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Wildflower had me a bit scared in the weeks leading up to the event. I never considered dropping out and I was pretty sure I had trained enough. But there were occasional negative thoughts lurking around my brain, popping up every time I had a difficult run or struggled on a hill climb.

 

Either my ego or my far-reaching ability to rationalize helped me tremendously in the last days before the race. By the time I was standing on the ramp ready to run into the water, I had effectively convinced myself of success. And it worked. Either that, or it was the training.

 

 

I kicked off my Wildflower adventure several days before in Tucson; sorting and re-sorting my gear, food and camping equipment. My husband and I left Thursday morning, stopping in Joshua Tree National Park for some sightseeing and stayed for the night. The next morning, we left before any of our camping neighbors had woken up in an effort to reach Paso Robles and Lake San Antonio by afternoon.

 

 

I had read and reread the material provided by the organizers of Wildflower. Still, all of those newsletters and updates didn't quite describe the chaos of the campground. We arrived, luckily having pre-paid months before, and parked in a designated area on top of Lynch Hill. We quickly reached the bottom of the steep walking path, collected my triathlon race package and walked around a bit before trudging back up the hill to our car.

 

 

That's when the camping site free-for-all began. We managed to find a spot and set up as the rain settled in for the night.

 

 

Saturday was sunny and not too warm and we spent the day watching the Half Ironman participants make their way through the course. I lingered a bit by the transition area, analyzing the pros as they sped up the ramp to their bikes, only to disappear within moments. I'm not sure I'll ever manage to transition that quickly. I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my transition bag and bike, and drilling the two girls camped near us about triathlon tips. I even squeezed in a short bike ride.

 

 

My nerves were quiet and I slept well, only to be woken up by the announcers set up at the top of Lynch Hill. My endless organizing paid off and rode my bike, along with one of the women I mentioned before, to the transition area. I set up, chatted with a few women and waited. And waited some more. In between the waiting, I drank a few liters of water, smiled for the dozens of photos my husband took and stood in line for the Port-a-Potties.

 

 

OK. Race time. The wetsuit is on. Goggles on. Cap on. I'm in the correct wave. My stop watch is ready. My nerves kick in and I am momentarily overwhelmed and a little nauseous. I keep to the back of the pack, the gun fires and we're off. The first 400 yards were brilliant. Then I start losing my rhythm, it just falls apart. I'm slapping the water, not cruising through it. My wetsuit suddenly becomes a choking device. I flip over, backstroke for a few minutes and get my head back into the task at-hand. I control my breathing, flip back over and freestyle the remaining 900 yards. It was here that i managed to make up some time. When I got out of the water my stopwatch read 31 minutes, but I walked up the ramp and ended up logging a slower time.

 

 

The transition went OK. I felt waterlogged and bit out of sorts. I had trouble focusing on what I needed to do at first. I slowed everything down, drank water, put my shoes and helmet on and grabbed my bike.

 

 

The bike course followed steep rolling hills through a landscape of grasslands, the occasional cow appearing below one of the massive oak tree. My hill training paid off and the hills were manageable. All of that hydration caused me problems and lost about five minutes when I stopped at one of the aid stations to use the Port-a-Potties.

 

 

Transition 2 was easy and I was off on the run within two minutes. I struggled here. Yikes, did I struggle. I had an incredibly slow pace the first two miles thanks to a horrible stomach cramp. It may have been too much water or the gels I used although I have used this energy source before. I felt better by mile three and started picking up speed. By the time I hit the last downhill mile I was trotting along at a 9:30-minute mile pace. I sped up considerably on the last downhill section.

 

 

I finished in 3:39, not the most magnificent of times, but about average for my age group, gender and overall. I have a number of triathlons in my sights and I'll be back at Wildflower next year with a new goal of 3:15.

