Sunday, July 20, 2014

Race Report: Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2014

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. On one hand, my race in Coeur d’Alene wasn’t anything special. My time was about 15 minutes off from how I raced in 2011 and it didn’t unfold into any spectacular finish like my amateur win in 2013. But on the other hand, my first professional Ironman is a big effing deal (for me at least). And if I didn’t document some of the memories from such a special weekend, I would regret it years from now. Let me start off by saying “thank you” to my coach, teammates, friends, family, boyfriend, host family, competitors, and all the people in Coeur d’Alene who either supported me in getting to the start line or were there on race day. Without this support system, triathlon wouldn’t be nearly as fun or rewarding, and my life would be quite lonely.

I'm the third from the left, thankful I blend in with the other pros. Picture credit here.

Onto the race…as I lined up to race last month in Coeur d’Alene, I thought about how doing this was one of the scarier things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t the distance or the conditions that frightened me - my 11th Ironman and I’ve seen my share of windy days. It was the exposure of racing up front and against some of the best athletes in our sport. “Everyone would be watching” is what I told myself. All the spectators on the beach and athletes waiting to start were watching my start and would be able to see how quickly (or slowly) I’d make my way through the first loop of the swim. Thirty-five minutes *should* be enough to get through 1.2 miles, but I worried about getting dropped before the first turn and swimming solo the entire way. As I watched the men start, I seriously wondered if any professional athlete had ever had a panic attack before even getting in the water. I took some deep breaths and knew I couldn’t set that stage for the age groupers watching. Besides, get it together, Cathleen, you prepared for this! Be courageous and trust the training and years of experience that have basically been a gift in getting you here.

Part of the reason I was a bit intimidated. Photo credit here.

Backing up a bit, Ironman Coeur d’Alene is one of my favorite race weekends. I get to meet up with some old and new friends and I usually know the best spots for dinner, a cup of coffee, or a post-race beer. I’ve had pretty good results here several times and I like the local feel, being only a long drive from Seattle. I often have a handful of teammates toeing the line for their first Ironman, which is always fun to see. This year I had the pleasure of getting to know the CDA community even more by staying with a generous host family – the Pinkertons, who fully immersed themselves in volunteering. My race weekend started out well and everything was pretty much stress-free in getting to the start line. I had the usual pre-race routine and met with my coach to zip up my wetsuit and get final good luck hugs from friends and teammates.

With my friends Helen and Cecil.
As I mentioned above, I was a bit scared at the beach start, but when it all came down to it, I had the BALLS to dive in and start racing. With a strong wind all day, we had some pretty serious chop on Lake Coeur d’Alene. After the 8 pro women went off it was basically swim as hard as you can and don’t get dropped until you settle into a rhythm. I remember thinking it was sensory overload as I kicked and stroked and breathed. Every breath to the right, I could see the flashing lights from the police boat as the waves bobbled us up and down and up and down. Finally, I settled into a pack with Olesya, Ali, and Jennie. I stuck with them until the second turn buoy where I got a mouth full of water. It was a big enough gulp that I needed to cough it up and lost their feet. Luckily, I swam hard enough to catch back up before we were back at shore to finish our first loop. We made it through the first loop in about 32:40, ran on shore, and were back in the water to start loop 2. Two minutes into our second loop the age group wave started and my pack of four pro women was quickly swallowed up. I’ll admit, it kind of sucked getting swum over by the fast age groupers, but it’s motivation for me to keep working harder in the pool and eventually crack the hour barrier in an Ironman. I made it out of the water in 1:06:37.
Starting loop 2 - I'm second here.
I was quick through the empty transition tent, much different than the crowded T1 tents in my age group days, and ready to bike. We all knew it’d be a slower day on the bike with a strong headwind on the up hills and tailwind on the down hills. My time goals were readjusted and I tried to focus on power. I knew I was in 7th place after the swim and I quickly passed Jennie Hansen, who it turned out was having mechanical issues all day. Not long after that, Ali Black passed me and we all held our positions the remainder of the ride. I struggled quite a bit on the bike. At some point during our first loop I could tell I was having stomach problems. I figured I’d be fine and would just use a honey bucket in T2. But as I started the second loop, I felt so bloated I thought I might crap my shorts. I don’t know if it was some seasickness from the choppy swim or the amount of lake water I swallowed or something that went wrong in my nutrition plan the days prior. But my stomach ached and it was getting to the point where I was struggling to eat. I figured a quick stop in a porta potty was a safer bet than no calories and I also thought briefly of this post from Jordan Rapp. There are worse things that could happen with stomach issues. All the bike times were slower than past years, but I rolled in with a 5:49 – ouch.

