Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim

I sit here, still on a complete high from such an incredible experience I had last weekend in the Grand Canyon.  What ended up being the entire Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim loop, was so much more than saying I completed this Ultra.  It was so much more than the run or the miles or just finishing... This experience was one of the best days of my life.

In 2009 my father and I hiked half the loop, Rim 2 Rim, it took us all day, and I barely made it to the top of the South Rim alive.  When a good friend, Walter Brown, invited me to join in on a group him and Steve Anderson were organizing, I knew this was something I had to do… I had a vendetta with that canyon

The Friday after Thanksgiving, our group, which ended up being 12 people (8 finished), got into our Fun Bus RV and traveled down South.  Road trips are not road trips without some obstacles... few blown tires made it interesting.  The group I was with was great through.  Everyone was easy going, willing to jump in and help out, and Steve, being the awesome person he is, ended up forgoing his R2R2R trip to fix the RV for the group - amazing guy. 

Going into this I knew I could handle the distance and had the mental focus it would take to complete this trip. Truth though - I was still nervous as shit!

  • Fact - I am the Queen of Tripping 
  • Fact - I've never 'run' any real trails
  • Fact - No Ultra Training
  • Fact - Head lamp? What's that... Camelbak? What's that...
  • Fact - I am determined so all above I needed to just Man UP and

I didn't get much sleep that night and was ready to go just before 5am at the top of the North Rim, 8,300ft, 17 degrees.  We started in some snow and I found myself at the very back – scared of slipping. 'Seriously?... already falling behind?' The snow only lasted about a quarter of a mile and we were in the clear.  Descending down into the canyon was amazing.  I remember just tuning everyone out, looking at the bright stars, feeling one with the canyon, and just wanting to scream with excitement... it was surreal.

By the time we reached the ranger station we were split into our groups that would pretty much remain for the remainder of the day - I found myself with Walter and Clyde.  Talking with a friend whose tackled this in the 8 hour range gave me pointers, one being - this is a long day, pace yourself.  So, that being said, I made Walter and Clyde let me run in front so I could pace at my speed to not totally crash at the end.  I probably held them back because both of them are super strong runners.

Within the first two hours, I had stripped down to shorts and a tank; the weather was perfect and we were at Phantom Ranch before I knew it.  This was our first real break, enough time to eat (PB&J for me which was freaking delicious), refill water, and head back out for the first real ‘work’ to be done going up South Kaibab.  

Heading up Kaibab was hard, and freaking cold/windy! Like... 
I want to punch someone in the face cold. Run/power-hike method with a mini sprint to the top (Clyde won... I took 2nd), got us to the South Rim in 4:29:19.  People kept saying 'good morning,' which was throwing me off.  It felt like it was afternoon but it was barely 10am!  We were WAY ahead of my anticipated schedule.  We took the shuttle, refilled water, ate a little something, and got ready to finish our trek back.  – I used the hand dryers in the bathroom to dry my sports bra and shirt… best.idea.ever.  It was so much colder than I had expected because of the fog and later, we would learn that the fog trapped in the Canyon was a rare weather occurrence.   

Heading back down the South Rim via Bright Angel was fun! Walter took off, I knew he would right here, and I could tell he was loving this section.  A lot of travelers clapped, made some you are insane comments, we ran into the rest of our group who were heading up, and I kept telling Clyde I feel so good still – ‘bottle it up for the North Rim assent.’ - yes sir! You could really let yourself get carried away on this section, but we made sure to hold back so our quads were not completely beat up.  Once we hit the river I started to mentally prepare myself that after Phantom Ranch the suck was going to start.

At Phantom Ranch, again we refilled water, ate, and got ready to do work. This sounds so lame, but while at Phantom Ranch, in my head I repeated some of my mantras that I use in races over and over until we left…Teresa has taught me how important the mental aspect of endurance racing is, so no reason not to use it today. 

Clyde decided we would run at a nice, steady pace to the ranger station, then power hike the rest of the way up.  This section was nice because it was runable (ie didn’t have those mini logs that prevent erosion) From Phantom to Cottonwood was the only section that I had a series of mini mental battles.  I’d look at my watch and we’d be running 9-10 pace and I’d think why the hell does this feel so dang hard! Every time a negative thought would creep in, I’d use some vulgarity to push it back out and carry on :)  This section is where Walter’s legs were starting to give him some issues and he started to struggle - I got worried.  I think he didn't take in enough calories and then the 5 hour energy drink he took just pushed him over the edge.We got him my compression socks on and continued.