 

 

 

 

 

700 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, triathlon, race, wildflower, swim, kirsten_korosec

Taking off for Wildflower

Posted by danger prone Apr 30, 2009

 

I'm keeping this short because it's early and I've got to go. We're heading West, first to Joshua Tree and then to Lake San Antonio to Wildflower.

 

 

We'll get there Friday and will have plenty of time to watch the Saturday races and prepare for the big day. My goal is to finish and do it in good style. Good luck to Mike and thanks Gale, Michelle and Giselle.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers, k

 

 

530 Views 0 Comments Permalink

 

So my open water swim did not go as well as I had planned.

 

 

My wetsuit, which was delivered from wetsuitrentals.com, protected me nicely from the cold waters of Lake Patagonia. It's the swimming that caused me a few problems. When the cold water hit my head it sort of took my breath away and my chest felt super constricted as I tried in vain to swim. The wetsuit felt comfortable enough on dry land, but once I was in the water it felt like it was strangling me.

 

 

I managed OK as I swam with the small waves created by the breeze, but struggled when I turned around and swam against it. I was so surprised by my lack of swimming ability since I can fairly easily swim the necessary 1,500 yards in a pool. My goal this week is to practice with my wetsuit as many times as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

716 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: training, swimming, triathlon, wildflower, wetsuit, kirsten_korosec

Open water drills

Posted by danger prone Apr 17, 2009

 

I'll have more to report in two days since I haven't actually completed my open water swim drills. Tomorrow my husband and I are heading out to Patagonia. Not that Patagonia, but the one south of Tucson. It's an absolutely beautiful area with rolling grasslands and mountains surrounding it.

 

 

We'll camp at Patagonia Lake State Park - at least that's the plan - so I can do a few open water swims with my wetsuit. I also plan on taking my bike because I've been told the hills around Patagonia are similar to Wildflower.

 

 

Gale or Giselle or anyone else out there leave any tips or comments on anything I should try while I'm out for my wetsuit open water and bicycling test drive.

 

 

 

 

Patagonia image by Flickr user Phillip C, CC 2.0

 

 

744 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, swimming, triathlon, open_water, wetsuit, kirsten_korosec, trai

A few tri tips

Posted by danger prone Apr 8, 2009

 

I went on a nice rolly ride this morning with my best friend's brother-in-law. We headed out to my favorite spot in Tucson, on the far eastside at Saguaro National Park. We started north of there, but eventually made our way into the park and through its 8-mile loop, back out to the main road and finally back to our cars.

 

 

I mention this ride because my cycling buddy for the day has been in numerous triathlons and gave out a few tips for race day.

 

 

1. We've heard this before, but practice what you're going to eat before the race. If you decide on Gel or Gu, consider taping them (duct tape) on the top tube of the bike's frame. Tape them so the tabs are secure, that way you can rip them off as you ride and slurp 'em down. I have yet to try this. He said this also works for energy bars.

 

 

2. Hydration. It's good to hydrate, but he said drink water the first half or two-thirds of the bike portion. You want to eat and drink during this section and not too close to the run because you may run into digestion problems.

 

 

3. I thought this one was kind of neat. On race morning, at your transition area, put your socks on and then roll them off. Later, when you come in from the swim, you can roll the socks back on instead of struggling to put them on wet feet.

 

 

4. He keeps his transition area pretty simple. The bike has its own water bottles. Next to it he has four other water bottles. He will use one of them to quickly rinse the sand off his feet from the swim. A small towel is nearby, which he dried his feet off with and then rolls on the socks. He actually doesn't race with socks anymore, but warned this could be problematic for folks not accustomed to running and riding without socks.

 

 

 

 

 

685 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, tips, food, transition, hills, energy, snacks, kirsten_korosec

Triathlon's mini me

Posted by danger prone Apr 7, 2009

 

I have less than a month to go before Wildflower. This is scary for me and, of course, a little exciting. I've recently become obsessed with brick workouts because I figure this is really the only way to be prepared.

