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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The "Uh, WHUT?!" Race Report

I will only warn you once. This is going to be as long as an Ironman Race Report.

and, there might be some curse words.

800m Swim/20 mile Bike/10k run

The ONLY reason I signed up for this race is because it has a 10k at the end. No joke. I hate 10ks, and that is exactly why I ran this race.

Of course, that means a few days before the race, I start freaking out. 

OMGOMGOMG! I can't run a 10k. No way. I can't do it. I hate them. OMGOMGOMG. I won't finish before the cutoff. OMGOMGOMG. I've bitten off more than I can chew.

Of course, I have a dear, sensitive coach....who I can go to in these times....and he'll offer me chamomile tea and meditation cushion, and we'll talk through it.

So, I go to my coach. I show him my big puppy sad eyes. (That get's EVERYONE).

and he says:

WAH WAH WAH. The race is hard. WAH WAH WAH. Just do the stupid thing.




HE WAS SUPPOSED TO SAY: It's ok just back down to the shorter race. You won't be a lesser person in my eyes.


Instead, HE says: I have this super secret goal that I'm not going to tell you until you finish.


what the hell is that supposed to mean?

Nevertheless. race day shows up magically.

I gotta tell you this. I loved this race. I will do this race again. Race director is fantastic. 

BUT....BUT, they've outgrown the location, methinks. The swim was overcrowded and the transition area was very interesting. After I saw how transition worked, I decided to log my times as soon as I stopped the activity versus when I stepped on the transition mat. I did this because I wanted a good time comparison. I'm not to the point where I will *place*. I was out there to run my race. If you look up my times, my swim will be slower. My bike should be accurate because I was in the first rack right at bike in/out.

The Swim

THIS WAS INSANE. Of course, I was ONCE AGAIN in the last wave. I'm telling you, when I find where these RD's live, they are going to have one hormonal 45 year old planted outside their homes.

If you are a slower swimmer, please, please, please line up in the back. Ain't nothing to be ashamed of, really. You'll pass me on the run. No harm no foul.



I'm in the front. NO. WAIT. I WAS in the front. Until I got pushed aside by a woman who looked like she could kick my ass.

What am I going to do, right? I got behind her.

The chaos starts. It's crazy. The lake is FILLED with athletes going all different directions. CHAOS.  We haven't even made it to the first buoy, and I get breast stroke kicked right in the ribs. 


I can't get away from the crowd. I decide that as soon as I reach the first buoy, I'm just going for it.

then, I got kicked again.


We turn the first buoy, and I see that if I veer slightly to the right I can go around the crowd. AND IT WORKED....for about 2 minutes. When, I caught the women's group that left 5 minutes before us.

This, of course, is SHEER JOY, having just escaped from alcatraz a few meters back.

All of a sudden, a hole breaks free. I AM FREE. I HIT IT. Pretty hard too. At this point, I have a lot of build up from having to hold back. 

When we approach the beach, I swim in as far as I can (long story). I stand up, and my watch says: 12:14.  

I run right past, Mr. Tea. He doesn't even see me. He's looking for me in the water. So, I say, "Hey good looking." He jumps and says, "How'd you get here so fast?"

What can I say? I'm total STUD.

UH WHUT?  My goal was 15:00. That was a conservative goal. my aggressive goal was 13:00. You never know what the situation is going to be. Seriously, I think I can do it in 11:30.

SCORE 1 for the TEA-ster


I wind my way through transition, up the stairs, get stopped by the a pack of strippers (wocka wocka), slowed down by walkers. 

HELLO. I AM RACING. It's taken my 6 years to get here. MOVE YOUR ASS.

The bike. I grab my bike. Mr. Tea yells at me "There's only one way to ride. FAST."

yes. I am fast on the bike. But I have a confession.

I have a SWEET bike. Really. I can't take all the credit.

I'm thinking about the "strategy sheets". Warm up for x number of miles.

I don't want to. What if I just go hard from the start? 

Ok, let's negotiate. Take a mile. Don't go too hard, but hard enough. After that, we'll call it a day, and you can just go for it.

