Thursday, July 24, 2014

70.3 Muncie

This was such a fun race!! It is hard to capture it all, but I will do my best. I chose this race because I knew that I did not want to have my first racing experience with a new nutrition plan be the World Championship setup. It also was conveniently enroute Houston from Michigan where I had spent a week with my family.

My mom and I drove down and I opted not to broadcast it as it wasn't really meant to be anything spectacular. Though anytime I hint at doing a mediocre race is usually a good sign that I will do my absolute best that day. The swim was wetsuit legal and as per my usual I came out well behind others despite the time I've been putting into the swim. But a 37 min is not a bad time for me!

My transition was a little slow as I struggled to get the wetsuit off, but the bike was fantastic. I focused solely on power and never had my time visible. I worked on negative splitting so I could hammer it hard on the second loop. I held back and knew I could have pushed harder, but I let myself become a slave to the power. The temps were just right for the bike and the roads were fairly smooth for the Midwest. I posted a 2:29 split which was my fastest yet and only 8 min off the number 1 women's pro.

I only took in UCAN prior to the race and during, not even consuming 20 ounces on the bike. Leading to the run, I felt super strong, but chose to use the restroom in transition prior to the half marathon start just in case. I felt a little slow out the gate, but put down a 7 min first mile. I focused on one mile at a time and sipped water every so often at the aid stations along the rather hilly course. I was quickly passed by 2 girls in my age group posting 1:25 and 1:30 run splits so now I know what needs the most work. I was super happy with my run time though as I tied my half marathon PR of 1:35 even with using the restroom again at mile 11 as I was a bit nervous of my stomach holding out for the whole race. I crossed the line at 4:49 setting a new PR by 2 min!!! It was amazing because I had not tapered whatsoever and I was finally able to put my nutrition to the test with awesome results.

The thing I loved most about the race was that I felt stealth as I had registered so late that my bib number was wayyy back of the pack. It was so fun just doing what I love with no prerogative and zero expectations. Highly recommend this race to anyone as it even has showers for free at the race site! Now I know I'm on the right track to Kona once I adjust to my new home in Houston  #Ucan #sugoi #Nuun, Andreas Ultrabikexstudio, IRun,

National 24 Hour Challenge

Biking 24 hours...what all does it entail??  

For my new challenge this year, I chose a 24 hour bike challenge with 2 of my very best friends, my brothers.  Tommy and I flew into Michigan to attend the race the day before and met up with the rest of our immediate family.  We then woke up Saturday, June 14th and started the race at 0800.  It went from 0800 that Saturday until 0800 the following Sunday with only as many breaks as you opted to take.  

Leading up to this, I spent on average 2-3 hours on my bike each day starting a month out.  I didn't try to push the pace or shoot for any specific power, rather I just wanted to spend time in the saddle.  I was a little anxious as to how I would respond to spending 24 hours on my Adamo Road TT saddle, so I knew the more hours on it in training, the better I would feel come race day.  The longest ride I had ever done was 120 miles on a saturday followed by 80 miles the next Sunday, but I knew going out and riding 200 miles for training at one time would most likely do more harm than good with my body still recovering from 3 half ironmans and Boston Marathon within a 5 week time frame.  I still maintained a base for running and swimming to enable a quick adjustment back to ironman training following the completion of the ride.  

Due to travel, I involuntarily tapered a day leading to the bike ride, but in reality, with Kona on my mind, I did not really intend to taper.  I arrived in Michigan around 1pm the day before the race and assembled my bike before heading to the race start area and settling in on air mattresses for the night in the local gym.  Perhaps due to deflation of the air mattress, or due to nerves, I did not sleep soundly at all and was grateful for the many workouts I had done on minimal sleep that enabled me to get ready despite the less than ideal rest.  

Unlike an ironman, I opted to be more cautious for the race and wore a camelbak with Nuun as my electrolyte replenishment of choice and UCan as my primary fuel.  I had just started a new diet the previous weekend in efforts to nail nutrition prior to all the World Championship events, so I was also using the 24 hour challenge as a baseline to see how my body would react to the change.  Whenever I craved something solid, I either had a quest bar, or at extreme times of hunger at the 14 plus hour in, fruits, veggies, string cheese, or hard boiled eggs.

I also prepped for the race with the help of providing my brothers and I with customized race jerseys and Ultrabikex studio tuning my bike up and switching out my old tires for brand new GrandPrix 4000s II.  That way I helped to eliminate my chance of getting a flat.  Of course, the final prep was swinging to load up on Chamois butter as you can never have too much of that for a long ride!!

Race morning preparation consisted of eating some scrambled and hard boiled eggs, filling water bottles/my camelbak, putting air in my tires to max inflation, checking in to get the race bib and gear, and saying goodbye to my awesome parents and sister who were crewing for us.  

