Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Season is OVER!!!

So for the past three weeks I have been trying to think of a way to positively wrap up this season, sugar coat it so to speak.  Well, I can't do it.  This year SUCKED!! At least as far as triathlon went.  In the greater scheme of live and the world is wasn't so bad.  I have a great life with lots of opportunities, great friends and family, and in the end I will heal and recover and live to fight another day.  But as this is for the most part a blog about the triathlon side of my life, I will return to the summation that the only thing good about my 2012 triathlon season is that it is finally over, done, finished!! I can wipe the slate clean and be done with it.

Video streaming by Ustream
This short promo video done a couple of days before Xterra Worlds sums it up pretty well.  Please excuse the first 30secs.  They told me they weren't recording yet and I was joking around doing all the things I shouldn't do during the video :0 If you can lip read there are a good couple f-bombs in there!!

I think Nils pretty much summed up how the day was going to go in this photo!!! 

Setting up transition
Needless to say my calf didn't hold up for the race a few days later.  I hadn't tested it at all in the five weeks since injuring it at Xterra USA and was hoping for a race day miracle.  I taped it up best I could and headed down to the start.  To add to the injustice of it all, the swim was finally challenging and was looking pretty epic as we headed into the surf.  Unfortunately my calf was so bad I could barely run on the sand and had to limp into the water pretty much getting pummeled and stuck behind the entire pro field.  The midway beach run and run up to transition after the swim were about as ugly as it could get without me actually starting to walk.

I got on my bike with the two leaders, Mari Rabie and Barbara Rivera, and tried to get my head in gear.  I knew at this point that there was no way that I could run, but I could have a great bike and since I didn't race Worlds in 2011 this was my chance to get a race pace effort on the course if for nothing else than to be better prepared for next year.  Not sure I accomplished that goal very well, but I did get through it and called it a day in T2.
Big and Lil Fish
the 'Girls' tailgating pre-Halloween Party!!
As bad as the race itself went, the trip was a lot of fun.  Big thank you to the "Lil Fish" for coming out to cheer and hang out.  Also to the housemates, Shelby, Branden, and Dave for an awesome group to stay with!!

Last but definitely not least, I'd like to wrap it up with a huge thank you to my sponsors who supported me through everything:  Sean and Champsys for the amazing (and incredibly stylish) racesuits and training gear,  Native Eyewear for my great glasses, Maxxis for the best tires out there, Nineteen and their awesome wetsuits, Extreme Endurance, Honeystinger, and Zipfizz for their wonderful products that kept me hydrated, fueled, recovered, strong and healthy.  Also big thanks to my coach Gareth Thomas for guiding me through the tough times and putting up with not a lot of good news coming in on the training logs!!

Throughout this year the reputed Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" has often popped into my head.  Here's hoping for a much less interesting 2013!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Xterra USA

I haven't really been too excited about writing this race report, hence the two week delay since Xterra USA Nationals.  Overall the race went about as well as could be expected considering how my year has been going and I'm happy with my 6th place finish.  However, the resulting aftermath is just typical of what I am going to chalk up to as simply the curse of 2012.
Swim Start - Xterra Photos
The pro's had a slight head start in front of the amateurs and it was nice and clean.  I quickly got in behind Ben Allen and Craig Evans with Branden Rakita right in the mix.  The three of us couldn't hold Ben's pace through the 2nd lap and came out of the water a couple of seconds down with a nice gap behind us to the next guys.  My swim is finally really starting to feel good and I was excited to be swimming right where I should at a comfortable pace, especially after feeling like I was going to die at Xterra Canada.
Wheeler Canyon - Photo Emma Garrard
Onto the bike I was feeling the best I have all season.  I held onto the lead all the way through the first two climbing sections getting caught by Mel and Suzie right at the top before the first descent.  I stuck with them for a bit and thought I might just hang on, but the pace was just out of reach.  Leslie, Danelle, and Renata gradually reeled me in and passed me up the long climb to Sardine Peak and I rolled into T2 in 6th place, right about where I thought I would be.
Middle Fork Trail - Photo Nils Nilsen
I started the run feeling pretty good, legs were light and turning over nicely.  I had been nursing a bit of a niggle in my left calf and a chronically sore right Achilles tendon for the week and a half leading into the race but was hoping that by easing into the run I could let them warm-up and get through the run without any problems.  Usually my Achilles is a bit stiff and sore for the first couple of minutes then loosens up and is fine, unfortunately not this time.  By halfway through it was progressively getting more and more sore and putting lots of strain on my soleus, which was in turn tightening up.  A slight stumble in some congestion when the sprint course joined back into our course sent a shooting pain up my calf and I almost just had to laugh, really I just can't seem to get a break this year can I.  All I could do was hobble into the finish hoping the damage wasn't too bad.
Fall Colours on Run - Photo Emma Garrard
By evening my ankle was starting to bruise and swell along the side of my tendon.  After two days in the car driving home from Utah I had cankles the size of Canada. Is this season almost over, please!!!

