Mary’s Blog

now for something completely different…

Posted by on 4:51 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on now for something completely different…

now for something completely different…

I’ve had some fun races since ITU World’s Championship in Cozumel last September. I did Heart of Cool trail 10K on my birthday (came in first overall!). SF to Napa RAGNAR with 11 other amazing woman (200 mile relay), no sleep for 30 hours but an amazing time. We took first in the woman’s masters division! MandaRUN ½ marathon, my Freeplay teammate (and coach) Stephanie took overall female win with me coming in 2nd with a PR of 1:30!! Double Duathlon where I realized doing a flying mount after run-bike-run wasn’t easy… apparently my brain turned off. It would have been a fun close race for first but because of my fall I came in 2nd overall female (pic above was pre-fall!). This Saturday I will be doing something completely different, a 50K trail race. It’s a run but really the word run should be in quotes. It’s a hike/walk/traverse/scramble as much as a run. I just recently read the rules for the race and twice they mention no whining. So I have my work cut out for me. Here are some of the things I’ve observed and learned while training for this race… When I start feeling fatigued I need to eat even if I’m not hungry. It works like a charm. Ticks are gross. Had a couple recently and now do bug spray before I hit the trails… spray for me & my dog. I think I’d rather have a tick bite then a mountain lion bite. Just an observation. A dog makes a great trail running partner especially when it’s hard to coordinate a run with friends. And helps keep mountain lions away… right? I love listening to music when I run. But when I’m out on the trails I sometimes turn off all music and soak in the beauty & sounds of nature. I have gotten used to running in soaking wet shoes & socks. Because it has happened on every training run I’ve done. Every. Single. One. I am sometimes afraid there might be a mountain lion stalking me. Sometimes. The best way to dry out shoes is removing the liners and sticking shoes and liners on the heater vent at home. When the family asks what the smell is I just point to the dog. My body wants to be done running at mile 18. So doing 31 miles (without whining) should be interesting. My dog is afraid of Oscar the Grouch. Yes I learned that trail running. My longest training trail run has been 23 miles. So doing 31 miles (without whining) should be interesting. Trail runners are a FUN group! I’ve met some of the greatest people. Trail runners like beer. I’m going to have a hard time not whining. Here’s to finishing 31 miles! Cheers! Elise...

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ITU Worlds Cozumel

Posted by on 9:51 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on ITU Worlds Cozumel

I am going to backtrack a bit before I start my Cozumel race story. Not many people know this but at the beginning of the year I didn’t want to do triathlons any more. I lost that inner drive that got me excited to train and race. I still trained, and I still raced, but my heart wasn’t in it. I kept thinking “after Cozumel I’m done.” I can’t say what made me feel this way but it showed a bit in my training and a bit in my racing. At least until Cozumel got closer. The Tahoe Triathlon I did in August I actually looked forward to, and during the race I told myself to look around and soak in the beauty and try to enjoy myself. Something that day changed my heart and my motivation. Then come Cozumel I was surrounded by amazing athletes from all over the world, and maybe because of that, or something unknown, but that passion came back! So much happened before the race: I made new friends from all over the country, walked in parade of nations, met sister Madonna, saw elites race (including gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen), that I could write a few more blogs in addition to this race story. But for now I will stick to race day… 4:30 is when my alarm went off, well I should say when it was set to go off. I was awake every hour that night anxious for race day. So I wouldn’t wake my family I turned it off before it was set to go off and got out of bed. I previously made plans with a couple other athletes to meet at 5:30 to catch a shuttle to the race. I wanted some time before that to double check my race bag and get some food (and coffee!) in my system. Transition was set up according to age group, and within that according to your country. So it was really cool to be with all the other 40-44 Team USA woman that morning. There were 10 of us and many of us joked that at least we’ll come in top 10 Team USA that day! After I felt all was set to go I walked the long T1 (swim to bike transition) portion to go check out the swim, and was lucky to run into my family. It was great seeing my kids and husband before I set off to swim. Before the first wave (group of racers, grouped by sex/age group) started the race announcer told us that there was a very strong current heading north-south and they needed to adjust the swim length from 1500m to roughly 1250-1300m. As I watched the first couple of waves go you could tell, they would start fast heading south for 300m, turn the series of 3 buoys to start heading North, then they looked like they hardly moved. While I was watching someone behind me asked me my plan for my swim, I told him “I plan to find feet and sit (draft) on them the entire long side.” He agreed it sounded like a solid plan and we wished each other “good luck!” and got ready for our wave start. Swim start we all jumped in and were to hold onto the barge/dock with one...

