Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I've MOVED!!

I just launched my new website: - check it out!  I will be blogging from there going forward :)  Thanks for following!!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Last Sunday (yes a WHOLE week+ ago), I raced the Austin 70.3  After living in the Lone Star State for 8 years before moving to California, I was looking forward to going back.  I always really liked Austin and it’s still on our “acceptable places to live” list.  Mark said he wouldn't mind playing Sherpa for the weekend as long as we could get some good TexMex and Chicken Fried Steak after the race! PLUS my sister decided to drive down from Ft. Worth, TX, SO not only would I get to race and eat TexMex, I'd get to see my sis, brother-in-law and my ADORABLE niece and nephew.  How can it get any better than that?!?

Uncle Mark hold our nephew so he could see his Aunt Jess run by.  What a cutie pie! 

Going into the race I was doing lots of pretty tough training (to get ready for IMAZ in November).  I wasn’t rested, but after 2 months of FINALLY being healthy, I was ready!  Worst case scenario I knew it would be a solid training day for Arizona AND I would get to see some of my favorite female pros (Beth Walsh, Beth Shutt, Jennifer Tetrick).

Post race pic w/ the Queen, Beth Walsh (stolen from Beth's blog - thanks buddy!)

Race morning was COLD!  I put on my Xterra Wetsuit extra early – luckily it kept me nice a toasty.  With the water temp about 25 degrees warmer than the air, we were all itching for the swim to start.  I lined up next to the girls who I knew would be in the lead pack and was ready to race.
Swim: When the gun went off it was the usual story.  I was in the lead pack for about the first 2 minutes and then all of a sudden I was on my own, crap.  I swam that way for the next 24 minutes.  I’m definitely swimming faster in the pool than I was 6 months ago, but I haven’t been able to get that to translate into better open water swimming.  My guess at this point is maybe my swimming is not any faster and I’m just nailing those flip turns!
Bike: I didn’t feel terrible on the bike, but I definitely wasn’t on fire either.  My legs were a bit heavy and overall the ride seemed a bit flat, but who could worry about that when I was getting chased down by dogs on the loose?  Twice I thought I might be tackled by country K-9s!  I survived the local wildlife and rough roads, and managed to get myself into T2 in a respectable 5th place.
T2: My 2nd transition was a complete, excuse my language, shit show.  I couldn’t find where to rack my bike, struggled with my socks, and then couldn’t get my race belt clipped.  I came into T2 right with buddy Beth Shutt, but exited 35 seconds after…what?!?  Definitely learned a few valuable lessons and in the grand scheme of things it cost me some time, but not an overall place…whew!

Run: This was definitely the best part of the day.  After just an OK swim and bike I was ready to see what my legs had left.  The first mile and a half felt TERRIBLE, but I kept saying, “It’ll settle, just keep running”.  It did settle and so did I into what I thought was a solid, but comfortable pace.  Although the profile of the run looked fairly flat, there actually wasn’t much flat road at all, it was either slightly up or down.  I chose not to check my watch and run completely on feel.  I was able to build the last half of the run and came away with a new 70.3 run PR of 1:28:50, even with a quick stop in the porta potty around mile 6.  Ultimately I know I need to be able to run MUCH faster than this to be able to compete with the top girls.  HOWEVER this was more than 3 minutes faster than I have ever run in a 70.3, which means I’m making PROGRESS!

My nephew and his new "finisher" medal.  The first thing he said when he saw me after the race? "Aunt Jess, you're wet!" He got a wet hug for that one.

Overall I was happy with the race.  It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it felt good to see some progress and know I’m headed in the right direction. It gives me so much hope for the future and I’m SOOO excited to keep plugging away and see where my hard work will take me. 
Post race TexMex and margaritas with all-star triathletes Sonja Wieck and Michelle Ford!

Thanks so much to all my AMAZING sponsors for supporting me and having faith in my ability– Saucony, Reynolds Wheels, Clif Bar, Xterra Wetsuits, Cognition Cyclery, and Oakley.  Also, a HUGE thanks to my coach, Matt Dixon, for continuing to support me and help me find the BEST training and racing plan for ME!
Hanging out with bestie from college, Beth, after the race.  AND even enjoyed a beer (or two)

VIP#16 Kate Betts
If you have been following my triathlon journey this year, you know it has been a tough one.  I have really struggled with illness and fatigue and ultimately I know it’s because I was trying to balance 50hrs a week of work, 10hrs a week of commuting, and 20+hrs/week of training.  As much as I wanted to be able to do it all, it just wasn’t working. 
Most people would have to go to their companies to ask for a change.  My company, specifically my boss, Kate Betts, came to me.  That’s why she’s my next VIP.