Tommy and I started off immediately with the gun and I went on hot pursuit for the lead pack as this was a draft legal race.  I knew from biking with my good friends, Jim and Tony, that drafting with the right group was critical for a ride of this nature.  Tommy and I stuck together for the first loop which was roughly 120+ miles.  There were 4 stops enroute where we refilled water bottles before pressing on.  We were averaging over 20mph for that whole section and had to contend with some less than pleasant pothole ridden roads at times and ensure we followed all course markings so as to not get lost.  It felt relatively easy and we were super lucky to link up with a man who was a local and had done the race 14 previous times!!

After the long loop was done, we continued onto the medium loop which was around 24 miles.  We split up, but both managed to easily get 4 of those loops in before we were forced to switch to the night loop at 8pm.  I still felt great, but stopped to eat some food before continuing onto the smallest loop (7.6miles) for the next 12 hours.  

I absolutely love biking, and surprisingly, during all of that time, there were not too many thoughts that crossed my mind aside from figuring out how many loops we needed to break the family average record and just counting down miles loop after loop.  It was super wonderful biking around my home state and just challenging myself beyond anything I had ever attempted.  

Once Tommy and I linked up after the medium loop, we went around the small loop twice with the light of day to ensure we knew what the course would be like.  By the time we finished that, Kevin, who had started a little late and battled 2 flat tires, came in.   For about 18 more small loops we created our own mini family pace line and attempted to knock out one loop every 30 minutes, allowing for breaks and periodic time off the saddle as there certainly was no time for sleeping or much else.  

I was very pleased to note that through using Ucan and my new nutrition plan, I never experienced highs or lows or extreme cramping or anything.  I felt incredibly even the entire ride and it was awesome!!  

Towards the early morning hours, my hands started to feel numb from being in aero position for so long and I started to freeze as the temps dropped significantly to the 40s.  I layered up and pressed on with my brothers.  Around 4am, we divided up to see if we couldn't get more mileage as we were each at different levels of fatigue and discomfort.  I was knocking out the 7.6 mile loops in less than 20 minutes, but towards the final hours, I lost most of the feeling from my hands, which had become super swollen.  I then opted to wait for my brothers to come around again before we finished the 24 hour challenge together with about 10 minutes to spare on the final loop.  Our totals were 394.7, 394.7, and 379 due to Kevin starting behind/having 2 flats.  We set the new family record and got to share such an amazing experience.  

It was so much fun trying such a new and awesome challenge.  I need to do it again, as I now feel much better prepared to know the best method to reach over 400 miles and possibly break my age group record of 415 next year!  Highly recommend this to anyone who dreams of competing in RAAM.

My nutrition was fabulous thanks to Javier, my bike was perfect with the help of Andreas, my training was ideal with the help from my coach, Joey, and teammates, our support was the best with my wonderful parents and sister volunteering their sleep hours to meet our every need, and our uniforms were spectacular thanks  Thanks so much to Nuun,, iRun, and UCan for making this journey so fun and memorable!!! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

70.3 St. Croix

Coming off of Boston Marathon, I was understandably anxious about this race.  During the marathon itself, I had numerous thoughts about how perhaps St. Croix just wasn't meant to be and it wasn't too late to bow out.  People would understand, they would easily acknowledge that my training up to that race was less than ideal, perhaps even insane.  But, even as the thought crossed my mind, I abruptly pushed it aside.  This was my schedule, I chose it, I knew I could do it, and I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't try.  Plus, knowing the race had the possibility of qualifying me for Kona was far too much for me to pass up.

After the marathon, I was saddened to realize I had caught some sort of cold that left me sneezing routinely and feeling very sluggish in training.  I took 4 days completely off of running and compensated with time spent on the bike and in the pool.  I had to spend several hours walking cruise ships on Sunday and Monday prior to race day for work, and I was setback again when I acquired massive blisters on my heels from trying to extend the life of my boots for far longer than they were designed.  Both things were certainly not helpful in easing my anxiety for the upcoming race.

I relied heavily on vaseline to protect my blisters and pushed through with training, spending the majority of the time on my bike trainer with the 24-hour bike challenge lingering in the near future.  I packed up everything on Thursday/Friday morning and due to a fishing trip friday, I was unable to do my final swim practice.  Friday afternoon I drove to the airport and made it with well over an hour to wait before my gate would open.  While waiting, I noted that the boarding time had passed and was dismayed to realize that the gate had actually changed.  I made it to the new gate, dead sprint, with 5 minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart.  There was no one manning the gate, so myself and 5 others who had just noticed the gate change had to pound on the glass to try to signal the pilots to wait for us.  As the door to the plane was just about to close, one of the pilots saw us and they let us on.  I was so terrified at that moment that I would not even make it to St. Croix on time.  It was a blessing in a way, as it distracted me significantly from thinking about the race.

Upon arrival, a member of the local Coast Guard unit was kind enough to take me from the airport and to my hotel.  It was nice not needing to worry about transportation for once.  The hotel was quaint and in the middle of a huge celebration, known as Jump Up.  I dragged my bike box to the entrance and had to carry it up 3 flights of stairs with the last set being absurdly narrow, to the point where I could barely fit myself and the bike up it.  But, we managed and I was so exhausted that I immediately settled in for the evening.