Anyways, only three weeks to go until worlds and then it will be over.  Making the best of what I can do training wise and will just have to roll the dice in Maui and see what comes up.  Good news is no matter what happens I will be in Maui :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Xterra USA - Pre-race video...

Little late, but just figured out how to convert this video from DVD to digital.  Fun little interview I did with Park City TV the week before the race!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Quick Update...

Thought I'd write just a quick update before Nationals happens here tomorrow.  Just a couple of days after getting back from Xterra Canada I loaded up the car for the extended road trip up to Utah for Xterra USA.  Fortunate enough to be able to work remotely I was able to head to higher ground and hopefully produce some additional red blood cells before race day.  The trip started out with the Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival in Showlow AZ.  The last time I was in Showlow in 2004 I got airlifted out (another story for another day) and I had to laugh at the wall of hay bales marking the spot of the incident. Thankfully the Xterra event went off without any problems, though it was a tough little course.  Shonny V and I made the guys work hard placing 4th and 5th overall!! Good hard training day in the books.

Fool Hollow Lake the night before the race
BigFish style run :)-
Sunday right after the race I jumped in the car and headed north, what a gorgeous drive, and pulled into Moab right at sunset.  Stayed the night in the hostel, hmmmm, a little sketchy.  Up early Monday and decided that even though the training plan said day off a quick MTB ride was a must and headed out to Klondike Bluff.  Perhaps not the best of Moab, but a nice little introduction, definitely will be back!!!

Heading into Moab at sunset
Klondike Bluff, Moab
From there it was a quick drive up to Park City where I was lucky to be able to stay with 'future xterra triathlete' Kelsey Withrow ;) and BF Evan.  One day she will see the light and leave that road stuff behind!!

Tour De Suds
Enjoyed a great week and a half in Park City (aka MTB nirvana) training and adapting.  Even joined in the local Tour De Suds MTB hill climb race in costume on Sunday.   Great event if you ever find yourself in town the weekend before Nationals.  

Mid-mountain trail, Park City
And here it is, race evening in Snowbasin.  The weather looks to be perfect and the fall colours are putting on a show.  Everything is packed and ready to go :)  Woohoo!!

Looking up the canyon towards Snowbasin

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Xterra Canada

Well we all have those days when the body just doesn't want to get moving and Sunday unfortunately was one of the them for me.  I knew going into the race that I was going to struggle a bit with the bike course, then it decided rain the day and night before.  While the course handled the rain well and there wasn't much mud, it did make the roots a tad slippery.  With all that has happened this year with crashes and injuries I was going to play it safe and not take any risks even if that meant losing some serious time.  What I didn't count on was feeling pretty sluggish overall and suffering even on the double track and roads sections.

Canadian Sunrise
We woke up Sunday morning to a spectacular sunrise, complete with snow capped peaks!! Brrrr...  Warm-up was definitely on the chilly side but got in a good bike/run then headed down to the Quarry for the swim start.  It was a mass start of some 150 people for the 3 loop course, but everyone was surprisingly good with their self-seeding strategies considering the limited amount of space available.  I got off to a clean start and onto Branden Rakita's feet where I sort of stayed the whole 3 laps.  While the pace didn't seem all that fast, I just couldn't get into the next gear, a feeling that would continue for the whole race.