Kate knew my job was important to me, but she also knew how important triathlon had become and that I was missing my chance to really give it my all.  Together we worked out a plan to change positions and reduce my work week to just 32 hours.  She also gave me the opportunity to work from home 2 days a week so I would only have to commute to the city 3 days / week.  Getting this approved was not an easy task, but Kate worked until it was approved by HR and the other executives at Pottery Barn.
Kate goes above and beyond to take care of all her employees, not just me.  She cares more about the people she works with than anything else and it shows in her management style and the morale of the team.  I am so incredibly lucky to have someone like Kate in my corner.  He support has really helped change my life for the better and has given me an opportunity to pursue my dream in a way I didn’t think was possible.  Thank you so much Kate!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One step in a long Journey

I was more than optimistic heading into IM Louisville.  I was finally healthy after a half-season gone to fatigue and illness.  I managed a decent bike at Vineman and put in a great training block to prepare for IM.  My rev3 debut in Wisconsin was less than stellar, with a 7th place finished, and basically falling apart on the run.  However, this did not discourage me.  The training I did for the month between Vineman and The Dells was for 140.6, not 70.3.  Even coach Matt Dixon said not to worry about my most recent race saying, “we beat you up pretty well before that one.”  I had two weeks to recover and get ready.  On Tuesday I was really feeling my energy coming back and I just knew I was set for a great race.
Then I woke up Thursday, ready to fly to Kentucky for the first time, with a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose - definitely not ideal conditions for spending 6 hours in the air.  By the time I landed in Louisville I could barely hear, despite trying to clear my ears every 5 minutes.  I could feel myself start to panic, but I remembered I still had over 36 hours to rest and this was probably just allergies anyway – NOT the end of the world!  I was scheduled to do a 90min bike on Friday, but after registering and attending the pro meeting, I went back to my homestay and crawled into bed for the rest of the day.  I was trying to put on a good face, but inside I knew it was bad.  I felt terrible, but tried to stay positive, especially after a pep talk from my #1, Mark.  Saturday I was more hopeful as I woke up not feeling 100%, but definitely better than Friday.  I got out for my workout – a short swim, 60min bike, and 10min jog.  This was shorter than planned, but didn’t feel too terrible, and I was actually more upbeat after I was able to get moving.  I checked-in my bike, and made sure I was ready to race.  In my mind I still wasn’t 100% sure I should start, but I was determined to rest, hydrate, and do everything in my power to make it happen. 
Getting ready to race - had 2 people ask to take pictures with me.  I didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't Meredith Kessler :)

I woke up race morning with a stuffy nose, but again feeling better than I did the day before.  I mentally committed to the race and was determined to perform the way I know I can.  I tried to erase any doubts about my health and focus on the plan Matt and I put together.   All of a sudden we were in the water and the gun went off.  I found my targets and made sure I was in a good position to catch the draft.  About a third of the way into the swim I found Nina Kraft’s feet and I vowed not to let them go.  At one point close to the end I felt the pace was slowing.  I wanted to make sure we weren’t allowing the other girls to close the gap so I came around and took the lead.  It was clear Nina wasn’t going to let me go so I ended up letting her do the pace making again.  I did think to myself that no matter what else happened, for about 5 minutes I was leading at IM Louisville. 
We exited the water almost together and I was able to run around her on the way into T1.  That didn’t last long as I kept dropping things out of my pockets and had to keep picking them up off the ground before I got to my bike.  I need to sort this one out before the next one!  I left T1 about 30 seconds behind Nina and she took off.  I was confident that I could real her back in if I stuck to my plan to build the bike – again it’s a long day and I didn’t want to wreck myself in the first 10 miles.  I could tell I wasn’t setting a blistering pace and when Bree Wee came by me I had to let her go.  About mile 20 I was passed by a pack of 3 women, including the women who would go on to get 2nd, 4th, and 5th on the day and I jumped on the train.  We rode together for the next 80 miles, until I hit the wall.  I knew it would be hot and nutrition would be EXTREMELY important.  I set my watch to beep at me every 15 minutes to make sure I was focusing on nutrition  - what a difference that made.  I ate when I otherwise wouldn’t have been thinking or wouldn’t have wanted to.  If not for that I might not have made it past mile 60.  Nevertheless at mile 100 it was like all the power drained from my body.  My back was killing me and I was struggling to stay aero.  Just 12 miles to go – then the bike is over.  I tried stretching out, sitting up a bit, and then just gritting my teeth to fight through to the end.  I stayed in contact with the other girls until about mile 105 then I saw them quickly disappear.  It was frustrating not to be able to keep the pace, especially that last 7, but I tried to stay as strong as I could and just get to T2. 
Still going strong at this point!

