Sara’s Blog

Ironman World Championship 2016 Race Report

Posted by on 3:26 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Ironman World Championship 2016 Race Report

There’s truly something magical about the island of Kona.  Having my family along with me for the trip kept me distracted from thinking about the race too much.  I think that was a good thing – seeing all the athletes training along Ali’i drive was very intimidating.  After recovering from my IT band issues earlier this season, I was excited and hopeful for what the race would bring for me but I also knew that the hot and humid conditions would make for a challenging race. The swim start was amazing, I made a new friend in the swim line up who told me where to line up for the start and some strategies for swimming the course.  I lined up near the middle-left of the swim start and before I knew it, the cannon went off!  For the most part, I swam by myself with very little contact – I kept telling myself “don’t look at the beautiful fish, don’t look at the beautiful coral – you are racing!”  but the fish and coral below were amazing!  About 800 meters into the swim, out of nowhere, someone’s hand hit my goggles but thankfully didn’t knock them off… later I found out that this hit turned into a black eye post-race! During the 2nd half of the swim, the ocean swells seem to increase but it didn’t really bother me – I just kept telling myself to get with the rhythm of the waves and go with it.  I exited the water and glanced at my watch and was very happy to see 1:06!  A personal best non-wetsuit swim by 4 minutes!!  All those early morning swim sessions are paying off. I stopped to rinse the saltwater off and then tried to move quickly through transition and on to the bike.  I fully expected the headwinds up to Hawi but what I didn’t expect was the headwind back to the pier.  Overall, I felt good on the ride up to Hawi – I made sure I was taking in water and my nutrition.  I just kept counting the number of people who passed me like I was standing still on the bike!  A very humbling experience.  The climb and last few miles into Hawi were rough, mostly because I saw all the people flying back down from Hawi with smiles on their faces.  I kept telling myself that SOON that would be me flying down out of Hawi with the same smile.  The ride along the coast was beautiful and with the winds I tried to stay in my aerobars the entire time.  The last hour of the ride was probably the longest hour of the day, I was ready to be off the bike and on to the run! I was most excited about starting the run because I knew my family was waiting for me around mile 3 and I would get to see them a few times on that part of the course.  They staged themselves at a nearby beach and I knew that they would be having fun during the time leading up to my run.  My heart rate monitor was working fine on the bike but for some reason as I started the run – my heart rate monitor stopped working.  I tried to...

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Big Blue Adventure – Donner Lake Open Water Swim Race Report

Posted by on 3:21 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Big Blue Adventure – Donner Lake Open Water Swim Race Report

On July 23, I had the opportunity to compete in my first open water swim race.  I chose the 2.4 mile swim distance in preparation for Kona.  I was very happy to come away with the overall female spot  (Wetsuit Division) and not too far behind the overall male.  It was a great training opportunity for me and swimming in Donner Lake was amazing.  As the sun rose while I was swimming, the rays looked like a disco ball light in the water.  I am proud to represent Team Freeplay and thankful for the opportunity to participate in my first Big Blue Adventure Race.  It was really nice to participate in a race weekend that had something for everyone – Open Water Swim (varying distances), Sprint Tri, Kid’s Tri, Olympic Tri, and a 70.3 Distance Tri.   Participating in races are fun but it’s even more fun when my whole family can participate!  I want to be a role model for my children and having the opportunity to see them participate in something that I love doing too made my day! I can’t think of a better way to start a Saturday morning! We were also able to participate in a pre-race BOOST swim clinic and my son, Jayden, got some last minute tips on swimming in open water.   Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars kept the race sherpa’s fueled and happy!...

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Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Camping and Racing

Posted by on 5:07 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Camping and Racing

