Xterra Ionia Triathlon and Girlpocalypse 2 Tournament Weekend

After a LOT of go go go, driving for over 15 hours this weekend, playing a complete no bar girlpocalypse set, doing my last Xterra triathlon (16.5 miles; 0.5 mile swimming, 12.5 miles mountain biking, and 3.6 miles trail running) in record time, and then coming back to play my 2nd girlpocalypse set, only having 4 real meals since Thursday, I am staying at home today and doing nothing (probably, but that might be a lie). I am sore and totally done with travel.

On Friday, I traveled off to Chicago for my first GP (girlpocalypse) set, which I always intended to do no bar, because I like no bar and thought it would be a nifty challenge since I wasn’t going to live up to my title from last year and didn’t want to put a ton of pressure on myself. I decided to go with footspeed. For an hour, I pounded out as much as I could manage. I surprised myself and was able to get through most of Wheelpower and Go (which I had not even made it through the first stream with the bar ON Stomperz before), among other songs. I could tell I hadn’t practiced as much as I needed to, but I am in the middle of getting ready for my Ironman 70.3 in Mexico at the end of October so I didn’t really have much time to commit to the game.

After my set, I hung out with all the pretty girls, and had a great time going off to Panera and having a bread bowl. This is kind of where I knew I was going to be in trouble stamina-wise, because I was barely able to eat my bread bowl, it was my first meal since the day before. I was so excited to have met Céline Potel, the representative of French Coast Stamina. For the record, your English is very good, and you did well! I also met a long standing follower, Veronica Octavia and her counterpart Anna Nguyen. It was so interesting to see how different you guys are in person versus on chat/internet! So many nations coming together under one roof was a lot of fun. Afterwards, I headed to the hotel I had booked with Rich (because of allergies to dogs) nearby. On the way I managed to get a nail in my new tires

In the morning, we got it patched near Round 1 in Bloomingdale. Rich and I slipped away to the arcade while my car was being worked on and played DDR A for the first time. It went well and the new Toho Charts at least were a lot of fun and a lot more logical than previous Konami charts. I was sad I had to miss out that evenings shenanigans at Round 1, but I had to race 4 hours away in the morning. Driving from Chicago to near Lansing, Michigan was quite the drive, 4 hours, 5 hours if you count the time zone change. I forgot the race was in the eastern time zone so we lost an hour. We got to hang out with Mark Pierce and watch the most interesting youtube videos, watch the girls streaming on twitch (the GP tournament was being streamed live), and eat awesome new pizza (my 2nd meal?). We ended Saturday night with a lot of Sound Voltex.

Now for the race…This was Xterra Ionia, 45 minute drive from our location. The time zone change threw me off a little, and we got lost on our way to the race. I arrived and they had already given the pre-race talk and the elite wave (which is what I was in) was already ready to go off. I dropped my bike off in transition, which was difficult given there wasn’t ANY space left for one bike! I know it’s bad, but I ended up pushing my way into a small spot. I didn’t have time to set up ANYTHING, so I just made sure my shoes were there and race bibs ready, and ran off to the beach. I was so upset. Why? The lake was 76°F, meaning it was wetsuit legal. I didn’t have time to put on my wetsuit like everyone else, and was basically the only one who didn’t have a wetsuit on for the swim. Beach start. Off I went with no time, no wetsuit. I was of course slow. I was panicked because I knew I’d be slower than everyone else and was worrying too much about that. 10 minutes into the swim, I managed to calm down (the next swim wave had started), just a little. I focused on breathing and found more of a flow. I screwed up the end of the swim by keeping my head too high in the water. I also managed to get lost going to the wrong buoy (the first one was way out in the water) too. Despite all of that, I still managed to cut off 6 minutes of my swim time.

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Off the beach, I ran into transition feeling terrible about my swim. I realized how much being able to set up transition meant at this point. I struggled to find all of my stuff I needed in my bag and added a whole minute to my T1 at least. I didn’t even have time before the race to check the air in my tires. This ended up being a good thing, because running lower tire pressure meant more contact with the ground, which helped on more technical parts of the bike.

The bike was 12.5 miles, which was pretty accurate. The first 4 miles were typical single track, up and down, VERY wet and muddy conditions (AGAIN!), but I had gears that shifted this time. Wow does that make a difference. I had to stop several times, which was annoying, because of people needing to pass. By mile 5, it became very flat and open and was packed dirt basically. This is where I made a crucial mistake. It was about 2.5 or 3 miles of this flat surface, very “easy”. Running low tire pressure does mean better contact, but it also means it’s harder to keep speed on flat terrain due to the added friction. I was maintaining about 14 mph, even with my 26″ wheels. But I did this for a long time in higher gears. This eventually lead to my demise on the run. I did manage to lock out my shocks on this part.