 

 

The online training program Gale provided us is chalked full of brick workouts. Today, for example I am supposed to swim and then do a speed running workout. I've been trying to push these two workouts as close together as possible in an effort to recreate a triathlon experience. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way on occasion and I've miss one part of the workout.

 

 

The other day I decided to create a mini tri for myself. I even set up fake transition areas. I swam the full 1.5 km, then changed clothes and rehydrated - this took four and a half minutes - and then jumped on the bike. Normally, I would cycle outside, but it has been annoyingly windy and I opted to ride indoors. I cycled 10 miles, then went over to the treadmill and ran three miles. My bike-to-run transition was two minutes because I casually filled my water bottle, stretched and then walked over to the treadmill.

 

 

Obviously not a full triathlon. At Wildflower I would have another 15 miles on the bike and three more miles running. The good news is, I felt OK.

 

 

I'm going to have to prepare and test out different types of energy bars or snacks for my transition. I am always famished when I finish my swim.  I've also discovered that my foot strike on the treadmill is different than when I run outdoors. I seem to strike on my heel instead of more flatfooted and it causes my shins to get super tight. I spent considerable time stretching afterwards and the next day felt pretty good. Not sore, just a bit tired in the legs.

 

 

740 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, swimming, triathlon, wildflower, treadmill, kirsten_korosec

Racking up a few more miles

Posted by danger prone Mar 31, 2009

 

I did not cycle nearly as many miles as I should have in the beginning of my training for Wildflower. I was getting out, but many of my longer rides I had to cut short. I tried to compensate for my lack of outdoor miles by jumping on the indoor bike, doing some spinning classes etc.

 

 

I have started racking up some decent "outdoor" miles on my bike this past month. My latest long ride was Sunday. Adrian had this ridiculously long run with a group of other ultrarunners on the very eastside of town. That area of Tucson near Saguaro National Park and Colossal Cave has some wonderful scenery and is popular with cyclists.

 

 

Adrian started his 27-mile "fun run" up to the top of Mica Mountain and back at 6:30 a.m. It was chilly, so I drove back a ways into town and grabbed some coffee, before returning to the trailhead.

 

 

I feel more comfortable on the bike than ever before. My clipless pedals aren't so scary anymore. I knew how to shift before, but now I am using the bike more efficiently. I took a meandering tour eventually getting on Old Spanish Trail Road, an awesome cycling road for any of you who ever get out to Tucson. I road past Colossal Cave, where the Colossal Cave stage race was being held. I stopped and chatted with some other accomplished cyclists and triathletes - I swear they are everywhere here - and watched the bike race for awhile.

 

 

I started back only to have the cycling couple/triathletes I had left behind 15 minutes before come racing up behind me and of course pass me. The woman called out, 'Jump on board' and for a little while I did. I couldn't maintain their pace for longer than 15 minutes though and eventually fell about 50 feet behind.

 

 

I think training would be much easier if I had someone, who was better than me, to ride with regularly. Until then, I'm going have to keep poaching rides with random strangers.

 

 

 

 

 

630 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, cycling, triathlon, wildflower, kirsten_korosec

 

San Francisco - for those of you not in the know - is hilly and a perfect place to get some much needed training in. And that's what I did while I was attending a convention there last week.

 

 

My husband, Adrian, has become my running coach and taskmaster. Naturally, he got us up early Friday morning to hit the streets of San Francisco. We started in Union Square and headed towards Chinatown. As we headed through the Chinatown gates most of the stores were still closed - their windows protected with plywood - and only a few shopkeepers were roaming about the front stoops.

 

 

We climbed up - arrghhh these hills -- and then plateaued as we approached North Beach. We kept to its edge, passed the famous City Lights bookstore and then made our way to Washington Square, where on an average morning you might see Italians sipping espresso and seniors practicing Tai Chi. It is here my favorite breakfast restaurant - Mama's - exists. We grubbed on some serious eats, hiked up to Coit Tower and then pounded out another mile or more back to the hotel.