And that's what I did.

In the first mile, some smart aleck chicka passed me.

Um no. that's not how we play this game little girl.

That was really the turning point of when I just said "HIT IT".

I would have to say the OUT was more downhill than the return. I averaged 25mph to the turnaround. 

the word of the day was: chick.chick.chick.chick.

Yea. "Hey baby. What's going on? yea. You started 10 minutes ahead oh me on the swim. AND OOPS....look what's happening." (wink)

I just love that. 

When I pulled into transition, I checked my avg speed: 21.1

My goal was 20.5.  Although, I still feel I have a 22 in me. I need to take what I did today and do it for a sprint. 

Even though this was a HUGE PR for me, I KNOW I can still go faster. The only way I can explain it is that when I get off the bike, I'm not gasping. My heart rate is under control. My legs aren't shaking. 



Formally known as THE SUFFERFEST.

At the beginning of the season, all I wanted to accomplish was being faster in the last race of the year, than I was in the first race of the season.

Simple goal.

I NEVER EXPECTED to get faster race to race. It was so out of my scope of thinking.

Still, this is a 10K. My last 10k (olympic race) was a few years back, and I ran it in 1:14:58.

With this damn super secret goal on my mind, I decided to plot out the race like this:

1.5 miles: 11:30 pace
1.5 miles: 11:00
1.5: 10:30
1.5: 10:00

This is aggressive for me. I don't bother to do the math on those paces, but I really wanted to beat 1:09 which was my last 10k (swim before but no bike). Then, my CRAZY GOAL THAT THERE WAS NO WAY IN HELL I WAS GOING TO HIT was: 1:06:20

When I started running, I was running too fast. I knew it. I had spun my legs so fast on the bike that it rolled into the run. I kept having to say SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN.

It didn't work very well. I did not accomplish the negative split that I wanted.

I did, however, end up keeping my pace almost consistent for the entire race. That's pretty cool for me.

When I hit the halfway point (two loop race), I looked everywhere for Mr. Tea. He's ALWAYS there. There's no sign of him. I look at my watch.

OH. Are you kidding me? He's not here because he's not expecting me for another 5 or 6 minutes.

With a mile left, I gave it everything I had. with  a third of a mile left, I see Mr. Tea. He's cheering. I can't smile. I am running so hard that I think I'm going to die. 

I'm good at math. Really good at math. But when it comes to racing, my abilities revert to pre-school level. 

So, when I look at my watch, I am expecting to see 1:09. 

Instead, the watch reads: 1:03. That means I *did* manage a very slight negative split. SLIGHT. I am so close to the finish. I can feel tears stinging my eyes. I can't help but think "I've never run this fast before. Not even in a standalone 10k."

I was approaching the finish. There were SO MANY people there. Usually, everyone is gone when I finish. they were cheering and screaming. And then, I heard the RD call out my name.

And, I remembered MR. Tea saying "You pull up too fast. RUN THROUGH THAT FINISH LINE".

With what feels like my heart in my throat, I keep running. RIGHT through the finish line. 

I finished in 1:04:43. That's a 10 minute 15 second PR in the 10K portion of a triathlon.

10 minutes.


Then I check my garmin. Finish time was 2:20 ish. I just can't believe it. 

I'm thinking and shaking my head and trying to figure out how I just did that when my last Olympic race was 3:30. HOW is that even possible? I would be happy with a 5 minute improvement. Even when you add in the additional swim and bike, I still would have had around a 45 minute improvement. 

Mr. Tea brought me water, and he says "You had the funniest look on your face. You looked like you were about to cry."

"Me? Cry? Nah man. I was just running hard."

I don't even know what to expect for the rest of the season. I just know not to expect anything and just go with it on race day. I've always been afraid to set goals because I never managed to hit them. So, I'd set really low goals. Then, at least once in awhile, I'd feel good about a race. 

I joke around a lot about placing, and don't get me IS exciting. But I just want to run MY race. Whatever I can do THAT day, that's what I shoot for. I have time goals that I think are realistic. Isn't that what's important? It doesn't really matter if someone else thinks my goals are too far out there.

