Friday, July 29, 2011


I haven't had a ride like this in a while!

So I am visiting a few buddies tomorrow and had to get my long ride in. No big whoop, since Matt wasn't building today (that's a whole 'nuther post about what we've been up to this summer) so I could hit the road by 6:30am or so and then even get in a 15 minute runoff. I'd be home while the kids were still watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates in PJs.

I worked out the deets with Ana last night and then passed out by 10.

Got up this morning and Ana had not one, but TWO sick kiddies, so she had to bail. Bummer all around. Two hours solo is aiiight and all, but I'd rather have a buddy.

Set out by about 6:40 or so and went down the block to head west on Lake Road. But, um, that sky looked pretty dark.


I didn't check the radar.

My neighbor Mike was taking his garbage out, so I yelled to him, "Hey! It's Sara! (because he looked really confused as who this crazy biker was) Have you seen the radar?"

He replied that he hadn't, but we both agreed it looked a bit ominous.

"Oh well," I yelled to him, "It's just water, right?"

And I took off.

(famous last words)

I made it out to Sheffield slowly forcing my way through a nasty headwind and got hit with the first round. It was raining pretty hard, but just for about 3 minutes. No big deal, I thought! I've totally got this! That was it?

Ha. Noooooooo. That was NOT IT.

Turned around in Lorain and texted Ana that I was gonna get slammed with a storm but it was too late now! Took off back and then it got CRAZY.

Like, could barely see in front of me crazy.

I kept thinking that it reminded me of some insane rides I had training for Ironman. I mean, when you're spending 6 hours or so on your bike EVERY Saturday, stuff like this is bound to happen. And I am of the school of thought that it's better to keep on training in it because you never know what race day might bring.

But then the lightening started. Uh oh.

I finally capitulated and pulled off at a rinky dink beer and wine shop that had an awning. Tried to text Ana and Matt but it was the lovely half a mile or so dead zone where my cell doesn't work. Arg. Wrang out my gloves and tried to get the fog off my glasses while I weighed my options.

I was about 6 miles from home. Just long enough that it would be a royal pain to bail and take poor Matt longer to get the kids in the car than it would be to just keep going.

So I HTFU and kept on going as soon as it cleared a bit and the lightening stopped.

Finally made it to my street and then figured, what the hey, might as well make it the full 2 hours. I was already covered in mud and nastiness. So I kept on going into Rocky River a bit and then eventually made my way back home. It was a little slower than usual, but I still got in over 36 miles which, all things considered, wasn't too shabby.

The rain stopped when I got home--of course!--so I threw on my shoes and did a quick runoff. Shocked the heck out of myself by averaging 7:45 for the 15 minutes that I ran. Where was THAT last week?!

And then, I was done.

And tired of being soaked.

So what did I do next?

Showered and--wait for it--took the kids to a splash park. And got wet again! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess.

All in all, a fun ride that was a total flashback to my Iron-Summer five years ago. Gotta love it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Race Report: Huntington Sprint Triathlon, 2011

As I explained in my previous post...I was very excited for this race.

It's a mile from my house. How cool is that? So I still didn't sleep well the night before (standard), but at least it was easy to get to! Plus, a lot of my local tri buddies were going to be there, and that rocks.

I felt like I needed to redeem myself a bit from Lifetime--I know that I did the best I could there, but I felt like it just wasn't good enough. I could do more. But I never know what sprints can bring. I sort of have one speed, and it's 70.3. I can dial that speed in, no problem. But a sprint? It should hurt. You should be gasping for air at the end. And that's not a race pace I'm really used to.

So I decided it was time to dial it up a notch.

I wanted this to hurt.

Despite crazy nasty storms, the lake was NOT choppy! I was pretty stoked about that. It was pretty warm and I wanted to go hard, but not totally blow it. I definitely felt like I needed to push it, though, especially after my pretty rotten swim at Lifetime. So push I did. I found a few legs, drafted for a bit, passed, and went comfortably hard. I knew I could have gone a little harder, but I didn't feel like I dogged it like I did at Lifetime. I was happy with my effort.

