Happy Independence Day Ya’ll

Happy Independence weekend everyone.  Not just a long weekend, in which for me is a 4 day weekend, but a time to reflect as well as enjoy.

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This weekend I am taking to to reflect on myself and my own personal independence while also doing my part to give back to the community.

Today I participated in the nationwide event the RWB Eagle Charge.  Hosted by RWB which is an amazing veterans outreach group, read more here at TeamRWB.  And one can sign up for the eagle charge here, EagleCharge!. Today we celebrated not only Independence Day, but veteran enrichment and personal achievements.

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TeamRWB – Fairbanks

I am lucky to be involved with this amazing group. We run, triathlon, read books, help the veteran community, and provide outreach to the greater community.  It truly is a life changing group.  We are a glorious mix of active servicemen, veterans, spouse, and civilians.  We are open to all. My dad proudly served in the United States Army and retired with honours after a long career. Now it is my turn to give back in a capacity that fits who I am.

The weather held for the duration of the event. And well as usual me and my buddy Cassie made sure we got our pre-race selfie in.

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Then off we go most of us choosing the 4 miler, with one lone 7 miler.  Of course we chose a hilly course, because a challenge can only make us stronger right? Scott, one of our Marines, was the lucky flag bearer for the start.

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The route was pretty simple and I think we all had a great time.  I was the red lantern in the 4 miler finishing in 42 minutes.  Overall, not my best but far from my worst 🙂

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Thats a hill!

All in all it was a pretty darn good day and a good turnout at GoldStream Sports on a rainy, grey day.

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Cassie and I post race w/Old Glory

Cassie and I posed for one final photo, we do love a camera, with Old Glory.

Have a great holiday weekend, get outside, do some personal reflection, and give thanks for the great country we live in which affords us with so many choices and freedoms. Focus on the good things and find positive way to affect change and to support all of the things that are close to our heart.  This weekend I celebrate personal freedoms and having the ability to be and live our lives in way that is meaningful to our selves.

 

 

Why Not Tri…..

Another Sprint Triathlon in the books this past weekend.  I traveled down to Wasilla, Alaska which is about 5 hours via car from my home.  I neither saw Palin, nor Russia, so in that respect I was a little disappointed 🙂  This is one of my favourite sprints in the state. It small and friendly.  It is still early season here, so the swim is conducted in the Wasilla Pool, but the best thing is for a pool swim its 2 per lane!  NO circle swimming.

The good news is that I got my new race wheels in, bad news is I was not sure if I had time to mount them. So I took them over to GoldStream Sports and had them look them over and tube and rubber them up.  Thank goodness they are so awesome.  It took like 20  minutes from start to finish.  Heck, some days it takes me 3 hours, 3 beers, and a lot of explicatives to change a single tire.

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OMG, So Pretty 🙂
I drove down early Friday morning so that I could pick up my bib.  It was raining most of the way and the forecast was not looking so great. The forecast was cool temps, wind, and rain. Sigh….this might not be pretty at all.  I pick up my packet and back to my hotel on Lake Lucille.  I took a short walk around the lake to get loose from the long car ride.  Hopped over to my favourite sub shop and had dinner.  That sub shop is the ONLY decent place to eat in this town, sad to say.

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Windy at Lake Lucille
I got up super early and had my yogurt and half a Quest bar before I headed over to set up for the race.  I was bib #2, so I had a first wave spot and a primo rack spot.  This is one of those small races where you have to bring your own bike stand. Lucikly no rain. It was super overcast and 46 degrees.  I was pretty lucky. After I finished the wind really picked up and it started to lightly rain. So glad I did not have to bike in the rain.

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Bring Your Own Bike Stand
Swim was one of my worst. The pool was so hot, it was like swimming in a bathtub.  I am used to swimming in the UAF pool which is one of the coldest in the state.  The hot water really slowed me down.  I also was off on my strokes and kept coming up half a stroke short of the wall, so I had reach and it really messed with my turns and push offs.