After this I was fairly alone, everyone was very spread out at this point. Although back on the single track (for the rest of the course), I heard a woman screaming, a LOT, and a lot of comments yelled at high levels. I was confused, but kept going since it was behind me. Around mile 8 I hit something, and I have no idea what, but it sent me flying, and flying into a fallen tree. This was good and bad. I did crash, but if I had not hit the tree I would have gone down the slope next to me. I brushed myself off and checked my bike over quickly. The yelling lady had caught me by this point. I learned she was just freaking out over the course (apparently NOT happy at all), and every little hill or rock she went over or slipped on, she had to make a comment or scream about it. I mean, this is a mountain bike course, it could be MUCH worse.

Around mile 10, I hit a mini-wall. I just couldn’t maintain any sort of speed whatsoever. This was made worse by the last 0.75 of a mile, it was all uphill, and unforgiving terrain (very wet and soggy dirt). I finally entered transition 2 (T2). I had trouble putting my bike back since it was still squished between two other bikes I had previously made room for. I took off my helmet and left. My pace was really good for about 1 mile, and then the big wall hit me. All of a sudden, I noticed it was hot outside. The condition for the race was Sunny, about 84°F and VERY humid (90%+). I couldn’t keep up my cadence either. My legs were dead from 1. the no bar set I played, 2. The straightaway on the bike. I trudged through several ankle deep mud puddles (literally just puddles of mud) which slowed me down tremendously, but looking back at everyone’s time on the run, it slowed everyone down. VERY hilly course, and pretty technical, as it was ALL single track. Aid stations were awesome and well placed. I kept going anyway, trying to sing songs in my head to keep me motivated. My pace slowed each mile by a lot. So let’s say my run sucked. I still managed to pass a few people on the run (have no idea how). The last mile was in the sun, and it was HOT, and you could cut the air with a knife if you were lucky. I never generally complain about heat, but this was humid. Coming back up to the finish line, it was the same hill as the bike finish. I finished in 2 hours and 43 minutes, 13 minutes slower than I wanted but still much faster than either of my other xterra races, which were of similar distance.

I waited for awards. I ended up 1st in my age group, but mainly because it was small. The other girl in my age division got a DNF, and I do wonder what happened to her because I swear I remember seeing her on the bike behind me at the turn around. I was happy I finally finish my last Xterra for the year, so now I can look forward to being named regional champion for completing basically 60% of the races in the midwest. But this was disrupted because I knew I had to drive 4 hours back to Chicago for the rest of the tournament.

I washed off in the lake (oh how heavenly it felt on my skin!!), and got in my car and left. Stopped back at Mark’s house and watched Holly Davis play a few songs on stream while packing up, and left from there. Stopped for gas and drinks, but no time for real food. Still hadn’t eaten since pizza the previous night, now catching up to me. 3 hours in, we hit some bad traffic outside of Chicago, adding about 30 minutes to the drive time. In the meantime, we did try some Crystal pepsi. It was dank and tasted like the 1990s. I took Rich to his car (near Round 1), and drove back to the Bear Haus to play my 2nd set. I had no plan lol.

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I was thankful to have an hour of rest before my set (thanks Christal Spaeth). I started my set around 6pm CST, and played through all the Timing songs for kicks to see how I would do (rushing like mad on every step; don’t call me maybe, but call me EARLY). I had 30 minutes left after that. I played gold dust as my last timing song, and did have a hard time of it. But I decided to stupidly play my chart to Monado right after. This was hard to say the least, and I do not personally feel the advantage of the extra life bar in stamina at least, so it’s not as motivating to play stamina there. I also want to make known I had not played OR passed such a hard song in MONTHS! So this was a surprise pass. It killed me. But I decided to then go in on some footspeed again with my time left. I did ok at first, but pushing myself to that limit, I started having feet cramps and so I was not able to control my movements as much anymore. That was ok, I was exhausted and needed food and rest.

After my set I went to take a quick shower, and while walking up the stairs started getting leg cramps. Yup, been overdoing it haha. Had a nice evening with the ladies at Sweet Tomatoes (3rd meal??) and then drove home, Rich driving behind me in his car.