Swim Time 9:57
Place 6/19 AG

Got out and ran the almost 1/4 mile up to transition--sheesh! Tried to stay calm and collected and remember that I was about to embark on what's become my best leg. My buddy Ken was there and told me there were some girls to catch. I had a rough time getting my right leg clipped in but then I was off.
One of my former students and I leaving T1! She was doing her very first tri and finished 2nd in her age group--yay, Megan!


Long story short--I killed it. I felt FABULOUS on this ride and my watts were high but I felt good. I picked people off left and right and got especially excited when I saw a leg that had a "U" on it, as that was my age group. I passed 4 or 5 girls with U's, and didn't see any U's pass me, so I was excited. I knew I was near the front of the age group and felt awesome.

And then I took a wrong turn.

About 1/2 mile from transition. SO STUPID. I even knew it was wrong. I knew we were supposed to go straight, but the police officer was waving right. Turns out, he was waving the cars and not us, but I saw a fast chick turn and stupidly I followed like a lemming. She really let the police officer have it and yelled, "I was winning this!" at him, but I silently turned and chalked it up to not trusting my gut and knowing the course better. I knew better than making that mistake and turning, and was mad at myself for doing it.

I probably lost 30-45 seconds.

But I hoped that I had built up a big enough cushion to still hang onto an age group place. I was not sure what this run would bring as my hamstring has been much better, but I haven't really tried to go that hard on it. I put on my brand new birthday racing flats, Saucony Mirages, that are obnoxious blue, grabbed my visor, and took off hoping for the best.

I was kind of being the Chris Leito of the average-Jane 30-34 females in NEO. I took his strategy of hammer the hell out of the bike and pray you can hold on. I felt a bit like a hunted/wounded animal, but I tried to just focus on the run ahead.

Bike: 36:19
1/19 AG
20.2 mph

I felt SOOOO slow. The first mile, I expected U's to pass me left and right. I certainly must have been running 10 minute miles.

Except I wasn't.

My pre-race dream goal was to hold 8s, and it appeared that I was doing relatively close to that. I don't know because my little Nike kid's watch doesn't take lap splits, but I did time my 2nd mile and it was just under 8. Could this be true? One of the volunteers told me at about 2.5 miles that I was "the fourth female, and you can catch those other ones if you hurry." I knew that wasn't true because of the wave starts--I knew for SURE there were some SMOKIN' fast 40+ masters females behind me that were actually "ahead" time-wise. But if there were only 4 ahead of me, and I knew two of them I knew for sure were masters, then that meant maybe one more that was possibly in my age group.

Or not.

Or it was me, in first place.

I knew then, with about .6 miles to go, that this was going to be my race to lose. And I sure as hell was NOT about to lose it then. There would be NO U's passing me, and if one did, and this turned into a Raelert-Macca thing, then I WOULD BE MACCA.

(*of course, both Raelert and Macca could beat me while running backwards wearing stilettos blindfolded, but you get the point, right?)

This was a huge mental victory for me, because usually at this point in a race, I am talking to myself and saying things like, "Hey, 3rd place is pretty good" or "well, I had a great bike today," but there was NONE OF THAT in this race. I knew coming off the bike that I was probably in first, and I made up my mind throughout most of the run that it was going to stay like that. End of story.

I knew those girls behind me might be fabulous runners, and I was hoping for maybe a 25 minute 5K at best, and can I really win this thing with a 25+ minute 5K?

The answer today was YES.

I dashed up the hill, kicked it into high gear just in case, and finished in 1:16.47, just 10 seconds ahead of the 2nd place girl in my age group.

Thanks to my awesome friend, Anne, for taking these pics for me!

She almost got me, but I was NOT going to have that today. No way. I finished the way I wanted to--gasping, almost puking, and smiling.

Run 26:05
Pace 8:25/mile
5/19 AG

Met my two kiddies and Matt afterwards and got to hug them lots and lots.

