Adult Spring Break!

A few weeks ago, before the infamous bicycle-icicle incident (that I'll probably get grief over the rest of my life), I spent the long President's Day Weekend down in Panama City Beach with Chloe and Maggs. Maggs and I drove down early Friday morning for some training, racing, wine and fun in some *slightly* warmer weather than we've been enjoying up here in North Carolina. Some highlights...

Crazy pups STANLEY AND STELLA!! After doting on them over on Insta so long it was great to finally meet these silly pups in person. Stella is the sweetest ever and Stan the Man is just a wild child :)

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Swimming in an OUTDOOR POOL for the first time in months! The pool was also slightly salty so made for an amazing sunset swim after a long drive.

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On Saturday morning, the three of us trekked over to Destin for a speedy little Valentine's Day 8K race where I came in 3rd overall with a 33:50. Granted Hillary had me run a nice little eight mile "warm-up", which made those last few miles reaallllly hurt, but was a great training day and fun to drop some fast times. The best part was a nice little post-race party right on the gorgeous gulf.

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If only it had been warmer, the water looked so nice!!

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Post-race we walked around some of the cute seaside towns including Seaside, where "The Truman Show" was filmed and everything about the town was picture-perfect. This was another little neighboring town with a design inspired by old Cuba. Beautiful architecture! Chloe also knows literally EVERYONE within a 50-mile radius of PCB/Destin so we were treated to the best little sampler plate at one of the restaurants in town.

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But before we came home to Chloe's V-day Dinner with her hubs that Maggs and I were crashing we considered picking him up a little (super-classy) PBC-style man gift.... but later opted for a griddle instead :)

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There was also some amazing riding with the girls, where I knocked out my first 100-miler of the year along some of the Ironman Florida course!

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Got to chase two bright yellow and blue Betties!

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And take in the awesome views...

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And then closed it off Monday morning with a little ride to a Coffee and Donut truck down the coast. All in all, an amazing long weekend down in Florida!

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In Good Company, With First Bourn

You've heard me talk about it before—and we're back! I'm so excited to be partnering with First Bourn, a company, group of people and soon-to-be world-class experience starting right here in my very backyard: Asheville! Of course, it doesn't stop there—there are talks of Boulder, Arizona, Australia... it's like they're targeting all of the cities and places that make my heart sing! And when they say "world class", they mean it. I'm so excited to be joining this amazing crew of athletes that I've either idolized or will have the very privilege of racing against next year as an elite (and I think a few more extremely exciting announcements still to come—stay tuned)! You can check out my profile here or click the image below to see the full list of athletes excited to see First Bourn grow!

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Some of you have been asking "what exactly is First Bourn?" since there has been so much chatter. Well, you can check out their website here, email or message me directly or here's a quick glance into First Bourn's vision and goals in creating this community of endurance athletes:

First Bourn aspires to become a widely recognized network of world-class training destinations for endurance athletes. With many supporting higher altitude training, we are focused on providing athletes the experience, accommodations and support needed to be successful in achieving a wide array of goals. First Bourn is fueling the multi-sport and endurance lifestyle and helping athletes improve and perfect individual performance – no matter what the level of fitness. Our focus on continuous improvement goes beyond just ourselves, but to each and every community we’ll inhabit. We will dedicate commitment, time and resources to those around us.

I'm serious when I say don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions at all—I love talking about this venture and what it will bring to the Asheville area and the triathlete community in general in the near future.  And, as always, you know I love chatting up my little AVL town!

Ringing in 2015 with a 15K Swim

After any massive workout (maybe a big 25K track session or, say, a 15K swimfest with Dynamo masters), there's always the few days after where it's a strugglefest but then you get to experience what I like to call "The Bump." It sneaks up on you suddenly: you're cruising through an easy run or maybe even a usually terrible workout or just a run-of-the-mill swim workout and all of a sudden you feel awesome.

Fit. Effortless. The numbers *just* beyond your fingertips only a few days before are now casually resting in your palm. It might be just me but I always feel the tiniest of breakthroughs after one of these killer sessions if it's set up right.

I know a lot of people knock these massive overhaul workouts or say that they're really more mental challenges than providing any race-specific fitness but I like to disagree from personal experience. I got a nice little bump from my first ever bike camp over Fourth of July 2013, from racing at Coeur d'Alene last year, from SmashCamp and every "special event" 100x100 set that's come my way.

