Thursday, April 10, 2014

Off to Sea Otter

I'm currently enroute to Monterrey, California to attend the Sea Otter Classic on behalf of my work, Nuun Hydration. I feel pretty lucky that events like these are work. Hang out in the sun in California and talk to people about Nuun? Ok! Oh and I get to race my bike too? Double ok! Although these events are a lot of fun: bike riding, hanging out in the sun, industry parties, beer, beer and more beer, they are also freaking exhausting and overwhelming.

Sea Otter offers something for any kind of bike rider. For example, we have three employees racing at various events: road, cyclocross and downhill. I'm representing Nuun at the women's cat 4 road race which will go off at 7am (early!) on Sunday. But after 2 long days standing on my feet sharing the good word of Nuun to all the cyclists, racing a 40 mile road race with 4,200 feet of climbing is going to hurt so, so bad. I wonder if any of the other ladies racing with me will also be working? Or do they have the pleasure to live close by and roll out that morning? Whatever the case is, I know it's going to hurt and I'll be surprised if I can keep up. I'm going out there with a "race hard, but have fun" attitude. If I get dropped, then it'll be a tough 40 mile training ride.

I'll have a full report of what I think of Sea Otter when I return, but follow along at Instagram and Twitter for some of my perspective of the event.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Independence Valley Road Race

The entire drive down to Rochester (90 miles south of Seattle), rain pelted the windshield. This was serious rain. This rain wasn't messing around. We all were thinking "This is the worst idea we've ever had" but as we pulled into the parking lot and slowly got our kits on and bikes ready to go, the rain let up a bit and our spirits started to rise a bit. Yes, there was some convincing  like "At least it isn't cold" or "Its not as bad as team camp was" and some negotiating about the goals we had for the race, but at the end, Team Cat Club, presented by Hagens Berman-Society Consulting all lined up to race on Saturday at IVRR.

My goal for this race was to keep up with the front pack. There were 2 hills on the loop which we did twice, so 4 hills I needed to keep up on. After a not so neutral roll out up the first hill, I was already working too hard and knew this race was going to be a strugglefest. But since we dropped a few women each hill, I was able to keep a better position in the pack than I did at Sequim - so there's a win.

Whole pack still together. HBSC ladies are in blue. All Photos from here
The miles of the 2nd lap were a blur. I had said going into it that I'd be incredibly happy if I could continue to hang on. I couldn't tell you what the course looked like besides the pavement... I was working too hard to think or look at anything else besides the wheel in front of me. Having teammates that were going through the same paincave as I was made it a little better as we worked together to hold on. On the final hill two of my teammates and I fell behind the front group, but were determined to catch back up, so we bombed down the descent, each took a really freakin' hard turn pulling each other and were able to catch the group again. Nothing feels better than catching that group. Nothing!

That's me!
Mal!

With a few miles to go, one of my teammates Mal flatted and I felt SO terrible for her. She was the strongest one of us that day and was seriously crushing the hills. If it wasn't for that flat, I know she would have podiumed for sure. At that point, the three of us that were left, decided to pull for Ana to do the sprint. Well, plans were thwarted when I mis-judged the distance to the finish and the sprint went early. There were 10 of us in the group and since I was in the front of the pack, ready to pull Ana, I didn't have a wheel to pull me once the sprint went, so I worked so freaking hard the last 1k and was able to finish 8th. Ana was able to get a wheel and finished 5th and Stephanie finished 7th. Mal, who flatted, still finished 11th!

That's me in the VERY BACK of the sprint...
Crossing the finish line.

It was a super tough race, but I'm so proud of my teammates and myself for our performance. All 4 of us were able to keep up with the front group and proved that we're a strong group that has the potential to do very well in the Cat 4s. GO TEAM CAT CLUB!




Monday, March 24, 2014

Tour de Dung

Tour de Dung aka Sequim RR aka my first road race.