Right away on the run I knew things weren’t good.  That’s usually the case so I didn’t worry – I just needed a little time to get into the grove.  Often the first 2 miles feel the worst of the marathon but things can easily turn around.  Before I had hit mile 2, I puked, had bathroom issues, and had to sit down on the side of the road.  I drank some coke, lots of water, dumped ice down my jersey and was determined to rally.  I know it can happen.  I powered through like that until about mile 8 when I knew things weren’t going to turn around and I wouldn’t be able to keep pushing.  At IMSG I pushed my body past that point, ended up passing out, and spent a couple hours in the medical tent.  Although I felt better in a few  days, who knows how long a breakdown like that really affects your body.  I wrestled mentally with whether or not I should pull out.  On the one hand I wanted to cross that finish line more than anything.  I wanted to show IM that it wouldn’t beat me again and that I could finish no matter what.  Then I realized that what I really want more than anything is a race I know I’m capable of.  Wrecking my body to get a finisher’s medal isn’t going to give that to me.  That’s when I decided, even though it’s embarrassing, hurts my pride, makes me feel weak and guilty, that the best thing I could do to salvage the season was call it a day. 
Before the puking and thinking, "Ouch, but no worries, things are going to turn around and I'm going to kill this run" (oops!)

 At that point I was close to the turnaround on the first loop.  I didn’t want to get assistance knowing I was fine to keep walking, slowly, so I decided to walk back myself.  It was a long 5 miles to walk – with nothing to do except think about my decision.  I went through the full range of emotions – feeling so devastated by my decision, hopeful about the future, angry that I was not able to continue.   As I continued to walk I could see the other pro women still fighting for the day – something I was no longer able to do.  I was so proud of them and jealous at the same time.  I tried to think about what I need to do to get healthy and how I’m going to approach the rest of this year. 
Those mixed emotions stayed with me the rest of the evening and all the next day.  However, this morning I awoke with a new sense of determination and hope.  At first I thought about how I have 2 more races left this season and I want to do everything in my power to make them great.  Then I realized I have 2 more races this season, but many more seasons in my future.  This is a journey and each race is just a stepping stone.  Sure I haven’t had the breakout rookie pro year I was hoping for or thought I was capable of, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be successful in the future – I just have to keep fighting.  And I will.

Very happily dropping off my bike post race.  So nice not to have to worry about that one!
As always I have to thank my incredible sponsors and support crew: Saucony, Reynolds, Clif Bar, Xterra Wetsuits, Oakley, TriBike Transport, Cognition Cyclery, Purplepatch Fitness, and Team Sheeper.  I couldn't do it without you!
My VIP this week is the amazing girl who opened her home to me while I was staying in Louisville.  She is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.  Not only did she allow me to stay in her house, having never met me before, she also was constantly checking in on me to make sure I had everything I needed.

Forcing Jacque to join me for a pre-race feast of Outback!
A fellow triathlete, Jacque’s first attempt at a 70.3 was foiled by weather in Muncie as the race was shortened due extreme heat.  She is already making plans to try again (I’m pulling for Vineman 2013!!) and is also considering doing her first IM in Louisville next year.  Can’t beat a hometown Ironman!  Although I was forcing her to go to dinners with me and taking up her time, she kept on her training schedule and is extremely motivated to meet HER goals, which was inspiring.  I’m so glad I have made this new friend.  Thanks so much Jacque for your hospitality and generosity!  I can’t wait to see you excel in your triathlon adventures!!
Also loved Jacque's dog, Lucy, and our fun times with the tennis ball!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Last weekend I was able to spend some time in one of the best places on earth –wine country.  Unfortunately there wasn’t much time for wine-tasting as I was racing at the Vineman Half Ironman. 

This season, as you know if you have read my past blogs, has been a roller coaster to say the least.  I have been battling illness and fatigue since March and haven’t been able to put together a good race all season .   I’ll feel great, train hard for a week or two, then crash and get sick, have to take a few days off, and start the cycle all over again.  At first I thought something might be seriously wrong, but after a string of tests that all came back negative for anything serious, my doctor finally concluded I’m just worn out.  It was clear that was an issue after St. George and my coach and I have been really trying to fix the problem since.  Unfortunately after a trip to TX to visit family, I caught a stomach bug and it was another 4 days in bed, not training. Argh! 
The trip was still worth it!  Me playing with my adorable niece Avery
I was planning to race the Portland Rev3 70.3 on 7/8, but cancelled my trip because the week before I barely ate or left my bed.  I assumed Vineman, just one week later, would also be off the schedule until I got an e-mail 10 days before the race from coach, Matt Dixon, saying, “As of today you are officially racing VM.  You might have to eat a little humble pie along the way, but it will be good for you”.  Even though I still didn’t feel that strong and was just getting back into my training, I was strangely excited to race.  I knew I wouldn’t have ANY expectations, or at least not high ones, so I could just go, race, and have fun.  My hubby wasn’t disappointed to hear we were heading to Santa Rosa for the weekend since it has all his favorite breweries!

