September already?!

I cannot believe it is September already!  This fall I was asked to co-coach at Graham’s middle school for Cross Country.  I was so excited and I did not hesitate to say YES.  Graham, on the other hand, not sure he was as excited.  Having MOM there all the time really puts a crimp in his behavior and social life. Oh well…  I know that I only have a few years to do stuff like this with my kids, so even though I knew it would be a lot, I am so glad I decided to join the coaching team.

We practice every day – PM or AM for 60-90 minutes and meets are 2x/week!  However, it just lasts until October 10th, so it is a short season at this age.  We have 50+ 7th and 8th grade boys/girls.  There is just something so refreshing with working with kids.  And, they think I am cool (most of them) because I work with the U of I kids too – so at least there is some respect level – because we all know that there is NO way I could run fast or race fast at “my age.”  :)

I was brought in to write the workouts and help lead all the workouts.  On the first day we did a super hard workout – hill repeats into 300m sprints.  I thought we would lose them all.  But, instead, they stayed and came back.  The next day,  I had them all write down their top 3 goals on an index card and share it with me.  I read them all and wrote a personal note to each of them AND a famous motivational quote on the other side – laminated them and returned them to each kid.  I wanted the kids to know that if they are going to make BOLD goals – we need to train hard to have a chance at hitting these goals.

Speaking of goals, my last Triathlon of the season is Sunday at Worlds 70.3 in Mt. Tremblant.  I am excited to race and am ready.  And, I am looking forward to an off season of Cross and pumpkin spice donuts starting on Monday.

After Muncie 70.3 I have raced a few times.  I raced a local, smaller triathlon:  Manteno Sprint Triathlon a couple of weeks after Muncie to shock my legs back into short course racing.  I love this race and did it the last time they had it in 2003 after having the twins.  So, when the re-instated the race this year, I jumped at it.  Here I am exiting the swim at Manteno.  Glad I was not serious or anything.

 "        Swim at Manteno                       "

"                               "My friend and OA Male winner, Louie at Manteno Triathlon.

Then, I raced USAT Nationals Olympic and Sprint in Milwaukee in early August.  I was excited to race short course and race some friends and an uber competitive race.  Nationals is always competitive but then add in that this race qualified the top 25 in each AG for Worlds, which is taking place next September in Chicago.  How fun!
I spent the weekend in bed with Chris Wickard.  Well, only 1/2 the time.  We both raced the OLY on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday.  I was nervous for the race but also excited to race some super fast women and see some old friends coming in to the race from all over the US.

For the OLY race, I came out of the water in the top 5 – felt great, fast and smooth.  I could only see a couple of girls up front – one of them Megan James – and I worked super hard to close the gap.  I loved the swim there – and LOVED having others with me.  Off on the bike – I felt good – worked hard and tried to keep things under control and keep myself in the mix.  I got off the bike still in good position and felt great.  My goal was top 10 and I was in the top 10.  I started running and felt great – then it felt like I was suffocating.  I was wheezing and not sure why?  It was humid but not deadly out there.  I just could not breathe well.  I have horrible hay fever and it usually starts in Mid-August – so who knows, all I know is that I was gasping for air but not running as fast as I could be.  AND if you are 1% off at Nationals you will lose your position in a heart beat.  AND that is what happened to me.  I went from top 10 to 14th in a snap.  I ran slow for me – 43 minutes – and if you run that “slow” at Nationals you will get swallowed up.  I managed it best I could and when I crossed the finish line I was disappointed but there was NOTHING I could do or would do differently – first time I had that issue.  And, on those days you just hold your head up high and move on.  And, get redemption at the next race.

Lucky for me the next race was the next morning!  Many of us decided to do the double.  Chris and I rested, ate and walked about 10 miles after our OLY race.  Ha!  The next day we did the same pre-race prep and lined up with a few hundred of our closest friends again.  This time, I felt like shit on the swim.  Ironically, the swim is where I felt the OLY race fatigue.  WEIRD — but it has been years and  years since I have raced back to back (for obvious reasons) so I had a handful of girls in front of me and I was swimming fine but had no snap.  So, I tried to draft and got out of the water in top 5 again.  One of my friends, Frank, shouted “she is 90″ up!”  NINETY SECONDS in a sprint race?  GOODNESS…this will be rough.  AND how did that happen?  WOW.  (Later I found out it was Heather W, who I have raced over the years and is a superb swim/biker).

I had way more fun at the Sprint that day – less pressure and while I was pissed about my OLY race, I still felt pretty darn good on Sunday.  I was able to maintain contact with the top 5 and came off the bike panting for my placement in 6th.  I was not afraid of having the breathing issue again.  Sure, deep down inside I was a little worried but it is so rare for me and it did not seem as humid that morning, so I went for it and if I blow up, then so be it.  But, in a Sprint race at Nationals, you have to take the gamble – if, not you will get hammered in a blink in an eye.  It is just so fast.

I got off on the run in 6th and I could see 5th place in front of me.  I had ONE goal….top 5 (Podium).  I was going to ruin myself to get that spot.  I hunted her down.  I knew who it was and felt like she was not running as well as she usually does… I calculated my position, my pace and effort and made my move after mile 1.  I knew I would have to REALLY go or she would latch on to me and that would be more painful.  I heard her breathing – I was too but kept it silent as I passed her – and went by her and I was now in 5th at mile 1.5 of the 5k.

I had another painful 2.5 miles to run.  I was running probably 6:40s, maybe 6:30s to make the pass and on the 2nd day of racing, that was not easy.  However, I felt way better today than for my Oly  race (grrrr)….Behind me were literally hundreds of fast girls charging us down.  I could see Chris Wickard about 45″ in front of me ….I focused on her while I did my best to hold these girls off.

I could see one and she was flying – WAY faster than I was running.  I literally had to find another gear or she would catch me within yards of the finish line.  She looked about my age and I was doing everything I could not to vomit all over myself.  I sprinted to the finish line and held her off and ended up 5th in the AG!  I was SO happy and redeemed my bad self from the OLY race.

Lo and behold the gal behind me was the 45-49 AG winner – so she was not in my AG but she was flying and did look my age, I was right!  Glad she kept me honest!

Here is the 40-44 Top 5 Podium.  I am in 5th and Chris Wickard in 4th:

Sprint Nats Podium 2014

What a great weekend of racing!  I had so many friends and athletes race so well there and q-fy for Worlds in Chicago.  I will race both the Sprint and OLY next September and I am looking forward to it and not traveling!

It took me awhile to recover from that double.  My chest hurt.  My heart hurt and every muscle was fatigued.  I was exhausted.  I got some good rest and pushed into my final prep for Worlds 70.3.  I went up to Madison and rode the course, I ran hills, I swam hard.  Personally, I was getting the kids ready for school and getting athletes ready to race & started coaching XC and the U of I was back in session.  AND Jerome was in China traveling this whole time.

Then, I had a little “HELP ME” moment.

I had to step back for a couple of days or risk getting sick.  I know when I hit my limit and I needed a couple of days to re-group.  I had to cut back on my social obligations (boo) and just focus on myself, my work and my family.  After a few days of getting my sh*t back together I was fine and bounced right back to carry on with my bad self.

Now, we are at race week for Worlds.  I went camping this past weekend with my family and we had a great time. I am in a good place and ready to race on Sunday and then ready for some R&R afterwards!

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