1/19: 30-34 Females
9/115: Overall Females
72/292: Total Finishers

And THAT is how I rang in my next decade of triathlons.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

10 Years

Right about now is the 10th anniversary of my first triathlon.

So that's kind of what makes tomorrow so cool.

At 24, I had just moved back up to the NEO. I had decided that law school would not be for me, and that despite the beatings that teaching tends to give you (especially as a young female teacher in a high school setting), I was in it for the long haul.

A nice little Saturday at 24 included happy hour, lots of pizza, dollar drafts, and staying out with my friends having a wild rumpus until approximately 2:00am, chasing the evening with bagel bites.

(Needless to say, I had some junk in my trunk.)

That summer, my girl TriShannon and I decided we were going to make some changes. She was going to leave a job that was secure but not fulfilling, and I was going to do a few daring things myself. We both signed up for our first sprint triathlon and trained diligently on a plan we found on And by diligently, I mean we rode mountain bikes. And sometimes had DQ Blizzards after our "grueling" 15-20 mile rides.

What became a lofty goal quickly changed into a lifestyle. We finished the race that day, despite the rain. Despite running into a buoy with my head and almost losing my goggles. Despite the doubts and fears.

I felt like I could do anything after that.

So I did.

Two weeks later, I took what I now refer to as The Most Important Road Trip of My Life--something I had been meaning to do for years. I finally let go. I signed up for Weight Watchers, cleaned up my act, and lost 35 pounds. And 6 weeks after my first triathlon I got up the courage to tell Matt how I really felt.

(Okay, so that one did require a little liquid courage. But the end justified the means, people)

Then came a marathon. And Pedal to the Point. And my wedding. And then all doubt was shot since I knew the answer to, "Can I do an Ironman?" after I did those things. I had the base, I had the desire, and I had the support, which is all you really need. So then came my Wisconsin Year.

A few more blinks later came my little Bug, and finally my little Bean. And here we all are, 10 years later, I-don't-know-how-many-races-later, and still a few DQ Blizzards later.

So tomorrow's race will most likely be in a choppy lake, as we've had some big time storms roll through. It will be hot, it will be humid. If I do it well, it will be a suffer fest where I end gasping for air and doubled-over, since that's the best way to do a sprint, right? I never do these sprints, so this should be interesting. But for me, I'm thinking it will be more like a celebration of the past 10 years and what that simple little local triathlon race did for me.

It brought me courage. Friendship. Health. The ability to really, finally, believe in myself.

And I kind of wish I could go back 10 summers and see that 24 year old girl and tell her, yes, you can do this. You can do everything you want to do. Sometimes it will be hard and you'll fall flat on your face and have a choppy lake and humidity that will suck and headwinds both ways. But that life you always wanted to have? The happiness, the health, the two children? It's even better than you can imagine.

And it's just down that road. So put your goggles on and rack that borrowed bike.

It's time to go.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ramping up!

Okay, no time for rest, it's RACE SEASON, BABY!

And, in the ultimate weirdness of the universe, my leg feels SO MUCH BETTER now. What? Seriously? Because if all I needed to do was RUN MORE...dude, I would have done that a long time ago. It's still a bit tight so I'm stretching and foam rolling like an insane person, but I feel like it's finally going in the right direction instead of getting worse. Maybe I can still have some fun on the run in these last few tris!

Monday I spun easy on the trainer, Tuesday I did a swim, short run to test out my new racing flats (SO cool--happy birthday to me! Thanks, Little Brother M and Mom and Dad!), and then lifted because after seeing my race pics I felt like Flabby McFlabberston. What is the deal with race pictures? Do they put a "fugly" lens on just for me or is that universal? The bike pics are fine--I have no problem with those, and in fact some are quite badass. But the swim and run? WOW. I am not sure it's possible to take a more hilariously un-flattering picture if you tried. Of course, I'm working on trying to post a few here so bear with me. You have to see these. The run ones are exquisite.

Yesterday I ran easy with Ana and it felt pretty good. The quads are still a little tired from the race, but I was just happy to not feel as tight or as much pain. Score!