Quarry Lake - Xterra Photos
Swim Lap - Courtesy Jordan Bryden
Not going to elaborate much on the bike and the run as I pretty much just got through them.  I did manage to pick up the pace a bit and ride better the second lap of the bike but too much damage had already been done by that time to make up any ground on the rest of the field and I finished up in 7th. The course though, was very spectacular!! Thanks Trey for the photos :)

About to drop into EKG - Xterra Photos

Heading out on the run - Xterra Photos
Back in Tucson and moving on!!! Deuces Wild Triathlon up this weekend in Show Low before heading up to Park City, Utah for some altitude adaption ahead of Xterra USA Nationals end of September.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rocks and Roots in the Canadian Rockies!!!

Bit of time to spare before turning in and looking forward to racing Xterra Canada tomorrow.  The race is being held in the spectacular Canadian Rockies this year at the Canmore Nordic Center.  It's been a great trip so far, though a little chillier than I had planned.  Got into town Wednesday afternoon and met up with Luna Chix Suzie Snyder.  Had dinner and spent the night with my uncle in Calgary before driving up to Canmore Thursday.  Even the drive is spectacular!!! 

Trans-Canada heading into Canmore

Big thanks to Cal and Laura for hooking Suzie, Branden, Renata and myself up with a great house to stay in at the last minute. 

Transition at Canmore Nordic Center

Spent the past couple of days getting some training time in on the course which is going to prove to be really fun and quite challenging for me, at least on the bike.  Lots of singletrack with roots and rocks and a couple of fun sections aptly named the "Laundry Chute" and the "Coal Chute".

Quarry Lake

Pre-riding with Suzie Snyder

I'm still operating in the not taking any chances of a big crash mode, so will be running down the Laundry Chutes.  I figure loosing a couple of seconds hike-a-biking is way better than the possible alternative!!!

Laundry Chutes

Stellar Pro Field

And did I mention, 8 pro women vs 4 pro men!!! Way to represent Chicas!!!

Goodnight :))

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Xterra Mexico

Wow, has it really been a month since Xterra Mexico!! I guess time flies when you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  You would think I would be a little bit more excited about getting back to racing after 9 months off.  Well I was and what a great race to kick off my abbreviated 2012 triathlon season.  I had heard great things about the race last year and it didn't disappoint.  The race was held in Tapalpa, a couple hours drive into the mountains outside Guadalajara.  The race organizers took great care of us, putting us up in a great lake front house right next to the swim course.  The area had been having a wetter than normal summer, so while that meant for some serious mud it did make the countryside incredibly green and lush!!!
View from out patio
The days leading up to the race were spent catching up with friends and checking out the bike and run course.  Shonny, Renata and I were rooming together and according to Renata I talk way too much!!! Ha-Ha, we are rooming together again at Xterra USA, so she is investing in a good set of earplugs ;)  Seriously though, we had a lot of fun.

Pre-riding with the gang
The body was feeling pretty good going into race day, though after 9 months off and being up at 7,000ft I was definitely nervous and hoping that race mode wouldn't be too much of a shock to the system!!!  Thankfully it was a non-wetsuit swim (the shoulder was still a little cranky and didn't like being constricted in the wetsuit) and even though we started with the top age group men in their wetsuits (always a bad idea) things settled in to a nice pace quickly.  My swim is definitely lagging a little behind but I was happy to be able to grab the feet of Branden Rakita and "Paco" Serrano and stick to them for the two lap swim.  I knew Renata, Shonny, and Fabiola were going to be super strong on the bike and needed all the time I could put on them.
Race morning 
The pre-ride had been pretty wet, then it rained the entire next day!!! Soooo can you say mudfest!! The picture below is when my bike actually got so gunked up it literally stopped moving.  Not being much of a mud specialist, since I live and train in Tucson, I was really happy with how well I rode, strong and steady the whole way, saving just a little in the tank for the run.  I stayed on my bike except for a small airborne incident when I went into a mud puddle just a little too fast.  Thankfully the landing was really soft.  Renata caught me near the top of the climb, just before half way, and I held off  Shonny, but saw her coming in right on my heels into T2.
Back moving again :)
The run is defintely where the lack of racing finally kicked it.  The legs were bordering on lead weights and it didn't help the run course was one hell of a tough one, truly Xterra worthy.  I headed out on the two loop course just ahead of Shonny and hoping to hold her off, negative on that one.  I did keep her close and held off Fabiola for third.  Super happy with the result, but more happy with getting that first one back out of the way!!!
Running through Tapalpa's cobbled streets
Post-race Mexico style!!!
The day finished off with a great awards ceremony in the town square complete with fireworks, and of course fun drinks!!