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Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

Posted by on 7:43 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me down

My kids recently asked me to find a song for them on Spotify, Don’t Let Me Down (by The Chainsmokers). It is a song that turns out to be quite catchy and one the kids and I like to dance to (my poor husband, he isn’t a fan). So during the Tahoe Triathlon the song was stuck in my head, especially during the run. Which was very appropriate because I was basically singing it to my body, hoping it wouldn’t break down on me. Speaking of my race…. Since this was a last minute decision to race we didn’t have a place to stay Saturday night. So I thought logically “it’s just Tahoe, I can go the morning of.” Well it turns out it is a two-ish hour drive to Sugar Pine State Park and morning check-in for this race was between 5:30-6:00am! Which meant we were going to need to get up at 3:00am, leave by 3:30am, dragging our two kids along. I mean, what could go wrong? But we did it and everyone got in the car without complaining and promptly back fell asleep (including me! nice to have hubby driving). Just don’t ask about later that day, not quite as smooth. But that’s a different story. I checked in and set-up transition in the dark. All the smart athletes had headlamps, but since apparently I’m not one of those I just felt around in the dark and did my best to set out all my stuff. Transition was on a grassy area up high above the water. I was told that if I’m cold coming out of the water, the extremely steep hill up to the bike will warm me up. Great. The swim, words can hardly describe the beauty of the swim. Lake Tahoe is the most crystal clear water you’ll ever swim in. When I swam to the first buoy I could see the long rope holding it to the ground, I didn’t have to lift my head to turn around the buoy… in fact I almost dove under the buoy! Which is legal to do if you go around the rope holding it, but I didn’t want to take any chances that the race officials might think I was cutting the course so I stayed on the surface. I was alone for the majority of the swim except when passing swimmers from earlier waves. After rounding the 2nd to last buoy there was an enormous boulder I swam over, it felt like I was flying. So beautiful. Transition was steep running up steps then a steep grassy knoll to our bikes. My husband yells out “Remember this is a training race!!” … I have ITU World Championships coming up and I think he really didn’t want me to push too hard and hurt myself. He knows me well, I made sure to be careful!  Getting on my bike I ran through sand/dirt so my feet were so dirty! During the ride I would look down and just see my grungy dirty feet! Besides that the ride was beautiful, and hilly!! And longer than advertised. I thought turnaround would be at 11 or 12 miles but it ended up being a little past 13 miles. And I had also thought there would be water on the course, there...

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Folsom International Triathlon Race Story

Posted by on 10:10 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Folsom International Triathlon Race Story