If I *think* I can reach them, then I will.  I don't really care about what other people think of my goals. I KNOW they are crazy. I KNOW. But I really think I can reach them or they wouldn't be MY GOALS. They'd be somebody else's goal. 

When I say, I WILL place in my AG. I MEAN it. It might not be this year, or next year, but it will happen.

One thing is for sure. I'm certainly not afraid to put in the work to get there. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

About Last Night

Yes, that is a reference to the movie from the 80's. You can take the girl out of the 80's but you can't take the 80's out of the girl.

I recently decide to pursue my Martial Arts Practice again. The last time I studied was a few years back.

I really adored Sensei. That's saying a lot because I don't like a lot of men. Nothing personal guys, but I'm not one of those women who aren't going to throw myself all over you. You have to show ME why I should like you.

Sensei was a retired marine who spent much of his life living in Japan and learning Shotokan Karate. He picked up teaching here, and he taught very small classes. He taught the classes on the cheap. He did this because that's how he was. Sensei retired. Because he didn't have a "dojo" and there wasn't anyone to pick up his practice, my practice stopped.

Then we moved. For years, I looked for another teacher. I met a couple, but things just didn't feel right. 

The other day I picked up my searched again. To my surprise a new dojo had opened up very close to my house. I did research on the place and the head teacher and decided to go over after an initial call went well.

Last night, I walked into the Dojo not really sure what to expect. I walked in and the first thing that strikes me is a sign that reads:


I had to laugh, pretty sure that they'll take anyone willing to learn. 

The teacher came out, and we went to his office to talk. I had a bunch of questions regarding his philosophy. I explained my history. That's when he told me that they teach Krav Maga. Krav Maga is an Israeli military fighting style that is akin to street fighting and is pretty rough. Where Karate is pretty. Krav Maga can (initially) be pretty ugly but always effective.

Then he said something very interesting:
Let's go see what you have. I have two daughters. I don't care if they know kata. I want to know that when they are walking around campus, they can defend themselves. Kata is important and part of tradition. But most people can't truly defend themselves until they are a black belt. Let's see your reactions.

I didn't expect to mess up my hair. I expected that we'd talk. I find out how much it cost, etc.

First we did a short warm up. 30 seconds of different things: pushups, crunches, that type of thing.

He says: do pushups for 30 seconds. You can go on your knees if you need. 

To which, of course, I raised an eyebrow.

30 seconds? Pushups? He might do more than me, but I'm not going on my knees. I did 24 pushups in 30 seconds. We then did core stuff. The core stuff...piece o'cake.

Then we were ready.

The first challenge. I was going to be blinded and attacked at various intervals. I had up to go hard and beat the attacker in 20 seconds. 

I'm in the middle of the floor. It's total quiet. I'm just standing there in the dark waiting. I felt the bump come at me from the left. I spun around groin kick, punch punch, knee kick.

It was quiet again. This time I waited in the dark for a lot longer when I felt something come at me from the front. ELBOWKNEEPUNCHPUNCHKICK. 

holy cow, who was this guy coming at me? He's built like a frickin machine. 

We did this a total of about 15 times. By the end, I was a sweaty mess. 

He said: Good work. Next week come back, and we'll see how you do with kata.

I am definitely going back. I just need to figure out which plan I'm going on. I can easily go into the black belt program that uses the regular stick work, breaking boards, etc. or I can go into a program that does insane jump kicks (movie style) and learns to use more tradition weapons. I think I might stick with the black belt program for now. Move to that later. 

After the class, I went home and started to think about something. I was doing a weight routine recently the most pushups I would do in one sitting was 12 then I'd take a break and do more. Last night, I knocked out 24, and I would have kept going if he said it would be a minute.

In Master's swim, I swim with people who are faster than me. There's never a time that I think "I can't keep up." I just do.

When I'm on the bike, I have no problem going after guys who are quite a bit ahead of me and making it a goal to catch up. Sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don't but I keep at it the entire time.