So fast forward a couple of weeks and here I am in Denver airport on my way to Xterra Canada in beautiful Canmore Alberta.  Can't wait to see what I've got now that the cobwebs are all dusted out!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tahoe Weekend

Been a while since the last post, but to be honest not much has been going on.  Shoulder has been gradually improving and I have been able to build up my swimming and get back to full bike and run training.  That means nose to the grindstone and yeah I get to race again.  I was a bit worried that the shoulder wouldn't be good enough to do the Trans Tahoe Relay as planned, but it came around just in time!! And just for fun I decided to make it a super double weekend by entering the Tahoe Trail 100 MTB race the next day.  Why not!! I flew out to San Francisco on Thursday afternoon and hooked up with the 'Little Fish' before driving up to Tahoe.  Friday was a bit of a frustrating day trying to pre-ride the mountain bike course WITHOUT the course map, but the gorgeous weather and scenery made getting continuously lost bearable.  And hey, ignorance is sometimes bliss when it comes to these enduro courses.  Better not to know how much pain and suffering is headed your way.  We got about 1/3 of the way through before giving up and heading home, leaving the rest of the course as a surprise for Sunday ;)

Saturday... Now in it's 36th year, the relay swim across Lake Tahoe from Sandy Harbor to Skylandia, is put on by the Olympic Club of San Francisco and this year attracted 182 teams of 6 swimmers.  My sister had recruited me for this fun event to be the ringer and while I'm not sure I was quite up for that title, it didn't stop them from making me the leadout!! Unlike triathlon, there are no wetsuits allowed in open water swimming regardless of water temperature, so thankfully the water and weather cooperated and no one froze to death. The logistics of this race were also unlike any other race I have ever done.  As the leadout I started on the beach with my 5 teammates waiting about 1500 yds offshore in the boat.  Sounds pretty easy, swim out to the boat, continue swimming across the lake, NOT.  Trying to find your boat from the water in the middle of a flotilla of almost 200 boats in 60deg water is a nightmare!! Fortunately, we found each other surprisingly quickly and got safely on our way, unlike several teams who after 45mins (swimmers swap out each 30mins to start) still couldn't locate their swimmer.

Sandy Harbor
Race Morning

The rest of the morning was spent blissfully puttering across the lake.  The relay worked as 30mins each, followed by 15mins each, then 10mins each until finished.  Team Aquaholics put in a solid middle of the field effort, which included having lots of fun, to finish just under 5hrs, yeah Team!!  Pretty awesome way to spend a Saturday morning!!  

Chillin in the middle of the 4mile long Boat Conga Line!!
Team Aquaholics
Sunday... Another 4:30am wake-up ugh!! Race start was 7am at NorthStar so up bright and early it was.  Joining in this adventure were fellow T-Towners, Bryce Phinney, Ryan Hammerel and Dan Distefano along with SF Bryce Ritzel.  Sister decided to sit this one out!!! (more brain cells I think)  The race field was only a little over 400 so we all got off to a nice mellow start, rolling on the pavement up to the village then climbing the dirt road to Mid-Station to start the first of two laps.  This is where things got dusty, really dusty.  For the first 45mins all I could see through the clouds of dirt was the faint shadow of the rider in front of me, hoping dearly that he was riding a good line.  There wasn't even a chance of actually seeing the ground and what you were about to run over, or into.  Yeah for full-suspension!! Thankfully things cleared out mid-way through the lap and made the 2nd lap quite enjoyable, if you find 7,444 vertical feet of climbing enjoyable.  Yep, ignorance was bliss.  The goal was not to put myself completely in the hurt locker, couldn't afford to take a week off to recover, so I rode strong and steady and the legs were awesome.  Wasn't sure how they were going to handle 5+ hours on the MTB and elevation and was super happy with were my fitness turned out to be.  The Queen of Pain herself, Rebecca Rusch, took us all to school, but 2nd through 5th were all within 10 minutes of each other.  Happy with 5th overall and 2nd in my age group and a little nervous about taking the spot to Leadville, though I decided to defer to 2013 so plenty of time to figure that monster out!!!