I have been struggling with what to write for this race story. I wasn’t feeling 100% coming into the race, both my kids had a nasty stomach virus days before. I wasn’t completely sick like them, but I also wasn’t completely well. It was that horrible “Am I sick? Am I not?” limbo. I took a couple days off of training prior to the race and decided if I was throwing up race morning I wouldn’t race. I woke up that Sunday and wasn’t throwing up so I decided to race. Good times! I was actually super excited about so many of my friends, and teammates, racing that day that I was happy I’d be able to race. But not feeling 100% I wasn’t sure how well I would do. Here are my PROS and CONS of each leg. Swim PRO – 2nd swim wave, not my usual “old people go last” wave. CON – swim start was co-ed. Meaning a much more crowded swim. PRO – Co-ed is great practice for my big race in September where I’ll be starting in a big group of strong swimmers. PRO – There were little buoys & rope lines setup from crew (rowing) that helped me to the first distant buoy. Which was awesome because there was no seeing that distant yellow buoy with that bright rising yellow sun. CON – There weren’t little buoys & rope lines from crew to follow after rounding that 2nd buoy to the distant unseeable 3rd and final buoy. PRO – I soon spotted that distant unseeable 3rd yellow buoy and was swimming nice and straight towards it! CON – That turned out to be a kayaker wearing yellow, and she wasn’t near the buoy. Actual buoy was off to the right so I had to swim back out to make my final turn to shore. Bike PRO – I again nailed the flying mount! CON – I again didn’t nail the putting my shoes on after flying mount. CON – Photographer right where I didn’t nail putting my shoes on. PRO – Seeing friends out on the course helped me to continue to push strong. PRO – Course was relatively flat. I really enjoyed being out there on my bike. Run PRO – Really not any that I can think of. I didn’t pass out or die? I guess that’s always a bonus. CON – My right calf cramped off the bike, loosened up before leaving transition but my quads almost seized up and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run. CON/PRO – I didn’t have a good run but I managed to keep moving forward. Finish PRO – Getting to the finish. PRO – My daughter running with me. PRO – My daughter putting the finisher’s medal around my neck. CON – Disappointment in my overall time. PRO – Still managed top step in my age group, and we don’t look a day over 30, am I right?? USA Productions always puts on great races and it was an amazing day of talented athletes out there giving their all. And even though I didn’t do as well as I had planned I look forward to the next race, and I am reminded of this quote that often comes to mind after each race I do… May we have courage…...

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Keep moving forward, my Auburn Triathlon race story

Posted by on 7:31 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Keep moving forward, my Auburn Triathlon race story

Keep moving forward, my Auburn Triathlon race story

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”—Martin Luther King, Jr. That was me during the run portion of the Auburn Triathlon. I did manage to keep running, but just barely. I was definitely not flying. I just kept telling myself “move forward. One step at a time. Finish line gets closer with each step. Just keep moving forward.” I’ll back up a bit and start at the beginning. This was my 2nd year doing the Auburn International Triathlon, last year I won overall female and I was a bit nervous coming into this race with such high expectations. I knew I was stronger than last year (thanks to The Ranch Athletics) but I was pretty sure I wasn’t as fast as last year. I recently came back from a back injury and I didn’t have as as much speed work under my belt. But I know the course well since it’s right in my backyard. I was able to get a couple rides in on the bike course, and a run in on the run course, and I figured if I kept going in the right direction on the swim that would give me a couple extra minutes off of last year’s time (always a bonus to not go the wrong direction!). The swim: I stayed on course! But the course was set a bit long so my time ended up being the same (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). At the start of the swim I bumped into my friend Flor a few times, wanting to say “sorry” but hard to do when swimming. Luckily that was just for a minute or so then the pack spread out. But, with us ladies being the last wave, I had to swim through some of the men from the wave ahead plus some of the long course athletes. A bit of zig-zagging around others while still trying to keep the straightest line possible to each turn buoy (aim for the middle of the buoy Chris & Jeff of Boost Swimming always say). At the end of the swim it bottlenecked to a narrow boat ramp and I had to wrestle my way in to get around a dock. With my time being slower than I expected (not realizing the course was long) I opted to not put shoes on for the ⅛ mile run to my bike, so I carried them to my bike. My wetsuit didn’t quick unzip like usual, then taking off my goggles while running I juggled my swim cap and eventually dropped it, and then my timing chip fell off when I pulled my wetsuit off. I had to string it back on my ankle timing strap (and take the safety pin off that was supposed to prevent that from happening). That plus stuffing the transition bag with everything (towel, wetsuit, cap, goggles, shoes) I felt like a fumbling mess in transition 1! I’m sure anyone watching was thinking “bless her heart.” The bike: So I’ve mastered the flying mount, but I haven’t mastered the “putting on of the shoes while on bike” part. But luckily I kept rubber side down and got them on before any...

