Monday, September 30, 2019

2019 Year in Review

Don't read this post. Just sit there and listen to Dolly. It'll be the best 5 min of your me.

It's been a looong time.

Without rehashing the past, here's what happened in the past year:

1.) At this time last year, I decided to take a year off of triathlon.
2.) I took off 4-5 months from swimming.
3.) I biked quite a bit because I love it.
4.) I ran as I felt like it.
5.) Around April of 2019, I felt like I needed and wanted more structure to my workouts.
6.) I signed up with the Mastermind Coach Liz again.

I wasn't ready to race. And, I was careful to not overdo anything.

That puts us around.....June.

Around the same time, Liz asked that I start thinking about my goals. What did I want to do this year and next.  I gave this a lot of thought. I was feeling so much better. I was physically and mentally in a great place.

I told her, "I'd like to qualify for Nationals again next year. I don't know if I'll actually race. But, I'm in the top end of my age group. It'll take a lot of work to qualify with all the new 50's year olds".

In June a local race director posted that a NEW big huge race was coming.

Then the race was was going to be a multisport festival that included a supersprint!

Well hell. I don't have to be in super great shape to race a supersprint. Talked to Coach Liz, who was all like, "Let's do it!".

And the race was on. Long story short. THIS HAPPENED.

I was 3rd OVERALL....and qualified for Nationals.

More importantly, I had a blast. I made some dumb mistakes that were the result of not racing for a year, but I just laughed them off and made note: Don't do that again.

I had only told 1 or 2 people that I was racing. I wanted to go out there for the sheer fun of racing. I wanted to see if I enjoyed it again. I sure DID have fun.

I had so much fun that I raced a sprint 2 weeks later. If I told you my goals, you'd think I was crazy.

Swim, it's just whatever.
Bike, climb strong, descend with confidence.
Run: run the last hill, don't walk it.

Of course, make NEW mistakes and not the same ones I made last time.

This time, I won my age group. I was probably MORE surprised about this one than the overall podium because I wasn't sure if I had the fitness to do anything more than just get out there and do my best.

Nationals qualification #2.

And then, I shut it down. Two races in two weeks, and I was ready to hop back on the off season bus.

That was my 2019 season.

I signed up for Coretober through MSM/JHC Coaching. I will loosely participate in Swimvember. (Even this is up in the air). I just started a new strength class that I really like.

Don't ask what I'm doing next year. I don't know. Liz and I have talked about it, but I don't want to make any decisions until next year.  With the changes in the business, Oct-Dec is going to very challenging. I want to enjoy my time and keep having fun with training....while maintaining my sanity through our busy months.

Sometimes, I just need to step back and take a breath and say, "Look what I've done. Let's just absorb this for a little while".

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I feel normal.

Yes. I. feel. normal.

You might remember that back in Nov, I decided to take time off. I was at rock bottom. I couldn't take one more thing on, for fear of absolutely losing my shit....which BTW, would be a full blown emotional breakdown.

I took off for 4 months and did what I want. 

I set some rules in place.

My plan, if you could call it a plan, was to be active....that was it.

1: I wouldn't do anything that I didn't want to do.

2: If I wanted to take a day off, for any reason, I'd take a day off. 

I had no idea I would go like that. I had zero motivation for anything (except riding my bike which I did alot).  I didn't want to think about training at any level. I wanted to be as far away from anything related to triathlon. 

When Liz and I talked, I told her, "I'll be back".

But really, in my heart, I did not feel like I would be.

It was the greatest thing I've ever done. I went through the entire holiday season without any stress of trying to get everything done. I threw myself into work. I love what I do, so this was something that gave me a lot of purpose and feeling of success.

The New Year rolled around, and I started feeling better. In February, I changed up my work schedule a lot. During this time, I was able to figure out what "training" would look like with my new work schedule.

At the end of Feb, I decided I needed help creating a training plan, except that I wasn't calling it a training plan. 

As I told Liz, "I need a plan for someone with no goals, no desire to race. Oh, and I absolutely do not want to swim. And I might skip workouts a lot, but really my goal is prevent me from doing anything stupid and hurting myself".

She was totally with the idea. 

She set me up with about 5-7 hours a week of exercise.


Until it wasn't. I realized that I was skipping fewer and fewer workouts. I wanted more.

I still didn't want to call it "training", and I absolutely did NOT want to race. Of course, there was the whole NO SWIMMING thing.

Even though I wasn't doing much, it was probably the best quality work that I've done in a long time. 