Dirty, Happy, Finished!!
Next up, yep my 2012 triathlon season is actually getting underway and hopefully I remember how to do it.  Xterra Mexico August 4th here I come!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rehab Fun...

The human body is truly amazing but when you don't move something, perhaps your shoulder, for 6 weeks it effectively stops being able to do so.  I never thought I would be so excited to be able to lift my arm above my head again.  Over the years I have rehab'd two elbows (6 weeks and 2 weeks immobilized) and a neck (12 weeks in a brace) but I have to say this will definitely go down as the worst of the three.  The six weeks in the sling went by surprisingly quickly.  I got thoroughly reacquainted with my bike trainer as well as the elliptical trainer at the gym, and with the exception of a few low moments manage some pretty solid training.  Nothing spectacular, but enough to maintain a pretty descent amount of base fitness.  Also enjoyed some time out with friends including a wonderful Easter Sunday get together with the T-Town crew on the patio at the JW Marriott at Star Pass.  If you are ever in the Tucson area this is definitely the place to enjoy the sunset and a great Margarita!!

Easter Sunday at the JW Marriott, Tucson
My parents also dropped in for a week's visit and we took to opportunity to go up and do the night experience at the Kitts Peak National Observatory.  Definitely a great evening activity if you are looking for something unique to do.  The evening includes watching the sunset, as you have to be up on the mountain before dark so your car headlights don't interfere with the research being done at the various telescopes, and a quick overview of all the facilities and telescopes.  The rest of the evening is spent split into two groups with half star-gazing through binoculars and learning about the constellations and planets, then switching spots and viewing various planets, star clusters etc through one of the telescopes.  The evening concludes with a guided drive down the mountain without headlights!!!

View from the St Kitts National Observatory
While Kitts was exciting the highlight of their trip was definitely the surprise visit of my sister Karen and her BF Bryce.   I almost gave it away during the week but managed to keep it a secret until they walked through the door Friday evening.  With Mother's Day and my father's 70th B-day coming up it was nice to get the whole family together!!! While just a short weekend trip, we did manage a beautiful and hot hike up the phoneline trail in Sabino Canyon then enjoyed dinner on the patio at the Catalina BBQ.

Sabino Canyon hike with the family
On the rehab front after only three sessions I have almost full flexion (front arm raises) and good external shoulder rotation.  I am also doing some isometric strengthening and will progress to abduction (side arm raises) and strengthening with movement in the next week or so.  Running is back to normal and I am slowly introducing riding on the road back into the training schedule.  I have attempted some one-arm swimming and doggie paddle ;) but full swimming and mountain biking are probably a good couple of weeks away!!  I do get some pretty strange looks at the pool to keep me entertained.  So onward I go...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Doing to speak

So things haven't gone exactly to plan since my last post.  Six weeks post crash came and went with me still unable to swim because of intense pain at the top of my arm recovery and it was becoming pretty clear that there was more damage than just the broken shoulder.  Went in to get an MRI and although it didn't really show much, it did look as though there was some sort of tear in the Labrum.  I guess this is pretty normal and you really never know exactly what the damage is until you get inside and take a look.  Since it had now been almost 8 weeks since the crash with very little improvement I decided to go ahead and get the surgery scheduled and done.  Thanks again to JT and Southwest Hand for all the great and timely care putting humpty-dumpty back together, hopefully for the last time.  I can handle injuries when I know what is wrong, what I have to do to fix it and roughly the time frame it will take to do so, not knowing what is going on drives me NUTS!!! Time to get this shoulder fixed and on its way to a full recovery. 

