When Two Become One

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When you have raced all over the world and have experienced how different races can be run, according to organization, it is rare to find two companies who share the same vision.  About 5 years ago I became exhausted with races in the US due to how they were organized and what they stood for, so I did about 95% of my races overseas until a friend introduced Rev3 to me.  I was hooked.

Still loving my international racing, I was lucky enough to have a Euro-friend introduce the Challenge Family to me.  My very first impression was, “Wow, they do races so much like Rev3.”  Whenever anyone would ask about what races I would suggest, there were always 2 questions I would ask; US or Overseas?  My answers were always; Rev3 for US races and Challenge for overseas.

What an exciting season 2015 will be with these 2 series coming together!

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At my first Challenge race in Copenhagen (KMD Challenge Copenhagen)

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The Perfect Storm


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When there are so many great races being held on the same weekend every year, making a decision can be hard – Hood to Coast, Chicago Triathlon or Rev3 Tri in Maine (and be with my team mates).  The decision was tough, but I chose racing on home turf.

CHICAGO TRIATHLON 

There are few times you can actually say everything came together and you had the perfect race. The crazy thing is, that after you actually experience one, you might spend years training, searching and hoping to experience that once again. Ironman Lake Placid 2010 – it happened to me; a flawless Ironman race, where everything from nutrition, mental and physical state all came together for one day and worked together as one. 4 years and one month later, who knew it would happen again and with a whole lot less training!?

Who knew that with an unconventional Lollapalooza taper leading up to US Sprint Nationals, a strained back the week after and only 9 miles of running between that race and this would lead to my best race of the season so far? The Chicago Triathlon, while over sized by many opinions and chaotic, it’s  home court and always a fun one if you have an elite or sprint start. But this year things were run a little differently: new sponsor, new order of events, new bike course. What does that equal? BEST CHICAGO TRIATHLON EXPERIENCE EVER!

How I got talked into racing the Triple Challenge is beyond me, but I could not be happier that I did it. Super Sprint, Olympic Distance, then a Sprint all done over 2 exciting days, taking the overall accumulative times of each race to determine the winner, and while still giving you the opportunity to place within your age group.

10635729_10152760659523319_6393596099476816927_nDay 1:  I will be the first to say, never dis a distance no matter how short or long it is.  If you race it correctly, it hurts. If done right, a Super Sprint HURTS…and I made it hurt. Covering a distance of 375 meters swimming, 10km cycling and 2.5km running, I took the Female Overall win and the leader board in the Triple by about 1:30. Wanting to a greater reward than my plastic circular trophy that broke on my way to the car after the race, I decided I would find my all-time celeb/athlete crush Andy Potts and ask him to take a picture with me. That in itself was an adventure! I took my coach to the expo, asked an event organizer where I could find him and then waited at the doors until he walked up. Slightly pathetic, but well worth it.  (*note – I have never stalked down an athlete/celeb, so this was a first for me…although, I know my husband would beg to differ.) … The man could not have been nicer, which completely took my race win to the bottom of the list of great things that happened that day.

Why not stop if you are already on top? That is what I asked myself as I had one win under my belt, the idea of swimming in Lake Michigan did not appeal to me after the torrential downpour of rain in the afternoon, but after my new “friend” Andy told me I could hunt him down again if I took the overall win in the Triple, it was game on for me! But not before I celebrated with a couple cocktails during the afternoon and another pre-race pizza and beer.

Day 2:  5:15 Arrive to a mud pit transition area with standing water right in front of all my gear and bike rack.  (Let’s not consider being flexible #ChiTri Team and allow the Triple Athletes to use the two rows of empty racks on the other side of the path – PLEASE keep us in the only area in transition with standing mud puddles – THANK YOU)

6:15 Hello Arch Nemesis – Olympic Distance. I will be the first to admit, I am horrible at this distance. I become completely stupid on how to actually race 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Never have I placed in the top 3 in my age group, nor will I ever have this expectation until I am 80 and still racing. However, something happened when I hit the water and got into the zone as I fought the tossing waves like every athlete out there. The new bike course was the most fun urban bike course I have ever ridden! Coming out of the water, I thought I was in 5th for my group, but after only passing one female rider on the bike course, I thought I was either sucking, or in second place.