Just after the ranger station I saw Steve and he looked like he was just skipping down the canyon having the time of his life! He had all of our warm clothes we had shed and some more nutrition. I took Walters backpack for him, and Clyde and I headed up for the final miles while Steve and Walter stuck together.

I don’t really remember these last miles but this section was hands down my FAVORITE.  Clyde and I could have really hammered out this last section, but instead we power hiked most of it and mini jogged some sections.... just really enjoying and taking in what we were about to accomplish. There was an amazing view when we hit just above the cloud cover and finished just as the sun was setting. I kept thinking the last mile, HOLY crap we are really doing this.…under 10 hours... NO bonking… holy crap why do I feel good?  When we came around the corner and saw that North Rim sign, it was a flood of emotions… I felt such a sense of accomplishment and all I wanted to do was call my father and tell him I freaking did it… healthy… and strong


Finishing this still feels surreal… I needed this day in so many ways.  Seeing everyone’s faces and senses of accomplish that night in the buss was the best... you are capable of so much more than you can ever think!  So thankful to have had the opportunity to join this group. THANKS GUYS!!! 

Nutrition: I think my nutrition was KEY to me not bonking this trip.  Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast.  I made sure I was taking in ~120 calories an hour from the very start consisting of GU/ Chomps/ PB&J/ Powerbar, and sipping on my PowerBar Perform Water mix all day long. 2 caffeine pills (1 at Phantom Ranch and 1 at the ranger station all on the way back).  Took a total of 12 hammer electrolites pills throughout the day.  Increased carbs 3 days prior

**For those reading looking for suggestions/advice a few things:

  • Recommended route would be Down South kaibab, Up North Rim, then loop back going up Bright Angel
  • Do this early/late in the year.  It WAS cold but I can not imagine doing this in the heat
  • Stay on top of your nutrition from the very first hour
  • If I were to 'train for time', VERTICAL training would be top priority 
  • Have some Zoot Compression pants to put on the second you get done - Legs will thank you :D

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Snow Canyon Half Marathon Race Report

Snow Canyon Half Marathon 1:26.46
5/176 AG, 14/717 F, 69/1912 OA... PR :D

Spent the weekend in St George for work and raced the Snow Canyon Half.  Rachelle's boyfriend was nice enough to drive us up to the start and it was freezing... perfect race weather! We had just enough time for a quick warm-up with Josse were off.

Miles 1-3: Plan was to take the first 2 miles at a set hr zone then progress from there.  Josse and I didn't make it up to the front in time so we had to do a bit of weaving in and out of people during mile 1.  Noticed a head wind through this section but everything felt comfortable.

Miles 4-8: Beautiful section of the course through Snow Canyon.  There was a younger kid named Spencer who was running the tangents very well so I stuck with him and we ended up running together until the end. Took a gel at mile 7.  After 7 is when the rollers start and I was still feeling very good all the way up to the end of mile 9.  

Miles 9-13.1:  Running through the Entrada neighborhood was harder than I expected it to be.  I would pull us up the inclines and Spencer would pull us fast down the descends.  Working with him helped a lot.  Saw my awesome dad at mile 9 and I remember mile 11 being the toughest for me so when I noticed the pace start to drop here I took gel #2.  

I love that this race finishes on a track.  The track always gets me fired up and I was able to out kick 2 girls in the last 50 meters.  Huge shout out to Rachelle with a 1:17 finish ->she is on fire!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Off Season and Fall Fun

Lets just start this post saying coming down from your peak... simply sucks. 
Post-race depression is for real. Teresa prescribed a schedule to kick off the 'OFF' season that left me with some major training withdrawals... antsy, annoyed, bored, cranky... IN A MAJOR FUNK.  
It took a lot of trust in her to listen.  I didn't like it one bit (Hello Christie Control Freak) 
but I got through the rest phase that in all reality, my body NEEDED. 

and now...we are back to base building for a whole new level of racing in 2014!

In the mean time... some off season Fall fun 

Supporting friends
St George Marathon

Absolutely fantastic day!! The St George Marathon snapped me right out of that funk and rejuvenated my spirit.  Rachelle and I had so much fun pacing people throughout the day.  Watching the leaders pass at mile 23 with such focus was crazy inspiring!  Walter, Janice, and Julia let me share in the last few miles of their races which was incredible. 

I ran (and screamed) the last 3 miles with Walter who finished with a 2:36... NBD, right?!  Janice was flying when I found her and finished so dang strong earning herself a nice PR.  And Julia PR'd and BQ'd. SO PROUD.