 

 

OK, later that day we left San Fran and arrived in Glen Elen, a small town in Sonoma County. We decided to get a longer run in and took off from the Glen Elen Inn. We completed about a five-mile loop along small rolling hills, past ancient Zinfandel vines - per Adrian - and homes big and small. Adrian kept us off the main roads and even though I struggled a bit in the beginning and middle, we made it back to the room without stopping.

 

 

The final run. The next morning we drove up to Jack London State Park. Adrian took me on a trail run that began at about 400 feet up to the park summit near Sonoma Mountain at about 2,400 feet. We walked up the steep uphill and ran the whole way down. My quads were screaming at the end and a day later they were still rebelling.

 

 

I'd love to hear from some other guys on the first tri about any interesting runs they've been on lately.

 

 

 

 

495 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, sonoma, san_francisco, hills, glen_elen, vineyards

Tips from a champion

Posted by danger prone Mar 23, 2009

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, last week I met Victor Plata, the 2007 and 2008 winner of the Pacific Grove Triathlon among other races. I was attending the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association and had decided to participate in the Chain Reaction spinning event. The event, hosted by HealthCorps and Star Trac, is an effort to raise money in the fight against childhood obesity. HealthCorps is an non-profit started by Dr. Oz - you know the doc that's on Oprah all the time.

 

 

Anyway, Chain Reaction held hourly spinning classes led by an instructor and featuring special guests. I participated in three spinning events and that's where I met fitness icon Kathy Smith and later Victor Plata. After my last spinning session, which just happened to be the one Plata took part in, I had to ask him a few rookie questions. Like, so is Wildflower hard? And, do have any advice?

 

 

Here's what he had to say about preparing for Wildflower.

 

 

1. It's hilly. I knew that, but he had this advice for training. Go out on your bike and pick a long steady hill, work at 70 percent, and stick with it for 10 minutes in your big gear. Build up to three 10 minute reps for 30 minutes -- always on a long hill. He said this will prepare us for that first mile from the transition, which apparently is straight up a steep hill.

 

 

2. Unless you're a strong swimmer, let the pack pass and then get in the water. Plata says unless you're used to swimming in a thrashing, chaotic sort of scene it's best to stick to the edge and let the really fast guys go first. Victor wasn't trying to freak me out. He just said swimming in a pool is very different then running from a beach into the water along with dozens of others.

 

 

3. Do lots of brick workouts. So bike and then run. Swim, bike and run. This he says is the best preparation. Gale already has us doing this, but I thought it would be good to mention it here too. I know I haven't done enough of brick workouts.

 

 

Thanks Victor for the words of advice and encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

524 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, wildflower, spinning, kirsten_korosec, victor_plata

Unconventional training

Posted by danger prone Mar 19, 2009

Traveling on business generally crimps my style. My workouts are less frequent, I can't cook at home and my eating schedule can fluctuate. I just happen to be on a business trip that has helped at least maintain my training, although a little unconventionally.

 

I am in San Francisco attending the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association convention. I spent the week sitting in on various seminars - a standard convention activity. I've also spent a fair amount of time on the trade room floor trying out treadmills, Pilates reformers, Gravity trainers, Bosu, stability balls - you get the point.

 

 

The convention also had a few sports and fitness icons. Joe Montana spoke about teamwork and leadership and Olympian Dara Torres talked about developing a champion attitude. I even met Kathy Smith. For those of you who don't know Kathy, well let's just say she one of the first to produce a line of aerobics/fitness videos back in the '80s and '90s.

 

 

I had a few other experiences at the show that I'll put in future posts -- so keep an eye out - including a conversation with Victor Plata, winner of the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island in 2008 and the Pacific Grove Tri in 2007 and 2008. He won the Collegiate National Championship at Wildflower in 1997. I uploaded a video of Victor talking about his 2008 Pacific Grove win. Interesting and just a cool tri video to watch. I'll post my very casual interview with Victor soon. He gave some great tips on training and getting through Wildflower, which he plans to compete in this year.