The 10km run…this was it, where I always have blown up. Never before this day have I been able to go to that place and push past every dark thought, every ounce of pain felt and finish this distance strong. Especially after dropping my dry clean shoes in the the mud puddle in front of my transition spot just before the run. 10km of wet soppy shoes – I was pissed. Out and back on the run – the turn around I realize there is no one in front of me. Could I seriously be leading this Olympic race?  2 miles to go and the switch flipped, I put my head in position (physically and mentally) and forged on with a little more intention. For the first time ever, I was the one being hunted down in this race AND the 2nd place runner didn’t really stand a chance as long as I kept it together.

Across the finish line – 2:30 minutes ahead of the next female athlete in the Triple Division! Another WIN and I could not believe it.  Now almost a 4:00 lead with one more race to take on.

10:15 Time to Sprint! I love this distance; 750 meter swim, 24.5km cycle (on this course) and 3.1km run. The swim was rough, colder than earlier and continuously choppy from the start. But, what does it matter when everyone else is racing in the same conditions? 2nd place Triple female had made it her mission to beat me since the first pass I made on her in the Super Sprint. Up until now she had yet to make it happen and now was her last shot.

Out of the water she passed me on the way to transition, but couldn’t hold. Onto the bike, and off we go! At the turn around she tried to make a pass, which ended up being a game of cat and mouse fore she couldn’t maintain a steady pace. Into the final transition of the day – she chose the shortest route, I chose the less muddy. 50 feet ahead of me out on the run she went, running full speed with 3.05 miles left to go. Another 400 meters into the run it was over for her. I was lucky enough to have another Triple athlete willing to pace me and pave the way for me as we got tied up with the slower runners who were still on the course. I know I could not have come across the finish line as first Triple female without him.

DONE! It was amazing – I set out with 1 purpose this weekend, and that was to win the Super Sprint Overall Female…and I did it. But in addition to that, I won the Women’s Triple Challenge, managed to come across the finish line as the first female of the Triple Challenge in every event.

As we head started to leave, I thought I should just check to see how I placed in the Age Group Division in both distance. Good thing I did, because I placed 2nd in both the Olympic and Sprint!  HOLY COW!!!  I was beyond surprised, shocked, excited and proud.  Not only did I have a blast racing this weekend, but I also had 3 perfectly chaotic races.

THE GOOD THINGS:

  • Great new bike course
  • Volunteers, especially the Triple Challenge Valet Team was amazing
  • New sponsors = better run race?  Whether it was the sponsors or not – the race was so well done, better than any year I have ever done in the past
  • Aided – job well done with aide, especially once the course was red flagged
  • Mandatory Pre Race Meeting – FINALLY! Not a waste of time and very well done
  • Finisher medals – bottle openers are always a brilliant choice
  • First Aide at the finish line group is amazing – gave me a well deserved ice bath (that hundreds of gross bodies were already in, of course)
  • Amazing photos by Ali Engin
  • Andy Potts

THE BAD THINGS:

  • Transition mud pit (can’t control the weather) – but not allowing the group to move to the other side of the path where racks were empty and set up to hold a few hundred bikes
  • Awards were beyond disappointing, especially after 2 days of hard work

RACE RESULTS:13615_10152761032008319_5841556767626818267_n

SUPER SPRINT

  • 375 meter swim, 12km bike, 2.5km run
  • Time: 38:17
  • 1st FEMALE OVERALL out of 386, 1st Triple Challenge Female
  • 20th Overall Men and Women out of 720
  • Bike average 24.5 mph

OLYMPIC DISTANCE

  • 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
  • Time: 2:32:48
  • 2nd FEMALE AGE GROUP out of 94, 1st Triple Challenge Female, 10th Female Overall out of 781
  • 152 Overall Men and Women out of 2623
  • Bike average 20.5 mph

