Monday, November 25, 2013

Miami Man Triathlon and Camp with Macca

Miami Man Race Report

Hello Miami!  I was so excited to race, I haven’t had a race since Ironman Kalmar in August and couldn’t wait to hit a start line…well technically I did the marathon as part of Challenge Penticton a week later but that race started in T2.  Training had been a challenge with the move from Scotland to Denver and dealing with elevation but I was confident I could have a descent result, for no other reason than I wanted it ;)

The race set up - You swim in a lake, just barely wet suit legal (I’ll take all the help I can get!), then a fairly uninteresting bike ride going out and doing 2 loops, before heading back in.  Followed by the fun part – the run!  You get to run around the Miami Zoo through animal exhibits and baffled tourists visiting the zoo (debatable which were more interesting to observe!)

Now racing with Team MaccaX and Chris McCormack had some benefits.  Instead of having to head down to the race transition the day before to rack my bike we had a truck pick them up and rack them for us, feeling VIP.  I was next to Macca’s S-Works, hoping that some speed would rub off on mine! 

Stiletto dressed in black next to Macca's S works
Race Morning

Ok this is pretty hot and humid already, this should be interesting.  Scotland never got above 65 degrees all summer so racing in humid high 80’s was going to be a challenge.  The locals looked at me funny complaining about the hot weather, nothing compared to what they get during the summer!

Usual fun getting set up, checking, double checking, rechecking, checking my list again, to make sure I had everything in transition.  You would swear this was my first race.  I was almost giddy with anticipation, I just wanted to go out and smash myself! (no wonder people thing triathletes are insane) Its been too long since I’ve hit that point where everything is screaming at you to stop but you win that battle against your head and push through what you thought possible.

Swim – 41:20

That final few seconds as they count down, I just repeat to myself stay calm, no more panic attacks in the water.  My usual warm up of putting in my head in the water to blow bubbles and try to lower my HR from the bazillion miles an hour it shoots up to when I put on a wet suit.  GO GO GO!!! We’re off.  I tried to use some of the techniques that I learned in the MaccaX camp and and board short (swim off the hip) of people near me.  This worked pretty well, but unfortunately the people I swam off of were about as good at sighting as I am…so I ended up swimming a fair bit extra.  On the bright side it was my fastest pace per 100m I’ve swam, so if I can stay on track I have the ability to PR. 

Bike – 2:33:25

Here is where I knew it wasn’t going to be my day.  My plan for the bike was to start at the low end of my ½ Iron distance watts and build to the top of what I should be able to hold in the first half hour, then hold it.  Usually I ride the whole race at the low end, this time I wanted to push a bit more. 

Well that didn’t really happen… I started off and felt pretty flat.  I was working a lot harder than I should be to hold the low end of Half Iron Watts, and HR was about 20 beats high.  I fought to hold the low end, I tried to increase and there was just nothing there, legs didn’t respond.  So I figured ok, I’ll hold it here and then at least I’ll have lots left for the run.  First half I avg’d 23 mph, then it started going downhill.  I was working my ass off and the watts were going lower…and lower…soon I was in my recovery zone of watts, but HR was still zone 3…I was hydrating like crazy until mile 28 and then the last aid station around mile 43 they didn’t have any water, just sports drink, I should have taken the sports drink for hydration but I had already taken in more calories than I had before in a half!

My power went so low I averaged lower watts overall than I held in Ironman in August when I was out there for over 5.5 hours, I could barely hold that for the 2:33 I was out on the bike!

Brush it off, time for the run.  I should have tons left because I was at Ironman intensity on the bike!

Run – My slowest run in a Half yet 1:53:45

Get off the bike, determined to go out there and at least have a good run.  Pain.  Now I’ve had this bike about 3 weeks, and one bike fit well this race made it clear the fit wasn’t quite right.  My hip flexors were locked up and I couldn’t seem to extend my legs back, so a fast turn over shuffle it was.  First aid station I stopped and chugged down 3 cups of water, I was feeling the lack of water the last half of the bike. 

I have to say though it was pretty entertaining watching the expressions and comments of the Zoo tourists as all of these crazy triathletes run around them! 

Every aid station I poured water over my head, ice down my pants and top (I sounded like a cocktail with the ice jingling around in my bra…could have used a few cocktails).  I wasn’t feeling so good, but I did get a lift every few miles.  There was such a big group of Team MaccaX out there I got excited every time I saw someone, and cheered them on or a thumbs up as we went by each other or saw people on the out and backs it was very uplifting on a tough day. 

I was so happy to be nearing the end of the run, the last 4 miles I had started shivering and getting goosebumps, the beginning of heat exhaustion.  Something I’ve had some bad run ins with as a kid and should have recognised. 

So happy to be a few 100m from the finish!
Race Finish – 5:12 – about 20 minutes slower than I was planning on…

BUT I made it across the line upright, feeling like a super star with team MaccaX cheering me on through the finishing shoot. 