So that's why when Haley started mentioning this BEYOND-EPIC swim that the Dynamo crew down in Atlanta was doing New Year's Eve, I couldn't say no. With a few weeks notice and already well into Hillary's swim camp, I actually was somewhat well prepared—or as much as you can be for a five-hour swim. And then I was stupid and went and did my first yoga class in two years only two days before. I was rubbing my shoulders and triceps the whole drive down praying the dead arms would magically ease up.

Spoiler alert: they didn't.

Atlanta triathlete stud Erin welcomed me into her house, we carbo-loaded the night before with one of my newest favorite tri couples, Betty and Ernie and we set our alarms for a bright and early 3am wake-up call with the goal of pushing off in the pool at 3:45. AM. Yeah, this whole group was pretty much nuts—and there were plenty of us!

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Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.51 PM

Here's Haley's little recap of our early morning swimfest! We started out strong... and slowly but surely only the strong survived! You can bet I wanted to get out though when we were 2+ hours in and not even halfway!

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What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the long course 50m set-up. This was probably good as it kept slowpoke me from getting lapped but I definitely wasn't used to it, not having swam long course since I was probably in 7th grade at some winter long course meet!

We would get a set at a time on the board, with a set being anywhere from the 1800 "warm-up" (aka me going full steam early on to avoid getting dropped) to I think a 6k set one round and then a 3k "cool-down". Here's a sample set from Coach Maria that super-photog-Ernie managed to capture:

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The pool also smelled of red bull and gummy bears from the fishies Haley and Betty over in lane 1! :) Despite thinking I was going to die the entire time and having to resort to fins somewhere around the 12k mark, we made it all the way to 15k and concluded with a 50m of fly—or, in my case, something that looked a little bit like drowning before giving up 30m in and finishing with some easy free.

We DID IT!

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I have to say, I am in AWE of this awesome little triathlete tribe down in Atlanta and absolutely wish there was something comparable up here in Asheville. Hopefully this is only the start of more visits down South to train with fast friends!

But back to the bump: I almost missed the window to experience it—between getting out of a holiday funk and into a week of pretty miserable flu-like symptoms, I was worried I wasn't doing enough follow-up training and getting enough rest to make the payoff happen. But a few mornings back in a kind of boring masters set we did a descending set of 3x200 on pretty short rest and the last one was a not-so-shabby 2:41. While that's still absolutely nowhere near a PR, 800 into a set off of not a lot of rest, with tired arms and hit a number I haven't seen since before my off-season? YEAH, I'll take it!

*I should note that all of my photos were stolen from Ernie's twitter :)

Here's a Toast to what was an EPIC 2014!

There is no way to describe 2014 other than “NON-STOP!” In all, 2014 involved...

  • moving to five different houses/apartments,
  • racing four Ironmans,
  • winning two overall Ironman amateur titles,
  • finishing second at the toughest triathlon in the world,
  • placing # sixteen in my very first professional race,
  • moving 1200 miles half-way across the country,
  • taking on three different jobs at my company and
  • adopting one precious and precocious black lab mix.

While it was still a whirlwind stop that took all of December (and finally staying in one place for more than 2 weeks at a time) to recover from, I can't say I regret a moment of it!

If you couldn’t tell, my blog has been quieter this past year than most and this entire post kind of captures why! 

January

Ran the 3M Marathon to set a new 13.1 PR in 1:31! And re-stocked all of my office supplies for the new year while at it. Everything else was enjoying my first full and only mild Austin winter (well, aside from that one time it baby-snowed).

January
January

February

Adopted my lovely Lucy on Valentine’s Day and couldn't stop raving about her for the next few months (oh, wait... I still am). Ran my 4th half-marathon with a slightly sub-par race at the Austin half-marathon but a good way to celebrate my one-year anniversary of getting hit by a car. Then closed out the rest of the month by driving clear across ALLLL of big ol' Texas with Dawn to join the rest of Team HPB at Smash Camp in Tucson, Arizona. From 110x100 yard swims (helloooo, lightning) to the most epic summit of Mt Lemmon ever (ft. snow at the top and getting stranded at the cookie cabin) to train runs through the desert and just awesome biking all around, it was the best of best #smashfests.

