kait curbeau

swimmer-turned-runner-turned-triathlete

New name, new season, new website!

Hi friends!  Yeah, I know it's been awhile...  After taking some time off of competitive triathlon for some life stuff (I got married!), I'm back at it.    Before I jump into triathlon-talk, here's a little glimpse into life the past few months.

As you probably know by now (and if you didn't, you just found out above!), I recently got married!  Matt and I tied the knot on September 24.  We had the most perfect wedding out in the Finger Lakes in New York. It was a beautiful day, and everything came together so well (a relief after months and months of planning!).  

The new Mr. and Mrs. Curbeau!

The new Mr. and Mrs. Curbeau!

We took an amazing honeymoon - two weeks in Hawaii!  We spent 8 days in Kauai - relaxing by the beach, hiking, taking in the sites (via helicopter!), and drinking lots of champagne. :)  I really love Kauai - such a beautiful, peaceful, and green island.  I could definitely see us making our way back there again in the future.   We then jetted down to Kona for the final few days to catch up with some friends and watch the Ironman World Championships.  

 

Since we've been back, we've been settling into married life.  Honestly, not much has changed for us - minus some upgrades in the home and kitchen department (finally could get rid of those old hand-me-down pots and cheap placesettings that have followed me from apartment to apartment!).  I think the biggest change for me has been getting use to my new name!  I am now officially Kaitlin Curbeau (maybe now race announcers will be able to pronounce my name :)).

Matt's been focusing on bike racing - working his way up the rankings in cyclocross this fall, and will do some road racing this spring.  I've started back up with the formal triathlon training, with QT2 and Coach Tim,  setting up to do a bunch of 70.3s and a Ironman later this year (Take a look at my tentative 2017 race schedule).  I'm excited to give Ironman another shot - my first attempt was great, but I've struggled through the last two.  It's time to do some work!

Right now, I'm down in Clermont FL with the QT2 pro squad for our annual pre-season camp.  This is my 5th (!) year at this camp, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to attend the full 2+ weeks this year.  I always come away from camp a little fitter and a lot more knowledgeable.  Even though I've been in this sport for several years now, I still have so much to learn.  This is the first year that Matt won't be here with me, so of course that's leaving me a bit homesick.  But I know this camp is super beneficial for me, and it is nice to get away from the cold and snow back home to get in some good quality training outdoors.   

So that's that!  More to come here, but for now, I'm getting back in shape and getting excited to race again soon.  Here we go, 2017!

 

Lake Placid

Ironman Lake Placid has a sort of special place in my heart.  I've never actually raced there, but it was the first ironman I ever watched, back in 2013 when Matt raced.   We also spent some time training there that summer.  I dreamed of coming back one day and racing.  When they removed the pro race last year, I knew I might have to wait to be able to race there.  This year, they reinstated the women's pro race, and I immediately jumped on the chance to race it this year.  This was going to be my key race for the year - since we are getting married in September, fall racing is a little more difficult. Lake Placid bike course

Long story short - I won't be toeing the line at Ironman Lake Placid this year.  As I started to ramp up training in the spring, things just weren't clicking.  While I normally live the busy life of being both a working professional and pro triathlete, add in wedding planning and some other life stuff, I just started to feel out of control.  I was stressed and overwhelmed, my workouts were terrible, and I could tell my health was suffering - getting sick, inconsistent sleep, exhausted all the time, among other issues.  I could have very well been suffering from some level of adrenal fatigue or other hormonal issues (though nothing officially diagnosed - I'm not going to go into the details here, right now).

In the middle of May, I decided to take a break.  Getting ready to have a wedding - this is suppose to be one of the best times of my life!  While everything in my life was good, it was just too much and I was falling apart.  We all like to believe we can do it all, but sometimes reality hits hard.  The timing just wasn't good for doing a summer ironman.  I had to give up the dream of Ironman Lake Placid (for this year).  While it was incredibly hard, and I felt like I was letting people down, it was 100% the right decision.  Ironman training just takes too much time and energy that I didn't have right now.  I needed to focus on getting myself healthy, and enjoying every bit of the amazing wedding we are having in just a few months!

I took about a month off from any formal training, just doing what I wanted, before starting back up to try and tackle a few races for the end of this summer.  While I love the long stuff, racing the short stuff is really fun too!  When your whole race is shorter than an ironman swim, you gotta go really fast :)  I've jumped into a couple of local sprint tris, and will be racing the Boston Tri (olympic) next weekend.   Doing these more low key races removes a lot of the pressures and reminds me of why I love racing.  I also plan to race Pumpkinman, a half ironman in Maine, in September.   While I don't know my exact plans for next year, you can expect me to be back at it in full force! (and with a new last name :) )

So, I won't be there this weekend.  I won't be racing, and unfortunately, I won't even be able to make it to spectate (due to some wedding to dos!).  But I'll be thinking of all my Coeur and QT2 teammates (so many of you!) and cheering for you all day. 