Now I am safe at home and just want to rest for a while. No more races until Mid-september now, so I can just focus more on training and relaxing for my 70.3. I have no idea how to end this now haha, it was a long weekend. If you made it to this point in my storybook, thanks!! I love you all.

Xterra Illinois Wilds Triathlon

I am currently writing this as of April 27, 2017. I just got my blog up and running, so I am going to do a quick recap of this race as it was my absolute hands-down favorite race I did in the Xterra series.

For one, it was the closest drive from Madison, only about 3.5-4 hours, versus the 6+ I’d been driving to the others. It rained all night the night before, which miffed me a little considering it was going to be extra muddy again.

We stayed in a hotel nearby in Peoria I believe, and headed out that morning with the hubby for the race. It was overcast, and a little chilly, probably like 70°F, will have to confirm with the garmin data later. The shallow, narrow lake was a nice balmy 85°F, so no wetsuit yet again. I didn’t even bother bringing it I think haha. I set up transition as usual and headed down a short path to the park lake.

The start of the race was an in-water start, meaning you were in the water, treading water before the start (feet did not reach bottom, and you basically did a little slide into the lake haha). This was actually quite nice! Again, for the 0.5 mile swim, I was slow, probably one of the last out of the water, but there were very nice paddleboaters and boaters that kept an eye on me, and I appreciated this. This swim was the most well guarded swim. Coming into the shoreline where the swim started, there were very helpful volunteers to help get you out by the arms and pull you out. The swim start even had a nice mat to step out onto! Overall best support swim.

Coming into transition, I prepared for the mud fest to come. I went out onto the course and a few of my gears shifted on their own to easier gears…hmm this wasn’t right. Come to find out, my shifting cable had a nice kink in it that was causing the auto shifts that were very unwelcome. I was aiming for a nice bike time, but being forced into the lowest gears, I went slow. The course was well maintain, and cut a little short because of the weather and to preserve parts of the trail that would have been too dangerous to do when soaking wet. Frustrated, I came into transition, lucky I didn’t fall too far behind.

Out to the run I went after a quick honey stinger gel. The run was a modest 4 miler with some decent hills. The most exciting part of the run however was running through the zoological park! You got to see many animals as you went by…plus some people! The course was well marked and the course had an aid station you hit twice on route.

I finished, muddy and frustrated with my time, but BY FAR was the best run Xterra race. The race director even came by personally and asked about my race experience (as well as greeting me before the race too)! I really appreciated that and made it feel worthwhile and inviting.

If I have anything to say, I would say come out to this race. It’s a lot of good folks just having fun out there. Sure there is competition, and I got to see a top athlete there compete too! The race date for 2017 has changed to June 9th, 2017, so I encourage if you want a good race experience, come check this one out 🙂

Xterra DINO Northern Indiana Triathlon

Xterra DINO, my 2nd ever triathlon. It was Ugly…

I knew this was the longest triathlon of the Xterra series, being about 20 some odd miles altogether, no big deal right? Wrong. The day was beautiful and wonderful, I could not have asked for a better day in itself, although not much sleep the night before, being so anxious with some lingering soreness from this week’s workouts.

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I got to the water, and knew there was the danger of blue-green algae (toxic in certain amounts), which I was not fond of experiencing, especially on my longest unassisted open water swim I’ve ever done (0.5 mile, which ended up being 0.6 miles). The water temperature was 85 degrees, well above wetsuit legal temperatures. I don’t like cold water, so that was nice at least (their threshold however was 72 degrees…blah). I started in the survivor wave, which just went two minutes behind the competitor wave (which is subtracted from your total time). The water smelled horrible, had tons of weeds just in the first few feet stepping in, which felt icky underneath. But it was go time. I headed out toward the large yellow buoy in hopes of finishing the swim alive. Made the turn, and coming back to shore, I found the algae, which I found to be most unpleasant. I actually managed to pass 3 other swimmers from the previous wave, have no idea how though. There were several floating weeds that freaked me out completely and slowed me down. Exiting the swim went about as well as entering.

There was a long way to go between swim exit and transition, glad I set down some flip flops to make the hike up the hill, no cut foot this tri. Transition 1, I was not so worried about time, just getting everything I needed. I was hosed off too, after the swim at the top of the hill, hopefully removing some of the algae. Put on shoes and off I went into the bike.