Today, I decided to forego the pool (much to Ana and Laura's dismay--they are not into the open-water thing) and head to meet a few people at an open water swim. Let me just say that sometimes I forget how freaking awesome where I live is. Yeah, the winters are a bit on the snowy side and stuff, but I live about two blocks away from here:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I love it. Except, you see those waves there?

Yeah, the ones crashing into the wall in that second shot? Um, those suckers were 4-6 feet.

We all gulped a bit and said, "Here goes!" And, hey! I finally got to have that swim at Steelhead that was cancelled! Because these conditions were probably the same if not a bit worse. But you know what? I had a BLAST.

There's just something about swimming in open water, especially when there's a sunrise like that. Need to sight? Just look at downtown and see Terminal Tower. Or use the sun as your guide. Yeah, my time was crap and I got thrown all over the place and my buddy Ken ran into what we think was a log the size of a telephone pole since it was so freaking wavy. Yeah, I got a whitecap to the face that did have me shaken a bit. No WAY would I ever have allowed Ana to have this as her first Open Water Swim--she'd be drifting to Canada probably by now since the waves made it virtually impossible to swim. But the four of us felt like rockstars when we were done. Because if you can swim a mile in that like we did, then you can handle ANYTHING on race day.

And that is exactly why it's so important to get in.

Money in the bank mentally for my next two swims. I'm determined to have a better showing in the next few races in the water. Looking forward to a solid weekend of training and getting ready to race the Huntington Sprint on the 24th. A sprint?! How do you race those things again? I have one speed--70.3. I'm going to have to find another gear here and quickly!

Summer is pretty much awesome. And that is all.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon 2011

Whew--I am back!

And it was super fun! And I have been told I will lose my Midwestern card because I didn't know what cheese curds were. And also, Minneapolis is HOT! Who knew?

Whirlwind weekend with Team Evotri this weekend in the Twin Cities! We headed out to do the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. I had signed up for the Olympic waaaaay back before I had my stupid hamstring issues. I have to admit I was a bit nervous for this race, and definitely regretting not signing up for the sprint. But who travels to Minneapolis to do a sprint? That's not a very high mile-t0-race ratio. If I have to pack up the bike, I need to make the distance worth it, right? So the plan was to get through the swim, hit the bike hard, and somehow make it through the run.

Friday afternoon I touched down and we hit the expo and then had a tasty dinner at the Italian Pie Shoppe (yum!). I watched my teammates eat ice cream (since dairy does not do well with me the night before a race--especially if it's a hot one) and then we turned in.

The next morning Rural Girl was up and at 'em early so I was, too. We had some coffee and I tried to ignore the possible thunderstorms that would be hitting us. The heat and humidity was definitely not good for me, but I figured it wasn't a 70.3, so I could probably get through it without it being too much of a factor.

I lined up for the time-trial start and, hey! I've never done one of those before. I really liked it! I demand a personal start time for every race I do now.

(I keed!)

The Swim: Goal--get through it in a respectable time

Reality: Embarrassment.

So the lake was 83 degrees which made wetsuits illegal. That didn't bother me too much but I didn't have much open water training in so I was a little concerned if it was choppy. Nothing I haven't had in Lake Erie, I figured. What ended up happening was I muddled through, drank lots of water, had horrible form and dropped my legs every time I tried to sight, seriously thought the yellow triangle buoys were messing with me and started swearing at them, and came out in a very disappointing time. It's gotten to the point where I'm embarrassed to admit I have been swimming since I was 3. What was once my strength is totally my weakness. Arg. I'm not sure how to change this except swim more, which I know is not possible now. So, I'm going to have to make peace with being mediocre (at best) in the water, which frustrates me because deep down I know I'm better than that.


T1: I couldn't find my bike and ran down the wrong row, but that only set me back a few seconds I think. Other than that, I got in and out relatively smoothly.