30 for 30

Well, today is my last day in my 20s. I'll turn 30 on the 30th!  I think that's also called your Golden Birthday, which is suppose to be lucky!  I'm ready to take on a new year and a new decade.  My 20s were pretty great, and I have no doubt my 30s will be even better! In honor of this special occasion, here are 30 things you may not know about me...

  1. My full name represents all of my heritage: I'm 1/2 Lithuanian (Anelauskas), 1/4 Irish (Kaitlin), and 1/4 German (Elizabeth)
  2. My grandparents were farmers in Lithuania, and fled to Germany during WWII.  My grandmother came to the US not knowing any english, with 3 young children, and no husband (he had to wait 3 years to come over and join her) - talk about amazing!
  3. In 2008, right after the Olympics, I got to meet Michael Phelps at a Fidelity-sponsored event.  And, Michael shares my exact same birthday, so happy golden birthday to him as well!

    Meeting Michael Phelps!

  4. I've never lived outside of Massachusetts, or further than 40 minutes from Boston
  5. I once went through a phase in middle school in which I wore ripped jeans, chunky boots, and a ball chain necklace (ok, yes, you can laugh picturing this!  And no, I am not sharing a picture of this...)
  6. I attempted to do my first triathlon in the summer of 2006.  Unfortunately, I came down with a stomach bug a few days before and didn't make it to the start.  It took me 6 years to try again!
  7. I played the flute for 8 years in school.  I still take it out and play every once in a while.
  8. I can't handle needles.  I still close my eyes and try not to pass out whenever I need to get a shot!
  9. I went digital for a few years, but now I'm back to a paper planner.  Something about writing stuff down (and crossing off to dos!)  I'm an obsessive list-maker!
  10. I have 1 younger sister, but I am the little sister - she is 5'11"!  Sister-brag:  She is the all-time leading scorer in basketball at our high school, and was inducted into the hall of fame!  She is also my best friend.

    Jill and I at her Hall of Fame induction

  11. I feel old when I remember when we didn't have a computer.  My family got one when I was in the fifth grade!  And I didn't have my own cell phone until college.
  12. My most daring adventure so far has been bungee jumping in New Zealand.  I was shaking pretty hard when I was about to jump and almost couldn't do it, but after they (joking...I think?) threatened to push me off, I made the leap!  Bucket list, check.

    Bungee!!!

  13. New Zealand is also my favorite place I've visited so far.  A beautiful country with the nicest people!  I would go back in a minute - hoping to make it back to race there some day.
  14. I have 3 big scars - one on my shoulder from when I was really little (grabbed a hot cup of coffee and pulled it off the counter and on to my shoulder...smooth), and one on each knee from falling while running (my middle name is NOT grace. #clutz).
  15. I hate being scared.  Scary movies, things jumping out at me, etc... no, thanks.
  16. I LOVE ice cream.  I could give up cake and cookies forever, but not ice cream.  I prefer mine in a cone with no toppings (except sprinkles, if I'm feeling kinda crazy).  Any coffee-based flavor tops my list, as well as watermelon sherbet.

    I found MY ice cream!

  17. I can't whistle.  I can make a weak sound, but I can't whistle a tune.
  18. I hate my feet and you'll probably never see me wear flip flops or open-toed shoes, outside of the beach / pool.
  19. I don't have a good voice, but I love to sing.  I won't sing in public, but I have been known to crush some tunes in my car.
  20. Confession time - I once had my room almost entirely wallpapered with 'N Sync photos & posters.  JT 4 eva.
  21. I love the beach and being at the ocean, but dislike swimming in the ocean.  Too many creatures, and I don't really like salt water.  I make an exception for riding waves!
  22. I'm an IFSJ personality (introverted, observant, feeling, judging) on the Myers Briggs personality test.  Some strengths: supportive, reliable, enthusiastic, and hard-working.  Weaknesses: shy, take things too personally, overload themselves.
  23. I'm left handed.  I do almost everything with my left-hand, except when I played softball - I batted right handed.
  24. I spent 10 years as a student at Bentley College/University (it changed from a College to a University in the 1 year I took off between undergrad and grad school).  I really love being a student - I wish I could do that full-time again!
  25. It took me a while to decide whether to swim or run in college.  I ended up swimming all 4 years, and ran 1 season of outdoor track my freshman year.  It was just too much to try to do 2 sports!

    Bentley Swim Team '04 champs!

