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 ūüôā ¬†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 ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

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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 ‚ėļ

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 ūüôā ¬†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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā ¬†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!