I went in for surgery two weeks ago today and yesterday while I was getting my stitches out got to see some of the images from the procedure.  Apparently the MRI really didn't show what was going on and as it turned out I had a little tear at the top of the Labrum, a huge tear along the bottom, and just for added bonus some cartilage damage.  Yes, I am a card carrying member of the "don't do anything half-assed" club!!!  Thought I'd post a few pics, well just because ;))

Big tear
Strange cutting device cleaning up tear
Sewing up tear with what looks like shoelaces ;))
All better :))
So now I'm "Doing Time" so to speak, with 4 more weeks in my lovely and very stylish sling before being able to start moving my shoulder again and then another 6 weeks or so after that before being up to full speed.  I am able to ride my trainer (oh I know you are all very jealous) and can run on the elliptical trainer so my ass is hopefully going to stay about the same size until I am back to 100%.  Sad and disappointed to not be racing the front end of the season, especially the ITU Cross Worlds in Alabama, but happy to finally have everything fixed and healing.  Big thanks to everyone for all your calls, emails, tweets, messages of concern and support, I feel very loved :))) Best of luck to everyone racing, I will be following from my couch, and looking forward to being back out there soon!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bad Luck Comes in 3's

After some extensive research (aka procrastinating by looking up useless information on the internet) it seems there is really no historical basis for the saying bad luck comes in 3's.  Go figure.  I did find this somewhat unrelated but interested tidbit about soldier's superstitions on lighting 3 cigarettes with one match being bad luck, at least for the third soldier:

"The explanation of the origin of the custom is that British soldiers, entrenched against Dutch foes in the Boer War, learned by bitter experience of the danger of lighting three cigarettes from one match.  When the men thriftily used one match to serve three of them, they gave the Boer sniper time to spot the light, take aim and fire, killing 'the third man'."

No matter, I am assuming that the saying is true and therefore my bad luck is officially over for a very, very long time.  Let's recap, for those of you joining in for the first time :)

1 - September, day after Xterra Nationals, big MTB crash in Park City on the Crest Trail resulting in an avulsion elbow fracture, slightly torn triceps tendon and nasty ass infected cut.  Took me out of Xterra Worlds and about six weeks of recovery time before even thinking about doing any kind of training.

2 - January, after putting in some amazing winter base training in November and December I came down with a bit of a cold.  Took a couple of days off then decided enough was enough and headed out for a MTB ride while still under the weather (bad idea).  Totally pilled it up on one of the easiest sections of trail, lots of cuts and bruises, chipped bottom tooth and a really sore shoulder.  I suspected a torn rotator cuff but was hoping I had just slightly dislocated it.  After two weeks of living in denial I finally broke down and headed into the Doc. What do you know....broken shoulder!! Cracked Humeral Head to be exact.  Found this lovely diagram when doing some more extensive research ;) and had to laugh... just insert myself and you pretty much have it!!!  Since I had been going about my life oblivious to the fracture for two weeks already orders where to "be smart" (yep, all over that one) no swimming, no MTBing, no more crashing....

How to break your shoulder MTBing

Number 2
3 - No more crashing... okay, sounds pretty self explanatory.  Now I am quite happy doing a couple of workouts a week on my trainer, but long rides when the weather in Tucson is FABULOUS just isn't going to happen.  And really, I had been riding my road bike out on the roads for two weeks already without any problems.  So, just three days after the broken shoulder diagnosis, Lisa Ribes and I are out riding on a lovely Saturday morning and some moron truck driver decides to run us off the road.  Actually not sure exactly what he was trying to do but that was the end result.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't really trying to kill us but who knows.  There was certainly no oncoming traffic and plenty of space to pass us safely instead of giving me inches AFTER I jumped into the shoulder when he blew the horn a couple of seconds before he nearly plastered me across the front grill.

So there it is, three done and done!!!

Always fun Mt Lemmon group ride
Moving on, coming up on six weeks post fracture and itching to get back in the pool.  Have stayed upright and enjoyed some great rides with all the local and visiting athletes here in Tucson.  Even dusted off the MTB and got in a great easy ride this past weekend!!  Sad to see my winter roomie Branden Rakita head back home, but got to enjoy a fun weekend with Shelby and the visiting Old Pueblo peeps.  Huge congrats to Sarah "crash" Caylor for winning the women's solo at 24HOP (might have to steal your nickname soon!!)

Shelby and Tracy checking out dessert
Back on the trails :)))