Monday, March 30, 2015

8th time's the charm - Oceanside 70.3 race report

Saturday was my 8th time racing at Ironman California 70.3 and it was my fastest outing yet! Does that make me a slow learner?

Six months ago, I felt that my triathlon racing was on a decline and that improvements were no longer a possibility for me. I felt as if I was working incredibly hard, being smart about training but I continued to get more fatigued and slower. It just didn't make sense. Thankfully, I found an amazing doctor who spent hours with me to figure out what was going on hormonally in my body. We did blood, saliva, urine testing until she had a complete picture of what was working... and what was clearly not working. I wrote about some of the findings here.

From October to January, I trained relatively lightly but really eased back on swim, bike and run in order to allow my body some rest and recovery... if I didn't feel like riding on Saturday morning, I would skip it and spend the day on the couch and not feel guilty about it either. It was as much mental recovery as anything.

At the beginning of January, I was back on the plan with Matt Dixon of purplepatch fitness. I can't say enough great things about how Matt supported me when I was feeling less than stellar last year and believed that there was a solution besides "getting older and slower"!

While training for Oceanside had been going fairly well, I did have a few hiccoughs in the final weeks of preparation. I'm noting them, not to make excuses, but as a reminder of the details that go into training and racing for triathlon.

Bike fit - I made the switch from a Specialized Sitero saddle to an ISM saddle in February and worked with Paul Buick to refit my bike position. Unfortunately, I was experiencing excruciating back pain after 2 or so hours of riding. After the Tucson camp experience in early March, I did a couple of 3-4hr rides in San Francisco pain-free... the difference? Blanco had accidentally rebuilt my bike in a higher saddle position... which turned out to be better for my back but didn't compromise my pedaling.

Synovitis - I have been experiencing tenderness in my left foot that made it painful to run for much more than 45-60 minutes. While a podiatrist recommended new orthotics to try and relieve the pressure, they didn't work as were merely treating the symptom and not the root cause. In contrast, chiropractor, Mike Lord, has helped me strengthen my foot so that I was able to race pain-free.

That was an incredibly long preamble to a race report!

Saturday morning dawned misty and foggy and while the temperatures were not cold, I was slightly worried while setting up in transition that I might be underdressed for the bike ride. My wave departed at 7:17am, the first female AG wave, and luckily by that time, the sun had begun to break through... and the wind began picking up too!

The swim start was uneventful as I was barely touched getting off the start line and had clear water to the first buoy. That *space* did not last as I quickly caught up with prior waves (just 3mins between waves) and the swim course began to feel incredibly crowded. Swimming up, over, around back strokers, breast strokers and strokes that I couldn't name. The swim felt fairly rough near the turnaround point where the water is less protected by the harbour wall so that's my justification for a slower swim than last year... 34:36 was 16 seconds slower. I was vaguely disappointed with the swim time but I've been in this sport long enough to dismiss my time and "move on".

I was excited for the bike. With the exception of being sick in early March (end of Tucson camp), riding had been going well. I'd even ridden with purplepatch pros  Holly Lawrence, Emma-Kate Lidbury and Sarah Cameto the weekend prior and didn't get spit out the back on the hills... though they were riding easy! The goal was to focus on 190-200w and ride closer to 230-240w on the hills. That seemed fairly reasonable given recent training. I felt like I was flying on the bike in the first hour, you always do on the flat terrain with the tailwind out to Christianitos Road. However, my back started to hurt and I when I hit the first climb on the course around mile 28, I realized that I couldn't climb seated because my saddle height had slipped. I felt as if I was riding like a circus clown! I ended up riding the hill out of the saddle, asking the guys around me if I could borrow a multi-tool since I wasn't carrying one. A very sweet gentleman offered to stop as he wanted to stretch his legs and he kindly loaned me the allen key so I could raise the saddle ~2" and tighten it up a lot more. I was on the side of the road for about 2 minutes so not a big deal but I had lost the guy (51 year old Roger!) that had been riding legally back and forth with me. Back on the bike, I set about making it back to Oceanside as quickly as possible. I really wanted to ride sub 2:40 on this course as I had never done so. With about 5-6 miles to go I pass a guy and all I hear is "she's back... way to go Jordan" and I realize that I have caught back up to Roger... it made me laugh and I really appreciated his cheers and support.

Back into Oceanside town and I glanced at my watch and saw that sub 2:40 was happening, and the actual bike split was 2:38:50... but I did slightly curse myself for the pesky 2 minutes on the side of the road fixing the saddle... I had under-tightened the saddle when adjusting it the day prior.

Bike file for Oceanside - 190w average power
Once onto the run, I felt pretty good... the on course support is pretty amazing at Oceanside and I can't possibly list everyone that was cheering but thanks to Beth and Luke, Kristin Mayer, Monica Moreno, Jen Temperley, Stephanie Artis, Libby Bradley, Ben Travis, Julie Dunkle and many others that called my name or shared a word of encouragement.
photo credit: Luke McKenzie
The first four miles went well and I was on pace... my spirits were lifted seeing Holly running behind the 3rd place female pro bike guide... she was having a fantastic race. The middle miles seemed to be my undoing and I think I was a little undernourished. I hit the coke at the aid stations earlier than I typically would... which turned out to upset my stomach in the final miles... oops! I definitely need to work on the longer run... now the foot is better, I should be able to do so!

