Sick in San Juan

2015 marks my 20th season of racing. And, if it is one thing I have learned in these 20 years of Triathlon is that we cannot have wins without losses. Nothing improves an athlete more than losing or facing adversity. It forces self-examination, it reveals flaws and if you chose to learn something from it, it inspires something better.

I had absolutely no control to what happened to me on Friday night in San Juan. But what I had absolute control over was my attitude and the way I would handle the next 48-72 hours.

Let’s step back to my preparation for my race:

To kick off my 20th season, I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone AND something out of my comfort zone.

With that in mind, I signed up for Puerto Rico 70.3 that was slated to be on March 15th. There are a lot of reasons why this is not a good idea..I have not been on a bike (apart from a few days in Tucson) since November outside, I would be far from acclimated – and I would probably be a bit heavy coming out of Chicago’s winter. Oh yeah, and the course was hot, humid and hilly. Considering Eagleman 70.3 is my favorite half ironman, this was a stretch. I hit the enter button for this race on December 15 before our real winter hits.

I came off a bigger year in 2014. I raced a lot. I did well. I had fun. What I wanted in 2015 was simpler. I wanted to go “big” early and then race local. I wanted to be around in the summer while my kids are still around and while we are selling & building a new house.

On February 2nd we got an offer for our house after 3 years on and off the market. Jerome was in China and then next 30 days were insane. Alone, I got the house ready for a house inspection (not easy we live in an 1880s house), looked for a rental and fought our new house plans in front of the Village Board of our new town. (we won). I was privately barely holding it all together. On top of this, of course, being mom and coaching full time. AND training for a 70.3 without any reservations. I was ALL IN.

I loved the training – I worked hard, trained hard, ran hills, ate hills, I did everything right to prepare for San Juan. I was lucky enough to be in a great relationship with Element Multisport in Chicago and Chris put me on a new PINK Trek Speed Concept TT bike and Rob put me on SPARKLY PSIMET wheels. I was so excited to race.

Elizabeth and I headed to San Juan on Friday. I ate normally – did not eat anything on the plane and brought my own food for the traveling. We arrived in San Juan at 2pm on Friday, took a van to our hotel and started to put our bikes together and got ready for dinner. Easy peasy.

At dinner we joined some friends and ate in the hotel, a Hilton – I had chicken and pasta and water. Many of the athletes ate similar food. Elizabeth and I went to bed at 9pm or so and talked about our next day and plans and that was it.

I woke up at 1am thinking I was going to VOMIT all over the place. I tossed and turned to fight that urge. I felt so miserable. BUT not flu -like – it was something I had never really experienced. I got up, went to the bathroom – back to bed, repeat. I was SO tired. I felt like shit.

We got up the next morning and Elizabeth wanted to go for run. I really could not get out of bed. At this point, I am thinking, “this will pass.” And, a little bit more personal information is that I was getting my period and ALL I kept thinking of is “god this is a bad one.” I could not really get out of bed. Elizabeth ate a bar, and went outside. I laid in bed. She came back and wanted to swim – so did I. I got up, we went down to the water and my stomach was a mess. We swam 15 minutes and my body did not feel that bad but I just swam super easy. I was thinking, “oh I just need to eat and then I can do this.”

We then went to Denny’s for our big pre-race breakfast. That is when I realized the extent of my problems. I could not eat – I could not talk to Elizabeth and lost my entire personality. I had to go outside to get fresh air and I just wanted to go to bed.

We went back to the room and I went to bed. I just had to sleep. I just laid there thinking, “I can do this if I just eat.” I still had not thrown up – just the other issues but nothing violent at all.

When it was time to check our bikes in, we rode our bikes to transition and my legs felt good! But, I knew it was bad. My stomach was like a vice. I checked my bike in and was solo (and Elizabeth was at the expo fixing a flat). The moment of truth was when I was walking back to our hotel, I just could not do it. I had to stop multiple times to take a break. I was dizzy, ill and exhausted and well, sick.

I got back, went to bed and slept.