February
February

March

Just one week after returning back home from SmashFest, I entered a local Texas duathlon on two days notice and won overall female—the prize was a bag of walnuts! By the end of month it was already feeling like summer—with a Friday post-work ride finishing at Sonic for a little fruit slush ending! (one of the big things I miss about Austin—warmer weather!) Lucy and I became dog park regulars and she learned how to swim with the biggest of labs. And then it turned into gorgeous bluebonnet season, my rides featuring seas of blue.

March
March

April

April was good to me! Most of all—I was first overall amateur at New Orleans 70.3! The perks of a hometown race included pre-race bike rides with the #OCDSherpa and post-race beignets. But before that, I kicked off the half-ironman season early Tri Tyler Half Ironman, doing half-decent on one of the hardest courses I had done up to that point! (IMCDA and Norseman would soon change that, however). Oh yeah, despite a slow start, Lucy also graduated from Puppy School :)

April
April

May

Ended up spending most of my May shuttling between New Orleans, Asheville and Austin. Two weeks of Asheville hill training sandwiched the Rev3 Knoxville AG Championships where I ended up 3rd overall in their funky hybrid Olympic/Half distance, second to HPB teammate and fellow baby pro Leslie! There was also a pre-Knox moment of panic where I couldn't find my bib but got a little creative with things... Sadly there was never a race report about Knox since all of May was pretty hectic and depressing as it was spent saying goodbye to my grandmother. On the brighter side, both Lucy and I fell in love with Asheville and decided to make it our mission to move there as soon as possible. I rode every hill I could find, including a trip or two up Mt Mitchell and soaked up the Asheville love and wilderness until it was time to head back to beyond bearably-hot Austin.

May
May

June

June was ALL about Coeur d'Alene, where I won my FIRST AMATEUR IRONMAN TITLE! Of course, this also meant a podium with teammate Laura and sealed the deal for a return ticket to Kona World Championships! Of course, I was ecstatic! But I went into this skeptical after a few weeks of sub-par training. Lots of driving, lots of tortured training in the Austin heat (but, oh, the sunflowers!) and lots of distractions—including a new family member (welcome nephew Lex!) and a family reunion in New Orleans, that featured a trainer ride in a stuffy hotel room while all my cousins were out partying in the french quarter and a few 5am runs down (still-beer-drenched) Bourbon Street and along my favorite streetcar tracks.

June
June

July

Less than 20-hours after winning Ironman Coeur d'Alene I had to forget about that high since I was back in Austin and frantically packing and painting my apartment—my move to Asheville was OFFICIAL! Lucy and I drove a stuffed car 1200 to then settle into our temporary new home, a cabin in the woods with amazing views. I had less than 4 weeks to officially prep for Norseman and crammed accordingly. No lie, thistrainingwasbeyondtough. My new whip, a BLUE Triad (aka #bluecrusch) arrived and I got to set breaking her in. From there, it was off to Norway, the land of fjords, ferries, trolls, historic sea towns and churches and battle sites, beautiful views and overpriced, well, EVERYTHING! But I was here and my dream was coming true... it was time to conquer Norseman!

July
July

August

In the race and experience of a life-time, I finished second at Norseman. Beyond that, I slowly got back into training and life was nothing but puppies and gorgeous sunsets.

AUgust
AUgust

September

To be honest, all of September I was in a bit of a funk. Looking back, I barely remembering it because it was a mix of kind of quiet and kind of hectic and juggling work and training and some other oddities. I moved into a cute little house, then quickly  moved out for safety purposes/it was falling apart. Training was all about Kona: in prep I rode with friendsElizabeth and Jared and Corey and Meghan through some killer hills in South Carolina, climbed Mt Mitchell on numerous occasions (if you ever need a fun, long route - let me know!) and got in my solo Birthday swim one weekday morning before work (set if you're interested here).