 

I head out of the pool and meander to my bike. I felt that my transition was slow, but because it was so cold I took the time to put on my socks with my bike shoes as well as an ear band under my helmet.  My bike was pretty darn good.  I had no idea at the time because I was not timing or using my garmin for this race. I forgot to turn it on as usual.  I motored on through the hilly bike course, with an average of over 17mph, which for  me on a hilly course is pretty darn smoking!  I did unfortunately bike an extra mile.  The course volunteer got confused between the bike and the run legs and sent the first handful of bikers onto the run course at an intersection.  Bikers should not have turned but she kept yelling at me I listened to her.  I have done this race many times before and knew the course, but because of her yelling I thought they must have had a last-minute course change for some unforeseen reason.  Well I should have listened to my instincts.  Even so I still had an amazing bike.

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This was uphill, but smile for the camera!
Off came the helmet and on come the running shoes and my trusty Brooks running cap.  Dang it, I forget to take my gloves off. So I stripped them off and dropped them at the aide station that was right after the run-out spot.  Which I proceeded to forget to pick backup after the race. Guess I need to buy a new pair now 🙂  The run was uneventful.  I did walk for about 1 minute out of transition so that I could get my hat secured and my race belt on.  The run course mimics much of the bike course but just a much smaller rectangle. So the first 1.5 miles of the course is up the big hill and the next 1/4 is downhill and the last 1/4 is mixed. I was able to keep the turnover good going up the hill, which was my big goal for this race.  I am pretty pleased about my run. I only got passed by one female runner, who was hauling tail coming up the hill 🙂  It was during the run that I was super happy that it was overcast and cool. I did not have to worry about over heating.

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Hey Look…..Another Camera….Smile Pretty!
As I cruised into the finish line I was fairly confident that I had made a Personal Record on this course.  Finishing time 1:22 Officially 8 minutes PR, but if I deduct the extra biking in it was more like a 12 minute PR.  Which is AWESOME!  This is my 3rd triathlon so far this summer/spring and each race has been a course PR.  My targeted training over the winter has really made a difference in my early season races. I am also pretty sure the 10 pounds I have dropped have made a difference as well, especially on the run part.  I also find my runs increase or decrease the most when my weight fluctuates up or down.

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Finishers medals were awesome this year 🙂
I really enjoy this race and I hope to race again next year.  I have another sprint coming up in June. That race is a brand new one for me, so I have nothing to compare that course to.  This looks like it is shaping up to be a great season for me 🙂

Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes…

LavaMan Triathlon. Redemption in the form of an Olympic Distance Triathlon. As the title says, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, I triumphantly busted out an almost 50 minute Personal Record 🙂  My last Olympic distance was December 2014 with the less than stellar HITS Palm Springs Championships.

Lavaman has been on my list for a long time.  I was registered last year but had to pull  out after contracting that water borne illness at that fateful Palm Springs race. This was my year for redemption.

Honestly, who doesn’t secretly want to race on parts of the Ironman World Championship course?  I know I will never qualify for Kona, so this is the next best thing. Me racing down the famous Queen K Highway, just like Chrissie Wellington.

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Morning run to A-bay

I found myself in Waikoloa Village 4 days pre race. Found an amazing condo close to the start in Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-bay) I figured this would give me a few days to acclimate.  Every morning I went for my 6am run before the sun came up. What a feeling! I did not swim much in the Bay before the race.  Swimming is the best  part for me. So I concentrated on getting my running feet underneath me in the heat.

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Thought my Phoenix  INKnBURN was appropriate

Saturday before the race, I picked up my packet and attended the pre-race briefing.  The briefing was a joke, but mandatory, so I went.  Relaxed the rest of the day and prepared my race kit and bag. And turned in early.