Park City 5K Pink Series

Laura was nice enough to let me spend the night with her before the race in Park City.  It is absolutely stunning up there this time of year! Fun race... but a whole lot of ‘girlieness!’  When they say PINK they are not kidding! :)  Got a fun prize for 2nd overall. 

2 products I am OBsessing over right now...  both from Zoot 

There are no words to describe how AWESOME these recovery tights are. Seriously. After you eventually get them squeezed on, the lower half of your body is in pure bliss. For a week  post Worlds/Big Cottonwood weekend, I may have only taken them off to shower :) Worth.Every.Cent.

Kiawe's - Mad crushing over these shoes lately.  I love my Brooks Pure Connects for road racing, but after Boise 70.3, I decided to look for an alternative triathlon specific racer because of all the blisters I was getting. Major score. 


Race Pacing - Moab Other Half

This past weekend I went with the American Flyers Race Pacers to help pace the Moab Other Half.  I had the biggest group I have ever had in a race stick with me.  It feels so great at the end of the race when you are able to help people achieve there goals.  Almost all of them came in under goal time too!

While we were down in Moab, had to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and did a short hike up to Delicate Arch before heading back home...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Report


Back to Back Race Weekends...

Marathon #4

The day before The Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon, I decided to run it. I was able to get an entry in, my body was feeling incredibly well from the prior weeks 70.3, and I really wanted to spend some time with friends I rarely get to see - So, the Big 26.2 it was.

It was so nice going into a race with absolutely no pressure.  Even at the start line I had no nerves at all!  6 days prior goal race in Vegas was complete, so this was pure, spontaneous fun! At the start line, I chatted with friends, met some new nice people, and enjoyed myself.  I thought it would be fantastic if I could pull out a PR (I am a goal person, ya know?), but honestly, I had no real expectations on the day other than to have fun.  Walter and I decided to run together and our plan was to take it super comfortable (basically walking for his speedy self) until we were out of the canyon then he’d push me.  I also promised myself that if I started to feel ANY sort of 'injury' pain that I would drop out. 

First of all, can I just say how amazing it felt to start a race on fresh, non-biking legs AND in actual cool weather… Yeehaw my legs were so happy! When the miles would click, I kept thinking we were going too quick. I felt good though and my HR was staying in a good range so I just let my legs do their thing through the canyon and stayed relaxed. 

Walter provided the entertainment for this section by teaching me his speedy race secrets.  I think we were at about a 6:40-:45 avg coming out of the canyon. 

6:22, 6:28, 6:30, 6:36, 6:35, 7:05 (GI issue/ bathroom stop!), 6:47, 7:15, 7:03, 7:15, 6:48, 6:38, 6:25, 6:54, 6:30, 6:56

I felt really good up until about mile 18ish.  Going from all that pounding to flat killed my hamstrings/feet... Your legs are wondering WTH you just put them through.  I haven’t run over 17 miles at all this year and I think I let that and last weekends race get to me more mentally that it was hurting me physically.  I am a little mad at myself for letting that happen.  I preach 'mind of matter' so much and I didn't follow my own motto.  

Coming out of the canyon, some quick math put a sub 3 in my head so I was trying so hard to keep a pace to earn under the 3 hour mark but today was not the day for that.  That last 5K hurt - a lot.  The back of my legs were cramping so bad but I refused to walk.  

Walter was basically switching from running form tips to screaming profanities at me the last 30 minutes.  I wanted to punch him in the face that  entire time... until we crossed the finish line Haha :D :D Lucky to have had him there with me.

6:57, 7:01, 7:24, 7:44, 8:13, 8:24, 7:57, 9:05>>>whoops, 8:41, 7:56,   

So there it is. An aided 15min. PR… 3:09:41
1st ag, 8th female, 59 overall


I do a really good job of isolating myself and I am the queen of 'Walls Up' to just about everyone - 
SO,  weekends like these are good reminders that it is ok to let people in... 
it actually makes life a whole hell of a lot more meaningful and fun.  
There are good people out there - 
but you never know without letting down those walls to give them a chance. :) 


Side note on the race:  ***This is probably one of the best ran races I’ve participated in.  Organization and attention to detail was spot on.  The race directors really went out of their way to make sure us runners were very happy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

World Championships 70.3

What a weekend!!!   The World Championships lived up to all my expectations.  
Just being at this event was incredible in itself.  Being surrounded by talent, and intensity, and competition was so exciting and intimidating all at once.  I am so happy to have had the opportunity to race here with the other 2000+ athletes... especially since this was the last year the event will be held in VEGAS.  