Two shots - not sure if the second pic is just a bad angle or if my
stomach was starting to bloat in the bottom picture.
That's how I felt most of the day. Super attractive.
Based on my run training this year, I was ready to lay down a solid run. I had hoped my stomach settled and based on my lackluster bike knew I didn’t ride too hard. And I actually felt pretty good out there. My pacing was where I wanted it to be to have a run split I could be proud of and I was honestly having a good time. I got to see several of my friends and teammates cheering, volunteering, and racing. I was passed by speedy runner Jennie Hansen about 7 miles in, but I kind of knew that was coming. At the halfway mark, my coach yelled words of encouragement to catch 6th place (Ali), but with 4 bathroom stops on the run (yes, I know), I came up short by less than 2 minutes. There were parts of the run that were super uncomfortable and not because of my legs. In the end, I ran a 3:30 marathon and finished with a total time of 10:30:43 and 7th place for the pro women. I consoled myself knowing I wasn’t the slowest swimmer, biker, or runner, even if I was the slowest finish. Plus, with a small field and purse that paid 8 deep, we all made some cash, which was definitely something new.

As I turned down Sherman Ave to run toward the finish chute, it was truly a special moment. And it wasn’t because I had laid down a blazing fast race or won anything spectacular. But I knew I had followed through on my goal of racing as a professional this year. Yes, I was the last finisher of the pro women, but it took some guts and a hell of a lot of dedication to get to this point. I’ve chatted with a few other pro women who’ve reminded me that it takes some getting used to when you make the leap from amateur to professional. My new competitors have been nothing but nice and inspiring and I’m fortunate that I can consider them my new peers (even when they finish way the hell in front of me…Heather Wurtele). The hours and days after the race I was left on a high of only wanting to work harder and get faster. It helped me realized that “going pro,” as I contemplated for years, was the right decision in keeping this sport fresh and exciting for me.

I learned a lot over Coeur d’Alene race weekend including that in reality I don’t think “everyone” was watching the beach start or really paying too much attention to my race all day. Athletes worry about their own races and spectators sometimes don’t know what’s going on. I know starting with the pros and having a “P” on my calf all day makes people think I’m going to race fast, and that is what I hope for every day. I can use that expectation to push on when things get tough. My boyfriend, friends, teammates, and coach watched as I ran on the beach to complete the first loop of the swim, but I’m the one who put the most pressure on my day. This Ironman made me excited for the rest of the season and future years. There are more races to come. Again, thank you to everyone who made is so special.

Until the next one,

Other random thoughts from race day:
  • It was another fun weekend of racing with my friends David and Adam. We travelled to St. George in 2012, had a blast, bought matching sweatshirts, and take advantage of wearing them together in public when we can. It was great seeing these guys race, but we’ve decided that the three of us often have bad luck with the wind.
It's like they're taking this picture with me!