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Icebreaker Race Recap

Posted by on 9:06 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Icebreaker Race Recap

Icebreaker Race Recap

A picture says a 1000 words. So here are a few thousand words from my recent TBF Icebreaker Triathlon that took place April 16… If possible I always check the line for the swim finish. Good to know if sight buoys (ones you can go on either side of) are off to one side or another instead of in a straight line from the final turn buoy. This time the sight buoy was off to the outside so I was glad I checked. My hubby took this photo and had no idea what I was doing. But he just rolls with it and takes pictures anyway.   My hubby takes good pictures! The water was cold cold cold. I don’t like cold water. Glad it was just a ½ mile swim!   In transition 1 multitasking… stepping out of my wetsuit while I put my helmet & glasses on. Anything to help me be a tad bit faster is a bonus.   I rubber banded my shoes to my bike for a flying mount, first time I did it in a race and it went well! aka I didn’t fall over. (In case you are wondering the bands break once you start pedaling.) I also put a few chews up on my top tube. Just in case I get hungry 🙂   Flying dismount coming into transition 2. Came in a little fast but stayed upright so all’s good! Notice the FLUiD tent? They rock.   This photo makes me laugh, it’s so flattering I had to put it in. Eating the last chew from my bike while heading out for the run. I put on glasses, visor, & number while running out of transition. Again anything that will make me faster is bonus!   My watch wasn’t working right so I had no idea what mile I was at, or what pace I was running, or my overall time, or my run time, or if my feet would ever thaw out from the cold swim, or why I thought triathlons were a good idea. I thought this was mile 2. It was closer to mile 1. Cue the sad violin.   Ask any athlete and I’m pretty sure they’d say this is the best part of a race, the FINISH!! Started my season off with SacTown 5K on April 3, then this Icebreaker triathlon April 16th, next up is the Auburn Triathlon May 15th! Hard to believe the race season is now in full swing but it is!! Until then…...

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What is a triathlon team?

Posted by on 4:07 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on What is a triathlon team?

Last year I was privileged to be on the first Team Freeplay team. So many amazing athletes I was really honored!! Friends and family would ask me questions about what a triathlon team actually is. “Do you all race all the same races?” me “Uh, no.” “Do you all race ironman distances?” “Uh, no.”  “Do you always train together?” “Uh, no…” “So what the heck is a triathlon team?” “Uh…” So after a year on the team I can finally answer some of those questions, at least answer what the team is to me. The team is to me: Fellowship. At the Wildflower triathlon three of us on the team (me, Robin, & Christine with our spouses) shared a campsite, along with our awesome sponsor FLUID founder Richard & his lovely wife Adrienne. And besides my teammates racing Saturday and me not until Sunday (with very little sleep, ahem Culligan water people next to us) it was maybe the most fun trip of the year. We cheered for each other while racing, took a bunch of photos, sat around a campfire at night singing and telling stories, had my two young kids climb into a small window of an RV because a guy locked his keys inside (long story). With a good friend and previous two-time Olympian Victor Plata as one of the announcers (thanks for the Freeplay shout-outs Victor!) it was an amazing time of fellowship. The team to me is: Support. At the Auburn Triathlon two of us (Kelsey doing the half, me the international) were racing. While two local teammates (Robin & Stephanie) came to cheer us on. Sean got some lovely photos of us while cycling, and not so lovely photos of us while suffering up a hill at the end of a tough run. (just kidding Sean, your photos are beautiful. Our pain faces? not so much). Kelsey and I got plenty of cheers and support throughout the race. The team to me is: Encouragement. I got to know most of my teammates well and we followed each other’s training and races either via social media, online race updates, or in person. At my big race of the year, Nationals in Milwaukee, I received texts and social media encouragements from teammates. After the race a couple teammates told me how they followed me via the live race updates and were very encouraging despite me feeling like it wasn’t my best performance. It really meant a lot to know they did that. You guys are amazing. The team to me is: Fun! Along with Wildflower, Nationals in Milwaukee was a blast (after the race of course). Hitting the town with teammate Kelsey and my hubby Greg, after I raced that morning and after she raced the pro super-sprint that afternoon, was such a good time. We had so much fun going out and seeing many other athletes about town including the amazing Karen Smyers. (If you don’t know who she is, look her up! I had to. I haven’t been doing triathlons very long. But she’s amazing!). That evening was filled with yummy food & drink, and plenty of laughter! And the icing on the cake for being on the team would be our amazing sponsors. They believe in us and support us throughout the year. There truly isn’t one that I’m not...

