Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 Racing

The calendar says it's spring, but I'm not really feeling it.  At least the overnight temps aren't dropping below zero any more.  That was getting a little old.  I'd really like some warmer temps because I received my first package of Zoot gear full of warm-weather running clothes!  We still have a few more weeks before the custom gear arrives, but I'm very excited to get my shoes so I can start breaking them in for racing!
Backpack, water bottle, timing chip, race number belt,
visor, tech shirt, shorts, and shoes.  Just need a few more degrees outside to wear it!

My race schedule hasn't fully been determined, but at least most of it is figured out.  Last June I switched coaches to Bretsher Multisport.  It was too late into the season to get the full effect of his coaching, but by the end of the summer I was seeing good gains in my racing.  This winter I have been working on my running, and I'm excited to see what a full year of coaching under Daniel will bring.  Most of my races are the same as last year, so I'll really be able to see the difference.

I start off next month with the Marion Rotary Half Marathon.  With the work I've been putting in on my running I hope to PR at the race.  I ran it last year in not-so-ideal conditions (wind and sleet...thank you to the tall guy running the same pace as me!), but hopefully Mother Nature will be a little kinder this time.

I hope my run fitness will roll well into the two duathlons on my schedule, Lake MacBride and Iowa City.  I much prefer triathlons, but the duathlons are so close to home that I figure I might as well sign up.  And, I like to support the Just Go Faster races, since the race director has been great to me.  I'd love to do all 3 races in their series again, but the last race is the same weekend as Age Group Nationals.

As most years, my triathlon season kicks off with the Pigman Sprint.  Always a competitive group that shows up for both the men and women.  I don't expect any less this year.

A few years ago I raced Holiday Lake Triathlon and loved it!  Gotta enjoy a race where the community is happy you are there, and has great food at the finish line.  The first year I raced they even held out a finishers tape at the finish line for me!  It also falls right around Ebe's birthday, and he throws a great post-race party at his in-law's lake house.

Hard to believe, but this summer is my 20 year high school reunion.  I feel so old!  While I'm back for it I figure I might as well sign up for Copper Creek. I've raced it once and enjoyed it.  It's half the distance of an olympic, so the swim is a little longer than most sprints and the bike a little shorter.  I hope to convince a few of my classmates to race as well :)  Bronwen, Mark, Brian...?  You know you want to!

One of my favorite awards is from the Lake Geode Triathlon.  They are geode rocks attached to plaques.  It's usually pretty warm for the race (mid-July), but the aid stations on the run are fully stocked to ice and sponges to keep you cool.  They even have a water bottle hand-up on the bike.  And, when you cross the finish line there is a soft serve ice cream truck!

Jami, Stacy, and I with our Lake Geode awards

Wes has been getting in more training this winter than he has in a while, and wants to race in the championship waves of the Hy-Vee 5150, so we set out to find a qualifying race.  I wish it was a little earlier in the year, but the closest race we could find is Kansas 5150.  Since my training is going well, I figured I'd sign up for the Amateur Elite wave.  And, I might switch my Hy-Vee 5150 entry from Age Group to Age Group Elite.  More about that in a sec...

My A++++ race for the year is USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, WI.  Last year I shocked myself by coming in 5th in my age group.  The race is a qualifying race for the World Championships the following year.  I expect 2014 to be more competitive with World's being in Chicago in 2015.

Age Group Nationals Podium

I'm on the fence about racing the Pigman Olympic.  I didn't have the best experience on the bike leg last year, so I may volunteer and sherpa for Wes.

My last race for 2014 will be the Hy-vee 5150 Championships.  Last year I won my age group, which was a nice surprise, and was 12th overall.  I'm currently registered (placed high enough last year, so it's a free registration) for the Age Group waves.  So far training this winter has gone very well, and if I place high enough at the Kansas 5150 race I can register as Age Group Elite.  They only places to top 5, so it's still a long shot to get on the podium.  The waves take off earlier in the morning, so a little cooler temps and less congestion on the bike leg.  Might be worth it even if I miss getting an award.  I'm hoping I can wait until the last minute to decide which wave I want to race in.  Jami, I do take bribes ;)

Hy-Vee Age Group 35-39 Podium

Throughout the year, I'll also do a few random time trial bike races, and some running races with my mini-me.  She's moving up to the 10k distance this year.  Our first race this year will be the Lucky Run 10k next weekend.  I wish I loved running that much when I was 10 years old!  She's also a triathlete.  With all the extra training she has put in the winter, I can't wait to see how she does.

Me and my mini-me

It's a pretty busy schedule, but I like it that way.  We'll camp for about half the races, which makes for a  nice relaxing weekend with a little race thrown in the middle.  And, I'm very thankful to have Zoot Sports, We Run, ProActive Health Products, Core Fitness, and Geoff's Bike and Ski along for the ride.  Now, bring on the nice weather!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Girls

My previous chicken post was on November 5th when the girls were just a few months old, and still pretty small.  Our coop was still coming together, and it is now mostly done, but we have a few more finishing touches that we're waiting for warmer weather to do.