The funny part? None of this ever hurts as much as I think it's going to. This is why I have so much confidence on the swim and bike. I know that I haven't reached my potential on those two events. 

But, I don't have this with running. I don't run with a group. I don't see other people out there. Because of that, I give up way too soon. 

I need to figure out how to bring that piece to my running. How can I be attacked from all sides and not be phased? How can I knock out pushups without worrying about whether or not it is going to hurt. How do I keep handling speed at further distances on the swim? How do I keep catching athletes on the bike?

I know why. I just don't know how to overcome it on the run. I know it's there now. I know what my issue is. 

I just need to break through it.

Monday, July 16, 2012 Review

A few weeks back, I was contacted by asking me if I'd be willing to shop their site and write a review. 

If you're like me, you get this stuff all the time "Please try our product". Please, please, please.

Be honest, how many of us got the case of POM juice a few years back? Hmmmm? And the bars....from whoever it was....ok.

Aquagear even offered me a gift certificate to shop at their store. Seriously.

I still ignored them.

Then, I got a second email. This time, the consultant said, "Hey, we're a family own business. We'd really like it if you'd try us out."

Basically, "This isn't a scam."

I'm a triathlete. If there is ONE thing I love, it's Gear. And the only thing I love more than GEAR is FREE GEAR.

Supporting a family run small business? I am TOTALLY in.

I checked out the site. If you haven't figured it out yet, the address is

As a business owner, there are a few things that I noticed right off the bat:

1.) Although they are not an accredited business, their BBB rating is an A+. The company opened in 1999 and have been on file with the BBB since 2005. Also, they have zero complaints. That's a long time to be operating without a single complaint.

2.) The next thing I did was read through the comments that customers post on their website. I was really impressed with the fact that someone ACTUALLY RESPONDS to the posts. So many times, I visit websites or FB pages and the customers are ignored. This is really a pet peeve of mine. Whether the post was positive feedback or an upset customer, they were responded professionally.

3.) The website has just about every single category of swim accessories you could possibly want. Holy cow. They have a lot of stuff. 


I knew exactly what I wanted and started my search for the new Agility Swim paddles. At my master's swims, these things are starting to make their debut. 

The truly special thing about these paddles  is that they do not strap on at all. If you don't have vertical forearm placement, the paddles will go flying off in the water. REALLY cool stuff.

Next, I recently purchased goggles and new swimsuits. But since Crazy Bitch INSISTS on burying my swim caps, I can always use more.

Now, you might say "A cap is a cap."  My response will be "well sorta"

With really long hair, silicone works the best with out breaking off my hair. Next, I really love colorful swim caps to match my crazy swim suits. (Also, it makes me easy to spot in open water. Mr. Tea can see me in those weekly races.)

Let me tell you, they have quite a selection.  Check out the swim caps here!

That pretty much completed my order, but I still wanted to check out everything they had. I really wanted to figure out if I would actually shop there down the road. Gift certificate or not, I'm not going to send people to a place and then not shop there myself right?

Goggles, buoys, exercise equipment, lap counters, bags, fins....HECK....they EVEN have breast stroke fins. 

Overall how was my experience and would I shop there again?

The shopping experience was very easy, and I found everything very quickly. Next, the shipping was crazy fast. They say it on the front page of their website, and it's true. I'm still not sure how they got the package from West Palm Beach, FL to Denver Colorado so quickly (2 days), but who cares? I didn't think I'd have the paddles for this week's master's swims, but I do. That's pretty cool.

Did I mention that shipping is free with orders over $75? BONUS. I think I'll go back and order photochromatic goggles.

The only thing that they really didn't seem to have is swimsuits. That's not a huge deal to me, especially since they have a ton of other stuff. 

Would I shop there again? Absolutely. 

I recommend that you at least check them out. Support small business. 

I think you'll be very pleased with their service and selection. 

Again, that website is

Saturday, July 7, 2012

SheRox Sprint Race Report

For as many years as I've been writing these reports, you know there's ALWAYS something that happens at a race. There are few (if any) perfect races.