  26. I always dreamed of running the Boston Marathon, and after I finished college, I trained for my first marathon and qualified... crazy, back then (2008) you could qualify in January for the Boston marathon the same year!  I couldn't have done it without my awesome Cambridge Running Club friends - they really pushed me and encouraged me to go for it, even when I didn't believe I could actually get the qualifying time.
  27. Growing up, my summer jobs were always at the Medfield Swim Pond.  I taught lessons, lifeguarded, and coached the swim team.  I loved coaching swimming, and hope to do that again some day!
  28. I've needed glasses since middle school, and started wearing contacts in high school.  I'm pretty blind without them!
  29. In the 8 years since college, I've moved 9 times (all in the Boston area).  I wouldn't recommend that...  I now refuse to move without hiring movers, and hopefully our next place will be more long-term!
  30. I got engaged last weekend!  Matt totally surprised me with a proposal on one of our regular bike loops.  Best early birthday gift ever!

engagement1

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

Hey y'all!  We've been down in Texas for 2.5 weeks racing Ironman 70.3 in Galveston and putting the finishing touches on our training for Ironman Texas, which is only a few days away!  Although I haven't purchased any cowboy boots yet, I've driven a huge pickup truck, seen many snakes, eaten crawfish, and experienced some drowning-in-my-own-sweat humidity.  I also haven't seen Tim Riggins yet, but I'm holding out hope... :) riggins

Anyways!  Here's a little run-down of what's been going on since we got here!

Galveston

We left Boston bright and early the Friday before Texas 70.3 (and it was SNOWING in Boston the day we left. not cool!).  We spent most of Friday traveling and dealing with all the logistics of building up bikes (which was easy-peasy with our QR PRsixes!) and getting to the race site to check in.  We got out for an easy bike & run, and I got my first taste of some serious Galveston cross-winds that threatened to topple me and my bike!

The day before the race we got to experience more exciting Galveston weather, with a nasty downpour / thunderstorm while we were at our QT2 pancake breakfast.  Very glad we weren't out racing in that weather! yikes.  The rest of the day was spent feet up, napping, and of course catching up on the latest episodes of Grey's Anatomy (McDreamy...nooooo).  Pro meeting was largely uneventful, except for the new addition of GPS race tracking for all the Pros.  From what I hear, the tracking information is very cool and provides a new level of insight into the race that we didn't have before - athletes can opt in to show their power & HR numbers, plus there is live tracking of where each athlete is in the race.  Anything to make the race more engaging to those trying to follow online is a win in my book!  (This functionality will be available for Ironman Texas as well).

Heading out for a ride, in Coeur Sports style. (photo cred: Beth Shutt)

Ironman 70.3 Texas

I wasn't going to race this one this year, but when we decided to come down south early to get ready for Ironman Texas and Matt added this one to his schedule, I thought, why not?  I like this race.  I raced in 2013 as an amateur and in 2014 in my first Pro race, and was successful at both attempts.  It's flat and can be fast - I knew my many long and hard trainer rides this winter would pay off on the pancake flat bike course.  This race would fall just a week after finishing up some big weeks of training (our QT2 Systems "overload"), so I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't be totally sharp for this race, but I figured it was a good way to get in some racing and a little boost of fitness before the Ironman.

Looking at the results, they don't appear to be anything special.  I swam and biked well, and ran steady, but not to my potential.  I finished 12th (again), which put me smack dab in the middle of the pro field.  But, the goal was to bike hard and stay in the race, even if that came at the expense of my run (and, this time, it sure did!).    I was able to stay much closer than in the past to girls I consider some of the stronger cyclists in the sport right now.  I'm very much still considered a work-in-progress, but this was a big leap for me in terms of confidence and ability on the bike.

If nothing else, this race left me HUNGRY.  Hungry for more, for better.  It got me fired up for the final few weeks of training leading up to Ironman Texas, and for racing the rest of this season.

The Woodlands

After racing and having a fun night out at The Spot in Galveston on Sunday, we left coast and headed up to The Woodlands - which is where Ironman Texas takes place.  This is where we would settle in for the rest of our trip, and get in some final workouts on the course.  We're getting acclimated to the heat & especially the humidity that will likely happen on race day - there have been days that I went out running, but you might have thought I went swimming! #sosweaty

We've been so lucky to have great places to stay here, thanks to the hospitality of many awesome Texans, especially Michelle LeBlanc from Outrival Racing!  There are so many nice people down here that really want to help promote and support the sport, which is refreshing to see.

First crawfish experience!  When in Texas...

Ironman Texas

And so, on Saturday, I'll be racing in my second Ironman.  I still feel like a newbie at this distance, and the conditions here will be very different from what we had in Chattanooga last year.  Whenever I get anxious or nervous or doubting, I just remember how AWESOME my first Ironman experience was last year.  I've put in the hard training & preparation, so I am excited to take another crack at this distance.

