Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dallas 2014

In early June I headed to Dallas, hoping to avenge my 2013 race on the same course, where I suffered from mechanical problems on the bike and was eventually lapped out after stopping to fix them.

Unfortunately, the story had the same ending this year as well. However, I had no mechanical problems to speak of, the DNF was totally my fault this time. I exited the swim in what I thought to be a good position but had a pretty bad run up to transition and transition which left me with a smaller bike pack than anticipated. I lasted for 6.999 laps out of 8 laps on the bike and (along with the rest of my pack) was lapped by the larger lead pack with a couple hundred meters to go, thus ending my race.

This was definitely a disappointing result as I had hoped and prepared for so much more. However, failure just makes an athlete work that much harder. And, I feel very fortunate to have no injuries on the radar! My bad mood didn’t last for long as I woke up early the next morning to cheer on my very talented friend, Valerie Eipper, the other age groupers, and the paratriathletes as well. The smiling was infectious out there and you couldn’t help but be inspired by the dedication and talent of these athletes. In addition, I was reminded how ridiculously lucky I am to have a job that I love and also happens to keep me healthy and fit.

So, this is where I’m at right now. Luckily, I believe it’s about the journey (not the destination) and I will live to fight (read: race) another day. Don’t feel too sorry for me… I am currently doing a training block in beautiful Colorado and will leave next week to race in Toronto and Montreal… life is not too bad…

As always, thanks for reading! And check back in a couple weeks for updates on my Canadian adventures!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memphis in May: Taking a Gamble

After struggling with a sinus infection that turned into an upper respiratory infection for most of March and April, I knew I needed to decide when I’d throw myself back into racing and test exactly where my body was at. I thought Memphis in May would be the perfect opportunity for me to do that, as well as get an Olympic distance non-drafting race under my belt before the ITU Pan American Championships just two weeks later.

Having raced here in 2012, I was familiar with the course, which helped ease the stress a bit. However, the conditions couldn’t have been more different than 2012. Instead of a hot, humid weekend, I was now dealing with a rainy and cold climate that left me wishing I had packed a couple more pairs of sweats and maybe a beanie or two!

Quick side note: although this was the Memphis in May Triathlon, the venue was actually located in Tunica, Mississippi, one of the casino centers of the south. Before the race, I met a man in the elevator who asked me what my winnings were for the weekend, and I smiled and told him I’d find out tomorrow (figuring he was talking about the triathlon, obviously!). He gave me a funny look, before telling me he’d lost $100 already on the slots but was on the comeback trail for the rest of the weekend. Now I understood… casino!

Anyways, onto the race itself… since it was such a cold morning, I decided to skip my usual swim warm-up and just prep for the race with a bike and run – that way I’d be able to keep myself as warm as possible for race start when I ran into the chilly water. The only problem with this plan was that a sweaty post-run warm-up me made it very hard to get into my wetsuit. I recruited my husband for help pulling the wetsuit up, and, as we both tugged, unfortunately some fingernails punctured my beloved wetsuit pretty good. At that point, I didn’t want to be cold so I figured I’d take my chances with it. As you probably guessed, by the time I got out of the swim, I’d taken on the form of a whale with all the water I picked up during the swim. However, all things considered, I was very pleased with my swim and felt I was in a good position for the bike.

Since it had been raining most of the weekend, what was once a grassy area had now turned into a mud pit. As I slogged my way through the run and to my bike I could only think of how many people pay hundreds of dollars to do a mud run and here I was competing in one for free….#winning! Once on the bike, I was able to settle into a good rhythm. This bike course involved very long stretches of road before turns, so I tried to make the time pass by quicker by challenging myself to look at my power meter often and try to up the ante every couple of minutes. Another entertaining part of the bike was reading the signs of the roads we turned on – most every one had the word “casino” in it somehow…”Casino Strip Blvd, Casino Resort Rd, etc etc.” With about 10k to go on the bike and biking into a headwind, I really felt like I was starting to lose some steam and my legs were starting to cramp a bit. I was passed by two girls within the last two miles and knew I’d have my work cut out for me on the run.