We LOVE our St. G sweatshirts and leftover pizza.
  • I nerded out at the pro meeting and told Heather Wurtele that she won Ironman CDA the first year I did an Ironman (2008). She was really cool about it.
  • Race morning I asked some random male pro to borrow a bike pump. That random pro was Andy Potts. I was totally star struck. Geez.
  • My host family was awesome! I was very lucky to be paired with such a fun and supportive family. I hope to keep in touch and visit them the next time I’m in CDA. All four of them also volunteered in T1 and had some hilarious stories from the changing tents.
  • Major thanks to my friend Kevin Tu for many of the great pictures above. He takes excellent race day photos.
  • Mike Reilly still pronounces my name wrong. Instead of K-newt-son, he says NUT-son. At the swim start, Jess Smith leaned over and laughed and told me “that’s why you marry a Smith.”
  • I got to know both Jess and Ali Black a little bit during over the weekend. I hope to run into them at other races, as they are both very down to earth and kind.
  • I also got to meet up with Haley Chura who was in town for SMASH. Both she and her mom were really sweet. I was impressed by her dedication to squeeze in a swim workout, which made me understand why she’s so fast. I hope to see her again at some races.
  • I have yet to decide on my 2015 season, but I do hope to race again in CDA. I need to break that 10 hour barrier and doing so in CDA would be really special.
  • Finally, a belated Happy Birthday to my boyfriend. June 29th (race day) was his birthday and he spent it as my Sherpa. :)
Many more races together...hopefully a little faster and not on your birthday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Through the Ages

I've been thinking about this blog post a lot lately. In fact I would have posted earlier, but I’ve been preoccupied this week with the typical race week distractions – packing, last minute purchases, pre-race massage, focusing on getting more rest, etc. It’s a delicate balance of getting your shit done and staying calm. Or maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this? For me race week, especially when it's a race with so many memories, churns up nostalgia and I feel the need to reflect on how far I've come since I started racing Ironman. Here are the “Clif's Notes” versions of race reports from the past five times I’ve toed the line in Coeur d’Alene:

The year was 2008 and I had signed up approximately 365 days prior (this race used to sell out back then) thinking it might be a "one and done" type of experience. My training consisted for running a couple half marathons and marathons, buying a TT bike (that I rode until April of this year), swimming solo at the gym near my house, and way too many late nights and early mornings lifting weights or on a stationary bike (before I understood the benefits of a bike trainer and when I worked too many hours in public accounting). I actually stumbled upon my training plan the other day while I was cleaning out a closet. It was something I found on the Internet and printed out and put in a 3-ring binder. I don't remember much from the day other than it was really a lot of fun. My friends and family were out on the course and I remember the crowd was really supportive. I finished in 11 hours and 49 minutes and was pretty much hooked after crossing that finish line.

Support crew - Malia, Sherry, Andy, Jill, John, Lane

2008 Finish line with Jill, Lane, and Sherry
In 2009 I decided that I didn’t want to put in that much time and not get faster, so I hired a coach. Kainoa, who still coaches me to this day, whipped me into shape and prepared me to be more competitive in my age group. The weather that afternoon was cold and gray that day; it rained a bit on the run. My goal that year was to bike under 6 hours and run under 4. I succeeded in both and finished in 11:11:01, which was good enough for 5th place in my age group. Unfortunately, the Kona slot only rolled down to 4th place who finished about 90 seconds ahead of me. The girl who finished fourth, Lilia, and I are now good friends. Being that close and not getting a Kona slot was motivation that would help me through training the following winter. 
2009 Race morning with my friend Lindsay
In 2010 I knew I had a better chance of getting a Kona slot than the year prior. My run times were getting faster and I was showing improvement on the bike and in the pool. I swam okay, for me, got through transition quickly and got to work on the bike. I remember telling my friends and family that if I had a perfect day, I’d bike around 5:35. I biked 5:32 and was leading my age group as I started the run. My run was less than stellar – it was hot and I paced it poorly, but I held on to finish in 10:42 and got my first age group win in any distance triathlon. I had friends, family, and teammates at the finish line. When I was digging through pictures to post for this blog, I noticed the Facebook album I posted for this Ironman was titled, “Race of My Life.”

2010 - when I learned how to ride a bike

2010 - holding position on the run

I could probably argue, however, that 2011 was the race of my life (up for grabs this weekend, I hope). I put a lot of pressure on myself that year to qualify for Kona. I knew a couple fast girls from Seattle in my age group (Lilia mentioned above and Sam Mazer), not to mention all the fast girls who could show up from other states. Plus I felt like I had something to prove after winning my age group the year before. My training had gone well – I had a new stand-alone marathon PR that year (3:05) and I had also done well at Oceanside 70.3 that spring. And when race day came, I executed it almost perfectly. I posted a real race report here. The icing on top was that I had so many friends and teammates there who also raced well and that was really special.