You better believe I'll be toeing the line at Ironman Texas ALL IN, ready to race and put myself out there.  The field will be stacked, the weather will be hot, and there will be lots of limits tested and courage needed.  Let's do this!

Follow along on Saturday - #55!

California Love

Matt and I just returned to Boston after a great 2 week trip to Southern California.   We spent a week and a half in San Diego, getting in some solid training in the amazing weather.   We then went up to Oceanside, where we kicked off race season at Ironman 70.3 California. For the short, non-reading version of our trip, check out the videos we put together showing some of our adventures. For the full trip & race details with photos, continue reading below!

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San Diego 

We were fortunate enough to plan a 2 week trip to California prior to racing Oceanside, allowing us to once again escape the cold and snow that is haunting Boston this year. We had recovered well from our 3 week QT2 Systems camp in Florida, and we excited to get back out on the roads (it was mostly trainers and treadmills in Boston). We were hooked up with an awesome homestay (thank you, Kathy & Steve!!!) in the northern part of San Diego, close to Mission Bay. Though we had to drive to get to all our training, the pool and Mission Bay / Fiesta Island were only 10 minutes away, and we could get to the “country” and hills in an easy 20-30.

Most days went like this – wake up and head to our favorite coffee shop (shout out to Clairemont Coffee for their awesome service and great coffee & acai bowls!), work on the computer all morning (I was working my 9-5 East Coast time job while we were here), then head out in the early afternoon for our swim, bike, and run sessions. Some of our favorites included climbs and intervals out in Bandy Canyon, runs around Mission Bay, and outdoor pool swims at the Y. We kept pretty busy so there wasn’t much time for traditional sightseeing, but we got to see lots of cool places via bike! We did get to hang out at the gorgeous beach in Del Mar on our last day, when we had a few hours of “vacation”. One day, we even got to go up to Santa Monica to to spend an afternoon with Kebby at Coeur Sports HQ. It was so awesome to spend time with her and her husband Reg – they have so much passion and dedication to the sport, and it really shows through what the company does and stands for.

Last Thursday, we got in a couple last punchy workouts on the bike and in the pool, and then headed up to Oceanside to check in and settle in for race day. We lucked out with our housing – the condo was right next to transition, making race prep super easy and stress-free, and we got to hang out with Angela & Paul!

The Race: Ironman 70.3 Oceanside 

This race is the first 70.3 in the United States, and it’s timing and location make it a very popular season opener for many triathletes. Every year, it brings a stellar pro field, and this year was no different. There were 30 women on the start line – one of the biggest and most competitive women’s fields I’ve competed in. Definitely changes race dynamics and tactics! This race fell at a great time in my build up to Ironman Texas in May, and I’m a firm believer that racing the best makes me bring out my best on race day, and makes me a better athlete. I wasn’t likely to be walking away with any prize money, but it was a great way to gauge early season fitness and gain valuable race experience.

Swim

The course:  Rumor had it that the swim was freezing cold.  We lucked out this year with much warmer water than past years (66 vs 58), which made it a lot more enjoyable!  The swim is mostly in a harbor, which is very calm, with a small section out in the ocean near the turnaround, which can be a bit choppy.

Wins: Went out hard, and found a small group to hang with for most of the swim.  And it was one of my fastest 70.3 swims!

Lessons Learned:  I have my speed to get out fast, but still building back up that durability to hold that pace - I lost the group ahead of me, which I know I can hang on the back.  I was down almost 2 minutes from the leaders...the female pros are swimming faster and faster, and I'm going to need to drop some time to be able to come out in the front of the pack.

Stats:  26:44, 13th out of the water

Bike photo credit: California Triathlon

Bike

The course:  Beautiful bike course through Camp Pendleton.  Mostly smooth roads, and very few cars.  Starts out fairly flat, but gets very hilly!  Comfortable temps with little wind.

Wins: I've been working really hard on my bike over the winter, so the focus of this race was to bike hard and get in the race.  When I was solo, I worked hard to keep to my goal wattage, but had lots of opportunities to race the other girls - had a few passes, and when I got passed, I was able to stick with them and keep them in sight for a while.  I rode hard, and had a lot more fun than I usually do riding by myself for 56 miles!  Progress.

Lessons Learned:  Lots of work still left to do on the bike...I was still 12+ minutes down on the fastest cyclists.  Also, worth noting that gels won't help you if you leave them all in transition... (whoops!)

Stats:  2:32:39, 16th fastest bike

Run photo credit: Katie Morse

Run

The course:  Mostly flat with some short, steep hills to go from the Strand (ocean level) to street level.  No shade, but temps weren't too hot for us.  Out and backs allowed us to gauge where we stood in the race.

Wins:  Moved up 3 places during the run, and held a fairly consistent pace.