I put myself 100% into doing all the things that I usually don't focus on, because I wasn't planning on racing. I was always focused on heart rate or pace. I wouldn't give real focus to the dirty work.

As much as I was enjoying this, I still wanted to be as far away from triathlon as possible.

As the months went by, my volume was increasing (in small amounts). 

One day, I woke up excited to SWIM.  After 7 months of no swimming, I wanted to swim again.

I told Liz: "Hey, let's try a short swim to see how it goes". I'm thinking 20 minutes with a noodle sounds pretty spectacular.

Liz being Liz, gave me 2300m including 100's.

Then, I realized she gave me 2 swims.

Ok. That's ok.

But I enjoyed the swims. After the 2nd one, I felt more like myself than I have in 1.5 years. 

I felt normal. 

(No. Still not interested in triathlon).

NORMAL. I felt normal. It felt so good to feel that way.

Then, it happened again, this week. I started getting back into the swing of things. I'm back to figuring out how to get my workouts versus finding a way to get out of doing them.

I'm now at almost 8 months of this. 

It feels good to feel normal again.

For those of you who have asked another athlete, "How did you know you needed time off"?


You've asked yourself, "I wonder if I should take time off"?

The answer is YES. If those questions are even popping in your head, the answer is YES.

I know. Because there have been times when my motivation has been high, and I never even considered taking time off. I didn't want or need it. 

Trust me. Take all the time you need. Even when you think you'll NEVER go back to sport, you will. It will come back to you. 

And you will be more refreshed and motivated than before.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy

I've been called "crazy", "irrational/emotional", "off my meds"... and many more. And I'm still here proud to be doing my crazy.

"Show them what crazy can do".

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

This might be it.

Things are always changing.

I've held on to this blog for a really long time. I don't think I have it in me to keep it up anymore.

I've found that being able to write one post and share it across different media works better for me.

Blogger doesn't really give a good option for that.

I can't say that I will never blog again, but I've found that I enjoy being able to write up quick summaries (about various topics) works better for me.

I don't have don't want to take the time to write blog posts anymore.

Thanks for reading for all those years.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Heading in the right direction

This was not a sunrise run, but it WAS the earliest I've been running in a very long time. 

Today, this week, however you want to look at it, is the beginning of my next phase. I didn't plan it that way. It just happened, which means, I am ready to move on. I don't really like calling it "the next phase". For lack of a better word, that's what it is.

The first phase (Nov and Dec) was all about emotional recovery. I did what I wanted when I wanted. I slept more, skipped days and ate my share of baked goods. I realized that I had no desire to swim, so I didn't. I ran a little bit. I found myself riding more than I ever have, sometimes just easy and sometimes using harder effort Trainerroad workouts. I started strength training a lot. 

Now that the holiday season is over, and I feel like I'm in a good place mentally, I'm committed to adding more veggies back into my diet and running a bit more (3x per week). I'm signed up for the NCC through USA Triathlon, so any running mileage helps the team. 

The holiday is season is a blur of chaos, probably more for us small business owners who are also in retail. 

NONE of this has been planned. None of this is intentional. But, taking time off Nov and Dec was the best thing for me. 

I have never believed in forcing things. I do things on my own time. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

My positive influences

With this being a gap year for me, I was thinking how cool it would be for me to talk about the people in my life who had positive influences on me. These aren't in order of importance.

I got this idea when I was cleaning out my closet of riding gear. I came across this cap.

It's only appropriate that I start with the Ranch Riders. 

Many years ago, there was a group of riders based in London. But, they were known to 

ride around the world. They would write up ride/race reports that were so entertaining. 

These were back in the good ole days of MySpace and blogs. I have no idea how we came 

to know each other. I can tell you that the Ranch Riders are one of the reasons I put so 

much work into the bike. When I first started riding, I knew NOTHING about riding. I 

knew a bike had 2 wheels and a chain.... but that was the extent of my knowledge. Being

a new cyclist and seeing the way those guys and gal could ride, blew me away. They

always seemed like they were having so much fun. I wanted that too. I watched YouTube 

video after video learning how to care for my bike. I remember when Jman and I spent 

HOURS and probably 5 tubes, learning how to fix a flat. I went to empty parking lots, so I 

could learn how to corner. Over the years, I lost contact with all of them, except 

one. They probably never realized the positive influence they had over this dork, 

newbie rider. I'm still a dork, but at least I can change a flat now. #windbeneathmywings

Monday, December 10, 2018

Training & the art of letting go

In my little world, I see things like this.