As I started the run, I immediately noticed that my legs felt heavy and the energy I usually have to run just wasn’t there. I tried to hang on to my goal pace as much as I could, but after a couple of miles, I had to accept that I’d have to pace myself a little bit more to make sure I was able to finish. I crossed the finish line in 9th and although I was disappointed, I was mostly just happy to be back racing. Sometimes you just have to look at the little victories.

In addition, I was grateful for the awesome company, including two friends who drove all the way from Chattanooga to watch me race: thanks James and Kimberly! After the race, I did a quick recovery spin, with two ladies I admire very much and don’t get to see enough of at the races: Abby Geurink and Natasha Van der Merwe. Wishing both of them best of luck at their races until we meet again!

Like I mentioned, I had a quick turnaround til my race in Dallas on May 31st for the ITU PATCO Championships. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

Thanks as always to those who support me both in good times and bad: Premium Remodeling, Sklar Exploration, and Serious Cycling. Your support allows me to do what I love!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Walkin' on Sunshine

I am happy to announce that my 2014 racing is officially underway! For my first race of the season, I competed in the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. This was the first half marathon that I’d raced in over two years and I was definitely nervous to see where my running fitness was at after having a dismal year of running last year coming off a late 2012 foot injury. After I started the race, the nerves quickly faded away and I had an absolute blast! Running races (especially marathons and half marathons) are known for having awesome signs, and with the race being on Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day, this race was no exception. Some of my favorites included:
1) Puxatony Phil predicts you will finish before Spring!
2) What’s super about today? YOU ARE and the Broncos!
And I can’t forget to mention the guy running in the pick tutu with a life-size Justin Bieber doll attached to his belly. Whether or not this aforementioned dude beat me or not, well…you’ll just have to decide that for yourself ☺
Anyways, back to the actual race. My goal was to break 1:30 and I was about 3 minutes under. I ended up running only 20 seconds off my lifetime PR that I’d set coming off of college running at FSU. Therefore, I was ecstatic with the way it turned out. Race #1 – in the books!

For the 2nd race of the season and my first triathlon of the year, I headed to the other sunshine state (Florida) for the ITU Clermont Continental Cup. This is a race I’ve done multiple years now and admittedly is unlike any race I’ve ever done. In years past, the water level has been so low that it’s turned into a run/swim/run to transition/bike/run (lots of running=HR fun times!). However, this year the event used a deep water start so that there was less running (initially) which I liked better. After a good swim in the midst of the main pack, I had one of the worst transitions ever and had trouble getting my wetsuit off. I lost loads of time and a few bike packs. I time trialed the first 2 laps of the bike solo before a pack caught me for the last 2 laps of the bike. My run wasn’t particularly spectacular either but I was just glad to get the cobwebs out and have that first tri out of the way. I now knew what I had to work on for the following race.

Another great thing about this race besides the awesome race organizers, volunteers, location, etc. was that the race was specifically set up so that athletes could stay in the Clermont area and compete in the Sarasota ITU Pan American Championships the following weekend. I had a great week of training in Clermont training with an awesome group of Canadians (Leanna Lee, Colin Campbell, other Canadian Colin) as well as local tri coach Boki Maric. Huge thanks to Boki for leading many of the rides – otherwise, I still might be biking somewhere around Clermont …. ☺

Anyways, onto my 2nd race of the Florida March sprint tri madness and 3rd race overall – Sarasota ITU Pan American Championships! I felt like this race was much more solid overall than the one the previous weekend in Clermont. Although I didn’t have quite the swim I’d hoped for, I was able to turn in a solid bike and run and improve from my Clermont mistakes. I was also amazed at how seamlessly my gears shifted during the race as I was using the full range of gearing. To that, I can’t say thank you enough to Serious Cycling in Agoura Hills for getting my bike tuned perfectly to race. Speaking of bikes, I’d like to thank Sklar Exploration for lending me a bike to race on for the year after my road bike frame cracked late last year.

Most of all, I would like to thank my friend, Darcie, who came to cheer for me for both races and also was my homestay for the week – I miss you already… as well as the Publix sweet tea you kept stocked for me! Also, a big thank you to my friends, Laura and Dustin, who came out to cheer for the Clermont race. I am always so blessed to have such an awesome cheering squad at the race, which I totally attribute to my Florida roots ☺ To my husband Tony, thanks for being my sherpa and psychologist during this trip, and for the support always! For helping me get to the race, I’d like to thank Premium Remodeling, Inc!

