Catching up – FINALLY!

Oh goodness, shame on me for not updating my blog in a timely fashion!  Honestly, nothing personal, but I have been swamped.  It is like asking a tax accountant to go on vacation the month before April 15th!  I am here and all is GOOD!  I have been working feverishly all summer and when I am not working I am training/racing and trying to balance it all and be a GOOD MOM….all of which is not easy (as you all know!).  My kids are heading back to school in just over 2 1/2 weeks!

The kids were at sleep over camp for the week of the 4th of July and I headed down to Tucson for a change of scenery.  I went down solo as Jerome had to stay home and work (and be our emergency parent home) and spent the week training and working.  I got a TON of work done because it was so hot in the afternoon that all I did was work work work all afternoon and night – it was glorious.  I got a ton done and was a hermit all week except for a little visit with Gail L. and Jen Lynn, which was a nice ADULT interaction for the week.  I got lucky in Tucson too – the weather was COOL for Tucson (while it was breaking records at home) and I even rode up Lemmon and it was barely 80F!!  Lovely.

I think people were shocked I was in Tucson alone for 1 week.  Oh!  Well, that is easy for me, while I am very social, I really enjoy being by myself and had NO issues being gone the week!

After my last Triathlon – at the end of June, I was getting ready to race the Door County 1/2 Ironman this past Sunday.  This was going to be my “A” race of the season, but I had a change of heart (read:  feeling good and our house is not selling),  so I added short course AND Long course Nationals to the schedule (yeah!).  But, our huge Door County trip that was going to include:  Katie, Mia, Stacie and Karen turned immediately to just me, Mia and Katie.

Door County is beautiful if you ever can go – just a lovely Lake Michigan town about 5 hours north of Chicago in rural Wisconsin.  Home of the Green Bay Packers – consider yourself warned.  I agreed to do the driving, which was a Saturday AM departure and a Sunday afternoon return!  Phew!

Last year this race was 100F degrees and we NEVER thought we would see those temps again that far north – OH….we were wrong, it was definitely not 100F, but it was 90F and humid.  I like this race because we swim in “cool” Lake Michigan and there is an ELITE wave.

I did not know too many of the Elite girls except for Adrienne, Kimberly Gooddall and Karin Langer, but I was glad to have these girls in the wave -sometimes athletes sand bag and do not race elite.  WHY?  I have no idea.  Yes, I was out in no man’s land the ENTIRE race – I ride and run solo – even so alone I have to make sure I am on the course sometimes – but you know what?  It is a fair race in the front and it is REAL racing.  Yes, it is lonely but if you want to be the best – RACE the best.   I think some athletes do it because they take the Elites out of the Age Group awards.  I have to be extremely honest here – I could give a sh*t.  I race to be my best and to lay it all out there.  I do not race for awards.  I race to be the best athlete I can be at 41 years old on that given day.  And, I like to race off the front.

I felt so good for this race.  In fact, I have never felt so good before a race since 2005.  I am serious here.  I did taper for this race and was completely nutritionally topped off.  I was SO sick of eating by the time we went to bed on Saturday night.  I absolutely carb-load pre- half IM and the difference it makes is like night and day.  I was SO excited to race.  I literally jumped out of bed and immediately put my race kit on as soon as my alarm went off!

They started the approximately 75 Elites – male/female – together.  I got a GREAT start – I was out in front looking for the other women and I realized it was just me!  After about 300 m the gal who eventually came out of the water 1st went by me and I used her draft but she was hammering too much for me so she gapped me a bit.  I was swimming so effortlessly.  I felt awesome!  It was one of those swims where I was like “OH THIS is awesome – I LOVE THIS” feeling.  Then, I found Karin Langer who is a great swimmer and I hung onto her feet and finished right behind her – we were 2nd and 3rd out of the water – I had one of the best swims I have EVER had.  And, I gauge a good swim on how I am feeling and where I come out of the water – coming out in the Elite pack 2nd/3rd is right where I want to be – regardless of time.  I did not even look at my watch!  I had a race to race!

Onto the bike….I headed right out and was 3rd on the bike.  Unfortunately Karin flatted and was delayed a bit fixing her bike – so I moved to 2nd and felt so good I had to remind myself this was a Half IM, NOT an Oly race.  I was watching my power and speed and we were moving (we had a tailwind here).  I felt so good it was scarey.  And, I was making sure I was not over-riding anything here.  I passed the first place girl and then was riding in 1st place for a bit and Adrienne and I leap frogged for about 20 miles or so.  I was drinking and eating and taking in my salt because it was HOT out and I could feel it already (the race did NOT start until 8am?).  I felt really good until about mile 40 when I was HOT and wanted to be off my bike – and had a moment of, “OH!  I need to slow down and eat/drink more.”  By now my power meter was not working (or by mile 25 it went off – nice) – which is OK because I don’t like feedback much anyway, but I ONLY wear it so I do not over-ride the first 30 miles or so.  I ate all my gels (5) and wanted MORE.  And, I took in 4 bottles and wanted MORE – and I was under 2 hours on the bike at this point!  It was that hot.  So,  I slowed down a bit, and took in more fluids and got another gel at the AIDE station and came into T2 in 3rd place.  I did not feel SUPER but it was more of a heat management issue than anything else at this point.