Elizabeth went down to meet with an athlete and (probably get some fresh air) and she asked if I wanted anything to eat – I said, “Pasta, salad and chicken.” She brought it to me and I wanted to eat it so bad so IN CASE I woke up a new person, I could race because I was fueled. I was able to choke down some of the salad, but the pasta and chicken was a no go. AND when I went to bed that night (Elizabeth fell asleep at 7:45pm – she’s nearly 40 now you know…) I knew that was it. Even with a miracle, I was not fueling at all and that would not work.

I did not sleep all night – and I was paranoid that I was keeping Elizabeth up, so I went into the bathroom and was texting Dr Mia and Jerome as I laid on the floor in the bathroom. Dr Mia said it was probably some food or water bourne bug (like Ecoli). I kept things VERY low key with Elizabeth all weekend because I did not want her to worry or it to effect her race, so I downplayed it all. No need to ruin two races.

Elizabeth was up on race morning at 4am and I did not feel worse – but my stomach was a disaster – like someone was stabbing me with a hot knife. I wished Elizabeth luck and told her I would be down at the swim exit.

I could not go back to sleep. In fact, when it hit me that I was not racing, I started to cry. I can easily keep perspective and absolutely realize this is just a race – but it was more the prep, the hard work, the travel, the money…..and well, I was in shape and wanted to race! And, it was all out of my control. Just bad, shitty luck.

I got up and walked to the start of the race (it was right outside our hotel) and was looking for Elizabeth. I found Joel and Ali Rutledge and wished them luck – and Ali blew me a kiss (she knew I was sick). Then, I gave Elizabeth a hug, said a few private things to her and started to cry. I did NOT want to do that – damn it! It was not about me at this time! I apologized but it was just my disappointment that overtook my emotions.

I decided to be the uber spectator and friend after that. If I cannot race, well, then, let’s cheer for everyone I knew there and I did. I was able to get around OK and sat on the roads and cheered, was able to give Elizabeth splits and who was in front, in back, worked out nicely! Elizabeth ended up getting 3rd in the AG /7th OA 6 months after baby #2. Impressive.

And, yes, there was a shooting on the course. I was worried because I never heard who was hit. Two athletes got hit by crossfire between two cars. One was hit with a bullet; one with shrapnel. Elizabeth saw some of the aftermath of this tragedy. How awful.

After the race and showers, we got some food – I finally felt OK to eat something and ironically, I just wanted to drink. I had two mojitos with Elizabeth and that made me very happy; I was finally getting my personality back.

I was able to eat 1 ½ tacos and that allowed me to turn around a bit and after the drinks and some food, I was feeling much better. Funny how quickly these things come and go – and no sooner was I feeling better when it was time to get ready to come home.

I spent a lot of time in bed these past 72 hours. And I had on a lot of mindless TV on. Poor Elizabeth is scarred for life now. I watched more hours of “Married at First Sight” than any normal person should ever watch.

The good news of this whole thing is that in 20 years, this has never happened to me. I have never gotten sick at a race and not raced. And, it is just, like I said, shitty luck. And, OF COURSE I was upset – of course, I cried privately a few times – I will not sugar coat this and say it was easy. But, perspective is everything and as I said to myself and others I talked to, “It is just a race!” And, I meant that.

Nothing improves an athlete more than facing adversity. It forces self-examination, it reveals flaws and if you chose to learn something from it, it inspires something better.


  1. I know that must have sucked after all that training! You’ll kick butt the rest of the season! xoxo

  2. Oh! I’m SO sorry that this happened Jen! That is really really awful :( . But I have to say – there is a lot of really good info in your post about overcoming adversity and learning. Not only are you a great athlete, but great coach and teacher as well. Heal & recover quick! Xxoo!!

  3. Jen I am so sorry! Sounds so much like my Kona 2013 … and I would not wish that on anyone!! Glad you are feeling better…hope to see you at a race or two this year!