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Check the list to make sure I have it all

Race morning, up at 5am.  Transition opens at 5:30. Ride the half a mile over to A-Bay to rack my bike, set up shop, get numbered, and grab my timing chip. OK, so I went over super early and then had a lot of time to kill 🙂

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My spot is all tidy.

Saw both Kinsey and Marcus, from home. These two are amazing athletes and incredibly nice people to boot. Got my pep talk from Kinsey and wished her well, as she was starting with the elites. Turns out Kinsey won the overall women’s title, with Marcus coming in 5th male.  Amazing I tell you 🙂

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Pre-race selfie

I made it to my swim corral and waited as we swam out waist deep for our start wave. Boom, time to swim.  So much congestion.  I started out mid pack and quickly found myself in the “washing machine”  I clawed my way out a bit past the worst of the congestion. I then after that first 500 yards, had the best swim I have had in months.  Swim, slice, pull through the water with ease. I did not even have issues like I normally do with sighting my position.

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Out of the water, whoops I feel waterlogged!  Trudge up the sand and across the pavement to Transition #1. Get my feet clean and geared up for the ride.  Considering the distance to T-1 I feel like I had a pretty good transition.

Whoomp, Whoomp, Whoomp go the wheels of my Cervelo P2 as I head South on the Queen K.  Now here is where things get fun.  Wind….check.  Sun….check….Traffic….check.  Ok girl, you got this.  I get down in Aero and push through the wind.  And then it happens, I, yes I, start passing people left and right. What a feeling.  All these hours this winter spent on my trainer are paying off.  I was able to hammer in a way I know I couldn’t have done this time last year.  The turn around was sketchy.  It was a no pass zone, but this one lady just had to cut me off and pass.  She almost took out my front wheel doing it.  But once we got back on the main highway, I quickly overtook her and in the distance she fell behind.

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Transition 2 was quick. Just pull on the socks and a hat and off.  Now the pavement is scorching hot.  I can feel the heat from below and above.  The course has limited shade the whole way, so I made sure to stop at each mile marker aide station for a quick drink and ice.

Here is where I struggled.  My runs are always decent, but today that heat was just to much.  I could feel myself struggling right out of the gate.  So for the first 3 miles I did a run walk, until I felt better.  At the mid-course turnaround a light breeze came and I was able to run until I hit the lava/coral/beach section.  This was mostly single track at this point.  It was narrow and hard to run on. This section was about 3/4 of a mile. I went with the flow of the group around me. So much of this was walked during the narrow sections.

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This point we are all running adjacent to the beach. It was so hot all I could think of was jumping into the water, but not yet.  I could see the finish line ahead.  Okay Susie, you can do this.  You can run through all this loose sand and finish strong.  I dug down deep….to keep running even when I could barely keep my footing straight. Finish Line!

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Woot, look at me I am done ☺

Celebrate……I crossed it 3:38.  I beat my goal of coming in less than 3:45.  The Phoenix has done it.  Lavaman 2016 finisher. I couldn’t be happier.

 

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…and so begin the nerves

It’s not often I get apprehensive about a race. But for some reason I am very apprehensive about Lavaman.  I wish I could say it was the distance I need to travel to get there, Alaska to Hawaii, but that not it. I often travel far and wide to race.  Just last month I traveled to San Diego with all of my tri gear to practice with my amazing So. Cal Triathlon Club.

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This will be my first “real” triathlon since I broke my foot last summer at the Nevada Lamoille Canyon Marathon. That really derailed my training a lot. I still completed a Half Ironman with that broken foot, which in hindsight was not the smartest thing I have done. I also kept biking and swimming, which were all okay with my doctor.  I really really have not gotten back into full on running shape.  It’s been HARD, so HARD.

Ive dropped the 15 extra pounds and that still hasn’t effected my pace, still finding myself slow at around 10:45 per minute.  Sigh, still a lot of work ahead of me to get back to where I was before.

