M Dots….the M is for Marketing the Dot is for the “O” in Opportunity….

One thing that there is no shortage of here in Kona at the Ironman World Champs is shameless marketing.  Triathletes eat that shit up, so why not try every possible marketing scheme to get people to like your product?

M Dot

Here are my top three favorite marketing schemes so far:

1.  Underwater billboards.  Yup.  On the Ironman Swim Course, which pretty much every tri geek and their “ironmate” (sorry, I almost puked in my mouth a little just typing that) swims each morning (except for the Pros–who swim at the local pool), some serious marketing geniuses put together the thought of underwater signage to direct you towards the expresso barge.  There are also signs to tell you about a newest greatest energy product that you can probably get for free on the beach, and other signs.  GENIUS!  I mean, this might be better than highway billboards.  You are already looking down, why not have something other than the beautiful nature under you to peak your interest in swimming in these beautiful waters?

Billboards!!!

2.  Chocolate milk.  With the help of some elite triathletes, a milk company has decided to reinvent the wheel but rebranding chocolate milk as THE BEST way to recover EVER.  They have taken it so far that they have a tent set up with free chocolate milk giveaways for your post swim recovery and information on the benefits of their chocolate milk.  I was so blown away by the new round wheel they were selling I actually had to commend them for their marketing genius–as I took my free chocolate milk, of course.

Not gonna lie here, I stocked up on some of the goodness….

3.  Priceless giveaways.  It makes you wonder what it costs to make some of these products that just get thrown at anyone sporting an Mdot wristband or at those who look like maybe they are racing (for instance, me).  There are several aggressive attempts to gain market share by an INSANE amount of free-shit handouts.  I mean, I have already racked up the following: a rather nice running shirt (would be really nice but it is red and a size large), a water bottle, a swim cap, new Louis Garneau branded gels, and, of course, enough chocolate milk for the next two years.   Ironman Danish has racked up the same AND THEN SOME including TYR “Special Ops” goggles and the other free stuff that came in the race packet (granted, this stuff is not really free, in fact, each race really paid $650 dollars for the “free” stuff in their registration bags). In fact, had Ironman Danish read the “official program” earlier, he would have seen the full page ad on the back of it in which Rudy Project offered FREE Wingspan helmets to anyone who afreed to wear their neon aero helmets in all races for a year (including the IMWC.  Of course, he still wouldnt have gone to get the helmet as Ironman Danish is practically allergic to aero helmets, and, if you may recall last year, the penalty tents were overwhelmingly populated by triathetes in the neon dome pieces.

Free!!!!!!

Now, I do love getting free shit as much as the next person, but even I have to say it is a little out of hand.  You know what should have been free–a lei for me/Fergie.  My race bike, Fergie, made by a Rose Bandit Team Sponsor Boom Bikes, needed to get her taste of Hawaii and get laid today, but her lei cost $7!!!  I mean, could it be that the wingspan cost less to make than the lei?  Urgh….

But damn that lei looks good on her….

Sorry for the venting, my real post about the days events are coming soon…..

World Championships are hard…

So, it is rare to have someone lodge a complaint that the World Championship they just competed in was “too easy.”  This past weekend marked my second time competing in a World Championship.  My first World Championship was in the 470 with good friend and teammate Amanda Clark during her first and my first and only 470 Olympic Campaign.  The regatta was held in Koper, Slovenia and when the “Bora” blew in (aka wind from the mountains) the race was on!  The racing was hard, after all, it was the World Championships.

Not at the Worlds, but a cool shot of Amanda and me (front of the boat) in the 470

Fast forward 11 years and I found myself lining up for my second World Championships (not including the “Miami World Championship Races”) the ITU Cross World Championships this past weekend in Pelham, Alabama.  I had done the prerequisite amount of internet googling/stalking to “know” my competition and had prepared as methodically as I could for the race since qualifying out of Xterra Miami in March.  In a field that was to see 18 women in my 30-34 age group, I was hoping to place 10th and, in fact, even had a dream about it a few nights prior.  I knew my swim was not the fastest, but average.  I knew I had a strong bike (pretty much that’s all I ever have going for me in a triathlon) but would have to deal with traffic.  I also knew (and have well documented) that I am not the fastest runner out there but was confident I could at a minimum run 8:30 min miles on the trail for the 6 miles required.  This, of course, was barring any major incidents and all other items going as planned (does that ever happen?).

From Right to Left is Me (ears), Beata, and Melissa–my FL MTB buds who were about to have great days!