2011 podium with Lilia in 2nd and Sam in 3rd - an honor to share
 the stage with such talented friends

2011 run
Last year was special for me in a new way. I learned to calm down a little and focus more on what I could do as an athlete versus worrying about how others were racing or what it would take to get a Kona slot. At the end of the day, I won my age group and was the first amateur female, something that would eventually lead to my decision of going pro. Racing CdA last year was a good reminder of how much I love racing and that I love Ironman. I got to experience racing up near the front and head to head with another competitor. It gave me a confidence boost and was a good stepping stone for this year.

2013 run -  hoping to improve on last year's race.
I'll likely have this same dorky smile.
So when I arrive in Coeur d’Alene this week, swim in the lake, and stroll up and down Sherman Ave, there will be a lot of memories giving me a lump in my throat (because sometimes I’m a total sap). But there will also be a ton of positive energy on the course for me on Sunday. Apart from the hustle of getting ready to race, this week has been awesome in terms of getting so many wonderful messages from friends and family. I have some fears about my first Ironman as a professional and the usual nervousness I get before a race, but I’m looking forward to writing about a new year and new experiences.
Best of luck to all athletes on Sunday! Have a safe and memorable race! This could be the start of something amazing!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sometimes Weekly Roundup - 6/16

First off, Happy Birthday to my best friend, training partner, and one of my most loyal readers - Sydnie!

Here are the ramblings from the past week:

I took this shot last weekend in Central Washington on my final over distance ride of my Coeur d'Alene training block. 120 mile bike + 1 hour run all solo. Last weekend, my friend Heidi asked me if I ever get bored training by myself and I gave her an indifferent answer. But then two days ago when I had a much shorter ride, I was bored out of my freaking mind. So it goes, the shorter stuff is sometimes harder than the longer stuff. I'm pretty sure we've all been there.

I posted this picture to "the Grams" this week after picking some delicious produce in the urban gardens near my office. Seattle U is all about sustainability and has gardens around campus free to harvest. By the way, this is what strawberries should look like, not the huge, overgrown ones you see in grocery stores. I then whipped up these Smitten Kitchen bars.  
Friday night was one of two graduation parties for the weekend and I was showing up empty handed, so I picked up a dozen cookies and growler of IPA. Taking advantage of not having a seven hour training day on Saturday, I had some bevs and it kind of made me think about this article. In terms of food and drink, it was B+ nutrition.
The second graduation party of the weekend was at a place called Sound Spirits, a distillery in Seattle with really delicious gin cocktails. The bartender had really funny candor and it was a fun place to tour, hang out, and raise a glass to our friend Annabelle to congratulate her on her grad school graduation.
I've been slightly obsessed following RAAM this year as my friend John Bergen crosses this epic adventure off his bucket list (picture taken by John's crew). John has been a friend and mentor of mine since 2010 when we both raced Ironman Kona. I sometimes call him my "Ironman big brother" and had a chance to crew for him at Ultraman last year. There was a great write up by one of his sponsors, nuun, written here. And if you like to geek out on this type of stuff, check out how Christoph Strasser is doing compared to the rest of the field. Incredible!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sometimes Weekly Roundup - 6/5