Saturday I awoke and assembled my bike before heading to registration to get my bib and timing chip.  At registration, which was incredibly small but well organized, I got my bib, chip, shirt, and a bottle of was certainly fitting as the race was sponsored by Captain Morgan and we were on an Island Oasis.  I had to laugh at that.  I went the half a block, literally, back to my hotel and organized all of my race gear to check that I had everything.  Sadly, I must have been very out of sorts while packing because I had forgotten my race belt.  I also needed to procure something to put in my water for electrolyte replenishment during the race.  As such, I returned to the registration area to head to the only other thing there aside from a small mechanic setup.  It was called the Official Merchandise store but there were very limited items in it as the Island population is rather small.  Lucky for me, there was a race belt for purchase and I also bought some salt tabs just in case.  I ended up buying gatorade from the local cafe to fill my water bottle with for the race.  I opted against my normal pre-race routine due to being alone and the roads looking a little rough.  I decided risking a flat was not worth it and that walking around would be plenty to get my legs warmed up.  That meant I had two days completely off before the race, which is unusual for me.  I spent the rest of the day attending the pre-race meeting, meeting fellow athletes, catching up with one of my good friends, and just taking in the Island.  I ate pasta for dinner before calling it an early night to relax prior to race morning.

While relaxing, I decided that I ought to watch some TV.  There was only one working channel and it was all about crime cases and murders/assaults happening to women alone in their apartments/houses.  If the race wasn't already enough to prevent me from sleeping, waking up from nightmares that evening definitely didn't help me feel well rested by the time 4am rolled around.  Perhaps TV wasn't the best choice in hindsight...

Race morning I was still exhausted, but quickly realized it was my birthday so I was all smiles as I headed over to the transition area.  I was first to my rack (18-29) which was right next to the female pros.  It was so neat being near so many phenomenal athletes, including Leanda and Rinnie!  I set up my gear and then secured one of the only pumps that was available to check my tires.  It was very unique in that there were so few competitors, roughly 600, and we didn't have any sort of body marking to differentiate.  I knew a couple girls that I had raced before, one who was a year younger meaning she wasn't in my age group...though she beat me in Miami and is quite quick.  Despite being small, this race was full of some of the top athletes in the world all desiring Kona/70.3 WC slots.

The swim started from an Island that we had to jump in the water and swim to.  While there, the announcers said happy birthday to me, so that was sweet.  All of the male waves went first and then my wave was the first for the women.  It was a run in start, and as soon as the horn sounded I realized that I would be swimming alone because all the other girls in my wave quickly left me in their wake.  Thankfully, the water was so clear that there was plenty to look at to distract me from worrying about how much time I would need to make up.  It was my first non-wetsuit swim so far this year, and I felt really sluggish in the water.  I told myself that I already knew this was my weakest part by far and not to get down.

Coming out of the water, I quickly was aware that I was in last place as my bike was all by her lonesome on my rack.  It was disheartening for a moment, but even the last female pro still gives it her all and that was my goal too.  Plus, since it was my birthday, I put a smile on and vowed to at least win the Miss Photogenic award!

Going into the bike, I had no idea how far I needed to close the gap or what the ages were of people I was passing.  I told myself to take it easy until I reached the Beast to conserve energy.  When I signed up for this race initially, I chose it because it was on my birthday and never looked at the course, so for the last month I had been dreading the 21% grade that was pending.  I am so grateful I had Andreas and Ultrabikex Studio to prepare me as best as one could be prepared in Miami.  At least I knew the course was very hard and when the Beast would start!  I let the tailwind carry me most of the way there, in fact, at one point I was appreciating the scenery and the lovely wind farms when I realized that they were sure getting lots of power for those things!   Then it hit me that the wind coming back really would be a challenge to bike into.  However, I focused all of my attention on the Beast and set the other worries aside.

Mile 20 came and I saw this blind turn that looked as though it was going uphill.  I asked the guy I was passing if this was the Beast and he smiled and told me it was.  I dropped all gears immediately and started up.  I was very surprised to realize I was passing people and able to stay in my saddle for most of it.  The locals had marked grades and distances on the road with funny statements like "the easy part" to keep us well informed.  It was pretty brutal, and about halfway I could only think 'worst birthday present to myself ever, why can't I be like normal 25 year olds and just go drink or throw a party...' before I laughed and realized that would not be me.  There is one part on the climb where the line you chooses either gives you a 26/27% grade or a I was very grateful for the markings at that point for helping me choose the best route.  When I reached the top I was so ecstatic that I shouted for joy and tears were pouring from my eyes with so much happiness filling me.  At that point, I knew I was successful no matter what the outcome of the race would be and nothing would kill that joy.

