Use It or Lose It

“There is no celebration of any victory in the past.  Work for the next victory, the one yet to come.  You cannot allow complacency.”  BB

I am not sure what came over me, but I decided to do 4 races in 4 weeks.  I really like to race. And, as I get older, it is the “use it or lose it” mentality.  I enjoy training, but if I can just race every weekend and do limited training in and out of these races, that makes me happy.  In the early summer with the kids home, working, and well, just wanting to go canoeing, out at night, drinking wine and frankly sleeping a bit, I thought it would be a good idea.  I really want it all (who doesn’t), but something always has to give…Damnit!  😊

Three of the four races were local – and started at 6:30am, so I was home by 10am or so – way before my teenagers knew what was going on.   The fourth race was Madison 70.3 and required a road trip, but that was a good mini- get away for me!

June 4th:  Sprint Triathlon

June 11th:  Madison 70.3

June 18th:  Sprint Triathlon

June 25th:  Sprint Triathlon

As to be expected, the June 4th race I felt AMAZING.  Racing again, fresh, bam!  I ended up crossing the finish line in first but was beaten by a girl from the back.  The race was super hilly (for our standards) and it was a 3 x 1 mile loop on the run and I hammered the downhill on that run only thinking about:  1.) winning and/or 2.) how this is going to impact my race in Madison the following weekend.  GAH!  I have never raced the weekend before a Half Ironman.  But, you need to mix things up sometimes and try it or you never know.

I recovered well and rolled right into Madison 70.3.  The good thing about racing so much is that you do become a robot.  Train, sleep, eat and race.  Pretty much all week.  So, as I recovered from the 1st Sprint, I was getting mentally ready for a hilly and hot Half Ironman.

Elizabeth and I were traveling together to Madison.  We both had a big group of athletes up there racing and were both eager to race long again.  Honestly, the Half Ironman is my favorite distance and one I wish I raced more, but the “longer” bikes always persuade me to stick to short course racing sometimes.

The Madison 70.3 was a new course this year.  Hilly.  And, the temperatures were in the mid 90s.  We knew that this course would reward the patient and the strongest for sure.  We drove the bike course (thankfully we did that!)  and stopped about half way through because some CHICKEN STORE seemed to be more interesting than the 56 mile bike route we were driving.  It was 95F degrees, we were in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin but came to an oasis of quaint little stores that Elizabeth and I needed to stop and shop – so we did!  Chicken store was a disappointment, but the town was worth the stop.

Also, for the 70.3, we just ate so much food on Saturday.  That is probably one of my least favorite parts of racing.   Sure, I get to eat a lot of food, but it is not what I would eat in one day:   CARBS and more CARBS.  Pancakes, Sub sandwiches, pasta, pretzels.  Nothing I don’t normally eat, but all in 12 hours of the day?   Yuck.   But, we were ready.   And, that really helps when we are racing for 5 hours.

Madison did not disappoint.  I really love that town.  And, the course was hard.  The swim was easy – but HOT- I found the 71F water temps hot – I am always hot in the water (ugh).  But, I came out in 30 minutes – so not a bad swim for me, but nothing spectacular either.  It was a rolling start and frankly, I hated it.  I want to go head to head with the girls I am racing.  I want contact! I want aggressive water, chop and tons of swimmers.  I am not a fan of the Ironman wave starts.  I call it the “pussification” of our sport.  Now, I realize some of you like it, but, what happens when we do bigger races like Naitonals and Kona and we must fight for our position and fight to be up front in those mass starts?  I am just not a fan of the “soft entry” and everyone having their own water given to them.   But, that is just me.  So, I found the swim easy and boring because of this.

The bike at Madison was hard.  I was a little under-prepared for it.  But, that was my own fault.  I had the miles in my legs and the training, but I lacked the bike handling skills at descending at 40 mph and stopping quickly and turning.  Plus, I had a bike mechanical on the course.  Because the roads were in such poor shape, as the pounding intensified out there, my aero bars came loose and were soon (at mile 30 ish) wiggling all over the place.   And, it was windy that day, so I was trying to over-steer to correct, could not ride aero at all after mile 30.   Thankfully, I could manage the mechanical, but it was not fun.  I had to ride a bit more conservatively than I would like and it landed me a slow (er) bike time than I wanted at 2:5x.