September
September

October

All about the KONA Ironman World Championships! Leading up to it, I was on local television in a segment for being a "game changer", featured in a SELF Magazine post about the "Top Inspirational Women in the Ironman World Championships" and featured in the local newspaper with Elizabeth! In Kona, we swam the course with all of Team HPB, rode on the queen K and just in general questioned whether it would be feasible to move to Hawaii ;) Race day wasn't what I wanted but raced hard on a tough day and ended the run in an all-out duel with new friend Erin for a well-earned medal and lei—what would I have given to be able to bring the flowers back to the mainland to dry an frame somehow. To think, next time I race IM KONA, it will be in the pro race—just give me a few years, just you wait!! While the legs were still de-puffing post-race, I traveled straight from Kona to San Fran for Dreamforce, where I spoke at one of the sessions on platform adoption. While there, I also got in a few good trolley rides, got to see Bruno Mars in concert and snuck in a run in along one of my favorite routes in the world!

October
October

November

We woke up to nearly six inches of snow on November 1st! Lucy's first snow and a shock to me as well! Along with a few other athletes, we braved the snowy day taking place in a photo shoot with First Bourn, including some of the awesome people I got to meet and ride with a few weeks before when I was introduced to this awesome venture kicking off right here in Asheville! With a quick bounce back from Kona and onto Arizona, I raced my first professional race at Ironman Arizona!

Nov
Nov

December

Much like it was a struggle bouncing back after Norseman, I spent the next few weeks after IMAZ slowly easing into things. Lucy and I used the down-time to finally make our new home cozy, both inside and out. There was the epic proposal ride where I was the secret photog for Duran and Laura and some hilarious puppy sitting that followed. I started the project of trying to become a serioustrailrunneremphasis on "trying". :) And to cap off all of amazing 2015 in a poetically fitting way (with a full post to surely follow shortly), I headed down to Atlanta for New Year's Eve and swam FIFTEEN KILOMETERS with the Dynamo Masters Crew. Nothing short of epic.

Dec
Dec

What's Next?

Who knows, but I'm excited to create it! Oh, yeah, and I ended up featured in 220 Triathlon's yearly calendar insert for their magazine—check out August! :)

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 6.37.43 PM

Birthday Swim!

For those who don't know, a "Birthday Swim" in the HPB-vocabulary is a 100x100 set, where you end up doing a 10k swim. It takes anywhere from 2.5-4 hours depending on your speed and is a monster of a set, mentally and physically. Personally I love them for 1) the challenge 2) it skews your sense of time so the next time you have to swim 4k, it's like a little breath of fresh air in comparison and 3) I feel like there's a fitness boost that shows up in my swimming a few days after attempting one of these. This was 10k swim #4 for me, but my first official "birthday swim"! I did a 100x100 on a whim back in 2012, I had a NYE '13 50x200 set and then our Camp HPB 110x100 set, with the bonus 10 thanks to some lightening on attempt #1 of the day.

Holly, who joined us at camp earlier this year recently wrote an article for Triathlete Mag about the Birthday Set and its origins, which is a must read if you ever want to attempt the set. You can read it here:

The “Birthday” Swim Workout

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.43.45 AM It was one of Brett Sutton's "special" sessions—in my mind, up there in the books with coachie's treadmill marathon or I'm sure my favorite grueling 30x800 track session. You can't help but feel a little special taking on this challenge, whether or not it's actually your birthday.

So, just for fun—here's this morning's set!

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For reference on my cat scratch above, B.O. = "band only", or the "bane of my existence", R = rest and the number that follows is the # of seconds rest you get between finishing one 100 and starting the next and all of the @ 1:35, on 1:30, etc. are the intervals you should leave on for the set so that if you're leaving on 1:30, you'll push off every 90-seconds and your rest will vary depending on how fast you swim. F = fast, E = easy and B = back. I'm sure there are variations on the swim coach shorthand but this is what my middle school coaches used and it's what has sticked each time I copy a cheat-sheet from Hillary's swim for the day!

The first 4.5k or so were actually in the pool at the YMCA normally reserved for old ladies and jazzercise thanks to the swim team hogging the lap pool so the first 90-minutes were done at a sweltering 89-degrees (or so temp posted on the board said). So I was bright red and kept stalking the swim team, waiting for them to get out... which they didn't until 7:30am [don't these kids have school? Pretty sure homeroom was at 7:50 for me...]. Finally they started to leave and I hopped over to the lap pool and enjoyed temperatures that didn't feel like I was drowning in bathwater.

Nearly three hours and two very tired arms later, I finished up, hauled it to the nearest starbucks for rejuvination in the form of coffee and a breakfast sandwich and plopped down at my laptop to get to work! It may not be the most glamorous of birthdays but can't say I can complain. :)