Lessons Learned:  Not my fastest time and slowed a bit at the end, but this was probably due to biking a bit harder than normal and the fact that I just haven't really been focusing too much on my run training in favor of trying to make gains on the bike.

Stats:  1:26:45, 9th fastest run

Final Score: 4:32:49, 12th place female pro

This put me in the top half of Pro women race finishers, and among some high-caliber athletes. For the start of my sophomore race season, it was a great race. Lots of experience gained that I can carry with me to future races.  Matt also had an awesome race, from start to finish.  We celebrated with ice cream on the Harbor, and a fun Coeur team get together!

Big thank you Tim & QT2 Systems, Coeur Sports, and Quintana Roo!

Up next, Matt and I will be heading down to Texas for the Ironman 70.3 in Galveston on 4/26 and then Ironman Texas in May!

Keep following us on twitter (@kaita630, @turbeaucurbeau) and instagram (@kait630, @turbeau86) for some more videos and updates on our adventures leading up to IM Texas!

Heart & Courage

This year, I'm thrilled to announce a new sponsorship with Coeur Sports.  I am proud to represent such a great company and inspiring group of women.  If you don't know Coeur, they are a women's specific, endurance clothing company.  But, as you'll see, they are SO much more than that. black tagline logo

I've been eyeing Coeur Sports ever since they hit the market in 2013.  I ordered a new bike kit from them, immediately drawn to their design.  I had been on a search for some better women's cycling apparel (it has been hard to find cute, comfortable kits for the ladies!). I got the kit, but unfortunately, the shorts were a little big.  Without hesitation, Kebby offered to not only switch for a new size, but actually hand deliver them to me while we were both in Kona!  I know she had a million and one things to do that day, but she came by the QT2 house and we made the trade.  Although only a brief encounter, I knew this was a company that was going somewhere, and I wanted to be a part of it.

I wasn't on the Coeur team for 2013, but a few of my QT2 friends and teammates were, and I immediately picked up on even more things I loved about Coeur.  Here were a few things that stood out to me about this company:

1.  Quality, comfort, and style: Ok, first I have to comment on their actual product.   It's been a challenge to find stylish and comfortable, female-specific clothing for both cycling and triathlon.  It's still a very masculine dominated industry, and it's great to see companies like Coeur showing that cycling clothing can be cute and functional.  Their "no angry kitty" campaign hits the market dead on.  Seamless shorts, hidden pockets, no bunching or scrunching...they know their customer base and what they want & need.  I loved their 2014 line, but I'm even more excited about what I've seen in the new 2015 line!  So many great styles, it's going to be impossible to choose my race kit this year! :)

2.  Team = Family:  Being part of Coeur isn't just getting some product and and posting about it on social media.  This team goes way beyond that.  Kebby, Reg, and Hailey treat the team like their family.  They support, promote, and encourage everyone on the team, and you can tell they feel every victory or disappointment.  And the ladies on the team?  I've already felt welcomed and supported, even only a few weeks of being on the team.  Although we are spread out all over the country, the connections made through social media are not superficial.  I can't wait to meet many of them in person at races or other events!

3. Support for the Pros:  If you haven't been following Coeur, please read this post and this most recent post, about how Coeur supports their pros and sees the future of professional triathlon.  I love how they see the value of the Pros in the sport (not all do), and how, with the right support, we can really help promote and grow the sport.  No, we didn't get into triathlon for the money, but without financial support, we can't truly be 100% invested in the sport.  They recognize this, as well as the fact that the Pros are not being used to their full potential.  They just have a great, forward-thinking, outlook on the sport and Pro triathletes.

4. Truly embracing and promoting the values of their company name: They don't just call themselves "Coeur" - they live, eat, sleep, breathe the values of heart and courage.  They don't support people because they have fast race results or lots of trophies.  They value the drive, determination, dedication this sport entails - the one that makes us get up at 4am to workout, gets us to dig deep and get gritty in the final miles of the ironman marathon, to overcome setbacks and turn failures into success.  You can read more about this on the Coeur blog.

In the next post, I'll talk about how I'm going to embrace these qualities of Heart and Courage, as well as share a bit about my goals and plans for 2015!  Stay tuned...

Sneak peak of a couple pieces of Coeur 2015 line! LOVE.