You'd think after running lot of races, doing a handful of triathlons, I'd have prepping for a race down to a T. I thought so too until the night before this race. With a goal of getting to bed at 9pm, I had to get a lot done after leaving work at 5pm: clean bike, take fenders off bike, shake out ride, eat dinner, pack food for breakfast on ferry + after race, and pack a long list of bike stuff. Thank goodness for a checklist a teammate made of stuff to bring - a cycling race seems to require more than a triathlon, or at least it felt like it.

My prep was going swimmingly until I was attempting to cut the zip ties off my fenders when the knife slipped and sliced my finger nice and deep. I freaked out/cried in my apartment, not knowing what I should do (I was alone). I accidentally saw how deep the cut was, got really queasy (hate blood), and decided I needed to go to the ER. After the quickest trip to the ER ever and 3 stitches, I was on my way home, but missing my 9pm bedtime by 1.5 hours.

Getting up early and traveling to the race was one of my favorite parts of the day. The 4:30am wake up time was not my most favorite, but getting in a car full of, friends, lots of bike gear, 4 bikes on the car's exterior and getting on the first ferry out of Seattle made it seem like an adventure. In the other races I've done, they've mostly been solo, so having friends and teammates to travel to the race with, warm up and race with was new, but it made it so much more fun!


Bikes on cars, cars on ferries
Ok, so onto the race! Mixed emotions were going on in my head as we waited in the staging area. I was more nervous than excited. All the advice I was given was flying through my head: don't stay on the front and if you do, don't stay there long; always be on a wheel and make others work for you; don't stay in the back of the pack, you'll yo-yo and work too much; try not to use your brakes; be vocal if you do; crashes are more likely to happen on the right-side of the road, so don't stay there; you can't cross the yellow like or you'll get DQ'd; but you get the whole road at 1k to the finish.... Before the race even started, my brain hurt.

The race started and I had another one of my "Oh my gosh! It's actually happening! I'm IN a bike race!" but had to quickly wash the excitement away and focus. For all 36 miles of that race I was so focused on everything: the wheel in front of me, the wheel not in front of me, where I was in the pack, where I should be in the pack, what others were doing around me. I've never been that focused in a race ever. The consequences for not paying attention in a road race are too big to not pay attention. No one wants to crash.

That's me in the blue on the front. Doing all the work like I'm not supposed to.
All 3 laps of the race (3 x 12 miles) were the same thing: keep a wheel, get out of the wind, get to the front of the pack. Toward the finish, things started happening, and I was in a bad position to be able to grab a strong wheel before I started my sprint to the finish. At one point I had no wheel (que freak out!), but was able to jump on a good one to get me closer and have enough gas left to give it all I had to the finish line. I finished 11th out of 21 ladies and was perfectly happy with that. My teammate Ana took 3rd!

Laying it all out. 110% right there.

I have A LOT to learn about road racing, but I think if I continue to work at it and race more, I have the potential to do well. My next race will likely be Independence Valley Road Race this Saturday. Bring on the hills!

Team Cat Club




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Lake Samammish Half Marathon recap

After the race a couple weekends ago, I was driving down to Portland with my man-friend saying how happy I was with the result of the half marathon I ran that morning. He said something along the lines of "yeah, didn't you practically die at the end of your first half marathon in 2009? Now you can just bust 'em out." That is why I was so happy. I have come a long way since my first half marathon in 2009. (Sidenote: what kind of recap was that?!)

Over 5 years, I've ran numerous races, started doing triathlon, raced cyclocross and will soon race my first road bike race. Looking back though, it doesn't surprise me that I've done all these things because being a real "athlete" has been something I've always wanted to be. When I was younger I always wanted to be that girl that people associated with "being athletic" and after these five years, I feel like I've reached that. Well, I've felt that way for awhile, but this weekend solidified it.

Nuun trucker hat for the entire race!
Like I said in my previous post, my goal for the Lake Samammish Half marathon was to run the entire thing and I not only did I run the entire thing, I averaged a 8:35 pace! The race was .2 miles short, which was annoying - how do you go THAT short? Anyway, a 1:50 12.9 miler without training blew me out of the water! A couple years ago, I trained hard and attempted to go sub 2 hours on this same race and came in at 2:02. Fast forward to this year and I pull a 1:50 out of nowhere without doing more than 1 9-miler the week before. I know I have been an athlete for a long time, but being able to perform like this with little training really shows how far I've come.