Training is in full swing which means a) creativity wanes and b) I don't really take much time to post pictures or blog... c and d) I'm a little grumpy trying to fit everything in and I'm pretty much eating all the time. So, here is round-up that spans the last few weeks. My taper for Ironman CdA is just around the corner, so hopefully I'll soon be able to spice up the blog posts.
I spent the past three weekends in Coeur d'Alene, ID, Central WA, and Seattle, respectively. I packed in the miles, but also enjoyed some quality time with good friends. Here are some ramblings from the past few weeks.
The Student Center at Seattle U has become a new friend. I go there daily for some fruit-infused water, Thai iced tea, or to grab a breakfast burrito (stuffed with tator tots!) after hard training weekends. I was recently there for lunch and got asked if I was looking for a summer job. I'm glad to know I still (kind of) fit in as a student.
Saturday was the final broadcast of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" with Carl Kasell as the official scorekeeper of the show. Nerds around the country, including Barack Obama, bid adieu to our favorite voice in radio.
I went over to CdA with my friends David, Adam, and Julie. The three of us in this picture are all racing IMCdA, just like we raced St. George in 2012. Since St. G was changing from a full Ironman to a 70.3 that year, all their merchandise was really cheap and the three of us bought matching sweatshirts. We never miss an opportunity to bust these out together. Though I will admit, I felt a little self conscious wearing a sweatshirt with the M-dot plastered all over it.   
Also on my CdA training weekend, I rode the old course. Anyone who raced her prior to 2012 will recognize this junction. I miss the old course - it was more technical and scenic.
This past Friday night I ran 20 miles after work (not at a 4:18/mile pace), followed by stuffing my face with salty teriyaki chicken and then watching the Pre Classic online. Galen Rupp set *another* American record with his blistering 10k. If you don't already follow track and field, there is some really good stuff out there. He ran 1:57 for his last 800 meters! So impressive!
A couple weeks ago, I attended an event at SU that included a successful alumna, Robin Wehl Martin, who talked about her new cookie shop in Seattle. I tasted the habanero chocolate chip and the snickerdoodle - both amazing! Definitely worth a stop for good coffee, delicious cookies, or an ice cream sandwich.

This picture says so many things. You can read about it here. I love Oiselle for being bold and pushing the boundaries - in business and in sport. Congratulations to Heather, Katie, Kate, and Brenda on an amazing race at the World Relays!
And finally, a picture from Golden Gardens in Seattle . I felt like garbage (energy wise) on Tuesday, but rallied to finish my bike workout. It's sights like this that really turn my mood around. I'm entering my final push of IM CdA training. It hasn't been easy, but I feel like I'm strong and healthy and will be able to put down a good race on June 29th.
Best of luck to all to those pushing their limits in training!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sometimes Weekly Roundup - 5/12

I started off last week with a 15 hour road trip on Sunday to make it to work on time Monday morning after racing Wildflower. It's no wonder I felt a little strung out the rest of the week - tired, sore, trying to catch up on life. I ended up sick by Friday. Sub-optimal.

It's officially open water swim season in Seattle. They guy pictured above (with the orange buoy) braved the brisk Greenlake waters without a wetsuit. He was a bit of a weirdo. I swam in Lake Washington on Thursday and lasted about 20 minutes. In my opinion, it still needs a few more warm weather days to get to a comfortable temperature.

Last Tuesday I attended a book reading by Molly Wizenberg, author of the food blog Orangette. She and her husband opened the restaurant Delancey, which is less than a couple miles from my house. I really enjoyed her first book and I'm already liking her second. I was so inspired reading her recipes that I signed up for two different cooking classes this summer. Some of the food in her book will be covered in the class (i.e. homemade ricotta).

And finally, I think every day should be BICYCLE DAY!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Race Report: Wildflower 2014

The story of my Wildflower experience began sometime a week and a half ago with feelings of self-doubt, nervousness, and a whole lot of stress that surprisingly didn’t end up in too many breakdowns of epic proportions. I put a lot of effort and heart into the past few months of training and I was worried I’d arrive at Lake San Antonio and feel completely out of place, foolish for racing as a professional this year. Yet at the same time, there was a part of me that knew the expectations were low and this was my book to write, a new chapter; it was kind of like being a brand new athlete.

