Triple Header – and 2004 Season Wrap-up

Well the season is now over, and I am looking forward to doing some of the things that I don’t normally have time to do – hang out with friends, shopping, mountain bike riding, and of course cookie baking!!!!

The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with racing. Normally I am finished my season after Hawaii, but this year I had decided that I would not only do the Xterra race the week after IM but I would then follow that up with a ½ Ironman race in Tempe Arizona. As a member of the Multisports.com Crew, we would be heading to Tempe to do a short presentation associated with the Soma half Ironman. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out what the course for the upcoming Ironman race in April would be like. Well it was one of those “sounds good at the time”, or “looks good on paper”, but actually doing 3 races in a stretch of 15 days, and all of them being difficult races was soon becoming a reality and I wasn’t sure that the body was going to react. This is something that I had never done before (and certainly would not suggest to anyone else) so I really didn’t know how I was going to feel when it came down to the 3rd race – the half ironman. I suppose in a way, this was a blessing in disguise, as I had zero expectations, and was ready to take on whatever the day dished out.

All in all, the race went well – I felt surprisingly good up to about 1 hour into the run – then I felt like I was back on the lava fields in Kona doing the Ironman shuffle. It really goes to show what the body is capable of doing. As I said this is not something that I would ever suggest to anyone – it is really pushing the limits of what the body can endure. Knowing that it is the end of my season and I can now take some down time and do nothing made the whole journey tolerable and strangely enough enjoyable!!!

I must extend a special thank-you to all of my sponsors that have supported me over the past season to get me to the starting line:

Saucony Running Shoes and Apparel – keeping me running strong and looking good
K2 Bikes – providing me not only with the best looking bike – one that rides like the wind
Ironman Nutrition – fueling me for optimum performance both during racing and training

Oakley – the coolest sunglasses around
Profile – state of the art bicycle components
Roger Freeman MD – great advice and support to keep me medically sound
Team Ironman – created by Ironman North America to give exposure to a team of professional athletes
Reynolds – Wheels and Forks -light and fast
XTerra Wetsuits – the fastest and most comfortable suits on the market
Speedplay Pedals – the best pedals
Fizik Saddles – the most comfortable saddle I have ever used

You can also check out my Ironman Hawaii post race report

2005 Ironman Hawaii Update

I know I say it every year, but I can’t believe it is this time of year again- KONA time!!!!
I arrived in Kona last Wednesday to get in some acclimatization to the heat etc. It always feels good to get back over here – after 14 years, it is almost like a second home. I have been able to get in some good pre-race workouts with Lori and Belinda. It’s nice to have some training buddies to hang and do some workouts with. Up until now, things have been pretty relaxed around town, but you could feel that things are about to change. Today, the pier was just that much more busy and tonight the expo opens up. The town is a hopping!!!

This year’s race is stacking up to be one of the most exciting races. It has been a long time coming but this year, the pro athletes have their own start – 15 minutes before the age groupers. For once, we are going to have a women’s race that is “fair”. She that crosses the finish line first, can honestly say they were the best of the best!!! Besides the separate start, the field is even deeper than it has ever been. You have the old guard – Lori, myself, Karen Smyers, Fernanda, and the list goes on; then you have the dominant Europeans – Natascha, Nina, Nicole Leder and numerous others, finish that off with the youngsters like Kate Major and you have an incredible field.

Come by and see me if you are in Kona – I will be at the Ironman Nutrition Booth from 2-3pm on Wednesday, and on Thursday at 11:30 is the Saucony Press Conference on the Main stage in the EXPO. And of course don’t forget the Underpants run – 8am on Thursday starting at Pacific Vibrations – this is a must see!!!!

Keep up to date on the daily happenings on the island at:
http://www.multisports.com/
I will give you an update after the big day is over!!!!
Heather

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

We’ll, they say all good things must come to and end, and unfortunately my winning streak of 4 in a row came to and end this Sunday at the Ironman Lake Placid.

I toed the line this year in search of my 5th victory at Lake Placid. From the competition, I knew that this would not be any small task and that I was going to have to have a very good day to beat the likes of Kate Major (AUS), and Jo Lawn (NZL).

The picture perfect day started with a great swim in Mirror Lake. I had a good swim for myself – slightly faster than I had been on previous occasions, and more importantly closer behind the main competition. I came out of the transition a few minutes behind Jo Lawn and right with Kate Major. Off on the bike we went and Kate took off like it was an Olympic race. Just be patient I kept telling myself – she will come back. Well, was I wrong, Kate went on to post what could only be called an “INCREDIBLE” bike ride – having the 9th fastest ride of the day overall. The time checks that I was getting out on the road were anything but encouraging, with Kate eventually coming off the bike 27 minutes up on me. I have come back on the marathon from some pretty significant deficits, but realistically 27 minutes was an insurmountable lead – but then again, this is an Ironman and anything can happen.