Some of my favorite Team Sheeper boys helping me get back in shape!

So onto the race.  Holy crap, what a pro field.  First, there were about 17 pro women in the race, a lot for a 70.3 this late in the season.  And it was probably the deepest field of any 70.3 so far this year.  I mean when Leanda Cave ends up 5th, it’s a fast race.   My goal, knowing I didn’t really have that many running miles under my legs, was to have the best swim/bike possible and just bring it home as strong as I could on the run. 
My time on the swim was decent, 26:20, but once again I got dropped from the front pack.  My swimming continues to improve in the pool, but I just don’t seem to have the acceleration to get on the fast feet and stay there past about 200 meters.  Working on that one!  I came out of the water about 2minutes down to the leaders and got out of transition as fast as I possibly could.  My plan was to push the bike more than I ever had and luckily I had some legs for this race!  I was passed by a few girls, including Rachel Chalis (9th OA), Heather Jackson (4th OA), and Jennifer Tetrick (10th OA), but didn’t let any of them go.  For about 30 miles I rode in a LEGAL pack of about 6 girls, and it was FUN!  I felt like I was actually racing.  We changed leaders several times and used each other to keep pushing the pace.  That feeling lasted until I got to the run.  I again tried to have a fast transition, which meant foregoing the socks (HUGE mistake).  Even though I gained a few seconds in T2, I was immediately passed by the entire group from the ride. 
It was a LONG and HEAVY 13.1 - like my legs had forgotten how to run.  I just tried to maintain a positive attitude and bring it home as strong as I could.  In the end I crossed the finish line in 11th place, just over 4:31.  It wasn’t the race of my life, but considering what I have been going through the past few months I’ll take it!  I finally feel like things are turning around and I am so excited about the rest of the season.  I know I’ll continue to get better, and with the help of my coach, my new favorite app Restwise, and a little hard work and determinations, I still might meet my goals for 2012. 

Thanks as always to my family and friends, Saucony, ClifBar, Reynolds Wheels, Xterra Wetsuits, Oakley, Purplepatch Fitness, and Cognition Cyclery for all of your support!

I also have to give a special shoutout to my dear friend, teammate, and mentor, Meredith Kessler.  She was run down by Melissa Rollison (the reigning 70.3 World champ), but kept her head in the game and eventually took back over to lead spot and crossed the finish line in first.  To use one of Mer’s favorite word – that was some major GUMPTION! Congrats Meredith on your 3rd win in 4 races in 6 weeks!  You are amazing and so deserving of all your successes!
My VIP this week is the guy who gave me the inspiration for the title of this blog.  He’s Armenian and pronounces Vineman as “Wineman”.  I always joke that it’s really a perfect name for the race considering the location.
I have had the privilege of training with this guy for a couple years now on Team Sheeper and he’s one of my favorite teammates.  He’s extremely strong, fast, and powerful, but also incredibly humble.  Right before he drops you on the bike, he’ll give you a compliment about how YOU are so strong!  He also keeps an upbeat, positive attitude through even the most challenging sessions and helps me keep a smile on my face even when I feel like I’m about to die.

Vaagn Toukharian
There’s a reason Vaagn won Team Sheeper’s 2011 Male Triathlete of the year award.  He works extremely hard at practice and has become very dedicated to improving at the sport.  At Vineman snagged his first Vegas spot and I couldn’t be more excited for him.  I think there are big things in store for this Armenian and I hope we can keep challenging each other in workouts to meet our goals!  Thanks Vaagn for the laughs, support, and constant reminder that I really should work on my top end power.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Well, even though after Kona 2011 I said it would never happen again, it did – another DNF. This was definitely the hardest fought day of my triathlon career, ending not with a triumphant cross of the finish line, but with another IV and a couple hours with the very nice medical staff of Ironman St. George. I guess at least this time I made it almost to mile 19 of the run (before passing out) instead of mile 100 of the bike.
First up a quick run-down of the day:

Pre-race – I hadn’t felt great that whole week, but I know that’s almost always a good thing. Unfortunately I wasn’t just feeling the typical flat, I was also feeling a little lethargic and the pre-Oceanside achy feeling was back. WHAT? I decided this race was too important and I was going to put that feeling out of my mind because I WAS GOING to have a great race – just like last year.
Pre-race dinner with the Saucony crew - our amazing sponsor ambassador, Jess, and the 2010,2011,2012 IMSG champs Heather Wurtele and Meredith Kessler!