To those of you who take the time to follow/support/pray for me, I can’t thank you enough! That’s all for now… may the madness surrounding March inspire you to reach for your goals!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why I Want the Broncos to Win the Super Bowl: A Love Letter to Colorado

The NFC and AFC Championship games are fast approaching this weekend, and although I usually have no vested interest in any of the NFL teams (being raised around good old college football in the south), this year is a little different. I know it’s wrong to pray for a team to win, yet somehow I can’t stop thinking: “I really really want the Broncos to make the Super Bowl and win it all this year.” You may be wondering:
A) Does she want the Broncos to win because she feels the Patriots win too much in the playoffs and they need to beat? This would be a good scenario, however, not true.
B) Is she hoping for a Bronco victory and Super Bowl berth because she loves the fact that every time Peyton yells “Omaha” in his pre-snap count, $500 will be donated to his foundation for at-risk kids? Also not the reason, but kudos to Peyton!

Let me explain. From 2008 until the end of 2012, I had the privilege of living in the beautiful state of Colorado. At first, I was very nervous about moving across the country from Florida. However, once I moved out there and settled in, I was quickly welcomed with open arms by my fellow Coloradans and the triathlon community there. Even more, I felt like I belonged. For once, no one blinked an eye when I told them that I sometimes took 3 trips to the gym per day or that I woke up before 5am to get a swim workout in. It seemed most people had a similar lifestyle to my own, bikes outnumbered cars, and most people seemed ridiculously happy… that is, unless they were stalking a spot in the Whole Foods parking lot ;)

But then again, how could you be sad for too long with the amazing views and gorgeous sunsets that proved to be almost a daily occurrence?! And sunrises too for that matter. I’ve never been much of a morning person, but I must credit Colorado to slowly transforming me into one. Most mornings I’d just stare into the sky and think, “Geez…you are really showing off today, God!” I can also recount many bike rides where I had to stop, if even for a couple seconds, just to make sure I got a quick photo in to capture the moment. If you’ve ever felt the need to be reminded just how tiny you are compared to the rest of the world, go biking/hiking in the Rockies. The expanse surrounding you will leave you breathless.

But, enough with my ramblings on the amazing scenery in Colorado. You probably already knew that. Now, rewind back to September 2013, a little over half a year since I’d moved out to Southern California from Colorado. When I received the news that Boulder and surrounding areas of Colorado were devastated by a flood, I was heartbroken. Even after looking at pictures and seeing videos, I was still in disbelief. This idyllic area that I’d come to love was damaged. Bike routes that I knew like the back of my hand were completely wiped out. All I could think of was the wonderful people back in Colorado and my friends who were affected by this natural disaster. I knew that the community would come together and help each other, yet I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.

Furthermore, I thought of the young children I volunteered with during my time in Boulder, most of them mini Bronco fans. It pained me knowing the general vicinity of where they lived and accepting the fact that they were most likely hit hard by the flood.

However, amidst all this tragedy and stress, there is one thing I do know: one of the greatest distractions from all the stresses of life is sport. Instead of being emotionally vested in what’s going on in our own lives, sport demands our emotional attention as we tap into the players’ moods, and the grueling competition throughout the innings/quarters/halves, etc. Thinking about it this way means that on average football is about a four hour distraction per week! And I'd argue that this is a good thing.

So, why do I want the Broncos to win the Super Bowl? Simply put, most of the wonderful people I met in Colorado are Broncos fans. I believe that between the fires, flooding, and another school shooting tragedy last year, these awesome people deserve a reason to be happy and celebrate a championship together. So, in closing, just let me say… I love you Colorado and Gooo Broncos!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wildflower: Take 1

For years, the Wildflower Triathlon has been a race on my triathlon bucket list. In this year of transition, I finally had the opportunity to check it off the list since it is less than a 4 hour drive away from me. I’d heard the stories of how much fun this iconic race was, and looked forward to toeing the line at Wildflower, which was also my half ironman debut. Between the throngs of people and electric atmosphere to the challenging course, this race didn't disappoint.