Being active: Taking the stairs, parking in the last parking spot. Walking somewhere when you could drive. Riding your bike somewhere when you could drive.

Exercising: Making a conscious effort to move outside of being active. Taking a walk, going for a run, attending a class of some sort (martial arts, cross fit, TRX, yoga), without a performance goal at the end. (Although, there can be goals: wanting to do 20 pushups).

Training: The focus here is working on a performance goal. Training means following a plan, analyzing data or workouts, adjusting your nutrition to fuel for performance.

None of these are defined by hours of work.

Although, I see each of these in a progressive linear fashion, ie each one is a next step. Each of these is perfect. Each thing is exactly what you should be doing at different times in your life.

Many of you who read my blog nowadays have gotten bits & pieces of what has happened this year.

What you really need to know, is that 2018 was the worst year I've had in a very long time. I can't even think of another year, that was even close to 2018.  In fact, every time something bad happens, I now respond with "because 2018".

Back in June or July, Coach Liz and I talked about how to continue my year. At that time, I decided to continue on with my very watered down training plan.

Looking back now, that was a mistake. I should have stopped all training. The stress took it's toll on me. I couldn't physically get through workouts.

Thank you to those of you who stuck with me; even when I was pushing you away.

When my last race came up, I kept saying "just get through this race. Then, take as much time off as you need".

Liz would check on me to see how things were going; even though I wasn't working with her at the time.

As the weeks and then months went on, I realized that what I wanted to do was stop training. STOP all training and just do whatever I wanted to do when I woke up.

I signed up for a 5k race series, one that I haven't done in years but I love so much.

Of course, the 1st race came up quickly. I realized I hadn't run in about 2 weeks. I hit panic training mode and absolutely surprised myself by running 3 minutes faster than I thought I would. I didn't have any goals or expectations. I knew I wasn't in 5k shape, given that I just did a 70.3, and I was still emotionally recovering from the combination of training and life stuff.

For awhile, there was SO MUCH NOISE about next year. I knew I was nowhere near being able to train. For the first time in awhile, I was starting to enjoy just being active and exercising with no analysis, expectations, or obligations for how long or how hard I went. The last thing I wanted to do was to go back into that world of training again.

But I waited. I waited and waited. Black friday came and went.....a long with it....all those discounted race entries.

Then, I made the decision. I was going to take off 2019.

Believe it or not. I didn't tell anyone. I told a few people what I was thinking of doing. But, I couldn't get to the point where I felt the decision was real.

I think it was because sometimes people have a hard time understanding. I didn't really want to deal with all that.

I don't mean this in a drama queen way. Please understand, that I was getting ready to do something that I hadn't done before. Cutting out something that took so much physical and emotional energy every week, even when it's quite a change.

Over time, I came to realize that "Yes, taking time off is not only what I need to do, I really want to do it".

Then came the next worst part. I was going to have to tell Liz that I wasn't coming back for 2019. I wrote an email and sat on it for 2 weeks, tweaking it. When I read the final version, I was in tears.

That's how you know you have a great relationship with your coach. It gutted me having to write it. She has done so much more for me than just help me achieve my performance goals.

She made me a better person. Knowing her has changed my life.

I sent the email.

Not 30 seconds later, I get a text from her. She was SO understanding. She knew exactly where I was coming from. I told her that I'll be back to the sport, but I need this time off. I don't know how much time I need.

After that, I felt better than I had in a year.

I've always been one to buck the trend. As other athletes kept wanting to go further and further and more extreme, I've held my ground with a focus on shorter distances. There is nothing wrong with going further and further. It just seems like it has become the expectation. I've never done a race because everyone else is doing it.I've always done what is right for me at a particular time in my life. MANY times I've been asked about WHEN I'm going to do IM. The fact is, probably never.

This time is no different. I've already been asked:

Aren't you afraid of losing fitness? 

Uh no.

What about Nationals? 

I've done it many times. It'll still be there when I get back.

You've worked so hard to get where you are, now you're just going to stop?

Well. Yeah. Sort of.

Wait. You're just going to STOP being a triathlete? 

Yep, until further notice anyway.

NOT training doesn't mean becoming a couch potato.

I'm going to work on everything that I haven't been able to because of training. I'm going to do things that I haven't had time for. I'm going to run races and strength train like Ahnold. I'm going to do more open water swimming because I love it.

I want to work on the details that I have been ignoring.