Result 1st in AG, 4th Female...missed 3rd by 6 seconds...

Finished! Serious bling for finisher medals
Stuffed Zoo animals and Power Bars for the win!
It was a tough day out there, I was pretty confident that I could win the race going into it.  It’s funny how expectations can cause you to miss out on the positives in something. I didn’t realize until a week later it’s the first time I’ve won my AG in a Half.  Because I wanted the win, I overlooked that, definitely taught me to slow down and appreciate what I have accomplished. 

I’m not sure if it was the heat, the timing of going up and coming down from elevation, or dehydration but it just wasn’t my race.  However the support of the team during and after the race made it a memorable one.  Plus there was the after party to look forward to!

The night ended with a few beers and war stories of the race. 

The fun didn’t end there, the next day it was time to pack up and head to the Caribbean to the islands of Nevis St Kitts for the inaugural MaccaX triathlon! Some pictures of our fun in Miami below :)

Big Group ride with the team and Macca

Great background for some transition practise

Promo work for Team MaccaX

A ridiculous amount of podium finishes for the Team!

My wicked room mate and new manager Heather!

Love this team, beers at the finish!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Race Plan & Training with Macca

Miami Baby!!

As I’m writing this I’m flying across the country to Miami, Florida.  I wish I could sleep on flights it was an early morning with a 5am wake up call, but since I cant (too excited) may as well be productive.

This will be a rambling post (shocking and unexpected I know).  So much to catch up on but a lot of cool things happening.

The next 10 days I am going to live and breath triathlon, race, train, and see a bit more of the world.  The only way it could be better is if my hubby could have come with me.  2 races - 4 days in Miami and 6 days in the Caribbean in Nevis St. Kitts.

The Schedule:


Macca is holding a training camp in Miami leading up to the Miami Man Olympic and 70.3 race.  Unfortunately I missed out on the welcome dinner Tuesday and day of training today.  I cant wait to get down there, almost 100 triathletes are attending the camp many of whom I have spent hours talking to online about all things triathlon and some very slightly disturbing random conversations to keep things interesting.  Lots of BIG personalities to say the least. So today I arrive at the hotel and get settled in, probably spend some hard time by the pool while everyone is out riding and doing technique work.  What?  Its training…I need to acclimate to the heat ;)


The schedule has a packed day of swim/bike/run and transition work.  I’ll take it pretty easy through this, rest up for race day Sunday.  I love that there will be so many other people to train with. Now that I think about it its been about a year since I’ve actually trained with other people.  You get caught up in your own training and sessions and with triathletes its tricky to match up schedules so this will be great!

Then a talk by Macca at the local bike shop that evening.


Rest & eat. 


RACE DAY!!!  I haven’t hit a starting line since Ironman Kalmar and I cant wait to race!  (Challenge Penticton doesn’t count I started in T2 :p)

AFTER PARTY!  Throw it in the Big Chain Ring and party it up with the crew & Macca.  Looking forward to this part.

So 2 races coming up the Miami Man 70.3 this Sunday and an odd distance 1.5k/60k/10k in Nevis.

It was very cool to meet up with my coach Lucho before these races to talk about triathlon and what it takes to be successful in this sport.  Usually there is a Skype call before races to hammer out targets and race plan but being able to chat over coffee in person really added to the experience.  Its great to hear about his experiences being a professional triathlete being among the ranks of the elite, especially finishing 12th in Kona. It’s very cool to have such a talented and knowledgeable athlete to guide me and let me pick his brain.  As well as an honest assessment of what it takes to make it to the professional category.  He even brought an entourage, his adorable son dressed up as Spiderman J


Nothing too fancy but a little crazy. 

Essentially survive the swim, take risks on the bike and see what I have left for the run.

Not my typical plan, I’ve always hedged my bets on the run essentially survive the swim, ride moderate, run my ass off.  I’ve had a mental block about the bike, still think of myself as a runner even though I’ve only been running 2 years I’m more comfortable with it.  After the last year my biking has transformed and is usually faster than the other two in relation to the field.  I just haven’t trusted it in racing yet, my legs start to feel fatigued I always back it off thinking about the run.

Now this doesn’t mean go out there pushing threshold the first hour and being completely stupid, it just means going to the upper limits of what I should be able to hold for 56 miles, instead of riding comfortably like I usually do, let the legs hurt a bit.  Ironman was my A race of the year these two are just bonus’s so I’m going to take the opportunity to experiment and I’ll either PR, or spectacularly explode and have some data to use for the future. 

You rarely learn anything in your comfort zone.   I need to let go of ego and not be afraid of blowing up and sacrificing a podium finish.