Gerry and I left Seattle Wednesday after work, drove as far as we could (Grants Pass, OR), and checked ourselves into a hotel for a few hours of sleep. Bright and early Thursday, we were on the road again headed to SFO to pick up other fellow newbie pro, Alyssa Godesky. Miles later, we arrived at Lake San Antonio and saw the sad results of the drought, as we looked out to the new swim-run-bike-run format. Things were relatively seamless getting our VIP passes for the weekend and finding our accommodations. There was a bit of a key snafu, but we were able to unload the car and unwind a bit before dinner. The Tri-California group was super accommodating setting up meals, snacks, housing, and registration for the elites. It really helped me feel welcome.

This is the boat launch where the original swim takes place...
no water for miles, approximately 2 miles.

And this is what the lake normally looks like. The nice guy holding
the picture was a friendly volunteer who helped prepare some
of our delicious meals.

Thursday evening at dinner, Gerry, Alyssa and I were eating as 3-time Wildflower Champion (spoiler, now 4-time WF Champion), Jesse Thomas, and running idol, Lauren Fleshman, walked in with baby Jude. I joked about having them sit with us, as other pros shook their hands, gave hugs, and said hello. Minutes later, Lauren waltzed right over and asked if she could sit with us. Of course! Since we both run for Oiselle, I've had many opportunities to meet Lauren, run with her, pick her brain, and act like teammates. She’s become a friend and somewhat of a big sister figure in our brief interactions. She’s a sister-hero and knowing she’d be cheering all weekend helped put me at ease. Plus it was fun to hold baby Jude, so Lauren and Jesse could eat with both hands, and Jesse offered some solid words of wisdom. Friday was the typical pre-race business – easy swim, bike, run, race meeting, gear check, and healthy eating. It was a hot day, so we focused on getting lots of fluids. I was thankful I packed so much nuun to keep my electrolytes in check.

Harris Creek and T1A - new swim location and where we changed from wetsuits to running shoes. The
boat ramp is long and steep.

Race Morning: We arrived at Transition (T1B) with plenty of time to pump up tires, prep nutrition, and catch the bus to the swim start (T1A). I was pleased to hear the water temp was 66 degrees, which meant it would be a wetsuit swim. Wildflower follows USAT rules for the elites, which meant the cutoff for wetsuits was 68 degrees. Gerry and I did a quick warm-up run before I made my way to the water. The men were off first and then I lined up with a group of supremely talented women. Somebody said something about wishing everyone a safe race and we all nodded. Alyssa and I hugged and I gave Heather Jackson a pat on the back when the announcer talked about her potential 3-peat (spoiler: she won for the third year in a row!). And then, we were off!

I'm glad that my first mention/bike cameo in Triathlete Magazine
is being made fun of for how I get my calories... (sarcasm)

The swim start was something I was really worried about, knowing these ladies could drop me like a stone. But as we neared the first buoy, I noticed they hadn't gapped me that much. Eventually, they pulled ahead and I was swimming on my own. There were two girls that I tried to draft for a bit, but I couldn't get in much of a groove (keep in mind this was my 2nd open water swim of the year, my first being the day before race day). So I swam about 3/4 of the race solo watching the two girls a little in front of me not get too far ahead. The water was really murky coming back, something I didn't notice during the warm-up. It's as if I could almost feel the ground. Kind of gross. I wasn't the last one out of the water and I came out and saw the clock - 35:37 subtract 5 minutes for our wave start and I swam a new PR of 30:37. Considering during my last race of 2013, I swam 34- something, I'll take this as a good sign, hopefully with faster swims to come.

T1A was a quick equipment change and a run up the boat launch (I'd guess something close to 150 meters at ~12% grade, maybe I'm exaggerating. It was steep!). It took me 4:09 to get out of the water, take off my wetsuit, put on my run shoes, and get out on to the first part of the run course. The first run went well. I took it out steady and passed a couple other female pros as we ran through what once was the swim course.
Run #1 - running through the lake

I got onto my bike and rode through the technical part of the course without any issues. Once I got out to the main highway, I just felt pretty flat. My power numbers weren't much lower than where I wanted them to be, but everything felt labored and I felt a bit uncomfortable. It could have been the fact I was on a new bike or that I don't have that many long outdoor rides under my belt this year or maybe I just wasn't riding well last Saturday. It was a little frustrating, but I still tried to focus on a good cadence and staying aero. I finished the bike in a disappointing 2:57, several minutes down from my competition.