The bike course continued to get tougher from there on out.  Luckily, I knew from several articles to expect a much slower bike time and had conserved energy in the beginning to prepare for it.  But at mile 30 I had to dismount as my bottle cage had come unscrewed at the top and flipped into my pedal making it impossible to bike.  Having no tools and no time to waste, I tore it off the rest of the way and as it was my only cage, ditched my water bottle in the process.  That made me anxious for the next 26 miles, so at the next aid station I chugged an entire bottle of perform to stay hydrated.  The rest of the bike was into the wind for most of it and had intermittent 10-12% grades that continued to challenge me.  When I finished in 3 hours, I was very pleased with the time.  Even more exciting was the fact that we got to pass the runners as we came into transition so I had a good idea where anyone I might need to run down would be.  Entering transition, I realized there was only one bike from my age group on the rack so I was pretty excited to get running.

At the start of the run, the outsides of both my feet were cramped, maybe from being so tense while climbing.  But, with Kona on my mind I pressed on and ignored the weird sensation.  Even when the insole in my shoe completely got messed up and flipped around my foot, I persevered.  I ran with my heart and managed to pass the first place girl in my age group around the 3 mile mark.  I then played the game of strategy, realizing that it was incredibly hot with very little protection from the elements and that I was easily at risk of dehydration or cramping.  Thus, I walked all the hills and aid stations, but ran quickly between each to still have a 1:47 half marathon time at the end of the day.  It was easy to keep moving when I was running scared the entire time.  I took it home the last mile to finish at 5:34 and earned the best birthday present golden ticket to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii!!

This race was not about time, it wasn't about trying for a PR and I had no pre-race strategy as I typically do.  Rather, it was about heart, determination, and faith.  When I started this year, I never would have imagined how it would have panned out up to this point.  I have been so incredibly blessed and honored by every opportunity I have had and the results that have come from them.  This race tested me mentally more than any other to this point.  I knew I could race hard, but it was only a dream to take 1st.  Disney Dopey showed me that no challenge is too big, New Zealand taught me that rough roads won't destroy me, Oceanside gave me confidence in being the comeback kid, Florida proved to me that breaking 5 hours can be done, Boston humbled me and also showed me that my base is very strong, but St. Croix combined all of those to turn dreams into reality.  No matter how I had finished, the joy from conquering the Beast when it had been so terrifying for me eclipsed all other emotions.  This race was magical and I seriously had the best birthday ever.  I was alone in St. Croix but I was overcome with all the love and support showered on me by God and all of my amazing family and friends.  My schedule the past 6 weeks was crazy to many, but I surrounded myself by people that never stopped believing I could do it and succeed.  That, and being relentless, is what made all the difference.

I am so so grateful to our sponsors for preparing me for this and to my team for preparing me every step of this journey.  Now it is time to focus on Kona :-)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon

I still remember the elation I felt when I qualified in 2013, and then the added urgency to race this year with the tragedy around last year's marathon. I recall going on a run that day, over a year ago, with tears in my eyes asking how people could ever try to destroy something so innocent as a race. I was determined from that point forward that I would run with my heart come race day, not for myself, but for everyone who was affected by the past event and for those countless others that wanted to be in my shoes yesterday. It was an honor and a blessing to be able to step up to the starting line with 36,000 others as we were embraced by Boston and the world.

I flew in Friday night and my mom, sister, and brother got in Saturday morning. We went to the expo, and I was so ecstatic to share in the check-in process with my brother for our first marathon together. We explored the expo and then walked the finish line area. It was an emotional day, remembering the past, but embracing the future. Coming back to the hotel, we met an 82 year old man who would be running his 48th marathon on Monday, second oldest man in the race. The people, the stories, the

Sunday morning we went to the church just past the finish line for an incredible Easter Sunday service with a blessing of the athletes, in which Kevin and I each received a scarf to give us love and courage. I was in tears during the service, emotions heavy, but knowing God was going to protect all the athletes on the following day. It was spectacular listening to the church organs, choir, and bagpipes. Once all the athletes received their scarves and were standing, the church silence broke with a loud applause and shouts of pure joy. I was overwhelmed with the beauty and unspoken bond between all the runners.

Monday morning, having fully loaded up on carbs and fluids at Olive Garden the night before, we drove to the start and Kevin and I said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses to our sister and mom before heading into athlete's village. The village was huge, and after a short while there, I parted with Kevin as he was in wave 1. When wave 2 was called, I started the walk to the starting line to toe up for 26.2 miles. On my right arm I had written 'Boston Strong' and 'Wolfpack' and on my left I carried a pace band and wrote 'Relentless'. The walk to the start was fabulous as locals were there to cheer us on and provide last minute sunscreen and vaseline. Others were there to add entertainment with signs for free cigarettes, beer, and donuts...I found it quite hilarious. As I was in corral 9 for my wave, I started off last and had ample time to get there.

The many people!! It was beautiful and I could hardly believe that all that enthusiasm would exist for every step of the course, but it did. They say it starts with practically 10 miles of downhill, but to me it was more of rolling hills. I high-fived as many people/children as I could as I ran, often detouring to get the littlest of kids so they would keep their hands out for other runners. I even jumped for a couple high-fives. I tried to ease into a comfortable stride, not going too fast, just taking it all in. There were so many runners that keeping a rhythm was not very easy, but it was Boston Marathon and nothing affecting my run mattered. At close to 2.5miles we passed a biker bar on the left with a super boisterous crowd and as we approached each city we were greeted with people everywhere welcoming us in and embracing us. All the Boston Strong signs and thank you's made it impossible to think about the run. My thoughts were lost in the beauty, the support, the love.