This is from December, but looks pretty much the same now.

Happy Holidays!

It has not been a fun winter to raise young chickens.  Whenever the temps would drop below zero, we'd bring them into the garage.  This last time we decided they were big enough to handle the cold, so they have now spent one night outside when it dropped to -12, and they seemed to handle it just fine.   Next time we're getting baby chicks in the spring!

The girls are now about 5 and a half months old and as of last week they are all laying eggs!  When we first got them we read that it's usually at 6 months when they start, but ours are a bit advanced with the first one (our Rode Island Red) laying at less than 5 months.  Unfortunately we weren't expecting it, so didn't notice it until the following very cold morning when it was frozen solid and cracked.   But, I was so excited to see it!  I went out for a run, came back, and it was replaced with a nice, warm egg which we scrambled for dinner that night.  Yummy!

Our first egg!

A week and a half later, the Australorp laid her first.  Another week and a half later the Black Star got into the action.  Two days after that I watched the Red Star lay her first egg.  I just happened to be checking the coop for an egg before leaving for work, saw her in the nesting box sitting with her butt in the air, and I wondered if she was about to pop out an egg.  I waited a few minutes and out it fell.  Pretty cool!

We now get 3-4 eggs/day.  Frequently I'm asked what we're going to do with so many eggs.  I eat one egg a day, and when Wes has eggs for breakfast he eats 4, so Wes is rationed to 2 breakfasts of eggs during the week (plus a few eggs on the weekends) otherwise we would run out!

Our Egg Skelter for storing the eggs on the counter.
If you're curious about storing eggs outside of the fridge, read this article.

From what I've read, the breeds we have will lay 5-6 eggs per week their first year, then decrease by 1 egg per week each year. So, by the time they are 6 years old they will stop laying, but they can live to be 12 years old.  If you're thinking of raising chickens, it's something to think about and discuss, especially if you have kids that become attached to the chickens.  One day you have 4 chickens, and the next day you have 3 and a chicken cooking in the oven.  I have an idea of the timeframe for cycling out our chickens, but we'll see if I'm able to follow through...

Once they started laying we opened up the entrance to the nesting box.  We didn't want them getting comfy in there before they could use them for the intended use.  I read online about hanging curtains to keep in the warmth and to discourage the other chickens from picking on the girl laying.  So, Wes used his fancy new sewing machine and made some.  The coop just keeps getting cuter and cuter!

Coop  Curtains
I'm grateful we live in a time where I can get so much information online to learn more about raising chickens.  Our yard isn't fenced in, so we can't just let the girls roam all over.  Other than the coop, they have an 4'x12' run, and we have a 4'x4' movable 'playpen' that we'll place in our garden where we want them scavenge when we're home.  I read a blog post about a very cheap toy to make, so I gave it a try.  Today was there first day playing with it, and it went over well.  Every time I checked on them at least one was playing with it.

During the summer I love to walk outside and harvest something for the meal.  I  miss that, and this is just a little bit of a replacement which makes me happy in this long, cold winter.

The girls enjoying the sun

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Sponsors!

I'm so excited to be continuing all of my sponsors from 2013 and adding a few more for the 2014 season!  Throughout the year, I'll be posting information from my sponsors to my blog and Facebook.  I hope to not overload either as I don't want to them to become too 'advertising' and annoy anyone!  But, these are all great companies, and I want to make sure everyone knows about all their wonderful happenings.

Starting with the sponsors I've had the longest, to my newest additions....

We Run
This is my second year being sponsored by We Run in North Liberty.  The store opened about two years ago, and I approached them a year ago in hopes that they would want to help out a local triathlete.  I am inspired by the history of how the store came to be which I can relate to in my own running background, and they carry a lot of the products I love...Zoot Sports and Skirt Sports.  I also enjoy visiting the shop to see what new items they have, or to just chat with whoever is working at the time.  Everyone there is so helpful, and I love learning about each of their stories.  They have group runs on Wednesday evenings at 6pm and Sunday mornings at 8am.  I make it to the runs whenever I can, but not as often as I'd like to.  They have been a great help to me in 2013, and I look forward to continuing the relationship in 2014!

After my first triathlon I was hooked!  The first two were on a mountain bike I bought from Racquet Master in Iowa City.  But, I wanted to go faster!  Instead of getting a road bike, I jumped straight to a triathlon bike.  I’m a very competitive all-or-nothing sort of person.  I headed over to Geoff’s Bike and Ski, told Geoff I wanted a tri bike, and he sat me on a Specialized.  I loved it!  It was also the middle of winter, so picked up a trainer and learned to love riding in my basement watching TV.  Two races later and I was back in the shop to get more triathlon accessories.  I asked Geoff if it was good tactics to not shift very much, and I remember his response of “you paid for all those gears, use them!”. 