The ironic part of this is that no one in my AG passed me.  Sure, I had some other girls pass me on the bike (Erin K, Angela Kidd) but NEVER saw another 45-49 AG girl ALL DAY LONG.  Either I was in last or still up front.   And, I knew, Megan James, who I coach, was up in 1st because she would swim 27-28 minutes (she did).

During the bike, the patience paid off.   While I was slow and under-rode the course, I was able to get in all my nutrition.  I drank SIX bottles in 2:5x.  I took in salt, a Powerbar, 4-5 gels.  I was feeling great and managing the heat well.  I even wore my white cooling jersey I wear in Kona and it was great!

I had no idea where I was when I got off the bike.  There was only 1 bike in transition for the AG (Megan) and I did not see another bike.  But, with the TT start, I was racing the clock not the girls!  (Reason 450388383 I do not like the TT starts- let me race head to head not some stupid clock!).   Anyway, I sat down in T2 and peed while I put my shoes on and off I went.

The first mile is never awesome, but I settled in to a good pace and went off.  The run is a huge loop around the lake with only one small place to see the competition, but that is at mile 1, so that is not super helpful.  But, as the run went on, I was noticing no one was passing me and no one was moving fast.  At this point of the day, it was hot and windy.  I did not find the run as hard as everyone described.  Sure, it was rolling and HOT but it was not as challenging as the bike, frankly.

Anyway, I was in no man’s land.  I NEVER SAW another female really out there.  One 28 year old ran by me and she was moving – but otherwise, no one.  I ran as hard as I could.  Took ice (and put in my sports bra) at every aide station, water at every aide station.  Carried salt and my sports drink in my hand held.  I took gels every 30-40 minutes – I was a robot and if I could keep cool, I was moving swiftly comparatively.

But, it was hard (duh).  And, while I could feel the fatigue and heat as the miles clicked on, I was determined to not give up one second or give one inch.  I was hoping to get top 5 in my AG, but, I knew they were breathing down my neck and chasing me from behind.  It was purely mind over matter.  Nothing else prepares  you for the last 5k of a hot and hilly half ironman – except to dig deeper and push harder and turn yourself inside out to get to that line.  Go fast where others go slow.

I was thrilled to see the finish line!  I finally crossed in my slowest HIM time but for some reason, I had a feeling it was going to be good enough for the day.  And, that was all that mattered.  Times, watts – > none of that matters if you are 1st, does it?  I did not even use data out there – I had my power on, but could not really read it and I ran and swam naked.   I ended up 2nd in the Age Group behind my athlete, Megan James who had a great day.   And, I was absolutely content with 2nd place.  Even if I did not have the bike mechanical, I am not sure I could have caught Megan, so all in all, I was happy.  I could walk away knowing I did my best and move on.

It was just a fun weekend.  Elizabeth and I had fun, stopping for chicken stores and beer and DQ (priorities) and we both raced well (Elizabeth was 3rd AG) and we both had athletes that did great up there and socialize a bit.  A nice get away for both of us.

After Madison I could barely walk.  I was so tired and just absolutely spent – more mentally than physically after a race like that, but I had to figure out how to recover and do a SPRINT triathlon 6 days later.

Race #3 was my hometown race.  A race that is near and dear to me and one that I have done 9 times out of 10 (I was at Eagleman 70.3 one year) and won all the years but one.  This year; however, since it was the 10th anniversary, they added a prize purse for the elite girls – so that meant all my fast friends decided to come out for it.   But, that is OK – the more competition the better!    Thankfully the elite wave all started together so we could race head to head!

I ended up 3rd OA after Jenny Garrison and Jacqui Guiliano, so I was in good company.  I felt ok out there.  I felt GREAT in the swim – but I can do this swim with my eyes closed and that helped me on race morning as some of the MMTT (Elite Kids triathlon team) went too wide, I kept it short and beat them to the buoy.  I felt tired on the bike and so-so on the run.   All in all, not a bad race considering this was my 3rd weekend of racing.