My hip was sore towards mile 10, and as we neared a lake, I was thinking...great, so only uphill from here. But around the half marathon mark I rolled my ankle so the hip became less of an issue. Just after the halfway, we passed a shop where a man with a loud speaker greeted us and told us we could check ourselves out in his windows. I knew my brother would have gotten a kick out of that so it made me laugh. I don't recall too many times up to that point and beyond that I wasn't beaming or laughing come to think of it. The Wellesley scream tunnel with all the girls having signs begging for kisses was super entertaining. Most of the female runners kept left at this point as the males swarmed in for kisses. Signs read "Kiss me, I'm a teacher", "Kiss me, I'm still sexually frustrated", "Kiss me, I'm good at it", "If you run faster, I will drop my sign" (minimal clothes on that girl), "Kiss me, I'm a smart chick" on and so forth. It was hilarious. Other significant points along course were up every hill where 100s of people cheered us on, every time we passed a frat or sorority area where everyone was already plastered at noon, people screaming out for the Wolfpack and laughing that I was a "1-man wolfpack", seeing my mom and sister, and of course...the last 10k.

For me, I felt surprisingly great all the way until mile 20, despite throwing up a couple times. I conquered each hill fairly painlessly and knew my brother and teammate were both steps ahead of me doing the same. I relied heavily on the crowd after that point to keep me going. At mile 23ish I used the restroom before the final 5k in. As I am not the best at nutrition and only had one clif shot blok and half a gel the whole course, plus maybe 6 cups of mostly spilled gatorade...I felt super faint by that point and those last miles were just a mental battle to keep putting one foot in front of the other. For the first time ever, I thought I would pass out before finishing. But God and Boston carried me home. Upon crossing the finish line, I went directly to the med tent and then reunited with my amazing family.

Kev did a 3:06, Caryn did a 3:17, and I finished with a 3:19 (tied my PR from Disney). I am so proud of both of them on such a physically/emotionally challenging course. I couldn't be happier with my time, but this race wasn't about that. Had I ran a 3 hour or had I ran a 4 hour marathon, had I walked the entire thing, my heart was left out there on the course with all those phenomenal people. The time was just a bonus to the most beautiful day.

Finishing Boston Marathon, with all the honor and glory associated with the race, for my first time during such a monumental year, is very hard to describe. It was an incredible journey and every person out there made it into the easiest marathon ever. Until the last 10k, and really 5k, there wasn't even time to think about my body or stress over the sheer willpower it takes to complete a marathon. This experience was something I wouldn't trade for anything. Thank you so much to everyone who supported me while I was running and for every single person that made Boston marathon a priority yesterday. We are all Boston Strong. I will be back next year 

Thanks Nuun Hydration for keeping me hydrated, Fan Club Page for gearing me up, Andreas Ultrabikexstudio for all my cross training help, for protecting me on early morning workouts,Hector Arana for group long runs, Wolfpacktri for constantly motivating me to be the best version of myself I can be. To all my friends and family, nothing is impossible, but everything seems a lot more possible with all of you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Florida 70.3

Now that everything has calmed down after an incredible is my super abbreviated summary of the last week for Florida 70.3:

Race week, but minus the taper.
Ran a sub 6 min timed mile for my first time ever on Tuesday.
In great company on Wednesday with my boyfriend in town.
Biked Rickenbacker 14x & did a Flywheel class for the first time Thursday.
Ran a sub 19 min 5k for the first time ever on Friday.
Drove to Orlando area Friday for check-in.
Warmed up Saturday with some mini golf, cornhole, and a bike and run.
Got to watch my brother check in for his first ever triathlon and 70.3!!
Ate absurd amounts of food at Olive Garden.
Race Day
Slept horribly and stuck to my nutrition plan of the bare minimum.
Hugged a couple of my favorite men goodbye before walking to swim start.
Swam the M shape, decent 37m, not my fastest, but better than last year.
Raced through T1.
Got on the bike with permission from my coach to go hard.
Loved the course and posted my fastest split yet at 2:31.
Hills felt small from Oceanside and roads felt smooth from New Zealand.
T2 was a breeze and onto the run.
After causeway repeats the mile 1 hill seemed less daunting.
Step by step I chipped away at 13.1 miles in the heat, not keeping time.
Easy to push knowing Tommy and Dave were doing the same.
1:38 despite the heat/construction narrow passing routes on the long hill.
Final time: 4:51!!! Broke the 5 hour barrier Now for a new goal!
5:24 to a 4:51 on the course, 5:01 to a 4:51 for my PR, 2nd place AG, qualified for WC and got to roll the slot down.
Best part??? Seeing Dave mid-run and watching him finish, plus hugging Tommy during his run and catching his finish as well. I am so proud of both of them for having such great races. I am blessed to have gotten to see so many friends at the race as well. It was a spectacular weekend...even had a Ghiradelli sundae and a great time at Legoland to celebrate.
Now that the race and fun is over, my thoughts are directed towards Boston Marathon. It is hard to believe it has been a year. Very soon, I will be running the very same course that has changed so many lives. It will be a race from my heart, no goals, no stress, just in honor of everyone who has been affected by tragedy of the past in hopes of promoting the promise of the future.
As always, thank you so much to my teammates and family/friends that I thought of countless times during the race (Wolfpacktri). Thanks to our sponsors for keeping me hydrated, geared up, and ready for training and race day. Nuun Hydration,, iRun, Andreas Ultrabikexstudio, and Fan Club Page.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Oceanside 70.3