Training leading into this has been blah, I haven’t fully made the adaptation, paces and efforts that felt comfortable in Scotland are still a fair bit harder here and it hasn’t been as consistent as I would like with the move.  While I usually pull a lot of confidence from my training this time it’s all going to have to come from a belief that I have not lost fitness from Ironman training, and just know that I have the mental strength to go out there and suffer more to get the result I want.

Let the fun begin.

No pictures right now but there will be tons of the training camp, racing and partying with Macca to follow.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What I have in common with Superman! - Training at elevation.

Seriously, I'm hoping I'll be like superman.  If you think about it Superman is just some guy, average, nothing special when he's at his home planet.  Ok, well he is pretty buff so maybe he would be like a decent cross fit guy or something on Krypton, one of those enthusiastic types that competes.

Point is (as if it wasn't clear) while he's pretty average at home when he pops on over to earth and gets a hit off that yellow sun he's a freaking superhero!!

Seriously buff

I mean he already has his own crossfit shoes!
I need some of that superhero power because I'm feeling pretty average up here... Its been 3 weeks since I moved from sea level in Scotland to a mile high at Denver Colorado.  While some would argue its not THAT high, it crushed me the first while here and I was pretty sure 70.3 miles would kill me.  

I'm hoping my version of the yellow sun will be getting back down to Sea Level.  I'm choosing to believe I will be high on oxygen and fly through the field!  Placebo or not, I know I will get a boost down there.

Its been over a month since I've been able to hit goal paces without feeling like I'm going to explode or pass out after a few minutes.  So going into these races coming up just holding onto the belief I can still bike/run near those speeds and I haven't lost all of my fitness even though it feels like it!  Hell I know I haven't lost all of the fitness from Ironman training, it just means I may have to suffer a little bit more to get the results I want ;)  Suffering I can do.

Recovery has been interesting too.  I've always had superhuman recovery powers, during Ironman training with solid volume there were maybe a handful of times where I woke up with heavy legs really feeling the day before.  I miss that... I can definitely tell that the work up here affects me more, I don't feel as fresh going into sessions, don't have my usual annoying to some bouncing off the walls level of energy, but building fatigue is the name of the game.  You can't improve if you don't stress your body.  As long as you are smart about it and don't dig yourself into a hole - if not make sure you have a coach like Lucho to keep you leashed! 

Appetite!!!!  This was a shocker.  I was eating like a horse!  Its tough to eat well while travelling and living out of hotels eating at restaurants for every meal.  So being all educated on nutrition and making sure to research how to eat well on the go, I proceeded to ignore all of it and eat what looked good.  A lot of what looked good, I was hungry constantly, not limiting my beer and cheesecake intake (its not my fault our place is right across the street from the Cheesecake Factory!).   While I wouldn't recommend it, I actually ended up leaning out a bit!  Now I'm the type of person that looks at cheesecake and gains 10lbs.  I dont know if it was that my metabolism needed a reset and break from the stress I was putting on my body, or if the change in elevation had my body running hot, but I was shocked to see I didn't gain 20lbs especially since I was doing half the training.

A little bit on my first few death marches experiences in swim/bike/run a mile high.

First Run

Ok lace up, head out the door.  I'm right in downtown Denver so I knew it would be a bit stop and go to get to the pathway dealing with street lights and traffic, always annoying when you are trying to go for a decent run.  Little did I know how happy I would be to see a red hand at the light telling me not to cross.

Start running...ok this isn't so baa....gah where is the air??  Make it to the first light at the end of the block gasping for air.  Now maybe I went out too hard, need to back it off, I wish I could say it was uphill.  Unfortunately I was running 2 minute per mile slower than usual at a very aerobic HR, and breathing like I was hitting lactic threshold.  The workout was a 6-7 minute run, but I cut it short when my pace went down to 10 min/mile and I felt like I was hyperventilating.   Little bit of a hit to the ego, 5.5 miles nearly killed me when a few months earlier a 22 mile run was a moderate workout.

Was praying to see these on every street corner so I could catch my breath
At that point it was 4 weeks to Miami Man 70.3...this could be interesting.

Riding the bike 

Now this had a bit of a novelty factor to keep my mind off of my embarrassing lack of power.  I was in freaking Boulder! Legends ride these roads (although they were all in Kona gearing up for the epic race that unfolded).  Like the run HR was 20 beats higher than normal, and I could not get enough oxygen.  I stopped looking at the power meter because it wasn't telling me anything I wanted to hear and my legs couldn't do anything to change that.

The Swim

We're just not even going to go there.  Even better my pool is on a rooftop 33 floors if I need the extra elevation!

Things have improved marginally since then.  Everything is still harder, but I'm not hyperventilating at 10 min miles anymore so thats a bonus :p

More details to come on meeting my coach Lucho in person for the first time and plans for my next couple races adding a few more countries to my racing resume and how the adaptation is going up here.

Carpe Diem

Headed to Boulder!
Trainer set up by the rooftop pool, not a bad set up.