But it isn't all that noise, all those external issues that make a race good or bad. It's how we handle them.

SheRox Sprint Triathlon 750m/10.7 mile bike/5k

I have never done this race before. I watched it last year when I was training for boulder. I had a long ride planned that day and didn't realize there was a race going on. When I was done my ride, I looked up the finish times. DAMN, bitches are FAST.  

Mental note: AVOID SheRox

Fast Forward to this year, I'm registered and ready to go. Ready to compete against those insanely fast women.

So, there's that.

Then, there's also the fact that 2 weeks ago I found out that my nemesis was also planning on racing. 

Why I'm not particularly fond of her:
1.) She gives triathletes a bad name.
2.) She's mean.
3.) She has a huge ego.
4.) She's one of the faster swimmers. (I often finished within seconds of her at our Dip n Dashes.....which means she beat me at every single race).

But maybe the most important reason:
When we found out that we'd both be at SheRox, she said, "Oh, I'll stick around and cheer you in."





I want to do well. I run my race to the best of my ability. The results will be what they are. But, DO NOT call me out like that. 

Cuz I will open a can of whoop ass every time.

Let's get on with the race.

I took a tour of the course first thing in the morning. The transitions were ridiculous. The run from the water was .25 mile up a very steep hill. Crazy steep. Next (minus the hill) a similarly long run from transition to the point where you can actually mount and dismount your bike. 

Running is not exactly my strong point. The more running there is, the more that will hurt my time in the long run. 

I turn to My Mike, and I say "I have to take my wetsuit off right at swim exit. It's the only way I will be able to keep up with everyone."

Of course, he replies, "You are brillant."

Let's talk goals. My goal for this race: sub 1:30, aggressive goal: 1:25.  Broken down like this:
Swim: 14:00
Bike: 20.5 mph
Run: sub 32:55

I was in the last wave. I took off at a moderate pace. I hit the 325m mark in 5:07. I was happy with that. We turned. The next 100 was into the current (not a strong current at all). then we turned and the rest was straight home with the current.

I step on the beach in 14:05 (garmin time). PERFECT. I wasn't out of breath, wasn't tired. Felt like I just had a nice little swim.

On the beach, I stopped and stripped my suit off super fast. My Mike yells at me "Sandra got out in 11:00, 3 minutes ahead of you, but she didn't look good."

I took off running up hill. I yelled back. "No problem. I will catch her on the bike."

When I said that, everyone started cheering for me. People were yelling "GO GET HER. You'll catch her!"  

Note: Taking my wetsuit off at water's edge, really was brilliant. I ran the quarter of a mile in about 2:00, uphill, and I passed other women who were walking with their wetsuits on.

I run into T1, throw my wetsuit down, put on my helmet, and I'm outta there fast. the fastest t1 time of my AG in under 1 minute.'s the dumb part....we have to run with our bikes, not just through transition, but down a path toward the road, make a left turn THEN we can mount our bikes.

Again, NOT good for someone who is not the best (but getting better) at running.

Clearly this race was design by a RUNNER for RUNNERS.

I hop on the the bike at the same time another women in my AG did. (She ended up coming in #1 on the bike. I was #2).

We were neck in neck the ENTIRE way. I would beat her on climbs and she'd pass me on the downhills.

I couldn't shake her. (BTW-she ended up coming in 3rd. Well deserved. Well played little lady. Well played).

Then, I made my mistake. at 5 miles, I reached back for my GU. Nothing. both packets fell out of my short pockets. Within those few seconds of loss of concentration, she took off, and I couldn't catch her. Well, I probably could....see LESSONS the bottom.

BIKE: my garmin posted my speed as 20.2 mph. Officially speed was 19.7....that's with the long transition calculated in. I'm fine with that. Next time, I will be 21 mph. Count on it.

All of a sudden, I realize that I have no idea where sandra was. How did she get so fast? She must have beat me again. That's when My Mike yells: Sandra hasn't come in yet. You're number 2. GO!!!