  4. Jen,
    I’m so sorry this happened to you but thank you very much for sharing what you took away from it. “Nothing improves an athlete more than facing adversity. It forces self-examination, it reveals flaws and if you choose to learn something from it, it inspires something better.” So, so, true. It also makes us appreciate the times we CAN race that much more. I bet you CRUSH your next race. :)

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Pay it Forward Contest – 2015!

Merry Christmas!

I am excited to announce I will be doing Pay It Forward for 2015 again! I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the past winners: Dan M, Cathy, Courtney & Alisa D.

If you are interested, I encourage you to apply. Here are the details:

1.) Applicants can apply via email to: from December 7th – December 31st 11:59pm CST. Feel free to be as creative as you want in the email application. (I do accept bribes. I love Chocolate & anything pink.).

2.) For the Pay it Forward Athlete, I am looking for athletes that have overcome any type of hardship This can include , but not limited to: illnesses, financial or personal issues. This is also open to athletes who may not have any hardships but just have not been able to put together a solid year (s) of training due to inconsistency, lack of motivation, lack of focus/structure and need something new and challenging.

3.) You CAN re-apply if you applied before!

4.) You need to have at least one “A” race in 2015. Can be any significant race, but we need to have goals for 2015. All levels of athletes are fine.

5.) The coaching will start between 1/15/15 -2/1/15 and last until the end of your “A” race or 12/31/15, whichever one is first.

6.) You will have to blog about your experience and be an active member of social media (FB or Twitter).

This year, the 2014 Pay It Forward winner, Alisa Dunlap had a great year finishing with a 1+ hour PR at CIM Marathon. Alisa kept a blog and you can read about her experience here:

I encourage you all to apply, if interested. If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this blog or send me an email. I will announce the winner on January 5th, 2015. Looking forward to another great year of paying it forward to our great sport!


  1. I will forward this on! Love that you do this! xoxoxoxo

  2. so……did you pick a winner? Im interested to find out.

  3. YES I picked JEFF VANIS as the winner!!

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Off Season & Cross

I took a little break. I ate Reese’s PB Cups in mass quantities mixed with pounds of M&Ms. I dyed my hair brown. I co-coached 75 kids to an undefeated Cross Country season. I spent an exorbitant amount of money on MAC makeup and Roden & Fields face creams. I spent some much loved time with my nearly 13 year old twins. I ate a lot. And, lastly I have been navigating myself through the start of a mid-life crisis. I will be 44 in January so I am truly in mid-life. None of this “I am turning 40 BS.” Please. The shit is getting real as I hit my mid-40s. I look in the mirror and think “WHO is this person?” The wrinkles, the dark circles. All there and all real. I know it is just a number, blah blah blah. The good news is that I FEEL GREAT. I may look like a hot mess, but I feel awesome.



Of course, this was much needed break and I was able to re-charge myself a bit. After my last race of the season (September 7th), I was desperately in need of a break from Triathlon. I took a few weeks off where I did not do too much of anything at all. FULL rest for 7-10 days and then more rest for another 10-14 days and then I slowly got back into things. I took 7.5 weeks off any structure, which, I think is a bit on the long side, but this year I needed it a bit more. In fact, I took 5 weeks out of the pool and that I have not done in eons. I just could not get myself to the pool and in fact, had no interest. So, clearly a big break was needed.

After my little break, I got back into the swing of things and that really meant MORE strength for me and NO TT BIKE. In fact, my TT bike is still in the bike box. Instead, I got out my Cross bike again and start exploring trails and different areas on it. I love my Cross bike. And, after doing 3 Cross races last year as a CAT 4 after I was done with Kona, I wanted to do the entire series this fall as a CAT 3.