The swim started out much more aggressive than I thought it would, and after a poor start where I got clobbered, I found myself having to go way to the outside and sprint to regain the position I wanted. A couple of girls had gapped me already, but I was able to settle in and work with 2 other girls throughout the rest of the swim. I exited with the girls in 4-6th place and was definitely psyched to have people cheering me on as I ran up the hill into transition.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came after I hopped on my bike and headed out of transition. Being a newbie, I had no idea the twists, turns, and hills that were awaiting me the first couple miles of the bike; it was the same feeling one might get reading a mystery novel and having no idea what was next. On one corner, there was a steep downhill with a sharp turn which I thought must be leading to more downhill, right? Wrong! Steep downhill quickly turned to steep uphill and me quickly figuring out the proper gearing. Ha whoops! Once I got out of the park and to the part that I’d driven the day before, I was able to settle into a groove. Since this was the longest race I’d competed in to date, I made to sure to be very conservative on the bike and not kill myself the first 30 miles. Once I hit mile 40 (Nasty grade hill) I was still feeling good, so I decided to kick it up a notch and really challenge myself on the hilly sections. I entered transition decently happy with my overly-conservative bike and how the race was going in general (despite being pretty far back in the pro field) and was excited for the run – always my favorite part of the tri. :)

Despite all of the challenging hills on the bike, my legs felt surprisingly good coming off the bike and I immediately tried to establish a high cadence in the first mile of the run. However, I also noticed that while my legs felt good, my body was starting to feel the effects of just how hot it was out there (mid 90's I believe by this point in the race). After a hilly mile 3 in which I thought I was still in good shape, I felt my gut start to cramp and I started to get chills. I slowed down quite a bit on miles 4 and 5, realizing my main goal here was just to finish this race and I was still less than halfway into the run. Mind over matter, I told myself. I’ve been in trouble in many other races and have been able to stick it out until the end. Only one other time in my 7-year long career have I had to DNF due to illness or injury. Unfortunately, this was a different situation. Right after mile 6, I began getting dizzy and weaving while I was walking. I started blacking out and apparently fainted. I’m not too sure what happened next, but I do know that an awesome group of guys from the aid station brought me a chair to rest and recover in along with lots of gatorade and water. I’d planned to keep going but wasn’t getting much better after 15 minutes so they called an ambulance for me and my day was done.

I was so so bummed not to get to finish this race after all the work I’d put in to get here and am still baffled as to why my body shut down on me after executing my nutrition plan perfectly. But, I know that I’ll be back racing here again. Despite the bad race, I can still say it was a fun weekend catching up with old friends and making new ones as well. Also,the hospitality of Tri California is second to none. If you’ve never done a TriCal race, I highly recommend it as the pros are treated like gold. There aren’t too many races I can think of where bottles of wine and chocolate chip cookies are raffled off to pros the day before the race.

I'm so thankful for all those who have helped me get to this point to be competing this year, especially my sponsor Sklar Exploration. I'm also grateful to my husband, Tony, for driving me to and from the race and taking good care of me throughout the weekend. Thanks to my readers for checking in on me-- next race is just around the corner in Dallas on June 1st. Here's hoping it's a little bit cooler than last year!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Remembrance of Grandpa: An Everyday Hero

If you google Don Hahn, chances are, you will get search results for the famous Disney producer and not for my grandpa. Although, while he didn’t create any major motion pictures and probably wouldn’t be an overly googled figure, I considered him to be an everyday hero.

My grandpa was the type of person who made a point to really know everyone, learn their story, and find a way to connect with them and make them feel special. I can remember numerous occasions when I’d be out on grocery shopping trips with Grandpa, even only for a few items sometimes, and he would start chatting with a random stranger in the store, find a commonality (usually sports teams alliances), and before you knew it an hour had passed and the family back at the house wondered where we’d disappeared to. Grandpa taught me to really treat people well and be kind to them; this is something I try to do in my everyday life as well as sport. One thing that always excites me is to see people of all ages and backgrounds competing in triathlon, not knowing the obstacles or hardships they may have had to overcome to get to that race. I love hearing these stories and that is definitely one of the things I love about my profession: the way the human spirit is most always brought out in some way through triathlon.

