Monday, August 12, 2019

Cleveland Nationals!

            After Nationals in Omaha, I had low expectations for Cleveland as a race venue. After just 2 weeks of focused triathlon training to prepare, I had low expectations for my race results as well. My goals: 
-       30’ for the 1500 swim
-       at least 19mph average on the bike (I only biked 4 times prior to this)
-       sub 8-minute pace for the run.
I had put in a lot of good run training over the winter months, but once I started competing in June, my weekly mileage dropped in half and I only got a few hard workouts in. 
            The venue was at Edgewater Park in Cleveland. It looked beautiful, overlooking Lake Erie with a nice view of the city skyline as well. The swim as IN Lake Erie, and while water temperature was not a concern, the huge waves sure were! On race morning, it was announced that because of the rough water conditions, the swim would be cut in half. I am glad they didn’t cancel the swim portion altogether. That was the wildest swim of my life though! I was slammed and tossed by waves, which made me feel almost a little seasick even. I came out around 14:30, in the middle of the pack, and I was perfectly happy with that.
            After a long run to transition, I was off on the bike! Cleveland shut down a big main road and we rode over the bridge and came down by the Brown’s stadium. We rode through part of a park and in front of the apartment we stayed at the night prior! Based on my training rides, I had low expectations for my watts, but the competitive side of me was pushing 20 watts harder than I did in training, though I was nervous that the more aggressive ride would burn me out for the run. My main goal was to have fun, and I was enjoying pushing the bike, so I continued to do so and averaged 21mph! I was definitely nervous transitioning to the run. My legs were feeling the hard ride and my toes were cramping on one foot, making putting shoes on a slower process. I was hoping things would loosen upon the run. 
            I felt terribly slow running but I pushed the effort. I was hoping for sub-8 and I felt like I was 9’ pace or slower. I didn’t have immediate feedback to know how I was actually doing, and I thought that was probably for the best! I estimated an early mile to be around 7:15, so I thought I must have gotten that wrong. Then my watch beeped giving me times for the next 3 miles of around 6:56 (that can’t be right!), 7:02, and 7:20. At that point, I figured that even if my pace fell off, I would still do just fine. The run included several hills, a couple even that were a steep decline with a U-turn at the bottom to immediately turn around and run back up. I knew that had to have hurt my pace, but I went on effort, and after coming up one hill in the park, we were treated with a gorgeous view of overlooking the lake and the cityscape in the background. It was such a beautiful course, it was impossible not to enjoy!
            A big downhill led us past the beach we swam at, a quick punch up and down over an overpass, and we could see the finish line. I didn’t know the age of the woman ahead, so I set out in a sprint to the finish line. I averaged 7:05 pace for the 10K run! It blew all expectations out the window. My biggest goal was to have fun, and I truly enjoyed the entire race.
            To add to a gorgeous venue and fast results, was also that I placed high enough in my age group to potentially get a roll down slot for the 2020 World Championships in Edmonton, Canada (if I want to take it). Besides the great race, it was also my birthday and I got to spend the weekend with Andy, and our friend Rob flew up from Florida (he’s from the Cleveland area), and we got to meet and stay with his awesome family.
            I had already registered for Milwaukee Nationals for next year, but this race offered so much for me. Now I’ll officially end my season and give my body a much needed break for a bit before starting up with off-season training. What a spectacular year it has been!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Two Weeks Notice

            People usually put in their 2 weeks notice when they are about to quit something. Instead, I had 2 weeks notice for starting something. This Saturday, I will be competing at the USA Triathlon National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. I will have roughly two weeks of training under my belt for it (including a couple days of taper for a track meet in there!). 
            So what’s the story behind it? I qualified for Nationals with the High Cliff half-iron distance race that I did last summer (and somehow won!). Since our good friend, Rob, is from Cleveland and it qualifies for World’s in Canada, I originally thought I would compete at it this year. I started training 6 months ago (a logical time to start training for a big race). Shortly after, I was feeling defeated and overwhelmed with trying to balance everything. I told Andy that I decided I wasn’t going to race Nationals. He replied that I could probably do just fine without even training for it. I told him that I would not do that kind of thing.
            A couple weeks ago, USAT announced the location of Nationals for the next 2 years – a return to Milwaukee! I raced at Nationals in Milwaukee in 2014 and 2015, when I qualified for Team USA for Chicago and Cozumel. It has been one of my all-time favorite triathlon courses. I was originally anticipating that Nationals would be far away, and so I was prepared to give a longer break to triathlons altogether. With the location announcement also came another announcement – qualification criteria for next year’s Nationals in Milwaukee would be waived for participants of this year’s Nationals. And here I go! I don’t have to worry about qualifying at a race next year in order to compete at Milwaukee. I have the added bonus of this being a no-pressure race. I biked 4 times and swam a handful of times in order to prepare for this. Good thing I had at least some running under my belt, although I have done minimal distance work since June.
So instead of packing poles, I am packing my bike for this weekend! Wish me luck!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Final Three Eagle Summer Track Meet

