What an interesting year 2020 has turned out to be. I’ve tried to look at this year as an opportunity to work on my weaknesses and have some uninterrupted training. Looking back on the year you can think of the ways you have had to change and adapt to what has been thrown at us.
At the beginning of the year I was planning on being ready to race in April and then things started to cancel and shut down. It was clear this year was going to be different. I discussed things with my coach and I wanted to continue to train, even if there weren’t races, focus on strength and conditioning at least 2-3x’s a week and put in some miles with a little speed work but not so much that I would be in the best shape of my life and have no races or that I would get injured or “burn out” before a season, if any, began. I wanted to be in good shape and when there was an opportunity, in little time, I could be ready. If nothing else, build up for next year.
I was ready to race in June, still no races in sight. At the beginning of July I got sick. I had to take some time off training. I was too tired to do much of anything. After a couple weeks I was feeling better and started to build up again. With no races and extreme heat in the summer in FL it was really hard to push myself with hard speed workouts- I did what I could do. I always have a problem in July/August because it gets so hot here. Even the early mornings is already 90 degrees.
By July it was beginning to be draining to go on long rides and runs. Some runs were not going well and I had been doing so good for a while. I also worked at the beach a lot this year and delt with the heat there as well.
I felt like I needed to get away from the heat have a change of scenery. I decided to go to Boulder to train, even if a race didn’t happen, I was going to enjoy every day out there, bike, run, swim, hike, disconnect from the news and enjoy not sitting on the beach at work and sweating! Thanks to my boss for approving some time off, I was able to go to Boulder and get in some training without being soaked in sweat! I exchanged the humidity for the altitude.
Thanks to Dave Gresko for inviting me out and letting me (and Paul for a couple weeks) stay at his place for 4-5 weeks.
I heard Cozumel 70.3 was going to happen at the end of September. This at least gave me a race to train for and as much as I wasn't excited to go back to the heat to race, I was going to try it, if that was my only option.
In August, Paul was changing jobs and had a couple weeks he was free and could come to CO with me. Also, my coach is in Boulder and has a team that gets together once a week for run sessions I could join. (always the hardest running ever- trying to go fast with low oxygen haha) I was also able to swim in some masters swim practices while there too.
When I first got to Boulder there was smoke from all the fires in the area and from CA. After a week or so it cleared out and was beautiful! I enjoyed every day I was there! We even had a snowstorm at the beginning of September and I haven't seen snow in a couple years. I was excited to have a couple days of winter. The mountains looked gorgeous with snow on them.
After the first week, my friend Nick Chase contacted me and asked if I would be interested in racing Bear Lake Brawl 70.3 on the 19th of September. It was the week before Cozumel and it would def be cooler than racing in Mexico. The only problem with this race is it’s at altitude. Fortunately, I was already in Colorado training at altitude even though it wasn’t as high as this race would be but I would be adjusted enough to be able to race. (not sure if I ever truly adjust)
Finally! A pro race in the US ! I was really excited! Professional Triathlon Organization was sponsoring the race. Since the group of people competing was small this race was supposed to happen as planned so PTO added a pro race to give us the opportunity to compete for a purse prize of $20k.
This race was in Idaho (border of Utah and Idaho) I could drive there from Boulder (about a 7 hr
drive). Paul flew in the day before and drove with me to the race. It was so great to see familiar faces and get to race again!!
Bear Lake Brawl 70.3:
Race morning was in the 40’s. It was supposed to be in the 50’s by the time we were riding but rain was in the forecast. I was just happy it wasn’t 105 degrees! The lake was very cold (high 50’s-low 60’s). Right before we were supposed to start the wind picked up and was blowing the buoys away. The water was getting rough with white caps. We stood out in the cold for a while. They thought about cancelling the swim, after a delay, they eventually decided to let us swim and kept it in more shallow water. Back and forth 3 times. Against the current one way and with it the other direction. It was a time trial start and I was starting 11th place. The swim was chaotic and cold. My face and fingers were numb. People were swimming into each other on the out and back, had to really watch where you were swimming. The pro men started about 45 seconds behind me and caught me. They all swam over me, someone even grabbed my ankle and slingshotted me back. Thanks guys!! I was having a hard time breathing (probably bc of the altitude) but I got through it!