SPRINT DISTANCE

  • 750 meter swim, 24.5km bike, 5km run
  • Time: 1:28:50
  • 2nd FEMALE AGE GROUP out of 116, 1st Triple Challenge Female, 8th Female Overall out of 913
  • 79th Overall Men and Women out of 2132
  • Bike average 21.4 mph

TRIPLE CHALLENGE

  • 57.3 total miles of swimming, biking and running
  • Total Time of all 3 races: 4:39:56
  • 1st OVERALL FEMALE out of 31
  • 11th Overall Men and Women out of 104

NUTRITION – POWERBAR

  • PowerBar Performance Energy Blends – 1 before each event and 1 heading onto the run of the Olympic
  • PowerBar Performance Energy Bars (PBJ flavor) between the two back to back races
  • PowerBar Protein Plus post race and beer
  • 100% Fluids were pure H2O in this short race
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal for breakfast with strawberries

Can’t wait for next year!

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Even though I was not able to race with my Rev3 Team this weekend, I was there in spirit and representing!

 

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Team Rev3 represents in Chicago!

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My Super Sprint Reward! Thanks Andy for the photo.

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So much fun racing all weekend with these ladies!

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I can’t thank the man enough for dealing with all my craziness. I truly appreciate the support NShah

 

 

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10k in Tokyo

10455440_10203236137277349_5273086209704016296_nWould anyone ever believe me if I said I had never raced a 10km before?  Well, truth be told, I never had until this summer.

This season was not intended for the ‘Year of Firsts’, however, it has been, so with this, I guess you could call it my second rookie season.  After a year off from racing, I entered 2014 with my first bike race, my first trail race, and now my first 10k road race.  It is a great reward to find once again my love for racing by trying new distances and types of racing.

Every country I travel to, whether it be for business or pleasure, it is essential to find a race, and with that I had the choice of a 2.5 or 5km (too short for the distance traveled to get there), 10km (not my ideal), 21 or 42km (not in shape for either).  So I guess the choice was automatically narrowed down for me, and there I was, left with my arch nemesis of distances – the 10km.  Pick 8 or 15 and I would have mentally and physically known how to pace myself, but for some reason I have never been able to figure out how to pull of a 10km.  As a result, I have avoided the distance like the plague of all road races.

This unusual event was like the track and field of road races.  Families brought picnics and tents to make a day event of this multi-distance, all day event.   Starting on a track, making multi-loops around this beautiful park, this little local race was to raise money for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

After spending a winter in India, I am very unconscious of the conservative nature of clothing women wear when it comes to working out and racing.  And although I am a true believer of less is best when it comes to racing in 90F/32C degrees in the beating sun, I am also aware that I had to get my way back to my hotel, which was about 5km away from the race site.  I prefer to draw the lease amount of attention as possible when walking down streets of foreign countries, so I chose to dress Asian style – long black tights and black top (let’s be smart and make it as hot and uncomfortable as possible when exerting a massive amount of energy in the heat.)  The only thing I could not bear was covering my arms; I believe I would have overheated and died had I done that.  Although, I did bring a scarf and throw in the bushes, so I could cover them on my way back to the hotel.

11:00 a.m. – My race started.  4 laps (2.5km each)  around the park, passing through the track stadium on each round.  No shade.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Lap 1 – My start was conservative, given I had gotten off a plane from the US 12 hours previous.  Lap 2 – I started to make my slow and steady passes, one after another.  Lap 3 – Starting to have those conversations in my head, reminding me why I never race this distance…it hurts…really, it hurts.  But here, we go, one last lap.  At this point you have a choice to make.

Choice – it is something we all have.  The choices we make is what helps us forge the path we create throughout our life.  We can choose the easy way or challenge ourselves, and while it may not be easy at the time, the reward on the other side often is greater.