 

 

616 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: training, triathlon, wildflower, motivation, kirsten_korosec, victor_plata

A little inspiration

Posted by danger prone Mar 10, 2009

After my trip to New Jersey I returned to find that I didn't really feel like running much. I would feel a little dread as I laced up my shoes, not eagerness.

 

I'm pretty sure I found the secret elixir to cure my apathy around 6 a.m. Saturday morning as I watched my husband and roughly 150 other runners line up at an old mining camp in the rolling grasslands near Sonoita, Ariz. - the Santa Rita Mountains lurking somewhere in the darkness. The ultrarunners, both professional and aspiring, rose early to tackle the Old Pueblo 50, a 50-mile race along portions of the Arizona Trail and dirt roads in and around Coronado National Forest.

 

 

I was able to crew for Adrian at miles seven, 25, 29, 40, 46 and then watched in amazement as he sprinted towards the finish line in a last minute race with another runner. He finished in 10 hours and 31 minutes. This year's winner finished in seven hours and 18 minutes. Runners would continue to stream and occasionally shuffle in for a couple more hours.

 

 

These are normal men and women, with regular day jobs as engineers, salesmen, lawyers, doctors, personal trainers etc. It wasn't as if the entire group was filled with professional athletes. And yet here they were on a Saturday morning, giddy with excitment, chatting and laughing and about to tackle 50 miles. The end elicited the same joy, relief and emotion for the runners, some now hobbled from their effort.

 

 

The look on the faces of those that finished was one of ultimate accomplishment and contentment. I think I got a brief glimpse of what it might feel like crossing the finish line at Wildflower. These days as I lace up my running shoes, I think about cruising along, the wind hopefully at my back and all those folks who can't wait to get out there and run 50 miles.

 

 

 

555 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, wildflower, motivation, ultrarunner

 

Last week ended on a high note with my long bike ride. The day after I flew out to New Jersey to visit some family. I knew it would be difficult to get a swim or cycle in. I packed my running shoes in hopes of logging some much needed miles in even though I knew my schedule would be packed with family visits and work.

 

 

I've laid off running for a few weeks because of the lingering tenderness in my right knee. The pain finally subsided and I've been ramping up up running regiment ever since.  I had hoped to get a few long runs in during my five days back East. My first monring I woke up and the snow was already falling. A Noreaster hit that night, 10 inches of snow fell and my choices were immediately cut down to a treadmill in the hotel.

 

 

I can't complain. When I lived in Wisconsin the only option during the winter months was a treadmill or braving the cold and snow. My short time back in the desert has made me soft, so I stuck to running indoors. I managed two runs, which were a struggle because they were boring.

 

 

I can't write enough about how hard it is to stay on task while traveling. It's been my biggest hurdle to date. Luckily, I have avoided sickness. Everytime my schedule shifts - even one day trips away from home - my training seems to slip.

 

 

So what do all of you do when you're traveling with little more than a pair of running shoes?  And how do you get those necessary workouts in when you're traveling on business and are limited by a tight schedule or the weather?

 

 

578 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, travel, treadmill

For weeks a friend of our family's and longtime cyclist has suggested we take a ride to together. We always had good intentions, it just never seemed to happen.

 

We found a few hours to hit the road Friday and my only wish is I had done this much earlier. From the beginning, it was relaxing, yet challenging and I blocked out the cars. Tucson, Ariz., is a great cycling town and dozens of professionals and other serious riders descend on the city each year to ride the hilly terrain of the foothills. The strong cycling advocacy in my town has resulted in lots of nice bike lanes. I was still afraid of traffic, even with the bike lanes and never felt totally comfortable with cars whizzing by.