2015 Coeur Team

Off Season: Work Your Weakness

Many athletes and teams use the off-season to work on their weaknesses.  Race (or game) season is far enough away, that spending a good chunk of your time working on your weaknesses not only makes sense, but is essential to going into the next season more prepared and year-over-year progress.  It's tough for people to do this sometimes - typically, our weaknesses are our least favorite things.  We want to do more of what we love, but to become a better athlete, it's important to take this time of year and focus on those areas that are holding us back from being even better. Not surprisingly to many of you, my biggest weakness is cycling.  I come from a swimming and running background, and just starting really riding a bike less than 3 years ago.  So, this year, after a few weeks totally off, I embarked on an 8 week, cycling-intensive training block.  And when I say cycling-intensive, I mean ALL biking and very little running or swimming.  For the past 8 weeks, I swam and ran an hour or less per week, at an easy pace.  Nothing that would take away from the bike work.  All my energy and focus went into the bike.

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Every day I biked.  I did speed work, all out intervals, long endurance rides, tempo rides, recovery rides, low cadence work...anything and everything to get stronger on the bike.  Mentally, I struggled at times.  Not so much in staying focused in my bike workouts, but in worrying about all the fitness I was losing in running or swimming.   I whined about this a bit, especially about 2-3 weeks in...but Tim reassured me that the fitness in those sports would come back quickly once we reintroduced them.  Plus, I don't need to be a fast runner or swimmer in December.  I need to be fast in March, April, May!

I saw some nice gains in both my aerobic base and max power in the past 8 weeks.  I feel stronger both physically and mentally. I've added watts, and have the quads to prove it! :)   I also had moments of proving my own self-doubt wrong in many workouts.  I'd think, there's no way I can hit x watts, or hold this for 10 more minutes... but many times I was able to dig deep and find strength I didn't think I had.  It's a good feeling, and one I need to be able to channel in my training and racing as we get further into the season.

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This week, I'm back to some real running and swimming, along with some bike workouts.  I'll still bike a lot, and most of my intensity is on the bike, but it's nice to have my 2 favorite sports back in my life!  Although I like biking a lot more than I did even a year ago, swimming and running will always have a special place in my heart.

In addition to cycling, I've also been working on some other weaknesses - mainly core strength, stability, and flexibility.  I've been working with Mike at Pure Performance, a health and fitness training facility based in Needham, MA.  He is helping me get strong for the season, as well as work on those weaknesses to help improve my swimming, biking, and running.  It's been great to have the one-on-one sessions where I am forced to focus on all the little movements, and have constant feedback on my form.  After about 4 weeks of training there, I'm seeing significant improvements in my strength and alignment.

The moral of the story is, work on those weaknesses during your off season...although you may not enjoy every moment of it, it will set you up well for crushing it in 2015!  What are you working on to get better???

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Happy Holidays to all!

 

 

IM Chattanooga: Ironman Debut!

Ironman #1 is done - and what an amazing experience!  I'm just barely coming of the high I felt post-race.  I now understand what everyone has been telling me, describing to me - the ups and downs, the wide range of emotions, and how tough those last 90 minutes were going to be! The whole year was basically a build up to this race.  Getting myself physically and mentally ready to tackle the 140.6 miles.  Coach Tim was there every step of the way.  We've been working together for two years now, and I can 100% say that I wouldn't be where I am without him.  As my friend Katie wrote in her Chattanooga race report, "I quickly realized how important it is to have a coach that believes in you. Tim and my QT2 teammates truly went above and beyond to get me to calm down and be ready for the race."  I couldn't have said it better myself!  Though we were in different places coming into the race, that support we get from our coach and team is so important.

What made this race even more special was being able to race with Matt.  The beginning of the season, we didn't race any of the same races (he focused on Ironman racing, while I was focused on 70.3s).  But the second half of the season we chose most of the same races. Although we don't see each other much once the gun goes off, having someone there to share the tough weeks of workouts, excitement and nervousness of race week, and finally the finish line, can't be beat.  This race was great because we both crossed the finish line happy with our performances (Matt with a big PR!), so we got to truly celebrate our successes together post-race.

For icing on the cake, my parents made the long drive down to Chattanooga from Cape Cod (though I know my Dad loved the excuse to visit all the Civil War sites along the way!)  It was so great to be able to share this experience with them - with few local races on the schedule, they don't have many opportunities to see me race.  And they'd never watched an Ironman before, so now they understand a little better what we do out here!

Chattanooga did a phenomenal job in hosting this inaugural event.  Everything was well-organized, and the city welcomed the athletes with open arms.  This includes our amazing homestay, Peter and Kim Knoop - thank you for opening your home to us and providing great accommodations up on Signal Mountain!  The RD and team did a great job with organization and dealing with last minute serious issues, like oil and tacks on the road!  Scary stuff - but they did as much as they could to ensure the safety of all the athletes.  And of course, the volunteers were amazing as always!  Enthusiastic, and willing to help with whatever you needed. A huge THANK YOU to everyone that was out on the course, and for the city of Chattanooga making it an amazing experience.

So without further ado, here's how the race went down....