The Cross scene here in Chicago is great. There is a race every weekend and there are a ton of talented riders who come out and race from Iowa, Wisconsin and all over Illinois. Making the shift from Triathlon to Cross racing is like watching an Elephant run versus a Cheetah. For me, I was the Elephant on the course. After last year I was thinking, “I am not too bad at this.” I got 2nd at State and naively thought I would just roll into the series and do OK. I was so wrong. I got hammered. In fact, the best I have finished this year is mid-pack. Racing in the Elite women’s race (CAT 1-2-3) is humbling to say the least. At first I was so frustrated with myself because I could not get rid of my fear. I was just so scared. NOT nervous. There is a big difference there. Fear limits you. Nerves drive you. I was afraid because my bike handling skills were so sub-par compared to the girls I was racing against. AND people crashed. I crashed.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The first Cross race I cold barely continue to push the gears on my Cross bike through the sand, mud and grass my quads would NOT respond at all. It was the longest 45 minutes of my life. I was breathing like I was racing a 5k run race…I was working that hard from start to finish. AND I was still in the back. In fact, one time I looked right after the start and I was DFL.

But, as the races went on I got a wee bit better (not much) and I started to have some fun with it and started to develop a camaraderie with the other riders that are always near me in races. They would scream behind me, “JEN, wider on those turns! STOP braking!” They were traumatized by my lack of bike handling skills but what I lacked there I made up in my strength and aerobic engine on the courses. In typical fashion, I got better as the the race went on.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Many courses I would pre-ride and I could not even make the sharp turns in practice – but when the gun went off, my fear melted away and I was able to “fake it until I made it” out there. I will probably never be great or even good – but it has been fun racing with these girls and it has helped my bike handling and anaerobic threshold tremendously. And, the others had fun at my expense. I ride on the PSIMET team – super fast girls who are winning these races. At one race the Team Manager screamed at me while I was dismounting and carrying my bike over a barrier: “There are NO words.”

Suffering.  Photo courtesy of Warren Cycling.

Suffering. Photo courtesy of Warren Cycling.

Apart from not killing myself at Cross, I eventually did get back into the pool. After 5 weeks out of the water I really could not fit into my shirts and bras anymore (too big!) – I thought about not swimming again ever, in fact. My muscles decreased and my lats and shoulders went down (yay!). The first time I swam after the break I was like Gumby in the water – I was awful. Could NOT engage my core. Reminded me to remind my athletes to always engage their core in swimming. I was so disconnected and therefore fighting the water. Not good! While I do not have my speed back yet- after 3 weeks of consistent swimming I am starting to feel normal in the pool again.

I also added MORE strength to my weeks – I never stopped Pilates (except for my few week break), which I do every Monday. Then I am now doing a TRX class this fall/winter every Wednesday that I love. And, then on Fridays I see Kate (strength trainer). Between Cross racing and strength this fall I am sore a lot. In fact, because of all the breaking and shifting on my bike hard and fast, I literally have an elbow and forearm that kills me. I am sure it is tendonitis at some level but some nights it just aches (back to my mid-life crisis here with achy bones).

And, during this time, we have had some fun times apart from sweating. We had an impromptu 25th High School Reunion (back to my mid-life crisis) this past weekend. It was hilarious. One of the many reasons I like Facebook. We all just picked up like we see each other every week. They were playing Journey & big hair bands all night; I had too much to drink. It was a good time. In addition to partying like it is 1989 (the year I graduated HS), we are breaking ground this fall on a new house. I am SO excited. We need a change and while the house/lot is only about 1 ½ miles away, it will be a welcomed change and I have spent more time on Pinterest this fall than I care to admit as I Pin all my favorite bathrooms, toilets and kitchens. In fact, I need HELP (anyone an interior decorator?) But, fun and refreshing indeed.

Dark Hair & My 25th HS reunion!

Dark Hair & My 25th HS reunion!

I am off to Arizona this long weekend. Jerome is “participating” in Ironman Arizona. He has been in China for the past week and literally comes home and turns around to head to Tempe. Brutal! So that is why he is participating :) .  It will be fun to get into the sun again and spectate some athletes I coach, friends & Jerome.  And, I may take a 90 minute detour south to Tucson for Thanksgiving & fly the kids out!


  1. Middle of the pack? Never would have guessed it. My ignorance tells me riding a bike is riding a bike, so I just assumed you would kick butt.

    I learned the age thing between girls and guys. I don’t care, and it effects girls a bit different. You maybe even more than some for whatever reason.