That being said, race morning I was feeling ok.  Not awesome, but not terrible.  In all my years of being an athlete, typically when I feel that way I end up having a pretty solid performance.  I came out of the swim with a time almost to the second that I expected.  I had a less than terrible transition and hopped on my bike for my favorite part of the day.  I noticed coming out of the swim that friends and Florida mountain bike racers Beata Wronska (racing 35-39 and who was having a GREAT day it would turn out) and Melissa Scott (racing 40-44 and was also having a good day) were RIGHT behind me.  Onto the bike I immediately got down to business.  I knew if I wanted to do well on the bike split, I would have to take major risks on the descent to get up as much speed as possible.  I began the climb up the mountain and was feeling ever so slightly flat but figured with no one in sight behind me (after passing Beata and Melissa and about 20 other women shortly after transition) I was in a good place.  I figured also I was in a good place when I saw some familiar 30-34 age group names on kits as I passed them on the big climb (4 miles long with occasional 24% grade sections).  I was ready to rip down that hill and was pretty happy with how my race was developing.  That is, until, I heard friend and fellow MTB-er say “go Duffster go” and I realized that Beata was right behind me.  Clearly, I had not been pulling away from anyone like I felt I had been.  This was exciting and disappointing.  Exciting because I knew that my friend was having a GREAT day of performance and disappointing because I knew I was not–my RPE was WAYYYY OFF.  We summited the top of the climb together and I told her she was having a great day before taking off down the hill as I am a faster descender and knew I had to be even faster than usual if I wanted to stay ahead of all my fellow age group racers who I had passed early in the race as well.  I “turned off the breaks” (ala Maja Wloszczowska) and headed down the mountain.

I was hauling–20-25mph is what my computer had me at for almost the entire descent.  I pulled out of sight and hoped that was enough to keep me ahead.  I got to “Blood Rock” (which I had pre decided I would not be riding in its entirety–I rode the first three drops and then dismounted for the really technical section) and had many spectators lined up to watch potential Blood Rock carnage.

Yeah, this is Blood Rock–you ride down it…I walk…

I was not one they would be watching take on the obstacle and I hoped to run down it so fast that my rolling descent could continue with hardly any hesitation.  Back on the bike and I again turned off the breaks and let ‘er rip again and back up to 20 mph.  I was launching over obstacles and off drops and was getting more and more confident.  So confident, in fact, that when I came across a 3 foot drop off a rock ledge I had encountered before on pre-rides (slowly and methodically descended down or walked on all pre rides) I decided that I was feeling so fast and so good I would try and launch off of it.  Well….launch I did–over the handlebars.  Apparently, I didn’t lift my front end quite enough to get past the obstacle, loaded up my shock, and flew super man style over my handlebars tucking and rolling onto my right side.  My bike was one full level up from where I landed on the natural stairs after the drop.  I felt like Ricky Bobby flying through the air….

I stood up, shook it off (as best I could) and tried to get back after it.  I figure I lost at least a minute on my bike split from the crash.  The crash didn’t only affect me on the remainder of the bike, but it hurt on my run.  I came into transition still ahead of my friends Beata and Melissa and still ahead of the girls in my age group (somewhere in 8th place or so in my age group), but not far enough as I was caught by pretty much everyone when my body said “no” to running faster than 8:45 mm pace with a VERY bruised shoulder, hip, wrist, and knee. (my run also looked a little like Ricky Bobby’s after the crash–I was all over the place and, being in a tri suit was pretty much already in my underwear).

My run–resembling Ricky Bobby post crash….

Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.  I crossed the line 12th in my age group and last Florida mountain biker….disappointing for sure, but lesson re-learned:  World Championships are NOT easy.

Happy to be finished…

Happier to be drinking a beer on the cabin porch with Ironman Danish and buds post race (ice pack on shoulder)

Road to Recovery

Having been sick and unable to do much of anything at all for three weeks with pneumonia, I was finally cleared about two and a half weeks ago to do light exercise.  Of course, in my world this meant running the 24 miles I had signed up to run as my legs on my Ragnar Relay almost-ultra team.

To be an official Ragnar Ultra team you have to have 6 runners–we had 8, I knew that I had to be healthy for this race or our whole team would be effed on the miles.  I figured if I took the running easy, I should be able to get through the miles I was supposed to cover.  Keeping this in mind:

I raced.  However, it was on my opening leg of the race (6.4 miles) that I realized that having done NOTHING for three weeks was going to really mean a lot of pain for me.  Usually, I employ the “only run when racing” to my run training, but this year I had actually be running–I figured it should be smooth sailing.  However, in years past, when using my “only run when racing” I had at least been riding my bike like a crazy person–thus, having a good aerobic capacity to fall back on when running muscles weren’t there.  This time, having no ride time, and a lung sickness, I did not have that and really had to keep my asthma in check.  After leg one, I knew that this was going to be a long race.

The Leg Directions in the "Rag Mag"

My second leg of the race was on a trail in the middle of the Everglades that has a river running alongside…you are instructed as the runner not to stop AT ALL, not to bring food, and if you see a gator–run faster.  8.8 miles in the dark with gators on the Southern Glades Trail–awesome!

Google's Image of the Trail

I managed to actually have a pleasant little night run on the trail, of course with my re-named “gator whistle” in my vest pocket.

my old "bear whistle"...now a "gator whistle"--one sound, I fell down...two, I am being eaten by a gator

I was able to limp through my last two runs of the race, mostly due to the awesomest team ever (this is our third Ragnar Race together) and Ironman Danish who took my last 2 miler from me (phew).  Since the race, I have been back to riding…and man does it feel good to be back on the bike.  While it didn’t  feel “good” at first (winded on our team “chatty paced ride” from the asthma), it is feeling better now.  Last Monday I had an AWESOME 4 hr ride from MIA to Oleta River State Park, a lap of the trails, and then back to MIA with a fellow Rose Bandit Teammate and it was AWESOME!  The trails were in great condition and my lungs are getting better.  Getting back out on the road/bike is certainly helping my recovery….how could you not get better with a view like this from this morning….