Why Geoff’s Bike and Ski? I love that Geoff’s (mainly Nick) takes great care of my bike.  I love that frequently while I’m there someone I know will stop in.  I love that they have a couch to relax on while I wait for some small little annoyance (that’s probably not as big of a deal as I think) to get fixed.  I love that they also maintained the ski trails at MNRA this winter.   I love that they host the ICCC Women’s rides, even though I’ve only been on a few (I wish they had these when I started cycling).  I love that they at least appear to care about me and my bike, even though I can be a pain at times especially close to races when things “just don’t feel right” with my bike.  So, go buy a bike there! :)

Before Core opened its doors at their inaugural site in Iowa City I became a member.  While growing up I was on the swim team and stayed in decent shape.  After my freshman year of college, I hung up my swimsuit, but my appetite didn’t get the memo.  A few years and almost 40 pounds later (which is a good amount on a 5’1” frame), I decided it was time to lose some weight and gain some muscle.  Every morning I was at the gym when it opened (before it was 24-hours) either doing the elliptical, running, or spin class.  Spin is where I met John.  One day he had a crazy idea to sign up for a triathlon.  We made the “I’ll do it if you do it” deal.  He signed up and raced pigman sprint, and I chickened out (I didn’t think I was in good enough swim shape).  After hearing how much fun it was, I signed up for a CyMan and TriHawks that fall.  To get ready I trained mostly indoors at Core Fitness.  Spin classes are a great way to get in bike shape!    I definitely pushed myself harder in those classes then riding outside on my own.  And, it was convenient to hop on the treadmill after class. 

While training for my first half-ironman distance raced I injured my adductor.  My PT gave me core exercises to do, which I wasn’t so good at remembering or pushing myself while doing.  That’s when I discovered Core Strength class (Thursdays at 5:00pm in Iowa City).  7 years later and I still try to make it to class every week.  It’s 40min of a fun sort of hell.  If you go, keep in mind the core is more than just your abs. 

The other class I religiously attend is Relaxation Yoga (Tuesday’s at 5:40pm in North Liberty).  I used to think everything I did had to be a hard workout.  If I didn’t end with a pile of sweat under me it wasn’t worth it.  But, I have learned that sometimes I just need to stretch out and relax.  I’d be a happy camper if we sat or laid down the entire class, although I’m sure pretending you’re a tree (or a cat, or a dog, or a cow...) has some sort of benefit.  I feel much more limber and less injury-prone since I started attending the class a couple years ago.  I even think the breathing has helped in racing. When the going gets tough I close my eyes (peaking every now and then), think about my breathing, and feel the wind…my happy place.

ProActive Health Products - EpiCor
In June of 2011 Wes and I met Ebe, on his birthday, while waiting at a campsite at Kansas 70.3 for our mutual friends to arrive.  A flat tire delayed them, but it gave time for us to meet Ebe…who had brought birthday beer with him!  We were all racing Ironman Wisconsin that fall, and we quickly became friends while racing and training throughout the summer.   Ebe introduced me to my favorite breakfast dessert…EpiCor chews.  They help balance your immune system to aid in prevention and recovery from pretty much anything…training, illness, allergies, you name it and it probably helps it.  Since I was increasing my training I decided to give it a try…couldn’t hurt, and they taste like candy!  I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Has it kept me from being sick?  No. But, compared to those around me that have infected me with their same illness, I definitely had an easier go with it.  I also believe it has cut down the amount of times I’ve felt ill.  Given my training, I figure my immune system is pretty compromised most of the year, so I could become sick at almost any moment, but I haven’t.  Wes started taking it about a  year ago, and now that I know it can help with mobility in animals, our dog gets his dose every night with dinner. 

Want to give it a try?  Use coupon code “DANIELA” for free shipping, or find me for a sample.

I have been training and racing in Zoot shoes for several years now.  When I bought my first pair it was to switch to a lighter shoe in hopes it would help with the running injuries I was having.  I truly believe their shoe helped in my recovery, and I've been running in them ever since.  This past year I have been training in the Tempo Trainer and racing in the Ultra Tempo. I love that I can buy a trainer and racer that have the same insoles, which makes for a easy transition between the two.  This summer I'll be racing in the Kiawe to try something a bit lighter.  I also love the principle that Zoot follows: Innovative product solutions for multisport athletes.  I trust their products to get me to the finish line faster!  I'm incredibly excited to be a "Zooter" and look forward to meeting everyone else on the team!

So far 2014 has been a great year, and I'm looking forward to training outside and racing this summer.  And, I know all of my sponsors will help me achieve my goals while staying healthy and happy along the way.  Now, if I could just figure out how to get mother nature onboard to stop with these below 0 degrees mornings, life would be even better.