The bike course was moderately hard in places, but slow going because of how tight the single track was; one loop twice, about 8 miles long. I was trying to be careful but didn’t want to feel like I was being left behind (since I am a SLOW swimmer as it is and I was already 2 minutes behind the first swim wave), but I went a little too fast and flew over the handlebars. No big deal, yes it hurt, but I was not broken. This was only mile 2, sheesh. More and more tight turns, and could just not get any speed. About 5 miles in, I realized, I really needed some water. This was the beginning of the end. I had not brought water with me onto the bike course. There were no aid stations, as I later found out. I climbed a bunch, coasted a lot down into more turns. I finished the first loop in about 54 minutes, and was super sad about the slow time. I decided to make the 2nd loop count. I was into mile 10 or so, and I chose my line of sight wrong and hit a BIG rock. The bike stopped at that rock, and I kept going into the air flying in front. I don’t remember a lot of what happened, but I skidded to a stop. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET!! I can’t remember if I hit my head or not. But this is where competition turned into survival. Not only was I dehydrated long before this happened, but for the next 5 miles I had severe issues seeing at all. I had these bright white circles around my direct line of vision in front of me, basically throwing my speed down to running speed because I couldn’t anticipate anything in front of me. Gradually though, the bright circles got bigger and I could eventually see through them like a doughnut hole. Eventually near the end of the bike, they went away entirely. I fell one last time on my own going too fast around a turn and skidded to the side, but it was one place where it was grassy so I don’t count this as a crash. I had one gel after this happened (like mile 14), but had no water to rinse, but I figured at least one gel this race might help SOMETHING (I don’t know if it did or not).

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Entering transition 2, my friends are nearby, and it makes me smile. But there is business at hand, I need to finish this race. I took in as much water as I could chug in like 5 seconds (mistake), dropped my helmet and went. My transition time was under 1:20.

Out to the 7k run. It was mainly on gravel, a surprise for sure. I couldn’t keep a pace below 10:20, which was disappointing, but I was literally dying for water. It was only 7k, I can do this, I can survive. My bruises and cuts were bothering me, as I was sweating much more on the humid forested run. At least I was still sweating. Lot of little hills and climbs, the trail not technical in the least which was nice after miles of single track. I took it as easy as I could, well knowing I might need to call for help at this point. But no, I knew I could never quit out so close to the end. I got to mile 3 on the course, and FINALLY a water station. I sat there for like 2 minutes and downed 5 cups of water, not caring if it ended up sloshing around in my stomach. I kept going until the finish. My time was horrendous at about 45 minutes.

I crossed the finish line, all that matter to me at the current time. I found water a few meters away from the finish, I chugged I have no idea how much. I did NOT feel well. I felt like crap, and I had NEVER felt this way after a race before. Even when I finished my first marathon without gels or energy, at LEAST I had stayed hydrated at every aid station (just one mile apart usually). I managed to walk around a bit, losing 1st place age group, and at this point, no longer cared because of my performance. My head was pounding, pressure increased. I wanted to sit down. But it didn’t help. My stomach felt terrible and unsettled. I wandered over to where my bike was and threw up. Between my head and my stomach, I was paralyzed. I felt a little better after that, but my head was in no place to go anywhere. I knew I also had a 4.5 hour drive back to Madison and THROUGH Chicago, which I was trying to figure out how to do. I probably sat there for 45 minutes. I was dehydrated, I was wondering why I had not cramped up, or died. This is also not a good sign that I was still able to push through dehydration, because it means I can most likely do it again if need be.

I gathered myself and left the race site. I am home safe now, and the drive went a lot better than expected. I drank fluids and electrolytes every ten minutes on the way back. I still moderately feel like crap with a headache, but I reckon that won’t disappear for another day. Stomach is settled now though. If anything, I worked my butt off just to finish. I learned a lot on the trails, and had a wonderful time spending time with Aida Cepeda, in which I would be in a worse situation if she had not been there for me the whole time caring for me.

Injuries include: An extremely scuffed up left shoulder (covered in dirt in the pictures), bad scrapes on my left leg and cuts along my left ankle, deep scrapes on my right knee, scrapes up my left calf, and back of arms, bruising on my hands (cushioning my fall, helping me to have not broken or sprained anything), and bruising along my hips and quads. Gotta get better fast, round 2 is next weekend near Peoria, IL!

Post race thoughts (April 2017): Looking back, the only real positive thing I took from this was that it was organized as a race. I did not appreciate the water quality, as most surrounding bodies of water were full of algae. I didn’t like how they were not clear about whether there were aid stations or not…just tell me, I don’t care if there is one or not. Although I had issues out on the bike course, it was long compared to the rest of the race legs. I really did not like this race much and will not be back. Also looking back, I’m pretty sure I had a mild concussion or too much of the lake water made me sick.