 

 

Friday's ride changed all that. We took off from my house and made our way along River Road, an east-west hilly road that splits Tucson between the foothills to the north and the city to the south. We rode to Sabino Canyon, a beautiful desert park at the eastern foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains and then cruised through a variety of neighborhoods. We returned following the same path for the first half and then headed south into the city and finally back up to my house.

 

 

I am no cycling expert. I fall much closer to the rookie category. Our ride was mostly instructional and I've started to inch my self away from rookie. I learned a lot more about shifting technique, riding with traffic and even practiced - as silly as it sounds - drinking out of my water bottle more effectively.

 

 

I can't wait these days to get back on my bike. Everyone has got to find a maven for themselves. Although Mike, it sounds like you might be one yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

522 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, kirstenkorosec, tucson, shifting

 

I'm going to have one of those rants that addresses everyone generally, but really I'm only to talking about a few of you - and you know who you are. Actually, you probably don't, which makes it worse.

 

 

I'm talking about drivers. You know the people. They get into their protective steel one-ton boxes and fly across roads, talking on their cell phones all the while swerving into bike lanes, cutting into bike lanes when they want to turn right, and generally doing their best to kill me.

 

 

I am, of course, not in a protective steel box. I'm on my bike. So when I see a - faded black Honda Accord (shall I include the license plate?) - turning right as I make my way across the street just north of him, and then that person changes their mind, flips around to go left and almost nails me ... Well, I get scared and angry. I probably shout expletives. Yes, I shout a lot of them. And this really solves nothing. It only makes me more angry when the guy in the faded black Honda Accord shrugs and scoots around me.

 

 

I know a huge part of my problem is I'm simply not used to riding in a bike lane with cars whipping past me. The majority of cars are not trying to kill me. If anything they are trying to avoid me.

 

 

When I got my new bike and began practicing clipping and unclipping, I primarily stuck to this great carless biking and running path that runs behind our house. The path follows the Rillito, which is a riverbed, not a river because this is the desert. But on occasion a river runs through it so I suppose that's why the city built a path along its side.

 

 

I stuck to the bike path for far too long. For one, it is easy and convenient to jump on and off of. Plus, it is perfect if I can't get a ride in until around rush hour and the path is long enough to get 20 miles in or more. The problem is it's flat. The Wildflower, as we all are learning, is hilly.

 

 

I need to get used to what everyone else who cycles has had to learn. Cars, or more specifically the people driving them, will try to kill you. But that's OK because most drivers try to avoid cyclists and you just have to keep your eyes open for all the faded black Honda Accords out there.

 

 

529 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, wildflower, cars, kirsten_korosec

 

My knee these past few days has been OK.  I haven't been running either, so who knows, maybe the pain is lurking around the corner. The pain itself is pretty minor. It's been my mental health that has suffered more.

 

 

There is nothing worse - for me, at least - than feeling awesome, wanting to run faster and longer and not being able to. I've decided to focus my efforts in the other two areas that don't affect my knee. I guess that's the benefit to a triathlon: there are three sports to choose from.

 

 

Yesterday I took out my frustrations in the pool and whipped through the workout much faster than I intended. I was pretty tired at the end. I also was content and felt like I had accomplished something in a time when my knee has limited some of my efforts.

 

 

Gale suggested taking a look at my shoes. They are not brand new and they're not old. Somewhere in between. The shoes are a new style and brand then I've used before. I think I'll bite the bullet and go buy the shoes - Adidas Gel Nimbus - that I have used many times before. It was the shoe model I continually bought and used while on the Pacific Crest Trail. It's more of a long distance running shoe and has a super cushiony base to it.

 

 

Today is supposed to be a rest day. It rarely is for me since I typically miss one workout earlier in the week because of work etc. So back on the bike and hopefully a good long ride. I need more of those if I'm going to tackle Wildflower.

 

 

Thanks Gale for the advice!

 

 

554 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, swimming, injury, wildflower, shoes, kirsten_korosec
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