Bike: Goal--break 20mph average and keep my watts up
Reality: 19.4mph average but I think watts were good! ( I'm having a problem with the software on my Mac and really need to call CycleOps for help--note to self, DO THAT TOMORROW.)

I had heard this was not necessarily a PR bike course but tried to kind of block that out and go for it anyway. Sure enough, the potholes were pretty rough in parts. I am used to that as I live in a city that gets a great deal of snow, too, but I gotta say it was pretty rough in parts. To my NEO peeps, it was like the Rocky River Valley Parkway, but worse. I could tell it was a pretty course but I didn't get to look much because I was so focused on the road. It was also a pretty technical course--lots of hairpin turns which zapped some of my mojo in places. For some reason, all 4 of my teammate's PowerTaps said that it was about 25.8 miles, which was odd.

But I really had fun out there. Once upon a time, I was early out of the water and then dead last at T2, getting picked off one by one. I gotta say I had an absolute BLAST on this course reeling people in. I picked off quite a few girls in my AG and only got passed by a few. Looking at my splits compared to the rest of my AG, I had a pretty good ride! I've really made serious progress here.

T2: Nothing too eventful--I found my rack faster this time, yay me!

The Run
Goal: Get to the end, hopefully somewhere around a 9:15 average and ideally not walking
Reality: 9:18 average pace

To say I'm disappointed in my running this summer is an understatement. But I have to face the music: I am injured. It sucks. I hate it, and I'm trying to fix it, but I don't want to shut down this season so I'm just going to keep going the best that I can. Normally a good day for me is to do an olympic race 10K in around 50-51 minutes. Today I was pleading for 57. I told Matt it would be a miracle if I was holding 9:15s, so to finish close to that is good. I guess.

(It still stinks, but whatever. I know I'm my own harshest critic.)

I haven't ran more than 5 miles since the marathon. I wondered how badly this would hurt, but figured I'd just HTFU and get through it. I didn't fly all this way to walk.

The first loop wasn't TOO bad--I was holding around 9 minute pace, actually, and was pretty happy about that! But then it started to really hurt, and I felt my stride get shot to hell. I took my wee little baby steps and just counted the steps to focus on something else besides sucking. I did kick it at the end and then was toast. I don't do well in humidity and heat and it was definitely pretty hot and humid, although arguably could have been MUCH worse! I was so happy to have a nice cold towel from the volunteers. Best idea ever! And my awesome teammate Rural Girl WON her age group! She's a machine, people. A MACHINE.

Time: 2:55.00
Place: 21/47 AG

Significantly off my PR. That's okay, I guess. I would have loved to have a better race but I knew I was not really ready for that.

What I Need to Do:

1. NEVER a spring marathon again if I hope of having a decent tri season. I'm not cut out to only run run run run and stop all things tri, and then beat the crap outta myself in May, and still be able to hammer hard in the summer. LESSON LEARNED. Half marathon in spring = OUTSTANDING. Full marathon in spring = BUNK.

2. More open water and either make peace with my swimming situation or change it.

3. Get over this injury somehow so I can have decent runs in my next two races. I'll be doing a sprint in 2 weeks and was hoping to do an olympic in late-August. It would really be nice to go faster than my previous easy-long-run pace.

Last night we had SO much fun at an awesome place called the Chatter Box Cafe--I got super excited because they had old-skool Nintendo games! Bonus! And I got to hold Baby Henry, who is so cute I wanted to eat him up. I also got to see quite a few of my teammies which is always SUCH a blast. I really wish I got to see them more often! And we even topped it off with some Izzy's Ice Cream (YUM!) and I got to see Mike and Rachel, two super cool people. Wish I had more time to see more of the Twin Cities Tri peeps--there are so many of you out there! Loved your cities. It's really nice up there!

Oh, and I had some fried cheese curds. And also discussed the merits of Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek. And said "that's what she said" a lot. And pretty much laughed for 48 hours straight.

Back home and snuggled lots with Bug and Bean! Time to get ready for the next race. It's good to feel like a triathlete again!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Very Exciting Week

So I ran yesterday, and it went well. Which bodes well for the race I'm doing Saturday...maybe I can actually get through the run in one piece! Yahooyippeeeeeeee!