In my excitement, I started running out when I realized that I had my helmet on. No wait. I didn't notice the helmet. Heather did. With a quick little hand motion and, "Um, you gotta a little something stuck to your head." I realized my mistake. WTF? I had to run all the way back to my bike. 

The Run
Here we go. I'm feeling really good. the run starts on an uphill. Pretty good sized. I think to myself, "This is PERFECT. I need to remember to start slower. This will really help me."

I'm pacing pretty good. I feel great. I have never felt so good during a race. 

top of the hill: .65 miles. AWESOME. I'll hit that hard on the way back. 

At mile 2, I start to pick up the pace. At mile 2, I glance at my watch. I SWEAR it said 1:17.

I'm a little disappointed, but I knew I was heading to a pr. Heck all I had to do was run less than a 13 minute mile, and I'll PR. But, I wanted MORE than that. I set my sights on a finish time of 1:27. Thinking, well the aggressive goal was PRETTY AGGRESSIVE.

At the halfway point of the run, I stopped for water and gatorade. I didn't have anything on the bike except for water, and I didn't want the problem with cramping that I had at my last race.

With 1 mile left, I hit hard. Mild ups and downs and then the .65 downhill. It's about the only time I can hit an 8:30 mile. 

At this point, I'm running about as hard as I can run. 

Keep in mind...I have NO idea what my time is.

I cross the finish line and don't even look at the clock.

My Mike comes running at me, SCREAMING "1:23!! 1:23!!!! I THINK YOU PLACED 1:23!! You were going so fast. I almost missed you on the bike. You were coming in hot!"

I wrinkle up my face and I'm thinking "'re delusional. There's no way I was 1:23."

I look at my Garmin: 1:23:45 which just happens to be my offical time.

That's.not.possible. How did that happen?

We hung around waiting for the results. Placing would ROCK, but I'm still walking around dazed and confused as to how I possibly pulled off a 1:23.

results are finally up: 5th place. 5th place.

I've never come in above 50%, let alone top 10. NEVER.

We sit down. Mike's munching on my post race burrito when he says, "Oh hey look. Sandra just crossed the finish line."

12 minutes after me.

"You should go congratulate her. Let her know."

"Nah, that's not my style. She'll see the results."

1:23. What is that? a 9 minute? 10 minute pr? I don't know. I'm still not thinking straight.

I don't even feel like I did a 1:23. 

Thrilled? I can't even begin to explain how happy I am. I looked at the official results. All the runners around me ran their 5ks at around 8:30 pace or so. Then there's my little ole 10:29 pace coming in 5th. 

There's something to be said for executing a race to plan and being good at the swim and really good on the bike. 

But with every race, there's the good and the "where can I improve"

Lessons learned:
1.) don't lose concentration on the bike. 
2.) On the short rides, GU is fine, but those shorts pockets were too shallow. Next time, I'll wear my shorts with the leg pockets. 

What I did well:
1.) I followed the plan. 
2.) I didn't go out like a bat out of hell.
3.) Even when I thought I was behind or coming in close to a PR, I kept my focus up instead of taking the "defeatist" mentality. I wasn't going to give up today.

Where do I go from here:

These are the nagging questions, post race analysis. 

Did I go hard enough? I'm not sure. I feel pretty confident that I could have upped the intensity a little bit in each event. 

But SHOULD I have? should I have gone faster on the swim? Would that have hurt my bike?

I could have gone faster on the bike. Would that have hurt my run?

I could have gone faster on the run. I should have gone faster on the run. 

For the first time, I feel like I have untapped potential. Yes, I can be a faster runner. One of these times, I'll break that damn 10:00 pace. 

But I can be faster on the bike. Is that being cocky? Or confident? I was 10th overall today (on the bike). I could have been faster, which is pretty amazing when you realize that I am in the 45-49 AG.

I'll tell you what wasn't cocky...but just plain truth...passing all those women in the early waves on the bike. Times don't lie.

My next race is 7/28. It's an international distance race.

Right now, I'm going to put my feet up, put on some cheesie 80's movie and eat frozen yogurt.

thanks for reading.