    Have fun, and stay fun. :)

    You have a great personality. :)

  2. Yay, a blog post!!! I’ll admit I was loving the admission about not wanting to get back in the pool ;) Want me to send you more pictures of my staircase? As for building advice, after going through an extensive remodel, you can NEVER have too many pull-outs (in the kitchen, pantry, closets, bathrooms….seriously. never), built in spice racks for kitchen drawers are GREAT for makeup in the bathroom (all those little MAC gems will fit nicely) so if you’re planning bathroom drawers, throw one of those in and it’ll keep your counters clear…

  3. Thanks for saying you love my Wed. TRX class – “skinny one”! ha!

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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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Muncie 70.3!

I am so glad I went down to Muncie 70.3 and raced.  I cannot believe I have never done this race and it is only 4 hours from me.  It falls at a weird time of the summer with my kid’s activities & camps – and it is usually 100F degrees in the shade…But, this year I really wanted to race a 70.3 in mid-season and Muncie scared me a little bit (which I need).

Matt Peterson & Jenny Hayes, two friends and athletes that I work and I with stayed with Matt’s parents who live about 45 minutes from Muncie.  I was so glad I had the opportunity to stay with them.  They were SO accommodating, super supportive and hospitable.   It was so relaxing and set us all up for a great race day.  Here is Jenny with Matt and Matt’s dad.

Jenny, Matt and Matt's Dad

Race day:

It was a good weather day in Muncie.  For once it was not 100F or scorching.  We got a gift and it was upper 70s….very humid, but not oppressive.  I registered for this race late, so I was not racked with the girls in my age group and that was FINE with me.  I had no idea who was there as I never looked at the start list.  I wanted to just fly in, race hard and see where the cards land.  I was super excited to race and woke up on race morning before my 4am alarm SO excited to race!


Unfortunately, the water was wetsuit legal.  Really, it was so hot I almost ripped my wetsuit off in the lake.  Honestly, it does not matter to me if we wear a wetsuit or not.  I just want the swim to be hard and aggressive and fair.  The wetsuit surely makes it 100% easier and I can just drag my legs thru the water so I always feel so much more fresh on the bike after  a wetsuit legal swim.

My goal in the swim was to come out of the water in 1st.  Didn’t care what time that was.  I lined up just to the left of the start buoy – picked my line of sight and when the gun went off I went out HARD.  200-400 m as hard as I could swim (well, within reason) and we still had clear water until we caught the other waves.  I wanted some feet so I could chill and draft, but I was solo.  No one went with me.  So, I relaxed a little bit and keep swimming strong.  I felt SO good – fluid, light and feeling like I was not putting out a lot of effort.  Then, I got REALLY hot.  I had to grab my wetsuit at my neck every couple of minutes to put some of the water into my wetsuit so I would not over-heat.  And, then I purposely slowed down even more – super easy.  I kept it chill to keep my core body temp under control.  If I had to go with another swimmer, I would or could, but I just held my position and got the hell out of the hot tub.  I was out in 30 minutes and did not see anyone behind me – I ran like hell into T 2.


I was having one of those days where it was all coming together.  One of those race days that are almost magical.  AND when and how these happen, we never know 100% why.  But, when they happen, you go with it and capitalize on it…and know you can take some risks!

I loved this bike course.  Sure, some of the road conditions are really crappy.  AND they changed the bike course so there were 40 miles OF TWO loops with 2000 riders on it.  AND my Age group was in the 2nd to last wave…so the bike course was a HOT MESS.

I got out onto the bike and knew I was leading my AG.  I rode hard but smart.  By the time I hit 50 minutes on the bike I had gone through 2 bottles on my bike alone.  I had to drink a ton to ensure that swim did not catch up with me later in the day as it got hotter.  We had some cloud cover on the bike and I knew that was my “get out of jail” pass to take some risks and push this course harder than I could if it was super hot.

At mile 15 the 2nd place girl went by me.  Ok!  Time to race – I kept my legal distance but kept her in my sights.  She was riding very well.