Me and Casey post race


But there is always more to improve on, more to experience, more training. So here's to more growth in my athletic career!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Update

I feel an update is needed here since I haven't blogged in awhile, but looking at what I've been doing the past couple weeks doesn't really beg for an update.

Anyway, an update you will have!

The month of February was attempting to balance traveling and staying active. I was in Florida and Arizona for Ragnar (working, not running) and both trips knocked me off my schedule and exhausted me. Getting back onto a schedule after being that tired is tough, but with races lingering just weeks away, I had to motivate myself to get back on track.



 Speaking of races, I have a couple on the horizon. Tomorrow I'll see if my legs have any endurance in them by running the Lake Samammish Half Marathon. It'll be my 3rd time running this race and honestly the least prepared I've been. My increased cycling has unfortunately put running on the back-burner and I'm going to pay for it this Saturday. Goal for the race? To run the entire thing, no walk breaks.

The following weekend I'll be racing my very first cycling road race in Sequim. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. With all the activities I've been doing, I've been having a hard time getting excited to race. Can't I just ride my bike for the fun of it? Well, of course I can, but I still need to see if I even like racing first. And I won't judge it on only one race, I'll give it a season.



Outside of running and biking, things are same 'ol, same 'ol. I'm actually feeling pretty blah about life. I'm feeling the most anxious I ever have for a big change in my life. I'm calling it my quarter-life crisis. I wish I had the means to get the hell out of dodge and go on an adventure. Hike the PCT this summer, go on a long road trip, ride my bike somewhere really far, do SOMETHING. But those means aren't there at this time. One day...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Island bicycle adventure

I went on a bicycle adventure this weekend. An island bicycle adventure.

Living in the great state of Washington, we have the Puget Sound that is home to many islands. Some small, some large. From Seattle, a few of these islands are seen from the waterfront and a short ferry ride will get you on an island adventure in no time.

Bainbridge Island is know for it's hills as it hosts the annual Chilly Hilly bike ride, which is a 35ish mile loop around the island with over 3k of climbing. So in search of some slower, hillier miles, my friends and I set off for a day of island riding.


We rode our bikes onto the 8:45am ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge - something I've never done in the years of bike riding. It's awesome, you get to board first, disembark first, but the price is a little steep at around $9.00 round trip. After a 35 minute crossing, we were riding off the boat, already so stoked on what we deemed #islandvibes.



There were four of us riding, two ladies, two dudes, so us girls set the pace of the ride, which we decided needed to be chill due to the mileage and elevation the route would encounter. There were plenty of stops to check the map, cue sheet, coffee and photo opps. Thanks to our skilled navigator, we never took a wrong turn. Win!


Our first loop of the island took us on the Chilly Hilly route, with one add-on to get a few extra miles. This add-on took us down onto the water with classic PNW views of dark green trees, calm water, rocky beaches and low fog. I wish I had a photo of this to share. The waterways and islands of the PNW are like no other I've seen - something straight out of a movie.


We finished the first loop, dropped one of our friends off at the ferry and started our 2nd loop. Once we reached the North end of the island, we crossed Agate Pass to the Kitsap Penninsula. From there, we continued north to the Kingston-Edmonds ferry. We we all happy warm up on the ferry, eat snacks and talk about our day. From Edmonds, we rode south to Ballard and finished our ride.

I got home 8 hours after leaving that morning and got in 78 miles with 4,600 feet of climbing. We rode for 5:18. You can see my Strava route here.

Island riding will get you more stoked about bike riding, I guarantee it. Plus, you'll probably ride roads you never have, see scenery that could be stared at for hours and you'll definitely share some serious #islandvibes with the friends you choose to ride with.

So, when are we going back?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

QOTD

"The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood." - Susan B. Anthony
I want this print!