Swim – This was the craziest swim of my life. The way out was calm but after the turnaround the wind kicked up and turned that sweet, innocent looking reservoir into an angry body of water. At first I thought “I can’t believe they let boats out here during the swim, that’s annoying”. Unfortunately it wasn’t boat wake that was throwing me up into the air and slamming back down. All I could do was keep swimming and do some breaststroke every time I needed a buoy check. After what felt like forever, I was out of the water in 58 minutes, about 5 minutes slower than I was hoping for. Oh well onto the bike.

Bike – Like Oceanside I felt pretty rough from the beginning. Over the past year the bike has become a strength for me, unfortunately I feel like I have yet to prove that in a race. Coach Matty D told me to ride aggressively to get away from the strong running field. I was mentally prepared for that, but it was clear after the first 5 miles, my body wasn’t. It didn’t help that about mile 25 we hit the craziest winds I have ever had the displeasure of riding in! The head wind was terrible and the cross winds were way stronger than anything Hawi could throw at you. I felt like I almost got blown off my bike about 30 times. I knew it was going to be a rough day when I hit mile 50 and was already over 3 hours into the bike. Yikes! Luckily the 2nd loop wasn’t quite as bad, but it was still over 6 hours and 20 min on the bike before I was able to get back on my feet. (compared with my IMAZ bike of 5:07…ouch!).

Run – once I got to the run I was cooked. My bike was terrible, but I had to dig super deep just to make it through. That left me with pretty much nothing for the run, not a good feeling when you have 26 miles staring you in the face. I came out of T2 in 4th, but was immediately passed. Oh well, at least I still had a mountain biker with me…for now. Every time I had to walk I felt so bad for the guy – he had to bike so slowly I was afraid he might fall over! I kept apologizing for holding him up! The next 19 miles was a mix of running, jogging, walking, early negative thoughts, followed by anger and a determination to finish no matter what. I was doing everything I could just to stay on my feet. I was playing games with my watch – okay jog for this amount of time, then you can walk. Okay, try to walk faster. Then I hit mile 18 and it was like I hit a wall. I have never felt like it was so difficult just to keep moving in my life. I started to feel dizzy and I couldn’t seem to walk in a straight line. Then all of a sudden I was waking up in a chair with a guy starting an I.V.

So what happened? Well, it was definitely a tough day on the course. Even if I had run well, I still would have finished over the 11 hour mark, or more than 90 minutes slower than my last Ironman. But it was a tough day for everyone. Why my failure? After chatting with Matty D post race, it’s clear that I went into SG over tired. I lost sight of one of the most important “Pillars of Performance” – recovery. While my training has been dialed up significantly from last year, so have my work responsibilities. Despite WANTING to be able to perform at race time with 50-60hrs of work, 10 hours of commuting, and 20+ hours of training each week, it’s not happening. While it’s my coach’s responsibility to design a program to optimize performance and build in time for the necessary recovery, it’s my responsibility to give regular HONEST updates about my state of mind and body so he can make informed decisions. How does my coach know I’m tired unless I tell him? This is where I have been failing. It all goes back to WANTING to do it all. I expect that I should be able to excel at work, sport, and life so I don’t feel like I can admit when I’m tired, run down, or too stressed/busy at work to fit in another workout. I sometimes don’t have a choice but to work extra hours. The only thing that could give would be my training and I haven’t been willing to let that go – out of fear I won’t be able to achieve my goals. A year ago I listened to Matt talk about the importance of recovery and life balance to performance. I have struggled with this over the past year, thinking that I could turn things around without making any real changes to my life. I finally realize that I have to take an active role in my training AND recovery if I’m going to be a balanced, successful athlete.

So how do I get back on track? I’m not 100% sure. I have spent this week doing a lot of soul searching. The status quo isn’t working. I have had to decide what I really want out of this sport and what I am willing to do to get it. I’m looking at some pretty big life-changing options and will definitely share once I figure out what my new lifestyle is going to be. I am very lucky to have a boss and company who are extremely supportive of my goals and are willing to work with me to reach them. (Thank you Kate and Williams-Sonoma, Inc!) I’m NOT quitting my job and I will still have a hectic schedule – but one I KNOW I can handle. It’s all about putting things back into balance. How’s that for vague?!? I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned… In the meantime a big thank you to my amazing sponsors for your continued support and my coach, Matt Dixon for helping me turn this around!


While the race wasn’t at all what I expected or was hoping for, I do have to say the weekend wasn’t a total bust. Not only did I get to shack up with one of my favorite triathlon couples from Team Sheeper – Lennard and Sumi, but I also got a little QT with my hubby.

Sunday after the race, we headed out to Zion National Park. We didn’t do any aggressive hiking, of course, but being able to spend time together, especially in such a breathtaking location, really put my life, and my recent disappointment into perspective. How can I ever REALLY think I have had a bad day when I remember how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing person? Even on my worst day, my life is pretty great.

