Reflections on the 2016 Race Season

When a race season closes, I like to reflect on the things that went well and areas to improve as I transition to a new season. This season was not a typical season for me. I didn’t have any crazy goals besides supporting my husband on his first attempt at the Leadville 100 MTB. I had a few 70.3s in the plan, as well as Boston Marathon. Because these are races that don’t require a big training commitment I elected to just coach myself. Overall, it worked and I had some ideas of marks to hit each week but was much more flexible on my training than I have been in the last few years.

I also had a few surprises this season, including surgery on my toe. All in all, I think I handled things pretty well. Kudos also to my surgeon as I was able complete Boulder 70.3 just 6 weeks after my surgery. I was happy with my results, considering the limited training (no run for 3 weeks and no swim for 5 weeks). My next race was the Tribella Sprint. I signed up at the last minute since I had the time and love to support my favorite bike shop. I was technically training for a 70.3 so I planned to do the sprint and then ride 40 miles. That worked well and I even got first in my age group.  Hot firemen all around was a bonus. ;-) 

Vineman 70.3 was technically my "A" race since I had the surgery before Boulder 70.3. Physically, I felt really ready for the race. I was also excited to go back to the Bay Area and see old friends. I got a flat and blew one of my shifting cables that cost me 15 minutes. Without that, I would have made the podium and been very close to a PR, which was my goal. My run was the fastest I have had in a 70.3 at 1:48. I truly felt like I was floating. Celebrating with some wine tasting was a great bonus! 

After that race, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and buy a new bike. It took me a bit and James, Liz and Daniel at Tribella were very patient with me. With the help of Daniel Duryea, bike fitter extraordinaire, I got the perfect bike that FELT better than any other bike I have ridden.

I only had the bike for about three weeks before my last half ironman, Harvest Moon, but I felt so good that I had no concerns about racing on it. Mother Nature threw a challenge down for all of us. We had big wind gusts (more than the race director had seen in 20+ years of racing and directing) that made the swim very choppy and the bike difficult to stay upright. I’m not going to lie, I thought about signaling a kayaker many times on the swim, but I also know that this could happen next year in the Ironman (same location) and mentally I’d be wrecked if I quit. I saw many people quit and a female pro stopped on the bike right after transition for fear that the winds would blow her over. I said to myself to just skip the aerobars if I needed to and do my best to stay upright. Once I was done with the bike, I knew the run would be very hot but at least I didn’t have to worry about surviving. The heat was not too bad and I seemed to be coping with the heat well, with some practice earlier in the year. I ended up at 2nd in my age group. 

Things I did well this season:
•    Rolled with the changes and didn’t get too freaked out about missing training.
•    Pushed through pain to run Boston and really felt lucky to be racing.  
•    Raced well in the heat – every race was hot and it didn’t affect me as bad as some of the other racers. My cooling techniques worked very well. 
•    Ran strong even after technical issues cost me time on the bike.
•    Nutrition was spot on. I used my ME test data at the beginning of the season and it worked in every race. I recently retested myself, as I’m about to end my very short off season, and things were very consistent to my test earlier this year. That is because I have several years of fat adapted fueling behind me. 

Things to improve:
•    Figure out what is the cause of my chronic back issues and try a new approach. I’ve been working with a PT that does MAT (muscle activation techniques). It’s worked really well, up until a few days ago when I moved a king sized mattress with my 8 year old son (big lesson learned there). 
•    Practice, practice, practice changing my tire so a flat does not keep me out of contention. Go back to putting Stan’s in my tubes before a race to help prevent flats. 
•    Get a thorough check on my bike before a race. I have the best bike mechanic (James at Tribella) so I may as well use him!
•    Continue to work on my swim. Although it feels stronger, I can’t say I’m getting much faster but for me, the real goal is to get through the swim feeling strong, without losing too much time.
•    Take every race very seriously and be detailed when reviewing race plan. I was a little more casual this year and forget two small nutrition items in two races. 
•    Spend more time on my bike in rough conditions to improve handling.

The off season has been a little rough this year from an emotional standpoint. I lost my father and cat in the same week. Shortly after that I locked my back up so my start date for 2017 training has been pushed back. All of that has kept things in perspective for me. Health and loved ones are the most important things I have.  I spent a lot of time with my father and family in Wisconsin. I also had the best summer with my son. We had a blast going to some of my favorite places in San Francisco, exploring areas in my hometown that were even new to me, and supporting my husband in Leadville. He crushed it and was only 15 minutes from getting the big buckle. Yes, he’ll be back! All in all, the 2016 season was a success and I’m excited to continue to push myself in 2017 with some bigger goals.