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USAT Nationals in Milwaukee WI

Posted by on 10:21 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on USAT Nationals in Milwaukee WI

This was, by far, the biggest race I’ve ever done in terms of attendance and talent. It was an honor to be there amongst some of the nation’s best triathletes.  Unfortunately in early June I started dealing with hamstring and glute pain. Bad enough to stop me from running. Turns out it stems from my lower back. Long story short it’s sciatica and rest and rehab is needed. I didn’t want to injure it any further, but I also wasn’t going to skip Nationals (read “already paid for race & reserved hotel”), so my goal became to keep up with my training while also seeing my massage therapist, my chiropractor, and my physical therapist as much as possible to keep me from getting any worse. The joke was that I’m like Humpty Dumpty and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men tried to put (keep) me together again. I had to scale back on running more than I wanted. It became a frustrating couple of months needing to modify or cut some run workouts. Some days were good and some not good. I tried to keep a positive attitude (also called denial) about the whole situation and hoped for the best come race day. Speaking of race day here’s my report… My wave (women 40-44) didn’t start until 9:18 (CST). We were wave 12 of 17 waves. So racers were already out on the run before I even got my wetsuit on. It is hard to sit around and just wait. One triathlete in wave 16 told me that he was beyond nervous at that point, just bored. I wasn’t so lucky. I was nervous. I hate being nervous. Swim start was intimidating with everyone required to hang onto the barge until they blew the start horn. I like a little wiggle room and there was none! Women were squeezed in on both sides of me. Earlier that morning I wrote STRONG on the back of my hand and a woman hanging onto the barge next to me commented on how she liked it. I told her I needed it for the run and she nodded, understanding. Another woman said “we did all the hard work getting here, now it’s just time to have fun!” There was high fiving and “good luck!”s going around. They played some Jaws tunes (thanks) as we waited for the horn to start. It blew and we were off… it was a very crowded swim and I was thankful that despite being kicked in the face, water splashing into my mouth while breathing, and people all around me on every side, my goggles stayed on and the crowd eventually spread out (a little).   The transition from swim to bike was about .3 miles and I tried to do it quickly. The bike had just a couple hills but nothing like home so I stayed mostly in my big chain ring and down on my aerobars. During the entire ride I was concerned if I would be able to run off the bike, but kept reminding myself to focus on the moment and stay strong.     I was very happy and surprised that coming off the bike my back and leg didn’t hurt! But I didn’t feel I was able to kick it into...

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Train, Race, Recover… repeat

Posted by on 5:17 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Train, Race, Recover… repeat