Around mile 30, I heard the Marshalls driving up.  I was passing a ton of riders – and this is tricky.  Some of the riders were riding 3-4 abreast AND I had no room to pass.  AND if I did pass a man, he would re-pass me and that did NOT help the situation at all.  I was riding as clean as I could – we all were.  I did not see any major drafting out there (I am sure there was some though) on a course that is silly for 2000 athletes.

Then, BAM….the Marsall flashed his RED card at me.  Then, drove up and did the same to others.  Then, others…it was really the silly.  I even said to him, “WHAT do you want me to do when I don’t have ‘clear line of sight!!?’”

As an age grouper, we do not have “clear line of sight” – this  means you can ride to the LEFT of the athletes (think more middle of the road) and go by everyone faster & NOT get called for BLOCKING.  PROS have this.  BUT I was doing this but then getting over to my right as quickly as I could.  I was in and out of people all day.  ANYWAY, I got a red card for this.  AND because this was my 1st penalty ever, I did not remember (remember I am racing and not thinking clearly) what a RED card meant.  I just had to report to the penalty tent and stand down for FOUR minutes.  I thought I was being DQd.

TO SAY I WAS Pissed would be an understatement.  I went through the initial PISSED OFF emotion & then the “NO way I can have a good race now – FOUR MINUTES is a lifetime!”  I thought about stopping and saving myself for another race the next weekend.  SILLY things that you think about.  THEN about 2 minutes later I re-grouped, put my head down and used that set back to ride even harder.

I will show HIM (aggressive, I know b/c “HE” doesn’t care)…..!   About 20 miles later I got to the penalty tent (it was packed) and I started my FOUR minutes – Tick tock tick tock…..I ate, drank and peed while standing there.  I refused to look at anyone passing for fear I would see 10 girls in my AG pass while I stand there and pick my ass!  AFTER 4:23 (that is the total time I was idle) I took off.  AND goodness did I ride hard.  I knew I was taking a gamble but I was going to kill myself to re-gain my lead OR die trying.  I had nothing to lose now.

I averaged close to my Olympic watts on the miles after my penalty.  AND my ride was 22.8 mph on the way home, which was not flat like the loops.  Again, I was taking a gamble.  I came off the bike 3rd in my AG and was on a mission to go and find these girls.Bike time was 2:34 with penalty.  2:29:xx actual ride time.


I FELT amazing.  Another “Oh my gosh I feel amazing!”….There are just not too many long races where you feel unstoppable – IN YOUR WHOLE season or seasons – but I was feeling like that so I went with it.  I was confident in my fitness and preparation and knew I could run hard and be fine.  And, my head was in the game.  I had fought the vomit coming up on the bike several times on the bike – and am feeling the same thing on the run – but I was in control of this – so was just over/under that magical red line.  It is a slippery line, but I was loving it and having fun.

The run at Muncie is rolling.  It is a hard run and open and in between corn fields with NO movement in the air – humid and suffocating.  I had my salt, gels and flask to drink.  I took ice at every aide station.

Then, it started to happen.  I see 2nd place up the road and she is not looking good.  It is like the switch – that was already flipped to crazy – went DEEPER into the crazy pain cave and went after her.  I passed her hard and went to find #1.  I am at mile 5 now, so it is all fun and games thus far.

I get to the turn around at 6.5 miles and I see her coming the other way.  She has at least 2 minutes on me.  THAT is a lot of time for a 10k…..but she did not look that good.  And, that is all I needed – a glimmer of hope that I was running faster than her.  I counted her foot strikes & it was low – she was suffering more than me.  AH!  I will get her.

I dug deeper – the hills coming home were brutally hard…now I am at mile 8, where in a 1/2 IM you are really just wanting to vomit or die.  But, I wanted to win more.  I went to Muncie to win or kill myself trying.  I had almost given up.  I had almost resigned to 2nd place because “that is good enough – I did have a 4 min penalty after all” that is the shit that goes on in your head when your mind does not want to suffer anymore.