Vineman 70.3 Race Report (July 10, 2016) A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to compete in a local 70.3 race.  Most of my races lately require a flight so it was nice to race this one close to home.  We decided to make things exciting by camping as a family for a few days before the race – sleeping on a yoga mat for a few nights definitely makes things interesting on race day.  Not to mention the fact that our camping neighbors decided to keep the music and excitement going until about 1am each night.  I mean I love a good, local hard rock station but not at 1 in the morning.  Nonetheless, I’ve learned to make my races part of an overall adventure and this race didn’t disappoint!  It was great to have my family along the race course cheering for me. Race Results:  swim: 31:20, bike: 2:39:58, run: 1:47:33, overall: 5:05:34 — 3rd in 40-44 AG, 44th Female, 245th overall I also earned a spot in the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nashville, TN but decided to decline my spot for the race  – I have to keep a balance between family and racing and decided that this wouldn’t be the best for us 2017.  I am honored to have earned a spot! Overall, I’m pretty happy with my results.  The swim was in the Russian River – it’s a narrow river so sighting was really easy although my hands scraped the bottom a lot as I swam.  The bike course had plenty of rolling hills but was a beautiful ride through wine country.  The run was HOT and a little more hilly than I expected.  T1 and T2 were split which didn’t seem bad – it just makes things a little complicated when dropping off equipment the day before but I’ve done a few races with split transitions so I didn’t mind the split.  Overall, I really liked the race and hope to do it again next year.  I would have liked to see my time slightly under 5 hours but aren’t we all hoping to be faster?   I had a personal best 70.3 swim and just a minute off my best 70.3 bike split.  Knowing this course was a little more hilly than my other 70.3 races – I’m happy with my bike time averaging 21 mph even with the hills.  I’m not the best at climbing hills.   I’ve been focusing a lot of my training on improving my bike fitness and I think it’s paying off.  Being local to this race, I was able to ride the course a few times and I think that really helped me on race day – knowing where some of the hills were and where I could ride a bit harder helped me on race day.  My swim wave was one of the last waves to start on race day (8:22am) and I knew that it was going to be a hot run and crowded bike course with my wave starting 2 hours after the pros entered the water.  My run split wasn’t my best time.  I didn’t seem to have that beast mode drive from the start out of T2.  I set out with the mindset of catching the person in front...

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Ironman Texas 2016 Race Report

Posted by on 5:01 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Ironman Texas 2016 Race Report

Well, it’s been an interesting training build into this race to say the least.  About a month ago, I wasn’t sure I would even be able to race after being told that my IT band was not happy.  But I am happy to report that with only about 40 something running miles in the last month (12 of those being on the Saturday before the race) – I was able to compete and finish Ironman Texas!  I finished 12th in my Age Group. Going into this race, I knew it was going to be a little different.  The bike course was shortened to 94 miles due to flooding.  I thought maybe the swim might be either cut short or eliminated due to water quality too.  And the run, well I must say that I’ve never been more nervous or had more doubts about completing a marathon in my life — and I’ve run almost 30 marathons in my lifetime so far. I was able to pass the run-test thrown out by my PT – I had to complete 12 miles with very little or no pain in my IT band or IM TX was going to be a swim and bike.  So with much anticipation, the Saturday before the race – I set out for a 12 mile run.  I took it slow but was able to finish the run without much pain.  It still didn’t leave me much confidence for how the 26.2 mile run would go in the Ironman race but I packed my bags and headed for Texas! I flew to Dallas and met my parents and sister.  My mom and sister traveled down to The Woodlands with me for the race – it was their first time spectating an Ironman race.  On Friday, we were told that the swim course was going to be changed, T1 and T2 would be a split transition for the race, and the bike course would then end up being 95 miles.   I actually think in the end that the new swim course ended up being a better swim and splitting T1 and T2 wasn’t too complicated.  The water temperature was 81 degrees on race morning so it wasn’t wetsuit legal – I sort of expected that and brought a nice pink bathing suit for the swim 🙂  Why not make the 2.4 mile swim fun, right?  I swam 1:11 and honestly was hoping for a time more in the 1:05 range  – I was a little disappointed leaving the water but I moved on.  I think I swam around 1:16 in Frankfurt last summer when that one wasn’t wetsuit legal – so I’ll take 1:11 as an improvement. Transition was slow for me as usual but I got everything on and out on my bike.  I was supposed to hit 165W for my NP but noticed early on that my power was in the mid 145W range for most of the ride.  But I glanced at the speed on my watch and it was between 21 and 22mph and I was happy with that given the heat and the fact that I wasn’t on my new bike.  Heart Rate was my primary guide for the race and I was supposed to keep that around 133bpm for the entire ride. ...

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Looking on Bright Side of Life – Pay It Forward

Posted by on 4:21 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Looking on Bright Side of Life – Pay It Forward

After completing the Bayshore 70.4 Tri, I thought I would be starting my training build into Ironman Texas but my IT Band had another agenda.  Not only was I unable to build my running base into Ironman Texas, I was forced to make a tough decision to sit out of the Boston Marathon.  But as I look back on this time, I realize that a few other events in my life helped to take my mind off my IT band injury and pay it forward in the sport of running. This spring, I started a running program at my kid’s elementary school – it’s been a dream of mine to share my passion on running with others.  So this spring, 80 kids (kindergarten through 5th grade) signed up to participate in a running program in preparation for a local 5k race.  Two times a week for several weeks, these kids showed up for running club to learn about running form, healthy eating, recovery, tempo work, and track intervals.  Every week, I had more kids coming up to me asking if they could join the running club.  It was such a neat experience for me to share my love of running at a time when I was unable to run myself. Upon completion of the running club, the 4th and 5th graders started training for the All-Elementary School Track meet to be held at the beginning of May which included a few field events, some relays, and the mile run.  Our school was hoping to defend our title from last year where we won it for the first time in the school history.  I am happy to report that we successfully defended our title and brought home the trophy for 2016!  But what was most rewarding that day was seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces as the competed in their events.  A few of the kids told me that they didn’t think they could complete the mile or they were worried about not being able to jump very high – but I reassured them to get out of their comfort zone and give it a try.  A piece of advice that I need to remember myself.               This spring, I had the opportunity to speak to the Middle School Track Team about hard work and dedication.  Even though I wasn’t able to run in the Boston Marathon, I was still able to volunteer at the BAA 5k (this was my 3rd year to volunteer at the BAA 5K).   Sometimes in our darkest times, the brightest light comes from an unexpected place!...