- I told my brothers and coach that I wanted to hit a :35 swim, 2:40 bike, and 1:40 run. Outcome: 35, 2:43, 1:37 = 5:01 overall and PR
- I told my coach that my teammate and I would try for 1st and 2nd in our age group, we took 2nd and 3rd! So incredibly proud of being next to one of the best triathletes/people I know on the podium, Ola is a huge inspiration to me and she had an incredible race breaking 5 hours!

- 3 am wakeup and bike to T1/T2
- nearly crashed on my bike attempting an uphill climb to T2
- didn't stop shivering until the start of the race
- spent an hour in T1 tucked in a ball inside my sweatshirt for heat
- googled 'How to bike up a hill' because I was terrified for the 14% grade after having to walk up a 12% at IRONMAN FRANCE
- started the swim and halfway I was convinced I had swam in a circle
- was blinded by the rising sun for the second half of the swim
- slow T1 due to struggling packing up my wetsuit and getting my shoes clipped in
- felt so at home on my bike and realized all the 3am bike trainer workouts were worth the sleep deprivation/exhaustion
- thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular ocean views and biking on a military base
- hit a rough patch and thought, oh to bike this for 112 miles in NZ...
- loved that we had to wear bibs so I could cheer for every competitor on course by name
- took it easy in anticipation for the hills
- approached the first hill, said a long prayer and dropped all gears to tackle it
- was amazed that I passed every person on the hill
- shouted with joy at the peak, and glanced at the word "relentless" written on my arm
- got complimented by a speedy female on crushing the hill only to reply that Miami hill training is fantastic
- had the song line "Glory, Glory, Glory to the Highest" stuck in my head all race
- got frustrated by some no pass zones
- tackled the 2nd major hill and marveled at how easy it was compared to the first
- continued to take it relatively easy in preparation for a hilly run
- started the run feeling strong and determined
- saw my amazing cheering section!! Marijo Murphy Clemons
- never looked at my watch, just ran what felt comfortable
- dealt with each hill as it came, knowing I just needed to mentally defeat them
- realized how short 13.1 miles is compared to a marathon
- reflected on how nice it would be to spectate at my next 2 races
- loved the run and the joy of knowing I could overcome my fears
- rushed to the chocolate milk tent immediately upon finishing to chug 3 containers...
- PRed, no regrets, sheer joy

- I only drank 24 oz on the bike and ate 2 clif shot bloks, perfect strategy to kill the run
- I now know how to bike hills and to have high cadence using my small ring
- Racing with a teammate is the best motivation ever
- I finally raced my race and that is a wonderful feeling

Thank you so much to all of my wonderful Wolfpacktri teammates and family, so grateful to you all for pushing me every day to be my best and to conquer every obstacle. I couldn't have imagined a better debut 70.3 into the 25-29 age group. I can't wait to return to the IM 70.3 WC and redeem myself from last year. Thanks to our sponsors, Nuun Hydration,, iRun and Hector Arana, Andreas Ultrabikexstudio, and You all are amazing and set us up for success in every way. 2014 is an incredible year so far...and it only gets better from here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

IM New Zealand

Wow...I want to cry...I can't stop smiling...that was probably one of the hardest things ever, harder than France. I'm overwhelmed right now, all of the love and support is so incredible and my heart is so full it hurts.