We arrived in Vegas a few days prior to the race.  I was able to get a swim in the amazing outdoor lap pool, a ride, run...all the normal pre-race formalities.  Dropping my run bag off and Heather Jackson came up to me to chat... just about made my day :D  Most importantly, those few days before I made a point to stay off my legs as much as possible, hydrated like champ, and visualized executing my race plan - over and over and over. 

Race day I woke up to a little rain and as we drove to the race start, it turned into a straight-up downpour; it stayed like that until just before I started to run.  I text Coach T and she reminded me to still keep up on the hydration so that the humidity doesn't kill me if the rain were to stop.  I was in the 15th wave, so I didn’t get to start until 75min after the first group… not ideal because things get very congested and I have more time to sit and be nervous!

Swim 39:46 Ouch!! This is a non-wet suit swim so I was expecting this slower time. Lake Las Vegas is like swimming through mud, yum! Found my rhythm right from the start. Nothing really went wrong; my swim just needs work, especially if I expect to place higher.  I lost 8 age group spots just in the swim.

T1 3:56 Transition 1 was nuts. I knew that this was going to be a longer transition so the day before I practiced going through it 5 times to avoid any silly mistakes. You exit the water and have to run up and over this bridge, then through a grassy area (which was a bunch of mud holes by the time my group got to it), get your bike, then hall the bike up a hill before you mount! There was the longest line going up that hill and it was starting to frustrate me that people were not moving very fast.  I allowed that time to let my heart rate come down before getting on the bike.  You can tell where you are standing by how many bikes are gone... so I knew getting on my bike I had a bunch of ladies to catch

Bike 2:50.44 (Pre-race meeting they told us the bike was about a mile long)  I was honestly having a great time on the bike.  Caught 33 girls in my group moving me from 59th to 26th place.  It was raining so freaking hard that it was just making me laugh.  Everyone had been prepping for ridiculously hot weather, and here it was downpouring. (Good thing I did all those work outs with sweatshirts and beanies on! lol) My race plan was to keep my heart rate consistent in the 157-163 range and not pushing too hard on the climbs.  This race, I was not so glued to my watch and going more by 'feel' which still had me in my planned range when I would check in.  I felt really focused and just 'in the game' during the bike.  I continuously checked in with myself... 'how am I feeling... can I run fast off this effort... am I thirsty..etc.' Lots of crashes out on the course because of the water!  I don't feel like I was able to take advantage of all the descends because I'll admit, the water made me a little nervous.  The last climbing section into town was when I felt the most power so I was excited to get my running shoes on! All in all, super challenging course but fun!! 

T2 1:29 Nothing exciting here except it was super nice to have volunteers rack your bike for you

Run 1:42  During the last 5-10 miles of the bike course, Las Vegas Sun decided to come out to play and turned the course into a humid, sauna.  The first couple groups of the day, were able to run in the rain… luckies! By the time I got to the run, I starting to get pretty hot so I was super happy I drank extra on the bike like T told me to.  The run course was either up or down hill – 1 down, 2 up, 1 down (repeat 3 times) no flats.  The first loop I took conservative, keeping an eye on my heart rate.  Every aid station I dumped ice down my top and shorts and put water over my head.  Felt really good until that last 2 mile climb. Kicked My Butt! That section was where I caught 3 of the 6 girls though.   Caught 6 girls on the run taking me to 20th by the end.  Being able to see my Dad and Janice three times was great... high fived them and my dad would yell out to me what Teresa wanted me to do!! I cant tell you how many times I have practiced progressive runs and I feel like that translated perfectly during this race.  That last mile was strong and fast... how it should be!  


I am completely addicted to the feeling of finishing an all-out race.  Crossing the finish line brings emotion out of my 'emotionless self' that is unexplainable... races like these break through that tough outer shell you create.  They allow you to lay all your hard work out when you are confident enough to cross over that line of fear, become vulnerable to the pain and hurt and just be your own raw self... it is an amazingly unexplainable feeling...(clearly):D

Results were posted to show I finished 20th in my ag and I can honestly say I am proud to have finished there... no disappointment whatsoever! This course and the weather and the girls were insane.  I followed my race plan exactly and gave it my all.  I crossed that line feeling like I wanted to feel.  Being my second year racing, what more can I ask?

I say this in every race report but I honestly feel like the luckiest girl to have some pretty awesome people in my life.  Words can not event start to describe how awesome my dad is, and I know, if I wouldn't have met Teresa, I would not be where I am today... not just as an athlete but as a person.  I also have a few, special friends, that continue to give me such support and confidence to believe in my crazy dreams!!

Another stepping stone in Building My Machine....

Monday, August 26, 2013

This time of year... Vegas here I come!