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Bayshore 70.4 – Long Beach, CA

Posted by on 8:14 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Bayshore 70.4 – Long Beach, CA

  I started my drive down to Long Beach on Friday morning after dropping the kids off at school.  I made pretty good time until I hit the lovely traffic in Los Angeles.  This was my first time driving to Southern California.  There really isn’t much between the South Bay Area and Los Angeles.  Mostly farm fields.  I arrived in Long Beach around 4pm and check into my hotel.  I drove to the race start area to pick up my packet.  Parking was fairly simple and so was packet pick up.   There was an optional open swim time on the course, but I decided to just skip it and swim in the morning.  I walked thru the transition area to check things out and crossed the street to check out the running path.  My stomach was a ball of nerves and I texted my coach.  He told me that if I was nervous, it meant I was ready!  I watched the sun set, took a few deep breaths, and then found a place to eat some pizza at a nearby brewery!  I ate dinner by myself and looked over the course map.  I was really missing my family at that point and it felt so strange to be eating dinner by myself.  After dinner, I went back to my room and got all my stuff ready.  Man, there is so much to get ready for a triathlon!  I waited for my sis-in-law, Erin, to arrive…. well, waiting…. I actually fell asleep — this lady is used to going to bed so early!! The alarm went off just after 5am and after the usual pre-race night before restless sleep, I got up to get ready.  My stomach was still a ball of nerves – I was afraid I was going to forget something or put something in the wrong spot. I got to transition and set everything up, forgot the body glide to put on my neck so my wetsuit wouldn’t rub so I jogged back to my car in flip-flops (Nice warm-up, huh?).  Got back to the swim start just in time to get in a quick warm-up before the National Anthem….. had my first taste of swimming in salt water – yay!!  THAT was fun!  Can’t wait to swim in the salt water at Kona for twice as long!  I lined up a little too far to the right at that start and had to swim further than I should have to get lined up on the course.  The swim start wasn’t really crowded with only 114 athletes competing.  Much smaller than 3000 Ironman swimmers in Wisconsin!  I didn’t get bumped around too much during the swim but as usual my sighting wasn’t the best and I found myself swimming too far to the right for most of the first lap.  Before starting the 2nd lap, we had to get out of the water and run around a cone up on the sand – that was fun!  NOT!  I hate that feeling when you try to stand up after swimming hard for a while.  I never really got my bearings and had to get back in the water again.  I did much better on my sighting for the 2nd lap.  After the race my sis in law, Erin,...

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Posted by on 9:18 pm in Sara's Blog | Comments Off on Dream.Believe.Achieve

When I think of 2016, these 3 words come to mind: Dream.Believe.Achieve.  I honestly never dreamed I would be sitting here today with my name on the athlete roster for The Boston Marathon, 70.3 World Championships in Australia, and the Ironman World Championships in 2016.  Yes, ME, a mom of 4 kids who tries to balance training, cooking, cleaning, classroom volunteering, kid’s activities and homework, my husband’s training, and sleep on a daily basis.  I would be lying if I said that every day was a perfect balance of all these activities – it’s far from a perfect balance but the nice thing about each new day is the chance to start over fresh and create a balance that works.  It’s like that moment just before the first glimpse of the sunrise -the feeling that anything is possible that day. Just before my Ironman Wisconsin race last fall, I wrote the word “Believe” on my right hand.  Throughout the race, when I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted I looked down at my hand for the reminder to believe in myself.  When I start a new week of training, I often write the word BELIEVE at the top of the page as a reminder that I CAN do anything if I just believe.  For those times that a workout doesn’t go as planned, it fuels a fire inside me to get it right the next time. In 2015, I had a lot of early morning workouts, long training sessions on the weekend, and mentally and physically pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible to achieve my goals but all of these goals started with a dream – a dream to be a better person than I was the day before.   I am excited and honored to be a part of Team Freeplay 2016.  I hope to encourage other women to dream, believe, and achieve things that they never thought were possible.  It starts with a dream and a belief that YOU can do it – it’s going to take hard work and dedication but mile by mile and day by day you will get there.   I have learned that life is about the journey and not the destination.  I want to set a good example for my kids by showing them that their dreams can come true with hard work and dedication....

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