Even though he’s listed as my VIP#13, my hubby, Mark (aka The Markster) knows he’s really #1 in my book. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is my best-friend, my biggest fan, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support. He has made a lot of sacrifices over the past few years – letting me take on a coach, using race trips as “vacations”, putting up with my never-ending triathlon babble, and of course standing outside for hours on end during Ironman. I have attempted 7 and he hasn’t missed one yet! Thank you for all your support Marky Mark. I love you and I couldn’t do this without you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update extravaganza

Wow, lots of updates since the last time I blogged – a bad race, a niece, a good race, and some fun times with family and friends. First up the bad race:

It was a VERY eventful weekend in Oceanside for the Ironman 70.3. First the bad news – my race was pretty awful. I wasn’t feeling great going into the day, but thought maybe I could pull out a decent performance. I realize now that I was probably at the beginning of getting sick – something that was pretty obvious after staying in bed for 3 days post race. Despite the disappointment, I am still glad I raced. It’s always a learning experience and I took away some good new knowledge from this one!

Here’s the quick run-down on the day:
Pre-race warm up – this is the first time I have ever really warmed up before a race. With a cold swim and no real chance to warm-up in the water, I knew I would have to be ready to go as soon as we could get in. I did a quick 15min jog and some bands to loosen up my arms.

Swim – I was excited about the swim this time. I am swimming faster than I have since high school and was happy about some good open water swimming practice at my Kona training camp. Unfortunately I had maybe one of my worst swims ever. I got a great start when the gun went off, but about 10 strokes in my goggles were ripped off. I had to stop to put them back on and ended up at the back of the pack. Finally when I worked my way up to the front of the chase pack, we hit the turn around and I went off course. It took me about the next 7 or 8 minutes to catch back up to girls I was swimming with before and by then I was pretty spent. I assumed I wasn’t going to break from that group anyway, so I ended up just sitting on the feet of the girl leading the chase pack so I could conserve energy for the bike. Although my practice times are WAY better than last year, my Oceanside swim was almost a full minute slower. Ouch!

Bike – not a whole lot I can say about this bike except I was pretty miserable the whole time. It was cold, rainy, and I just couldn’t seem to get the engine going. I really can’t remember ever feeling that awful on a bike, at least not in a race. I think if it had been a training day I would have gone home, taken a nap, and tried again later. But this wasn’t a training day – it was a RACE! Luckily about half way through I caught a girl who had passed me early on and I just paced with her the rest of the way.

Run – On the bike I knew I wasn’t riding anywhere near my potential, but I thought, just stay in it, who knows, maybe I’ll have the run of my life. Well, it was actually a half Ironman PR, but it definitely was not the run of my life. The trend of day continued and I felt extremely flat. I knew my dreams of a great race were over so I switched into – I’m-going-to-get-the-best-training-day-possible-and-have-fun-with-it mode. I saw my husband on the first loop – he knew I wasn’t going to be happy based on the splits he was seeing. I’m sure he was a bit nervous as to how my mood would be during and after the run. I think he was pleasantly surprised when he saw me smile, shrug my shoulders, and say “well, I’m just going to run as strong as I can TODAY”.
No matter what I try to tell myself, I always have certain expectations of race day. I’d be lying if I said I met those expectations in Oceanside. HOWEVER, I was proud of myself for not giving up. I raced the best I possibly could on that day, and although it wasn’t what I was hoping for, I stuck it out and crossed the finish line a little smarter, a little fitter, and with an excuse to have a post race beer. It’s hard not to be bummed when you put so much time and effort into training and preparing. When your day doesn’t go well you can either let it get you down or learn from it. I CHOOSE the latter.

Now on to the GOOD news for the weekend (no, it wasn’t the post race beer). I went to sleep two nights before the race chatting with my sister, who was 9 months pregnant. She wasn’t due until April 7th, but I told her she wasn’t going to make it to April – a pretty bold statement considering it was already 3/29. Well, I woke up the next morning with a text, written in the middle of the night, that they were heading to the hospital. I jumped out of bed and immediately got on the phone. By the time I sent her a message back the epidural had been taken, but the labor was progressing so fast she wasn’t able to call. One hour later I got the news that my precious little niece, Avery Zalet Rivera, was born. My sister sure knows how to do it! I think she was in labor for about 8 hours total and I slept through 7 hours of it!

Avery being held by Grandpa Trimmer

It was incredibly hard not to be in Ft. Worth, TX at the hospital with my sister to greet the new member of our family, and probably a little annoying for my husband to have to deal with all my excitement by himself. Finally I got some pictures and was able to talk to my sister. I knew everything would go smoothly, but I was so happy when I finally got to hear her voice and that she and the baby were both doing great. I have to say it made it a little easier to get over a bad performance the next day knowing I was an Aunt again.