Race day is 13 days away.   
Which means taper time…. 
Which means blogging time to occupy my ‘I want to be training, not resting’ mind!! 

I remember this time of year, last year, getting a text from Coach T about considering  
qualifying for the Worlds 70.3 as a goal of mine for 2013. 
Big goal… I’m game! 

Reaching that goal in St George was amazing and the rest of the summer has been all about training hard, racing smart, and learning lots to lead me to a great race on September 8th.   

Vegas is going to be very windy, and a lot hot, and plenty hard. Championship race worthy... I think so! :) Tough courses make for tough athletes, right? I am such a numbers person… quantifying everything is something I do without even thinking about it.  NOT for this race.  No time expectations going in.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to have a fabulous race, but my #1 goal is to leave everything I have on that course.  I am so excited to race with some talented ladies and all I want, is to cross that finish line feeling absolutely spent.


This time of year is also when I decided to change my life.  Two years ago I committed to letting go of an awful lifestyle and began ‘Building My Machine.’  Recently, I finally feel like I have gotten to a point that I am not ashamed or held back by that past ‘life.’  A couple weeks ago at the gym, a young man I didn't know asked me if I would talk to his mom about her weight issues since I have been able to overcome mine. This was a real 'aha' moment for me. I have overcome them. I can admit to it without being ashamed.  I can help others now.  Changing your life is freaking HARD no matter what the adjustment you are making.  You can have amazing support like my dad, coach, and cousin but that doesn't simplify the change.  Throughout the two years I was always teetering back and forth, so owning my new ‘changed’ life never seemed honest and genuine.  But now, NOW I feel like I have gotten to a point to use that weakness as fuel instead of a weakness rendering me from my potential.  Finding strength in that weakness, Akhilandeshvari! Fueling my fire within. 

“If it isn’t something that’s physically stopping you, then it’s mental.  
So, is your mind going to be your weapon or weakness?”

You better bet that fuel will be my weapon in Vegas! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

Lake Stevens 70.3  - 5:05.08

8/64 AG
36/421 Female
205/1222 Overall

Lake Stevens 70.3 was my first half distance Tri last year finishing in 5:35.  I am in love with Washington, Coach T is from there, and this course has been my favorite so far so I had to do it again. 
Leading up to the race, I felt the most calm I have ever before.We got into Washington Friday night and then spent Saturday doing all the usual pre-race stuff… driving the course, short shakeout run/ride/swim, and ended the day with dinner with Teresa and Mark - perfect! 

Going into this race, I wanted to have a good run.  T and I decided to take the bike course more conservative in hopes of accomplishing that goal. 


I was in wave 9 which took off about 30min. after the pro's.  
This was my best swim to date.  I really felt great in the water.  I think what made the difference in this swim was making sure my mind was continuously focused.  

It is very easy to let my mind drift, especially when swimming, and especially when I have the bike and run to think about.  Instead, this race I stayed in the moment. When the finish line was in site, I went over what I was going to do in T1 and before I knew it... it was ROCKY time.


Absolutely gorgeous course... you are basically riding through a canopy of greenery the entire time. I found the ride more challenging than St George.  I honestly do not know how I did this course last year on a flat pedal bike! 

The plan was to not be in attack mode the entire ride which was my prior race approach.  I made sure to keep my cadence up, spin up the climbs, and try to keep my heart rate more even throughout.   

Finding what balance I need to take to have a good run is going to take time… maybe I held back a little too much on the bike, maybe not… either way, I came off the bike feeling fresh and ready to run.   


Right out of transition I saw my dad which gave me tons of energy… always does.   

This is a 2 loop course which means a lot of crowd support.  Since we were racing where TNMultisports is based, there were many TN athletes out on the course for encouragement.  

This is not necessarily a flat course, so my paces were not even/consistence; but I feel like my effort was.  

I never looked at pace the entire run, only HR. This was the first run off the bike that my HR was not through the roof coming out of transition.  

I was feeling awesome until about mile 10. When I high fived T and Mark before the second loop I should have took another gel.  I think that would have prevented the energy loss. Going back up the hill at mile12 hurt but crossing the finish line is always worth it.  Especially with the 70.3 distance. I am addicted to the feeling of finishing on completely empty. Seeing my dad and Teresa's faces there at the finish was awesome!  

It is hard not to get frustrated with yourself when you pour your whole heart and are putting in the time and  not necessarily seeing the results. You cant help but question, 'oh I didn’t train long enough, go hard enough, give enough.'  My head and heart want to be racing with those top girls but my body just isn’t there yet...   

Big goals take time...
Patients. Consistency. And listening to coach T.