Train, Race, Recover… repeat

It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster. – Greg LeMond This quote is true and a kind of a bummer. I was kind of hoping I’d get faster AND it would get easier. Nope. Still hard and still hurts. But faster? I hope so. May was a busy month. Starting April 19 I did a race every-other-weekend up to May 31st. Icebreaker (April 19), Wildflower (May 3), Auburn Triathlon (May 17), Tri 4 Real (May 31). I was really hoping to see if I was faster compared to last year, and while I did do Icebreaker last year, they changed the run course so it isn’t quite apples to apples. Since Tri 4 Real was the only race I’ve done in the past that was the same course, that one was my barometer. Unfortunately it was the last race of the bunch and as expected, I was a little tired. Starting in the swim, I drafted off of someone until we caught some people in the wave before us. She zig-zagged through them and that’s where I lost her. My arms were spent and I felt sorry for myself for being tired (cue the little violin). I finished the swim with an okay time – not my best but not bad. Once on the bike my hips and glutes felt tight but I pushed on. Checking my speed on the first half of the ride I was thrilled to be riding faster than usual for this race! Then I hit the turnaround and rode back with a headwind (now cue many little violins). Thus my faster than usual time for the first half – tailwind. When I finished the bike and got into transition to rack my bike I knocked the entire rack over! My bike was still hooked on so I stood there and held on so the other two racked bikes didn’t fall to the ground. Now feeling like a doofus, I just stood there and couldn’t move. I looked around, probably said a cuss word or two (earmuffs kids), then another athlete and the TBF (Total Body Fitness) crew came over and fixed it. I was so glad I didn’t cause any bikes to fall down! And I was a little embarrassed. Maybe. Just a little. After the TBF crew got it all fixed I threw on my running shoes, grabbed my race number and visor and ran off. My hips and glutes were still tight but nothing too painful so I tried to just keep a good, consistent pace throughout the run. And eventually I made it to the finish! I did take a minute off my best time from the previous year so even though (or maybe because) it wasn’t easy, I was faster!! I do have to share my highlight of the day, which I stumbled upon by chance. After all awards were handed out, food and drink consumed, socializing over, my family and I packed up for the day and decided to head home. The TBF crew was cleaning up and everyone was going home. I stopped and had my kids use the bathroom near the finish, and while I was waiting for them to wash their hands I saw a woman in the distance running towards the finish. I figured it was...

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Courage

Posted by on 3:30 pm in Elise's Blog | Comments Off on Courage

Courage

Auburn International triathlon race report There is an expression in triathlon: You can’t win a triathlon with your swim, but you certainly can lose it. Meaning you can be the fastest swimmer out there but that doesn’t mean you’ll win the triathlon. But if you are one of the slowest swimmers that can certainly hurt your chances of winning. The swim went great at the start and I felt strong. After rounding the 2nd orange buoy I saw the leader’s feet and drafted behind her for a while (I’ve never had the chance to draft in a race. I was so excited!). The sun was in our eyes coming back up river so it was almost impossible to see that 3rd distant orange buoy. I trusted her to be going in the correct direction and stayed on her feet following her bubbles. But after a while (since I apparently have trust issues) I thought she was going off course when I spotted the (wrong) orange buoy. I quickly jumped out of her draft and headed towards it. Then approximately where you see the point of the red line hit the N in “North” in the image below, I saw a paddle boarder frantically going across the river just ahead of me. He stopped me and said “your buoy is that way” pointing WAY back towards the other shore to the correct orange buoy (when you are in the water everything seems so far away). That’s when the quote You can’t win a triathlon with your swim, but you certainly can lose it came into my head. I figured I just lost the race because of my swim mistake. I was so disappointed. I was really pushing hard AND drafting off the leader! Dang-it! I figured I had just lost any chance for an age group podium finish let alone a good overall placing. I almost felt like giving up. Which actually made me question why I was racing in the first place. Just to win? While that is always nice of course, I should be racing because I enjoy it and love the sport. So I decided right then, despite thinking I lost any chance at placing well, to keep pushing hard and finish the swim strong then go on to bike & run hard. Racing and triathlons need to be about more than the win. But when exiting the water the time on my watch wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, so I thought I might still be in the race! On the bike Maria Hodges passed me at about mile 5. I have ridden with her and know her to be a very strong cyclist. I decided to keep her in my sights, knowing she would probably drop me, but I would just try to keep up. We leap-frogged a bit and passed Rachel Main at about mile 7. Then sometime before the 15 mile turn-around I felt strong enough to surge and I was able to maintain the lead for the rest of the bike! Coming into transition 2 (bike to run) I heard I was first female! I had family, friends & teammates cheering me on (you guys are the best!). The run, mostly trail, had a little out & back from mile 1...

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