As much as I wanted to ease off on this lap, in this race that really didn’t count for anything on my racing resume, I made a choice to push harder; to hurt more.  Picking off 3 more women on that last lap landed me 7th place overall women in my very first 10km race ever.  The girl who sucked (really) at cross country.  The girl who has always struggled to run a stand alone road race not only conquered her first 10km race with a top 10 finish, but pulled off a jet-lagged negative split run.

There wasn’t a single second of the race that was easy.  But I made a choice to take on an overcome, and I did just that.  Just don’t be looking for me to be doing another one any time soon.
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Back to Life

It is hard to write about something when you have nothing to write about, therefore, I haven’t.

1098051_10201120823355823_1914134621_nMoving into the next box came with one of the worst year’s ever in my books.  10 months ago I went off on a business trip and had a freak toe accident that left my foot in a boot for 4 months and out of running (along with everything else) for almost 7 months.  Who knew a baby toe was so important…especially when you have to put a shoe on your foot.

Long story short…

Forced myself through 4 climbs of Alpe d’Huez in 5 days, because I was not giving up on the trip/race of a lifetime (some are just worth the sacrifice).  Got two flat 20 miler rides in before that week.  Cleared it in 1:10 and descending in less than 18 minutes with a trailer in front of me for 2 miles.  Making car passes downhill was the worst of it all!  Fell in love with it – LOVE Alpe d’Huez and would say if you have ever questioned it, wanted just once to try it: DON’T HESITATE, DO IT!

Fast Forward…

IMG_1363February 2nd, 2014 my very first bike race ever!  Why did it take so long?  100km crit style in Ahmedabad, India.  13th OA women’s and can never complain about that, holding on in the 2nd chase group and pulled the pack with 4 other men.  *Ladies, if you want to be a better cyclist, learn how to pull your weight in the pack, don’t let everyone else do it for you.  Do this and you will soon be in the 1st chase.  I really wanted to take the two of you out after yelling at the leads to speed up and you refusing to work.

March 9th I got talked into doing my first trail race, a beautiful 21km run through Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India.  Knowing I am not the strongest of runners, and definitely not placing worthy, I was elated to have placed 2nd overall in the 35+ division and winning my first overseas prize money.  15km was the longest I had run since February 2013, so no complaint here!

Now the question becomes, are there races for 2014?

YES THERE IS A SEASON FOR ME!!!  So excited, and 100% healthy.  Crazy how all my injuries come from doing something stupid and never related to my sport.  So, Iron Insanity is Back to Life and ready to take on the 2014 season with full force effort.  Back in the Saddle and ready to take it One Step at a Time.

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The World Would be a Better Place If Everyone Would Run

IMG_5094The World Would be a Better Place If Everyone Would Run.

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Best Job Around the World

Of course I think I have the best job in the world…who wouldn’t love to get to educate people about fitness, help them live better quality lives and help people feel good about themselves?  With that, I get to do this while traveling all over the world AND get to race in triathlons and road races.  SIMPLY THE BEST!

Now I found the job that very well might one-up even mine… Jauntaroo‘s Best Job Around the World contest had 3000 people enter, and as of today they eliminated to 50.  I was one of the 50.  Holy Crap!!!!  I want to be excited, but there is a bit of a popularity contest and votes are needed.  I am not much for popularity contests…maybe because I wasn’t a popular one growing up, just choosing to go to the beat of my own drum.  Quality over popularity.  But either way – I still need votes.  

So, now I need to ask everyone I know to vote & get their friends & their friends to vote for ME!  I beg you to make me popular now.  

I promise if I get this job to travel the world and write and do great things with the community – I will find a few AMAZING races to do, take some great pictures & videos and write about it, so you can follow along.  Thank you thank you thank you –  TO VOTE, CLICK HERE AND THEN CLICK THE LIKE BUTTON.  YOU CAN VOTE EVERY 24 HOURS!!!!

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Sucker for Race Photos

I love buying my race photos.  Almost always it is the only souvenir I ever buy.  Maybe it’s because I can’t take them myself, but when they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, I find myself scouring the “lost and found” section of race photos in hopes to find that one magical moment caught on film as soon as that email comes in saying “your race photos are ready”  .

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