I started the day at 4am...walked to transition and checked on my bike and helmet before heading down to the swim. I danced as I strolled down to the swim, I had so much energy and excitement. I got the wetsuit on no problem, watched the Haka to start the race, and when the cannon sounded I quickly started to get in my rhythm, oh I didn't, the entire swim I was getting kicked, elbowed, swam 100 yds my goggles were knocked off and my right side filled with water but I was too stubborn to fix them. Nearing the halfway point a large man literally grabbed me mid swim, held me up like a cat holding a kitten by my wetsuit and cussed me out for pushing him. I shook it off and went back to my thoughts of "grab, pull, push" and keeping my hips high...literally all I thought about. I finished the swim in record time for me and was so excited!! 1:07 roughly, over 11 min better than IM1. I sprinted past people on the 400m uphill to transition and quickly changed for the bike. The bike was two loop so I will go by quarters...quarter 1 I flew, I had a blast and thought of Kona the whole time, despite the roads reminding me of mountain bike trails, imagine gravel and that is pretty accurate, and making it impossible to stay in aerobars at times from intense vibration. Quarter 2, leaving the turnaround, I felt like I hit a wall...the wind coming at us as we went gradually uphill was brutal, combined with the unfamiliar rough roads I struggled to keep 15s...ouch. The views were spectacular, all farmland, and the cows corralled to kick up absurd amounts of dust so you couldn't see the road. Quarter 3, had hoped it would be like number 1, but the wind changed just enough to make it tougher, however I still hit 30s, so that was fun...sadly I started throwing up at this point and had to stop to refill water from my legs starting to cramp after the 45km into the wind/uphill/awful roads on quarter 2, and at one point I nearly got blown over on my bike, FUN. Quarter 4, I pushed on telling myself to hit below 6 hours, almost 50 min improvement from last time, and to get to the run. Another decent transition and onto the run...mile 1 7:05...oops, slowed to 7:30 mile 2 and that was when the wear from the bike started taking effect as we hit slight hills at that point. Perhaps it was mental, but I don't think so, and there was no mustard at aid stations...darn! In an effort to avoid cramping I walked up the hills and through support stations to solidly refuel. Apparently my stomach didn't handle the race course items well as I destroyed the lining of my stomach. I wanted to push hard, but I also wanted to be able to run and hit a PR. I did, 11:27, PR by 1:15 min from IM France...which at this point I would say was actually easier despite the tough bike only for the fact that the run is so flat and the worst of the bike is the first half with the second half giving your legs time to recover. Afterwards, I went directly to the medical tent. Feeling so much better now!!

I didn't hit my goal, but perhaps on further assessment that goal was unreasonable for me on this course. But throwing up 8 times, drinking 4 liters of water and still losing 3 kg bodyweight, cramping on the run, and killing my stomach shows me I still have lots to learn, in particular about nutrition. In less than a year at the beginning of my tri season and the end of the Aussie/Kiwi season, I killed my first IM time and I know that I will only get faster from here. To PR all of the disciplines/race was amazing and I am so blessed to be in NZ. Thanks to everyone who watched me and cheered me on. I ahooed for the pack multiple times I am so lucky to have the world's most incredible friends and I am so happy that at 24, I have now completed 2 ironmans. I will get to Kona one day, I will just keep working my butt off until I do. Now, time to shower and relax and enjoy the rest of my trip before I focus on 70.3 Oceanside.

Thank you Joey Perez for all that you did to prepare me for this, thanks to Gladys Liehr for helping me so much on the swim, thanks to Wolfpacktri for being the best teammates ever who I love with all my heart, thanks to Tom Anderson, Kevin Anderson, and Heather Anderson for being the most amazing siblings. Thanks to Ultrabikex KB,, Nuun,, Rudy Project, iRun for being incredible sponsors. Thanks to Terry Rogers Anderson and my dad for being phenomenal parents, I wouldn't be who I am without you. Thanks to IM Nutri-Grain New Zealand for putting on an amazing race and for the crowds that carried me when my legs and stomach failed. And finally, thanks to work for allowing me to come to this!!!

Happy, blessed, emotional iron(wo)man.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Life Is a Gift

Life is such a beautiful gift, I cannot get that thought out of my mind.  No matter what journey you may be on, it is important to remember to enjoy every moment.  We don’t have preset lengths of time for every stage we go through, nor do we have defined expiration dates.  But, when it comes down to it, we are each allotted time and we need to take advantage of it.  I don’t mean to abuse it and to use it to do harm to others or things that may be deemed to be less than satisfactory.  Rather, take that time and dedicate it to the Lord and the things that in turn make us happy.  It isn’t a selfish dedication of just pursuing what you want, rather it is a Holy dedication in which we listen and pray and ask God what he wants from us.  Too often, we lose sight of the higher power that exists, a presence that yearns for us to reach all of our dreams which are also the dreams He has laid out for us.  It took me a long time to come to know my God, for He is mine just as He is yours.  But, now that I recognize Him in everything, I feel the tears welling up in my eyes in humble appreciation for all that He has done for me that I failed to give Him credit for.  I can continually reflect back on my life to times when I was down or times when I was elated, and in doing so I realize how big of a force He was all along.  I  am so grateful that He has shown Himself to me time and time again, and that finally, I see and acknowledge all that He is.  These tears fall down because I am so absolutely full of love for Him and the love that He fills me with is so great, I cannot seem to contain it.   

Saturday, March 8, 2014

No limits

At some point in our lives, we each realize what is and is not important to us. We accept the past and restructure our future accordingly. The topmost items are often called dreams while the subsequent items are often considered limiting factors that we cannot change. 

Today is the day to make your dreams priority. Turn those limiting factors into challenges that can be overcome or support networks. Live YOUR life to the fullest. Let go of the idea of impossibilities and embrace opportunities. Live and learn, but, most importantly, grow so that the stars become within reach. If you believe you can achieve something, no person nor thing can hold you back. The only limiting factor you truly have is yourself.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coast Guard Elite Athlete of the Year!