            On Wednesday night, we hosted our final summer meet of the season. The youth crowd was large! It was awesome to see all the little competitors. The pole vault crew was still small, but some great talent nonetheless! Between moving hurdles and watching my kids race, I would quick jump a height. Pretty hectic, but I guess it worked! I cleared 10-6, 11, and 11-6 on my first attempts. I really wanted to end the season with something big again, and I did! I cleared 12 feet for the second time this season!


            I couldn’t be happier with the progress I made this year. Four out of the Top 5 marks of my life were set this year. My goal as a college senior, 9 years and 3 kids ago, was to make 12 feet. Unbelievable that at this point in my life, I did it! Dedicating an entire off-season to the weight room and work on the high bar paid off.  I had 3 indoor meets, a spring outdoor meet, and 6 summer meets. 10 total meets this year! That’s a lot! Out of those 10, only 3 had marks lower than 11-6. Four of the meets, I had post-collegiate or lifetime PR’s (or tied them). What an unbelievable season!
            Next weekend, I am off to triathlon Nationals in Cleveland – a last minute decision that I made a week ago. Which means I have one week of triathlon training under my belt! This will be an experience!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

USATF Masters National Outdoor Championships

            Andy and I traveled down to Ames, IA to take part in the Masters National Championships this past weekend. The meet actually takes place over the course of 4 days, but since our main events (pole vault and triple jump) both took place on Sunday for us, we just competed in one event each. The forecast had a high of over 90 degrees, full sun, and very humid. All of the women actually competed together, versus being split into two flights, so there were 20 of us competing together! I was the youngest at 32, and the famous 85-year old Flo was the oldest of the group. The line was pretty long for warm-ups, but staying warm wasn’t tough when it was so steamy out. 
Based on how pole vault at the decathlon played out, I knew I would have a very long wait to get through the lower heights until I would come in. After my warm-ups, I was able to go watch Andy triple jump. He was having a frustrating day, especially when his best jump was a scratch. He still broke 40’ and took second in his age group behind a pretty elite triple jumper. 
After waiting for well over 2 hours, the final pole-vaulter went out, and I was able to do one run through before moving the bar up to 3.20 meters (roughly 10-4). I cleared it and passed to 3.40, then 3.50 (11-2 and 11-6). While I wanted to clear 12’ again, I really didn’t want to end at just 11-6 again. We put it at 3.61 meters (11-10), which was my college PR, and I cleared it! Deciding to go for a PR, we moved it to 12-1.25, and I missed. It would have been great to PR again, but I feel great about tying my second best jump, and being consistent at the higher heights this year. Going into this, I was also a little nervous how it would go after sitting for a couple hours, and then competing by myself. I had a lot of fun, and definitely had a lot of adrenaline going, as I was gripping at my highest, and on my biggest pole – and with the standards pushed back.
We had a fun surprise with Mrs. Z (now Mrs. Messenger) working the meet, too! She was our elementary art teacher, and we usually get the treat of seeing her at the WI State Track & Field meet, as she officiates that big meet as well. There was also a group of women that pole vaulted that I also did the decathlon with back in June. It’s always fun seeing familiar faces! Andy and I competed under the Three Eagle Track Club, and as a Club Team, we ended up 61 of 115 Club Teams. Pretty cool!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hometown 5K

            We were back in our hometown a few weeks ago, and although I was not looking to run a 5K, nor did I have any interest or desire to, Andy ended up registering me for it (so of course I had to then!). It was a very hot, sunny day, and I have not been putting in the mileage to run a fast 5K. He has not been doing much distance running at all, so neither of us were very optimistic at what our results would look like!
            I was the pacer, so fortunately, Andy just stayed with me and we let all the crazies pull ahead in a start that is always too fast. I had no idea what I could really do, as I had recently run a PR 800, but did not feel like I had the stamina for a fast 3 miles. I was correct. We picked off runners ahead of us one-by-one until we were in the top mix and I was top female at that point. We mainly just tried holding on for the second half as the heat and lack of training caught up to us!
            We ended up 4thand 5thoverall (and first female for me) with a time of 21:12 (ouch!). My PR is almost a full minute faster than that. Nothing to get excited about, but at least it got my hard run out of the way for the day! ;)