Another love that Grandpa and I shared was the love of sport. Although he was a kind soul, he was a very competitive person when it came to golf, basketball, card games, you name it. He also created a family tournament for both the college bowl games and the basketball March Madness so he’d have more things to compete in (winner gets a plaque with their name on it!). From an outsider’s point of view, this tournament may have looked like a joke since even all the pets were allowed to have brackets, but those inside the family know just how competitive it can get :). Speaking of family, probably the greatest gift that Grandpa gave to my family was that he placed an importance on our family seeing each other multiple times a year, even if we lived thousands of miles away. I’ll always remember family vacations and holidays with my grandparents, parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins as a magical time; something not all people can relate to.

In addition, Grandpa always supported me in whatever I did, from gymnastics when I was little to club swimming, and later triathlon. Good or bad race, he always let me know that he was proud of me. As he approached ninety, he wasn’t able to play golf as much as he wanted to, but still kept up a workout routine in the gym at his retirement home. To try and pique the interest in different sports of his fellow residents, he worked with the fitness coordinators at his retirement home to create the “Windsor Olympics.” He encouraged everyone to participate, and even created events such as the marshmallow toss to ensure the level of participation would be high. I recently learned that in his memory, his retirement community is naming those Olympics after him this year to honor his hard work in bringing this event into fruition. What a great way to honor such a special man.

When my grandpa passed on March 28th, I felt like I’d lost a grandpa, a fan, and most importantly, a friend. Although he hadn’t seen me race in person in about 5 years, Grandpa was always the first to check for results after my races and was eager to read my blog and see what I’d have to say. It’s been about a month since he’s been gone and when checking my website traffic the other day, I noticed I had a couple of visitors from an “unknown” location. I have no doubt that this means that while my grandpa is probably staying very busy in heaven, he is still finding time to check my blog as well… very sneaky Grandpa, I’m not surprised.

I can never repay my grandpa for the love and dedication he’s given to me, but as a small token of my appreciation, I’d like to dedicate my 2013 triathlon season to him. Good race or bad race, you can be sure I’ll be giving it my all. Praise be to God for giving me such an amazing grandpa and I can only hope that I’m able to share as much love with the world and have as much impact as he did.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Beginnings

Where to begin? Since my last post, lots of changes have occurred in my life… new outlook, new home and most exciting – new last name! On January 12th, I married my best friend and became Amanda Hahn-Peters (you can call me Amanda HP!). In the months since the wedding, I’ve been settling into a new life here in southern California, a huge change from Boulder, Colorado.

Coming here has had much of the same feel to it as moving to Boulder did when I moved out there right after college. I’ve had to figure out where to train and more importantly, what times to go out and brave the traffic. Gone is my lifestyle of procrastinating and getting anywhere I needed to in 10 minutes in Boulder… out here in SoCal you better plan for an hour! However, it is easy to see why so many people want to live out here. The beaches and weather are absolutely wonderful (most of the time) and I’ve already enjoyed numerous bike rides along the gorgeous shoreline of the Pacific Coast Highway. In a couple of months I will be able to swim in the ocean, but for now (while the water temps are still freezing), a pool swim will do just fine.

This winter has also had a different feel to it as I took a longer break than usual from triathlon training both for family reasons and to enjoy my wedding and honeymoon in Maui. It occurred to me that I hadn’t been on vacation and not training in over 10 years(!) and I decided I owed it to myself to just relax for once. Since early February, I’ve been working to get my body re-acclimated to training and build my running volume and speed back up after my foot injury late last year.

As a way to both get a good training base in and check a race off my bucket list, I decided to sign up for the iconic Wildflower Long Course Triathlon on May 4th, which will be my 1/2 ironman and 2013 race debut. The race, held outside of Paso Robles, California, is unique in that the amount of support is second to none and it is widely considered the “Woodstock of triathlon.” Should be lots of fun and I am looking forward to the challenges the course will provide like the run (which is 60% trail and 40% road) and the steep climbs on the bike. I’m sure my husband, Tony, is looking forward to the challenge of being my manager/sherpa/mechanic/ emotional support for the weekend. Stay posted!