My trusty steed is all packed and secured.  I love my Thule Round Trip Traveler bike box.  It is amazing. Wendy, my amazingly awesome Cervelo P2 is all tucked in nicely waiting for the long haul over the Pacific. May she arrive safely with no drama.

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Snug as a bug in a rug.

Wetsuit or no Wetsuit? I guess I will be taking mine but not sure if its worth wearing it.  It often impedes my stroke. The water should be just under the USAT limit.  My other Tri Club here in Alaska is suggesting a wetsuit and most of them are already on the Big Island and are training with their suits.  I guess I will make the call on race day depending on how the surf is. If its churning then I will go with the wetsuit for the extra floatation, if its glass I will not wear it.

I also got a new triathlon suit. A shout out to Triflare. They make the most fun and amazing prints.  Even though I look like a busted can of biscuits, I will post a photo. If I can’t post it here then how the heck do I plan on wearing it out in public 🙂  My Tri It Together club kit didn’t get to me in time, so I headed down to BodyPhlo in Anchorage this weekend and picked up this beauty.

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more like 7lbs stuffed in a 5lb bag 🙂

I know that I have this in the bag.  I know the heat will be killer for this Alaskan just coming off winter. I know its a short course, Olympic Distance and I know if worse comes to worse I know I can at least finish.  But I want all these hours in the pool, treadmill and bike trainer all winter to add up to something.

I need to shake off these nerves and get to packing all my gear.  This year I have smartened up.  No more taking nice clothes to the island. My bag will be full of nothing but my tri stuff, swimsuits, and my INKnBurn shorts and tanks 🙂  I might as well look good while keeping cool and well it packs so much nicer than my other clothes.

Onward and forward to Sunday….Wish me godspeed and goodluck!

 

 

Spring Break!!!!

As my friend T. would say, Sweet Baby Cthulhu, its Spring Break Week. Heading into the tail end of the week we got a day off, WOOT.  So not only as a student did I get a break from class but as a Uni employee I got Friday off!  So instead of sleeping in and drinking my weight in coffee, I hauled my tail to my office anyway. Time to catch up on all of the homework that I have been avoiding for weeks.  Deadlines ticking in the background, I had to put my nose down and actually do the work.

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relax….it will be okay

Whew, this class is harder than I thought it would be.  Advanced International Macro Economics.  I have a great professor thankfully who is super organized and expectations and due dates are clearly outlined.  If not for this and the fact she is in tune with the progress of the class I am not sure I would be able to make it through. I spent all day reviewing the lectures, which I took weeks ago, and finished my questions.  Whew. I do think that I understand it better now.

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WOOT, I am done baby!

To celebrate my completion of the long over due homework I took a stroll around campus.  It warmed up nicely from the -17 in the am to a brisk 24 (above) by 3 pm.  I so love the view from the West Ridge of Campus.  I totally love our campus. Its small but amazing in a lot of ways. When the sky is clear you can see the Alaska Range behind me and there are amazing ski trails right behind my office. What more could you want. As I walk around our campus I can only think about our future.

As a student and employee of the University of Alaska I feel very protective of our institution, from Juneau-Anchorage-Fairbanks-Rural sites.  Right now we are at a crucial time.  The State of Alaska is cutting our funding putting world class education at jeopardy. World class instruction and training are more important than ever in our geographically isolated state.  Not to mention the impact it has on jobs, the community, and beyond.  It is time to speak up to our representative and let them know how important our University system is to the state, not just in our 3 main locations but all of the rural sites that we serve!  We all want to do our part to balance to State budget, but we can’t destroy the systems that we have.  Alaska is isolated enough as it is, cutting off our main avenue of Higher Education and Occupational training is crazy. As the oil field go idle with this low oil prices, occupational re-training is going to be essential to the continued economic growth of our beautiful state. (These are my opinions, not the University of Alaska)

I urge you to visit The Alaska State Legislature to find your local representative or make a general testimony and voice your opinion on the value of the University of Alaska and higher education and training.