I got out on to the second run feeling pretty good and with the hot weather, thankful we were only running 11 miles instead of 13, because of the new swim-run-bike-run format. For those who haven't done Wildflower, the run course is awesome. It's hilly, scenic, mostly on trails, and a real butt kicker. It's the kind of run I'd like to do with a bunch of friends and no watch. I ran without a GPS device on purpose, because I didn't want to know my pace up some of the steep hills. I don't recall getting passed by anyone and I passed a lot of age group guys and one other female pro. But I had pretty much biked myself into no man's land, so for most of the run I was alone. I didn't let up though, I felt like I ran hard to the last mile. And despite the fact I wasn't having the race of my life, I was super proud of the fact I was out there. I finished with a 1:38:44 run and a 5:12:40 finish time.
Run #2
I spent the rest of the day catching up with old and new triathlon friends, drinking Sierra Nevada pale ales with Gerry, accidentally catching a glimpse of the naked run, and attending the Picky Bars Happy Hour at Cabin #10. The Picky Bars HH will probably go down as a season highlight for Gerry and me, as we chatted with folks like Lauren, Jesse, Heather Jackson (super nice, btw), Matt Lieto, and Chris Legh, who was even so kind to fire up the grill and walk around serving everyone meat and veggie appetizers. The Picky Bar crew was, as always, lots of fun and great to hang out with post-race.

My response when people ask about how it went is: that it was all really fun and I was content with the race. I never really felt out of place and all the interactions I had with my fellow pros only make me want to work harder and be a better athlete. I was looking at Twitter this past week and my friend Mel Lawrence posted this: "Don't compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 20." It really resonated with my experience this week, as I have a LONG way to go and this is only the beginning. My feelings of self doubt had melted away, and although I didn't knock this race out of the park, I feel like I'm in a good spot, since I'm looking forward to more races.  
Finally, thank you to everyone who made this race such a wonderful experience. Thank you to Tri-California for putting on such an amazing race and being so generous with the elite accommodations. Wildflower is a race that everyone should put on their race bucket list. Thank you to Alyssa and the other female pros who offered advice and helped me navigate the weekend. I still think it's funny that Alyssa and I were the only two who racked our bikes the night before the race...rookies. Thank you to my coach for getting me ready for this race and pushing me these past several months. Thank you to my sponsors, Oiselle and Nuun for the wonderful pre- and post- race apparel and delicious electrolytes. And thank you to Gerry, the BF, for consoling me when I showed up in tears last week worried about the race, driving most of the way to Lake San Antonio, and being a really supportive dude.
Blog Twins! - CK & Alyssa in Oiselle

Gerry 4th place in his AG, board shorts, Picky Bars T-shirt
He totally passed me on the bike.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sometimes Weekly Roundup - 4/28

Runners (and Americans) rejoiced when Meb crossed the finish line to win the Boston Marathon last Monday. I've run Boston 7 times and have a very special place for it in my heart. I hope to go back someday to make that left turn onto Boylston.

Last Saturday I saw "St. Paul and the Broken Bones" play at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard. The show was excellent and we were only a few rows from the stage. I, however, resisted any urge to take a picture of the show, since it kind of bugs me when people do that. Just enjoy the music! Anyway, be sure to check them out!
This past weekend I traveled to Gearhardt, OR for a weekend at my friend Susan's so-called "shack." There were 9 of us to enjoy the cozy comfort of her beautiful beach house, along with great company, lots of laughs, and delicious food. We are all sharing our recipes, which I will likely share on this blog. I made old standbys - lentil soup and cauliflower salad. The top picture is of three women I truly admire (friends Deanna, Susan, and Jill); I wish I could run with more often.
On Easter I became a Godmother! My friend Brittiny asked me to stand up at the baptism of her darling daughter, Clare. I was more than happy to enjoy the baby cuddles throughout the Easter Mass.

Picture 1/ Picture 2