Swim

More so than other races, I was really looking forward to the swim portion of this race.  My swim had really come around in the past couple of months, and I was enjoying swimming some faster times I hadn't seen in a long time.  We had about 20 women starting the race, and I had my eye on a few of the girls to go with on the swim.   I had some clear water right from the start, and got moving.  Super swimmer Anna Cleaver took off, never to be seen again!  I tried to stay on her feet, but lost her pretty quickly.  For the next 500-1000 yards, I pushed the pace at the front pack.   Eventually, I settled into a pace, and the group began to creep up, and took over.  Perfect - I just needed to make sure I stayed in this group. All the open water swimming we did at camp definitely helped with hanging onto the group and swimming confidently.  Our pack stayed together almost all the way to the end.  I exited the water at 41:39.  The fast moving current made for some super fast swim times all around.

Bike

Onto the bike.  Oh, the bike.  My bike split was not very fast, compared to the rest of the Pro women.  But, I'm pretty happy with my effort out there.  In past races, especially 70.3s, I have had trouble staying focused for the entirety of the bike portion of the race.  I'm usually getting passed, and mentally struggle with the longer hard bike efforts.  Doing an Ironman, where I'd be out on the roads for 5-6 hours, it certainly was an area I was concerned about.  But, overall, I had a great ride.  I hit my numbers (goal power and HR), hydrated and fueled well, and stayed focus throughout the entire ride.  Sure, I got passed a lot, but I didn't let it get to me like it normally does.  It's a long race...anything can happen!   It was a good step for me, mentally.  I know I still have a ton of work to do to get stronger on the bike, but let's just call it a work-in-progress - improvements are happening all the time, and I am building up the strength I need to be competitive in this portion of the race.

The bike was long, about 116 miles, due to some permitting issues along the course.   I rolled into T2, thrilled that I had felt good during the bike, was coming into the run feeling strong, no mechanicals or bike troubles (thanks QR for a smooth ride!).  I knew I had lost a few places on the bike (going from 4th to 14th), so I had some work to do on the run.

Bike Time: 5:37:01 Strava Bike File

Run

I think I was smiling for most of the first 13 miles of the race.  I felt great, hitting my goal paces fairly easily.  I was passing back a bunch of the AG guys that had passed me on the bike, and began to slowly pick off a few of the ladies ahead of me.  It was so wonderful to see some familiar faces - my parents (and their friends Sue & Steve), Matt's parents, Tim, Jesse, Chrissie, Mac from QR.  The crowd support was great in the second half of each loop, which really helped during some of the steep hill climbs on the north side of the river.

The second half of the run, as expected, started to get tough.  When I saw Tim at mile 13, he asked how I was feeling...I had just come through a huge crowd and had seen my Mom and Dad, so of course I replied back, "I feel great!". He said to go for it, give it all I had.  About 5 minutes later, the fatigue began to hit.  The 1st 8 miles of the loop are pretty quiet.  A lot more people had entered the course, on their first loop, which definitely helped to keep me going.  I was holding a decent pace still, but it was becoming an increasingly harder effort as the miles ticked off.  Passing a few more ladies and (unknowingly) moving into 7th kept me going on the long stretch along the highway (not hilly, but mentally tough part of the course).  My pace had slowed slightly, but my HR was still high and I was closing in on the finish.  After tackling the hills one more time, I crossed over the bridge and began the final mile.  As I turned the corner onto the home stretch, I noticed another women right in front of me!  I charged ahead, making up ground and catching up, but I ran out of space.  I finished 7th female, 2 seconds off the podium and out of the money.  But, I couldn't really be upset - I had done everything I needed to do to have a good race, and I am an Ironman!!!  I had a great race, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Run time: 3:09:17 (3rd fastest run) Strava Run File

Looking Ahead...

IM Chattanooga marked the end of the 2014 season for both Matt and I.  We are currently enjoying eating M&Ms, sleeping in past 6am, and going out with friends.   It's the time of the year where we let loose a little, recharge, and start to think about plans for next year.  Next week will bring back some light workouts, and then we'll be back to regularly scheduled training after that!   I know I'll be spending a ton of time on my bike this winter, plus hopefully do some fun 5k or 10k races to stay sharp.   Races for 2015 are still being considered, but we'll be planning 2-3 Ironman distance races and a number of 70.3s.  Best of luck to everyone racing Kona this weekend!   Though bummed we won't be in Kona this year to watch, we'll be cheering loud for everyone from Boston!

'Twas the Night Before Ironman...

I'm sitting here, on the eve of my first Ironman, in my Normatec boots (aka my space pajamas, as my BIL would call them), and figured I owe you guys an update!   After spending much of 2014 prepping for Ironman Chattanooga, it is finally here. The work has been done.  I spent many hours in the pool, swimming with Wayland Masters, and finally finding some of that sprinter-speed I had years ago.  My bike and I bonded over many long hours on the trainer and out on the roads.  I ran around our new 'hood, ticking off miles as I envisioned myself running the Ironman marathon in just a few months...which quickly turned into weeks...then days...