I can't WAIT to race this weekend. This is the first summer I haven't had a 70.3 looming over me and I definitely needed it. I love to race but knew that cutting back was going to be a smart plan, and even though there are moments when I think hey-maybe-I-could-do-Rev3?-I know that YES, I could do it, but I do not HAVE to. And that has been a nice feeling. I am excited to just enjoy a few races this summer and then wait until I really want something longer (which, who am I kidding, will probably be Rev3 half next year).

And on a completely unrelated note, I got my AP scores online today. I have to admit I really wasn't sure what this bunch would do. We all felt confident about the DBQ, though, and I crossed my fingers and hoped we had all done the other work for the rest of the test.

I am a big geek for this, but here goes: the scores were so good that I cried. Literally teared up. The best they've been in the 4 years I've been doing this. Out of 39 kids that took the test, 24 got 4s or 5s.

Proudly wearing my geek badge,


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Pretty much the coolest thing ever


The coolest thing happened on my ride today. I am so excited.

So first off, I should preface by saying I was initially bummed out about my ride. I couldn't find anyone around who could go at the time I needed to and close enough to home (since this weekend is full of superfuncraziness) so I reluctantly settled on going myself. I felt all sorry for myself for a bit. But then I thought, hey, this could be an adventure! And adventures are fun. So I turned that frown upside down.

After a few mojitos too many last night after a long day at the beach and a picnic with friends, my tummy felt like poo. I was afraid I wouldn't even be able to ride at all! But luckily, I felt SO much better when I woke up. It was crazy humid, so I took some extra water and a salt tab or two. I also realized that I was out of Gu Chomps.

PSA to those of you with kids: swipe a bag of your kid's Annie's Bunny Snacks in a pinch for good riding food. They worked swimmingly!

Started out on the lake and it was just a beautiful morning. The lake was super calm and the sun was coming up. I chased my shadow for a bit and was in a headwind but was still pretty impressed with the pace I was holding. Then I felt a few drops. But the sun was out! Bizarr-o. I was trying to figure out if, in fact, it was really raining when I saw this:

And then I decided that yes, it was raining. And rainbows are awesome.

Kept on truckin' along until I made it out to Lakeview Park in Lorain. I stopped to refill my bottles at this really nice little brunch place/beach house, and a sweet little older fella and I got to talking about biking. He loved to ride and suggested to me that I try a trail--"it's 3 and a half miles--ONE WAY," he said winking--and I put on my most impressed face I could and said I would love to try it!

Headed back home and about 10 miles out, a guy passed me at a light. He looked super fit and had a full Pearl Izumi kit on. I knew he was no joke so I figured he'd be gone, but lo and behold, we were about the same pace. I sort of hung back for a while because I didn't want to be that creepy chick who hangs in your draft and mooches, so then I eventually passed him. A few miles later, he passed me back but we started talking.

Turns out he lives in ST. PAUL, Minnesota and is in town visiting his mom for the weekend!

Oh, it gets better.

He's ALSO doing Lifetime next weekend!

How freaking cool is that?!

So we talked all about the race and shared some tri stories. Turns out he's done tris for over 25 years (puts my approaching 10 year anniversary to shame!) and qualified for Clearwater 70.3 Championships at Branson last year! So basically, he's crazy fast and I'm lucky I could even hang with him. So I made a St. Paul buddy here in the NEO! We said we'd try to find each other next weekend (but I know it's a big race) and went our separate ways.

I finished a smidge over 2 hours and with 40 miles (had to make it an even 40 so I went to the end of my street...ain't no way I'm gonna let that PowerTap say 39.7 or some lame shizz like that). Came back home and was all smiles.

Sometimes a nice long solo ride is just what you need. And I even made a buddy or two and saw a rainbow!

Off to Minneapolis on Friday! I am gettin' pretty excited.

Happy 4th of July to my USA homies!