AND that is when you control what you can and forget the rest.  I AM in control of my mind and that mind controls my body.  SO once I told my legs and lungs to shut up, I picked up my cadence and took pop at every aide station (suffering now) and went to a very dark place.  Honestly, I may have been foaming at the mouth.  I could not talk – I just grunted at anyone that said HI.

At mile 9-10 I see her and she is the only thing between me and my goal.  AND today is the day to make this happen – I still felt awesome (all things considered) and I had other gears on that run course still, I was not maxxed out quite yet.  I had no idea what paces I was running – I did not have a watch.  I mean, who cares – as long as I am in the lead, it doesn’t matter.

I came up on her shoulder, drafted on her for about 1 minute and listened to her breathing.  IF she was not breathing I would have to run with her to the finish line (UGH).  IF she was suffering, I would go past her so hard so could not go with me.  It ended up being the latter.  My fast at this point was probably not that fast really, but I felt it BIG TIME.

I surged (I did say something nice to her) and went by her right up a hill.  I continued to put time on her and was never so happy (always) to see the finish line.  I was a little sad this race was over though because I know that races where you feel THIS good are rare and happen so rarely you want to bottle it all up.   I felt almost unstoppable.

I ran hard through the finish line and was DONE.  I wanted to vomit, but instead I had this huge sense of relief and was like: ” YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Complete satisfaction.  I was SO happy.  That is why I race – for that competition and to bring out the best in myself and see where that best leads me.

I ended up 1st AG/1st Master, 4:50 (that includes the 4 minute+ penalty).

And the first text I saw post race was Elizabeth’s –> “You are the grittiest person I know.”

I thought it was “prettiest” at first…and I was like, “she is losing her mind!”  – (when in fact, I was!).

I stayed for Awards because Amanda W (2nd AG/2nd OA), Jacqui G (2nd AG/4th OA), Jenny Hayes, Ali R (4th AG) did so well… and I got to catch up with Beth Shutt who was 3rd PRO  (she has a fun pic of us on her blog -  I don’t have it b/c it is on her phone)!   I also took the Worlds 70.3 slot.  I did not take it at Eagleman, mainly because it is IM WI weekend and I have never missed IM WI – but this year, it is time for a change.

jen and ali muncie 70.3Here is Ali Rutledge and I getting our awards.

Great times in Muncie and a hard reminder on NEVER EVER give up because you just NEVER know. :)

Thanks Lululemon and PowerBar for the support!



  1. Awesome race report! Congratulations, Jen!! Rock star!!! :) )

  2. You are the grittiest person I know too! :)

    Oh man did I also want to rip off my wetsuit in the lake. I was SO freaking hot!!!!

    Anyway, congrats again on your awesome win and even with that crap penalty (really, just no where to go)!!! Great seeing you again!

  3. THIS is awesome!!!! Reading about your toughness and yes, grit, brought tears to my eyes. What a great race you had!! Well done, Jen!! And you are the grittiest person I know as well. But I just had a good laugh at the thought of you thinking Elizabeth said prettiest. You must have wondered why she took That moment to tell you how pretty you are. :) And, MONT TREMBLANT!!!! You will LOVE IT! Great job Jen! Congratulations!!!!

  4. Amazing! And I’m glad to hear you say that run course is hard (its one that makes me want to cry). Congrats and all the best for the rest of the season!!!!

  5. Wow! Awesome race report…. I felt like I was there! I cannot believe you raced like that with a penalty! You just continue to amaze me…Congrats my friend!

  6. As usual, I really enjoy your blogs. I almost feel as if I’m out on the course with you! Congratulations! I love your mental toughness. :)

  7. Jen, I always love reading your race reports!!! I feel like I was right there. Way to be pretty! I mean gritty:) Your time is super impressive especially with the penalty but your attitude is what is truly inspiring. Makes me want to go race right now!!!

  8. Wow, what a lucky weather weekend for sure! As you know, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be 100 degrees there with 100% humidity any given year. You’ll love the MT course for worlds! Thanks for your help earlier this week!

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