I also got to go to QT2 camp for about a week, up in New Hampshire.  It was perfect timing, during the second week of my overload (QT2 term for BIG training weeks before the taper begins), and an invaluable experience as always.  Being able to train with and learn from my much more experienced teammates, with little to no outside distractions.  Although I came back a bit more bruised and beaten up (thanks to some intense open water swimming and a bike crash), I gained knowledge and experiences I wouldn't be able to get being home by myself.

A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I packed up the Subaru and headed out to the Finger Lakes, where he grew up and his parents still live.  We went to a wedding and then spent the next week and a half there, putting the finishing touches on our training for the race.  We got in some great rides (the riding is so nice out there, quiet country roads for miles and miles), and open water swims in Keuka Lake.

Monday, we packed up the car again to continue our adventure to Chattanooga.  We arrived on Tuesday after the 13+ hour drive.  We are staying with a great homestay, up on Signal Mountain, which is just north of Chattanooga.  The city seems alive and excited about hosting this race.  We got to ride some of the course on Thursday, spent some time hanging out at the QT2 Systems and QR tents at the expo yesterday, and enjoyed some pancakes the QR sponsored QT2 breakfast this morning.

How do I feel?  Well, a healthy mix of nerves and excitement.  Of course, I'm nervous about the unknown...being my first Ironman, I don't know what it feels like to be at mile 60 of the bike and only be halfway, or at mile 16 of the Ironman marathon.  But, I know what I need to do out there.  I've done the work, and it's time to show it off.  I know exactly what I need to eat and drink at every moment of the race.  I have the tools to keep my mental state positive and focused.  If I follow the plan and do all the things right I have control over, I will be able to race to my best, right now.  I know I have a TON to learn about racing the Ironman, and whether I have a great race or not, I'm taking this as a learning experience and stepping stone to future success.

What makes this race even more special is the people I get to share this experience with.  Matt - my boyfriend, best friend, and favorite travel companion - is also racing, and I can't wait to see him tear it up on this course.  He's got 8 Ironmans under his belt, so he's been able to help me with all the little details to get ready.  My parents made the long drive down from Boston (stopping along the way to see the Civil War sights!), and I'm excited to share a little bit of what triathlon and Ironman is all about.  QT2 has a big group down here, including my coach, Tim, and QT2 coach and founder, Jesse.  These guys know their stuff, and are the reason I feel confident and ready going into this Ironman.

Also, I'm really excited to share that I've raised $610 for Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, who have a large presence at the race as well.  I'm still a little short of my goal of $1,000, so head over to my personal fundraising site if you'd like to donate!

So, we've trained. Rested. Carbed up.  And ready to tackle the 144.6 miles tomorrow!  Good luck to everyone racing, and thanks everyone near and far for the support!  Here we go!

Memorable Moments of Musselman

The 2014 edition of the Musselman Half, my first time at this race, was one to be remembered!  Here are my top 5 memorable moments from the day. (Special thanks to Matt's sister, Missy, for taking these great pictures!)

1.  OK, of course what made this the most memorable for me is sharing the top spot on the podium with Matt...we won the overall male and female races!  It was incredibly special to share this with him.  Hometown Hero + Girlfriend win!  We gave them a good story.  Also, check out Matt's journey from completing his first half at Musselman 5 years ago to winning the whole freaking thing!  So proud of this guy :)

2.  The amazing race director, volunteers, and community of Geneva.  Everything was well thought out and the attention to detail was incredible - the transition area for example, had different countries flags marking each section (so you knew where your row was!) and had a personalized motivational message on every spot.  The volunteers stood out for hours in the rain and wind, and were really good about giving directions and calling out what they had at the water stops.  The medals were made of donated recycled bike cogs - pretty cool, right?

3.  Wild weather!  Some of the toughest swimming & biking weather you can get.  The waves tossed us around in the water, and the winds threatened to knock us right off our bikes!  And there was rain.  And apparently, a tornado sighting about 20 miles away! yikes.

4.  An awesomely hard run course.  We ran along the water, through town, uphill, downhill, through farms, on gravel, up a flight of stairs...you definitely could not get bored!  It was very hard, and probably not one to go trying to set a PR, but it ranks up there as one of my favorites!

5.  Celebrating our win with a week on the Lake!  We got to spend 10 days with Matt's family on Keuka Lake.  A beautiful area, and some great places to train.  Huge lake for open water swimming right out the back door, country roads that you could bike on for miles and not hit a light, stop sign or turn, and miles of dirt paths for running.