Off onto the marathon I went. I have to be very honest – more than a few times, I questioned whether I was going to be able to finish the race. I felt OK while I was running but also had to hold off the desire to just stop and walk – or maybe pull off and call it a day. I just went from aid station to aid station, from one mile to the next. Next thing I knew, I was half way through, and actually finishing looked possible. I kept trying to focus forward, but was also worried that someone might come from behind and catch me. Based on how I was feeling, survival seems like the theme of the day and the chance of catching either of the two ahead looked pretty grim. I was slowly chipping into the lead that Jo Lawn had on me after the bike, but honestly, didn’t think that I had enough to bridge the gap. With about 2.5 miles to go, I could actually see her up ahead in the distance. I told myself – OK you have toughed it out this long, let’s see what you can do. It took every ounce of energy that I had to pull even with Jo, and of course this happened at the bottom of the Mill Hill – the steepest and longest hill on the course. Jo matched me stride for stride up the hill and it appeared that she was not going to just let me go. I knew that once we crested the hill, there was a nice flat section where I would have to make my move. Off I went and built up a slight gap. Those last couple of miles were some of the most painful. I managed to cross the line 1:19 in front of Jo, and a whopping 13:57 behind Kate.

While I was disappointed to not be able to defend my title here, it was definitely a character building race for me. I have always said, you learn more about yourself on those days that
photo: Mark Oleksyn don’t go as well as you hope – and I can say that I definitely learned a lot. I am proud of myself for sticking in there when the easy thing to do would have been to give up and either call it a day, or jog on in to simply finish. You can only ask of yourself to give everything that you have, and I can truly say that I gave every ounce of energy I had both physically and mentally.

My hats off to Kate Major for an incredible performance – she has proven that she is definitely the next generation of winning Ironman athletes and has a very bright future ahead.
A special thanks to everyone for all of their support, without which I would not be able to do what I do.

Now it is time for some R&R to recharge the batteries before the big push for IM Hawaii in October.

Mid-Season Update

Well, now that we are pretty much mid-way through the triathlon season, I thought it is time that I do an update as to what I have been doing up until now.

As of my last update, I had just completed my first race of the season at the Ralph’s ½ Ironman in Oceanside. Since then, I have competed in two other half ironman events – St. Croix on May 2nd, and the Florida Half Ironman at Disneyworld on May 23rd. and worked at a couple of the Multisports.com Camps in Kona and Lake Placid.

I was interested in doing something different this year, so instead of making the annual trek up to Wildflower, I decided that I would give a go at the St. Croix ½ Ironman. I had competed in the St Croix race many years ago, before it was the half ironman distance. I had few memories of my first trip and those that I had were somewhat frightening. We arrived at the race sight on the Tuesday before, time to get used to the heat and recover from the long trip. The first thing that we noticed when we arrive there was that the wind never stopped blowing, 24 hours a day it blew, and it blew, and it blew, and it appeard that it was not going to let up for race day. The couple of training days before gave me time to see the course – a little pre-race ride up the beast to jog my memory (it was just a steep as I remembered but an awful lot longer), as well as some swims on the course, and runs on the Buccaneer golf-course which is also part of the course.
Race day came, and surprise, surprise, the wind was blowing!!! It was going to be a tough day. The gun went off and away we went. I seemed to lose contact with the pack early on the swim and then spent the rest of the way, trying to keep up with the lone person that I could see ahead. All in all, an uneventful swim, unfortunately, I was already 5:30 down from Nina Kraft. The bike ride starts with a short 6 mile loop before heading back on some narrow winding roads through town. Then off onto the trek out to the beast. All in all, I was feeling OK on the bike but didn’t seem to have that extra gear that was going to be necessary to chase down the likes of Nina. I think the toughest part of the bike ride was after climbing up the beast, we had a stretch of about 40km that was straight into the strong headwind. I just tried to stay focused, and along this section, I started to catch up to a few girls that were in front of me – little did I know that Nina was continuing to put time on me and was almost 15 mins ahead off the bike – YIKES!!!! I was looking forward to the run – it was the type of run course that on a good day a lot of time could be made up. I started the run and it appeared that it was not going to be one of those effortless run day but rather one where I would have to struggle every step. I tried to remain positive – maybe the girls ahead were feeling as bad as I was, so I continued forward at the pace I could maintain, and started to feel a bit better as the run progressed. By the end of the race, I didn’t get too much closer to Nina who won, but I make my way up to third which was a decent result for a difficult day.