I am very blessed and honored to be selected as the Female Elite Athlete of 2013 for the US Coast Guard and I'd like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your kind words. I am so lucky to have an incredible command that supports me and nominated me, a job that allows me to pursue my dreams of triathlons and running in my free time, and friends and family that push me to be the best I can be. Among so many well deserving athletes in our service, I am so lucky to have been selected and put in for the award. I can't thank everyone enough and promise to continue to represent our service well at each event.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wrecked :(

For all of you who haven't been notified in some form or another, I took a bad bike spill yesterday crossing the grated bridge between Downtown Miami and Brickell on Brickell Avenue. Due to the rain, I lost traction in my tires and fell hard to the left side. With bruises, scratches, and some stitches, I managed to make out quite well despite a necessary visit to the ER. Sadly, my bike and helmet are both compromised from the ordeal. But, I am so grateful to the incredible friends and the wonderful support network that I have for looking out for me and helping me when I most needed it. I was so lucky to not be ran over following the fall, and that the same man that stopped in time for me also rushed me to the hospital with my bike in tow. I am very blessed that I will only be out of training and full functionality for a week and hopefully I will be able to figure out a solution to my bike soon. Lessons learned: your helmet will save you, be sure to invest in a great one and also, beware of biking over grated bridges in the rain!! It is a rather painful experience! Thanks you to everyone for your kind words and support. See you all out there training again soon

A Life Worth Living

Sometimes we sit idly, caught up in a vast web of emotions and blinded in the moment, feeling as though the walls are slowly compressing and eliminating the air in which we crave.  We are so distraught; we can no longer clearly see our dreams and aspirations.  Rather, those become the faintest of lines, overridden by large and looming obstacles desiring to suppress all happiness, hope, and joy.  We become choked up, thinking that there is no more to life than what is in view, and desire to succumb to even the faintest of temptations in order to deviate from a path yielding so little opportunity.  As those walls draw closer, we similarly withdraw from those around us, as though they too are now foreboding features when they ironically might very well be our salvation.  Depression consumes the mind; passion is lost and replaced by mere desire to escape.  But what are we truly escaping?  Though our views are imprisoned by fear and our passion is crippled by reason, all is not lost.  Too often people yearn for greatness; yet fail to realize that the journey towards it will be full of trials and tribulations well beyond even the most vivid of imaginations.  To be successful, we need more than just dreams, for those will, at times, be clouded over or imperceptible.  We need a combination of passion, drive, desire, mental tenacity, and an overwhelming tendency towards optimism. 
            What does it mean to be passionate?  Does it mean that you want something so badly that you are willing to do whatever it may take to get it?  Or is it perhaps that we find something we care so much about that the rest of life seems to pale in comparison?  Passion comes in numerous forms, be it passion in a relationship, passion in work, passion in sports, etc.  Each person chooses involuntarily to be passionate about something.  Even those who claim to be impartial are passionate about standing on a neutral ground.  We need things that we believe in strongly so that we can work towards them.  Otherwise we would all be content merely existing and never expanding in knowledge or power.  Choose something that you can pursue wholeheartedly. 
            I recall days long past where I would sit in solitude, reminiscing on decisions that were less that desirable.  I would sit for hours at a time thinking through every detail of my actions and try to delineate my reasoning and thought process.  I had become so critical of myself that I could find errors in every gesture, word, or action.

I sit and ponder and reflect often on the past.  I long sometimes to go back and to change it all in order to reduce some of the pain that I find myself feeling in retrospect.  I wish that I had known some things without the lessons that ensued.  I know that I have made some major mistakes and I wish that I could be at a place where they no longer plagued me.  But sadly, here I am dwelling yet again on things that I cannot change and longing to be a better person than I am. I feel that I do not deserve all of the wonderful things that life has given and shown me.  But I also know that that feeling ensures I continually appreciate the beauty that is life.  Without pain and darkness, it is hard to see how bright everything else is.  I am a girl who foolishly has always made decisions from my heart with little regard for my mind.  Now I get to deal with that on a constant basis, but I know that in the grand scheme of things I am very lucky indeed.  My problems are so few in a world that is so very vast.  I need to step aside from myself and take a new perspective so that I do not miss out on a life that is so worth living.   And this is a life worth living J

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dopey Challenge

Impossible is nothing. These words ring so true right now. I officially completed the Dopey Challenge. 23 min 5k, <45 min 10k, <1:40 13.1 and finished it all off with a 3:19 marathon!!! New personal best by nearly 13 min and 2015 Boston Qualifier by 16 min. So magical to share this with my mom and brother who both PRed their races... Tom Anderson with a 3:31 marathon. So proud!! Simply incredible and in the happiest place on Earth. I believed in myself, but I needed all of the love and support from my friends and family to prove it. Thanks to everyone and Wolfpack sponsors for preparing me for this and foll
owing me along this journey. Love you all