9/21/12

HELLO from Branson!

 
HELLO!! We made it safe and sound. What a smooth trip to Branson Missouri.
 
 
Like always, it's hard to leave my furry best friend. I am fairly certain he has perfected his sad face to make is super duper hard to leave him.
 
But not to worry, Campy was the best helper in getting me race ready. Not only did he help me finish most of my runs during my training but he made sure I didn't forget anything before the race.
 

 
Mom, are you sure you aren't forgetting anyone??

 
At the Trek store, helping Karel pack up our bikes. Waiting a patiently to see if we will pack any of his toys.

 
To avoid a super early commute Friday morning, we headed to Orlando on Thurs evening for a good night sleep. At 5:40am, we left our hotel to head to the Orlando airport. Although Jacksonville airport is closer than the 2-hour drive to Orlando, we ended up saving $200 each ticket to fly out of Orlando to Branson and on AirTran, our bikes were only $50 each way. Luckily, everything went super smooth but we allowed a good 2 hours before our flight just in case.

 
 
A 1:20 hr flight to Atlanta and a 1:50 hr flight to Missouri. I caught up on lots of reading (journals, magazines, etc.) and shared lots of laughs with Karel by looking at the items in the Sky Mall magazine. We also brought our own food on the plane so Karel enjoyed a pre-made sandwich (ham, cheese, veggies on a sub that he kept cold in a cooler before we got to the airport) and I had a PB and Jelly Bagel w/ banana. I also had a "personal" carry-on, in addition to my backpack that was filled with my homemade trail mix (Cheerios, cashews, raisins, Spanish pumpkin seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds), as well as fruit (pears, bananas, apples, peaches, plums), baby carrots, PB (in a Tupperware container), emergency bars (LARA, MOJO, KIND), fig newtons, raisin bread, crisp bread crackers, oatmeal packets, animal crackers (Karel's favorite) and of course, dark chocolate. Thankfully, our fridge at the hotel is stocked for easy snacking.
 
 
 
YIPPEE!! We made it. The new Branson airport is SO cute. I felt like I was walking on to a movie set. I new as soon as we walked into the airport that this was the right race for us. I love the homey feel and the special touch of warmness from the locals.


 

 
 
The airport is super small so a few steps away, we saw our bike cases. Despite a 45 min layover in Atlanta, we were lucky in that our next gate was just 3 doors down. But happily, all our prized possessions made it to "the Vegas of the Midwest"..
 
 
 
Karel scored us an upgrade and thank goodness he did!! An intermediate car would not have worked out with our third bag. We have squeeze in two bike cases before (KONA) but this time, we were happy to have a new Jeep Cherokee Limited Edition (although Karel isn't sure he likes the feel of the "American" cars because they don't accelerate fast enough for him). Also, another save in money. The Branson 70.3 website had a discount code for the event. Combined with the $150 race entry fee, this race is relatively easy on the bank account...but I'm sure, won't be easy on the legs come Sunday.

 
What would I do without him?

 
It all fits!

 
We had a 12 mile drive from the airport to our hotel (Baymont Inn and Suites), which is located about 1 mile from the Landing (race finish). Not walkable but an easy commute. The logistics of this race are a little unique in that the swim and T1 are at one location, T2 is at a separate location and then we finish at the Landing (downtown) just a little away from T2. The sights are beautiful and with a warm day today, I'm looking forward to the crisp low 40's anticipated for race day morning (high 72) on Sunday. Oh, and we have not discovered any road/street that isn't flat. But luckily, after our legs get a beating for 56 miles, the 3-loop run course is flat.

 
Always excited to see Oakley when I travel!

 
One of my favorite parts in deciding my race schedule, is seeing new places. I love traveling w/ Karel so to share this experience with him (his first half ironman) and our first trip to the Midwest, is really special. We are loving the new sights, smells, tastes and hopefully new friends. It is so beautiful here!

 
Enjoying part of the run course.

 
Either Karel is carbo-loading or considering new gel flaks. Karel does love his chocolate.

 
With a 100% smooth trip, something was bound to happen. Who needs two brakes, right? Well, apparently the airline didn't think I did so my front brake was broke in half when Karel assembled our bikes. His speed concept took a little longer to put together so Karel advises anyone with integrated headsets or inexperience w/ traveling w/ a bike, to use Tribiketransport. Thankfully, I can travel w/ my bike mechanic (and his tools) and in this case, he came in super handy!

 
A big thanks to Down Hill Bikes for helping us out with a new front brake and any other items that Karel needed to fix my bike.
 
 
Well, it's getting close to my favorite time....pre-race PIZZA!!! Thanks for reading. We are both really excited and hope to be mentally and physically tough on race day. We are enjoying our racecation to the fullest!
 

9/19/12

Bottled-up energy

"Being relaxed, at peace with yourself, confident, emotionally neutral, loose, and free-floating - these are the keys to successful performance in almost everything."
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
 
It still hasn't hit me yet but my mind and body are yelling at me - WE ARE READY!
 