Apparently they can't get this child to STOP smiling - she MUST be related to me :)

Luckily I didn’t have to hang on to the feeling of defeat for too long after Oceanside. Two weeks later I was back at it for the HITS series Olympic in Napa, CA. Located at Lake Berryessa, the organizers couldn’t have picked a more beautiful venue for a race, or quite possibly a more challenging one.

HITS is a new triathlon series with a distance for everyone – seriously. They offered an “open” tri which was even shorter than a sprint (100m swim, 3m bike, 1m run) and was FREE!!! How cool is that?
The race director Mark Wilson chats with the Open racers, including 2 future world champtions (they were too cute not to capture)

I chose the Olympic distance and just tried to hammer the whole day. It was challenging as the course was extremely hilly, but I walked away with a win and the realization I might be able to bike a bit harder and still have plenty left in the tank for the run. Can’t wait to test that theory!

I even made 3Go magazine online!

After the race I got to have some QT with some of my favorite Team Sheeper teammates. We rented a house on Lake Berryessa and spent Saturday cooking, hanging out, and even playing a little Cranium (my team won of course, woohoo!) I had so much fun the whole weekend, racing again (finally feeling like I was getting my mojo back), and
hanging out with friends.

Dinner time!

Next it’s on to Ironman St. George in a couple weeks. I had a great race their last year and I can’t wait to get back!


So my VIP this blog is one of my best friends and favorite people in the world. She didn’t like me very much when we first met, in fact I think she tried to give me away on several occasions. But over time I grew on her and the older we get the closer we are.

This person is my older (not bigger because I TOWER over her even at my 5’4”) sister, Kyle.

My sister deserves the VIP because she’s an amazing mom, sister, wife, daughter, and friend. She’s a school psychologist and has always loved working with children. While she’s driven in her career, she always puts her family first – taking care of their home, her hubby, her son, and now her daughter. I have watched her do such an amazing job raising my now 3 ½ year old nephew – reading to him, taking him on outings every chance they get, making sure he has healthy meals, and most importantly making sure he is the most loved little boy in the world. I know she will do all those things for her daughter and I hope those kids will one day know just how lucky they are to have my sister for a mom. I also hope one day I will be able to follow in her footsteps with little ones of my own.

Kyle, hubby, and kids

Thanks Kyle for being such a great role model, I love you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kona Training Camp

I can’t believe my Hawaii training camp is over. Although the training was long and hard, the days seemed to fly by and now what I was looking forward to for months, is over. I was definitely excited to see my hubby, from whom I hate being away for this long, when I got home last Friday, but I had mixed feelings about going back to the “real world”. For 8 days I had the amazing opportunity to train with incredible athletes and coaches and feel like a full-time professional, something I can’t get at home with my 45-50+ hour/week job and 10 hours/week of commuting. It’s stressful and tiring to focus 100% on triathlon for an entire week, but amazing at the same time. I feel like I am a different athlete than I was 8 days ago and I am so excited to start this season and see where all this hard work will take me. Here’s a quick rundown of the camp:

The training: In 8 days I swam 50,000 meters in the pool/ocean , spent 20 hours on the bike, and about 5 hours running – quite a bit more than my typical 17-20 hour training weeks.

Pool/Ocean time – We swam a LOT! I spent more time in the water this week than I have since I was in high school and I have an ear infection to prove it. The most challenging part of the swimming was our open water race simulations. I realized very quickly that although I was keeping up with Matt Lieto in the pool (well, for the most part), I was no match for him in the open water. While swimming in the ocean, my job was simply to get on Matt’s hip and stay there as long as possible. Matt was wearing his special unicorn speedo with a gnome on the butt – who wouldn’t want to hang onto that? Most of the time I failed to stay in my special spot – especially when Matt would do his best to drop me, but as the week went on I got better. Practice makes perfect, or at least improvement!
Mauna Lani Pool where we spent MANY hours

Bike – I love being able to put this kind of time in on the bike. We had a mix of aerobic riding, HARD interval sessions, and very scenic, fun climbing. Who knew Kona had areas so lush and green? I was so excited to be able to take the FUJI D-6 1.0 with me to Kona. Not only did it have DI2 (electronic shifting), which is AWESOME, it was pretty sweet looking as well. I did have to swap out the wheels after the first ride because while my bike handling continues to improve, I still wasn’t comfortable with 100mm rims in the cross winds! I think I might have shed a few tears on a big hill that first day :)

If you have been to Kona, you might find it hard to believe this picture was taken there! I would have!!

Run – While I felt like we definitely put in some good miles, we spent the least amount of time running. Coach Matt Dixon explained it’s important to limit the amount of running with our planned training volume, otherwise our legs would be trashed and useless for anything else. We did, however, put in a few key running sessions on the track working a little on speed, but mostly on pacing.
Stunning track at 2,500ft

That brings me to the coaching….AMAZING!