I sat down to pee in T2, as I always do and I was clearly hydrated.  Honestly for me in that heat, I just need to go slower than I want to – so honestly, my entire day is fighting with myself to go faster NO slower NO faster NO slower …to ensure I can run 13.1 miles in that heat.  Got out of T 2 in 4th place and it was so hot we were running on the extreme side of the road for ANY shade and I even carried a hand held flask to get in more fluids.  I took ice/cold water from every aide station and kept that in my sports bra and that helped a ton.  The first 4 miles were AWFUL – I quit the sport again, but the good news is that I know what to do when things get a little ugly in the heat – you MUST slow down and stay cool/wet.  So, I did that.  I had since taken off my watch, so I ran as I could – by RPE and on a day like that, that is what you do.  I took in a chocolate caffeinated gel and that helped and I finally got my legs back around mile 5-6.  Then, after that I was pretty good.  There are several BIG hills on this course – one called the BLUFF, which is a monster, but otherwise, it was open, hot and a little slow.

I could not wait to finish.  I can’t believe sometimes how much I forget how much the 1/2 IM distance hurts and how badly I wanted those last 3 miles to BE OVER!!!  But, I knew I was doing OK because I held my position and ended up finishing 4th Elite in a slower time of just over 5 hours.  After the Age Group athletes were done, that put me in 2nd AG, which I was not super thrilled about, but I had to race the girls that started with me.  So, all in all a GOOD day for me – NOT great, a slower time for me due to the heat, but overall I was pleased.  Any day you can control the elements and come out ahead is a good day!

After my finish I went back and watched Marc, Joe, Brad, Rick, Scott, Katie, Sharon and Mia finish – as they all did.  However, Mia had crashed on her bike at mile 10 or so and it was bad.  HOW this girl finished the race is beyond me.  We call her Mia BEAST and this further explains why:  When she crashed, she thankfully did not break any bones but she took a CHUNK of her knee out.  When I saw her at the finish line I took her to the MED tent and looked at her knee.   I am NOT kidding, it was absolutely disgusting.  So bad that I wanted her to go to the ER.  She would have nothing to do w/ that because she knew it was so bad she wanted to get home to her boss and her hospital (she is a DR).  Thankfully Sharon is a nurse and was able to help Mia with the med staff at the race because Katie and I could barely look at it.  And, yes we immediately drove home – got home at 10pm and Mia went straight to the hospital to meet w/ the surgeon/plastic surgeon for repair.  NOW if this was anyone else, we would have been at the hospital in Door County but Mia – being a MD was able to work with the staff MD at the race and “fix” things until we got back to Chicago.

I really was going to post a picture of her open knee – but I can’t do it.  I can barely open it to save it, etc.  Let’s just say you can put your finger down to her knee bone and tendons.  She is having it vacuumed shut today and will be OK long term.  And, Mia, I love you, but STOP sending me pictures of your knee!!!! :)

Congrats to everyone who raced at Door County – LOTS of great races in that heat on Sunday.  Thanks to Katie and Mia who traveled with me to!  A BIG thank you to Jerome who has been nothing short of awesome.  I was gone last weekend with my sister/Mom and then racing this weekend – thanks sweetie.

Next up:  Local Sprint next weekend and then USAT AG Nationals in August!



  1. Great racing as always Jen! Sounds like Eagleman except with hills – yikes. I had to laugh a little about your comment about being so alone on the course at the front that you wonder if you are on the right course. TRUTH!! This year at New Orleans I was absolutely convinced I had taken a wrong turn because I saw NOBODY (literally) for about 5 or 6 miles on the bike. Makes knowing the course a little more important. :) Hope Mia heals up well and hope you are recovering well so you can kill it at Nationals!!

  2. I just LOVE reading about your racing!!!! You just know how to race in all conditions!!!! Sorry I didn’t make it….and feel so bad for Mia : (((( The pictures were super gross!!!!

  3. Nice job, my elite friend:) Hee hee! Proud of you. Yes, I think the half is the new Oly, and while I used to love the distance, I have lately been luke warm about it. Glad to see an update. xo

  4. Ha! Congrats on another great race!!! I could totally go to AZ and hang solo too, I love it there too much, it’s just so relaxing!

  5. Impressive race Jen! That’s funny about sitting down in T2 to evacuate the bladder. I never thought of that. But, I’m thinking I would be afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I practiced peeing on the bike one time during a training ride, just to see if I could do it and I can. I have heard some pee on the run, but I doubt I could relax enough for that.

    I think the solo trip to Tucson is awesome.

    Good luck on your next 2 races, especially USAT AG Nationals!!!!

  6. Another great blog, i love reading these. This one lifted my spirits alot as i thought i struggled more than most with the heat. But your description of the heat was exactly how i felt!

  7. You sound as busy as me!….Great Race! :) Have fun at Nationals …how fun; haven’t done them in years!

  8. i knew you would race this year. you crack me up jen! sounds like you are kicking ass like usual. xxoo.

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