After unpacking, realized I DEFINTELY didn’t eat or drink enough, but my stomach felt a little wonky and I just wasn’t feeling too much food :/  I think I drank 1.5 bottles of scratch and about 350 calories over my 2:45 bike…definitely need to work on that before Arizona.
BIKE: 2:45:46, 20.27mph.  8 MIN PR!!!  6th off the bike!!! GEAR: Cervelo P3, Enve 6.7 wheels, Rudy Wingspan helmet, LouisGarneau Tri-400 shoes, Castelli T-1 stealth jersey
Onto the run.  My goal with this race was to break 2 hours on the half.  I was super close last year, with 2:00:33, and I was determined today would be the day I put that in the past!  Coach’s orders were to get “keep” my HR at 140-45 for the first 5k…yeah right!!! It started out at 160, dipped to 157 and would not budge lower.  I tried to slow down, but honestly just felt solid and steady.   
My stomach was a bit sloshy and I wanted to take some salt to calm it down, but the salt pills I had put in my tri top came out because of my race belt!  Bummer.  My stomach settled down on it’s own, thankfully, and I sipped on a bottle of Skratch and had a salted caramel Gu at about mile 5 during the run.  After 5k of actively trying to go slow I switched the screen of my Garmin and just ran.  I felt great…and kind of like I was running through the halls of high school…I saw almost everyone I knew on the out and back run course and was constantly saying Hi and cheering them on! So fun!  I had a smile on my face for the entire run (until I got to the sand).  With 4 miles left, I knew that even if I dropped my pace to 10 min miles, I would still reach my goal of sub 2 hours…but I wanted a serious run PR, so just kept grinding away!!

The last ¼ mile is on the sand…and whoever came up with this idea is just nuts!  It was miserable!!  I tried to run closer to the water, on the hard packed sand, but then the waves would soak my feet and they would be covered by the dry sand and feel like sloshy sand bricks!! NOT cool.  But I just tried to run as fast as I could.  I always remember the words of my HS cross country coach … If you’re out there a long time, you must be enjoying yourself. If it’s hard, run faster…then you’re done with the torture sooner! And that I did.  I just gritted my teeth and ran as hard as I could to be done.  A picture is worth a thousand words and Dennis captured a pic that completely depicts how I felt about that run!

RUN: 1:53:42, 10th AG.  General consensus is that the run was about a ¼ mile short, because the run from the swim exit to T1 was a ¼ mile, but I will still take my run time, thank you!  GEAR: Coach Muddy trucker hat, Feetures socks with tri slide sprayed on first to prevent blisters, Saucony Kinvara 6s.
OVERALL: 5:23:15, 10th AG, 14+ minute PR!!!

Huge shout out to my #tripletsforlyfe training partner on her MONSTER PR and first time on the podium…that girl is going places!  Now it’s time to rest up before we do it all again tomorrow at Lake Tahoe 70.3!!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Life Happens!

Well hello there!  So the first part of 2015 was super busy and I planned to write a quarterly review … and now it’s June!!! How on earth did that happen???
Training is well under way, although the tri season definitely feels like it is off to a slow start because my first real race isn’t until July!  It was weird to miss Wildflower this year, and all of the local races, but since my main goal of Ironman Arizona isn’t until November, Coach doesn’t want me to burn out too soon! 

I’m back to the grind of Tuesday morning track session, pushing the pace on Coach Muddy’s Wednesday night bike rides, and getting more and more comfortable in my wetsuit with lots of open water swimming.  Everything seems to be progressing nicely…especially on the bike! I would never have imagined that I would be seeing the numbers that I am now, which is super encouraging.  The weather has finally turned hot enough to rock my super comfy Coeur Sports tri kits on my rides – I’ve already resigned myself to having a permanent sports bra tan from here on out. #stylishspeed
Get yours at!
I’ve done a few “training races” so far…one trail race, a St. Patty’s day race with my mom, a 12k across the Golden Gate.  It’s been fun to rack up some medals, although it has been very strange to actually hold back and just take the races easy.  Most recently I did the first race of the local Splash and Dash series – a 2 mile swim.  It’s my longest swim race…and I won my age group!  Most of the athletes stopped at 1 mile to do the “dash” part of the race, but I was pretty pleased with my time and feel like I’m right on track for where I want to be come November.

The hills were NO JOKE!! Great way to start off the year.
Go Greek 10k with my mom who WON her age group!
Nothing beats a sunny day in SF, running across the Golden Gate!
And for those of you who are still reading (and for posterity sake) here's a quick rundown of the first 5 months of 2015

Photo Credit: Jen Baer
I'd heard about this ride for the past 2 years and finally got the OK from coach to join. It's 3 days of cycling from San Fran to Santa Barbara. We rode over 120 miles each day, and by mile 100 on day one, that was the furthest I had ever ridden. It was the most beautiful ride and hands down the most mentally challenging and rewarding experience of my life!  I did the ride with a group of Coach Muddy and Rising Tide athletes and bonded with these girls in a way that only happens when you are pushed to your limits!  The ride was followed up with a week long girls camp with Muddy and Sonja...can't wait for a repeat in 2016!

February---I got married!

February was an absolute whirlwind! Jay and I got married in a perfect winter wonderland in Lake Tahoe surrounded by our amazing family.  Then we jetted around the world for 18 days in Thailand!  We absolutely fell in love with the locals, the food, the culture and the scenery. We chose Thailand because it had a mix of culture, adventure, and relaxation and the country definitely didn't disappoint. 
Photo credit: Kari Addison Photography
Just a quick snapshot: wat (temple) hopping in Bangkok, overnight trains, hiking to waterfalls, cycling through rice paddies, kayaking and hiking through the mountains, feeding and bathing rescued elephants, swimming with bioluminescent plankton at night, cooking classes, rock climbing, Muay Thai classes, and drinking more Singha beers than I could count!!
We had a personal tour guide through the countryside of Chiang Mai, Tod.
So many Buddhas...such calm and peaceful settings at Wat Pho.
A day at the Elephant Nature Park made me fall even more in love with these creatures!
It was the most amazing trip...we cannot wait to return, next time in November for the Long Krathong festival.

March - May

After a very long off season, I came back from our honeymoon with a renewed spirit and was ready to get back into the swing of things training wise. Coach eased me back into a routine, starting me off on the treadmill for my first hint off speedwork in months. He also added another local girl to our training group, which has been fantastic. Having my two ladies to train and bond with has been a huge plus this year, and I look forward to our Wednesday night dinners every week.

May was a month of celebrations: a bachelorette and wedding celebrating one of my favorite couples, new babies in Colorado to honoring my Grandpa Ed’s life with family.  It was a pretty special month, and one of my last chances to really let loose before getting serious for the #roadtoironman and I’m thankful I was able to really spend time with the important people in my life.

So grateful for such a wonderful Grandfather.
So there we are! All caught up. The race agenda will be picking up in July with Vineman full aqua bike, then back to back 70.3's in September at Santa Cruz and Tahoe and rounding out the year at IMAZ!! It's only 5 months away and the time is flying by. See you back here after Vineman!