 I can't believe on Sunday September 23rd, 2012, I will be doing my 7th half ironman with Karel on the hardest bike course in the world. Well, this course may be ranked "hard" because of the average bike times (average "fast" female bike times ranging from 3:10-3:20 for 56 miles) but I'll let my legs help me write my race report after I finish 70.3 miles in Branson, Missouri, on Sunday. I can't wait to finish this challenging event with my best friend and life partner.....I wonder how long he will have to wait for me??
 
 
Link found here
Can we say, confidently, that this is a course designed for a former Category 1 cyclist???
 
This has been one of the most amazing journey's of my life. Sharing a deep passion of mine with Karel, who needed a new challenge in his athletic career. Side by side, ups and downs and lots of laughs (and yummy food) along the way, I am filled with memories from the past 3 months.
 
 
I've seen Karel go from not being able to swim 400 meters continuously in the pool to speaking like a swimmer, telling me his splits and letting me know he can "most of the time" feel the catch in the water. We covered almost 3 miles in the ocean for an open water swim event last month and Karel is really loving the challenge of swimming. Still a lot more room for improvement before IM Lake Placid next year but hopefully Karel will carry confidence with him on race day, trust his swim training, keep good form, remember that it isn't won in the swim and to never forget where he came from. What I've learned in the past 3 months is that I am still a fish and I love to swim. But I still get lazy in the water as a triathlete. Karel has showed me how to challenge myself and I will remember all the oxygen-deprived sets in the "boys lane".
 
 
 
Give him two wheels and he will ride it. No longer does Karel suffer on a time trial bike for omnium cycling races. Karel has fallen in love with his speedy machine and really enjoys riding a tri bike. I've enjoyed his draft for the past 3 months, although never an easy ride to stay on his wheel. Since IM #1 in 2006, I've seen my cycling advance from scared newbie on a tri bike to experienced rider who craves hills. I feel like I still have so much more room for improvement but with Karel by my side (or in front of me), I know I'll continue to have fun on the bike. But most of all, I love riding my bike. It is likely my favorite part of the triathlon (by a hair to the other two disciplines) because it is my chance to reflect on where I was at one point in my triathlon career. I have struggled many times with the bike portion in triathlons but Karel has done an exceptional job of preparing me for Branson. I believe I can be stronger and faster but the work is done at this point in my triathlon career. Always room for improvement but I'm feeling strong thanks to Karel's constant encouragement, ability to help me train smart (and analyze files) and teach me how to "hurt so good." There's no question that Karel will enjoy this course. Certainly, knowing how and when to back off will be the constant question on his mind but I am sure he will race smart.
 
 
Don't be fooled by this Czech cyclist. He doesn't only run for beer.
I think this is the area where we both feel as if we improved the most. I am running injury free and with more confidence than ever before. Karel excels in criterium races. He loves lactic acid. Enough said.
My happy moments on race day will be when  my body is hurting and legs are screaming for rest, but I will have to dig deep to remind myself that my mind is my only limiter. Although we didn't do much run volume on a weekly basis, the runs we did on the track, off the bike and with the group, really counted. I'm not certain how the day will turn out for both of us, for a challenging bike course requires discipline and a few risks to ensure strong legs for the 13.1 mile run. I continue to struggle with that sweet spot on the bike to set me up for a strong run so I hope that we can both pull it together on race day. I was able to achieve a huge PR off the bike at the Macon Rock n' Roll Halfman in May so I will remember that feeling in Branson (boy, it sure did hurt but it was worth it!). There are no guarantees in racing so I believe that hard work sets athletes up for successful race performances. We trained hard.
Success is determined on an individual basis and often, not until the pain has removed from the body and the reflection period has begun. For success at Branson will not be about finishing times. We have zero time goals in mind. As for other things that can signify a successful race performance? Anything from crossing the finish line with a healthy body to placing on the podium. Our goal is to put our training to the test and to enjoy this experience together. The successful performance will be determined throughout the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run....not based on a finishing place or time.
 
 
 
Interestingly, no matter how long you are an athlete, the questions, concerns and fears never go away. First time or 20th time, the unknown questions rarely get answered until the finish line.
Taper is an interesting thing. Feeling a similar thing before the 2011 Ironman World Championships last year, the heavy legs and overly sleepy body has transformed into a body full of energy, craving to race. With a well fueled and healthy body, I'm thankful for this opportunity. Another opportunity in life to make memories and test my limits.
 
 

9/16/12

1 week 'til race day!!



Ugggh....taper blues.

Heavy legs, lethargy, super sleepy, weird appetite, no energy, mood changes....

Don't ya love taper????

A 50% decrease in training volume and with 7 hours of training during our recovery week, it took 6 long days to finally find our legs. Thank goodness that after 6 years I get to share this feeling with Karel. Of course, he has put up with me year after year, race after race, always reminding me "you will be fine on race day". Never have I trained so hard to prepare my mind and body for race day and because of that...WOW - did my body really need time to recover.

It's interesting that in the article on taper blues, the author (