Next on the racing agenda was the Florida Half Ironman. As a first year race, the set up of the event provided some major challenges for the organizers. Roch and Huddle has to pull some all-nighters to get the courses ready for us to race on. They did a great job, and from an athlete’s standpoint, the race went off very well. Had I not seen all the work and long hours that the guys were putting in, I probably would not have had an appreciation for what they had to do. It is definitely an eye opener for me as an athlete. Most of us show up at our races and everything is set up, we do our race- if we are lucky maybe we pick-up a medal or some money and then we head home or off to the next race. Without the hard work of guys like Roch and Huddle, there wouldn’t be races for us to go to, we wouldn’t have safe courses to race on – so HATS OFF to you guys!!!!!!! So the course was all ready and so were all the athletes. This was one of the strongest fields of the year, including a number of Ironman Champions, World Champions, and top Ironman finishers. The race started with the non-wetsuit swim in the very warm lake waters in Camp Wilderness. I had a decent swim but spent the whole swim by myself as I had just missed the pack ahead – yeah, I know sounds like a common problem. One of these days, I am going to stay in touch with the pack and that will be so exciting. When I first planned to go to Florida, I thought that the bike ride would be pancake flat – sort of Panama City flatish but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were a few rolling hills on the course to break things up. I spent most of the bike ride playing cat and mouse with Amanda Gillam – it was good to have someone around to ride with. We got off the bike and it was time for the twisty, turny, hot golf course run. I was excited about the run as it was again, the type of run where lots of time could be make up. I started strong on the run – feeling much better than I had in St. Croix, and slowly started to pick off s me of the girls ahead. With the exception of a short pit-stop at the porta-potty, the run was going great – but was I going to run out of real estate?? The last couple of miles of the run included a sandy section along the beach and then through some loose trails. I could see a couple of girls ahead and with less than a mile to go, I decided that it was time to put the hammer down. First I caught Andrea Fisher with about ½ mile to go, and then finally with only a short distance to the finish, I passed Lara Shaw who was having a phenomenal race, to move into third. I crossed the finish line feeling happy that I pushed myself for the last bit of the run and moved onto the podium. Lisa Bentley continued her amazing racing run, to win, and Heather Golnick was second with a very strong performance.

After the races, I was off to help out at a couple of the Multisports.com training camps, in Kona, HI and Lake Placid, NY. These were both great camps with wonderful groups of Campers. You can check out my posting on the Multisports.com Website for further details on these camps.
http://www.multisports.com/news/1086735838.shtml

Now it is time to get in the final training preparation for Ironman Lake Placid, so I am off to Boulder to train for a couple of weeks. It is hard to believe that the race is only 5 weeks away. I will let you all know how it goes after the race!!!

Heather

2004 Ralph’s Half Ironman Report

Another Season Begins with the Ralph’s Half Ironman

It is hard to believe that another season is upon us – isn’t it still November??? Well no it isn’t and the first race of the season is always a subtle reminder of what is to come.

read complete entry at multisports.com

Gearing up for the Upcoming Triathlon Season.

For many of us, this is the time of year when we either start racing or start to think about the upcoming races. It is important as we are getting into this racing season to “plan out the season”. What does this mean exactly??? Well of course, the training for the season has to be planned out. Even before the training plan can be devised, a race schedule must be chosen.

While making this race schedule, keep in mind that there are going to be a number of different levels of races according to importance.

      • “A” races – those very important races that you want to taper fully for. Ideally, a full taper should only be used 2-3 times per year. A full taper means coming down from the training that you have done for a min of 10 days up to 3 weeks before a KEY race. The length of the race and the time of the season will dictate the length of the taper – the shorter the race, the shorter the taper and the earlier in the year that the race is, the shorter the taper can be. As you get into the longer races or later into the season, you’re the length of the taper will increase.
      • “B” races – races which are important to you, but will not require a full taper but rather a few days up to a week of easy days before the race. For races which you want to be competitive in and want to put in a good performance, consider taking a few days (and up to a week) easy before the event to rest up.
      • “C” races – the training races – used as part of your training – no taper just go and participate. These races are used as a great workout without much concern as to the outcome.

For many, it is hard to imagine a race being anything other than an “A” race. I can just hear it now – shouldn’t every race be important??? Well yes and no – every race is important but for different reasons. You have the races that are in themselves important (“A” races) -maybe it is your Ironman race for the year or a qualifier for World Championships. Then you have the races which are important because they are a gauge as to how your training is going (“B” races). You use these races to take inventory and decide how you need to adapt your training. Finally come the training races (“C” races). The sole purpose is to get in a great workout and what better arena than a race.

I often get asked, is it possible for you to go to a race if you don’t think you are going to win. Yes, of course it is. I always have a purpose when I go to a race. If it is one of my Ironman races then yes, I hope to race to my potential. (these are my “A” races) I might go to some races so that I can see how my training is going. This year my early season Half-Ironman races serve this purpose (“B” races). I will go and race hard but if the results aren’t wonderful, that is OK too because it will tell me what I need to do in my training to reach the next level. Finally, I have the training races – these can be anything from a local 10km to a bike race or a short distance triathlon. (“C” races) These races are considered my hard workout for the week.

So moral of the story is to not be afraid to go and race for the sake of racing, and all races cannot be “A” races. You must prioritize your races for the season. Keep in mind that even if a race isn’t an “A” race, it still serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things – getting you to the starting line of those “A” races in the best possible shape you can be in.