On to the bike, I couldn’t get my feet in my shoes because of the toe covers and my feet were so numb I couldn’t feel them. Finally, feet in and flying down the road with a strong tail wind to start out, only to be stopped by a bunch of cattle hanging out in the road. I could see a cyclist ahead weaving thru the cattle. I found a small opening and they let me passed. The view from this side of the lake was gorgeous! Bright blue lake water and mountains in the distance with dark clouds and some trees changing colors. I rode solo for almost this whole bike ride. 35 miles in and rain started coming down. Light rain at first then it started pouring with gusty cross winds. I had to get out of aero a few times to control my bike with the disc wheel. My fingers were too numb to drink or take gels, I did try a few time and I had taken one or two before my hands went numb. The last 6-8 miles I started getting cold and shiver as the rain continued to come down. At that point I was thinking, just a few more miles and I will warm up on the run! I caught up to a couple girls who were also shivering on their bikes, came into transition in 4th place. (2:20 on the bike)
Once in transition I couldn’t get my shoes or race belt on. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet and I was still shivering. By now the temps had dropped into the 40’s and we were all wet. Someone was in transition helping us girls get our shoes on. I just remember repeating that I needed help 🙋🏼♀️ Transition 2 felt like a very long time. I kept falling over trying to get my shoes on, I finally sat down and tried a few more times but nothing was working. I felt like a toddler who really wanted to go outside and play but had to patiently wait until someone helped me get ready to go outside! Finally, shoes and race belt on (thanks so much to the guy who helped me out!) I was off on the run, I couldn't feel my feet but I knew if I kept running I would be warm in no time. I was just so happy to be racing and it wasn’t hot! It was a long, lonely stretch of 6.5 miles out and back. A few miles down the road and the men were starting to come back so I didn't feel like I was completely alone. The rain had stopped and within a few miles I was getting warm! I had to unzip my kit and started thinking this thin air felt refreshing even though I was breathing heavily during this run, could have used some oxygen!
On the way back I could feel a drop of sweat come down my face. The last couple miles felt really long with a strong head wind. Finally, the finish line!! I finished 5th and was so thankful to have this opportunity to race. I really enjoyed this race and had a great weekend.
The following day I drove back to Boulder and the next day flew back to Florida.
Huntington Fall Olympic Triathlon:
I heard about this Olympic triathlon happening in Indiana, another race sponsored by PTO. It was two weeks after Bear Lake, seemed like good timing to race again. It took me about a week to recover from the 70.3 and I’m sure all the travel didn’t help speed up my recovery. By race week my legs were feeling better and ready to go again.
I had no intentions of racing an Olympic and haven’t done a lot of high end speed work, if anything I have done a lot more endurance work but it’s an opportunity to race and I was ready to see what I could do.
Another cool morning in the high 30’s but the start time was 9:30am and by the time we started it was mid 40’s. Water was in the 60’s. I personally like racing in cooler weather and was happy it was a cool morning.
For some reason starting this race I had some issues in the swim. I felt like I couldn't breathe and had to slow down and relax a little. Sometimes this happens in the cold water and for that reason I did do a longer warm up swim so my face wouldn't be shocked by the cold water. After a few hundred yards and missing any opportunity to catch some fast feet, my breathing was back to normal and I started to pick up the pace. My second loop was faster than my first loop but not fast enough! I was out of the water in 9th place.
Onto the bike I knew I had some work to do since my swim was not very good and I only had 25 miles to catch up instead of 56 miles! Around 10 miles, I started to catch up and after the turnaround passed a couple more girls but just couldn't make a gap which I knew I needed with some fast runners behind me. I was off the bike in 6th place.
I haven't raced an Olympic in a while and forgot how fast of a race it is. My legs felt a little heavy starting the run and I couldn't feel my feet again for a couple miles. My watch was not on run mode and I couldn't figure it out while I was running (yes user error!) The run was a 4x out and back with one short, steep hill per lap. I wasn't tired at the end of this race I just couldn't get going much faster than 6:30 pace. I feel like I could have held that pace for a lot longer. I am looking forward to racing another 70.3 at sea level! I do think I prefer the longer distance races but Olympics are fun and fast! I loved this course and the race was very well organized and marked. Besides the swim, I felt like I had a decent race for a short course race (2hr 10min). I enjoyed being out there racing again! I finished in 9th place.
With all the travel and having to adjust to the heat again in Florida (its supposed to be cooling down soon, yay!) I have decided not to race Clermont 1/3 pro race sponsored by PTO. I really want to but I don't want to do too much in a short period of time. I have a tendency to get sick and rundown if I do and felt like I needed a little more time to recover this week. I can't wait to race again and am very thankful Professional Triathlon Organization has brought racing back in 2020! Hopefully Tx 70.3 and/or Fl 70.3 will happen in Nov/Dec.
I am also very thankful to still have the support of my sponsors, Epixgear, ROKA, First Endurance, Outspokin Bicycles, Rudy Project. Also, my coach who has kept me going in the right direction during all these uncertain times!