What an incredible coaching line up. Not only did we have the best triathlon coach, Matt Dixon, guiding the week, we also had access to Gerry Rodriques, the master of open water swimming, and Paul Buick, the bike whisperer.

I really felt like I was working with the dream team of coaching all week. Matt knows all the specifics of my training, and sometimes better than me, what I’m capable of. He was there pushing me and giving me confidence in my ability when it was lacking. He always knows just what to say to get me going. My favorite push was during my last swim of the camp. We were doing 10 x 300’s building each 2. The last 4 were supposed to be solid with the last 2 being pretty much all out. With 4 to go Matt says, “Jess, this is your last day…I’m just saying”. Of course I knew that actually meant, “Jess, this is your last chance to lay it all out on the line. You had better bust your ass and show me that you can work”. Good thing I speak Dixonese!

Gerry – I was amazed by Gerry when I met him last year in Tucson at this same camp and I was no less impressed this year. He has such a great way of explaining proper technique and has helped me improve significantly in a sport I have been doing since I was 3. I think one of the things Gerry stresses that stands out most to me is how different open water swimming is to pool swimming. The technique that works is different and Gerry coaches the open water swimmer, which is what all triathletes should strive to be.

Paul – I have never really had one on one cycling instruction so having Paul around for the week was great. He watched my pedal stroke, adjusted my saddle position, and talked to me about what it would take to get my cycling to the next level, while also giving me confidence in my current ability. My only mistake was telling him I am timid when it comes to cornering. No sooner was that out of my mouth than I was doing donuts around a round-about in the hotel parking lot. I’m surprised I didn’t fall off my bike from dizziness. I still have a long way to go when it comes to bike handling skills, but I was amazed at how much progress I made in 15 minutes. I’m still not ready to descend with my hands behind my back like crazy coach Paul, but maybe some day.

Paul and Matt giving instructions before a big group ride

Of course it was Hawaii and while it was MOSTLY hard training, we did have a little bit of fun, too. Here’s my top 10 for the week at camp:

10. Eating my first Chuck Norris Sushi Roll (with a small fear that it might roundhouse kick my stomach later)
9. Seeing eels, sea turtles, and lots of tropical fish during our open water swims. Somehow SP and I still haven’t seen dolphins, I think we might be the only ones. I guess that will be our excuse to get back!
8. Meeting Bill Walton, who is now an avid cyclist and was staying at our hotel. Yes, he is enormous.
7. Mauna Lani granola – which I not only added to my oatmeal every morning, but also took in cups back to the room for afternoon snacks. I don’t know what all is in it, but I will be missing it for sure.
6. Watching Sarah P. bring her walnuts, flax seed, and measuring spoons to the breakfast buffet every morning – hey, you gotta stay on the nutrition plan, right?
5. Realizing that I still haven’t met a Clif Builder’s Bar I didn’t like – my current favorite is the chocolate mint – it’s like eating a Girl Scout cookie without the guilt! Not sure how I could have gotten all my protein for the week without them.
4. Riding to and from the hotel pool on beach cruisers, which are actually a little more difficult to ride than you’d think.
3. Wearing matching Saucony outfits with SP every day hoping we’d win the coveted Purplepatch “Outfit of the day”, but always failing. Damn you Jesse Thomas and your aviators!

2. Seeing old friends from last year’s Purplepatch camp and meeting so many new, awesome age groupers. I can’t wait to see everyone tear it up this year!
1. Sharing Jesse Thomas’ 8th b-day and eating sushi w/ Matt Lieto, Sam McGlone, and Sarah Piampiano + maybe having 1 too many margaritas that were served by Faris Al Sutan’s identical twin (not really, but the resemblance was pretty uncanny)

Also, a HUGE thanks to Clif for keeping me fueled, Saucony for keeping me dressed in my best, FUJI for letting me take their new AMAZING tri bike, and Larry Rosa and the guys at Verdict Photography for taking video and pictures that I CANNOT WAIT to see!


My VIP for this blog definitely has to be one of my good friends and my roomie for the week Sarah Piampiano, another first-year pro. This girl is wicked fast (don’t they say that on the east coast SP?) and I can’t wait to see what she can do in 2012. She is also extremely down to earth and a super fun training buddy. We had a blast in Kona and it’s not going to be the same not seeing her shining face every day on the bike or in the pool! She might be the world’s worst cartwheeler and a lover of terrible rap music (Flo Rida), but I love her anyway!

SP – thanks so much for setting me up with a home stay, forgiving me for being terrible at writing down workouts, giving me advice on sponsors and training, making me laugh, pushing me on the bike, at the track, in the pool and being such a great friend!