Ragged looking run form but great kit! photo credit: Jen Temperley
 I saw plenty of people I knew out on the run course but as usual I was completely oblivious of how I was doing in my AG. I hadn't ridden close to any girls and I had not seen anyone ahead of me on the run course so when I hit the final chute and seeing my total time of 5:07, I figured I was probably top five in my age-group. It was a nice surprise to hear Mike Reilly announce me as the first female age-grouper across the finish line... which must mean that I had won my AG... it got me a little excited!

40-44 podium - finally an AG win at a 70.3 race!
Getting a hug from Rachelle Jorgensen
Post race celebrations with Jesse Thomas

While I am a Betty Designs athlete and I raced in the awesomely bright new Betty kit, I chose to wear the #50womentokona t-shirt on the podium... of course, paired with a Betty Designs trucker hat! In case you missed the announcement last Friday, I am a founding member of TriEqual, an organization dedicated to fairness and equality in triathlon. Our first goal is to get equal slots for female and male professionals at World Championship races but we have a broader goal of achieving access and diversity in triathlon for all.

Women's pro podium plus some Supportive dudes wearing #50womentokona tees!
Huge thanks to Blanco, my main squeeze, for letting me follow my passions. To Matt Dixon for his support and coaching knowledge. To Kate Ligler for helping to make me strong. To Kiki Silver for helping me get healthy. To the entire Purplepatch community, pros and amateurs, that provide so much support in training and racing. To SagMonkey for taking care of me all weekend. To Jess of Harmony Bars for making the best tasting bar ever. To Kristin Mayer of Betty Designs for making the best and brightest looking kit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

#50womentokona + it's time for me to race!

I spent most of my Saturday afternoon and evening with the Ironman Melbourne coverage projected on the TV, hitting refresh on Ironman's Athlete Tracker and running math on estimated finish times and placings... and then messaging this information to friends on course. Well, actually messaging back and forth with Luke McKenzie because I was mostly interested in Beth Gerdes' placing. I was betting on top 5. And I was right! Beth placed 5th overall in the race, ahead of World Champions, Ironman Champions and Olympic medallists. She had a fantastic race which included the fastest female run split! That's not the only fantastic race she's had recently either... She took 5th place at Ironman Malyasia (just 4 months after giving birth to daughter, Wynne) and 4th place at Ironman Western Australia (she ran a 2:58!) and 2nd place at Ironman 70.3 Philippines. In fact, she's racked up some 4,500 points in the Kona Pro Ranking, the system that ranks professional triathletes that are seeking entry to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Btw, that's a lot of points! However, even after those amazing results, she still probably falls short of the ~5,000 points she will need "as a female pro" to qualify. If she were a guy, she'd probably only need ~4,000 points. That's because there are only 35 female pros slots versus 50 male pro slots in Kona. 
Beth with her partner and biggest fan, Luke McKenzie (photo: Delly Carr)
This is why the #50womentokona is tremendously important to me... it bothers me that Beth Gerdes, as a pro triathlete has to spend more money, take more risks and race more races for a shot at qualifying for Kona as a pro, relative to her male partner, Luke McKenzie. She's one of the women that might just be ranked #36-50 in Ironman's KPR at the end of this season... one of the 15 women that, even though she raced more and scored more points than many of the men, falls short because Ironman has a policy of inequality at the professional level of our sport. Of course, it's not just about Beth, it's about all the other talented female professional triathletes that are training hard, racing hard and raising the level of competition in the sport. Heck, the women's race was easily the most entertaining viewing yesterday with podium placings being decided in the finishing chute... after 9 hours of hard racing!   
Podium tees - would love to see the Pro podium wearing these at California 70.3 next weekend!
On Wednesday, I am flying down to San Diego (solo - Blanco is racing an Xterra in Folsom) in order to race the Ironman California 70.3 for my 8th time. The last year has been challenging, dealing with health/hormone issues but I think I finally have everything under control and I'm feeling much better than I did just a few months ago. The details of the road to recovery deserve a separate blog but to suffice to say that I'm excited to race and see what my body will give me next Saturday.
Betty matchy-match
Training has been on a mostly positive trajectory since completing the Coast Ride in January with some good work recently in Tucson at the Hillary Biscay Smash Camp, chasing the GCM (Maik Twelsiek) and Blanco on the bike, as well as meeting up with fellow Betty Designs athlete, Amy, and other great friends.

Lemmon climb when I started to get sick :(

Unfortunately, towards the end of camp, I started to get sick, and while I was hoping to shake it within a few days, it ended up being 10 days of laying low, backing off training and taking things fairly easy.  Fortunately, I started to come around last week and got back into the the swing of things. Some wonderful late winter weather in California helped, as well as the rockstar Purplepatch pros that I get to train with (behind)... btw, they might also be some of the #36-50 women too! #50womentokona
75f and sunny in winter - riding with fellow Brits, Holly Lawrence and Laura Siddall