But, I had to will myself to run hard – the run felt HARD and I was under a ton of fatigue.  I just kept telling myself, “Just get it done, do the work, suffer, suffer, dig, dig.”  That was all.  Usually this race is not as competitive and I can relax a bit – NOT this year (of course)…so I had to push from start to finish.

Then, just yesterday I raced my 4th race in as many weeks.  I did Twin Lakes – a local, fun race I have done a number of times.  First time I did this race was in 1997.  I was 3rd OA then and was racing under Jenny Parker (as I got married later in 1997).  The last ~6 years or so I have won this race and consider it another local/hometown race.  I love the atmosphere of this race:  old and new friends, many of my athletes- just so laid back and fun.  And, that is why I do it every year.  I love the social scene of racing.

Weather was perfect.  In fact, it was cold for many (the colder the better for me), as it was 52F at the start!   OH YES!   That means one thing:  FAST.   People said it was windy, I really did not notice that, but the bike was only 14 miles.  The run here is 4.5 miles, so it is really a runner’s race.

Again, it was a TT start (gah) but I did go off in the first group of 3, so I was able to know where I was all day.  I LOVE racing off the front.  I remember, back in the day, working so hard to catch anyone in front of me, now, with my swim, I work on holding anyone off.  It was a hard thing to learn -HOW to race like that and not over-bike, etc., but now I love it – even if it is lonely sometimes.  And, I remember that switch from coming from behind to the front over the years – it was something I had to figure out and learn how to race a little differently and change up some of my tactics.

I was 2nd onto my bike behind my good friend, Dean Hewson.  He is a great athlete, so my goal was to keep him and the cop car in my sights for as long as I could.  This year I was able to stay closer to him and I actually felt AWESOME on the bike.  I never looked at my computer as I was just RACING to hold off the girls and trying to keep Dean in sight (that lasted only about 8miles or so).  As long as I am in front, watts don’t really matter at a race that short.

I came into T2 as the 1st girl, but due to the wave start that does not mean that much and I knew there were fast girls behind me.  I was a little surprised Aneta did not catch me on the bike – she is a great cyclist, frankly.  But, I headed out and the run felt pretty horrible.  FINALLY the races caught up to me – I was tired and could feel the fatigue in my body. The weather saved my A$$ because I felt like I was running fast, but I was thinking it may not be enough to hold the girls off.

Never ever look back, right?   At mile 3.75 or so, I could see the 2nd place girl gaining on me.  She was flying!   Damnit!  I went as hard as I could and knew EVERY.SECOND.MATTERED.  I crossed the finish line in 1st.  But, then it is a waiting game (did I mention I hate TT starts?).

At the end of the day, I did win OA, but only by THREE SECONDS.  I just had to laugh.  I have always thought to myself, “WHEN will you feel this shift, Jen?”  Well, it is almost there at 46.  While I am not running that much slower – overall I am a little bit slower, YES.  And, the girls are getting faster.

The girl that ended up 2nd ran 6:27 pace for 4.5 miles.  I ran 6:5x pace.  She is ~35 years old.  But, what was the icing on the cake?  This was HER FIRST TRIATHLON ever.  She is a runner, clearly, but OMG.  Just so impressive.   I thought that was just awesome.  I was telling her to get out and race more now!

Yesterday post race I was EXHAUSTED.

I was so tired I forget to even get DQ!  I did get some Entenman’s donuts (another vice of mine), but I have had enough DQ, it is time to get a grip!

Four races in Four weeks was fun!  In fact, it was perfect for me.  I love to race & I worked hard this winter and early spring, so I could get away with this.  But, unfortunately when you race that much, you also lose a little bit of fitness & you are tired.  Back to the grind after I recover from this race and go to NYC this weekend with my Mom and Morgan for some R&R!

Next up:  A local OLY in July and then USAT Nationals in August.  I will finally get my mass start at Nationals!


  1. Fun reading your blog again! You go girl!

  2. Jenny – I was thinking of you recently and wondered how you are doing; and it appears you are doing excellent! Glad to hear of all the racing and fun you are having. Keep kicking ass and taking names sister :) – Kim K.

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